Category Archives: RELOADED

RELOADED is a current Auto Racing column, written by Jared Echo, covering past and present.

It’s Certainly NOT Race Promoters Misleading..

Mid morning on a rainy Saturday in Owego, New York, Shangri-La Speedway’s beloved and successful speedway promoter Dale Campfield, Robert Echo and myself are in the track office. We’re all about to leave for some lunch. Dale, always a cheery, well spoken gentleman says, “Oh! Hold on a second! I have to change the track answering machine.”

Dale pushes a couple of buttons and starts to speak, “Hello Racing fans! It’s going to be a gorgeous Saturday night of racing here at Shangri-La Speedway! The rain has stopped and the skies are clearing! So bring the family down to Shangri-La Speedway for a great time! Gates open at four pm, racing starts at seven!”

He clicked the machine and played the message back. Once he was assured it recorded perfectly, he set the answering machine in motion and said, “Okay fellas, let’s go get something to eat! I know a great place not far from here.”

This tactic wasn’t the least bit surprising back in the day. Damn near every facility office we had been to had similar practices. Some times it worked, as the rain ceased and track dried. Sometimes the answering machine was changed an hour or two prior to the gates opening as the rain continued to fall.

In the day and age of social media, weather apps and the world wide web at our finger tips, these practices are a thing of auto racing promotions past. The days of no-shows by drivers and teams listed on a series or track roster by way of paid entries, handshake or committing verbally with a promoter however, are still around and will always be a part of auto racing. Anyone who tells you otherwise is leaving out one key element, HISTORY. Not just open Modified show HISTORY.

Every, and I mean EVERY inaugural open Modified event that has started up in the last 10 years has struggled with no-shows. the Seekonk Speedway opens, the SBM125, the Tri Track Series and the latest, Gary Knight’s Modified Touring Series Winchester 200, which was held at Monadnock Speedway.

New events that are off the beaten path of sanctioning bodies and series start off with question marks. Once the teams, drivers and fans see that promoters and management teams are legit the shows grow spines and gather steam. The car counts climb and fan turnouts continue to rise with each season that follows.

The inaugural SBM125 had a car count in the teens and that car count and crowd grew over the following seasons. Seekonk Speedway’s yearly open Modified show, which is now part of the NorthEast Tri Track Open Modified Series, struggled with car counts in the early goings. The inaugural Tri Track Open Modified event at Lee USA Speedway, the Bullring Bash of 2014, had verbal commitments by teams from Long Island and the WMT and none were more disappointed when those teams pulled their no-shows than the series promoters and organizers themselves.

This years inaugural Modified Touring Series event, the Winchester 200, recently held at Monadnock Speedway, had a lesser car count than expected and hoped for. However, the promoters, sponsors and fans appreciated those teams putting their expensive machines on the line to support the event. Additionally, it’s safe to say the teams and drivers who competed were just as grateful for the purse and fan turn out. It’s appreciating the efforts and being positive to those that do support the event which helps the division as a whole.

These promoters work their hind-ends off to put up a great payout and an equally good show for the fans, yet they continue to walk into the same repetitive proverbial one monkey excrement fight at the zoo.

The latest shots started late last season when the NorthEast Race Cars TRI-TRACK Open Modified Series’ organizers were unjustly accused of purposely withholding information from the fans prior to an event at the Nutmeg State’s third mile New London-Waterford Speedbowl’s asphalt oval.. For one single no-show. One.

The accusations were directed at the NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series organizers and promoters by the same blogger who’s either absolutely terrible with auto racing history or purposely omitting facts of auto racing history to serve his own spiteful agenda.

They were accused of having prior knowledge a certain young talented driver, by the name of Tommy Barrett, Jr., was not showing up for the event. The accuser claimed series organizers and promoters knew a day or so prior to the event that the hot shoe wasn’t coming. So, in the accuser’s eyes, because the promotional team didn’t put out an all points bulletin or sound the alarms in order to inform fans one (a single, uno, unum, yes one..) driver wasn’t going to be in attendance, they falsely threw promoters under the bus by claiming the promoters purposely deceived fans and used misleading and dirty promotional tactics to do so.

These silly accusations towards the NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series were regurgitated by the same accuser while recently criticizing the advertised roster of the new Modified Touring Series’ big money “Winchester 200”.

