By: Ron Szczerba
Albany, NY – On Saturday, February 22 the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) held their 51st annual awards banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany, NY. 340 guests filled the banquet hall for a great meal and to witness the many awards given out by the organization to the racing community for their achievements during the 2019 racing season.
The banquet was emceed by NYSSCA Board Member Dan Martin who is also the announcer at both the Lebanon Valley and Albany Saratoga Speedway’s and Shane Andrews who is the voice of the Super DIRTcar Series events along with many other events at local tracks in the Central New York area.
NYSSCA President Dan Wood started out the evening by saying “this is our 51st annual awards banquet, it is the start of a new decade, and for many, new beginnings in 2020. That includes the NYSSCA organization as this will be the final awards banquet, we aren’t going anywhere however as the Hall of Fame and award ceremonies will continue to he held each year along with NYSSCA Nights (formerly known as NYSSCA Safety Nights) at all of our member tracks.”
“We will also be present at the local car shows in March so that people can sign up for their 2020 NYSSCA memberships,” Wood continued to say. “I’d like to thank the Bedell Family, Cheryl Catman, Frank McKay, Mark Brown for all of the photographs he provides to the organization, our emcees for the evening Dan Martin and Shane Andrews, all of our track reps and board members, all member tracks of the organization, the media, car owners, drivers, officials, emergency crews, track promoters, and everyone at the banquet tonight because without all of you NYSSCA would have no purpose.”
Pastor Ed Harkins blessed the food that was prepared, and a delicious buffet style meal was then served.
Fonda Speedway had a presence at the banquet as many drivers were awarded for their accomplishments during the 2019 racing season at the “Track of Champions”. Below are the recipients of those awards along with some statistics for each award winner and quotes from the recipients of those awards who were present at the awards banquet.
Fonda Speedway Modified Driver of the Year: Rocky Warner
Driving for legendary car owner Jake Spraker in 2019, Warner had five wins at Fonda on his way to the Modified Track Championship which was his first in the Modified division. It wasn’t his first ever track championship at Fonda however as he now has championships in all four of the divisions that he has competed in at Fonda throughout his career including Street Stock titles in 2005 as co-champion, and 2007; a Pro Stock championship in 2011; and Crate 602 Sportsman titles in 2014, 2015, 2016, & 2017.
Along with that Warner has a career total of 68 wins at Fonda in those four different divisions. 25 of those came in the Street Stock division with the first one coming on 7/6/2002 and the last on 9/22/2007 which places him seventh on the all-time win list in that division; 12 wins in the Pro Stock division with the first one coming on 4/18/2009 and the last one on 8/20/2011 placing him 13th on the all time win list in that division; 25 victories in the Crate 602 Sportsman division with the first one coming on 8/20/2011 and the last one on 8/16/2016 placing him first on that all time win list; and six wins in the Modified division his first one coming on 8/18/2018 and his last one on 7/27/2019.
Fonda Speedway Crate 602 Sportsman Driver of the Year: Tim Hartman Jr.
Driving for car owner Mike Parillo in 2019, Hartman Jr. had a career season of seven wins in the division at Fonda, taking home his first ever track championship in the class. Hartman has a total of 11 career wins in the division, his first one coming on 8/10/2013 and his last on 9/28/2019.
Fonda Speedway Limited Sportsman Driver of the Year: EJ McAuliffe
Driving the family owned racing team #234X, McAuliffe won five times in 2019 on his way to his first ever track title at Fonda. He has six career wins in the Limited Sportsman division which ties him for second on the all-time win list in the class, the first one coming on 5/27/2017 and the last on 8/10/2019.
Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Driver of the Year Luke Horning:
Horning won six races on his way to his first ever track championship at Fonda in the Pro Stock division. He currently sits eighth on the all-time win list in the Pro Stock division at Fonda with a total of 20, his first win coming on 6/16/2012 and his last on 8/10/2019. He also has six wins in the Street Stock division at the “Track of Champions” his first one coming on 7/12/2003 and his last on 5/10/2008.
Fonda Speedway Street Stock Driver of the Year Jason Samrov:
Samrov won five feature events on his way to his first ever title in the division at Fonda. He has a total of 13 career wins in the Street Stock division at Fonda, his first one coming on 5/31/2014 and his last one coming on 8/3/2019 placing him 10th on the all-time win list in the division.
