By ED & BETTY BIITTIG
The July 3 Firecracker 50 STSS event at Fonda was monumental for the track because it was the first time the Short Track Super Series played at the Track of Champions and that also made it worthy of Fonda history.
There was a Long Haul Bonus from Timco Transportation given to the competitor that traveled the farthest and Jimmy Horton and Roger Henion, Jr., were the recipients. Maybe there should have been a long haul bonus given to the fan that traveled the farthest. We don’t know who that would have been but we did run into a group of fans that made the four hour drive from Montreal, (South Shore) Quebec, Canada. Simon LaMarche was the spokesman for the group of 10-12, his brother, cousins and friends that were there on Wednesday night and loving what has happened to Fonda this season. Simon has been coming to Fonda since the 1970s and remembers when the stands were filled and the racing at its best. “I never missed a 100 lapper in those years,” said Simon. The group feels now that Deyo and his staff have brought all that back to the fans.
Prior to the racing action on Wednesday Melissa Lazzaro interviewed Ed in the Fonda Museum as part of the MAVTV broadcast scheduled for sometime in September. We are members of the Hall of Fame, did the history segment in early Fonda programs and were involved in the original museum with Brian Hanaburgh when it was set up in the Fultonville McDonald’s as part of the restaurant’s decor. All in all you could say we are part of the history of Fonda Speedway and sometimes we even feel historic.
It’s a year of firsts for driver, Jim Becker and Tim Hartman, Jr., Jim as a car owner and Tim in a Modified. This year is a year of testing. “We plan to travel so Tim can get experience on different tracks, said Jim, and then next year we plan to follow the series.” Tim made the feature at Thunder Mountain earlier this season and on Wednesday he was among the DNQ’s along with Jimmy Horton and a few other notables. Tim’s performance in his 602 Crate Sportsman shows his ability to transition; he’s leading the Northern Region points for the STSS and his fourth win of the season in the division at Fonda and leads the points. Tim has two wins at Albany Saratoga and also leads the points there.
Area racing had been talking about the first big show at Fonda this season and Wednesday it came to be under the watchful eye of new Fonda promoter, Brett Deyo. In baseball it would be a home run and what a thrill that must be for the hitter, and on Wednesday, Stewart Friesen hit a home run with his last lap pass of Matt Sheppard to win the $10,000 top prize. The whole night was special for all involved, Ed was asked to do the invocation and is very thankful to all who gave him their kind words. And let’s not forget all the work done by John Lakata who designed and crafted the special winner’s trophy for the event. Thanks to everyone involved, it was an amazing night. We spoke with Bob James later in the week and he said the video of the event came out great, so if you weren’t able to be there and don’t want to wait for MAVTV, get the video from BOBCO.
One of the fans in the grandstand on Wednesday was former competitor, Eddie San Soucie who is a frequent visitor and is very grateful to see the comeback of the “Track of Champions.” Now we all look forward to the Fonda 200 on September, 27-28.
As we walked through the stands at a track we often wonder if there are any first time fans. On Friday at Albany- Saratoga we found a few and talked with two that were sitting on the bottom row in front of the announcer’s tower. Carrie said it was their first time, she was there with her boyfriend, Andrew who is a regular, both are from Connecticut. She came prepared with headset and all and when we stopped back after the heats she said, “I will return, I’m really enjoying myself.” So good to hear a new fan’s approval.
Next we ran into Matt Rich, driver of the No. 20 Limited Sportsman, at the concession stand. He told us he daughter, Carmela was in the tower with her boyfriend, Jaquan, who was another first time fan. Carmela said she had been to the races many times but never in the air conditioned tower, and Friday was a great night for that. They both seemed happy with the show and with her father in a Limited Sportsman and Carmela a fan, it seems a good idea for Jaquan to get used to it.
Albany Saratoga honored race fan, Don Horning with a special memorial Modified race on Friday and it all came about because of the friendship and dedication of Don’s friend Andrew Sandstrom. Don was someone who loved all things with an engine and dirt racing and traveled around the Upstate New York dirt tracks every weekend. Don worked in the clothing industry in New York City and stayed there while making his living and every Friday afternoon he caught the train north to Rensselaer, made a quick stop to change close then made a stop to visit his family on Sacandaga Lake before going to Malta on Friday nights. He attended Fonda Speedway, Lebanon Valley for Mr. Dirt Track USA, Orange County Fair Speedway for Eastern States Weekend and Super DIRT Week in Syracuse/Oswego; he would grab a buddy and off he would go every weekend. He truly loved racing and being at the track with all the fans. Everyone that met him knew he was one of a kind and during his final weeks of life he told his neighbor and racing buddy Eric Erickson “I wish I could go to one more race.” On Friday night the Modifieds gave Don one more race in the Don Horning Memorial. Marc Johnson was one of the pit areas where Don spent a lot of time and Marc honored Don with vinyl lettering on the quarter panel of his No. 3J.
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