Racin’ People, The Big Red Nose And Jokes Too!

– FRIDAY, May 30th, 1980 –

Racin’ People, The Big Red Nose And Jokes Too!

As I hopscotch around the Northeast visiting the various speedways in my promotional duties with this publication, I’ve met and made many new friends involved with the sport in one capacity or another.

In all points of the Northeast, the hospitality extended to the Ol’ Nerf has been unbelievable over the first seven weeks of the season.

The response from the some seventeen or so tracks I’ve been to so far has been absolutely fantastic! The way people have opened up their facilities and homes to this Marco Polo of the roundy-round world shows me that racing folks are, for sure, the greatest people on earth.

My Northeast racing season began at Thompson (CT) Speedway on March 30th and since then I’ve been to such tracks as Stafford and Plainville, also in Connecticut; Oxford in Maine; Claremont and Riverside in New Hampshire; Catamount, Bear Ridge, Thunder Road, and West Haven in Vermont; Shangri-La, Spencer, Oswego, Brewerton, and Brookfield in New York along with New Evergreen and Penn-Can in Pennsylvania.

Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vermont. Howie Hodge photo.
Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vermont. Howie Hodge photo.

This past weekend saw Lil’ Nerf and myself at Bear Ridge where we saw the six cylinder coupe bodied Modified Sportsman run with Chuckie “C.V.” Elms taking the checkered flag for the second week in a row. At the conclusion of that evening’s racing Elms gave the Ol’ Nerf a tour of the 1/4 mile dirt track in his #6 coupe, the only Ford-powered machine at the Ridge.

Track owner Chuck Elms Sr. and promoter Robert Nutting were gracious hosts.

Saturday night my son Jared, and myself headed for Groveton, NH to Mike Beattle’s Riverside Speedway. This 1/4 mile asphalt facility is one of the most spotless and professionally run speedways in the Northeast. The Late Model Sportsmans that headline the weekly program plus the Street Stocks were some of the best looking racing machines this writer has seen in their respective categories.

There’s several tracks in the Northeast that could take a lesson from owner-promoter Mike Beattle and his able bodied assistants who start their show on the dot and move it right along in a very professional manner.

Beattle and his wife, Sally, had the Ol’ Nerf and his son over to their home in Lancaster, NH after the races for a little lunch and a few drinks.

Sunday we headed for Tom Perry’s West Haven Speedway to see the big block dirt Modifieds run.

A good field of cars were in attendance with some sixty machines in the pits and considering there was another track only miles away running the same three classes, it was quite a shot in the arm for the second year promoter Perry.

The Modified win was a popular one with veteran Vince Quenneville taking the win as he gave his fellow drivers a lesson on how to get around the 2/5th mile dirt oval.

Once again we were treated with southern hospitality in the West Central part of Vermont.

Mike Barry was victorious at Thunder Road on Tom Curley's NASCAR Molson North Tour.  Howie Hodge photo (taken at Stafford).
Mike Barry was victorious at Thunder Road on Tom Curley’s NASCAR Molson North Tour. Howie Hodge photo (taken at Stafford Motor Speedway’s 1981 Fall Final).

Monday it was on to Thunder Road for the NASCAR-Molson North Tour “Memorial Day Classic 100” for the high powered Late Model Sportsman cars.

Young Mike Barry ran away and hid from the field for his second win on the Tour this year, the other being the Spring Green at Catamount Speedway.

As usual, we were treated with the total courtesy of Tom Curley, David Farris and the rest of the NASCAR North professionals.

By the time you read this we’ll have already been to New Egypt Speedway for the Winston 100 for the NASCAR Mod Squad.

I saw in last week’s Speedway Scene where the Big Red Nose tried to burn down the flag stand at Claremont Speedway with head starter Dave Kolenda and his assistant Rusty Fowler on it.

In making a quick check in to Claremont, compliments of Ma Bell or is that Mrs. Ding Dong, I learned that Ol’ Seymour the Clown purchased some southern style white lightnin’ up there in the Northlands from well bootlegger Joshua Croamler Hogbeck McCoy.

