July 13, 2013

By Tom Cummings


            The first Shirley Zacharias Memorial event was hosted by the ASA Member Shangri-La II Motorspeedway on Saturday night. Racers and fans turned out to honor and show respect to the late matriarch of a local racing family which, over the course of the past six decades, has become synonymous with pavement racing throughout the northeast. Four generations of the Zacharias family were on hand to greet fans, thank them for their support through difficult times and to pass out items to the fans which were generously donated by a host of contributors as well as hand out over $7,000 in bonus lap money to the racers in the speedway’s three regular divisions. Bill Fitzsimmons claimed his second victory in the MidState Vintage Stock Car Club feature as the club made their annual visit to “The Concrete Castle”. Brandon Ameigh, in just his second start of the season at the track, had the set-up just right to snap the perfect streak of Gene Purvis claiming the win in the Four Cylinder Stocks. Bill Frisbee, Jr brought a new car to the track, and dominated the Pudgies Pizza Street Stock feature leading all thirty laps for his first ever win in any type of motorsports. Current point leader, Chris Zacharias (one of Shirley’s sons) made his way up from an eight place start to finish second. Shirley Zacharias’ grandson, Jimmy, was back behind the wheel of his gold colored Sportsman. He was driven by desire and emotion as he led every lap in the Sportsman feature for his second win of the year. Jimmy’s brother, T.J. finished second after battling “The Duke”, George Kent for the second spot for the first twenty one laps of the thirty lap feature.

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             Overcast skies cleared just before the grandstand gates opened on Saturday night resulting in a beautiful, hot summer night for racing. The first Shirley Zacharias Memorial night was coordinated by Tracy Zacharias Ferris and Jerry Sinsabaugh. Sinsabaugh, the pit steward at Shangri-La II, said “Tonight is all about family and fun. There is something for everybody here tonight”. “We are a racing family” said Tracy Ferris. “The best way to honor Mom is being at the track. We can’t thank those who donated money, prizes and contingency awards enough. We especially want to thank George Swansbrough and Shangri-La II for making this night possible”. An honor which the Zacharias family did not know about was unveiled just prior to the start of the evening’s activities. Track owner George Swansbrough, Sinsabaugh and Jim Zacharias unveiled a banner at the top of the grandstands naming the section as the Shirley Zacharias Memorial section. This is the first time a section of grandstand has been dedicated at the speedway.

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Chris, Jimmy and T.J Zacharias paced their respective features for two laps prior to falling in line prior to the green flag. Jim Zacharias was the honorary starter for the Four Cylinder Stock and Sportsman features, and Shirley’s brother, Bill Camay was the honorary starter for the Pudgies Pizza Street Stock feature. In an emotional address prior to driver introductions for the final feature of the night, Jim Zacharias thanked everyone for coming to the event, and thanked everyone who donated or worked hard to make the night dedicated to his wife so special.

            The MidState Vintage Stock Car Club made their second ever appearance at the speedway on Saturday night. Two cars were on display under the grandstands during the night. One was a Chick Stockwell number 151 replica 1936 three window coupe, and the other was a Dave Kneisel “Ole Bones” number 711 replica 1967 Bug. Kneisel’s cars were named LynMar Specials for his daughters Lynn and Marcee. Bill Fitzsimmons repeated as the winner for the club at Shangri-La II, but he was challenged early by Rob Casti. Casti, in a 1936 Plymouth Sportsman grabbed the early race lead, but would be challenged by Fitzsimmons on lap five. Casti kept Fitzsimmons close until lap seven when the 3 Shamrock of Fitzsimmons opened a lead which Casti could not overcome. Casti finished second, Tom Guiler was third and Shirley Morden finished fourth. Gordie Wood and Bill Matzel did not finish.

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            Eventually, all good things must come to an end. Such was the case for Gene Purvis in the Four Cylinder Stocks as his undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of Brandon Ameigh. “Bam” broke the first streak by winning the heat race passing Purvis with three laps to go. Jeremiah Clonch led from the pole position during the feature as he was chased by Nick Morich. Purvis and Ameigh started from row two, and ran several laps nose to tail. Purvis and Ameigh split the Morich ride in turn two on lap four, and set their sights on leader Clonch. Ameigh got by Purvis on lap seven and quickly took the lead from Clonch. Purvis gave chase, and passed Clonch for second. Ameigh pulled away for his first win of 2013, breaking the second streak of Purvis. Purvis would finish second, Clonch third, Morich fourth and Devon Bailey completing the top five.