Fonda Speedway Modified Co-Outstanding Performance Award Winners: Stewart Friesen and Bobby Varin
Friesen ran a part time schedule at Fonda in 2019 due to his commitments with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series where he was a two-time winner in 2019. Even though he ran a part time schedule at Fonda he was still able to win six times in 2019, two of the events being the biggest ones of the season at the “Track of Champions” the Firecracker 50 in July and the Fonda 200 in September and finished the season with a fourth place finish in the final point standings.
Friesen currently sits fifth on the all-time win list at Fonda with a total of 60 wins in nine winning seasons of racing there, his first win coming on 7/27/2010 and his last one on 9/28/2019. He also has one win in the 358-Modified division at Fonda on 9/21/2018 along with a win with the Patriot 360 Sprints on 5/28/2016 and an Empire Super Sprints (ESS) win back on 9/25/2015. He also has Modified championships at Fonda in four consecutive years on 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Varin currently sits fourth on the all time Modified win list at Fonda with 65 wins in 22 winning seasons, his first win coming on 7/16/1994 and his last on 6/1/2019. Two of the wins were Super DIRTcar Series events back on 8/16/1995 and 9/23/2017. He also has a 358-Modified win back on 8/15/2018 to go along with seven track championships in 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2018. Varin ended the 2019 season with one feature win and a second-place finish in the final point standings.
Fonda Speedway Crate 602 Sportsman Outstanding Performance Award: Adam McAuliffe
McAuliffe had two wins on his way to a second-place finish in the final point standings for 2019. He currently sits sixth on the all-time win list in the division with a total of 10 wins, the first one coming on 5/29/2010 and his last on 8/10/2019.
Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Outstanding Performance Award: Nick Stone
Stone won four times in the Pro Stock division during the 2019 season and finished second in the season long point standings. He has 46 career wins in the division, which is fourth on the all-time win list, the first one coming on 6/8/2002 and his last one on 9/27/2019. Four of those wins were in the prestigious “Hondo Classic” back in 2007, 2008, 2016, and 2017. He was also the Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Track Champion back in 2014.
Fonda Speedway Street Stock Co-Outstanding Performance Award Winners: Michael Arnold and Dave Horning Sr.
Arnold finished second in the final point standings in the division for 2019 with one feature win. He now has a total of three wins in the division, the first one coming on 8/18/2018 and his last one on 5/25/2019.
Horning Sr. won the first four street stock features in the 2019 season and ended up fourth in the final point standings. With those four wins, Horning Sr. now has a total of 62 career wins in the division at Fonda, his first one coming on 4/14/2001 and his last on 5/18/2019 which is on top of the all-time win list. All combined Horning Sr. and his son Dave Horning Jr. have a total of 113 victories in the Street Stock division at Fonda.
Fonda Speedway Modified Co-Rookies of the Year: Dave Constantino and David Schilling
Constantino had one Modified win in 2019 on 5/4/2019 and finished fifth in the final point standings in the division. He was the Crate 602 Sportsman Track Champion in 2013 and has a total of 17 wins in that division placing him third on the all-time win list in the division with the first win coming on 7/23/2011 and the last on 9/21/2018. He also has one “Open” Sportsman win on 6/23/2007.
Schilling competed for the first time in a Modified at Fonda in 2019 and finished sixth in the final point standings with five top five finishes and 12 top 10 finishes in the division.
Fonda Speedway Crate 602 Sportsman Rookie of the year: Andrew Buff
Competing in his first full season in the division at Fonda, Buff finished ninth in the final point standings with five top five finishes and eight top 10 finishes.
Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Newcomer of the Year: Bill Knapp
Knapp finished ninth in points with one top five finish and nine top 10 finishes in 2019. He does have one career Pro Stock win at Fonda during his career that coming on 9/17/2011
Fonda Speedway Street Stock Rookie of the Year: Josh Samrov
In his first year in the division at Fonda, Samrov had two top five finishes and six top 10 finishes on his way to a seventh-place finish in the final point standings.
