A STAR-STUDDED LIST OF OPENING NIGHT WINNERS AT ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY

A STAR-STUDDED LIST OF OPENING NIGHT WINNERS AT  ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY

This Year Marks the 71th Consecutive Season of Weekly Stock Car Racing

 

The winning driver of the United Rentals DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature on Opening Night of weekly racing at Orange County Fair Speedway this year will continue a tradition that first began in 1950. While automobile racing traces its Orange County roots back 101 years to 1919, weekly stock car racing---the precursors of today’s Modifieds---began on April 16, 1950 and has continued uninterrupted since that memorable date.

 

The first weekly racing program was held on a small one-fifth-mile asphalt-surfaced track that was located inside the famed five-eighths-mile clay-surfaced speedway. Tex Enright, who later gained fame as a colorful race starter was the day’s winner, his only Orange County victory of record. Since then 42 other drivers have won season openers, led by all-time track record holder Brett Hearn, who has tasted first night victory champagne nine times.

 

Other multi-time Opening Night winners include Carl Van Horn, who captured four Modified features; three-time Opening Night victors Bobby Bottcher, Will Cagle, Rich Eurich, and Jeff Heotzler; with Frank Cozze, Danny Creeden, Bud Marl, Chuck McKee, Frankie Schneider, Al Tasnady, Bill Wimble, and Anthony Perrego  each winning two openers.

 

Drivers who have raced at Orange County on a weekly basis some or all of their careers have won the vast majority of Opening Night feature races. But that hasn’t always been the case. The first outside invader to take home the season opener top prize was Hartford, Connecticut driver Dick Fletcher back in 1954. Then in the 1960s, Flemington (New Jersey) Speedway great Al Tasnady won two Orange County openers, as did Fonda (New York) Speedway champion Bill Wimble.

 

In 1983, C.D. Coville, from Upstate New York, ushered in the DIRT Motorsports era by winning the first race under Glenn Donnelly’s reign. “Barefoot” Bob McCreadie, from Watertown, New York, took the local boys to task in 1985, while Jack Johnson, whose home track was also Fonda Speedway, won in 1995. Last year’s Opening Night victor, Stewart Friesen, is a frequent competitor at Orange County although he  has never raced a full season in Middletown.

 

Winning Opening Night Modified features in the five years prior to 2019 were Tim Hindley (2014), Anthony Perrego (2015), Bob McGannon (2016), Jimmy Horton (2017), and Perrego for the second time in 2018.

 

With bragging rights on the line, three-dozen or more top Modified drivers will be looking to start 2020 weekly racing with a victory. And who knows, there’s always the possibility an outside invader will pull into the Orange County pits and win on Opening Night, adding their name to the long list of great dirt track Modified winning drivers.

 

Fans and competitors are reminded to visit the speedway website for the latest track news: www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net. Media members are reminded that the deadline for OCFS credentials is April 25. Contact Bobby Armbruster at barmbr6493@aol.com with your request.

 

ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY --- OPENING DAY WINNERS 1950-2019

 

1950  04/15  Tex Enright                    1960  04/10  Ken  Wismer Sr.             1970  04/18  Will Cagle*

1951  04/15  Frank Schneider             1961  04/08  Carl Van Horn               1971  04/17  R. Schwendernmann

1952  04/26  Joe Romer                      1962  04/21  Al Tasnady                     1972  04/29  Carl Van Horn

1953  04/26  Bud Marl                        1963  04/13  Frank Schneider*           1973  04/14  Bobby Bottcher*

1954  04/16  Dick Fletcher                 1964  04/05  Bill Wimble                    1974  04/20  Carl Van Horn

1955  04/30  Pete Corey                     1965  04/10  Al Tasnady                     1975  04/12  Wayne Reutimann*

1956  04/21  Bud Marl*                      1966  04/06  Bill Wimble                    1976  04/10  Buzzie Reutimann

1957  04/14  Ray Brown*                   1967  04/29  Will Cagle*                    1977  04/16  Bobby Bottcher

1958  04/13  Sonny Strupp*               1968  04/20  Jackie Evans                   1978  04/22  MeMe DSantis

1959  04/04  Carl Van Horn               1969  04/12  Will Cagle*                    1979  04/21  Bobby Bottcher

 

 

1980  04/19  Billy Osmun                   1990  04/14  Sammy Rogers               2000  04/15  Brett Hearn

1981  04/11  Harry Behrent                1991  04/20  Frank Cozze                   2001  04/28  Brett Hearn

1982  05/01  Rich Eurich*                  1992  05/02  Brett Hearn*                  2002  04/20  Jeff Heotzler

1983  04/02  C.D. Coville                   1993  04/17  Brett Hearn*                  2003  04/19  Chuck McKee

1984  03/18  Larry Brolsma                1994  04/16  Jeff Heotzler                  2004  04/17  Tommy Meier*

1985  04/06  Bob McCreadie              1995  04/15  Jack Johnson                  2005  04/16  Chuck McKee

1986  04/12  Brett Hearn*                  1996  04/13  Jeff Heotzler                  2006  04/29  Craig Mitchell

1987  04/18  Brett Hearn*                  1997  04/19  Frank Cozze                   2007  04/21  Mike Kolka

1988  04/16  Carl Reynolds                1998  04/18  Rich Eurich                    2008  04/19  Brett Hearn

1989  04/22  Brett Hearn*                  1999  04/17  Rich Eurich                    2009  04 18  Danny Creeden

 

2010  04/17  Brett Hearn                    2014  04/12  Tim Hindley*                 2018  04/21  Anthony Perrego*

2011  04/09  Danny Creeden              2015  04/18  Anthony Perrego            2019  04/13  Stewart Friesen

2012  04/14  Chris Shultz                   2016  04/16  Bob McGannon

2013  04/13  Jerry Higbie                    2017  04/29  Jimmy Horton*

 

*Won Opener and Track Modified Point Champion Same Year

 

43 Different Winners, 1950-2019

 

Multiple Winners                                          Single Winners

Brett Hearn – 9                                               Harry Behrent             Craig Mitchell

Carl Van Horn – 4                                          Larry Brolsma             Billy Osmun

Bobby Bottcher – 3                                        Ray Brown                  Buzzie Reutimann

Will Cagle – 3                                                 Pete Corey                  Carl Reynolds

Rich Eurich – 3                                               C.D. Coville                Sammy Rogers

Jeff Heotzler – 3                                             MeMe DeSantis          Joe Romer

Frank Cozze – 2                                              Tex Enright                 Wayne Reutimann                              

Bud Marl – 2                                                   Jackie Evans                Ron Schwendernmann

Chuck McKee – 2                                           Dick Fletcher              Chris Shultz

Frankie Schneider – 2                                     Jerry Higbie                 Sonny Strupp                                         

Al Tasnady – 2                                                Jack Johnson               Ken Wismer Sr.

BillWimble – 2                                                Mike Kolka                 Tim Hindley               

Danny Creeden – 2                                         Bob McCreadie           Tommy Meier

Anthony Perrego – 2                                       Bob McGannon          Jimmy Horton

                                                                        Stewart Friesen