Pete Gardner Memorial Race Goes to Veteran Campaigner Rick Mill!

May, 26th 2018

Saturday Night short track racing resumed at Bethel Motor Speedway after two weeks of rain outs. The night was a busy one has Hig Fab Chassis presented Moc A Tek Memories Night which was highlighted by the first round of the Tri Co Electric Sportsman Challenge Series ‘Pete Gardner Memorial’. Pete was a successful racer at both Bethel Motor Speedway and the now defunct Moc A Tek Speedway but sadly passed away two years ago from illness. The race is run in his honor as, Gardner was well known for his fellow respect and friendships with many of the racers in the area and was an avid fan of short track auto racing in the Northeast.

The Pete Gardner Memorial 56 Lap dirt sportsman race started with an initial tangle in the first turn of the first lap when pole sitter Bryan Jones, who was making his first ever start at the speedway lost the handle and collected hometown hero Jerry Curry in the accident. Curry limped to the pits for repairs while Jones had to be towed in. On the restart, former Moc A Tek regular Richie Coons jumped out into the lead and looked fast in the early stage of the race. After leading for several laps, Coons found himself being challenged by another veteran racer Rick Mill who came from his fifth starting position. Mill was able to power ahead into the lead coming off the corner on the inside groove. Coons continued in hot pursuit of Mill, until several laps later when defending ‘Gardner Memorial’ winner Paul Martin began to pressure Coons for second position. Martin who also competed at Moc A Tek Speedway in Mini Sprints captured second position and began to reel in Mill as he was negotiating lap traffic. Martin then got his hands full defending his own position as last year’s ‘Summer of 69’ winner Ed Dachenhausen began to heat up and challenge Martin along with former champion, Kyle Redner. The three drivers raced back and forth in tight formation for many laps as they all began closing in on the leader Mill. On Lap 34, Dachenhausen was able to break away from Martin and Redner to solely take second position after a many lap battle for position. Mill found his car’s handling getting worse as the race went on, but Dachenhausen’s mount got stronger and quickly tracked down the leader and began to apply heavy pressure to the leader. In the closing stage, on lap 48 of the race found the leader Mill bobbling off turn two while in lap traffic, Dachenhausen dashed to the inside of the leader, but Mill was able to recover and quickly pinched the opening closed as they accelerated down the backstretch. Dachenhausen relented the challenge as his car was not up on the leader enough to make a clean pass. Dachenhausen stayed glued to Mill’s bumper but fans began to worry as smoke began puffing out of the left side of his engine, but the determined Dachenhausen dismissed the plumes of smoke and made another bid to challenge Mill on Lap 53. Dachenhausen attempted a high low crossover pass in turns three and four getting an inside run on the leader. Mill, who also had raced at Moc A Tek Speedway several times over the years, was fading and pushed it for all it had. The ace driver took advantage of his track position and was able to power ahead of Dachenhausen’s final challenge. At the Extreme Kleaner checkers, found Mill with his Armistead Mechanical #77 machine ahead of a very close Dachenhausen to pick up his second victory of the season. Defending race winner Paul Martin crossed the line third over a hard running Kyle Redner.

Invading driver Frank Porreca made his first ever debut an eventful one as he took home the win in the first ever Crate Sportsman race at the speedway. Porreca who normally races in the modified class at Big Diamond Speedway proved to be a quick study at the Bethel bullring. Porreca came from his fourth starting position to quickly take the lead after an early race tangle collected the top two cars in turn two. Porreca who spent much of his youth at Moc A Tek Speedway fended off several challenges of long time campaigner, Billy Eggers Jr. As Eggers faded towards the end, Porreca continued to get better and cruised home to the victory in his first ever start at the speedway. Eggers Jr. captured second over a fast closing Chris Cook who is in his rookie season.

Joe Graf Jr, an ARCA rookie competitor and a former champion at the speedway made a surprise visit at his home track an eventful one as he picked up his first win of the season in the Legends class. Graf Jr. jumped out to the lead from his fourth starting position on the initial lap as he outshifted his competitors and shotput down the frontstretch entering turn one gaining the inside lane, coming off turn two Graf Jr. found himself in second and got to the inside of Eugene Drew in turn 3. Out of turn four to the fan’s delight found Graf Jr. in position number one and captured his first Bethel feature win of the season. Although Graf Jr. never relinquished the lead, it was no easy win as he was pressured throughout the race by a strong performance from Chris Gall and later on by young lion Derek Debbis. At the checkers it was Graf Jr, edging out an eager Debbis closely followed by Gall in third position.

Interstate Battery Pro Stocks found fan favorite Larry O’Donnell outgunning John Roese to take the lead on the first lap in the feature. Defending champ, Ed Butler quickly moved up thru the field and moved into second position on Lap 5. Butler then easily roped in O’Donnell and began to challenge for the lead. O’Donnell made Butler work hard to get the lead but the patient Butler found the momentum off turn 4 and made an outside run for the lead down the front stretch. Out of turn two, Butler locked in and pulled away from O’Donnell. Butler cruised to his second win of the season over O’Donnell and a returning Mac Crawson.

