By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – Due to a rain out on Saturday, July 11 Fonda Speedway management decided to add a midweek show to their schedule called “One Wild Wednesday” and it certainly fit the bill of being a wild event. On Wednesday evening a great friend of the Fonda Speedway, the late Hondo Carpenter, was honored with the 15th Annual Hondo Classic for the Pro Stocks.
Also honored was the videographer at the Fonda Speedway for the last 30 years, Bob James who is known as Bobco Video or just Bobco to many of us, was honored by having the “Perch” up on top of the grandstands named after him as “The Bobco Video Tower” as he goes through some current health issues that has kept him away from the sport he loves this year.
Two drivers moved their names up on the all time win list in their respective divisions as both Nick Stone and Stewart Friesen were winners in the Algonkin Motel Pro Stock and Sunoco Modified feature events respectively along with Brian Calabrese who won the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman main event.
The 50/50 was worth $663 and was won by Mike Jackson!
Pre-race ceremonies began with the invocation by Ed Biittig Sr. who stood alongside Bob James who was in a wheelchair on victory lane.
“Ladies & gentleman watching this race tonight on DTD TV this is a very tough night for me and many others,” Biittig started his invocation saying. “This guy right here (Bob James or Bobco as he is known to so many who was next to Ed in a wheelchair) has given us 30 years of more then anyone could ask for. I want people to know that what the fans and others have done with all of their prayers has kept Bob with us.”
“Brett & Heather Deyo renaming the perch up there, it’s so very important to look at this, Bob is a special human being,” Ed continued to say. “This place is the Track of Champions and you Bob are one of those champions. We think the world of you Bob.”
“We wanted to do a little something special here along with the Hondo race,” Fonda Speedway promoter Brett Deyo said. “The perch up there on top of the grandstand has been the official tower and home to Bobco Video for many, many years. You have captured so many moments here at the Track of Champions documenting history and you are part of that history.”
“Tonight and for the remainder of time here at the Fonda Speedway the perch up there is going to be known as the Bobco Video Tower in your honor so thank you for everything you’ve done to preserve the history of the Fonda Speedway.”
“Thank you very much,” Bob James said afterwards. “I appreciate what you’ve done for me, 30 years of racing events plus motorsports events at the Fonda Fair, I’ve taken a lot of videos and have enjoyed it all.”
Joe Kriss sang the National Anthem and the racing action was ready to begin.
The 15th Annual Hondo Classic was the first feature of the evening with the field being paced by the Fonda Speedway pace truck followed by a truck carrying the banner “In Loving Memory of Hondo Carpenter”, and another truck carrying Bob James around the track. The cars were lined up for a four-wide salute to the fans while head starter Joe Kriss waved the checkered and American flags from the flag stand.
The yellow was out before any laps were completed for a seven car pileup in turn four and once that was cleaned up it was pole position starter and defending Algonkin Motel Pro Stock Track Champion Luke Horning who took the lead to begin the event. Nick Stone started the event in the eighth position and by lap five had already gotten by Devon Camenga for the third position.
Third place starter Beau Ballard was racing Horning hard for the lead by lap six with Horning and Ballard a half straightaway ahead of Stone at that point. A yellow flag changed all of that on lap six for a car that was stopped in between turns one and two. On the restart, Ballard made a great three wide move coming out of turn one to go between Stone and Horning to take the lead.
Horning had a run on Ballard coming down the backstretch on the next lap and got the lead back with Ballard giving Horning a tap in the rear after Horning had gotten by. Somehow Horning straightened the car out as it was once pointed towards the infield and continued with Stone the new second place car. Kenny Gates also got by Horning at that point for the third position and from that point on it was a four-way battle for the lead between Ballard, Stone, Gates, and Horning.
On the outside at the finish line to complete lap 12, Stone took the lead away and held on to the position through three more yellow flags as Ballard, Gates, and Horning all tried to find a way to get by. Nobody was able to find a way by Stone who went on to his fourth victory of the season at Fonda in five events in the Meltz Lumber sponsored, Nick Stone built #27.
