MIDDLETOWN, NY (April 8)……..The winning driver of the Big-Block Modified feature on Opening Night of weekly racing at Orange County Fair Speedway will continue a tradition that first began in 1950. While automobile racing traces its Orange County roots back 100 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 Hard Clay 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 41 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 this week’s honoree, 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 defending track point champion 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, the last outside invader to win on Opening Night.


Winning Opening Night Modified features the past five years were Tim Hindley (2014), Anthony Perrego (2015), Bob McGannon (2016), Jimmy Horton (2017), and Perrego for the second time in 2018. With early season bragging rights on the line, three-dozen or more top Modified drivers are looking to start 2019 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 the Opening Night top prize money of $7,100.


It will all play out on Saturday, April 13, 2019 and the start of the 70th consecutive season of weekly stock car racing at Orange County Fair Speedway. Will a new Opening Night winner’s name be added to the long list of great Orange County drivers? Or will one of the previous victors take the checkered flag once again? Racing gets under way at 6:00 P.M at the historic Middletown, New York five-eights-mile “Hard Clay” surfaced speedway. Opening Night will include four divisions of race cars---Big-Block Modifieds, Small-Block Modifieds, Sportsman, and Street Stocks---in qualifying races and main events.


Adult admissions to Orange County Fair Speedway weekly races is $20, with children 10 and under $5.00. There is a $1.00 car charge for the Drive-In section. The first 1,000 fans through the gates on opening night will receive a Carl Van Horn commemorative souvenir. A special program with pictures and stories of Van Horn’s racing career will be available as well. Before and after the races, fans can enjoy free live music at the 31st Lap Tavern. And as a special prize, the 1,500th admission on April 13 will receive two passes for the August 100th Anniversary Weekend. The competitor pits open at 3:00 pm; spectator gates at 5:00 pm.


Advance ticket sales and additional information is available at the Track Office. Call 845-342-2573 during business hours. Fans and competitors are reminded to visit the speedway website for the latest track news: www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.





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  0414  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

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


42 Different Winners, 1950-2018


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