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What you need to know about 60th annual Eastern States run this weekend in Middletown

Times Herald-Record logo Times Herald-Record 10/21/2021 Melissa Kramer, Times Herald-Record
a man standing on a stage: Driver Brett Hearn poses in front of his car with the trophy after winning the small block modified feature race during Eastern States at the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown on October 20, 2018. © KELLY MARSH/FOR THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD Driver Brett Hearn poses in front of his car with the trophy after winning the small block modified feature race during Eastern States at the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown on October 20, 2018.

Racers from across the region are heading for the Orange County Fair Speedway this week for the 60th running of the Eastern States 200.

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It's the oldest modified stock car race in the U.S. and the longest continuously-running dirt track race in the Northeast.

There will be four days of racing at the Middletown complex, starting Thursday. A win in the main event Sunday comes with a $40,000 payout. There is a total of $318,000 in prize money up for grabs with more than $21,000 of bonus money to be added by sponsors and fans. 

Competitors will be coming from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and other nearby states. Last year’s winner was Matt Williamson.

There will be seven different divisions of racing and seven different main events over the weekend, including a champions race, in which past active winners will compete in one 24-lap race, leading to a large field of cars.

Additional classes have been added to the four-day event. The Short Track Super Series will be Friday night. USAC sprint cars come in for Saturday. Pro Stocks join the activities on Sunday leading into the Eastern States 200, presented by T-Mobile for DirtCar Big-Block modifieds. 

Brett Hearn is the director of motorsports and the all-time winningest driver at the Orange County Fair Speedway, with 302 wins. He is usually in the pit or competing, but this year will be the first time he will be on the outside looking in. Hearn will be on oversight, ensuring the event runs smoothly and watching the action, except for Friday, when he will participate in the champions race. 

“It will be a real interesting weekend for me from that standpoint,” he said.

The events kick off Thursday, Oct. 21 with a parade around town. 

“There’s only a couple of events as big as this one, where it’s a weekend where the whole focus is on everyone in the sport coming to one venue,” Hearn said. 

Parties are conducted after racing at the 31st Lap Tavern on the fairgrounds. There will be an ultimate tailgate party in the camping area and drive-in area, which can hold close to 500 cars and a cornhole tournament. 

“It’s a complete weekend festival,” Doug Dulgarian, speedway manager, said. “There’s something for everybody,” 

On Saturday, there will be a party that celebrates the end of the year of races for the track.

New this year is an opportunity for fans to be allowed onto the track prior to the race when the drivers are lining up, where they can get “selfies” with them on Sunday, before the 200-lap race.

Fan favorite Gary Balough, along with Buzzie Reutimann and Will Cagle who are both former track champions and Eastern States champions will be participating in festivities in various ways.

“Many of them haven’t raced at Orange County in a long time, but they still remain fan favorites to this day,” Hearn said. “They’re probably three of the best drivers in their time. They’re just a big part of the history of the race.”

The three drivers will be meeting the fans in several different autograph sessions. 

Balough’s documentary will be shown on Friday in the event center between 4:30 and 6 p.m.

And of course, camping is popular during a full four-day weekend.

Tickets for Eastern States are available through Ticketmaster and by calling the track office, located at 239 Wisner Ave. at 845-342-2573.

A look back: Hearn wins record 12th Eastern States 200 title

This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: What you need to know about 60th annual Eastern States run this weekend in Middletown

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