A New Jersey racing legend is restarting at age 77

Incredible, amazing things are everyday occurrences in the world of motorsport, at every level, and here’s proof of what we mean. The name of Stan Ploski might not mean much to you unless you grew up in New Jersey. In the Garden State, Ploski is a certified legend, a huge star, one of the greatest stock car drivers the state has ever produced. The product of a dairy farm in Ringoes, not far from Flemington, Ploski stepped into a stock car for the first time in the early 1960s, won his first Modified feature in 1965 at long-gone Hatfield Speedway in Pennsylvania, and went on to a Hall of Fame career that resulted in 182 career Modified feature wins at 10 speedways including the famed Reading Fairgrounds and more notably, the great Flemington Fair Speedway, which counted Ploski, who owned 74 wins there, among its biggest and most enduring stars. Stan the Man, as he’s long known, first retired when Flemington was paved in 1991, and then did it again after the track closed for good some years thereafter. Ploski is now 77, not long removed from a torn Achilles’ tendon, and back behind the wheel of a racing car once more.

Ploski, who owned five open-cockpit wins at Flemington to bookend his Modified resume, has returned to competition at New Egypt Speedway in central New Jersey in the track’s class for non-wing Sprint cars powered by GM crate engines. Ploski’s nephew, Modified star Ryan Godown, drove the car to 15 winds until a change in track rules barred Modified drivers from coming in to cherry-pick the crate Sprint class. Flemington Modified veteran Karl Freyer then took over the seat before offering it to Ploski, who flipped the car in 2019 before the pandemic, and the tendon injury, interrupted his 2020 campaign. Ploski is now back in the Sprinter and determinedly pursuing feature win 183, as this Pete MacDonald image from Area Auto Racing News demonstrates. Please allow some context here. As a teen-ager, I watched this guy kick butt at East Windsor Speedway and Flemington in cars that included his own 27jr, the Ken Brenn 24 and the Trenton Mack 74. The guy is 77. In three 2021 starts, he’s never finished outside the Top 10 and is fifth in crate Sprint points. As Ploski told AARN publisher and editor Len Sammons, “With this Sprint division, everyone is equal. Same tires, motor and weight. It’s all about the driver’s ability. I might not be as quick as I was when I was younger, you can’t expect that, but I think I can still get the job done. What I want to do this year is win a race. I told my wife if I win one race, that’s it.” Or maybe not: Besides his nephew’s exploits, his son, Stan III, owns a New Egypt feature win in the Sportsman division, and grandson Hunter Ploski, who goes by “Stanley” now, wants to drive. It’s not inconceivable that three generations of the Ploski family could end up racing at New Egypt together.

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