By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – On Saturday, June 10 it will be New York State Stock Car Association NYSSCA Night at Fonda with monetary awards given out to the top finishers who are NYSSCA members in each of the feature events. Fonda Speedway NYSSCA representative Bonnie Mortensen will be representing the organization and paying out the awards in victory lane.
All divisions will be in action on June 10 along with the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) presented by Something Fishy Aquarium Sales & NESCOT. Starting time will be 7:00 p.m.
According to the book FONDA!, on September 7, 1963, the Fonda Speedway tried out a class that had been a staple at the Utica Rome Speedway for years, the late models. Tommy Wilson Sr. was the winner of the event over Speed Williamson and Don Redmond but the fans for some reason didn’t like them. And when the class was added as a regular division at Fonda in 1968, the fans didn’t like them any better.
At that time, the late models were run last on the racing card and immediately after the modified main event fans would rush to the exits for an early trip home. In 1970, the late models finally gained acceptance at Fonda when the track went to weekly twin 25-lap events for the modifieds and ran the late model feature between the modified main events. Fans were forced to watch them because of this and they actually began to like what they saw.
The late models served Fonda well, producing a number of drivers who would go on to win in the modified division including Harry Peek, Dick Schoonover, Randy Glenski, Jack Cottrell, Jay Bleser, Jack Halloran, and Ralph Holmes.
By the early 80’s the division began to lose steam because of economics and in 1982, they were merged with the new small block sportsman/modified class then called the 320’s. The division was discontinued all together in 1984 with teams that wished to compete in a late model type automobile filtered into the new street stock division, today called the pro stocks.
Earl Mewhorter was one of those late model drivers who had success in the division at Fonda during his career and tonight June 10 we honor his career with a tribute to him. Mewhorter was the 1973 Late Model Track Champion at Fonda and was a seven-time winner in the class according to the all-time win list found in the book FONDA!
The book FONDA! is a great way to relive the history of the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway and is a must have for any racing fan. The book is available by going to Lew Boyd’s online racing bookstore, which is Coastal 181.
Boyd was a competitor at Fonda through the years in car #181 and is one of the co-authors of the book Fonda along with the late Andy Fusco. The book was edited by Jim Rigney and was published by Coastal181.com and Rigney Motorsports and is available by going to the www.coastal181.com website!
Another way to take in some of the history of the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway is to visit the Fonda Speedway Museum which is located in one of the buildings on the Fonda Fairgrounds right along the railroad tracks as you drive into the speedway. David, Jackie, and Jessica Lape have done a fantastic job with the museum, which is open every Saturday at 3:00 p.m. before the racing program starts.
For more information on the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway please go to their website www.newfondaspeedway.com while more information about the NYSSCA organization and the MVVDMS can be found by going to their respective websites www.nyssca.com and www.facebook.com/movalvdm