By Ralph Smith
BLOOMINGBURG November 30, 2004 If one began an Internet search with low budget racer as the key words, they might find Burt Irwin Jr. near or at the top of the search results.
If that person then clicked on Irwins icon, Burt would be quoted as saying that people make it possible for him to race and that he appreciates the help.
Those people are like the ones at Franco Restaurant, Quality Engine, Joy Radiator, Mountain Top Racing, Ace Cycle Shop. And, of course, people like the family, friends, and fans make it possible for him to compete.
The 11th annual Auto Racing Appreciation Party, which was hosted by Middletown Motorsports Show promoters Ed and Joanne Stevens, Burt Irwin Jr. and Hager Brothers Racing, was held on Sunday, November 21 at the Mamakating Park Recreation Building in Bloomingburg.
After a delicious buffet, Irwin Jr. was first to take the microphone to address the nearly 120 people in attendance to say thank you to his sponsors. Irwin announced that he would change from Vintage Racing to either a Sportsman or 358-Modified for the 2005 racing season. Earlier in the weekend, Irwin had picked up the third place plaque at the North East Vintage Dirt Modified banquet.
Jeff and John Hager had a busy 2004 schedule as they raced at both the Accord and Kauneonga Speedways each weekend. With their regular Dirt Sportsman, IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, Vintage racing and a lone Enduro race at Orange County Fair Speedway, the Hagers raced in four different racing divisions in 2004. Even with that hectic schedule, they still found enough time to race at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont with the New England Antique Racers Club.
The Hagers thanked their sponsors for the 2004 racing season, which included Bernicker Dodge, Franco Di Roma Restaurant, Duffie Electric, Bruce F. Bryan Insurance Agency, J.T. Groceries and Citgo, Orange County Electric, C.V. Auto Machine, Phils Service Center, Smith Plumbing and Heating, West Point Tours, Tonnesons Body Shop, and Scottys Auto Detailing.
Ed and Joanne Stevens are currently busy making plans for the 14th annual Middletown Motorsports Show, which is slated to be held on March 18, 19, and 20, 2005 at the Orange County Fairgrounds Arena in Middletown. The show keeps growing every year and the interest by many competitors to show their cars seems as high as ever. For more information about the show, call Ed Stevens at 386-3484.
A special guest at the party was Modified racing legend Frankie Schneider, who was in the area to attend the North East Vintage Dirt Modified banquet. Vintage competitors Gene Hoogerhyde and Jim Halpin race a 1972 Pinto with the familiar white and red number 2 made famous by Schneider. It was also learned that Gary Tetz and Joe Tetz Jr. have purchased Frankie Schneiders Grant King car from the 1970s and will have it on display at the Middletown Motorsports Show.
The affair was attended by many racers and car owners too numerous to mention without missing someone. But one racing legend, Russ Meyers, the 1976 Sportsman Champion at OCFS, was on hand with one ear glued to the radio listening to the NASCAR Chase for the Championship. It just goes to show you once a racer, always a racer.