Story By: TOM SKIBINSKI / LAND OF LEGENDS RACEWAY – CANANDAIGUA, NY – Sun-filled skies and temperatures in the high-60’s greeted racers and fans Saturday afternoon as Land of Legends Raceway unlocked its gates for a 56th season of motorsports activity at the historic half-mile clay oval.
Second-year track promoter Paul Cole and his staff welcomed back nearly 40 teams and a couple hundred eager fans, with the Ontario County Fairgrounds speedway gearing up for its 42nd year of DIRTcar racing in 2019.
“Last year we worked our way from the ground up and this season we’re able to fine-tune and build on the solid foundation that we now have in place,” noted Cole, as he continued in preparation for next weekend’s long-awaited Land of Legends lid-lifter. “We have the back stretch pits finished and added a new set of scales. We’re looking forward to keeping the show fresh from week to week and offering another entertaining summer for everyone that comes out in support.”
Providing their own support throughout the season, General Manager Greg Emerson and Race Director Greg Hixson return as Cole’s right hand men while Jim Hixson, Wally Ingraham, Rob Noaker and Bill Twist remain teammates handling technical issues pitside. Veteran officials Tom Curtis and Mike Scoppo will share pit steward duties once the regular season gets underway.
Scott Hixson is again in control of the race action as he serves as head flagger for a sixth season at the popular wine country speedplant.
Steve Ovens joins Wendy Emerson as the weekly voices of LOLR in ’19 with the familiar duo of Doug Elkins and Shane Andrews slated to make guest appearances behind the microphone during the season. Also filling the tower on raceday, the talented trio of Sheila Darcy, Gary and Donna Spaid return to anchor the electronic scoring system as FLX Media Group founders Matt Thomas and Art Rorick, along with chief camera operators Mike Lawler and Bob Miller, coordinate ‘live’ internet streaming and the track video production program.
While last season’s speedway resurgence included the addition of a brand-new multi-purpose scoreboard and scoring loop, installation of advanced LED track lighting, mobile ‘jumbotron’ video display on the frontstretch and incorporation of fiber optics and wi-fi capabilities throughout the property, arrangements for new aluminum grandstand seating are being made as Cole and the Ontario Co. Fairboard work toward obtaining a grant from New York State in order to further upgrade the facility.
Saturday’s trackside activity went green just after 1 o’clock and for the next three hours a combined total of 37 Pepsi Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, 360 Sprint, and Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock entries navigated the speedway.
The MEM 305 mount of 2018 Sportsman campaigner Trevor Years was the first car under the flagstand followed by the winged machines of reigning division points king Darryl Ruggles and his daughter Alysha Bay, along with weekly rivals Brandyn Griffin, Dan Bennett and Johnny Kolosek, plus newcomers Kevin Carlson and female flash Jordan Noody. Ruggles also logged laps in his neon yellow 360-powered ride as did Steve Glover, Paul Habeck, Pete Richardson and Jonathan Preston.
Ron ‘Bundy’ Metcalf led the full-fender fleet of Jason Quigley and Jordan Moden, along with first-year Street Stock pilots Chris Beyea and William Bradley Jr. Still recovering from a paralyzing demolition derby incident suffered during last July’s county fair, Canandaigua’s Bradley, 27 yrs., turned his dream into reality following his first-ever laps taken around his hometown track.
A baker’s dozen Sportsman wheelmen signed in on Saturday including top returnees Nick Guererri, Kane Bristol, Anthony Kimble, Jeff Davoli, Benny Karlsen and Jeff Lawrence. New Legends graduate Timmy Borden, Dwight Nichols, Keith Stevenson, Wesley Hayes, Cam Tuttle, Zack Sam and Bubby Pawlack filled out the field of 13 registered for the first informal pre-season test session.
LOLR Big-Block regulars Gil Tegg Jr. and Lance Dusett led a half-dozen Modified cars to their first green flag of the season, followed in order by Small-Block chauffeurs Greg Martin, Nick Joy, Brad Godshalk and Scott Kerwin aboard his self-owned ride that Canadian upstart Mat Williamson will pilot on Fridays closer to home out west at Ransomville Speedway. Dusett was the lone casualty of the day as the red #77 Batzel’s Automotive entry loaded up after sustaining a blown engine.
A second practice day is slated for Wed., April 17 with all gates opening at 4 p.m. and track time reserved 5-8 p.m. Grandstand general admission is free to fans once again and the pit fee remains $20 for this final tune-up.
The official DIRTcar season-opener is set for Sat., Apr. 20 with the ‘Cabin Fever 40’ for Sportsman (show up points only) headlining the weekend show. The first Saturday Spectacular includes a lead-off 35-lap feature for Big-Block Modifieds along with qualifying and main events for winged Sprints and full-fender Street Stocks.
