Genoa, New York, is a little place of fewer than 2,000 souls. It’s in Cayuga County, which places it a little bit north of Ithaca and a little more south of Syracuse. That’s smack in the midst of the Finger Lakes, which means that Genoa is also right in Action Central when it comes to New York’s favorite brand of motorsport, big-block Modifieds running on tight, slick dirt tracks. Fittingly, Cayuga County is also home to the holy place for this sort of racing, the Northeast Dirt Modified Museum and Hall of Fame, right on the grounds of Weedsport Speedway. And it’s proper that a local hot shoe is being recognized for his excellence in the wheelhouse.
The affectionate nickname “Genoa Giant” is a quip on Pat Ward’s diminutive stature, not his ability to win races, something Ward’s been doing since he grabbed his first feature at Fonda Speedway in 1987. Since then, Ward has gone on to another 143 Modified wins at tracks in three states, his resume led by a Labor Day win on the Syracuse dirt mile, the 2012 Outlaw 200 at Fulton Speedway, three Race of Champions series titles and track championships at Fulton, Can-Am and Utica-Rome speedways. Ward will join the hall’s 2020 class, whose induction last year was COVID-cancelled. The 2020 honorees include Delaware star Harold Bunting, Southern Tier standout Joe Donahue, car owner Tico Conley, mechanic and car owner Billy Taylor, promoters Bob and Donna Miller, TV producer Terry Rumsey, April May Preston-Elms, the co-owner of Bear Ridge Speedway in Vermont, and Brett Hearn, the racing genre’s winningest modern driver. Induction ceremonies are set for July 22 at the museum; go to its website to learn more about the sport and its honorees.