Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – ALBANY, NY – With the snow pretty much gone and the temperatures starting to warm up, that can only mean one this for us racing fanatics in the Capital Region – local racing is set to take the green. When it does the area will still be rich in competition with the four core tracks plus a track a stone throws away from the eastern side of the region.
The 2019 season will also see me return to writing occasional columns here at Race Pro Weekly. My “Behind the Mic,” columns will not focus on one thing or track, it will be about pretty much anything I come across in my announcing travels or hear about through the grapevine.
With this weekend being the start of the 2019 season here in the hotbed known as the Capital Region and having read so much negativity from this side, that side and sides that never seen either of the sides, I thought it would be wise for everyone to sit back and look at some of the positives that have come to light since the final checkered flag waved last fall.
No one can deny that the biggest news-maker of the 2018/2019 winter months was the Fonda Speedway. With a much-needed regime change taking place, there is a new light at the end of the straightaway. With Brett Deyo and crew taking over the reigns to the oldest track still operating in New York State, it now shows signs of a bright future.
The season opener is scheduled for this weekend and with it, brings a six-month schedule full of special and potentially epic events. Leading the way is the return of the Fonda 200. It will always be the Mohawk Valley 200 to me, regardless of what the name is, the 100-mile marathon is a welcomed site in 2019. The $53,000 payday to the much deserving winner is astonishing and will only raise the stakes come September 28th.
There are many other great events planned in 2019 including the $10,000 to win Firecracker 50 on July 3rd which will be broadcast on MAVTV. While this will not be the first time that racing action from the Fonda Speedway will be broadcast on a station such as MAVTV, it will be the most publicized leading into it.
About a minute as the crow flies southwest of the Track of Champions sits the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. The little track on the hill is still going as it approaches its 20th anniversary. Once again the Sportsman Modifieds will be the headliners with numerous divisions making laps at the track throughout the season.
This includes the Dirt Modifieds who will make several appearances, including the return of the very popular 50 lap Vengeance event on July 6th. In all the Dirt Modifieds will make nine appearances at the Fastest Quarter Mile on Dirt, with two of them offering double features.
The schedule will also see numerous Sprint Car events take to the track. The CRSA Sprint Car series will have two events, just like at Fonda. The USAC East Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will also be on hand in 2019. Their event is scheduled for June 30th and the newly formed WRA – Wingless Racers Alliance will make two stops in 2019. The NY6A 600 CC Micro Sprint Series will also make their first ever appearance this far east in August.
The Albany-Saratoga Speedway was set to roar into action this weekend however Mother Nature has had other ideas. Lyle DeVore’s Great Race Place will instead kick things off on Tuesday April 23rd with a 54 lap, $5,400 to win DIRTcar Modified event. Brett Hearn’s, The Big Show 11 returns to the four-tenths of a mile oval on Tuesday night June 25th. This year it will pay $11, 111 to win the winner. It will be a part of the Super DIRTcar Modified Series.
The season will conclude on the weekend of September 20th and 21st. The return of the season ending weekend to Albany-Saratoga will see the Small Block Modifieds take center stage on Friday night in the annual Tom Clothier Trucking Suicide Prevention Awareness event and then conclude with the return of the Super DIRTcar Series for DIRTcar Modifieds on Saturday night.
In between the big season opener and finale, numerous specials dot the schedule for the support divisions. The Sportsman division will compete in the Shootout Series, where the events pay $1,000 to win each. On Friday July 12th the Sportsman division will once again compete in the 5th Annual Mark Hughes Remembrance Race. The Pro Stock division will compete in the $5,000 to win Fall Pro Stock Classic on September 6th.
The Lebanon Valley Speedway opens their season this weekend with the first of their $5,000 to win events for the DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds. The headliners will compete for $5,000 to win on June 8th in t he 7th Annual J.C. Flach Memorial event, July 13th in the King of the Track event and on August 10th.
Of course, the biggest event hitting the high banks this year will be the Mr. DIRT Track USA event on August 31st. The stars and cars of the Super DIRTcar Series will come to town for the huge payday.
The 2019 schedule is dotted with other specials including the Artic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions, Monster Jam, Even of Destruction and the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series. The Sportsman division will take part in the 8th Annual Andrew Sherman Sportsman Memorial event on May 18th. The Pro Stock division will compete in the 14th Annual Bubba Tanner Pro Stock Classic on June 15th and the Old Buzzard 30 event on August 3rd.
Head back to Malta and then go a bit farther north and east and you will land in Fair Haven, Vermont home to the Devils Bowl Speedway. The Bowl is set to have a star-studded season with their headliners the Sportsman Modifieds. Numerous specials dot the schedule including the Vermont 200 Weekend on August 31st and September 1st which includes the Sportsman Modified 200 and the 50 lap, $10,000 to win Big Block/358 Challenge on August 11th.
The biggest news coming out of Devils Bowl is the weekly purse. The Sportsman Modifieds will compete for $1,200 win weekly and $125 to start. The track champion will receive $5,000 to win. In all the top 15 in final points will bring home money, with the overall total in the Sportsman Modified division being $14,300. The Limited Sportsman champion will earn $1,200.
This column summarized just some of the positives here in the Capital Region, with more that I did not include. The next time you read negativity, respond with some positives and see how many negatives they can come up with. I have this feeling that your positives will far exceed the negatives. It is time that we embrace what we have before all we are left with are the negative posts and no tracks to attend.