John Lieto Hermance Motorsports
© Copyright 2017 Hermance Motorsports

History

1981-1983 - Towards the end of 1981, Ken Hermance Jr. started his racing journey.  The first car was a used 1967 Camaro Street Stock which was purchased from Greg Pierce for running at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, NY.  Ken ran this car for a couple of years with his friend Jeff and Sister Carol.  He nearly won a couple of races with it. before taking some time off to build a new car from scratch. 1985-1987 - Ken debuted the new car in the Expert Street Stock division at OCFS.  Ken raced off and on for many years in Street Stocks in the Novice and Expert classes, on a shoe-string budget with limited success (he finished in every position but first).  Ken sold of the car as he had his sites on moving up. 1988-1989 - While saving up for his own Sportsman car, Ken became the crew chief on Steve Birchwale’s car bought for him by his sister Carol and Ken’s sister Carol.  They started off using Ken’s old Street Stock engine, then had North Jersey Performance put together one.  They won a few races together and traveled to several other NY tracks. 1991-1992 - Ken again teamed up with future brother-in-law Steve Birchwale with a Sportsman car bought from Gary Huff, a 1987 Olsen Eagle.  In 1992 Steve drove the car to 5 feature wins (including 3 in a row) and the OCFS DIRT Sportsman championship. 1993-1994 - Ken took over driving the car in the Sportsman class.  In his very first race, Ken started from the back and worked his way to a 5th place finish.  His best finish in the car would be a 2nd, still unable to secure his first feature win as a driver.  Ken then sold the car and took a break from racing to buy a house. 2002-2003 - Ken returned to racing by buying a 2002 PMC and an Enders Big Block motor.  Steve Birchwale took the wheel again, this time in the Big Block Modified class at Orange County Fair Speedway.  The team struggled to get a handle of the high horsepower motor and PMC 1st generation chassis.  In mid-2003, Ken purchased a Bicknell chassis to try.  After a couple of good runs, the car was damaged in a wreck which ended the season for them. 2004 - This was a rebuilding year.  The team sat out to regroup and reorganize.  Ken did take the repaired Bicknell out once, for his first try behind the wheel of a big block.  He came close to qualifying, but a flat tire sidelined him from the consi. 2005 - A small block motor was purchased from RGP Performance and put into the Bicknell chassis.  Sportsman driver Alan Sturhann was tapped to drive the car in the OCFS 358 Modified division.  Alan took to the Small Block car quickly, he won 1 race and finished 6th in points.  He was later named the 2005 OCFS 358 Modified Rookie of the Year.  The original PMC chassis was reassembled with the Big Block motor for Steve to continue driving in the Big Block class.  Again, the team struggled with the Big Block car, only managing a 6th place finish. 2006 - The small block was sideline due to engine rule changes. A new 2006 Bicknell chassis was purchased for the big block, but it experienced some problems which forced it to sit out for a few weeks.  Ken returned behind the wheel in the small block car, with a sportsman motor.  He ran a few weeks until the big block was ready again.  The highlight of the season was at Eastern States in October, where Steve time trialed the big block 11th fastest, locking him into the 200-mile race.  But the race ended early as a first turn pile up took him out of contention. 2007 - This year the team decided to concentrate on the 358 division, and brought in Craig "Hollywood" Mitchell to drive the primary car.  The older 2003 Bicknell was used, as it's been a proven winner.  It took a little while to catch up with the new 358 engine rules.  Craig had a decent season with 4 top 5s (including two 2nds), and a 4th place finish in the final point standings.  Ken got back into the car for the season ending "Topless" night.  He had a good showing by making the feature, but got caught up in a wreck which finished off the 2003 frame.  Hollywood was switched over to the 2006 Bicknell for Eastern States.  He had a respectable run, but an overly tight chassis limited him to a 12th place finish. 2008 - A new PMC chassis was bought to replace the crashed 2003 Bicknell.  Also, a new RGP Performance 358 motor was built for the new PMC.  Hollywood drove the car to 1 feature win and another solid 4th place finish in points.  The 2006 Bicknell was used a few times with Steve Birchwale and Ken taking it out with the 358's.  Sportsman driver John Lieto was brought in to drive the Bicknell at Eastern States. 2009 - More rule changes for the 358's and a reduction of the schedule to 5 races caused some re-thinking of the season's plans.  Craig Mitchell continued to run the 2008 PMC car, in which he again captured a feature win and a 4th place finish in points.  John Lieto was brought back to run the 2006 Bicknell with the 358's and the Big Blocks, as we started thinking about the possibility of moving away from the 358's.  John held a top 5 points position up until the final night when his engine expired.  A used 2009 Bicknell was purchased late in the year and the old big block motor was put back together for it.  John ran the car a few times including Eastern States, as we tested the waters for potential return to big blocks. 2010 - This year it was back to the Big Blocks full-time. The 358 division was dropped, so John Lieto was put behind the wheel of the 2008 PMC with the old big block motor.  The track started off very rough, the motor was very temperamental, and there was little success.  