Tag Archives: Chemung Speedrome

Chemung Speedrome Honors Drivers at Emotional 2019 Banquet

By Carol Houssock Photo By Carol Houssock

(Chemung, NY)        Chemung Speedrome’s 2019 banquet will be remembered for moments of humor and pride, along with the emotional comments of a champion whose brother’s death hit everyone hard during the season. A near capacity crowd celebrated many special moments at the Best Western Grand Victoria Inn in Sayre, PA.    

Zack Curren from Horseheads, NY celebrated his first championship in the track’s headline Sunoco Modified division. Curren had a string of five consecutive feature wins and locked up the title on the final week by a single point over Zack Knowlden, also from Horseheads. In his speech Curren thanked his father, grandfather, and other family members and friends for their ongoing support. But his thanks to his mother were moving. “I have to thank her for teaching me how to deal with adversity and stress, and to always take the high road in racing and in life,” he said. Curren also thanked his many longtime sponsors for keeping him competitive.

Other award winners in the Sunoco Modified division included Pat Judson, Rookie of the Year; and Zack Knowlden, Hard Charger. Car owner Mike McDonald won the track’s coveted Sportsmanship Award, which honors one person for how he represents both his team and the track.      

Nick Robinson celebrated his third Super Stock title. Robinson and his team put together a solid season that showed strength from week one on. Robinson has a dedicated team of crew members and loyal sponsors dating back several years. “Their ongoing support of the 15 team is incredible, and I can’t thank them enough for all they do,” Robinson stated. 

Other Super Stock award winners included Jesse Hurley, Rookie of the Year; Brian Demark, Best Appearing Car; and Garrett Zacharias, Determination Award.

Greg Moldt nearly had the 2018 4 Cylinder title, but things soured with two races to go. His focus in 2019 made up for some of that disappointment and he earned the division championship in lickety-split fashion. Moldt, from Elmira, NY, also had six wins at Wyoming County Int’l Speedway, where he finished second in points. “It was a great year for this 51 team, I’m very happy with those who help me out every week,” Moldt said.

Joey Bevacqua was named the 4 Cylinder Rookie of the Year, while DJ Shaw picked up the Hard Luck Award. After picking up three feature wins, and while leading the points, Shaw had to forego the remainder of the season to focus on his other sport, high school football.

Dave Harbst, who wrenched a 4 Cylinder for one son and a Super Stock for another, was named Mechanic of the Year.

The most emotional speech came from the INEX Legends champion, Gary Ham. The room was silent as he recalled his family’s lowest moment back in July when his brother was killed in a Las Vegas traffic accident. The next night Ham and his parents were at the track. “Kenny would have wanted me to race,” he said. Ham went on to explain racing with a heavy heart and how something special he witnessed that night helps him to this day. “When I got out of the car in victory lane and saw everyone standing, it hit me how special the racing family is and how that moment still gets me through tough days.” Ham also lost his father a month ago, adding to the emotional highs and lows the family experienced. Ham, the former head flagger at the track, also received a Determination Award for sweeping the action on a night many would have stayed home, but he was determined to race for a different reason.

Josh Duke now holds the record for wins in a season, 11, in the INEX Bandolero division. Duke, who never finished further back than second, easily claimed the overall title in the Outlaw division. Chase Sinsabaugh won the 2019 Bandit division championship in dramatic fashion. It was Duke’s father, Jason, who loaned the Sinsabaugh team their spare motor after practice late in the season so that Chase could keep his title hopes alive.

Track promoter, Ray Hodge, welcomed everyone in attendance and paid tribute to the late Kenny Ham. Hodge then gave special thanks to the track’s sponsors and employees, many of whom received plaques for their service. He also mentioned that he and his wife, Ellen, secured a three-year lease of the Speedrome, are revamping of the track’s website, and will be holding a competition meeting. “We just can’t thank everyone enough and we want you race teams to remember, as we do, that you are the show.” Hodge also had the crowd engaged when he honored the late Kenny Ham. showed a series of photos with clever captions.

Race Director, Jerry Sinsabaugh, also remembered Ham with some very emotional words. But his lighter side emerged with a roast of Damon Frutchey. His wild ride off the turn one exit road, without brakes, ended when he collided with Jeff Noe’s pickup truck.

