When the management of Fonda Speedway introduced its fans to the concept of a Night of Features it was met with reactions like: "Are you nuts?" "It will never work." And of course, "You can't do that here! This is Fonda!"
Seventeen years later, the Night of Features, sponsored by BBL Construction, has become one of the most anticipated nights of the racing season.
With no heat races, a B-main is run for drivers outside the top 15. The B-main winners get a Victory Lane celebration, which does not count toward career feature wins or Dave Lape would have 100 instead of 99.
After the first A-main is run, the winner draws to determine how many spots, from one to 10, will be inverted for the start of the second feature.
At the end of the night, the celebration begins as the 2013 track champions are crowned in a shower of champagne on Victory Lane.
A quick look at the points shows the probability of three drivers successfully defending their 2012 titles, one driver picking up his fourth career track championship and the crowning of two first time champions.
Stewart Friesen is poised to collect his second-straight modified track championship.
Mr. Freeze goes into the night with a 104 point lead over Matt DeLorenzo.
DeLorenzo can collect 120 points with a sweep of the twin modified features but Friesen needs only 16 points - and there are 20 to take the green - to lock up the championship.
However, Matty D can't relax as Danny Varin is lurking just six points behind him in third and I am sure the T-Rex Express will be hunting for that runner-up spot Saturday.
In the 4-cylinder division, Ken Hollenbeck has the single cam title locked up for the second-straight year but has a mission to complete the regular season undefeated, equaling Steve Burega's 1997 accomplishment in the first full season of street stock competition.
Ken's brother, Kerrie, has enough of a cushion over Keith Tesiero Jr. to take the dual-cam title.
In the street stocks, Rob VanAernam, who won the title in 1998, 1999 and 2010, is in position to claim his fourth track championship. Neil Cosselman can close to within 40 points with a sweep mean VanAernam would need to start and finish in the top 23 in both features. That shouldn't be a problem since there haven't been more than 20 cars in a street stock feature this season.
The pro stock battle is going to come down to the late stages of the second race as 14 points separate defending champion Pete Broderson and three-time champion Kenny Martin Jr. (1996, 1997 and 2006).
However, there is another race-within-the-race as Martin and Kenny Gates, who is third in points, are both chasing Todd Hoffman's career pro stock victory mark of 51. Both Martin and Gates are second on the all-time list with 50. On a side note, Gates has posted eight wins on the Night of Features, while Martin and Broderson have only one once.
The 602 sportsman division points battle is most intriguing. David Constantino, Rocky Warner, Ricky Quick and defending champion Cody Bleau are separated by 66 points.
Constantino leads the group with 692 points, 16 more than Warner, while Quick and Bleau are mathematically still in the hunt tied for this 50 points behind Warner.
Just a reminder the point structure is: 1. 60; 2. 56; 3. 52; 4. 50; 5. 48; 6. 46; 7. 44; 8. 42; 9. 40; 10. 38; 11. 36; 12. 34; 13. 32; 14. 30; 15. 28. 16. 27; 17. 26; 18. 25; 19. 24; 20. 23; 21. 22; 22. 21; 23 and lower 20.
Fonda Speedway will then take a break for the annual Fonda Fair and will resume racing Sept. 14 with tribute night celebrating Dave Lape's 50 years of racing. The racing season concludes with a two-day racing event on Sept. 21 and 22.
During last Saturday's race program, Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame driver Dave Buanno was seriously injured while visiting the pit area.
Buanno was struck in the head by a tire that broke off a cylinder division car and bounced over the tall catch fence that lines the third and fourth turn.
Buanno was stabilized and airlifted from the speedway to Albany Medical Center and is reportedly paralyzed with broken spine.
Wednesday the speedway released an official statement:
"Fonda Speedway would like to express their sincere sympathy and well wishes for a speedy recovery to David Buanno, who was injured in an unforeseen accident on Saturday night at the speedway. Mr. Buanno, an experienced race car driver who is a member of the Fonda Speedway's Hall of Fame, was visiting drivers in the pit area of the track when a tire suddenly and unexpectedly broke off of a car involved in a 4-cylinder race and rolled down the raceway behind the fence and ultimately struck Mr. Buanno. Several articles have inaccurately stated that this tire was a racing tire weighing up to 75 pounds; however, this was a street tire weighing considerably less. The speedway has been and continues to cooperate with authorities investigating the incident."
Utica-Rome hosts midweek special
Utica-Rome Speedway opened its gates for the rain-delayed 30-lap Paul Denton Memorial for pro stocks Wednesday.
Pete Stefanski picked up the win over Glenn Forward, Bret Belden, Chris Carr and Mark Effner.
The modifieds were the undercard on the night with Matt Sheppard picking up the 30-lap feature win over Willy Decker, Ryan Phelps, Larry Wight and Stewart Friesen.
Jeremy Vunk topped Matt Janczuk in the 20-lap sportsman feature, while Russ Marsden won the 15-lap pure stock feature.