On Friday, November 10 America will commemorate the valiant services of members of our armed forces with pageantry, speeches, parades and other various celebrations. But on the previous day, November 9th, two local amateur clubs are planning an amateur driving challenge at Monticello Raceway as an impetus to raise money for the local veteran’s food banks.However, since the Mighty M is dark on Fridays this year’s Veterans Driving Challenge is slated for Thursday, November 9.

This project is the brainchild of Alan Schwartz , the president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association who is also the vice president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA).

“We have planned our own special tribute for those who served our country with honor by staging this Amateur Driving Challenge for veterans of our armed forces who are currently amateur drivers,” said Schwartz, a former US Marine. “NAADA is being joined in this worthwhile endeavor by the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club (CADC) and its president Gerry Fielding who was a longtime Army reservist. And at the end of the November 9th racing program each amateur club will make a sizable donation to the Veterans Food Pantry of Sullivan County.

Although the amateur clubs have great ambitions this project couldn’t come to fruition without the help of Eric Warner, Monticello Raceway’s longtime director of racing.

The Veterans Amateur Driving Challenge is only open to former servicemen who are amateur drivers licensed by the U.S Trotting Association and/or the Canadian Trotting Association.

“This may not be an easy race to fill but once the word is out we’re hopeful of getting a good response from proud veterans who helped preserve the American way of life,” Schwartz added.

Last year there was enough response from veterans that two races were staged. Schwartz won one division while Irving Bluestein, who traveled all the way from the greater Boston Mass- area, to compete, won the other.

Anyone wanting more information, or to enter the event,  must contact Warner at Monticello Raceway by calling 845-794-4100 ext 557. Or contact Schwartz in the Monticello Horsemen’s organization office at 845-791-7747.