DIS, DAT AND DE UTTER THING

– FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1978 –

DIS, DAT AND DE UTTER THING

Are you wondering why we missed the September 8th edition of this noozpaper? Well, we drove a better part of the night from up Canada way to make it back for the 200 at Stafford on Labor Day and when we got home after the race, I just couldn’t keep the ol’ eyeballs open long enough to pen a column. We finally got NERF’ers Corner written the next day and sent it out, but it arrived at NESS Headquarters too late for print. I won’t blame the U.S. Postal Service for not getting’ it there on time. It was the fault of the Number One NERF, me!

Geoff Bodine captured the Stafford 200 and Thompson 300, his 3rd 300 in 4 years. 1978. Photo taken at Martinsville. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.
Geoff Bodine captured the Stafford 200 and Thompson 300, his 3rd 300 in 4 years. 1978. Photo taken at Martinsville. Mike Adaskaveg Photo. Howie Hodge Collection.

The 1978 200 at Stafford may be labeled as the Big Fix of the Century by many and that’s just what I did, but after having a talk with head starter Frank Sgambato about the yellow flag that conveniently fell with race leader Geoff Bodine badly in need of fuel, Sgambato stated, “I don’t know how long that nerf bar was laying in the first turn. One of the cars went high ending it into what I thought was a dangerous spot on the track.” he added, “You can’t worry about what the fans are going to think. My first concern is the safety of all the drivers on the track.”

Mr. Sgambato has never shown partiality toward any driver and if you were to ask anyone of them about him, you would get nothing but praise about the man many feel is the best flagman on the entire East Coast. Don’t get me wrong, Sgambato makes mistakes, but again I think every one of us has made one or two on our own jobs. Right!

Rumor Has it that a real New England Modified and Late Model Sportsman Champion could be crowned in 1979. The individual behind the venture told me that things are still in the planning stages. He has hopes of awarding both trophies and monies in both divisions. Points would begin with the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway and concludes with the Thompson 300 at the same track. Only races run within the six states in New England would count towards the title. Gee! Just think, no more mythical champions. Great idea, huh!

Billy Simons, 1978 Riverside Park Speedway Title winning owner with Stan Gregor, had Ray Miller in the car come 1979. Howie Hodge photo.
Billy Simons, 1978 Riverside Park Speedway Title winning owner with Stan Gregor, had Ray Miller in the car come 1979. Howie Hodge photo.

Remember Stan “The Man” Musial of St. Louis Cardinal’s fame? Well, now there’s another Stan “The Man”, and his last name is Gregor. He is the 1978 Riverside Park Speedway Track Champion. Gregor was the most consistent runner this season collecting one feature win and many second place finishes. The thing that’s really impressive about this young man is the fact he is always humble in victory or defeat, has nothing but praise for his fellow competitors and his car owner. He’s not a bragger like one Park driver who was stating three weeks before the season ended that he had the title all wrapped up. One must remember that the game is not over until the final out and a track championship isn’t won until the final checkered flag falls. Congratulation Stan, on a super year by a super guy and a pat on the back for owner Billy Simons and crew for the outstanding job they did on the big white #9 Pinto.

Congratulations are also in store for the Czarnecki Brothers, who wrapped up another top five finish with their #20 Vega driven by three time Riverside Park Speedway Champion Bob Polverari. He was trying for his fourth straight, but fell short by an eyelash or should we say eight points. The remarkable thing about the Czarnecki Brothers, Joe and Paul, is that they have never finished out of the top ten since they built their first Modified back in 1962, add to that fact they’ve never finished below third in the last nine years, have three track titles to their name and have won the Riverside 500 Team Race a record six times. The sad thing is, they won’t be returning in ’79 as the high cost of racing has taken yet another quality Modified from an already too short of a field of cars at the Park.

