ROUND 3: Dropping Some Knowledge

Friday, June 16th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-Corner

Once upon a time many years ago at the Arena known as Norwood in Eastern Massachusetts was a man who won feature after feature and seemed to be unstoppable.

Bill Slater was one of the best Modified drivers to strap a helmet on (1964). Howie Hodge photo
NEAR Hall of Famer Bill Slater was one of the best Modified drivers to strap a helmet on and one of the division’s greatest friends (1964). Howie Hodge photo

At the now defunct Norwood Arena was a group of fans who were tired of seeing one man dominate racing so much.  What did they do to stop the gentleman in question?  No, they didn’t all run out on the track and lay down in front of the man’s car in question nor did they throw bottles and cans at him either.

What these disgruntled fans did was organize a fan club to show their displeasure with this drivers winning all the time.  They put together the “Slater Haters Fan Club” in honor of Bill Slater, who is now the promoter of “Speed Week” at New Smyna Beach, Florida in February and is also part of the management corps at Thompson Speedway.

Bill Slater was ruling the track at Norwood in the early 1960’s with win after win and in doing so he brought out the worst in the fans or did he.

Mr. Slater is well liked by everyone today and is considered to have one of the finest racing minds around, besides being one of the best modified drivers to ever come out of New England.

Does this look like a guy who was bothered by the Slater Haters Fan Club? Not a chance (1967). Howie Hodge photo.
Does this look like a guy who was bothered by the Slater Haters Fan Club? Not a chance (1967). Howie Hodge photo.

The fan club that was organized in protest of Slater’s victory skein didn’t seem to hurt the driver or anyone else, so what’s the big deal about having a club against a driver.

It seems as though we have a lot of skeptical racing fans out there or should I say Geoff Bodine fans who fear their heart throb is losing his appeal. It’ll never happen, so don’t worry about it.  No matter where the Dick Armstrong Nu-Style Jewelry #1 Pinto goes, the stands will be full of racing fans. Some will want to see Geoff win and some will be there in hopes of seeing him lose. Some will cheer and some will boo.  Some will wear Bodine T-Shirts, some will wear the shirts of other drivers and some may wear “I Hate Bodine” T-Shirts. Big deal!

I don’t know what’s so revolting about the idea that was given me at Stafford, but one thing is for sure the idea wasn’t the first of it’s kind.

Bodine is one of the finest drivers around with probably the best equipment money can buy and those two factors will over ride any obstacle he could or will encounter.  It’s all part of the battle for victory lane.

Bill Slater's V8 was his trademark. Well that and his great personality. We all miss you Bill (1965). Howie Hodge photo.
“Wild” Bill Slater is famous for his success in the Vitari-Bombacci V8. Bill was equally famous for his personality. We all miss you Bill (1965). Howie Hodge photo.

To the people who would like to know my favorite driver, well, I don’t really have a true favorite.  I like all who keep the feelings of their fellow competitors in mind along with their equipment.

All I can say is, to the gentleman who wrote to me this week, It’s good to know you are reading my column, thanks.  Oh yes!  I did interview the other drivers after the original incident and since it happened, but what did that prove.  If you show four people a 30 second film clip, wait one hour and then when the people are separated ask them what they saw.  You’ll most likely get three to four different stories.

By the way!  Bodine ran two races I saw this past weekend at Stafford and Riverside Park Speedway.  He ran both races flawlessly leading seventy of the eighty laps involved in entering Victory Lane twice.

I’m still not a Geoff Bodine fan as I’ve always liked the underdog.  I will say this;  I want to see him beat on the track while he’s running and a victory in any other manner would not be a victory in the hearts of any racing fan. Right!!!

Next week RELOADED is back with “OPEN SEASON”.

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Pardon My French and Solute

RELOADED

 BLAST OFF
The Blast-Off's VMRS 100 lap race had it's share of spins and pile ups.  This one left Modified ace Richard Savary (99) giving fellow Modified ace Steve Masse (13) a view of his under carriage.  Mary Hodge photo.
The Blast-Off’s VMRS 100 lap race had it’s share of spins and pile ups. This one left Modified ace Richard Savary (99) giving fellow Modified ace Steve Masse (13) a view of his under carriage. Mary Hodge photo.

