NERF'ers Corner by Robert Echo

Is NASCAR Too Big For Its Britches?

This Classic NERF’ers Corner is a continuation of the Marty Radewick, Fred Felton, and Radical Racer versus NASCAR officials ordeal.  Due to the initial column on the same subject two weeks prior, Robert Echo was going on his second straight race weekend without NASCAR press credentials.  It should be noted that a couple local NASCAR sanctioned facilities decided themselves to reinstate his credentials the week after this very column was published.

Robert earned a couple of good friends in Marty and Fred during this period of investigative reporting.  It was a friendship which he enjoyed for years to come.

– Jared

–  Friday, August 11th, 1978 – SPEEDWAY SCENE  –

NERFer's-Corner

IS NASCAR TOO BIG FOR ITS BRITCHES?

I just know that you have been waiting for this weeks NERF’ers Corner and the continuing saga of NASCAR and the “Radical Racer”.

Before I get back into the controversy of the “Radical Racer” I’d like to point out that Fred Felton and Marty Radewick aren’t the only ones who are upset with the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.  It seems the list of disenchanted drivers and owners has grown beyond belief this season.

Ed Flemke Sr. in his familiar #10 at Stafford Motor Speedway 1978. Howie Hodge photo.
Ed Flemke Sr. in his familiar #10 and Dick Caso stepped away from Stafford Motor Speedway over disagreements with NASCAR officials in 1978 . Howie Hodge photo.

Eddie Flemke, Sr. and Dick Caso have both vacated Stafford Motor Speedway because of disputes with NASCAR officials.

It seems “King Richard” is being victimized by the very organization he helped build to it’s present proportions.  NASCAR’s winningest Grand National driver, Richard Petty, recently shifted from a 20 year association with Crystler, except for one year with Ford, to Chevrolet because of NASCAR’s refusal to change some rules that would have enabled his Dodge Magnum to become more competitive.

Rules right now show NASCAR leaning toward the General Motors cars.  NASCAR changed the rules for GM a couple of years ago to make them more competitive.  The 41 year old Petty, who has 185 career wins and has won more than 3 million dollars, stated;  “They wouldn’t change the rules for me even though they promised they would if the Magnum didn’t prove competitive.”

“It’s been most frustrating.” said Petty, who hasn’t visited victory lane in more than a year.  His last win came at Daytona in the 1977 Firecracker 400.  Petty added;  “I’m upset with NASCAR and most disappointed in them.”

It’s nice to be able to shit on the people who have probably been the most instrumental in helping build the organization.

Could NASCAR be at a point where they think they are the only organization around?  This is the feeling that one gets with some of the decisions that are being handed down by so called competent NASCAR officials.

"The King" Richard Petty in his 1978 Grand National (now Cup). Howie Hodge photo.
“The King” Richard Petty in his 1978 Grand National (now Cup) experienced issues with NASCAR. Howie Hodge photo.

Although USAC (United States Auto Club) has had their own division of cars equivalent to that of the NASCAR Grand National cars for many years, they have recently moved their events to the longer superspeedway tracks.  Could this mean that NASCAR had better cleanup its act and treat the competitor with a little more respect and dignity or they, the competitor, might jump to the other guy?

What would a Richard Petty or a Cale Yarborough or a David Pearson defection to USAC do to the mighty NASCAR?  This organization had better wake up and realize that they need the competitor, the competitor doesn’t need them.

The evidence of this is that two central New York tracks continue to operate after either breaking or losing their affiliation with NASCAR this season.

NEARA (North East Auto Racing Association) is the strong sanctioning body in central New York with 6 tracks under its wing while NASCAR now shows none with the departure of the Chemung Speedrome and Utica-Rome Speedway.  The latter had to be a hurting blow for NASCAR as the two top point runners, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook.  An interesting fact is that NEARA sanctions the Modifieds at 6 speedways, while NASCAR only sanctions 10 Modified tracks on a regular weekly basis in the entire United States.  These stats were taken from the National Speedway Directory, Northeast Speed and Show Directory and the 1978 NASCAR Official Record Book.

NEARA has given NASCAR more than it can handle in central New York, especially if you consider the fact that most of the tracks under NEARA now were once under the control of NASCAR.  Another couple of years could find NEARA here in New England with NASCAR on the outside looking in.

The downfall of NASCAR will come from its illegitimate rule book and wishy-washy officials who make up their own rules for lack of them from NASCAR.

Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton's Radical Racer Modified. Jim Snape photo.
Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton’s innovative Radical Racer Monza bodied asphalt Modified. Jim Snape photo.

