By ED & BETTY BIITTIG
The annual Fonda Car Show is a place to meet and catch up with so many people, especially if you’ve been around as long as we have and we have met some amazing people through the years. This past weekend was a walk down memory lane at times and a look into the future of racing at others.
Cliff Haslun of Sloansville had his beautiful vintage racer; a Corvair body, Olsen chassis on display painted all in black with No. 58 as a tribute to fellow racer Frank Blanchard who has been dealing with some serious health issues. Blanchard is a strong supporter of the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series and always willing to help his fellow competitors.
Cliff has been racing since 1991 and said he decided to build and join the Vintage series because he wanted to race for fun and the Vintage racers seemed to always enjoy themselves. Cliff is Head Mechanic at Schoharie Central School District Transportation department where he has served the district for 22 years.
Kyle Weiler of Knox, NY was displaying his No. 33 Pro Stock over the weekend and was one of the many drivers entertaining the young fans at the show. Four year old Jayce Marshall was having his tee shirt autographed as he asked Kyle questions about his car and racing. Kyle had a top ten finish in his Yurkewecz sponsored Pro Stock during the Fonda 200 weekend last season.
To support his racing, Kyle works for the Town of Knox as a truck driver, driving the garbage from the town transfer site to the landfill.
Kyle began racing go karts when he was eight and took up his passion for racing again four years ago when he jumped into a Pro Stock to race at Fonda and Malta.
JaMike Sowle is 33-years-old and has been racing for 20 years progressing from Karts, Slingshots, Sportsman and Modifieds. JaMike has mostly been recognized as the driver of the No. 711 throughout his career and has Mod wins at Malta (2), Fonda (1) and Glen Ridge (9) and was 2010 Modified champion. He also has two Sportsman wins at Glen Ridge. During the week, JaMike serves as General Manager of SAB Trailer Repair.
Two years ago JaMike was offered the ride in the Palmer Service Center No. 76 racing at Fonda and Utica-Rome where he will also be this season. JaMike was married two years ago and he and wife Frankie became parents to little Trace Michael six months ago.
Jason Reome lives in Fort Plain, and is District Manager at Evergreen North America, Industrial Cleaning, one of the many industries turning trash to power.
Reome is a name we know from racing and Jason also informed us he is a fourth generation Kotary, another name familiar to racing. He’s been racing for 22 years, first Four Cylinders at age 16 and then the move up to 602 Crate Sportsman driving the No. 27 at Fonda. Jason says his next move will be to Modifieds this season.
Jason’s first career win came May 8, 2021, at Fonda and he also won the Black Flag Challenge this past season on July 9, 2022.
Driver of the Crate 602 Sportsman No 1B, Brett Mortensen’s hometown is Scotia and to support his racing he works as an electrical engineer at NSH-USA Manufacturing, where machine tools for wheel set maintenance on trains are made.
Brett worked on the crew with his brother, Mark before venturing into the driving side of the sport in 2019 for his rookie season in Limited Sportsman and won the third week out. The next year, 2020 he was Limited Sportsman Track Champion and as the rules dictate, he moved up to Crate Sportsman in 2021 and since has recorded one win. This will be his third year in the division.
This season is Walter Cook’s third year back to racing after a hiatus to raise a family and build a house. Walter drives the Limited Sportsman No. 47 at Fonda and Albany-Saratoga. He works as Service Manager at Lia Nissan of Saratoga.
Walter got his first taste of racing in a Cannonball event at Lebanon Valley in 1999 where he met the late Danny Ody. Ody got him interested in racing and by 2001 he was behind the wheel of an IMCA car.
We met Walter in a very exciting way, at the 2009 Mr. DIRT Track USA event, as we were walking into Lebanon Valley he was flipping out and becoming part of Lebanon Valley history as one of only four drivers to ever do so, joining former, Utica-Rome promoter, Gene Cole, Billy Northrup and C. D. Coville.
Bobby Rhinehardt has been involved in racing for many years and this season he will fulfill a dream of racing at Fonda for his first full season. “It’s definitely a Bucket List thing” said Bobby when we spoke with him.
Rhinehardt first became involved in racing working on Bobby Varin’s crew in 1988 and we met him in 1994 when we first started writing an auto racing column for our local paper. He has raced Karts for eight years and spent another two years in Four Cylinders at Glen Ridge. This year he is ready to take on the famed Track of Champions.
High School student, 17-year-old, Bella Pickard of Greenwich comes to Fonda this season in a Limited Sportsman as a true rookie, she has never been on the track. Her racing experience consists of two years in Karts at Dodge City.
Dodge City Speedway had a display on the evolution of karting at the track showing how the go-kart has progressed and the many drivers that made their start in karting, particularly at the track in Howes Cave.
One driver that made that progression was John Flach of Ravena who raced at Dodge City in 1974, moved on to race in Modifieds at Lebanon Valley and became track champion in 1988 and 89. John currently races with the MVVDMS in the Modifieds in his famous No. 77.
Doug Mosall is another name from the past that we recall and as we spoke with him at the show he shared a bit of Fonda record history with us that we no doubt had forgotten. Doug, who drove the No 1 Sportsman had his first win on a night of first time winners at Fonda, July 16, 1994. Doug shared the first time win spotlight on that night with Bobby Varin (Modifieds) and Rob Noviczski (Pro Stocks).
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