Richie Evans’ lead has been cut to just 99 over the Cookie Monster in the chase for the NASCAR National Modified Point Championship. The Rapid Roman has 3,709 points to defending champion, Jerry Cook’s 3,610. Bob Pressley leads Butch Lindley by 76 points in the Late Model Sportsman version of the National Championship. Pressely has 5,765 points to Lindley’s 5,689. The NASCAR Grand National Points Race shows Cale Yarborough pulling away from the rest of the field in his quest for a third straight title. He has a 298 point lead over his nearest competitor as he leads Benny Parsons, 3,532 to 3,244. Dave Marcis is third with 3,197 followed by Darrell Waltrip – 3,083 and Bobby Allison – 3,001. Yarborough is the leading money winner with $337,030 followed by Waltrip with $244,605.

My apologies to Jim Whipple and Frank Minch, who should have got the Most Improved Driver and Rookie of the Year honors respectively at Riverside Park Speedway. Evidently my voicing an opinion in NERF’ers Corner a few weeks ago as to who I thought should be the recipients put the jinx on these two chauffeurs. Riverside officials are mad at me for lashing at them on the “Radical Racer” and maybe they think they can get back at me by not naming the two drivers in question. You can’t bother me guys only Whipple and Minch. Bruce D’Allessandro, named Most Improved, did a fine job this season, but not that much better than last year. Whipple, who didn’t make a feature in 1977, qualified for every one this year until engine problems beset him late in the season. Ed Kennedy, given Rookie of the Year honors, ran about half of the shows while Minch didn’t miss a week, showed improvement every week and didn’t get in the other drivers way. Dell and Kennedy are both super individuals and I’m happy for them, but fair’s fair. It’s another screwgie by Park officials.

Bobby Stefanik and car owner Earl Reynolds won plenty in 1977 & '78 and Riverside Park in their Richie Evans Chassis, Bobcat bodied Modified.  Howie Hodge photo.
Bobby Stefanik and car owner Earl Reynolds won plenty at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977 & ’78 in their Evans Chassis, Bobcat bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.

Pit PastaJim Whipple Sr. has put up for sale the No. 96 Racing Team’s two Vega bodied Modifieds driven by Jim Jr. at Riverside Park. One car carries a $2,800 price tag while the other is $2,000. Both are minus motor and transmissions. Give them a call and ask for Jim or… Jim… Rumor out of the No. 96 Racing Team camp is that they’ll debut a brand new Morrisino Chassis for 1979 possibly with AMC Pacer body on it. With those big windows the Pacers have, Whip Jr. must be planning to put on some weight… Earl Reynolds has his beautiful No. 71 Bobcat bodied Modified, chauffeured by Bobby Stefanik at Riverside Park on the selling block. $6,000 will take away the Richie Evans built Modified, that has captured six Park Features the llast two years, minus motor. If you’re interested call Earl after 5 pm… Quote of the season comes from Warren Bren, owner and driver of the No. 66 Vega that only saw action once this year. He stated recently, “Auto racing is a rich man’s game and a poor man’s fun!” How right you iz… Stopped in to see Stafford Street Stock driver Don Harris at his work last week. He had told me, after demolishing his No. 69 AMC at the tail end of the season, that he was going to find him a car that would get him up in this world. When I arrived at AAMCO Transmission, where Harris puts in his time, I found him sitting in a new car some seven feet in the air atop a hydraulic lift. Ah Don! I didn’t realize this is what you meant. Hogswageled again… The No. 10 Pinto bodied Modified, owned by Bill Pelly and driven by W.J. Grez is for sale. Pelly is asking $2,800 for this Lindblad Chassis Modified. Call Bill after 6 pm…. Geoff Bodine wrapped up win No. 50 in the Thompson 300 and his third tri-century victory in four starts at the Connecticut oval. He won in 1975, ’76 and now in ’78. It was great that he won his 5oth in New England and not down South or at Pocono. Congratulations Geoff… The Rosner buit Bob Beauchemin No. 26 Pinto bodied Modified that ran Riverside Park with Gary Davilli at the wheel is for sale. Beauchemin is asking $4,500 for the car minus engine. Call him… How about Thompson assistant starter Bob Gelinas sprinting toward the first turn to pick up some debris on the track and then all the way back to the starter’s stand without collapsing. With that much speed Bob could beat out the whole Patriots back field…