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            Pudgies Pizza Street Stock action saw seventeen cars take the green flag. Bill Frisbee, Jr brought out a new car and a new number for the night. The car was built from the ground up by Scott Coyle. Scott’s brother, Billy is a competitor in the Street Stock and Late Model divisions. Heat racing showed the strength of the competitors. Defending Track Champion, Jeff Goodwin, Frisbee and Chris Zacharias made a statement with their speed and determination. Redraw after the heats put Frisbee and Goodwin on the front row. The green flag had Frisbee nailing the start, and quickly opened up a ten car length lead over Goodwin. Goodwin, in turn , was immediately challenged for position by Steve Shultz and Billy Coyle. Chris Zacharias started eighth, and was up to fifth by lap five after passing team mate Jason Duke, Sr. Frisbee continued to pull away from the field as the four car group behind him challenged each other. Zacharias squeezed past Shultz in turn four on lap sixteen to take over fourth place. With three laps to go, Zacharias challenged Goodwin for second, opening a lane where Coyle also got by Goodwin. At the checkers, Bill Frisbee, Jr picked up his first ever feature win in any type of motorsports competition. Zacharias finished second, Coyle was third, Goodwin finished fourth and Steve Shultz came across the line fifth in his first feature at Shangri-La II. Charlie Sharpsteen started sixth, but faded to a fourteenth place finish driving the 54 car. His regular ride this season, the 6 7/8, was sold to George Swansbrough during the week. Swansbrough drove the car during the heat racing, but Tom Cundy handled the driving duties for the feature.

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            The Sportsman cars were the final feature of the evening. “The Duke”, George Kent and Jimmy Zacharias drew the front row starting spots. Jimmy quickly grabbed the lead in turn one with an outside lane power move. Once out front, Jimmy put his Mopar powered #71 on a rail, opening up as much as a full straightaway lead on the field at times. Kent, however, had a rear bumper full of T.J. Zacharias. The pair ran nose to tail for twenty two laps with Kent showing the younger Zacharias he still knows how to make his racer very wide and tough to pass. Once T.J. passed Kent, he was running Jimmy down, but at the end Jimmy held on for an emotional victory, his twenty second Sportsman win at the track. T.J was second, Kent was third, Dylan Terry made the trip home to Binghamton from North Carolina and finished fourth. Tom Shiner completed the top five. Nick Shaw and Paul Hartwig, Jr are friends of the Zacharias family, and made the trip up from New Jersry to compete and show their respect. They finished ninth and eleventh respectively. In victory lane, there were cheers, tears and a lot of hugs. For Jimmy, it was the most emotional he has ever been in victory lane. “We were losing oil pressure the final six or seven laps” said Jimmy Z in victory lane. “I was either going to win, or the motor was going to blow up. This motor is four years old, and we haven’t done anything to it in all that time. Grandma was watching over us tonight, just like she always did when she was still with us. I really miss her, and this one is for her”.

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            For the first time in the five year history of Shangri-La II Motorspeedway, all four of the features ran caution free.

            Racing returns to Shangri-La II Motorspeedway on Sunday July 28th as the RoC-N-Concrete Rumble returns to for their second of three events at the track this season. The Race of Champions Modifieds will run a 75 lap feature event and will be joined by the Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks and the Four Cylinder Stocks. Pit Gates open at 11:00 am, Grandstand Gate opens and Practice begins at 1:00 pm with racing beginning at 3:00 pm. There is no wristband discount for this program. Show your wristbands at Pudgie’s Pizza in Binghamton or Waverly and receive a discount on your food purchase. There is always plenty of free camping at Shangri-La II Motorspeedway.

Sportsman Modifieds (30 Laps) 1) Jimmy Zacharias, 2) T.J. Zacharias, 3) George Kent, 4) Dylan Terry, 5) Tom Shiner, 6) Tyler Rypkema, 7) Jody Buckley, 8) Paul Johnson, 9) Nick Shaw, 10) Tommy Rought, 11) Paul Hartwig, Jr., 12) Randy Brokaw, 13) Mikayla Rypkema, 14) Mike Odwasny, 15) Matt Clemens, 16) Frank Morich

Heat Winners: Jimmy Zacharias, Mikayla Rypkema

Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks (30 Laps) 1) Bill Frisbee, Jr., 2) Chris Zacharias, 3) Billy Coyle, 4) Jeff Goodwin, 5) Steve Shultz, 6) Jason Duke, Sr., 7) Jeff Frisbee, 8) Hank Buchanan, 9) Gary Noe, 10) Tom Cundy, 11) Mike Nickels, 12) Bob Ripley, 13) Brad Knapp, 14) Charlie Sharpsteen, 15) J.R. Swansbrough, 16) Mike Grady, 17) Tom Sunderland

Heat Winners: Jeff Goodwin, Bill Frisbee, Jr., Chris Zacharias

Four Cylinder Stocks (12 Laps) 1) Brandon Ameigh, 2) Gene Purvis, 3) Jeremiah Clonch, 4) Nick Morich, 5) Devon Bailey, 6) Alan Blackwell, 7) Marcus Wood, 8) Dustin Hall

Heat Winner: Brandon Ameigh

Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club (12 Laps) 1) Bill Fitzsimmons, 2) Rob Casti, 3) Tom Guiler, 4) Shirley Morden   DNF: Gordie Wood, Bill Matzel

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