This past weekend an extremely moody Mother Nature finally answered the racing God’s messages and allowed Waterford Speedbowl to open it’s season with a bang.  Since the final flag fell last Sunday Keith Rocco’s Waterford “hat-trick” has been the main topic of discussion throughout the Northeast auto racing community.

Todd Szegedy's new VMRS ride's  right side nerf bar was a little worse for wear after the big pile up at the Speedbowl.  Mary Hodge photo.
Todd Szegedy’s new VMRS ride’s right side nerf bar was a little worse for wear after the big pile up at the Speedbowl. Mary Hodge photo.

By all reviews and reports it was a good weekend of racing overall.  I could go over what I viewed on TheChromeHorn.com live reports and what every news source has already covered. However, I’ll spare you the “Pete ‘n’ Repeat” and just direct you to a damn fine video presentation of the VMRS 100 which includes driver’s intros and a “aerial cam” by the great folks at Sid’s View fueled by Sid’s Vault Productions!  These guys bring the video recap coverage to a whole new level.  It’s well worth the watch believe you me!

Power Down
Kieth Rocco's hat-trick at Waterford's Blast Off had everyone buzzing and rightly so for a very impressive performance. Howie Hodge photo.
Keith Rocco’s hat-trick at Waterford’s Blast Off had everyone buzzing and rightly so for a very impressive performance. Howie Hodge photo.

The Grand Prix of Long Beach was an interesting one.  Road course ringer Mike Conway came from 16th on the field to take the win.  It was a breath of fresh air seeing the IndyCar grid go off the line from a standing start.  In my opinion standing starts should be the case for all of their road course races. Will Power (for those unfamiliar, yes that is his real name) pulled some questionable moves involving contact that went unpunished by series officials.  However, Graham Rahal made what can only be described as incidental contact in the hair pin during a log jam and received a drive through penalty.  This left many fans questioning reasons behind series officials looking the other way from Will Power’s bullish driving with Penske’s multi car team yet hitting out at the Rahal/Letterman single car team.  After some incidents involving Power last year going unpunished and some questionable tactics in these first two races of the 2014 IndyCar season it gives the appearance that politics very well might be playing a part in official’s decisions.  Ah, the ever evasive calls of consistency.

What had me shaking my head was when the announce team took steps to pop off an excuse for Power’s rough driving.  After Power made contact with a competitor one of the announcers remarked in so many words that you can’t blame Power as he is just anxious to get by these guys so he can race the lead pack.  Really?  Doesn’t every competitor want to get to the lead pack and challenge for the win? The difference is the overwhelming majority in open wheel are of the opinion you don’t knock a driver out of the way or put them in the fence and wreck their equipment while doing so.  Leave that for the fendered up boys in Cup.  Come on guys.

Pardon My French

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced they will be adding a practice day in order for teams to prepare for the Indianapolis 500 that takes place on auto racing fan’s Christmas, uh, I mean Memorial Day weekend.

In other news concerning the Indianapolis 500, the scumbags of Westboro Baptist Church decided they will be picketing the Indy 500.   You know who I’m talking about, right?  The jackwads who like to protest our fallen soldiers at their funerals and what not?  Yeah those imbeciles.  Anyways..  Two sad excuses they referred to as reasons were given for the protest.  One being the large consumption of alcohol during the event.  (No!  You don’t say!)  The other is just plain distasteful, which coincidentally is exactly what these protesters are all about.

It’s an Indianapolis 500 tradition that Jim Nabors sings ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’.  He’s been a part of the 500’s long list of pre-race activities for as long as I can remember.  This year will be Jim Nabors’ final appearance at the speedway singing that traditional song and he is being honored.  It’s not because the disgraceful organization hates the song.  It’s because Jim Nabors is gay.  These pathetic pieces of trash who make up the Westboro Baptist Church have made it their calling card to stir the pot in an attempt to create an incident.  Now they are trying to grab more attention by ruining a well deserved tribute to a long time friend of the speedway and all the fans of the 500.   The only beliefs Westboro Baptist Church have are disrespecting life in general and those that have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country and seeking attention in the ugliest form.

Side thought..  Wonder how things would pan out say if they decided to protest at Talladega during a Cup race?  If I were a betting man I believe they lack the testicular fortitude to pull that one off on the boys down south.  One might say the red clay, bonfire, after hours, party goers would swallow them up whole.  Wishful thinking is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Solute..

