Danny Varin finds Victory lane at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park
After a full month of rain, Mother Nature finally smiled down on Glen Ridge Friday night and the track roared back to life with their 2017 season opener. Eager drivers strapped into their machines for the first time at the ultra-fast ¼ mile oval and provided quite the show for the fans. The headline for the night was the modifieds, which saw veteran driver Bob Vedder lead the field to the green with Danny Varin starting just outside him. Jim Becker would follow Vedder at the drop of the green, running a close second with Danny falling back to 3rd. It wouldn’t last long as Varin began charging to the front, passing Becker on lap 12, then set his sights on Vedder who had now built quite a lead. Slowly Danny reeled in the leader and completed the pass on Bob on lap 21. Danny never looked back and went on to win the 30-lapper, followed by Jim Becker, John Lutes Jr., Bob Vedder and Donnie Elliott. Vedder tangled with a lap car on the last lap and went for a wild ride over a yuke tire, causing him to fall back to 4th at the line.
The sportsman feature saw Chris Curtis and Brian Calabrese lead the field to the green, and Curtis jumped out to the lead. He couldn’t shake Calabrese though as Brian was all over Chris’s back bumper. However, on lap 17, contact between the two lead cars led to something breaking in Brian’s front end and ended his strong run. The restart saw Curtis on the front, with Harry Shaffer and Jim Introne Jr. right behind him. The restart proved to be beneficial to the hard-charging Brian Nelson, who had started last and had worked his way up to 4th. Brian pushed Harry into second, allowing Brian to take third from Introne. Chris Curtis went on to win the feature, followed by Shaffer, Nelson, Kurtis Hohensheldt and Introne Jr.
The 2017 season welcomes a new and much anticipated division to the ridge, the IMCA modifieds. The feature saw Will Ward and Beau Ballard lead the field to the green flag. Will took off and built up a good-sized lead. Turn 1 proved to be tricky for the field, helping create the “2nd place curse”. First Beau lost the handle on his hot rod while running 2nd, then it was Tyler Stoddard going around, and finally Beau again as soon as he reached the cursed spot. When it was all said and done, Will Ward captured the checkered flag, followed by his father Bill Ward. Ballard rebounded for 3rd, Tyler Stoddard was 4th, and Tyler’s father Mike Stoddard rounded out the top 5.
The cruiser division was also on hand and saw Cole Lawton and Chris Andrew on the front row. Chris jumped out front early, but couldn’t get away from the potent #83 of Lawton and the 3rd place starter PJ Bleau. The 3 ran bumper to bumper, door to door for every lap. The only pause in the racing action came when Dan Haslun had a fuel line come loose and caused a small fire under his neon. The red was quickly thrown, and the safety crew was right on the spot to put it out. Dan was uninjured, but his night had come to an end. Chris Andrew would win the feature, followed by PJ and Cole.
Another new division to the track for the 2017 season are the Tobias slingshots. The division was divided into 2 sub divisions, Sr. and Jr. Slingshots. The Jr. Slingshots saw many youngsters get on track, some for the very first time. In the end, Derrick McGrew Jr. would take the checkered flag, followed by Blake Mahieu, Garrett Polland and Sloan Cherko. In the Sr. Slingshots, Dylan Eldred took an early lead from Jim Pollard, with Brian Tobey Jr. and Brett Putnam right behind them. The entire field swapped position throughout the entire 15 lap feature. Jim would finally get around Dylan on lap 5 and go on to win the feature. The top 5 were Pollard, Tobey Jr., Eldred, Putnam and Bryce Cherko.
Glen Ridge also welcomed 2 visiting divisions on the night, the PowrI Outlaw Midgets and the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS). The Outlaw Midgets ran a 12 lap feature and had long-time racer Rick Stone and Anthony Nocella on the front row. Rick got the jump on the young driver and led the field until Alex Bell slowed on lap 4 with a broken chain. On the restart, Rick got the jump but this time Anthony wouldn’t let him get away. Nocella would inherit the lead and not give it up. Rick Stone would finish 2nd, Alex Adamsky 3rd, Nate Furman 4th, and Lou Torres 5th. After a technical difficulty, the MVVDMS were looking for a place to race and Glen Ridge proved to be just that place. Drivers showed up with vintage vehicles that would bring any veteran racing fan back to the glory years, including John Constantino’s popular 124, Buck Gasner’s tribute to Maynard Forette with Maynard’s original hood scoop and John Roese’s 56 lettered to match his dad’s old hotrod. The group ran a 12 lap race and in the end Darryl Hulbert in his Kennedy’s Garage 8 won the modified portion, and Buck won the sportsman.
This coming Friday, May 19th, is Police, Fire and EMT Appreciation night. Any police, fire or EMT’s that show up to the Ridge this Friday will receive a free grandstand pass with a proper ID. Modifieds will once again be the headline class, along with sportsman, IMCAs, crusiers and slingshots joining the card. Gates will open at 4:30. Slingshot hot laps will begin at 6, followed by their heats, and the “big car” hot laps will begin at approx. 6:30. Be sure to check out our Facebook page and our website www.glenridgemotorsportspark.net for all our updates and announcements.