Racing Around: Hanson drives to victory on his father’s birthday


Craig Hanson, right, is congratulated by his father and former modified driver Ken, after winning the 35-lap modified feature last Saturday night at Fonda Speedway. (James A. Ellis)

On a weekly basis, Craig Hanson spends several hours turning laps around Fonda Speedway.

The second generation modified pilot can often be found at the “Track of Champions” behind the wheel of the track’s grader working on the clay racing surface.

However, it was the 35 laps he put in on the front end of the modified feature that brought a big smile to his face.

“I really wanted to win one for dad on his birthday,” Hanson said after his first feature win since 2016.

His father, Ken, was on the infield watching the race unfold and was present on Victory Lane along with a large contingent of family members, friends and crew.

“After the wreck last week, I was ready to quit,” Hanson said. “But all the guys worked and got it back together and here we are, so I have to thank them for that.”

It is not the first time Hanson has gone from wreckers-to-checkers. A few years back, he was involved in a wreck on the front stretch where his modified was destroyed after being hit head-on. He came back the next week with a new ride and parked it in Victory Lane.

Even while celebrating his win, “The Grader Operator” was already thinking about track prep.

“I was not happy with the track tonight. It was too rough,” he said.

For many of the family and crew, the trip from the pits to Victory Lane was their second on the night. Earlier, Zach Dufel drove to his first career feature win in the limited sportsman division in a car also driven by Craig’s brother-in-law Harry Shaffer.


Blake Warner’s first trip to Fonda Speedway with the Empire Super Sprint Series is one I am sure he won’t forget.

On his second night of competition with the ESS and time-trialing during warmups, Warner flipped between turns three and four, with the car ending upright on the infield pavement.

“I’m just a little bit sore,” Warner said Wednesday. “I will be back in the car in about two weeks. I believe I just got my left rear and left front in the mud and it kind of sucked me in while I was down low. I got sideways, hit the uke tire and just went straight up.”


Danny Varin has found the right combination for early-season success with the ESS.

In the first three events of the season, Varin has been unbeatable, claiming all three A-Mains.

Even being involved in an early-race tangle in the 25-lap A-Main last Saturday at Fonda Speedway that damaged the top wing on his No. 01 didn’t slow him down.

Varin made a quick pit stop, and his crew bent the sheet metal on the left side of the wing back into shape and he restarted at the back of the pack.

It didn’t take long for him to pick his way back toward the front and into the lead in the closing laps to notch his third consecutive tour victory of the season.

Unfortunately, his luck with the No. 93 modified was not as good as he came to a stop on the front stretch while leading his heat race. He later reported on his Facebook page that it was a blown engine, but the team would be back at Fonda Saturday night.


Two-time defending track champion Andrew Buff held off his brother, Justin, to pick up his second-straight victory in the Red Chair DIRTcar Sportsman feature Sunday night at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.

Opening-night winner Brian Calabrese chased the brothers under the checkers with Cody Ochs and Alan Fink rounding out the top five.

Luke Horning made it 3 for 3 in the Yurkewecz Auto Crushers DIRTcar Pro Stock division, while Dylan Grogan recorded his first career win in the limited sportsman main event and Matt Wells took home the street stock victory.

Billy Hillman was the first dual cam driver across the line to take home the 4-cylinder mini stock victory, with Jay Ingersoll the top finishing single cam driver.

In the Tobias Slingshot divisions, Kirsten Swartz and Adam Fusco staged a race-long battle, with Swartz winning out over Fusco for her first victory of the season.

Defending class champion Sloan Cherko grabbed the lead at the drop of the green for the 12-lap junior slingshot division and was never headed as she picked up the victory over Connor Crane.

A late-afternoon rainstorm delayed the start of action last Sunday at The Ridge. However, the track crew won out, giving the competitors a fast racing surface to run on with the $100 Competition Carburetion Fast Time Awards being presented.

Picking up the awards were Andrew Buff (602 sportsman 13.637 sec.), Andy Graves (pro stock 15.119 sec.) and Butchie Irwin (limited sportsman 14.032 sec.).

All events were completed in under two hours.


Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will host a full regular race card Sunday on American Cancer Society Relay for Life night.

The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series will join the full regular race card Saturday night at Fonda Speedway.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway will host a full regular race program Friday, with the Pro Stocks running for $1,000-to-win.

Matt Sheppard picked up his third win in as many races Tuesday night, holding off Stewart Friesen for the Short Track Super Series win at Outlaw Speedway.

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