In order to make any outrageous claims or accusations such as the aforementioned, the individual slinging said fecal matter would have to be extremely uneducated and oblivious with the inner workings of any series or speedway management and promotions. Thus they would equally have to be terribly lazy in basic fact finding questioning of speedway and series management. To put it mildly the one throwing the stones would have to be poor at paying attention to promotional procedures that have existed since motorsports began.

What about these no-shows? Just as in everyday life, drivers, owners, crew members and their machines experience issues forcing them to change plans. Some avoidable and some unavoidable. These issues and, in some cases, broken promises are guaranteed to happen. It’s a part of the sport. Decades upon decades of history shows that, but then again the same blogger would have to be educated on the history of the sport which as the same short history of the accuser would show, time and time again, they are not.

Rosters for open shows, series and speedways are normally, but not always, based off of pre-paid entries. Everyone involved in the sport is well aware tracks list rosters in their weekly programs, should they have one, and/or on their websites. These rosters are comprised of much the same procedure. A team applies for a license or fills a registration sheet and pays the fee. The teams and drivers are then added to the track or series roster. For some tracks and series it’s a word of mouth type deal. In some cases it’s a cross between paid entries, hand shakes and word of mouth. Usually, where tracks are concerned, as the season rolls along and the occasional newbie shows up to compete, their team and driver are added to the roster.

Everyone involved in the sport is well aware through the years there have been hundreds of scenarios preventing a driver with a paid entry or verbal commitment for an event to no show. In every instance when these scenarios unfolded..

Did the speedways or series promoters make announcements a day or two in advance stating any of these drivers wouldn’t be in attendance? No.

Were these tracks or series promoters expected to announce to the fans, in a short notice press release, of all the rumored or informed no-shows? No.

Were these tracks or series promoters accused of false advertisement? No.

Wouldn’t you think that a blogger who occupies the press box of speedway facilities using the very same procedures for decades would be knowledgeable of this information and refrain from spewing such digital media nonsense?
Yes.

It’s NOT the responsibility of the track, series or promoters in that short of notice..

Just like the fans, the promoters of not just series, but every short track facility across the country hold out hope. Promoters and fans always hope maybe, just maybe a contending team on their roster might show up to their Saturday event after said team wrecked hard on Friday night. The same hope is held out for a driver who is yet to be cleared by a doctor to compete after being injured during the work week or the past race weekend.

In this case, for the accuser, was it honestly so hard to fathom the promoters were holding out hope that the matters concerning the the potential no-show would be resolved prior to race day and thus would allow the one single driver to compete. It would seem so. But based on the blogger’s history of opinionated write-ups and “news reports” on Open Modified shows, it’s highly doubtful and more so would fall under another smear campaign.

It was just far too tasty a morsel for the mud-slinger to pass up an opportunity to drag out the same horse’s rotted corpse and commencing with another round of swings. It was far too easy leaving out obvious long standing key facts of speedway and series management and promotions that have existed since the sports humble beginnings.

It’s not surprising in the least given it’s just another baseless shot against the same series and open shows by the accuser over the years.

How about this..

A day or two prior to a short track racing event, name the last time you have heard any series or speedway PR camp making an announcement (via short notice press release, website, social media post or even radio for that matter) with a list of those on the advertised rosters who are rumored or known to NOT be competing..

Anyone? Anybody?

That’s right!.. It has hardly EVER happened in the past and for that reason IT SHOULDN’T BE EXPECTED in the future.

In that time frame / short notice, the event staff have a race day to prepare for. It’s called WORK and PREPARATION (Something the accuser has chosen to forget in terms of the sport’s history). In these days of social media leave those late announcements to the media and the teams themselves to inform fans. With a couple days left for the show, it’s NOT the track, series management nor the promoter’s responsibility. Heck, back in the day, you only found out by showing up to the track or hearing prior through the grape-vine or rumors.

How about the basic subject by the blogger that promoters purposely mislead the fans? Why is it these accusations are only focused on the Open Modified event promoters? I think we all know the answer. Otherwise, the fecal-slinger would have to throw a tandem load of accusations towards the Northeast speedways and series who list and advertise 2016 Rosters on their sites and have plenty of weekly no-shows, including some facilities and series he himself attend or cover on site.

  • Valenti Modified Racing Series
  • NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
  • ACT
  • PASS
  • Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, NH)
  • Lee USA Speedway (Lee, NH)
  • Star Speedway (Epping, NH)
  • Riverhead Raceway (Riverhead, Long Island, NY)
  • Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, CT)

Prime example: Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2016 SK Modified Roster alone lists over 50 SK Modified entries.

