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Warrenfeltz - 'It's a family thing'

June 19, 1998

By MIKE SIRBAUGH

Staff Correspondent

The fun of the race never changes, but the atmosphere around racing can, and that's what Mike Warrenfeltz misses as he sits in the infield near the back straightaway at the Hagerstown Speedway.

Warrenfeltz is the defending track champion in the pure stock division at the local track, but he is not sitting in the defender's usual position.

Instead of perching at the top of the standings, Warrenfeltz sits at number 16, 561 points behind his good friend Kim Ramer. For a person who loves racing and is always competitive, that's a bit odd.

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"We weren't really planning on the points this year," Warrenfeltz said. "We even considered racing at Winchester every week."

Winchester Speedway races on Friday nights, while the local track's program is mostly a Saturday night affair. Racing at either gives him options, and racing at both gives him more opportunity for financial gain.

"To be competitive, you've got to put time in at the garage on the car. That means four or five times a week, three or four hours each time," he said.

"For the championship last year, we got $250, a trophy, a jacket and a nice watch. But that hasn't changed since the last time I won in 1992. After looking at all that we put into it, we decided that it wasn't worth all that.

"It's got to be love for the sport. That's the only reason I go. We go there to have fun. We're not making any money."

For Warrenfeltz, as well as many others at the Hagerstown Speedway, "it's a family thing." The love of racing transcends generations, he being the second in a line of three.

His father, Dick, had a successful career at the Speedway with Mike just passing his father's career win mark with his last victory two weeks ago.

His son, Mike Jr., isn't racing this year, but he began his career before he even had a driver's license, recording four career victories before his 17th birthday.

Warrenfeltz gained a racing education the old-fashioned way, in the pits. He helped many people over the years, besides his father, and is thankful for all of it.

"I helped and worked for a lot of guys. Guys like Larry Hines and Nathan Durboraw and Steve Barnhart, and that was terrific. I've laid dirt a long time, and I've learned a lot," Warrenfeltz said.

"When I started racing here, we all got along real well and joked together in the pits before the races. We'd all gather together and laugh.

"It was like a party. We'd sneak up and put hot dogs on another guy's seat and stuff like that because we just wanted to have fun. But then, somewhere along the line, it got dog-eat-dog real quick, and it's just not the same. We're still having a good time, but it's just not the same."

With all the bumping and banging that goes on at a small track, there inevitably are cases of temper and short fuses when someone gets knocked out of a race or spun out. But those were overcome by the camaraderie, according to Warrenfeltz. Again, he sees a change.

After a bangup with another driver a few years ago, they got into an argument that Mike feels was a little too heated.

"We were both mad. But after awhile, I just said to him, 'Do you really want to have a falling out over a hundred dollar bill?' That's what it would amount to, and it was then that I could see things starting to change."

But the entertainment he gets, and gives, is still his driving force.

"I wish sometime I could get a shot at a late model or a sportsman, just to see how I could do. We enjoy racing. It's a real nice speedway. We've had a lot of success up there. It's a beautiful race track. It couldn't be any nicer or smoother."

Quick spins

Last week's 4th Annual HAV-A-TAMPA Maryland Silver Cup National was washed out on Saturday night, and Friday's action was delayed and incomplete. The first 16 spots have been determined with the rest to be decided in the B-Main.

The B-Main and the 100-lap feature have been rescheduled for August 16, the second night of the 51st Anniversary Weekend. Local qualifiers are Rodney Franklin, Charlie Schaffer and Rick Eckert.

The final 11 laps in the late model sportsman feature and the entire 4-cylinder pure stock feature became victims of the curfew and will be part of Antietam Automotive Night tonight. A regular show for all four divisions will complete the program. Race time is 7 p.m.

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