A 2nd Century of Racing at the Legendary House of Power
Clark Thompson - MetroSports Magazine, April 5, 2021
One sure sign of Spring is the return of racing to the fabled grounds of the Orange County Fair Speedway (OCFS) in Middletown New York, also known to race fans as the Legendary House of Power. With Covid-19 pandemic restrictions lifting across the State, the OCFS welcomed fans back into the stands for the April 3rd – 4th opening weekend of the 2021 racing season.
As announced on the OCFS website, “Track management will still be taking extra precautions and limiting the amount of seating available to ensure proper social distance, but FANS ARE BACK IN THE GRANDSTAND FOR ‘21! Of course, the drive-in section will be back as it has every year since 1967 AND racing will continue to be livestreamed for out-of-area fans too!” “OCFS will follow and enforce CDC and New York State COVID-19 protocols. Masks are required to use any of the fairgrounds facilities and to move about the grounds. Everyone is asked to maintain safe distancing.”
The 2021 racing season kicked off on Saturday night, April 3rd, with the 40 lap United Rentals DIRTcar Big Block Modified race and a 20 lap Arkel Motors Sportsman race. This was the first of 12 nights of Big-Block Modified racing that will culminate with the new elimination format Championship night in September. The night’s festivities were designated as Autism Awareness Night in recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month. “We’re excited to have fans back in the stands as well as the Drive-In section for Opening Night,” says Orange County Fair Speedway Director of Motorsports Brett Hearn, “And what better way to get the season started than with the Autism Awareness decal bonus adding $1,000 to the winner’s purse, making it a $5,000-to-win Orange County Oval Kickoff 40-lap feature for our United Rentals Big-Block DIRTcar Modifieds.”
All action photos by Clark Thompson. www.Clarkshots1.com
Forty teams brought their cars to the United Rentals event for qualifying and 29 took to the track for the race. Capturing the inaugural win for the OCFS 2021 racing season was Tommy Meier, posting a top speed of 104.67 mph, one of six cars posting 100+ mph top speeds. For his efforts, Meier picked-up the $5,000 check. Rounding out the top five finishers were Larry Wright, Max McLaughlin, Mat Williamson, and Billy Decker.
In the Arkel Motors Sportsman race, top honors among the field of 27 went to Robert Bublack, posting a top speed of 95.62 mph and followed across the finish line by Joe Brunning, Jeff Hulseapple, Joe Bonetti, and Andrew Buff.
The Orange County Fair Speedway holds an important place in the New York Metro Region’s racing history. While the pages of MetroSports Magazine have previously documented such early events as the 1896 New York to Irvington Cosmpolitan Race, the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race, and the early 1900s races at the Yonkers Empire City Speedway, the history of the OCFS dates back to 1857 when it first hosted horse racing. The step from horse racing to automobile racing took place in 1919 and mirrored the transition at the Yonkers Empire City track and the New York City Sheepshead Bay track. The OCFS has hosted midget racing, open wheel racing, and stock car racing and is one of the few remaining, continuously-operating tracks in the State.
The OCFS 2021 race schedule will run through November 13th with the season culminating with the 50-lap Great Pumpkin Race.
photos accessible at www.Clarkshots1.com