By Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
CANANDAIGUA, NY-The 5th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Weekend kicked off Friday at Land Of Legends Raceway with recently crowned points champions Jimmy Grant and Marc Minutolo taking full advantage of the their hometrack experience to garner lucrative wins in the ‘Full-Fender Frenzy’ presented by Coors Light, Genny & Twisted Tea.
Grant dominated the headline Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout for Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stocks while Minutolo’s skills were just as prevalent in his latest Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock victory on the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval.
Triple 20-lap qualifying heats for the DIRTcar Sportsman complemented opening day activity with upstart Emmett Waldron, second-generation standout Nick Root and north country invader Gavin Eisele taking checkers in the preliminary events.
And closing out the four-division card, 16 Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds joined in the action prepping for the next day’s ‘Haers 100.’ Justin Haers pocketed a $300 bonus as Friday’s NASCAR Racing Experience ‘Fast Timer’ after three practice sessions. The ’23 track champ turned in a quick time of 17.553 sec. as his black #3 Honeoye Auto Parts-Phelps Cement Products-CX Electric/Bicknell mount circled the hallowed half-miler averaging a best one-lap speed of 102.547mph.
The GHM was expanded to two days last season and while this was the third event for full-fender teams, 2023 marked the first year Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks joined their open-wheel counterparts in the fairgrounds finale. A fine field of 30 Hobby entries and 23 Street machines packed the pits with LOLR Promoter Paul Cole granting every driver a starting spot in their respective feature race.
The Land of Legends headliner also brought the curtain down on the inaugural Empire Street Stock Series and it was Shane Wolf Jr. capturing the $1,000 crown. Including the Keystone State champion, four additional drivers qualified for every tour event held at LOLR, Genesee Speedway (Wolf winner), Ransomville Speedway (Josh Pangrazio), and Woodhull Raceway (Glenn Whritenour). Freedom Motorsports Park lost out twice due to inclement weather.
For the 12th time since 1999 the Street Stock event paid tribute to LOLR Pro Stock champion driver Whyte, with Grant emerging as the seventh different driver to take home top honors in the 40-lap main event.
“This place likes me, we get around here pretty well,” understated Grant, after the Penn Yan pilot scored his 22nd career win at the fairgrounds, ranking him fourth all-time in Canandaigua’s top-tier stock car class. His 10th victory in 13 starts this season was easily the most profitable, earning him a $1,500 top prize plus well over $1,300 in lap leader and contingency awards. “Winning never gets old. Tonight I knew we had some really stiff competition so this is where you measure up.”
Tagged as the the fourth and final round in the Empire Series, invader Damian Long from Pavilion sped out to an early lead while Grant filled in fifth on the starting grid. Action came to an abrupt halt the second time around when a mult-car tangle forced out a red flag, wiping out more than a half-dozen cars in the turn-four melee.
Contact between the red machines of C.J. Guererri and Jared Hill initiated the scrum with ESSS runner Justin Neff slamming into Guererri to continue a chain-reaction of collisions in the aftermath. Done for the night were LOLR regulars Mike Welch, Pat Hobbs and Guererri as well as Zach Teed, Chris Dziomba, Bobby Lippa and Neff.
Back under green, Grant wasted little time tracking down Long, moving into second on the ensuing lap three restart as top ESSS point chasers Brandon Sherwood and Wolf followed him forward. Grant was in high gear aboard his potent #36 Nardozzi-Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating-Geneva Glass Chevrolet Camaro, nosing ahead for the lone lead change on lap five and never looking back.
Top-five positions were far from decided however as 10th starting Wolf needed no worse than a fourth-place finish to wrap up the first ESSS title. Wolf improved to third with 10 laps complete before defending race winner Carl Johnson slipped past by the halfway point. Johnson disposed of runner-up Long on lap 21 yet Grant was well out of sight in Johnson’s bid for a second straight GHM triumph on home soil.
One final chance came on lap 29 when Dakota Sharp’s ride slowed in turn three amidst a plume of smoke to incur caution, yet Grant was easily up for the challenge during the final 10 circuits. Meanwhile, Wolf took over second on lap 31 while Sherwood regained fourth after pitting on lap 29 for a tire change.
At the line it was still Grant authoring a commanding 10 car-length victory over Wolf followed by Johnson, Sherwood and Minutolo, who joined Grant, Welch and Justin Eldredge all-doing double duty contending in both classes on this occasion.
