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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Whelen Modified Racers Past and Present Weigh In On the Milestone

Next weekend in Connecticut a long-time short-track racer will achieve a milestone previously only accomplished at the pinnacle of the sport, and is unlikely to be matched in the regional ranks.

Jamie Tomaino is set to make his 600th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start on Saturday, May 14 at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the New England Cycle Center 161. The 59-year-old from Howell, New Jersey, will be the 24th national or regional touring series racer to reach that milestone competing in one series. The previous 23 all did it in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

To gain perspective on Tomaino’s impending accomplishment, thoughts were collected from numerous modified luminaries. These distinguished individuals either competed against Tomaino or had their own landmark longevity in the sport.

Bobby Allison NASCAR Hall of Famer, four-time champion in NASCAR Modifieds, 718 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts
“Jamie, what a great deal to make your 600th start in a league that’s really a bunch of tough guys racing. Hard racing over a lot of years is really an accomplishment and I want to congratulate you on that.”

Jerry Cook NASCAR Hall of Famer, six-time NASCAR Modified division national champion where he had nearly 1,500 feature race starts
“Jamie is a great guy. He was always dedicated to modified racing. That’s what he wanted to do, and what he still does today. He’s done good just to be there for all of those races. He’s a true diehard modified racer, and his family is all in racing also. He’s a great guy with a great family.”

Red Farmer 1956 NASCAR Modified national champ, still racing weekly at age 83 and holds his division’s points lead
“If you love racing like I do and you’ve been in it all of your life, you’re going to keep on doing it. My motto is ‘wear out, don’t rust out.’ If you’re still able to do it, your body still lets you do it and you’re still competitive, I think you should never stop. If he feels good at 600 then he should go for 700. I’m proud of him.”

Ed Flemke Jr.NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour record holder with 382 consecutive starts, third on all-time starts list
“He should have the consecutive starts record, but unfortunately sometimes circumstances prevail and that’s the way it goes. He’s a cool guy. His wife is phenomenal. His kids are great. It’s just a pleasure to know him. He’s been good for our sport. For anyone to go to every race – to miss funerals, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties and anniversaries – it’s quite a sacrifice and commitment. Now that I’m not doing it all of the time, I realize even more the sacrifice and commitment. I admire him for his perseverance.”

Rick Fuller 1993 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist, fourth on all-time starts list
“[Jokingly] The first thing that comes to mind is, holy crap he must be old! Six hundred modified races – that’s a long time. It’s amazing that he’s withstood the test of time because the modifieds have gone through quite an evolution over the years since 1985. That’s just incredible.”

Tony Hirschman five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, 10th on all-time starts list
“We started our careers about the same time back in the day. We raced against each other quite a bit at the local tracks, including his home track Wall Stadium, and we moved up to the tour where we raced together for a lot of years. It’s quite impressive, that many starts and to dedicate that many years to the modified tour. It’s quite an accomplishment.”

Mike McLaughlin 1988 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, started the first 132 races in tour history
“He’s always been a good racer. He definitely loves what he does. It just shows his dedication to the sport. My hat’s off to him. I moved around a lot, but when I look back the modified series is probably where I had the most fun. He’s been able to enjoy that all of those years and that’s pretty cool.”

Jason Myers record holder for NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour career starts with 136
“That is huge! I’ve known of Jamie from back in the day when my dad was driving. I grew up knowing that name and seeing him race at Martinsville and other places. I had no idea he had that many starts. That’s phenomenal, unbelievable actually. The fact that he’s still going and still a big part of the Whelen Modifieds is amazing.”

Mike StefanikNASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist, second on all-time starts list
“It’s one of those things you can’t do without packing a lunch. You’ve got to be there a long, long time and Jamie has certainly done that. He was on the tour before I was, was on the tour with me, and now I’m gone and he’s still on the tour. My hat’s off to him. It’s been a lifetime commitment, but he obviously can’t do it without the support of his family. His wife has been with him through all of it. The whole family has been active in racing. Realistically the only way you could achieve that is to have that family support. But that’s a lot of racing.”

Tomaino has attended all 604 events since the Whelen Modified Tour’s inaugural 1985 season. Four times he did not qualify into the show. The last time he wasn’t able to participate in the feature was at New York’s Spencer Speedway in 2009 when he experienced an engine failure in practice.

In between those five instances of missed participation he’s compiled starts streaks of 243 and 199. His active run of consecutive starts will reach 97 with the next event at Waterford, just five behind Eric Goodale’s current mark.

And yes, he’s participated in all previous 21 Whelen Modified Tour events at the Speedbowl.

To see Tomaino’s 600th start and the third race of the Whelen Modified Tour season, please visit http://speedbowlct.com for New England Cycle Center 161 event and ticket information.
Source: Jason Cunningham / NASCAR
: May 6, 2016

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