By Ron Szczerba
FONDA, NY – Memorial events are held on a yearly basis at local speedways, but as sad of a time as it is to hold these events it is also a time to remember those people and how they may have touched or affected your lives. This week is no different as on Saturday, May 27 at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway, a Dave Lape Memorial event will be held, fittingly on Memorial Day weekend.
The jam-packed racing program at Fonda on Saturday will include the Dave Lape Memorial event, presented by one of Lape’s long-time sponsors M.W. Roosevelt & Son/Roosevelt’s Towing. It will also be the opening round of the F.X. Caprara Car Companies Thunder on the Thruway Series, a six-race series between Fonda and its sister track Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, N.Y.
The Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds will race 30 laps for $4,022 to win, with the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman battling for $1,522 to win and the Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks racing for a $1,022 top prize. Fonda Speedway track points, Thunder on the Thruway Series points, and NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series points are available to racers.
The Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman, Fonda Fair Four Cylinders, and the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds will complete the program.
Lape passed away last September and was remembered with a tribute during opening ceremonies for the 30th edition of the “Fonda 200” last year.
Before that, nearly eight-years after retiring from 50-seasons of modified competition at the famed Fonda Speedway [in Fonda, NY] in September, 2013, seven-time track champion Dave Lape was remembered by the promotional team spearheaded by Brett Deyo with twin 22-lap feature events at the historical fairgrounds oval on Saturday, May 29, 2021 according to a press release written by long time Lape crewmember and friend Matt Noles.
Not to be left out on that day by any means, the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum also honored not only the driving career of the Canajoharie, NY native, but his many other accomplishments as well including his efforts as the acting curator of the museum, which he had been at the head of since 2016. On what I thought was a long-lost tape that I was able to find recently, there were thoughts about Lape from many people who attended the event at the museum back on May 29, 2021 with some of their thoughts now shared below in their own words.
“A drivers daughter’s perspective is very different. Others may see a driver, promoter, Champ Car fabricator, speed shop owner, or competitor but I just see him as my dad. Growing up my family’s life was very different from the other children that I knew. Others may have worn a suit and tie or typical office attire to work, my dad had to put on a fire suit and get into this dangerous contraption every Saturday night.”
“My parents worked as a team towards the same goal of success. In my house I learned how to become part of a team. I observed a racing crew member coming over each night to prep the racecar and build strategies, but from my perspective the significant team member was my mom Jackie. She wore many hats during my dad’s career.”
“I was at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday nights and when we were able to celebrate and be happy together were some precious memories. Racing is a lifestyle which many of us here understand, but others may not. I have observed how the little things in life matter. The words and the actions that we use are important too. Racing has taught me the significance of kindness, gratitude, help, communication, and the value of relationships that are developed during your lifetime.”
“Dave was always quite serious about his racing career. He was a great competitor and a perfect gentleman on the track. He kept us going a lot of times when things weren’t going so well, and I was down and out. He would tell me you gotta forget about it and keep the drive going. I owned quite a few Champ Cars and Dave brought the level of racing quite high. I won a lot of races with Champ Car. Dave had a very good input on the race cars, and he had a great guidance system there.”
“Dave was an honest, fair, driver and a good strong competitor. Dave, Jackie, and Andy (Fusco) were great to work with, they were always very good to me. He was a real plus to Northeast Modifieds.”
“Dave’s wins tell the story. He taught me a lot and is someone that I always looked up too. I spent a lot of time behind Dave during warmups trying to get behind him to learn what I could when I first started racing. He is quite honestly one of the pioneers that brought Fonda Speedway as far as it has. Without Dave, Fonda Speedway wouldn’t be what it is today.”
“Dave was easy to race with, you could always go wheel to wheel with him without worrying about being wrecked. I think that I drove a lot like him, drove as hard as I could. Dave and Jackie were always very kind to us. When I drove for John Finch, we were looking to build some cars and Dave let me come to his shop and use his jig. Dave’s brother-in-law Billy Gray built a couple of cars in 1996 and 1997 using Dave’s ideas and some of my own from when I worked at Show Car. My first year out with the Champ Car I lost the Track Championship at Fonda to Jack Johnson by four points! Champ Cars were good cars.”
“I owe Dave and Jackie a debt of gratitude and a big heartfelt thank you because without them I wouldn’t have taken my next step announcing for the DIRT Motorsports organization. When I was announcing at Fonda they thought I had what it took to be a good announcer, so they put me to work in the booth with Joe Marotta at Can-Am which opened the doors for me to meet Glenn Donnelly, Cory Reed, and Joe Marotta which led me to announcing at Super DIRT Week. The #22 Dave Lape was always a big influence on a racing group. It was enormous, and everyone knew who the #22 was anytime he came to a racetrack.”
“I am humbled and honored to be a part of this ceremony. Dave has had an influence on me as a race fan since childhood, it’s been a pleasure to watch you race, to announce races that you’ve won, and to get to know you, Jackie, and Jessica. Thank you for all the great memories that you created for all of the fans in the northeast.”