Well, anybody who knows anything about nothin’ would know ya’ can’t mix the North with the South.. If ya’ all don’t believe me just look back a couple of few years to the Civil War. I’ve been trying to tell this to the Bionic Brain for the last couple of years and he shoulda’ guessed somethin’ was wrong when Ol’ McCoy sold him five bottles of hooch wrapped in a rebel flag.

As the story goes, Seymour was kinda’ tired of from his previous night’s work of tom-foolery at Stafford Motor Speedway plus the trip up I-91 to CODA land, so he decided to take a snort of his recently acquired moonshine.

Upon taking the first swig, he spit it halfway up the track and let out a yell that could be heard for twenty miles. I understand McCoy used CAM-2 instead of alcohol to make his White Lightnin’.

Well… Seymour got so mad he decided to to take it out on… you guessed it… the flagman… So he poured those five bottles of clear liquid all around the fagstand and tossed a match to in the hopes of fryin’ one Polish flagman and one short tubby carrot topped assistant… As usual, the flagman always gets blamed.

Kolenda told me he’ll definitely get even when the Six Million Dollar Idiot makes his return to Claremont on July 19th while Seymour told me there’s gonna’ be a big cookout featuring two two flagmen.. Don’t miss it..

NERF’ers Nibblets….  The best show this past weekend was the Ol’ Nerf trying to get into C.V. Elms’ coupe. It was like trying to put a whale into a sardine can as I almost became a permanent part of the machine. Just think! He could of taken off all the lead and half the body….  I understand that Sally Beattle, wife of Riverside Speedway owner, Mike, is still sitting in the rear of their club cab pickup trying to find the steering wheel. Oh well!….  Beech Ridge Speedway photographer Ray Coffin could play the keyboard on the ol’ organ with the best of them, but as the story goes, his wife Bonnie, who handles the public relations for the track, has one favorite song. All she wants him to play is “Helicopter” which is a song I’ve never heard before, but come to think of it, she’s definitely a little whirly. You know what I mean….  Bill Alsup failed to qualify for the Indy 500 won by Lone Star J.R.Johnny Rutherford, but the Alsup Racing Team finished fourth in the Miller Beer Pit Crew Competition which is a fine tribute to the entire team. Congratulations to Alsup and crew…. Connie Parr, who works for the Skylark Diner in Vestal, NY, may have her own pole at Shangri-La Speedway shortly. Word has it that her boss Walt Stevens told her one week, while at the track, that Street Stocker and friend, Vince Rendisi was on the pole for that evening’s feature. Evidently Connie checked out the top of every pole at the speedway. Now really!….  Congrats to Geoff Bodine who swept the Empire State Sweepstakes last weekend winning at Spencer Speedway, Shangri-La Speedway, and Oswego Speedway. Making him $6,000 richer including a thousand dollar bonus for being #1 in the series….  Also congrats to Maine’s best Mike Rowe who’s now 12 for 12 in Late Model racing winning six at Oxford Plains Speedway and an equal amount at Lincoln County Speedway….  Until next time, Don’t forget to subscribe….

*    *    *

Postscript….

Tommy Barrett Jr. may not have been the only driver who put in a hell of a performance in Wednesday night's Tri-Track Finale, but he crossed the line first and picked up a well deserved 10 LARGE! Crystal Snape photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr. may not have been the only driver who put in a hell of a performance in Wednesday night’s Tri-Track Series finale, but he crossed the line first and picked up a well deserved 10 LARGE! Did TB try cashing the BIG check at the bank Thursday morning? Crystal Snape photo.

First, I would like to congratulate Tommy Barrett Jr. on his huge victory in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series $10,000 Grand Finale at Seekonk Speedway Wednesday night.   The atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm, passion and excitement and it bled profusely through the social pages and streaming  broadcast of the guys at Victory Lane Radio.

I’d like to congratulate all the drivers and teams for showing up to take a “shot at the title”.  It was an event for the ages.  Huge crowd, great organizers, a track with deep roots in Modified history, and a super sized Modified roster not seen for any asphalt Modified event in years.

