– FRIDAY, APRIL 11TH, 1980 – PAGE 8 & 34 –
A NIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS… OVER, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.
Auto racing has given the Ol Nerf many a thrill over the short few years of his involvement with what he feels to be the greatest sport on earth.
You can add last weekend’s Roast the Rat Night to my long list of thrills which includes the meeting and making of so many friends over the the past few racing seasons; The organizing of a Cardinal 500 bus trip three years ago for the Roger Westbrook Fan Club, being involved in the rebirth of Claremont Speedway last year and then becoming a full time member of the #1 auto racing publication in the Northeast.
My great honor and thrill has to be that which I received at the Claremont Awards Banquet last November when C.O.D.A. (The Claremont Owners & Drivers Association) gave me an engraved wrist watch and a standing ovation as a memento of my one season in the Northland as a “flatlander”.
Last Friday evening was the culmination of four months work and it was some night for sure.
There were many dignitaries in attendance including those at the head table such as Modified drivers Richie Evans and Bugs Stevens; Promoters Ed Yarrington of Stafford Speedway, Tom Curley of NASCAR North Molson Tour, Shangri-La Speedway’s Dale Campfield and Dick O’Brien of Oswego Speedway; NEMMA President and Mini Modified star Dan Meservey; Paul Tremaine head of Checkered Flag Announcer telephone service; C.R.A.P. BOSS Charlie Roberts; Modified Car owners Dick Armstrong and Sandy McKinnon; Stock Car Racing Magazine Editor Dr. Dick Berggren; Super Star Jerry Capazzoli; Oxford Plains Speedway Public Relations Director Lou Modestino; Mystery Guest Seymour the Clown, myself and the man everyone was on hand to pay the unusual Dean Martin Roast-style tribute to Val “The Fat Rat” LeSieur, Editor-Publisher of Speedway Scene.
Four roasters didn’t make it do to unexpected circumstances including Mike Joy, Executive Producer of Motor Racing Network; Editor-Publisher of that fine racing publication A.S.S., Bruce Cohen; Speedway Scene columnist Kraze Korlacki and Joe Brady, Modified car owner.
Many of auto racing’s finest were on hand in the audience such as Modified drivers George Summers, Maynard Troyer, John Rosati, Marty Radewick, S.J. Evonsion, and Jim McClure; Late Model stars Tom Rosati and Jeff Fuller; Promoters Dick Williams of Westboro Speedway and Monadnock Raceway; Harvy Tattersall and John Janisaltis of the Waterford Speedbowl and Plainville Stadium’s Joe Tinty; Bill Slater, Racing Director at Thompson Speedway; Oxford Plains Business Manager Tom Elliman; Stafford Public Relations Director John McMullin; Gene DeWitt owner of Evans’ big orange Modified and Mini Modified shoe Jon Bushey.
Others in the audience were Waterford’s chief starter Chris Hopkins who also serves as Stafford’s assistant flagger; Claremont Speedway head flagman Dave Kolenda; Dan Pardi of Pardi Films; Monadnock and Dover Downs announcer Dave Sutherland who also works with MRN and popular personality Alfred “Pops” DeSarro.
Speedway Scene photographers in attendance were Clint Lawton, Bill and Dave Balser, Ray Coffin and Howard Hodge plus writers and columnists Dave Shippee, Bones Bourcier, Toodi Gelinas, Gene Rebello, Steve Cobb and Bonnie Coffin.
It was a super evening from start to finish with John D’Angelo at the controls of the bar for the entire night and then a delicious Prime Rib Roast of Beef AuJus Dinner with all the trimmings superbly catered by Arthur H. Sattler Catering of Westfield.
Dr. Dick started the roasting off which was highlighted with the Fat Rat receiving first a live rat from the Big Red Nose and then a ten pound dead one from the Evans bunch.
Those receiving special items during the night were Bourcier (a nose mug), Tremaine (a bald comb), Evans (a boob mug), O’Brien (an unsigned petition from all the regular weekly rear engine Supermodified competitors), and Ed Yarrington (an official 1980 Northeast Modified Rule Book with nothing inside).
The 1st Annual Speedway Scene Fans Choice Awards were presented for the year of 1979 including Writer [Shippee], Columnist [Gelinas], Freelance Photographer [Lawton], Driver [Evans], Owner [DeWitt], Rookie [Fuller], Promoter [Williams], and Personality [DeSarro].
Three other awards were given at Sunday’s Spring Sizzler at Stafford due to the absence of the individuals at the Roast including Track Photographer [Mike Adaskaveg], Sponsor [M&H Tire and Marvin Rifkin] and Flea Market Promoter [Joe Brady].
Roast the Rat Night concluded with two hours of dancing to the Sundown Band.
