Column By: NICK FILLMAN / RPW – FONDA, NY – On Saturday I was able to make my first ever visit to the historic Fonda Speedway in Fonda, New York and I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the nights events.
After leaving in the afternoon and making the four hour plus trip from my home in Pennsylvania, I had finally arrived at the Fonda Speedway to take in my first ever event at the speedway. Its quite a sight as you cross the bridge over the Mohawk River and find one of New York’s most historic dirt track facilities. The parking for the speedway was quite easy and accessible, but with our late arrival we utilized the paid parking that was a short walk across the street from the speedway.
When one goes to the Fonda Speedway its quite a sight, featuring a covered grand stand section that stretches half of the front straight away. It has an old school look with a new school feel of excitement as the racing events closed in on starting. The heat races ran very quickly and very smoothly with a few minor cautions and a horrific flip in the crate sportsman division. The heat races were mostly relegated to the bottom of the speedway, as blaring sun and winds kept the track on the dry and slick side, however, this was no indication of how the nights feature events would unfold.
The 5th Annual Bill Ag Memorial Match Races were something special for the local regular fans, and for any fan who may have made their way to the speedway for the very first time. The match races featured a match up of father and son as Bobby and Danny Varin would face off for the competition. There was a bit of an “incident” in turns three and four during the family match race that left Bobby as the winner, with Danny headed to the pits with a flat tire. The next round featured a pair of former track champions with Bobby Varin facing off against Stewart Friesen. Friesen would get the win and move on to the final round against the dominant driver of the year so far at the Fonda Speedway; Rocky Warner. Friesen would go on to beat Warner for the match race win, but Warner would reverse the outcome in the feature event.
In addition to the specialty “Graduation Night” featuring $5 general admission for all fans, which left the grandstand jam packed full of fans, new and old, the 14th Annual “Hondo Classic” for the pro stocks would be the main event of the evening. In an feature that had some issues getting going in the middle portion of the event, the final 10 laps were something extremely impressive. A three to five car duel would occur over the last hand full of laps with Justin Knight hounding after early race leader Luke Horning. When the white flag flew it was virtually anybody’s race to win with Knight hounding after Horning on the inside line, with Josh Coonradt ripping the high side. As the three would make their way into three and four Knight would make slight contact with Horning getting him just loose enough for Coonradt to motor around the high side and take the checkers in a side by side, door banging, thrilling feature event that was worth far far more than the $5 admission for the evening event.
The Sunoco Modifieds would make their way onto the speedway next, and after a slight watering of the high side the field would go green. Right away Rocky Warner and Stewart Friesen would be the cars to watch as they would both utilize the inside and high side of the speedway to make their way to the front. Eventually both drivers were running the high side of the speedway until Friesen began to utilize the incoming bottom groove. Friesen would be on the bottom, with Warner on the top with under 10 to go, nose to tail in a thrilling battle. Friesen would take the lead away from Warner off of turns three and four with four laps to go. But Warner would quickly change lanes and dive to the inside of the speedway in one and two and drive back underneath of Friesen to re-take the lead. After diving under the lapped cars of Bobby Varin and Danny Creeden, Warner was able to go on and collect the feature event win in a great modified feature event.
Overall I was incredibly happy with the racing and the facilities I experienced at The Fonda Speedway. The show was run in an incredibly fast, yet efficient way that would please almost every race fan. The upcoming Short Track Super Series event on Wednesday July 3rd, is sure to be a “Can’t miss” event with top drivers from all of the northeast to be in attendance.