VanOrden Family continues piling up the wins, awards and accolades

Last year marked a big change for the VanOrden racing family.

After three season championships and 34 career feature wins over a seven-year period at Bethel Motor Speedway, second-generation driver Amber VanOrden decided it was time to go bigger.

Just 24-years-old at the time, she found a ride with car owner Steve Vasey and gave up regular weekly Street Stock racing for a spot in the New York Super Stock Series.

Amber claimed a heat win at Spencer Speedway and went on to be named Rookie of the Year in 2018.

New Horizons

An opportunity arose over last winter for the Van Ordens to become owners of yet another race car.

Throughout her career, Amber drove for the family-owned Shanty Hill Racing team. Driving under a different flag for someone other than her dad, Gary, was something that Amber never became comfortable with.

In addition to that, it was equally difficult for Gary to not play as big a role as he had done in the past. When the chance came for Shanty Hill to take ownership of Amber’s car, father and daughter didn’t hesitate.

Keeping the car track-worthy is no small task. Tuesdays are typically work nights at the Shanty Hill stable. Amber’s yellow and pink #54 car was up on the rack.

Wrenching on the front end was their engine man for close two decades, Jeff Saaf of Saaf Speed in Lackawaxen.

Gary had a tire off and was working on a spring while Amber paged through the maintenance log.

“Super stock is completely different than street stock.” Amber said.

“I could set my car up for street stock with my eyes closed. Now, it’s a different set-up every race for a different track every-time. We’re always learning something new about the car and the tracks.”

Amber admits while she does miss getting behind the wheel every week like she used to at Bethel, it’s a fair trade-off to getting to race a faster car on bigger, and different tracks, even if the races are fewer and further apart.

“Honestly, we need the time between races,” she admitted, “Super stock has quite the learning curve and it’s much more complicated that what we used to race.”

Three Down

Amber ran a bigger schedule last season but given the changes in car ownership and the workload of keeping it going, she’s cut back to an eight-race schedule this year.

So far, she’s completed three.

VanOrden started off the year at Oswego Speedway on June 8 and finished 17th.

The 5/8 mile track is the longest she’d ever run on and it was her first time there. In the straightaways, Jeff and Gary figured the car was going about 100 mph.

“I was doing okay, then towards the end the guy in front of me blew his radiator and I spun out on the water,” Amber said. “As I was spinning the guy behind me ran into me. I finished the race, but it wasn’t pretty.”

At Chemung on the summer solstice Amber came in 14th. Given she had no rear brakes and steering problem, she managed to complete the race, but she admitted it was not a strong finish.

July 13 saw Shanty Hill head to Evans Mills Raceway Park near Watertown. There Amber’s fortunes changed.

“I poled sixth and had a good start,” she stated, “I fell back to 11th but made my way back to sixth to finish. It was a good race and I felt better about the set-up and performance.”

Old Haunts

The VanOrdens haven’t been total strangers to Bethel this summer.

Amber returned for one race and dueled it out with her brother, Gary, who hadn’t been in the saddle for several seasons, last running in the Modified Series.

The two sparred in a Street Stock contest that saw Gary lead most of the 56 laps and take second place while Amber unfortunately ended up getting stuffed into the wall.

How many more appearances they’ll have at Bethel this year is still up in the air. However, Amber is looking forward to Super Stock events.

There will be three in August and one in September. She hopes to wrap up her season with one race in October.

Over & Out

A number of local businesses and individuals are helping keep the Shanty Hill team on the Super Stock circuit.

The Hawley Diner, Branning Plumbing and Heating, Stoney Ridge Property Management, Sander’s Diesel Performance, Rich Winkler-Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, A. Jones Electric, Stag Tree Specialists, Cricket Hill Golf Club, Roadhouse Camper and RV, Rack’Em, S. Utegg Rim Protected Tire Mounting, Glenn and Mo, Mom and Dad Watson, Bistran’s Outdoor Service, The Pines Tavern, and Jerry and Linda Arnold have all signed on as sponsors.

Shanty Hill would also like to thank Saaf Speed and Steve Vasey for their continued support.

“We hope to keep improving the car through the rest of the season,” said Amber. “And hopefully have some better finishes.”