BETHEL, NY – This past Saturday started on a sour note as the speedway’s program was delayed by two hours due to heavy rain showers but the determination of track staff and motivation of racing teams working hard as a team to dry the track, found it being ready to be raced on and all the show was able to be run. Kudos to all race teams that helped in this task.
Open wheel ace Paul Martin recently returned to racing action in the Extreme Kleaner Sportsman class at Bethel and has quickly proved he hasn’t missed a beat. Martin broke out to the early lead over Dan Dulin and Jerry Curry. Curry quickly picked up the runner up position and was in hot pursuit of the Martin machine. As Curry the former champion, chased Martin for the lead other competitors were marching through the field as well. Many eyes were on Rick Mill making his charge from sixth starting position. Mill moved into the top three after an early race tangle between Kyle Redner and Ed Dachenhausen in turn one. On the restart, the top three drivers ran against each in tight nose to tail formation. Those watching found Curry quicker entering the corners but Martin was stronger exiting the corners. Curry made several bids to capture the lead while Mill stayed glued to Curry’s rear bumper waiting on any slip up by either driver. However on this night, Martin and his Mastrocola owned #13 proved to be the winning combination as the driver kept his cool despite the pressure from Curry. Martin picked up his first win of the season with Curry coming home second with Mill crossing the line with third position in the catbird seat.
The Interstate Battery Modified feature racing was much to the fan’s delight as just about every car in the feature was in contention to win the feature. Former track champion, Jim Fugel jumped out to the lead and led the race’s early laps until Mike Dutka capitalized on a restart and was able to make a pass on Fugel for the lead. Dutka who is only making his third start in this class and type of car looked strong on this night and was holding off the challenges of other veteran racers Steve Conklin and Wayne Kirkpatrick. After the halfway point, Kirkpatrick muscled his way past Dutka moving into the lead. Kirkpatrick couldn’t extend his lead by much as Dutka and Conklin stayed tight as they dueled for second position until a tangle between the two in turn 3 on lap 15 relegated both cars to the rear. On the restart, Kirkpatrick had his hands full with two new contenders emerged as Tyler Dachenhausen and John Cote raced closely. Kirkpatrick who has returned to modified racing after a seven year hiatus picked up his first feature win of the season in the Active Motorsports #25 over sophomore Dachenhausen and modified master John Cote.
Legends racing found Riverhead Speedway invader Jim Sylvester taking home the glory in the feature. Sylvester who also won last year’s Legendstock race was able to get by early race leader Sean Verwys on lap 6. Sylvester then had to contend with young lion driver Derek Debbis who was also seeking his first win of the season. At the checkers, Sylvester took home the win despite some heavy late race pressure from Debbis. Current point leader, Mike Policastro came home in third.
Pro Stock action found John Roese jumping out to the early lead but it was short lived as a returning Mac Crawson took the lead on lap 2. Crawson, a veteran driver sped off as he raced through the fog that had emerged on the track. Defending champ, Ed Butler worked into second place and mounted a challenge on Crawson with about five laps to go. On Lap 23, the caution flew as John Roese’s car lost power with heavy smoke. On the final restart, Butler put on a strong charge to overtake the leader but Crawson proved to be too strong as he picked up his first win of the season in the Interstate Batteries pro stocks. Butler took home second with Porter Crawson coming home third.
The Shakelton Auto Parts Street Stock feature had many fans on their feet with excitement as top rivals Brian Bauerfeind and Walt Henry battled it out. In the end, the street stock feature found its fourth new winner in as many weeks in the ultra-competitive field. Dirt late model ace, Ernie Millen jumped out in the early lead with his popular Plymouth Valiant and led the first couple of laps until rookie Eddie Jones Jr got by to take the lead. Jones looked strong on this night as he led the first half of the race, while Bauerfeind and Henry sliced and diced their way through the field coming from the back. Bauerfeind overtook Jones for the lead at the halfway point and began to pull away while Henry moved into second place. On Lap 12, Jones lost the handle in turn 4 and got into the front stretch wall bringing out the caution. On the restart, Henry mounted a charge for the lead on the inside lane of the track. Henry and Bauerfeind ran side by side, with Henry picking up the lead on Lap 16. Going into turn three found the second place running Bauerfeind contacting the leader Henry causing a tangle and the caution to be thrown for the two leaders. Henry was relegated back to the rear of the field while Bauerfeind was forced pitside giving the lead to veteran campaigner Bill Deak Sr. He then held off his son to take home his first career win at Bethel in his Deak Electric #98. Henry rallied to come home third across the line. The win by Deak Sr was also a unique accomplishment as the driver now has street stock feature wins at four different tracks in the region.
