Hittin' the Road
Democrat Photo by Jamie Dymond
THE MEMBERS OF the MAG Motorsports Team pose for a picture prior to last weeks program at Kauneonga Speedway. In front are Michelle Gannon, left, and Melissa Borish. Standing behind them from left to right are Les Quick Jr., Woodrow Wilson, Jason Hertig, Ed Jones, Joe Wilson and Tom Jones. Missing from photo is team member Les Quick Sr.
By Jamie Dymond
WHITE LAKE July 4, 2003 What happens when you get bit by the stock car racing bug? Can you ever spend a Saturday night anywhere but the track?
For one resident of Narrowsburg, stock car racing has become both an intricate part of her husbands memory and her new life.
In the summer of 1998, Michelle A. Gannon went racing for the first time as her husband Jimmy piloted the 876 Street Stock at Kauneonga Speedway in White Lake. She has been going ever since.
In addition to attending the weekly events in 1998, Michelle began creating a program for the Kauneonga Speedway.
Her son J. W. was born in July 1999, so she settled again for just watching her husband struggle weekly to dial in his car. Michelle remembers that it was difficult in the beginning, but that several people at the track provided help. She also fondly remembers one night in 1998 when Mark Sylvester, a contender for the points championship, blew his transmission. Jimmy offered his car to Sylvester in hopes that he would be able to ascertain what was wrong with it. Sylvester provided help and this opened the door to a number of great friendships.
In 2000, Jimmy built Michelle a six cylinder hobby stock car to race. That lasted one night.
Michelle remembers getting lapped by the entire field about four times. That was all she needed to establish that she wasnt a race car driver.
She no longer is so quick to judge and tell anyone what they should have done on the track.
Twelve days before Christmas 2001, Michelles husband passed away. Jimmy had worked hard for four years, but had not obtained a win with his No. 876 racer. Michelle was left with J. W. a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed gem that beams with his fathers spunk and the race car.
For the 2002 season Michelle made the decision that Jimmy would want his car raced. She requested that veteran racer Joe Barnes of Barryville climb behind the wheel. Barnes accepted and finished the season seventh in points. However, Barnes decided to take the 2003 season off to build his dream home with his wife, Sherri.
Michelle again needed a driver to pilot a car that means so much to her and her son. Long-time racer Tom Jones of Liberty was asked to step up from the eight cylinder division and take control of the MAG Motorsports racer. Jones, who began racing with his eight cylinder in 1996, did not hesitate to accept.
A few weeks ago, on only the fourth night of his street stock racing career, he clinched his first victory. Jones was thrilled. Michelle did what Jimmy would have wanted her to do as she put the No. 876 MAG Motorsports racer in victory lane for the first time.
MAG Motorsports is much more than the No. 876 race car that Michelle owns and Tom Jones drives in her husbands memory. It has grown to include four other cars that park and pit together weekly. Toms son, Ed Jones, who competes weekly in the eight cylinder division, works on the 876 and makes sure its ready to be a top contender every week. Woody Wilson, his brother Joe and their two four cylinders are also big supporters of MAG Motorsports.
Tom is comfortable both behind the wheel and under the hood, as he has been an ASE Certified mechanic for 25 years. In addition to Toms business, Family Auto, a car repair shop in Liberty, the 876 racer is sponsored by Les Quick Sr., owner of Les Quick Logging.
Currently second in the eight cylinder point standings, Les Quick Jr. of Jeffersonville is also part of the gang and proudly sponsored by MAG Motorsports.
The original crew chief of the 876, Jason Hertig, who is Jims nephew, will debut an eight cylinder sometime this season.
Racing is truly a team sport and Michelle Gannon has created one of the best racing teams at the Kauneonga Speedway. Watch for her drivers this season as they are sure to be top competitors weekly.