By Ron Szczerba
FONDA, NY – Bobby Hackel IV has been a busy and successful driver the past week or so. A recent win at the Five Mile Point Speedway along with plenty of social media coverage of his “wheelie” at the Action Track USA this past week have drawn plenty of attention to the young driver from East Greenbush, NY. Saturday evening at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway he gained more exposure by winning his first career feature event in the 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified event.
“This means a lot,” Hackel told Mimi Lazzaro in FX Caprara Car Companies Victory Lane. “I want to thank everybody that made this happen. It’s been a hell of a week, a lot of changes in my life, my race team, and everything about it. I’ve got some of the best people around me and I have to thank them for sticking with me through all these years. We’re finally starting to see the fruits of everyone’s hard work and labor. This is amazing.”
Other winner on Curtis Lumber Night at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway included Brett Mortensen (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Kenny Gates (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stock), AJ Greco (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Wayne Russell Jr. (Fonda Fair SOHC Four Cylinder), Kerrie Hollenback (Fonda Fair DOHC Four Cylinder), and Danny Varin (ESS Sprint Earl Halaquist Memorial).
Opening ceremonies began with a prayer from Pastor Greg Nitz followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Madison Mudge. Fonda Fair Princess Riley Meredith, Junior Miss Fonda Fair Olivia Greco, and Miss Fonda Fair Lillian Lighthall were also part of opening ceremonies.
Congratulations to Tyler from Gloversville, NY who was the winner of the $3,272 50/50 after a lot of hard work by Rose, Julie, and heather.
Bobby Hackel IV and Dave Camara started the 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature on the front row with Hackel IV taking the early lead in the event. When the yellow flag flew on lap three for Ronnie Johnson who slowed between turns three and four, point leader coming into the evening Matt DeLorenzo went to the hot pit for a flat left front tire. The crew changed the tire and DeLorenzo restarted the event at the rear of the 24 car field.
Demetrios Drellos who was second in points going into the evenings racing program started the event in the 11th position and was up to the top five on lap seven when Matt Sheppard suffered a flat right rear tire to bring out the second caution of the event. Sheppard’s crew was able to get the tire changed and he restarted at the rear of the field. Eighth place starter Stewart Friesen got past Rocky Warner for the third position on the restart with Jack Lehner just ahead in the second position.
At the halfway point in the event Hackel IV continued to lead with Friesen, Lehner, Drellos, and 14th place starter Alex Yankowski completing the top five. Hackel was in lap traffic at the halfway point with the final caution coming out on lap 21 for David Schilling who also suffered a flat tire. He also had his tire changed and rejoined the race at the back of the pack. Hackel IV chose the outside for the restart and maintained his lead at the drop of the green flag.
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do is race Stew (Friesen) and Sheppard and all these guys that I grew up watching,” Hackel said afterwards. “With Stew beside me on the restart I knew that I had better hit it right because he is the best, he’s the man here of our era, and this Pro Power motor under the hood took off like it should.”
Hackel IV maintained the lead on the restart and continued to run the outside while Friesen tried everything to run the inside and get by all to no avail as Hackel IV went on to the win in the Killer Crate #97 Bicknell car. With the win Hackel IV became the 143rd different winning driver in a total of 1430 Modified feature events. Hackel IV did have one win in the Crate 602 Sportsman division at Fonda back on 9/20/2020.
Friesen, Drellos, Lehner, and Yankowski completed the top five while Sheppard, DeLorenzo, and Schilling all came back after suffering flat tires during the event to finish sixth, seventh, and tenth respectively.
“I had to squeeze him a little bit (Friesen) but I’m sure that he understands I was just trying to win,” Hackel IV said. “I want to thank Bob at Killer Crate, my dad who isn’t here tonight, my girlfriend, my family, my Grandfather, and all the guys that have been with me forever. Andrew Buff helped me square and set up every inch of this car. I’m 28 years old, been sitting in these cars since I was 13, and all I’ve ever wanted to do is sit here in victory lane at Fonda. It means a ton.”