Grandstand gates unlock at 5 p.m. and the first qualifying heat is scored at 7 o’clock. Racers are allowed in the pits at 4:30 with warm-ups slated for 6 p.m. following a brief driver’s meeting conducted at 5:45.
The adult grandstand ticket price is $15 for all ‘Saturday Spectaculars,’ $13 for Seniors (65 yrs. plus) while 16 and under are FREE with a paid adult. Reserved Grandstand seating for a weekly show is $17 and $2 for all children 16 and under. Seniors 65+ are $15. The pit fee is $30.
Be sure to log into www.landoflegendsraceway.com often as further schedule information for the upcoming season will be posted right up to raceday. To discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2019, please contact LOLR GM Greg Emerson via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advance sale tickets are always available for purchase online by logging into www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com, hitting the red “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, then making a selection from the list of date(s)/event(s) provided.
Season passes are available by calling GM Greg at 585-624-1509; General Admission with reserved seat $275.00, Pit Pass $550.00 (*not valid for September shows).
DIRTcar Opening Day Feature Winners
Year Modified, Sportsman, Stock Car, 305 Sprint
2018 Matt Sheppard, Matt Guererri, Adam DePuy(sts), David Ferguson
2017 Steve Paine, Matt Guererri, Bob Buono(sts), Lee Sanders
2016 Matt Sheppard, Ricky Newton, Ryan Shanahan(sts), David Ferguson
2015 Gary Tomkins, Dave Marcuccilli, Adam DePuy(sts), Darryl Ruggles
2014 Gary Tomkins, Kevin Ridley, Pete Stefanski(sts), Nick Cooper
2013 Alan Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, Mike Welch(sts), Charlie Donk
2012 Danny Johnson, Dan Wiesner, Russ Marsden(sts), David Ferguson
2011 Matt Sheppard, Tim Sears Jr., Mike Welch(sts)
2010 Matt Sheppard, Eric Giguere, Andy Fisk(sts)
2009 Matt Sheppard, Dan Wiesner, Mike Welch(sts)
2008 Billy Decker, Eric Giguere, Adam DePuy(sts)
2007 Justin Haers, Todd Henderson, Andy Fisk(sts)
2006 Steve Paine, Todd Henderson, Blane Smith(sts)
2005 Vic Coffey, Paul Guererri, Jipp Ortiz(pro)
2004 Vic Coffey, Paul Guererri, Frank Guererri Jr.(pro)
2003 Steve Paine, Kevin Wills, Jipp Ortiz(pro)
2002 Alan Johnson, Randy Chrysler, Jon Miller(pro)
2001 Chuck Bower, Steve Gray, Jipp Ortiz(pro)
2000 Steve Paine, Lance Dusett, Bobby Lutz(pro)
1999 Danny Johnson, Karl Comfort, Kevin Smith(pro)
1998 Steve Paine, Howie Albrecht, Tom Barron(sts)
1997 Gary Tomkins, Todd Henderson, Les Whyte(sts)
1996 Bob McCreadie, Jeff Hoff, Tom Barron(sts)
1995 Bob McCreadie, Vic Coffey, Les Whyte(sts)
1994 Bob McCreadie, Darryl Ruggles, Phil Tiffany(sts)
1993 Joe Plazek, Mike Button, Steve Pesarek(exp)
1992 Bob McCreadie, Scott Schrader, Steve Pesarek(exp)
1991 Alan Johnson, Mike Button, Dale Cooley(exp)
1990 Joe Plazek, Mike Button, Loren Lincoln(exp)
1989 Steve Paine, Steve Podolak, Dave Johnston(exp)
1988 Danny Johnson, Mike Logsdon, Tim Burnett(exp)
1987 Alan Johnson, Steve Schultz, Kevin Blacken(exp)
1986 Charlie Rudolph, Art Johnson(exp)
1985 Bob McCreadie, Foster Hughes(exp)
1984 Charlie Rudolph, Jim Flint(exp)/Gary Tomkins(exp)
1983 Merv Treichler, Marty Wirth(exp)/Art Johnson(exp)
1982 Alan Johnson, Rick Nogaj(exp)/Charlie Donk(exp)
1981 Alan Johnson, Phil Dinzler(exp)
1980 Alan Johnson, Jack Goebel(exp)
1979 Will Cagle, Steve Baylor(nv)/Scott Kesel(nv)
1978 Alan Johnson, Fred Siebert(rk)
1977 Will Cagle, Frank Fiermonte(ama)
*sts=street stock, pro=pro stock, ama=amateur street stock,
exp=expert amateur sts, nv=novice amateur sts, rk=rookie amateur sts
Land of Legends Raceway is located on County Road 10 at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, just 1-1/2-miles north of Routes 5&20, and is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway (I-90), taking Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) traveling from the east or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) coming from the west.