Stock car racing: Tremont regrouping after dismal season

Ken Tremont Jr. has had some spectacular seasons at Lebanon Valley Speedway. Last year wasn’t one of
Ken Tremont Jr.
Ken Tremont Jr.

Ken Tremont Jr. has had some spectacular seasons at Lebanon Valley Speedway.

Last year wasn’t one of them.

For one of the few times during his modified career, Tremont failed to win a feature at the Valley. That’s a lot like Rafael Nadal going an entire season without winning a clay-court tennis tournament.

To make matters worse, Tremont also blew a motor on the last night of the season at the Valley and fell from fourth to seventh in the points race.

“Everybody takes a turn having a bad year,” said Tremont, who once put together a stretch of 25 consecutive seasons (1982-2006) with at least one victory at the Valley, earlier this week. “There are years you can work and work, and nothing seems to go right.”

But when Lebanon Valley kicks off its season Saturday night, Tremont will be more than ready. After running what has been basically an in-house program with his

father, Ken Sr., and a dedicated crew, Tremont is going to be doing a little outsourcing this season.

“I’ve got a new Troyer [chassis] for Lebanon, and I’m going to have Garry Waters take care of that car at his shop,” said Tremont, who spends his days as an assistant professor in the automotive, manufacturing and electrical engineering department at Hudson Valley Community College. “The idea behind having Garry take care of that car is to reduce our work load. We’re also going to do a small-block car for Lebanon this year, and the thought is to keep my guys on the small block car.”

Tremont has six cars at his disposal this year, including the new Troyer he’ll be using at Lebanon Valley. The Troyer that he purchased late last year, when he was struggling to keep up at the Valley, will be his Friday night car at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

“We’re trying to do a lot of different stuff this year,” said Tremont. “There are so many different rules and divisions, if you want to race, you need equipment. We’re hoping to do a little pavement racing, and I also want to run tha dirt track at Devil’s Bowl. It seems like we’ve got a car for all occasions. But between myself and my father, I think we’ve come up with a good plan.”

Although Tremont didn’t set the house on fire when he switched from a Bicknell chassis to the Troyer last year, he thinks the Troyer will keep him competitive this season.

“I really think we were better when we made the chassis change,” he said. “It felt like there was more potential.”

One of the biggest obstacles that the Tremont team has to overcome every season is engine maintenance, because all the motors are built and maintained in-house.

“Lots of people don’t do their own motors. It’s a lot of work,” said Tremont. “But when you choose to do it, like we do, you have to have a plan to do it right. I think last year, we were trying to do too much and we didn’t have enough people to take care of the details.”

Tremont did win four features last year (three at Alb­any-Saratoga and one at the Devil’s Bowl dirt track), but that was little consolation for someone who has over 300 career victories.

He finished third in the Albany-Saratoga opener last weekend, and is looking forward to a productive season.

“By next week, we’ll be in better shape,” he said. “It takes a little time to get the rust knocked off.”

For the record, Tremont’s best season at Lebanon Valley was probably 1999, when he won 15 features, including a sweep of the Mr. Dirt Track U.S.A., Race of Kings and Lebanon 200.

On the soapbox

Social media was blowing up this week, complaining about the rough track conditions at both Albany-Saratoga and Fonda speedways last weekend.

I’ve got a simple solution — don’t open until the first weekend of May.

There no question that April racing is always iffy, especially if track crews have to work in a new surface, like both Albany-Saratoga and Fonda have. Billy Decker trashed a car at Albany-Saratoga last Friday night, flipping after catching a rut, just as Ronnie Johnson did in the opener at Fonda last year.

Promoters have to be more patient and make sure they have a good racing surface before opening the gates because owners can’t afford to replace wrecked race cars. And if by some miracle there’s actually a couple of weeks of really warm weather in April, move the opener to the last weekend in April.

Around the tracks

Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will kick off its season tonight, with racing beginning at 7:30. It will be interesting to see what kind of support promoter Pete Demitraszek gets from the local racers.

Lebanon Valley could be short a couple of drivers for its opener Saturday night, as the first Super DIRT Series race of the season will be taking place at Fulton Speedway. Among the drivers following the DIRT series will be defending track champion Brett Hearn.

Rocky Warner is already on a roll. He was a perfect 3-for-3 in the opening week of the season, winning sportsman races at Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Utica-Rome. Will he also be heading to Fulton for the DIRT sportsman series race?

Stewart Frisen enhanced his legacy at Fonda with a last-to-first modified victory last weekend. He had to start last in the feature after a loose fitting on the fuel pickup knocked him out of his heat race.

The CRSA sprints will join the racing card at Fonda Speedway Saturday night.

After Larry Wight picked up $3,000 for his win at Albany-Saratoga Friday, he was the first car out of the modified feature Saturday at Fonda.

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