By Doug Kennedy


October 18, 2017


(Pulaski, PA)...Throughout the years, it's no secret that the main objective of the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance that now spans throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Ontario, Canada has been to provide an exciting and affordable grassroots racing series for their racers.  Staying focused on the word "affordable" has helped drive the success of RUSH, which in 2018 will encompass eight different divisions on both dirt and asphalt.    


Many factors have been important players in RUSH's objective to control cost in their divisions; their stringent GM crate engine technical program, Hoosier spec tires, Sunoco spec fuels, and in many cases the $135 sealed, spec RUSH Bilstein shocks..  


The sealed, spec RUSH Bilstein Bandit Shock package is mandated in three of the Series divisions; Sportsman Modifieds, Pro/E-Mods, and now the Sprint Cars, and has found great success also in the Late Models and Pro Stocks, as well as all of the Series' asphalt divisions.   


What make the RUSH Bilstein shock so unique is not just its extremely affordable price and tremendous quality, but the fact that it is a "sealed" shock, which ensures that each and every racer is competing on a fair and level playing field, and also not concerning themselves with purchasing the next greatest shock package.  (RUSH Bilstein Bandit sealing explanation:


Looking back five years ago to December of 2012, Series director Vicki Emig would have never believed that a chance meeting with 27-year Bilstein representative, Jim Hiland, at an event in Ocala, Florida would have such a huge impact in her quest for affordability in the RUSH Racing Series. 


Hiland's motto is, "Bilstein provides world class performance at a Saturday night price, $135 each".  And to say that this is what the RUSH Bilstein Shock package has provided to RUSH's competitors would be a huge understatement.


The RUSH Bilstein Bandit packages vary in valvings per division and are comprised of a limited amount of choices; as an example, three in the Sportsman Modifieds, six in the Pro Mods as well as six in the new Sprint Car package.  The Late Model package that was the flagship for the RUSH concept includes nine choices and has performed very successfully against the high-dollar double adjustable packages on both dirt and asphalt.        


"It's funny how things happen," stated Emig.  "I never would have imagined that a brief introduction with Bilstein's Jim Hiland some five years ago would prove to be so important to my goals with RUSH.  On that  night I remember witnessing a car equipped with a shock package that Jim had helped develop for Crate Late Models run door-to-door at a National event with some of the best Crate Late Models in the country that were fitted with high-dollar double adjustable shocks; it honestly was amazing."         


Over the past few seasons, several RUSH Late Model racers have utilized the RUSH Bilstein Bandit Shock package including Justin Lamb who has used the package for years and captured the 2017 $5,000 Bilstein Bandit Late Model Championship; Lamb switched over to the Bilsteins because he was struggling at the time with his previous shock package and was looking to simplify his program and get back to basics. 


“We’ve always been really competitive on the RUSH Bilsteins wherever we’ve gone,” said Lamb.  “They are super affordable and work really well.  We're going to collect over $5,900 in RUSH Championship monies on $135 shocks!”


Another beneficiary of the Bilsteins is Lamb’s good friend and Late Model driver, Chuck Medved.  Over the winter, Lamb sat down with Medved and tried to convince him to get a set of Bilsteins.  “I’m glad he talked me into it,” said Medved.  “It simplifies everything.  My car is more proficient this year and that’s why we’ve had a great season.  With the Bilsteins the car does the same thing on every lap and is consistent all night long.  I’m very happy with them. It certainly has made a huge difference in my program this year.” 


“Chuck had never won anything before so I put him on the Bilsteins,” said Lamb of Medved. “In the past he was barely a top 10 car; this year he won a couple of heat races and is a top 10 car every night.  The Bilstein program has completely changed his program.”  


Canadian driver, Sam Pennacchio finished second to Lamb in the Bilstein Bandit program.  In his first year on the shocks he won three times.  “I think it’s a great deal,” said the 33-year-old. “At the beginning of the year I was looking into rebuilding my old shocks, but I bought a new set of the Bilsteins, the entire Bilstein package cost me less than it would have to repair my old ones. Wherever we have unloaded we have been in contention with these shocks,” said Pennachio.  “I fully stand behind them 100%.”


Dennis Lunger, Jr., a veteran of both Late Models and E-Mod racing, dominated the RUSH Pro Mod division and is the 2017 $3,500 RUSH Weekly Series Champion.  “I flat out love the Bilsteins,” said the 49-year-old Lunger.  “I didn’t see any difference between them and the ones I ran on my RUSH Late Model, which probably cost me twice the money.  I never changed one Bilstein shock all season on my RUSH Pro Mod running the same four shocks all year.  They're great.”


Twenty-three year-old Chas Wolbert, who hails from Warren, OH has been competing in the RUSH Sportsman Mod Series for the last two years and captured five feature wins in 2017.  “For $135 you’re not going to get a better quality shock,” said Wolbert.  “They’ve proven they can take a beating and have shown show that they can take a pretty good hit and have worked well at all of the different  speedways we have raced at."    