Track announcer and emcee, Carol Houssock, then presented a street sign she had made to commemorate that occasion. “Some assembly required, but that will forever be known as Frutchey Highway.” When Daniel Carter went down the road backwards a week later, she announced that he was headed down Frutchey Highway.

Houssock highlighted many of the special moments everyone experienced at the Speedrome in 2019, including the tribute to veterans and memorial races for the late Gary Marshall, Ed McGuire, Rod Spalding, Russ Tubbs and Ed Bidlack. She also pointed out that the identical Gardner twins ended the year with identical points, and they earned their season-best finishes on the same night.

Houssock looks forward to May, when racing will resume at the Speedrome.Race teams and fans are encouraged to watch for the 2020 schedule on the track’s website www.chemungspeedrome.net,  and also on the Facebook page ‘Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome’.Anyone having questions regarding the schedule, rule changes, or track operations can call Ray Hodge at 607-483-3468.

“Best Modified Race of His Life Puts Zack Knowlden in Chemung’s Victory Lane”

by Carol Houssock” (Chemung, NY) It may have been a little chilly in the grandstand but those who bundled up were treated to some hot racing Friday night at Chemung Speedrome. With the season winding down, some of the division titles are up for grabs and will be decided at the season finale this Friday night (Saturday the 21st is a rain date).

Feature winners on Buckley’s Automotive and Buckley’s Discount Tire and Brake night included Zack Knowlden (Sunoco Modifieds), Mike Nichols (Super Stocks), Joey Bevacqua (4 Cylinders), Kyle Youngs (INEX Legends), Derrick Vogler (Bandolero Bandits.

 A caution-free 40-lap Sunoco Modified feature can easily develop into a yawner. That was not the case Friday night as fans were treated to one fantastic feature and a battle between two determined, but respectful, racers. Charlie Sharpsteen, who has three 2019 feature wins to his credit, won his heat and started third in the feature. Fellow heat race winner Pat Judson led the opening lap from the pole until Sharpsteen got around him. Zack Knowlden and Zach Curren, with six feature wins between them, chased own Sharpsteen and ran nose-to-tail at the halfway point. With ten to go it was a two-man race, with Knowlden looking high then low for a pathway to the lead while Sharpsteen lived up to his reputation as being hard to pass. Hard yes, but not impossible as Knowlden mounted an outside move and cleared the #98 of Sharpsteen and the #4 led the leaderboard on lap 32. Over the final laps Knowlden proved he had the faster car and he pulled away for a very impressive win. Sharpsteen finished second, ahead of Curren, Bryan Sherwood and John Wilber.

“This is the best race I’ve ever run in a Modified,” Knowlden said from the Midstate Basement Authorities Victory Lane. “Charlie is so great to race but I had to be patient and when he went low, I went high and it worked.” Knowlden trailed Curren by just one point when they arrived at the track. Knowlden now has a slight point lead over Curren, and Friday night will result in a track championship for one of them. Mike Nichols has been on a tear, coming off a weekend when he won back-to-back extra-distance features and earned a nice payday for his efforts. Friday night he scored another sweep in the Super Stock division. Ajay Potrzebowski capitalized on his outside pole position start and led the way. The only caution came four laps in but when racing resumed the fans were treated to multiple lead changes between Potrzebowski and Nick Robinson. Lap five Ajay, lap six Nick, lap eight Ajay, lap nine Nick, lap 11 Ajay, lap 12 Nick. Nichols watched all this unfold, as he was right there in third for all of it until he got past both and took over the lead. Once in front he checked out and built a big lead over the final 10 laps of the 25-lap feature. Robinson, meanwhile, lost second to Garrett Zacharias and that’s how they would finish behind winner Nichols. Potrzebowski and Tim Gullo rounded out the top five. Nick Robinson takes a sizeable point lead over Nichols into the season finale. 

Things couldn’t have gone better for rookie Joey Bevacqua on Friday night. He won his heat race, started on the pole for the 20-lap feature, and led almost every lap for a September sweep. The only caution in this one came just a lap into it when Cameron Nichols spun coming off turn four. Point leader Greg Moldt took second from Monica Green on the restart and he shadowed Bevacqua until passing for the lead at the halfway point. Three laps later Bevacqua reclaimed the lead and this time he held on to it. He got his second win of the year and first since the end of May. Moldt was second, followed by Green, Ricky Lane and Mark Taylor. DJ Shaw, who was the point leader coming into the program, had to forego racing the last two weeks due to high school football. While he won’t win the championship, he won the respect of many at the track. 

