MONROETON – Sports have a way of providing moments that seem as though only Hollywood script writers could provide. Any dirt track across the country could on a nightly basis provide stories of triumph, failure and overcoming challenges.
Friday night The Hill Speedway in nearby Monroeton and the Maynard racing family checked all the boxes, dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s. Here is their incredible story.
Family patriarch, Billy Maynard, has a long and well-known history of racing in the Twin Tiers on pavement and dirt- spanning 31 years in all. From pavement Late Models to eventually pavement Modifieds, Maynard won in every division he competed in on his way to the top of the local racing scene.
Efforts that landed Maynard induction into the Tioga Motorsports Park Hall of Fame in March of this year.
His first victory in the Modified was one where no driver left disappointed. Maynard’s peers appreciated his hard work and never-give-up attitude that carried him to that first Modified victory- a quality that Maynard has drawn on heavily this year.
Maynard’s son Jake started his climb and fight for dirt track supremacy, competing in go-karts and slingshots. Jake would eventually find himself driving an IMCA Modified for the team owned by his father.
These two would find success right away and in all collecting six IMCA victories along the way. But a more recent health setback for Billy saw racing take the backburner as it was Billy’s turn to root and gouge in traffic in the fight for his life.
Maynard was diagnosed less than a year ago with cancer with a very poor prognosis. Everything came to a screeching halt for the Maynard family. The family’s sign shop business was sold, and Jake’s racing plans very much became a question.
But in tribute to his father and all the hard work that had gone into making their race team successful, Billy struck a deal for Jake to buy out the race team and venture forth on his own as Jake Maynard Racing. The car kept the number 69 and the graphics scheme was a throwback in tribute to Billy’s pavement racing days.
Billy has been seeking treatment and has been participating in a trial with a medication that came with no guarantees. But as of last Wednesday, he received news that the medication is doing exactly what his doctors had hoped it would do.
This news was way bigger than any feature win the team had accomplished up to that point Wednesday afternoon. The Maynards had scored the biggest victory of their lives although there is still more work to be done.
“With dad receiving the good news about his cancer Wednesday, we just went to the track in a great place,” Jake Maynard said Wednesday. “Every emotion ran through me on Friday night.”
Friday night at The Hill Speedway was their annual Fireworks Show which drew their biggest crowd of the season. A perfect backdrop for Maynard to put on a show only Hollywood could have predicted.
J.W. Lamphere and Ray McClure started the Modified feature race on the front row. J.W. set the pace for the opening laps, but defending champion Gary Lamphere was on a mission and grabbed the top spot on the third lap with Maynard following him through to take second.
The pair began to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, while keeping the fans on the edge of their seats with a close battle for the lead. Maynard took command just past the halfway point and fought off every challenge through to the checkered flag including an exciting restart with only one lap remaining.
The Maynard boys recently held an apparel sale touting a logo with Jake and Billy’s pictures featured with their respective racecars. The shirt also carries the famous song lyric “Carry on my wayward son.” An appropriate tagline for the situation they have faced head-on.
As you can imagine, Victory Lane was as emotional as they get. But the night was capped off with an embrace heard around the racing world between a father and a son.
A father and a son who have had to carry a heavy load on their shoulders not knowing what tomorrow will bring or next week or next month. But on Friday night, none of that mattered because on Friday night for a few hours out of the day a father and his boy didn’t have to think or worry about cancer.
They got to celebrate their grit, determination and hard work.
“The win meant everything to me,” Jake commented. “The car being a tribute to dad and it being my first season as a car owner/driver just makes it that much sweeter in front of our hometown crowd.”
Racing can be a fickle sport — one where you just never know when that next win or that first win is going to come. It is a sport where there is one winner and up to 23 losers at the end of any given feature event; however, nobody left a loser on this night.
Other feature winners from Friday night included Pennsylvania veteran Grant Hilfiger (Crate Sportsman), Matt Browning (FWD), Mike Chilson (Pure Stocks), Dustin Maynard (Street Stocks) and Larry Colton (RWD).
The Hill Speedway will be back in action this Friday night with 20 lap feature races in all divisions sponsored by Our Place Tavern. There will be a boys’ and girls’ bicycle giveaway with gates opening at 5:00, Hot Laps at 6:30 and Racing at 7:00 sharp!
On behalf of the racing world and sports in general — congratulations Jake and Billy!
Until next week, keep it on the cushion and keep the shiny side up race fans.