Shanty Hill drivers champing at the bit to get back on the track
The smell of fresh spray paint lingers in the air inside Gary VanOrden’s Oak Street garage.
The 1984 Monte Carlo in the bay glistens with a new shiny bright yellow coat.
The car’s driver, Gary’s daughter Amber, is standing next to it. Last year she drove it to multiple victories in the Street Stock division at Bethel speedway and captured her first championship season.
Next to the Monte Carlo sits a black Modified, partially under a tarp, that belongs to her brother, Gary Jr. With less than three weeks before the green flag drops on the 2014 season, both cars still have a lot of work to be done before they’ll hit the track.
While the cars may not yet be ready to go, their drivers are.
While Amber will be out to defend her title, Gary Jr. is looking forward to a good year now that he has had a year to get used to driving in the Modified division.
“The handling is completely different than a Street Stock,” Gary Jr. explained.
“If you can drive a car down the road you can drive a Street Stock car. If you don’t have racing experience you’ll just put a Modified in the fence.”
Making the step up from Street Stock to Modified last season, Gary Jr. faced some challenges but managed to tally enough good finishes to end up third in overall points and take the Rookie of the Year award.
“I had a bunch of top-five finishes, no wins, but took second in a few races too,” he continued, “Last year we just got the car figured out, now we have a baseline to work from so we can build on that and hopefully get a few wins.”
While Gary Jr. is looking to make a big move in his division, Amber’s mission is a bit different.
“I’m hoping for another championship, but there are a few guys who are looking to take the top spot as well, but I’m hoping to win a few more races than I did last year and get another championship.
“I’ve got to catch up to you,” directing her comment half-jokingly in her father’s direction.
It’s not so much that the elder VanOrden passed on the baton to the kids as it is that the family just keeps making more batons.
Gary Sr. is just as eager as the youngsters are to get back on the track. Tucked in the trailer is his Street Stock racer, a ’76 Malibu on an ’84 Monte Carlo chassis.
While team dynamics certainly do come into play when dad and daughter put the hammers down on their cars, rest assured, if given the chance to be the two racing for the checkered flag, family loyalties will probably take a back seat to winning a race.
“There were a few races last year where I couldn’t catch her,” Gary Sr. admitted, but proudly added, “She’s tough to beat.”
For the Shanty Hill Productions team, racing is a family affair.
Getting ready for the season, dad and the kids are joined by mom, Tonya, doing whatever is needed to prep up the cars.
Local businesses also play a big role in the VanOrdens’ success by sponsoring and supplying the team with essential equipment.
Most of the metal fabrications come from Mike Southerton’s Automotive, a lot of parts and major components come from Teeples’ Auto Salvage and Tarantino’s Transportation and Disposal, all of which are in Hawley, and engines come from Saaf Speed in Lackawaxen.
Also lending their support to the team are Vogel Designs and the Honesdale Glass Company.
Keeping up with the VanOrdens probably requires a car with a lot of horsepower, but following them doesn’t. This year Gary Jr. launched a website www.gvojr.com and plans to update the site weekly with news and results.
Of course, you can always head over to Bethel Raceway and catch them in action almost every Saturday night too.