Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – So far in 2022 the weather hasn’t been too kind to the Fonda Speedway management team of BD Motorsports Media LLC. with two consecutive Open Practice sessions being cancelled.
Continued wet weather and extremely saturated grounds prompted the cancelation of Wednesday night’s (April 13) Open Practice at the Fonda Speedway with the decision being made to scrap the once-rescheduled test and tune on Tuesday after evaluating the soaked clay at the legendary half-mile oval.
“We want to make sure we get the season off on the right foot,” Fonda promoter Brett Deyo said in a release about the cancellation of the Open Practice session. “The track crew worked to get equipment on the surface, and it remains very, very wet. It is in everyone’s best interest to pull the plug and wait for some drying time.”
Weather permitting, attention now turns to Palmer’s Service Center Opening Night on Saturday, April 16 featuring the first points-paying event for the Sunoco Modifieds, Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman, Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman, Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
Pits will be open starting at 1:00 p.m. for technical inspection. The pits will be cleared at 2:30 p.m. for pit pass sales. Gates officially unlock at 3:00 p.m., with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
Adult grandstand admission is $11. Seniors (ages 65 and up) pay $9. Kids 11 and under are FREE.
Pit admission is $35 (non-members) or $30 (Fonda Speedway members). Kids (ages 6-12) pay $10 and Children 5 and under pay $2.
Palmer’s Service Center is a huge supporter of local racing, sponsoring many different drivers in various divisions of racing while fielding a race car of their own for JaMike Sowle in the Sunoco Modified division. Alton and Carole are also big supporters of the “Track of Champions” sponsoring race nights and various activities at the track for many years.
Alton is first on the All-Time Win List at Fonda in the “Open” Sportsman division as it used to be called with 56 victories to his credit along with five Sportsman Track Championships in 1987, 1996, 1997, 1998, & 1999. He also has a total of five wins in the Modified division in four winning seasons, the first win coming on 8/8/2001 and the last on 5/21/2011.
Last year on opening day at Fonda the winners were Stewart Friesen (Sunoco Modifieds), Chad Edwards (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Beau Ballard (first career win in the Algonkin Motel Pro Stock division), Jeremy Tyrrell (first career win in the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman division), and Ken Hollenback (Fonda Fair Four Cylinders).
In opening day events at Fonda held over the past 70 years, Jack Johnson leads the way with eight opening day victories in 1972, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1991, 1992, and 1994. Following close behind with seven opening day wins is Lou Lazzaro who won events in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1977, and 1978.
Three drivers have taken home five opening day wins as Dave Lape (1981, 1984, 1989, 1993, and 1995), Pete Corey (1955, 1956, 1959, 1962, and 1967), and Stewart Friesen (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2021) all accomplished the feat. Jeff Trombley has four opening day victories (1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002) while Bobby Varin (2001, 2005, and 2010) has three. Jim Luke (1954, 1957), C.D. Coville (1979, 1980), Danny Johnson (1990, 2007), Matt DeLorenzo (2008, 2013), Pat Ward (1996, 2009), and Matt Sheppard (2014,2019) all have two wins apiece.
Drivers who have one victory in opening day events at Fonda are Buddy Shuman (1948), Chuck Kotwica (1953), Irv Taylor (1958), Bill Wimble (1960), Tom Kotary (1961), Ken Shoemaker (1965), Don Wayman (1968), Rene Charland (1970), Maynard Forrette (1973), Dave Pelczar (1974), Pep Pepicelli (1975), Jimmy Horton (1985), Bob McCreadie (1986), Mike Romano (1987), Dave Camara (1998), Brett Hearn (2003), Tim McCreadie (2004), Mitch Gibbs (2006), Ronnie Johnson (2011), Mike Mahaney (2012), Justin Boehler (2017).
If you are a race fan that gets to the track early, be sure to check out the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame which is located on the Fonda Fairgrounds at the rear of the parking area going down towards turn four. The museum is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on race days and admission is free!
Currently on display at the museum is the #12A race car owned by Alton and Carole Palmer of Palmer’s Service Center that was once driven by Fonda Speedway legend Jack Johnson. This, along with other famous racecars including the Dave Lape #22 and hundreds of other Fonda Speedway memorabilia items can be seen at the museum.