How many of these drivers and teams have shown up each week to compete? Certainly not the 50 plus listed.

Does the speedway make a prior announcement as to the rumored or known no-shows?
Nope.

Does this mean Stafford’s Management and Promotional team are deceiving, being misleading or pulling one over on the fans?
Of course not!

It’s preposterous for a veteran member of the media (and I use that term loosely in this case) to believe it’s the track, series, organizers or promoters responsibility to inform in that short of notice. Thus accusations of any misleading by the open Modified event staff is equally as preposterous.

Oh, but damn those evil dirty pool playing Open Modified show promoters!.. Pffffft! Absolute nonsense!

Misleading?.. It sure seems like it, but not from track, series or event organizers and promoters. Then again, by somewhat using a variation of the line the aforementioned blogger is well known for in his many rantings and comments, why let the simple facts of the long standing history of our sports management and promotional side get in the way of a good smear story, right?

Disregard the fecal-slinging-monkey and his repetitive smear campaign. Celebrate the fact promoters like Jim Schaefer, Dick Williams and staff, the team at Seekonk Speedway and the latest gentleman to throw his hat in the ring, Gary Knight and staff, are working their hind-ends off to put on high-dollar pay-out shows for you, the fans, that they themselves as fans want to see.

Modified fans from all over give their hard earned money to not only attend but support the event with sponsorship and lap money. Businesses sponsor not only the racing events themselves, but awards and laps. The money taken in by most of the open shows go directly to the teams and drivers competing. Other than paying for costs of being part of the racing program almost every darn dollar goes back to those who have shown up to put their expensive equipment and lives on the line to compete.

The open shows are nothing, but POSITIVE for the asphalt Modifieds. These folks should be applauded for sticking their necks out on the line for the Modified racing division’s benefit. What should be praised are the teams that show up to compete, fans that show up to support and enjoy the events, staff and speedways that put on the events and media who show up to cover and report on them.

*Rendered photo published prior in a 1981 Speedway Scene issue by Vin Hilliard.

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Everyone Has A RICHIE Story: A Few From the “Press Brat”

RE-NCR-Richie

“.. just a press brat..”

When our family started venturing religiously to the local speedways, from 1974 to 1978, I was a complete sponge soaking up the environment of each facility and gaining knowledge of the cars and their pilots, specifically the Modifieds. I studied each and every Coupe, Pinto, Bobcat, Vega, Astre, Gremlin, Chevette, Monza, etc. that came out of the pit gate and onto the speedway. I studied the bumpers, the cage, the way the bodies set, how the safety nets were positioned, the way the drivers sat and their posture behind the wheel, the way each held the steering wheel and the helmets they wore. I was all about identification because in order to get the full understanding of the racing I was about to take in and enjoy it, I HAD to make sure I knew WHO was piloting WHAT car. Pretty soon I was a wiz at which driver was in which Modified and would argue with anyone who challenged otherwise.

One Saturday just before practice at Riverside Park, Eddie Flemke (Sr.) made a brief rare appearance in the grandstands. He came up from the pit area to speak with my father. -I’m not positive, but believe it was in regards to Fred Felton’s Radical Racer and Park officials refusing to let it run- The conversation between the two led to my father making a quick dash into the pit area and left Eddie in the Grandstands to keep an eye on me. Eddie sat down in my father’s seat and immediately started to quiz me. It wound up being something that he’d do when we stopped by his shop, among other places, and saw Eddie. -“Where did you go? Who was running good? What was he driving?”-.

By the time my father came back and thanked Eddie for keeping me company Eddie was calling me the “Racing Dictionary” and that nickname stuck for quite a few years within the press boxes and press sections at the local stomping grounds of Riverside, Stafford, Plainville, Monadnock, Thompson and Westboro. Those Flemke quizzes I fondly remember with big smiles and was just fine with the nickname. When a guy like Eddie gives you a nickname, you wear it proudly like a badge of honor. 

Claremont Speedway, Claremont, New Hampshire 1979. *Left click the photo to enlarge.
Claremont Speedway, Claremont, New Hampshire 1979. *Left click the photo to enlarge.

In 1979 our family’s racing intake went on a major diet and for a kid who grew accustom to the flavor of frequenting many of the great New England racing venues, it was an extremely painful cold turkey. My father took on the challenge of his first promoter and race director job with Claremont Speedway and C.O.D.A. (Claremont Owners and Drivers Association) in Claremont, New Hampshire. A track who’s opening night in 1979 was the first race I had ever attended there. I knew no one, but that changed over the season with the Jarvis, Albro, Bodreau, and Bibens clans along with others treating us like family. It turned into a great experience for our family and one we have never forgotten.