A new 2010 Bicknell was put together mid-season to try to regain some momentum.   The new car was an instant success, as John was able to finish second on its first time out.  More motor problems kept plaguing the car, but everything came together on August 21st. John was able to hold off a persistent Tim Hindley to capture the team's first Big Block Win.  The car was later awarded the 2010 OCFS Best Appearing Modified. 2011 - This year started with a major upgrade.  The team invested in a new big block motor built by Bedell Racing Engines.  An unfortunate block defect surfaced while John was leading the week #2 feature.  The motor had to go back for major repairs, and the team had to rely on the small block car and the tired old big block motor for a good chunk of the year.  The new motor was repaired with only a few weeks left in the season, and it was an instant success as John took it quickly to victory lane.  The highlight of the year was Eastern States weekend where John qualified 3rd for the prestigious 200 lap race (72 cars attempted to qualify).  After 4 pit stops and 2 flat tires, John was still able to finish a respectable 9th place. 2012 - Everything from 2011 carried over to this year.  John was back behind the wheel of the 2010 Bicknell with the potent Bedell big block motor.  The season got off to a good start with a win the second time out.  This was John and the team's 3rd big block modified win.  At this point confidence was high, but handling problems plague the team all year.  John was able to get 9 top 10 finishes and ended the year 8th in points, the best the team has finished.  The small block car was back together and Ken took it out a few times.  Ken also debuted a new Legend car at OCFS's newly created "little" track.  With all the big block handling issues, the team decided to only run the small block at Eastern States.  But that idea went up in smoke as the small block motor expired during practice. 2013 - In attempt to get a better combination with the Bedell motor, the team purchased a new 2013 Bicknell with a different configuration.  With the small block motor out of comission, a second-hand big block motor was acquired and put into the 2006 Bicknell.  This gave the team a couple of choices.  The new car was a disappoitment and John struggled with the handling.  One night the they switch to the 2006 Bicknell with the second motor and John was much happier with the car, though the motor was not as powerful as the primary.  After a few weeks with the 2006 car, the team decided to swap motors and run the 2006 car with the primary motor.  This worked much better as John was able to win a race in it.  They gave the 2013 car another shot, but still couldn’t get it to work.  They traded it after the season was over for a 2014 version of the 2006 car. 2014 - This year’s new Bicknell was again paired with the primary Bedell motor. The season started off good with a second on opening night and a win in May.  But that’s as good as it got.  John was only able to manage a couple of top tens over the rest of the year.  They still haven’t found the right chassis/engine combo for John.  The 2006 car was used a couple of times, but a hard crash in the first turn wall sent it to the scrap yard. 2015 - With only the 2014 car left and it still not being the best chassis for the primary motor, the team switch gears and ordered a new 2015 Teo.  The motor needed a new set of heads which set the team back and delayed its return.  John started the season with the 2014 Bicknell with the backup motor.  He managed a couple of top ten finishes.  Around mid-season, the motor was ready and so was the new Teo.  John had mixed results int he car as it drove and behaved quite a bit different.  He got a second the second time out with the car, and won a race the 6th time out.  The small block motor was out getting rebuilt and was due back over the winter, so the backup big block motor was sold off. Ken started a new project in late 2014, he bougth an old 1969 Camaro Street Stock which he planned to turn into a replica of his first race car.  With the help of Dave Werber, the car was completed and debuted at the OCFS Motorsports show in March 2015.  The car placed first in the Vintage class.  Ken next put the car on display at Nostalgia Night.  Towards the end of the year, he took it out onto the track for a couple of shakedown runs.  The plan is to run it with the VIntage cars when they visit OCFS. 2016 - The 2015 Teo returned with the big block motor, and the 2014 was fitted with the rebuilt small block motor.  The team was still learning how the Teo behaved and how to set it up.  John was still learning how it liked to be driven.  The first half of the season wasn’t that productive, but the team hit on a setup and had a very positive sceond half.  Even though they didn’t get a win, John was able to run very competively and consistently.  Everyone’s confidence started to return.  John ended up 7th in points for the season.  The small block car was run a couple of times and worked pretty well.  They decided to return to Eastern States with it, and save the big block car for 2017.  At Eastern States, John was one of a few that was able to qualify a small block car in both the 100 lap small block race and the 200 lap big block race.  Contact in both races ended John’s runs early.  Both cars ended the season working well and the team went into the off-season with confidence. Ken missed Nostalgia Night in 2016, but he did take out the Vintage Camaro with the Northeastern Dirt Modified Racing Club when they came to visit in August.  He was the only car running in the Vintage Sportsman class, so he was awarded 1st place for his effort.
