So I received some pretty terrible news today from my bud who I used to work with at the track. Saratoga race track legend Frank Fodera passed away last Friday after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. As I’m writing this, I’m stunned, I’m sad and I just can’t believe it.
As I’ve said before, I used to work at the track during the summers with one of my best friends. We were just seasonal workers so we would drive around all day planting flowers and doing an obscene amount of odd jobs to get the track prepared before the meet.
The track would employee a ton of seasonal workers, working under some full time guys who I would consider our bosses. Like in most workplaces, as someone who wasn’t high on the totem pole, we would keep our heads down and try to blend in and do our own thing. We spent a great amount of time with our, what I would like to call mentors, boss Brian Schneider and Richie Pruden. These two always had our back, always helped us out and made sure the head head honchos were satisfied with the job we were doing.
They taught us a ton of invaluable lessons and I think both of us will be forever grateful for that. The other full time guys did their own thing but there was one in particular that always stood out and that was our guy Frank Fodera.
Frank Fodera was the man. He was built like a brick shit house but had one of the biggest hearts of any human I’ve ever known.
“You want to know something? He was everybody’s close friend,” said Richie Pruden, a member of NYRA’s maintenance crew for the past 16 years. “His heart was as big as this whole track.”
Just like Richie said.
When he spoke, you listened. When he asked for help, you would drop what you were doing that instant and go help him out because, well, he was Frank. If we were ever in trouble, he would go out of his way to help us which was pretty awesome considering we were just a seasonal worker and because normally it was just us doing something stupid. Every morning we’d stand around this one shop awaiting orders and Frank would always be there with a smile on his face, bullshitting with the boys, ready to get the day going. We’d all separate and go to our job sites for the day but Frank would always be in a tractor or truck so we’d always see him driving around. He’d drive by, honk, give us a wave and go about his business. He was a mans man, an absolute beauty and was one guy who made up a very large part of the foundation of the track.
My buddy I worked with was the one who texted me about it and said something that I think couldn’t be more true.
“You know how when people die, everyone says everyone loved them and stuff like that? Feel like he was actually one of those dudes.”
Everyone respected Frank, everyone loved Frank. My favorite part of the day was when we’d clock out and he’d be there ready to get goin. We’d talk about what we had going on that weekend and he would almost always talk about going for a ride, or that he’d be hanging out with his family. He’d ask you how your day was, how the family was, what new girl you’d be talking to. He was a friend. After that, he’d give you a fist bump and take off.
Once I left the track I fell out of contact with the majority of people who worked there. Time moves on and so does life but every once in a while I’d get something on Facebook from him. Whenever I’d post a picture, I’d get a like and a silly gif comment of hearts or a bunny or something like that. He didn’t know this but boy would that make me laugh and smile. You’d never think a guy who was this super bad ass with a goatee and a motorcycle would be doing stuff like that but he would. He was kind and honestly just a really good guy.
This news hit pretty hard. This sucks, death fucking sucks. I will say this though, I am blessed to have met and worked with a man like Frank. I’ve learned that taking time out of your day to ask someone how they’re doing goes a long way. I’ve learned that if you see someone who needs help, even if it’s something so small and seems dumb, you should take 30 seconds and lend a hand. Little gestures like this can mean the world to someone even if it doesn’t seem like it. It’s been years since I’ve worked there and I still remember those moments with Frank.
Rest in peace friend, thank you for being you.