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GREASE! Hosted By:  Cemetery Jim

April 3rd, 2006

"Sonny" Dornberger Will Receive the DIRT Northeast Mechanic of the Year Award"

Along with Drivers - Kenny Brightbill, Bob McCreadie, and Glen Reiners, Track operators Joan and Harvey Fink, Car Owner Joe Pitkavish, women in racing - Barb Anderson and Nancy Bicknell, and photographer Kim Jennejohn

The 2006 Induction Ceremonies will take place Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. in the Hall of Fame & Classic Car Museum at Cayuga County Fair Speedway. Look for a BIG secret surprise concerning Sonny at the ceremony !!!

Well, I'm sorry it's been a while since my last column. I've been involved in another project that has taken most of my time, but, like it or not...I'm back! And I have all that great news. You may remember my three part column a while back where I called Sonny Dornberger "The Albert Einstein" of racing. Well, DIRT finally believed me, I guess.

Weedsport, NY – March 3, 2006 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRT NorthEast PR Director

Adam "Sonny" Dornberger will receive the Mechanic of the Year Award after building motors as well as many custom cars for legendary Modified drivers such as Rags Carter, Pee Wee Griffin, Jackie Hamilton, Stan Ploski, Billy Osmun, Meme DeSantis, Billy Pauch and his first Otto Harwi, using #999 which had been the number of the Ford car that record-setter Barney Oldfield used in 1902. From the outset in 1953 at South Jersey's old Alcyon Speedway (Pitman) and even into the late 1970s when production-type Modified cars were becoming the norm, Dornberger handcrafted his own machines and his unparalleled trackside success gave the opposition false impressions of a high-dollar team. His greatest satisfaction came from testing an untried method ---which many times emerged soon after as an industry standard--- and gaining an advantage when other teams used only what they knew had always worked. Sonny died in the fall of 1997 and his daughter Sherrie Dornberger will be accepting on his behalf.

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Sonny's cars: I received the following statistics from historian Bill Skinner recently. these are just for the short period from 1954, to 1956, but are indicative of the accomplishments on Sonny Dornberger.

bulletOtto Harwi finished third in points at Alcyon driving the 999 coupe of Fred Nicotra and Sonny
Dornberger in 1954. Otto had 3 feature wins at Alcyon that year.
bulletOtto had two feature wins late in the 1955 season at Alcyon driving the 999 sedan of Sonny
Dornberger and Dutch Mauk.
bulletThe Sonny Dornberger-wrenched #52 Car of Dutch Mauk won twice at Alcyon in 1955 with
George Moore as the driver.



Sonny's car was Track Champion at Alcyon, and Nazareth, 7th at Flemington, and won the
100 lap season ending race at Orange County Fairgrounds that October !


Otto Harwi had three feature wins in the Dornberger and Mauk 999 sedan at Alcyon in 1956,
and he won the track championship.


Harwi won 11 features at Nazareth in 1956 and the track championship in the Dornberger
and Mauk 999 sedan.


Otto won the 6/30/56 feature at Flemington and finished 7th in points that year in the
Dornberger and Mauk 999 sedan.


Otto won the 100 lap season ending race at Orange County Fairgrounds 10/13/56.

If you look carefully at the pictures of Sonny Dornberger's 999 car in the 50s section sitting in victory lane, you'll see on the hood, where all the other cars at the time said Sportsman, or Modified... his said "MORTIFIED".  I loved that.

Dornberger shop 3wide (1).jpg (215872 bytes)

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 DIRT MotorSports™ Northeast Hall of Fame

Pennsylvania legend Kenny Brightbill, DIRT's all-time Most Popular Driver Bob McCreadie and Central New York Sportsman standout Glen Reiners will be inducted into the DIRT MotorSports™ NorthEast Hall of Fame on Memorial Day Weekend. These three driving greats add their names to a growing list of Modified legends that was started in 1992 when the building was officially christened the DIRT MotorSports™ Hall of Fame and Classic Car Museum in Weedsport, N.Y.

The 2006 Induction Ceremonies will take place Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. in the Hall of Fame & Classic Car Museum. The 6 'clock racing program at Cayuga County Fair Speedway will be highlighted by the 100-lap Bill McNabb Hall of Fame Classic, the third scheduled points event in the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series.

Still active today aboard his no. 19 big-block Modified machines, Sinking Spring, Pa. veteran Brightbill continues to be competitive in his fifth decade of open-wheel racing. Forever recognized as the all-time feature winner (135) at the now defunct Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds, the "Shillington Slingshot" has amassed over 400 career victories with one of his biggest coming in the 1988 edition of the Eckerd 200 at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse during Super DIRT Week. From 1976-78 he captured 95 checkered flags at a dozen tracks including Rolling Wheels (NY) Raceway, Bridgeport (NJ) Speedway and Nazareth (PA) Raceway.

Climbing on the DIRT bandwagon in the early 1980s, McCreadie solidified his status over the next quarter-century by becoming the organization's first driver to reach the 300-win plateau (1981-2002). His short-track career began "barefooted" in 1971 and since first visiting victory lane in '75 more than 500 more trips have made him a household name far beyond his north country roots. DIRT's four-time 'Most Popular Driver' from Watertown, N.Y. owns title race victories in the Eckerd 200 at Syracuse (1986) and Eastern States 200 at Orange County Fair Speedway (1994), while a record that has carried into the new millennium remains his all-time mark of 43 DIRT big-block wins set in 1994. He continues to race today steering the famous no. 9 Kinney Drug Stores-Syracuse Frame Service mount in special events throughout the Northeast, more recently concentrating on those scheduled closer to home in the Empire State.

