FONDA - Fonda Speedway's new promoter is racing to finish track renovations before the 2014 season starts this spring.
At the end of October, Matt DeLorenzo, of Cropseyville, was awarded promotership of Fonda's historic half-mile Track of Champions located at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. The Montgomery County Fairboard approved DeLorenzo as the speedway's new promoter after Ric and Laura Lucia retired from the position after 17 years.
Since his approval as promoter, DeLorenzo has been working hard to restore the track to its original glory.
Connor Roscoe of Cheshire, Conn. launches his Team daSilva sled off the finish line table top jump in front of the covered grandstand at Fonda Speedway during East Coast Snocross Pro Lite racing action Jan. 11 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
"I'm trying to make the track fan-friendly and cleaner," DeLorenzo said. "I'm really just trying to get the fans and families back here like they used to be years ago."
DeLorenzo said he's been racing at Fonda Speedway since 1999, and won the 2007 modified track championship in Fonda. He said through all those years he's seen the numbers in fans decrease and that's what sparked his interest in revitalizing the track.
"As a racer, we put a lot of money into our race cars and we get sponsors that sponsor our cars," he said. "When we come to a track that's kind of rundown and there aren't any fans in the grandstands, it's hard to get sponsors and it's just disappointing in general. After seeing the fans decrease [in Fonda,] I really want to get this place cleaned up so that the racers can get sponsors at [Fonda Speedway] and families can have affordable fun on Saturday nights."
DeLorenzo Motorsports, which is DeLorenzo's speedway management company, is funding all of the renovations being done to the track. DeLorenzo said the cost of the project totals $250,000, which is "more than he anticipated."
"The problem with this project is when you go to re-side a building, for example, you realize that everything is rotted underneath the siding, so you have to take everything apart," DeLorenzo said. "So this has cost a lot more than I anticipated, but it's worth it."
The track's renovations include refurbished grandstands that are newly painted in red, white and blue with color-coded aisles and painted ceilings and stairs; re-sided and built concession stands; new bathrooms that have new sinks and toilets with new flooring; new, wooden VIP buildings; new anouncer's tower with and upgraded sound system and TV's in the grandstands so that people can see NASCAR races simultaneously or instant replays of Fonda Speedway action.
DeLorenzo is also building bathrooms on the in-field which has never been done before.
"The infield bathrooms are for people that want to watch the races from the center of the track," he said.
Richard Kennedy, Montgomery County Fairboard president, said the fairboard is excited about the renovations DeLorenzo has planned.
"There are certain renovations that we knew needed to take place, and [DeLorenzo] knew they needed to take place, because he was a racer [at Fonda Speedway] for many years," Kennedy said. "We're very pleased with the progress he's made so far."
DeLorenzo said he doesn't think the track has ever been renovated since its creation, so it required "a lot of TLC."
He said he's about 75 percent done with the whole project and he's planning on being completely finished by mid-March, in time for the speedway's first race on April 5.
DeLorenzo hopes to bring back old fans who lost interest in the rundown track, as well as new fans.
Both DeLorenzo and Kennedy think the track's renovations could generate some tourism in Montgomery County.
"Because the speedway is right off the thruway, it's very possible that it could bring in a lot of people from all over," DeLorenzo said. "I'm just looking to fill those grandstands again and I'm hoping I get locals and tourists."
"[The fairboard] is very confident that all of the new track renovations could attract a very high caliber racer to the Fonda Speedway," Kennedy said. "The better the racer the bigger the crowds we'll get and the more we'll attract some tourism; it all goes hand-in-hand."