Jump to content

  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Malta With Dirt; Now That's What I Call Racing



For those asphalt fans that think the surface of the track wasn’t the reason Albany-Saratoga Speedway was struggling to get drivers, fans, or even interest through the gate I implore you to please take note that after opening night under the Commander-Devore management team Malta is once again THE Great Race Place!

Upon arrival at Albany-Saratoga my eyes were not deceived nor was there any gimmick bringing the fans in by the flock, as they were parked from the sign in booth to route 9. It was clear the idea of a kick a$$ dirt race had finally been brought back to the great race place. As I wandered my way to put my John Hancock on the sign in sheet a sudden feeling came over my above average sized frame that I was about to be treated to a fantastic evening.

On the way in I ran into Keith “Whitey” Slavin minus his fire suit or racecar. We chatted about his positive experience racing for Matt Hyde at Accord last season, but this year he’s only racing Lebanon Valley. Hyde has sold his equipment and was happy to go out a winner. Slaving was proud to give Hyde a win as a car owner proving he had the equipment to get the job done. Slavin works full time for Coke-A-Cola on weekends and with dedicating time to his recent bride Angelica his racing schedule has slowed down a bit. They are still a great racing family with history, so it’s nice to see Slavin still wheeling even if only once a week.

Next I chatted with R3 himself Ricky Achzet who discussed the grind of lettering race rods. He’s still slaving away to finish his workload and after week one some drivers are already bringing him replacement panels. Good thing he chose lettering racecars in part for a career or he’d sound like he wasn’t busy. (lol)

Wandering in to the pits I ran into Fast Eddie from Fox Fast Tracks and we went over the importance of making sure lists are in order to avoid any confusion. Eddie was excited to see the turnout for the “Resurrection” of Malta and the car count to support such an effort. Speaking of which, the car counts for opening night were plentiful. 34 Modifieds, 57 Sportsman, and a full field of Cruisers were on hand to open the 2012 season at Malta. There were so many Sportsman just as mentioned in an article written previously by yours truly, Lyle Devore was true to his word in having a Rookie Sportsman division if he had the cars and interest.

As always when I get to Malta it is necessary for a visit to the Scott Duell 14 and his Lazzaro Motorsports crew. Duell is back in familiar colors and the boss man made him return the 14 to the side for the 2012 season, which Scott has no objection to whatsoever. He was as giddy as a schoolgirl on prom night to be back at Albany-Saratoga for some dirt racing. “I love this place man, its Malta,” he said quite enthusiastically. We discussed his plans for racing crates in 2012 at the great race place and what he had learned while racing the track of champs for a couple years.


After leaving Duell laughing with a girl pile panty joke I was heading for the track to see the heat races that were lining up, but not before saying hello and getting my weekly loving pick me up from my favorite gal pal Melizzaro. On my way to catch the beginning of the Sportsman heat I couldn’t pass the Jumpin’ Jacks trailer without stopping to see my favorite big money hustler (aka parts dealer lol) Jeff Johnson. Much like the Distinguished Gentlemen Jeff Johnson is the name you know and his nephew is a pretty damn good wheelman also. Surrendered some moola to Uncle J and headed to catch some action on the track.

I must say it was so gratifying to see dirt back where it belonged on the surface of the track. The heat races went well with the exception of a few mishaps and spins, which the worst was the damage to the 62 of Mike Ostrander’s Sportsman car. Didn’t see how the accident happened myself, but it was a racing accident according to onlookers. Ostrander is in the market for a front clip judging by the picture below.


I was visited by two fine people in the form of Matt Hearn and Nikki Davies, who you may have heard of. We shared some Canadian Teo jokes, linked up on Twitter, and now Matt is part of Hazilla Nation. (lol) Nikki filled me in on her trip to Atlantic City a bit, how clean the place was, and yet again taught me something about Twitter. Matt is the son of Teo himself Bobby Hearn; nephew to Brett The Jet and Nikki is the stepdaughter to the champ RJ and my Twitter teacher. (lol)

Just before the Modified feature the fans were treated to a Melissa Lazzaro live performance of the National Anthem with a fly over at its conclusion. Boy-oh-boy Lyle and Howie sure do know how to go all out even without planning to. (lol) Modifieds roared to life for the first time in two years and at the drop of the green it looked like Todd Stone would have something for Stewart Friesen, as they went side by side early. On lap 3 the first yellow of the 30-lap feature came out when Hector Stratton came to a stop in turn 3.