With the gold Speedway Scene Pontiac Firebird my father had before the van came along. Our first visit to Wall Stadium, New Jersey in mid 1980.
The gold Speedway Scene Pontiac Firebird my father had before the famous van came along. This was our first visit to Wall Stadium, New Jersey in mid 1980. The next day we were at the historical Watkins Glen for the last CART race held there. Personal collection.

After Claremont Speedway and C.O.D.A.’s successful season concluded, all the joys of being the son of the NERF and the perks of being the son of a track promoter increased a hundred fold. Val LeSieur offered him the Promotional Director position at Speedway Scene (cue the chorus of angels singing).

If I tried to name every track we attended at least once in those Speedway Scene days from late ’79 to the close of the ’84 season, I know for sure I would miss a few. It was simply a bull-rush of racing for over 5 seasons. We turned up at every major race from Martinsville,  Virginia to Nelles Corners, Ontario. Dirt or asphalt didn’t matter, all the Oswego Classics, Thompson 300’s, Race of Champions, Super Dirt Weeks, Oxford 250’s, over 100 plus races a season, we were there and I was living the dream.

Along the way we met all kinds of racing personalities. THAT is indeed the part I have always cherished while looking back over those years. Taking in all the racing events and meeting all of these fantastic racing personalities (fans, crews, drivers, owners, track owners, promoters, officials, sponsors and those in the press) was like learning the meaning of life for a nine to fourteen year old auto racing junkie of an equally addicted father. It was as if being handed the keys to the gates of Northeast Auto Racing Heaven (again.. cue the chorus of angels singing).

The interesting thing was coming back home and being asked by friends and their parents, where we had been. I’d go down the list of the past weekend’s fun and would be met most times with disbelief. “Stayed at Jerry Cook’s house? Sure.” .. “Steve Kinser told you and your father that? Yeah right!” .. “Sat in every car at Troyer Engineering last Thursday? Whatever.” And oh boy did the eyes roll when I came back after Labor Day in 1981 and told them we had camped out in Richie’s shop prior to Oswego Classic Weekend.

My father and I put a lot of miles in the Speedway Scene van. 70 to 80 or more races a season. Howie Hodge photo.
We put a lot of miles in the Speedway Scene van. 100 plus races a season. If it was a racetrack, dirt or asphalt, and it was located in the Northeast and eastern Canada, we were there at one point along the way. Here pictured at Thompson Speedway in early 1982. Howie Hodge photo.

That leads me to Richie. In those years on the road we ran into Richie Evans and his crew numerous times each season; Stafford, Spencer, New Egypt, Riverside Park, Shangri-La, Oswego, Thompson, Monadnock, Seekonk, Pocono, Trenton, Islip, Holland.. I loved every time we did and looked forward to the ribbing I’d receive, well, most of it anyway.

Richie was something. Great racer? The best! Great champion? Without a doubt! Great guy with the fans? Abso-friggin’-lutely, no question about it!

Reminiscing over the years about Richie and starting up this site in memory of my father has led me to finally sit down and write about some of the many personal stories I am very fortunate to have involving Richie. I admit that it’s taken quite a while for me to buckle down and get it written. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Writing about personal run-ins as a kid with a guy who was and always will be the king of the division we know as Asphalt Modifieds can be a bit intimidating. It carries a certain amount of pressure to get it right. More so, talking about Richie can become a tough and emotional subject involving laughter, tears and more laughter.

During an email exchange, over a year ago, with a former co-worker and friend of my father’s, who was “chasing deadlines”, I mentioned the struggle I was having approaching how to write these memories down for this very column. Do I tell it this way or that way? In what style? His response was a short lighthearted one that I expected, “Yeah, it’s work!”

Another friend of my father’s gave some interesting advice that got the gears turning, “You lived it up with your father and met all kinds as a kid. Tell it like you’re telling stories around the campfire with friends, but write it through the eyes and ears of the kid who experienced it, not the adult you are today. Keep the innocent views of the kid you were. That’s how you should tell it.”

Alright then, so here it is. I gave it my best shot.

A quick note.. Some of the wording in conversations I’ve placed in quotes may not be exact. Thirty years of dust collected in my personal vault “upstairs” is indeed the reason. However, as others have shared their own personal memories of racing days gone by and interaction with racing personalities along the way, their wording more than likely isn’t exact as well.

