Column By: RAY ROGERS / RPW – FONDA, NY – Memorial Day Weekend and racing seem to go hand-in-hand. There’s nothing more American to me than stock car racing and good barbeque. On Saturday, we remembered those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and shared some great racing at the Fonda Speedway.
First stop for me on Saturday was the Fonda Speedway Museum where my whole racing family was gathered. It was great to see everyone after two weeks of rainouts. During the festivities, I happen to notice a fellow “long hair” with a T-shirt of a certain band I knew well. Turns out my new friend Jeff and I are kindred spirits. It’s like when you travel across the country and you see someone with a DIRT Car T-shirt. You have that instant connection and know they are cool. It’s a good feeling.
With the smell of barbeque in the air and everyone having a good time, I sat down to chat with Matt Noles. Matt is a journalist who has worked to promote our sport for many years. He has come onboard with The Speedway Museum and Hall Of Fame this year.
“I’m just here to help out Dave,” he said. “We are working on some really special things this year and I think the fans are gonna enjoy it.”
Matt will be a great addition to the Museum staff bringing a wealth of knowledge to share with fans.
Once I made my way pitside, I happened upon one of my childhood heros, Super CD Coville. CD is now the wheelman of the Fonda pace car and jokingly said “wish I was In one of those tonight,” pointing to a Modified. I asked him about the upcoming Tribute race being held at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on June 12th.
“Its gonna be a great time and I hope the place is packed,” he said.
CD will be on hand that night signing the special edition “Super CD” poster done by Paul Lakata. With over $6,000-to-win, I’m sure many in the DIRTcar world have this one circled on the calendar and it should be a Super event.
As I strolled along, I stopped Josh Coonrandt and wanted to know when he started his racing career.
“I started in cars, then raced motorcycles in the Enduro class and some motocross,” he said. “Around 2008 I came back to Street Stocks.”
A few years ago Josh moved up to the Pro Stock class and has really shown some speed these past seasons. He also picked up a heat win Saturday night, with the other Pro Stock heat going to Kenny Gates.
Sportsman heats went to David Manchester, Tony Farone and Jeremy Pitts. Modified heats were won by Jeremy Wilder, Josh Hohenforst and Rocky Warner.
The Empire Super Sprints had a Steller field of cars in the pits with Joe Trenca, Steve Poirier, Jeff Cook and Chuck Hebing grabbing heat wins. Saturday’s Dash winner was Mike Mahaney and the B-Main went to Dave Axton.
Rob VanAernam added another win to his long list of victories at the “Track of Champions” taking the Street Stock feature win. Young Derrick McGrew Jr. picked up the second win of his short career at Fonda Saturday scoring checkers in the Novice Sportsman.
After some heartfelt patriotic words from local Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Fonda Promoter Pete Demitrazek, the mood was set. We all felt greatful for America’s true pasttime.
The Pro Stocks kicked off the night’s main events with Kenny Gates, once again, showing the way to the checkers with his third win of the season at Fonda. He was followed by Chuck Dumblewski, Jim Normoyle, Coonrandt and AJ Walters.
The Modifieds rolled away next, and Like RPW’s Mike Warren likes to say “Brought the shower of Big Block power.” Stewart Friesen unleashed his DKM Cyclone on the field, also collecting win #3 on the season at the “Track of Champions.” Hohenforst was second, followed by Jeremy Wilder, Bobby Varin, and Rocky Warner. Warner is making great strides in his rookie season, moving up in the finishing order each week.
Next, the Empire Super Sprints took to the famed half-mile with an awesome four-wide salute to the fans as well as paying tribute to Earl Halaquist. Once the green flew, it was a red white and blue show between father and son. Bobby and Danny Varin put on a dandy of a battle in the closing laps of the feature for the fans in attendance.
When all wascsaid and done, the younger Varin would be the one to taste victory. Danny was followed by his father, Chuck Hebing, Coleman Gullick and Steve Piorier.
The Sportsman capped off the night with a great battle to the finish that had Nick Scavia coming away as the winner over Jeremy Pitts, Cody Clark, Tony “Bologna” Farone and Ray Zemken.
While I have the Zemken family on my mind, myself and everyone at Race Pro Weekly would like to wish Shauna Zemken a speedy and full recover after she was involved in a serious car accident Friday morning. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
This Saturday night, the roar of the Big Blocks will once again echo the Mohawk Valley, when the Fonda Speedway comes alive. On tap this week is a full show including Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, Novice sportsman and the full-fendered Street Stocks. Racing is set to begin at 7pm.
Don’t forget this coming Sunday is fan appreciation night at The Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. Head out a bit early and enjoy a great evening on ‘The Ridge.’ There will be a meet and greet for fans with all your favorite drivers and some giveaways along with a full card of racing action, Gates open at 4pm and the green flag drops at 6pm.
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, I hope to see you all At the Races!