AMSOIL Sprints
Tuesday, 13 June 2017


The Gene Franckowiak-owned #3 of Shane Golobic for Eastern Storm. The Gene Franckowiak-owned #3 of Shane Golobic for Eastern Storm.



By: Ernie Saxton


The USAC AMSOIL United States Auto Club (USAC) Eastern Storm will bring the always exciting non-wing sprint cars to Pennsylvania and it all gets under way on Tuesday night at the Grandview Speedway.


The Eastern Storm will continue on Wednesday night, June 14 at the Lincoln Speedway, Thursday night, June 15 at Williams Grove then close out the weekend on Saturday night, June 17 at Port Royal and Sunday night, June 18 at the Susquehanna Speedway. This will mark the 11th annual swing of USAC here in the East.


One local car owner has been a behind the scenes advocate of non-wing racing and to have it return to the East. Reading businessman Gene Franckowiak is so committed to the success of the Eastern Storm, he is involved with at least three teams that will be racing in the AMSOIL USAC non-wing sprint events kicking off Tuesday night at Grandview. On race night, look for Franckowiak to be somewhere around the sprint cars of Shane Golobic, Thomas (T-Mez) Meseraull and Kyle Moody, as he has some involvement with each car.


Gene Franckowiak’s ties go back to the Reading Fairgrounds, working as a crew member in 1970 and he drove a sprint car for the first time in 1974. Very few know that Franckowiak was a driver, until he suffered serious injuries in a crash at Reading in 1976. Franckowiak drove a few more years before making a transition to being a car owner. He seemed to enjoy the car owner role as he loved working on cars, the friendships, traveling and the competition that comes out of racing.


If you know Franckowiak, he is never short on words and always has strong opinions, especially when it comes to capping the cost of sprint car racing. “I have a love of sprint car racing and fought hard over the years to keep costs down and the racing competitive for everyone, not just the fortunate few,” said Franckowiak.


“I was fortunate to have some great mentors in this sport like Lee Kunzman, Steve Chassey, Gary Bettenhausen, Rich Leavell, Larry Dickson, among others,” Franckowiak added, “I can honestly say that I cherish each and every friendship I have made past and present in my association with USAC and look forward to the Eastern Storm.”


Franckowiak is known today for having very good equipment, but that was not always the case, in fact, his nickname at one time was “Junkyard Gene”.


“I was not always in a position to have the best and I struggled for many years using other people’s castoff parts,” Franckowiak continued. “I was forced to leave the sport because of high costs and I vowed to work really hard in my career to make sure that doesn’t happen to more people.”


Franckowiak is a believer that non-wing sprint car racing is an affordable way to go racing.


Ironically, it was Gene Franckowiak who brought together USAC Race Director Greg Staab and local special events promoter Bob Miller in 2005. Miller, who also has ties back to the Reading Fairgrounds and had a passion to bring USAC back to the east. In 2007, the Eastern Storm invaded Grandview Speedway and introduced the return of USAC to Berks County, the first event since 1979 at Reading.


Looking to the Eastern Storm 2017, Franckowiak is fielding a car for California driver Shane Golobic that will be maintained by Dave and Mike Ely. Franckowiak, along with Mike Heffner and mechanic Sean Michael will have a car for T-Mez, Thomas Meseraull also a California resident. He is also helping local Pennsylvania driver Kyle Moody in his efforts in the Eastern Storm.


The AMSOIL USAC Non-wing Sprint Car Eastern Storm will open at the Grandview Speedway on Tuesday night. This will also mark the opening event of the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series presented by Pioneer Pole Buildings.


The Grandview Speedway events will get under way at 7:30 PM. Joining the USAC non-wing sprints on the program will be the 358 Modifieds chasing a $3,000 payday for the 30-lap run. Craig VonDohren, Duane Howard, Jeff Strunk, Ryan Godown, Billy Pauch Jr., Ryan Watt and Rick Laubach are some of the expected modified entries.


It’s off to Abbottstown, PA for a stop at the Lincoln Speedway, an Eastern Storm staple since 2010 bringing the series into night two on Wednesday, June 14. The 358 Sprints will be part of this doubleheader event that will carry a 7:30 PM starting time with gates opening at 5 PM.