Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 5 - Gary Stuhler - Hall of Famer

This Saturday at the Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky, Gary Stuhler will be inducted in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. And everyone would agree with me that the all-time leading feature winner at the Hagerstown Speedway is worthy of the honor. Stuhler's list of accomplishments is as long as any other regional star that has entered the Hall of Fame, and Stuhler will be a tremendous addition to the Hall of Fame in Kentucky. Let's take a look back at the career of "The Beast from the East" who continues to build on his career accomplishments to this day. Stuhler has won the Winchester 200 on an unprecedented ten different occassions. Stuhler first won the 200 in 1986, and then followed with victories in 1987, 1990, 1991 (Twin 50's), 1994, 1995, 1999, 2004, and 2005. No one else has won the Winchester 200 more than three times in their career, and Stuhler has managed to dominate the event like no one else in the event's history. Although Stuhler never competed that many years for track championships he was the Winchester track champion in 1989 and 1990. He won the track championship at Hagerstown in 1990, and 2003. In 2003 Stuhler won the track titles at both Hagerstown and Cumberland when promoters Frank Plessinger and Rick Jones offered a $25,000 bonus if anyone could win both track championships in the same year. Stuhler's single event accomplishments at Hagerstown also are unmatched by anyone else in the track's history. He has won the Conococheague 100 5 times in 1987, 1993, 1997, 1998, and 1999. He has won the Late Model portion of Octoberfest 4 times in 1988, 1996, 1999, and 2003. He won the Hub-City in 2002, 2003, and 2005. He won the Johnny Roberts Memorial in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1999, and 2002. He won the Stanley Schetrompf Memorial in 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1996, and 1997. He won the Shorty Bowers/Bull Durham Memorial in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, and 1999. He won the Ronnie McBee/Speedy Hays Memorial in 1988, 1992, and 1994. He won the Richard "Boney" Bonebrake Memorial in 1996 and 2003. He also won the Hagerstown Speedway's former Race of Champions event in 1988 and 1989. Enough with the local accomplishments. Let's look at Stuhler's accomplishments on the national level. Stuhler ranks 5th on the all-time STARS win list with 27 victories. He only trails Donnie Moran, Davey Johnson, Larry Moore, and Mike Balzano in that category, all of which were former STARS champions who followed the entire tour at one time or another. Stuhler never followed the entire tour. In 1998, Stuhler had what was most likely his best season ever. When he came to the World 100 at Eldora that year he was the leading feature winner in the nation. Stuhler won an unmatched 8 STARS events that season while only entering 24 of those events. He picked up STARS wins that year at Williams Grove, Cumberland, Winchester, Muskingum County, West Virginia Motor (2), and Hagerstown (2). The West Virginia Motor Speedway victories were Twin 30's that were run the day after the Dirt Late Model Dream race at Eldora was run. All of the countries best Late Model drivers were on hand at West Virginia and Stuhler took both of the Twin 30 features. In 1999, Stuhler picked up STARS wins at East Bay during the Winternationals, and won the Cornett Clash at Portsmouth, along with other STARS wins in the area. Bart Hartman used to refer to the times in which the STARS series visited the Mid-Atlantic region as the Gary Stuhler benefit weekends. There was defnitely a time in which Gary Stuhler was expected to win every single STARS race in this area, and he often did. In June of 1987 Stuhler officially put his name out their nationally when he won a 100 lap race at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway in which he lapped all but the top two cars. The legendary Jack Boggs finished second in that event, and one of the cars that Stuhler lapped was the legendary Jeff Purvis. In 1994, Stuhler won the STARS sanctioned Penn National 100 at PPMS. Perhaps one of Stuhler's greatest accomplishments was in 1998 when he won the 51st Anniversary 100 STARS race at Hagerstown after coming from the rear not once, but twice to re-take the lead and go on to dominate the feature event. The best part of his career came in the late 1990's, and it almost never happened for Stuhler. In the mid-1990's Stuhler was caught up in a wreck at Winchester that fatally injured Mike Clore. Stuhler suffered a broken ankle during that wreck, and during his time away from racing after that wreck seriously considered retirement. Despite the horrible tragedy that took the life of Mike Clore, Stuhler was able to come back from that accident and attain some of the greatest moments of his career. Stuhler has driven for many of the top owners in the history of the business including Bobby Allen, Speedy Hays, Dale Beitler, and currently for Glen Nininger. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Gary Stuhler is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, regional drivers of all time. There should also be no doubt in anyone's mind, including Stuhler's, that he is a Hall of Famer. Congratulations Gary on this tremendous accomplishment, you truly deserve it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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