Many special awards were also handed out to people who were associated with the Fonda Speedway in the past or still are in some form. They include the following:
Lifetime Contribution to Racing in Memory of Kenny Shoemaker: Mike Romano
Romano was the Modified Track Champion at Fonda back in 1989, 1990, and 1997; the 358-Modified Track Champion in 2000; and the 320-Modified Champion in 1985 and 1986. He has a total of 48 Modified wins at Fonda in 16 winning seasons, the first one coming one 6/7/1980 and the last on 7/24/2004, one of them being the Fonda 200 in 1989. He also has a total of five 358-Modified wins at Fonda placing him second on the all-time win list in that division. He is first on the 320-Modified all time win list with 21 victories.
“This award means a lot to me,” Romano said at the banquet. “When I was a little kid Kenny was over at my house a lot and he helped me out a lot too. I am very fortunate to have made a lot of good friends in racing.”
Lifetime Achievement: Jack Miller
Miller had six Late Model wins at Fonda along with a Limited Sportsman championship back in 1973.
Dedication to Racing in Memory of Harry Peek: Laurie Fallis
Fallis is the promoter of the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series that races at Fonda a few times a year. She has done a great job promoting the club and growing it in popularity and she is also a columnist for the Race Pro Weekly website.
NYSSCA Award of Excellence: Stewart Friesen and Josh Coonradt
Friesen was a two-time winner in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and had 16 Modified wins at nine different tracks in 2019.
Coonradt finished third in the final Pro Stock point standings at Fonda in 2019 with one win, that being the prestigious “Hondo Classic”. He has a total of four career wins at Fonda in the Pro Stock division, the first one on 6/16/2018 and the last on 6/29/2019. He also has a total of 17 Street Stock wins at Fonda, the first one coming on 8/15/2015 and the last on 9/24/2016.
Media Award: Ed Lamberton
Lamberton can be seen at Fonda every week and his radio show which began on WCSS in Amsterdam, then went to WVTL in Amsterdam, now can be heard on the Dirt Track Racing Network at 7:00 p.m. on Monday evenings. Lamberton has a 40-year association with NYSSCA and was the winner of the Media Award back in 1998.
Dedication to Racing Pro Stock Excellence Jim Langenback Award: Jay and Jason Casey
Both the father and son raced at Fonda for a couple of years with Jay getting one Pro Stock feature win back on 7/2/2016.
Humanitarian Award in Honor of Chaplain Dave Miller: Ed Biittig Sr.
Ed along with his wife Betty are Fonda Speedway regulars every Saturday evening and promote racing not only at Fonda but also along the entire Northeast at various tracks that they go to on a weekly basis. Ed & Betty are not only fans of the sport but also contributed to the Gater Racing News paper back in the day and now write a column for Dirt Track Digest (DTD) along with a paper in their local hometown area called the Mountain Eagle. They were also formerly media coordinators for the Fonda Speedway. Ed is now in his 46th year of Recovery and attends the Anti-DWI Court System down in Volusia County in Florida when they go down there for the winter months.
President’s Award: Luke Horning
Horning had an outstanding 2019 racing season, winning the Pro Stock Track Championship at Fonda for the first time in his career. He had a total of 18 wins in 2019 at six different tracks. “This is a surprise to win this, I didn’t know about it until I got to the banquet and started going through the book,” Horning said.
Overall Outstanding Performance Driver of the Year: Kyle Inman and Tim Hartman Jr.
Hartman Jr raced at Fonda in 2019 to his first career Crate 602 Sportsman points title. He was also crowned the Short Track Super Series (STSS) Crate 602 North Region Sportsman Champion. All total Hartman Jr. had a total of 17 wins at five different tracks in 2019.
There were four new inductees to the NYSSCA Hall of Fame at the Hall of Fame ceremony earlier in the day at the Saratoga Automobile Museum who were introduced to the banquet crowd as well. They were Charlie Langenstein, Mike McLaughlin, John McArdell, and Jeff Hoetzler.
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Now under the management of BD Motorsports Media LLC, the speedway will operate weekly on Saturday nights from April through August plus several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds off New York State Thruway Exit No. 28 at 21 S. Bridge Street Fonda, NY 12068.
Fonda Speedway is on the web at www.thefondaspeedway.com. To learn more, call the office at 518.915.4395, like Fonda Speedway on Facebook www.facebook.com/thefondaspdwy or follow on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy.