Fonda Speedway is an odd-shaped...
Fonda Speedway is an odd-shaped track and the length of Turns 3 and 4 is so much longer than 1 and 2 that there appears to be a short third straight in there. When watching the cars hot lap, I did hear them throttle up a short way between those turns. Being straight going into 3 and in that short added straight helps maintain speed and momentum. The leaders of the races definitely ran that way.
When we arrived at Fonda Speedway we probably missed the most important clue printed atop the speedway sign as to what we were in for the next morning. The track is located east of our RV park by about 75 miles and the ride there was fantastic. The route runs along the primary central state toll road, the New York State Thruway, as it winds through a valley next to a portion of the Erie Canal that linked the Hudson River to Lake Erie and opened up trade west of New York City back in the 1800s. We were able to visit a museum dedicated to the canal while we were staying in Oneida.
Fonda is a fairgrounds track that races on Saturday nights. When we asked where we could park our motorhome, we were told we could park up near the grandstands, a great spot, but needed to move after the show was over to the back near the fence, and very near a railroad track where trains would be running on a half hour schedule all night as we would discover.
That seemed strange as the entire area was open and within the same fenced in area. Anyway, we moved after the show and then the next morning, I awoke at 6 a.m. to the sound of tractor trailer rigs parking just outside the bedroom window.
The circus, or whatever you call it, was arriving and setting up between us and the exit. We hurried and slid-in the bus, unleveled it, and drove out just in time. The county fair was starting that next night—some information we could have used the day before.
Here we see what I’m talking...
Here we see what I’m talking about. In this Google view, you can get an idea of the complexity of Turns 3 and 4 (the part of the track to the right of the photo). Most drivers who ran fast here separated 3 and 4 and ran a short straight between them. Notice how tight 4 is. If you followed the line through 3 and the middle, you’d end up in the grandstands off Turn 4.
The grandstands at Fonda were...
The grandstands at Fonda were the covered, old fair-type grandstands and the rear of the roof tied into the top of the grandstand seats. This sealed off the airflow so that the dust kicked up and toward the stands couldn’t enter the seating area. The crowd stayed dust and dirt free all night.
So many times at dirt tracks...
So many times at dirt tracks on this Tour we have seen a more straight ahead driving style used by the fastest cars in each division. The No. 6 car demonstrates this style while the red car is somewhat sideways and the white car is way too sideways. It seems like pitching the car this way slows it too much and kills the momentum needed to maintain turn speeds for better performance off the corners.
This track has a strange, or should I say, different, shape to it. As you can see from the aerial view on the following page, Turns 3 and 4 are quite long compared to Turns 1 and 2. In fact, there is somewhat of a short straightaway between Turns 3 and 4, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the drivers throttle up a short while in that area.
It’s definitely a track where local knowledge is important to do well. The ones that had it down did do well indeed. The classes running this night before the Fair were the 602 Sportsman, CRSA 305 Sprints, Modifieds, Pro Stocks, and Street Stocks.
As a fair track, the main grandstands were covered and that created a unique aerodynamic advantage for the fans. Because the roof ties into the back of the stands, there is no gap between them and air can’t pass through. So, when the cars kicked up dust during the races, it rose up, but did not enter the grandstand area and the fans stayed clean and dirt free. It was kind of cool to sit there watching a ton of dust and not having it fall on you.
The racing was excellent due to not only the shape of the track, but the fact that it was almost flat. Again, the straight ahead drivers did well here mainly because once you got sideways and lost grip with the rear wheels, it was hard to get back without slowing way down and losing a bunch of distance.
Not everyone is enamored with...
Not everyone is enamored with Mr. Hearn as this license plate will attest to. I just had to get this image in the pit parking area of Fonda Speedway. By the way, Brett was not racing here on this night.
Being able to attend these three tracks where racing in New York has been so historic was unbelievable. Each had good numbers of both racers and fans whose loyalties went back many years and generations. I can’t tell you how many people told me that they had come to the races as a kid and returned with their kids. We have that history to help us promote racing, but we need more. In the coming reports we will go into the areas of track management and race organization that tells a story about how we can provide for the future of circle track racing.
We’ll visit ongoing tracks and ones that didn’t last long. We’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of those tracks and learn from their successes and failures. There’s definitely a story to be told and I often think that if I weren’t so fortunate to be doing this U.S. Tour, I’d never be able to gather this valuable information so that we could then present it to you.
Please continue to follow along as we document and record the personalities and character of racetracks and race teams in America. The old, the new, and the deceased are all here to add to the accumulation of knowledge we’ll use to present our interpretation for the good of the sport.