Corey McPherson has now won his second straight $1,000 RUSH Pro Stock Championship using the Bilstein shocks, and recently captured his biggest ever career win as he won Lernerville's special open engine rules event at their annual "Autumn-Motive Fest" with his GM 604 crate engine riding on the $135 Bilsteins in dominating fashion.  


“It's a great package and a quality product that works well for an inexpensive price,” said the 29-year-old McPherson, who resides in Gibsonia, Pa.  “I’ve used them for two seasons and won the Lernerville title both times using pretty much the same shocks.”


Gale Ruth, Jr., who will be competing in the new RUSH Sprint Car division in 2018, was one of the drivers who tested a RUSH Sprint at Lernerville Speedway, and  was  thrilled with the mandated RUSH Bilstein Shock package.  “I've been using an expensive set of shocks on my car that I utilized for the RUSH sprint test, when I bolted on the new RUSH Bilsteins I immediately knocked 100 RPM’s off my motor.  That’s amazing."


"It was a night and day difference from my shocks to the Bilsteins", Ruth went on to say.   "Even if I my plans were not to compete in the RUSH Sprint Cars in 2018 I would put a the RUSH Bilsteins on my '410' car, there is no doubt that I would be getting better performance at a much lesser cost- it's a no brainer.”   


Hiland, who grew up in Indiana, is extremely excited about the RUSH Sprint division, that will require the $135 RUSH Bilsteins, a six-shock package. “I know the class will be a dream come true for racers waiting for the chance to race a Sprint Car on a level playing field without spending a lot of money from week-to-week,” said Hiland.  “Shocks have become overblown with their importance.  Drivers are looking for a quality shock with repeatable usage and durability and that's exactly what the RUSH Bilstein Bandit sealed spec shock has already proven to racers across the board in numerous RUSH divisions.” 


The RUSH Bilstein shocks have also experienced great success on asphalt as two Jennerstown Speedway racers, Chris Brink in the Modifieds and Lauren Butler in the Street Stock division, utilized the RUSH Bilsteins in their quest for their individual 2017 track championships.  There were also a number of Late Model drivers at Jennerstown who found themselves in the winner's circle during 2017 on the RUSH Bilsteins..


Jennerstown's General Manger, Bill Hribar, can attest to the RUSH Bilsteins' success on asphalt as he worked closely with a number of Jennerstown's racers helping them fit their cars with the RUSH $135 Bilsteins.


Hribar relates a story of driver Joe Maruca, a Late Model racer who was ready to quit the sport.  “He came to my house one night and I convinced him to try the Bilsteins before quitting, at the time he had over $9,800 of triple adjustable shocks on his car.  In the end he purchased the $540 Bilstein package and quickly went from being non-competitive and frustrated to consistently being competitive and leading several laps throughout the season. 


Teddy Gibala, another Jennerstown Late Model racer, was also looking to go in another direction with his shock package.  Hribar convinced him to try the Bilsteins and two weeks later he won his first ever feature beating out multi-time Jennerstown Late Model Champion driver Barry Awtey.


“I was skeptical when I first talked with Jim Hiland, and reluctant to introduce a product to our racers that I wasn't sure about." said Hribar.  "My apprehensions quickly went way after our test last spring with the Bilsteins; changing nothing but the shocks to the Bilsteins both the Modified and the Street Stock were four tenths of a second quicker.”


"I think the $135 RUSH Bilsteins are the wave of the future in racing," added Hribar  “It’s all part of the economics of racing and going forward.  Bilstein has already figured out and provided us with a great solution to the problem of high-dollar shock packages in weekly racing that has become a serious problem for all, whether it be on dirt or asphalt.” 


RUSH's Emig and Bilstein's Hiland will continue to promote the $135 sealed, spec RUSH Bilstein Bandit Shocks, that over the past several years in many of RUSH's divisions have provided RUSH racers with a competitive, great handling, stable race car with a shock that costs half the amount of the money that is being spent on adjustable shocks, and recently $1600 or more steel body shock packages that are starting to find their way into the Stock Car division throughout the RUSH region. 


"If I had to quit participating in the racing industry tomorrow, one of the things I would be proudest of is the influx of the RUSH $135 Bilstein Bandit sealed/spec shock throughout my Series and its success," stated Emig  "I have worked with Bilstein for many years now and not once did I ask them to create a package for me to mandate on a RUSH class that did not hit its mark right out of the box, and with a limited amount of choices."


"There is absolutely nothing I would change on the various Bilstein packages that we mandated and are utilizing in RUSH," continued Emig.  "I'm willing to bet that if you ask our racers they would agree.  The RUSH Bilsteins have simplified their programs, provided them with stable race cars, and most importantly saved them from spending thousands of unnecessary dollars on shocks." 


RUSH has just completed one of its most successful seasons ever with higher than ever weekly car counts at the majority of their sanctioned speedways, and more racers participating overall throughout RUSH than ever before, and it's a sure bet that the $135 RUSH Bilstein Bandit Shock package has been a key factor not only in that success but will be also in the future success of the RUSH Racing Series.           


E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at [email protected] and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is Like our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.