By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – Traditions on Memorial Day vary from family to family but may consist of the following: parades, cook outs, and of course Sprint Car Racing at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway!
This Saturday May 25 at Fonda, the A-Verdi Storage Containers Patriot Sprint Tour will be in competition for the Earl Halaquist Memorial event. After a one-season hiatus, the Patriots are back at the Fonda Speedway located in Fonda, NY, which is now under the promotional operation of Brett Deyo. They will head to the Montgomery County fairgrounds for the Earl Halaquist Memorial, an event that pays $3,000 to win and $300 to qualify. Lap money will also awarded.
Also racing at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday, May 25 will be the Sunoco Racing Modifieds, the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman, the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman, the Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks, and the Trackside Body Works Street Stocks with racing starting at 7:00 p.m.
As a special tribute to the Veterans and military, Brendan Gibbons of Gibbons Military Motors will have two of his jeeps on display for the evening. One of the jeeps according to Gibbons will be a 1945 Willys MB, nicknamed “Lil’ Buddy”, which saw service with the US Army in WWII. This jeep was restored by Brendan and Richard Gibbons (WWII veteran) in 2010.
The other jeep that will be on display is a 1942 Willys MB, nicknamed “Dolly.”, which saw service with the United States Marine Corps and US Army during WWII along with postwar service with the US Airforce in Europe. This Jeep was restored in 2011 by Brendan and Richard Gibbons.
Gibbons appears in parades around the local area with his Jeeps, this past week appearing in the Memorial Day parade in Scotia, NY. That evening Gibbons and his friend Brett Mortensen piloted the Jeeps in the parade with Taylor LaPlante also driving the Jeeps during some events.
Sprint car driver Josh Flint, who is a veteran, will also have his #41 Sprint Car at the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum at 4:00 p.m. when the museum opens so please stop and see Josh, thank him for his service, and wish him good luck in his racing endeavors in 2019 including Saturday evening at the Fonda Speedway! Sprint cars are cool to look at up close and personal with the huge wing on top of them so here is your chance to get a close up look at the Josh Flint Sprint Car!
Below is a history of the Earl Halaquist Memorial event, which appears on the Patriot Sprint Tour website www.patriotsprinttour.com
With permission from Mike Emhof of the Patriot Sprint tour, here is Earl Halaquist as Remembered by Michael Monnat.
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!
PREVIOUS WINNERS OF THE EARL HALAQUIST MEMORIAL EVENT
8/14/2004 – Dundee, NY – Blake Breen ESS/PSG
8/15/2005 – Dundee, NY – George Suprick ESS/PSG
8/12/2006 – Dundee, NY – Chuck Hebing ASCS/PSG
7/22/2007 – Fonda, NY – Justin Barger ESS
8/5/2008 – Fonda, NY – Justin Barger ESS
5/23/2009 – Fonda, NY – Doug Emery ESS
5/29/2010 – Fonda, NY – Justin Barger ESS
5/28/2011 – Fonda, NY – Justin Barger ESS
5/26/2012 – Fonda, NY – Jessica Zemken-Friesen ESS
9/21/2013 – Fonda, NY – Jeff Cook ESS
8/26/2014 – Afton, NY – Chuck Hebing ESS
8/25/2015 – Afton, NY – Matt Tanner ESS
8/23/2016 – Afton, NY – Steve Piorier ESS
8/12/2017 – Fonda, NY – Danny Varin ESS
5/26/2018 – Fonda, NY – Danny Varin ESS
Race Day Information for Saturday, May 25 at the Fonda Speedway:
Gates Open: 4:00 p.m.
Hot Laps: 6:00 p.m.
Racing 7:00 p.m.
Seniors: (65 & Above) $13.00
Kids 11 & Under: FREE
Pit Entry W/Fonda Speedway License: $30.00
Pit Entry W/O License: $35.00
Parking in Speedway Lot: FREE
Concession Stands & Beer Booth Open
Fonda Speedway Novelty Stand: Brand new Fonda Speedway available for purchase.
Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum
Opens @ 3:30 pm
Admission to the Hall of Fame & Museum: FREE
Check out Their Page for Special Happenings!
Speedway Office Phone: 518-915-4395
Speedway Address: 21 South Bridge Street, Fonda, NY 12068
Speedway E-Mail: email@example.com
Speedway Website: www.thefondaspeedway.com
Speedway Twitter: @thefondaspdwy
Speedway Facebook: www.facebook.com/thefondaspdwy
For up to date Patriot Sprint Tour information, please be sure to visit www.patriotsprinttour.com and to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.