SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Saturday’s 38th annual Icon Legacy Homes Jim Nace Memorial National Open at Selinsgrove Speedway brings the race into its fifth different decade.
Since debuting in 1983, the prestigious Selinsgrove event has seen a total of 19 different drivers win the contest since the late Maynard Yingst swept the first three in succession from 1983 to 1985.
The now-fall classic at Selinsgrove Speedway was originally a summer sizzler, with the first four taking place in either June or July.
It wasn’t until 1987, when Ohio’s Dave Blaney got the win, that the race was moved into the autumn of the year. That event took place on Oct. 3 before it settled into September in 1989, when Midwestern star Doug Wolfgang scored a 75-lap United Sprint Ass’n-sanctioned Open worth more than $51,000.
The event domination of Fred Rahmer took center stage during the second half of the 1990s, as the Salfordville speedster scored five of six races between 1995 and 2000.
In fact, to date no other driver has been as successful in the Selinsgrove National Open as the retired Rahmer.
His closest pursuers on the all-time Open win list are the late Greg Hodnett and retiree Todd Shaffer, both of whom counted four checkered flags in the race.
Following the untimely death of five-time Selinsgrove Speedway sprint car track titlist Jim Nace in 2009, the race format was expanded into two segments in 2010, becoming known as the Jim Nace Memorial National Open.
The race used the twin segment format for a total of three years before again becoming a single event in 2013.
Interestingly enough, Nace only ever recorded one top-five finish in the Open and never scored the big payday, but his Selinsgrove record of five track titles and 46 super sprint car wins cements him as the affair’s namesake.
The Jim Nace Memorial National Open was expanded financially in 2019 to post $20,000 to the winner of a 40-lap contest, billed as the biggest unsanctioned sprint car payday in the state of Pennsylvania and along the East Coast.
Over the years, the most successful drivers in the race that haven’t been able to score a win include four-time top-five finishers Paul Lotier and Crish Eash, along with three-time top-fivers Randy Wolfe, Joey Borich, Sean Michael, TJ Stutts, Mark Smith and Brent Marks.
On the car owner side of the event, no entry has been driven to Selinsgrove National Open victory more than the famed Hamilton Motorsports No. 77 machine, which made the victory lane trip six different times.
Keith Kauffman scored for owner Al Hamilton in 1988, with Lance Dewease taking the win in 2002 as Fred Rahmer sandwiched four wins in between.
Bob Stewart, the proprietor of the No. 12 Apple Motorsports sprint car, owns four race triumphs – one belonging to Rahmer, two to Hodnett and one to Chad Layton in 2006.
Three time owner winners are Maynard Yingst, Gary and Patty Beam and Zane Highlands.
Saturday’s $20,000-to-win 38th annual Jim Nace Memorial National Open gets underway at 7 p.m. The race carries a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.