The win for Stone was worth $1,000 plus lap money and bonuses collected by the Friends of Hondo Memorial Society.
Making the win even more special was the fact that it was his fifth win in the Hondo Classic event and it also moved him in to a tie for third on the all-time win list with Kenny Martin Jr. with 50 career wins!
Ballard, Gates, Horning, and last years Hondo Classic winner Josh Coonradt completed the top five in the event.
“We started eighth tonight, so it wasn’t too far back,” Stone told Jay Severson in victory lane. “I didn’t know where to be on the track, it was fast everywhere. We made a wrong decision on gears for tonight and my car wasn’t fast on the bottom but I got down there at the right time and when you are leading you are able to block a little.”
To say that the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature was unbelievable would be hitting the nail right on the head. It all started out with Jessica Friesen leading from the pole with Jeff Heotzler in tow. Invader Matt Sheppard started the event in the fifth position and made a great move to second by lap two with defending Sunoco Modified Track Champion Rocky Warner right behind in third.
Sheppard took the lead away from Jessica Friesen on the restart while Stewart Friesen went backwards from his fourth place starting position in the first few laps. By the time lap seven was in the record books he gathered it back up so to speak and went by Warner for the third spot and then by his wife Jessica for spot number two.
On lap eight Stewart Friesen slowed on the backstretch with a flat right rear tire while in the second position bringing out the caution flag. He would take the Halmar #44 to the hot pit for a tire change and rejoin the race at the rear of the field. From that point on the show that he put on was simply amazing as he restarted the event in the 20th position.
Danny Varin was the new second place car on the restart and on the next restart was the new race leader after starting the event in the seventh position with Sheppard right there in second and David Schilling having a great run from the 10th place starting position now in third.
Larry Wight started the event in the ninth position and nearly got into the backstretch wall on lap 14 while running just outside of the top five. Wight and Stewart Friesen were both running as high as he could go without hitting the wall around the entire track with Wight gathering it up after the bobble on the backstretch to continue his march to the front. When Danny Varin’s right front suspension broke on lap 14 it took him out of the race with Sheppard again assuming the lead with the caution coming out.
Stewart Friesen was in the picture again on lap 16 as he moved past Wight for the fourth position after making a slide job pass in turn four to take the spot as Josh Hohenforst was the new second place car to Sheppard after starting the event in the eight position. One by one Stewart Friesen got by car after car, first getting by Schilling for the third spot on lap 18 and next the second position after getting by Hohenforst on a lap 20 restart after a caution flag.
At that point Sheppard was out to a straightaway advantage but that all changed when a lap 20 caution flag closed the field with Stewart Friesen the new second place car on the restart. Sheppard led the next two laps until lap 23 when Stewart Friesen made a pass on the outside of the backstretch to take the lead, from 20th to the lead in just 15 laps!
Two more yellow flags slowed the event, but it was Stewart Friesen who went on to the $4,000 race win followed by Sheppard, Wight, Hohenforst, and 13th place starter Dave Constantino.
The win for Stewart Friesen was the fifth of the 2020 season at Fonda in six events. It moved him into a tie for fourth place on the all-time win list with Bobby Varin, both with 65 career wins at the “Track of Champions”.
“Definitely a challenging racetrack tonight,” Friesen said in victory lane. “I’m glad that we brought the big block tonight and I’m proud of my teammate (wife Jessica Friesen) and this whole team. We have a lot of work to do yet this year and if I don’t give it my all they bust my ass for the entire week until the next race.”
The first seven laps of the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature were led by pole position starter Tony Farone before JaMike Sowle took over the lead in turn three on lap eight. Fifth place starter Brian Calabrese also got by Farone at that point for the second position and on lap 10 on the inside of turn three Calabrese was the new race leader.