I do assure you no falsehoods exists in these personal memories. I share them as a fellow fan who was extremely lucky to have a father involved in the media side of our sport which allowed me to experience many things others hadn’t. Lucky that Val hired my father to help grow his racing publication’s coverage area and also create the Racearama during a great period in Northeast auto racing history. Lucky to ride shotgun with my father all those years and have great memories of unbelievable people involved in our sport back in the day. Of course the subject at hand, lucky enough to get ribbed by Richie every time we ran into him.

I hope you enjoy these personal Richie stories written as best as I remember them as the kid who was very fortunate to experience them.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Filling That Tank..

Richie Evans’ stats speak for themselves.  A nine time NASCAR National Modified Champion, over 65 track championships and 600 plus feature wins at numerous tracks up and down the east coast, to which are still being discovered. Those stats are only the tip of the iceberg in regards to who Richie Evans was to the auto racing community and why he meant so much to the fans, media and fellow competitors all the way up to the track owners, promoters and sanctioning body heads.

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.
Bob Polverari #711 lines up for heats at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977. The same year he won his 3rd consecutive track championship. As I typed that I could picture Richie up there in heaven shaking his head and saying, only you would write about me and have the first Modified photo in the story be Bobby. Jared Echo Photo.

As a youngster in the mid ’70’s and early ’80’s and a die-hard Bob Polverari fan, I thought Richie was special. It wasn’t because of his wins or championships, but the way he was towards me every time we ran into him – well, except the first time, but you’ll soon know that story-. Only as I grew older did I truly realize he was that way with damn near everybody. He was special.

Anyone who met him and had the chance just to be around him, even for a brief moment in the pits, before or after a race, walked away feeling as if they knew him and had made a friend. 

To the young fans the most important thing is wanting to feel like you matter. Just a few minutes of one on one conversational interaction between a youngster and a driver lasts forever and makes a fan for life. When drivers or racing personalities, people they look up to, gives someone that time and attention it filled that tank. It works the opposite as well.  A driver has a bad day and isn’t up for interaction or conversation, blowing someone off, it leaves a lasting negative impression.  As for kids, it’s that ever important first impression to which they draw their conclusions. As a young fan, THAT impression is EXACTLY why it never dawned on me until I got a bit older that Richie was indeed great with everyone.

Richie proverbially filled that tank.  He took time and even shared some laughs with fans of all ages.  If Richie had an off night, a very rare wreck or even lost a close one to a heated competitor, he still had time to talk, joke, laugh and always met you with a smile. For that very reason he was a champion of the fans and not just with HIS fans..

But, that’s not how it started between Richie and this kid..

The Park and.. Child Labor?

My father would occasionally share this particular story with friends in racing, especially when around Richie or when his name was brought up after Richie’s untimely passing.  It took place at a time my father was writing the “NERF’ers Corner” for what was then known as New England Speedway Scene.

At Riverside Park Speedway in 1978, most nights for those in attendance ended with the drop of the checkered flag on the Figure 8’s feature.  Some fans wound up at Riverside Park’s Beer Gardens to enjoy corn on the cob, hot German potato salad, a beer or three and great conversation.

If you were a child of one of those Park’s Beer Garden attendees, you were either on the rides in the amusement park or out in the parking lot looking at the Modifieds strapped to their ramp trucks and trailers. If you were real lucky, you were given the prestigious job most of us kids referred to as a Car Watcher –“Hey kid, if you watch our car, there’s a hat in it for you”-.  The Car Watcher was indeed an honor bestowed by the team while they mingled at the Park’s Beer Gardens.

Car Guard. Assuming the position as many of us youngsters did back in the day of open trailers, haulers and ramp trucks. My what kids are missing today. Robert Echo photo.
Car Watcher. Assuming the position as many of us youngsters did back in the great days of open trailers, haulers and ramp trucks. In my opinion, it’s a damn shame what kids are missing today. Open haulers and trailers created excitement and changed a family’s weekend plans when a hauler passed them on the road. Robert Echo photo.

Car Watcher (kär  wŏch′ər) *kid’s definition: A job consisting of keeping watch over the hauler and the car strapped to it. See to it that no one messed around with anything in the car or the tool compartments. A very important job that pays off in t-shirts, jackets, hats, or stickers (a racing fan’s gold).

