Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Chris Stalker’s 2022 behind the wheel of a racecar was the type of season most drivers only dream of…and with good reason.
Stalker, a successful business owner from Hillsdale, NY, had designs on racing in both the DIRTcar Pro Stock and Street Stock divisions at Lebanon Valley Speedway, chasing both track titles.
He went through a little bit of a learning curve in the Pro Stock but was able to bring his bright yellow and purple #177 home seventh in points at season’s end.
However, it was with the Street Stock that Stalker had his most success, visiting victory lane on six separate occasions en route to his first career track title by nearly 100 points over Dave Striebel Jr.
It seemed as if there was a Street Stock feature, rest assured, the purple #177 was near the front.
Friday night at the speedway, Stalker was honored for his achievements at the annual awards banquet and was quick to note that this was a total team effort.
“I’d like to thank my wife, my kids, my family and my entire crew for getting me here,” Stalker said. “I wouldn’t have been able to be standing on this stage without all of you.”
He also mentioned one huge piece of his championship puzzle which was key to his strong 2022 season.
“The last few years have been a little rocky,” he said. “However, this past season, Tom Sanchez came on board to help and got our Street Stock dialed in perfect. I can’t thank him enough for his hard work.”
For the last few seasons, Stalker and his family have been working hard to develop their second business, Godfroy’s Service Center, in New Lebanon to go along with their flagship business, Hillsdale Repairs. That put a lot of strain on the driver, but his team rallied around him.
“Last year was pretty stressful with trying to run both classes,” he said. “Couple that with 2022 being my first actually running for points. With trying to run two businesses, there were times I’d just showed up to tow a car to the track and just drive. I can’t thank my brother, George, my cousin, Pete, and everyone on this team enough for doing all they could to make sure the cars were ready each time we hit the track.”
Stalker was also grateful for his marketing partners who allowed him to do what he loves.
“I have to give a huge thank you to all of our sponsors for getting us here,” he said. “Robert Bradway’s Plumbing & Heating, Claverack Pump Service, Mac Tools Dave Prime Jr., J&B Paving and all the employees at Hillsdale Repairs and Godfory’s. I wouldn’t have been able to get here without all of you.”
The 2023 season will see the Stalker team returning to the Valley of Speed, attempting to defend one title while chasing another.
“We’ll be back for sure this coming season,” he said. “We’ll have two new cars and two additional drivers to the team. With my teammates, we’ll have a total of six race cars in the shop, five Street Stocks and a Pro Stock.”
Why so many? Well, Saturday’s at the Valley won’t be the only place fans can see the #177 in action.
“In addition to racing at Lebanon Valley, we’ll be making the weekly trip to Albany-Saratoga on Friday nights,” he said. “Hopefully we can be successful up there as well.”
Stalker has some experience at the “Great Race Place” to fall back on. In 2022, he was able to venture to the speedway and took home the $1,000-to-win Meltz Lumber Feature.