The Travelin' Man, Pete Fiandaca experienced problems while leading in the Thompson 300 Non-Qulifiers Race. He wasn't the only leader of the event to have issues. Howie Hodge photo.
The Travelin’ Man, Pete Fiandaca experienced problems while leading in the 1978 Thompson 300 Non-Qualifiers Race. He wasn’t the only leader of the event to drop out though. Howie Hodge photo.

Dell Cushing, driver of the No. 18 Vega bodied Modified, and owner John Royka feel they were ripped off by not getting the win in the Non-Qualifiers race at the Thompson 300. Involved in an accident on the 25th lap, Cushing pitted for a tire and returned under yellow only to be marked 2 laps down by the track’s scorers. I feel they made a big mistake, and we all make mistakes, but this one cost this racing team at least $1,200… In the Non-Qualifiers race, Stan Gregor blew an engine, Pete Fiandaca ran out of gas as did Rusty Ball. All were leaders at the time of their departure from the event. Tough luck for some tough competitors. Till next week: “Keep on Trackin’.

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FALL SEASON IS UPON US

– FRIDAY, AUGUST 25TH, 1978 – PAGE 4 –

“FALL SEASON IS UPON US”

Labor Day weekend brought about the end of regular season racing at most New England Speedways and at the same time kicks off two solid months of open extra distance events throughout the Northeast.

The weekend itself is probably the biggest of the year in auto racing in the Northeast and anywhere else for that matter.

The Oswego Classic Weekend at Oswego, NY at Oswego Speedway begins the weekend’s asphalt action on September 1st while on the same night, dirt trackers can do their thing at the Montgomery County Fair Races in Fonda, NY at the Fonda Speedway.

The Fonda races will run through Labor Day with racing for Modifieds and Late Model Sportsman. Oswego will feature Modifieds on Saturday night in the Genesse 200 with a posted purse of $30,000 while the Supermodifieds will will battle for $55,000 on Sunday night in the International Classic 200.

On Saturday night you can also see extra distance races such as the Riverside 200 at Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, MA, and the Labor Day 78 at Plattsburg International Raceway in Plattsburg, NY for Late Models. Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough, Maine will host Late Model and Limited Sportsman plus Modifieds for their two-day event tabbed the Labor Day Classic which will start on Saturday.

Thompson Speedway in Thompson, Conn. Will host a big 7-in-1 show on Sunday as their Labor Day Special with Modifieds, Late Models and Street Stock racing plus a demolition derby, powder puff derby, auto crash show, and aerial fireworks. You can see coupe racing in the Labor Day Special on Sunday at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vermont while Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY will host their Labor Day Classic 100 on the same day for dirt track Modifieds.

Geoff Bodine was in the thick of his winning ways with 46 wins by the 25th of August, 1978.  He would soon walk away with the '78 200 at Stafford.  Howie Hodge photo.
Geoff Bodine was in the thick of his winning ways with 46 wins by the 25th of August, 1978. He would soon walk away with the ’78 200 at Stafford. Howie Hodge photo.

Monday will be a big day in Stafford Springs, Conn., as the Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the 200 at Stafford which is sanctioned as a NASCAR National Modified Championship race carrying a purse of $28,000. The New York State Dirt Modified Championship will be held on Monday in Syracuse, NY at the New York State Fairgrounds while at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, NY the R.M. Petrocci Memorial for dirt Modifieds will be held on the same day.

Other big races during the next couple of months are the NESMRA Classic at Star Speedway in Epping, NH on September 9th for Supers and Modifieds and on the following day, Islip Speedway in Islip, LI, NY will host the 1978 All Star 300 another NASCAR National Modified Championship race with a purse of $23,000.

