RPW Column: Max McLaughlin To Race For OCFS Modified Title In ’22; Extra $$$ Added Saturday

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – After two Saturday cancellations, the Orange County Fair Speedway will be making attempt #3 to get the regular point season started on April 23rd.

In addition to the rescheduled Tommy Meier 33 lap Modified race, an additional United Rentals DIRTcar Modified feature has been added to the night’s events.

“Mr. (Chris) Larsen wanted to run an additional Modified feature, so an extra $20,000 has been added to the purse. The admission price remains the same,” said the OCFS Director of Motorsports, Brett Hearn, on the latest edition of the OCFS podcast ‘Talkin Dirty’ on Tuesday.

And Brett explained about the use of Opening Night wristbands.

“There’s been some confusion about whether or not the wristbands from April 9th are good. Those are good to use. There used to be a policy here that a wristband had to be used in the next two events or it expired. If you bought a wristband on April 9th, it’s good at face value for any event this season. That’s the way it should be and that’s the way it is.”

Also announced on the show is a new date for the Revenge Twin 50’s.

“We originally had the Revenge 50’s set for May 26th,” Hearn said. “We are having to switch that event to Saturday, May 21st. The Triple Threat Truck Meet is occurring on May 27th through 29th, Memorial Day Weekend. They need time to prepare for that. So for us to have a race on the 26th and get ready for the 27th would be difficult, so we switched the date. Saturday, the 21st was an open date, so it worked out well.”

Racer and chassis builder, Jerry Higbie, was filling in for the usual co-host Pat Reiser on Tuesday’s podcast. Jerry talked a bit about how the emphasis for him these days is focused on his son Cody’s racing efforts.

“Most of our emphasis is on Cody, we have him all ready to go. We built him a brand new car that’s ready to go this week. For the Brett Deyo show here earlier, he finished 3rd in his Accord car. He made a good draw and he was really competitive, everything you need to do for a big event.. We’re excited for him. For me, I have my 51 cars. I’ve taken the number 51 and giving Cody the 97. The 51 is my Uncle Nick’s (Illobre) number. When I was a kid, he used to race. He likes that. I’ll drive 51 car some at Accord, some here. We have two really good small blocks. Ralph Ruggerio and Mike Ruggerio are putting together a Big Block for me which I’ll put in my 51 car for Middletown. On May 7th, I’ll be racing for Tony Falanga in the Joey Falanga Memorial race. They’re having a race in his honor, and I’ll be driving the last car Joey raced. And I’m excited to do that. But these days, it’s more about Cody in the next couple of years, stepping into my cars and having a good program for him to step into.”


Guest Tuesday: “Mad Max”

The guest on Tuesday’s podcast was Max McLaughlin. A very versatile racer Max raced many of the Big Block events at OCFS in 2021.

He is planning on racing regularly at OCFS in 2022 and making a bid for the championship in the HBR #8. Max has had some success at OCFS. Although he’s looking for that first win at the House Of Power, he had a number of podium finishes in 20212 and was 2nd in the recent Hard Clay Open at OCFS.

“For the money that OCFS is putting on the line for a Saturday night show, it’s a place to go. It’s a place that I run pretty well there. Never won there, Lot’s of 3rd’s in 2021, but never able to get off of the short end of the podium. The 2nd place at the Brett Deyo Elite Race at Orange County was my best finish ever there. I thought that we could contend for the win there, but (Matt) Sheppard was typical Sheppard. He was very good.”

And Max has an extremely busy schedule lined up for this year. And a lot of highway miles.

“We’re going to do a lot of racing. We haven’t even announced our weekly plans yet. We’re going to race Brewerton on Friday nights. Do some maintenance on the car at the shop quickly and load it back up and head to Orange County on Saturday’s.”

Hearn asked McLaughlin about the playoff type format that Orange County uses.

“I like it personally because if I win one race, it allows me to go run New Hampshire in the Whelen Modifieds. Or it allows me to go run other stuff. I’m fortunate enough to have those opportunities, but it really works for my schedule. My dirt program is first. My main priority is HBR and their program. Whatever else we can race beyond that, I’ll do.”

Beside his ride in the HBR #8, Max will again be doing some dirt racing in Norm Hansell’s #357.

“This Friday, we’re racing Norm’s 357 at Big Diamond and then head to OCFS for the doubleheader. And there will be other races with that team.”

Max will be one to keep an eye on this wherever he races this season.

Along with the Big Blocks, also on the April 23rd schedule are the H.O. Penn Small Block Modifieds, the Arkel Motors Sportsman and the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman. With the extra racing, the scheduled starting time has moved up. Pit gates open at 1:00. Grandstand and Drive-In at 3:00. Warmups at 4:30 with racing starting at 5:30.

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