Boycott The Olympics, Not Thompson… And Let’s Go Racing!

–   FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 1980   –

Boycott

HoenigRacing Action at Thompson Speedway was once again at a stand still last Sunday as the impasse continues between track owner Don Hoenig and the New England Drivers & Owners Club.

The popular Connecticut 5/8th-mile asphalt oval was closed on June 1st when NEDOC members boycotted the Olympic Challenge Series Silver 100.

Who was hurt most by this boycott?… Not the owners or drivers, as they probably made more money by leaving their cars home!… Not Don Hoenig, as he doesn’t really have to open the speedway since he has another business located adjacent to the track, which I’m sure would pay the taxes on all property so he could leave the racing complex idle!… The racing fan is the who that got hurt by the boycott!

The 3,000 or so fans who turned out at Thompson on June 1st to see the 100-lap race were the ones who got hurt by NEDOC’s action against the track.

How many gallons of $1.15 per gallon or better, gas was used to get to Thompson and back home by those fans who attended the event on what is now known as Boycott Sunday. Add to this the travel time that was wasted by those same 3,000 or so fans, plus the general disappointment by all who didn’t get to see the Silver 100.

The original negotiations included NEDOC’s wanting a purse increase and free admittance for both the owner and driver of all Modifieds.

Hoenig increased the purse and offered a compromise on letting in both owners and drivers plus three crew members per Modified at a reduced pit admission.

NEDOC accepted the purse increase, but turned down Hoenig’s reduced pit admission plan, bringing about the boycott.

A six hour meeting on Thursday night, June 5th, between officials of both Thompson and NEDOC failed to resolve anything, leaving Hoenig no alternative but to leave the padlock on the speedway gates.

Let’s get serious now!… We all know Mr. Hoenig is making money, but isn’t that what it’s all about? How many of you fans who were at Thompson for the Silver 100 are in business not to make money?

The NEDOC organization has silenced Thompson and for what?… Well, between what Hoenig has offered and what NEDOC wants, it amounts to about $15 per Modified. It doesn’t make much sense to me to strike for a measly fifteen or so bucks per event when the same people involved in the boycott will go out and buy anywhere from one to four tires to run that same race. The cost of a tire is between $130 to $150, depending on where you buy them. These same car owners will spend anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 for an engine… Why not boycott the tire makers, performance parts manufacturers and motor builders?

I’m not really in favor of the people who put on the show paying their way in, but I’m not in favor of the competitors closing a speedway.

The adage being used is that pro basketball, baseball and football don’t pay to play, but those same people are contracted to one team and if they don’t show up, they’re fired. We all know that racing competitors are here one week, and there next week. Also, what about the competitors who file pre-race entries, which give the promoter the right to advertise their being at his track, only to have them fail to show? This leaves the promoter in an awkward position, trying to explain to the irate racing fan that it’s not his fault. Ask Shangri-La Speedway promoter Dale Campfield what he feels about this practice and he’ll let you know in no uncertain terms.

Getting back to Thompson, how much more is Mr. Hoenig supposed to take before he says, “To hell with it!” First, his speedway is raked over the coals in what is now known as the biggest track safety scandal in racing history. Secondly, Thompson hosted a benefit  for the late Fred DeSarro, only to have many racing media and fans accuse Hoenig and associates of not turning over all the money to Fred’s wife, Linda, as Big T officials stated they did. Thirdly, Hoenig adopts a stock head rule to help lower cost for competitors, which brings about a lack of cars and fans, forcing him to go back to open competition rules, and now the boycott.

Hoenig could do what Wall Stadium promoter, Mrs. Jennie Nicol did recently when drivers and owners hit her track with a strike. She ran lower division cars, drawing smaller crowds, but still made money as her payoffs were much less than the posted purse she paid the Modified Sportsman and Modern Stocks. Hoenig could run the NEMMA Mini-Modifieds, NEMA Midgets and he could also use the speedway area to enlarge his golf course, plus there are a number of other things the track could be used for.

Come on NEDOC!… Is this strike necessary?… Is this just a show of power since NEDOC has been laughed at for so long as a do nothing organization?

I’ve talked with some of NEDOC’s low buck runners and they’re not really in favor of all that’s happening as they just want to go racing. One member-owner stated, “We’re not making money now, we’re never going to make money, so why hassle Thompson over fifteen bucks or so and take the chance of forcing Hoenig to close the gates for good.”

Another member-owner stated, “We don’t need another speedway closed in New England, and if the Club continues to hound Hoenig, he’s going to do just that.”

We don’t need to lose Thompson Speedway over a few bucks as we already have two or three other tracks in serious trouble. Everytime we lose another racing facility, we lose fans and cars. This is going to destroy racing in the long run.

By the time you read this column, Thompson may be back in operation and I surely hope so.

