Story By: JOHN SNYDER / ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY – MIDDLETOWN, NY – If high-speed dirt track racing excitement on a big five-eighths-mile speedway is what you crave, then the just-released 2022 schedule of action at Orange County Fair Speedway (OCFS) is tailor-made just for you.
The traditional home of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified racing has set a total of 26 dates of on-track action, 21 of them featuring the 800-horsepower earthshaking Big-Blocks. “We’re the only track south of Albany to host the Big-Blocks, not just weekly, but also a couple Thursday night specials and of course the annual Eastern States 200,” says Brett Hearn, OCFS Director of Motorsports.
Following the 2021 Season Points Banquet (Saturday, March 5), the annual Middletown Motorsports Show (Saturday-Sunday, March 26-27), and an open Practice Day (Friday, April 1), racing begins on Saturday, April 2 with a Short Track Super Series Elite Race for Modifieds paying $25,000 to the winner, and a non-point Sportsman division $1,000-to-win feature.
OCFS’s weekly point season kicks-off Saturday, April 9 with a four-division program of DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and Rookie Sportsman. The “Tommy Meier Big-Block Modified Feature,” honoring the track’s long-time competitor, is set for 33 laps, paying the winner $3,300.
Saturday night racing continues weekly through May 14, each program including Big-Block Modifieds, Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and alternating Street Stocks and Rookie Sportsman. The May 14 program is headlined by the Whitey Memmelaar Memorial” 45-lap feature for the Small-Block Modifieds paying the winner $4,500.
The first Thursday night program is set for May 26 with the popular “Revenge 50s” for the Big-Block Modifieds topping the evening. Two 50-lap features will go to the line with starting lineups determined by the revenge draw. Each race will pay $5,000-to-win. Should a driver sweep the night, he’ll earn a $5,000 bonus. Completing the evening’s program, the always unpredictable Sportsman will be in action.
On Saturday, June 4, the fan favorite annual “Nostalgia Night,” this year honoring Rich Eurich whose OCFS career spans seven decades, features the Big-Block Modifieds in a full program of racing. Added for the first time will be main events only for the Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and Rookie Sportsman.
The World of Outlaws Late Models roll into town for two days, Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. They’ll be joined for the Saturday program by the Big-Block Modifieds in what promises to be one of the highlights of the year.
The following week, Saturday, June 25, is a four-division weekly format program including the Street Stocks. That leads to the Independence weekend special celebration of the nation’s birthday and, on Saturday, July 2, a 76-lap Big-Block Modified feature paying the victor $7,600. At the evening’s conclusion, the final 12 Modified drivers who will battle for the track championship will be determined. A support division for the evening will be announced later.
The 181st Orange County Fair runs from July 14 through July 31, with three race dates scheduled. First on Saturday, July16 will be a three-division program with the Big-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and Street Stocks. Then on Thursday, July 28, it will be the much-anticipated Super DIRTcar Modified Series “Battle of the Midway honoring the Ferraiuolo Family,” a 73-lap feature paying $10,000-to-win and a guaranteed starting spot in the October Super DIRT Week Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at Oswego Speedway. Racing during the Fair wraps up on Saturday, July 30 with the Sportsman competing in a pair of 20-lap feature races. They’ll be joined by the Rookie Sportsman, Street Stocks, and One-on-One Spectator races. Best of all, the stands are free with Fair admission.
Kicking the final month of weekly racing, Saturday, August 6 finds a four-division program of Big-Block Modifieds, Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and Street Stocks. For the Big-Block Modified competitors, it’s an elimination night, as the field for the point title will be cut from 12 to eight. But the evening’s headline attraction is the annual Full Fender Nostalgia Night and the Marky Traverse feature race for the Street Stocks.
Celebrating OCFS’s long and glorious racing history, the “Anniversary 103” will be run Thursday, August 11. The 103-lap Big-Block Modified feature race will see the winner take home $25,000. Also on the program will be the season’s first appearance of the Pro Stocks.
Then it’s crunch time—three consecutive Saturday nights that will determine each division’s point champion. August 13, “First Responders Night,” is a five-division program, with Big-Block Modifieds, Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Rookie Sportsman, and Street Stocks. The following week, August 20, the Street Stocks have the night off, while the other divisions continue to battle for points. At the conclusion of the Big-Block Modified feature race, which includes a $5,000 winner’s payoff, the Final Four championship contenders will be determined.
Which leads to Champions Night on August 27 with all five divisions racing and concluding the weekly point competition. Champions will be crowned! To the victors belong the spoils. For the Big-Block Modified champions, it’s a $30,000 pot of gold; the Small-Block Modified titlist will bank $5,000; while the Sportsman point winner will net $1,500.
Racing action is on hiatus during September and early October, with other activities scheduled for the fairgrounds. Race cars returned to the Middletown clay on Saturday, October 15, an open practice in preparation for the 61st Annual Eastern States Weekend and the headline Eastern States 200, the oldest, continuously run championship race for Big-Block Modifieds. The four-day Eastern States Weekend is set for Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 23. Eight racing division will see action during this motorsports extravaganza. The Eastern States 200 winner will earn $40,000 plus lap prize money
and other contingencies; the Small-Block Modified Championship victor will be $20,000 plus bonus awards richer; and the winner of the Short Track Super Series Modified main can look forward to a $10,000 plus other prize money added to his bank account.
The Big-Block Modified division is DIRTcar sanctioned, making driver eligible for DIRTcar home track points and awards.
The weekly Big-Block Modified races will not use a handicap determination for qualifying or feature race lineups; a variety of other options will be employed.
During weekly competition, there’s a $1,000 bonus for any driver who wins both Big-Block and Small-Block Modified feature races on the same evening.
Orange County Fair Speedway has the highest weekly purse of any Northeast dirt surfaced speedway. The base Big-Block Modified payout is $3,000-2,000-1,500, with seventh paying $1,000, and $250 to start.
The Small-Block Modified, Sportsman, Rookie Sportsman, and Street Stock divisions will utilize a take traditional handicap procedure to set lineups.
Sportsman and Street Stock weekly purses have been increased. Sportsman feature race winners will take home $1,000; Street Stock victors $500.
Gate admissions, starting times, and other fan news will be announced as the 2022 season nears.
There are some uncertainties concerning the continuing COVID-19 and its offshoots epidemic. Orange County Fair Speedway is planning to operate the entire racing season as close to normal as possible under the various guidelines and/or restrictions from local, county, state, and federal governmental agencies.