The 4th Turn: September 23, 2021

~ By Tom Boggie

When I first started covering dirt track racing for The Schenectady Gazette in the 1980s, I knew it was going to be important to be a historian, as well. So I started filling spiral notebooks with race results from all over the Northeast. Heck, if you want to know the weekly results from Weedsport or Bridgeport or Canadaigua or who knows where else from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, I have them.

It’s never easy to break habits, good or bad, so even though I’m now retired from the newspaper business, I still pour over results every week, just in case I need that information down the line.

So there I was last month, looking over results from Devil’s Bowl on Aug. 14, when I saw the line: Did not start, Jimmy Davis, Ballston Spa, N.Y.

Hang on a minute! Is that THE Jimmy Davis?

I had run into Davis earlier this season, as he walked out of Elmo Reckner’s trailer at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. I thought I had seen a ghost. Davis, who was once a top-tier modified driver, until he came down with some serious medical issues, explained that he hadn’t even been to a race track for a couple of years, but had decided to help Reckner this season.

During the conversation, he hinted that he might come out of retirement next season.

Now that I had seen his name listed in results for the first time in God knows when, I started paying more attention. It seems that Davis, who now lives in Amsterdam, was behind the wheel of one of Larry Gallipo’s cars at the Bowl. Reckner also drives for Gallipo at the Bowl, and has two wins this season. Gallipo was also racing, competing in the limited sportsman division, but wasn’t having any success. So he put Davis in the No. 24.

Davis qualified for the sportsman/modified feature at the “Battle at the Bowl” on Aug. 15, and finished 11th. The Bowl had double features the next week, with Davis 14th in the first and a DNS in the second.

On Aug. 28, Davis finished 19th, and then was 29th in the Vermont 200.

But it’s amazing what handicapping and a subsequent good starting position will do. Two weeks ago, Davis started from the pole and led the first half of the feature before losing the lead to Tim Laduc. But Davis came across the finish line second.

Then, last Saturday, after waiting out a two-hour delay for a power outage, Davis finally found his way back to victory lane at the Bowl. That was Davis’ first win at Devil’s Bowl since 1997, when he was running in the sportsman division. Just how good was the sportsman division back then? Well, that was Ronnie Johnson’s rookie season, and the field at the Bowl included Laduc, the Ballestero brothers and Joe Budka, among others.

It was an emotional victory for Davis, who dedicated the win to Dave “Moon” Gregorek, his long-time crew chief who died on Sept. 24, 2019.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway fans will remember Davis from his street stock days in the early mid-1990s, when he started winning races at the Great Race Place. He then ran sportsman for a number of years, picking up three wins at Albany-Saratoga and 11 at Fonda Speedway, and then made the move to modifieds.

His best years came when he was running for his brother-in-law, Tom Sanford. He won 10 modified features at Fonda, and also sat in victory lane four times at Utica-Rome Speedway. When he won his first modified feature at Utica-Rome, on May 6, 2012, the next three finishers were Ken Tremont Jr., Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen.

As far as I can figure out, Davis’ last modified win came on Aug. 25, 2013, at Utica-Rome.

But the highlight of his career wasn’t a win. It came in 2014, when he finished 20th and earned Rookie of the Race honors in the Syracuse 200 during Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds. That was the year that the Sanford team landed sponsorship from Tacklegrab, powered by Earnhardt Outdoor, and also took home the best appearing car and crew award.

To paraphrase The Beatles, Jimmy Davis took a long and winding road to find his way back to victory lane, and I, for one, hope there will be more wins to follow. It’s good to have you back, Jimmy. Now maybe I can get those beers you keep promising me.


I know that when Mark Krosky calls me, it usually isn’t good news, and it wasn’t last week, when he told me that Dave Dalesandro had died at the age of 68.

Dave was one of the best racing photographers in the area, and he and I go back a long way. When I first started writing for “Trackside” magazine, Dave was normally the photographer who was assigned to do the photos for my stories, because we saw each other every week and could coordinate our coverage. He and I made some really enjoyable road trips together, in particular to Rolling Wheels.

But we also did a lot together at Albany-Saratoga. I was working for Bruce Richards at the track during the week, and whenever there was carpentry work to be done, he would call Dave and I would wind up being his mule (I did the lugging, he did the finesse work). Dave is the one who built the photographer’s booth on top of the main tower when Bob James needed a new perch. Once the booth was done, we also built the stairway going up the outside on the building.

There was also one season when Dave and his wife Eileen used the tent on the green behind the main grandstands to sell barbeque on race nights. But when Jerry Richards, who was running the concessions then, realized how many fans were eating Dave’s cooking instead of going to the regular concessions, that venture came to a quick halt.

But Dave’s main contributions came as a photographer, and he was damn good at it. He always said that anyone could stand in the infield and take pictures of cars going by. His best shots were candid photos of celebrations or moments of disappointment.

I’m going to miss him.


The running of last weekend’s Fonda 200 brought an end to the career of Jake Spraker, who had said earlier this season that he was ready to retire as a car owner. Spraker, who became an owner in the early 1980s when he put C.D. Coville in a car, and Rocky Warner have spent the last seven years together, winning nearly 100 races together, and now, I have to wonder what’s going to happen to Rocky. He’d like to return to Fonda next season, but owners like Jake Spraker are few and far between, and if someone was going to step up and put Rocky in a car, well, they’ve had a lot of time to initiate that move already.

Rocky finished second to Stewart Friesen in the Fonda 200, which gave Spraker a final payday of $20,000. Two-time Albany-Saratoga Speedway modified champion Marc Johnson was part of Warner’s pit crew Saturday night, and if you need an extra set of hands, you might as well get the best.
One of the unsung heroes of Friesen’s dirt track team is tire specialist Jay Castimore. With Castimore handling the tire issues, Friesen has won back-to-back Fonda 200s. Castimore, who was Brett Hearn’s right-hand man before Hearn’s retirement, also won 25 200-lap features with Hearn. In an interview with Jeff Withey of Dirt Track Digest, Castimore said he learned tire prep from Jack Johnson and Jim Beechy, and is still doing things the same way.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway pro stock champion Chad Jeseo won last Saturday’s DIRTcar Pro Stock Series race at Mohawk International Speedway. The series will be running Saturday at Albany-Saratoga on the second night of Malta Massive Weekend.

Mike Mahaney, who finished third in the Fonda 200 and earned $10,000, lost any shot he had at the overall DIRTcar point championship in the process. Because there was a Super DIRT Series race at Canandaigua on the same night, Mahaney was docked 1,200 bonus points and fell from fourth to 19th in the standings Albany-Saratoga will close out its season with the two-day Malta Massive Weekend on Friday and Saturday. If you need more information, check elsewhere on this web site or go to their Facebook page for all the particulars.

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