November 11, 2016
Forty years ago in 1976, the Modifieds ran a special event at
Kingsport, Tenn. Geoff Bodine ended his modified season with a win over Paul
Radford and John Bryant.
Thirty five years ago in 1981, the
Thompson Speedway hosted their annual banquet. Taking top honors were Richie
Evans, the Modified Champion, Dave Wandzy, the Street Stock Champ and Ron
Cote, the late model champ. Special awards included most Improved in the
Modifieds, Corky Cookman, Late models, Fran Colson and Street Stock, Jack
Crosby. Rookie honors went to Ed Kennedy in the Modifieds, Rick Armstrong in
the Late Models and Rick Fuller in the Street Stocks. Dick Williams, who
promoted the speedway during the year, announced that he was not renewing
Thirty years ago in 1986, Ben
Dodge was hired by NASCAR to help out in the promotion and publicity of the
Featherlite Modified Tour. Waterford held their annual banquet, which
honored Bob Potter as the SK Modified champion and Brian McCarthy as the
Super Stock champion. Most improved honors went to Ed Flemke Jr in the SK's
and Chuck Zentarski in the Super Stocks. Rookie of the Year honors went to
David Gada in the Modifieds and Dave Wheeler in the Superstocks. Promoter Ed
Yerrington announced that the 1987 Tri-Track point fund would be in excess
of $100,000, which would be, more than was for the Modified or Busch North
Series at that time.
Twenty five years ago in 1991,
November 10 turned out to be a sad day for New England Auto Racing as D.
Anthony Venditti, owner and promoter of the Seekonk Speedway had passed
away. Venditti was a visionary and although some of his ideas seemed off the
wall sometimes, nine times out of ten he could read the future of auto
racing. He had the original idea for what we now know is a Pro Stock.
Venditti could be very stubborn but no matter what, he always stuck to his
guns. He had the respect of just about every one that knew him.
Fifteen years ago in 2001, the
Stafford Speedway held their annual banquet and crowned Ted Christopher the
SK-Modified Track Champion. Christopher was also the NASCAR Weekly Racing
Series Regional and National Champion. NASCAR’s Winston Cup and Grand
National divisions were in Homestead, Florida. Joe Nemachek took the GN win.
In Winston Cup action, Bill Elliott got the first Dodge win for Ray Everham.
Elliott took the lead from teammate Casey Atwood with five laps to go.
Michael Waltrip finished second. During the running of the event three of
Ricky Rudd’s crew plus a NASCAR official were injured on pit road when Ward
Burton bounced off the car of Casey Atwood and hit Rudd’s car while it was
being serviced. In SMART Modified competition at South Boston, Virginia,
Gary Meyers took the win over Charlie Pasteryak and Jay Foley. Ed Flemke JR,
in the Hill Racing No.79 was the fastest of the field and was leading with
10 laps to go when Frank Flemming drilled him into the wall on a restart. It
was also announced on this weekend that NASCAR entered into agreement with
Dodge for multi-year sponsorship of the sanctioning bodie’s Weekly Racing
Ten years ago in 2006, it looked like
the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series had gone by the wayside as NASCAR and
Whelen Engineering announced a multi-year agreement for Whelen to become the
new title sponsor of NASCAR’s weekly racing program. The series was re-named
the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for 2007.
The leasing of the Waterford Speedbowl continued to a hot topic of
conversation. Jerry Robinson, a virtually unknown in racing circles, leased
the shoreline oval. Robinson owned the Legends Cars Series. It was hoped
that Robinson could breathe new life into the track that had all but run
into the ground by property owner Terry Eames. Things got so bad in 2006 at
Waterford the track was running unadvertised races as too much money had
been owed for too long of a period to area radio stations and newspapers. It
was amazing that the track did as well as it did.
Priorities included re-opening and modernizing the restrooms and
repairing sections of grandstand that have been closed for repair. As it
turned out, Robinson ended up being one of the worst things that ever
happened to the shoreline oval.
In Whelen Modified Tour Series news Mike Stefanik indicated that he would
pursue his tenth championship with Flamingo Motorsports for 2007. Barry
Kuhnel who played a key role as his crew chief in years past would be a
consultant. Stefanik would be driving a 2007 model Troyer chassis, which was
Ford powered. Word was being tossed around about a Whelen Modified Tour
Series event in Mansfield, Ohio.
Word came from Lew Boyd that two legends were under the weather and could
use a card of cheer. Four time NASCAR Sportsman Champion Rene Charland was
recuperating from a recent car crash and. Bill Wimble had developed tongue
cancer and would have a rough few weeks with radiation and chemo
The Daytona Beach Journal reported that NASCAR President Brian France
drove into a parked car and hit a tree with his Lexus. NASCAR issued a
statement that he spilled a soft drink which evidently caused him to lose
control of the vehicle. Evidently he wasn’t drinking Pepsi and evidently his
Lexus wasn’t shod with Goodyear Tires. Police said the Lexus had $1,500
Kevin Harvick led 252 of the 312 circuits and captured the Checker Auto
Parts "500" presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway by a
quarter of a second today over Johnson. Harvick also won the Busch Series
Five years ago in 2011, The annual
North-South Shootout took center stage this past weekend. Previously run in
Concord, NC, the event was been relocated to the Caraway Speedway in
Asheboro, NC. There were 27 Tour type Modifieds and a somewhat slim field of
13 SK type Modifieds on hand. Rain blanketed the entire state of North
Carolina on Friday which forced event officials to condense the event into
It was announced that qualifying heats would be eliminated in order to
expedite the running the event in a timely fashion. Southern racer Burt
Myers was the top time setter among the Tour types and Zane Zeiner was the
pole sitter for the SK types.
