RPW Column: Different Sources Beef Up Eastern States Award Totals At Orange County

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – In a recent press release, it was noted that over $300,000 will be available to competitors racing in the upcoming Orange County Fair Speedway Eastern States Weekend events.

A good percentage of that total is from the race purse. But there are other dollars that come from businesses, fans and other sources in the form of lap sponsorships and different types of awards. And a social media group is heavily involved with what will be the 61st running of the Eastern States 200.

The Facebook page ‘The Hard Clay Observer’ has been gathering donations from their group members. Group administrators Anthony Lehmann and Paul Demott floated the idea of sponsoring the Hard Luck Award for the 200 out to members a while back and it’s been well received. As of this writing, the award total is up to $2,293 and growing, a substantial total.

No one really wants to see a driver have hard luck during the weekend. But the facts are that there will be a racer who will have enough bad luck that they will receive the Hard Clay Observer Hard Luck Award. And hopefully, the total that has been collected will soften the blow to whoever receives it. It’s a job well done by the Observer’s administrators and members. The recipient will be most grateful.

All the laps of the 200 are eligible to have leader money added to them. Lap 56 will be one of the most lucrative. It’s the ‘Astro Pete’ lap.

“Pete Gardner was a racer back in the 90’s and he loved the sport of dirt track racing,” said Ben Gardner, Pete’s brother. “After he stopped racing, he picked up the hobby of picking up race car parts, chassis and motors in his Astro van. That’s how he got the name, ‘Astro Pete’. He would travel all up and down the east coast, he just loved the sport. His racing number 56, so it’s pretty awesome to see his memory alive by doing the lap 56 sponsor.”

At this writing, the Astro Pete Lap 56 Bonus is at $850. What a great response to Pete’s memory and for the Gardner Family and friends. He was one of those people in racing that everyone liked and he is missed in the dirt track racing community.

Dave Farber and Accurate Collision of Pompano Beach, Fl, continue to be involved with racing here in the Northeast.

“Dave has a halfway bonus of $500 to the halfway leader of the Sportsman. If the halfway leader continues to win the race, that doubles to $1,000,” Doug said. “He likes to support the grassroots division.”

Former racer, Tommy Kuck, is very much involved in the Pro Stock race.

“Tommy and his company, Whispering Pine Landscaping, have a $1,000 Pro Stock Dash for Cash. $500 to win. He has been a big supporter of the Pro Stocks since their return to OCFS,” Doug said.

And a new sponsor is coming on board for the Pro Stock race.

“Empire Metal Works of Walton, NY, are sponsoring the Pro Stock race itself,” Doug said. “We’re happy to have their support.”


Eastern States Weekend Notes…

Campers will be allowed in starting on Thursday.

Speedway officials are going to be clearing all the trailers from the pit area on both Friday and Saturday.

“We are going to be clearing the pits both Friday and Saturday nights. We calculated that there will be around 140 teams per night coming in and out,” said Orange County Fair Speedway General Manager, Doug Dulgarian. “With so many divisions, there is no way to do this without removing them. We felt that it wouldn’t be fair to the teams that have to come in each day. We are making an area at the top of the fairgrounds a parking lot for haulers to stay overnight and they can bring them back in on their race day.”

Speedway officials are asking for full cooperation with this.

The Street Stock pit will be outside the track in the motocross staging area. If you have questions about this, please contact Doug at the speedway.

The roster for the Champions Race is coming together.

“There are 7 confirmed so far, I’m expecting more,’ said Doug. “Brett Hearn, Richie Eurich, Jerry Higbie, Tommy Meier, Frank Cozze in the Craig Mitchell 93X, Tim McCreadie in the Petruska 66 and Matt Sheppard. Waiting to hear back from some others.

It’s $1,000 to take the green and $5,000 to win. The most recent winner will start last and the fall in by when they won their last 200 race or last one if they have multiple wins. The earliest winners are Eurich in 1988 and Cozze in 1989, so they will lead the field to green.”

Recently, the track was looking for nominations for a tribute sign atop the half covered grandstands. There is one final spot available and it will be announced during the day on Saturday.

Unrelated to Eastern Weekend, track officials have announced that the American Flat Track motorcycle series will be making a stop at the Orange County Fair Speedway in July of 2023.

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