Racing Around: Lape to be honored at Fonda

Saturday will be kind of a bittersweet night for me as well as a number of long-time race fans at Fonda Speedway.

The Track of Champions will honor one of the drivers who helped the track live up to its nickname – Dave Lape.

At the beginning of the season Lape announced that after 50 years, this would be his last behind the wheel of a racecar.

After a successful go-kart career that started in 1955, Lape moved up to the big cars in 1964.

Since then he has amassed 99 feature wins at Fonda Speedway to go with 98 second-place finishes, 83 third-place, 57 fourth-place and 49 fifth-place finishes.

The Canajoharie modified pilot has had success outside of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds as he has scored victories at 11 more tracks – including 25 wins at Albany-Saratoga, 37 at Cayuga County, nine at Rolling Wheels, eight at Utica-Rome, four at Ransomville, three at Canandaigua, two at Orange County and one apiece at the New York State Fairgrounds, Devil’s Bowl, Five Mile Point and Drummondville for a total of 191 career wins, 119 of then under DIRT sanction.

Lape has seven Fonda Speedway championships to his name to go with three at Cayuga County, two at Utica-Rome and one at Albany-Saratoga.

He also was a force to be dealt with on the traveling circuit winning the Mr. DIRT Championship in 1977, the Super DIRT Series Championship in 1982 and the Sunoco Championship Trail in 1985.

Normally Hall of Fame honors await the top-caliber drivers when they retire, however, Lape has already been inducted into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame.

He also made his mark at the tracks as a chassis fabricator producing the ChampCar chassis.

For me, Lape is the final link to the era when I first started going to Fonda Speedway on a regular basis.

I vaguely remember his first coupe, but clearly remember the Chevy II and of course one of my favorites, the full-bodied Camaro,

Just scanning down through the regular roster of drivers at Fonda, I was trying to pick out who possibly is the longest-tenured modified driver other than Lape who regularly competes at the speedway.

Although John Kollar, now a team owner, occasionally gets back behind the wheel, I believe the closest has to be either A.J. Romano, Jeff Trombley or, if you count his years as a sportsman champion, Alton Palmer.

Sowle 60 rescheduled

The Sowle 60 that was stopped on lap 15 when the rains hit Saturday night at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park has been rescheduled.

It was initially announced that the race would resume on Oct. 19 as part of the race program with the 602 Nationals. However, due to conflicts, the race will resume on lap 15 on Sept. 27. Besides the $4,007.11 share of the purse, the winner receives a guaranteed starting spot in the Short Track Nationals at Five Mile Point Speedway.

The 602 Sportsman feature that also was rained out Saturday now carries an $850-to-win tag compliments of Mike Sowle and Sowle Tractor Repair.

The Sept. 27 program got another boost thanks to Sowle as in addition to the completion of the 60-lap feature, the modifieds also will run a 35-lap main for $3,711-to-win. The Lightning Cruisers also got a jolt.

They will run a 20-lap feature for $150 to win if the field has 15 or more 4-cylinder cars participating.

Since the rain came late in the program, rain checks are void. General admission for the Sept. 27 program will be $10 for general admission, $5 for students with the 10 and under race fans getting in free. Pit admission will be $25 with no license required.

The track’s awards banquet will take place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the Amsterdam Elks Lodge.

2013 Yearbooks

The Fonda Speedway Yearbook will be available at the Track of Champions Saturday night.

The 80-page book features recaps articles of all the race programs, action photos and driver pictures from all divisions.

The book costs $2 and also is available at The Leader-Herald main office at 8 E. Fulton St. in Gloversville starting next week.