Drivers unveil rides for 2014 season at annual car show

ROTTERDAM – Saturday at the annual Fonda Speedway Car Show at the Rotterdam Square Mall, six-time modified track champion Bobby Varin stood next to the Jake Spraker-owned No. 1J and patiently answered fans questions.

The most common was “how are you feeling?”

Varin calmly answered “I am fine and ready to go.”

Over the winter, Varin was involved in a skiing accident that left him wearing a neck brace while he recovered from a broken neck.

“Everything is going well and we should be ready for opening day unless there is a major set back, which I don’t see,” Varin said. “Besides, in the race car adrenaline is a great pain killer.”

Varin said he is set to run Fonda on Saturday nights and is set to defend his Glen Ridge Motorsports Park track championship on Sunday’s in the Nelson-owned No. 85.

Stewart Friesen has won the last two modified track championships at Fonda Speedway, while Varin and Ronnie Johnson won the two before him. They are both back and looking to dethrone “Mr. Freeze.”

“This is the car we won the track championship with in 2011. It is actually my father’s [Jumpin’ Jack Johnson] last race car,” Johnson said. “I ran it the last race of last year at Fonda and finished second the Stewart Friesen with it. I like the car. I feel comfortable in it and I know it. [Team owners] Carole and Alton Palmer asked me if I wanted a new car for Fonda and I declined the offer. I wanted to go back with this and they gave me the green light to go ahead and get it ready.”

With consistent finishes and a strong finish to the end of the 2013 race season Jeff Rockefeller had a lot of fans and drivers taking notice.

Rockefeller put his modified in the top six in time trials on the mile at Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, won the Big Block Modified Futures race and finished 12th on the lead lap in the 200-lap main event.

“I still can’t believe what we did out there,” Rockefeller said. “I have had a lot of people talking to me about what we did out there. It was just a great week for us. Right now that car is mothballed and waiting for this year.”

The Schenectady modified pilot is hoping that will be a springboard for a successful 2014 weekly campaign.

“I am ready to go,” he said. “This is a 2014 Bicknell and we will be racing at Malta on Friday, Fonda on Saturday. If Malta rains out on Friday, we will probably run The Ridge on Sunday. We also want to hit some of the DIRT series events with the big block.”

The car show continues today at the mall with more than 50 cars from all divisions on display.

Speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo unveiled the 25 race schedule for the Track of Champions Friday at the show.

“I was looking for some different things to get people interested in coming back to the track this year,” DeLorenzo said.

Among the fan-friendly nights at the speedway are Little League Night, Fireman’s Night, Ladies Night, Banner Night, Hawaii Night, Kiddie Rides and a Drivers Meet and Greet

The Track of Champions will drop the green flag on its 62nd consecutive racing season with the 40-lap, $4,000-to-win Ice Melt 40 for modifieds. The Pro Stocks also will be on the season-opening racecard in an 25-lap, $800-to-win feature. All division will be offered warm-ups during the program.

The points battle for the track championships begins on April 12 and wraps up with the BBL Night of Features on Aug. 16.

The World of Outlaws Late Models return for a second time on June 19 along with a $1,000-to-win 602 Sportsman feature. Advanced sale tickets for the event are $25. if purchased before June 19 and $30. at the gate.

“I think Matt is doing a good job,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of good things there [on the schedule] and I am looking forward to this year.”