Too much water can ruin a good glass of Scotch.
It can also wreak havoc on a dirt race track, as Fonda Speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo found out last Saturday.
After overwatering the track and then having his packer truck break down, DeLorenzo had a huge mess on his hands at the Track of Champions. But he still made the most of it.
“I’m getting a good education,” DeLorenzo, in his first season running the speedway, said Thursday.
There were a lot of rumors going around that DeLorenzo had tried something different to improve his racing surface, but he set the record straight. He just put down too much water.
“Everybody thought I got some secret sauce or something,” he said. “I just put too much water on it.”
DeLorenzo explained that, during the course of watering the surface, he started to see some dry spots, and decided to put down more water. But when he went to pack the track at 5:30, which was already pushing the envelope, his packer truck was kaput, and that put him in a real bind, because he needed wide tires to run the track in.
“We needed the big tires, but I didn’t have them,” said DeLorenzo. “I put Stewart Friesen [the defending track champion] in the water truck, but all that really did was push water out of the track, which made it worse.”
As DeLorenzo’s equipment continued to break down or overheat, Kelly Wilder, father of modified driver Jeremy Wilder, went back to his farm and brought down both a fertilizer truck and a corn truck. Pete Dmitraszek, who maintains the racing surface at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, drove up the hill and brought down one of his trucks to help DeLorenzo.
But all the extra work put the night’s racing way behind schedule, which didn’t please some of the drivers and the fans.
“I was very close to canceling,” said DeLorenzo. “But then I looked at all the people who were helping me and trying to make things happen, and decided to stick it out. Some drivers didn’t want to race, so I made the night show-up points. I didn’t want people to race if they didn’t think it was safe, and if someone wrecked a car after I told them they had to race, I’d be the bad guy. We lost some modifieds and sportsman, but all the pro stocks stayed, and all the street stocks stayed.
“I didn’t want to force people to stay in the stands if they didn’t want to. We didn’t start until late, and I know people come with their families, so I offered to give anyone their money back if they didn’t want to stay.”
Josh Hohenforst was glad he stayed. When things finally got started, Hohenforst started on the pole and came away with his first career modified victory.
The long delay allowed Rob Yetman to pull double duty. He started his night at Lebanon Valley, his regular Saturday night track, and finished ninth in the pro stock feature.
Hearing that Fonda was in a holding pattern because of the track issue, Yetman hauled up the Thruway, got into his second feature of night night, and finished fifth.
As for DeLorenzo, it was another learning experience.
“If the packer truck hadn’t broken down, I was fine,” said DeLorenzo. “But I’ll take all the blame. I screwed up.”
One less car
The modified division at Fonda will be one car short for the rest of the season, as engine problems have forced Jimmy Davis and car owner Tom Sanford to rethink their schedule.
“We’ve pulled the plug on weekly racing,” said Davis. “Right now, he’s given me a schedule of four races, starting June 25 at Utica-Rome [for a Super DIRT Modified Series qualifier].”
Davis broke a lifter in one of his motors on May 31 at Fonda, and the team is now down to its last motor.
“The big block we were running at Fonda probably had 1,000 laps on the lower end,” said Davis.
At the Ridge
Bobby Varin and Ken Tremont Jr. put on a good show at Glen Ridge last Sunday, with Varin using a late restart to regain the lead and then hold off Tremont, who is still looking for his first win of the season.
Craig Hanson got an assist for Varin’s third win of the year. After his heat race, Varin’s crew found a steering box problem, and car owner Bill Nelson bought a steering box from Hanson to get the car into the feature.
“The seal in the steering box went bad,” said Varin. “We ended up buying one from Craig Hanson, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to run the feature.”
Kyle DeMetro came away with his first career sportsman win, ending Rocky Warner’s four-race winnig streak.
The 22-year-old DeMetro led flag-to-flag, but had Warner hanging on his rear bumper in the closing laps of the race.
“I have never raced at a weekly track before, but I love it here at Glen Ridge,” said DeMetro, a graduate of Holland Patent High School and the SUNY-Alfred motorsports program.
Around the tracks
A rainy forecast could derail Brett Hearn’s quest for a six-pack tonight at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Hearn drove to his fifth straight modified victory last Friday, and can tie his own record for consecutive wins tonight, if the weather doesn’t spoil things.
Danny Johnson and Kevin Hartnett finished in a rare deadheat Tuesday night at the “Clash at the Can” at Penn-Can Speedway. Johnson lost his power steering halfway through the feature, and muscled his car around the rest of the way.
There have been a handful of deadheats at the area tracks, including one memorable “tie” years ago between Hearn and Mark Fluery at Lebanon Valley. The next week, Fluery showed up with T-shirts reading “Dead Heat My A**.”
Fonda Speedway has a busy week ahead. All divisions will be in action on Saturday on Little League Night, and the track will be hosting a 50-lap modified race, paying $5,000 to win, on Thursday. That night will also have a regular $10 admission.
Kyle Hoffman won the J.C. Flach Memorial modified race at Lebanon Valley last Saturday, earning $3,000.
Derrick McGrew deserves some recognition for helping put together the Mark Hughes Memorial race last Friday at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Through donations, an extra $3,600 was added to the sportsman payout, and each heat race winner received $100. Warner got the win and the top prize of $1,100.
Hughes, a regular in the sportsman division, was killed in a worked-related traffic accident in January in the Bronx.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: