By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – Guaranteed starting spots are hard to come by for any big racing events, if there are any even available. In 2018, DIRTcar announced earlier this year that six Super DIRTcar Series events held this season will award guaranteed starting positions to the winners of those events in the NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week 200 to be held this October at the Oswego Speedway.
Included in those six events will be a very special one which will be held on Wednesday, August 1 at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway where the winner of the fourth annual Jack Johnson Tribute event known simply as “The Jack” will be guaranteed the number 12 starting position in the NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week 200, symbolic of the historic car number that Johnson used during his racing career.
“The Jack” will be held at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway on Wednesday, August 1 featuring not only the 100-lap event for the modifieds but also the 30-lap Hondo Classic for pro stocks and a street stock challenge with racing set to start at 7:15 p.m.
DIRTcar made this official in a press release earlier this year saying: “In order to further honor the career of an outstanding big block modified driver, the Fourth Annual Jack Johnson Tribute race will offer a guaranteed starting position in the big event. Jumpin’ Jack Johnson, an unstoppable force at the Fonda Speedway and on the Super DIRTcar Series circuit for a quarter century, won four Super DIRTcar Series championships between 1978 and 1988, and sits fifth on the All Time Super DIRTcar Series win list with 57 victories.”
Johnson was a two time winner of the Super DIRT Week at Syracuse event back in 1979 and 1984. His victory in 1979 was the first time in the history of the race at that time that a driver from New York State had won the event! He also won three Super DIRTcar Series events at Fonda back in 1976, 1979, and 1980.
In just a few short years, the Jack Johnson Tribute race at Fonda has proven to be one of the most highly sought after victories on the big block modified calendar. With the added prize of a guaranteed starting position in the NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week big block modified finale, spectators at the historic “Track of Champions” will be in for a spectacular show. Previous winners of “The Jack” event were Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, and Mike Mahaney.
“The Jack” event at Fonda has gone through some changes through the years since the first event back in 2015 when Friesen was the winner of the event. That year it was called the Empire State 50 with Friesen quoting the following after winning the event showing just how special the win was to him:
“Tadd Parks (Friesen’s car owner at that time) and Erik Mack thought it would be cool on this big orange night to support Jack Johnson and ALS to do a Jack Johnson paint scheme,” Friesen said in Victory Lane. “They worked together with Dutchess Overhead Doors and Pilat to get it lettered up with Jack’s 2008 Syracuse paint scheme. We are going to take it off after this event. One side is going to go in the Fonda Speedway museum over here and Tadd wants to keep the roof.”
“If you look and the sport and the turn out here tonight, I don’t know how many people are watching this over the internet because I think they are all here tonight to support Jack Johnson,” Friesen said. “The money we raised for ALS (amyotrophic lateral disease/Lou Gehrig’s disease that Johnson is diagnosed with) was unbelievable. We are just a small part of this. Enjoy the orange color. It is Jack’s”
The second year “The Jack” was a Race of Champions (RoC) event which was won by Matt Sheppard. The third year the name was changed to “The Jack” with Mike Mahaney capturing the victory.
In early 2018 it was also announced that Fonda Speedway would be hosting two Super DIRTcar Series events in 2018, the Jack Johnson Tribute race as stated above, and the second date being Saturday, September 22 as part of the Mohawk Valley Weekend at the “Track of Champions”.
“We’re extremely excited to have another date at Fonda Speedway added to the Super DIRTcar Series schedule” stated Fonda promoter, Pete Demitraszek. “The fact that we were able to add our Jack Johnson tribute to the Super DIRTcar Series schedule makes the event more special.”
For more information about the Super DIRTcar Series and the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway you can go to their respective websites www.superdirtcarseries.com and www.newfondaspeedway.com