Despite running on a cool, damp night the event drew a pretty decent
crowd. Woody Pitkat, who races weekly at Thompson and Stafford, took the
lead on the start and went on to lead the entire 50 lap distance of the SK
type event. Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco, also Thompson and Stafford
regulars, followed Pitkat at the finish. Matt Hirschman and Earl Paules
rounded out the top five.
The Tour type Shootout went 125 laps and when all was said and done, Matt
Hirschman sat in victory lane. Burt Myers took the lead at the start and
paced the field until Andy Seuss passed him in traffic on lap 33. Myers
developed severe handling problems as he faded after losing the lead. Seuss
led until lap 53 when most of the field pitted under caution that was thrown
for debris on the track. Jason Myers, who did not pit assumed the lead. By
lap 60 Hirschman had taken the lead as Myers' tires had gone away. In a
sprint to the finish, Hirschman was able to out run runner-up Seuss. George
Brunnhoelzl III, Burt Myers and Zane Zeiner rounded out the top five. Sixth
through tenth were Jimmy Blewett, Chris Pasteryak, Kyle Ebersole, Jason
Myers and Patrick Emerling. Among the missing was Ted Christopher, who was
seen walking around the Flea Market with his hand bandaged up, at the
Tim McCreadie completed a sweep of the Lowes Foods World Finals Presented
by Tom’s Snacks, Coca-Cola and Nature’s Own at The Dirt Track at Charlotte
while Matt Sheppard captured his second straight Super DIRTcar Series
Big-Block Modified championship.
NASCAR's Big Three went to Fort Worth Texas. Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR
Truck Series race Friday night after his championship-contending truck
driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. was knocked out of the race by a retaliating Kyle
Busch. Trevor Bayne earned his first career NASCAR Nationwide victory after
he passed dominating teammate Carl Edwards following a tremendous restart
with seven laps remaining Saturday at Texas. Tony Stewart raced to his
second consecutive victory, and won for the fourth time in eight NASCAR
Chase for the Sprint Cup races, finishing just ahead of points leader Carl
Edwards in the so-called "Texas Title Fight" that fully lived up to its
billing on Sunday.
NASCAR finally got tough with Kyle Busch who continued to have anger
management problems with those whom he races with. The often volatile Busch
was suspended from driving in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at Texas
after he deliberately wrecked championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. during
a caution in the Truck Series on Friday night. In the past Busch, who has a
history of road rage on the track, has been fined and put on probation for
his actions. Evidently, as most of us knew, he didn't get the message. Fines
and probations mean nothing to those who compete in NASCAR's top divisions.
Sponsors or car owners pay the fines and it's business as usual. It's good
that NASCAR finally acted because the worse thing you can do to a driver is
to tell him he can't race! Hopefully now he has gotten that message.
With the exception of the Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Derby at the Wall
Stadium in New Jersey the 2011 racing season in the northeast was over. The
undisputed overall feature winner is Keith Rocco with 32 wins to his credit.
Twenty eight of these came in the SK Modifieds. Second overall in feature
wins is dirt tracker Matt Sheppard with 21 victories. Ted Christopher had
one of his rare "off years" as he only had 12 wins on the season. Worth
mentioning is the fact that dirt tracker Brett Hearne had 12 victories and
at the same time brought his lifetime total to 800.
Former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield, barred from the association since
2009 for a failed drug test, was arrested at his western North Carolina home
and charged with possession of methamphetamine, and police said he might
face more charges. Mayfield was arrested Tuesday night, Nov 1 and charged
possessing 1.5 grams of meth. The former Sprint Cup driver was suspended
from NASCAR in May 2009 after failing a random drug test. Mayfield denied he
was using an illegal drug, but NASCAR said he tested positive for
Last year, 2015, The big racing event
of the weekend was the annual North-South Shootout at the Concord Speedway
in North Carolina. Rainy skies and New England type cold and dampness
greeted competitors and fans alike. There were 28 tour type Modifieds and
eight SK type Modifieds on hand. Because of he fact that he tracks was
oozing water practice was minimal and qualifying heats were eliminated.
Keith Rocco just kee rolling along as he toured the the Concord oval
in15.608 seconds. Bobby Measamer, Jr was second fastest 15.615. Tommy
Barrett, Jr, who had not raced since being picked up for driving under the
influence earlier in the year, was third fastest at 15.629. John McKennedy
and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five in Shootout qualifying.
