I have been going to the races for close to 40 years now and writing about them for 15 years for The Leader-Herald and one thing still amazes me — the feeling I get on opening day at Fonda Speedway.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes the day special. Maybe it is just the sound of high-powered racing engines or watching the drivers manhandle cars sliding through turns three and four that gets my heart pumping on a warm, bright sunny day in the Mohawk Valley.
Or maybe it is just that when the racing engines fire up, it means winter is over and summer is not too far away.
Granted, I was at the first two days of racing at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park this year. The racing was some of the best I have witnessed there and the facility is making great strides forward, but it is not the same.
Anyway, both speedways can be proud of their track crews for the vast improvements of the opening day track conditions.
Last year, Glen Ridge was dry, dusty and unraceable. This year, it may have been a little rough, but there was bite and it has been raceable.
Last year, Fonda’s first turn was soft and cars actually were digging into the surface with their front spoilers. This year the track was smooth, black and fast. There was plenty of racing throughout the pack in both the modified and sportsman features.
Defending track champion Matt DeLorenzo did something during the opening day Ice Jam event that he has not done for the past two years: finished with all four tires inflated on his modified. In the 2006 and 2007 events, his chances of victory were set back by flat left front tires.
Kudos to Jeremy Wilder for his double-duty driving last Saturday. Wilder showed up with two cars and qualified for both main events. He earned an 18th-place finish in his first modified feature and backed it up with a sixth-place run in the sportsman main event. I would have to say it is an indication that the team is looking to take a shot at the the Go Green NMX Thunder Series this year while fighting for the sportsman championship.
Danny Varin also made a solid showing in his first modified feature. After qualifying the Mags-R-Us No. 93 through the second modified consi, Varin brought home a 14th-place finish.
Dustin Delaney, Larry Wright and Shaun Pangman also turned in solid runs in what I believe were their first Fonda Speedway modified feature.
Dave Lape must feel snakebit. After a season-ending crash last year, the veteran driver with 99 Fonda feature wins to his credit, returned to the speedway and was biding his time in the second modified consolation when he was collected by Andy Bachetti’s spinning modified. Lape’s was driven hard into the fourth turn wall, ending up with two wheels in the air and sandwiched between Bachetti’s car and the wall. He climbed out of the car uninjured and should be back in competition this week.
Saturday marks the opening night of the points chase for 2008 track championships for all divisions. Racing is again slated to start at 4 p.m.
Glen Ridge switch
After a pair of Sunday afternoon race programs, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will make the switch to its regular Friday night racing this week.
A full card of modified, budget sportsman, street stock and cruiser division racing is on tap. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing getting under way at 7:30 p.m.
Track management has been asked to attend tonight’s Town of Glen board meeting for a dialogue between the parties. It is unclear at this time what will be discussed, but the track is asking for the support of its fans and race teams.
Caroga Creek opener
Caroga Creek Raceway will open for its first night of racing Friday.
Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. with racing slated to start at 6:30 p.m.
All go-kart divisions will be in competition. Slingshots also will take to the upgraded racing surface.
Along with the races there also will be a swap meet for racers to sell and/or swap racing equipment.
James A. Ellis is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.