Racing Around: Hondo Classic slated for Saturday at Fonda Speedway
In a season of tribute races to some of the greats who made Fonda Speedway the Track of Champions, one tribute race is marking its 11th anniversary.
Saturday night, the pro stock division will pay tribute to one of its most popular drivers with the 11th running of the 29-lap Hondo Classic a tribute to Hondo Carpenter who lost his life on July 4, 2005, in an ATV accident.
The event draws some of the top pro stock drivers to the track every year to honor Carpenter who is personified by his friends and fellow competitors as a great man and a greater friend.
“After doing this for 10 years we were wondering if it should continue,” event organizer Kelley Keefe said. “We put a survey out on Facebook and the drivers were all for it. We have had more drivers come forward and help sponsor it with money and prizes. That is what really keeps it going. Should we not support this division? What is it time for? We never had a time limit on it we just always had the idea that as long as there is support, we will keep doing it.”
The event is under the guidance of the Friends of Hondo Memorial Society, the annual event has prospered despite being bounced to different dates as a featured event during a midweek show or the season-ending weekend, both primetime dates.
But, the weekend after July 4th is the place it belongs.
“The first race was the week after Hondo died and they heavens opened up on the last lap of the event when we brought his car out on the track for the last lap,” Keefe said. “As far as the way we look at it, everybody who knew Hondo is a member of the Friends of Hondo Memorial Society. I am not at the race track every week, so Bob [Bob James of Bobco Video] is the boots on the ground at the track.”
Unlike many memorial events, everybody goes away from the Hondo Classic with something.
“That is our whole idea. We want everybody to go home with something,” Keefe said. “Even if you don’t qualify we want you to know how much we appreciate you being here. We are going to have a special T-shirt folding and goodie-bag stuffing party at my house Friday night.”
This year each participant will receive a gift bag filled with a complimentary 11th Annual Hondo Classic shirt and a commemorative poker chip produced Stitched Creations and a Hondo Classic can coozie produced by Final Reward Trophy among other items. Trophies for the top-five finishers are sponsored by Kelly’s Pharmacy in Greenville and Coxsackie and are made by Final Reward Trophy.
“Where else do you go where they give trophies to the top five?” Keefe said. “Aaron [Aaron Miller of Final Reward Trophy] has been so good to us. Marty Kelly of Kelly’s Pharmacy has jumped right up. They are in Greenville. The first year he gave us first aid kits to put in the goodie bags. Then it was something else. Then he came on board to sponsor the trophies. It is people like that make this easy.”
At the end of the night, the drivers are presented envelopes filled with the contingency awards they earned during the race.
“I hand score the race because we have bonuses for different spots on different laps,” Keefe said. “I do that because the drivers want their money so they can leave. It is a labor of love and it does get a little crazy. The drivers get an envelope with the name of the sponsor who gave the money that is in the envelope and all I ask is that they take the time to say thank you to the sponsor of that lap when they see them. It means a lot to the people who help out. There are people who donate now that were kids when Hondo was racing and he was one of their favorites. He just took the time to talk with them when they came in the pits. They remembered that and have sponsored a lap or added something.”
Keefe announced that Fonda and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park promoter Pete Demitraszek has put up a $500 bonus for the event with the winner getting $100 before drawing four more spots to receive a $100 bonus.
Saturday’s event will be part of a tribute night at Fonda Speedway honoring 1968 champion Jerry Cook.
The racing program on Saturday will be sponsored by School House Pools with all divisions in action starting at 7:30 p.m. The Fonda Speedway Museum will be open from 3 p.m. up until race time with display’s and memorabilia honoring Cook.
After recording a DNF in the 61-lap C.D. Coville tribute race last Saturday at Fonda Speedway, Stewart Friesen has recovered big time.
Tuesday Friesen took home a $5,400 top prize from the Battle of the Bullring on the quarter-mile Accord Speedway.
He backed it up by edging Billy Decker by .088-seconds Wednesday night in the 100 lap. $10,000-to-win in Brett Hearn’s Big Show 8 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Matt Sheppard was third with Marc Johnson and Vic Coffey rounding out the top five.
Bobby Varin recovered from a lap-20 accident to finish 12th in the Palmer Service number 76, while Ronnie Johnson, who posted the fastest qualifying time of 16.052 in the Jake Spraker-owned 1RJ, placed 13th.
Jessey Mueller placed 18th with Bodie Bellinger 20th, Danny Johnson 28th and Matt DeLorenzo finished 29th.
Race host Brett Hearn finished 25th.