Story By: DENISE MARKLE / MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES – FONDA, NY – With the April season opener behind them, the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series blew into Fonda Speedway to again showcase the sights and sounds of the past.
Vintage drivers and dedicated fans arrived with optimism to a well prepared “Track of Champions” on an unseasonably chilly night in the northeast.
Tradition at Fonda would dictate the show goes on, and the day before Mother’s Day was no exception. Fans who made the trip went away having seen a monumental night of racing with everything expected and more!
The second stop of the series dubbed the “Vintage Mother Load” was just that with cars coming from as far as Western New York, Pennsylvania and Florida to compete. Fans were treated to a special Pace Car appearance in the three vintage features (representing five divisions) by the Richard Parry owned/formerly Jack Johnson driven #37.
The first feature of the night was the Vintage Antique class (cars 1969 and older).
When the green flag waived the blue #2 of Bryan Scofield flew down the front stretch upon seeing green to take the lead position with brother Chuck Scofield in the #115 (the season opener vintage antique winner), the #1 of Stew Padisso, and Jimmy Fugel also #2 in tow. Fugel quickly navigated to second position by the fourth lap and proceeded to chase down the leader to challenge for the number one spot. Chuck Scofield followed in third arriving behind Fugel a lap later. Fugel made several attempts on the high side to pass Bryan Scofield for the win but would ultimately remain in second due to a slick track and lap traffic. Chuck Scofield looking to take second from Fugel in the final lap went low in the fourth turn with the two cars making brief contact. Both drivers put on a show and ultimately kept their respective positions for an exciting finish to a great race. At the checkered it would ultimately be the order which emerged early in the race with Bryan Scofield winning, followed by Fugel, Chuck Scofield, Stew Padisso, plus Ed Docskalik for the top five. Don Briggs, Joe Trudeau, and Frank Blanchard rounded out the field running a solid race and pleasing fans.
The Vintage Sportsman (cars 1989 and older) and Vintage Sportsman Mystique (cars 1989 and older, Steel Body w/fenders) were next on to the track for their feature.
When the green flag waved for the Vintage Sportsman, #1 Stephen Denton the “Dough Boy” made the most of the pole position by putting some distance between him and the field. The #61 of Brian Gray was tactfully on the move passing competitive feature traffic for the second spot. Gray would put the pedal down with six laps to go but Denton and several lap cars between them slowed the effort. The checkered would fall with Denton winning, Gray in second, with Mike Francisco, John Constantino, and Dan Wood rounding out the top five.
The Vintage Sportsman Mystique feature saw Tim Natalino in the #41 jump out in front early followed by the #34 of John Marks who navigated traffic to solidly set himself in the second position. Marks would give chase throughout the contest. Turn one moisture contributed to a caution on lap three when the #722 driven by Dan Karl spun and landed in-between turn one and two. The restart saw the field maintain their positions with Karl working his way up to the fifth spot. The checkered flag fell after some great driving by all in the newly classified Sportsman Mystique division (“Steel Body” w/fenders) drivers with the win going to Natalino, followed by Marks, George Palmer, Carl Cram, Dan Karl and Mike Wheeler.
The last MVVDMS feature of the night would see the Vintage Modified Replicas (chassis 1990 and above, any body style) and the Vintage Late Models (1980 and older, full fender, steel body) hit the dirt.
The Modified replicas got off to a fast start with lots of movement in the first several laps of their 15 lap feature. John Flach in the #77J took over early, leading the field as the #42 of Randy Delaney moved a quick spot into second place. Not to be outdone, the m1 of Jon Kuleszo (opening weeks Vintage Modified Replica feature winner) jumped on the gas to go from the eighth starting position to fourth, then third place following a caution. The #8 of Darral Hulbert picked up three spots with some hard two wide driving to settle into the fourth position with Tractor Jack Miller in the #37a moving up one place to round out the top five. When the caution came out with 3 laps completed to push off the #44 of Gus Kamburelis, the #73 of Stanley Wetmore, #111 of Merv Blackwell, # 36 of Phil Beaver, and #14 of Mark Hahn were looking for opportunity on the re-start. Beaver took full advantage moving to fifth position within a few laps with Hahn also moving a couple spots to seventh place. As Flach lead moving through lap traffic effectively, Kuleszo (in third) continued his charge to challenge Delaney for the second position providing fans in the fourth turn some side by side action before taking the number two spot with five laps to go. Delaney took back the second position in a back and forth with Kuleszo when the #m1 car appeared to have mechanical difficulty. Flach took the checkered flag, followed by Delaney, a hard charging Darrell Hulbert overtook Kuleszo by a nose for third place, Kuleszo motor sputtering took fourth a fraction of a second later, and Beaver running steady crossed for fifth. Miller, Hahn, Blackwell, Wetmore and Kamburelis (DNF) rounded out the field.
The Vintage Late Model 15 lap Feature was excitement packed with fan pleasing action and some gutsy racing by the field of cars. The green flag saw the #9 of Will Reed on the pole and the third position # 28 of John Roese navigating quickly to the race lead. Roese, last year’s vintage late model champion, led the race through lap eight where he was overtaken by the #7 of Curtis Condon. Condon would continue to stretch the lead but stay in Roese’s site as the race progressed. Condon and Roese rounded securely in their positions with Warner and Reed running hard looking to advance around the Track of Champions. All seemed status quo until the #44 of Adam Warner came alive in the last couple laps and would chase down Roese to pass him going into turn one briefly taking over second position. The reigning champion would have none of it. Roese passed Warner back almost immediately accelerating out of turn two and down the back stretch to regain second place. The battle between the two drivers continued with fans seeing a great vintage exhibition approaching one lap to go. Warner eventually used everything at his disposal to move past Roese securing second place for the last lap. The checkered flag fell with Condon taking the win, followed by Warner, Roese and Reed taking fourth.
Next up for the Series is a visit on Friday, May 21st to Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The MVVDMS “Malta’s Vintage Express” is sure to bring a piece of racing history to be appreciated by young and old alike. Come see and hear the cars of the past as they compete the old school way.
See you there vintage race fans!