A look back at 2012 Fonda season

FONDA – Fonda Speedway celebrated its 60th anniversary season in 2012, and at the conclusion of the points season, there were three first-time champions crowned and two repeat champions who had won championships in the past at Fonda.

Going into the final night of points on Aug. 18, Stewart Friesen had already wrapped up the modified point title but managed to up his win total by one on the “Night of Features” when he won the second of two events that night to complete a season high win total of eight on his way to his first ever track championship at Fonda.

“Stewart came to Fonda and struggled for three or four years but in 2012 he definitely found something,” Fonda Speedway promoter Ric Lucia said at the annual awards banquet. “Stewart is not an outsider at Fonda anymore he is one of us.”

“This was a big challenge for us,” Friesen said after accepting his championship trophy at the awards banquet. “Thad [Parks] started this racing team in 2010 and built this program to where it is today. After racing at Five Mile Point for a couple of years we came to Fonda for the first time as a regular this year and started out on the right foot at Thad’s favorite race track. Fonda has a great atmosphere, runs a great racing program, and I am privileged to race here. I look forward to being a part of the Fonda Speedway family for many years to come.”

Following behind Friesen’s eight feature wins at Fonda in 2012 were Matt DeLorenzo and Danny Varin with three wins apiece and Mike Mahaney with two feature wins while 2011 Track Champion Ronnie Johnson, A.J. Romano, Jimmy Davis, Danny Johnson and Jeremy Wilder all had one feature win apiece.

The wins for Mahaney and Wilder were career firsts at Fonda with Mahaney winning two of the biggest paying events of the season including the 2012 season kickoff “Ice Jam” event paying $4,000-to-win along with the season ending “Honoring Fonda Speedway Legends” event in honor of Fonda Speedway legend Jack Johnson which paid $12,000 to win.

In all there were a total of nine different winners in the modified division in a total of 21 feature events during the 2012 racing season.

The point standings going into the final event of the 2012 season were a lot closer in the 602 sportsman division than they were in the modified class with Cody Bleau, Rocky Warner, 2011 Track Champion Mark Mortensen and John Scarborough all having a shot at the title going into the Night of Features finale.

With a second-place finish in both of the Night of Features events, Bleau won his first point title at Fonda and had a total of two feature wins during the 2012 racing season.

Scarborough led the way with five feature wins during the 2012 racing season in the 602 sportsman division followed by Mortensen and Warner with three wins apiece; while Robert Bublak, Tony Farone, Ricky Quick, Brian Pessolano, Justin Auspelmyer and Ray Zemken all had one win apiece.

In summary, there were a total of 10 different feature winners in the 602 Sportsman division in a total of 19 feature events with the victories by Farone, Quick, and Pessolano the first of their careers in the division at Fonda.

In the pro stock division, it was a two-man race to the 2012 title going into the Night of Features event between Pete Broderson and four-time champion Kenny Gates.

At the completion of the two feature events on the final night of points, Broderson and Gates each won one of the events and finished second to each other in the other event so with Broderson holding the lead going into the evening he finished with the advantage and was crowned the 2012 champion for his first ever championship at Fonda.

In a total of 18 pro stock feature events held during the 2012 season, there were seven different winners led by Broderson who had six feature wins including the prestigious Hondo Classic in honor of the late Hondo Carpenter, while Gates and Kenny Martin Jr. both had four wins apiece while Ivan Joslin, Luke Horning, Chip Smith and Chuck Dumblewski all scored single event wins with Horning the only first-time winner in the division in 2012.

Chuck McSpirit was crowned the 2012 street stock champion at Fonda for the second time in his career after winning it back in 2008. Dave Horning Sr. led the way with a total of eight feature wins during the season in the street stock division while Greg Havlicek was next in line with four feature wins with three of those four wins coming in the last four events of the season.

McSpirit finished the season with a total of three feature victories, while Reuben Kennedy Jr. had two wins and Rob VanAernam had a single win with Havlicek the only first-time winner in the division in 2012. In all, there were a total of 18 feature events run in the street stock division in 2012 and five different winners in those events.

Although they ran in the same feature event, the 4-cyliner division was separated into a single- and dual-cam combination at approximately midseason with a total of 21 feature events run with a total of six different winners in those events.

Leading the way in the division in victories was defending Track Champion Ben Righi who repeated the feat in 2012 as he was crowned the champion of the dual-cam category with a total of seven feature event wins.

Ken Hollenbeck was the leader in wins in the division with eight and was crowned the single-cam track champion for 2012 followed by Kerrie Hollenbeck with three feature wins, Keith Tesiero Sr., Keith Tesiero Jr., and Shane Playford all were single event winners in the division for 2012.

For both of the Tesiero’s and Playford, it was their first career wins in the division at Fonda although Tesiero Sr. had five feature wins in the former late nodel division which ran at Fonda in 1963 and then again from 1968 through 1982.

In special events held at Fonda in 2012, Tyler Rice and Danny Varin won the two CRSA sprint events, Jessica Zemken and Lance Yonge won the two Empire Super Sprint events, Tim Shaffer won the All-Star Sprint event, and Friesen was the winner of the “Shoemaker Dash for Cash” in honor of the late Fonda Speedway modified legend Kenny Shoemaker.

On Sept. 23, Fonda Speedway closed out its 60th season of competition with a racing program honoring Jumpin’ Jack Johnson which saw 12’s being the number of the day as a $12,000 purse was paid out for the modified main event, while $1,200 was paid out for both the 602 sportsman and pro stock main events. To go along with that $1,200 was paid out to each of the modified heat race winners and $120 was paid out to each of the 602 Sportsman heat race winners.

The event was sponsored by Sowle Trailer Repair, Morris Ford, Hunt’s Machine, and the local NAPA Stores in Scotia and Rotterdam.

The idea for the Honoring Legends Tribute to Jack Johnson event came from Fonda Speedway promoter Ric Lucia and General Manager Marty Beberwyk who were trying to come up with an idea to honor Johnson all season long.

“Jack consented to let us have the tribute, but said not to get too fancy with it,” Beberwyk said.

On the front page of The Racing Insider. which is the official program of the Track of Champions Fonda Speedway, Lucia wrote a dedication of his own to Jack in the final issue of the 2012 season saying, “I have had a lot of time to think about Jack Johnson and his career. I figured out that his book of credentials and history will prove out how truly great he really is. He dedicated his life to our sport and especially to Fonda Speedway. Throughout history and racing, I have figured out the really great people who are legendary have always contributed and put in more than they take out or away. Jack Johnson truly put in more than he took out. In the year 2012 and our 60th anniversary, the number 12 is so significant. With this said, I would like to dedicate our 60th anniversary season and this final 112-lap race to Jack Johnson. To the legendary Jack Johnson, my friend, signed Ric Lucia.”

During intermission on Sept. 23, the 2012 Most Popular Drivers were presented with their awards by Jim Ellis from The Leader Herald in Gloversville.

The 2012 Most Popular Drivers were Ryan Odasz (modified), Mark Mortensen (602 sportsman), Pete Broderson (pro stock), Greg Havlichek (street stock), and Ben Righi (4-cylinder).