Fusco fondly remembered as friend of racing

The racing community lost a true icon and friend Thursday.

Whether you knew him as a journalist, lawyer or judge, once you met Andy Fusco, you knew him as a friend.

Fusco died Thursday at his residence in Auburn at the age of 62.

The former Johnstown resident always had the racing bug. While working here at The Leader-Herald as a reporter, he convinced longtime sports editor Jigger Thompson to allow him to cover the local race scene at Fonda Speedway and publish a weekly column – The Fourth Turn.

One column he wrote sticks out in my memory: the one he wrote after slipping into the seat of a big-block modified and turning laps at Fonda Speedway.

One Saturday night, Lew Boyd hauled his No. 181 coach to the track but picked up the ride in the Bernie’s Liquor Store No. 71. Boyd’s car sat there and Fusco semi-joked with him about letting him take it out for some laps.

Boyd cleared it with his car owner and Fusco took to the track.

The young journalist was quick on the straights, but just drove it through the turns. He didn’t wreck and fulfilled a dream.

Of course, that was not the only time he raced.

He also drove the famed Budka No. 64 Camaro to victory in a media race (that must have been fun) at Albany-Saratoga Speedway a few years later.

Fusco wrapped up his career at The Leader-Herald as a reporter about a year after I started mine in the composing room at the paper.

He went from covering the court room to earning his law degree en route to serving on the bench in Auburn.

However, he stayed in touch with his roots by serving as a writer and editor for Stock Car Racing Magazine and with the popular TV show This Week on DIRT among his many ventures in the sport, including serving as the lawyer for DIRT.

He even tried his hand at promoting the sport, joining with longtime friend and racing legend Dave Lape to form LAPCO and sponsor special events at various speedways.

Fusco also was involved locally as a member of the selection team for the inaugural class for the Fulton County Sports Hall of Fame, making sure that racers from the area were represented.

When I started covering races and writing a weekly column for The Leader-Herald in 1994, I ran into Fusco one Saturday night in the old infield pits.

We traded stories about the place, laughed a little and moved on.

After that, whenever we had the opportunity to talk whether at Fonda, Super DIRT Week or on the street – he always greeted me as a friend and took the time to have a conversation.

I said it to him before and I will say it again; thank you for helping pave (or maybe dirt tracked would be more appropriate) for a lot of writers, fans and racers to enjoy the sport of auto racing by just being himself, a racer at heart.