Three years ago, when Fonda Speedway promoter Ric Lucia was about to start the 602 crate sportsman division at Fonda, he approached Dave Hunt to come up with a motor for the program because there was too much demand for engines from General Motors.
“I have known Ric for years and have done a lot of work for him, as well,” Hunt said. “I came up with a motor, but they never really took off, mainly because I gave everyone my word that I wouldn’t cheat-up the motor like everyone else was doing and people were asking me to do.”
His honesty led to a great association with all three local race tracks — Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Glen Ridge — as he has become a big part of their crate racing programs.
“I really can’t blame the engine builders who are blatantly cheating up the crate motors because it took away work from us and gave it to wherever the GM crate motors are being assembled,” Hunt said. “Building motors is our livelihood and it feeds our families, but I made a promise not to do it, and have stuck with it ever since.”
But who is Dave Hunt? He has been involved in racing for a long time and in the machine shop/automotive business for even longer.
In 1974 Hunt started a business with Mike Budka called B & H
Automotive and was basically a chassis guy at the time, not a motor guy. In 1986, a machine shop was added to the business as the automotive side of it got tougher and tougher to keep up with.
“The equipment necessary to keep up with the automotive industry at the time was getting out of hand, along with trying to find technicians to do the work,” Hunt said. “I got away from the automotive part of it 18 to 20 years ago, and have been doing machine work ever since.”
Early on, most of the machine work being done was cylinder heads which Hunt supplied to the automotive industry.
“Back then, it was probably 80 percent heads and 20 percent performance and nostalgia, but now, that has changed to probably 85 performance and nostalgia and 15 percent heads,” he said.
Hunt came up with an alternative to the GM crate motor when approached by Lucia, but didn’t sell a motor for two years. Now, he is not only selling motors but also doing tech work at the local tracks.
“Bruce [Richards] heard about me and my reputation of not building cheated-up motors, and it led me to getting a lot of work from people who race at Albany-Saratoga because he made it mandatory for his drivers to have their motors dynoed at either my shop, Hunt’s Automotive or RPM Racing Engines in Vermont,” Hunt said. “Last Friday at Albany-Saratoga, five of the top eight cars in the modified feature had motors in them that I either built or dynoed.”
Hunt came close to making an agreement with DIRT Motorsports for an engine kit where racers could buy a block and then buy the kit which would provide them with the necessary parts to build the rest of the motor.
“It was a program where any shop could get the kit to complete the motor, and then DIRT could assign a serial number to the motor, have it dynoed and sealed,” Hunt said. “Cory Reed tried to get it to go through, but other DIRT officials shot it down.”
Hunt has also been an instrumental part of teching the 602 crate engine at Fonda this season.
“We came up with a tool that isn’t too intrusive with the motor being totally torn apart to check for illegal cams,” he said. “The tool sits on top of the distributor and measures the duration of the camshaft, which is the area where all of the cheating is taking place. The biggest thing is, we are putting the drivers on alert that things are being checked because it is all about ego and not a matter of the money that is being spent.”
HUNT THE RACER
Hunt raced a former Ron Bouchard car that he converted over to a dirt car until crashing it one year in the Race of Kings at Lebanon Valley. After the crash, a new car was built which he took to Fonda and raced a few times.
“We were backyard builders, but did build the first late-model tube frame, which was approved to race at Fonda,” he said.
One week, Hunt was as Fonda, and none other than C.D. Coville came up to him and asked to use his car.
“C.D. was having problems with his car, so he asked if he could use mine,” Hunt said. “I was No. 65 at the time while he was No. 61, so he used a cardboard hot dog container to change the number on the car to No. 61. He took the car out at the rear of the field and was up to second or third place when the motor lost oil pressure and he drove into the pit area.”
Hunt drove the car a couple of times before realizing that driving a race car wasn’t his specialty, so he turned the car over to Joe Johnson.
“One night in the second turn, C.D. went by me like I was standing still, and it was then that I realized that I wasn’t made to be a driver,” he said. “So I put Joe in the car, and although we ran well, we only had one feature win together as fluky things kept happening to us.”
The following winter, a new coach was built for Johnson to drive which had inboard steering. That was the car Jack Johnson was driving when he got into a wreck and broke his kneecap on the steering box.
“I have been involved, off and on, since then, and have built or helped build cars for Tom Czaban, Phil Carlone, C.D., and Jay Blesser,” Hunt said. “The late model that Jay drove was originally built for Mike Budka’s brother-in-law, George Hunt, and Jay ended up winning 35 feature events with that car.”
Hunt currently does machine work for other motor builders, as well, and will continue to be a big part of tech at the local speedways.
“Tech at the track is good for the sport and putting the motors on the dyno is, as well,” Hunt said. “We plan to continue to do what we can to keep the 602 sportsman classes legal at all of our local tracks.”
Perhaps the biggest news story of the week was the protest put up by John Scarborough after Mark Mortensen’s win in the 602 sportsman feature at Fonda last Saturday. After the feature, the protest was filed and the car and motor were taken to an undisclosed location and impounded until tech could be performed.
On Tuesday morning, the motor was put on a dyno at Hunt’s Machine Shop with Dave Hunt performing the tests. Members of the Mortensen Racing Team were on hand, along with Lucia. After the dyno test was performed on the motor, it was deemed legal. The win will stand, and money and points will now be distributed.
“The motor is 100 percent legal, and I would like to thank everyone on the Mortensen Motorsports Racing Team for their cooperation in this matter,” Lucia said.
“After the motor passed the dyno test, we also requested that Dave [Hunt] do a full inspection on the motor, from top to bottom, so that no one will have any questions in the future,” Mortensen said.
“Everything was found to be 100 percent legal, the motor was re-sealed by Dave, and now we can also run our car and motor at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway if we choose to do so.
“The protest created a lot of extra work for me and my crew, but I think that it was good for the sport. I have no hard feelings toward anyone and look forward to getting back on the track to race again on Saturday night. The only downside to the whole thing was that my team was not able to celebrate our win.”
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
Tonight at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, a regular show in all divisions is scheduled on “Spring Championship Night,” with double points being awarded in all divisions. Starting time is 7.
Last week, Jimmy Monroe was involved in an accident, and according to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway website, he is recovering from surgery, is healing and in good spirits.
Tonight at Glen Ridge, a regular show is planned, starting at 7:30.
On Saturday at Fonda, a regular show in all divisions is on the racing card, along with a meet and greet with drivers on the track. The Fonda Futures Kids Club will hold a bicycle raffle for any kids 10 years old and younger. Tickets for the raffle are free and can be obtained at the table at the east end of the covered grandstands operated by Ed and June Keyser. Racing at Fonda will begin at 7 p.m.