Getting Up To Speed With…Robert Summerhalder
By Ben Deatherage
(Photo Courtesy of Ken O'Neil)
For those that have been around Sunset Speedway Park the last few seasons there is a rising star in the Street Stock ranks. The second generation driver hailing from the city of Portland has consistently improved year after year, his name Robert Summerhalder. Summerhalder’s background in racing not only consists of him being a driver but also a crew member. And he’s quite a diverse one at that holding a résumé that includes pavement cars, dirt cars, midgets, and sprints.
Robert Summerhalder would get his first crack at racing at Sunset Speedway Park in 2007 driving Terry Mayhew’s Tracer entry in the Pure Stock division. Since that day he has won the 2012-13 Salem Indoor Speedway Mini Stock championship and was Rookie of the Year in the Pure Stocks and Street Stocks at SSP. Also a fun fact was that he pitted for current Sunset Announcer/Race Director Charlie Weaver back in the day at Portland Speedway as well as Darrell Hanson. Once Portland closed down Summerhalder would go on to help dirt Midget race A.J. Tipton out. And with that let’s get up to speed with Robert Summerhalder.
Driver: Robert Summerhalder
Home Track: Sunset Speedway Park
Occupation: Fence and Deck Contractor
Years Racing: 6
Classification: Street Stock/4-Bees
Team: SRC Motorsports
Chassis: 1980 Camaro/1993 Ford Probe
Sponsors: Shattercrystal.com Game Codes, McCutcheon Fence, AFT Race Engines, Van Raden Industries, Darrell’s Economy Muffler, Economy Auto Parts, Ram Light Truck Salvage, Air Gas, Preval, Hall Tools
Special Thanks: Dale Summerhalder (Father), Amanda Summerhalder (Wife), Hannah Summerhalder (Daughter), A.J. Tipton, Terry Mayhew, Duane Heady, Matt Smith, Jason Downey, Dustin Canfield
BD: Last year you seemed to have some solid runs throughout the season finishing high in the final point standings in the Street Stocks?
RS: Yes. We had a lot of good runs to start the year off but had some issues during the middle of the year where we would finish mid-pack. All-in-all it was a great year especially being my rookie year in the Street Stocks.
BD: You operate both a Street Stock and 4-Cylinder team. Between the two which is more enjoyable?
RS: [laughs] Well I only ran the 4-Bee once and it ended up on its roof so I’d go with the Street Stocks. It’s a tough class to compete in and I have a lot of fun in it.
BD: You have been around the racing scene for a while. I think I first met you when you were helping Midget racers during the Northern Outlaw Midget Association (NOMA) days. That sound right?
RS: Yep. I pitted for A.J. Tipton’s Midget for a while but I would also help Lance Hallmark, Tim Pyle, or just anyone that needed a helping hand. I ended up sponsoring the trophy dashes for the NOMA/United Sprint Car Association (USCA) and Salem Indoor with Summerhalder Racing Collectables. That’s my internet store I had for die-cast replicas, t-shirts, jackets, etc. of NASCAR memorabilia.
BD: I’ve always seen you compete with the #32. Is that a number that is special to you?
RS: Yes it is. That number has been tied in with my family and their fence company McCutcheon Fence since the 1970’s. My family used to sponsor Ross Kusah during the old NASCAR Grand National West series. My dad ran the number in the 1980’s when he raced and I decided to carry on the tradition. My paint scheme is the exact same as my dad’s except for different colors.
BD: You seem to stay pretty busy even participating in Salem Indoor.
RS: Well this winter I haven’t been able to run as much. But yes I usually do it to keep myself competitive. It really has helped me for when the summer season rolls around.
BD: What are you looking forward to the most in 2014?
RS: I would say probably trying to chase a championship in the Street Stocks. If it wasn’t for the issues we suffered last year I feel we would have been a strong candidate to challenge Craig Loomis for the title. I’m hoping to carry over some of our success from last year into this coming season.
Sunset Speedway Park enters the 2014 season with an action packed schedule that you do not want to miss out on. The first event of the season is a test and tune play day scheduled to take place on Saturday April 5th while the first race of the year will be held on the 19th. To get the latest information and read the most recent stories regarding SSP log on to www.sunsetspeedwaypark.com.