Car Watcher (kär  wŏch′ər) *Parental definition: An utter sham. A tactic used by quite a few of us to allow ourselves time to laugh it up at the beer gardens and talk racing or shoot the breeze with the drivers, crews and fellow fans while our kids amused themselves among other kids by any particular hauler. A way to make sure we don’t have to walk through the entire damn amusement park to hunt them down.

The most memorable time I recall this story being told was at the breakfast table in the Thompson Speedway Clubhouse on Thompson 300 weekend (’80 or ’81). We were sitting at the table with Val LeSieur, Richie and a few other Northeast racing personalities. Richie started giving me crap about how I was holding my spoon and I smarted off to him with a smile. Richie reacted by knocking my hat off and saying, “What’s the matter with you? Hold your spoon right AND why can’t you keep your hat on your head?

As I’m picking up my hat, one of the others at the table said I should be nice to Richie. Richie answered, “Don’t worry about Lil’ Echo. He’s been a press brat since I first met him.

The gentleman asked how long that had been and after some words from Richie and my father, they started in with the story..

Reggie Ruggiero chases Richie Evans at Riverside Park Speedway in a 1978 feature event. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore's collection.
Richie Evans leads Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside Park Speedway (Agawam, MA.) in a 1978 feature event. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore’s collection.

My father started off, “We’re in the beer gardens at the Park and I’m shooting the s**t with Richie (throwing a thumb to the very person sitting to his left. I was sitting to Richie’s left.).  He starts telling me about how he couldn’t get over all the kids out in the parking running around the haulers and says..

Richie interrupts and takes over, “They were like a mob of pint sized Keystone Cops out there.. So I’m telling him how we pulled up and parked by Bobby’s (Polverari) hauler. There’s this little long blond haired kid sitting on the hauler with a serious look on his face. I walk up to him and ask what he’s doing.  He says he’s watching his favorite driver’s car.  I ask him if he could watch ours too.  He says, ‘I could, but Bob’s is number one.’ So I says, ‘There’s a t-shirt in it for you’.  The kid ain’t budging, doesn’t even answer! So I ask him, ‘Does Bobby give you shirts?’ He says, ‘My parents got me a bunch of Bob’s shirts.’  So I says, ‘You’re parents bought you those shirts. I’m going to GIVE you one! So how about it? You wanna’ watch my car?’  You know what the kid says to me?  He says, ‘Sorry, you’re not Bob Polverari.’  Then he points behind me and says, ‘He’ll watch your car for you.’  I turn around and it’s a four year old wearing half the ice cream he’s eating and walking around with only one shoe on!

Everyone at the table starts chuckling.  My father takes over the story, “Then it dawns on me and I ask Rich, (again pointing a thumb to the very person sitting to his left), ‘This blond haired kid, did he have hair down to here?’ (putting his hand at shoulder length). Rich says, ‘Uh-huh.’  ‘And was he wearing a blue jacket with a Cardinal 500 patch on it?’ Richie says, ‘Yeah! That’s the kid! You know the little bastard?’

Richie takes over, “He says, ‘Yeah, I know him.’  So I ask Bob, ‘Who’s friggin’ kid is it? Point ’em out. I’m going to give his parents a bunch of s**t.’ Bob loses his smile and says, ‘That’s my youngest son, Jared’ (Richie turns to his left and lightly back-hands me on the shoulder and also knocks the hat off my head again).  I look at Bob and says, ‘Chip off the old, NERF!

The table erupted with laughter as I picked up my hat and ate my breakfast while my face slowly turned a shade of Armstrong red.

After the ’81 SIZZLER..

More often than not Richie would start a race from wherever in the field and be holding the winning trophy by the end, wearing that trademark smile of his, surrounded by his crew and fans. Stafford Motor Speedway’s 1981 version of the Spring Sizzler was not one of those moments, but you couldn’t tell with Richie’s ear to ear smile when it was all said and done.

As I had mentioned, I’ve been a Bob Polverari fan since first taking in an event at Riverside Park Speedway in 1975. At Riverside Bob was a champion who was always one of the drivers with a great chance at being a victor. At Stafford however, he had yet to taste victory albeit his performances in the Spring Sizzler, of all races, is where he had opened some eyes and shined in the past.

Heading for the start-finish line with two laps to go in the 1981 Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). Richie makes a move down low. The two battled side by side over these last two laps. It is considered the greatest Sizzler finish of all time. Howie Hodge photo.
Heading for the start-finish line with two laps to go in the 1981 Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, CT). Richie makes a move down low. The two battled side by side over the last two laps. This race is still considered the greatest Sizzler finish of all time. Howie Hodge photo.

