Story By: BUFFY SWANSON / NORTHEAST DIRT MODIFIED HALL OF FAME – WEEDSPORT, NY – The Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame sends sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ed Ortiz, a popular Western New York racer in the 1960s and ’70s, who passed away on April 16. He was 88.
Ortiz, from Ransomville, NY, was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 1999.
Ortiz was the ringleader of the Ransomville Slo-Pokes, a group of 15 street racers who carved out the original Ransomville Speedway on property behind Ed’s father’s car dealership in 1954. Four years later, the club moved the track to its current location on Braley Road.
A talent behind the wheel who competed at nearly 30 different speedways during his career, Ortiz recorded his first win at Merrittville in 1958, followed two weeks later by a victory at his “home” track.
Throughout the ’60s and into the ’70s, Ed occupied the winner’s circle more often than not, 199 times to be exact, and picked up championship titles at Merrittville in 1961, Ransomville in 1962, Canandaigua in 1962 and ’63, Lancaster (on the pavement) in 1966, and Rolling Wheels in 1971.
As Ransomville was running under the NASCAR banner in ’62, Ortiz was also named NASCAR’s New York State Sportsman champion that year.
In an emotional comeback 20 years after he officially retired, Ortiz returned to Ransomville in a Pro Stock in 1998 to score the 200th and final win of his career, at the age of 66.