Stock car racing: Proctor’s success starts in his garage

Ron Proctor admits that he’s glad his winless streak, which had been closing in on the two-year mark

Ron Proctor admits that he’s glad his winless streak, which had been closing in on the two-year mark, is over.

But that didn’t stop him from from the trip to Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Fair Haven, Vt., week after week during his dry spell.

“I still like the thrill,” said Proctor earlier this week. “When the car is right like it was last week, it’s still a lot of fun.

“But I also just enjoy working on the car and trying out different things every week.”

The Charlton driver, who has finally entered the world of the 60-somethings, has been racing stock cars since 1976, and for almost every one of those years, has been doing almost all of the work on his cars by himself, with a little help from his friends. So when he does win a race, or has a couple of seasons like he did in 2011 and 2012, when he won the NASCAR Whelen modified championship at the Bowl and was feted in North Carolina with the other NASCAR champions, his success is self-made.

“I’ve always done things myself,” he said. “I’ve always had to make the cars work. This year, they [Devil’s Bowl officials] changed the percentages during the winter, and that threw us off a little bit, just by a couple of tenths, but we kept working at it and think we’ve got it where it should be.”

The car that Proctor won with last Friday is the same 2008 TEO chassis that he ran on dirt at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The motor is three years old, but it was freshened after its first season.

And Proctor admits it isn’t easy competing against someone like Todd Stone, who won the Devil’s Bowl championship last season while winning 10 of the 19 features. Stone’s G Stone Motors team is like Walmart, compared to Proctor’s mom-and-pop operation.

But Proctor is still out there every week, looking for that thrill.

“I guess I just haven’t smartened up yet,” he said with a laugh. “We had a couple of issues this year, some carburetor issues, and we changed the suspension and it took a while to get it balanced.

“We’ve also had some tire problems. I was flat-spotting tires during the features. But last week, I had two new front tires and they worked great.”

Proctor’s victory made him the eighth different winner in 11 weeks of racing at the Bowl. He admits he misses the old dirt days, but racing with a crate engine at the Bowl fits more into his budget.

“I do miss the dirt,” he said. “It’s such a rush to set the car in the turns and back in it and crank it sideways. On blacktop, you’ve got to be so precise, but that’s the only way to go fast.”

Reunion set

Longtime speed shop operator and former driver Bruce Dostal will he holding a “Racers Reunion Celebration Bash” at his A&B Speed Shop on Union Avenue in Johnstown on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Dostal, an innovative fabricator who built cars for many Hall of Famers, including Lou Lazzaro, Dave Lape and Bob Savoie, wants to recognize some of the drivers and owners who played important roles making tracks like Fonda Speedway and Albany-Saratoga two of the most famous tracks in the Northeast. He’s called many of his buddies in NESCOT and invited them to the reunion, and Keith Shoemaker will display some of the memorabilia from the days that his legendary father, Ken Shoemaker, was racing and winning throughout the area.

Many cars, both vintage and modern, will be on display, and Christine Krosky will have many items from the vast collection of the late racing historian, Danny Ody.

For information about the reunion or to buy a ticket, call A&B Speed Shop at 762-9626.

Series update

The Super DIRTCar modified series was in Canada this week, with veteran Danny Johnson winning on Monday at Autodrome Granby, and 22-year-old Erik Rudolph getting the first series win of his career Tuesday at Drummondville.

Brett Hearn was third at Granby and second at Drummondville.

The series will return to Albany-Saratoga on Wednesday for the completion of the 100-lapper that was rained out on July 8. In addition, there will be a second, 35-lap modified feature, which will pay $2,000 to win. Adult admission Wednesday will be $10.

Around the tracks

Ken Tremont Jr. picked up his second win of the year last Friday in the Hungry Mike Ronca Memorial race at Albany-Saratoga. Tremont also won the memorial race last season. “The Roncas are a great family and Mike was a super guy,” said Tremont after his win. “He would do anything for you, so it certainly is an honor to win anything in Mike’s honor.”

It’s time to start the Stewart Frisen watch again. Friesen recorded his seventh victory of the year at Fonda Speedway last weekend and is once again in a position to reach the single-season track record of 12 wins, set by Steve Danish in 1953.

Friesen was in a similar position last year, as he recorded his seventh win on July 13. But he was 2-for-7 the rest of the way, finishing with nine victories.

Lebanon Valley regular JR Heffner made the trek to Ohio Wednesday night the NASCAR Truck series race. He qualified 16th, but picked up a black-flag penalty in the feature and finished 18th overall. But that’s darn good for a fulltime dirt competition going up against some of NASCAR’s best.

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