Mark Shorb enjoys racing. Every Friday night you can find the Silver Run resident at the Trail-Way Speedway near Hanover, Pa., competing in the eight-cylinder thundercar division.
Since he started racing on the oval six years ago, Shorb has become one of the top drivers at the three-eighths-mile oval.
With only two races left on the regular schedule, Shorb is third in points without much chance of catching the leader. But after an off season last year, Shorb is extremely pleased and would have been happy to finish in the top 10.
"Last year was just a bad year all around," said Shorb. "Week after week it seemed like something always happened. This year, we started off by winning the qualifying heat the first time out in a new car."
After racing Ford Fairmonts, Shorb, 26, put together a 1984 Ford Thunderbird last winter. He recently sold the car and will finish out the year in a Fairmont.
"We backed the car in the garage at the end of last season and finished it in two months," said Shorb. "My brother, Barry, and me did the roll cage and everything ourselves. Now that we sold it we have another Thunderbird we got from Martinelli's in Taneytown, all stripped out, just waiting for the season to end so we can start on it."
Switching cars didn't affect Shorb's performance even though the T-Bird was much heavier. He hated to get rid of the car, but when a buyer came along he knew he could continue to race with the backup.
Shorb learned a lot from building the first T-Bird and plans to make the second one a little different and better.
"I want to make it lighter," said Shorb. "What we had this year worked, but we want to make the car a fast top-five one. We also plan on spending a little more on the motor, too."
Shorb started his racing career when he was a teen-ager. "I started competing in Mud Bogs," said Shorb. "But it got old pretty quick. You race for three seconds through the mud, then spend an hour cleaning off the truck. I tried some oval racing while in high school, but that didn't last long since I didn't know what I was doing. Then I tried a little drag racing, but got out of that after a short time."
Then six years ago, Shorb tried oval track racing again and got hooked up with Doug Devilbiss of Westminster. Devilbiss, a longtime late-model driver and car owner, became a very important part of Shorb's success.
"We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for Doug," said Shorb. "We would be nobody without him. He builds our motors. He's our main sponsor; we do what he tells us. We owe it all to him. He's been a friend of my dad and he came over to look at my car and he's been helping ever since. He knows what he is doing and not afraid to try something new."
With a third place in points almost certain, it will mark the fourth time in five years that Shorb has finished in the top five. Now he is hoping his new car will take him to the championship next year.
Last weekend in the Pennsylvania State Sprint Car Championship at Lincoln Speedway, Jesse Wentz of Manchester set the sixth-fastest time and finished third in the 40-lap feature. Cris Eash of Woodbine was sixth. Don Zechman of Westminster was sixth in the semi-late feature and Howard Williams of Westminster was 10th. Fred Cullem of Hampstead was ninth in the thundercar feature.
Mike Walls of Taneytown won his third four-cylinder pure stocks feature in four starts at Hagerstown Speedway. Walls started 12th and came through the field to take the lead on the eighth lap of the 10-lap event. Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead was seventh in the late-model feature and Paul Crowl of Upperco was 10th.
In drag racing at 75-80 Dragway, Mike Keefer won the Nostalgia Race in the ETK Class and his wife, Sandy, won the Powder Puff Race. There were 64 cars entered for the nostalgia race and it took Mike seven rounds in his 1972 Chevrolet Camaro to eliminate the competition. "The car was on the money, it wasn't me," said Mike, who teaches at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster. Sandy drove her 1978 Chevrolet Nova to a big win.
In other action at 75-80 Dragway, Matt Repp of Keymar won Class I and George Hoff of Westminster was a semifinalist. Roger Jorss of Westminster won Class II and Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge was runner-up. Repp then came back and beat Jorss for the extra bonus money. Marion Ford of Hampstead and Mark Hoff of Westminster were finalists in the motorcycles. Jarrod Spicer of Woodbine won the Jr. Dragster class.
Over the Labor Day Weekend, 7-year-old Luke Dempsey of Westminster went to the Quarter-midget Dirt Grand Nationals in Springfield, Ill., and finished third in the 30-lap A-Main. Luke set seventh-fastest time out of 40 cars in the Jr. Stock class to earn the pole in the B-Main. Luke then finished second in the B-Main to transfer to the A-Main. Dempsey started sixth in the main event and was in fourth by the end of the first lap. Dempsey finished in fourth and was awarded third when the third-place finisher was disqualified.