Fan Notes from Fremont Jim and Joanne Ford Classic

Monday, September 23, 2019
Fremont SpeedwayFremont Speedway Tom Myers (9/21/2019) – The Jim and Joanne Ford Race is a must see race each September at Fremont Speedway. With a $10,000 to win prize, this race always attracts a stout field of cars, a surprise entry or two and features great racing. This year’s race was more of the same, much to the delight of the race fans.

The 2019 Jim Ford Classic was sanctioned by the FAST ON DIRT series, which is a new winged series using an old name, and is operated by Aaron Fry. Aaron is also the man or at least one of the main persons who created the Ohio based BOSS non-winged series. Aaron must be a busy guy juggling two racing series!

The FAST name was an acronym used to identify the Fremont-Attica Sprint Title series but that name was sold this last winter apparently. Attica and Fremont still have their Friday and Saturday 410 sprint championship but it is now called the AFCS, which is the initialism for Attica-Fremont Championship Series. The BOSS name is also an acronym, and it identifies the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series. How’s that for a lesson on literary device? Ha Ha. Well, enough of that!

I talked with Aaron after the driver’s meeting and he indicated that the FAST ON DIRT series would continue next year and that was good news to my ears. The FAST ON DIRT series runs in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania and usually pays $3,000 to $5,000 to win and also features a point fund payout at the end of the year. The cool thing about FAST is they usually schedule races where the All Stars are not. This weekend the All Stars are racing at Williams Grove and Lincoln and Hagerstown. The Fremont Ford race still attracted 34 cars on Friday and 35 cars today for the Saturday finale, in spite of the fact that both Sharon and Wayne County were also running today!
Nate DusselNate Dussel We left early on Saturday because it was such a great day for driving, being warm and sunny, and also because I wanted to tour the city of Fremont. I enjoy history and searching for old buildings, factories, and houses to photograph and learn about. I have been to Fremont many times, but only for the races and have never had the chance to wander around the town and today I finally did that. Arriving in Fremont around 3:00 afforded me a few hours of wandering time before heading to the track. An hour or two is not enough time because Fremont is a big town, bigger than I thought. A few hours is just not enough time, especially with Pops and my nephew William in the car, being kind of bored with it but very patient with me!

After touring the city, we parked at the Fremont fairgrounds and sat and listened to the Ohio State game for a bit. It was then that we noticed the storm clouds forming to the west of Fremont,… you gotta be kidding! Well it was a pop up thunderstorm and half of it went north of the track and the other half went south of the track and it broke up pretty good by the time it went over the track. We only got a few sprinkles thank goodness.

The track was another issue. It had been really hot all day and the track crew put loads of water in the surface. After the front moved through the air cooled off and presto, the track was too wet! It took longer than expected to run it in and hot laps didn’t get started until after 7:00. Even then it took 5 sets of hot laps to help run it in and after rooster tails of dirt flying and everyone’s cars getting covered with mud, the track was still very gooey when time trials started!

Back in the pits, I was surprised to discover Christopher Bell, who was there with his newly put together car. Bell was taking pictures with the fans and signing autographs. As a matter of fact, Christopher did that all night, even having an autograph session behind the grandstands before the A Main. The line formed rather quickly and made for a crowded situation by the french fry trailer but everyone was all smiles. Good job Christopher, keep it up and don’t ever change.
Still wandering around the pits, I saw Rick Ferkel, he looked to be helping out with Max Stambaugh and the 97 car. One of the 305 drivers had the coolest helmet, looking exactly like the Ohio State black helmets they wear once a year. It was flat black with the red and white stripe and red buckeye leaves on it, nice job. The driver joked with me that he needed more buckeye leaves on it…and we both knew he meant winning more races. I also walked over to Cody Bova’s car, a sharp looking car, and started talking with Cody’s mechanic about the nice paint scheme on the car and the FAST series and some other things. Well the mechanic’s name is Scott Priester, a name familiar with western PA race fans, as Scott raced sprints for 30 years or so. Thanks for chatting with me Scott and good job helping Cody start on the front row of the Jim Ford Classic tonight!

Multi-time Ford race winner Tim Shaffer was also on hand driving the Gorby 1G car. Tim was the previous evening’s winner and was looking to add another win to his resume. Jac Haudenschild was absent tonight, having blown his motor the previous evening. Parker Price Miller was here in the Indy Parts 71 as was newly crowned Fremont track champion Buddy Kofoid, who won his first midget race the evening before driving a Keith Kunz machine. Six time All Star champion Chad Kemenah was on hand as well as FAST series points leader Cole Duncan. Other notables in the pits were Cale Conley, Cap Henry, D,J, Foos, Byron Reed, and Hunter Schuerenburg.

During time trials, the racers all used the same line up high and they created a groove where the right rear spun out the dirt…and as a result a ledge developed. Well it just got taller as the evening went along and it made a difference in the feature. Time trials were exciting because the cars only got one lap and when they finally got the time trials started, the cars were under the lights. The cars got faster as the session went on, so when a car would set the fast time, a couple cars later another racer would set the fast time and the crowd was really into it. The fast timer for the session was the last car out, Cale Conley. The second fastest timer was Brandon Long from Texas. Who’s Brandon Long? I don’t know, but he had a black and blue car with orange lettering and he races good. Third fastest was Price Miller.