Recently, through a very heartfelt message, a friend reminded everyone that it has been 10 years this past Sunday since the passing of flagging legend Jim Hanks.  For those of you unaware who Jim Hanks is I’ll tell ya.  Jim Hanks was one of the elite chief starters in the Northeast to ever take command of a speedway.  Jim was every bit the definition of what a chief starter was and then some.  He flagged in the days when the chief starter position owned the speedway when competitors were on the track.  He flagged when a race director job was moving the show along and making sure everyone was well organized in doing so, not orchestrating official decisions while a race is in progress.  Hanks was a chief starter when the position meant you were responsible for everyone’s safety including the fans and track employees in the grandstands behind him.  I literally mean when Jim stepped onto the flag stand he held the keys to the speedway.

Legendary Chief Starter Jim Hanks stands beside Herb Simpson in Star Speedway's victory lane. October 1986. Speedway Scene. Walter Newall Collection.
Legendary Chief Starter Jim Hanks (left) stands beside Herb Simpson in victory lane at Star Speedway (Epping, NH) . October 1986. Speedway Scene – Steve Leclair photo. Walter Newall Collection.

When I was 13 my father offhandedly told Jim Hanks at a racing banquet that he had asked his youngest son if he wanted to race or be a flag man and his son answered the latter. After they joked about it Jim told my father with a straight face that if his son was serious about it he would be more than happy to help out in any way when he could.  The next year began an on again off again 2 years of training.  I look back on those years and my years as a chief starter and think of only five flagmen who were influential with my decision to pick up a flag set; Frank Sgambato Sr. (Stafford Motor Speedway), Chris Hopkins (Stafford Motor Speedway and GATR), Bob Watson (DIRT), Nick Fornoro Sr. (CART and so much more), and Mr. Jim Hanks (Monadnock and Star Speedway).

What Jim taught me while watching him and listening to his advice through the years that followed was not only lessons for the position, but life lessons.  He taught me how to carry myself when at the speedway and in front of the fans while on the flag stand.  He showed me how to stay cool and calm in an escalating situation.  He preached about reaction time and how every second counts.  Most of all Jim taught me to stand by a decision and don’t think twice about it “..because up there (Jim pointing at the flag stand) thinking twice gets someone injured or even killed.”

Jim Hanks was someone special whom I will be forever grateful for his willingness to take time and give pointers to a 14 to 16 year old kid before being thrown into the fire.  If not for him I would not have had the mind set or thick skin early on to withstand the punishment that sometimes fans, and more often drivers and crews dished out during any given race night.  Nor would I have had the right frame of mind to deal with the constant paranoia and adrenalin draining the position demanded.

To prove to anyone unfamiliar how the man performed his job at the highest level and what the chief starter position used to define here’s a math problem for you to solve.  Guesstimate how many people occupy a speedway grounds on any given night.  That number should include drivers, owners, crewmen, press, photographers, safety crews, wrecker crews, fans, and fellow officials.  Now multiply that by how many races make up an average schedule.  It’s quite mind boggling when you look at the number you have before you.  Now take into consideration of those he took the time to mentor or influenced along the way to be a chief starter.  The people those individuals saved through their actions and decisions on the flag stand just add to how many were kept out of harms way over the years.  That does indeed make up a big part of Jim Hanks’ legacy and one that his family and friends should always be proud of.

I feel fortunate to have witnessed him take control of the track like a general, beckon the field to the line for his green flag, have his head on a swivel (turn 1-2, back stretch-front stretch, turn 3-4, backstretch-front stretch, turn 1-2 and on and on), then drop the checkered.  Man it was something.

Until next week’s republishing of another Classic NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo, be safe and enjoy the racing where ever you may travel.

Geoff Bodine and the Big Red Machine: ROUND 2

Friday, June 9th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-CornerHey NERF’ers!!!  It’s your ol’ buddy, Robert “Howard Cosell” Echo here for another weekly fat chewing session.

WOW! How can anybody pass judgement on someone when they didn’t even witness the incident in question on May 19th at Stafford Motor Speedway.  You see, I was in the Press Box along with a dozen or so other News Media people.  The lady wrote the letter about the May 26th NERF’ers Corner was not in attendance at Stafford.

In the first paragraph of her letter, she said that some people might think you’re speaking out of line.  Definitely!  But also, you do have the right to speak your mind and this I respect.

Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong's Nu Style Racing #1. Martinsville Speedway. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.
Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong’s Nu Style Racing #1 at Clay Earles’ Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.

