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Racing Around: Racers regroup after fire

April 15, 2010
By JAMES A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald

During the 2009 racing season Greg and Brian Pessolano burst on the racing scene with a pair of beautiful green, Dodson Construction-sponsored cars in the rookie division at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. It did not take long before they won their way out of the rookie sportsman class and into the mainstream of the sportsman division at The Ridge.

With an eye on battling for the division title this year at Glen Ridge, the Brian and Greg along with Kurtis Hohensheldt and Chris Schaffer were on schedule for opening night when disaster struck.

A fire in early February at Dodson's construction shop, where the cars were stored, destroyed the building and everything inside, including Greg, Brian and Kurtis' sportsman cars. Schaffer's car was not on the premises.

"We lost three cars, two motors, three jacks, all the tires and rims, everything," Greg said. "I have never been a part of a fire and never realized how much damage they can really cause."

For Hohensheldt, who was preparing for his rookie season, the loss came shortly after he purchased his car.

"I had the car four days," he said. "I had put it there just to store it until the new garage was ready. We were only three days away from moving it to there. Within a week, we were going to move into the new garage."

Brian said that while they lost the racing equipment, Dodson suffered a major loss.

"Everything Richie owned and a lot of the tools he uses for his business were gone," he said. "A lot of his business was run out of there."

The loss put the thought of not competing again in the minds of the Green Team.

"I thought about it for about a day until Rich told me he didn't want to hear any crying, we were going to go back out there," Brian said.

"When it first happened, it thought we were through," Greg said. "But Rich said for us to keep our heads up. I don't want to hear no crying. We have been through worse than this before. We will get cars and go back out racing."

With help from the racing community and friends, the team began rebuilding.

"There was a benefit organized and we got a lot of donations from local merchants and from Mike Romano and the people at Bicknell have been phenomenal," Brian said. "Mike told us that for the short time that we had raced we had come a long way and he wanted to see us back at the track. Believe it or not there were times when Greg and I were ready to say enough is enough."

The team purchased the Bicknells piloted last year at Fonda Speedway by Sullivan Motorsports drivers Jeremiah Munson and Mike Ketchum.

"Mark Sullivan sold us the cars that Ketchum and Munson drove last year," Brian said. "He gave us a really good deal. Rich stepped up again and is the biggest part of it. Kurtis' car came out of Pennsylvania and was only raced a few times."

Brian will run the car Munson drove at the end of last season and Greg is in the car Ketchum drove.

Greg and Brian have fresh 602 Crate motors while Hohensheldt has an engine purchased from Craig Boehler that was run by his son, Justin, last season.

"Craig Boehler gave Kurtis a phenomenal deal on a motor or he probably wouldn't be out here," Greg said.

Friday night at the open practice session at Glen Ridge, the rebuilding process was almost complete.

Schaffer was on hand with his No. 34C parked alongside Brian's No. 24P. Greg's No. 44P and Hohensheldt's No. 54H, the only one carrying the familiar green paint scheme.

"We are fortunate we can be out here," Dodson said. "It is a lot of hard work but it is a blessing to be here, seriously."

While the Brian's and Greg's cars were not painted or lettered for Friday night's shakedown, they said that they would be ready with the familiar green paint scheme when they hit the track for opening night.

"If Rich had not made the decision for us to move forward we probably would not be back racing," Brian said. "Cliff Montanye and all our pit guys who are faithful to us did a ton of work to get us back here and we are grateful. I could not ever, ever, ever be back racing after that fire without Rich. Without him as a sponsor I could never have done this and he is the reason we are here and that is a fact."

Points battles begin

Saturday night the battle for the 2010 track championships at Fonda Speedway will get under way with a full race card of modified, sportsman, 602 limited sportsmen, pro stocks, street stocks and UMP modifieds.

Last Saturday defending track champion Bobby Varin showed he is ready to contend for his sixth modified track championship with a dominating performance to claim the season-opening 40-lap Ice Jam.

Jimmy Davis also showed he can not be overlooked as a contender with a strong opening day run, while Dave Camara finished a strong third behind Varin and Davis, after starting 12th.

Matt DeLorenzo also had his small block hooked up. After breaking in his heat race, DeLorenzo qualified through the consi and moved his way through the field for a fifth place finish.

The Thunder Series points chase also will start this weekend at Utica-Rome Speedway with a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win main event for the modifieds.

Glen Ridge will not run for points Friday night, but will open its season with a regular night race card with an open tire rule. The points battle at The Ridge will begin April 23.



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