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2017-18 Ohio Challenge Cup season preview

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#1 Justin A. Porter

Justin A. Porter

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:43 AM

On September 23rd, the Ohio Challenge Cup will start its historic ninth season. Having undergone a resurgence and with racers representing two countries and four states, it's safe to say that things keeping looking better and better for Ohio's Stamped Steel Series. 


Our season kicks off at Haven Raceway and Hobby in Elyria, Ohio on September 23rd. This is the fourth year that Haven has hosted the OCC and the second year it has hosted the season opener. Residing in the historical location of the famous Hubbell-owned Slot Shop, the big news at Haven is the OCC debut of their new 165' Ogilvie Hillclimb. This track made its mark previously as the private test track for Parma International and should prove both fast and tricky for OCC racers. Last season, Bud Bartos made a guest appearance to claim the GT1-A win, with Eric Shirey starting his tear through Group 10 and GT1-B winner Jeff Henes staking his claim early to a place in GT1-A for the 2017-18 season with a win by panels over Eric Shirey in GTP.


From the big Hillclimb the Ohio Challenge Cup travels on October 21st to HMS Speedways in Bellevue, Ohio. HMS has been a long-time OCC supporter, having hosted the series since 2010 and in 2016 setting an all-time series record for single-day entrants. Their 155' American King has proven a popular track on the calendar, and last year's special guest made for great memories for our racers. On the track, Brandon Barricello scored his first GT1-B win in another close one over Keith Nelson II. Bud Bartos scored another win in GT1-A by only a few panels over Eric Shirey. Shirey took a dominant Group 10 win, and GTP was the shock of the day with James Pace Jr. taking a commanding win that claimed him a GT1-A spot in 2017-18.


Going off of two of the longest tracks on the schedule, November 11th sees the OCC then go to Fremont, Ohio's beloved Bullring, the 95' American Royal at Fastraxx Raceway. In their four seasons on the schedule, this tight tricky track has made a reputation for brutal but spectacular racing and is a racer favorite. Defending GT1-B winner Jeff Henes picked up his first "away" win over journeyman Dennis Matovich and Fastraxx stalwart John Humberger. In GT1-A, Eric Shirey scored a commanding win over visiting retro ace Willy Custer. In Group 10, Willy Custer repaid the favor with Bud Bartos and David Decoster filling out the podium. For GTP, Custer defeated Shirey with Bartos a close third. 


December 16th will be the first of the two Pennsylvania visits for the Ohio Challenge Cup with a return to the infamous 100' Ogilvie Reverse Orange at North East Slot Car Raceway. Another of the tracks in their fourth season on the calendar, NESCR is the home of the OCC's own Pennsylvania Posse who have very carefully guarded their victory lane the past few seasons. 2016-17 was no exception as Lorenzo Frietze picked up a solid GT1-B win while Dan Ebert walked off with GT1-A. However Eric Shirey struck back for Ohioans as he grabbed both Group 10 and GTP. 


An exciting new addition for the 2017-18 season, January 27th is the Ohio Challenge Cup's first ever trip to Columbus, Ohio's Tom Thumb Raceway and Hobby. The 155' American King at Tom Thumb may be new to the OCC, but as host to the R4 it's internationally recognized as one of the great hubs of the sport. The inaugural winners at Tom Thumb will know they've achieved something special with a win on this King. 


Traveling from one of the oldest king tracks in the country, the Ohio Challenge Cup then goes to one of the fastest as February 10th sees the series tackle the swooping 155' Gerding King at Mark's Model World in Canton, Ohio. In the shadow of the Football Hall of Fame, Mark Kitto's King produced one of the stories of the season as Eric Shirey claimed a full sweep of GT1-A, Group 10, and GTP while local Greg Miller achieved an impressive GT1-B win over Keith Nelson.


The fastest track on the calendar gives way to the trickiest as the Ohio Challenge Cup returns March 24th to Washington, Pennsylvania's Washington Slot Car Club and its 110' Chris Dadds UK Black. The only flat track on the OCC calendar, WSC became a fast favorite of racers thanks to its tricky layout and close racing. In its debut, Brandon Barricello picked up the win in GT1-B while Alpha man and ISRA hardliner Greg Mayer achieved a sweep of his own through GT1-A, Group 10, and GTP. 


Finally, the Ohio Challenge Cup goes right back to where it all started as Karl Hoffheim's Race O' Rama in North Baltimore, Ohio hosts on April 14th. The 105' Chris Dadds Paperclip is best known from its prior home at J&B Raceways in Fremont where it hosted the very first Ohio Challenge Cup event. Deceptively fast given its size, last year Keith Nelson scored his first GT1-B win on his home track, while Eric Shirey scored the second of his two GT1-A, Group 10, and GTP sweeps. 


After the close of the season, we'll travel on May 12th back to Fastraxx for the traditional Ohio Challenge Cup 4 Hour GT1 Enduro and Awards Ceremony. This should be a particularly entertaining enduro on the challenging Royal and a day of fun for all. 


From the entire Board of Directors of the Ohio Challenge Cup, I'd like to thank all of the track owners; Matt Porter, Kit Henry, Chris Earnhardt, Lester Lucas, Mike McMasters, Mark Kitto, Ron Culp, and Karl Hoffheims for their hard work in supporting the Ohio Challenge Cup. It's going to be an amazing season and we can't wait to get racing!

Operator - Haven Raceway in Elyria, OH
Series Director - Ohio Challenge Cup

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