By ED & BETTY BIITTIG
Our final Friday night at the Great Race Place was a sign that the seasons are changing. When the night starts out with a jacket you know it will be cool on the way home.
Our first stop of the night was at the Buff family pit area. We spoke with Kevin Buff who gets to oversee his sons’ racing activities. Kevin has been in racing many years and we remember him at a driver in the IMCA division at Fonda where he sits fourth on the all time win list in that division with 17 wins. During their tenure at Fonda the IMCA’s ran 180 features and Kevin won nearly ten percent of them.
Kevin went on to raise a family of boys and now two of them are putting their names in the racing record books. Andrew has lit a fire under his Ray Sefrin (West End Towing) sponsored No. 92 Sportsman this season, a season that began in Florida at North Florida Speedway where he won and had three top five finishes in three events. When Andrew returned to New York he also found victory lane at his Sunday night track, Glen Ridge where he has three wins and 11 to fives. On Friday nights he runs at Albany-Saratoga where he has had five wins and seven top fives. In his few visits to Orange County he came a away with one win also.
Andrew’s brother, Justin is running in his brother’s footsteps. Justin drivers the No. 42 in the same Sportsman division and has had five top fives at Glen Ridge and four top fives at Albany Saratoga. In talking with both of the brothers they said they both are enjoying themselves and are looking forward to a regular season without COVID-19 restrictions.
The Limited Sportsman feature held our attention on Friday as one young driver was on the track looking for his first ever victory at the Great Race Place. Tanner Warner is a third generation driver who drove the No.14z for the Zilles family who own Outdoor Designs. On Friday he started fifth and went on to record his first career win in the division. As Tanner stood on the front stretch for photos his dad, Rocky drove by with a thumbs up as he was getting in position to race in the next event. Surely his grandfather, Don was also looking down from above. It’s always great to see a first time win and even more special when its a third generation driver. Prior to moving to the Limited Sportsman ride, Tanner was driving a Pro Stock at Fonda and Glen Ridge. He turns 18 this Sunday and looks to be on his way to a successful career in racing.
Fonda wrapped up their season on Sunday with the Montgomery County Open, and by open I guess it meant it opened up the rules to some degree. It hasn’t been the best year for race tracks to run because of restrictions due to COVID-19 but Brett Deyo and his Fonda crew have made a fabulous effort to work around the no fans in the stands rule to run some very entertaining shows all televised live on DTD.TV.
Sunday’s show was a no holds barred event to end a season to be remembered or rather forget and there were a number of first time winners.
The night also remembered Bob “BOBCO” James, Fonda videographer for over 30 years who passed away on Sunday morning. Ed was asked to say a few words in memory of Bob and Melissa Lazzaro sang the National Anthem before and empty grandstand and the DirtTrackDigest.TV cameras.
In the drivers meeting Promoter, Brett Deyo told all drivers that it doesn’t look like they will have a banquet to give out point money and awards so he would be mailing the point fund money. He also said if restrictions change as far as gathering rules he would still like to have a get together.
Prior to the Modified consi we found some feverish activity around the Nelson No. 85 pit area. Driver Jack Lehner lost a qualifying spot in his heat when the rear end broke in the No. 85. To the rescue was the David Schilling crew with a new rear end and help to replace it. Both Lehner and Schilling were under the car working together to get Lehner ready for the consi. It paid off and Jack went out to win his qualifying consi event. Both made the feature and showed just the thing we love about our sport; Sportsmanship at its best.
Modified winner Anthony Perrego made his way to Fonda from Montgomery, N.Y., and took the early lead and held on to etch his name in the Fonda record book for the first time in his career. Perrego is a regular at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., and a track champion there.
Modified rookie, Adam McAuliffe of Broadalbin drove a fabulous race for car owner, Laudy Hoyenga of Sloansville. McAuliffe held off Stewart Friesen lap after lap and was sitting in the runner up spot until the final lap when Stewart Friesen was able to get by him. McAuliffe finished in third to cap off a great year for the Hoyenga team. McAuliffe finished the season seventh in points and Hoyenga’s other car driven by Dave Constantino of Perth placed sixth in points in the Modified division.
Bobby Hackel, IV took home his first ever win at Fonda by besting 2020 Sportsman Track Champion Chad Edwards in the 602 Sportsman main event.
Luke Horning took home the Pro Stocks honors and Hunter Sanchez took home $500 for his first ever win at Fonda in the Street Stocks. Ken Hollenbeck was the Four Cylinder Cruiser Single Cam winner and Josh Kane was the Dual Cam winner in Cruisers another first time winner at Fonda. For Kane it was his first time racing at Fonda. He normally runs his Cruiser at Glen Ridge.
In his victory lane interview, Ken Hollenbeck was asked if he would return to Fonda in 2021 and he said he would be back with a new Neon. So Hollenbeck plans to return to continue adding to his win total at the track where he holds the top spot on the list for Cruiser wins at 55.
Something that we had all ready for this column last week but forgot to include was this: Yurkewecz Auto Crushers sponsored the Pro Stock division at Glen Ridge in 2020 and owner, Bill Yurkewecz is also very active in other aspects of the racing at The Ridge. He sponsors the Pro Stock of Andy Graves, and visits victory lane each time young Lucas Duncan gets a win in the Junior Slingshots, to present him with an $100 bill. And in the closing weeks of the season Bill’s son Charlie was bitten by the racing bug and was racing himself. Bill and the many others like him that make our sport possible deserve a big round of thanks.
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