Making just his first trip of the season to LOLR, Chili’s Jeff Almekinder collected $250 from Debbie Everdyke, the former wife of Les Whyte, after improving from 22nd to 10th to earn the Hard Charger Award. Charging from 25th to fifth in the Pro Stock debut on the Syracuse Mile during Super DIRT Week in 1997 to earn Les ‘Hard Charger’ honors inspired Debbie to sponsor this special award.
“I’m glad for Shane, he deserves that (ESSS) championship,” remarked Grant, following his career-best 15th win of the season logged at four tracks in 2023 along with an Enduro victory in Ontario Co. Fair’s “Summer Smash” staged in July. He fell just a dozen points shy of Wolf, 212-200, in the final ESSS points tally ahead of third-place Sherwood with 194 markers. “Just to outrun him here is cool to me. And to get around (ESSS tour) and try new stuff and come home second in this class of street stocks from around the state is nothing to hang your head about.”
A teammate of Grant sporting the J.E. Marine Maintenance moniker on the side panels of his own no. 77 Chevy Camaro, Wolf offered similar praise to the victor.
“Its an honor to be able to run second to Jimmy, he’s got this place figured out this year,” noted Wolf from Susquehanna, Pa., winner of the ’23 ESSS opener at Genesee in May. “Tried my damndest, gave him everything I could to try and reel him in a little bit but it just wasn’t happening. Made up a little bit of ground some laps, other laps fell back a ways so its great to finish one-two. Believe we finished one-two in the championship as well. JE Marine helped us out quite a bit this year and we wouldn’t be here without them.”
While Grant paced the Street Stock field for 36 of the 40-lap distance, Minutolo led all but the opening 10 circuits to capture the 25-lap Hobby Stock main. Despite starting on the pole, he still needed to survive an early battle with front row partner Daniel Kerrick before parkng his own black #25B Honeoye Auto Parts-Real Estate By Jenn-Tradition Automotive Group Chevrolet Monte Carlo in victory lane.
“You never would guess that kid has only raced for two years, he drives his ass off,” commended Minutolo, himself a track veteran now 67 stock car wins (2nd all-time) in Canandaigua. Along with a Street Stock win this season, his third in Hobby competition handed him the $750 top prize from a record raceday purse of $6,000. “I tip my cap off to (Daniel), him and his entire team. He did all the work in the off-season and to race side by side with him was pretty awesome. I can trust him.”
Kerrick out-gunned Minutolo at the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s opening green flag before Justin Eldredge slowed exiting turn two to force a complete restart. Kerrick mirrored his initial maneuver given a second chance, leading the initial lap before another yellow flag flew for a crash between turns three and four.
Green and yellow flags continued to mar the early stages keeping the front-runners close in every turn and Kerrick ahead of Minutolo every lap. That all changed on the 11th go-round when backstretch traffic scrambled the lead pack that included recent winner Nate Peckham. Minutolo edged high around Kerrick at the stripe on lap 11 and Peckham grabbed second with 14 in the books.
Kerrick suffered a flat right-rear tire to require the seventh caution on lap 16, advancing Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell, Blane Smith and Derek Excell further ahead up front with still 10 to go. On lap 18 runner-up Peckham suddenly slid high off the track rounding turn one and back under green Minutolo increased his lead to 10 car-lengths over Burnell with six miles to go.
Kerrick rallied to reach fifth on lap 22 yet was forced back into the pits with sheet metal dangling from the rear-end. Despite a final yellow flag unfurling for trackside debris to set up a two lap dash to the checkers, Minutolo never flinched as the Newark namesake cruised home for a comfortable eight car-length triumph. Defending race winner Tyler Burnell grabbed second from his father Frank while Excell and Peckham completed the final front-five.
Kerrick settled for a disappointing seventh-place finish, reluctantly earning him the
$50 Dusett Enterprise Hard Luck Award while collecting another $50 bonus for making the Real Estate By Jenn ‘Move of the Race.’
“Worked so hard this week and last to put a piece underneath us,” exclaimed a jubilant Minutolo in the winner’s circle. “(Car) was sliding all over the place in the beginning. Maybe the tires came in, I don’t really know, the car just came to me.”
“Have to credit my father (Mike, 33-time LOLR stock winner) and Paul Gavenda (engine builder), and sponsors like Honeoye Auto and the Tradition Group for helping make all this happen. And thanks to all the guys that put in money for this event. Its a feather in the cap for all these Hobby drivers that showed up in support. A ton of people that helped make this race something really big.”
