Mortensen’s patience finally pays off with win

Over the last three months, Mark Mortensen has seen his share of ups and downs, but one word could p

At the annual Fonda Speedway car show in March, Mark Mortensen had his sharp looking No.1M Sportsman car on display.

Like all the other drivers at the show, he was looking forward to a successful season.

Mortensen had a freshened Boyd power plant under the hood of his 2005 Teo car at the opening event of the season, and the anticipation of success during a new season of racing was high.

Over the last three months, Mortensen has seen his share of ups and downs, but one word could pretty much sum up the season — struggling.

That is, until last Saturday, when Mortensen got his first win of the season after a great side-by-side race with three-time Fonda track champion John McAuliffe.

When the checkered flag flew, it was Mortensen who got the win after running his trademark outside line to fight off the challenges of McAuliffe, who was running the low side of the speedway. The win was just what the Mortensen Race Team needed after what had been a frustrating start to the season.

“All of our old setups weren’t working,” Mortensen said. “The first couple of weeks, the track was a lot different, then it got tacky, and now it is dry, which is the way that I like it. The last two weeks we have run this new setup, which is something that I have never tried before. Hopefully, it is the ticket.”

Last Saturday in his heat race, Mortensen had the car working on the bottom of the speedway, which got him the heat race win, as well. “The car was working good down low in the heat race, but when I came into the pits, I was telling my crew that I didn’t think that the car would run on the outside the way it was set up,” he said. “There is no room for error when you run on the outside, but as long as the car is handling right you can run out there but if the car isn’t handling right it is a different story.”

Four weeks ago, Mortensen was engaged in the same type of battle, only it was Mark Kislowski who was running the bottom line while Mortensen was running the outside. That race was on Mortensen’s mind last week as he thought about how he got beat by Kislowski by a nose on the final lap coming to the checkered flag in another thrilling battle.

“When I saw McAuliffe on the inside of me I knew that I couldn’t screw up,” Mortensen said. “The night that Kislowski beat me, I spun my tires coming out of turn four which gave him the edge and the win. I knew that I couldn’t do that again with McAuliffe.”

“I saw McAuliffe in the pit area, and he said that he hoped that I wasn’t mad at him for pushing me on the restarts,” Mortensen said. “He said that once my car got going, though it was fast.”

GETTING STARTED

At the age of 12, Mortensen started racing Go-Karts and raced them until he was 16, when he started racing in the Sportsman division at Fonda.

“We had a go-kart in back of the house, and I decided to give it a try,” he said. “And I ended up sticking with it.”

When Mortensen decided to move out of go-karts he thought about racing a Street Stock before he came across a car that Jerry Pennock Jr. had for sale and decided to buy that and race it in the Sportsman division at Fonda.

While he was racing go-karts, Mortensen was very successful winning the 1999 Northeast National Championship in the Senior Light division on the big track at Albany Saratoga. He also won the Junior II Pro Track Championship at Albany-Saratoga in 1999, along with the Senior Light Track Championship at the Dodge City Speedway in 2001.

Some of his accomplishments in the Sportsman division include winning the Fonda Speedway Sportsman Rookie of the Year award in 2003, along with the New York State Stock Car Association Sportsman Newcomer of the Year in the same season. He has also finished in the top ten in Sportsman division points at Fonda every year since 2004!

IN THE FAMILY

Mortensen isn’t the only one in his family that has ever raced. His father, Bob, used to race in the hobby stock division at Albany-Saratoga in 1982 and 1983, and was also on the pit crew of Hall of Fame driver C.D. Coville.

Mark’s older brother, Brian, also raced go-karts in the 1990s before moving up to race a pure stock at Lebanon Valley from 1994-96. Brian was also the crew chief of Joe Budka’s Np.64 car at Albany- Saratoga. Back in March, Brian’s wife, Ashley, gave birth to a boy which they named Carter.

Brian used to help out on Mark’s race car as well, but now, with the addition to his family, he isn’t able to help out as much as he did in the past. But he is only a phone call away if Mark needs any setup help.

Mark’s younger brother, Brett, was also a go-kart racer, winning numerous feature events and track championships.

When asked about racing go-karts against his brother, Mark talked about one year when he was racing for the track championship at Albany-Saratoga.

“There were three or four races left in the season, and I was neck and neck with Steve Mabee in points at Albany-Saratoga,” he said. “My brother Brett ran into me, and popped one of my tires, so I lost the point lead that night. On the final night of points, I ended up winning the championship by two points.”

MOM ALSO RACED

The racing in the Mortensen family wasn’t just for the guys, as Mark’s mom and car owner, Bonnie, won a total of two powder puff events in a go-kart, one each at the Dodge City and Turkey Trot Speedways.

A few weeks ago, Mark had his No.1M car on display at Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In in Scotia, one of the sponsors on his car. Other sponsors include LeBlancs Drywall, Wolberg Electric, 1st National Bank of Scotia, Meridian Construction, Countryside Stove & Chimney, Schenectady Unit Parts NAPA, Socha Plaza, Mohawk Heating & Cooling, Sitterly’s Auto, Super 50 Storage, Mortensen Electric, Chucks Recon, and Guyer Plumbing & Heating.

The crew on the Mortensen No.1M includes family members Brett, Andy, Bob, Bonnie, Alisha, Brian, and Ron.

For the remainder of the season, Mortensen hopes to win more races, move up in the points at Fonda, and try to run at both Albany-Saratoga and Utica-Rome before season’s end. He also hopes that he has found the right setup on his race car, and doesn’t have to struggle through the rest of the season.

“You just have to keep going through the good times and the bad and never give up,” Mortensen said.

CVRA VS THE WORLD

Tonight, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway will hold an event called CVRA vs. the World, for big and small block modifieds. It will be the fourth time that the event has been held in Malta.

According to Bruce Richards, the event has been brought back by the upstate New York Chevrolet dealers.

“My father, C.J., thought up the idea for this event years ago, and it was all about Chevrolet wanting to get involved in doing a big race,” Richards said. “The fans have also been asking for a big race here at Albany-Saratoga and it is kind of neat how it all played out.”

You can get a coupon good for $3 off the admission price at your local Chevrolet dealer. The modified feature will be 100 laps.

All other divisions, except for the Sportsman, will also be in action starting at 6:45 p.m.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Summer Championships will be held at the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park on Friday, with double points available in all classes. Starting time will be 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Fonda Speedway will hold Veterans Night, with all divisions in action along with fireworks. The Hondo Classic will also be run in honor of the late Hondo Carpenter, and there will also be a meet and greet session with many of the Fonda Speedway drivers. Starting time will be 6:00 p.m..

Categories: Sports

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