In 1981 Bob and team showed up with a new car and body style and an unfamiliar black and gold paint scheme. His performance that Sunday in the Sizzler was nothing short of spectacular. The battle between he and Richie over the remaining laps is the stuff of legends. In the end Bob beat Richie by about a foot, if that.

Us Polverari fans were out of our ever-loving minds and that is NOT an over exaggeration by any means. Matter of fact most everyone on the speedway grounds were celebrating the spectacular finish.

What added to the moment was the scoreboard, which first read “71-61-44” when they took the checkers. A few seconds later it changed to “61-71-44”. The decibel level coming from grandstands was up there with a rock concert and when the scoreboard changed back moments later to “71-61-44” the decibel level red-lined and broke the proverbial needle. Ask anyone who was there, they can testify. It was the largest “pop” I have ever heard at Stafford.

If one missed the finish and the end result –oh, you poor soul- one might have mistaken Richie being the winner or even Reggie Ruggiero for that matter.

Reggie and Mario Fiore showed up with a year old Evans shop built chassis, Pinto bodied Modified by way of Midwest Late Model Star, Mark “Captain Sizzle” Malcuit. Their performance that weekend culminating with a third place finish was a victory in of itself. So the 44’s driver, owner, crew and fan’s celebration added to the celebration by Bob Polverari’s crew and fans as well as Richie’s crew and fans. It made it one electrifying podium.

I don't think there were many times anyone can recall Richie (R) being THAT happy and NOT winning. However, being beat by a good friend in the closest finish in Sizzler history and seeing Reggie (L) finish third in Mario's new Modified, an Evans chassis, gave him plenty of reason to smile. Howie Hodge photo.
I don’t think there were many times anyone can recall Richie (R) being THAT happy after NOT winning. However, being beat by good friend Bob Polverari in the closest finish in Sizzler history and seeing Reggie (L) finish third in Mario’s new Modified, an Evans chassis, gave Richie plenty to smile about. Howie Hodge photo.

After the event’s post race interviews and celebrations I sought out Richie, who was by his car with one foot up on the front right tire leaning an elbow on his knee and smoking a cigarette. It was one of the few times I can recall seeing him by himself at any racetrack, if just for a moment. I approached him and told him, “That was the best race I have ever seen. You were charging hard after that pit stop, Richie.

He smiled, knowing Bob was my favorite driver and said, “I bet it was, Lil’ Echo. It was a good one from where I was sitting too.

Now at the age of 11, the belief that my driver could beat Richie at Riverside Park was indeed very real. I had seen it and cheered it a few times, but it was a little hard, even after seeing it for myself first hand, that it could happen at Stafford. Ah, the mindset of an 11 year old. So I hesitated a bit in front of Richie, looked around, kicked up some dirt and turned to say something that an 11 year old might, just for assurance as what I had just witnessed was the real deal, “Richie, thanks for let..

Before I could finish, Richie gave a quiet chuckle, stood up abruptly, took a step closer, and while placing a hand on my shoulder said, “Jarret, I didn’t let him win, if that’s what you were going say. Bobby beat me and that’s all there is to it. Your driver won and I’m about as happy for him as you are.

He pulled my hat down over my eyes, turned me around by the shoulders, kicked me in the seat of the pants and said “Now go enjoy it.

I did as instructed.

“So am I your favorite yet?” ..

I've posted this photo before. 1980 at Stafford. The third of three taken. The first pic Richie squeezed my neck and I ran out of the photo. The second photo taken he did it again, but quickly grabbed me in a head lock. By the time this photo was taken we were all laughing. The leather visor was one my brother made in high school. Bonnie Echo photo.
1980 at Stafford Motor Speedway. The third of three photos taken. The first pic Richie squeezed my neck and I ran out of the photo. The second photo taken he did it again, but quickly grabbed me in a head lock. By the time this photo was taken Richie and I were red faced from laughing. The leather visor was one my brother had made in high school. From my personal collection.

I’m not very sure when this ongoing exchange got started between myself and Richie. It happened so frequently through the years that I haven’t a clue as to when it began. It would start off after a win that night or the day after waiting for the gates to open or when we stopped by the shop. Richie would say to me, “I bet I’m your favorite now.” Or, “Who’s your favorite driver now, Lil’ Echo? It’s me, isn’t it?” or “So am I your favorite yet?”

