January 17th, 2016
A Night of Celebration and Appreciation at Chemung Banquet
by Carol Houssock

  An emotional retirement for one of the southern tier’s most decorated and versatile drivers capped off an evening of awards and celebration. The scene was Chemung Speedrome’s 2015 banquet, this year held at Shepherd Hills in Waverly, NY.

  While Jimmy Zacharias took top honors in the track’s headline division, it was Terry Potrzebowski who had some on their feet and some in tears after watching a video capturing his many feature wins dating back to 1972. Those wins came at several different tracks, both dirt and asphalt.

  Jimmy Zacharias picked up his 5th Speedrome championship in the headline NASCAR Weekly Modified division. Winner of a division-leading and track-leading 10 features, he again claimed the title prior to the end of the season. “This was my favorite year running at Chemung, and when I didn’t win my brother TJ or Gene (Sharpsteen) did. It couldn’t get any better than that,” he said following the celebration.

  Zacharias, who also ran races at Holland Speedway and Riverhead Raceway, garnered enough points to claim the NY State NASCAR title and ended the year ranked 4th nationally among all drivers in the Whelen All American Series. “Chasing the national title was awesome but probably won’t happen again, with Holland dropping the class,” he told the crowd. Zacharias, from Candor, NY, gave credit to his family for putting him in the best equipment and for his crew and sponsors who helped make it all possible. Regarding his 2016 plans he would only say “we’ll see what happens when it gets here.”

  Gene Sharpsteen took home the Hard Charger Award. He ended the year third in NASCAR Weekly Modified points and took one feature win. He was a contender every week, and his bonsai moves in turn three had the fans holding their breath on many occasions. Corey Mosher, for whom 2015 was a tale of two seasons, picked up the Most Improved Driver award. He said it was all about tires, and switching to newer ones was largely responsible for his turnaround mid-season in the track’s headline division. Connor Sellars, 4th in points, received a scholarship and plaque from the University of Northern Ohio (UNOH) should he decide to attend college there.

  Terry Potrzebowski’s first asphalt championship will be his last. He took the Super Stock title chase down to the final week and came out three points ahead of Mike Nichols. The man of few words did manage to thank his family, with whom he’ll remain involved but in a different way this year. “I’ll be helping my grandson, Ajay, get started in a dirt 4 Cylinder at Woodhull, but I’ll be at Chemung watching. I’ll definitely be doing that,” he stated. Potrzebowski had threatened to retire several times over the past few years, but this time it’s for real. Going out as a champion is fitting and likely sealed the deal for the popular Elmira, NY racer.

  Randy Davenport, a Super Stock racer and tow truck operator, is kept busy at the track every week. For that he was honored twice, for his dedication to motorsports and as the recipient of the track’s Sportsmanship award.

  History was made at the Speedrome in 2015 as two of the five track champions were female racers. One successfully defended her 2014 title while the other topped the field for the first time.

  Chemung, NY’s Monica Green, part of a multi-car FWD 4 Cylinder team, led the division in feature wins (6) and proved the talent was in her blood. Green’s grandfather, Herbie, was a standout at the track in the 60’s and 70’s. “I have so many people to thank for this, starting with my fiancé Nick Robinson, and the whole crew,” she stated. “I never went there thinking championship, I just took it one race at a time.” She’ll be back to defend the championship with a new car, but same fighting spirit, this year.

  Green’s 9 heat race wins led all drivers last season, earning her the Hot Shot Award and a special Jell-O shot toast with emcee Carol Houssock. Jordan Mathews ended the year second in points overall, but picked up his 4 Cylinder championship trophy representing the RWD contingent.

  Alexandria Smith has put Millerton, PA on the racing road map as one of the toughest INEX Legends competitors anywhere. The fearless young woman picked up five feature wins in defense of her 2014 title. With the strength of the division, where 52 different drivers competed during the season, it was no small task. “It was hard getting the first championship, but I knew if I took it a week at a time it was possible,” she stated. Asked if she will be back this year she replied “of course”. She thanked her family and her sponsors for their ongoing support.

  Year nine for the INEX Bandolero division at Chemung resulted in the largest number of competitors ever in the Bandit and Outlaw divisions. This year a Bandit got the better of the Outlaws and captured the title. Third generation racer, Teddy Bowen, put together a season with three feature wins and eleven other top five finishes in their 15 races. “This is pretty big,” he said when asked how important it is for him to produce the family’s first championship. Bowen gave credit to his father and grandfather along with the others who help his team. His goal is to move up to a Legend car, something the family believes will happen sooner rather than later.

  Garrett Zacharias, who finished 4th in his first Bandolero season, was named the track’s Rookie of the Year. Battling anything as a rookie is tough, but it’s something he’s faced physically his entire life. Mastering a Bandolero was relatively easy, by comparison.

  Kathy Grodski, Track Manager, presented several awards and gifts to track employees for excellence in their respective areas. She and Race Director, Ray Hodge, noted the Speedrome’s growth in recent years and thanked the race teams, sponsors and fans for making that happen.

  Chemung kicks off the 2016 season on Sunday, May 1st with the first of three Race of Champions Modified Tour events. After a few Sunday shows the schedule will revert back to Friday nights. Watch for the 2016 schedule on the track’s website www.chemungspeedrome.net. Information will also be posted on Chemung Speedrome’s Facebook page.

  Anyone having questions regarding the schedule, rule changes, or track operations can call John White at 631-745-9805 or 631-722-3800.



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John White
(631) 745-9805
Bob Stapleton
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