Monticello, NY --- With the conclusion of its 31st year of competition, the members of the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Drivers Series are looking forward to next year. The granddaddy of the current amateur movement, the Billings continues to offer non-professionals a chance to be part of the harness driving scene in both the United States and Canada.
As per amateur status, all amateurs -- Billings members included -- can’t take money for their services. Hence the driving commissions earned from all those who participate in the series are donated to the not-for-profit Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.
Though the donations vary from year to year because of the purse sizes and amount of races offered, each season the Billings members’ donations are substantial.
“Last season we raced for a total of $270,000 in purses and the drivers’ commissions donated to the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame were $15,000. Since our inception the Billings members have donated over $600,000 to the Hall,” noted Peter Gerry, who is the treasurer of the Delvin Miller Amateur Drivers Association, the sponsor the Billings Series.
Current Billings president Tony Verruso, and his vice president Steve Oldford, had lined-up 42 legs at various racetracks this past season, mostly in the United States, but also at some tracks in Canada. During the seven-month Billings season, preliminary races were conducted in both the Eastern and Midwestern Regions and then followed by the Regional Finals and the Gold & Silver Cup Championships, which this year were contested at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Nov. 18.
Bob “the Rapid Rail” Krivelin walked off with the trophy for earning the most points (138) in the Eastern Region and that total also helped him cop the combined points championship. Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford topped his competitors in the Midwest Region with 112 points.
Krivelin won eight races in 18 starts in the series, while Oldford won five races in 18 starts in the series. “Trader Bud” Hatfield won four races in eight starts, as well as the Midwest Regional finale at Northfield Park on Nov. 10, and arguably the most prestigious of all the Billings events, the Delvin Miller Gold Cup Championship final the following week.
Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff won four races in 19 Billings outings, including the Eastern Regional final at Yonkers Raceway, and Smokin’ Joe” Faraldo was the winner of the Silver Cup Championship final.