Evans City man wins school bus race
The annual summer school bus races at Lernerville Speedway began with a victory but ended with a crash for crowd favorites and veteran drivers Frank and Rose Spithaler.
Frank Spithaler, 75, of Evans City, won the men's feature race in the white and black Cow Patty bus after early leader Jordan Myers, in the AJ Myers bus, broke down mid-race.
Myers led the six bus race with Spithaler close behind until Myers' black and red bus began spewing white smoke and drove off the track. This left the door open for Cow Patty to cruise to a smooth victory.
Spithaler said in an interview before the race that while winning a school bus race takes speed and strategy, he mostly relies on luck. That proved to be true for the veteran driver.
“If you have a misfortune and your bus starts puking, I'll feel sorry for you for about this long,” Frank said “Then I'll pass you.”
The powderpuff race, however, was heated from the start as Rose Spithaler, 73, of Evans City, and Annette Iarrapino, in the red Buszilla bus, battled it out for first place. The two made contact repeatedly around the turns until it came to a head on turn four when Iarrapino took the inside line and bumped Spithaler in the Cow Patty bus.
The Cow Patty tipped on its passenger side and hit the turn four barrier hard, but came back down on its wheels and rolled to a stop.
Rose Spithaler jumped out of the back of the bus under the supervision of the Lernerville Safety Crew and threw up her hands to signify she was all right.
The Cow Patty was towed off the track. It remains to be seen if Cow Patty will make a return in the next school bus series in mid-September.
Helen Bauman, office manager at Lernerville, said the speedway has hosted school bus races at the four-tenth-mile oval dirt track for about 15 years. The Back to School bus race will be held Sept. 13 at Lernerville Speedway.
The buses are equipped with safety harnesses and an internal fuel cell to prevent fires in case of an accident, and all the glass must be removed from the vehicle. Anyone can enter the race, which consists of an eight-lap heat race and a 15-lap feature race for men and 12-lap feature race for women.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.