Ares stock car racing: Lape is last link to Fonda's golden era
Dave Lape swears he’s not going to get choked up Saturday night at Fonda Speedway.
Lape, the last link to the golden age of racing at Fonda, is going to be honored for his 50 years of competition at the track along the Mohawk River.
Lape, who sat out a good portion of the season after being injured in a wreck at Fonda, will be back behind the wheel Saturday night, and if all goes well, he’ll also be competing in the season finale of Sept. 14-15.
But then, the door to the past will be closed.
“I realize how significant this is,” said Lape Thursday night. “It’s quite an honor.”
No, Dave, Fonda Speedway should be honored that you stayed there for 50 years.
Bruce Springstein said “Glory days will pass you by,” but that doesn’t mean they’ll be forgotten. It was an advanture just to walk through the pits during the 1980s. Coming across the track in the short chute between turns three and four and entering the pits, Jack Johnson was always parked in the first spot on the right, with C.D. Coville a couple of spots away (probably so he could keep an eye on what Jumpin’ Jack was doing.) Lou Lazzaro was across from Johnson on the left, the Romanos were always on the east side of the pit shack and Lape and the Dalmatas were on the other side, until the night a sprint car roared through victory lane, slammed into the guardrail and sent Ray Dalmata’s tool box flying. That side of the pit shack was then left open.
Lape is the only one still racing.
Fans could see everything that went on in the pits, from tire changes to fights, and if they didn’t see it all, announcer Jim King was filling the gaps.
Lape is the last link to that era.
Lape, who has 99 victories and seven modified championships at Fonda, will have a special guest for his special night. Kathy Marchione, the daughter of Pete Corey, will be on hand, thanks to the persistence of Lape’s wife, Jackie.
“Jackie got in touch with her, and told her about what was going on,” Lape said. “Pete and Bob [Whitbeck, the owner of many of Corey’s best cars] were my heroes. Jackie told her about some of the old pictures I’ve got of Pete, and how I painted flames on my car to look like the cars that Pete drove. She told Jackie, ‘I want to come.’ ”
And Lape thinks he’s not going to get chocked up?
Can’t catch a break
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park had the pits packed for the “Sowle 60” last Saturday, but rain rolled in and washed out both the 60-lap modified feature and the 602 sportsman feature. The modified feature was halted on lap 15.
The remaider of the card is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 27, and to sweeten the pot, promoter Pete Demistrasek has added another 35-lap modified feature, which will pay $3,711 to win. A sweep of the two modified features would mean a payday of over $7,700. The winner’s share of the postponed sportsman feature has been kicked up to $850.
The card on Sept. 27 will include a second, 25-lap sportsman feature, as well as cruisers.
The Ridge will also be in action tonight, with all divisions on the card beginning at 7:30.
A double ‘Duell’
It took the Duell family all season, but the father-and-son team finally made it back to victory lane last Friday at Albany-Saratoga on the final night of racing at the Malta track.
Scott Duell picked up the win in the 50-lap “run-whatcha-brung” sportsman feature, and his father, Kim, who has struggled all season, won the AIM Warrior Series pro stock feature, which was worth $1,000.
The last time the Duells were in victory lane was during the 2010 season, when Albany-Saratoga had an asphalt surface. Scott Duell won the sportsman feature on Sept. 3, and Kim won the pro stock feature the following week.
Without doing a lot of research, I think this is the first time a father-son team won features on the same night (if I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll hear about it). It’s logical to think that Jack and Ronnie Johnson were the first, but during Ronnie’s rookie season in a sportsman, when he won six features at Albany-Saratoga, Jack was spending his first nights at Brewerton Speedway. The next season, Ronnie moved up to modifieds, where he raced against his father.
Season finale at Bowl
Devil’s Bowl will put the finishing touches on its 2013 season this weekend with the two-day Vermont 200.
Saturday features qualifying, as well as 10-lap shootouts in each of the regular divisions for drivers who haven’t won a feature this season. The modified shootout will feature two-time defending track champion Ron Proctor, Vince Quenneville Jr. and Joe Williams, which should produce a heck of a race.
Sunday’s schedule will be highlighted by Twin 50s for modifieds — each paying $1,200 to win and $200 to start — and the 100-lap Vermont State Championship Series late model feature.