Racing Around: Deyo busy getting set for season
With an open practice session just over a week away and opening night set for April 20, there has been a flurry of activity lately at Fonda Speedway.
New speedway promoter Brett Deyo and his staff have been at the Track of Champions cleaning, fixing and preparing the Track of Champions for the 2019 season.
“I like to be hands on,” Deyo said. “We have been painting and did all the floors in the concessions so they are clean for the new equipment. Chuck Tibbetts was here and fixed a lot of the structural stuff going up into the grandstands. I am going to be here a lot, especially in the beginning. We opened at Georgetown [March 16-17] and we don’t race there again until April 18. So right on through practice day I am going to be here.”
Deyo, who also runs Georgetown Speedway in Delaware and the highly-successful Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled by Sunoco, signed a three-year deal with the Fonda Fair Board to run the speedway, taking over from Pete and Matt Demitraszek at the end of the 2018 racing season.
“It is a big facility and there wasn’t much left for us. We had to start over with concession equipment, track equipment, the pump for the river it is just a matter of getting everything back together,” Deyo said. “Mike Parillo has been a big help. He had a lot of stuff available and we got a good deal on a grader from the town of Canajoharie.
“Concession stuff is all brand new and every concession will be outfitted so when we want to for big shows, all four concessions can be open. We are trying to brighten things up with the lights. We are working on some portables for the first few weeks to try to brighten things up. The track surface has come out great. It has been graded twice and rock-screened once. We are planning on doing another rock screening and at least two more grades before we get to the practice day.”
The new promoter said he has received a lot of positive feedback from racers, fans and the community.
“It is different and when you do something different you never know,” Deyo said. “We have picked up some different names. Willie Decker coming regularly, Danny Varin is coming back to race on Saturday nights and Allison Ricci. David Schilling is moving up to the modifieds, David Constantino is moving into the modifieds. So we are boosting things up. We have not had anybody say the definitely weren’t going to come back. There had been some question about [Tim] Fuller but I talked to him this week and he said ‘don’t give my parking spot away; I’ll see you on opening day.’ So I don’t think really lost anything per se. I think we gained some names which is a good, I think.”
After the open practice on April 13, the Track of Champions will kick off the season with a full race card including a $4,000-to-win feature for the Sunoco modifieds, thanks to Eric Orozco Racing, there will be a $1,000-to-win 602 sportsman race, along with a Pro-Stock Best of 8 Series, feature, Montgomery County Office for Aging Limited Sportsman main and the Trackside Body Works Street Stocks.
That is another change fans and racers will see this season is sponsorship and increased purses for all divisions as well at the switch from Hoosiers to American Racer as the official track tire and the change to Sunoco as the official fuel at the track.
Change is often not well received by fans and racers, but Deyo believes that the changes will have a positive impact.
“Once they see the benefits of the American Racer Cup and the purse increases, too,” he said. “The Pro Stocks were the class I really put some effort in because we are the only track, other than Glen Ridge, that put American Racers on the Pro Stocks. We put together the Best of Eight with eight races that are $800 to win. Then we have three races that are $1,000 and then the Hondo and this is definitely the richest Pro Stock track in the East. That makes it easier to make the change. American Racer does a lot for the racers with tire giveaways and other things. I think once we get going they are going to be excited about what they get.”
Looking forward to opening night, Deyo said he is expecting a solid turnout of race teams in the pits and fans in the stands.
“The momentum is going to be strong because there is no Orange County that night,” he said. “I know Anthony Perrego has been talking about it, Jimmy Horton, Jerry Higbie and some of those drivers because it is a $4,000-to-win draw race and because they are not racing that night. That will help the field. Admission will be $11. I want to try to open with a bang. The racers have already seen their benefits. Their purses all went up, but I want to make sure the fans are not forgotten about. That is why we decided to make the opening race $4,000-to-win and keep the admission price the same as more of a reward for the fans so they can see some invaders they normally would not see.”
With a full slate of racing in front of him, including the season-ending $53,000-to-win Fonda 200 for big block modifieds on Sept. 28, Deyo commented on what he would consider a successful first season.
“I hate drama and all that stuff. If we can get through with the races going off as they should and getting done early, I will be happy,” he said. “I don’t expect Brett Deyo to be taking a paycheck out of here for probably three years because we had to buy so much. As long as I can pay the bills and pay our people. Jamie and Denise Page are going to be here during the week to manage to track. We want to do clay, which we might sneak in during the year, not a whole bunch but enough to help. If I can pay for all that stuff and what we have put in here, I will be a happy camper. I am not personally looking to take anything out of here. I just want to get it righted. It needs some help, just like Georgetown did when we got it. I will not knock Pete because he also had his business and a lot of things going on but this is my life and my business so we can be here at noon on a Wednesday if necessary to do stuff.”
Deyo continued, saying, “It is definitely not a get-rich quick project here, I can tell you that. But I think we can do well. The enthusiasm around the area as far as getting sponsors, selling billboards and talking to people has been really good. People want to see Fonda go because of the history. We are the caretakers now and so we have to kind of push it along.”
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park is slated to conduct an open practice session, weather permitting, on April 28 with opening night slated for May 5.
At the annual car show at the Via Port Rotterdam Mall in March, it was announced that the Jake Spraker-owned No. 1J driven by Rocky Warner would be stepping back from the modified division to run a full 602 Sportsman schedule.
It was announced that the team will now stay in the modified division at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday nights and Fonda Speedway on Saturday’s before splitting time running the 602 sportsman class at Devil’s Bowl and Glen Ridge on Sundays.