Victory Lane Radio did a spectacular job.  Tuning into the broadcast was like being at the track and listening to the equally pumped up fellow race fans sitting around you.  Lastly, what’s there to say about the organizers who made up what we know as the Tri-Track Open Modified Series.  The Racing Guys, Jim Schaefer, Kevin Rice, the facilities, the staff of these tracks and those who contributed lap money, prizes and walked through the gates to support it.  As a Modified fan, THANK YOU!!!

Could anyone have thought of a better night to hold a Championship Modified event than The Rapid Roman Richie Evans’ Birthday?  It was meant to be….

Now about this recent NERF’ers Corner column….

These time pieces shake the cobwebs off in the corners of the memory banks. Memories vaulted up tight until a few words cause the doors to fly open. Besides the joy of creating this site to honor his memory and share the Nerf’s past work, this is one of the bonuses I really enjoy about these classic columns by my late father. Priceless.

That Speedway Scene Firebird passed through a ton of speedway gates throughout the Northeast and southbound in 1980. Robert Echo photo.
That Speedway Scene Firebird passed through a ton of speedway gates throughout the Northeast and Southbound as well in 1980. Robert Echo photo.

Reading about the night at Bear Ridge for the the first time had me laughing. As you can tell by the Nerf’s own words, he had a ginormous gut and as you can see he was the first to poke fun at himself. All the weekends I rode shotgun with him in the Speedway Scene gold Firebird or Van he would share his wisdom on the road and one of those words of wisdom was; “If you can’t make fun of yourself and laugh about it, then you have no right to laugh at anyone else.”

Well, we were all laughing at him trying to squeeze through C.V. Elms’ coupe window. After C.V. scared the track food out of the Nerf and they pulled off the track, shutting the motor off, he attempted to exit and screamed out; “I’m stuck in a Bear Ridge Trap! -(still struggling)- A human sized shoe horn would come in handy right about now.”

– Jared

Advertisements

Missing Drivers and Versatile S.J. Evonsion

– FRIDAY, AUGUST 4TH, 1978 –

Missing Drivers and Versatile S.J. Evonsion

You’ll find this weeks column a little less filled with controversy for sure. Let’s say that it will be from the lighter side.

Never the less, the “NASCAR-Radical Racer” battle will continue at Riverside Park Speedway this Saturday night and I’m sure we’ll hit on the controversy again as more details arise and I’m sure they will.

While on the subject of Riverside, how’d you like the field of cars they had last week? What do you mean, “What field”? They had a total of 26 cars sign into the pits for the night including one that made it to the track just before the feature. Don Desrocher blew his engine in warm ups and motor problems befell Ronny Wyckoff. That left 23 Mods to fill a 24 car field until the late arrivals made the scene. How long will fans put up with racing programs that are short on cars? The only good side of last weeks program was that some cars that are never able to qualify, fell into starting positions.

Ray Miller and many other notable names were absent at Stafford that Friday in 1978. Why? Dunno! Howie Hodge photo.
Ray Miller and many other regulars were absent at Stafford that Friday in 1978. Why? Dunno! Howie Hodge photo.

How about only 30 cars for the July 26th All Star show at Stafford Motor Speedway? Just enough to fill the starting grid. Thompson Speedway had some 51 Modifieds the week before. The question is, why do the cars continue to stay away from Stafford? The track hasn’t got the Black Plague, only the Red Menace. Come on back guys, we need ya! The field of cars was again small last Friday night. Some of the regulars missing were Dick Caso, Ray Miller, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Moose Hewitt, Mike Murphy, Dick Traynor, Ron Rocco, Gene Bergin, Tom Sylvester, Leo Cleary, and Billy Knight.

Ron Bouchard's M&H Tires No. 7 had troubles at Stafford, but not to fear, S.J. Evonsion and his car owners were there and gave him the seat to the No. 91 Mustang bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.
Ron Bouchard’s M&H Tires No. 7 had troubles at Stafford, but not to fear, S.J. Evonsion and his car owners were there and gave him the seat to the No. 91 Mustang bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.

