RPW Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – As the Orange County Fair Speedway moves into it’s 101st year of racing, there are plenty of big events on schedule.
“It’s a really nice schedule,” said Brett Hearn, the OCFS Director of Motorsports. “There are enough races to satisfy all the divisions. I’ve been getting good feedback from the competitors about the track’s scheduled off weeks or the weeks their division’s are not scheduled to race. They can plan ahead for a vacation or other activities.”
Although not a racing event, OCFS starts gearing up for the season this weekend with a large display at the PPB Motorsports Show at the Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. OCFS will have many cars on display consisting of current cars and some vintage race cars. A big autograph session happens on Saturday afternoon from 3 pm to 4 pm.
As the off season is winding down, the OCFS Motorsports Show will be on March 21st and 22nd. It’s always a great chance for fans to catch up with their friends and meet some of the racers they will be cheering on. The following weekend, the cars will hit the speedway as ‘Shake it down Weekend’ open practice is scheduled for March 27th and 28th.
As competition hits the track for the first racing event of the season, OCFS will once again be a DIRTcar sanctioned track.
“I’m a firm believer that that it’s good for a track to have a sanctioning body,” Hearn said. “It helps to have a consistent rule book for the drivers that want to come race at OCFS from other tracks. It will be great to have 2 SDS point races and as it has been in the past, the Eastern States 200 will again be the next to last points event for the series schedule. There’s also the benefit of enhanced insurance and the Hoosier Tire Fund for the racers.”
April is a very busy month for the speedway as 5 events are scheduled. The season begins on April 5th with the ‘Orange County Oval Kickoff 50’ with the Modified winner getting $5,000 and a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Eastern States 200. A big weekend at the speedway occurs on April 18th with a regular show and the 19th with the 7th annual Short Track Super Series race, ‘The Hard Clay Open’. It’s the first race in the 10 event Halmar International North Region series.
“We wanted to get a little earlier start this year,” said Doug Dulgarian, OCFS’s General Manager. “The ‘Hard Clay Open’ is not as early as it’s been in the past.”
Four events are on the schedule for May including the ‘Cinco de Mayo’ event on May 2nd and ‘Military Appreciation Night’ on May 16th.
“Cinco de Mayo is a great chance for the fans to come out to the speedway and take advantage of the $5 admission,” Dulgarian said. “There will be drink specials at the 31st Lap and some food specials from Maxwell’s concessions. And on the 16th which is Armed Forces Day, we will have our ‘Military Night’ where we honor those who serve.”
The month of June begins with the always popular Nostalgia Night on June 6th. On June 13th, the speedway will be very active with the ‘Orange Crush Spring Smashtacular’ event. Rookies will have their Graduation Night event on June 20th. A night to honor those involved in the construction industry will be held on June 27th as OCFS will have their first ever ‘Construction Night’.
“This will be our 14th Nostalgia Night and this year, we are paying homage to Jimmy Horton with a 43 lap feature.” Dulgarian said. “He is a champion and a legend and we are lucky to have him racing here. And it is so much fun to see all the drivers, owners and fans who come back to this event and how much enjoyment they get out of it.”
The Rookie Sportsman division will be back at OCFS this season.
“We have the Rookie Sportsman back this year and they will have a 5 race schedule. After June 20th, they will graduate into the regular Sportsman division,” Doug said. “And the ‘Construction Night’ is new, but we thought it would be good to acknowledge those in that industry.”
The first week of July is very busy for the speedway. It all kicks off with the USAC Wingless Sprints on Thursday, July 2nd.
“It was kind of we wanted them and they wanted us. So we were able to schedule them along with the Modifieds Twin 50 event,” Dulgarian said. “It will be awesome for the fans to see the wingless sprints and get a look of the drivers working the wheel. We are planning a concert on July 3rd, performers to be determined. July 4th is the Town of Wallkill Fireworks Show and July 5th we will have a rodeo. It will be a busy weekend at the speedway.”
On July 28th, the Super Dirt Series returns to OCFS for the ‘Battle of the Midway’ to be held during the Orange County Fair.
As the season starts to wind down, August is the busiest month of racing on the speedway. Six events are scheduled including on Sunday, August 2nd, the first World of Outlaws event at OCFS since 2014.
“The Outlaws have an eastern swing scheduled and we were able to get a race with them,” Hearn said. “It’s something we are sure our fans will enjoy, seeing the Outlaws on the resurfaced track.”
The following week on August 8th is the 2nd annual Full Fender Nostalgia Night along with the Marky Traverse Street Stock Memorial Race.
“The first Full Fender Nostalgia Night was very well received,” Dulgarian said. “And Marky’s race has really developed into something special for the Street Stock racers.”
After a regular Saturday night of racing on August 15th, the speedway will be active again on Wednesday the 19th with the ‘101 Summer Championship’ event.
“It will be our 101st anniversary event,’ Doug said. “More details on the event will be coming.”
After a regular shown on the 22nd, the OCFS division champions will be decided on Champions Night on the 29th.
September’s OCFS Schedule has the always popular ‘Eve of Destruction’ happening on Sept. 12th. It’s a fun event filled with destruction, explosions and the absolutely hilarious Trailer Race. This event sells out quickly, so it’s encouraged for those who want to get reserved seating to get their tickets whenever they become available.
The speedway will have their ESW open practice session on Saturday, October 17th.
Eastern States Weekend 2020 will be from October 22nd-25th. There is a bit of a schedule change this year.
“We will now have the Sportsman qualifying on Thursday and they will run their feature on Friday with the Short Track Super Series race, the Hard Clay Finale,” Dulgarian said. “This way, any Sportsman competitor can enter. Last year, we had to limit it to 75 entries, but no limit on entries this year. Nine Sportsman track champions were among the 75 entries last year and we feel that we will get over 100 entries like we did in 2018.”
The Saturday and Sunday portions of the Eastern States Weekend will remain unchanged with the 59th annual Eastern States 200 scheduled for October 25th.
Chris Larsen, Brett Hearn, Doug Dulgarian, Michael Gurda and the rest of the OCFS staff have put together a great schedule for the 2020 season. Competitor enthusiasm looks to be high with some new additions to the OCFS roster. Fan reaction to the schedule has been great. With the addition of Brett to the staff at OCFS, everything is in place for a great season ahead at OCFS in 2020.