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.
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
ALBANY — Trauma that dates back to the enslavement period is at the root of many of the challenges facing today’s African-American community, author Hosea Givan II said.
Givan penned a book, “Reach Your Community,” which outlines strategies for unifying neighborhoods, particularly in communities of color, through basketball and other sports programming.
The author, who has ties to Albany, said communities of color have made progress in addressing the issues facing society, but there is more to be done.
Givan lived in Albany County when he served as executive director of the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus between 1989 and 1991, working under the caucus’ chair at the time, Assemblyman Albert Vann.
He also worked to support the campaign of David Dinkins, who became New York City’s first African-American mayor, and by registering voters through a grassroots initiative.
“I was able to organize my fraternity brothers — I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, which was the same fraternity David Dinkins was in — and we were very effective,” Givan said. “We registered thousands of voters through the course of a couple of summers.”
Givan and his fellow fraternity brothers went from neighborhood to neighborhood, drawing in more fraternity and sorority members to carry out a voter registration campaign.
“We worked as a collective to go out and get people registered to vote,” he said. “We knocked on doors in the projects, we stood on street corners — it was very effective. We registered between 4,000 and 5,000 voters over the course of those two years. It was an exciting time.”
When Givan took over as executive director of the state’s Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, he directed the group’s focus to a specific need that he said was vital to address.
“The primary focus while I was there was the endangered African-American male,” Givan said. “I was able to convince them this was something that needed to be addressed and focused on with a sense of urgency.”
The term “endangered African-American male” was coined at a time when there was a disproportionate number of young Black men facing legal troubles and recidivism rates following imprisonment.
“We were specifically looking, at that time, at the amount of Black men that were getting imprisoned, going into the prison system at an alarming rate and then returning,” Givan said. “It wasn’t a corrective system, it was a system that was repetitive. There were a lot of repeat offenders.”
Givan had been a special education teacher early in his career and said he saw a lot of young Black males siphoned into the special education system due to behavior problems, and later on, entering the prison system.
“There was a pipeline from special education to prison. There was a lot of gang violence at that time, and crack [cocaine] was on the rise,” Givan said. “There was a lot of turbulence in the community and when we saw the endangered African-American male, it was mostly associated with the fact that there was a high percentage — one out of four Black men, in the mid ‘80s — that had some involvement with the legal system, which was incredible.”
A series of public hearings was held across the state, including a hearing at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem that drew a huge crowd and media attention.
“Some initiatives statewide came out of that,” he said, including the creation of an Office of Black Male Initiatives at campuses in the State University of New York system to support African-American male students.
The challenges facing young Black men were numerous, with some dating back generations.
“I think a lot of it stems from trauma from the enslavement period that is unresolved,” Givan said. “The enslavement period was horrific — it was inhumane and we can’t begin to imagine some of the things that men and women were subjected to during that phase.”
The end of enslavement may have freed African-Americans in the United States, but the trauma they experienced would resonate for many years, Givan said.
“When the Emancipation Proclamation took place and enslaved people were free again, there were no mental health clinics, there were no trauma centers, they didn’t have psychologists or psychiatrists or social workers to help them deal with the trauma that they had experienced, in many cases for several generations,” he said. “That unresolved trauma just perpetuated. Not in all, but in many cases that trauma is still there, it is still present and still resides in many from generation to generation.”
Communities of color are also faced with societal challenges as well, he said.
“The other part of it is the lack of economic opportunity and that can be attributed to the education system, the lack of support due to a fractured family structure where in many situations there isn’t stability in the home, the lack of community support systems — there are so many reasons,” Givan said. “There is racism, a caste system that exists in this country that is not just based on race but on economic opportunity and sometimes economic opportunity is based on race. If you have access to information or resources — Blacks and Hispanics oftentimes do not have that same availability.”
Progress in the African-American community has not been as swift or as comprehensive as Givan would have liked, and in some respects he has seen backwards movement, he said.
One way to help young people of color is to reach them through involvement in community sports leagues, which would connect them with adult male figures who can guide and support them, the subject of Givan’s book. “Reach Your Community” was published in May 2021 and Givan was scheduled to go on a book tour, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening.
“I would like to see more men and women involved in simple things that make a big difference in society and which have certainly made a difference in my life,” Givan said. “One way is to take the initiative and pull together a team in a basketball league, or in a baseball league. When you have men taking an interest in boys, it makes a difference. These young men will remember this their entire lives. It helps to compensate in many ways for young men who may not have direct contact with strong men — you have an opportunity for one man to impact 12 kids. Those are basic and simple things that we have to get back to.”
Addressing mental health issues resulting from both past trauma and the COVID pandemic, is also vital, Givan said.
“Mental health has been compounded as a result of the pandemic, but I think the trauma goes back generations. It goes back to the enslavement period and it is unresolved,” Givan said. “If a child goes through a bad divorce and there is trauma from the divorce and the child doesn’t see a psychiatrist or social worker — imagine their children and grandchildren, who never got the proper support from a mental health standpoint, and the trauma goes from that person to their child, because they are broken, and then to the next child when they become a parent.”
“Their parenting skills are based on what they experienced — and the pain and suffering they have experienced is passed on, and passed on, and passed on,” he said. “So at some point, we have to deal with that trauma and I don’t think it has been effectively dealt with in a serious way.”