With new promoters at both Fonda Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, to say the anticipation for the upcoming racing season is high would be an understatement.
Matt DeLorenzo has taken over the promotership at Fonda Speedway, while Mike Sowle is now at the helm at The Ridge.
One of the first things both promoters did in their attempts to revitalize dirt track racing in the area was to rejoin DIRTcar as a sanctioning body for the weekly and special events.
Both had run under the sanctioning body in the past and used the DIRT rules as a guideline during their tenure as independent tracks.
"I wanted to try to get all three tracks [Fonda, Glen Ridge and Albany-Saratoga] on the same rules," DeLorenzo said. "I have been meeting with Lyle DeVore from Albany-Saratoga in the offseason and we are close on our rule packages. We are not exact, but it is nothing that will not make it easy for a guy when Malta rains out to come to Fonda instead on Saturday. Or if the weatherman says it is going to pour on Saturday and the guys really want to race they can go to Malta on Friday or Glen Ridge on Sunday. The big thing is we are all on Hoosier tires and DIRT rules are there covering tech."
When Sowle signed the lease last fall at Glen Ridge he said, "The DIRT banner will cover the modifieds and the pro stocks. We will run the same rules as Malta with the 602s so they don't have to buy new wheels and tires and all that. I am trying to make it as easy as possible."
The three-night racer at Albany-Saratoga on Fridays, Fonda or Lebanon Valley on Saturdays and Utica-Rome Speedway or even Weedsport on Sundays, was not uncommon in the 1970s, 80s or 90s, but the cost to race and maintain quality machines for three tracks grew and drivers often had to choose one or two tracks to concentrate on.
The last couple of years Ronnie Johnson has been racing all three nights (Malta, Fonda and Utica-Rome), but he is making adjustments this season.
"Right now we plan on running Malta and Fonda and are kind of leaving Sundays up in the air," Johnson said. "There are a lot of exciting races out there, but they are not all at the same race track. So we are going to leave Sundays on a pick-and-choose basis and not commit to every Sunday. We will race when we are ready to race or even not race."
There was talk of a two-track series between Malta and Glen Ridge, but Sowle confirmed that deal has fallen by the wayside for the upcoming season.
Fonda Speedway was scheduled to run this weekend, but with the help of Mother Nature, cancelled the season-opening 40-lap Ice Melt. Instead the Track of Champions will open on April 12 with a full regular race card to begin the 2014 points battle.
Glen Ridge is scheduled to open on April 27, and Albany-Saratoga has a test and tune slated for April 13 with free grandstand admission. The track will open for the season April 18.
If the weather cooperates this weekend, Orange County Speedway has its inaugural 50-lap $5,000-to-win Hard Clay Open plus a Dig Safely New York GRIT Series 25-lap, $1,000-to-win 602 Sportsman event on Sunday.
Earlier this week, I met with DeLorenzo and Sowle at Fonda and Glen Ridge to have a first-hand look and talk about the improvements and changes that lie ahead for both tracks this season.
The articles will run in Sunday's Leader-Herald as part of our Area Racing Preview.