All System’s A Go For The Indoor Auto Racing Championship Event In Atlantic City
Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / LEN SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The track is built and the Indoor Auto Racing Series is ready to go racing inside Atlantic City, NJ’s Boardwalk Hall for the 19th running of the NAPA KNOW Racing Weekend this weekend, Friday and Saturday Jan. 28-29.
On Wednesday, series staff completed the construction of the race track and race teams began arriving to park their trailers in anticipation of Thursday night’s open practice session that is open to only those who purchase a weekend pit pass.
Over 130 competitors, spread over the three divisions of racing, TQ Midgets, Slingshots and Champ Karts have filed entries for the prestigious event.
The TQ Midget entry list reads like a Who’s Who in auto racing including four drivers who have won the past nine Saturday night 40 lap Gambler’s Classic.
Popular Andy Jankowiak, Tonawanda, NY, ‘Classic’ winner in 2019 and 2020, could become the first man to win three straight Classics.
Two three-time winners, Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, NY, (2012, 2015, 2016) and Anthony Sesely, Matawan, NJ, (2012, 2015, 2017) could make ‘Classic’ history by becoming the first four-time ‘Classic’ winner.
Ryan Flores, Davidson, NC. (2018) will be bidding for a second ‘Classic’ win. Flores comes into Atlantic City having won the Indoor Auto Racing Series season opener in Allentown, PA’s PPL Center on Saturday, January 8.
Mike Christopher, Jr., Wolcott, CT., who will be a first time entrant in the Gambler’s Classic, is the nephew of the late Ted Christopher, who won The Gambler’s Classic in 2009 and 2011. After an Indoor Series debut in Allentown, he’s expected to be a contender.
Mooresville, NC hot shoe Max McLaughlin also be making his first ever Atlantic City start after making his series debut as well in Allentown.
Three-time and defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Touring Series champion Justin Bonsignore returns to the series to drive Jason Simmons’ No. 98 TQ, the same car that was driven to a Qualifier victory and a top ten A Main feature finish in Allentown, PA two weeks ago by Billy Pauch, Jr whose sister is getting married on Saturday.
Simmons, of Fulton, NY has also entered a second car, numbered 98T, for 2019 Oswego Speedway Super Modified Classic winner Tyler Thompson to drive. Simmons has also filed entries for a pair of Champ Karts.
No less than four Catalano brothers, from upstate Ontario, NY, are entered for Atlantic City. Timmy, Tommy and Trevor will run TQ Midgets; youngest brother Tyler will campaign a Champ Kart.
The PA Posse will be out to win the Gambler’s Classic for the first time in 12, just the third time in history. Matt Janisch of Nazareth or Tim Buckwalter of Douglasville could be just the guy after constant up front finishes. Jansich’s teammate, noted Young Gun Briggs Danner of Allentown and Pat Bealer of Leighton are also expected to be in the hunt.
Recent entries from Dylan Woodling in a radical TQ Midget he debuted in Atlantic City in 2020 and Kalamazoo, MI driver Grant Valkner in a Lou Cicconi TQ will also be someone to keep an eye on.
In the Champ Karts, Doug Stearly, Trappe, PA, will be bidding for a third straight A-Main Gambler’s feature victory. Stearly also has fielded an entry to race in the TQ Midget field.
Scott Neary, Columbia, NJ won the 2020 Slingshot A-Main, and is in the field for the 2022 race as well.
Among those who will be contending for the win with Neary is Morgan Rochelle-Bealer, who was crowned Aqua-Duck Water Transport Ms. Motorsports 2022 on January 22 in Oaks, PA.
Rochelle-Bealer made her first Indoor Slingshot start on Jan. 9 in Allentown, PA and finished 15th in the feature. Were she to win the A-Main in Atlantic City, she would be in the unprecedented position of receiving and presenting the race trophy.
Good seats for both night remain available at Ticketmaster, a direct link is available from the series web-site or daily at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office where the price is increased by $5 the day of the event.
For everyone’s safety at the event, the state owned building will require fans to wear a mask when they enter Boardwalk Hall and be recommended when they are walking around the building. They will not be required to wear a mask when in their seat or when they are eating or drinking. Masks are not required in the privately owned casinos.
After this weekend’s Atlantic City’s events the series will conclude in Syracuse, N.Y. at the New York State Fairgrounds Exposition Center on Friday and Saturday, March 11 & 12.