"Garrett Zacharias, Ajay Potrzebowski Win Memorial Races to Close Out Chemung Season" By Carol Houssock

(Chemung, NY)  It was an encore, of sorts, as the regular season at Chemung Speedrome had ended on August 26th. This special event, sponsored by Buckley’s Automotive and Ferrario Auto Group of Sayre, pulled both fans and the business community together in a big way for a pair of races honoring men who passed away recently. Super Stocks ran a 56-lap race in memory of the late George Swansbrough. “Crazy” George had built and run Shangri-la II Speedway and Skyview Drags. Hobby Stocks ran a 30-lap event in memory of the late Tim Machuga, whose father Dave is a fixture in the twin tiers are of NY/PA. Winners on this special finale included Garrett Zacharias (Super Stocks), Ajay Potrzebowski (Hobby Stocks), Nick Robinson (4 Cylinders), Derrick Vogler (Bandolero Outlaw) and Devin Gullo (Bandolero Bandit).

The Speedrome remembered the late George Swansbrough with a special $1,500-to-win Super Stock event, which grew to over $2,400 as additional money came in prior to the green flag. Garrett Zacharias, Seth Zacharias and Jake Christman won the heats and the top drivers in those heats drew for starting positions. Seth drew the pole while Jim House drew outside pole.

The Zacharias cousins led the way, but Garrett got around and took the lead prior to the first caution with five laps complete. Charlie Sharpsteen was on the move and got around S. Zacharias for second. Though he had the spot, he had to watch G. Zacharias get further away as the laps clicked off.

The second caution came with 30 laps complete. Garrett Zacharias led the way over Sharpsteen, Tim Gullo and 2022 track champion Nick Robinson. Charlie Sharpsteen spun and set up what became the final restart. Again, G. Zacharias prevailed while Gullo and Robinson put on a great battle for second.

With just a handful of laps remaining, Robinson passed Gullo but the pair had too few laps to chase down Zacharias. He held on for the big win, this time over Robinson, Gullo, Cameron Nichols and Christman.

Garrett’s car pulled into victory lane, but his winner’s interview took place up top outside the tower, where his father sat in his wheelchair. When Garrett arrived, RJ stood up to greet and hug his son. “Having my dad here, and to come back to Chemung and win this big race, is huge for me,” Garrett told the crowd. “This car has been super-fast all year, and we’ve won some big races. But his one is really special. I went to Shang 2 as a kid but never raced there. But I know what George meant to the racing community,” he added.

The 30-lap Hobby Stock feature remembered Tim Machuga, who passed away this summer. With lap sponsorships and money from businesses and individuals, the winner’s share of $1,100 drew a nice field of cars. Terry Potrzebowski, Tim Gullo and Ajay Potrzebowski won the three heats, after which the top finishers drew for starting positions. Terry Potrzebowski and Dave Decker made up the front row for the start.

The first caution came with just two laps complete when the motor on Johnathan Gunderman’s car let go. Terry Potrzebowski continued to lead until Gene Purvis passed him on lap seven. Purvis, driving a car owned by Gil Sharpsteen, started to pull away when caution came out again. Frank Chapman, Jr. had an engine problem and his season at Chemung was over.

At the halfway point Purvis was still in command while Terry P. and Gullo battled it out for second. With five laps remaining caution came out and set up a Purvis/Gullo restart. During that caution Purvis pulled off the track and was done. That gave the lead to Gullo and the outside front row spot to T. Potrzebowski. Row two included Ajay Potrzebowski and Dave Decker. As the field entered turn one, Gullo went high and opened up the inside lane. Ajay was there and took the lead. He had to survive two additional restarts, the last of which had Joe Heintzelman beside him in the front row.

Following the green/white/checkered finish it was Ajay Potrzebowski who got the big win, followed to the line by Heintzelman, Gullo, Decker and T. Potrzebowski. “I had a fifth-place car, but when Tim drove my father high in turn one it gave opened up the bottom and I took it,” Ajay said from victory lane. “This deal just came together when I asked Phil Yaw, the car owner, to see if he could get some racers to compete in this and he told me I could drive it.” Ajay also spoke highly of Dave Machuga and said it was an honor to win a race run in his son’s memory. Family members made sure Dave was wheeled to victory lane for the post-race festivities.

Nick Robinson, who won the 2022 championship in the 4 Cylinder division, won both their heat and the 20-lap feature. Robinson drew the pole for the race and led all 20 laps. Early on he had Greg Moldt behind him, but it was Ryan Hessler who passed Moldt for second by lap five. During the second half of the race the gap between Robinson and Hessler widened, and the champion went on to pick up a nice trophy and enhanced first place monetary prize. Hessler finished second, ahead of Moldt, Pete Johnson and Monica Robinson.