The weekend of September 15th through 17th will find Thompson Speedway hosting the Thompson 300 which will carry the largest purse in the Northeast for Modifieds, that being $50,000.

On September 23rd, Trenton International Speedway in Trenton, NJ will host the Machinist Union 150 for USAC Championship and Mini Indy Cars while Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia will have the Modifieds for the Autumn 150 and the next day Martinsville will host the Grand Nationals in the Old Dominion 500.

1978 Tom Rosati Wrapped up his second Limited Sportsman Championship at Stafford. He made the decision to try his hand with Northern Tour Late Models and wound up shocking the Northeast with an epic win at the 1979 Oxford 250.  Howie Hodge photo.
1978 Tom Rosati wrapped up his second Limited Sportsman title at Stafford. He made the decision to try his hand with Northern Tour Late Models the next season and earned an epic win at the 1979 Oxford 250 at 19 years old. Howie Hodge photo.

Congrats to Tom Rosati for wrapping up his second straight Limited Sportsman title. Rosati who will campaign exclusively on the Northern NASCAR circuit next season, has sold his car to Dick Armstrong.  Ricky Armstrong will wheel the new #1 entry of the Nu-Style Jewelry Racing Team… The Stafford Banquet has been set for January 13th at the Sheraton Sturbridge on US Route 20 in Sturbridge, Mass. While the Riverside Park Banquet will be held on November 18th at the Chez Josef in Agawam, Mass…. NASCAR Executive Vice President Lin Kuchler has resigned to take the position of Executive Director of the American Motorcyclist Association. Replacing Kuchler is Bill Gazeway, who has been NASCAR’s Winston Grand National Competition Director and Bob Smith, NASCAR’s Marketing Manager.  Winston Grand National Technical Director, Ray Hill will assume Gazeway’s former duties…. The “Rapid Roman” is now leading the “Cookie Monster” by 132 points in the chase for the NASCAR National Championship.  Richie Evans now has 3,036 to Jerry Cook’s 2,904. Cook picked up 16 points on the current leader last week…. Modified and Late Model Sportsman drivers went into the stands for charity at the NASCAR National Championship race at Monadnock Speedway on August 20th and using their helmets collected well over $1,250 from a capacity crowd. That’s what puts auto racing drivers and fans among the greatest people in the world…. The “Radical Racer”, owned by Fred Felton and driven by

Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton's Radical Racer Modified. Jim Snape photo.
Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton’s 11 Mass Radical Racer Modified woes with NASCAR officials was resolved with both sides communicating and working together. Jim Snape photo.

Marty Radewick, returned to Stafford two weeks ago with one change.  They widened the roll bar hoops at the roof of the car about 6 to 8 inches.  On the right side of the car only, while the car’s width remains the same at all other points. Felton stated, “We gave a little and NASCAR gave a little.” Felton also told me that Bruce Watt had been very understanding and helpful during the “Radical Racer” conflict…. The racing world is always saddened when tragedy strikes the sport. 42 year old C.H. Whorton of Tulsa, Oklahoma was killed a couple of weeks ago at the Tulsa Speedway when he backed his Modified onto the track after a spinout and was t-boned by another car. Our deepest sympathy to the family, relatives, and friends of C.H. Whorton.

Maynard Troyer was on a hot streak in 1978.  Howie Hodge photo.
Maynard Troyer and his famous #6 Modified were not the only ones on a hot streak in 1978.  Howie Hodge photo.