Before the heats started, a younger fellow sitting right in front of me started talking with me, asking some questions. He tells me he lives in Minnesota and he and his father have been long time sprint car fans. He said he is currently working in Ontario, Canada and made the trip down to Fremont to check it out, this being his first time here. After he asked about other Ohio tracks, I told him about the following weekend’s Four Crown race at Eldora because he has never been there either and we all know that’s a bucket list track, along with Fremont of course. Did you know it was Fremont’s 68th year of operation this year? Wow! Anyway, the fellow’s name is Tracy, and he’s a crane operator who evidently, travels around to different construction projects as needed. We had a great time talking racing all evening. Thank you Tracy, it was nice to meet you! Tracy told me he recently made it to Knoxville for a weekly show, his first time there. He said he gets to Jackson Motorplex quite often. Tracy, maybe we will see you next Saturday at Eldora!

The heats were pretty much follow the leader but there were a few exceptions. The 8 lap heats transferred the top 4 finishers to the A main and the top 3 would get their times back to line them up for the A. The first heat finish was Cody Bova, Landon Lalande, Travis Philo and 7th starting Bell. Bell was fortunate in that Philo ran into 3rd running Cale Conley on lap 6 and Conley had to retire to the pits, moving Bell up to 5th behind Lee Jacobs. On the restart Bell got past Jacobs and into a transfer spot. In the 2nd heat, Buddy Kofoid checked out with Brandon Spithaler coming home second, Brad Lamberson third and Brandon Long finishing 4th.
Christopher Bell won the Jim and Joanne Ford Classic at Fremont SaturdayChristopher Bell won the Jim and Joanne Ford Classic at Fremont Saturday Heat 3 got us Nate Dussel, who also checked out on the field, Jordan Harble, PPM and Byron Reed. Cap Henry and D.J. Foos had a spirited battle and got together on lap 5 with Henry pushing Foos off turn 2. The yellow came out but they kept their spots on the restart because Foos had kept it going and the yellow shouldn’t have come out, the officials ruled. In heat 4 the finish was Cole Duncan grabbing the win followed by Max Stambaugh, Tim Shaffer and Paige Polyak. Polyak had the third spot but ran over the ledge in turn 2 and gave the spot to Shaffer. Paige would have started much closer to the front in the feature had she finished third in her heat, because she was the 4th fastest qualifier. She ended up starting 16 in the A.

Next up were the B mains with the top 3 making it to the A. Lee Jacobs won the first B main followed by Cap Henry and D.J. Foos. Chad Kemenah won the second B main and he was followed by Craig Mintz and Duane Zablocki. Now onto the A main!

For the 40 lapper, Kofoid was on the pole alongside Cody Bova. Row two inside was Shaffer alongside Lamberson. Row 3 was Philo inside with PPM on the outside. Christopher Bell started 13th. At the start, Kofoid grabbed the lead and Shaffer settled into the 2nd but a tangle between Zablocki and Polyak caused a complete restart. On the restart Kofoid again raced away to a big lead with Shaffer following in 2nd and Bova and Philo not far behind as Lamberson faded. By lap 6 Kofoid was into traffic and Philo had gotten past Shaffer for 2nd, but now the running order behind Shaffer was Dussel, PPM and 13th starting Bell, who was really coming to the front! On lap 14 PPM came to a stop bringing out a yellow. The running order was Kofoid, Philo, Dussel, Shaffer and Bell. On the restart a hard charging Bell got around Shaffer and then Dussel and then Philo and on lap 17 leader Kofoid got on top of the ledge in turn 2 and lost momentum as Bell went by for the lead but a yellow nullified the pass when Brandon Long spun. On the next restart Bell powered past Kofoid and raced away to a big lead. The next yellow came out about lap 21 for a spin involving Byron Reed and Kemenah at the exit of turn 4. Kemenah had raced all the way up to 6th from 18th when he spun out. When the race resumed and over the next 19 laps, Bell raced away for the win, lapping up to the 6th spot! Behind Bell, Kofoid kept going over the ledge in turn 2 allowing Shaffer and then Philo to pass him. Philo and then Dussel worked their way back around Shaffer as Tim faded towards the end. The finish was Bell, Philo, Dussel, Kofoid, Duncan Shaffer and Foos. D.J. raced up to 7th from the 21st starting spot.

In victory lane, Christopher said he considered Fremont his home sprint car track sine he had lived with Rick Ferkel a few years back and raced quite a bit here in Rick’s car. Christopher said the track was to his liking with the typical tall cushion. Brian Liskai asked Bell if this win was more exciting and rewarding for him than a NASCAR win, especially since Bell now has his own sprint car team and it was a big win his first time out with the new car…. Bell kind of hedged the answer for obvious reasons but we all know what the truth is!

Thank you Fremont Speedway for putting on a great show! Thank you Aaron Fry and the FAST ON DIRT series for a great show and congratulations on a successful first season.