By THOMAS COUGHLIN
It was a very encouraging scene at the Checkers Out Speedway in Johnstown last Sunday as a benefit was held to help defray the medical expenses of former Fonda Speedway modified driver Dave Buanno of Tribes Hill.
Besides the great meal that was offered to eat in -- plus many that were taken to go -- those in attendance were able to buy tickets to take a chance on the many items donated by racing teams and businesses, which covered a number of tables with racing apparel and more. Other items such as body panels from the car of Fonda's 2011 modified track champion Ronnie Johnson and Pat Ward were part of an auction allowing guests to bid on a chance to own racing history. A great time was had by all, as it was a relaxing time to talk about the 2013 season and the 2014 season soon to come.
For those of you, that would like to send cards of cheer and well wishes to Mr. Buanno, they may be sent to: Dave Buanno, Unit A-2, Room 231,1400 VFW Parkway, West Roxbury, MA 02132. If you were unable to attend and would like to help, or if you would like to send more to help, checks can be sent to: Dave Buanno, c/o Michelle Santabarbara, P.O. Box 155, Tribes Hill, NY 12177.
One of the many changes taking place at Fonda in the offseason is the removal of the inside walls. What started with the turn one wall being taken out has now seen all of the inside wall barriers being removed. This will benefit both the drivers on the track and the fans in the stands, as viewing what is happening on the track in front of them will be much improved. The relocating of the scale area was in process this week as new concrete pads were poured on the infield opposite of the east end of the grandstand. Plans also call for the addition of a LED display, which will allow fans in the stands the ability to see if a driver's car has met the minimum weight limit for their classification after competing. At the west end of the grandstand, which is currently wrapped in sheets of plastic, painting is taking place to dress up the historic structure and help bring it back to life.
While speaking with Jessica Zemken at the Fonda Speedway banquet a couple weeks ago, she told me that her schedule in 2014 would have her competing weekly on Saturdays on the asphalt in the Super Modified Division at the Oswego Speedway. This is a bit of a change for someone who has raced on dirt tracks in Go-Karts, Sportsman, Modifieds and Sprints. Zemken has driven at Oswego a couple of times in the last two seasons, but with mixed results and did not have a whole lot of positives to say about those experiences. But, after qualifying for this year's Budweiser International Classic -- the first woman in the 57-year history of the event to do so -- an agreement was made with her sponsors John and Wendy Brush of Corr/Pak merchandising and the Strong/Graham racing team to field a car for next season. Fans of the Sprakers, N.Y. hot shoe should not worry, as they will still be able to see Zemken in selected 360 and 410 sprint car races on Fridays and Sundays, plus any Saturdays that Oswego has an off night. Let's not forget that two other great asphalt drivers from our area are also at "The Steel Palace" every week as Otto Sitterly in the Super Modifieds and Kreig Heroth in the Small Block Super Modifieds compete weekly and have taken their share of wins and championships.
As if Super DIRT Week wasn't big and busy enough already, it was announced this week that the USAC Silver Crown Series will join in the excitement for the 2014 happening. According to their press release, the last time these open wheel racers competed at the "Moody Mile" was in 2003, with J.J. Yeley -- who currently drives for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- taking the victory.
The NYSSCA has announced its selection of inductees for the 2013 Hall of Fame: Southern Tier modified driver Mike Colsten, local modified driver Bob Savoie, driver Joe Messina, driver Jimmy Winks and announcer Jim King. Congratulations to all of this year's inductees on being selected by your peers and fans in the racing family to be included among the elite to be honored with this achievement.