Dale Larsen Photo
John Lieto Hermance Motorsports
© Copyright 2017 Hermance Motorsports

History

1981-1983 - Towards the end of 1981, Ken Hermance Jr. started his racing journey.  The first car was a used 1967 Camaro Street Stock which was purchased from Greg Pierce for running at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, NY.  Ken ran this car for a couple of years with his friend Jeff and Sister Carol.  He nearly won a couple of races with it. before taking some time off to build a new car from scratch. 1985-1987 - Ken debuted the new car in the Expert Street Stock division at OCFS.  Ken raced off and on for many years in Street Stocks in the Novice and Expert classes, on a shoe-string budget with limited success (he finished in every position but first).  Ken sold of the car as he had his sites on moving up. 1988-1989 - While saving up for his own Sportsman car, Ken became the crew chief on Steve Birchwale’s car bought for him by his sister Carol and Ken’s sister Carol.  They started off using Ken’s old Street Stock engine, then had North Jersey Performance put together one.  They won a few races together and traveled to several other NY tracks. 1991-1992 - Ken again teamed up with future brother-in- law Steve Birchwale with a Sportsman car bought from Gary Huff, a 1987 Olsen Eagle.  In 1992 Steve drove the car to 5 feature wins (including 3 in a row) and the OCFS DIRT Sportsman championship. 1993-1994 - Ken took over driving the car in the Sportsman class.  In his very first race, Ken started from the back and worked his way to a 5th place finish.  His best finish in the car would be a 2nd, still unable to secure his first feature win as a driver.  Ken then sold the car and took a break from racing to buy a house. 2002-2003 - Ken returned to racing by buying a 2002 PMC and an Enders Big Block motor.  Steve Birchwale took the wheel again, this time in the Big Block Modified class at Orange County Fair Speedway.  The team struggled to get a handle of the high horsepower motor and PMC 1st generation chassis.  In mid-2003, Ken purchased a Bicknell chassis to try.  After a couple of good runs, the car was damaged in a wreck which ended the season for them. 2004 - This was a rebuilding year.  The team sat out to regroup and reorganize.  Ken did take the repaired Bicknell out once, for his first try behind the wheel of a big block.  He came close to qualifying, but a flat tire sidelined him from the consi. 2005 - A small block motor was purchased from RGP Performance and put into the Bicknell chassis.  Sportsman driver Alan Sturhann was tapped to drive the car in the OCFS 358 Modified division.  Alan took to the Small Block car quickly, he won 1 race and finished 6th in points.  He was later named the 2005 OCFS 358 Modified Rookie of the Year.  The original PMC chassis was reassembled with the Big Block motor for Steve to continue driving in the Big Block class.  Again, the team struggled with the Big Block car, only managing a 6th place finish. 2006 - The small block was sideline due to engine rule changes. A new 2006 Bicknell chassis was purchased for the big block, but it experienced some problems which forced it to sit out for a few weeks.  Ken returned behind the wheel in the small block car, with a sportsman motor.  He ran a few weeks until the big block was ready again.  The highlight of the season was at Eastern States in October, where Steve time trialed the big block 11th fastest, locking him into the 200-mile race.  But the race ended early as a first turn pile up took him out of contention. 2007 - This year the team decided to concentrate on the 358 division, and brought in Craig "Hollywood" Mitchell to drive the primary car.  The older 2003 Bicknell was used, as it's been a proven winner.  It took a little while to catch up with the new 358 engine rules.  Craig had a decent season with 4 top 5s (including two 2nds), and a 4th place finish in the final point standings.  Ken got back into the car for the season ending "Topless" night.  He had a good showing by making the feature, but got caught up in a wreck which finished off the 2003 frame.  Hollywood was switched over to the 2006 Bicknell for Eastern States.  He had a respectable run, but an overly tight chassis limited him to a 12th place finish. 2008 - A new PMC chassis was bought to replace the crashed 2003 Bicknell.  Also, a new RGP Performance 358 motor was built for the new PMC.  Hollywood drove the car to 1 feature win and another solid 4th place finish in points.  The 2006 Bicknell was used a few times with Steve Birchwale and Ken taking it out with the 358's.  Sportsman driver John Lieto was brought in to drive the Bicknell at Eastern States. 2009 - More rule changes for the 358's and a reduction of the schedule to 5 races caused some re-thinking of the season's plans.  Craig Mitchell continued to run the 2008 PMC car, in which he again captured a feature win and a 4th place finish in points.  John Lieto was brought back to run the 2006 Bicknell with the 358's and the Big Blocks, as we started thinking about the possibility of moving away from the 358's.  John held a top 5 points position up until the final night when his engine expired.  A used 2009 Bicknell was purchased late in the year and the old big block motor was put back together for it.  John ran the car a few times including Eastern States, as we tested the waters for potential return to big blocks. 2010 - This year it was back to the Big Blocks full-time. The 358 division was dropped, so John Lieto was put behind the wheel of the 2008 PMC with the old big block motor.  The track started off very rough, the motor was very temperamental, and there was little success.  