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Racing Around: Season reaches midway point

June 23, 2011
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

Looking at the local racing schedule, I found it a little sad that we are already at the midway point of the regular season.

Looking back at the first 12 weeks of racing at Fonda Speedway, 10 of which were for points, the longest stretch of consecutive Saturday nights of racing has been three, May 21, 28 and June 4. Rain washed out the entire race program four times and the modified feature on the June 8 midweek show.

Of course, the weather is the downside of the first half, as the race teams cannot get into a rhythm. But on the upside, there have been new drivers making plenty of noise.

Danny Varin has always been fast but unable to put it all together at Fonda. So far this season, he has visited Victory Lane twice: once in a modified and once in a 305 sprint car.

Josh Hohenforst also has picked up his game this season. He has put the No. 6H Troyer in contention on a weekly basis. He has not had luck on his side at the finish, but still is in the top 10 in points.

Mark Kislowski has been knocking on the door all season with consistent top five runs and a best finish of second to Danny Varin on June 4.

Probably the feel-good story of the first half of the season in the modified division was the return to Victory Lane by Alton Palmer on May 21, snapping a winless streak dating back to May 17, 2003.

Then there is the consistency of defending track champion Bobby Varin who holds a 23-point advantage over Ronnie Johnson in the race for his fourth straight and seventh overall track championship.

Johnson has emerged as the top race winner this season, with three feature wins, including the season-opening Ice Jam.

With the elimination of the open sportsman division, Mark Mortensen made the switch to the 602-limited sportsman division and has settled in nicely with a pair of feature wins and the points lead at the midway point.

Rocky Warner carried the momentum of his double feature win on the Syracuse Mile at the end of last season over to the first half of this season. The Flying Squirrel got off to a fast start and leads four-time division champion Kenny Gates by 14 points heading into the second half of the season.

Cassidy Wilson has driven to the top of the street stock division points battle with Randy Cosselman, who picked up his first win this season, unofficially by 26 points.

Looking ahead to the second half of the season, there are several special shows on tap, including the sixth annual Hondo Classic, which is also a Thunder on the Thruway Series race, for the pro stock division on July 9.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Series and a 50-lap Thunder Series event for the modifieds will take to the track on July 27.

However, Aug. 10 has emerged as a big night of racing, thanks to Mother Nature. The 30-lap, $3,000-to-win modified feature rained out, or probably more accurately curfewed out, on June 8, has been added to the card already featuring a 60-lap, $6,000-to-win modified main and a 602-sportsman feature.

Then, of course, the infamous BBL-sponsored Night of Features is scheduled for Aug. 13 with the modifieds running twin-33 lap features and the 602s slated for twin 20s. Just in case, a rain date for the Night of Features as been slated for Aug. 20. along with the CRSA 305 sprinters.

The Great Race

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to travel to Saratoga Springs and catch the finish of the 12th leg of the Hemmings Motor News Great Race. The six-day road race for cars built prior to 1969 started in Chattanooga, Tenn., on June 11 and finished in Bennington, Vt., on June 17.

With cars like a 1966 Dodge Charger, a 1969 Porsche 911, a 1929 Ford Model A Pickup and a 1941 Ford Coupe among the 40-plus entries, it was the 100-year-old, 1911 Velie Racetype driven by Howard and Douglas Sharp that hit the timing points most consistently over the trip to win the lion's share of the $90,000 purse.

The Sharps had a few repairs to do to their century-old racer when they arrived at the Saratoga Auto Museum. They had to make emergency repairs to the left front tire on the trip that took them from Cooperstown through the Mohawk Valley. They made many guys proud as they turned into the parking lot with silver duct tape wrapped around the tire.

While at the museum, I had the opportunity to chat with Ron Hedger, who coordinates the Racing in New York displays at SAM. The vintage race cars on display range from a familiar No. 00 Buzzie Reutimann coupe, to an early modified and a low-slung No. 16X, Dick Clark-driven asphalt modified.

I was intrigued by the display of racing team and fan club jackets on display, showing the colors of Steve Danish, Hughes Brothers Racing and other top race teams.

I encourage anyone who needs a reminder of the roots of racing in New York to make the trip and at least take a glimpse at the NYSSCA Hall of Fame wall honoring the several of the top drivers who laid the foundation for the sport.



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