Harry Shaffer led at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag in the 25-lap Swagger factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature with an early yellow flag out after lap one was completed for a wreck on the backstretch involving Tim Dwyer, Josh Kane, Connor Prokop, and Mark Mortensen among others with Dwyer and Prokop the only cars unable to continue.
Shaffer continued to lead through lap six when the yellow came out again for Dan Santabarbara who spun on the backstretch and was done for the evening at that point. Seventh place starter Brett Mortensen moved up to the second position on lap 11 after getting by Jeremy Tyrrell with the top five at that point consisting of Shaffer, Mortensen, Tyrrell, 19th place starter Chad Edwards and 17th place starter Payton Talbot.
Lap 11 saw another caution fly as Wesley Sutliff spun in turn three with Mortensen pressuring Shaffer on the restart. On lap 14 coming out of turn four, Mortensen took the lead away with a pass on the outside while Edwards and Talbot battled side by side at times for the third position as they are both in the running for the 2023 Track Championship. One final caution came out with ten laps to go with Mortensen pulling away on the restart.
With Mortensen out to a comfortable lead the attention was now on Edwards and Talbot who continued to swap the third position many times while Shaffer was comfortable in the second spot. At the completion of 25-laps, Mortensen went on to his second career win in the division in the Persons Farms #1B DKM car followed in the top five by Shaffer, Edwards, Talbot, and Chip Constantino. The win for Mortensen was almost a year to the day of his first career win in the division which came on 8/6/2022.
“I’m sad that my mother is not here, and my dad isn’t here as well,” Mortensen said in victory lane. “It’s been a rough season, the car started off real fast then we just kind of lost the car for a little while. Then DKM helped us out and now we’re back on track. I think that we have a strong car, and this was the perfect track for my driving style.”
“It took a little while for the top to come in in one and two, so I struggled catching Harry (Shaffer),” Mortensen continued to say. “Once the top came in though I knew it was game over and I was on my way. Thanks to all of my crew and sponsors and before tonight Jack Hanna who does my shocks for me, he gave me some experimental stuff to put on the car and I think that topped it off.”
The 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stock feature started with a red flag for a four car pileup in turn one involving four cars including Gary Silkey, Ivan Joslin, Randy Cosselman, and Michael Achzet. Coming into turn one, Joslin was underneath Silkey when Silkey came down on him and contact was made sending Silkey across the track into the wall with Cosselman and Achzet piling in afterwards. Joslin got away with no damage and continued on in the fourth position on the restart.
When the green flag flew it was Devon Camenga leading the event over the second place car of Kenny Gates with Joslin now in the third position. One final yellow flag slowed the field on lap six and one lap later after the restart Gates got by Camenga on the outside of the backstretch for the race lead. Joslin also got by Camenga for the second position and at the halfway point the top five consisted of Gates, Joslin, Camenga, eighth place starter Luke Horning, and sixth place starter Josh Coonradt.
The top five remained the same over the second half of the race with Gates going on to his fifth win of the season and the 91st of his career in the division in the Happy Returns/Palmer’s Service Center sponsored #35.
“I never thought in a million years that we would get there,” Gates told Mimi Lazzaro when asked about his 91 career wins. “We struggled a little bit in the beginning of last year and then we came on late but this year the car has been good all year we just had some bad luck here and there. My crew has worked so hard to get us back here to victory lane and here we are again.”
Brandon Tyler led lap one of the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature event with Tyler Bobar taking the lead away on lap two after starting third. Lap five saw a red flag for a traffic jam on the front stretch with eight or more cars blocking the track. Nobody was injured and the race continued with AJ Greco the new second place car.
On a lap 9 restart after another caution, Greco took the lead away from Bobar and led the remaining laps for his second win of the season and the second of his career in the division over seventh place starter Lance Hill, Bobar, Tyler, and ninth place starter Kyle Dingman.
