By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dale Blaney of Hartford, Ohio, isn’t likely to ever forget what happened joyfully to him on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.
The famed two-sport athlete was inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame that morning, then at night he became the all-time record-setting leader of the National Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series.
Finishing first in Saturday’s race gave Blaney the 99th victory of his amazing sprint racing career. He had been tied at 98 wins with Kenny Jacobs.
In order to prepare for and then compete in the $10,000 record-setting race was the reason that Blaney could not attend Saturday’s Hall of Fame ceremony, which preceded WVU’s 41-7 football runaway victory against inept Georgia State.
Blaney’s memorable triumph came on a sprint race track in Freemont, Ohio.
Blaney, who’s 49, earned numerous honors as an outstanding basketball guard on West Virginia’s men’s team from 1983-86. He was a rare two-year team captain.
During his four-year career here, he was a major contributor to consecutive season records of 23-8, 20-7, 20-9, and 22-11.
West Virginia, with his help, made it to three NCAA tournaments and one National Invitation Tournament.
Blaney currently ranks 18th among the leading career scorers in school history with 1,522 points. In 1986 he was the 23rd cager ever to reach the 1,000 point-total in a career.
He ranks 16th all-time in career assists (331), 10th in career double-figure games (89), 10th in career free throws made (376), and 10th in career free-throw percentage (.813).
Blaney, who’s on WVU’s all-time team for the period 1980-89, averaged 17.0 points per game as a senior and wound up with a 12.3 average for his career.
In all, Blaney started a total of 110 games as a Mountaineer. The four-year letter-winner logged more minutes than most players per game.
His career high scoring performance was 29 points against George Mason in an 83067 victory on Jan. 10, 1986 in Fairfax, Va.
Jack Brautigam, who was the WVU men’s basketball trainer in the 1980s and sill is a close friend of Blaney, sent a message to retired head coach Gale Catlett to inform him of his former star’s historic success on the race track.
Brautigam, who’s now vice president of Morgantown’s HealthWorks Corp., said he received this message in reply from Catlett: “Great news, great day (for) a great guy!”
Blaney was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team in 1986 and the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team in 1983. He was selected to the Atlantic 10 All-Tournament Team in 1984 and again in 1986.
He also made the All-NIT Team that toured Korea and Hong Kong.
Selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round of the 1986 NBA Draft, he decided not to join the Lakers after a promising tryout. But Blaney did play a year and a half in the Continental Basketball Association, first with Tampa Bay and then with the Charleston Gunners.
In his sprint car racing career, Blaney was named World Outlaw Rookie of the Year in 1998. He also was Sprint Car Rookie of the Year in 1990, and the All-Star Series Points Champion in 1995, 1996, and 2008.
Blaney has two daughters, Ashley and Leah.