Racing, like many other sports, heaps recognition upon its stars but neglects its unsung heroes. Grand Circuit trainers, drivers, and owners get recognized but the trainer or driver who toils their whole career at the smaller tracks get nary a mention. One such driver is Leigh Fitch.
Leigh Fitch scored this past Friday his 7,500th driving victory at Scarborough Downs and if you don’t follow racing in Maine or are not a native of the Pine State, there is a good chance you don’t know who Leigh Fitch is. Fitch has been racing since 1962 racing at the smaller venues that define New England harness racing. Granted, winning 7,500 races over a 47 year period may not be that impressive when you compare it to some of our racing elite, but there is where you would be wrong.
It takes dedication and a love of the sport to keep racing all these years to reach this milestone. Let’s face it, racing in Maine for what can be described as modest purses is not going to allow you to live the life of luxury. Yet, it is drivers and trainers like Fitch who toil in relative obscurity who keep the sport going; getting up early in the morning in the deep of winter tending to their stables and racing night after night in the deep cold or otherwise miserable conditions racing for small purses.
You don’t need to be a drive or trainer that races exclusively at the smaller tracks and not be recognized for your years of dedication to the sport. Ted Wing, a driver/trainer that started out in New England and raced for many years at the Meadowlands and in New York has accumulated over 5,000 driving wins yet he too has never been recognized by the Hall of Fame. For him not to be recognized in some manner is a shame.
These journeyman drivers and trainers may get recognized locally but more should be done for these individuals. People who have dedicated so much to this sport in relative obscurity deserve their fifteen minutes of fame. The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame has the Living Hall of Fame and Hall of Immortals. Perhaps it is time the Hall of Fame recognized these journeymen and women who have dedicated their lives to our sport. An exhibit dedicated to these individuals with their names listed on a wall does not seem to be unrealistic.
Let’s recognize these journeymen so their contributions are not lost as the years pass by.