– Friday, February 8th, 1980 –
SPEEDLINE CELEBRATES YEAR OF TREMENDOUS SUCCESS
Whether at home or in your car, as you move the needle across the dial of your radio you’ll pass stations broadcasting everything from music to news to talk shows and if you live in the area of Nashua, N.H. or happen to be in and around that vicinity between the hours of six and eight some Tuesday evening, dial in FM106 and you’ll hear the very popular SPEEDLINE auto racing talk show originating from the studios of WOTW Radio in Nashua.
The show was born on February 20th of last year out of the dream of two dedicated racing individuals, Bob Watson and John Spence.
Watson, the Racing Director at Lee Speedway, and Spence, P.R. Man and Announcer at the same track, had been thinking about some type of racing program for some time. When WOTW changed hands, these two gentlemen contacted the powers to be at the station about their idea and after some three weeks of negotiations SPEEDLINE went on the air.
The first program was an hour long and featured a guest considered by many to be the most popular driver in New England. That individual was none other than the “Travelin’ Man”, Pete Fiandaca.
SPEEDLINE expanded to an hour and a half two weeks later and with the show rapidly growing in popularity the following week it moved to its present two hour format.
The thing that’s unusual about this racing talk show in comparison to other programs of its type is that this particular show has run continuously through the winter months with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s week.
Many well-known racing people have graced the SPEEDLINE studio including such individuals as Ron and Ken Bouchard, Geoff Bodine, Carl Merrill, Dave Thomas, Ed Yerrington, Larry Record, Lee Allard, Stevie Bird, Ken Smith, Paul Mathews, Smokey Boutwell, Lee Smith, Bob Bonser, Dave Kane, Dick Williams, John McMullin, Phil Miller, Don MacLaren, Dave Kolenda, Russ Conway, Ross Niciewsky, Mike Dawalga and yours truly has been a guest on two occasions. You have to add one more name, probably the most popular of all, to the long list of guests who have been on the show, that being Seymour the Clown who reeked havoc with Watson and Spence the time he visited.
Some people who are expected to be on the show in the months to come are Indy Champ Car owner and driver Bill Alsup along with his motor builder Robbie Patterson, Tom Curley, Director of NASCAR North: Oxford Plains Speedway Promotional Director, Tom Elliman; Lou Modestino, Oxford Public Relations Director; Dick Stevens and Lee Emery, Claremont Speedway modified driver/owners and Speedway Scene columnists “Bones” Bourcier and the Ol’ Nerf.
Gerry Hervieux joined the show in May of last year as the NASCAR-Winston Cup Grand National correspondent. Hervieux’s insight into Grand National racing adds a special dimension to the program and through him a half hour phone call was set up with G.N. Star Neil Bonnett.
When asked why he wanted to put together a program such as this, Spence replied: “Watson and I love racing and we’ve always worked well together in the past at both Lee and Hudson Speedway and we felt the area needed a show of this type.”
Evidently the area did need a program such as this and even though the show face a short period of turmoil during the late summer, canceling operations for one week, it still has been a tremendous success.
When asked what they thought of the show, nearly all of the drivers, owners and fans contacted replied that they felt the show is professionally done and is a definite plus for the sport of auto racing.
To emphasize the shows popularity, one car owner living in the outlying reaches of WOTW drives downtown parking the right side of the car on the side walk so he can hear the show. He said the only problem is when the traffic light on the corner turns yellow he gets a lot of static. Another owner drives twenty-miles to a shopping center so he can listen to the program.
Tuesday night, following the Daytona 500, SPEEDLINE will celebrate one year on the air. Let’s hope this is the first of many years for the Watson and Spence produced show as auto racing needs ’em. “Happy Anniversary” to SPEEDLINE…..
NERF’ers Niblets….. Attended the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Awards Banquet last weekend and what a night. Had a long conversation with track champion Jack Johnson who was wearing his 1979 Schaefer Championship Ring exemplifying his victory in the modified segment of the prestigious race. Also spoke in length with A-S and Lebanon Valley Speedway Sportsman Champion Don Ackner who will move up to run full time with the modifieds in 1980. A-S Promoter C.J.Richards has posted a $25,000 point fund for ’80 with $7,000 going to this year’s mod champ. Not bad!… Sat with JoAnn and Don Davies, writers of the New York Modified column, plus Diane and Kenn Van Wert, who pen Just Stompin’ Thru both in Speedway Scene, at the A-S Banquet. We all received a mug from A-S management and I won’t say who, but we had a candle thief at our table, right JoAnn…. Ooops! ….. Rumor has it that CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and USAC (United States Auto Club) will be getting back together soon with CART as the driving force. Evidently USAC has seen the writing on the wall as this year’s Indianapolis 500 has been billed as an open competition Indy Champ Car race. Who says owner-driver run organizations can’t work…. Word has it that 1979 Winston West Grand National Rookie of the Year, Tim Williamson, who succumbed to injuries suffered during the running of the Stock Car Products 300 three weeks ago, was to try his hand at the Winston Cup Grand National trail this season competing ten events. He is also featured in the new Stock Car Racing Magazine Poster Book… USAC has announced a ten-race series for their Indy Champ Car division and fifteen-event tour for stock cars. The Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas, will be the sight for the opener in both divisions as the Stockers compete there on March 9th and the Indy cars on April 26th… CART PPO Automotive Indy Car Series opens at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona on March 2nd. We’re only 49-days away from the Northeastern auto racing opener that being ICE BREAKER ’80 at Thompson Speedway. The two-day show, running March 29th and 30th, will feature late models, midgets and street stocks on Saturday while the modifieds, mini-modifieds and super modifieds compete Sunday. It’s always a super duper show but bundle up as the events name generally holds true. Other big openers shortly after includes the Spring Sizzler on April 12th and 13th at Stafford Motor Speedway, the first Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model Open on April 20th and NASCAR North’s Spring Green at Catamount Stadium on the same day…. Stafford is running three 100-lap events during the regular season including the Nutmeg 100 on May 30th, the Ferrara 100 on July 4th and the Winston 100 on August 8th. The Annual 200 at Stafford will run on Friday night, August 29th instead of Labor Day Monday. The 2nd Annual Fall Final for late models and modifieds will get off the mark on September 29th and 30th… Thompson has planned three 100 lap champion shows for mods on May 4th, June 1st and August 3rd plus two Wednesday events on July 23rd and August 13th. The Thompson 300 is set for September 12th, 13th, and 14th while the World Series will run October 4th and 5th… Oxford has scheduled six other open shows, besides their opener, including May 5th and 25th, June 15th, August 10th and 31st and September 28th plus the prestigious Oxford 250 on July 13th… Really John Spence! Best man at who’s wedding? Ya gotta be kiddin! Who’d marry ‘im!… Super Star Series Round 1 will open the season at Star Speedway on April 26th and 27th while Lee Raceway will open the Sunday before with the first leg of the five race Pepsi Cola Series. Til’ next time, “Keep the Rat Fat, subscribe today!..”
** All photos were taken directly from the original published column **