Michele Maltby has a calendar in her room where she has excitedly and nervously been counting down the last 180 days until the start of Holland Motorsports Complex’s 54th season-opening race event on Saturday.
In just two more days, Michele, 21, will enter her rookie season in the track’s Hornet class and she will begin her race driving career. Her father, Ken Maltby, will also be racing in Holland’s NASCAR Charger class, meaning that the Maltby family will be busier than ever this racing year.
In 1991, 10 years after launching his career, Ken Maltby put racing at Holland on hold to prepare with his wife, Mary, for the birth of Michele, and to concentrate on buying a house and raising a growing family. Ken and Mary Maltby are celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary today.
Last season, Ken Maltby, of West Seneca, made his driving return to the NASCAR Charger class at Holland. Michele has only driven in a couple of practice sessions this spring, but on Saturday she will compete with an entire race field of more than 20 cars.
“My dad quit racing just before I was born but I’ve been going with my family to Holland for many years since then and watched all the other drivers race,” Michele said. “I always wanted to race but last year when my dad got racing again and I watched him, then I really wanted to race even more so over the winter I asked him if I could race and he said OK.”
While Michele has very limited seat time this spring, she has definite first impressions of being strapped into a cockpit of a stock car.
“The seat belts fit around me so tight and it’s very hot in my driver’s suit but I’m getting used to it,” she said. “I was nervous when I first got in the car but I’m starting to get more relaxed and having fun. I know I can’t wait to get racing.
“When it became 180 days until the season start, I started to count down the days until the Holland opener. I’ve been crossing them off one-by-one and it’s almost time.”
Both Ken and Michele will carry the No. 36 on their race cars, the same number sported by Ken’s father, the late Floyd Maltby, when he drove at Holland, Perry and other speedways before retiring as a driver in 1971.
“I will probably be nervous when Michele is on the track the first night with 28 other cars or so around her but I know I won’t be as nervous as Mary,” said Ken. “So far Michele seems to have the instinct for racing and I think she’s got it in her to do well. I’ll of course be busy with my Charger car to and I’ve always liked the class all these years because it’s affordable.”
The Maltbys have plenty of guys named Mike to thank for assisting them with their race teams including Mike Maw, Mike Connor, Mike Fiebelkorn Sr. and Mike Fiebelkorn Jr.
There is a chance that by the middle of the current season that another Maltby may emerge racing at Holland, that being Nicole Maltby, Ken and Mary’s 31-year-old daughter.
“I think that Nicole wishes to race, too, and I think she will but right now I’m trying to get used to running two family cars out there and the idea of running three might cause me to lose what’s left of my hair,” said Ken, laughing.
Also at Holland, the LAMOT Late Models will again race weekly there this year. While LAMOT continues to have its own board of directors led by LAMOT president and veteran racer Mike Ticco, Holland management has arranged for the division to be sanctioned by NASCAR this season and the class is now the NASCAR Late Models. Ticco is hopeful for further growth in 2013, which is LAMOT’s sixth season of existence.
“I hope everybody that raced with us last year will be back this year but I can’t control everything,” Ticco said. “Plus I hear there might be a few other cars coming. But until I see them at the track, who knows? We have the only weekly asphalt Late Model division left in Western New York so I hope that helps draw cars.
“We promise our competitors consistent rules and we have been consistent in that area the six years that we have been around. We have a good rules package and we try to keep it that way because changes cost money.”
• The inaugural race for the newly created New York State Big 10 Super Stock Series was run last Friday evening at the Spencer Speedway in Williamson (near Rochester) with a promising 22 cars on hand. Cheektowaga’s Dave Johnson, driving the No. 23 Tim Bernhard owned “Lavender Machine” entry, won the 50-lapper.
• Many area fans will recall a few seasons back when the Bernhard car won multiple championships at Elegant Builders Raceway Park with Wayne Bernard handling the driving chores. The Big 10 series, started this past winter by driver Joe Mancuso, races on June 8 at EBRP.
• Dave Hess Jr., had an outstanding night last Saturday evening at Stateline Speedway, winning both the Super Late Model and E-Mod feature races.
• Rick Miller topped a solid 27 other cars to win the Go Nuclear Late Model event last Sunday at New Humberstone Speedway.