|Date: 12/1/2009 8:53:05 AM|
Frank Polimeda Crowned 2009 ARDC Champion
By Dino Oberto ….”Keeping Track”
During the 1930’s and ‘40’s midget car racing was the most popular form of motorsport in the nation. On any given night you could easily find an event taking place including right here in Hazleton.
In the summer of 1935 promoter Ed Hoch staged a series of midget car races at Harman-Geist Memorial Stadium, then known as Buhler Stadium.
One of the first drivers to claim a win was Bill Schindler. Hazleton was said to be the sight of Schindler’s first of countless victories during his stellar career as he would go on become one of the most renowned midget racers of all-time.
In 1939 Schindler led a group of drivers and owners and formed the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC). He would serve as the club’s first president and also prevailed as the club’s initial champion.
This past Saturday night ARDC came to Hazleton to celebrate the club’s 70th anniversary season awards banquet which was held at Stan Lobitz’s Catering Hall. For the past 16 years Lobitz has served as host to the time-honored organization and is regarded as one of the biggest supporters of the club.
Receiving top honors on this night was 2009 champion Frank Polimeda of Fort Lee, NJ. Polimeda won this year’s crown on the strength of his consistency. In the dozen races that were run Polimeda had one win and 10-top ten finishes. He beat out Brett Arndt of Topton 1368 to 1240.
“This is a huge honor. It’s something we set out to do three years ago. We fell a little short last year but accomplished our goal this year and I’m just proud to be part of this organization and proud to be its champion,” said Polimeda who is in his third season with ARDC.
“To have my name amongst some of the great champions that this club has had over the years is a true honor and this is something I’ll cherish the rest of my life.”
2009 was a difficult year for the traveling club as ten of its races were lost to rain including the last five.
“The rainouts were tough this year because we all are racers and we all want to race and Mother Nature is completely out of our control. We almost feel like we got cheated this year competition wise,” said Polimeda.
Title winning is nothing new for Polimeda as this marked his fourth career championship. He has a pair of micro sprint crowns and a Legends car title. It was early on in the season when he felt hopeful of being in the ARDC title fight as he opened the year win a victory at Big Diamond and then followed that up with steady top fives and tens.
“I realized we had a legitimate shot after we made our New York trip to Five Mile Point and Penn Can in Susquehanna. We had suffered through some pretty significance engine trouble up there. My guys had worked on the car so long and hard over that weekend and we salvaged a second and a fourth.
“I said to myself ‘If we can overcome obstacles like that then we got a shot at this (title).”
Polimeda has raced in an assortment of different cars including micro sprints, Legends, asphalt modifieds, super modifieds and sprint cars with wins in most of them. He noted, however, that the midget has been one of the rides he’s enjoyed most.
“I’ve done a lot of different racing and I would consider this some of the best racing I’ve done and some of the most fun I’ve had.
“Midget racing in general is a great steppingstone. Look at all your great drivers in NASCAR and Indy Car. Many of them have midget racing on their resumes. This is a great steppingstone to bigger and better things and for those who make a career out of midget racing there’s no shame in that either.”
ARDC has a long and storied history and has endured the test of time in being one of the oldest racing clubs in America. Some of midget racings greatest names have competed with the club including Mario Andretti, Fred “Jiggs” Peters, Dutch Schaefer, Pancho Carter, Mel Kenyon and Len Duncan to name a few. It is an impressive list to say the least.
As part of the 70th anniversary celebration some of the past stars and champions such as Jimmy McGuire, Brian Kobylarz, Leigh Earnshaw, Jr., Hank Rogers, Jr., and Ray Bull were in attendance.
“I’m 32 years old and still a little bit young but not wet behind the ears and I do appreciate history and I have studied some of the history of ARDC and once again when I see the names of some of these past champions who made this club what it is today, I can only hope that someday people will hold me in those same regards,” said Polimeda.
Polimeda can indeed be proud of his accomplishment and will be a fine and deserving representative champion of ARDC and midget car racing.
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