After filing my story and photos from Fonda Speedway last week, I had a very rare opportunity.
I walked out of the tower, where I am graciously afforded a work space, locked the door behind me and started walking down the steps in the old covered grandstand. The lights were all turned out with the exception of a couple in the pit area, the only thing illuminating the speedway was a full moon rising over the Fonda Speedway sign on the back stretch. It was calm, peaceful, quiet and picturesque.
Hard to believe that less than an hour before the place was bustling with cars racing and people celebrating the end of another regular season at the "Track of Champions."
Moments before, Victory Lane at the venerable speedway was crowded with people as Bobby Varin was crowned modified track champion for the fourth time in his career and third time in the past four years.
"It has been an up and down season for us," Varin said. "We have been all over the place this season and it has been a challenge for the whole team but they worked hard to get us where we are today. I wouldn't be here without all of the help from Jake [Spraker] and Dave [Cruickshank] and I have to thank both of them. "
The champagne corks were flying as David Towns and his crew celebrated bringing home their second straight title in the "piece of junk car nobody wanted to buy from me after last year."
"This championship is a tribute to a great crew, great sponsors and a great family," Towns said. "We finished every lap of every point race this season and that is what it takes to win a championship. We won our share of races at the beginning of the season, but struggled towards the end."
Jeremy Cramer endured a long night to reach the celebration point of the evening. He pretty much had the IMCA title wrapped up before putting a wheel on the track Saturday.
He was kind of staying out of the way toward the back of the pack but ended up against the inside wall on the front stretch.
After a short pit stop, he returned and was three-wheeling it around the track to get back into the top five. All he said afterwards was "I was trying to stay out of the way and let Jimmy [Cramer] and Aaron [Jacobs] race it out for second [in points]."
For Kenny Gates it was kind of a quiet celebration to start with until the champagne spraying got into full swing, then he was in the thick of the battle; kind of like the way he drove all season for his second straight pro stock track championship and third of his career.
"What a great feeling it is to be able to win this title again," Gates said. "We had a great year, not a lot of wins, but a lot of top-five finishes and consistency is what it takes to win a track championship."
Chuck McSpirit took the long road to celebrating his first career track championship. During his feature, a flat tire sent his No. 57 spinning. A little quick work in the pits and he rejoined the field and recorded a top five finish to edge Cassidy Wilson, who won the race, by four points for the track championship
"I was just hoping that nothing else broke when I got the flat tire and spun in turn four," he said. "I knew that I had to get back into the top five and fortunately I was able to do it. After doing this for the last 10 years I finally got a championship."
McSpirit's championship season may not be over yet as he also is on top in the points chase at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
Congratulations to all the drivers and crews on their championship runs.
After the break
Racing will return to Fonda Speedway Sept. 13 with its regularly scheduled open show, but it was announced Saturday there have been some changes made to the Sept. 20, and 21 River Rage Weekend race card.
The rained-out 50-lap, $5,000-to-win NMX Go Green Thunder Series race for modifieds will replace the 358-modified race on the Saturday race program.
Sunday's race program will still feature the 100-lap, $9,500-to-win Thunder Series race. The opportunity to pick up $14,500 in two days of racing should draw some of the big race teams back to the track.
Switch to Saturdays
The Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will switch its racing program from the normal Friday night slot to Saturdays for the next three weeks. Gates will open at 5 p.m., with racing starting at 7:30 p.m.
There are three weeks left in the modified points chase at The Ridge, while the points battles in the budget sportsman, street stock and cruiser divisions wraps up Sept. 19.
Also, an open tire rule allowing any 13 x 92 tire, will be introduced this week at Glen Ridge. To receive points toward the track championship drivers must run Glen Ridge track tires.
It also was announced that the rained-out Central New York Mini Sprint race has been rescheduled for the Oct. 25 season finale.
A rain date of Oct. 26 has been scheduled for the season-ending race program.
World of Outlaws
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event that was rained out at Lebanon Valley Speedway has been rescheduled for Sept. 21.
The 25-lap A-Feature event will be lined up as it was set July 20, with Jason Meyers on the pole.