Champ Trail -
April 5, 2016
Just when things never looked better at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl
the track’s outlook suffered yet another blow when track owner Bruce Bemer
was arrested last week on human trafficking charges. What he did was wrong
and hopefully the track and its future won’t be affected. Bemer saved the
track from possible extinction after Terry Eames all but ran the shoreline
oval into the ground. Hopefully the track will survive this latest calamity.
Due to bad weather and poor track conditions the 43rd Annual Icebreaker
scheduled for this past weekend was postponed, The event, which is
highlighted by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s Icebreaker 150, will be run
the this coming weekend: April 7-9.
The Icebreaker 150 will practice Saturday, April 8, with qualifying and
the second race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season slated for Sunday,
April 9. The weekend schedule also includes the opening races in Thompson’s
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program.
The weather broke for the best on Sunday and the track allowed weekly
divisions the opportunity to practice.
This past January, within four days, the Northeast Modified racing
community lost two pioneers. Photographer, Howie Hodge, and Modified legend,
Leo “The Lion” Cleary, both passed away. At this weekend’s Icebreaker,
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Officials have announced that they will
honor the memory of both men, inviting their families’ as honored guests.
Howie Hodge, who has been a photographer on the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour, as well as other NASCAR regional touring series, has also frequented
the infields of short tracks throughout the country, but most consistently
in his home state of Connecticut. For nearly 50 years, Howie shared his
passion for motorsports photography with his wife, Mary. Mary, along with
her son, Kevin, will be on hand to honor Howie’s late memory during pre-race
ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, April 2. Also, Kevin Hodge will act as the
Honorary Starter for the 150-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race.
Three short days after Hodge’s passing, Leo Cleary passed away. Known for
being an cagey and aggressive driver, Cleary earned the nickname of “The
Lion.” He was fearless, and raced as often as he could, frequenting tracks
throughout the northeast. Cleary etched his name indelibly into the Thompson
Speedway Motorsports Park record books in 1967, winning a Modified
Cleary’s sons will be on hand on Sunday to honor their late father’s
memory, and they will also give the command to start engines for the Sunoco
Modified 30-lap main event.
Ted Christopher is the all-time winner at Thompson with 98 wins. Rick
Gentes has 74 wins and the late Fred DeSarro has 63 wins.
In non-NASCAR Modified racing below the Mason-Dixon line, Brandon Ward
made it two in a row as he won the $3,000 top prize Saturday at Concord
Speedway in the Spring Explosion 125 Southern Modified Racing Series race.
As was the case the previous week at Orange County, Ward established
early in the day at Concord that he had a fast car by winning the Precision
Spindle Pole award in qualifying. The draw for a starting spot found Ward
third at the start. Ward maintained a solid spot inside the top-three as
Bryan Dauzat, Bobby Measmer Jr. and Andy Seuss each took turns leading the
race. On lap 90, Ward made his move past Seuss to the top spot. He survived
a pair of late race restarts and a challenge from Measmer to get the
Measmer charged late in the race but came up short finishing in the
second spot. Burt Myers and his brother Jason Myers rallied in the final 25
laps to finish third and fourth, with John Smith rounding out the top five.
Sixth thru tenth were Andy Seuss, Tyler Truex, Kyle Bonsignore, J.R.
Bertuccio and Danny Bohn.
In some sad news, Legendary NASCAR driver Sam Ard died. He was 78 years
old. Ard was born in Pamplico, S.C., was a native of Asheboro, N.C. He was
champion of what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 1983 and ’84,
earning most popular driver honors each season.
Ard, who retired after a serious injury in a crash at North Carolina
Speedway in 1984, won 22 races and 24 poles in the XFINITY Series during his
On the speedway stock market scene this week two of the three speedway
stocks had positive week ending results. The International Speedway
Corporation went up 1.35 to 36.95 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.10 to
2.20 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.27 to 18.84. NASCAR cup sponsor
Monster Beverage dropped 0.77 to 46.17 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear
went up 0.06 to 36.00 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco “Energy Transfer” went
up 0.69 to 36.52. The car manufacturers were positive except for Toyota,
which dropped 2.74 to 108.62. Ford went up 0.02 to 11.64 and General Motors
went up 0.80 to 35.36. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped
1.88 to 146.83 while Lowes remained stagnant at 82.21. The big team
sponsor’s stocks were all positive. McDonalds went up 0.27 to 129.61,
Coca-Cola went up 8.74 to 206.02, Target Department Stores went up 2.07 to
55.19, Aarons Rentals went up 1.03 to 29.74 and Fedex went up 7.03 to
On the tube this week:
Thursday, April 6
5:30 AM, How It's Made - Impact Wrenches, Marble Sinks, Plantain Chips,
NASCAR Cars, SCI-FI
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Masters of the Clock: The Legend of Martinsville, FS1
Friday, April 7
12:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Texas practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Texas practice, FS1
5:00 PM, NXS Texas final practice, FS1
6:00 PM, MENCS Texas qualifying, FS1
Saturday, April 8
5:30 AM, NXS Texas practice re-air, FS1
7:00 AM, NXS Texas final practice re-air, FS1
8:00 AM, MENCS Texas qualifying re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, MENCS Texas practice, FS1
10:30 AM, NXS Texas qualifying, FS1
11:30 AM, 1997 Daytona 500, FOX Sports 2
12:00 PM, MENCS Texas final practice, FS2
1:00 PM, NXS Pre Race Show, FOX
1:30 PM, NXS Texas race, FOX
Sunday, April 9
7:00 AM, NXS Texas race re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, MENCS Pre Race Show, FOX
1:30 PM, MENCS Texas race, FOX
6:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
Monday, April 10
12:30 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
6:30 AM, MENCS Texas race re-air, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, MENCS Texas race re-air, FS1
That’s 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