FONDA -Whether they were snowmobile race fans, curious stock car fans or just race families looking for an afternoon outing, people flocked to Fonda Speedway for the debut of East Coast Snocross at the venerable speedway.
The track normally lies dormant during the winter and hosts Saturday night stock car races from April to September.
However, new speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo opted to take a chance on hosting snowmobile races for the first time at the speedway since 1969.
Danny Poirier (312) cuts to the inside of Mike Bauer to take the lead in the East Coast Snocross Series Pro feature Sunday at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Saturday, the first of the two-day event, rain and warmer temperatures did not turn away approximately 1,000 fans. Sunday, cold weather set in, but more than 2,000 people showed up to watch the high-flying snowmobiles launch off jumps and power off banked turns.
"Saturday was OK and I think today went really well," DeLorenzo said. "I was surprised at the crowd [Sunday]. About noontime I looked out and couldn't believe car after car coming in and I didn't have enough parking."
The East Coast Snocross Series riders also turned out in strong numbers, featuring riders at all levels from youths to the top-level pro riders.
"There were a lot of smiles on their faces," DeLorenzo said of the riders. "This is one of the bigger tracks that they will race on. They want to come back, actually, in the beginning of March. I have to think about it. We will start bulldozing the snow off the track tomorrow. If I don't, it probably won't melt until August. So we will get it off the track and then talk to them. Maybe we will do a smaller track come March. It all depends on the weather."
While deeming the weekend show a success, DeLorenzo said he is eager to get the "Track of Champions" ready for his first season as promoter of the weekly stock-car racing.
"I am going away on vacation for a week, and after that, I want to get geared up for the season," the former modified track champion said. "We will try to get caught up and get ready for the car show; everyone has been asking about it. They just called me a couple days ago to confirm it for March 14, 15, 16. Hopefully, we can make that successful, too. The schedule is pretty much finalized, but I want to get some more sponsorships on there. I will hand them out at the car show."
Although pleased with the success of the two-day event, DeLorenzo is looking at things he could have done better to help make the event more enjoyable for the fans.
"We probably could have used a little more parking and maybe opened a second concession booth, but I just ran out of time," he said. "Tony Farone helped out with the concession booth. This is something to build on, and I want to make it better. It seemed like everyone had a good time. I really didn't hear many negative comments. Everybody seemed happy and thanked me for what I was doing."
DeLorenzo announced the opening day for the 62nd consecutive season of dirt-track stock car racing on the half-mile clay oval is scheduled for April 5.