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Racing Around: VanDusen to return to Fonda

April 21, 2011
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

Mike VanDusen has been to Fonda Speedway many times as a fan, crew member and driver.

However, Saturday night will be different.

VanDusen will return to the "Track of Champions" as the head of the Capital Region Sprint Car Agency 305 Sprint Cars.

After several years with the organization, founder and President Brian Grisel stepped aside and asked VanDusen if he would be interested in running the show.

"After Brian's wife died last summer, he seemed distracted a lot, and I think he was just ready to turn it over," VanDusen said. "He told me he had taken it as far as he could take it. With my experience, he said he would just as soon see me keep it going. I didn't want the club to die. It has gotten a real good start from Brian. I couldn't ask for a simpler turn-key operation, really."

VanDusen has been involved with the CRSA as the tech inspector for the past three years, but said it is a challenge stepping up to the top of the ladder.

"I have not worked on this side of the club," he said. "I have been the tech inspector. So I never really got involved in trying to hook up sponsors or call the racetracks for dates. That is all brand new to me. I don't know if the tower is going to be the place for me or not. I have never been in the tower trying to run the show, talking to the drivers and all that. However, we will see. I am more of a hands-on guy. Now I am the one who is going to get yelled at when I get back to the trailer."

VanDusen said he thinks being involved with the group as a racer and management will make the transition easier for both he and the race teams.

"I was there for three years and also have sold parts to the guys and they know who I am, except maybe for some of the new people," he said. "I had a meeting and we sat down and talked a few weeks ago. I think it is going to be a pretty big deal."

The CRSA has a solid core of veteran drivers ready to follow the circuit this season plus some new faces.

"We have four rookies this year that we know of and two of them are girls," VanDusen said. "We have a 15 year old from Middletown. I don't know if she is going to make it up here for Saturday or not, but she will definitely be at the Middletown show. Another girl from Middletown will be here and she plans on running the whole schedule. Her name is Brittany Trech and she is 16. She ran a little bit with the ARDC midgets and mini sprints before."

With the strong possibility of a rain out Saturday night, the first-year promoter is already facing his first challenge of possibly finding a spot to fit the Fonda show into the schedule.

"That will be up to Ric [Lucia]," he said. "I do have next weekend open, but after that we are running every weekend for a while. If he has room for me next week and wants to try that, we can. If he wants us to come up next week, I will definitely push for it."

Being able to have the possibility of have Fonda Speedway as the first track he will be running the show is special for VanDusen.

"I am excited, especially coming back to Fonda, my old home track. It is kind of neat," he said. "I have a lot of memories from Fonda. The ironic thing, the first time I ever went to Fonda and went in the pits with anybody I was 17 years old and a member of Art Kiser's No. 29K crew. Now Art Kiser is running a sprint car under me now. He is now 65 years old and he ran last year. He started late and didn't make the Fonda show. He told me he is having more fun doing this than he ever had doing anything else in racing. He is having a ball."

Longtime Fonda fans may remember VanDusen as a modified competitor.

While a steady performer on the track, fans may remember a crash he had in the first turn where his modified launched high off the wall, giving the people in the former first-turn VIP tower an up close and personal look at the under side of a modified.

"I have a sequence shot of the wreck from Clancy Miller," VanDusen said with a laugh.

Dylan Swiernik of Port Leyden won the inaugural event at the speedway back in 2009 and veteran John Matrifailo took home the victory last year.

The CRSA sprint cars are on the Fonda Speedway schedule twice for 2011 with the second date coming on Aug. 20, which will be the inaugural Deborah Grisel Memorial.

Pit gates will open at 4 p.m. Saturday with front gates opening at 5 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m.

For more information about the Capital Region Sprint Agency, visit the CRSA website at

Racing at the Ridge

Just two weeks into the season, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park has welcomed two first-time modified feature winners to Victory Lane.

On opening night, Matt Sheppard out dueled Stewart Friesen for his first win at the Ridge. Last week, veteran modified campaigner Jackie Brown went wire-to-wire, holding off Craig Hanson and then Lance Willix to get his first career win.

Easter Egg Hunt

The Fonda Futures Kid's Club will have their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday with chocolate bunnies going to all of the children who take part in the event, which is open to all children under 13 years of age.



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