With Fonda Speedway closed down for the annual Fonda Fair, I decided to make my first visit up the hill from the fairgrounds to Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. The grandstands were full of fans, the pit area was full of race cars and the racing was very good in all divisions.
When I started going to Fonda when I was 10 years old, I remember thinking what a small-town, grassroots race track it was. I really didn’t know what a deep history the Track of Champions had.
Glen Ridge reminds me of the same grassroots race track that I once thought that Fonda was, but under the guidance of Mike
Romano and Jake Spraker, Glen Ridge is making history in its own right, with its own field of regular drivers who put on some great racing on a small, tight-racing bull ring.
Last Saturday, Randy Hotaling took his third victory of the season over a fast-closing Jeff Brownell.
Hotaling is no stranger to the
local racing circles, as he has 11
career wins in a modified at the Ridge, along with the 2006 modified track championship. He has also won two modified features and nine sportsman features at Albany-Saratoga during his career.
Former Fonda regular Jeremiah Munson has made Glen Ridge his home for this year, and took his seventh win of the season in the budget sportsman division last Saturday, while Dave Bayes took home his sixth win of the season in the street stock division.
The only downfall of the evening came in one of the cruiser heat races, when Ryan Hover flipped his car on the backstretch, and the car burst into flames while resting on its roof. By the time Hover was removed from the car, he suffered severe burns on one arm and on his face.
Hover was airlifted to a Syracuse hospital, where he was in critical, but stable, condition Tuesday. He is scheduled to have surgery and begin skin grafting today.
Cards, contributions and gifts can reach Hover at the following address: Ryan Hover, Box 335, Claverack, NY 12513. The family also wishes to thank Curtis Rouse, who is on the fire safety crew at the Ridge, along with the rest of the rescue, fire safety and EMT crews at the speedway for their quick action.
Rouse risked his own life when he helped free Hover from the burning car. Rouse received burns on his face, neck and hands, as well.
Fourteen-year-old Bodie Bellinger has been competing at Glen Ridge in the budget sportsman
division for the last four weeks, according to his father, John, a former modified driver. The Bellinger family came north from North Carolina for the summer, and purchased a 2008 low rack Bicknell from
Romano at Andy’s Speed Shop in Johnstown. The car was raced only once before Bellinger bought it, and it has a John Grant engine under the hood.
Bodie Bellinger has been running Slingshots, Legends and Bandaleros in North Carolina, and his father hopes to purchase an asphalt late model for Bodie to drive when they go back down there for the winter.
“I want him [Bodie] to get the best of both worlds,” John Bellinger said.
Also back behind the wheel of a race car after a three-year absence was Bob Savoie, who was in a
No. 5 modified.
“It was three years ago since I last turned a wheel,” Savoie said while sitting on the front bumper of his race car. “This Teo car is one that I put together back in 2001 to run for Tim Groski, who built the engine that is in this car. Even though the chassis itself is 8 years old, the remaining parts on the car are new. I was going to wait and come out with the car next year, but honestly, I couldn’t wait any longer.”
As for where he plans on running when the 2009 racing season starts Savoie is still up in the air on that.
“It all depends on who does what with their motor rules,” he said. “We’ll wait until next year to decide on that, but in the meantime, I just hope that we are successful wherever we run for the rest of this year and next year.”
Bobby Vedder is also racing at Glen Ridge in the modified division,
and is having fun again.
“I raced at Fonda for 20 years, and never thought that I would leave there,” Vedder said. “I couldn’t
afford to race there and until some changes are made at Fonda, I won’t go back because I am having fun again at Glen Ridge, and I can
afford to race here.”
Jeff Jones has sold all of his IMCA equipment and has purchased a 2003 Teo car to run in the budget sportsman division. Oswego super modified track champion Otto Sitterly was in the car at the Ridge last Saturday, finishing 16th in the feature.
“Otto and I have been best friends for quite awhile, and I feel comfortable putting him in the car, even though he hasn’t run on dirt in six years,” Jones said. “He helped me find this car, and I just didn’t want to put anybody in the car.”
Look for Jeremy Wilder to be in the Jones-owned No. 20 budget sportsman tonight at Albany-Saratoga and Saturday at Glen Ridge in the King of the Budget Series.
Tonight, Albany-Saratoga Speedway will hold the Showdown at Sundown with all divisions in action along with the first leg of the Albany-Saratoga/Glen Ridge budget sportsman series. Racing begins at 6:45.
Albany-Saratoga officials have announced that on Sept. 5, the sportsman feature will the Ford Flex 50, with $1,000 going to the winner through sponsorship by the Morris Auto Group and Jumpin’ Jack’s Pro Speed.
The second leg of the King of the Budgets series will be run Saturday at Glen Ridge. The modifieds will also be racing for extra cash in a 40-lap $1,700-to-win feature with $100 bonuses being paid for the heat races. There will also be bicycle giveaways for kids. Racing begins at 7:30 p.m.
More from The Daily Gazette: