So far, the racing season has been nothing but a roller-coaster ride for Tribes Hill resident Craig Hanson.
“We definitely haven’t had the best of starts this season with either one of our Glen Ridge or Fonda cars,” he said.
On the upside was his first win of the season at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park on Friday, May 14.
“That was a special win because it was on my father’s [former racer Ken Hanson] birthday,” he said.
Next, the ride took a turn for the worse. On the Saturday after his big win at Glen Ridge, he had motor issues with the Morrison small block at Fonda. He followed that up on Saturday, May 15 with a horrifying crash on the front stretch at Fonda, in which his race car was totaled.
“Coming out of turn four, I got hit, but then I got the car straightened out only to be hit again, causing me to spin out this time,” Hanson said.
He ended up facing the oncoming traffic. Alan Barker had nowhere to go, and making contact with Hanson in a head-on collision.
“I don’t think that he ever saw me sitting there,” Hanson said. “Luckily, the cage area held up, but the 2x4 was diamond-shaped on the car, so it was a totaled. The fuel pump was broken off the motor in the wreck, but the rest of the motor itself looks to be OK.”
Last week at Glen Ridge, Hanson finished second to Bobby Varin and then brought his Glen Ridge car to Fonda, since the new car wasn’t done yet, and scored his fourth career win at the Track of Champions and his first win since Aug. 16, 2008.
“This is definitely the place to be in victory lane,” Hanson said after his win at Fonda. “This was a big win for us, and it is nice to come back and do well after a bad wreck because it boosts the spirits of the whole race team.”
Hanson started racing in the modified division at Fonda in 2001, and ever since Glen Ridge added modifieds to its card, he has been running there, as well.
“I have been around racing all my life, from back when I was a kid and my father was racing,” he said. “I maintain both cars in my shop and that definitely makes for some long nights working on the race cars, along with my crew, which consists of my cousin Jason Greco, Bert Film and Thadd Simmons.
“I also want to thank my sponsors Sampson Motor Car, Yellow Transportation, Egelston Energy, Brownell Steel, Ken Hanson Paving, Greco’s NAPA and Speed Shop, Sammons Agency, Delanson Supply and Bill’s Beverage, with a special thank you to my wife, Angela, my mom and dad [Ken and Dawn], Jerry Sampson and his wife Gloria, and the entire Sampson family.
“When Jerry Sampson got out of the race track business in 2007, he had a motor and he let us use it. It has progressed from there into the racing team that we have now, and I really want to thank him and his family for what they have done for me.”
After his win a couple of weeks ago at Glen Ridge, Hanson is third on the all-time modified win list with seven victories. He won the modified track championship in 2007 at the Ridge, which he followed up with a third- and a second-place finish in the point standings in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Hanson also has four wins at Fonda Speedway, with the first one coming on July 30, 2005. His father, Ken, also has one win at the Track of Champions, which came on July 5, 1986.
For the rest of 2010, Hanson will continue his two-night-a-week racing schedule, hopefully with more good results.
“Right now, things are going well at Glen Ridge,” he said. “The track is wider now with the new configuration, so it is easier to get away from people if you have to. It is awesome to be on the all-time modified win list at Fonda along with my father, especially now that I have four wins.”
Hanson and his wife have their first child on the way later this year, as well.
“The baby is due on Oct. 14, and that is Eastern States weekend at Orange County.”
Last Friday was a special night for two local drivers who captured their first career wins at Glen Ridge.
Chuck Allen won the sportsman feature for the first win in his five-year career. Allen started racing in 2006 at Glen Ridge, and for the past five years, has tried to find his way to victory lane. He drove his No. 36 to victory last Friday, and, according to his friend and crew member Ron Beck, is still on cloud nine. Allen sits seventh in points at Glen Ridge, and also races in the open sportsman division at Fonda, where he is ninth in points driving car No. 374. That was the car number that his father, Dick Allen, used when he raced.
The other first-time winner came in the rookie sportsman division, when Steven “Chip” Constantino took home the first win of his career in his first full season of racing. When a deal came along to buy a complete race car, including motor and a trailer, Constantino couldn’t pass it up and decided to buy the car from Brian Jones, who raced a couple of years ago at Glen Ridge. Also having success in the same car is Constantino’s brother, David, who has two wins in the regular sportsman division at the Ridge.
Get well wishes
Thoughts and prayers go out for a speedy recovery to good friend Dan Martin, who had surgery Thursday for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident earlier this week.
Martin is the voice of Albany-Saratoga Speedway and his knowledge of the sport and the drivers at Albany-Saratoga is second to none. He is also an announcer at Lebanon Valley Speedway with John Stanley. Get well soon, Dan, and I hope to see you at the track soon.
Tonight at Albany-Saratoga Speedway will be Kid’s Night, with fireworks and kiddie rides, along with a full card of racing in all divisions with a starting time of 6:45.
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will also be in action tonight with a regular show in all divisions starting at 7.
On Saturday, Fonda Speedway will have the Empire Super Sprints, along with a full card of racing in all other divisions. Starting time will be 6 p.m.