A solid field of 35 DIRTcar Sportsman entries signed up for the now traditional Haers tribute and it was a talented trio that took home top dollar after copping heat races that qualified six drivers from each for tomorrow’s big $2,500-to-win 20-mile main. The top-two finishers will be in Saturday’s Stirling Lubricants Pole Dash to determine the front three rows starting order.
Riding west from Savannah, Waldron charged from fifth in his #4 Pit Stop Convenience Stores-Mohawk Northeast-Wayne Wilsey Excavating/Bicknell machine to win the 12-car opener. Recently crowned LOLR points king Zach Sobotka rallied from 11th to finish second ahead of season-opening winner Cameron Tuttle, Timmy Borden Jr., Austin Germinio and Tim Baker.
Recent first-time Canandaigua winner Root from Geneva led the distance in heat two steering his no. 30 F.X. Caprara Honda-JP’s Custom & Cycle-SJP/Bicknell entry, chased throughout by runner-up Kane Bristol, ’22 GHM winner Kevin Ridley, Eastern New York invader Chris Jakubiak, Tim Lafler and young Behr Grover.
With pole-winner Blake Parsons unable to take the green in round three, Eisele moved his #18 Performance Automotive-Dingman Farms-Walker Construction/Bicknell car to the point and the LaFargeville driver out-distanced 2021 GHM champion Matt Guererri, Dave Conant Jr., A.J. Lloyd, hard-charging Tyler Corcoran and all-time LOLR Sportsman winner Paul Guererri to earn $250.
BIG-BLOCKS HEADLINE HAERS MEMORIAL WEEKEND ’23 FINALE
The 2023 Land of Legends trackside season comes to a close tomorrow when the mighty Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds take center stage in the 5th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial presented by Phelps Cement Products. Stirling Lubricants Sportsman fill out the DIRTcar doubleheader with an overall prize package of nearly $80,000 posted in the two-division program.
The headline “Haers 100” winner collects a cool $10G while every starter takes home no less than $1,000 from the 50-mile race boasting a $43,100 purse. Adding another $4,500 in post-race rewards for the Phelps Cement Products presentation, $10,000 in lap money is also on tap along with $500-to-win Triple 20-lap qualifying heats and $250-to-win Last Chance Showdowns plus a special Northeast Pool & Spa/ JH Coatings Dash-for-Cash.
The companion 40-lap Stirling Lubricants GHM Classic on Saturday rewards the Sportsman winner with a $2,500 payday from the $14,000-plus purse with $1,600 in bonuses and an $800 Stirling Lubricants Pole Dash further swelling the overall pot on race day.
Erick Rudolph (Mod) and Kevin Ridley (Spt) are the defending champions after scoring lucrative GHM extra-distance victories last September at LOLR.
As the 60th season comes to a close in Canandaigua, be sure to check out the final point standings for all five divisions and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Land of Legends Raceway is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.
PHOTO: *Jimmy Grant victory lane photo attachment by Nick Meka
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – September 15, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration ‘Friday Full-Fender Frenzy’
Coors Light, Genny & Twisted Tea present 5th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling / Empire Street Stock Series Race #4
12th Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout Championship
*Feature (40 laps): 1. 36-JIMMY GRANT ($1,500), 2. 77-Shane Wolf Jr. ($750), 3. 87-Carl Johnson ($400), 4. 87x-Brandon Sherwood ($250), 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo ($200), 6. 93-Jared Hill ($190), 7. 9-Aksel Jensen ($180), 8. 25j-Justin Eldredge ($170), 9. 12-John Burritt ($160), 10. 05-Jeff Almekinder ($150), 11. 63-Mike Fellows ($140), 12. 00x-Damian Long ($130), 13. 12s-Dakota Sharp ($120), 14. 22-Carl Cleveland ($110), 15. 117-Jon Almekinder ($100), 16. 85x-Nick Dandino ($100), 17. 00-Mike Welch ($100), 18. 4x-Zach Teed ($100), 19. cj1-CJ Guererri ($100), 20. 33-Justin Neff ($100), 21. 55d-Chris Dziomba ($100), 22. 3-Patrick Hobbs ($100), 23. 15-Bobby Lippa Jr. ($100).
2023 Empire Street Stock Series Champion: Shane Wolf Jr.
Heats (8 laps / Top-3 redraw)
Smith Drywall #1: Sherwood ($50), Long, Grant, Wolf, Minutolo, Jensen, Burritt, Teed.
