BY KEN BRUCE – The year 2023 was another banner year at Big Diamond Speedway for promoters Jake and Jasmine Smulley. Great competition with multitudes of different winners, new champions, visits from some great traveling series, and best of all, great crowds each week. It definitely was a year to remember in coal country.
Before we get into the year’s particulars, the track would like to thank the sponsors. Quandel Concrete (358 Modifieds), USS Achey Inc (602 Crate Sportsman), Red White and Blue Autos (Roadrunners), and Big Creek Concrete (602 Crate Rookies). We are also happy to announce that each sponsor listed above is returning for 2024.
In the Quandel Concrete 358 Modified division, we had a total of nine different winners with Brett Kressley and Duane Howard leading the way with three wins apiece. The drivers with two wins were Mike Gular, Louden Reimert, and Nick Rochinski. Craig Von Dohren, Tim Fitzpatrick, Ryan Watt and Anthony Perrego all registered a single win each. Note: Anthony Perrego also won the SUPER DIRTcar Series, but this article is just referring to 358 Modified wins.
There are many signature wins each year at Big Diamond and this year there were no drivers able to win more than one. The season opener Thawl Brawl went to Craig Von Dohren, and Duane Howard was the winner of the Money in the Mountains. The Georgie Stevenson Memorial race was won by Ryan Watt. The Prelude to the Coalcracker was won by invader Anthony Perrego with Louden Reimert winning th grand-daddy of them all, the Jack Rich Inc Coalcracker 72.
Of course, the main battle each season is for the points championship. After not being able to close the deal in 2022, Brett Kressley came back in 2023 with a vengeance and was finally able to win the title. For Kressley, it was his first ever championship in the modified division. Kressley’s season did not get off to a great start as the No. 19K suffered a couple of early season engines woes, but Kressley rebounded after that and was able to win three times and very rarely finished outside of the top five enroute to the championship. Quandel Concrete 358 Modified Top Five in points were Brett Kressley, Mike Gular, Louden Reimert, Jeff Strunk and Duane Howard.
The USS Achey Inc 602 Crate Sportsman division was as competitive as ever with seven different drivers finding victory lane. Logan Watt, Jordan Henn and Danny Buccafusca led the victory parade with three wins each. Kevin Olenick was the only other driver with multiple wins, winning twice. Single wins went to Paulie Hartwig III, Mike Loney and Brandon Edgar. There were some legendary battles throughout the year between Henn, Buccafusca, Watt and Edgar, with the winner often determined by who could ge through the traffic first to get to the front. By virtue of his three wins, Buccafusca became the all-time leading winner in the 602 crate division. Jordan Henn held off a determined Danny Buccafusca to win the season long points title with Kevin Olenick, Logan Watt and Brandon Edgar completing the top five in points.
The USS Achey Inc 602 Crate Sportsman year was highlighted with Buccafusca’s entertaining victory lane interview, Logan Watt winning the first two races of the season, Jordan Henn winning the title and Brandon Edgar winning the Crate 602 Sportsman Coalcracker 25 lap race. It was a fitting end for Edgar who had not won a race all season despite multiple runner-up finishes.
The Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners saw a season long battle between Chuck Fayash and Alex Schoffstall. These two drivers battle tooth and nail until late in the season when Schoffstall missed the final few shows due to mechanical problems. Fayash pulled away at the end to win the championship, but it was Schoffstall who became the division’s all-time leader in wins. The Roadrunner division surely put on some of the most entertaining races throughout the 2023 season.
The year 2023 saw Big Diamond Speedway host a rookie division for the 602 Crate Sportsman sponsored by Big Creek Concrete. The division was a success with many drivers winning throughout the year. The division was led by drivers Jax Yohn, Bryce Bashore, Brennan Chapman who all registered multiple wins and moving up to the USS Achey 602 Crate division as the year wound down. The final race for the rookie division was a historical event for the speedway with the race consisting of an all-female field won by Danica Getz over Brittany Edgar and McKenzie Smith. It was truly a night to remember.
As always, Jake and Jasmine Smulley put together a great schedule with many different series visiting the track. The Mid-Atlantic modifieds made their first ever visit to Big Diamond with former NASCAR standout David Stremme taking the win. The AMSOIL USAC Wingless 410 sprints also made a appearance as part of their Eastern Storm swing with Emerson Axsom taking the popular win. Other divisions appearing throughout the year were the Super Sportsman (Cliff Brian Jr), the PASS 305 Sprints (Zach Rhodes), the URC 360 Sprints (Josh Weller), the 410 Sprints (Freddie Rahmer Jr) and the Super DIRTcar Series with Anthony Perrego getting the big win. 2023 also saw many visits from Doug Borger’s XCEL 600cc Modifieds along with the Central PA Legends cars. It was a fun year to see so many different classes of race cars visit Big Diamond.
The speedway would like to thank all of our partners that made the 2023 season so special – Chris from Quandel Concrete, USS Achey, Inc, Art Baer of Red White and Blue Autos and the Getz family of Big Creek Concrete for sponsoring our divisions. We would also like to thank the many weekly sponsors that make all this happen each year. We thank DTD.tv for bringing all of the action to the fans weekly. A special thanks to Brad Keitsock, Kevan Schaeffer and the rest of the Big Diamond Dog Pound for their overwhelming support of Big Diamond Speedway in giving back to the drivers and teams.
The biggest thank you of all goes to Jake and Jasmine Smulley who continue to provide a speedway for the teams to race and for the fans to attend. Everyone knows that operating a racetrack is not easy these days with so many obstacles, but the Smulley’s continue to do so while showing it can be done successfully
Of course, we could not do what we do without an amazing staff starting with the tower staff consisting of race director Kasea Bauscher, Dereka Bauscher, Jennifer Umbenhauer and Brittany Edgar. Special thanks to Diane Devers who does an amazing job handling the pit office. Our security staff handled by Gary and to everyone who makes this machine work on Friday night’s. There are too many to name but you know you are and we cannot thank you enough.
Thank you to the Big Diamond fans, without you none of this would be possible. You are all truly the best fans in racing.
As I write this on Saturday night 12/29/23, there are only 15 more Fridays before the gates swing open for the 2024 season with the running of the Thawl Brawl! With the addition of Brett Tonkin, Frank Yankowski, Jack Butler along with Crate 602 drivers Brandon Edgar, Matt Yoder and Mike Schneck Jr who will all be moving up to the Quandel Concrete Modifieds, 2024 should be another successful season in