“That was hard fought,” Greco said in victory lane. “Me and Bobar were side by side for awhile and I didn’t know if I had enough for him. Luckily we got a good restart here in turn one, I tried to drive it in hard and get around him. He lifted a little going into one on the bottom and I just had to drive it in hard, put my foot to the boards, and get around him.”
There were three lead changes in the 12-lap Fonda Fair Four cylinder feature with Wayne Russell Jr. leading the first two laps. Hayleigh Gates was the next to lead the event on laps three through eight followed by Kerrie Hollenback who led laps nine through eleven. On the final lap coming to the checkered flag, Russell Jr. was able to get by Hollenback for the overall win as a SOHC while Hollenback was the first DOHC car across the finish line.
For Russell Jr. it was his second win of the season at Fonda and the fifth of his career while for Hollenback it was his seventh win of the season and the 41st of his career in the division. Gates, Len St. Andrews, and TJ Marlitt completed the top five in event with both Russell Jr. and Hollenback getting a $100 bonus from Upstate Auto.
“That was a good one, great race,” Russell Jr. said. “That one is for you Fonda, all of you people in the stands that one is for you.”
“It was a good night”, Hollenback said. “I think it’s Friday the 13th for me and my brother, his car got wrecked and I lost a motor on the last lap.”
Bobby Hackel IV led the first five laps in the ESS Sprint Earl Halaquist Memorial feature event with Jordan Poirier next to lead on laps six through twelve after starting second. Fonda favorite Danny Varin started the event in the sixth position and took the lead away from Poirier on the outside of turns three and four on lap 13.
Varin led the remaining laps of the feature event for his seventh career ESS Sprint win at Fonda and his fourth in the Earl Halaquist Memorial event with wins in 2017, 2018, 2022, and 2023. Poirier, Jordan Thomas, Paulie Colagiovanni, and Matt Tanner completed the top five in the feature event.
“We weren’t the greatest here in the beginning, the air was playing big games tonight,” Varin said after the win. “I pulled the wing back and we were good at the end. Pete and Mason work their butts off, they did some wholesale changes to the car a couple of weeks ago and if we can keep the motors together we’d be on point. Thanks to my entire crew, they are doing a hell of a job for me, it is a huge group effort.”
“We got Danny again here at Fonda, I guess second was the way to go for us,” Poirier said. Our car was close at the beginning, it was really good, but then I got super loose. When I saw Danny pass me I knew the outside was getting better but I couldn’t go as fast as he was.”
“This place is really tricky,” Thomas said after finishing third. “You’ve got to have a ton of laps around here like Danny does to really be good here. Once I got by for third the car started coming on and I could flat foot it around and that’s what it takes at a place like this but all in all a good night.”
Next week Benjamin Moore Paints presents “Championship Night” at Fonda with 2023 Track Champions being decided in all divisions. The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series will also be in action with Track Champions in that series being decided as well.
Fonda Speedway Weekly Report
Miss any action from last week’s racing? The Fonda Speedway weekly report can take care of that. A 90 second summary of the previous Saturday racing action will air throughout the week across seven local radio stations including:
WCSS 1490 & 106.9 in Amsterdam/Schenectady
WIZR 930 & 102.9 in Johnstown/Fonda/Gloversville
WKAJ 1120 & 97.9 in St. Johnsville/Canajoharie
WYVS 96.5 in Speculator and the North Country
If you are a race fan that gets to the track early, be sure to check out the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame which is located on the Fonda Fairgrounds at the rear of the parking area going down towards turn four. The museum is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on race days and admission is free!
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.
