Hawley's own Gary VanOrden drove his #54 car to a third straight victory in the Street Stock Class at Bethel Motor Speedway. One of the founding members of the Shanty Hill Racing team, Gary receives tremendous support from his family, friends and the local community.
Gary VanOrden is a familiar name on the local racing scene.
One of the founding members of “Shanty Hill Racing” in Hawley, Gary is in is 11th year of competitive driving...and he’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“I?still love it,” Gary told TWI Sports Tuesday afternoon. “It’s definitely alot of work, but it’s still fun, too. My whole family is involved. It’s something we’ve been doing together for a long time now.”
On the Road Again
Each weekend from the end of April until mid-October, the VanOrden Clan packs up the trailer and heads for New York.
Gary, his wife (Tanya) and children (Gary Jr. & Amber) call Bethel Motor Speedway their “home away from home”?for almost six months a year.
“It’s a great little track,”?Gary said. “They run a nice family establishment. I?love the close proximity to us here in Hawley and I?love the atmosphere. As a fan, you only pay five bucks a person. You can’t beat that.”
VanOrden has dominated his “Street Stock”?division for the better part of a decade. Gary already owns three individual track titles and he’s on pace to capture another in 2009.
As of this writing, VanOrden is all alone atop the Street Stock driver standings. He won his third straight race over the Memorial Day Weekend, cruising to another appearance in Bethel’s Victory Lane.
“The car has been awesome,” Gary said. “We went with a new set-up this year and...knock on wood...it’s been perfect.”
On Saturday night, VanOrden opened up the race in third place, but steadily began moving up. By the fourth lap, Gary was out in front...and he quickly went about building an insurmountable lead. The veteran driver captured yet another checkered flag. He was followed across the line by Vinny Stanton (second place)?and Brent Shaddock (third).
VanOrden is quick to point out that all of his victories are a “total team effort.” He credits a talented pit crew with putting him in position to win.
“They’re unbelievable,” Gary said. “Those guys work really hard to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.”
Mike Southerton, another of Shanty Hill Racing’s founding members, calls the shots in the pits. He is ably assisted by the likes of Ralph Davis, Chuck Newell Sr., Chuck Newell Jr. and Shelby Lynn Benesz.
Gary VanOrden’s main sponsors are Southerton Automotive, J.C. Teeple Salvage Yard and Saaf Speed.
“Shanty Hill Racing” owes its name to a long-lost chapter of local history. The VanOrdens live on a hill overlooking Hawley. This particular area was first settled by Irish immigrants who came to the area looking for work on the D&H?Canal.
These folks were referred to as “shanty”?Irish...usually the poorest of the poor. They lived in shanties on that hill...hence the name “Shanty Hill.”
Passing the Torch
Gary and?Tanya VanOrden have been married for 21 years now. Racing is a part of the life they share...and it’s become ingrained in their children.
Gary Jr. is 17 and already a factor in the 4-Cylinder feature at Bethel. He raced go-karts for three years in Hamlin before stepping up to the “Big Time.”
Amber is just 15 and a talented softball player. However, she also seems to have inherited the VanOrden Family gift for competitive driving.
This past weekend, the two younger VanOrdens both battled their way to a Top Five finish in the 4-Cylinder Feature.
“I’ve gotta be honest with ya: I probably get more enjoyment out of watching my kids race than I do racing myself,”?he said with a chuckle.
This weekend’s race results from Bethel are as follows...
•Street Stock Feature: 1. Gary VanOrden, 2. Vinny Stanton, 3. Brent Shaddock.
•Sportsman Feature: 1. Dan Conklin, 2. Greg Morgan, 3. Dom Roselli, 4. Jerry Curry, 5. Mike Senecal, 6. Eddie Walters, 7. Jeff Hager, 8. Danny Hedges, 9. Mike McKerrell.
•BMS Modified Feature: 1. John Cote, 2. Norm Barnes, 3. Jim Fugel, 4. Dan Wood.
•ECS Auto Stores Pro Stock Feature: 1. Joe Barnes, 2. Mark Sylvester, 3. Bobby Policastro, 4. Clarence Palmer,.
•Legends Feature: 1. Kenny VanWickle, 2. John Hugate, 3. Joe DeGracia, 4. Steve Gaul, 5. Joe Fresco, 6. Raven Schrantz.
•Bandolero Feature: 1. Andrew Bickford.
•4 Cylinder Senior Feature: 1. Ed Lindstadt, 2. Woody Mc-Gibbon, 3. Patty Falkena, 4. Larry O’Donnell, 5. Billy Van Aiken, 6. Diane Hughson.
•4 Cylinder Junior Feature: 1. Jonathan McGibbon, 2. Mike Travis, 3. Gary VanOrden Jr., 4. Amber VanOrden, 5. Joe Smith, 6. Vincent Stanton, 7. Chuck Clark, 8. Julio Ayala.