The M&H Tire Vega got engine sickness last Friday night at Stafford. Could it be because it was without it’s snazzy white sidewalls? We know it doesn’t make ol No. 7 go any faster, but it’s nice to see some color put in the sport besides red!

Could it be that the driver of the Big Red Machine has cleaned up his driving act over the last few weeks? Was that really G.B. Who was passing out red lollipops at Stafford last week? Seymour, ya still got Jared’s vote.

Watch for the new edition of the “Modifieds of the Monthcalendar this week. It will have a centerfold of No. 1 and No. 6 or is that No. 6 and No. 1? The Winston 100 will tell us who’s who.

You always hear about the front runners, the stars so to speak. Well, here’s a switcharoo for you. We want to give some ink to some of the lesser known who are going good. At Stafford let’s mention Dave Monaco, Corky Cookman, W.J. Grez, Ronny Rocco and Jeb Balise in the Limited Sportsman. At Riverside the praise goes to W.J. Grez, Jim Whipple, Dick Taylor and Frank Minch. Tony Papale, Jerry Dostie and Jack Hamilton are to be cited at Thompson.

This is for Deborah Johnson of West Haven. You are definitely right and I’m sure you’d like to know that many of the drivers feel the same way.

S.J. Evonsion in the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette bodied Modified, seen here at Stafford in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.
S.J. Evonsion in the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette bodied Modified, seen here at Stafford in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.

This years most versatile driver has to be S.J. Evonsion who wheels the Bolles, Telasandro, and Checci No. 91 Mustang at Stafford and the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette at Riverside. He also straps into the Jim Fournier No. 47 Vega to run Thompson. Super job in three different cars. The personable Evonsion gave up his ride last week at Stafford to Ronny Bouchard. To the owners of the No. 91 and Evonsion, I say you should be commended. The only bad side of the whole thing was that the car got severly damaged in a six car pile up in the third turn.

The Ronny Bouchard Fan Club is set up on Fan Club Alley at Stafford on Fridays, Seekonk on Saturdays and Sundays at Thompson. See Barbara or Diane of write the fan club (address withheld). They have t-shirts, jackets, bumper stickers, pencils, pads, and pictures for sale. Membership is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

Here are some short quotes on the new tire rule for the 1979 season from the men who drive the cars..

Tony Papale; “Middle guys will run new tires every week.”
Richie Evans; “I’ll quit racing.”
Ken Bouchard; “It’ll be the same guys running up front.”
Jerry Cook; “I really don’t know yet.”
Jon Potter; “Where will I get used tires?”
Brian Ross & Marty Radewick; “It sucks.”
Stan Greger; “It’ll help the little guy.”
Bob Polverari; “Should make it more competitive.”
Ed Flemke; “Promoters should test them first.”

What do you think? Let us know by dropping us a line to NERF’ers Corner c/o NESS.

Until next time, “Keep on Trackin’.”

–  In  Memory  of  Rollie  Jacobs  –

Missing for 1979, Will Return in 1980

– FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, 1978 –

Missing for ’79, Will Return in ’80

New England racing fans will miss seeing one of the premier Modified chauffeurs and his very popular car come 1979.

Yes. The rumor that has been floating around the Northeastern racing scene since the season ended at Stafford Motor Speedway is true. 

1978. Bob Polverari in his new 711 Racing Team Vega bodied Modified he campaigned at Stafford Motor Speedway. The beautiful machine was a featured spread in Stock Car Racing Magazine. Andy Boright Collection - John Driscoll Photo.
Bob Polverari in his new 711 Racing Team Vega bodied Modified awaiting competition at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1978. The beautiful machine was a featured spread in Stock Car Racing Magazine. Andy Boright Collection – John Driscoll Photo.

Bob Polverari and his crew have decided to pack up their 711 racing operation for the coming year.

The following is a conversation that I had with the three time Riverside Park Speedway Champion a week or so ago.

Nerf: Is it true that you have decided to halt all 711 racing action for 1979?

Bob Polverari: Yes!

Nerf: Did your crew have a voice in this move?