I think you should read the article of May 26th again.  Not once in the column did I say that the crash was Geoff Bodine’s fault and right up until now I doubt if anyone other than the four drivers who were in the front two rows on the restart really know what happened.

As for the “I Hate Bodine” club, that wasn’t my idea but I thought it was a very interesting one and why not?  If you can have a club for a driver then why not one against him.  This world is filled with Pros and Cons.  Let’s face it; if I was Bodine I would like having an “I Hate” club in my honor showing that the fans know I’m there rather than having a bunch of people claiming to be racing fans throwing bottles and cans at me.  Oh!  You want to know where this happened?  It was at your hometown track, Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night, May 27th after fans thought Bodine purposely put out George Savary.  I wasn’t there and I cannot pass judgement as someone else did.

No one should hold Seekonk owner-promoter D. Anthony Venditti responsible for the actions of a few so-called racing fans who have criminal intentions of bodily harm.  This type of fan is not needed and if they are known, they should be barred from future events.

The thing was not so much the accident of May 19th but the action of Mr. Bodine following the crash.  The raising of the arms in what the fans thought was a victory sign, showing more compassion for his car than he did the injured Ken Bouchard and the “Victory Lane” remark of ;  “If these people were real racing fans, they would understand”.  If you had been in the stands, would you have accepted this remark without a single boo?

The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.
The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.

Geoff Bodine is a good driver if not the best and this I do not dispute.  With the equipment he has I don’t think he should have to put anyone into the wall at any track.  What I dislike is some of his actions and one that comes to mind happened at Riverside Park last year.

Bodine was my older son’s favorite driver but when he asked Bodine for his autograph one Saturday night, the driver of the Dick Armstrong #1 Pinto refused.  My son was a track regular last season but since the incident he has been turned off to auto racing and hasn’t attended a single race this year.  Would your favorite, George Summers, refuse to give an autograph to a fan.  Funny things happen when you become a star.  You seem to forget how you started and where you were before.  Aw heck!  Who cares…

Now on to other things!  For the letters we’ve had inquiring about the address of the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club”.  The club’s president, Patti McConnell, has given me the info you want.  Here’s the address; Bugsy Stevens Fan Club, P.O. Box ****, East Providence, R.I. 02914. Membership fees are $3 for adults and $2 for children.  For your money you’ll receive one (1) autographed picture of Da Bugman, one (1) bumper sticker and membership card and the club’s newsletter.  If ya want a Stevens jacket, they are $18 for adults and the child’s is $16.50.  Adult T-shirts are $4 while the children’s cost $3. Other items available are bumper stickers – 50 cents; patches – $1.50 & 50 cents; pictures (Large) $4, (medium) $3, (small) $2.  You can also find the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club” on Fan Club Alley beneath the grandstands on Friday nights at Stafford.  Stop down and see Patti and support the “Bugman”.

I received a very interesting fan club newsletter from a NESS counterpart this past weekend.  Thanks to Bob Paulin who pens “Maine-ly Racing”, a column on racin’ in the State of Maine. Bob sent me a newsletter from the “B&H Club” (Beds and Herts Stock Car Supporters Assn.).  The club follows stock car racing in all places, Merry Ole England from way ‘cross the Atlantic.  The newsletter has seven pages, front and back, of very interesting European stock car racing news and also indicates that this is probably one of the finest clubs anywhere in the world.  I pan on writing to the English club and will have future articles and addresses of the “B&H”.

*For those fans who may in any way be sensitive to republished columns penned over 30 years ago, please read the NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo DISCLAIMER located in the Site Notices category or read the ABOUT page.  Thank you.

Icebreaker and Being Punk’d.

RELOADED
Icebreaker

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s 40th Annual ICEBREAKER has arrived. Considered the Northeast’s first “superspeedway” at the time of it’s grand opening back in 1940, the Hoenig family’s Thompson Speedway has a rich history with the Modified division.

Defending WMT Champ Ryan Preece (16), seen here battling Justin Bonsignore (51) at Stafford, will look to defend his WMT crown. Mary Hodge photo
Defending WMT Champ Ryan Preece (16), seen here battling Justin Bonsignore (51) at Stafford, will look to defend his WMT crown. Mary Hodge photo

This ICEBREAKER should have been the Modified division’s second event in the Northeast, but Mother Nature had other plans for the Waterford Speedbowl’s BLAST OFF weekend.  A dose of inclement weather crossed with what some believe was an extension of time for repairs at the Waterford Speedbowl delayed the BLAST OFF and Valenti Modified Racing Series season opener.  If the latter rumored reason is even partially true, anyone who maintains a public seating venue right down to a being home owner can relate to well needed repairs.  With that said, kudos to the Speedbowl organizers and best of luck getting the facility race and fan ready when the gates open.

