The 2010 season was a memorable one for Rocky Warner.
The "Flying Squirrel" picked up 13 feature wins including the pro stock futures and the 25-lap, $2,000-to-win BNC Motorsports Pro Stock Championship at Super DIRT Week XXXIX at the New York State Fairgrounds.
He also brought home the Thunder Series Pro Stock championship and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park division title.
The 2011 season has been good to Warner, so far.
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park dropped the pro stock division from its weekly lineup, so Warner opted to make the move up to the sportsman division.
It did not take long for him to adapt to the open-wheel division as he picked up the rookie sportsman feature win on opening night. He backed that up with a second-place finish and another rookie division win. Warner opted to forgo the track's mandatory three rookie feature win rule and moved up to the regular division two weeks ago. Again, success traveled with him. In his first feature, he secured a top-five finish before winning the sportsman main event last Friday.
Getting it done on one track is good, but Warner's success has carried over to Fonda Speedway where he is undefeated so far this season with two feature wins and a victory in a pro stock dash-for-cash event at the season-opening Ice Jam.
"Beyond expectations" is how Warner described his early-season success. "We are on a hot streak right now and it is a lot of fun."
However, he is aware of how fast things can change in a sport where you can go from zero to hero and back again very quickly.
"We got off to a decent start last year at Fonda and Glen Ridge," he said. "Then by midseason we were very inconsistent before coming on at the end. So we do know how fast things can change."
Getting behind the wheel of two different types of racecars has also brought new challenges.
"It is different. In the sportsman you can make a lot more changes to the suspension, while with the pro stocks, it is a lot of tires, air pressure and jack bolts," he said. "We have had to learn quickly what to do and not to do."
Driving from the center of an open-wheel car and then moving back to the left side of a full-fendered pro stock has also brought some exciting moments behind the wheel.
"I have gone into the corner with the sportsman, like it was the pro stock, and I expected it to stick, and it didn't," he said. "Then a couple of times I forgot I was in the pro stock and was waiting for it to come around."
Warner also ran the sportsman car on opening night at Fonda.
"We won the consi and finished 14th in the feature," he said. "I consider that a good night considering there were about 40 cars there. So making the feature was great. Then being able to race with guys that I have watched for years was fun. You have to have respect for them."
While planning to run weekly at Fonda and The Ridge, the Flying Squirrel also plans to compete at Utica-Rome Speedway as well as participating in the Thunder Series and the area DIRTcar tour events.
"We had fun last year on the tour," he said. "We went to the DIRTcar pro stock races at Rolling Wheels and Lebanon Valley last year and did well. We also plan to go back to Syracuse. After being one spot out of qualifying two years in a row and then winning both the futures and the main event last year was great."
Warner is quick to acknowledge that his sponsors and fans have helped him to achieve success.
"I have to thank all of my sponsors, especially Ray Sefrin on the pro stock and Wendy's with the sportsman. And, of course, my dad, Don, with Don's Towing," Warner said. "There are a lot of sponsors and people who help out with the cars. I know if I try to tell you all of them I would forget someone, so it is best to say thanks to everyone."
Warner said it is special when he is at the track or driving along the street, to see fans wearing Flying Squirrel sweatshirts and T-shirts.
"When you drive down the track you can look up and see the different color shirts, so you know where a lot of the different drivers' fans are," he said. "It is a nice feeling. We don't do it for the money and it is a nice way for us to know that the fans appreciate what we do."
A fundraiser for modified driver Erik Nelson is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Checkers Out Speedway.
Proceeds from the event will go he help with medical expenses incurred after being injured in an opening night accident at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
Racing and lunch at the event will be $25, while just the spaghetti and meatball lunch will be $15. and racing only is $20.
Racing participants are asked to bring a helmet.
For tickets or to make donations, contact Jennifer Burega at 858-9155.