Bob: We’d been thinking of this more over for a couple of years.

Nerf: Did your family have any bearing on this decision?

Bob: I wanted to spend more time doing some of the things we haven’t been able to do in the last few years.

Nerf: Why is the 711 Racing Team taking a year off?

Bob: Being so involved over the past years hasn’t really given us the time to do some of the things we like such as hunting, fishing or just spending some time traveling around.

Nerf: Has your poor showing at Stafford this season brought about this decision?

Bob: Not really.

Nerf: Are you disappointed with your Stafford performance this year?

Bob: No! Every week we headed for the track, we were positive we could win.

Nerf: Were you pleased with the season you had at Riverside Park in the Czarnecki Brothers #20? 

Bob: Yes! With a break or two we could have won another title, but of course with a break or two there’s a couple others who could have won it all.

Nerf: What do you think of Stan Greger, the new Riverside Park Champion?

Bob: He did a super job all season and both he and his car owner, Bill Simons, deserve the title. They don’t have a lot of bucks, but they made them count.

Nerf: Can you tell me what the season has cost you? 

Bob: With the new car, expenses and all, I would estimate approximately $20,000. We’ve taken in around $2,500, sold about $6,000 in equipment since Stafford closed and if we can sell what we have left, we should come out on the plus side for this year.

Late 1978 at Stafford Speedway after Polverari and the 711 Racing Team sat their beautiful new 711 Vega and brought out the old Modified to finish out the season. Howie Hodge Photo.
Late 1978 at Stafford Speedway after Polverari and the 711 Racing Team parked their beautiful new 711 Vega and brought out the old Modified to finish out the season. Howie Hodge Photo.

Nerf: Is the fact that you parked the new 711 before the photo expose came out in Stock Car Racing Magazine been embarrassing to you?

Bob: No! We’ve never been embarrassed about anything the 711 has done. We always try as hard as we can, the best we can and that’s all that anyone can ask.

Nerf: What were some of the problems with the new 711? 

Bob: We had motor problems all season and spent so much time on engines that we couldn’t sort out other things in the car. We also lost a very valuable crew member that definitely hurt us.

Nerf: What are your plans for 1979 as far as auto racing goes?

Bob: We plan to build two identical chassis and two as close to identical motors as possible for our 1980 return.

Nerf: Is it true that the 711 Racing Team plans to spend some time with Maynard Troyer and Jack Tant in hopes of getting some insight on chassis and motors?

Bob: We plan on spending as much time we can with as many people as we can. We’ll also be asking as many questions as possible.

Polverari #711 lines up for heats at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977. The same year he won his 3rd consecutive track championship. Jared Echo Photo.
Polverari 711 lines up for heats at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977. The same year he won his 3rd consecutive track championship. Jared Echo Photo.

Nerf: We know you’ll be returning in 1980, but will you return to both Riverside Park and Stafford or if one, which will it be?

Bob: Being they’ve changed the motor rule at the Park, we’d like to run both Stafford and Riverside. If we can’t find time to run both tracks, then we’ll only compete on Friday nights.

Nerf: Will you have the same crew?

Bob: It’ll be primarily the same crew with a couple additional members.

Nerf: I would like to clear up another rumor now. What was the real reason you left Riverside Park with the 711 this past season?

Bob: We were only able to run one night a week and after running Martinsville Speedway and Stafford, we decided to try our luck on the bigger half-mile track.

Nerf: Are you sure it wasn’t the Riverside officials or in particular, John Tallini?

Bob: No! We’ve been upset with the officials before, but again, who hasn’t? The officials were definitely not our reason for leaving Riverside.

Nerf: Will you be racing anymore this year?

Bob: Yes! We’ll be at Martinsville for the Cardinal 500 on October 29th.

We concluded our conversation with Polverari at this point.