Four Cylinder Pure Stocks presented the fans again with another barnburner in their class. The Houghtaling brothers, Dan and Cody waged a brotherly battle in the second half of the race. The brothers passed the lead back and forth several times with D. Houghtaling just nosing ahead by a fender at the checkers to take home his first win of the season over C. Houghtaling and Richard Smith. The win by D. Houghtaling was the fourth different winner in as many weeks for the very competitive class.
Bandolero action found rookie Justin Aungst jumping out to the early lead. On lap 3, Katie Verwys passed Ju. Aungst and began pulling away from the rest of the pack. On lap 11, the caution flew for a spin which put defending champ, Mike Roth right behind Verwys on the restart. On the restart, Verwys was able to beat Roth and maintained her lead but the yellow came again the following lap. This restart worked in Roth’s advantage as Verwys left just enough space to allow Roth to make an inside pass going into turn one. Roth made the pass but a strong running Joey Aungst also moved into second as well chasing the leader. The race’s final laps found Roth and Jo. Aungst battling for the lead but Roth proved to be cool under pressure and took home his fourth victory of the season over Joey Aungst and Verwys.
The Beginner Bandolero class also found another first time winner for the fourth time this year as young Kaden Rogers was able to pick it up a notch and improve from several second place finishes this season. Rogers took home the win over a strong running Colton Geary. Ty Smith came home in third position.
The final race of the evening was the fan favorite Enduro. The enduro found a surprise winner in Nicole Nelson. Nelson who normally doesn’t compete in enduro action was able to endure the challenges of experienced enduro guru Mike Travis. The steady Nelson never slipped up and took home her first career win at Bethel over Travis and Dan Houghtaling.
After the racing, the night ended on a very sad note as news spread of the passing of long time Bethel Motor Speedway supporter Gary O’Donnell had passed away after an extended health issue. ‘Gary O’ had been a staple of the speedway since the 1970’s and picked up two track championships at the speedway. In recent years, he has proudly helped younger brother Larry O’Donnell pick up a championship along with several feature wins mainly in the Pro Stock class. We mourn the loss of Gary O’Donnell as he will be sorely missed. We send heartfelt sympathy to all his family and friends during this difficult time. The speedway will not be the same without him. Fly high ‘Gary O’. Rest in Peace.
Sportsman Feature (Unofficial) : 1. Paul Martin, Beech Lake, PA 2. Jerry Curry 3. Rick Mill 4. Kyle Redner 5. Ed Dachenhausen 6. Dan Dulin 7. Rich Coons 8. Chris Cook
Modified Feature: 1. Wayne Kirkpatrick, Washingtonville, NY 2. Tyler Dachenhausen 3. John Cote 4. Mike Dutka 5. Steve Galgano 6. Scott Quick 7. Stephen Kammer 8. Steve Conklin 9. Jim Fugel
Legends Feature: 1. Jim Sylvester, Massapequa, NY 2. Derek Debbis 3. Mike Policastro 4. Jeffrey Lefcourt 5. Sean Verwys 6. Eugene Drew 7. Conner Piasecki
Pro Stock Feature: 1. Mac Crawson, Long Eddy, NY 2. Ed Butler 3. Porter Crawson 4. John Roese 5. Gary Gamble
Street Stock Feature : 1. Bill Deak Sr. New Milford, CT 2. Bill Deak Jr. 3. Walt Henry 4. Patty Falkena 5. Corey Stanton 6. Ernie Millen 7. Frank Maiori 8. Jessica Ricci 9. Brian Bauerfeind 10. Eddie Jones Jr.
Four Cylinder Feature: 1. Dan Houghtaling, Monticello, NY 2. Cody Houghtaling 3. Richard Smith 4. Nicole Nelson 5. Jerry Kingeter 6. Willie Degraw 7. Tabitha Riordan 8. Joe Smith DQ. Cliff Levinson DNS. Marisol Torrens DNS. David Donovan
Bandolero Feature: 1. Mike Roth, North Branch, NY 2. Joey Aungst 3. Katie Verwys 4. Brian Rygielski 5. Justin Aungst
Beginner Bandos: 1. Kaden Rogers, Binghamton, NY 2. Colton Geary 3. Ty Smith 4. Monica Deckelman 5. Leyland Oefelein 6. Jordan Smith
Enduro: 1. Nicole Nelson, Woodbourne, NY 2. Mike Travis 3. Dan Houghtaling 4. Jerry Kingeter 5. Richard Smith 6. Willie Degraw 7. Derrick Maher 8. Joe Smith