By ED & BETTY BIITTIG
As the forecast threatened rain for the weekend, both Albany-Saratoga and Glen Ridge pulled in enough sunshine on Friday to get their shows in.
We headed to Albany-Saratoga again this week and at the start of the night made our usual stop at the concession area for a bite to eat before all the racing began. We came upon one of the concession workers, Olivia, cleaning up the condiment area (we all know what a mess that can be) if left undone. At Albany Saratoga even the small things are not forgotten. All the young people working the concession stands say they really enjoy working at the “Great Race Place”.
Fifteen year old David Pelis drives the No. 25 in the Street Stock class at the Malta oval. David says he is there to get seat time before venturing to a larger track like Lebanon Valley. Most of our readers know that Ed spent his early racing years at The Valley and back in the day there was an orange colored coach numbered 25 driven by Rod Fifield. The connection…..David is the grandson of Rod and says he first went to the races at age three and all his life he has been surrounded by racing. David’s goal this season is to finish in the top ten in points and says the most important thing is to bring the car home in one piece (bet his grandfather told him that). David will turn 16 in July and we will be watching this third generation driver as he moves up in the ranks.
At the end of the evening we stopped in victory lane where photos were being taken of the Modified winner, Brett Hearn and noticed a young man who was still cheering for his dad, who was posing with crew and supporters for photos. We are always happy to see Tyler Hearn and his smile that makes everyone happy. His dad had just won the Modified feature at Albany Saratoga for the 129th time and his 894th career win, just six away from 900. For the record Brett won his 300th in 1991, his 500th in 1999, his 600th in 2002, his 700th in 2006 and in 2011 he scored his 800th win. Will we ever see this again?
I spoke with Brett about the new sponsor on the rear quarter panel of his beautiful No. 20; Shakelton NAPA Auto and Truck Parts now graces Brett’s car. Brett said, “I have camped next to George Shackelton while at Volusia Speedway for the last six years”. When Danny Johnson’s car owner checked out, Shackelton decided to go with Brett. Shackelton had been a sponsor on Danny’s Modified for several years. George Shackelton has nine NAPA stores in the southern Catskills and Pennsylvania and was instrumental in getting NAPA involved in Super DIRT Week.
With another rainy weekend we knew once again we would be digging for something for DTD so we looked back once again. This time it was to May 20, 1961 at Fonda Speedway and the Modified feature that would be the first chapter in the track history that would tell a story never to be forgotten. A young man from Utica, NY scored his first feature win. Lou Lazzaro driving the Maugeri’s No. 4 trailed Kenny Shoemaker for most of the 25-lap feature, but on the final lap Lazzaro caught Shoemaker in the last ten feet and took the win and the checkered flag. NASCAR officials judged Lazzaro’s victory as less than two feet. Shoemaker was second, Pete Corey third, Paul Marshall fourth and Irv Taylor fifth. This win would be the first of his 113 Modified wins along with 300 top five finishes and that was just at Fonda.
We also looked at three of the tracks where Lou ran, Fonda, Albany-Saratoga and Utica-Rome and his records show: Fonda, 113 wins, last being May 15, 1999 and four track championships (1964, 69, 77 & 78); Albany-Saratoga 15 Modified wins, first on July 28, 1978 and last September 9, 1983 and 16 wins during the asphalt years; Utica-Rome, 32 Modified wins, first on September 9, 1962 and the last on June 30, 1979, and three track championships (1963, 70 & 71).
Let’s hope that the weather gets better and by the forecast there is hope. Until next week please send all news and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.