Scahdel photo

Herndon’s Brett Schadel, a former state wrestling champion at Line Mountain High School, is second in points in Selinsgrove Speedway’s late model division.

SELINSGROVE — As a wrestler, Brett Schadel won two state medals, including a PIAA championship.

As a race car driver for more than 20 years, that coveted track championship has eluded him.

The 1995 Line Mountain High School graduate finished second for three consecutive years (2012, 2013 and 2014) in the late model points standings at Port Royal Speedway. After a three-year hiatus, Schadel returned to race late models this season at Selinsgrove Speedway.

Guess where you can find his name.

In second place in the Selinsgrove late model point standings.

“Second is starting to suck,” Schadel said with a laugh as he talked while getting ready for last week’s race program at the Snyder County track, where he has placed second but not taken a checkered flag yet this season.

Schadel, who is tied with the likes of retired NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer on the Port Royal career win list with four and holds the latter track’s five-lap record at 1 minute, 39.718 seconds, believes he can still get that elusive track title, hopefully in 2019.

Meanwhile, he wants to get a win at Selinsgrove this year and eventually a track championship as much or more so for his car owner, Lewisburg’s Randy Keister, than for himself.

“I know Randy would like to win a championship at Selinsgrove (to honor) his brother,” Schadel said, referring to Ron Keister, who was killed in a racing accident at the speedway.

Schadel, 41, sat out the 2015 season after he and his family lost their Herndon area home to a fire in January of that year. He stayed out for the 2016 season except for one race late in the season. Before that, he missed only two years, when he was 21 and 22, after the birth of his daughter, Celsey Long, now 20. He has two previous late model wins at the local track.

Late last season, he decided that since they had worked on the car and it sat in his garage all summer, they would take it to Selinsgrove. It turned out to be a bad decision.

“We picked a night that it had rained a ton that day. We should have stayed home, but we came out and the track was rough, and we put the radiator into the fan, overheated and blew the motor in the feature,” he said.

After the season, Keister approached him about putting a team together and to drive his car.

The early season was a struggle until Schadel got used to the car and until longtime friend and fellow driver Coleby Frye, who had worked on his motors when he had the three runner-up finishes at Port Royal, helped him get things figured out.

“Coleby’s and my driving styles are a lot closer and Coleby knows what I like,” Schadel said.

Now things are going better and Schadel said he would love to get a win before the season ends, and then go all out to try to win a title next year, either at Selinsgrove or Port Royal. After finishing fifth, seventh and 12th, he has not been out of the top five, with a pair of seconds, a third and two fourths.

“We’e getting closer,” he said. “Little things have caused us to not win races.”

{span}Last week, he actually passed a car for the lead with seven laps to go, but a caution flag came out for another car and the start was called back and he ended up finishing third.{/span}

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He is looking into getting a new XR1 car for next year and said he wants to give it one more season to “go all gung-ho for a points championship.”

He added, “We have a great car program, a great motor program and a great crew, but you gotta keep up with the Jones’.”

Schadel’s crew consists of Scott Feese, Ryan “Goobs” Leitzel, Brian Naugle, Keister and Brett’s grandfather, Marvin. In addition to Keister’s Big Wrangler Ranch, the car is sponsored by Brett’s business, Marv’s Speed and Auto; Latshaw’s Landscaping; Selinsgrove Motors; and First Class Seal Coating.

Schadel said they haven’t decided whether to race at Selinsgrove or Port Royal next year, and that it will depend in part on such factors as track conditions and the level of competition, but primarily on the wishes of the car owner.

“It’s up to Randy. I just sit behind the wheel and steer,” he said.

But, Schadel added, “If we go (to Port), we will still be back here every option we get. We won’t vacate our hometown track. I told (co-promoter) Steve Inch years ago, if I ever came back, I would give him every opportunity. I’ve gotten along with Steve forever.”

Schadel said the competition is good at Selinsgrove, and that trying to beat current points leader Brian Bernheisel, of Lebanon, is a challenge because, as a chassis builder, he gets all the secrets and the help from the larger shock organizations. But there is even more competition at Port Royal.

Schadel loves the challenge.

“I wasn’t ever one in wrestling to back down from anybody and I’m 41 and I’m not going to back down now,” he said.

Schadel got involved in racing at age 4, driving go-karts at a track his father, Marvin, ran in Pillow, and then raced at age 6 and 7 at another former track in Sunbury, winning a pair of championships in the 8-year-old division. His dad was not a sports fan and made him choose between wrestling and racing. Brett chose wrestling, along with football and baseball.

As a freshman, he concentrated on wrestling but eventually his dad got him back to stock cars at Selinsgrove, in a pro stock, and Brett juggled racing and wrestling. He also ran a daredevil for one year, then moved up to late models.

“There were a lot of sacrifices made. We would weight-train during the week and race on the weekends. In the pro stock, my dad never gave me power steering. That was my weight training on a Saturday,” he said. “You would wheel the car around with no power steering.

“But you still can’t be a wrestler and not train and not be lifting and not be strong, so we would train during the week and then race on the weekends.

He said the sacrifices included normal high school activities such as proms and dances.

“I never went to a prom. Proms are on Saturdays and so was Selinsgrove. I actually missed my graduation because we were racing at Selinsgrove. I had my diploma mailed to me. You gotta go where your heart’s at,” he said.

“My dad spent a lot of money to keep us racing. We all spent a lot of money. I sure wasn’t going to take a night off to go to a prom. He told me one night ‘you can either get a tux or a right rear tire’ and I took the right rear tire; anything I don’t have to spend money for is a great thing, and I don’t regret it to this day.”

Just like it was with his dad, who has since sold the business to him and retired, Brett’s racing and other activities are a family affair.

His sons, Lane, 13, and Dalton, 11, help him at the shop. The family, including his wife, Rachel, also work out in the weight room at the high school where Brett has spent 18 years coaching wrestling (including several as the elementary program coordinator), although he has decided to step down for the upcoming season.

He also has a 10-month-old grandson, Braxton.

Schadel finished third in the PIAA Class AA state tournament as a junior in 1994 and won the title as a senior but, after looking at several colleges and considering a career in law enforcement and some scholarship offers, he decided to return to the family business, and to continue racing.

While he is often introduced at the track as a state wrestling champion, Schadel would love someday soon to add the title of “track championship” to his list of achievements.

Meanwhile, with only five races let this season (after last night), he said, “We’re getting closer. It would be really nice to get that win.”

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