Champ Trail -
January 3, 2016
The countdown to Speedweeks in Florida continues. As of this coming Friday,
January 6, five weeks remain before the green flag drops for the World
Series at New Smyrna, the 50 lap tour type Modified event at the Bronson (Fla)
Speedway and action at the Daytona International Speedway. It will be here
before you know it.
The 51st Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna
Speedway (FL) is coming soon on February 16-25. The World Series will kick
off on Friday, February 17 with the first night of feature racing at the
fast half-mile oval just south of Daytona Beach. The Super Late Models will
headline the show and they will be joined by the Pro Late Models, Sportsman
cars and Pro Trucks. The Pro Trucks will race for 50 laps in their only
appearance at New Smyrna during the World Series.
On February 18, the Sportsman will run for 50 laps in their second and
final appearance of the week. They will be joined by the Super Late Models
and Pro Late Models. The Pro Late Models will be running twin features.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will begin its 2017 season on Sunday,
February 19 during the World Series in what has become a new tradition in
recent years. As usual, the stock cars of the K&N Pro Series East will be
joined by one other division, the Southern Sprintcar Shootout Series.
On Monday, two divisions of ground-pounding Modifieds will make their 2017
World Series debut. The Tour-type Modifieds will headline the action with a
50-lap feature. They will be joined on the card by the IMCA/Florida
Modifieds, Super and Pro Late Models.
Tuesday is all open-wheel Modified action at New Smyrna. The IMCA/Florida
Modifieds will headline the night with a 75-lap feature race.
One night later the Tour-type Modifieds will be the stars once again in
the John Blewett III Memorial 76-lap feature. The IMCA/Florida Modifieds,
Super Late Models and Pro Late Models will all be on the racing card as
The the biggest night of racing out of all nine days will be on Friday
night, Feb 24. Two different divisions will race for 100 laps each. The
Tour-type Modifieds will conclude their week at New Smyrna with the Richie
Evans Memorial 100. The Pro Late Models will also go for 100 laps. The
IMCA/Florida Modifieds will also be on the card.
The 51st Annual World Series will conclude on Saturday, February 25 with
the running of the 100-lap Super Late Model feature. The Pro Late Models and
IMCA/Florida Modifieds will also be in competition on the final night of
It was announced last week that Bobby Santos and Tinio Racing will return
to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on a part-time basis for the 2017 racing
season. Team Manager Lawney Tinio told racing news web site Speed51.com that
the Massachusetts-based team will compete in a handful of races close to
home next season. For the most part their racing will be at New England
NASCAR has failed to realize that Modified owners, drivers and mechanics
are not full time professional racers as they have to be employed full time
in order to support their families.
Big news comes from Long Island as second year Riverhead Raceway
promoters/owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz released their 2017
schedule. Long Island racing fans can look forward to a very exciting and
diverse race season at the historic quarter mile oval. The 2017 NASCAR
Whelen All American Series opener is set for Saturday evening May 6th with
all seven classes in action while the second half of the doubleheader
weekend will unfold Sunday afternoon May 7th with the May Meltdown Enduro
During their freshman season as race track operators Eddie & Connie
Partridge along with Tom Gatz showed a willingness to bring new racing
series and events to Riverhead Raceway in 2016 and more of the same is in
store for 2017. The trio announced the return of the Islip 300 NASCAR
Modified race for Saturday May 27th with the winner of the Islip 300 taking
home a huge $7,000 payday from a rich purse that will exceed $30,000. The
race pays tribute to the former All Star 300 races that were immensely
popular at the 1/5 of a mile Islip speed plant. With $7,000 on the line for
the win track management is hopeful for an All Star caliber line-up and race
for the Memorial Day weekend race that will carry a Sunday May 28th rain
Also new in 2017 will be the June 17th visit of the Modified Touring
Series competing in a 125-lap contest. Making a return engagement to Long
Island this season will be the Granite State Pro Stock Series for a 100-lap
tilt on Saturday May 20th as well as the NEMA Midgets on June 3rd. The Mr.
Rooter New England Truck Series returns to Long Island Saturday August 19th.
The American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association will join the June 3rd
NEMA card for their first Riverhead Raceway appearance since 2001.
