THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY OPEN IN MEMORY OF JACK JOHNSON TO OPEN THE 2023 SEASON AT FONDA THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 22
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – After a highly successful open practice session last Saturday with 105 race cars filling the pit area, the attention now turns to the Montgomery County Open in memory of Jumpin’ Jack Johnson this Saturday, April 22 for the 72nd annual season opener at the “Track of Champions.” The event honors Duanesburg, N.Y.’s iconic Jack Johnson, Fonda Speedway’s all-time leading Modified victor who passed away in April 2021.
$12,000 – in recognition of Johnson’s trademark No. 12A – awaits the Amsterdam Truck Center Modified winner after 40 laps of racing, with $1,000 reserved for the 10th-place finisher and $400 just to take the green flag. More than $30,000 in purse money has been posted for the event: 1) $12,000; 2) $5,000; 3) $2,500; 4) $1,750; 5) $1,500; 6) $1,250; 7) $1,200; 8) $1,150; 9) $1,100; 10) $1,000; 11) $700; 12) $600; 13) $500; 14-24) $400.
The Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds will utilize sail panels for this event and 25 show-up points will be offered to all competitors. NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series points will also be awarded. Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman, Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks, Montgomery County Office for Aging Limited Sportsman and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders will all compete in points-paying events.
There have been five previous Jack Johnson Tribute events and one Memorial event held at Fonda over the years and here is a look back at the results:
Fonda Speedway closed out their 60th season of competition on Sunday evening September 23, as a racing program honoring Jumpin’ Jack Johnson saw 12’s being the number of the day with a $12,000 purse for the 112-lap Modified main event. When all was said and done, Mike Mahaney was the winner of the big paying event.
“$12,000 this is awesome,” Mahaney said after exiting the Woodside Farms sponsored #21 Troyer car in victory lane. “And to honor Jack (Johnson), WOW! RJ (Ronnie Johnson) is a class act; he came over and wished me good luck before the race. I was just trying to be smooth and not give up the bottom line and when Ronnie got into me a couple of times, he was just trying to tell me that I have to go faster. What a way to cap off the season, I can’t imagine a better season than this one, I can’t believe it.”
Ronnie Johnson, Brett Hearn, AJ Romano, and Billy Decker completed the top five in the event.
On July 29, a sea of orange embellished Fonda Speedway on Jack Johnson Tribute night with defending track champion Stewart Friesen presenting his own tribute. Friesen changed the paint scheme on the Tadd Parks-owned No. 1 to a design carried by Johnson at the 2008 Super DIRT Week. Then he put the Johnson-tribute car in Victory Lane at the end of the 50-lap, $5,000-to-win Empire State Champion 50 — a tribute to Jumpin’ Jack Johnson.
“Tadd Parks and Eric Mack thought it would be cool on this big orange night to support Jack Johnson and ALS to do a Jack Johnson paint scheme,” Friesen said in Victory Lane. “They worked together with Dutchess Overhead Doors and Pilat to get it lettered up with Jack’s 2008 Syracuse paint scheme. We are going to take it off after this event. One side is going to go in the [Fonda Speedway] museum over here and Tadd wants to keep the roof. The track definitely came to us, we were a little bit tight the first couple of laps, so I ran the pan hard up a little bit to free it up then about lap eight or nine this thing was on rails.”
Danny Johnson, Billy Decker, Keith Flach, and Tim Fuller completed the top five in the event.
Matt Sheppard took the lead with ten laps remaining in the 60-lap, $5,000-to-win, event honoring 11-time Fonda Speedway champion Jumpin’ Jack Johnson on August 10. “Once we got out front, I knew we were okay, but I just didn’t know if we would ever get there,” Sheppard said in Victory Lane. “I think I was better on the top and the bottom but catching him [Friesen} and passing him are two different things. I kept working him and working him. Finally on that restart we were able to get that crossover and get the lead.”
Stewart Friesen, Jimmy Horton, Ronnie Johnson, and Vic Coffey completed the top five in the event.
The “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway held the Third Annual Jack Johnson Tribute event on Wednesday evening August 2, a 50-lap feature event paying $5,000 to win. When the checkered flag flew it was Mike Mahaney taking the big win in the Buzz Chew #88 Bicknell car after taking the lead on lap 22.
“The track had a lot of grip in it tonight and I was just trying to stay close to the 9S (Matt Sheppard) who was leading early so that if he made a mistake I could capitalize on it,” Mahaney said in victory lane. “Then I was able to make it around Matt and a lap car for the lead.”
Tim Fuller, Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, and Bobby Varin completed the top five in the event.
The luck of the draw placed Rocky Warner on the pole position for the start of the 40-lap, $12,000 to win Montgomery County Open at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night April 24 in the Jake Spraker owned #1J Teo Pro Car, leading all 40-laps on his way to the victory in a tribute race dedicated to Fonda’s all-time winningest driver Jumpin’ Jack Johnson.
“I actually hate starting on the pole I’d rather start fifth or sixth, but I just stayed on the bottom and after trying to decide whether to run a softer tire we ran the same tire that we run here weekly and it worked,” Warner said. “Last week the car just wouldn’t run, Jake came in the shop and said what’s wrong, so we sent the carburetor out and thanks to Pro Power and Willy’s for their help getting it straightened out.”
Ronnie Johnson, Craig Hanson, Matt DeLorenzo, and Anthony Perrego completed the top five in the event.
By the luck of the draw Stewart Friesen and Matt DeLorenzo started the Jack Johnson Memorial event on the front row with Friesen taking the early lead. DeLorenzo was the race leader on lap two after getting by Friesen with an impressive move on the outside in turns three and four. On a lap eight restart, Friesen took over the lead in the event and survived two more restarts for the $12,000 victory. Matt Sheppard, Michael Maresca, Jessica Friesen, and DeLorenzo completed the top five.
“That was real nerve wracking there,” Friesen said in victory lane about the race and all of the restarts. “After being at Orange County last night, being able to come here to Fonda today and win in honor of a legend, this is special. Big thanks to Halmar and my crew, this is a very special win in the Jack Johnson Memorial event as he was a legend here at Fonda.”
Gates open on Saturday afternoon April 22 at 2:30 p.m., with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25 (Adults), $23 (Seniors ages 65 and over) and Kids 11 and under are FREE. Infield drive-in admission is $120 and includes four passes. A registration link will be placed on the speedway website and social media prior to the event. Drive-in vehicles must enter from 2:30-5 p.m.
Pit admission is $45 (Non-Member), $40 (NASCAR or Fonda Member), $10 for Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children ages 5 and under.
Saturday’s event – and all races at Fonda Speedway in 2023 – will be broadcast live on FloRacing (www.floracing.tv) as part of the $150 annual subscription.
A complete information sheet about the event has been posted on the speedway website at: https://www.thefondaspeedway.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/InfoSheetApril22.pdf
More information about the 72nd season opener at the “Track of Champions” can be found on the Fonda Speedway Facebook page.
If you are a race fan that gets to the track early, be sure to check out the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame which is located on the Fonda Fairgrounds at the rear of the parking area going down towards turn four. The museum is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on race days and admission is free!
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. 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 or follow the speedway on Twitter and Instagram: @thefondaspdwy.