By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – With less than a week until move in day, excitement is building for the annual Fonda Speedway car show at the Via Port Rotterdam Mall on Friday through Sunday March 16-18. With what has become a tradition for area racers and fans it also signals that racing at the “Track of Champions” is right around the corner. 2018 will be the 65th consecutive season of racing at the historic Fonda Fairgrounds facility.
A lot of Fonda Speedway teams have already committed to this year’s show as well as teams from other local speedways and go kart tracks. A wide variety of racing equipment as well as the popular “Pit Crew Challenge” draws fans from around the Capitol District and beyond.
Also this year Fonda Speedway is offering a ten dollar discount to any DIRTcar license purchased on Saturday or Sunday during the car show as well as taking preseason orders on VP Racing Fuel. The management of Via Port has also provided a storefront from which teams may sell their race team merchandise.
The car show is followed by two practice/inspection days on Saturday April 7 & 14 with the opening race of the season being the annual “Ice Jam” 50-lap event for the modifieds paying $5500 to win on Saturday, April 21. All divisions will be in competition that day and points will begin for all divisions that day as well as drivers start their quest to a track championship.
In opening day events at Fonda held over the last 64 years, Jack Johnson leads the way with eight opening day victories in 1972, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1991, 1992, and 1994. Following close behind with seven opening day wins is Lou Lazzaro who won events in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1977, and 1978.
Two drivers have taken home five opening day wins as Dave Lape (1981, 1984, 1989, 1993, and 1995) and Pete Corey (1955, 1956, 1959, 1962, and 1967) both accomplished the feat. Jeff Trombley has four opening day victories in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002 while Bobby Varin has three in 2001, 2005, and 2010. Jim Luke (1954, 1957), C.D. Coville (1979, 1980), Danny Johnson (1990, 2007), Pat Ward (1996, 2009), and Stewart Friesen (2015, 2016) all have two wins apiece.
Drivers who have one victory in opening day events at Fonda are Buddy Shuman (1948), Chuck Kotwica (1953), Irv Taylor (1958), Bill Wimble (1960), Tom Kotary (1961), Ken Shoemaker (1965), Don Wayman (1968), Rene Charland (1970), Maynard Forrette (1973), Dave Pelczar (1974), Pep Pepicelli (1975), Jimmy Horton (1985), Bob McCreadie (1986), Mike Romano (1987), Dave Camara (1998), Brett Hearn (2003), Tim McCreadie (2004), Mitch Gibbs (2006), Ronnie Johnson (2011), Mike Mahaney (2012), Matt Sheppard (2014), and Justin Boehler (2017).
CRSA Sprint cars and a Driver Meet & Greet are on the schedule for Saturday, April 28 with the KOD Sportsman Series part of a Mother’s Day racing program on Saturday, May 12. On Saturday, May 26 the ESS Sprint cars join all regular divisions as Memorial Day weekend is celebrated by Fonda management on Military Appreciation Night. NYSSCA Night is on the schedule for Saturday, June 16 which celebrates Father’s Day.
An event that has a unique format with a big payout will take place on Saturday, June 30 with the running of the “Bill Ag” Elimination race with the CRSA Sprint cars on the schedule for the second time in 2018. The Independence Day holiday will be celebrated at Fonda this year on Saturday, July 7 with a 50-lap modified feature event along with Fireworks and Banner Night.
Kiddie Rides and the second Drivers Meet & Greet will be held on Saturday, July 14 and Saturday, July 21 respectively with the event on the 21st honoring EMS and Fireman Appreciation Night followed by Hall of Fame Induction Night on Saturday, July 28.
The first of two mid-week shows in 2018 will be held on Wednesday, August 1 with the running of “The Jack” 100-lap Super DIRTcar Series event along with the Hondo Classic for the pro stocks and a Street Stock Challenge. The winner of the 4th Annual Jack Johnson Tribute event known as “The Jack” will be guaranteed the 12th starting position in the NAPS Auto Parts Super DIRT Week finale this October at the Oswego Speedway.
The KOD Pro Stock Series will race at the “Track of Champions” on Saturday, August 4 followed by the second mid-week event of the season on Wednesday, August 15 when the “Grand Daddy” 602 World Championship taking place along with the 358-modifieds. The “Grand Daddy” is a special tribute event honoring the late Don Warner.
The “Night of Features” on Saturday, August 18 will close the 2018 points chase with champions in all divisions being crowned that night.
After a break for the annual Fonda Fair the “Track of Champions” races back into action with an event on Saturday, September 15 followed by the annual “Thunder Along the Mohawk Weekend” on Friday and Saturday September 21 & 22 featuring a 100-lap Modified Super DIRTcar Series event along with DIRTcar events in the 358-Modified, Sportsman, and Pro Stock divisions. A $500 to win Street Stock main event is also on the weekend schedule along with a 25-lap Kramer Williamson Memorial race for Sprint cars.
Usually the “Thunder Along the Mohawk Weekend” concludes the racing season at the Fonda Speedway but not in 2018! The season continues with a Big Block/Small Block Modified Challenge, Run Whatcha Brung event on Saturday, September 29 followed by a Fall Swap Meet/Craft & Vendor Fair on Saturday, November 10 which will close out the 2018 season.
For a printable version of the 2018 Fonda Speedway schedule and further announcements regarding the 2018 racing season at the “Track of Champions” you can go to their website www.newfondaspeedway.com