Geoff Bodine has won 46 races so far this season to lead the Nations Modified drivers, but there are some other big winners in the Northeast. Maynard Troyer has collected 37 wins, Richie Evans has 30 wins to his credit and Punky Caron has entered victory lane 19 times. You put this bunch together and you could call them auto racing’s Fearsome Foursome…. Fred Felton told me recently that he is really happy with the job that Marty Radewick has been doing in his car. He stated, “Marty drives like a man with 20 years experience instead of only a few years.” Radewick retired the Claremont Top Ten Drivers Trophy last Saturday by winning it twice in a row for the 11 Mass Racing Team. Felton’s car won last years races with Kirby Montieth at the wheel. It’s only the first time since the trophy was instituted nine years ago that a car has won back to back…. Have you seen all those Booker TWhat It Is – tee shirts?  Well, with Riverside Park going full NASCAR next year, we won’t have to worry about anyone runnin’ those Fat Motors will we?…. To Becky Coit of the #6 Racing Team; I think your poem on Ollie Silva was just super and you only confirm what I said earlier in this column about racing people…. It’s beginning to look like old times at Yarrington’s Yard. August 11th saw 51 Modifieds at Stafford and the following week there were 45. Last week’s total was 35, but weather seems to hold down the number of cars as Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Vee were among the missing.

To all of the people who don’t like what I write in NERF’ers Corner, all I have to say is don’t read it and you won’t get your ulcers in an uproar. If you continue to read this column, then as the Fonz would say; A-y-y-y-e-e-e, Sit On It!…. Until next week remember; “NERF’ers Do It Trackside.

1979 RACE OF “ONE” CHAMPION

– FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH, 1979 –

1979 RACE OF “ONE” CHAMPION

The 1979 CAM2 Race of Champions???  Hmmmm!  Well, maybe, but personally I think they could rename this year’s event the CAM2 Race of One Champion.  Yup!  That’s about the way it was as Richie Evans ran away from the field over the last one-third of the 300 mile distance to win the 29th edition of the prestigious event.

An absolutely amazing shot by Peter Montano as he captures the starting field of 60 of Modifieds best for 26th Annual Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway. Peter Montano photo
An amazing shot capturing the starting field of 60 Modifieds at the 29th Annual CAM2 Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway. Peter Montano photo

Pocono International Raceway, located in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, was the site of the Joe Gerber promoted race.  The event is now held annually on the 2-1/2 mile tri-oval asphalt speedway speedway just 3 miles off I-80.

Chargin' Charlie Jarzombek (11) fends off Richie Evans (61) and the Allan Whipple machine piloted by Geoff Bodine. Peter Montano photo.
Chargin’ Charlie Jarzombek (11) fends off Richie Evans (61) and the Allan Whipple machine piloted by Geoff Bodine. Peter Montano photo.

With many of the front runners and several drivers considered to be challengers dropping out for one reason or another, like Ron Bouchard on lap 7; Bugs Stevens lap 31; Jerry Cook and Charlie Jarzombek lap 58; Doug Hewitt lap 67; Geoff Bodine lap 89; John Bryant lap 93; and Greg Sacks lap 110, it didn’t leave too many to put the pressure on the Rapid Roman.

Maynard Troyer came across the finish line second almost a mile behind Evans.  Gail Barber was the only other driver on the lead lap finishing some distance behind Troyer.

Rounding out the top ten finishers were Jim Shampine, Satch Worley, and Ken Bouchard, all one lap down;  Fred Harbach and Paul Radford both two laps down; George Kent and Dan Jivanelli were both three laps behind.

Charlie Jarzombek (11) leads. Evans (61) makes an outside attempt for the top spot while Geoff Bodine (1) drafts him. Maynard Troyer (6) looks for an opening. Peter Montano photo.
Charlie Jarzombek (11) leads Evans (61), Geoff Bodine (1) and Maynard Troyer (6). Peter Montano photo.

It was a protest marred event as six drivers filed post race complaints due to a scoring mishap and some mistaken identity.  The protesting chauffeurs were Troyer, Barber, Shampine, Worley, Radford and Kent.  I waited a considerable length of time for a decision on the protests, but the last word out of one race official was that they’d made a mistake, they were sorry, come back next year.  One individual involved stated, “It’s the same old baloney every year.”

