Weedsport, NY — June 18, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
The DIRTcar Racing NorthEast record book lists Chris Raabe among the youngest winners ever. A recent bounty placed on the teenage Sportsman Modified sensation puts Raabe right at the top of those singled out for their success at such a young age.
“When we were first approached about the deal I was really excited, not only for the publicity it would bring to our team, but for the division as well,” said Raabe, now 17, and far more experienced after scoring his first DIRTcar Sportsman victory in 2005 at Brockville Ontario Speedway at the tender age of 14.
Continuing to compete weekly at Brockville (Sat.) as well as Thunder Alley Speedpark (Fri.) today, Raabe has already climbed to the top of DIRTcar NorthEast’s Sportsman feature win chart after eight checkered flags. Thunder Alley GM Chip Burdick quickly singled out the first-year (11th grade in U.S.) high school senior two weeks ago and the Napanee, Ontario speedster has remained on the radar ever since.
“This (bounty) has become really exciting,” Burdick stated. “It’s a lot of fun for the fans and even more for Chris. Every week there’s that suspense of not knowing and it just creates so much fun. Thanks to SUNY Canton, and of course Chris, for making this all happen. It’s a great opportunity for the Sportsman drivers to pick up some extra cash.”
Raabe won his fifth race out of six events run over the past weekend at Thunder Alley, prompting program sponsor SUNY Canton to increase the Sportsman incentive. If Raabe can finish the June 20 feature on the lead lap, any driver that beats him will pick up the $300 bounty. But if Raabe wins the Friday race he will collect a $200 bonus.
Yet if none of the criteria is met, the bounty will increase further and the following week the winner could earn $400 provided Raabe is still in the hunt. And again, a win by Raabe, who already collected the initial $100 bonus for his Thunder Alley victory on June 13, will reward him with $400 extra to take home.
“Actually, right now I’m expecting to win everywhere we go, we’ve got such a good team put together this year,” said Raabe, who will be in search of his first career tour victory when the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series resumes July 3 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. Raabe finished eighth in Rolling Wheels’ Sportsman Series special on May 26 and will have two chances to crack the winner’s circle Thursday at the ‘Fast Track’ with Twin 20-lappers headlining the Fourth of July holiday card.
“I’ve got more of an advantage on a short track running weekly at Thunder Alley and Brockville (both 3/8-mile), but size really isn’t an issue when everything is working right. The May race was our fifth at Rolling Wheels and we finally got a decent run. In the past it was always a DNF (did not finish) track so hopefully we can build on that,” noted Raabe, who is part of a summer soccer league when not chasing the checkered flag on both sides of the border.
The 2008 Sportsman Series is just two races old and Raabe would like nothing better than to garner his first win in a return visit to the popular 5/8-mile Elbridge, New York oval. The initial stops on the 17-event Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman trail already resulted in a pair of first time tour winners, including recent RWR victor Dan Wiesner.
“I like going to new tracks, trying to adapt and adjust to the changing track conditions, just like all the other travelers,” said Raabe, who will be dialing in owner Gary McColman’s black no. 01 Scott Industrial Services-Tyroute Communications/TEO entry when the talented teenager crosses back into Central New York on July 3. “Good drivers can usually find the fast way around once they get some laps under their belt.”
“And you can see who some of them are after just a few series races. Jeremy (Pitcher, points leader) is definitely a top contender being at the top of the standings and I know Mike (Bowman, 4th) is a strong runner watching him run a lot last year. But there are so many others that can win, and we think we’re one of them,” said Raabe, nephew of UMP/DIRTcar Street Stock chauffeur Todd Raabe, who is attending Napanee H.S. —20 miles west of Kingston, Ontario— and positioning himself in the field of Mechanical Engineering.
Raabe has been winning since he debuted in the go-cart ranks at age seven, competing in northern New York at the Route 58 cart track in Gouverneur and Can-Am Motorsports Park, where he caught the eye of current car owner McColman, who also heads MRN Canada. From a new go-cart and driver’s uniform the following year to more than 400 victories and a WKA national indoor cart title at age 13, Raabe has blossomed into a championship caliber driver in the DIRTcar Sportsman division.
“We got off to a tough start at Black Rock (DNQ, lost motor), but after Rolling Wheels there’s Brewerton and then Brockville so hopefully we’ll be up higher by then,” added Raabe, a former factory go-cart driver for Teo Fabrications founder Bobby Hearn, today steering an ’08 Teo Pro Car at Thunder Alley and on tour while saving his favorite ’06 Teo ride for weekly Brockville shows. Raabe sits 23rd on the Mr. DIRTcar Series points chart while leading both the DIRTcar NorthEast Northern Region and Thunder Alley standings and settling for second behind veteran Randy Gaudet at Brockville.
“I’ve been to all but Merrittville and Syracuse at least once so I think we’re still in pretty good shape. There’s still a long season to go, we’ll just have to see how the chips fall. Whatever happens we’re still planning to be in a 358 or Big-Block ride next season. After that it might even be on to asphalt, its really anybody’s guess where we go next,” figured Raabe, who finished 39th last season in the in the final overall Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman points chase following a 15th-place tally when the 2006 season ended.
For additional information, please contact Sportsman Series Competition Director Michael Sanchelli (cell 862/432-3597; e-mail email@example.com) or DIRTcar NE Competition Director Cory Reed at the Weedsport office (315/834-6606).
Be sure to log into the homepage at www.dirtcar.com to find out more about the entire circuit. For specific track information please contact the Rolling Wheels office on raceday at 315/689-7809 or visit www.rollingwheelsraceway.com.
2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE LAPS TRACK LOCATION/WINNER
Sat-Apr 5 50 Black Rock Speedway Larry Wight
Mon-May 26 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Dan Wiesner
Thr-Jul 3 2-20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Jul 4 30 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Thr-Jul 10 30 Brockville Ont. Speedway Brockville,ONT
Mon-Sep 1 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Sep 5 50 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Sat-Sep 6 50 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Sun-Sep 7 50 Humberstone Speedway Pt.Colborne,ONT
Sat-Sep 13 30 Genesee Speedway Batavia,NY
Sat-Sep 20 45 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Sep 27 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Oct 3 30 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Wed-Oct 8 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Fri-Oct 10 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sat-Oct 11 30 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
Sat-Oct 18 50 Orange Co. Fair Speedway Middletown,NY
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The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.