Racing Around: Shaffer savoring first win
You’ll have to excuse “Happy” Harry Shaffer if he shed a few tears Saturday night at Fonda Speedway.
After 30 years of competition, the veteran sportsman driver fulfilled a promise to his father and parked his ride in Victory Lane for the first time in his career at the Track of Champions.
“People kept asking, ‘You haven’t won here before?'” Shaffer said. “I have won heat races and had top fives in the modifieds and a few seconds but I could not get that win. I would lead 23 or 24 laps of a 25 laps feature and lose it. That was just how it worked for me.”
Saturday night, the 48-year-old driver got to the front early, got passed by David Constantino late in the race, but then got the break he needed.
“He got by me and I was trying my hardest. I was like ‘Are you kidding me, this is the best this car has ever gone and we still got passed,” Shaffer said. “I was so mad and then I saw the caution come out and I didn’t know what it was for until I came into three and saw him slowing and getting squirrely, then stopping. I thought, oh my God, the caution is for Dave and then going down the frontstretch, it hit me that I was the leader again. I was thanking my dad saying ‘Dad, I don’t know what you did, but we are going to get this thing because nobody was getting by me in the last five laps.'”
Chad Edwards pulled into second and immediately put pressure on Shaffer but could not find a path to the front before the checkers dropped.
“I was pushing it for everything I had,” Shaffer said. “I couldn’t tell it was him but I felt somebody get under me down in turns one and two a couple of times and I am thinking crap, somebody is right there. I couldn’t tell where they were so I was trying to use as much of the track as I could. I was a little high in three and four and low in turns one and two. I was trying to make it as hard as possible for anybody to pass me. “
Drivers have said that coming off turn four on the last lap and heading for the checkers for their first win they have heard every noise imaginable. But Shaffer was in the zone.
“I heard nothing. I had tunnel vision coming out of four. I didn’t even realize I had won until I got down into one and two,” he said. “All I could think was that somebody was on the outside or inside of me and I was going to lose it by a thousandth of a second and I was going to finish second. Then they said 1H to the scale and I yelled, ‘I won it, I won it! I let up and when I was driving down the back stretch said, ‘Dad, I finally did it. Wish you were here.’ All the way through the pits people were coming out, giving me high fives and the thumbs up, It was awesome.”
For the 2015 Sportsman division Most Popular Driver, trip to Victory Lane at Fonda has been a long, bumpy road on which he has seen good times and bad but kept moving forward.
“There were years where I didn’t race the full year,” he said. “If I blew a motor, it sometimes took me the rest of the year to rebuild it, but we did. I missed a year when I broke my back, so it has been on and off. But I have been in it a long time.”
Saturday night, he also carried what seems to be a good luck charm for first-time winners this year at Fonda.
“The tire I had on the car Saturday night was the tire that Justin Boehler won his 50-lap feature with on opening night,” Shaffer said. “It now has two feature wins on that tire. He gave us the tire because we get used tires from him and that is what we run on. It sat in our garage since that race and Saturday afternoon Mike [Jackson] said let’s mount that up on a wheel, so we can use it. It is still in decent shape, we can use that tonight in the feature.”
Shaffer has had a change of plans since he started racing at Fonda. If he stuck to his original plan, he would be changing his number from the 1H to No. 48.
“I used the number 20 when I started racing sportsman. I did that 20 because I was almost 20 that year and I liked that number,” he said. “The deal was that whatever age I was the year I won my first race was what I was going to change my number to. Then it was like all right, we are never going to win a race so I switched to the 1H because that was the number I always wanted to race with.”
Shaffer also thanked all the friends, family, fans and sponsors he has had over the years including longtime friend Russell Warner and the Winner’s Circle, which has been a sponsor on his car since 1995.
“[The victory] just took all they weight off my shoulders now. It is what we have been waiting for,” he said. “I wish I could have done it when dad was here, but this one was for him.”
Saturday night, Stewart Friesen and Tim Fuller were disqualified in post-race tech for coming up light on the scales at Fonda Speedway, giving Josh Hohenforst his second modified feature win of the season.
The accuracy of the scales came into question during the process leading to track management getting the scales recertified Monday.
A press release was sent out announcing the results Wednesday.
“On Saturday night June 10, 2017, we at Fonda Speedway had a malfunction of our track scale. The scale seemed to have operated correctly early in the evening but started to malfunction as the night went on.
“We have come to learn the scale was run over and vandalized on Friday night by people attending another function on the fairgrounds. We feel it in the best interest to everyone to award both Stewart Friesen and Tim Fuller the full point value of their respected finishing positions. Stewart Friesen will also be credited with a win along with Josh Hohenforst. While track scale weight is always the norm we feel due to the weight changes we should have noticed the issue sooner. We hope to have the scale repaired later today and it should be ready for this week’s racing action.”
Saturday night’s program at Fonda Speedway this week will include the second meet-and-greet of the season on the front straightaway after warm-ups and the 4-cylinders have also been added to the Parillo Services Night program.
There will be an informational meeting for drivers and/or car owners competing at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park at 6 p.m. tonight at 100 Church St. in Amsterdam.
Drivers and/or car owners are encouraged to attend for weekly divisions. Also any division that wants to be included in the discussion for scheduling and/or the possibility of being added weekly may attend.
The Ridge will open Sunday under new management for an open practice.
Gates are scheduled to open at 4 p.m. and practice at 6 p.m.
Grandstand admission will be free and pits are $15.
Anyone who brings something to donate to the Montgomery County SPCA (dog food, cat food, etc.) will get into the pits for just $10.