by BARRY ANGSTADT
“Last year was fun, but it was a huge learning curve for us. This year, though, while we still want to have fun, we’re goin’ for broke. And I think we can win it.”
That is 600cc Micro sprint veteran Tom Fraschetta’s description of his experience at the inaugural East coast Indoor Dirt Nationals in 2017, as he and longtime friend Brian Montieth teamed up for an assault on the racey little oval inside the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ. And it also sums up his approach to this year’s event on December 13, 14, and 15. Fraschetta, a King of Prussia, PA, resident, enjoyed the indoor dirt racing so much that he is doubling his effort for the second running of the showcase for the 600cc ground-pounders.
“It’s going to be interesting because I’ve got a big time Sprint Car guy (Montieth) and a Dirt Modified guy (Erick Rudolph) driving my cars this time around,” said Fraschetta. “Something tells me they will each want a different feel from their car, based on the type of racing they normally do.”
Montieth and Fraschetta go way back – “we used to run Quarter-Midgets together,” notes Tom – and decided to join forces for last year’s Indoor Dirt Nationals “just for the fun of it.” The multi-time 410 Sprint Car Champion was not familiar with 600’s and the shifting that was almost mandatory on the smooth and tacky bullring. “He had no idea what gear he was in,” laughed Fraschetta, “so I kind of locked it in second gear for him.”
With last season’s lessons learned, the duo feels much more prepared and they are taking a more serious attitude heading into this year’s event. They went to Airport Speedway in early November for the 100-lap Battle at the Bullring as a tune-up for Trenton, and overall, it went well.
“We were quick right out of the trailer,” said Fraschetta. “Brian was 4th quick in time trials and won his heat race. Unfortunately, we got run over and knocked out early in the feature. But we were pretty happy with our speed.”
Montieth will be wheeling a 2007 Hyper that his car owner has driven for several seasons. “It’s still my favorite car,” says Fraschetta. “It’s won me some championships and races; in fact, it won four races this year.” The power plant is a Dave Orange Racing Engine.
Even though he lives near Valley Forge, Fraschetta has done the bulk of his racing over the years at the Greenwood Valley Action Track in Orangeville, PA – about ten miles north of Bloomsburg and a hefty 2 1/2-hour trek from his home.
“I started racing 270 Micros there in the ’80s and ’90s and really enjoyed it. Then I started my company and stopped racing for a while. When I decided to get back I into it, I really liked the 600’s and knew I wanted to go back to Greenwood. Gerry and Cindy (Creveling) are just really good people and they treat us great,” explained Fraschetta.
While he spends most of the summer months driving his own car, Fraschetta likes being a car owner and crew chief for events such as the Indoor Dirt Nationals. He’s had Tim Buckwalter drive for him (and win) a few times, and it was Buckwalter who got him hooked up with Erick Rudolph, the dirt Modified and TQ Midget standout.
“I’ve talked with him and he (Rudolph) seems like a good, down-to-earth kind of guy. And I think his past experience will lend itself well to the 600’s; he should adapt very quickly and do well,” said the driver turned car owner.
Rudolph, a double point champ in the Modifieds during 2018 and runner-up in the Super DIRTcar Series, will steer a 2010 Hyper powered by a Dave Orange Racing Engine. The Ransomville, NY ace is a four-time winner in the Trenton arena, but those victories were earned on the concrete, aboard a TQ.
“With these two guys, I’ve got a high profile team, and I know that,” says Fraschetta. “And our expectations are high for this race, and that makes it fun. It’s always been my dad, my daughter, and me when we go racing. Taylor. My daughter has special needs but she just loves racing. She’s the one who keeps me going. So I told Brian and Erick if we are fortunate enough to win this thing, Taylor gets the trophy or big check or whatever they are handing out. The money’s nice, but Taylor races for the trophies.”