By RON SZCZERBA
ALBANY, NY – On Saturday evening February 23, the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) celebrated their 50th annual awards banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany, NY. Drivers from NYSSCA’s eight member tracks were awarded for their 2018 season accomplishments including drivers from the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway.
New promoter for 2019 at the Fonda Speedway, Brett Deyo of BD Motorsports Media was in attendance to represent the “Track of Champions”.
Emcees for the event were Dan Martin, Shane Andrews, and Mike Warren, Martin being nicknamed for the evening as the “voice of the east” while Andrews was nicknamed the “voice of the west”, and Warren the “voice of the north” based on their locations of coverage of the sport of stock car racing.
NYSSCA president Dan Wood addressed the over 450 people in attendance at the banquet saying, “in 1985 I joined NYSSCA when I first started racing. Two years later in 1987 the memberships in the organization dropped considerably and a motion was made to close the organization and donate all of the funds from the organization to charity.”
“Fresh blood was needed to save the organization and that came with the help of Bernie Heald, Gary Lamberton, and Gail Riley. With their ideas the Motorsports Mania car show was born at the Saratoga City Center in Saratoga Springs, NY along with an annual golf tournament and most recently bowling tournaments.”
“In 2018 we were just shy of 700 members, with not only drivers but also fans, car owners, and officials able to become members of NYSSCA for only $25 a year! A special thank you to all of the member tracks and racing organizations for allowing us to hold “Safety Nights” at their tracks. Thanks to tonight’s special guest speaker Karl Frederickson who is the publisher of Speedway Illustrated Magazine for addressing the banquet crowd and offering a free one year subscription to his magazine to all NYSSCA members.”
“Thanks to all of the NYSSCA board members and officers for their support of the organization, for Mark Brown, Bob James, and Mel Thomas for the video presentation. Also to Fonda and Glen Ridge NYSSCA track rep Bonnie Mortensen who was instrumental in getting advertisers for the yearbook. Special thanks to Cheryl Catman for all of her work with the awards banquet and the yearbook in making both such a success.”
“The Bedell Family, Brian and Margaret who are in attendance tonight, have presented the NYSSCA “Hall of Fame” program for the past 25 years in honor of “Boomer” and for their continuous efforts I want to present them with the “President’s Award” this evening. In closing I’d like to toast NYSSCA for an awesome 50 years, and thank everyone out there for giving NYSSCA a purpose.”
FOUR NEW NYSSCA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
In a celebration held at the Saratoga Automobile Museum earlier in the day, four new members were inducted into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame. Including Gary Iulg, Jerry Rose, Curt VanPelt, and former Fonda Speedway regular Pat Ward. All were introduced again at the awards banquet in front of the banquet crowd.
Ward had a lot of success at Fonda, winning a feature last September, giving him a total of 23 wins at the “Track of Champions”, which is 17th on the all-time win list at the track with his first win coming on May 9, 1987.
Mel Thomas represented Ward at the banquet and the Hall of Fame ceremonies earlier in the day up in Saratoga saying this about the driver nicknamed the “Genoa Giant” who was down in Florida at the time of the NYSSCA awards banquet: “One word to describe Pat was definitely “humble”, Thomas said. “He started his career in a late model in 1974 and two years later he started racing a modified. He thanked his parents for being such an instrumental part in starting his racing career which is now in its 45th year.”
FONDA SPEEDWAY NYSSCA AWARD WINNERS AND SOME FACTS AND STATISTICS ON EACH DRIVER
Driver of the Year: Bobby Varin
5 wins, 14 top 5, 14 top 10 finishes
7th career championship in the division at Fonda 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2018, now tied with Dave Lape who also has 7 championships at Fonda
4th on all time win list in the division with 64
Outstanding Performance: Stewart Friesen
8 wins in a total of 11 starts, 11 top 5, 11 top 10 finishes
8th in final points in the division
Tied for fifth on the all-time win list in the division with Kenny Shoemaker both with 54
Rookie of the Year: Rocky Warner
1 win, 7 top 5, 15 top 10 finishes
4th in final points in the division
Tied for 30th on all time win list in the division with 1
Driver of the Year: Chad Edwards
3 wins, 9 top 5, 14 top 10 finishes
1st career 602 sportsman championship at Fonda
7th on all time win list in the division with 6
Co-Outstanding Performance: Mark Mortensen & Nick Scavia
3 wins, 6 top 5, 11 top 10 finishes
7th in final points in the division
2nd on all-time 602-sportsman win list with 21
5th on all time-combined open and 602 sportsman win list with 29
3 wins, 9 top 5, 12 top 10 finishes
3rd in final points in the division
Tied for 9th on all time win list in the division with 4
Rookie of the Year: Charlie Tibbitts
1 win, 2 top 5, 5 top 10 finishes
11th in final points in the division
Tied for 12th on all time win list in the division with 1
Driver of the Year: Kenny Gates
8 wins, 15 top 5, 15 top 10 finishes
7th career championship in the pro stock division at Fonda 2004, co-champion 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017, 2018
1st on all time win list in the division with 80
Outstanding Performance: Josh Coonradt
3 wins, 12 top 5, 15 top 10 finishes
2nd in final points in the division
Tied for 21st on all time win list in the division with 3
Rookie of the Year: Buck Gasner
2 top 10, 12 top 15 finishes
11th in final points in the division
Driver of the Year: Johnny Young
4 wins, 12 top 5, 15 top 10 finishes
2nd career street stock championship at Fonda 2017, 2018
10th on all time win list in the division with 12
Outstanding Performance: Jason Samrov
5 wins, 10 top 5, 14 top 10 finishes
2nd in final points in the division
Tied for 13th on all time win list in the division with 8
Rookie of the Year: Michael Arnold
1 win, 11 top 5, 14 top 10 finishes
5th in final points in the division
Tied for 19th on all time win list in the division with 2
Driver of the Year: Derrick McGrew Jr.
6 wins, 12 top 5, 13 top 10 finishes
1st career rookie/limited sportsman championship at Fonda
2nd on all time win list in the division with 6
NYSSCA SPECIAL AWARDS
Lifetime Achievement – Kim Duell
Car Owner of the Year – Jeff Meltz, Sr.
Dedication to Racing in Memory of Harry Peek – Kenny Martin Jr.
Lifetime Contribution to Racing in Memory of Kenny Shoemaker – Garry Waters
Overall Outstanding Performance – Billy VanPelt
Dedication to NYSSCA in Memory of Arty McCarty – Shari Pierson
Media Award – Jim Ellis of the Leader Herald Newspaper in Gloversville, NY
Dedication to Racing Jim Langenback Memorial Award – Josh Coonradt
Humanitarian Award in Memory of Chaplain Dave Miller – One Zee Tees/Halmar-Friesen Racing/DKM Fabrication
NYSSCA Award of Excellence – Derrick McGrew Jr. who at 11 years old won a total of 17 races in the limited sportsman division including nine at Glen Ridge, six at Fonda, and two at Albany Saratoga along with championships in the division at both Glen Ridge and Fonda.
Since 1953, the ‘Track of Champions’ Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Now 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 www.facebook.com/thefondaspdwy or follow on Twitter: Fonda Speedway