Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Walt Henry had a great season in 2021.
Across all divisions, he was the driver who took the most checkered flags at Accord Speedway en route to being the Pure Stock champion.
He also won his first ever Street Stock features at Orange County Fair Speedway as he scored a second place points finish.
That’s a tough act to follow, but Walt is a very determined racer and has big plans for the 2022 season.
Walt is planning to again run both Accord and OCFS in the Pure Stock/Street Stock class. In addition, he will be competing in the Rookie Sportsman division at OCFS.
“2021 was very enjoyable. Running Middletown, which I grew up with as a kid and I call my home track, it was good to run there against all the great competition. I wish Ray Tarantino raced there regularly, he was one of the racers I looked up to in years back. And the successes at Accord were a bonus.”
Henry raced in the Rookie Sportsman race at last November’s Gobbler event at Accord and he plans to give that division a try this season.
“We are going to run the Rookie Sportsman, not full time yet. We are going to try it at Middletown. And we will race full time in the Street Stock at Accord and Orange County. I still have my pavement car, so we can get to some of the shows at Bethel Motor Speedway. I traded my championship car for a dirt sportsman so I will have an all new car.”
Walt has been racing for 12 years and he has shown his versatility on both the dirt and asphalt.
“I got started with the enduros at the Eve of Destruction at OCFS. We were the first 4 cylinder to win one of their big races there. We won 5 races that year and saved enough money to build a 4 cylinder to run at Bethel. Then, we went to Accord and we won the championship on both Wednesday and Friday. And we went back to Bethel and won a championship there.”
And he’s looking forward to racing against the strong competition at OCFS in the upcoming season.
“You have top competitors there, guy’s like Mike (Vigiletti), Bob (Sleight) and the others. When you win there, you have really earned it.”
It’s really an unusual double that Walt is doing this season.
“You can’t race both regular Sportsman and Street Stocks at OCFS, but I can do the Rookie Sportsman division. We have gotten the okay to do that, so we are moving forward with those plans. We are getting a 2019 Bicknell to use in the Rookies. The motor will be the one that I raced with at the Gobbler.”
The crew that helps out Walt includes his wife, Alicia, his son Walter and Don Rosinski.
Sponsoring Walt in 2022 are JBM Truck Repair (New Hampton), Boiler King (Montgomery), Beck’s Hardware/Agway (Pine Bush) and Academy Transmissions (Middletown).
You have to have a lot of dedication to racing to maintain 3 different cars for 3 different tracks. But Walt and his group have shown that dedication. On August 6, 2021, Henry had a rough night at Accord. His car was badly damaged. But somehow, the crew worked through the night to be ready for a big Street Stock race at OCFS the next night. With a larger than average field of cars, Walt managed a top 10 finish.
And another great thing that the Henry Racing Team did in 2021 was when they renumbered their car from their usual 171 to Mrs. 00 in memory of Paula Ackerly, wife of long time Sportsman and Street Stock racer Ray Ackerly and mother of Street Stock racer Nicole Ackerly. It was one of those great gestures that many people took note of. And fittingly, Walt won his race the first time racing with the Mrs. 00.
The members of the Henry Racing Team are just a nice group of people and I wish them Good Luck in 2022 with all their endeavors in the upcoming season.