Ken Tremont Jr. is the type of person who can turn an interview into a conversation.
During a telephone call earlier this week, originally made to find out a little about his Memorial Day adventure at Thunder Road in Barre. Vt., we talked about numbers — he likes 300, but he’s not too happy with 50 — how things are going at the Daily Gazette (he asked, I answered); the mechanical gremlins that have been plaguing his race team; and the fact that if I retire (that’s if, not when), bartenders in Schenectady are going to know me even better than they do now.
Try putting a headline on that conversation.
But back to racing. Rather than spend a quiet Memorial Day at home, he loaded up his asphalt car and headed to Barre and historic Thunder Road International Speedbowl for the annual Memorial Day Classic, which was also the first leg of the new Northern Modified Challenge Series.
“I just felt like I needed a change of scenery, something different to look at,” said Tremont. “It was just something different to do.”
It also paid off, as he finished third.
“I was actually impressed,” Tremont said. “It’s really pretty up there. It’s really the only thing in town, and they do a real good job promoting it.”
The car that Tremont took to Vermont was new in 2010, and only has eight races on it. He bought it when Albany-Saratoga Speedway went to asphalt following the 2009 season, but “I never got it together, so I ran an old dirt car at Malta that year,” Tremont said. “We
finally got it together, and raced it a couple of times at Plattsburgh and Devil’s Bowl last year, and Monday was the second time I’ve had it out this year.”
Earlier this year, Tremont recorded his 300th career victory at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, but the fact that he didn’t make the Area Auto Racing News list of the top 50 drivers in the last 50 years (the trade paper is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) doesn’t sit too well with him.
“Getting the 300th win was great,” he said. “When you look around at all the great drivers, there are a lot of people who have more, but  is still better than most.
“I guess it just wasn’t good enough to make the top 50 in Area Auto.”
The last statement was followed by the Ken Tremont chuckle.
After you’ve been around Tremont long enough, you get to know that chuckle as a defense mechanism, filled with sarcasm. That chuckle is usually better than saying what’s really on his mind.
Then, he added, “It [300 wins] just means I’ve been around for a while. But I’ve worked my guts at it. Breaking down along the highway, being on fire, I could write a book.”
There’s not much Tremont hasn’t accomplished in his racing career. He won the Eckerd 300 during Super DIRT Week in Syracuse in 1999, was the Mr. DIRT 358 point champion, has more track tites at both Lebanon Valley and Albany-Saratoga speedways than any other driver. and don’t forget about those 300 victories.
“The only thing I didn’t do was win the overall Mr. DIRT,” said Tremont, forgetting to add that he finished second to Jack Johnson in 1985 (by 20 points) and was second to Bob McCreadie in 1994.
He’s been running well at Lebanon Valley this season, but not well enough to put any fear into Brett Hearn, who has won four of five features so far.
“We’ve been dealing with a lot of mechanical issues,” Tremont said. “Right now, we’re fighting a vibration. We’re supposed to be auto technicians, but we can’t figure it out. There are people out there who don’t even know what a driveline is, and they don’t have vibrations, but we do. At Thunder Road, we were battling a skip. At Lebanon, Brett is getting through the corners best. We just have to handle better. But we can’t seem to stop the mechanical issues we’re having.”
No wonder he needs a change of scenery every once in a while.
After writing about Rocky Warner’s “Grand Slam” of winning features in four different divisions at Glen Ridge Motorsports last week, I knew I’d hear about others.
I was right. Brian Bedell pointed out that Loren Browe has the career slam at Lebanon Valley, with victories in pure stocks, pro stocks, sportsman and modifieds.
He also said that Steve Mabey, Todd Wilkinson and Donnie Corellis also had victories in four divisions, but those three need an asterisk because three of the divisions were sportsman, 358s and big blocks, essentially the same car with a different motor.
Then Andy Hickok chimed in, reminding me of Tim Laduc. How could I forget LaDuc? He’s actually the all-time master of the Slam, because he won in GTs, late models, sportsman and modifieds at both Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl.
Around the tracks
Do you know the difference between Mike Sowle and Santa Claus? Santa only delivers once a year.
Sowle, owner of Sowle’s Tractor Trailer Repair of Fultonville, has kicked up the purses for tonight’s features at Albany-Saratoga. The modifieds will run for $2,500 to win, the sportsman winner will take home $1,500 and the pro stock winner will receive $800.
With Sowle’s support, the “Big Show 5” 100-lap Super DIRT Series race on July 9, which Hearn promotes, will pay $9,711 to win.
Lebanon Valley officials have penalized Tyler Dippel, who had illegal engine parts when he won the Andrew Sherman Budget Sportsman Cup, which paid $2,000 to win, on May 18. Dippel was disqualified, lost all points and the $2,000, was put on probation, fined an additional $500 and must start the next two budget sportsman features from the rear of the field. In addition, his motor will not be permitted to be resealed or reused, making it virtually a very large boat anchor.
Ironically, the budgets will run for $1,000 to win at the Valley Saturday night.
While Tremont was third at Thunder Road, 18-year-old Jessey Mueller, still driving with a cast on his wrist from an offseason injury, came away with the victory. Mueller got the lead on lap 13 and survived a restart with five laps to go to hold off Leon Gonyo and Tremont.
Glen Ridge returns to action tonight with a full card featuring modifieds, sportsman, street stocks, cruisers, rookie sportsman and Racesaver Sprints. Because of last week’s rainout, veterans,
active military and reserves will be issued free admission to the grandstands tonight with military ID or DD214.
Anyone interested in running the enduro scheduled for June 7 should call promoter Pete Demitraszek at (518) 848-0608 to preregister before June 4. The last enduro didn’t have a full field of cars, and if there aren’t enough preregistrations, Demitraszek will cancel the June 7 event in advance.