So NEDOC!… Boycott the Olympics and not racing!”… We want to see Thompson operating, not closed.

NERF’ers NibbletsHarry Gant finished 9th in last weekend’s Warner Hodgdon 400 at Riverside, California. He now rides eighth in NASCAR Grand National points…

Unfortunately Maxwell House was not Peter Fiandaca's sponsor, but the coffee can air cleaner was indeed a nice touch and still a conversation piece for the ages. The Travelin' Man shown here waving to the fans after a Sportsman win at Stafford in 1981. Howie Hodge photo.
Unfortunately Maxwell House was not Peter Fiandaca’s sponsor, but the coffee can air cleaner was indeed a nice touch and is just a part of the Fitchburg Flyer’s legend. The Travelin’ Man shown here waving to the fans after a Sportsman win at Stafford in 1981. Howie Hodge photo.

Has Pete Fiandaca picked up Maxwell House as a big buck sponsor for his Skid Row Express Late Model? Why else would he have a Maxwell House coffee can on the hood of the #135?…  If ya’ travel down to New Evergreen Speedway some Friday night, ya’ can watch the Two-Tony Show with plenty of Gusto. That’s Tony Siscone and Tony Hirschman and Gus Lewis. Great racin’!… Hey Chuck Jeffries! Please return our people!… Big show this Friday at Lincoln County. It’s the Down East Open for NASCAR type Late Models paying $1,000 to win. It’s Lincoln’s Grand Opening and will include a full card of racing…. For readers in the Claremont, New Hampshire area, dirt runner Dick Skillen ran the Winston 500 Grand National race at Talladega, finishing 28th in D.K. Ulrick’s Buick… While at Oswego Speedway a few weeks ago, the Ol’ Nerf was invited up to the Ivory Tower by Linda O’Brien, wife of promoter Dick O’Brien. Speedway Scene’s Fat Rat nicknamed the announcer and scorer’s booth because of it being filled with all the Caruso’s, owners of Oswego Speedway, and O’Briens. Linda told me that I’m one of the select few. Wow! But oh, those 52 steps to the Ivory Tower… It was sad to hear of the death of Freeport Speedway promoter, Don Campi. He’d climed into a Freeport Late Model recently under the name of Tony Basil and had started racing under his own name the Saturday night prior to his death. My sympathy to his family, friends, and fans… My heart felt sympathy also goes out to Fred Rosner and family on the recent loss of Rick, 23.

Fred is a well known car builder in Agawam, Mass and another son, Wes, recently injured in an industrial accident, is an up and coming late model driver.

NASCAR North runner, Pete Silva, finished 5th in the Winston 200 at Hickory (N.C.) Speedway last weekend… Till next time, “Don’t forget Bob O’Rourke’s Dog Leg 200 at Trenton on Sunday, June 29th!”

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NEW JERSEY, LYON KILLERS and “SIZZLE-CONE”

–   FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 1980 – PAGE 11   –

new Joysey

Took a trip to New Joysey last week for the Winston 100 at New Eqypt Speedway plus regular shows at East Windsor Speedway and Islip Speedway. A strong threat of rain in the Philadelphia-Trenton area made me change my itinerary from East Windsor to New Evergreen Speedway on Friday and then after hustling from South Jersey to Islip on Long Island, only to find out that Saturday night’s race had been cancelled because of severe afternoon thunder shower, I headed to Wall Stadium so as not to lose a days racing action.

New Egypt promoter, Jim Grbac should be renamed “Charlie Hustle” as he’s everywhere on the quarter mile asphalt facility at once. I watched young Grbac go from the office to the pits to the press box to the track and I’m sure he did this at least a couple dozen times.

During the most serious accident of the night, which eliminated both race leader Jerry Cook and Wayne Anderson, Grbac was right there working along with his clean up crew spreading speedy dry and sweeping up.

The big let down for the evening was that only fifteen Modifieds turned out to run for the hard-working Grbac who posted a $6,200 purse with a thousand to win for the high powered machines, so you can’t blame the promoter for the shortage of cars. Even with the small field of Mods it was still a super race with John Blewett Jr. taking the checkered flag in his “Spirit of 76” Pinto.

Only fourteen cars started the 100 lap feature as Frank Biddle was eliminated during warmups when the automatic transmission in his Gremlin bodied #69 exploded sending several fragments through the floorboard into the rear of his thigh doing severe damage to the muscles and tendons of his right leg. He was removed  to the hospital by ambulance where he will remain for 10 to 14 days and he’ll face some therapy before returning to racing action.

Frank Biddle trying his hand the following year in his Gremlin bodied Modified at Stafford's Spring Sizzler in 1981. Howie Hodge Photo.
Frank Biddle trying his hand the following year in his Gremlin bodied #69 Modified at Stafford’s Spring Sizzler in 1981. Howie Hodge Photo.