Now to get back to the NASCAR / “Radical Racer” controversy.  A radio show on August 1st had a commentary directed toward the Felton owned and Radewick driven #11 Mass Monza bodied Modified.  It was compared to another Modified that was involved in a serious accident recently.  The car used in the comparison has been outlawed by NASCAR for sometime because of it’s right hand drive and some other things.  The Felton car hasn’t got a right hand drive and is built from the best materials money can buy.

“The man who did the commentary was definitely off base” stated Felton.

The two NASCAR inspectors involved with the ousting of the car, complained about the roll cage being too narrow.  You don’t have to be an engineer to know that a short piece of material, whether metal or wood, is stronger than a long piece.  I believe the gentleman who did the commentary should put his brain in gear before putting his mouth in motion.

The same individual asked Radewick if he’s brought his car on the night of the All Star League show at Stafford.  How ridiculous!  The car is safe for an open show at Stafford, but not for the weekly program?

People up North where Radewick captured his first victory recently, think the whole thing with NASCAR is a joke.  Boy do them Northerners sure know their stuff or is it their race cars?

NEARA Executive Director, Francis Gitchell stated;  “We would let the car run this season if this type of problem arose here, we’d then amend the rules and at the time tell the car owner that the machine would have to conform to the rules next year.”  He also added;  “It’s not right that a man who has spent that much money can’t run.”

One closing remark about NASCAR inspectors.  I asked a popular named driver recently who won’t divulge for obvious reasons, about the breaking down of an engine for NASCAR inspection when a tear down is requested.  His reply was, and I quote;  “The idiots NASCAR has for inspectors wouldn’t know what to look for if it was staring them in the face.”  Unquote.

If you, as a fan, would like to see the “Radical Racer” running at Stafford and Riverside, you can help by voicing your opinion in a letter to NASCAR – Daytona Beach, Florida 32015 – To the attention of Bill France, Jr..  With the shortage of cars at these two tracks, even one missing hurts.  It’s a chance for you, the fan, to be heard.

Geoff Bodine gets a victory smooch from the Mayor of Stafford, Seymour the Clown. Howie Hodge photo.
Geoff Bodine in victory lane gets a “victory smooch” from the Mayor of Stafford Motor Speedway, Seymour the Clown. Howie Hodge photo.

Checkered Chatter.. “I don’t want anyone to think I’m agitator just because I’ve been ousted from Riverside.” stated Marty Radewick, referring to the Riverside Park Speedway Car Owners meeting being held at his Speed Shop this week.  The owners will try to figure out how to lower the cost of racing at the Park…  Seymour the Clown was elected Mayor of Stafford Motor Speedway for the umteenth year last week in a close battle Geoff Bodine.  At this point I would like to inject the fact that I’ve had my little off track battle with Mr. Bodine, but I do you have to give credit when due and I think Bodine has been a gentleman in contributing much of his time to this little or should I say big event.  Even though Seymour got my vote, Geoff gained some points in my book and that’s sumthin’…  Several names related to Northeastern Mods and Late Model Sportsman were in the Coca-Cola 500 field at Pocono on July 30th. Satch Worley finished 9th in the Bob Johnson Oldsmobile.  Dirt tracker Kenny Brightbill placed 23rd while Jocco Maggiocomo, Jr. took 37th in his father’s Matador. Jocco, Sr. was a star at Riverside Park in the 50’s and 60’s. Northern Late Model Sportsman star Dave Dion finished 38thin his Green Mountain Ford…  There’s an excellent write up on the late Toby Tobias in the September issue of Stock Car Racing Magazine by it’s editor, Dig Berggren. In fact, the entire magazine is filled with some fantastic reading and super six…  Anyone interested in buying a T-shirt in support Dick Taylor who drives his own #79 Modified at Riverside and Stafford can contact Marge Larocca in the back row of the section 4 from the left end of the grandstand at Riverside…  How about that National Points Race between the “Rapid Roman” and the “Cookie Monster”? As of August 4th, Richie Evans leads Jerry Cook by a mere 4 points after who knows how many races…  Well after 12 weeks of frustration with the beautiful new #711 Vega, Polverari and crew have put the car in moth balls and brought out last years Vega which looked good in its first outing last week…  Our NBC TV affiliate here in Western, Mass.  Has done it to us again by televising the Red Sox game instead of Sportsworld.  We missed the Martinsville Mods, the Spring Sizzler, and now the National Motorized Barstool Racing Championship last Saturday.  Darn it! Till next week, Keep on Track’n!

*          *          *

I hope you enjoy these classic NERF’ers Corner columns as much as I do sharing them.  If you would like to share any memories of days gone past that relate to these columns please feel free to do so in the comments area under any of the columns published.

Thank you all for visiting each and every week.

– Jared

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