An anonymous donor put up a $300 bounty on INEX Legends driver Kyle Youngs, who led the division with five feature wins coming in to their 20-lap feature. The bounty was $200 to anyone who could beat him, and $50 each to second and third if they also finished ahead of him. Heat winner Jody Buckley led the first half of the race with Youngs hot on his heels. The only lead change occurred when Youngs passed Buckley for the lead and started to pull away. Buckley then had Gary Ham running close in third. When this one was over it was Kyle Youngs who celebrated his sixth win as he clutched the $200 bounty. “This car has been so strong, the only thing I’ve changed has been the tires,” he said from victory lane. Buckley, Ham, Keith Youngs and Sean Verwys all finished in the top five. 

Derrick Vogler started the 10-lap Bandolero feature last, brought out the only caution when he spun two laps in, and went on to claim the overall win. Chase Sinsabaugh led the first half of the race before losing the lead to Vogler. Sinsabaugh spun with three laps remaining, setting up a restart with 11-time feature winner Josh Duke alongside. Vogler was up to his challenge despite tremendous pressure from Duke on the final lap. He sailed across the finish line for his first overall win, giving bragging nights to the Bandit division. Duke, the Outlaw and heat winner, finished second. Jeffrey Noe was third with Sinsabaugh fourth. 

Championship night is set for this Friday with a regular five-division show.  The Super Stocks will run a Russ Tubbs Memorial 25-lap feature to honor the only driver who lost his life in competition at the Speedrome.

Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, $5 for kids 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5. Gates open at 5 with racing at 7. Saturday, September 21st is the rain date for this one, with the same times in effect. For information, log on to the track’s website: chemungspeedrome.net, ‘like’ us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468. 

Of Note:Zack Knowlden, Mike Nichols and Joey Bevacqua won free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads in the ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ bonus.His 2nd place finish earned Charlie Sharpsteen $25 toward shock dynoing, donated by Eagle One Fabrication and Speed and Down Force Shocks. Each week a random finisher will win this new bonus.Jody Buckley’s grandsons served as honorary starters for two of the features, throwing the green flag to get the races going.Concession stand manager, John Zack, won the 50/50 and shared it with the ticket sellers.Ironically, both Zack Knowlden and Joey Bevacqua earned their first 2019 wins back on May 31st and their second wins Friday night.Buckley’s Automotive and Buckley’s Discount Tire & Brakes

Results: Sunoco Modifieds (40 Laps):  ZACK KNOWLDEN, Charlie Sharpsteen, Zack Curren, Bryan Sherwood, John Wilber, Pat Judson, Gene Sharpsteen, Tim Gullo, Damon Frutchey, Steven Sherwood, Dave Bellis, Scott ReaganHeats: C. Sharpsteen, Judson Super Stocks (25 Laps):  MIKE NICHOLS, Garrett Zacharias, Nick Robinson, Ajay Potrzebowski, Tim Gullo, Jesse Hurley, Frank Chapman, Brian DeMark, Dennis Beardslee, Ed Kelly (DNS)Heats: Nichols, Zacharias 4 Cylinders (20 Laps):  JOEY BEVACQUA, Greg Moldt, Monica Green, Ricky Lane, Mark Taylor, Jason Peck, Alex Brown, Cameron NicholsHeat: Bevacqua INEX Legends(25 Laps):  KYLE YOUNGS, Jody Buckley, Gary Ham, Keith Youngs, Sean Verwys, Raven SchrantzHeat:  Buckley  INEX Bandoleros (10 Laps):  DERRICK VOGLER, Josh Duke (Outlaw winner), Jeffrey Noe, Chase SinsabaughHeat:  Duke 

“Shawn Nye Impressive in Chemung Sportsman Debut, Nichols Pockets Big Cash in Super Stocks”

by Carol Houssock” (Chemung, NY) Two great nights opened the month of September at Chemung Speedrome. Winners on Friday night included Mike Nichols (Super Stocks), Kyle Youngs (INEX Legends), Josh Duke (Bandolero Outlaw) and Derrick Vogler (Bandolero Bandit). Saturday evening winners were Shawn Nye (RoC Sportsman), Mike Nichols (New York Super Stocks) and Nick Robinson (RoC 4 Cylinders). This rare two-day program was possible when several area businesses rallied to boost the payouts and to offer special bonuses on both nights.