I stopped by to see Frank on my way to Islip and found him to be in good spirits even though he was in some pain. He told the Ol’ Nerf that he’s rather be racing than laying flat on his back…. I’m with you Frank!

While at the hospital, I gave Frank a few recent issues of Speedway Scene plus one of those bright orange and white caps carrying the Scene’s logo.

Frank could use your get well cards and letters while recuperating, Address them to Frank Biddle, c/o Freehold Hospital (address omitted).

A little side note on Biddle, is that he qualified a 6 cylinder Street Stock for the forty-car field at last year’s DogLeg 200 Modified race run at Trenton International Speedway. He also won recent Street Stock titles at both New Egypt and Wall before moving up to the Modifieds this year.

Richie Evans won the Open Modified portion of the 2nd Super Star Series event in 1979. Howie Hodge photo 1980.
Richie Evans found himself caught up in a late race incident at New Egypt’s quarter mile oval, but rebounded to finish 5th. Howie Hodge photo 1980.

The Winston 100 at New Egypt brought with it some controversy of sorts with Jerry Cook and Richie Evans somewhat upset about a certain Long Island hot shoe who they felt failed to heed Dutch “Guess Who” Miller’s passing flag.

The Rapid Roman, in speaking of the individual in question, stated, “The guy never races until you start to lap him.”

Evans then added, “If he raced as hard as he does when you try to go around him, he’d win a whole lot more.”

I talked to the accused party and he refused to comment other than he thought he was correct in his driving tactics.

Evans, who finished fifth after leading most of the show, was involved in the crash which eliminated the Cookie Monster and Wayne Anderson on the 87th lap. I’ve never seen Evans as mad as he was when he pulled up to the start-finish line at the conclusion of the event to give flagman Miller a piece of his mind.

In questioning several fans and bystandards about the accident as to who or what caused it, I found the pros and cons to be pretty even as to who was right or wrong. So it’ll all be chalked up to just another racing accident as the show goes on.

* * * * * * * * * *

John Lyons of Hammonton, NJ is being referred to as the Ron Hutter of South Jersey. Lyons puts together his “Lyon Killer Small Blocks” for the Lakewood, NJ duo of Dick Barney and Hoyt Morrison, co-owners of the #14 Pinto built at Eddie Flemke’s Race Works which is driven by red hot Tony Siscone. The car is sponsored by Hagman’s Machine of Wall Township, NJ, builder of the #14’s big blocks, and Welsh Dairy Farms of Lakewood.

Tony Siscone was red hot in Billy "The Whale" Graham's #28 Pinto with a "Lyon Killer Small Block" back in 1980. Cross that with his performance in the dick Barney / Hoyt Morrison #14 and it's no question why they called him Sizzle-Cone". Mayor's Photo.
Tony Siscone was red hot in Billy “The Whale” Graham’s #28 Pinto with a “Lyon Killer Small Block” back in 1980. Cross that with his performance in the Dick Barney / Hoyt Morrison #14 and it’s no question why they called him “Sizzle-Cone”. Mayor’s Photo.

Siscone has won better than twenty-five features with the “Lyon Killer” motors in the different cars he’s driven. He’s off to a super start in 1980 with three wins at Wall and a second at New Egypt with Jim Hagaman’s big block in the car while he has a second and three straight wins in his last four starts at New Evergreen in Billy “The Whale” Graham’s #28 Pinto. Siscone is now being tagged with the nickname Tony Sis-zle-cone.

NERF’ers Nibblets…… Lone Star J.R., Johnny Rutherford collected a cool $318,020 for his “Indy 500” victory. In comparison, that’s $98,260 more than Dale Earnhardt has earned in thirteen NASCAR Grand National events (now Cup). Earnhardt is the current G.N. point and money leader…..  The Atlantic City Speedway in Pleasantville, NJ is all but gone as the only thing remaining at the track located outside of New Jersey’s Casino town is the half mile oval of asphalt. The once popular speedway will be replaced by either a tramway to the nearby casinos or a coplex of condominiums. Losing a speedway is like losing a driver, gone but never forgotten…..  Bill “The Whale” Graham, owner of the #28 Pinto driven by Tony Sis-zle-cone, really loves oysters. The only problem is, everytime he eats them his family expands by one. Hey Whale! Why not try ice cream and dill pickles…..  Rumor has it that someone’s purchased the old Stock Car racetrack at the Acto [NJ] International Raceway. The facility, containing a drag strip, is known for drag racing under the sanction of the National Hot Rod Association. Maybe South Jersey will have a speedway to replace the defunct Atlantic City…..  New Egypt Speedway is planning a season benefit for the Mathany School for Crippled Children in Peapack, NJ. It sounds like a super benefit, so watch for more details in this column and in future Speedway Scene issues…..  Harry Gant continues to roll along in the NASCAR Grand National top ten with an 8th place finish in the Texas 400 mile race which ran without a caution flag over the entire distance. Jack Beebe, owner of Gant’s Race Hill Farm cars, should be commended along with crew chief Bob Johnson and Super Crewman, Stevie Bird and the rest of the Race Hill Farms team on the fantastic job they’ve done in preparing the machines for Gant who’s handled the wheel like a pro…..  If you are a Bugs Stevens fan, don’t forget to join the new look Bugs Stevens Fan Club (address omitted)…..  The DogLeg 200 is only three weeks away, so plan on making the trip to Trenton on June 29th. You can get tickets from promoter Bob O’Rourke in the Long Island, New Jersey area, Mary Toal in upstate New York or from the Ol’ Nerf in New England or wherever you might see me…..  Till next time – Don’t forget to send Frank Biddle a get well card or message.

