The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - March 6, 2018

  With Florida speedweeks in the rear view mirror it’s time to look ahead to the 2018 Whelen Modified Tour Series opener in Myrtle Beach, SC on March 17, a little over a week away. Timmy Solomito is the defending race winner. Three weeks after Myrtle Beach will see the gates swing open for the 2018 edition of the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway Icebreaker.

  It looks like Ryan Preece will miss the Myrtle Beach event as he will be in Fontana, California where he will drive a Joe Gibbs entry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event. Jimmy Blewett will be driving the Eddie Partridge entry at Myrtle Beach.

  In some welcome and important news, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has announced that the proposed changes to the Waterford town Noise Ordinance, which would have disrupted their operating times and schedule has been completely thrown out by the town’s Public Health, Recreation and Environment Committee. In short, no further actions or changes are needed.
Said the Speedbowl management. “ We appreciate the committee for listening to our point of view, comments and suggestions. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl is committed to keeping good relationships with our neighbors and hope to keep the lines of communication regarding our operating schedule open. We appreciate the support of our fans, drivers, teams and employees and can’t wait to get back on the track opening weekend, May 5-6”.
  The Speedbowl will host the New England Racing Expo on March 24-25 at the Crystal Mall in Waterford CT. This event will have race cars on display and vendors through out the lower level of the mall. This event is FREE and open to the public.

  In a somewhat surprise announcement, longtime Nashua, New Hampshire businessman Norman Wrenn Jr. has purchased Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. Wrenn bought the 3/8 mile speedway from John “Red” MacDonald and wife Judy, track owners for the last 33-years. Wrenn made the disclosure Tuesday, February 27.
  Wrenn, in his 40th year in the propane gas business, is also a successful stock car racer, dating back to 1983. A many time feature winner and track champion, Wrenn has competed in Pro Stock, Pro-4 modified, and Modified Racing Series competition over a 35-year career. Wrenn ironically won his first Pro Stock race at Lee in 1993.
  “No changes, no staff changes, no race division changes, the recently announced schedule for the 2018 season is in place and we are prepared to go with it,” said Norman Wrenn III when speaking about the take over. Wrenn Jr’s son, Norman Wrenn III, also a racer, will focus on the day-to-day operation of the business in a full time capacity with track General Manager Joe Bassett who has been retained by the new ownership. Wrenn indicated he intends to continue the track’s NASCAR sanction and the weekly Whelen All-American Series. As is the case when ownership changes occur, with it will be upgrades where the Wrenn’s feel there is a need. Said Wrenn III, “Looking at upgrades in the VIP Tower, track lighting, and the public address system. Lee always has been a well-maintained racetrack. A clean facility. We will strive to continue that.”
  Wrenn also stated that he plans to focus on the so-called ‘front gate’. “Putting fans back in the grandstands is important to our future. We have a strong need to be sure families are entertained and race programs are over at a respectable hour.”
  Wrenn Jr is the fourth owner of the speedway originally built by Robert Bonser in 1964. Hall of Famer’s Charlie Elliott, Ken Smith, and Russ Conway took the reigns in 1983 and scheduled their first race in July 1984. The MacDonald’s purchased the track in December 1986 and opened the following year. The track fast became popular with fans and competitors alike.
  Red MacDonald is a New England Hall of Fame member having been inducted for his success as a track owner and promoter. The 77-year old car owner and builder is quick to point out the Lee track is like a family member. But after he and wife Judy, having worked 44- years and often 7-days a week, felt it was time. “Judy and I have loved running the race track for the past 33-years. We have been really fortunate to have some of the best people in the business work year after year for the love of the sport and the speedway,” said MacDonald. “We are sad in some ways to let go and happy at the same time that the Wrenn’s assure us that they will take it to the next level and that is exciting to us. That makes the transition a lot easier for us knowing that they will continue to run it as a racetrack and that’s all we ever wanted when it was time. Joe Bassett will continue as General Manager and our staff will stay intact. That means a lot to us.”
  The 2018 season at Lee USA Speedway begins in April with the American-Canadian Tour ‘Governors Cup 150’ on April 15, with the Late Model Sportsman, and Northeast Classic Lites, also on the opening card.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a negative note. Dover Entertainment went up 0.05 to 2.10 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.05 to 19.85 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.05 to 44.65. Last week was extremely volatile. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 11.72 to 54.16 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.22 to 17.99 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.38 to 28.14. The auto manufacturers didn’t escape the market wrath. Ford dropped 0.30 to 10.40, General Motors dropped 3.48 to 37.43 and Toyota dropped 6.44 to 130.54. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 12.15 to 85.34 and Home Depot dropped 9.89 to 178.46. In big team sponsor’s stocks, Coca-Cola went up 9.03 to 191.20 while McDonalds dropped 14.79 to 148.27, Target dropped 0.32 to 75.15, Dupont/Dow dropped 4.83 to 68.43 and Fedex dropped 10.91 to 241.31.

  On the tube this week:

  Wednesday, March 7

2:00 AM, Undercover Boss - NASCAR, Opra Winfrey Network
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1

  Thursday, March 8
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

  Friday, March 9
12:00 PM, Classic NASCAR - 1998 Daytona 500, FS1
12:30 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
2:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Phoenix practice, FS1
3:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
4:00 PM, NXS Phoenix final practice, FS1
5:00 PM, MENCS Phoenix qualifying, FS1

  Saturday, March 10
7:00 AM, Tanked - NASCAR and Baseball Champions Tanks, ANIMAL
12:00 PM, MENCS Phoenix practice, FS1
1:00 PM, NXS Phoenix qualifying, FS1
2:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
2:30 PM, MENCS Phoenix final practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Pre Race Show, FS1
4:00 NXS Phoenix race, FS1

  Sunday, March 11
5:30 AM, Classic NASCAR: 1988 Daytona 500, FS1
6:00 AM, Classic NASCAR: 1998 Daytona 500, FS1
6:30 AM, MENCS Phoenix final practice, FS1
7:30 AM, NXS Phoenix race re-air, FS1
2:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3:00 PM, MENCS Pre Race Show, FOX
3:30 PM, MENCS Phoenix race, FOX

  Monday, March 12
3:00 AM, MENCS Phoenix race, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN

   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.

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: March 6, 2018

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