By Mike Warren
When Kenny Tremont steps into his racecar on Saturday at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, it’ll be a history-making moment in a career filled with memories.
Earlier this season, the West Sand Lake, NY driver announced he’d hang up his helmet at the end of the season. That means when the Super DIRTcar Series battles at Malta Massive Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 23, it’s the final race for the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Famer.
Throughout his career, Tremont was a mainstay at Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Vermont. But he’s best known for his success at Lebanon Valley, where he scored 144 victories at the 5/8-mile track and 14-track championships.
His rise to stardom began in 1977 when he ran a few laps to keep the family’s backup car fresh for its primary driver, Chuck Ely. From there, the rest was history.
“The first time I ever sat in a car was 1977,” Tremont said. “I didn’t know really what to expect. I just did it and took it day by day. I had no expectations at all. But I knew I liked racing. I spent a lot of time helping Dad with his cars. He had a lot of hired drivers through the years, and I just started warming cars up and got a little bit better over time. Then, we started to Qualify and compete in the Features.”
Tremont rose through the ranks at the famed high-banked oval, battling weekly against names like Tommy Corellis, Maynard Forrette, and Dickie Larkin. It wasn’t long before he grabbed the first of his 14 championships, besting Larkin for the 1982 track title.
While winning at home was fun, he knew it was time to go on the road with the Super DIRTcar Series in 1985. Tremont won 15 times with the Series, including nine at Lebanon Valley. Those 20 years on the road helped him become one of the top drivers in the northeast.
“It’s just a ton more work,” Tremont said. “You needed more equipment and more people. I believe it was 1985 was the first time we ran the tour full-time. We had done the championship trail races at the end of the year like the Fonda 200, and Eastern States 200 at [Orange County Fair Speedway] in October and then went to Super DIRT Week at the [New York State Fairgrounds] in 1981. We didn’t Qualify, we missed the Feature by a couple, and the first year we actually qualified was 1982.
“We had been exposed to running with the guys who had been running the Series, and then by 1985, we ran full-time for about 20 years. It was good for my experience, so when I came back home to Lebanon Valley and Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl, it helped me tune the car and become a better driver.”
Tremont’s best year came in 1999 when he dominated at Lebanon Valley and scored his most significant win. He outlasted 43 other drivers at Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds to win the Eckerd 300—his only Big Block triumph at “Racing’s Biggest Party.”
When reflecting on that massive win, he described it in one word.
“It’s everything,” Tremont said. “You can look back now and say I was able to win that race. I know a lot of people have come close, and a lot of people deserved to win that race that didn’t. I just feel lucky to be able to complete it and get it done.”
As Tremont’s career winds down this weekend, his dad Ken Sr., better known as Abe, has been beside him for every race. And despite having other opportunities, he enjoyed staying close to home.
“I’m glad I stuck with our team at home and gave us a chance to build our team up and add sponsorship, so we really had a competitive team for a lot of years, “Tremont said. “I was glad to be able to do it with my dad. It meant quite a lot.”
The #115 driven by Tremont will take his final ride this weekend as part of Albany-Saratoga’s Malta Massive weekend—where the veteran driver will be the guest of honor. Earlier this month, the Super DIRTcar Series and track promoter Lyle Devore announced the race would be 115 laps and pay $11,500-to-win.
It’s Devore’s way of honoring the driver who’s third on the track’s all-time wins list with 81 victories and 13 track championships.
“The right thing to do is to honor him, being it is his last race ever and it’s taking place at one of his main tracks he’s raced his entire career at,” said Lyle DeVore, who runs and promotes Albany-Saratoga Speedway. “I got thinking, we’re going 100 laps, why don’t we go another 15 and make it 115 laps and make it $11,500 to win.
“It’s part of what we’re going to do in recognition of his history and success at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. He’s been a big part of our fanbase. He’s just such a great sportsman and a great person. As much as we’re proud that he’s raced here all these years, it is sad that this chapter is closing.”
Tremont said he’s excited about the race named in his honor.
“I think it’s pretty neat; I was actually kind of surprised,” Tremont said. “I didn’t think much of any of it, but of course, as it gets closer to the end of the season, I have a lot of people coming up and talking to me, talking about my career and how I started and all this stuff. It’s actually a really nice way to wind up a career. I think it is great.”
When the checkered flag falls after 115 laps on Saturday night, it’ll be the end of the road for the Hall of Famer. But for fans, they’ll always have memories to look back on. Tremont said he’s happy to have a place in Big Block Modified history.
“Just to be remembered at all is pretty good,” Tremont said. “Our record is good, but it’s not the best, but we’re certainly not the worst. Just to be remembered that we were a part of it, and we had a good time with it, and maybe encourage others to become races would be enough.”
Tremont will battle for the final time with the Super DIRTcar Series in the 115-lap, $11,500-to-win Malta Massive Weekend finale at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 23.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every Super DIRTcar Series race live on DIRTVision.