By MIKE MALLETT
It’s impossible to talk about the history of the Orange County Fair Speedway without the name Brett Hearn being mentioned in the conversation. He’s the all-time winningest driver at the facility, a 12-time winner of the Eastern States 200 and a driver that has recorded over 900 career wins.
The last several years the Sussex, N.J., has taken a hiatus from competing at the track affectionately known as ‘The Hard Clay’ on a weekly basis. He’s returned for special events, but weekly forays have found him elsewhere. As he announced late last week, that is going to change in 2019 as he returns to the track track announcer Tim Pitts calls the ‘Legendary House of Power.’
“First of all, it’s the 100th anniversary of the track,” stated Hearn Sunday from the Port Royal Speedway pit area. “I have interest in seeing that the track comes back. I’ve always dreamed about the day that someone would take over the facility and upgrade things and saw it’s potential. Now that has come to fruition.”
Hearn also indicated the payouts were something that couldn’t be scoffed at. Each week the speedway is paying $3,300 to win in the Modified division alone with $40,000 going to the overall champion. Not to mention the 100th anniversary event paying $100,000 to win in August and the season ending Eastern States 200. It was just too much for Hearn to pass up.
“The money is awesome and quite honestly its half hour from my shop,” he said. “I’d be an idiot to drive by there. We’ll see how the season plays out. I think we are pretty good shape. We’ll have to see how we feel by the middle of July if we made the right decision or not. There is so much on the line there I don’t know how it could be a miss.”
So now an already stout field of cars gets even stronger with the edition of Hearn to the weekly field. The regular season kicks off on Saturday, April 13th with a 71-lap, $7,100 to win feature event in honor of Carl ‘Fuzzy’ Van Horn.