By LEON ANDRUS
The last road trip was a real short one as Delores and I went Friday and Saturday to the Johnson City, Oakdale Mall for the Southern Tier Speedworld race car show. Sunday the final day I went solo for a few hours. I will give you some information from the time I spent in the Afton Motorsports Park (A.M.P.) booth and the Thunder Mountain Speedway (T.M.S.) booth and also from a couple interviews plus I will have a couple opinions. First let me say congratulations to all the participants and also say thank you for coming out to let us race fans get a little taste of this upcoming season.
I will start with an interview I did with Kirkwood, N.Y. Modified hotshoe Ken Titus who calls A.M.P. his home every Friday night during this upcoming race-season. The upcoming race-season will start Titus’s 38th season in racing. His first seventeen he spent on two wheels racing motorcycles and winning many features along the way. After a hard crash and breaking his leg along with many other injuries over the years Titus decided to get a couple more tires under him. In 1998 Titus spent his first season with four wheels underneath him with the popular Dwarf Car division at that time on dirt and he also had a ride in a Legend car on the asphalt. 2001 through 2006 Titus went Sportsman racing until switching to Modified competition where he currently competes with his numbered (9) machine. The number by the way came from his Dad who was a huge Bill Elliot fan so he has used it since racing cars.
Titus is married to his wonderful wife Debbie of twenty-seven years and has a son Todd who races Crate Sportsman and they try to crew on one another cars when at all possible. Kyle another son from a previous marriage lives in Minnesota and works for the NFL team the Vikings from the same state. Titus is fifty-five years old and makes his living as a construction worker. He has won twenty-one features in his career with the cars and he doesn’t know the exact count with the cycles but it was many.
I also asked Mr. Titus about his career highlight and what was a low point of his racing. The highlight was winning his first career Modified feature and he did it in his rookie season 2007 at the Five Mile Point Speedway. The low point is what I would refer to as a little karma as here is the situation. The area has just been hit with a flood some pretty hard and others to a lesser degree. Kenny is getting the car ready to head to Penn Can Speedway and his wife says are you going racing as we don’t have any hot water and Debbie was a little heated to say the least. You got to know the racer in Kenny won out and he went racing. Well here is where karma comes in as during a heat race Titus has his water pump seize up and he ends up blowing the motor and that made him ask himself what am I doing. Fortunately for all of us that thought got out of his head in a hurry and we get to enjoy his wheel twisting talent still.
The upcoming season Titus will once again be a Friday night regular at A.M.P. And will race a few other races on occasion with one for sure being the Doug Worthing Tribute race at Five Mile Point on Saturday April 20. The car this season will see sponsorship from Alliance Custom Stone Work, longtime sponsor’s Rick’s Farm Repair and North Windsor Berries. Other sponsorship comes from French’s Auto Parts, Ostrowsky Builders, B&D Exhaust Warehouse, Valvoline Oil Change, Chip’s Good Times and Spirits and RB Chapman
Mike Stoddard had his tribute IMCA Modified numbered S/360, a number used by the late great Don Diffendorf was the other car on display in the A.M.P. booth this weekend. I will have a story on that after this week’s big event at the Motorsport Expo at the Center of Progress Building at the Syracuse Fairgrounds as Stoddard will have that car on display once again. The show will be Saturday and Sunday so come on out and see this one and a whole lot more.
Other news coming out of the A.M.P. Booth was the new clay will be going down soon and they had some on display for all to see. It looks like a great season building up with new drivers and returning drivers in I believe every division. In the Modified division “Top Gun” Travis Smith is planning a full season at the speedway and is looking for sponsors. Also planning a full season assault is Brandon Walters. Kenny Sparks also indicated he will be racing on and off as he tries some new set-ups in the car. Sparks is the crew chief for Darwin Greene. Jeremy Smith, I believe will be back in competition at the speedway also. In the Open Sportsman division Jim “Rocky” Rothwell will be making A.M.P. his home track for the first time in his illustrious career. Making a return after sitting out a year is Dennis Greenier. Crate Sportsman newcomer Gary Miller will be at the track weekly and also hear taking over the controls of the Olin Renwick Crate car is Alan Hodge. IMCA racing could be strong this season with Matt Roberts returning to the division. Roberts beautiful car was on display in Center Court of the Mall and it was getting a lot of eyes and many smiles from the kids. Roberts (613) has many minions on his wrap and that is great to attract the younger generation to this great sport. Roberts will be running weekly at A.M.P. and at T.M.S. Trey Palmer had two trucks on display and one got bought so they are buying an IMCA for competition at A.M.P. also. Doug Polhamus is just one of the Street Stock drivers returning to the track this season and I believe his Dad Steve also. New drivers in the four-cylinder Truck and front wheel drive Cars being combined should increase those numbers.