Now it’s the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s turn to take the baton and open the season in grand fashion.  It was recently reported that 27 total Modifieds have officially entered the WMT event.  As a fan those numbers are disappointing.  Seems every season the car counts take a slight dive with less than a handful of teams either folding up shop or scaling back to a limited schedule.  It’s definitely less than expected and hoped for, but times are tough and money is hard to come by these days for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors.  The racing on the track is what will tell the tale and hopefully the crowd turnout is big and the race winds up being a barn burner.

2013 Icebreaker winner Mike Stefanik will be in a new ride to defend his Icebreaker title. Howie Hodge photo.
2013 Icebreaker winner Mike Stefanik will be in a new ride to defend his Icebreaker title. Howie Hodge photo.

Doug Coby in his new ride, the Smeriglio #2, will be looking to make it two for two in 2014.  Ryan Preece, who dominated in the Battle at the Beach before an incident with a lapped car in the last few laps ruined his night, has to be the favorite.  Last year Mike Stefanik scored the ICEBREAKER victory in the Our Motorsports #22.  This year he will be with another team as Our and Stefanik parted ways.  Young hot shoe Tommy Barrett Jr. of Valenti Modified Racing Series fame the last two seasons takes over piloting duties for Our and Stefanik will be behind the wheel of Ed Marceau’s Cady’s Tavern Chevy #1.

Tommy Barrett Jr. enters his rookie season on the WMT. Tommy is no slouch behind the wheel and is sure to be competitive right out of the gate. Crystal Snape photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr. enters his rookie season on the WMT. Tommy is no slouch behind the wheel and is sure to be competitive right out of the gate. Crystal Snape photo.

If you can’t make it to the ICEBREAKER you have many resources to choose from in order to get your fill from Thompson.  MyRaceNews will be updating us fans all weekend with stories, photos, and results as the weekend moves forward.  Tune into the ChromeHornLive with Denise DuPont‘s spectacular up to date reporting.  The ICEBREAKER will be shown on Fanschoice.TV.  Live 2pm Eastern on Saturday and Sunday immediately following the NASCAR Cup event.  Fanschoice.TV will have one manned camera for footage which will be located on the roof of the press box.  You could say it’s truly going to be by a fan’s point of view.   You can tune in here and search for the video stream.

Get the Punk Out!

Those that do know me know that I am not a fan of NASCAR’s self proclaimed big 3 divisions or what I refer to as the NNBD (NASCAR’s national broadcast divisions). However this past Sunday, knowing their Cup race was at the half mile short track of Martinsville, a former Modified favorite, I decided to tune in for a while before the IndyCar Grand Prix of St Pete.

Not long into the event, which in my opinion should be shortened by a couple hundred laps, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch got into a fender bender on the severely cramped pit road. Keselowski was racing off pit road and when Kahne attempted to enter his pit box, Keselowski not only plowed into Kahne, but well after initial contact continued to turn Kahne in order get by. In the process of his carelessness he ran into Busch who was pretty much hugging the outer wall of pit lane.

What happened after was an epic whine-fest crossed with a terrible lack of officiating by the officials of NASCAR’s highest tier division.  Keselowski made an absolute jackass out of himself by pointing a proverbial finger at Kurt Busch.  As his car was being repaired in the garage, he cried into the camera.  Keselowski blamed Busch for everything except his upset stomach from lack of being burped the morning of the race.

Once Keselowski’s car was repaired and he was back on track his actions became the stuff usually seen and dealt with quickly on the short track level.  However, series officials turned a blind eye towards it.  Keselowski, 30 plus laps down, proceeded to drive around waiting for Busch to arrive on his rear bumper and then Keselowski, being the fine former champion he is proceeded to flip Busch off as he break checked and blocked Busch over a period of laps.  Once Busch attempted to make a pass, the kid made every attempt to wreck Kurt Busch.  At one point, while Busch was inside, Keselowski turned into him driving Busch down to the bottom as they flew down the back stretch.

