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The 2013 Racing Season Awards Banquet at OCFS


The 2014 Orange County Fair Speedway Awards Banquet was held last night at the OCF Arena in Middletown, New York in an event that drew 400+ people from the northeast.  It was a pretty nice day in upstate New York as temperatures peaked in the high 40’s, a sign that spring is just around the bend.

I arrived at around 5:20 and immediately made way to the track to see what kind of shape it was in.  It was chilly and the crows were out in droves but from I could see the snow was melting quickly on and around the track’s surface.  I took some photos and shot about a dozen videos and stood in the main grandstand and reminisced about the weekends ahead.  It was peaceful and serene having the entire speedway all to myself but I knew this was just the calm before the storm. 

Inside the arena guests were already beginning to arrive at a little before 6:00 and I met up and had conversations with Steve Barrick of Program Dynamics and then met with Ken Sands, OCFS manager who was at the entrance with Mike Gurda, OCFS owner, Tim Pitts, OCFS announcer and Bobby Armbruster, OCFS’s track photographer. 

For the first hour guests trickled in and were greeted to the sounds of DJ Erik Santana of ‘Right On Cue’ Productions.  The bar was open and people milled about, drinks in hand and took in the atmosphere.  The OCFS Johnston’s Toyota truck was there accompanied by Tim Hindley’s BB Modified, Danny Creeden’s SMB Modified and Brian Krummel’s gorgeous # 343 9-11 Tribute Sportsman car.  In the center stage was the table that held all the beautiful hardware; trophies, plaques and watches and bracelets. 

At Table 18, I sat with none other than 1976 358 Modified Champion, Russ Myer.  The table was tastefully arranged with a very nice black and white centerpiece and all the plates and silverware placed neatly around it. 

The awards ceremony began with an invocation by speedway announcer Tim Pitts followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  We were all welcomed to the ceremony and at a little past 7:00, dinner was ready to be served.

The catered party was very good and we had a buffet style dinner with choices like roast beef, turkey, gravy, penne pasta, cheese pasta, mashed potatoes, carrots, salad and dinner rolls.  As dinner was taking place 50/50 tickets were being sold throughout the arena. 

Once dinner was over at a little after 8:00 and the strawberry shortcake dessert was being served, the awards ceremony commenced.  Mike Gurda spoke in length about the successes of the 2013 racing season and how he’s looking forward to this year’s racing program.  One thing that stuck out, at least me, was he mentioned that his door is always open and would love to talk with anyone who had suggestions or ideas about the Orange County Fair Speedway.  That went a long way with me and hopefully this season I can get a chance to speak with him and take him up on his offer.

The next speaker was Program Dynamics owner Steve Barrick who handed out the night’s first hardware for the 2013 Most Popular drivers of OCFS.  The trophies went to, Charlie Donald, most popular SS driver, LJ Lombardo, most popular Sportsman driver, Chuck McKee, most popular SMB Modified driver and Jerry Higbie, most popular BB Modified driver. 

Up next was Sharon Loder, who received a huge round of applause.  Sharon spoke of the NYSCA drivers of the year and handed out plaques to all the winners. 

Tim Pitts took the time to recognize two major sponsors at the OCFS, Johnston’s Toyota and Middletown Auto Wreckers and then a special recognition award was presented to Doug Dulgarian (sp?) who is responsible for many countless hours of behind the scenes work and his contribution to OCFS’s Nostalgia Night. 

Next on the agenda was an update on racing legend, Frankie Schneider who is still in the hospital undergoing treatment for his kidneys.  Please keep Frankie Schneider in your thoughts and prayers while he and his family go through this very difficult time. 

As the ceremony rolled on the awards were handed out for rookie drivers in each of the divisions, sportsmanship awards, Mechanic of the year who was none other than Dave Phillips and then finally the point awards for each of the top 10 drivers in the 4 top divisions at the Orange County Fair Speedway.  Flashbulbs popped and there were handshakes galore and everyone was all smiles as the Orange County Fair Speedway racing family celebrated and put an exclamation point on the 2013 season.

The most talked about topic that I overheard all night was the upcoming Hard Clay Open which is slated for Sunday, March 23rd.  The murmurs and conversations were about track conditions, pending weather and the melting of the snow from one of the longest, hardest winters to hit Orange County in some time.  The excitement was definitely brewing as in just 2 short weeks, we’ll know if Ma Nature is going to cooperate. 

After the closing ceremony, DK Erik Santana rocked the house with his beats and just dared anyone to get out onto the dance floor.  A lot of the guest were more than happy to oblige as the colored lights bounced and thunderous, pounding songs emitted from the speakers. 

In my own opinion, the Awards Banquet was a great success and everything was scheduled and planned smoothly and the décor and atmosphere was great and the food was, in my own opinion, pretty darn good.  I had a good time for my first ever Awards Banquet and am happy to report that with it now in the books, we can all look ahead and see what the 2014 racing season brings.  Lord knows, we all waited long enough and the anticipation is tremendous.

The regular season at OCFS will kick off on Saturday, April 12 and hopefully we’ll see you all out there at the ‘House of Power’, the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York.

Thanks for reading and Long Live the Orange County Fair Speedway!

Take care and be well.

Jeff Lambert


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