8/5/2023 CURTIS LUMBER NIGHT
AMSTERDAM TRUCK CENTER MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – BOBBY HACKEL IV, Stewart Friesen, Demetrios Drellos, Jack Lehner, Alex Yankowski, Matt Sheppard, Matt DeLorenzo, Rocky Warner, JaMike Sowle, David Schilling, Cody Clark, Chris Curtis, Dave Camara, Brian Calabrese, Pep Corradi, Ancel Collins, Brian Pessolano, Ronnie Holmes, Danny Varin, Dave Constantino, Dylan Scribner, Bobby Varin, Ronnie Johnson, Carl Schilling
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Hackel IV
LAP LEADERS – 1-30 Hackel IV
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Warner, Hackel IV, Johnson
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – BRETT MORTENSEN, Harry Shaffer, Chad Edwards, Payton Talbot, Chip Constantino, Jeremy Tyrrell, Brendan Gibbons, Blaine Klinger, Troy Zilles, Stephen Gray, Matt Perry, Zach Dufel, John DuMond, Clayton DuMond, Michael McCallion, Josh Kane, Mark Mortensen, Tanner Warner, David Manchester, Kadon Hohensheldt, Clyde Peek, Don Bellen, Jason Reome, Wesley Sutliff, Dan Santabarbara, Connor Prokop, Butchie Irwin, Tim Dwyer
1st win of 2023 and the 2nd win of his career in the division for Brett Mortensen
LAP LEADERS – 1-13 Shaffer, 14-25 Brett Mortensen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Tyrrell, Constantino, John DuMond
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Edwards +16
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – KENNY GATES, Ivan Joslin, Devon Camenga, Luke Horning, Josh Coonradt, Shane Playford, Beau Ballard, Jim Normoyle, Caden Dumblewski, Nick Santuccione, Jason Morrison, John Holmes, Gary Silkey, Andy Graves, Randy Cosselman, Michael Achzet
5th win of 2023 and the 91st win of his career in the diision for Gates
LAP LEADERS – 1-6 Camenga, Gates
HEAT RACE WINNERS – $100 bonus to each heat race winner from RCK Motorsports – Morrison, Camenga
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – AJ GRECO, Lance Hill, Tyler Bobar, Brandon Tyler, Kyle Dingman, Mike Hill, Jonathan Feagles, John Anderson, Tim Wilmot, Kirsten Swartz, Phil Arnold, Bob Rowback, Jeff Bobilin, Kolton Weiler, Collin Williams, Aaron Armitage, Michael Kalkbrenner, Joel Knudsen Jr., Tim Deffer, Dylan Huston, Craig Coons, Chris Kugler, Bob Rhinehardt, Ryan Sweet, Cian DiMezza, Andrew MacFadden, Brandon Goodell, Jim Mallia, Steve Wagoner (DNS), Gus Kamberelis (DNS)
2nd win of 2023 and the 2nd win of his career in the division for Greco
LAP LEADERS – 1 Tyler, 2-8 Bobar, 9-15 Greco
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Greco, Lance Hill, Bobar
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – $100 bonus to both the SOHC and DOHC winners from Upstate Auto – WAYNE RUSSELL JR. (SOHC), Kerrie Hollenbeck (DOHC), Haleigh Gates, Len St. Andrews, TJ Marlitt, Tom Hill, Brittany Ladd, Luke Sheldon, Tim Warner, Ken Hollenback, Doug McSpirit (DNS)
2nd win of 2023 and the 5th win of his career in the division for Russell Jr.
7th win of 2023 and the 41st
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Russell Jr., 3-8 Gates, 9-11 Kerrie Hollenback, 12 Russell Jr.
EMPIRE SUPER SPRINT (ESS) EARL HALAQUIST MEMORIAL FEATURE – 25-LAPS – DANNY VARIN, Jordan Poirier, Jordan Thomas, Paulie Colagiovanni, Matt Tanner, Shawn Donath, Jason Barney, Dylan Swiernik, Bobby Hackel IV, Kyle Smith, Jeff Cook, Chad Miller, Logan Crisafulli, Jake Dykstra, Steve Glover, Trevor Years, Dylan Menditto, Lacey Hanson, Jeremiah Munson, Kyle Dutcher, Cory Sparks, Billy VanInwegen (DNS)
7th career win in the ESS Sprints for Varin
LAP LEADERS – 1-5 Hackel IV, 6-12 Poirier, 13-25 Varin
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Thomas, Varin, Barney
ESS DASH – Donath