March 25th, 2005
By BRETT DEYO
BINGHAMTON, NY - Ryan Bartlett and Jeremy Holt have forever etched their names in the Race of Champions Dirt Tour record book.
The two young drivers became the first pre-race entries for their respective RoC Dirt Tour Season Openers.
The RoC Dirt Modified Tour will begin its inaugural year at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway on Sat., April 9. The RoC Dirt Sportsman Tour's first event is slated for Sun., April 24 at Penn-Can (Pa.) Speedway.
Bartlett, 22, of Adams, N.Y., will be part of a talent-laden cast ready to descend on the historic half-mile Fonda oval for the "Ice Jam" 50-lap feature paying $4,000 to the winner plus a $500 small-block bonus.
Bartlett finished ninth in the point standings at Can-Am (N.Y.) Motorsports Park and Brockville (Ont.) Speedway in 2004, while posting a top-five effort in Thursday competition at Thunder Alley (N.Y.) Speedpark.
Other confirmed entries for the first of three visits to "The Track of Champions" include dirt Modified star Alan Johnson of Phelps, N.Y., who will pilot a Jeff Rudalavage-owned No. 112 Bicknell and Mitch Gibbs of North Norwich N.Y., in Lance Kenyon's big-block Modified.
Fonda's quality field of regulars, led by defending Modified track champion Dave Lape of Canajoharie, N.Y., legendary Jack Johnson of Duanesburg, N.Y., and former Eastern States 200 winner Bobby Varin of Sharon Springs, N.Y., will try to defend their home turf against the invaders.
All 2004 Modified champions from RoC Dirt member tracks are guaranteed starters for Fonda.
They include: Tommy Meier (Orange County (N.Y.) Fair Speedway); Dave Lape (Fonda); Brian Weaver (Penn-Can); Don Hart Jr. (Five Mile Point (N.Y.) Speedway); Doug Hoffman (Big Diamond (Pa.) Raceway); Steve Paine (Thunder Alley); Stewart Friesen (Utica-Rome (N.Y.) Speedway) and Pete Bicknell (Ransomville (N.Y.) Speedway).
Entries are pouring into the Race of Champions office by the day and a full list of those expected to compete will be made available prior to the event.
Race time at Fonda is 1 p.m.
Holt, of Kirkwood, N.Y., scored his first ever Sportsman victory in the Southern Tier Open last October at Five Mile Point Speedway. He did so in his rookie season of Sportsman competition driving for Roger Batzel's Country Town Auto Service team.
In fact, Holt had never driven anything prior to the '04 campaign at Five Mile Point. His ability to adapt to the quarter-mile turned heads all season.
Holt will try to score high-profile victory number two when the RoC Sportsman Tour contests its 40-lap, $1,000-to-win feature, part of Penn-Can Speedway's unique "Spring 150" promotion.
A large contingent of Sportsman racers from across the Northeast is expected to descend on Al Wilcox and Reed Miller's three-eighths-mile track for the Sunday afternoon special.
The first green flag of the "Spring 150" is set to fly at 2 p.m.
RoC officials reported a great amount of interest in both the Modified and Sportsman Tours after a successful March 12 meeting during the CarQuest Motorsports Expo held at the New York State Fairgrounds.
The Race of Champions Dirt Tour website, created by MJM Website Design, is up and running at www.rocdirt.com. Rules, regional breakdowns, schedules and other pertinent information regarding the inaugural season will be available there soon.
Fonda Speedway is located one mile off the New York State Thruway (I-90) in Fonda, N.Y. For more information, contact the speedway office at (518) 382-3115 or visit the website: www.fondaspeedway.com.
Penn-Can Speedway is just minutes off Route I-81 on Route 171 in Susquehanna, Pa. Information can be obtained by calling the office at (570) 585-9928 or visiting the website: http://www.penncan.com/.