From Jerry Reigle
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – November 24, 2010 . . . Lou Cicconi Jr. is prepared to defend his Gambler’s Classic TQ-Midget title.
The Aston, Pa., racing veteran verified this past weekend that he will be one of the more than 100 entries, who will do battle indoors at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., for the Ninth annual Gambler’s Classic crown.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Cicconi said. “That weekend has been circled on our calendar ever since it was officially announced. In fact, we had it circled before hand, because it pretty much falls the same time every year.”
The ’11 edition is set for January 27-29.
Cicconi said he plans to have female driver and United Racing Company 360 Sprint Car driver Becca Anderson in one of his immaculately-prepared cars for the indoor event.
“I’m sure we could have more, but we don’t have any cars rented right now,” Cicconi said. “I am sure that will change.”
Drivers and teams flock to Cicconi for good reason.
When he captured the most recent Gambler’s Classic, Cicconi set himself in elite company in the history of the race as he became only the second driver in the eight-year history of the race to have won the Gambler’s Classic twice.
Cicconi’s other win came in ’06, while Joey Payne is the only other driver to have won twice (’04 and ’07).
“There is a certain amount of luck that comes into winning an indoor race,” Cicconi said. “But a lot of it is about preparation and hard work it takes leading up to the race.”
One of Cicconi’s appeals is the car’s distinctive paint job.
“That thing is always fast,” Cicconi said. “We always take pride in our cars and the way they look and perform on the track.”
In January’s race, Cicconi won the race in front of a thrilled grandstands which included NASCAR star Tony Stewart
“I was thrilled that he was there to see it,” Cicconi said. “I know he had a good time watching and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him come back.
“I consider Tony a pal. If he wants to come and race in Atlantic City then I’ll have a car ready for him to drive.”
Before venturing to Atlantic City, Cicconi will serve as a mentor of sorts for Philadelphia, Pa., driver Chris DeRitis.
DeRitis plans to race in Ft. Wayne, Ind., on December 31-January 1.
“Chris bought one of my Midgets,” Cicconi said. “I plan to go out there with him to Ft. Wayne to help him out.”
The entry list for the Gambler’s Classic is beginning to grow daily.
Recent entries have included Sarah Arteta of Long Beach, Calif.; NEMA Midget ace Randy Cabral of Plymouth, Conn.; former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn.; ISMA ace Mike Lichty of Innerkip, Ont.; and dirt Modified veteran Billy Pauch of Frenchtown, N.J.
Also, the Friesen cousins – Curtis, James Michael and Stewart – have filed entries.
Stewart Friesen led the outdoor dirt northeast racing scene this past season with more than 20 victories. He captured the SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 at the New York State Fairgrounds.
Tickets for the Atlantic City Indoor Race are currently on sale through Ticketmaster (1-800-736-1420). Tickets are available with no extra fee applied at the Boardwalk Hall box office at 609-348-7100 and the Area Auto Racing News office in Trenton, N.J. at 609-888-3618
Activity will begin on Thurs., Jan. 27, with paid practice from 5-10 p.m.
Weekend activity will begin on Fri., Jan. 28, at 4:30 p.m. with time trials. The night will include heat events for TQ-Midgets and B-Mains for the 600cc Micro Sprint Cars, Slingshots and Champ Karts. It will culminate with a 20-lap 600cc Micro Sprint Car main event and a 30-lap TQ-Midget feature race.
The Sat., Jan. 29, program kicks off at 5 p.m. with the Fanfest, which will be held on the indoor racing surface.
The Saturday-night portion of the show is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Heat races and semis will lead up the 40-lap “Gamblers Classic” for TQ-Midgets, with Slingshots and Champ Karts also on the schedule.