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WNY Auto Racing by Larry Ott: Matt Farnham’s journey to a Ransomville title

Tonawanda’s Matt Farnham glanced at the long list of noted drivers who are Ransomville Sportsman champions. He hoped that in just a few hours his name would be added to the prestigious list.

Hope became reality when Farnham finished in a championship-clinching seventh position last Friday to earn his first career crown in Sportsman. He has been savoring the accomplishment.

“We put a lot of hard work in over the offseason and every weekend,” said Farnham, 21. “I have a really dedicated crew that comes down pretty much every other night of the week plus race nights. Sometimes it’s five and six days a week. To see how much hard work we’ve put in and to see the results that have come from it is really great.”

Farnham arrived at Ransomville last Friday sporting a healthy 40-point cushion over veteran Kevin Wills and drove a cautious race that included a brief scare.

“My car was really good Friday,” said Farnham. “ I think we could have definitely got up further up front but on lap 13 I clipped one of the tires on the infield coming out of Turn Two and the car wasn’t bad afterwards but it defiantly wasn’t as good as it had been before that. I figured I might as well back it down a little bit and save the car for the end to make sure I finished.”

During his formative years, Farnham raced Go-Karts, winning two championships at Ransomville and another at Merrittville. He moved on to 600 Micro Sprints when he was 12 and then onto the Sportsman when he was 16.

Back when Farnham entered the Sportsman ranks there was no Novice class, as there is today. A Sportsman rookie started in the regular class against all the more polished veterans.

Farnham remembered his first career drive in a Sportsman race.

“My very first race in the Sportsman ever was a Super Sportsman Series race at Canandaigua Speedway when I was 16,” he said. “It was the very first time I was ever in the car. There were 45 cars there. We ended up making the feature race and finished 14th. That was a good way to start.

“I think going straight to the regular Sportsman against the bigger guys really helped out. It kind of makes you learn how to follow them and respect them and just learn the better lines and how to be faster.”

As this season approached at Ransomville, Farnham set a goal of winning at least one race this year at the Niagara County dirt oval. He far exceeded his goal, winning twice and emerging with the championship.

“I’ve had one other feature Sportsman win at Ransomville before this season and that was two years ago,” said Farnham. “Definitely coming out this year I set a goal for myself of wanting to hit my win goal but we definitely picked up our overall result goal winning the championship.

“During the year I stressed to my team that we were racing for wins and to finish up front every week and to not worry about points. At the end of the year with a month left, then we’ll start looking at the points and worry about where we are then. It took a lot of stress off the nerves.”

Farnham is grateful to his crew, which includes his father Charlie Farnham and crew chief Nik Zimmermann and crewman Justin Meyers. Sponsors included C.J. Construction, Dig Race Products and Brady Electric.

Farnham will compete in this weekend’s Super Sportsman Series events at Ransomville on Friday, Merrittvilleon Saturday and Humberstone on Sunday.

The list of past Ransomville Sportsman champions includes Cody McPherson, James Michael Friesen, Jesse Cotriss, Greg Martin, Ryan Susice, Don Spatorico and Chad Brachmann.

“It’s definitely a great list to be on,” Farnham said. “I’m good friends with Ryan and Greg and to be on a list with them and all the other great guys it’s just such a fulfilling feeling.”

Hail to champions

This past weekend many local divisional track championships were decided.

Champions at Holland Motorsports Complex are: Zach Myers, NASCAR Pro Chargers; Jeff Szafraniec, Hornets; Dave Wollaber, TQ Midgets; Carl Vilardo IV, INEX Legends; Jim Steins, Figure-8; Darryl Phillips, Rookie 4’s.

Ransomville: Ryan Susice, 358 Modifieds and Farnham, Sportsman. The Street Stock and 4 Banger classes finales is Friday. The Novice Sportsman championship will be decided Sept. 16.

Freedom Motorsports Park titlists are: Bill Holmes, Crate Late Models; Al Brewer, Street Stocks. The Sportsman and Mini Stock championships will be decided this Friday.

Genesee Speedway: Beamer Guzzardi, Crate Late Models; Kyle Inman, Sportsman; Dave DuBois, 360 Late Models; Butch Zimmerman, Street Stocks; Brad Shepard, Mini Stocks, and Cole Hicks, Bandits.

Merrittville Speedway: Pete Bicknell, 358 Modifieds; Cody McPherson, Sportsman; Trevor Wright, Novice Sportsman; Josh Sliter, Mod Lites; Dave Bailey, Hoosier Stocks; Tyler Lafantaisie, 4-Cylinders.

Humberstone Speedway:

Brad Rouse, Sportsman champion. All other Humberstone titles will decided Sunday.

Stateline Speedway: Dutch Davies, Super Late Models; Darrell Bossard, Crate Late Models; Butch Southwell, E-Mods; Scott Gurdak, Pro Mods; Dave Shagla, Street Stocks; Dan Nocero Jr., Super Sportsman; Andy Proper, Super Challengers.

Stock car championships will be decided this Saturday at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway. Two drivers, Dave Wilson Jr., and Kevin Bainbridge have already clinched titles. Heading into Saturday, Jake Lyon leads Tommy Catalano, 530-486, in Sportsman.

Wilson Jr. tops Keith Flanigan, 690-571, in Street Stocks and Bainbridge is ahead of Chris Pennell, 691-535, in 4-Cylinders.

Lancaster will hold its IHRA drag racing season points finale on Sept. 30.


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