Column By: RON SZCZERBA / RPW – WEST RUPERT, VT – There has been a lot said in the past and present of the distance that drivers like Darwin Greene travel to come to the Fonda Speedway in Fonda, NY every week to race. There are others who travel long distances to race at the “Track of Champions” as well, many of which fans have no idea about.
One of those drivers is Cassidy Wilson of West Rupert, VT who competes in the pro stock division at Fonda each and every week. If you Google West Rupert, VT it is a small town just off the border with New York that had a population of 714 according to the 2010 census.
“We travel 1 ½ hours one way from West Rupert, Vt. every week to Fonda,” Wilson told me recently. “This is where the Patrick’s started racing and we have been here every Saturday. Now with work I am out of town most of the time so it is hard to race on Friday’s or Sunday’s. So Saturday is our day to go out and play and then we have Sunday to get the car ready for the following week.”
Wilson started right out in the street stock division at Fonda and is fifth on the all-time win list in the division with 28 victories to go along with two track championships back in 2009 & 2011. As a kid Wilson used to bomb around the woods on motorcycles and four wheelers but never competed with anything until getting in the street stock.
“My father Tim worked on Jeff Patrick’s cars so we started out with his team,” Wilson said. “When my brother Denver was old enough he started driving a street stock but once he moved away to go to college I got into the car and started racing. My grandfather used to race as well but was out of it by the time I was around.”
Wilson raced in the street stock division until 2012 when he moved up to the pro stock division in a car that was given to him by Jeff Patrick.
“We really struggled with the car and didn’t have much success with it,” Wilson said. “Then I ended up rolling the car on the backstretch at Fonda so we decided to cut our losses and went out and bought another car that week and ran it the rest of the season. At the end of that season we purchased our current car and have been running it for three or four years now.”
The car that Wilson has now was bought from Chris Fain as a roll cage and chassis. They brought it home, ordered all of the parts and pieces necessary to get it together, and finished it themselves.
“We finished up everything including the interior tin work, wiring, hung the body and have been running the car ever since,” Wilson said. “There are some that have their cars sent out to have work done on it but we like to keep costs down as much as possible and do it ourselves. It may not be as pristine and pretty or may not be done as quick but we usually can get it done on our own.”
Wilson described the street stock as a car that there were minimal changes or adjustments to be made to it while the pro stock has so much more adjustability to it and seems like it is a lot more picky about the way it is set up.
“A little difference in the track can either make you or break you,” Wilson said. “So you have to try to keep up with track conditions with how the car is setup. Most weeks we would just leave the street stock on the trailer and go and race it the next week the way that it was but with the pro stock you have the weekly tire prep among other things to do and it is just a whole different ball game.”
“Chris Fain has helped us out a tremendous amount, I can call him on the phone and say the race car is doing this or doing that and he steers us in the right direction with changes that need to be made.”
Wilson says that he enjoys the pro stock division and as of right now has no plans to move up to another division.
“We will see what happens here for a while and hopefully we can get some more wins and stick to something that we are having fun with,” he said. “The race shop is at my dad’s house which is just a stone’s throw away from mine and that is very convenient for us.”
Last year when Fonda was closed down for the annual Fonda Fair, Wilson took his pro stock to Albany Saratoga a couple of times and also got the street stock back out and went to Devils Bowl to race that for a few weeks.
After his first career pro stock victory back on June 2, Wilson had this to say in victory lane “This is awesome,” Wilson said after his first career win in the division at Fonda. “I really can’t believe that we are standing here. I was in victory lane before with my street stock but this is my first time with a pro stock. After losing the lead I just got back into a rhythm and was able to get back by Chuck (Dumblewski) but I didn’t know what was going to happen with all of the late race cautions.”
Wilson’s first career win in the pro stocks was followed the next two weeks by two more drivers who were first time winners as well, Randy Cosselman and Josh Coonradt.
“I guess that I started a trend there,” Wilson said.
Wilson does not pay any attention to points but at the end of last season, he said that they were starting to gain a little bit of confidence and get things figured out with the racecar so they could finish in the top five. So this year that is where he wanted to be, consistently in the top five.
“There are 10 different cars at Fonda that could win every week or be in the top five so the class is very competitive,” he said. “For me to be able to run in the top five consistently there is something to be said for that.”
Sponsorship on the #82 pro stock comes from V & M Excavating, Pikes Tree Service, and C & L Repair while the pit crew on the car consists of Cassidy’s father Tim, Marion, and Hunter.