 On Friday night the Super Stocks ran a 42-lap race in memory of the late Ed Bidlack. The former Late Model racer at Shangri-la/Tioga passed away earlier in the summer. Gary Noe led early on, before losing the top spot to Mike Nichols on lap 17 restart. Four laps later Nichols collected the halfway bonus of $100 sponsored by Footes Tire and Auto Service. Over the second half of the race Nick Robinson and Garrett Zacharias got up to second and third but the gap between them and Nichols proved too much to overcome. Nichols picked up the win, which an anonymous donor had increased to $1,000. Mike was also in the best position to capitalize on a $600 bonus if he could win Saturday as well. Robinson, Zacharias, Jesse Hurley and Tim Gullo all posted top five finishes. 

The 25-lap INEX Legends national qualifier got underway with Jody Buckley on the point. Kyle Youngs ran right behind him with Gary Ham in third. The race had a lengthy caution when Raven Schrantz spilled oil in the turn three area. While the track crew cleaned up that mess an even greater mess occurred. Charlie Lohmeyer’s #5L went up in smoke in turn one while under caution but he stayed on the track and put oil down from there all the way to turn four. The race resumed, however it was slowed two more times for two-car spins. The first involved the #4 of Kyle Youngs, who restarted at the rear and quickly took over the race lead. Youngs held on and scored the win over Gary Ham, Jody Buckley, Sean Verwys and Anthony Gullo.

 Josh Duke was Josh does in the INEX Bandolero division and that’s win. The track’s record-holder for season wins, now at 11, made it look easy in the 10-lap national qualifier. Derrick Vogler finished second, followed to the line by Chase Sinsabaugh, Jeffrey Noe and Nolan Baker. Four cars pulled in to victory lane – Duke and Vogler for the Outlaw and Bandit wins, Sinsabaugh and Noe for capturing the Bandit and Outlaw national qualifiers. 

Saturday brought the New York Super Stocks and two of the Race of Champions asphalt divisions, Sportsman and 4 Cylinders, together for a full evening of racing. When you pull in to a track for the first time you wish for the best. Lancaster, NY’s Shawn Nye got his wish when he won his heat race, drew the pole for the 75-lap feature, and then led every lap for the big win. In the early going he faced a tough challenge from Charlie Sharpsteen, who lost second to Tyler Rypkema. Nye saw a nice lead almost evaporate when he caught some lap cars at the lap 30 mark. The race itself was slowed for seven cautions. Each time, Rypkema tried to outrun Nye but was unable to do so. The final caution came with five laps to go. Nye prevailed yet again and took the checkered flag over Tony Hanbury, who nipped Rypkema for second coming off turn four on the final lap. Joe Evans and Sharpsteen rounded out the top five. 

The New York Super Stocks made their third, and final, appearance at Chemung this year. Luck of the draw put Mike Nichols on the outside of row one for the start of the 50-lap feature. It took him just a dozen laps to take over the lead. From that point on he had to survive several restarts following cautions. Early on it was Andy Cryan lined up beside him, while later in the event Zack Willis passed him and it was he who moved into second and alongside Nichols. This one boiled down to a green/white/checkered finish with Nick Robinson and Frank Chapman lined up behind Nichols and Willis. Nichols powered around the track those final two laps, knowing a $600 bonus was his if he could win both Friday and Saturday. He did, and he earned another $1,000-to-win feature plus the bonus money. Robinson was second, followed by Garrett Zacharias, Jesse Hurley and Tim Gullo.

 Nick Robinson did double duty on Saturday, running both the Super Stock and 4 Cylinder features. He had the lead early on while Greg Moldt charged toward the front from his ninth starting position. Moldt took over the lead briefly when Robinson attempted to shift on a restart and fell back four spots, which he reclaimed in two laps. At the halfway point Robinson got around Moldt and led the way once again. Moldt was stuck like glue but could not find an opening or muster a run on the top side. That’s how it ended, with Robinson in victory lane, Moldt second, Bob Bogner third, Kenny Hejna fourth and Jason Anasiewicz fifth. 