Smith Drywall #2: Guererri ($50), Eldredge, Neff, Jo.Almekinder, Dziomba, Lippa, Fellows, Je.Almekinder.
Bud’s Apple Pie #3: Johnson ($50), Hill, Sharp, Cleveland, Hobbs, Welch, Dandino(DNS).
In Memory Of Les Whyte / Debbie Everdyke Hard Charger Award $250: Jeff Almekinder.
Bud’s Apple Pie Halfway Leader Bonus $50: Jimmy Grant.
In Memory Of Hunter DeRoo / Tradition Automotive Group Hard Luck Award $100: Damian Long.
Auto Value Hard Luck Award ($110 case of oil): Damian Long.
Big Mike’s Auto Repair Best Appearing Car Award $50: #33 Justin Neff.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 7 Fastest Time Bonus $25: Jimmy Grant.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 9 Fastest Time Bonus $25: Jimmy Grant.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 19 Fastest Time Bonus $25: Carl Johnson.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 29 Fastest Time Bonus $25: Jimmy Grant.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 6 3rd-Place Bonus $25: Shane Wolf Jr.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 10 5th-Place Bonus $25: Brandon Sherwood.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 16 8th-Place Bonus $25: Dakota Sharp.
Heart of Gold Veterinary Care & 87 Racing Team Lap 20 2nd-Place Bonus $25: Damian Long.
Bud’s Apple Pie Worst Number Draw At Registration Prize $25: Mike Fellows.
Bud’s Apple Pie Worst Number Re-Draw Prize $25: Carl Johnson.
Wilcox Performance Automatics 7th-Place Finisher Bonus $100 (certificate): Aksel Jensen.
Wilcox Performance Automatics 15th-Place Finisher Bonus $100 (certificate): Jon Almekinder.
ImageX Graphics Victory Lane Award Presentations.
$1,405 Lap Money.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 25b-MARC MINUTOLO ($750), 2. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell ($575), 3. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. ($490), 4. 18XL-Derek Excell ($400), 5. 90-Nathan Peckham $385), 6. 14-Ron Hawker ($335), 7. 61-Daniel Kerrick ($315), 8. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr. ($295), 9. 18-Scott Smith ($285), 10. z4-Shawn Doucette ($250), 11. 10-Jaren Israel ($210), 12. 11k-Dan Korpanty ($190), 13. 55b-Blane Smith ($170), 14. 28-Willy Easling ($160), 15. 24k-Kevin Lloyd ($150), 16. 22j-Randy Johnson ($120), 17. 55p-Kevin Smith ($120), 18. 13c-Cadin Lloyd ($120), 19. 36x-Brighton Grant ($120), 20. 13b-Brian Lloyd ($100), 21. 67-James Werner ($100), 22. 36-Jimmy Grant ($100), 23. 56-Eddie Stevens ($100), 24. 22-Craig Dingy ($100), 25. 97-Kevin Schrader ($80), 26. 25j-Justin Eldredge ($80), 27. 17-Mike Welch(DNS), 28. 21-Kyler Lloyd(DNS), 85x-Chris Beyea(DNS), 62-Sean Beyea(DNS).
NG Promotions Heats (6 laps / Top-3 redraw)
#1: Ju.Eldredge ($50), Hawker, Excell, B.Lloyd, F.Burnell, T.Burnell, Welch, J.Grant, C.Lloyd, C.Beyea.
#2: Kerrick ($50), Peckham, Israel, Stevens, Dingy, Ja.Eldredge, B.Grant, Schrader, K.Lloyd, S.Beyea(DNS).
#3: Minutolo, ($50), Easling, B.Smith, Korpanty, S.Smith, Werner, Doucette, K.Lloyd, Johnson, K.Smith(DNS).
Heat Race Winner Bonus / Kevin Ridley ($50 5-gallons fuel jug): H1-Justin Eldredge, H2-Daniel Kerrick, H3-Marc Minutolo.
In Memory Of Les Whyte / Thomas Family Hard Charger Award $125: Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr.
Dusett Enterprise Halfway Leader Bonus $100: Marc Minutolo.
Dusett Enterprise Highest Finishing ‘Outsider’ Bonus $50 (1 or less LOLR race in ’23): Ron Hawker.
Close Racing Supply Fastest Feature Lap Bonus $50: Marc Minutolo (22.486sec/80.050mph).
Close Racing Supply ‘First Man Out’ Prize $50 (Last Place Finisher): Justin Eldredge.
Wilcox Performance Automatics 7th-Place Finisher Bonus $100 (certificate): Daniel Kerrick.