“Dave (Lape) and Andy (Fusco) together with their LAPCO banner promoted a race at Can-Am and brought the big blocks back to the track with a Super DIRT Week qualifier that packed the place. Dave was a quiet guy who snuck up on you, he covered an awful lot of bases in racing and there wasn’t anyone like him. He covered all of the bases and was successful in all parts of racing.”
“I got into this in the 70’s and opened Weedsport and here are these three guys from Fonda, Dave, Jack (Johnson), and Lou (Lazzaro) who raced with me through my whole career. The one thing with Dave is that you could always rely on him and know that he was there for the betterment of the sport. I had Dave on the DIRT grievance committee, and you could rely on him for rules and officiating changes at the track. I couldn’t say enough about having someone racing for you that was that important and meant that much so that is one of the reasons that I came up from Florida for this ceremony.”
ADAM FUSCO (ANDY FUSCO’S SON)
“Growing up and hanging out with your favorite race car driver, like everyone here at this ceremony today, I’m just a Dave Lape fan. I would follow him back from Western, NY and that is where I found out about exit 22A on the New York State Thruway. It is the stop right by the Canajoharie exit where instead of Dave paying for tolls he would slide off on the flat spot on the Thruway and drive off the hill.”
JIM SENZIO (FORMER BUSINESS PARTNER IN CHAMP CAR)
“I first saw Dave race at the Meco Go-Kart track where a good friend of mine used to race there with him. You can have the desire but if you don’t have the talent to do as much as you can do in this situation. This was Dave’s life racing, car building, and winning races. Everyone that got into a Champ Car won, I even won a race in one, you have to do what your meant to do. Lots of good memories of travel and good times racing, I’m glad to be here today to honor Dave.”
It is easy to think that the Indianapolis 500 is happening tomorrow, the biggest event in the world, and you might think that we are just here at the little Fonda Fairgrounds celebrating a great northeastern driver my contention is that it is a little bit more than that.”
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES ALSO A BIG PART OF THE MEMORIAL DAY RACING PROGRAM AT FONDA THIS SATURDAY
Starting out with a car show at the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum with setup at 1:15 and going through 4:00 p.m. the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) will be a big part of the racing program at Fonda with a memorial event of their own honoring Tex Gorden.
Being a huge fan and crew member to David Lape, MVVDMS driver Joe Rando will be in his hero’s honor donating two $22.00 cash envelopes to 2 drivers in each of our ️five divisions. Rando will be competing in his beautiful Lape replica #22. Thank You Joe and Rando/Lape Racing Team for being a part of making our series shine.
According to information from the MVVDMS organization, John Orsini out of Morris, Connecticut will be hailing his Dave Lape #22, a 1940 Cadillac that was resurrected by Doug Mathewson years ago that Dave Lape once drove.
Thanks to new owner Brent Williams and the whole Williams family, Tex Gorden #36 1938 Ford Coupe with a 6cyl under the hood will be making the 219 mile trip from Woodhull, NY to be a part of the Gorden/Lape Memorial at Fonda Speedway this weekend.
MVVDMS would like to welcome back to the series the gentleman who purchased Tex Gorden’s second #36 race car, a 1938 Hupmobile body that rides on a 1965 Dodge Power Wagon, Tony Kamburelis out of Fort Ann, NY.
We are excited to see Tony back for this special event at Fonda Speedway this coming Saturday.
Tex built this car during his bout with Cancer when he was unable to race due to his health. Thanks to Tony he kept the cars looking exactly the same in Tex’s Honor.
Many other bonuses will be paid out at this event from different people and organizations.
LETS GO FONDA SPEEDWAY KIDS
This fun and exciting adventure for the kids is back! Saturday, May 27th at “The Track of Champions.”
How Cool is this!
In conjunction with Fonda Speedway promoter Brett Deyo, Fonda Speedway Kids Club coordinator Ashley Abeling, MVVDMS Promoter Laurie Fallis, and longtime racing veteran Frank Blanchard, three lucky kids from the ages of 7 to 13 will have a chance to win a ride and put a smile on their face from ear to ear. Winners will win a trip around the famed 1/2 mile in a 1936 Hudson Body 2-seater and pace the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds feature events.
So, adults get those kids signed up this Saturday at the Kid’s Club and possibly get a chance to ride around the “Track of Champions.” The sign-up table is located just inside the middle entrance gate under the grandstands.
All races at Fonda Speedway – will be broadcast live on FloRacing (www.floracing.tv) as part of the $150 annual subscription.
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Under the management of BD Motorsports Media LLC, the speedway will operate weekly on Saturday nights from April through August plus several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds off New York State Thruway Exit No. 28 at 21 S. Bridge Street Fonda, NY 12068.
Fonda Speedway is on the web at www.thefondaspeedway.com. To learn more, call the office at 518.915.4395, like Fonda Speedway on Facebook or follow the speedway on Twitter and Instagram: @thefondaspdwy.