By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
It was at age 5 when I made my first trip to the races. Since then, racing has been a big part of my life, to say the least. Some would say too much, but maybe they just don’t understand the joy this crazy sport has brought to me.
It has been the friends I have made, the great memories and finding my heroes in life along the way. For many, they find heroes playing sports or actresses and actors on TV or the musicians who make the beautiful music that makes this world seem like a better place on stage.
For me and many others, we found our heroes in the ‘60s with work pants, an old ripped T-shirt, and maybe an old leather helmet throwing dirt on the weekend at the local race tracks. These men who were larger than life going out there and laying it on the line week in and week out, for me, this little kid, there I was, at the dirt track making memories one lap at a time.
Many of those memories have the flamed 22 of Mr. David Lape in them as he raced with the very best to ever turn left for 50 years, and I am glad I was along for the ride as my first race was in Dave Lape’s first year in 1964, both at the Victoria Speedway on Route 20 in Guilderland.
The racing family at the Track of Champions, Fonda Speedway, lost a true champion both on and off the track, Mr. David Lape. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lape family during this difficult time.
Many of my fond on track racing memories seem to all have the flamed 22 in them. Over the years, Dave Lape was not just a master behind the wheel, but built Champ Car Chassis that had their share of wins and championships. He was a promoter along with good friend Andy Fusco.
Throughout his career, like so many others that had both asphalt and dirt tracks close to home, Lape became a winner at both. With his long history in the sport there is one thing for sure — he has raced door to door with the best in the business and has won his fair share.
With his clean driving style and way with his fans through the years, Dave Lape became a fan favorite and hero to many, especially at his home track of Fonda Speedway, where he accumulated 99 wins and seven championships. Add to those stats the other numerous track wins and championships and the overall Mr. DIRT Title in 1977 and you can see why he was a threat for any win.
After hanging up his helmet, the Fonda Speedway Museum became something special to Mr. Lape and his family and they have taken it to what you can see the next time you go to the Fonda Speedway.
I have been so lucky to call Fonda Speedway my home track. It is drivers like Mr. Lape who have kept me coming back. All I can say is that track in the sky just added another great driver to the list.
Race on, flaming 22. Rest in peace, Mr. Lape. You will be truly missed by all.
ALBANY SARATOGA SPEEDWAY
Going into the final night of points, all Matt DeLorenzo had to do was start the NAPA Modified feature to add his name to the illustrious names of past Champions who have made Albany Saratoga Speedway the “Great Race Place,” and it sure lives up to that.
Once again, the track was in great racing shape, smooth and fast with 2-, 3- and yes even some 4-wide action and come feature time I think it was just as Jeremy Pitts ordered. The three-time former Sportsman champion has found it tough going since making the big move, but continues to show improvement against the tough field of NAPA Modifieds and Friday night he was spot on.
Grabbing the early lead was C.G. Morey with Pitts taking over the second spot. Morey would hold the lead as Jack Speshock and Peter Britten were on the move. On lap 6 Don Ronca slowed and brought out the yellow. Once back to green, Pitts would be the new leader with Morey, Rich Ronca, Ryan McCartney, and Peter Britten and Matt DeLorenzo, who were battling nerf bar to nerf bar for fifth.
Out front Pitts was hitting his marks lap after lap and building a comfortable lead over Morey and Ronca, as Britten continued with their battle. The battle for second heated up with Morey working his way to second and two laps later DeLorenzo worked his way past Morey to third, after starting ninth on the field.
Working their way through the field, Jack Lehner, Mike Mahaney and Marc Johnson were racing their way to just outside the top 5 when contact was made between Johnson and Mahaney running for the same piece of real estate. The caution was out for McCartney, who slowed as Marc Johnson headed to the pits with a flat.
After opening a huge lead out front, Pitts now had 2022 NAPA Modified Track champion DeLorenzo, Ronca, Lehner and Speshock holding top 5, as Britten and Mahaney continued their race-long battle.
Back to green Pitts held his own, holding the lead as DeLorenzo, who had been cutting into the lead before the caution, held second.Jack Lehner used the top side and worked his way to second, only to have DeLorenzo fire right back and retake second as Britten was moving to third.