HISTORY TO BE MADE SATURDAY AT MONADNOCK SPEEDWAY

(PRESS RELEASE) WINCHESTER, NH- Back in time, New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway played host to both weekly and special event Tour-Type Modified racing. The history is memorable, with the likes of Jerry Marquis, Reggie Ruggiero, Mike Stefanik and dozens more very talented drivers who have raced at the high-banked quarter mile known for exciting Modified racing.

In recent years, Monadnock has hosted some weekly racing, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti Modified Racing Series events, but none have brought all of these teams together for one event, and none have brought the race winner a minimum $5,000 payday.

This payoff to the race winner could double by the end of 100 green flag laps this Saturday night, June 13. If attendance exceeds 3,000 adults, including pits and grandstand the winners share will double. Any additional lap money or bonuses would push the winners share beyond that.

This “Riverside Park Reunion 100” is race two of the Northeast Race Cars Tri-Track open Modified Series for 2015, and drivers who have proven success at Monadnock are ready to show the influx of newcomers and tour racers the way around the tricky quarter-mile.

Kirk Alexander is perhaps the best here, but Dwight Jarvis, Todd Patnode and Russ Hersey are also proven winners and champions at the historic track. Short track specialist Matt Hirschman, Lee (NH) winner Chris Pasteryak, Andy Seuss, Woody Pitkat, Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink and many more figure to be among the contenders for victory.

The number of drivers on this list of talent goes even beyond those “glory days” events held at Monadnock in the 1980’s. Todd Annarummo, Doug Coby, Steve Masse, Zane Zeiner and Andy Jankowiak are just a few of the race winning-champion drivers entered.

Perhaps the most likely of all to be the one to beat however is Ryan Preece, who is on a hot streak, winning both Friday and Saturday this past weekend. He will wheel the TS Haulers entry, representing the NWMT. Preece is a former winner at Monadnock on the NWMT.

Racing at the western New Hampshire track on Saturday begins at 5:00 PM with heat races for the Monadnock weekly divisions, followed by four very competitive Tri-Track Modified qualifying heat races as drivers not only look to put themselves at the front of the 27 car starting field, but to qualify among the expected 40 entries.

The Northeast Race Cars Tri-Track Open Modified Series event on Saturday carries a payoff that will exceed $50,000. That includes the “Red Roof Inn 25” B-Main, which carries a purse payoff as well. The winner will have the option to start the main event or pocket the $1,000 winners share. The Red Roof Inn has several locations in New England, including nearby in South Deerfield, MA., Springfield, MA., Enfield, CT., and also in Salem and Loudon, NH.

Among the bonus money paid out will be $2,000 in lap leader money, sponsored by Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair. Dunleavy’s will also pay another $500 in lap money as part of the B-Main payoff. Race leaders in both event will earn $20 on every lap.

A Waddell Communications Halfway Bonus of $200, $1,700 in Red Roof Tow Money. Hard Charger ($100) and lap 90 leader ($100) will be paid by Diamond and Crown Racing. The 3rd annual Chuck Montville Car Owner Award will also be part of this event, paying a deserving car owner more than $700 in his memory.

A $500 bonus goes to the driver leading the most laps for the overall Tri-Track Series, paid by Joe Duarte and Bridgewater-Raynham Overhead Door. Coil Over Commander has a $300 gift certificate to the B-Main winner, and Seals-It will pay $100 to the feature event winner as well.

These are all a part of what makes this event special, and with Grand Marshall Bob Polverari there to add a historic flavor to this “Riverside Park Reunion 100”, this race is sure to go into history as one of the most memorable Modified events ever held at Monadnock Speedway.

Adult admission for this event is just $25 for adults, $35 for pit entry, $20 for seniors 65 and over, $10 for students with a valid ID and kids under 12 will be admitted FREE. More information on this event and late-breaking updates can be found on the Northeast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series Facebook page, at: http://www.tritrackopenmodifiedseries.com and also at http://www.monadnockspeedway.com.