Jimmy Zacharias has the pole for the Mr, Rooter 50 lap SK Modified
Feature. Todd Owen was second fastest with Steve Kopcik, Keith Rocco and
Jimmy Wallace rounding out the top five.
Impending rain and a bad forecast for the evening forced officials to
postpone the event to Sunday.
Justin Bonsignore's eventual win in the Modified shootout had a dark
cloud hanging over it. Matt Hirschman was first under the checkered flag but
a reversal of fortune and some poor officiating after the fact took away
Bonsignore's glory. Race Director Tommy Fox was forced to leave the track
while the race was under a red flag with nine laps remaining for weather.
While Fox was on his way to the airport one of Matt Hirschman's developed
a leak. Those left in charge chose not to penalize Hirschman which is a
no-no. After much discussion and some loud words the decision was made to
place Hirschman in 16th place at the finish.
Keith Rocco won the Mr Rooter SK Modified event. It was Rocco's 213th
Woody Pitkat Crowned Valenti Modified Racing Series Champion in
Manchester, NH Pitkat was joined by car owner Peter Kulessa, crew chief Greg
Felton, and the Patterson Farms race team for the special presentations. The
VMRS championship was the first for both Pitkat and Kulessa.
In accepting his award Pitkat thanked the Perry family and Valenti (Auto
Group) for all their support and sponsoring of the series. Pitkat
acknowledged Jack Bateman, the series founder, saying “thank you for your
hard work, time, and sacrifice, to give us a great affordable series to race
at week in and week out. I admire your dedication.” Pitkat also stated
winning the series title was his first ever series championship and he
considered it a special feat. “I may never win another so this one means a
He complimented VMRS drivers. “Just because I run the tour does not put
me above anyone. I am a race driver and so are these guys with this series.
I am grateful for the opportunity to run with them and compete here. I look
at it as another addition to my resume.” Kulessa spoke proudly of his first
championship. “It’s unbelievable the guys just worked so hard. Last year we
made the switch to Woody and had top five finishes. We knew we had a good
car and we knew we had a good driver. This year we were supposed to run a
limited schedule. When July rolled around we were leading the points so we
decided we might as well give it a shot.”
In addition to the champion, the top 14 drivers were also recognized for
their accomplishments. Runner-up Chris Pasteryak, Norman Wrenn, Todd
Patnode, Todd Szegedy, Donnie Lashua, Mike Willis Jr, David Schneider,
Dennis Perry, Jon McKennedy, Rowan Pennink, Dylan Kopec, Russ Hersey,
Anthony Nocella, and Kirk Alexander were recognized.
Jack Bateman disclosed that 14 races are on the schedule for 2016 and he
anticipates two more dates to be added in the near future. The series will
make the announcement as soon as those dates are finalized.
Drivers Sam Posey, Greg Sacks, Joey Laquerre, Stan Gregor, the late Jim
McCallum and the late Ronnie Marvin, car owner the late Paul Dunigan,
publishers Lew Boyd and the late Jim Moffat, engine-builder Joe Fontana and
promoter Red McDonald were inducted in the New England Antique Racers Hall
of Fame this past Sunday. Vermont’s Justin St. Louis received the Mitchell/Ratta
Dick Williams and Jim Schaefer, principals behind the successful
Tri-Track Series, shared the 2015 New England Antique Racers’ Frank Maratta
Award. The presentations, giving in recognition of their outstanding
contribution and support of auto racing, were part of the agenda at the New
England Auto Racers Hall of Fame 18th induction banquet Maneeley’s Banquet
Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT.
Over the past two seasons, the Tri-Track Series had paid out over
$400,000. The eight races have attracted an average car count of 40,
including the top Modified teams from New England and New York. Lee, Star,
Seekonk, Monadnock and Waterford have hosted Tri-Track events.
Williams, from North Stonington, CT and Schaefer, from Riverhead, NY, are
the leaders of a group that has made the Tri-Track Series a reality.
According to Williams, a familiar face in New England racing for decades,
the impetus was a conversation among a group of old timers. “They were
saying how much they missed the old open competition events,” recalled
Williams. “We thought with a little common sense it could happen again and
we got four or five guys together and made it happen.”
This year’s payout $287,000 distributed in a number of ways including lap
money and last-chance races. There were six different winners in the first
'We'll get it right,' NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said of how
the sanctioning body will react to Matt Kenseth's move on Joey Logano at
Martinsville. Logano was leading the race on Lap 454, when he was put into
the wall by Kenseth, who was nine laps down after being hit by Logano’s
teammate, Brad Keselowski, earlier in the race. Kenseth was suspended for
two events, fined and put on probation.
Another one bites the dust! Patrick Emerling, who comes from western New
York indicated on web site RaceDayCt that he may be cutting back his Whelen
Modified Tour Series schedule after being a regular in the series for five
years. Bottom line, if you spend 5 grand to run a race, that pays 3 grand to
the winner, and a few hundred to start, no matter how rich you are, or how
much your sponsors give you, Eventually it will no longer be fun.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail, email@example.com.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
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