NERF'ers Corner by Robert Echo

WITCHES, GHOSTS, HOBGOBLINS, 500 and 100 TOO!

– FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27TH, 1978 –

WITCHES, GHOSTS, HOBGOBLINS, 500 and 100 TOO!

The week of witches, ghosts, hobgoblins, The Cardinal 500 Classic and Racearena 100 is upon us.

We’ll leave the witches, ghosts and hobgoblins to the young’uns of the racin’ world and talk about the biggest racing twin-bill of the season.

We hope that you’ll be among the better than 20,000 spectators in attendance for this annual event held on the last weekend of October in the small community of Martinsville, Virginia set deep in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Martinsville Speedway owner, H. Clay Earles, has posted a purse of $121,950 to be split between the NASCAR Modifieds and Late Model Sportsman bringing about the largest payday of the year for these two divisions.  The season’s purse is up some $14,000 over last year’s event which was owned by Bugs Stevens and Morgan Shepherd respectively.

Geoff Bodine took home the Modified portion of the Cardinal 500 Classic in 1978. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge Collection.
Geoff Bodine took home the Modified portion of the Cardinal 500 Classic in 1978. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge Collection.

Leading the parade of of drivers in this year’s Modified half is New England’s own Geoff Bodine who has collected a total of 53 victories for 1978.  He’s followed by Maynard Troyer with 36 wins while National NASCAR Modified Point leader Richie Evans has 34 and Ron Bouchard totals 19 wins.  Butch Lindley, the National NASCAR Sportsman point leader is the leading LMS entry with 23 feature wins and he’s followed closely by Bob Pressley who totals 18 victories.

Last season I made the trip to Martinsville for this event with my family and my other racing enthusiasts on a charter bus.  The hospitality given us by Mr. Earles, his staff and the people of Southwestern Virginia can’t be equaled anywhere.  We took our bus down on the actual speedway surface where Mr. Earles gave us a look back in the history of the track as we toured the .525 asphalt oval.

I’d hoped to return to the event this Fall, but two things halted my plans.  One is an old problem known as money and the other is my wife had a serious operation just recently and wouldn’t have been able to make the trip.  So we’ll be absent from this year’s event in body, but will be there in mind as well as tuned in to the Motor Racing Network so we can listen to the Twin 250 lappers for Mods and LMS.

If you won’t be in Martinsville for the Cardinal 500 and still want to go race watchin’, then take a ride down to Danbury, Connecticut to the Danbury Fairgrounds where you’ll get to see Don LaJoie, Rit Patchen, Lou Funk Jr., Chick Stockwell, Bill Layda, Ev Pierce, Corky Cookman and many other S.N.Y.R.A. Modified runners mix it up in the Racearena 100.  The winner will take home the Fred G. Fearn President’s Cup along with a big paycheck.

The Danbury Fair Racearena held it's Fred G. Fearn President's Cup Modified 100 this weekend back in 1978. Danbury always ran in front of a packed house. The track is sorely missed. Howie Hodge photo.
The Danbury Fair Racearena held it’s Fred G. Fearn President’s Cup Modified 100 this weekend back in 1978. Danbury always ran in front of a packed house. The track is sorely missed. Howie Hodge photo.

Both races are on Sunday afternoon with the Martinsville extravaganza taking to the track at 12:30 pm as the Modifieds run first followed by the LMS.  The Racearena 100 gets underway at noon with time trials, heats and consolations races running first.  If you’re not down south then head towards New York on Route 84 and get off on Exit 3 to Danbury Fairgrounds for one of the finest shows held anywhere.

Now to other things – I’ve only spoken to Ollie Silva on one occasion and that was during 1977 at one of the late season shows held on the high banks of Monadnock Speedway where he also met with his very critical accident early in ’78.

The conversation with the “Big O” was a very short one and I’m sure he probably doesn’t remember me with all the people that speak or talk to him wherever he travels to perform.

My first impression of Ollie was one of awe as he seems to glow with the two main indigence that it takes to become a winner, that being character and competitive spirit.

