The 46th running of the Williams Grove National Open was delayed two weeks by rain.

In the process, it lost its World of Outlaws sanction and became an unsanctioned event, like it had been for many of its earlier years.

But the race still drew a fine crowd and a great mix of race cars.

There were 43 cars at this year's National Open, which was run in memory of longtime track owner Morgan Hughes, who died earlier this year. Many of the drivers in attendance were those who compete on the local circuit every week, but there were also some invaders to spice things up a bit.

When things were all wrapped up, the area's brightest rising star had the biggest win of his young career, and some of the area's best were still left searching for their first National Open win.

Red Lion's Cody Darrah graduated from high school in June, and added his name to the winner's list for one of the nation's biggest sprint-car races. Darrah was the class of the feature field on Saturday evening. He took the lead at the start, and never looked back. In the end, he beat the track's biggest winner ever to secure the $12,000 top prize.

Fred Rahmer had to settle for second place again in the National Open. It's the one race that the area's biggest winner has never won. In fact, the same can be said of the area's second-biggest winner of all time, Keith Kauffman. Early mechanical problems sidelined Kauffman and he was credited with a 24th-place finish.

This year's National Open was, in fact, run for the local racers, and the top local drivers excelled in the event.


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Here's an interesting fact. The top nine drivers in the overall Speed Dawg Point Standings all finished in the top 10 in the National Open. The only driver outside the area's overall top 10 to crack the top 10 in the National Open was fourth-place finisher Jim Siegel -- who ranks 17th in the local standings.

The only driver in the Speed Dawg top 10 not to finish in the top 10 in the National Open is Chad Layton, who finished 12th.

What about those visiting outsiders? They didn't fare too well. The highest finishing visitor was Knoxville champion, and former World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski, who was driving for former Grove champion Jimmy Nace. He finished 13th.

Western Pennsylvania kingpin Ed Lynch Jr. raced the whole distance, but ended up with only a 21st-place finish. Former Outlaw Tim Shaffer dropped from the event early and was credited with a 25th-place finish.

None of the rest of the travelers made it to the feature. Jesse Hockett was driving Tom Buch's No. 13 and missed the show by two spots, finishing sixth in the B-Main. Justin Henderson, who finished second at the Grove last week in Steve Miller's car, was 10th in the B-main. Western Pennsylvania ace Bob Felmlee dropped out of the B-Main, as did third-generation racer Lee Jacobs, son of the 1989 winner, Kenny Jacobs. They were credited with 18th and 19th spots in the B-main.
PIT STOP
UPCOMING SCHEDULE: The racing season is really winding down now.

Williams Grove, Port Royal, Selinsgrove and Trailway have all concluded their seasons, and this weekend Lincoln and Grandview will join that group.

Lincoln hosts the sprints and thundercars Saturday evening. The sprints will use a unique qualifying system on Saturday, just to try something different. Cars will be timed in their warm-up session to determine heat-race lineups. Then passing points will be used for the feature lineup. The thundercars have their final point race of the season. Lincoln has added a Sunday evening rain date for this show.

Grandview has the 5-25s Program Saturday, with features only for the URC sprints, ARDC midgets, 358 modifieds, Legends Cars and 600cc modifieds.

Susquehanna Speedway Park will have a two-day show over the weekend. Friday evening will be for qualifying and the 50-lap features will be run on Saturday evening. The street stocks, mini-stocks and Xtreme stock cars will compete, and each division has a 50-lap feature Saturday.

Susky has two more shows planned after this weekend. Oct. 25 is the "Candy Bowl," with the ARDC midgets, 600cc micro sprints, Legends, minivans and Women on Wheels competing. On Nov. 8, Susky will close down its season with the Turkey 200 Enduro Race. Classic cars and minivans are also on that program.

Of course, Hagerstown still has one show left. The weekend of the Oct. 25 and 26 is Octoberfest at Hagerstown. Sprints, late models, modifieds and 358 modifieds compete in that show.

One show to add to the racing calendar is the Thanksgiving weekend event at the Farm Show complex in Harrisburg. The wingless 600cc micro sprints will race inside the Farm Show building on Friday and Saturday of that weekend. Friday's show will pay $1,000 to the winner, while Saturday's event offers $5,000 to win. Sprint driver Lucas Wolfe has already entered the event.

Bryan Householder cover dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.