Thomas Coughlin/For The Recorder Standing with the 40th anniversary tribute to the Go-Kart and a 1912 Stutz Bearcat replica are the Montenaros. From left to right, Anthony, Marilyn, Andrew, John, Jim and Paul Montenaro. Missing from photo is Peter Montenaro III.
By THOMAS COUGHLIN
For more than 50 racing seasons, Go-Kart drivers from various backgrounds and locations have come to the Dodge City Speedway to hone their driving skills. Located near Howes Cave in the the beautiful Schoharie Valley area, this basic little no-frills dirt track has been under the guidance of the Montenaro family for the past four decades. In celebration of the family's milestone 40th anniversary at the track, there will be a number of activities and attractions to highlight the 2014 season, as Paul Montenaro, with the help and dedicated efforts of his family and a few close friends, strive to present their weekly program.
Chipping in with a variety of support every week are Paul's wife Anna, who handles the photography duties, while Montenaro's siblings all contribute their part to the family affair. His brother Andrew can be heard over the public address system announcing the day's events, while Andrew's wife Lesley makes sure that the racers are signed in and registered in their respective divisions. Their son Josh helps with lawn and track preparation, and daughter Grace works the concession with family friend John Furman. Paul's other brothers Anthony, Jim and John respectively cover electrical, welding and scoring. Last but certainly not least, his sister Marilyn Sawyer ensures that the competitors are lined up properly before pulling onto the racing surface.
The only sibling not directly involved every week is Peter Montenaro III, who lives near Rochester, but who did play possibly the most important part of this 40-year endeavor, as it was after a trip to visit Peter, who was attending Notre Dame, that Montenaro's parents Peter Jr. and Aurora pulled into the family's Amsterdam driveway with a Go-Kart tied to the roof of their station wagon.
Two more longtime staff members are cousin Joe Kriss and family friend Terry Tooley, both of them with more than 20 years of experience, who do their part by keeping the racers' attention with their handling of the flags.
One part of the highlights from 40 years in operation came when Andrew and his son Josh decided to take on the task of restoring a mini replica of a 1912 Stutz Bearcat that was originally built by family friend John Dziewerz more than 50 years ago. This involved enlisting many to see the project completed as many years of storage had taken its toll on the originally all-wood vehicle. Bill Gorham and Steve Morreale collaborated on woodwork, JSB Fabrication made metal covers for the fenders, along with adding diamond plate to the floor area. Ken's Body Shop painted the bright yellow classic, Kosiba's Lock Shop provided necessary machine work that was needed to handle the upgrades which were made to the drive-line of the Stutz and Tooley lettered the mini racer by hand.
In honor of the numerous drivers that have raced under the watchful eyes of the Montenaro family, a tribute Go-Kart was also created with the help of Pat DaBiere from 2-Star Graphics. Highlighted on this bright yellow Kart are many of the drivers who raced at Dodge City on their way to becoming worldwide race winners and champions. A couple of these competitors have raced in Australia, Canada, and even toured with the World of Outlaws sprint series. Many have gone on to win races and championships at such well known tracks as Fonda, Glen Ridge, Albany-Saratoga, Lebanon Valley, Utica-Rome, Orange County, Oswego, Syracuse, Stafford, Thompson, New Hampshire and Watkins Glen. The drivers have gone on to race just as many different styles of cars from Dirt Modifieds to winged sprint cars and Asphalt Supermodifieds.
Dodge City Speedway will open Saturday with a swap meet starting at noon, while warm-ups and racing will take place the following Saturday, April 19. There will be one Sunday event April 27, before the track switches to its familiar Friday night schedule May 2. July 18 will see the Montenaro family present their 40-year celebration, and when the younger drivers return to school in the fall, a Sunday schedule will resume and the season will conclude with the awards banquet held at the Checkers Out Speedway in Johnstown on Saturday, Nov. 8.
The Montenaro family and Dodge City Speedway look forward to the start of the new season and hope to see many of their old fans and drivers return to help them celebrate their 40th anniversary.
Due to the harsh winter, fans are asked to please check the Dodge City Speedway Facebook page or call the track phone at 518-296-8082 to ensure that opening week events have not been canceled. Dodge City Speedway is conveniently located on Route 7, just east of Cobleskill, and can also be accessed by taking Exit 22 off I-88.