After struggling early, Trombley is back on track

After struggling early in the season, Jeff Trombley is starting to get as hot as the weather.

After struggling early in the season, Jeff Trombley is starting to get as hot as the weather.

During one stretch, he recorded victories at his two regular tracks, Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley.

Trombley won the modified

feature at Albany-Saratoga on June 13, and picked up his win at Lebanon Valley on June 21. The victory at Albany-Saratoga was the fourth of his career at the Malta track, but his first in 17 years — his last win was on May 24, 1991. His win at the Valley was the third of his career in his second full season of compet­ition on the high banks.

Trombley started out the season at Lebanon Valley with the same Teo car as he ran there last season, and at Albany-Saratoga, he started out the season with a new Teo car. The engines in both cars were built by Kevin Enders.

“We have been struggling real badly this year at both Albany-Sar­atoga and Lebanon Valley,” Trombley said. “There are a lot of good cars at Malta, and if you are just a little bit off, you can be out of the top five just like that. Just when you are going good, something stupid happens, just like last Friday.

“At Lebanon Valley, we have just had terrible luck. We have been trying some different things with one motor, and it has been biting us because we have been breaking parts and motors while doing it. You need a lot of motor at the Valley, and our weekly finishes just don’t show how good that we are actually running there this year.”

Trombley started his own small-block team two years ago, using

Albany-Saratoga as his home track.

“I wanted to race more than one night a week, and in the past, I have raced for some different car owners at Malta, but I never had my own equipment to race there,” he said. “I decided to get my own 358-mod­ified team going, and Malta was my choice of track because there is just good, short-track racing there. It definitely keeps you sharp.”

When Trombley started his racing career in the early 1980s, he raced weekly in a mini-stock at Albany-Saratoga.

“I hooked up with Bobby Hackel, and we used to race our mini-stocks at Albany- Saratoga on Friday, Five Mile Point on Saturday and Devil’s Bowl on Sunday,” Trombley said. “I also got hooked up with Bruce Schell and his father, and together, we designed and built a new mini-stock car. We designed the car just like a modified, and then put a mini-stock motor in it.”

Trombley won many races with that car before moving up to the modifieds after two years in the mini-stock class.

“Bruce and his father had a fabricating shop, and not only did we build my last mini-stock, but we also built my first modified in their shop,” he said. “I couldn’t afford to buy any parts for the race car or a race car itself back then, so we decided to build one. Back then, you could do that, but those days are long gone.”

For years, Trombley was a Saturday night regulat at Fonda Speedway, recording 32 wins and back-to-back modified point championships in 2001 and 2002. But in 2007, he decided to make a change and run at Lebanon Valley on a weekly basis.

“The management at Lebanon Valley treats us very well,” he said. “There is no trouble at the Valley with people yelling, screaming, or fighting with each other. It got to the point at Fonda where I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore, and decided to leave. There is a whole different atmosphere at Lebanon Valley, something that Fonda used to have as well, but now they have lost that.”

“Howie [Lebanon Valley promoter Howie Commander] gives the fans and drivers a cheap night out, with good entertainment and good food at reasonable prices. He works all summer to get money into the race track, all race nights are sponsored and his point fund is fantastic. I really wish that Lebanon Valley and Fonda could get together and run on different nights with the same tires and rules because I would love to run at both places. It would also give us drivers a chance to make enough money back in order to keep these race cars going.”

Frank Freihofer has been Trombley’s main sponsor 1988, and he was one of the people behind Trombley’s switch to Lebanon Valley.

“Frank stays in the pits with us early in the night, and then he goes up in the tower to watch the races,” Trombley said. “Howie treats him well, and we have to keep Frank happy because he is the main guy paying the bills.”

Brothers Pep and Joe Corradi, along with their cousin Frank, have all worked with Trombley in the past, but this year is a little bit different. In addition to working on Trombley’s car, Pep and Frank Corradi are also racing at Albany-Sar­atoga, in the sportsman and budget sportsman divisions, respectively. All of the Corradi equipment is kept at Trombley’s shop and between all their cars, Trombley is always kept busy.

“We are just like a family,” Trombley said. “We not only race and work on our cars together, but we do things together outside of racing as well.”

Trombley and the Corradis lost a part of their race team in the spring when Pep Sr. died.

“He used to hang out at the shop and at the track with us, and this season is dedicated to him,” Trombley said. “Losing their dad was tough on those guys, as it is on all of us when we lose a loved one.”

During the 2005 season, Trombley was involved in an accident at Fonda when he made hard contact with the wall in turn four, and suffered neck and back injuries that kept him out of racing for the rest of the season. While Trombley was out of work, Ronnie Johnson would stop by and pick him up, and together, they would ride around, running whatever errands that Johnson had to do.

Trombley credits Johnson with pushing him to get back into a race car after his accident.

“Ronnie used to get me out of the house and brought me to the race track, which kept me up on what was going on in the racing world,” Trombley said. “One Friday, we were riding around and there was a race coming up that weekend at Fonda, so Ronnie decided that he was going to let me race his car if I wanted to. The doctor gave me the OK to race, so I was able to get back into a race car again. I have watched Ronnie race since he started, and we have become great friends.”

Trombley drove Johnson’s car in two of the season-ending races at Fonda in 2005, finishing second and eighth.

“There are no ill effects from the accident to this day,, but it definitely pushed me to stay in shape, which is what the doctors told me that I had to do,” Trombley said

Although Trombley will continue to race at Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley, he has no plans to go to Syracuse for Super DIRT Week in October.

“We are definitely not going to Syracuse this year. You can take that to the bank,” he said. “To keep me from thinking about it, my wife, Serena, and I made plans to go to the Sprint Cup race in Charlotte in October, which is usually run on the same weekend. It is her birthday that weekend, and she has been spending it in Syracuse for so many years that we will be doing something different this year.”

Weekend schedule

Tonight will be Black Flag Night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, with all divisions in action starting at 6:45.

Also tonight, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will be in action with a regular show in all divisions, along with the third race in the Harry’s Auto street stock series. Starting time will be 7:30.

On Saturday Night at Fonda Speedway, all divisions will be in action, and there will be an IMCA/pro-stock dash for cash, involving the top five drivers in the pro-stock and IMCA point standings. The winner of the eight-lap dash will get $300. There will also be kiddie rides. Activities begin at 6 p.m.

The World of Outlaws make their annual appearance at Lebanon Valley on Sunday, with warmups beginning at 6 p.m. General admission is $24.

Categories: Sports

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