Bodine (1) follows Evans (61) as Charlie Jarzombek (11) keeps on charging. Peter Montano photo.
Bodine (1) follows Evans (61) as Charlie Jarzombek (11) keeps on charging. Peter Montano photo.

I don’t know what this person meant as I haven’t been at any of the previous events, but it sounds like they have a definite problem somewhere.  Personally I don’t understand how there could be such a problem with scoring on a track of this length.  There’s one scorer per car and since the cars go by the stands approximately once every minute, you’d think there’d be no problem.  A person can understand if there’s a scoring mistake on a short track of 5/8th mile or less, but not on a 2-1/2 mile speedway.  What’s the old saying?  Oh yeah!  Someone had better get their s–t together.

Some closing statistics on the ’79 RoC.  Evans collected $16,280.00 for his 49th victory of the season.  Evans took the pole position with a fast time trial lap of 58.627 seconds for a m.p.h. clocking of 153.512 which was two miles per hour faster than outside pole sitter Troyer.  Evans set a new track record completing the 120 laps in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 45 seconds for an average speed of 113.385 m.p.h.. Evans led 83 of 120 laps.

Jerry Cook (38), in his Superspeedway Modified tries to hold off Richie Evans (61), Geoff Bodine (1). Peter Montano photo.
Jerry Cook (38), in his Superspeedway Modified, tries to hold off Richie Evans (61) and Geoff Bodine (1). Peter Montano photo.

Other stats were 8 caution flags for 45 laps meaning that over one third of the event was run under the yellow.  There were 17 lead changes between eight drivers.  Those drivers leading the race besides Evans were Cook, Troyer, Bodine, Jarzombek, Bryant, Dave Thomas, and John Blewett Jr..  The estimated attendence was in the vicinity of 27,000.

Dan Mason was awarded best appearing car and Tom Comerford took rookie of the year honors as he was the highest finishing first year RoC driver.  He also showed the best progress for the day starting 58th in the 60 car field and finishing 15th for an improvement of 43 spots.

Evans (61) and Troyer (6) race back to the track after pit stops during the 1979 Race of Champions. Peter Montano Photo.
Evans (61) and Troyer (6) race back to the track after pit stops during the 1979 Race of Champions. Peter Montano Photo.

An interesting sidelight to this year’s RoC was that 20 of the 60 Modifieds starting the race were built by Troyer Engineering.  An impressive showing for the man from Rochester, New York.  Upon mentioning this to Mr. Troyer, he replied,  “The fun’s in trying to keep them all running.”  We should all have such a big problem, huh!

Several motors went up in smoke during RoC weekend. Approximately 25 to 30 engines would be a close estimate.  Averaging them out at around six grand a piece it would come to about $150,000 in powerplants went to the junk pile.

From what I can see, the main reason for so many motors letting go is that most of the people running Modifieds can’t afford to put super high buck engines together that will hold up under the stress of a long track super speedway action.

Paul Radford (07), Fred Harbach (90) and Rit Patchen (94) about to be lapped Richie Evans . Peter Montano photo.
Paul Radford (07), Fred Harbach (90), Rit Patchen (94) and eventual race winner Richie Evans (61) scream down the long Pocono front stretch. Peter Montano photo.

After talking to many of the competitors and listening to many fans complain, I think the powers that be ought to look at the possibility of moving the annual event back to Trenton International Speedway.  It’s the car owners who are really feeling the money crunch in racing and if the race was taken to a shorter track it would be to their advantage.  Also the Modified fan would be able to enjoy racing on a track more suited to their liking rather than a speedway so enormous the they can’t tell who’s who on the back straights without binoculars.

I’d like to say that Mr. Gerber along with CAM2 Product Manager Robert Burtner and both their staffs went out of their way to make it an enjoyable weekend even though the weatherman tried his best to wreck everyone’s plans.  Personally I’d like to thank Mr. Gerber, Tim Sullivan and Joe Mattioli III for the hospitality extended me as the former Promotional Director for Claremont Speedway and now a similar position with Speedway Scene.

