48th Camp Barnes Benefit Stock Car Race supports youth

Longtime racer Wayne Hurd, 74, of Newark tinkers with his pride and joy, a 1937 Ford Coupe. Mr. Hurd with his 1937 Coupe was a winner in the 1997 Cape Barnes Benefit Race. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe

DELMAR — The purse money is quite lucrative.

So is the prestige.

What the Camp Barnes Benefit Stock Car Race is about is supporting youth, like 11-year-old Brody Callaway of Gumboro — among the thousands of happy campers who’ve experience the free summer camp operated and maintained by the Delaware State Police.

“This is a big thing for us. We all have fun. This is going to help us,” said Brody, who attended Camp Barnes in 2019 and was scheduled to return this year. “We didn’t have Camp Barnes this year because of COVID.”

While the pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 camp, it did not idle the high-speed support of the local and regional racing community, its many supporters and Delaware International Speedway and the Cathell family.

The engine roar of Dirt Modifieds, Super Late Models, RUSH Crate Late Models, 602 Sportsman Modifieds, Modified Lites, Delaware Super Trucks, Vintage Cars and Little Lincoln’s pierced the autumn air Saturday afternoon and evening in the rescheduled 48th edition that made Camp Barnes Benefit Race history.

“It was the first time we’ve had to go on a Saturday due to the delay in July,” said Delaware State Police Det. Jeff Hudson, coordinator of Camp Barnes Benefit Race. “We ended up picking a date in October, but of course with school in session and people back at work, it was difficult to do a mid-week show.”

Many fans were in the stands, amid signage encouraging facial coverings and social distancing.

The cars of David Jenkins (09) and Jim Dallett (41) get semi-airborne following a collision in a 602 Sportsman heat.

“It’s amazing to see you guys continue to come out and support us, whether it’s racers, sponsors or fans or spectators,” said Det. Hudson during the drivers meeting. “It’s been a long year for us and a long year for you guys, and we’re so glad that we were able to do this. Keep in mind, your continued support every year makes it so Brody (and others) can go to camp.”

“This is our biggest fundraiser for our camp, and you can hear what it means to our young people,” said Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Melissa Zebley. “And I certainly appreciate the hard work of all the men and women here tonight in partnership with the speedway to put this on. Much like this young man here, my mom was a graduate of the camp in the 1950s.”

DSP made good use of what state police hope will be just a one-year hiatus.

“While we had no campers his year, we took that time and opportunity to make some much needed renovations so that our campers — God willing next year — get the same experience that you just heard about,” said Superintendent Zebley.

Drivers, race teams and fans from Delmarva and beyond were part of this year’s event. It was part of a huge racing weekend that began with a big show Friday evening at Georgetown Speedway.

Delaware State Police Superintendent Melissa Zebley addresses the drivers prior to racing action Saturday in the 2020 Camp Barnes Benefit Race.

Jesse Leiby and younger brother Jimmy Leiby brought their family racing tag-team 602 Sportsman act from West Milford in Northern Jew Jersey.

“It’s our first time here at Delaware International. (Friday) night was our first time at Georgetown (Speedway),” said Jesse Leiby. “We did a couple travel races last year and did one this year and did good. (Friday) night we did really good, so we figured why not stick around. We were just looking to travel and have some fun.”

And fun they had as Jesse Leiby captured the 20-lap feature and brother Jimmy placed sixth.

While Mr. Leiby wasn’t aware of the deep history of the Camp Barnes race and the camp it supports, many drivers know of its intent and ature.

“It is definitely one that everyone wants to win, for sure,” said driver Don Lingo Jr., part of the Lingo Racing team operation from Millsboro. “We’ve come in second a lot and come up short many times. It is definitely a good benefit race for a good cause. I think everybody here will tell you it’s a race that you want to win during the season.”

Mr. Lingo Jr. finished fourth in the Super Late Model feature, finishing behind winner Ross Robinson, runner-up Mark Pettyjohn and Nick Davis.

Once again, Newark resident Wayne Hurd brought his blast from past — a 1937 Ford Coupe. The 74-year-old Vietnam veteran and U.S. Army medal recipient has attended many Camp Barnes races — as a competitor and as a supporting spectator. He began racing when got out of the Army.

His collection of commemorative Camp Barnes patches has no yearly misses.

“I think I have every patch,” said Mr. Hurd. “I haven’t come to every race. But when I showed up in 1997, I won the Camp Barnes race, with this car, in the Sportsman Division. The division has changed.”

Driver Don Lingo Jr., left, checks tires as his father, Don Lingo Sr., at right, helps to ready the No. 55 Super Late Model.

Located on Miller Creek near the Assawoman Wildlife area in southeastern Sussex County, Camp Barnes hosts 60 youth ages 10-13 each week for seven weeks during the summer months. Through a creative yet structured schedule, youth attending the camp develop and strengthen skills and positive attitudes.

Communication skills, cooperative learning, decision making, trust, teamwork, positive peer pressure, drug abuse resistance and conflict resolution are accentuated throughout the week by administration and camp counselors.

The camp is named in recognition of Col. Herbert Barnes, the state police superintendent at the time of its establishment who was instrumental in securing necessary funds and volunteer help to make the camp a reality.

The Camp Barnes mantra is that the “activities and opportunities each child experiences will make a lasting positive impact on his or her life.”

Besides state police, Camp Barnes facilities are also utilized by groups such as 4H and Special Olympics Delaware, and others.
Camp operation, maintenance and upkeep requires money.

With track work complete, Charlie Cathell parks the grader outside Delaware International Speedway’s dirt oval. The Cathell family has welcomed the Camp Barnes Benefit Race for several decades.

Mr. Hurd, who took his pride and joy ’37 Ford Coupe onto the half-mile clay oval in the all divisions parade warmup, said some drivers and teams have donated purses or portions of proceeds to Camp Barnes.

“We all donate it back right back to the camp,” said Mr. Hurd. “It is a great cause. Mr. Barnes that started the camp and it’s still going. It just means a lot to me.”

Tribute to Eddie Pettyjohn

This year’s race T-shirts and race program cover were dedicated to local racing legend Eddie Pettyjohn, who was honored during Saturday night’s intermission.

Mr. Pettyjohn, who began racing at age 18 in 1963, amassed hundreds of wins — 400 is the approximate tally — at Delaware tracks and in other states. As described in the program feature, his racing mission was “to race as hard as you can and as clean as you can …”

In 1973 and 1974, Mr. Pettyjohn competed in four NASCAR races at Dover, logging a Top 10 finish in 1973.

He passed his racing reins to sons Kenny, David and Mark Pettyjohn.

In the cover story, the Delaware State Police and Camp Barnes recognized “Eddie Pettyjohn as our honorary recipient for the 48th annual Camp Barnes Stock Car Race. Your dedication to your family and Delaware racing is admirable and an inspiration to all.”