HEDGER: A New Edition Of SuperFans Is Right Around The Corner

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BALLSTON SPA, N.Y.

With snow in the air and 2010 drawing to a close, it’s time to prepare for that most traditional of American celebrations, the crowning of the new SuperFans champions.

For this year’s edition we’ll vary from past procedures and add a pace car in front of the field, with driving honors going to the late Gary Storey. A past champion and a SuperFans contender for many years, the Iowan fought cancer for four years before losing his battle this fall.

He attended six races in 2010 before ending up in a nursing home, confined to a wheelchair, where he spent his time poring over the racing papers.

“We’ll all miss the warm smile that Gary always brought to the races,” offered fellow SuperFans Ed Esser and Bob Litton after Storey’s September funeral.

While we never met him in person, we felt as if we knew Storey well from the insightful, often amusing comments that came with each SuperFans entry. The Midwestern short tracks and fans everywhere have indeed lost a good friend.

As always, we’ll compile the 2010 SuperFans totals in two divisions, the press pass and other insider entries under the Pro heading, and the premier division, the amateurs, who drop their hard earned cash at the ticket booth on the way in. Remember, only real racing counts, so no marathons, kids go-karts or dog races, and please tell us which division you fit in and your major likes and dislikes of 2010.

People love to hear about the great tracks and events, the best drivers, the outstanding food and anything really unusual along with the tracks that are horribly dusty, run extremely late week after week and exhibit other major flaws. A season cannot be judged on one event, but the veteran SuperFans have great insight into where the good shows are to be found and what tracks are to be avoided.

That said you don’t have to be a veteran SuperFan or have been to 200 races to enter. We always denote a rookie of the year and many times what seem like modest totals make the top 20.

Get your info to us at [email protected] or by regular mail at 20 Everson Way, Ballston Spa, N.Y., 12020 by Jan. 15 for posting during the February racing kickoff in Florida. Remember NSSN is smaller now, so short, to-the-point observations have a much better chance of seeing print.

We’re also pleased to announce that Tim Frost of the National Speedway Directory, the SuperFan’s Bible, will again recognize the winner in each division with the Gary Jacob Memorial SuperFan Awards.

• We had a great time recently hosting our annual Lost Speedways program at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. Mark Supley’s fascinating talk on board track motorcycle racing was followed by the tandem of Lime Rock announcer Greg Rickes and well known sports-car racer Rob Dyson recalling street races of the past that have fallen by the wayside.

Dyson, making his first visit to the museum, took in the tales of local stock-car racing that followed, though the topics were all new to him.

The crowd heard famed announcer Jim King describe the NASCAR era at the nearby Fonda Speedway, then former modified racers Brian Ross and Nick Ronca recalled their start in the Albany-Saratoga Charger division back in the 1960s. Ross and Ronca showed pictures of many fellow asphalt racers and brought a heat race worth of former drivers up front with them at the end.

The final segment saw modified hero Kenny Tremont and yours truly commenting on the personalities in a few dozen photos from the recently ended dirt era at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

When we started the Lost Speedways programs, some observers suggested fans would only be interested in hearing about their auto racing genre of choice, but we’ve found that while people involved in each segment of the sport may like theirs the best, they also respect the technical skills and courage exhibited by those involved in other forms of racing.

In short, racers are racers and Dyson’s broad smile throughout the program solidly reinforced that belief. We’re already working on plans for next year’s event.