“My 2 Bits” Blog by Bud DeGennaro

NewYork Sports Show

Bud DeGennaro


Hi Everybody!


I spent 8 hrs at the Ulster County Fair last night and today I was having both equipment issues and money issues with trekking to ACCORD Speedway for Picture and Autograph Night. I always start watching the weather forecast 5 days out anywhere I plan to go. ACCORD was going to be a rainout again until this morning when everything changed. No rain except for a Thunderstorm Watch in Sullivan and Ulster County. It was cloudy in Monticello as I hemmed and hawed about going and not wanting to miss the chance to get autographs even though I know very few Racers at ACCORD and of the few who I know, half are from Bethel Speedway.


At the very last minute, around 5pm, with the forecast still clear but Thundering outside my window, I gathered up my gear and headed out to ACCORD. It had rained just ahead of me all the way to a mile before the Speedway. That happens sometimes at Bethel Speedway. I’ll leave out in a downpour and there, a scant 20 miles away, the Sun is shining.


Rush hour, Friday Night, traveling Route 42/55 through the Hasidic Towns with them all over the road, stopping suddenly to turn or pick up others made the first 12 miles a freaking nightmare. Then there’s the traffic entering Ellenville. Up against the 6:30pm rush into ACCORD I was struggling to get in front of frayed my nerves. I actually got there at 6:15pm and although I had to make my own Handicapped parking space, (apparently the People parked there think Handicapped People don’t go to races as those prime spots were usurped by all but one Vehicle with a Handicapped permit), I made my way to the gate. Gary’s Daughter Melissa remembered me!


I made my way to the stands equipped with face shield, goggles and mask incase the dust got severe. I’ve experienced that at OCFS but I’d never been outside at ACCORD; both times previous I bought an indoor seat. I wanted the full experience and what I got was way more than I bargained for.


I grabbed a Hot Dog and Onion rings which, btw, were very good and I chatted briefly with Donna who was in the kitchen rather than running the sweet shop along with Jan and Melissa. I met Emma, Owner Gary’s Granddaughter, for whom “Emma’s Sweet Shop” is named. When I asked her name her suspicions arose and she became the Lion at the gate. I wasn’t getting Bupkus there without her approval. She calmed down when I told her I’m a Journalist for The Racing Times. Then she tended to business like an absolute Pro. Her Cohort Hailey Markle remained at the Window, taking and filling orders.


I went back to my seat and settled in. Announcer Ric Ryder and Flag/Starter Jimmy Lee have control of the Show as cars began entering the track. Sprint Cars are in the House tonight in addition to the other classes! I was in for a great night. As it turned out, there were also from Bethel Speedway, Mgr. George Van Ardsall Jr, Mikey Travis, Aiden and Preston Demorest, Alec Graham, Cameron Richenbaugh, Chet Stanton (Making his first appearance there this year) and my Most Favorite Racer, #171 Walt Henry! I was ecstatic! Walt far outpaced the field in Hot Laps! I couldn’t wait to see the Street Stock Feature!


A few sprinkles aside from the ominous sky only halped keep the track manageable. Man I was in for a terrific night of Racing. The Sportsman Class Racers were sliding around the track in near perfect synchronization with a few hiccups, just a little bang ’em up, par for the course. I’m looking forward to my first outdoor experience at The Official ACCORD Speedway!


Then there was an unexpected Event held by Mother Nature as a steady sprinkle occurred. Certainly not a drenching rain and enough to wet everything unless you took cover. I took out my trusty $1.59 (a 60 cent increase since last December) WM Rain Poncho and stayed in my top tier seat, on a metal stand, my back to a chain link fence, with lightening all around, like an idiot. Hey, I figured I may as well go out with a bang. Literally.


The phenomenon called “Heat Lightning”, the very issue we were experiencing a delay from is simply lightning so far away that you can’t hear the Thunder. I find that hard to believe, it’s not only a fact, I saw a few lightning strikes in SW Florida for 5 years where severe Thunderstorms rip through every afternoon from May to November. I also saw Ball Lightning, Pearl Lightning and a few other types of lightning bolts that were incredible to see and scary at the same time. The following Crack of Thunder can shatter glass!


With the shower gone and no storm above I decided to wait out the delay in my seat in the stands. Very, Very wrong move. All of a sudden the power went out and with the whole place dark, a hellish torrential Squall crept in with gusty winds, hail and blinding rain! The precursor to a Tornado! Undoubtedly the Races were done for so I gathered up my things and headed to my car, traipsing through a half inch of water on the ground.