It was all Pitts as he motored out front and continued to pick up his first win of the year and second of his career with DeLorenzo, Britten and Jack Lehner, as Jack Speshock held on for a solid run in fifth.
In other action, it was Andrew Buff picking up the 602 Sportsman win as Tim Hartman Jr. picked up his fourth championship.
Following Buff to the line was Chris Johnson, Chris Jakubiak, Travis Witbeck, and rounding out the top 5 was Tim Hartman Jr., who had another solid year against a good weekly field.
In the Pro Stock class, the points came right down to the last night as Jason Casey went into the feature with a two-point lead over Chad Jeseo. As Jeseo was working his way to the front, Casey was also in a battle that would find his hopes for a championship come to an end on lap 10 in a chain reaction spin that brought out the caution and sent Casey to the rear with a damaged racer.
Once back to green it was Jeseo and Luke Horning who put on a show out front, racing door to door in the full fender Pro Stock class in a good old-fashioned barn burner with Horning getting the spot for good and held on for the win.
With his second-place finish, Jeseo is the 2022 Pro Stock champion, and rounding out the top 5 were Shane Henderson, Rich Crane and Nick Stone.
In the Limited Sportsman it was Taylor Wason with the win as Dan Madigan picked up the Street Stock win.
UTICA ROME SPEEDWAY
On Sunday it was off to the Utica Rome Speedway for the Short Track Super Series (STSS), Halmar Elite $25,000 New Yorker.
By luck of the draw it was Stewart Friesen and Ryan Godown leading the Modified feature into turn one, with Friesen firing out of turn 2 and down the back stretch for the lead with Demetrios Drellos and Godown in tow.
The yellow was out quickly as Darrin Smith spun between turns one and two. From this point on the 50-lap feature would go all green flag racing and Friesen made the best of it.
Behind the leader Drellos, Godown and the team cars of Max McLaughlin and Jimmy Phelps battled hard inside the top 5 as Peter Britten and Tim Fuller were wheel to wheel just outside the top 5. Out front, Friesen continued to lead as 10th-place starter and 2022 Utica Rome champion Matt Sheppard was working his way to the top 5 by lap 10, working the high side of Phelps.
With the pace Friesen was setting out front he was in heavy traffic by lap 15 as McLaughlin and Godown battled hard for third, with McLaughlin getting the spot as Drellos was holding down a solid second. Lap 20 found the 8H of McLaughlin slip over the berm between turns 1 and 2, handing third over to Sheppard.
At the halfway point it was Friesen, Drellos, Sheppard, McLaughlin and Phelps holding down the top 5, with Fuller looking for racing room. As the laps clicked away, Friesen had a comfortable lead, working his way through traffic with perfection as Sheppard was starting to reel in Drellos for second.
Behind the top 3 the battle was tight and Matt Williamson was on the move and working his way to the top five, as was Tim Fuller. Lap 42 found Sheppard able to work his way around Drellos and set his sights on the leader, but plain and simple could not cut into Friesen’s lead after his dominating performance. Following Friesen to the line were Sheppard, Drellos, Fuller and Matt Williamson rounding out the top 5
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series Round No. 3 Feature Finish (50 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Demetrios Drellos, Tim Fuller, Mat Williamson, Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Ryan Godown, Larry Wight, Rocky Warner, Mike Mahaney, Ronnie Johnson, Anthony Perrego, Pat Ward, Alex Yankowski, Willy Decker, Andy Bachetti, Dave Marcuccilli, Danny Creeden, Will Shields, Kyle Coffey, Brett Haas, Justin Holland, Michael Maresca, David Schilling, Darren Smith, Peter Britten, Bobby Hackel IV, Jimmy Horton.
In the STSS 602 feature it was Matt Janczuk picking up the win, with Josh Coonradt grabbing the Pro Stock feature.
With the racing season ticking down we look forward to the Fonda 200 weekend, Malta Massive Weekend and Super Dirt Week to close out the 2022 racing season. Please be sure to support the sponsors that continue to support the drivers that make racing available to us all each season.
Again, please keep the Dave Lape family in your thoughts and prayers.