RPW Column: Over $10,000 Available To Competitors In Marky Traverse Memorial At OCFS

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – When Marky Traverse passed away in November of 2014, Jerry Wildrick wanted to do something in his memory.

He had met Marky earlier that year when he invited the Traverse family to his shop. Like most people who ever met him, Marky touched his heart.

With the cooperation of OCFS owner Michael Gurda and General Manager Ken Sands, the first Marky Traverse Memorial Race was held. The event brought a lot of joy to the Traverse family, as they saw how many people cared.

Jerry decided to do the race again in 2017. And that’s when other people started to get involved. Lou Inzeo and Suzanne Shortway-DeAugustines were the first to add bonus money to the 2nd edition of the memorial race. And that got the ball rolling. The next year, a few more people were involved. In 2019, the winner’s purse for Bob Sleight’s victory soared up to $3,500.

The 2020 memorial race was lost due to Covid. But it came back stronger than ever in 2021. Donations from fans, friends, racers, crew and businesses added over $4,400.

And despite tough economic times, people are still finding it in their hearts to participate in the 2022 version of the memorial race. At this writing, more than $5,000 has been added to this year’s race. With the running of the Mark Rutherford Dash For Cash, there is over $10,000 available to the OCFS Street Stock competitors this week. That is pretty remarkable for a regular season Street Stock race.

It is also Full Fender Nostalgia Night. There will be some full fender cars from the past on display.

Although the Eastern States Street Stock race is the most prestigious of the season, the Marky Traverse Memorial Race has become a most special event to the OCFS Street Stock drivers.

“It’s the most prestigious win that I’ve ever had,” said 2021 memorial race winner, Mike Vigiletti. “Winning that race meant a lot to me, a lot to the Traverse family. It is a big deal. We had a great year in 2021, won a lot of races and the championship. But winning that race was the icing on the cake. I was after that one for several years.”

“I feel that this is our biggest race of the year,” said 2019 memorial race winner, Bob Sleight. “When you have the Eastern States Weekend, those are all big races. It’s nice to have Marky’s race as a stand alone big race. Our win in 2019 was just huge, sentimental wise and purse wise. It was just a tremendous win.”

“The memorial race is almost as special as the Eastern States Street Stock race,” said longtime veteran Street Stock racer Charlie Donald. “The Eastern States is our Daytona 500, so I guess we will have to call the Marky Traverse race the Firecracker 600. We haven’t won the Marky race, but we’re going to give it our all. We made the podium last year, but we want to make it to that top step.”

And those racers who haven’t raced too long at OCFS know what a special event that the memorial race has grown into. Tyler Romer, in his first full season of competition at OCFS, knows what this race means.

“It’s an awesome tribute race that’s been going on for years,” Tyler said. “I’ve been coming here for years and I’ve watched how hard the guys fight for that win.”

Tyler gave an assessment of his season so far.

“It’s not going bad. Learning the characteristics of the track. Just as we were getting a handle on it, the track got the new clay. So we are learning again. We’re getting there.”

For all the history of the memorial race, Mike Otis and Todd Lewis, two great friends of the Traverse family, have supplied the beautiful trophy that the winner receives. And it’s a treasured trophy as well. Three time winner of the Marky Traverse Memorial Race, Jimmy Maher proudly displays his 3 trophies at the front counter of his business.

An addition to the race night this year is the Mark Rutherford Dash For Cash for the Street Stock racers. There is already $1,700 available for the dash with the possibility of additions.

A racer in the Street Stocks for many years, Mark passed away on Feb 3, 2022.

“Mark was just a great guy,” said Allen Dart, a neighbor of Mark and one of the organizers of the dash. “He just wouldn’t say no to anybody who needed help, He had such a big heart.”

The Traverse family would like to thank all of those involved in this year’s running of the memorial race:

  • Dave Farber / Accurate Collision, Pompano Beach, Fl.
  • Jason Traverse and Matthew Stephens
  • Ric Ryder
  • Suzanne Shortway-DeAugustines
  • North East Racing Happy Hour / Gary Predmore & Joel Murns
  • Kevin Berryman / KBS Photos
  • Willy Auchmoody / The Money Team
  • Dillon Gannon / Limestone Service Station, Ridgefield, Ct.
  • Accord Speedway / Melissa Hatzistergos, Donna and Gary Palmer
  • Tyler Romer / Romeo Ford, Kingston, NY
  • Anthony Tarantino / Tarantino Motorsports
  • Jay Silvernail / Jay’s Pool Service /Silvernail Motorsports
  • Ryan Modiano & Mia Branham
  • Grant Hilfiger
  • Nicole Ackerly
  • Dominic Roselli Jr.
  • Jason VanDoren / TVD Racing / Hoffman Discount Parts / Keith Hoffman
  • Frank Frasco / Frank Frasco Home Inspections
  • Joey Bonetti
  • John Bockhorn
  • Dale Larsen
  • Pamela Van Dunk & Tommy Vigh
  • Rich Connolly & Kaylie Plant
  • Ed Burgess
  • A. Messina & Sons Scrap Metal, Gardiner, NY
  • Eric Lindahl Jr.
  • Bob McGannon
  • Lake Katrine Rod and Gun Club
  • Ashley’s Homemade Soaps
  • Karmageddon Racing
  • Speedart Michael Casey
  • John Rasweiler
  • Ted Schmidt
  • Bob Sleight
  • Steven Gully
  • Pat Giuliano
  • Stephen Keeler / Rock Fantasy
  • Kevin Jones / Comfort Experts, Florida, NY
  • Ryan Sacco / Simplicity Designs, Middletown, NY
  • Ryan Walther
  • Craig Mitchell
  • Dave Morehouse / Dave’s Racing Collectibles
  • Todd Predmore
  • Chris Stevens

In addition to the money additions, there are others:

  • KBS Racing Photos will supply the winner with a package of 12 Victory Lane photos.
  • The Money Team has some racing wear for the 16th place winner.
  • Rock Fantasy will have a Pinball Party for up to 15 people available to the winner.

The Traverse family would also like to thank the original organizers of the Memorial Race, Jerry Wildrick, Michael Gurda and Ken Sands.

Jerry, along with his business, Fredon Development Industries of Newton, NJ., and his wife Melissa’s business, Salon Bleu of Augusta, NJ., were the main sponsors for the race for many years. The family is grateful for their kindness towards Marky’s memory.

The race would never have gotten off the ground without Michael’s and Ken’s assistance and cooperation. Thank you to those gentlemen.

The Traverse family would like to also thank all those who have contributed to the race over the years. They are all remembered and appreciated.

A thank you goes out to the fine folks at OCFS who continue to put this race on the schedule. Thank you Chris Larsen and Doug Dulgarian. Doug pulls extra duty for this race with all the different types of awards that are offered. Doug does a magnificent job and it’s so much appreciated.

A thank you in advance to the racers who will be in the event. Have fun and race safe!!

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