As the Pioneer Committee's selection for 2006, Reiners collected feature wins throughout the Central New York circuit and around the Finger Lakes region during the 1950s. Emerging from behind the scenes as a mechanic, he made his stock car racing debut at Bath Speedway in 1953. Soon after changing the car number from 193 to his signature 194, he became one of the most dominant Sportsman campaigners of his time. Running at tracks in Naples, Hornell, Chemung, Canandaigua and South Seneca, Reiners took center stage with season point championships at Maple Grove Speedway (1955-58) in Waterloo and Dundee Speedway (1957-58). He lost his bout with cancer in 1994 and is survived by his wife Edna from Penn Yan, N.Y.

Also receiving recognition during the induction ceremonies will be Joan and Harvey Fink, while the late Joe Pitkavish and Sonny Dornberger will be honored posthumously on this special occasion.

The Finks enter the Hall of Fame sharing the Leonard J. Sammons, Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to Auto Racing. Gaining ownership and operating weekly Brewerton (since 1991) and Fulton (1998) speedways during the summer months, Joan and Harvey have found success with their Central New York twin-track circuit attracting many of the biggest Modified stars in DIRT racing today. Established by the founding Benway family in 1986, the annual Victoria 200 Weekend at Fulton continues to be recognized as one of the premier short-track racing events in the Northeast.

Fielding an entry from the middle of the 20th century through the mid-80s, Gene DeWitt Outstanding Car Owner award recipient Pitkavish from Brackenridge, Pa. teamed up with driver Blackie Watt in 1960 and for the next 25 years the combination clicked like few others along the Western Pennsylvania-Ohio circuit. The pair reached a pinnacle in 1974, copping 36 feature wins and laying claim to season point championships in the Keystone State at Lernerville, Motordrome and Schuckers (Latrobe) speedways. The most successful of the famous black & orange #1 machines registered 110 victories during the early 1970s, with numerous Syracuse Super DIRT Week qualifiers and a special 50-lap win at Penn Motor Speedway topping the list. Son Jim Pitkavish filled in for Watt and won a pair of races in the late 1960s while grandson Jimmy is a current Late Model driver looking to match his father's feat. Joe Pitkavish passed away in 2002 and today Lernerville holds an annual DIRT Modified race in his memory.

Co-recipients of the fifth annual "Outstanding Woman in Racing" award are former racer and reporter Barb Anderson, Bicknell Race Products fixture Nancy Bicknell, and short-track competitor and photographer Kim Jennejohn.

Anderson, wife of the ageless stock car pilot Bill Anderson ---Brewerton Speedway's defending IMCA Modified points champion at the age of 71--- covered the Central New York dirt track action at Cayuga County Fair and Brewerton speedways for Gater Racing Photo News in the 1960s. As a Weedsport, N.Y. resident, she competed in powder puff derbies ---Weedsport Stockettes--- on the local circuit and most recently was stationed in the DIRT NE Hall of Fame in charge of merchandise. She remains car owner for her husband today and serves as crew chief and tire changer on race day.

A date with 'Mr. Small-Block' in the early 1970s turned into a motorsports career for Nancy Bicknell as she has become synonymous with Bicknell Racing Products and speedway activity throughout the country during the past quarter-century. With marriage to Canadian Hall of Famer Pete Bicknell finally becoming a reality in 1980 ---their wedding date was twice postponed due to business obligations--- Nancy became a driving force behind turning Pete’s Automotive from a Auto Service shop into a Race Shop in 1988 when BRP Canada was formed. In 1989, BRP USA was established and further expansion of corporate interests resulted in the creation of BRP South (Thomasville, NC) with products currently sold from coast to coast throughout the entire year. Along with partners Randy and Tracey Williamson, the Bicknell’s took control of Merrittville (Ont.) Speedway in 2003 and today daughter Erica serves as track general manager.

The selection of Jennejohn puts her name alongside late husband Bob Hunter, who earned the Sammons Outstanding Contributions Award in 1995 for his work in motorsports photography. Although Kim's own role as a track photographer began in high school, as a result of Bob's connections she got her first start behind the wheel of a race car in 1983 at Perry (NY) Speedway in the Ladies Pure Stock division. Around the same time, Jennejohn and Hunter formed J&H Photo and they were married in May, 1989. Over the years Kim competed in both full-fender and open-wheel classes on both dirt and asphalt tracks. Prior to ending her short-track racing career in 2004, she became the first female driver ever to qualify for the Modified 'Race of Champions,' finishing 30th in the 53rd edition staged at Oswego Speedway in '03.


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Visitor's Comments To add your comments about THIS Page - Click Here
Date: Visitor's  Name:


04/06/06 Todd Lewis For a few years beginning in 1989 the Burket 27KC was equipped with Dornberger Engines in fact in 1989 one motor Bob had Sonny build had over 1200 laps before it was freshened in fact the longer we ran it the faster it got.

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