FONDA - Traditionally, a gold watch is presented upon retirement after 50 years of service.
Saturday night, Fonda Speedway opted to honor Dave Lape with a night of racing in his honor and a celebration in Victory Lane commemorating his retirement from active racing after 50 years of competition.
"I'm looking forward to retirement," Lape said. "I loved every minute of it, but it is time to step away. I want to thank all of the fans that not only rooted for me through the years but just came to the races to root for someone and made racing at Fonda so special."
New York State Sen. Kathleen A. Marchione, R-Halfmoon, left, presents seven-time Fonda Speedway track champion Dave Lape with a framed proclamation during ceremonies Saturday night at the Track of Champions. Lape announced his retirement from competitive racing after 50 years. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
During a ceremony emceed by longtime announcer Jim King, Lape was connected to his past as he was presented a Senator's Proclamation by New York State Sen. Kathleen A. Marchione, R-Halfmoon, the daughter of his favorite driver growing up, Pete Corey.
Lape has carried the No. 22 on his cars and later added the flames, both trademarks of one of Corey's rides, in honor of his hero.
Also during the Victory Lane celebration, longtime friends Lew Boyd and Andy Fusco spoke in Lape's honor.
Lape waved to the fans as he led a pace lap for the night's 30-lap modified feature before falling back to his starting spot for the main event.
Matt DeLorenzo won the feature, but Lape completed his final feature 17th in the field of 25 cars.
After the night's race program. Lape remained at the speedway, greeting fans under the grandstand, where there was a memorabilia display honoring his racing career, which finished with 99 modified feature wins at Fonda Speedway alone.
After the races, Lape was asked how he is liking retirement. He answered, "I'm loving it so far."
Lape amassed 99 feature wins at Fonda Speedway to go with 98 second-place finishes, 83 third-place, 57 fourth-place and 49 fifth-place finishes.
He closed out his career with victories at 11 more tracks - including 25 wins at Albany-Saratoga, 37 at Cayuga County, nine at Rolling Wheels, eight at Utica-Rome, four at Ransomville, three at Canandaigua, two at Orange County and one apiece at the New York State Fairgrounds, Devil's Bowl, Five Mile Point and Drummondville, for a total of 191 career wins.
Lape has seven Fonda Speedway championships to his name to go with three at Cayuga County, two at Utica-Rome and one at Albany-Saratoga.