Evans (61) puts Long Island Modified standout Greg Sacks (18) a lap down on the long home straight at Pocono. Peter Montano photo
Evans (61) and Long Island Modified standout Greg Sacks (18) on the long home straight at Pocono. Peter Montano photo

Yes the 1979 RoC is history and the question now being asked is “Will EVANS win six more to break BODINE’S record of 54 wins set last season?”  With approximately six to eight races left, it would seem to be an impossibility, but by the 25th of November we ought to know for sure.

EVANS, ROSATI “FALL FINAL” FAVORITES…  This weekend is the FALL FINAL at Stafford Motor Speedway with twin 100 lap events scheduled on Sunday for both the Mod Squad and North Tour Late Model Sportsman.  Both races are NASCAR sanctioned with the Modified 100 tagged as a National Championship event while the Sportsman will compete for North Tour points.

Richie takes the checkered flag after dominating 1979 CAM2 Race of Champions. Peter Montano photo.
Richie takes the checkered flag after dominating the 1979 CAM2 Race of Champions. Peter Montano photo.

Saturday will find all cars taking time trials for the first ten starting spots with the remaining machines qualifying through heats.

Richie Evans would have to be considered the strong favorite to win the Mod half after his convincing RoC win last Sunday and Tom Rosati has to be the Sportsman favorite as Stafford was his home track a year ago.  In two seasons at the track he only won approximately 25 races, “Rookie of the Year” honors in 1977 and two track titles.  He also won the prestigious Oxford 250 this past summer.

Going into the FALL FINAL, Evans leads the NASCAR Modified National Championship Point Standings once again over Jerry Cook.  Beaver Dragon leads the NASCAR North Tour Point Race over Hector LeClair, Gardiner Leavitt and Rosati.  Andy Isbister is the current North leading candidate for the “Shearer Chevrolet” Rookie Crown.

NERF’ers NIBBLETS…….. I understand that Stafford Promoter Ed Yarrington was seen around 3 a.m. Sunday at the Pocono start-finish line doing an “Un-Rain Dance” in hopes of halting the rain at the RoC.  The reason is, the RoC raindate would have put Big Ed’s FALL FINAL head to head with the Pocono event.  Ya’ know what?  Ed’s dance worked……. Word has it that Monadnock Speedway Head Flagman Jim Hanks will be handling the same duties for the NASCAR North Tour Late Models next year……. I understand that C.O.D.A. (Claremont Owners & Drivers Association) Officials would like to thank Ernie Hastings for all the advertising he gave them with his “20M C.O.D.A. Outlaw tee shirts”.  Gee Ernie!  Ya’ can’t win for losin’, tsk, tsk……. Speaking of Claremont Speedway, they’ll be running the Modified Sportsmans with the small block Modifieds come next season paying special bonus money to the 292 cid cars.  They’ll also upgrade the Late Models somewhat and will be adding a pure Street Stock class as a third division……. Monadnock Speedway will run Modifieds, Late Models and a six cylinder class.  The only thing not certain is on which day they’ll be running, but rumor has it that Thursday night could be it……. Birthday wishes go out to Nanci Newcomb on September 27th.  Hey Puddles, how’s it feel to be “Sweet 16” and never been kissed?  I bet……. Up and coming events for the next couple of weeks.  The “Schaefer Super Dirt Week” is on tap starting Wednesday and running through Sunday at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.  Seekonk Speedway hosts the “Eastern Fall Classic” on Sunday, October 7th.  October 13th and 14th is the World Series of Speedway Racing at Thompson Speedway……. Until next time, remember, All good NERFers will be at the FALL FINAL…….