On the restart something went wrong with Todd Stone’s 1x and he slowed bringing out a restart. The Glen Ridge defending track champion Kenny Tremont Jr. made a big move on the next restart and grabbed 3rd, while Matt Diesel was starting to pressure for a front running spot also. Matt Depew brought out the next yellow after spinning in turn 1 and my not so smart phone auto finished my sentence when I updated my Twitter feed with a “lol” at the end. My apologies, that won’t happen again, yes I felt like an idiot. (lol)

Brett Hearn and Ronnie Johnson were the big movers of the night coming from deep to earn top 6 spots, while Tremont hounded Friesen like a fat kid on a cupcake. Yeah that saying never gets old. (lol) Hearn did end up getting past DeLorenzo for 3rd and even closed in on the front running pair on the last lap in traffic, but was out of laps. Friesen once again took advantage of a good starting spot to fend off all challengers and win Malta’s Resurrection Modified feature. Big shout out to Dustin Delaney who was in the midst of some heavy hitters and held on for a solid 7th place finish. Play on playa.

Now prior to the event with witnesses surrounding me I picked Friesen, Tremont, DeLorenzo as the top 3. I figured Hearn and RJ had some work to do getting to the front and wasn’t sure if there would be enough yellows, so like a baby I played it safe. Well I was almost 100% correct, but Brett rained on my parade with about 3 laps left. (lol) Still picking 2 of the top 3 with another winning pick makes my top 3 pick percentage 73% and my win pick percentage 80% for races I attend. Pretty soon my pal Elmo Recker will be calling me to his trailer offering me Wendy’s in return for a pick to win. (lol)

If the heart pounding Modified action wasn’t enough to revive the ol’ Great Race Place blood pumping through the fans veins, then the Sportsman feature surely helped the dirt heart beat again. When they came out I figured Joe Budka had the field covered and no way anyone would beat him. Well thanks to Derrick McGrew for proving me wrong. (lol) Before the features I had wandered over to the TH2 Racing team’s trailer to visit with Timmy squared and pop a spud (buffalo wing sauce covered potato wedge), which made me hungry to revive my Malta tradition; Taco Bell after the show. (lol)


My mind wandered back to the action on the track and Derrick McGrew was hounding Budka for the lead, which he would end up getting past him in traffic with only a handful of laps remaining to win. It was an exciting feature with two very experienced drivers racing side by side for the win. The big mover was Tim Hartman Jr. who came from 12th to finish 4th at the line. Solid run for Big Time Little Tim and on another note I am quite impressed with the early season success of Jeff Rockafeller. He ran solid in 3rd place at a track I’m pretty sure he’s never raced on dirt at. Nice run J-Rock.

In a quick chat with my track champion pal Ronnie Johnson the track felt great to be back on. The track wasn’t as narrow as I thought, but RJ did say he would like to see the inside birm pushed back about 2-3 feet and the jersey barriers put back. It made me think he could be right, because that inside dirt birm played a deceiving role all night. Not in a bad way at all, however drivers like Hearn would ride the left front on it and catch a high spot and it would throw the car all over the place. I guess with the jersey barrier you know your limitations, so RJ could be onto something there.

Before I forget I do want to wish big block modified driver Ryan Odasz and his family the best of wishes. Ryan was chatting with me and informed me he would miss next week at the track of champions due to his 6-month-old daughter going in for open-heart surgery. I truly hope all goes well and wish them the best, as that is no question a tough situation for any parent to go through.

It was truly fulfilling to be back at Albany-Saratoga Speedway watching some race-a-licious action at my favorite facility in the Northeast. I grew up watching racing there on Friday nights and was impressed with how smooth the track was for the first dirt race in a couple of years. I’ll make the trip again Friday and then to Fonda Saturday. For my next trick I’ll get Lyle to find a vest in my size so I can shoot video and some photos off the infield. (lol) Read it, live it, love it. My logic is 99.9% undeniable.


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...