Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

Champion Speedway Hopeful for Opener Sunday May 26th

3 min read

The little dirt oval track on the side of NYS 17/86 known as Champion Speedway has had a storied past. Started in 1975, it quickly became a local legend with sellout crowds who came in droves to see a spectacular form of extreme motorcycle racing called speedway where motorcycles slide sideways with no brakes! Local riders became somewhat of celebrities in the area and some gained a reputation for being amongst the best in the Country. The facility reigned supreme in the 70’s and early 80’s until ownership battles led to it’s first closure for several years in 1987. The track re-opened in 1990 for a short 3 year spell with moderate success the first year but changed promoters 3 times in it’s second life and none were able to achieve stability.

In 1997, professional hockey player, Jason Bonsignore, of Rochester took over the facility and invested a lot of money into it with a long-term commitment to bring the facility and sport back from the dead. Star racers were brought back, new ones were groomed, improvements were made to the facility and although many mistakes were also made along the way, Champion Speedway has since seen 16 more years of great racing and Bonsignore has become the longest serving promoter of Champion in it’s history and the second longest serving speedway racing promoter in the Country behind the Oxley Family of the World Famous Costa Mesa Speedway.

Bonsignore has decided to make some improvements to the facility in preparation for this year and the crashwall and racing surface are under re-construction. The size and shape of the racing surface are being altered for what Bonsignore hopes will make for better and more frequent passing.

Bonsignore had already been through two damaging floods in his time as owner of the property, the last one being in 2006, when water reached midway up the buildings and did quite a bit of damage. Both floods cost him a lot of money but he was able to bounce back. This year’s flood was much more severe however, water levels were much higher and the buildings and bleachers were completely submerged. To make matters worse, Champion lost 4 of it’s 9 events last summer to rain outs and the Flood began during the final day of the venue’s largest and most financially lucrative event of the season, the US Open Nationals on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. The event was called off and Bonsignore lost a lot of money. 2 days later Champion Speedway was completely under water.

It was a long winter of uncertainty for the track’s future. A mid winter bowling tournament fund-raiser helped a bit financially but it has been a struggle. There was not much help to be had for businesses who suffered from the floods and Bonsignore has not been sure until recently if there would even be a schedule this summer. With a lot of hardwork in recent weeks by a few key people there has started to be a glimmer of hope and as the well-known little facility always seems to do, it is battling back! It has climbed the mountain far enough now to where Bonsignore is fairly confident Champion Speedway is going to make it time to open it doors for it’s usual season opening Spring Classic on Memorial day weekend.

This years Patrick Ahlund Spring Classic, presented by Southern Tier Insulations and Admar Supply is set for Sunday, May 26th and will feature a full program of professional speedway and ATV racing. Youth and Amateur preliminary heats kick off at 6pm with the regular program blasting off at 7:30. Ticket prices are still just $10.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids under 6. More information can be found at www.speedwaybikes.com or by calling (585) 739-9612. Champion Speedway also now has a facebook page! The go-kart fun track and BMX races should be back open at Champion Speedway also during the month of May!

#1/72 Larry “Tuff” McBride
#2 Adam “The Missile” Mittl
# 5 Mikey Buman
#007 David “Victor” Meldrum
#10 Ron “The Reaper” Walker
#14 Jesse “Jet” Diem
#24 Russ “Doctor Dirt” Cornell
#38 Jerry “Beufford” Harman
#60 Dave “The Shark” Clark
#64 “Mean” Gene Bonsignore
#65 “Jammin” Jeff Garlinghouse
# 70 Corey Brookes
# 82 Shawn “Steamboat” Engel
#97 Casey Donholt
#196 Alex “The Hazard” Heath
#581 Ray Barondick

#9 Brandon Bruzek
#10 Roger Roberts
#32 Brandon Sturzenegger
#38 Spencer Portararo
#56 Don Wheeland
#81 Mark “Battlescar” Bradley
# 91 Mike Clark
#92 Andrew Clark
#117 Brian Bailey

#23 Pat Farrell
#33 Jim Sanchez
#36 Cameron Taylor
#58 Bill Wheeland

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