ImageX Graphics 12th-Place Finisher Bonus $50 (gift card): Dan Korpanty.
Last Car On Lead Lap Bonus / Rod Comfort $30: Dan Korpanty.
Real Estate By Jenn Move of the Race Bonus $50: Daniel Kerrick.
In Memory Of Les Excell / Wayne Ellison Lap 16 Leader Award $50: Marc Minutolo.
In Memory Of Mike Scoppo / Justin Eldredge Worst Number Re-Draw Prize $50: Nathan Peckham.
Dusett Enterprise Hard Luck Award $50: Daniel Kerrick.
XL Auto Longest Tow Award $50: 10-Jaren Israel.
ImageX Graphics Victory Lane Award Presentations.
‘Pack The Purse’ Contributors: Jim Smith ($500), Lloyd’s Contracting/#13B Race Team ($500), Honeoye Auto Parts ($500), Smith Drywall ‘Making The Race’ 15th-24th-Place Finishers ($200), In Memory Of Bev Vincent / Brian Lloyd ($100), In Memory Of Les Excell / Derek Excell ($100), Blind Guy Racing In Memory Of Joe Hampton / Brian Lloyd ($100), Burnell Racing / JB Heavy Hauling 5th-8th-Place Finishers ($100), Big Mike’s Auto Repair & Sales 9th-12th-Place Finishers ($100), Tina Cooper ‘ Good Luck Racers’ ($50), Johnson Racing ($50), Smith Drywall ($50).
$1,260 Lap Money.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
Stirling Lubricants GHM Qualifiers
Heats (20 laps / 6 qualify / Top-2 to Sat. Pole Dash)
#1: Emmett Waldron ($250), Zach Sobotka ($150), Cameron Tuttle ($125), Timmy Borden Jr. ($100), Austin Germinio ($75), Tim Baker ($50), Eric Giguere (free Sat. pit pass), Anthony Kimble, Kennedy Payne, Nick Cooper, Ryan Bartlett, Brad Sawyer.
#2: Nick Root ($250), Kane Bristol ($150), Kevin Ridley ($125), Chris Jakubiak ($100), Tim Lafler ($75), Behr Grover ($50), Jim Harbison (free Sat. pit pass), Karl Comfort, Justin Liechti, Greenley George, Steve Gray, Frank Guererri Jr.
#3: Gavin Eisele ($250), Matt Guererri ($150), Dave Conant Jr. ($125), A.J. Lloyd ($100), Tyler Corcoran ($75), Paul Guererri ($50), Mark Potter (free Sat. pit pass), Paul DeRuyter, Steve Roberts, Jim Rushman, Blake Parsons(DNS).
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Super Spectacular, Sept. 16 @ 6:00pm; Phelps Cement Products presents 5th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Weekend Day #2: Big-Block Modified Championship 100L $10,000-to-win/Stirling Lubricants GHM Sportsman Championship 40L $2,500-to-win with Disabled American Veterans Benefit.
Track Instant Info
Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/
Along with recognizing its weekly 50/50 raffle fund beneficiaries, Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are 2023 division sponsors Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Lloyd’s Contracting, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, MighTea Boba, Stirling Lubricants; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, Auction Direct USA, Auto Value Parts Stores, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Busch Light, DC Rauscher Contractor, Ferris Mowers, Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea, Geneva Club Beverage/Pepsi, Honeoye Auto Parts, Jack Howell Properties, iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, Nardozzi Companies, Phelps Cement Products, Prouty’s Bar & Grill, Regional Truck & Trailer, Ryan Phelps Auto Sales, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Seneca Meadows Landfill, Sherwin Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group, VP Racing Fuels; promotional partners Always Locked Self Storage, American Woman Designs, Auto Wash Car Wash, Baker’s Externinating, Champion Power Equipment, Disbatch Brewing Company, Elab Smokers Boutique, Emerson Oil Company/Castrol, Enertech Global, FLX BBQ Company, Geneva Club Beverage, Hoosier Racing Tire, IndyKart Raceway, LSI Solutions, Legott’s Club 86, Mac’s Dairy Bar & Mini Golf, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, Meyer’s Finger Lakes RV, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Ontario County Fairboard, On The Rocks Bar & Grill, Phelps Community Center Head Start Program, The “Original” Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Schultz Heating & Cooling, Spectrum, Stop DWI NYS, Superior Plumbing Service, Turn 5 Media, Vance Metal Fabrication, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Wicked Tees.