WNY Auto racing: Hossfeld still in Modified hunt - The Buffalo News

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WNY Auto racing: Hossfeld still in Modified hunt

The most veteran of area asphalt Modified racing fans can search their memory banks and take themselves back to the year 1994, when the noted car owner, the late Bill Colton Sr., went looking for a new driver and surprised a lot of people when he put both his faith and the steering wheel of his potent machine into the hands of a young teenager, Chuck Hossfeld. Colton’s faith has been well rewarded.

Now fast forward to 2014 and many wins, championships and a few car owners later, Hossfeld is still campaigning on asphalt Modified at the ripe old age of 37. Naturally enough, as the years have rolled quickly by, Hossfeld, once known as the new kid sensation on the Modified block, is now among the most veteran of competitors despite his still relatively young age.

He will be looking to taste victory lane again on Saturday night when the Race of Champions (ROC) Modified Tour visits Elegant Builders Raceway Park in Lancaster for the Mac Myers 75. The previous evening the ROC campaigners will hit the Spencer Speedway in Williamson near Rochester.

Hossfeld says that he has been blessed in his career, which he says will wind down in a few more seasons, although he is not yet exactly sure when. Among his many accomplishments is being the 1999 EBRP (then Lancaster Speedway) champion, two-time ROC tour champion, two-time ROC Modified 200 winner and four-time US Open victor.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or anything because I’m not, but I look at the opportunity to drive race cars as a privilege and not a right,” says Hossfeld, of Ransomville. “I’ve dedicated a big portion of my life to racing asphalt Modifieds, and while I’ve had to give up a lot of other things during these years, I have no regrets.

“I met a lot of great people in this sport,” he said. “I’m winding down my career now, and I know that I have only a handful of years. It has taken an awful lot of time, effort and money to keep going all these years, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been given.”

Hossfeld points out that of all the many other racers that he’s competed against through all the years, some drop out of racing due to financial and other restraints. Hossfeld is thankful for two of his early career car owners, Colton and Tom Snyder, as well as Hossfeld’s most veteran crew members, Henry Ketch, Dave Harris and team manager Mike Parks.

For the last few seasons Hossfeld has owned his two Modified cars, which are sponsored by his business partner, Jerry Gradl Jr., of Jerry Gradl Motors.

“It’s quite a responsibility to own your own team because there is so much to take care of, like getting sponsors,” said Hossfeld. “The cost of everything keeps going up, and it takes serious money to race with a big budget.”

While Hossfeld has won many races and championships over the years, he has spent a great deal of time recently on track looking at the back bumper of younger rival Matt Hirschman, who has beaten Hossfeld to the line very often over the last few seasons. Hirschman has prevailed over Hossfeld’s second place finishes in all three of the ROC tour races run this season, including Chemung, Shangri-La II in Owego and Oswego Speedway. Hossfeld says he has improved his racing machinery this past off-season.

“We went back into the garage this past winter and made some real progress. The car got faster, and it’s showing. We’ve finished the races so far this season right behind Matt, and I believe I am going to win races this season.”

Hossfeld’s rivalry with Hirschman has been a much talked about affair among fans the last few seasons as they have had many close races against one another with sometimes tame results and others involving crashes between the two.

“When two intense people are both competing for the same prize, the possibility of a strong rivalry developing is always there,” Hossfeld said. “In the early years of my career I had a big rivalry with Sege Fidanza and later on George and J.R. Kent. Rivalries are nothing new.”

In a few weeks Hossfeld will venture onto the area dirt tracks as he is busy completing the construction of a 358 Modified. That car should be in competition no later than the end of this month.

Pit stops

While the Mac Myers 75 is going on Saturday night at EBRP, another big event will be happening across town at when the NASCAR Pro Modifieds run their Budweiser 100 at Holland Motorsports Complex.

Saturday’s event at Holland is actually the 2013 version of the Budweiser 100, which was rained out last Labor Day weekend. This year’s edition of the Budweiser 100 will be run this coming Labor Day weekend.

The Patriot Sprint Tour will make a visit to the Ransomville Speedway on Friday night. Jared Zimbardi of Bradford, Pa., and a native of Little Valley, was a winner on the PST circuit last weekend in Mercer, Pa. He also is the PST American Series defending champion. Zimbardi is the current PST point leader over Paige Polyak, 987-842.

email: lawrence_o_14075@yahoo.com

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