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ISMA makes return to Lancaster

Dave McKnight Jr., resides in Brampton, Ont., but he's very familiar with the oval layout at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway.

Early in his 30-year racing career, McKnight authored victories at Lancaster, initially with the Lucas Oil Can-Am Midget Racing Club and then with the International Supermodified Association.

McKnight, 57, and ISMA, both will return to Lancaster Saturday when the traveling ISMA group pays a visit to Lancaster for the first time in several years.

Saturday's visit by ISMA's winged, open-wheel, open-cockpit machines will be their first to the Gunnville Road asphalt oval since 2003. ISMA's last visit to Lancaster on Aug. 2, 2003 saw Chris Perley execute a last-lap pass of Greg Furlong in lapped traffic to record the 50-lap triumph.

Also on Saturday's schedule at Lancaster will be the return of the Can-Am club after a several season absence. The club was set to return to Lancaster last August but was rained out.

Can-Am Midgets are smaller winged, open-wheel, open-cockpit race cars that are close replicas of their Supermodified cousins. The Can-Am club is in its 52nd season, and Saturday's race is the only Can-Am race in the United States currently scheduled for 2017.

McKnight, ISMA's 2001 points champion and 18-time career ISMA feature winner, has continued to race Supermodifieds since ISMA last appeared at Lancaster and is looking forward to returning. He has driven the last four years for the team owned by retired Supermodified driver and fellow Canadian Gary Morton.

"Myself and ISMA as a whole are excited about getting the opportunity to race at Lancaster again," McKnight said. "I always enjoyed racing there because I have two victories there with ISMA. I also won at Lancaster when I was with Can-Am club. I am a two-time (1984, 1990) Can-Am Series outdoor champion.

"I am familiar with Lancaster and the gentlemen I'm racing for now, Gary Morton, has raced there himself, so between Gary's experience and my experience we're hoping to come out of there with a victory. We have the car and we have the knowledge so the two of us can get the job done." McKnight does not currently have a Can-Am ride.

Still going strong, Perley won the most recent ISMA outing of 2017, last Saturday at the Oswego Speedway.

Historical footnote: After ISMA was formed in 1974 by drivers  Jim Shampine and Nolan Swift, the organization ran its inaugural event at Lancaster on July 3, 1974, won by Ohio's Todd Gibson.

Rain woes

Much of the area auto racing community was glad to see the month of May fade into the history books after producing one of the most rain-filled months in recent memory. Most tracks suffered multiple full or partial rainouts . Even on days without rain certain tracks could not run because of saturated grounds.

Hardest hit was Ransomville Speedway, which was able to complete only one feature race the entire month. Anthony Guthrie captured the 4-Banger main event on May 12 before inclement weather wiped out the rest of that evening's race card.

Ransomville's practice day on April 28, plus complete race programs on May 5, 19 and 26, were lost to bad weather. Ransomville management has added a special rain make-up event on June 26.

Freedom Motorsports Park has had two of its first three race dates washed away. Both the season opener on May 12 as well as this past Friday's ULMS Super Late Model programs fell victim. Freedom was able to go green on May 19.

Holland Motorsports Complex has not escaped the rains. After having its practice day cancelled on May 13 due to saturated grounds, the southern Erie County oval was able to get in its May 20 opener but rain shut it down this past Saturday.

After completing two stock car programs during April, Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway got in  two of its four scheduled stock car dates in May.

Little Valley Speedway's season opener this past Sunday was rain cancelled.

Humberstone opener

Humberstone Speedway was able to finally get its 58th season off the ground this past Sunday. A good count of 85 cars, as well as a good race-starved grandstand crowd turned out.

Humberstone's season opener, postponed from May 21, included the first race for the new traveling Bellinger Electric Lightning Sportsman Series. A field of 32 cars came hoping to qualify for the 24-car, 40-lap feature. Chad Chevalier passed Cody McPherson in the late going to win.

The Bellinger series, which was created this past offseason by Sportsman driver Brian Bellinger, will continue at Freedom this Friday night in a $1,000.0- to-win event.

This Sunday, Humberstone will have a noted racer in the house when former NASCAR Cup Series driver Ken Schrader visits the Port Colborne, Ont., oval to race with the UMP Modifieds.

Family affair

The Johnson family had an enjoyable evening during the running of Genesee Speedway's event last Saturday night at the Batavia dirt oval co-promoted by Jim Johnson.

Johnson's son Jimmy Johnson was victorious in the Crate Late Model headliner while the daughter Sarah Johnson captured the checkered flag in the Sportsman race. Both siblings led every lap to win their first career races in those divisions.

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