Busch, while celebrating in victory lane, called the incident for what it was, an accident that happened on a congested and tight pit road.  Keselowski continued to whine and cry making a complete fool of himself.  Busch referred to the actions of Keselowski as “Punk-ass”.  I couldn’t agree more.  With NASCAR Cup officials allowing Keselowski to continue after the altercation, completing 469 laps, I’d add that NASCAR’s lack of dealing with the on track actions of Keselowski as being “Punk-ass” as well.

The control truck for Fox was all over it with cameras going back and forth to the 2 car just in case the kid ran into someone else.  Can’t miss that great television footage, right?  Why that’s good stuff for ratings!  I’m sure it is, but it’s terrible for the sport.  That’s not racing.  It’s interesting that the sanctioning body boasts to the heavens how safety aware they are yet turn a cheek to this kind of trash on the track because it’s a rating booster.  This just reminded me why I don’t normally watch NASCAR Sports Entertainment.

If you’re a fan of the Big 3, that’s fine by me.  I for one am waiting for the wake up call that returns NASCAR’s top division to the legit sport it once was, but as long as the ratings rule the decisions made in the booth and penthouse offices of the sanctioning body, I won’t hold my breath.

Checkered Chatter…

Young Modified pilot Cole Powell will be missing the Icebreaker.  Matters of family first have pushed the racing into the back seat.  Cole posted a very heartfelt update on his website which can be seen here.  Our thoughts and prayers of support go out to the Powell family in this trying time…  The F1 race in Malaysia was, to put it mildly, a snooze fest.  Sometimes real racing is boring though.  This weekend finds F1 in the land of sand with the Bahrain Grand Prix going under the lights…  Many facilities have opening night this weekend at some point.  Let’s all hope for a safe weekend enjoyed by all competitors, track officials and fans…  How can anyone claim to be a fan of the Modifieds and part of the media in the Northeast yet NOT cover the Tri-Track Open Modified Series?  Anyone?  Anybody?  Yeah, me either.  Can’t be that the Tri-Track organizers are lacking with getting the word out because James Scheafer, the Long Island Mod Maniac, has been spreading the gospel along with the Tri-Track Open Modified Series site.  We need more folks on the promotional side of asphalt Modified racing like James and The Racing Guys.

That’s all for this week my friends.  Next week brings another classic NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo.

NCR’s April 1st BREAKING NEWS

Riverside-Nation

A recently formed group that calls themselves RIVERSIDE NATION has apparently purchased Riverside Park from its current owners of the amusement park.  Effective as of yesterday afternoon, RIVERSIDE NATION took over ownership and has immediately begun to dismantle the roller coaster and rework all surrounding area for which Riverside Park Speedway used to occupy.  Plans are to rebuild the speedway as the way she stood prior to being torn down after the 1999 auto racing season.

RIVERSIDE NATION, an organization which was recently formed by four friends (and I do mean RECENTLY) all began with a chain of events immediately following the Riverside Park Speedway Reunion. Upon leaving the Springfield Civic Center, on the night of the Springfield Falcons game,  the four that make up RIVERSIDE NATION stopped by a local gas station.  They purchased a Super-Mega-Mega-Jackpot Lottery Ticket while en route to the Riverside Park Speedway Reunion After-Party.  The foursome found out the next day that their ticket landed them 711 million dollars!

The RIVERSIDE NATION Board members are currently choosing to remain nameless so we’ll refer to the four as Robert, Scott, El Jay, and Fiorio.  They were kind enough to sit down for a brief interview concerning this very exciting endeavor.

[Robert] remembered the ticket in his pocket the next morning and heard the lottery numbers during breakfast; “I could not freaking believe it!  I flicked from channel to channel on the television to make sure we had the winning numbers.  Heck, I felt like I already won the lotto after bringing home the signed 711 Bob Polverari door panel! Now this? Bonus score!”

“[Robert] called me to let me know that our numbers hit last night.” said an ecstatic [Scott]. “Once everyone was contacted we all agreed what we had to do with most of the money.”

“I’m just speechless.” exclaimed [El Jay].  “When [Robert and Scott] told me and brought up the idea of buying back the Park and rebuilding the track I only had a few small demands.  One, we build a ¼ midget track.  Two, we allow free camping with a designated pallet burning bonfire area.  And lastly, Eno Lirpasti should be Grand Marshall on opening night!”

