Checkered flag

Crowds cheered as drivers jockeyed for position during the finale Sunday of the 17th Red Cross Susquehanna 500 Mini-Indy race at Brandon Park.

“They race for fun but it’s still a competition,” said Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Chapter Executive Thomas Szulanczyk.

The championship race was won by the Williamsport Area School District and Student Transportation of America-sponsored racing team.

“We were very hopeful,” said Bill Bouse, a driver for the winning team. “We did great all weekend with no incidents. The whole team did a lot of preparation.”

Finishing in second place was the racing team sponsored by Domer’s Bar and Grill and Crouse’s Auto Body. King Racing finished third.

Bouse shared his winning strategy.

“Try to be consistent the whole way around the track. Maintain a steady lap time and don’t make a mistake like touching the tires that line the tracks,” Bouse said.

Since it was a charity event, the teams were especially supportive of one another.

“There have been teams that had trouble and we’ve sold or given them the parts that they need to try to make it a good event,” Jason Snyder, driver for the Glen O. Hawbaker Inc. racing team, said.

Unlike in non-charity racing, drivers were not allowed to hit or

shove each other, according to Snyder.

“The goal is to race as fast as you can but to do it cleanly and safely,” Snyder said.

Each new driver attended a safety meeting prior to competition, according to Snyder. Sports Car Club of America officials explained the meaning of the colored flags, as well as tips for avoiding accidents.

“Most accidents happen so fast that you’re done wrecking before you realize it,” Snyder said.

Several cars flipped at this year’s event after bumping the tires that lined the track, according to Bouse. Susquehanna Health employees were on hand to provide emergency medical services.

Only one driver sustained an injury – a minor scrape that didn’t require medical attention, according to Szulanczyk.

Michele Taylor, a first-time mini-indy attendee, called the race “really fun.”

“It’s a really good way to spend the Sunday. We’re enjoying it and the weather is great, too,” Taylor said.

Attendee Melissa Gardner said she and her family look forward to the event “year after year.”

“It’s just a fun family weekend raising money for the community. We never know when we’re going to need help from the Red Cross,” Gardner said.

All proceeds from the event will support disaster response programs in Lycoming, Clinton and Tioga counties.