Grand­view fix­tures grate­ful for late owner ahead of inau­gu­ral Bruce Rogers Me­mo­rial

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - SPORTS - By Ernie Sax­ton For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

If you look in the dic­tio­nary or th­e­saurus for the mean­ing of nice guy, good guy, good friend, you just might find a photo of Bruce Rogers. Rac­ers that have been in com­pe­ti­tion at Grand­view Speedway all have warm feel­ings for the late track owner who passed away in March of last year.

He will be re­mem­bered on Satur­day, April 7th with the inau­gu­ral VP Rac­ing Fu­els Bruce Rogers Me­mo­rial Money Maker is pre­sented at the track he and his dad built back in the early sixties and pre­sented their first race in 1963. The onethird mile, banked clay track, de­signed in part of the Hat­field (Pa.) Speedway, has been in con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion since then with this be­ing the 56th year that the Rogers fam­ily name has been in­volved.

The remembrance, which will be an an­nual event on the sched­ule, will fea­ture a 50-lap Big Block vs. Small Block Mod­i­fied fea­ture race that will re­ward the win­ner with at least $7,500 to win with each starter in the event go­ing home with at least $1,000. The fea­ture field will be made up of the top per­form­ers in the qual­i­fy­ing heat races. Also on the card will be a full show of Sports­man stock car rac­ing. Rac­ing will get the green flag at 7 p.m.

This race will be non­sanc­tioned mean­ing that there will be no NASCAR or track li­cense re­quired and for rac­ers there is no en­try fee.

Ten-time track cham­pion Jeff Strunk feels that he owes Bruce Rogers a great deal of credit for his suc­cess in auto rac­ing.

“I thought the world of him,” said the vet­eran racer. “I have been very happy to race for him. I am grate­ful for what he did for me and for the sport. There are quite a few rac­ers that owe Bruce a big thank you.”

Strunk feels that there will be a huge amount of pres­tige in just mak­ing the start­ing field and so much pres­tige for win­ning.

“I would be hon­ored to earn the tro­phy. It would mean more to me than the size­able amount of money that goes to the win­ner,” said the 50-year-old pro­fes­sional racer. “It would mean so much to win this race run in mem­ory of my late friend. I owe so much to him. Win­ning this one would mean more to me than my wins in the Free­dom 76 Clas­sic.”

Strunk will be driv­ing the Glenn Hyne­man owned All Fab Metal Fab­ri­ca­tion en­try as he tries for the big win.

An­other Grand­view cham­pion that had many kind words about Rogers is Duane Howard. Both driv­ers feel that Rogers felt all the rac­ers were spe­cial.

“Bruce was a pro­moter that was re­spon­si­ble for so many great things hap­pen­ing at Grand­view, a lot of big events,” said Howard who will be a reg­u­lar at Grand­view this sea­son as well as do­ing some trav­el­ing to spe­cial events. “He treated rac­ers like kings. Bruce was re­spon­si­ble for so many great things in my life and my rac­ing ca­reer.

“He made it pos­si­ble to win NASCAR hon­ors and that al­lowed me to par­tic­i­pate in some great events in Char­lotte that gave me the chance to sit with NASCAR exec Mike Hel­ton at the awards banquet, talk with NASCAR Cup cham­pion Jim­mie John­son and meet so many great peo­ple. And cer­tainly be­ing able to race for Bruce and the great prize money cer­tainly helped me fi­nan­cially and gave me a great life­style. I even got to speak at a NASCAR banquet. To win this race would mean more to me than money. I would love to be able to take the tro­phy home with me.”

Again this year the 54-year-old racer, who works full time for Oley Town­ship, will be driv­ing the Norm Hansell owned Norm’s Save Sta­tion No. 357 en­try. The team has had quite a few suc­cesses the last cou­ple of years.

Howard and Strunk had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the Cham­pion’s cruises that were, for more than 20 years, part of the bounty for win­ning the track ti­tle.

They both were quick to point out that be­cause of Bruce and his wife, Theresa, they were able to travel to places that they would have never imag­ined go­ing to. “I be­came a world trav­eler,” said Strunk. “And we have so many great mem­o­ries of the trips.”

Many driv­ers have chimed in that Bruce was very stead­fast in how he op­er­ated the track. Though he was dis­tant and quiet, he of­ten showed that he cared about the rac­ers who ap­peared at Grand­view on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. He re­spected the driv­ers.

And there was those who were quick to point out that he kept his prom­ises. Rogers was known as a man that stuck to his guns and rac­ers were al­ways given the re­wards they were promised.

So on April 7th a man who did so much for the sport and for those who were in­volved will be hon­ored and re­mem­bered.

With quite a few out­siders ex­pected to show up and of course the tal­ents of 10-time cham­pion Craig VonDohren, Doug Man­miller, Brett Kress­ley, Ray Swine­hart, and host of other reg­u­lars, it should prove to be quite a night of en­ter­tain­ment.

And don’t for­get, the very pop­u­lar Sports­man stock cars, led by de­fend­ing cham­pion Brian Hirth­ler, will see ac­tion.

The dou­ble­header show has a $28 price for adult tick­ets, young­sters 6 through 11 are ad­mit­ted for $5 and un­der 6 are ad­mit­ted for free. Pit ad­mis­sion is $35.

If Satur­day, April 14th is not needed as a weather date for the Rogers Me­mo­rial, that will be the start of the NASCAR and track point bat­tle with a triple­header show that will fea­ture the TP Trail­ers Mod­i­fieds, Late Mod­els and Sports­man stock cars with a 7 p.m. start­ing time. The reg­u­lar Satur­day night show will carry a $15 adult ticket price, the same that it has been for quite a few years.

And on Sun­day, April 15th, the En­duro and Vin­tage Stock Cars will per­form in a dou­ble­header for the first time this sea­son with a 1 p.m. start­ing time.

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