“Yeah, I’m all for it (rebuilding the speedway).  We’ve got to bring back Riverside Park Speedway.  I’m already working on some new specs for the rule book.  Tire soaking will not only be legal, but encouraged.  Traction control will be legal and I’m working on a DRS spec for the Modifieds (Drag Reduction System as run in Formula One).” said [Fiorio] regarding new technical specifications. “Everyone will be able to purchase soaks for all kinds of strategies from my other new company SOAK’R’CHOKE.  We’ll have 44 different flavors, I mean mixtures to choose from.”

As stated earlier, construction has already begun.  Material from the soon to be dismantled roller coaster will be melted down and recycled for new guardrail around the facility.  The left over steel will be recycled into feature winning trophies.  The Park that is not being consumed by the reconstruction of the quarter mile asphalt oval will be opened starting mid April.  New Amusement Park hours will be Saturdays only from 3pm to 5pm, from 7pm to 8pm, and from 10:30pm to Midnight.

I asked the RIVERSIDE NATION board as to why the odd amusement park hours?  [Robert] began to explain; “We decided to open with the new amusement park hours right off the bat so everyone can get used to the new hours when the track is ready to reopen.”

“The track gates will open at 3pm and the younger crowd might want something else to do besides sit in the track’s new luxurious stadium seating and admire what sets before their eyes.” said [Robert],  “I don’t know why, but..  Uh..  What was the question? ..  Oh yeah, anyways.. Speedway intermission is usually around 7 or 7:30pm so the fans might want something to do then as well.”

“So we figure why not let them buy some ice cream, hot dogs, tacos, or German potato salad and go for a walk.”  Added [El Jay].  “Heck they may want to eat while taking a ride through the new-old ‘Pirate’s Cove’ ride or dodge someone else’s meal on the Rotor. “

[Scott] continued where [Robert] left off; “..then on average racing is over around 10:30 or 11pm. Why not wind down from the great racing action and ride some rides for about an hour or so.”

“Once the track is completed we will be open on Saturday’s only unless we have an Enduro Friday night or Sunday afternoon a few times.” added [Fiorio]. “We only give a damn about the racing anyways.  The amusement park is just a form of concessions.  You guys talk about it.  I’ve got to lay some knowledge down on my internet peeps.”

Posted immediately after [Fiorio] stepped away from the interview.
Posted immediately after [Fiorio] stepped away from the RIVERSIDE NATION  interview.
While [Fiorio] walked away from his fellow RIVERSIDE NATION board members to spread some words of wisdom on the information super highway, he managed to send me an email with a few more Modified rules. 

Examples of Modified bodies that will be mandatory for competition as per RIVERSIDE NATION. 1st Photo is [Fiorio] photo /  5 that follow are Howie Hodge photos
Examples of Modified bodies that will be mandatory for competition as per RIVERSIDE NATION. 1st Photo is [Fiorio] photo / 5 that follow are Howie Hodge photos
By [Fiorio’s] message the Modified division will be returning to new-old templates consisting of Chevette, Pinto, Vega, Bob Cat, Gremlin, Coupe and other old school body styles.  In a second email he also announced he will be diving into the role of Mod owner and will field a #44 Chevette, #44X Monza, #44XX Pinto, and #44XXX Cavalier.  I was unable to inquire whether [Fiorio] had any past experience as a car owner and at the time of this publishing have been unable to reach him.

Although the four gentleman are the sole owners, they are taking investments from supporters who will become a small percentage owner of the new Riverside Park Speedway.

The group will soon be taking applications to fill all positions at the track.  Positions range from tech inspector to announcer and everything in between.  The four did hint that the role of Promotor could already be filled as they are currently in talks with someone.  [Robert] has stated he will be the speedway’s Race Director.  [El Jay] will be assuming the Pit Steward position.  [Scott] will hold the position of Media Relations Executive, dealing with all press persons personally.  [Fiorio]?  Well although [Fiorio] sounds like he’ll certainly have his hands full, he will be taking the reins of the Public Relations position.

When RIVERSIDE NATION is prepared to reveal their true identities and have more updates regarding this subject of severe wishful thinking and bull droppings, you will find it here on NERF’ers Corner RELOADED.

Happy April Fools Day everyone and a shout out to New England Modified legend Ernie Bodreau who turns another lap today!  Happy Birthday Ernie!

– Jared