Aside from the Islip 300 and Modified Touring Series events the NASCAR
Modifieds will be busy once again at Riverhead Raceway. The popular NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour will again make two stops for 200-lap events Saturday
June 24th and Saturday September 16th. The weekly Modified racers of the
Whelen All American Series can look forward to running in several specialty
races including the Mullet Madness 50 on June 10th, a 67-lap 67th Year
Celebration contest July 1st, the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 July
8th, an Elvis Night 50 August 5th, and the Whelen Engineering Night 100
(Twin 50's) on September 9th.
Track GM John Ellwood disclosed 2017 activity at the track will commence
the first week of April with the first of two Technical Inspection days that
will take place Saturday April 1st with the second being held the following
Saturday April 8th. In a new scheduling twist Sunday April 9th will feature
the first on track racing of 2017 unfolding with the Snow Melt Enduro
program being presented.
The traditional pre-season practice days are penciled in for Saturday
April 22nd and again Saturday April 29th but in between on Sunday April 23rd
a 100-lap Street Stock event will be presented along with 40-lapper features
for both the INEX Legend Race Cars and new Mini Stock Enduro class.
The off season has been very busy for the Ronnie Williams Race Team.
Williamís primary cars for Stafford and Waterford have been stripped,
clipped and powder coated, ready to be rebuilt.
Ronnie will be driving his family-owned SK Modified at Stafford Motor
Speedway full-time in 2017 and the #59 car will have a slightly different
look as he chases his first Stafford SK Modified Championship at the
historic half mile in his 4th season of competition there. In addition to
Stafford, Ronnie he will also start the season driving his 2nd family-owned
SK Modified at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for the first 10 races of
2017. The team will evaluate their 2017 season schedule at NLWS after the
10th event of the season to run and make a determination on any further
Williams will complete the Connecticut trifecta by securing a full time
ride at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as well in 2017. After a very
successful season in 2016, finishing 3rd in points and earning the Rookie of
the Year title with the Keith Roccoís race team, 2017 will see some changes
for Ronnie at Thompson as he will be driving the #79 John Jenson Owned
Sunoco Modified at Thompson in his quest for the 2017 championship.
Williams will also go tour racing in 2017. Driving the John Jensen-owned
#79 tour modified, Ronnie will be planning to run on every Connecticut track
that the Modified Racing Series (MRS), and Modified Touring Series (MTS)
puts on, giving him somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 tour races in 2017.
Hot on the heels of Williamsí announcement comes word that Ted
Christopher will be driving for Rocco at Thompson. Christopher has 98 career
wins at the Big T.
On the speedway stock market scene this week, all three-speedway stocks
showed moderate gains. Leading the way was the International Speedway
Corporation, which went up 0.60 to 37.40. Dover Entertainment went up 0.25
to 2.30 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.18 to 21.82. NASCAR fuel supplier
Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.62 to 37.44 while NASCAR cup sponsor
Monster Beverage went up 1.28 to 45.62 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear
went up 0.97 to 31.84. The car builders had a real good week. Leading the
way was Toyota, which went up 3.02 to 120.13. General Motors went up 1.15 to
35.99 and Ford went up 0.63 to 12.76. In the home improvement sector Home
Depot dropped 0.55 to 133.53 and Lowes dropped 0.17 to 70.95. With the
exception of Fedex which went up 4.05 to 190.25 the big team sponsors stocks
were down for the week. McDonalds dropped 0.96 to 120.76, Coca-Cola dropped
1.64 to 177.21, Target dropped 0.89 to 71.44 and Aarons Rentals dropped
dropped 1.13 to 30.86.
On the tube this week:
Tuesday, January 10
5:00 PM, Stories of NASCAR - Champions of 2016, NBC Sports Net
5:30 PM, Stories of NASCAR - Behind the Wheel, NBCSN
Wednesday, January 11
8:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR Scan All Special - Championship Edition, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR Scan All Special - Best of Scan All, NBCSN
Thursday, January 12
8:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
Friday, January 13
8:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
Saturday, January 14
7:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
8:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
9:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.
Phil Smith has been a columnist for
Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Smith / Champ Trail