I now feel my first impression was right after reading last weeks NESS.  Viewing the photos of the Ollie Silva tribute held at DeBurro’s Restaurant only proves the fact that Ollie is one hell of a competitor by showing the recovery he has from such serious injury and he definitely has shown character by making the appearance before his many fans at DeBurro’s.

What more can you say about the “Big O” except that we hope to see him back on the track in ’79.

Checkered Chatter…  Tragedy has once again struck the racing world and the country of Sweden.  Ronnie Peterson dies only hours after the September 10th Italian Grand Prix and now fellow countryman Gunnar Nisson has died of cancer after battling the illness for nine months.  He didn’t go quietly though as he spent his last week valiantly rallying friends to help save others from the dreaded disease…  Geoff Bodine will definitely find action at the Grand National level a lot tougher as will Maynard Troyer.  If you don’t believe it, just ask Northern NASCAR LMS star Dave Dion and Southern Modified standout Satch Worley.  I’m sure both Geoff and Maynard will give it their best shot as they are both the toughest of competitors…  You have to give Seymour the Clown a hearty pat on the back as he traveled from his home in New Britain, Connecticut to the Mary Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire, at his own expense, to give a little cheer to one Ollie Silva.  Being the trip was on Friday the 13th a couple weeks ago I’d say that it was definitely not an unlucky day for either party…  Speaking of Seymour, we heard a rumor that he’s employed a Public Relations man to handle his many ventures for the coming season.  I wonder, did Ed Yarrington take on this new position since Mike Joy had to turn it down?  How about it Ed.  Didja’ huh?..  Didja’?…  You’re right Mr. Terry Battle!  There should definitely be an organization of some kind for racing fans so they can let the track promoters know how they feel about certain matters.  There’s great strength in numbers and only as a body can racing fans let their feelings be felt.  Remember, racing fans pay the way and without the often forgotten fan there wouldn’t be any auto racing.  Ya’ got a helluva idea Terry!…

Fred DeSarro was one of the most beloved Modified stars. The week after this column was published Thompson Speedway held a race to where all proceeds and the purse went to the DeSarro family, defining again what Racing Community stands for. Howie Hodge photo.
Fred DeSarro was one of the most talented and beloved Modified stars. The week after this column was published Thompson Speedway held a race to where all proceeds and the purse went to the DeSarro family, defining again what Racing Community was all about. Howie Hodge photo.

My prayers go out to the Freddie DeSarro, as I’m sure do many others, for a speedy recovery and a return to the New England Modified scene in 1979…  Don’t forget the Claremont Speedway Banquet next Saturday, November 4th at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Claremont, N.H. See ya there…  Rumor has it that Monadnock Speedway will fly a Sunday NASCAR flag in 1979 with Claremont having a closed club with 100 mile radius restriction on its cars and drivers.  That would give New Englanders a three-day weekend NASCAR Modified Circuit with Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday nights, Riverside Park Speedway on Saturday evenings and the high banks on Sunday.  The only thing is, would Monadnock owner Bill Brown be able to post a big enough purse to lure the boys away from Thompson Speedway and still be able to pay that big NASCAR sanction fee.  Only time will tell, like one winter, this one…

At this point in 1978, Ron Bouchard had just collected his 19th win in a 250 lap Modified race in Kingsport, Tennessee. Howie Hodge photo.
At this point in 1978, Ron Bouchard had just collected his 19th win in a 250 lap Modified race in Kingsport, Tennessee. Howie Hodge photo.

Ron Bouchard won the Winston 250 at Kingsport, Tenn. with Richie Evans second and defending NASCAR National Modified Champion Jerry Cook third.  The “Rapid Roman” now leads the “Cookie Monster” by 86 points in the chase for the 1978 NASCAR Crown.  Evans has 4,228 points to Cook’s 4,142 and only one race to go, the Cardinal 500.  It’s funny how many said at the beginning of the season the title would be decided at Martinsville…  There will be a benefit race held for Fred DeSarro on November 5th at Thompson Speedway.  Be sure to support this event as DeSarro has given racing fans many thrills on the track…..  Till next week, “NERF’ers Do It Trackside!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s