Former INEX Bandolero champion, Derrick Vogler, returned and he swept the action. The Outlaw division racer led all 10 laps of the feature, which also went caution-free. His lead over Bandit driver Devon Gullo increased as the race went on, but both pulled their cars in victory lane after the checkered flag flew. Chemung always runs both age groups together and presents a pair of trophies, claimed on Saturday by Vogler and Gullo.

The track will post information on the 2022 awards banquet on chemung-speedrome.com, and on the official Facebook page, Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome.
Of note:
Associate race day sponsors included Waverly Pharmacy, Chemung Soft Water, RB Robinson Contracting, Zack’s Grill, and Sam’s Bar & Grill.
While businesses and individuals sponsored the race day or bought laps for certain races, fans in attendance helped as well. Prior to the George Swansbrough Memorial for the Super Stocks, a fan presented $260 to add to the winner’s share. The money was a collective donation from fans in turn four. And Jerry Sinsabaugh may have made history when he sold sponsorship for the white flag lap. Advertised as $1,500 to win, Garrett Zacharias collected $2,460, with extra money that poured in prior to the race.
When George Swansbrough raced, his #56 was always decked out with cartoon characters. Gary Noe wrapped his car in honor of his late family member, with Flintstone characters. His “Flintstone Flyer” #56 was a big hit with fans, and it led several pace laps.

Two special men were on hand for Saturday’s action. Tim Machuga’s father, Dave, was discharged from the hospital and arrived at the track just in time to see all 30 laps of his son’s memorial race. Similarly, RJ Zacharias was at the track. He watched his son, Garrett, win the Super Stock race. RJ is a resident of Elderwood at Waverly, where he continues to recover from aneurysms he suffered a year ago.
The grandstand 50/50 winner of $750 was celebrating her birthday, along with her mother. A separate 50/50 in the pits sent the winner home with $340.
Ransomville/Lancaster announcer Steven Petty joined Carol Houssock in the tower to call the race. They last worked together at the 2010 Race of Champions at Oswego.
Race Results:
Super Stocks - George Swansbrough Memorial (56 Laps):  GARRETT ZACHARIAS, Nick Robinson, Tim Gullo, Cameron Nichols, Jake Christman, Mike Nichols, Lee Sharpsteen, Seth Zacharias, Frank Chapman, Jr., Brian DeMark, Frank Chapman III, Aaron Cornell, Tim Faro, Charlie Sharpsteen, Robert Fink, Mark Taylor, Jim House, Gary Noe, Derrick Tarbox
Heats: G. Zacharias, S. Zacharias, Christman

Hobby Stocks - Tim Machuga Memorial (30 Laps):  AJAY POTRZEBOWSKI, Joe Heintzelman, Tim Gullo, Dave Decker, Terry Potrzebowski, Luke Nickels, Dan Mathews, Greg Turner, Doug DeKay, Dennis Beardslee, Rick Sharpsteen, Ethan Roberts, Gene Purvis, Kalysta DeMark, Tom Shaffer, Mike Nichols, Cullen Sharpsteen, Randy Mathews, John Lane, Johnathan Gunderman
Heats: T. Potrzebowski, Gullo, Purvis

4 Cylinders (20 Laps): NICK ROBINSON, Ryan Hessler, Greg Moldt, Pete Johnson, Monica Robinson, Matt Jenkins, Ethan Decker, Justin Hall
Heat: N. Robinson

Bandoleros (10 Laps):  DERRICK VOGLER, Devon Gullo, Dallas Harbst, Annabelle Decker
Heat: Vogler

Photos by Clayton Vargeson: Top, Garrett Zacharias relaxes in victory lane; Center, Garrett Zacharias celebrates with his father and special friends; Bottom, Dave Machuga (left) celebrates with the top 3 - Tim Gullo (3rd), Ajay Potrzebowski (1st) and Joe Heintzelman (2nd)

Special thanks to Super Stock race sponsors: Noe Racing, Nalepa Well Drilling, Rusty Diamond Cores, Strong Haven Farm, Forbes Machine Shop, Chapman Racing 89 and 98, and RB Robinson Contracting.

Special thanks to Hobby Stock race sponsors: Thank you to all of the sponsors who have stepped up to make this race the biggest around: Precision Racing, Elmira Heat Treating, Campbell Block & Stone, Jim's Equipment Repair, Robin Potrzebowski, Arts Overhead Door, Mama's Place, Renew Sewer Service, Allan's Auto, Gary Noe, Rick Machuga, Mike Carpella, Larry Kennison, Chris Zacharias, Marion Decker Agency, Terry Potrzebowski, Mike Lattimer, Outlaw Speedway, Napa Auto Parts, Goodwin Automotive.

Special thanks to 4 Cylinder race sponsors: Jaynes Flowers and Gifts, TA Trucking
Garrett & RJ Top 3 with Dave Machuga

Flynn Energy & Propane

Speedrome Promotions Group LLC
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