Steve Oldford, and Peter Gerry, the OLD (meaning long ago, not in age) harness racing driving force behind the annual C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Championship Series, will be hopping a plane to the left coast this week to participate in the 7th annual East-West Challenge for Amateur Drivers.
They are joined by teammates Joe Faraldo and Tony Verruso hoping to get the better of their left coast counterparts.
This will be the second trip west for Mr. Gerry. He competed in 2007 along with teammate Faraldo and notched one second place finish, so is looking for his first trip to the winners circle.
Mr. Oldford has taken the plunge twice, winning a race in 2008 which represented Team East’s first victory, and then again appearing in the event last year, helping his squad to its second team victory. That makes Steve 2 for 2 in the event.
Rumored to have been born with a lighted cigar between his lips, a flask of whiskey in his left hand and a driving whip in his right hand, Peter Gerry actually came into this world with a silver spoon in his mouth and little talent. Nevertheless, he has competed passionately in each of the 30 editions of the Billings Series since its founding in 1982.
A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, Peter is a professional venture capitalist five days a week, a gentleman driver on the 6th day and a derelict on the 7th!
From 1991 until 2010, Peter served as President of the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association (his only accomplishment in life!) which administers the annual C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Championship Series.
During that period he grew the Billings Series membership from 10 members to a high of 150 members in 2006. In addition he instituted the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Championship Gold Cup and Silver Races contested annually for $25,000 and $15,000 respectively.
In addition to continuing as the Treasurer of the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association, he serves as Vice President and Trustee of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation and as Treasurer and Trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame.
Formerly he served as Treasurer and Director of the Hambletonian Society, as Chairman of the New Jersey Sires Stakes and as a trustee of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.
Steve Oldford was born, raised, and still lives in the 'thumb' of Michigan on a Standardbred horse farm where he raises colts for Michigan and Grand Circuit racing. He has been involved with harness racing for about 40 years as a groom, trainer, breeder, owner, and amateur driver. With a tolerant wife and three wonderful adult aged kids, Steve joined the Billings circuit about seven years ago and has made a host of great new friends. He is currently President of the Great Lakes Amateur Driving Association and Vice President of the CKG Billings Driving Club. Mr. Oldford graduated from Western Michigan University and joined the family business. His 'real' job is the owner of a manufacturer's representative agency that specializes in automotive components.
Both drivers are chomping at the proverbial bit to race later this week. Gerry said, “I rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to drive in so many races in such a short time span on American soil. The folks out there put on such a wonderful show for us and treat us like we have been there forever. Unfortunately, having not yet reached the winner’s circle at CalExpo I will have to take no prisoners. Therefore, I cannot be as hospitable on the racetrack in return during the roughly 16 minutes of racing we will do. Oldford’s teams are undefeated out there. I cannot let him hold a loss over on me during the coming years, so I am planning on buying an extra seat on the trip home for the trophy!”
Steve Oldford, a little humbler, added, “The Cal-Expo management team and horsemen have made this one of the highlights of the year for those of us that represent Team East each year. With all of the problems we face across North America, and given the uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of racing in California, it is a testament to those involved with this event that it continues, establishing a tradition I sure hope will go on many years to come.”
The series will be held this Friday and Saturday. Free programs and TrackMaster Greg selections will be made available at trackmaster.com/calx beginning on Wednesday.