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Stock car racing: Cruickshank, Varin join forces again

Stock car racing: Cruickshank, Varin join forces again

To steal a line from “The Who,” meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Stock car racing: Cruickshank, Varin join forces again
Bobby Varin
Photographer: Bill McGaffin

To steal a line from “The Who,” meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Bobby Varin and Hall of Fame owner Dave Cruickshank have teamed up again as Varin tries to wrestle the Fonda Speedway modified championship away from Stewart Friesen.

Varin will once again be behind the wheel of the Dover Brakes-sponsored 00 on Saturday nights, and the team will also have a small block car available for any other races Varin wants to hit during the season.

That may or may not include Glen Ridge Motortsports Park, where Varin won the last two modified titles in the Nelson Racing-owned 85.

“We’re not really 100 percent sure where we’re going to run,” said Varin Thursday. “We will have the modified 00 at Fonda and we’ll probably run some races at Glen Ridge, but my son [Danny] and I both have 360 sprint cars and we want to run some Empire Super Sprint shows, too.”

Cruickshank tried to retire at the end of the 2013 season, but when racing is in your blood, it’s tough to walk away.

In addition to reuniting with Dover Brakes, Varin has picked up sponsorship from Ray Sefrin’s West End Towing and Recovery out of Amsterdam.

Sefrin had been Rocky Warner’s primary sponsor for several years, but Warner is teaming up with Jake Spraker this season for what should be a very potent sportsman team.

“Ray said he wants to have some fun, and I want to do more sprint car racing,” said Varin. “To be honest, if it wasn’t for Ray, I’d probably only be racing at Fonda.”

Fans will remember that Varin suffered a serious knee injury in 2012 when he wrecked Pete Demitraszek’s sprint car in a violent wreck at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. It must be nice to have selective memory.

Varin is coming off a so-so year, by his standards. He did win nine features overall and the track title at Glen Ridge, but something was missing.

“It wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t a killer year,” he said. “I was disappointed because I didn’t have the fun that I wanted to have. I’m not racing for a profession. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to, but I make my living doing other things, and if racing isn’t going to be fun, I’m not going to do it.”

The modified that Varin will be running at Fonda on Saturday nights is a Hig-Fab chassis, which is also a departure from the Bicknell he campaigned for Spraker last season.

“Whether I like the new car or not, that’s another story,” said Varin. “But I didn’t have a winning combination last year, so it would have been stupid of me not to try something else.”

Sorry, we’re closed

Originally, both Fonda and Glen Ridge were scheduled to open this weekend, but even though Thursday’s 60-degree temperature made it feel a little more like stock car season, both tracks have wisely pushed back their opening dates.

Glen Ridge is now scheduled to open on April 17, while Fonda will begin its season on April 18 — and even those dates might be a little optimistic.

Varin, for one, doesn’t mind sitting out for a couple more weeks.

“I’m not excited about going to the track and waiting for the feature and freezing in my trailer,” he said.

With both Glen Ridge and Fonda on hold, Lebanon Valley might be the first facility to get cars on the track. That track has an open practice scheduled for Saturday, April 11. Just have to wait and see if the weather cooperates.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway has practice scheduled for April 12, with opening night on April 17. Fonda officials are throwing around the idea of having an open practice on Wednesday, April 15.

Around the tracks

It’s anniversary season. Both Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl in Fair Haven Vt., will be celebrating their 50th seasons of racing, and Lebanon Valley will be opening its gates for the 63rd consecutive year.

With Demitraszek again holding the reins at Glen Ridge, there will be some new faces in key positions. Steve Burega will be the pit steward, while Joe Achzet will serve as race director. Mark Sullivan will return as the chief technical inspector, Joe Kris will be on the flagstand and Jim King and Josh Phillips will again handle the announcing duties.

Fans should mark down Wednesday, July 29 on their calendars. Fonda Speedway will be holding a special tribute night for Jack Johnson, the winningest driver in the history of the speedway.

Bill and Erik Nelson have picked up Willy Decker to replace Varin in their small block at Glen Ridge in their pursuit of a third straight track championship.

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