Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – This Saturday, August 5, the second visit of the 2023 racing season at the Fonda Speedway by the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) will take place with a $2,000 reward awaiting the feature winner. The ESS Sprint feature event will also serve as the 19th running of the prestigious Earl Halaquist Memorial event.
Curtis Lumber will be the sponsor of the evenings NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Racing program which also features all regular divisions in action including the Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds, the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman, the Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks, the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman, and the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
Gates open this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. with hot laps at 6:00 p.m. and racing at 7:00 p.m.
The Fonda Speedway Kid’s Club is holding their annual “Backpack Giveaway” this Saturday August 5 so if you would like to donate a backpack please bring it to Ashley Abeling at the Kid’s Club location under the grandstands at gate two.
According to their website the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) is a 360-winged sprint car traveling club that races on dirt oval tracks throughout New York and Canada. The sprint cars use a 360 cubic inch (5.9L) engine that produces approximately 700 horsepower, weigh 1500 pounds, and achieve speeds in excess of 125 miles per hour, on dirt short tracks. This year in 2023, the ESS are celebrating their 40th year of competition and is a respected club on and off the track.
Local favorite Danny Varin was the winner of six straight ESS Sprint car features at Fonda before Shawn Donath won back on May 6 of this year for his first career win at Fonda in the ESS organization, breaking Varin’s win streak. Those six wins moved Varin to the top of the ESS All-Time Win List at the “Track of Champions” in a total of 26 feature events run over the years with a total of 15 different drivers winning those events.
Justin Barger is second on the ESS All-Time Win List at Fonda with five victories while Lance Yonge and Steve Poirier both have two wins sitting next on the list. Drivers who have single ESS event wins at Fonda include John Brutcher, Bobby Parrow, Tom Taber, Craig Lane, Doug Emery, Jessica Zemken-Friesen, Jeff Cook, Chuck Hebing, Stewart Friesen, Davie Franek, and Shawn Donath.
19th ANNUAL EARL HALAQUIST MEMORIAL
Mike Emhof gave me permission years ago to share the following story of Earl Halaquist as Remembered by Michael Monnat so I will share it again this year in 2023.
By the ﬁrst time I saw Earl Halaquist race a sprint car for the United Racing Club (URC) in 1960 at the Five Mile Point Speedway in Kirkwood, New York, he was already half-way through his career. Yet, at that point, he hadn’t even begun to receive national notoriety. That all changed with the dawn of the Sixties and his prodigious and overwhelmingly spectacular use of George Nesler’s sprint car racing equipment.
Halaquist had been around the sprint car game since arriving home after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, making his debut in 1946 in Little Valley, N.Y. From that point forward through the Fifties, he raced with sanctions like the Eastern States Racing Association (ESRA), the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA), and URC.
Back to that July night at Five Mile Point, Halaquist didn’t win the feature, but he was impressive getting a second place ﬁnish behind Hal Rettberg. That was only the beginning as the decade that changed the country belonged to the Earl Halaquist/George Nesler duo.
Six URC titles (1962, ’64, ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69) impressed the hell out of me and, during that time; I caught every local show and went to a few regional shows, as well. Halaquist won on dirt and asphalt. He won on the big tracks and the bullrings. In short, he won on everything and everywhere; he won 14 features in 1967 alone. Along the way, he garnered 52 URC main events; most coming at a time when ‘having a roof over your head’ meant living at home.
The quiet, unassuming family man from Sidney, N.Y., had a full-time job with Bendix, in addition to running up and down the East Coast chasing feature wins and point titles. He retired after spending 1970 driving midget cars with the American Race Drivers Club (ARDC). I didn’t meet Earl Halaquist in person until 1992 when he was inducted in the We-Go Racing Fan Club Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was inducted into the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Hall of Fame and, in 2000; he was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame (NSCHoF).
In 2010, he was posthumously inducted into the URC Hall of Fame. His many skills spoke for themselves and everything about him read ‘class act.’ Earl Satch Halaquist, who was born on September 7, 1925, in Rock Rift, N.Y., died on January 12, 2001, at the age of seventy-ﬁve. Great driver, great man. Nothing else needs to be said!
LAP SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR THE EARL HALAQUIST MEMORIAL
$20 lap sponsorships are available for this Saturday’s 25-lap Empire Super Sprints (ESS) sanctioned Earl Halaquist Memorial at the Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway. Lap 6 will pay $40 to the leader, courtesy of the Maynard Troyer Classic IV. Those wishing to sponsor a lap are encouraged to Facebook Message Thomas Schmeh, send Tom an e-mail at email@example.com or at this late point in the week Tom accepts PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also indicate a message you would like to place on the lap such as In Honor of, In Memory of, or whatever you would like to use.