Fans out in droves

SALEM – Drag racers and race fans at the Steel Valley Super Nationals got to enjoy a break from the rain.

They took the chance and came out in strong numbers Saturday at the event at Quaker City Motorsports Park, and with sunny weather expected for today, the event may be on the way to an attendance record in the event’s nine years.

“I do believe this year we could break it,” public address announcer Ken Shieff said. “Spectator-wise, I know we’ve already broke it. We have well more than we’ve had over previous years.”

With the Mahoning Valley seeing rain throughout the last week, the rain finally held off on the second day of the event. Racers like Rick Mays of Atwater looked forward to a break in the rainy weather.

“It rained a little bit,” Mays said. “We had expected that yesterday. I figure there will be more cars out here.”

“Today has held out,” said Mike Coontz of Diamond. “I think yesterday would have been a lot better if it hadn’t rained.”

Those who have camped out, like Derek Day of New Waterford, are also glad the rain has stopped.

“Last night it was brutal,” Day said. “It wasn’t entirely bad. It’s just that when I was camping out, I saw holes in my tent.”

The paddock stayed busy throughout the day as racers waited to take to the track, including Candy Beech of Salem, who raced Saturday as she drove a 1972 Dodge Challenger owned by L.T. Chase of Michigan.

“I didn’t get to go down yesterday because I had to work,” Beech said. “I’m just looking to get some experience going down the track and have a good time.

Shieff said, in terms of attendance and participation, this year’s event ranks right up with 2010, and looks for 2014 to go over the top.

“It’s been probably about four years now,” Shieff said. “Four years ago, we had about 1,250 cars on the grounds that went down on the track. Right about now, we have about 750 going down the track Saturday.”

Shieff also gives credit to event promoter Corey Ward for the success of the weekend, which also included performances by Vince Neil of Motley Crue and Bret Michaels of Poison, Quaker City owner Norman Fox and track manager A.J. Fox, who continue to make the track enjoyable for everyone.

“The Fox family has been reinvesting in the track every year,” Shieff said. “They keep reinvesting, keep doing things here, and people keep coming back.”

Fans will get a final opportunity to enjoy the Super Nationals today as racing resumes at 10 a.m. and concludes at 5 p.m.