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Racing Around: ESS ready to return to Glen Ridge

July 14, 2011
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

After a successful first time run at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park last year, there was no problem getting the Empire Super Sprints to return this year.

For fans of the Ridge, it has been one of the most highly anticipated events of the season.

I wonder if that has something to do with a former NASCAR champion showing up last year and setting a new track record?


The pits and the stands were already full before the announcement Tony Stewart was at the facility.

The ESS drivers put on a great show last season, sometimes going three and four-wide around the fast quarter mile with Lance Yonge picking up the victory over TSR teammates Jessica Zemken and Tony Stewart.

One situation that arose last year with close to 2,500 fans spread out between the pits and stands was where to put everybody. This year, Glen Ridge has added another set of bleachers in the first turn area so the fans will not have to stand six-deep near the fence.

As if the sprint cars were not enough, the sponsor for the night, Robison & Smith has added $1,000 to the purse, making the modified feature a $2,000-to-win event. Extra payout also is planned for the podium finishers.

General admission has been raised to $18 for the evening's race program, which also will include DIRTcar sportsman, street stocks, cruisers and rookie sportsmen. Pit admission will be $30 with a DIRTcar or ESS license or $35 without.

Promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker were probably glad to see that the weather is favorable this weekend, as the Ridge has rained out three times in the past four weeks.

It has not been confirmed if any special guests will be on hand this year, but then again, the Sprint Cup Series is back at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend.

Hondo Classic

The Sixth Annual Hondo Classic again drew a large group of pro stock drivers to Fonda Speedway last Saturday night. Some were pursuing Thunder Series points and other came to honor the late Hondo Carpenter.

With Kelley Keefe as the driving force behind the event, several fans and businesses put up contingency prizes and lap money totaling $4,431.71.

The result was a huge payday for race winner Rob Yetman.

For his victory, Yetman took home $2,039.77 in prize money, while Bret Belden, who led the race early, walked away with $622.99. Race runner-up and dash-for-cash winner Rocky Warner took home $433.99.

The event drew outsiders like Belden, Shawn Frost, Buddy Hencke, Bryan VanDusen, Glen Forward and Jody Swamp.

It also marked the return of 2010 pro stock champion Roy Fifield to the track. Fifield drove Warner's back up car for the event.

The race also marked the pro stock debut of Justin Knight who has enjoyed plenty of success in the street stock division.

The four-wide pro stock parade lap behind Sheldon Martin carrying a gold and purple Hondo Carpenter tribute flag was pretty cool also.

Special event

The Midstate Antique and NESCOT cars will join the racecard this weekend at Fonda Speedway.

It is always great to get a glimpse into the past, watching the restored coupes, sedans and even some Gremlins cruising around the "Track of Champions" again.

I do have a particular favorite though. The 2X of 69-year-old Ally Amell.

His car carries the puzzle-piece paint job in honor of his six-year-old grandson Matty who has autism.

I spoke with Amell when the cars were at Glen Ridge earlier this year. He said it is a goal for the race team to educate people about autism and his racing is his way of honoring his grandson and getting the word out.



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