“Bill Forney Memorial” to remember legendary Late Model as RUSH Late Model Tour returns on July 18; Sharon/Canfield Speedways Drivers Reuinion complete festivities
By Mike Leone
February 28, 2020
(Hartford, OH)…After nearly four years, the Pace Performance RUSH Late Models together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC is set to return to Sharon Speedway on Saturday, July 18 in what is expected to be one of the most anticipated Touring Series events of the season- the inaugural “Bill Forney Memorial”. In addition, the night will also feature the Sharon/Canfield Speedways Drivers Reunion for racers that competed at these historic speedways from 1949-1973.
The “Bill Forney Memorial” will start off paying $2,199 in remembrance of his famous candy-striped #199 Late Model, as the additional $199 has been added in Memory of Bill from Bill’s children, Mike Forney and Anita Carson. The event will kick-off a huge weekend of racing for the RUSH Late Model Touring Series during the midseason battle for the richest “Touring” point fund in Series history. The entire point fund has nearly doubled from years past with the 2020 champion taking home a stout $12,000. The following night at Eriez Speedway will be the “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance that is expected to see well over $30,000 in valuable product distributed to the racers!
The Tour last appeared at the 3/8-mile showplace in Hartford, Ohio in 2016 with a pair of Tour events. That was prior to the new red clay surface that has produced tremendous racing in recent years. The RUSH Late Models ran weekly at Sharon from 2011-2014. Will Thomas III is the division’s all-time winner with 13 victories. This will be a big night for RUSH as the RUSH Sprint Cars and RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will also be on the card.
“Our racers have been yearning to return to Sharon for several years,” acknowledged Series Director Vicki Emig. “The competition level has really ascended since our last visit and we can’t wait to see the cars race on the red clay surface. This will be a great weekend for RUSH racers to hit up two Touring events not far apart on back-to-back nights. We have to thank Stateline and Bradford Speedway for working with us and allowing their racers to compete in these events. Adding the Sharon/Canfield Speedway drivers reunion to this special night in Bill’s honor is a perfect fit for the fans and I believe it will truly be a night to remember!.”
Bill Forney, one of, if not the greatest racer to ever wheel a late model in the region, passed away on August 10, 2019 at the age of 92. Forney was a fixture at both Canfield and Sharon, but especially Canfield. Forney’s racing prowess earned him the Late Model track championship at Sharon in 1964, and an unprecedented seven championships at Canfield (1959-1960, ’61, ’63, ’65-66, ’68) – a track that had a national reputation for tough as nails competition. All totaled, Forney had hundreds of feature wins, many at these two tracks. And during this period was a rivalry rarely matched in the annals of stock car racing history lore- the legendary Bill Forney/Jim Bickerstaff battles. The two drivers were the undisputed leaders of their craft, and their weekly donnybrooks on the quarter-mile bullrings attracted fans by the throngs.
Forney was inducted into the inaugural Twin State Auto Racing Club’s Hall of Fame in 2010, and is also a member of the Cloverleaf Speedway (Cleveland) Hall of Fame. In his later years, Forney enjoyed getting together with old and new friends who enjoyed racing and its history. Many took him on excursions to race tracks and racing reunions. And as friends and fans knew, there was more to Forney than his expertise on the tracks, he was a gentleman of class, whose friendly demeanor put anyone at ease. Auto racing was lucky to have him.
“We’re honored the Forney Family is allowing their father’s memorial to be a RUSH event,” stated Emig. “We got to know Bill very well and he was certainly supportive of the RUSH concept and followed our Series closely right up until his passing. I’m sure he’d be tickled to know that his memorial event was a RUSH Late Model show at Sharon. Bill was a legend in local Late Model racing and is very deserving of a memorial race- one that we’re proud to have under the RUSH banner.”
In conjunction with the “Bill Forney Memorial” will be the Sharon/Canfield Speedways Drivers Reunion. Drivers that competed on the dirt at these speedways from 1949-1973 will be invited to the event free of charge and will enjoy a complimentary dinner in the pavilion prior to the event. Personal invitations will be sent to the 85 living drivers that are currently on the guest list and will be released soon; upon release, any eligible drivers missing should contact the RUSH Office. Other details surrounding the reunion will be released soon.
The RUSH Office will be handling all aspects of the reunion and interested parties are urged to contact RUSH, not Sharon Speedway, at (724) 964-9300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org once the information is released. A separate Facebook event has been created where additional details will be posted at the following link https://www.facebook.com/events/2431159570321978/. Interested parties are urged to interact with the event to stay up to date on the latest happenings.
The “Bill Forney Memorial” will start off at $2,199 to-win, $225 to-start along with a $200 to-win “Wheelman” Non-Qualifier and the Zarin Truck & Automotive $500 Club drawings; however, donations will be accepted at a minimum of $50 to enhance the overall purse much like what has been done over the years at the “Jook George Steel City Classic” at Pittsburgh.
Donors can be named to remember Bill Forney, racers, car owners, officials and others during the reunion time period or whatever one chooses; all contributions will be recognized prior to and during the night of the event. The following link is a printable donation flyer https://rushlatemodels.com/Forney%20Memorial%20Donation%20Flyer%202020.pdf.
RUSH Racing Series is brought to you by Pace Performance together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC along with the support of Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, FK Rod Ends, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, TBM Brakes, Performance Bodies & Parts, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Landrum Performance Spring, Ontime Body & Graphic, Trailer-Alarms.com, Zarin Truck & Automotive, Sherwood Wheels, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, and Wedge Motorsports.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at email@example.com and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.