The evening was made successful by many businesses, speedways and individuals who donated many prizes and items including Taylor Rental of Wilbraham who supplied the program plus napkins and table linen; R.J. Reynolds Tabacco [Winston]; Troyer Engineering; Korlacki Speed Equipment; Central Chevrolet; Firestone Store / Westfield; Marty’s Speed Equipment; Nicora Auto Parts; Depot Square Racing Team; Pioneer Valley Auto Parts; Bouv Enterprises; Deb’s Speed Parts; R.J.S. Racing Team; Linda Clark; DIRT of New York; Bilodeau Florist and McDonald’s Restaurant.
Speedway Contributers were Stafford, Catamount, Thunder Road, Claremont, Lee, Albany-Saratoga, Shangri-La, Westboro, Monadnock, Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge, Lebanon Valley, Wall, Thompson, Islip, Waterford, Brewerton, Lincoln County and Riverside (NH).
I’d like to thank several people who helped me in leading up to and during the Roast the Rat Night especially my wife Bonnie, my two sons Shane and Jared, my good friends D’Angelo and Martin Nunez, Anne LeSieur, Kolenda, Greek Cultural Center Executive Director Jim Shena and the man who was good enough to take all the ribbing, Val.
To all the people who were great enough to say thanks after the evening was over, I say thanks to you all as you are the ones who made it such a great night.
What made Roast the Rat Night such a thrill for me was when the evening was entirely over and we were heading out the door, the man who really counted, Val LeSieur said,….. “Thanks Bob!”
The night will be long remembered by the Fat Rat I’m sure as it will by the Ol Nerf.
The night was all for a dream of Val LeSeiur’s, the Northeast Auto Racing Accident & Casualty Fund. Several people and speedways donated directly to the NARAC FUND including Claremont Speedway [$100], Linda DeSarro [$100], Riverside [NH] Speedway [$50], Dan Meservey [$20], Mario Fiore [$20], George and Peg Summers [$10] and Al Marriott [$10].
Now that the Roast the Rat Night is history, we are already working on Roast #2 set for Saturday, March 7th, 1981 during the “Northeast Oval Track Racearama” at the Civic Center in Springfield, Mass.
If you missed this year’s program you missed a night of super fun and we hope you’ll be a part of next year’s roast.
Till next time, “Don’t forget to catch Speedway Scene’s Promotional Team at your favorite track where you can get a super subscription special!”
SPEEDWAY SCENE FAN’S CHOICE AWARDS HONOR TEN
Springfield, MA – Richie Evans, Gene DeWitt, Dick Williams, Dave Shippee, Toodi Gelinas, Clint Lawton, Alfred “Pops” DeSarro, Jeff Fuller, Mike Adaskaveg, and the M&H Tire Co. were all winners at the “First Annual Speedway Scene Roast” held last weekend at the Greek Cultural Center in Springfield, Mass.
All were recipients of beautiful clocks for being voted tops in their field by the readers of Speedway Scene. Some 200,000 votes were cast in the three month long contest which ended on March 15th.
Evans won the “Driver of the Year Award” by a landslide in the voting with Geoff Bodine and Jack Johnson a distant second and third.
DeWitt far outclassed the rest of the field in the voting for “Owner of the Year” with Chassis Dynamics second and John Scott third.
The “Promoter of the Year Award” went to Williams with Tom Curley finishing second and Ed Yerrington was a close third.
Shippee took “Writer of the Year” honors for his article entitled “Winston Cup Assault: Bodine, Johnson & Beebe Go For It All.” while Robert Echo finished as runner up for his article, “Will The Real Promoter of the Year.. Please Stand Up.”
The “Columnist of the Year Award” went to Gelinas who pens “Getting the Gab” each week. The balloting was close in this category with Bones Bourcier who writes “Modified Madness” and the “NERF’ers Corner” writer finishing second and third respectively.
Lawton won the “Freelance Photographer of the Year Award” over A. Cor Kaptein, Howard Hodge and Paul Bonneau.
The “Personality of the Year Award” went to DeSarro in some close balloting over Williams, Ken Squire, Val LeSieur and Seymour the Clown.
Fuller was a runaway winner in the voting for “Rookie of the Year” with Wes Rosner and Phil Gerbode second and third.
The final two awards were presented at Stafford Motor Speedway’s SPRING SIZZLER on Sunday as they were unable to attend the “Roast”.
Adaskaveg collected the “Track Photographer of the Year Award” in some close voting over Lawton, Bert Gould and Bill Balser.
The “Sponsor of the Year Award” went to Marvin Rifkin’s M&H Tire Co, over Busch Beer, vermont Mack, Winston and Ferrara Auto Parts.
A special “Flea Market Promoter of the Year Award” went to Joe Brady for his March 23rd extravaganza at Stafford, but many were wondering why there was an outhouse figure on top of the trophy.
SPEEDWAY SCENE Promotional Director Robert Echo stated, “The voting response was great and we’ll do it all again next year.