It was a battle of the heavyweights in the Shakelton Auto Parts Street Stocks. Rookie Eddie Jones Jr. jumped out to the early lead and looked good. Jones Jr. led for several laps before hotshoe Brian Bauerfeind climbed his car into the lead on lap 5. Walt Henry quickly followed Bauerfeind up through the pack and took over the second position and began applying heavy pressure to the loose running Bauerfeind. On Lap 11, the yellow was thrown for a backstretch accident that involved two cars. Under yellow, the race took on a unique twist as the two rivals eyed each other up and knew that the ensuing restart would determine the winner of the race. Under green, Bauerfeind outgunned Henry down the front stretch and barreled into turn 1, Henry was in hot pursuit and went in with a full head of steam, as Bauerfeind broke loose contact occurred between the two leaders resulting in a crash. Henry headed to the pits with radiator damage and Bauerfeind was spun into the infield handing the lead back to Jones Jr. On the restart, Jones Jr lost the handle and spun off turn four giving the lead to invader Joel Murns. Murns found his car running strong and was looking to rob the cradle on this night with an upset win. Murns continued to lead until five to go when Bauerfeind was on a mission to get back to the lead he once held. Bauerfeind squeezed by Murns to take the lead and took home his first feature win of the season over the invading Murns and Patty Falkena picking up a strong third place finish.

Cody Houghtaling and Cliff Levinson put on a barnburner of a race in Four Cylinder feature action. The pair swapped the lead back and forth several times with Houghtaling on the low side and Levinson on the high side. They stayed that way, door to door the entire race neither driver making any errors. At the checkers it was a ‘photo finish’ with Cody Houghtaling winning by half a bumper length. Houghtaling picked up his second win of the season with Levinson collecting another runner up position. Rookie Jeffrey Tubbs cruised home third for his best finish to date.

Bandoleros found Connor Souza in a nailbiting crash as he was leading down the backstretch. Souza quickly got out of his damaged racer and waved that it was okay but the car was towed off. On the restart, Joey Aungst outdueled Brian Rygielski to take the lead. Aungst looked strong on this night despite experiencing a break down en route to the track. Aungst continued to lead until the halfway point when defending champ Mike Roth nosed ahead and secured the lead. Roth was able to pull the rare hat trick as he picked up his third feature win in a row followed by a strong running Aungst. Katie Verwys overcame early race trouble to rally on and take home a third-place finish at the stripe.

The Beginner Bandolero feature had an excellent race ending which saw three young drivers in very tight formation running hard but clean as they raced under the checkers. Giovanni Ruggiero made the long haul worthwhile as he picked up his first win of the season. The Massachusetts driver beat Kaden Rogers and Ty Smith by half a car length. Post-race tech found third place finishing Ty Smith disqualified for a restrictor plate infraction.

The Northeast Vintage Modified Club was on hand in full force to partake in the Moc A Tek Memories Night. Their feature found Mike Houghtaling charging through the field with his Mid 80’s replica to pick up his first Bethel win of the season over Ray See Sr. and a returning Bob Harless in vintage modified action with a coupe modified.

Special Thanks to Hig Fab Chassis, Dave Franek Auto Sales, Speedsport Showcase Car Show, Brian Davis Powder Coating, Tri-Co Electric, and the Family of Pete Gardner for their sponsorship in the ‘Pete Gardner Memorial’ race.

Come join us next week at Bethel Motor Speedway as we present ‘Car Cruise Night’ on Saturday, June 2nd. One free pass per classic car cruiser to put on display and be part of on track parade during intermission. Racing begins at 6pm. Come feel the excitement!

Results :

Sportsman Feature : 1. Rick Mill, New Windsor, NY. 2. Ed Dachenhausen 3. Paul Martin 4. Kyle Redner 5. Dan Dulin 6. Rich Coons 7. Billy Eggers Jr. 8. Chris Cook 9. Richie Eggers 10. Bryan Jones 11. Jerry Curry 12. Frank Porreca

Crate Sportsman Feature: 1. Frank Porreca, Honesdale PA. 2. Billy Eggers Jr. 3. Chris Cook 4. Bryan Jones 5. Richie Eggers

Legends Feature: 1. Joe Graf Jr. Mahwah, NJ. 2. Derek Debbis 3. Chris Gall 4. Jim Sylvester 5. Mike Policastro 6. Eugene Drew 7. Joe DeGracia 8. James Anderson 9. Gillian Kirkpatrick 10. George Tomko 11. Sean Verwys 12. Conner Piasecki

Pro Stock Feature: 1. Ed Butler, Bethel, NY 2. Larry O’Donnell 3. Mac Crawson 4. John Roese 5. Porter Crawson 6. Bill VanAken 7. Gary Gamble

Street Stock Feature: 1. Brian Bauerfeind, Callicoon, NY 2. Joel Murns 3. Patty Falkena 4. Corey Stanton 5. Eddie Jones Jr. 6. Jessica Ricci 7. Walt Henry DNS. Frank Maiori

Four Cylinder Pure Stock Feature: 1. Cody Houghtaling, Monticello, NY. 2. Cliff Levinson 3. Jeffrey Tubbs 4. John Houghtaling 5. Dan Houghtaling DNS. Jeff Degroat

Bandolero Feature: 1. Mike Roth, North Branch, NY. 2. Joey Aungst 3. Katie Verwys 4. Brian Rygielski 5. Evan Rygielski 6. Justin Aungst 7. Connor Souza

Beginner Bandolero Feature: 1. Giovanni Ruggiero, Seekonk, MA. 2. Kaden Rogers 3. Jordan Smith 4. Leland Oefelein DQ. Ty Smith

Vintage Modified Feature: 1. Mike Houghtaling, White Sulpher Springs, NY 2. Ray See Sr. 3. Bob Harless 4. John Hager 5. Doug Atkins DNS. George Cleveland DNS. Charlie Houghtaling DNS. Kenny Hermance