2021 News Stories
(Most Recent Appearing First)
Racer, Crew Member, Friend to The Racing Community Rich Swangler Passes
Racing's Rich Swangler (right), always with a smile, a well known friend to all in the local racing community, pictured above with driver and long time friend Johnny Leach (left).
4/14/21: Sad news has reached us on the passing of Rich Swangler.
A popular figure in the sport for decades, Rich drove the #034 back in the 70's at East Windsor Speedway. Rich later became a dedicated crew member for Johnny Leach Racing, and could always be seen with Johnny at various local speedways throughout the years.
In recent years, Rich took over running the tire trailer in the pits at New Egypt Speedway, which was a natural fit for Rich as just about everyone in the pits on any given Saturday night knew and respected him for his lifetime dedication to the sport, his helpful ways, and always with a friendly smile.
I was fortunate to be one of those folks who knew Rich, to say hello, and to have some small talk... going way back in the late 80's when he would stop by the #A car trailer, to chat with car owner Barry "Big B" Schenck. Rich was the type of person that when you saw him, it put a smile on your face, and those that know him will always have that memory of their friend Rich.
We offer our condolences to the family and to the many friends of Rich Swangler.
Modified Car Owner Pete Chesson Passes
...a sample of just a few of the #76 modifieds owned by Pete Chesson.
Photographer info/provider info as marked in each image.
Sad news has reached us on the passing of car owner/racing dad, Pete Chesson.
Many in our circles first became aware of Pete through his innovative red, white & blue dirt modifieds that wore the #76 from the mid 70's with drivers Stan Ploski, Billy Osmun and others. During the 80's and beyond, Pete's "Barker Bus" made a big entrance into the sport with drivers Vinnie Brown, Gary Butler and Billy Pauch. The car would become a fan favorite with "Take the Bus" becoming an often heard saying at Flemington Speedway, referring to the tremendous success that the car had!
In later years, Pete would go on to field sprint cars for sons PJ and James, with the family owned "Automotive Tire & Service Center" name on the wing. Both PJ and James would become winning sprint car racers, and would both go on to accomplish more in different levels of racing.
An innovator, a successful businessman, an accomplished car owner, and a dedicated family man, we send offer our thoughts and prayers to the many friends and to the family of Pete Chesson.
Hall of Fame Driver “Jumpin’” Jack Johnson Passes
Provided by Buffy Swanson
Photo by Bob Yurko
Weedsport, NY (April 1, 2021) – The Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame joins the racing world in mourning the death and celebrating the incredible career of “Jumpin'" Jack Johnson, one of DIRTcar’s all-time great heroes, who passed away after a long and courageous battle with ALS on April 1, at the age of 76.
Johnson, from Duanesburg, NY, was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2012.
Emulating his father Rollie, Jack began racing Modifieds in 1966 at the track he would call home for his entire career — Fonda Speedway, where he was an 11-time champion, a perennial fan favorite, and the all-time winningest driver.
In a career spanning 43 years, Johnson won 428 times at 35 different tracks in 10 states and two Canadian provinces. As good as he was in the short sprints, Jack was outstanding in the extra-distance races, winning prestige 200-lap events at Flemington (NJ), Lebanon Valley (NY), Orange County Fair (NY), Rolling Wheels (NY), Weedsport (NY), Susquehanna (PA), Devil’s Bowl (VT) and Fonda (NY).
But his greatest achievements came on the mile dirt tracks. In 1979, Jack was the first New Yorker to win a Super DIRT Week main event at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. He repeated that career-making feat in 1984. In Pennsylvania, Johnson had three wins on the Nazareth National mile and was the track’s 1983 champion.
In the 1980s, Jack drove his iconic orange #12A to six Mr. DIRT Modified series titles, in addition to Winter Tour point championships in both Florida and Texas.
Color photos: Top photo by Carl Becker. 2nd from top photo Rich Young. Bottom 4 photos from Ace Lane Jr.
Highly respected by his fellow competitors and beloved by a legion of fans throughout his life, Johnson took his final checkered flag in 2009 at Sharon Speedway in Ohio, before a hard crash at Fonda ended his career. In addition to his induction in the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame, Jack was also honored by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association and New York State Stock Car Association in 2012.
Following in the footsteps of the father he idolized, Ronnie Johnson became part of Fonda Speedway history in 2011, winning his first Modified title at the "Track of Champions."
A winner where ever he went... We send our condolences to the family, friends and many, many fans of Jack Johnson.
Modified/Sprint Car Racer Scott Pursell Passes
Photographer unknown/provided by Frank Eckhoudt.
Photographer/Provided by Ace Lane Jr,
Photographer/Provided by Ace Lane Jr,
2/23/21: Sad news has reached us on the passing of Scott Pursell.
A very exciting driver, Scott's racing resume will show that he was a two time Sportsman Champion at Flemington Speedway in the 80's, a Small Block Championship at Nazareth, and then went on to win back to back championships at the East Windsor Speedway in the early 90's.
When Scott decided to go sprint car racing, his winning ways continued as he became a multiple feature event winner with URC.
A true racing talent that we have lost way too soon.
We send our condolences to the family and friends of Scott Pursell.
Obituary and services information:
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