Reggie Ruggeiro #2 ahead of Geoff Bodine #1 and Bob Polverari #3 during the running of the 1978 Riverside 500 at Riverside Park Speedway. Reggie was teamed with Richie Evans. Bodine was teamed with Bob Stefanik. Polverari was teamed with Jerry Cook. Cook broke early forcing Polverari to drive 488 straight laps to win his fourth Riverside 500 victory. Mario Fiore Collection.
Reggie Ruggiero #2 ahead of Geoff Bodine #1 and Bob Polverari #3 during the running of the 1978 Riverside 500 at Riverside Park Speedway. Reggie was teamed with Richie Evans. Bodine was teamed with Bob Stefanik. Polverari was teamed with Jerry Cook. Cook broke early forcing Polverari to drive 488 straight laps to win his fourth Riverside 500 victory. Mario Fiore Collection.

Polverari took track titles at Riverside Park Speedway in 1975-76-77 plus he finished third in 1974 and came home second this year behind Stan Greger. Among his accomplishments are four Riverside Park 500 crowns, captured in 1971-75-76 and again this year. Add to this a second place finish in the 1977 Spring Sizzler behind Maynard Troyer and you know you have a very talented driver.

The 6’1” driver of the beautiful 711 Vega, sponsored by Perry Auto Supply in West Springfield, Mass., is looked upon by his fellow competitors as a super wheel man and a first rate gentleman on or off the track.

The men who have formed one of the finest and best looking crews around are; Barry Kuhnell (Crew chief), Don Merriman and Ed Foley. These are the guys that spend hours every week in between racing programs to prepare the 711 for the following racing show and then work their tails off on the night of the race.

So, to the fans we say; this dedicated driver, crew and car haven’t vacated the racing scene. They’ve just taken a year off to regroup for a mad charge in 1980. That being a challenge for a duel championship at Stafford and Riverside Park. As 1978 was the “Year of Bodine”, could it be that 1980 might be the “Year of Polverari”? Who knows! Stick around and you’ll find out.

Until next week; “NERF’ers Abide the Big 55”

*     *     *

Postscript

What’s not to say about a driver who was able to step away repeatedly from the sport he loves over his career only to return each time in grand fashion.. He went on to become a 5 Time Riverside Park Speedway Modified Champion 1975, ’76, ’77, ’82, and ’90. Won 4 Riverside 500’s, including the last one in 1978 by driving 488 straight laps to grab the checkered after his team mate, 6 time National Modified Champion, Jerry Cook broke 11 laps into the race.

As a life long Polverari fan since the age of six, I can name some of the most memorable races that had me cheering on the 711 driver and worn down afterwards.. Some were wins where others may not have been victories, but were just plain awesome performances that showed how clean, smooth, consistent and competitive of a driver Bob truly was.

In 1980, Bob was in a battle for the track title with Richie Evans. The title came down to the final race in Riverside Park Speedway’s triple crown. The Riverside 200. The race came down to Richie and Bob. For laps on end they battled. Richie down low, Bob up high, vice versa. They swapped the lead a few times and Richie eventually got by for good when the two were side by side coming into lapped traffic.  The lapped car pinched Richie down farther causing the National Champion to run all four tires under the line between turns 3 and 4. He was forced and it was obvious. The officials saw that and did not penalize. The remaining laps it was Richie leading and Polverari behind. Richie went on to take the victory and the 1980 Riverside Park title.

After the event, this upset and extremely biased 10 year old fan went right to his favorite driver and asked; “Why didn’t you protest?  He had all four tires under the line. That  was illegal! You should be the champ!”

I will never forget his answer; “I don’t want to win that way. Nobody would. Richie wouldn’t do that to me. He won. He’s the champ.”

It showed character and more so to a 10 year old it taught me that although racing may be about winning, it was equally about winning the right way and losing gracefully. A true trait of a first class veteran champion.

Although Bob Polverari has had many victories and fine performances throughout his career (The Park, Stafford, and Thompson) his 1981 Spring Sizzler victory, two years removed from his hiatus in 1979, is the most discussed and memorable finishes among the Modified faithful.

His team unveiled a different color scheme on a Plymouth  TC3  bodied Modified built by Chassis Dynamics for it’s first weekend of competition at the Sizzler set the stage. The black and gold Modified was sleek, clean and brilliant looking. Most importantly it was fast right out of the box.

