PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Before the dawn of a new season at Port Royal Speedway, the finishing touches are applied to the front stretch.
This may seem like a big task, but it’s probably one of the easier projects Thompsontown’s Annika Koser will complete all year.
There’s a way of showing your love for racing. There’s also a way of doing it as a profession, and not just being a part of a team.
You may have seen her work, or may not have realized you see it every time you head to the Speed Palace. Some are small and very detailed, while another fills the entire front stretch.
Sprint cars are a work of art; Annika’s work of art. She’s turned her love for racing into a craft.
Annika always knew she wanted to have a career in art, but didn’t know how to get it going until her dad pushed her outside her comfort zone.
“My dad kept pushing me to paint a car. I said I’m not going to be any good at that, I’m not even going to try and he finally got me to do one. It was right after Greg Hodnett passed. So, I did one and ended up giving it to Sherry Hodnett and when I posted it, a bunch of people were like, hey, if I send you this picture can you paint this for me," said Annika Koser.
That one painting has turned into nearly 50 different pieces so far. Every single sprint car painting has a story told by each brush stroke.
“This Brian Brown one, he only comes here like once a year, and people kind of love him for it. That one I was kind of surprised it did so well but it’s better than just the background because it tells more about the event itself. Then, just the car on the track. Obviously, that’s part of it but the thing people remember most about everything that happens around it and then, of course, the Williams Grove bridge and obviously the story behind that is a lot bigger than just the bridge itself," said Koser, describing a few of her paintings.
She spends hours and hours on every little detail, with pieces taking around three weeks and 40 to 70 hours to complete.
Annika uses acrylic paint and says it dries faster and gives her the ability to layer – especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty details. From the dirt to the chips in the wings, but most importantly, the sponsors.
“It’s a lot of patience and a steady hand but the tape is my best friend when it comes to doing the wings and stuff like that. The wheels are always a huge challenge, too. I always just save them for last because I avoid them forever," said a chuckling Koser.
Koser acknowledges that she is nowadays taking her love for racing to a creative and unique level.
“It’s weird to me that I can call it a job, and I still pinch myself once in a while, or I’ll be sitting at my desk and say, 'This is my job.' This is what I get to try and make a living off of and it’s weird to me because I say it all the time. But I feel like I’d be doing it anyway because I love painting. The fact that people let me do it for work is just crazy to me."
You can see her work here.
Port Royal Opening Weekend
Opening Day at Port Royal wasn't timid of putting on a great show. The mayor led the field to green. Jeff Halligan quickly took the lead in one and two. You could have easily thought Halligan was going to run away with it.
A late caution kept Parker Price-Miller and Dylan Cisney within striking distance. With two laps left, the 'law firm' got a run down the backstretch, but Cisney had even more momentum to make it a three-way battle for the lead.
Then, a drag race down the front stretch with the white flag in the air as Cisney steals the lead away. The hometown hero takes the first race of the season at the Speed Palace.
“It was a lot of luck. You have to be in the right place at the right times and just have to be patient. Things just fell our way the last couple of laps and we stole one from the other two guys," said Dylan Cisney.
Two division opener, in his very first super late model feature, Dillan Stake leads every lap for his first opener and first ever super late model feature.
“It’s great to start the season out this way. It’s a lot of hard work in the wintertime. To start the season out like this, I can’t thank my crew and my family and everyone involved," said Stake.
Also, a nice win when the track ups the purses for the season.
A fabulous final handful of laps at Lincoln. Rahmer charges from 15th to catch Danny Dietrich for his second feature win of the season.
World of Outlaws
Down in gator land, Logan Schuchart doesn’t pick off a win but is the most consistent driver and picks up his second big gator in three years at Volusia.