A new 2010 Bicknell was put together mid-season to try to regain some momentum.   The new car was an instant success, as John was able to finish second on its first time out.  More motor problems kept plaguing the car, but everything came together on August 21st. John was able to hold off a persistent Tim Hindley to capture the team's first Big Block Win.  The car was later awarded the 2010 OCFS Best Appearing Modified. 2011 - This year started with a major upgrade.  The team invested in a new big block motor built by Bedell Racing Engines.  An unfortunate block defect surfaced while John was leading the week #2 feature.  The motor had to go back for major repairs, and the team had to rely on the small block car and the tired old big block motor for a good chunk of the year.  The new motor was repaired with only a few weeks left in the season, and it was an instant success as John took it quickly to victory lane.  The highlight of the year was Eastern States weekend where John qualified 3rd for the prestigious 200 lap race (72 cars attempted to qualify).  After 4 pit stops and 2 flat tires, John was still able to finish a respectable 9th place. 2012 - Everything from 2011 carried over to this year.  John was back behind the wheel of the 2010 Bicknell with the potent Bedell big block motor.  The season got off to a good start with a win the second time out.  This was John and the team's 3rd big block modified win.  At this point confidence was high, but handling problems plague the team all year.  John was able to get 9 top 10 finishes and ended the year 8th in points, the best the team has finished.  The small block car was back together and Ken took it out a few times.  Ken also debuted a new Legend car at OCFS's newly created "little" track.  With all the big block handling issues, the team decided to only run the small block at Eastern States.  But that idea went up in smoke as the small block motor expired during practice. 2013 - In attempt to get a better combination with the Bedell motor, the team purchased a new 2013 Bicknell with a different configuration.  With the small block motor out of comission, a second-hand big block motor was acquired and put into the 2006 Bicknell.  This gave the team a couple of choices.  The new car was a disappoitment and John struggled with the handling.  One night the they switch to the 2006 Bicknell with the second motor and John was much happier with the car, though the motor was not as powerful as the primary.  After a few weeks with the 2006 car, the team decided to swap motors and run the 2006 car with the primary motor.  This worked much better as John was able to win a race in it.  They gave the 2013 car another shot, but still couldn’t get it to work.  They traded it after the season was over for a 2014 version of the 2006 car. 2014 - This year’s new Bicknell was again paired with the primary Bedell motor. The season started off good with a second on opening night and a win in May.  But that’s as good as it got.  John was only able to manage a couple of top tens over the rest of the year.  They still haven’t found the right chassis/engine combo for John.  The 2006 car was used a couple of times, but a hard crash in the first turn wall sent it to the scrap yard. 2015 - With only the 2014 car left and it still not being the best chassis for the primary motor, the team switch gears and ordered a new 2015 Teo.  The motor needed a new set of heads which set the team back and delayed its return.  John started the season with the 2014 Bicknell with the backup motor.  He managed a couple of top ten finishes.  Around mid-season, the motor was ready and so was the new Teo.  John had mixed results int he car as it drove and behaved quite a bit different.  He got a second the second time out with the car, and won a race the 6th time out.  The small block motor was out getting rebuilt and was due back over the winter, so the backup big block motor was sold off. Ken started a new project in late 2014, he bougth an old 1969 Camaro Street Stock which he planned to turn into a replica of his first race car.  With the help of Dave Werber, the car was completed and debuted at the OCFS Motorsports show in March 2015.  The car placed first in the Vintage class.  Ken next put the car on display at Nostalgia Night.  Towards the end of the year, he took it out onto the track for a couple of shakedown runs.  The plan is to run it with the VIntage cars when they visit OCFS. 2016 - The 2015 Teo returned with the big block motor, and the 2014 was fitted with the rebuilt small block motor.  The team was still learning how the Teo behaved and how to set it up.  John was still learning how it liked to be driven.  The first half of the season wasn’t that productive, but the team hit on a setup and had a very positive sceond half.  Even though they didn’t get a win, John was able to run very competively and consistently.  Everyone’s confidence started to return.  John ended up 7th in points for the season.  The small block car was run a couple of times and worked pretty well.  They decided to return to Eastern States with it, and save the big block car for 2017.  At Eastern States, John was one of a few that was able to qualify a small block car in both the 100 lap small block race and the 200 lap big block race.  Contact in both races ended John’s runs early.  Both cars ended the season working well and the team went into the off-season with confidence. Ken missed Nostalgia Night in 2016, but he did take out the Vintage Camaro with the Northeastern Dirt Modified Racing Club when they came to visit in August.  He was the only car running in the Vintage Sportsman class, so he was awarded 1st place for his effort.