Polverari's famed #711 from 1981 that took him to Spring Sizzler victory lane. A race which has been called the most exciting Spring Sizzler ever. Howie Hodge Photo.
Polverari’s famed 711 in 1981 that took him to Spring Sizzler victory lane. A race which has been called the most exciting Spring Sizzler ever. Howie Hodge Photo.

In 1977 Polverari shocked many when he finished on the podium of the Sizzler as a rookie at Stafford behind winner Maynard Troyer and ahead of Richie Evans who finished 3rd. So as fate would have it, what many fans believe to be his greatest performance on the biggest stage outside of Bob’s home track of Riverside Park, came down to two battles in the ’81 Sizzler, one with Maynard Troyer and the other with Richie Evans..

The finish of the race was as they say; “The stuff of legends”.

Lifelong fan, creator of the Bring Back Riverside Park & Speedway facebook page, and organizer of this past year’s well received Riverside Park Speedway reunion, held during a Springfield Falcon’s hockey game, summed up what it means to be a Bob Polverari fan; “It meant cheering on a man that truly appreciated his fans just as much as we appreciated watching his skill on the track. The meaning of class act on the track and in life. I’ve had guys I’ve cheered on since he retired but none I could get behind like that #711.

And if you ask every Bob Polverari fan, their answers would be extremely similar, mine included.

Have a great racing weekend everyone! All the best!

– Jared

Last Week a Super One and Alsup Too!

– Friday, July 13th, 1979 –

LAST WEEK A SUPER ONE AND ALSUP TOO!

It’s tough to pen a column week in and week out when I you get around to the various New England Speedways like you once did and instead have to put your efforts into a track you’re involved in operating.

My first obligation is to Claremont Speedway CODA (Claremont Owners and Drivers Association) it’s competitors and fans.

To the fans who read this column; I’ll try to write a NERF’ers Corner as often as I can, but not being able to get to some of the other speedplants makes it tough to come up with enough to write about.

Okay, now you’re probably wondering who I’m going to pick on this week. Nobody. I’ll just cover a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

The flyer from the second round of the Super Star Series in 1979 at Star Speedway.  Cynthia Tebbetts collection. (Click to enlarge)
The flyer from the second round of the Super Star Series in 1979 at Star Speedway. Cynthia Tebbetts collection. (Click to enlarge)

We ventured to Star Speedway to see the second round of the “Super Star Series” and along with my son Jared we decided to take the Claremont Speedway Pace Car donated by Claremont Toyota-Volvo.

We were invited to pace the second half of the Super-Modified event along with Star’s regular Pace Car and the WOTW Radio Speedline Pace Car. It was my first time trying to drive a pace car and it scared the hell out of me. We were clocking speeds around 55 mph and the little Celica I was driving wanted to exit the speedway everytime we got halfway through the turns so before I put this new brand new machine into the wall I decided to park it in the infield. The other two pace cars ran off and left me and half the Supers too.

Here I thought I was going to give the “Rapid Roman” Super a run for the money and I almost got lapped before the event got underway. Now I know how Mohammed Ali felt when he got beat by Leon…..ah Leon….what’s his name. Oh well! Ya know what I mean or do ya?

Side 2 of the Super Star Series flyer. Cynthia Tebbetts collection (Click to Enlarge).
Side 2 of the Super Star Series flyer. Cynthia Tebbetts collection (Click to Enlarge).

Anyway! It was a good show with Jim Shampine taking advantage of a mistake by Dick Batchelder for the Super win and Richie Evans, who used slower traffic to his advantage, bested Ron Bouchard by inches in the Modified event.

Some say it was the biggest turnout of cars and fans ever at Star Speedway.

Several Claremont Speedway competitors ventured to Catamount Stadium for the “Twin Spirits of ’79” run the same night, July 3rd, as the Star show.

Jerry Cook won the show and the best finish by a CODA driver and car was Dave Grants in the Jack’s Auto Parts Pinto bodied Modified with a 4th place and Indy car driver Bill Alsup finished 6th in the Dave Cowdry owned Pinto bodied Modified generally driven by Robbie Patterson at Claremont. Other CODA competitors in attendance were Dwight Jarvis, Punky Caron and Wayne Labrie. Jarvis lost a water pump. Caron suffered motor problems and Labrie dumped an engine.

