Fonda Speedway went dark last Saturday night and it plans to do the same again this weekend in response to COVID-19.

“It’s really hard to plan things right now. This year I have the opportunity at Fonda to race later in the year because of the lack of the fair (the speedway normally shuts down for a few weeks each year for the Fulton-Montgomery County Fair) but racing with no fans makes no sense,” said Brett Deyo, promoter at Fonda Speedway and BD Motorsports Media LLC, which promotes events at various speedways throughout the United States.

“This has been so stressful, it takes years off your life,” he said. “We have put a lot of our money and time in Fonda Speedway over the last two years — everything we have put in is our own and I don’t want to flush it down the toilet. We worked hard there.”

And Deyo and his team were highly welcomed when they took over the reins at the Fonda-based oval. Race teams and race fans are happy with what Deyo had brought to the speedway, especially since it was facing an uncertain future at the time.

“I’m not going to just shut down and be done — I want to make sure our racers can finish out their points and race,” said Deyo, who released an updated schedule Wednesday morning.

“There just comes a point where it just doesn’t make sense to keep beating your head against the wall every single week. The Saturday night tracks have such big purses to meet along with payroll, lights, insurance, fuel and there is a lot of competition for the pay-per-view events.”

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Some speedways are charging high entry fees to try to stay above water but Deyo is not a fan of doing something like that and won’t. And he hasn’t cut his payoff purse in 14 years of business and he doesn’t plan on starting that now either.

“If we raise the car entry fees and drop the purses we will run the smaller teams out of money so when we can finally have fans in the stands these teams will be gone because they are already at their limit,” Deyo said.

“I would rather stay the course and run fewer races the right way and minimize the loss on our end.”

It hasn’t been all bad — Deyo’s team has experienced some highs from the virus’ inconvenience as well.

“Our local government did everything they could to not shut us down,” Deyo said. “Montgomery County knows the value of racing at Fonda Speedway (to village stores, gas stations, etc.). They let me have Independence Day the right way, with the stands open and I really appreciate that because that really saved what little season we have had there.”

The successful promoter will run two more Saturday shows and one Wednesday night event at Fonda. And he is ready to change the schedule should things change — again.

And that’s a possibility because, according to Deyo, he is also one of three promoters involved in a lawsuit with the State of New York.

“We pooled some money together to sue the state in a very similar fashion that the synagogues and churches did when they overturned the outdoor gathering requirements,” Deyo said. “If that decision were to come back and say we can race with social distancing, which is what we did during the 4th of July races then we will look at things again. If it doesn’t go through or drags on then I personally think, unless something very dramatic happens, I don’t personally think you will see a crowd in New York state this year.”

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Deyo has promoted events in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania already this season. He will add Louisiana to the list in November.

“I’m still trucking right along. I’m lucky that I’m just not limited to New York state like some of the track operators are,” Deyo said. “I have the series (his Short Track Super Series) where I can go and bring in some income.”

Like all racing promoters right now — he is doing all that he can for the sport.

“Everyone has been pretty decent to us about shutting down for these two weeks,” Deyo said. “I saw a lot of people that race with us (on social media) having ‘fun days on the lake’ last weekend so I don’t think they minded too much, being how hot it was.”

Kind of confused

For the first time in more than 30 years, I frequented a drive-in movie on two different occasions lately so I am a bit confused about the successful drive-in section at Orange County Fair Speedway being shut down by the state on Saturday.

I guess I’m not sure I understand the difference.

We also reached out to OCFS race director Brett Hearn and Albany-Saratoga Speedway promoter Lyle DeVore for updates on their speedways but did not receive any word from either location.

In good company

Mike Mahaney’s decision to spend Friday nights racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway is paying off.

Mahaney is second the track’s modified points championship chase — right behind Stewart Friesen. Mahaney has one victory so far this season while Friesen has two wins.

Robin Yasinsac-Gillespie’s auto racing column appears every other week during the racing season.



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