A 305 CRSA Sprint race, a once a month visit by Sling Shots and a few races from the wingless Sprints are on the schedule. The Short Track Super Nationals is returning after a one-year hiatus. Opening day scheduled for April 12 &19 for test and tune. Then on Friday April 26 the new highly anticipated racing will go green. Just like Walmart Ron Ford has rolled back the general admission to a very economical $10.00. Wow! Finally, good news for fans and drivers is the video will be done this season by Ron Hill’s Race Report crew giving us fans some action on television from our home track and the drivers can expose their products to a great number of folks and potential sponsors.
The Thunder Mountain booth was also a place getting many visitors and folks getting the important schedule cards. The opening night at T.M.S. is scheduled for Saturday April 27 after a test and tune session the prior week. Opening night like in the past few years will be the $1992.00 to win for the Modified race teams. Along with a complete card. The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) will make a visit to the speedway on Saturday May 18. Another show I am looking forward to is the Short Track Super Series for the Modified and Crate Sportsman coming to the hill on Sunday May 26. The racing card will be filled out with a big race for the Street Stocks as it will be a Chad Sindoni Memorial and they will be going topless. Speaking of topless the Crate Sportsman will do it again like last year on Saturday September 7 in a big 100-lap event. Sunday July 21 is the Wade Decker Memorial race for Modified, Crates and Street Stocks. Sunday September 1 is the big King of the Mountain event for Modified, Crates and the 600cc Modified divisions.
Cars representing T.M.S. at the booth were three of the 600cc Modified cars and they were the (17a) (17c) and (17j) with the 17a winning best of class during the award ceremony a championship car driven by Chris Jordan and plans are to return to defend his title. There were two Sportsman cars on display at the booth one for newcomer Matt Meade for the Rookie Sportsman division. That beautiful (28) car won best in division for the weekend. Moving out of the Rookie’s and into the very competitive Crate 602 division is the (99) driven by young Cody Jackson. His machine got the best overall of the show. Jeremy Smith (46) was the Modified representing the speedway this weekend.
I had a chance to catch up with newcomer Matt Meade (28) Rookie Sportsman and find out about the youngster. Matt is a son of Jeremy Smith and is nineteen years old. He has a beautiful girlfriend by the name of Jenna and he proudly displays her name on the inner tin that surrounds his cockpit. His interest in racing comes from Dad and he learned the ins and out of the sport crewing the past few years for Dad. I asked his goal for his first season and he told me to be able to drive it back in the trailer after the race. Meade would also like to make a few big shows as it is Crate powered and mostly would like to see the crew all work good together as a team. A lesson he learned very well on that (46) team. Meade lives in Binghamton, N.Y., and his driving experience was a couple of practice laps in his brother’s car.
Sponsorship on the car comes from Smith Site Development, TamCo Management Group, and JSR Racing. Crew members are Jeff Black, Luke Bailey, Austin Standish, Warpus, Dylan Dunham and James Black. The big thanks as he said has to go out to Dad.
Other news coming out that I heard about was the big influx of Modified teams to call T.M.S. home this season. Shane Spoonhower moving up and hopefully we will get our lookers on that piece this weekend at the Motorsport Expo. If not, it will be ready for Speedsport Showcase Saturday and Sunday March 23 & 24. Another move up from the Crates and will be on display this weekend is the Kenny Hammond (30) car. Brandon Walters (22) is planning a full season at the track this season completing his two-night a week racing. Corey Cormier (20) was originally going to race Crate Sportsman at A.M.P. and defend his title there and then run a small block at Thunder on Saturday’s. Now the word is he will run in the tough Modified division at both tracks. The two that I was surprised to hear and they have paid for a VIP Room for the season is a former Modified champion here and his son and it is Mike and Joey Colsten. I got to see the new paint scheme and it is a color scheme that either one has ever used before. Rick Wilk and Eric Leet coming out of retirement to join the Modified division. Tommy Collins returning in the Crate division and many more. Matt Roberts as I said before will be a welcome addition to the tough IMCA division. The 600’s look like as in the Modified division we might be seeing consolation races.
When I left on Sunday it looks as though the new folks from DRTV will be doing the video at the track this season giving plenty of exposure through Facebook as they produce the show with plenty on interviews keeping the tracks name out there daily.
I am getting long now so I am going to stop and I hope to see you this week in Syracuse. One last thing when you visit the A.M.P. or T.M.S. booth ask how you can be a sponsor at the track and the many benefits of doing that. If you see me say hello as I will be between the two booths when not making some rounds about the show. Everyone enjoy the show and get the schedules and talk to the folks at the speedway booths as they love to hear from fans and drivers alike. Until next time Race On! Leon Andrus can be reached for news, notes or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org