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Aiming to be the super of super-late models

April 05, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

Alan Sagi thinks every racing fan should have an opportunity to be in a race car on the track.

"It's quite different from what you envision," said Sagi, who races super late models - the top division of cars at Hagerstown Speedway.

Imagine driving in a tunnel with the pedal on the floor going 85 to 120 mph with other cars inches away, he said.

"Things happen fast," said Sagi, 43, of Hagerstown.

Barring inclement weather, fans will get to see fast cars and fast action this Saturday as Hagerstown Speedway holds its first super-late-model points race of the season. It's also customer appreciation day with $7 general admission.

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As of Wednesday, the National Weather Service was forecasting a slight chance of snow Friday night. Speedway General Manager Lisa Bragunier said it would take rain or significant snow, not just flurries, to postpone the race.

The races typically draw a crowd of about 1,100, though the cold forecast might affect that, Bragunier said. Races also attract about 600 to 800 drivers, crew members and racing officials.

Sagi is hoping for a green light.

He finished third last season after losing some leads when his car broke down. This year he has a new car with a 2007 Chevy-powered Rocket chassis, and a new team, Laye's Automotive west of Chambersburg, Pa. The business is owned by Chet and Charlie Laye.

"It was a good year that could have been a lot better with better luck," said Sagi, a sales representative for Office Essentials in Hagerstown.

Sagi grew up around Hagerstown Speedway. His father, Frank Sagi, was the speedway's announcer from 1958, before Alan was born, to 1996.

Quartermidget racing wasn't going on when Alan Sagi was a kid. When he did start racing he skipped the usual beginner's route - pure stock or four-cylinders.

Instead, Sagi threw himself to the wolves at age 18 in 1982 by going straight to the limited-late-model division. These cars, now called late model sportsmans, have a restricted engine displacement so they are a little less powerful than super-late models.

He said he thought he had everything figured out.

"I'm not too proud to say it was quite a learning experience," Sagi said.

"I did wreck the first time," Sagi said. The car in front of him spun out, and he was unable to avoid crashing into it. He didn't wreck hard and wanted to race again.

"I couldn't wait for the following week to do it again, to try to do better," Sagi said.

Sagi went on to become track champion at the speedway in the limited-late-model division in 1991, 1992 and 1994, he said.

He's feeling good about his chances this year in the super-late-model division.

"We've got a few bugs to work out with the car ... but I think we're going to have a real good chance with the points championship," Sagi said.




If you go ...



WHAT: Customer Appreciation Day and the first points race of the season for the regular show - super late models. Also late-model sportsman and pure stock races.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 7. In case of inclement weather, call 301-582-0640 or go to www.hagerstownspeedway.com to check whether the event has been postponed.

WHERE: Hagerstown Speedway, 15112 National Pike, east of Hagerstown

COST: $7, general admission; $12, reserved seat. Ages 11 and younger get in free.

MORE: Gates open at 4 p.m. An Easter egg scramble will be held at 5 p.m. for children. There will be door prizes and giveaways for fans.

For more information, call Hagerstown Speedway at 301-582-0640 or go to www.hagerstownspeedway.com.




Hagerstown Speedway season highlights



(schedule subject to change)

April 28 - Lucas Oil late model dirt series, 26th annual Stanley Schetrompf Classic, 50-lap, late-model race plus pure stock special

May 26 - 12th annual Richard "Boney" Bonebrake Tribute, 40-lap, late-model race plus late-model sportsman and pure stocks

June 2 - 26th annual Conococheague, 50-lap, World of Outlaws late-model race plus pure stock special.

June 9 - U.S. Auto Club Wingless Sprints plus late models

June 30 - 42nd annual Johnny Roberts Memorial, 50-lap, late-model race plus late-model sportsman, pure stocks and fireworks. The raindate for everything except the late-model sportsman is Sunday, July 1.

July 13 to 15 - Monster Truck Nationals

July 21 - 60th anniversary World of Outlaws 60-lap, late-model race plus late-model sportsman special

July 28 - 26th annual Hub City Classic, American Motorcyclist Association Grand National Motorcycles

Sept. 14-15 - 33rd annual Hub City National 150 with late-model time trials and qualifying plus pure stock open competition on Friday and three 50-lap, late-model feature races plus late-model sportsman open competition on Saturday

Sept. 22 - (New event) Shamrock Inn Small Car Nationals. Late-model sportsman plus pure stocks and four-cylinders.

Oct. 27-28 - 20th annual Octoberfest 350. Qualifying on Saturday; racing on Sunday. There are 100-lap races for big-block modified, small-block modified and late models and a 50-lap race for 410 sprint cars.

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