Richie Evans won the Open Modified portion of the 2nd Super Star Series event in 1979. Howie Hodge photo 1980.
Richie Evans won the Open Modified portion of the 2nd Super Star Series event in 1979. Howie Hodge photo 1980.

A couple of weeks ago we had Bill Alsup and his McClaren Offenhauser Indy Champ Car at Claremont and I had the chance to have somewhat of an in depth talk with him.

Alsup is a member of CART which has become the outlaw organization in Indy car racing according to USAC. CART stands for Championship Auto Racing Teams while USAC is the United States Auto Club. I’m not going to get into the CART-USAC feud as I don’t have time and there’s not enough pages in Speedway Scene to cover this soap opera.

Alsup owns Woodstock Auto Speed Parts in Woodstock, Vermont and it is from his business that comes the name WASP RACING TEAM which includes two McClaren Indy cars, a couple haulers, six motors, a $1,000 starter off a B52 Bomber used to fire up these type Indy cars, various other parts, a six man crew of which three are full time and the driver.

The chief mechanic for Alsop’s WASP Racing Team is Craig Peroutka out of Tampa, Florida, while Woodstock’s Robbie Patterson is the engine builder. Others on the crew are Reg Murphy and Rick Spear. Both of Woodstock, Kelly Arrison of Chester Depot, Vermont and Walt Hudson of Miam, Florida.

Alsup has probably one of the smallest sponsors, not necessarily in dollars, but in business size. Claremont Ford-Lincoln-Mercury of Claremont, New Hampshire, a community of 16,000 is the major sponsor in this close to three quarters of a million dollar operation.

The Vermont Traffic Safety Council and Claremont Ford recently did a television commercial for both organizations when the former blocked off the three mile stretch of Route 91 in Vermont and sent Alsup for a ride at close to 190 mph. That’s truckin’!

Alsup is a super individual with dedication and personality to match. He’s going no where but up. That’s for sure.

Nerf’ers Nibblets… Don’t forget “Modified Madness” this coming Tuesday night, July 17th, 8pm at Stafford Motor Speedway with all area track champions guaranteed starting births. You’ll get to see some of the wildest Modifieds around in a 50 lap event plus a 25 lap NEMA Midgets feature. Be there… Did you know we got “Big Foot” at Claremont Speedway? If ya’ don’t believe it, just ask her husband.

The "Traveling Man" Pete Fiandaca in won at Westboro Speedway in early July 1979.  Howie Hodge photo.
The “Traveling Man” Pete Fiandaca won at Westboro Speedway in early July 1979. Howie Hodge photo 1977.

Heh, heh!… What’s this I hear? Peter Fiandaca won at Westboro. Alright Petah! I knew that ‘Ol 135 still had some left. We still don’t know if we heard right that Bob Miller took second. It can’t be true after that move he put on Allen Whipple a few weeks back at Monadnock Speedway that took the “Whip”, who was running his best of the year, out of action. Everybody else must have quit and how many laps did ya’ have him down Petah?… Riverside Park Speedway is once again playing with the competitors and fans. They canceled all remaining Modified races over the 100 lap distance and are making the Figure 8 boys stay at home at the Park. The Figure 8’s had been scheduled for this weekend at Claremont Speedway, but they’ve since been canceled. Another one of the famous “Change in the Middle of the Stream” decisions out of the Park… What’s this? The Unknown Politician campaigning at Claremont against Seymour the Clown this past weekend. Your Stafford mayorship is in trouble Seymour. Mickey and Minnie and now the Unknown Politician. Maybe the NERF should get in the act! How about it Big Red Nose? Huh? Huh? HUH?… Till next time, tune into the ‘Ol NERF and Rod Dunham on “Let’s Talk Racin’” on WCNL-AM 1010 and FM 101.7 out of Newport, New Hampshire every Saturday morning from 10 till Noon.