Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Like a good poker player, Albany-Saratoga Speedway promoter Lyle DeVore knows when it’s time to go all in.
From the earliest opening day in the history of the historic Malta track, to a plethora of Friday night modified shows paying at least $3,000 to win, to a new five-race sportsman series and the extremely popular Malta Massive Weekend, DeVore has put together one of the most ambitious schedules in the history of the speedway.
The 2022 campaign is scheduled to begin on Friday, April 1, which will be the earliest opening day ever. The late Hall of Fame promoter C.J. Richards attempted to lick off the 1984 campaign on April 1, but after a snowout and two consecutive rainouts, the track finally held its opening night on April 20.
Richards tried for another April 1 opener in 1990, but was again rained out. The earliest opening night show ever was held on April 2, 1995, when C.D. Coville, driving the B&H Auto 64, outran Ken Tremont Jr. and Billy Decker for the win.
DeVore’s April Fool’s opener will be highlighted by Twin 40-lap features for modifieds and sportsman, with the modifieds racing for $4,000 to win.
Practice for all divisions will be held on Friday, April 8, and the “official” beginning of the 57th season of racing in Malta will be held on Friday, April 15, sponsored by Bart Contracting and Schaghticoke Wine & Spirits. The modifieds will be competing for a top payout of $5,700 that night. Sunday, April 17 will be used as a rain date.
Of the 23 nights on the regular season schedule, the modifieds will be racing for at least $3,000 to win on 14 of those nights. In addition, a new five-race sportsman Shootout Series will offer $1,500 to win in each event. Those races are scheduled for April 22, May 13, May 27, June 17 and July 15.
Two of the most popular nights of the season will be held back-to-back on July 29 and Aug. 5.
“Stan Da Man Night,” a tribute to DeVore’s late father, is scheduled for July 29. The modifieds will be competing for $3,200 to win in the 32-lap feature, and each modified heat race winner will receive a $320 bonus. Stan DeVore was a custom car enthusiast and the theme of his night in Malta is the No. 32, in honor of the 1932 Fords he loved.
The John Grady Memorial/Nostalgia Night will be held on Friday, Aug. 5, and the modified drivers will be seeing another purse increase in that event. The modified winner will receive $3,500, with the runner-up getting $3,000 and $2,500 going to the third-place finisher.
The Super DIRTcar Series for big block modifieds will be making two stops at the speedway, the first on June 24 and the second on Saturday, Sept. 24, to cap off Malta Massive Weekend. Last year, the first scheduled stop was rained out, but the second provided one of the highlights of Mike Mahaney’s career, as the 2020 Albany-Saratoga modified champion recorded the first SDS win of his career and walked off with $13,000.
The two-day Malta Massive Weekend will begin on Sept. 23 with the DIRTcar Sportsman Fall Championship series. In addition to the 100-lapper for big block modifieds on Sept. 24, that card will include a DIRTcar Pro Stock Series race.
Through the generosity of Albany-Saratoga Speedway’s growing family of corporate sponsors, all regular-season sportsman and pro stock features will pay at least $1,000 to win in 2022, and there will also be four nights when the limited sportsman will also be competing for a top prize of $1,000.
The Malta Cruise-Ins will return for another season. Held on the second Monday in the months of June, July, August and September, the cruise-ins, run by Chris Grady, have grown in popularity and have benefitted many charities throughout the Capital Region. The cruise-ins, held from 4-9 p.m., are open to all custom/vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles.