HEDGER: The Long Look
MALTA, N.Y. — As the Empire Super Sprints teams prepared to push off for hot laps at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in early August, car owner Ron Mucci sat calmly, chatting with passersby as his 16-year-old grandson and current driver, Joe Trenca, strapped into his sprint car.
The scene was a long way from the days when Mucci himself raced a Hudson Hornet around central New York, when toterhomes and huge trailers were not even dreamed of and Ron raced the same car on both dirt and asphalt, often with the same tires.
And it was entirely different from the time that his supermodifieds were among the cream of the crop at the Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway. But one thing hasn’t changed. Ron still enjoys every minute of the time he spends at the track.
“When I got into the supers, Buck Graham was my first driver,” recalled the owner of a number of heavy-duty truck dealerships around the Northeast. “We really got going when Dave Shullick drove for us, then we had the late A.J. Michaels, Dave McKnight and finally Lou Cicconi.
“We eventually left the supers to go Silver Crown racing with Cicconi, but it turned out that he didn’t care for it when we got there. He didn’t like the 100-lap races. He wanted something shorter with more action. But I loved USAC because of the history involved. The Indy Fairgrounds mile was full of AAA and USAC tradition, with A.J. Foyt and guys like that everywhere, and every race you went to was the 43rd this or the 54th running of that.
“The tracks were phenomenal, all the places you read about as a kid. DuQuoin, Springfield, Eldora. My partner, Skip Matczak, and I both loved it. After Cicconi moved on, we had Joe Gosek run the car a couple of times, then we had Johnny Heydenreich, J.J. Yeley and finally Paul White in the car. Skip kept going a while after I pulled out to race with Joe but finally he moved on as well.”
Like many parents and grandparents, Mucci grew tired of hearing over the phone that Joe had won while he was off in the Midwest and decided it was time to apply his racing knowledge and financial support to Trenca’s career.
“He was winning a lot of races in the quarter midgets, then we did micro sprints for two years before moving up to the ESS 360 sprints,” said Mucci. “He was rookie of the year last season and we’re enjoying racing with the club as he gets more experience on all sorts of tracks.”
Still, the supermodifieds, and especially Oswego, will always occupy a huge portion of Mucci’s racing memory.