I found my car after struggling to see, my glasses both wet and fogged up, got myself in and sat, waiting for traffic to funnel out. I figured there was no sense to trying to grope my way out among the calamity. Later, when I got home I’d here told of trying to drive home in blinding rain. I’d encountered that, two tornadoes, Squalls, Snow Squalls, Blizzards, Whiteouts, Blackouts, you name it in the 14 years I drove a Truck For Tilcon’s Main Quarry in North Branford CT. You should see trying to drive out of the Quarry from atop the Mountain in early Spring Fog so dense you can’t find the raod with 100 Ton Cat 777 Haul Trucks coming at you from the upper face two miles away to the Crusher 50 yards behind you and nearly adjacent to the Shop where your car was parked and where I’d leave my Truck for the night!


I eventually left and the storm had passed, leaving a light to moderate rainfall until I got to 209 where the rain had just about stopped. Once on 209 I knew my way home and felt comfortable driving the 45 and 55mph Speed limit. There was barely any traffic. The road was rising when the few cars in front of me slowed for someone who had stopped in the lane. They crept around this apparently disabled car as did I and there were two young fellows behind the car, on their phones,


As I crept past I saw a huge tree limb where the windshield and front supports used to be. I thought they were driving along when a tree fell on their car. Immediately I pulled over and walked back to check on them. They were uninjured and calling for help. The Driver told me he had hit water ponding on the road and the wash temporarily blinded him as he hydroplaned into a tree. These are my words, not his. He said he was a New Driver. I, However, have had this happen so many times I’ve lost count.


Taking control to make the accident scene safe, I walked down the road behind the car to direct traffic that was mounting as People and Haulers were exiting the Speedway and flowing steadily down the road that was blocked. Opposing Traffic was about to drive down into a valley we were caught in and could not see what was up ahead, traffic in their lane. So as another Person took the bottom, I walked to the top of the road, 20 yards away and 20 yards from the top of the hill. I used the flashlight on my phone and waving my arms to stop Traffic while standing in the middle of their lane to avoid a head on collision. A Good Samaritan put his only flare on the Road next to me as there was no shoulder. I also had to make sure not to light my sweatpants on fire.


I aimed the light at my hands so Drivers could see me, at speed. I could see some of them with ABS coming within 20 feet of me as they came to an emergency stop. It didn’t occur to me that I might get killed until I was about 15 minutes in, half the time I was out there. Around the time that I took control forward of the Scene the Fire Horn sounded and it was nearby so I expected Help to arrive quickly. It didn’t. Ten minutes in a Police Officer came from behind and stopped, positioning his Cruiser such as to funnel traffic away from the crashed vehicle.


I have polyps on my vocal cords and often lose my voice or it’s severely distorted. Yet somehow I was able to yell clearly to the scene below, bellowing “HOLE ‘EM UP, or SEND ‘EM’ in an effort to safely get traffic around the scene. There was so much traffic from the Speedway that I held the opposing traffic up to 5 minutes in an effort to keep safe, to the utter dismay of those vehicles in que who let me know certain things when I was finally able to let them pass. Believe it or not, three Drivers ignored me. I yelled “HE DIDN’T LISTEN” to the Aide below.


After around 15 minutes another Cruiser approached me and pulled up in front of the crashed vehicle, put his lights on and that gave me some support with the mounting traffic. Most of the time there was little oncoming traffic after that first long hold and the haulers wee now coming, one after another as I stepped to the side, giving them the full access to the opposing lane as they passed me at a mirrors length.


30 minutes went by and the FD I’d hoped would relieve me never came. They were busy all over the place with downed trees, wires, crashes and what have you. In the 30 minutes I worked the Scene the Fire Alarm sounded twice and my arms grew tired from waving traffic. I prayed to god my strength wouldn’t give out as my bellowing commands rang ot in the hollow over everything except a Benefactor with a chainsaw who had begun untangling the car and tree. I had to hold up my side until the lower Commander could hear me say to send or hold.


Finally a Policeman went back to his cruiser on the accident side of the road, thanked me for my help and said they were leaving. I went back to my car, put my phone away and drove off. While I was talking to the two young fellows, the Driver was concerned he’d “never be able to afford insurance after this” and “they’re not kind to New Drivers”. I told him there are companies who would be sympathetic and it was an ACCIDENT. He wasn’t impaired or driving erratically. It was an unfortunate incident during a very fierce and abrupt storm.


I hope to return to ACCORD Speedway if and when the Autograph and Picture Night is rescheduled. Providing Mother Nature cuts them a break. We’ve been on a cycle of rain on Fridays in addition to some technical difficulties and certainly not from lack of effort. I love you all and until then, keep those wheels turning!

  • Bud DeGennaro

    I'm a lifelong Mechanci and Asphalt Racing Enthusiast since the days of ABC's Wide World of Sports when we'd buy 1/32 scale Recall model cars and paint them in our Favorite Racer's schemes. I'm a Journalist, a Blogger and a former Rock Drummer now Rocking the world of Short Track Racing.I

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.