*       *       *       *       *

As Robert Echo mentions, the 1979 CAM2 Race of Champions was the first RoC he and I had ever attended.  My father “double dipped” by representing his previous position at Claremont Speedway and his new one with Speedway Scene.  Prior to arriving for the 1979 RoC, the biggest field we had ever witnessed was at the Thompson 300.

(2) Bobby Vee and (1) Geoff Bodine share the from row at the 1979 Thompson 300. Peter Montano photo.
The 1979 Thompson 300 field. (2) Bobby Vee and (1) Geoff Bodine share the from row.  Peter Montano photo.

Back in those days the starting fields for the Thompson 300 and Race of Champions were similar in size.  Visually Thompson’s 300 field covered a third of the 5/8th mile track giving it the appearance of a 24 car field at a bullring like the old 1/4 mile oval of Riverside Park Speedway.  The CAM2 Race of Champions on the big 2-1/2 mile tri oval looked much less cramped, but every bit as impressive.

Peter Montano’s photograph at the beginning of this republished time piece captures the huge field of 60 Modifieds stretched out on the final pace lap.  It also captures the strength of the division, and strength of the fan base.  Oh, and what about that crowd? 27,000 strong!

Like many that weekend we camped in the parking lot behind the grand stands in our pop-up camper along with thousands of Modified fans from up and down the east coast.  Many of the campers weren’t lined up as you might see nowadays they were in circles of 5 to 7, like the wagons of early settlers camped out from a long days ride.  Within our circle were a group from New England; a few folks from New York; one from New Jersey and another two from the Carolinas.

Richie’s dominance that weekend in September of ’79 became crystal clear during Saturday’s time trials.  Evans was released from the pit lane as the current Modified on track at speed, who’s driver and number escapes me, took the white flag and headed into his second lap.  Richie, on that warm up lap, fresh out of pit lane caught and passed that very Modified between the tunnel turn and the entry to the corner on the backside of the speedway.  For a moment arms of fans were extended pointing at the two Modifieds.  It was the type of reaction one might see these days on TV where “witnesses” reenact a sighting of a UFO or Bigfoot, in awe of what just happened.  At that moment, barring mechanical issues or heaven forbid an accident during the race itself, Richie had thrown down the gauntlet and put everyone on notice that the 1979 CAM2 Race of Champions was HIS RACE TO LOSE.

The only drivers that appeared to have something for Richie in the early goings were Geoff Bodine in a Chassis Dynamics Mustang bodied Modified that he built for New Hampshire hotshoe Allan Whipple and Maynard Troyer in yet another of his gorgeous Pinto bodied Modifieds.  Bodine dropped out with mechanical issues and Troyer faded in the last third of the event finishing second.  Richie Evans was not just fast that day, he was as many would say, ON RAILS.  (Results can be found here on Speed51’s The Third Turn. A fantastic stat site that any fan will enjoy)

Coincidentally, Robert Echo’s call for moving the CAM2 Race of Champions to a more favorable, downsized, engine and owner friendly track came true.  In 1980 the Gerber family moved the venue from the 2-1/2 mile Pocono tri-oval to the 3/4 mile Pocono oval that surrounded the pit area.  The facility remained home to the RoC for many more years.

The 1980 edition of the CAM2 Race of Champions?  Well, 2-1/2 mile tri-oval or 3/4 mile oval didn’t matter.  Although the 1980 RoC was more of a contest, Richie wound up at the same place at the end of the 1980 RoC, VICTORY LANE.  (Results for the 1980 RoC can be found here)

I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to Peter Montano for allowing me to publish his photos from the 1979 Race of Champions with this 35 year old column.  Peter used to have an online racing site called “PETE’S RACING SITE”.  The site was filled with fantastic photos from the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s and 90’s featuring our beloved Modifieds.  It was the “go-to” site to relive and get updates on the looks of your favorite Modified driver’s entry through many seasons.  Although the site is no longer up Peter was very kind to permit me to post the photos.  So very much appreciated sir!

– Jared

*09/16/15 – Photo captions edited / reworded.