VERNON — Sunday night, grassroots race fans will be treated to the third annual Gene Kotary Memorial race — a 30-lap $1,300-to-win feature race for pro stocks. Then, “The Wild 100” sportsman race that will pay $2,500 to the winner of the 100-lap feature.
This will be the third year that Gene Kotary’s widow, Marcia Kotary has organized the race to the popular Utica-Rome Speedway driver who was a prolific racer in the 70’s and 80’s and passed away in October 2016.
Gene Kotary wasn’t the only Kotary to race though. I made a call to Roy Kotary at the suggestion of Marcia who revealed the staggering number of Kotarys to not only race but also win feature races at the Vernon 1/2 mile track.
According to Roy, who was also flagged at the track in the 60’s, eight Kotarys have graced victory lane at “The Fast Track of the East.”
“We’ll start at the top,” said Roy, “First was Tom Kotary, who was a modified track champion in the 60’s.”
Tom Kotary’s last win was on July 1965, this was also the year he was track champion.
Next was modified driver Robbie Kotary, whose last win was in May 1970.
Third on the list is modified driver Dave Kotary, who went to victory circle six times with his last win on Aug. 13, 1972.
Gene Kotary came in fourth on Roy’s list. Gene’s last won Sept. 3, 1978.
Jim Kotary came in number five on the list. Jim won races in 1962-63 in a street stock.
Next is Jeff Kotary who drove sportsman and then jumped in a modified and won in 2002.
Steve Kotary had a dream season in 1993 winning 11 feature races and the pro stock track championship in the same year.
Last, but not least, Eddie Kotary winning his last pure stock race Aug. 6, 1995.
Jim, Tom and Robbie Kotary are brothers and uncles to Gene Kotary. The rest of the Kotarys on the list: Jeff, Steve, Eddie and Dave are cousins in the racing Kotary family. I bet back in the day Thanksgiving dinner could get very interesting.
Roy doesn’t believe there is another family, at least in New York State, where this many brothers and cousins raced and won feature races.
I only saw a couple of the Kotary boys race. I saw Jeff and Steve race. Jeff was fearless and literally put the car anywhere on the track. One time at Fulton Speedway, Jeff put his left side tires on the wall to get by another car. Steve Kotary always had a competitive car and raced even with his contracting business taking up most/all of his time.
I’m sure Gene will be looking down on the track Sunday night and not only watching this year’s race but also recounting all his uncles and cousins that raced with him.
The pay out for the memorial race is phenomal for the division with $1,300 going to the winner and $100 to start. Welch Motorsports helped increase the winners share this year. During the race there are bonuses for different laps. For instance, $100 will be awarded to the first place car after the second lap presented by Tiger Pettinello, on lap 10 Alan Kotary is putting up $200 to the leader and Ed Kotary is awarding $221 to the first place car on lap- 21. There are other pay outs for different laps too and also a hard charger award of $100. So, on paper, if the winning driver leads from green to checker that pro-stock driver will walk away with $2,146 for the 30-lap race.
Also on the card is the rescheduled “The Wild 100 Ultimate Sportsman Showdown” with $2,500-to-win and $250-to-start on the line. If you’ve never been to The Wild in Chittenango they have a giraffe there named “Jace.” Jace and I had a meeting of the minds, literally. Jace kinda didn’t like my idea for a selfie, go figure.
The Wild 100 will in all likelyhood be wild. Matt Janczuk has been on fire this season with wins everywhere he goes. But there are some serious contenders like Chris Mackey, Alan Fink, Kevin Root, Kyle Inman, Corey Barker, Willy Decker Jr., Amy Holland, Mike Richmond, AJ Filbeck, Jessica Power and Charlie Tibbitts. There are a bunch of guys/gals that will contend.
Fill the car with kids and come on out to Utica-Rome Speedway this Sunday night it’s $13 at the gate and kids under 16 are free.
See you at the races.