With the 2021 racing season well underway we have certainly changed our way of viewing selected racing events. This week much of the racing community either made the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee or tuned in on DIRTvision to see the first ever appearance of the big block Modifieds at the famous, “Last Great Colosseum.”
Friday’s event at Bristol was won by Fonda’s very own, Stewart Friesen, behind the wheel of his winning Halmar sponsored No. 44 Modified. This brings his win total for this year to eight at six different race tracks in four different states. Saturday’s action at Bristol was cancelled due to rain and the show was moved to Sunday. Friesen added to his win total on Sunday by sweeping the action at Bristol.
Saturday night we ventured to our normal stomping grounds, Fonda Speedway. The pit area showed over 150 cars including 37 Modifieds some that had not visited Fonda in some time.
One popular car we noticed was the No. 14J of Alan Johnson. We congratulated him on his recent win at Outlaw Speedway, a win that gave him the distinction of at least one win per year since 1975. Alan has a career win total of 558 wins.
At the start of the Modified feature, we looked at the career wins of the drivers in the field and the results show that 13 of them had at least one win at Fonda with a total of 165 wins. Bobby Varin leads the group with 65 wins at the Track of Champions.
We went from talking with one of the veterans of the sport to one of the new comers. We saw a beautiful orange colored No. 88 and as we approached the car we saw a very young man in a driver’s suit. He was racing in our area for the weekend, he usually races near his home at the Mohawk International Raceway in northern New York, and because that track has not yet opened this season, he decided to try his racing skills at Capital District tracks. The young man is 15-year-old, Fire Swamp, in his second year as a Crate Sportsman driver. He said he missed qualifying at Albany Saratoga on Friday and decided to take a shot at Fonda. He started 12th and was doing well until a mishap collected him putting him out for the night. He had never seen either of the two tracks and took to them easily; he seems to have a future in our sport.
One racer we always look forward to talking with is the driver of the 91 New York, Jackie Brown, Jr. Jackie is a second generation driver. He had a busy weekend in our area, finishing third at Albany Saratoga and came to Fonda on Saturday looking at the large purse for the Modified special. He finished eighth in the 40-lap feature and has a great attitude about racing and feels he doesn’t need favors, he just wants to be treated fairly.
When we spoke with Brian Borst of Schoharie he said that he hoped he did better this week than the week before when he struggled with his set up. Borst has a beautifully prepared 602 Sportsman, the Bicknell chassis that he drove last season and his team is solidly behind him coming each week with team shirts, and ready to help. On Saturday Brian won his heat and was headed to the front during the Sportsman main event, running in sixth, when he pulled off the track during the first caution with a broken water pump, that also took out the radiator. On Sunday when we spoke he was busy working on the car and hoping that no damage was done to the engine.
Saturday prior to racing action at Fonda the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified group of races celebrated their 2020 champions in a held over award ceremony outside the Fonda Speedway Museum. Headed by their promoter, Laurie Fallis the group of nearly 30 teams received their awards. Champions for the 2020 season were John Flach, Vintage Mods (absent from photo); Chuck Scofield and Jim Fugel, Vintage Antique Co-Champions; Stephen Denton, Vintage Sportsman and John Roese, Vintage Late Model.
The group always has a strong showing wherever they race thanks to the dedicated volunteers that keep things in order. Those who will be helping out this season are Wade Seaburg, Official; Cole Nelson, Flagger; Mike Desormeaux, announcer; Ray Rogers, Race Monitor: Georgie Constantino, Joanne Flansburg and Denise Markle, who help with scoring, lineups and registration at the events.
This group also has a dedicated group of sponsors who donate money each week that is awarded by the luck of the draw at the drivers meeting. The North East Stock Car Old Timers (NESCOT) gives $150 to the series for each point event. The “Red Chair” has a special this season that involves bags of chips and a lucky red dot.
All of the teams that competed at each point race received a plaque and one of the teams receiving a plaque for their dedication to racing, was Harley Shepard, car owner and Tim Warner, driver of the No. 140. According Harley he bought the car from fellow MVVDMS racer, Frank Blanchard and decided to leave it as original.
What began a few years ago as a group of racers with vintage race cars that traveled to tracks as an exhibition group has evolved into quite a competitive series with some very competitive drivers that are very popular with the fans.
The season is revving up with a percentage of fans in the stands so stay turned for all the happenings.
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