The first of only two cautions in the event was out on lap 12 with Cody Clark and Chad Edwards the new third and fourth place cars on the restart after starting together back in the fifth row. Farone’s great run came to an end on lap 18 when he slowed on the backstretch, bringing out the final caution flag in the event.
Seventh place starter Nick Scavia moved into the fourth place on the restart as Sowle continued to pressure Calabrese for the lead. With three laps to go, Sowle had a great run on the outside of turns three and four but went up too high allowing Calabrese to get away and seal up the win in the L/M Mason Contracting #21C. The win for Calabrese was his fourth career in the division and was worth $1,000.
Clark and Scavia also got by Sowle for the second and third positions with Sowle finishing the event in the fourth spot and Joe Williams fifth after starting 14th giving him the Greco’s NAPA Hard Charger Award for the evening.
“I just didn’t want to mess up over in turn two, so I started slowing down and trying to hit my marks,” Calabrese told Jeff Ahlum in victory lane. “He wasn’t going to beat me (referring to the #711 of JaMike Sowle) I had plenty left.”
As stated earlier in the week, Fonda Speedway management will be making adjustments to the remainder of the 2020 schedule per regulations in place by New York State not allowing spectators of any kind in both the Grandstand and Drive-In areas. As a result, there will be no racing at the speedway on Saturday, July 18 and Saturday, July 25.
We will post an updated schedule through August in the coming days. A reminder, should regulations turn more favorable, the speedway has been granted permission by the Fonda Fair Board to race later into August and September due to the cancelation of the annual Fonda Fair.
All 2020 Season Passes will be honored at full face value for the 2021 season.
Thank you to our fans, racers, staff members and sponsors for the continued support.
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 www.facebook.com/thefondaspeedwy or follow on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy.
15TH ANNUAL HONDO CLASSIC FOR THE ALGONKIN PRO STOCKS – 29-LAPS – NICK STONE, Beau Ballard, Kenny Gates, Luke Horning, Josh Coonradt, Steve Cosselman, Andy Graves, AJ Walters, Devon Camenga, Rob Yetman, Chad Jeseo, Jason Casey, Jay Casey, Justin White, John Rivers, Rich Crane, Tanner Warner, Ivan Joslin, Randy Cosselman, Gary Silkey, John Roese, Jim Normoyle, David Emigh, Justin Knight, Jason Morrison, Don Collins
Lap leaders – 1-6 Luke Horning, 7-11 Beau Ballard, 12-29 Nick Stone
Heat race winners – Nick Stone, Luke Horning, Kenny Gates, Randy Cosselman
Consolation race winner – Jason Morrison
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Josh Hohenforst, Dave Constantino, David Schilling, Jessica Friesen, Adam McAuliffe, Brian Pessolano, Scott Huber, Brian Gleason, Steve Akers, Darwin Greene, Jeff Heotzler, Rocky Warner, Brian Calabrese, Danny Tyler, Danny Varin, Marc Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, Devin Willis, Craig Hanson, Andy Bachetti (DNS), Danny Johnson (DNS)
Lap leaders – 1-5 Jessica Friesen, 6-10 Matt Sheppard, 11-13 Danny Varin, 14-22 Matt Sheppard, 23-30 Stewart Friesen
Heat race winners – Jessica Friesen, Stewart Friesen, Josh Hohenforst
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – BRIAN CALABRESE, Cody Clark, Nick Scavia, JaMike Sowle, Joe Williams, Tim Hartman Jr., Mark Mortensen, Griffen Mansmith, Brendan Gibbons, Charlie Tibbitts, Michael McCallion, Spencer Rapp, Chad Edwards, Tony Farone, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Thomas VanVorst, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Tim Dwyer, Dana Camenga, Aaron Jacobs, Brett Mortensen
Lap leaders – 1-7 Tony Farone, 8-9 JaMike Sowle, 10-25 Brian Calabrese
Heat race winners – Tim Hartman Jr., Chad Edwards, Nick Scavia