A regular five-division show, to replace a July rainout, is scheduled for Friday night. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, $5 for kids 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5. Gates open at 5 with racing at 7. For information, log on to the track’s website: chemungspeedrome.net, ‘like’ us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468. 

Of Note:The track held a moment of silence to remember Don Toal, who passed away earlier in the day. Both the NYSS and RoC honored him with a missing pole position car during their parade laps. Toal, an RoC Hall of Famer and 50-year employee at Spencer Speedway, was a friend to everyone in racing.Jason Duke, who arrives at the track with a pair of Bandoleros for his son Josh, loaned his spare motor to the Sinsabaugh’s so that Chase could run the race. He went on to win the national qualifying spot for the Bandits.Ed Bidlack’s step-daughter, Danielle, was on hand for the trophy presentation Friday night. She also gave race winner Mike Nichols a framed photo of Ed in Victory Lane at Shangri-la Speedway.

A race fan from Elmira, NY won the season’s largest 50/50 pot on Saturday night.Gary Ham led the Legends feature at the halfway point to earn a $100 bonus from Chemung Softwater and owner John Bacon.Track management thanks Valley Collision and Auto, Ferrario Auto Team, Buckley’s Automotive, Buckley’s Discount Tire and Brakes, Goodwin Automotive, Wilber Auto Sales, AMP Contracting, Bobby Osgood Auto Sales, Premier Landscaping, Serendipity Ice Cream, and Ed’s Heads Portable Toilets for stepping up and making the two-day show possible.

Results (Friday): Super Stocks (42 Laps):  MIKE NICHOLS, Nick Robinson, Garrett Zacharias, Jesse Hurley, Tim Gullo, Frank Chapman, Jim House, Joel Gleason, Derrick Tarbox, JP Harbst, Lee Sharpsteen, Ron Underwood, Gary Noe, Brian DeMark, Gil Sharpsteen, Ajay Potrzebowski, James Stanley, Don Archibald, Nate PeckhamHeats:  Nichols, Noe, Hurley 

INEX Legends(25 Laps):  KYLE YOUNGS, Gary Ham, Jody Buckley, Sean Verwys, Anthony Gullo, James Anderson, Charlie Lohmeyer, Raven SchrantzHeats:  Ham, Youngs 

 INEX Bandoleros (10 Laps):  JOSH DUKE, Derrick Vogler, Chase Sinsabaugh, Jeffrey Noe, Nolan Baker, Aiden Gardner, Nial Gardner, Isaiah Anderson, Nial GardnerNational Qualifiers: Chase Sinsabaugh, Jeffrey NoeHeats:  Vogler, Duke 

Results (Saturday):Race of Champions Asphalt Modifieds (75 Laps):  SHAWN NYE, Tony Hanbury, Tyler Rypkema, Joe Evans, Charlie Sharpsteen, Rusty Smith, Gary Noe, Zack Knowlden, Connor Sellars, John Wilber, Cassie Logsdon, Dave Bellis, David Koslowski, Zack Curren, Eddie Hawkins, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Pat Judson, Tim Gullo, Andy LewisHeats: Nye, Smith, Sharpsteen

 New York Super Stocks (50 Laps – top 10):  MIKE NICHOLS, Nick Robinson, Garrett Zacharias, Jesse Hurley, Tim Gullo, Frank Chapman, Jim House, Joel Gleason, Derrick Tarbox, Lee Sharpsteen 

Race of Champions 4 Cylinders (25 Laps):  NICK ROBINSON, Greg Moldt, Bob Bogner, Kenny Hejna, Jason Anasiewicz, Jacob Gustafson, Nick Bevacqua, Dan Dressel, Josh Schosek, DJ Shaw, Bob Palmer, Alex Brown, Joey Bevacqua, Mark Taylor, Adam Killingbeck, John Byrd, M.R. Taylor, Mike Nichols, Tyler Harbst, Stan MathewsHeats: Gustafson, Hejna, Moldt