No, Bob Polverari is my favorite.
Richie, “So I’m your second favorite then.
No, that’s Jim Shampine.
Richie, “Third?
No, Merv Treichler is.
Richie, “What? Merv? He’s a bum! Pavement, not dirt. So I’m third in pavement.
No, Dave Bibens is.
Richie, “Dave who? Never heard of him.
He races Late Models at Claremont Speedway.
Richie, “Okay, so where am I on the list? Top 5?
Top 10.
Richie, “TOP TEN? Awe what do you know, little Echo! You’re just a press brat.”..

Camping at 608 Calvert Street..

The week leading up to the 1981 Oswego Speedway Classic, my father decided he and I were going to make it a week long camping trip. The plan was to stay with Oswego Speedway PR couple Dick O’Brien and then wife, Linda at their home for a day. We were to stay the night, then head out to a campground on Lake Ontario for a few days. Come Thursday morning we would tear down at the campground and set up the camper on the hilltop by the speedway.

Richie, Billy and Kenny. Photo courtesy of Val LeSeiur & Speedway Scene.
Richie, Billy and Kenny. Photo courtesy of Val LeSieur & Speedway Scene.

We hit the road from Massachusetts Monday morning. Around Syracuse we stopped for gas and while fueling up dad noticed the frame by the camper hitch had cracked. So as I finished fueling the van he went into the gas station to use their phone.  He paid for gas, got back into the van and as we were driving away I noticed we were headed in a different direction. Before I could ask, he declared, “Change of plans. We’re going to Richie’s to get this thing welded.

When we arrived I walked quickly past my father to the door and then walked in acting as if I was calm and cool. Richie was bent over the engine on one of the Modifieds that was slightly raised on the lift. He glanced over at me coming through the door and somewhat yelled, “Hey, it’s Lil’ Echo and the Nerf!”

Dad asked Richie where he should park the camper. Richie told him to wait a minute, he needed to ask Billy (Nacewicz) when he’d be able to get to it. Richie wiped his hands off with a rag and walked to the west bay and disappeared into the back room.

We overheard Billy going over everything he needed to get done and Billy got louder as both he and Richie appeared walking back towards us. We overheard Billy ending the the conversation with, “..before I can even look at Bob’s camper!

As Billy walked by us he said hello and walked out the front door, to which he went to look at the camper, Richie comes back and says, “We’ll get it done for you, Bob.

Dad says, “Thanks Rich. What are we talking about? Later this evening? Tomorrow morning?

No. More like Wednesday night or Thursday morning.” and from the expression on my father’s face Richie busted up laughing. “It’ll be a couple days before he can get to it. Big weekend coming. We have some extra work to be done. Don’t worry about it, you and Lil’ Echo can stay with us.

My Dad expressed his appreciation for the offer to stay with him, but said he preferred not to intrude on Richie’s home life. Richie looked at him for a minute a tad puzzled and maybe even a slight bit offended.

Okay, if that’s how you want to be. Set the camper up over there just inside the door (the west bay) and camp out here for all I care.”  Then a grin came over his face and he lightly back handed me on the chest saying, “Lil’ Echo can be our guard dog.. Woof.

The old Evans shop at 608 Calvert in Rome, NY. The door behind the truck was the typical entrance. We parked the camper just inside the bay door on the far left. My father and Richie used to laugh about us camping out at his shop. Allen Clark Photo.
The old Evans shop at 608 Calvert in Rome, NY. The door behind the truck was the typical entrance. We parked the camper just inside the bay door on the far left. My father and Richie used to laugh about us camping out at his shop. Allen Clark Photo.

The next couple of days I spent mostly following Richie around the shop. It was a trip for me. I got to see a slightly different side of him I hadn’t seen before.  If I was a pain in the ass, well, Richie never let me in on it.

I inquired a few times as to the color photo of him and -whom I later found to be Linda Vaughn- tacked to the wall by the phone. The answer I received from Richie was, “That’s my favorite picture.

A colored shot of this very photo hung in the shop by the phone just inside the entrance to the shop. Richie Evans and the probably the most recognized trophy lady in all of motorsports, Miss Hurst Shifter Linda Vaughn pose in Daytona International Speedway's victory lane after Richie's runaway victory in the 1981 Modified 200. Photo courtesy of Speedway Scene archive.
A colored shot of this very photo hung in the shop by the phone just inside the entrance to the shop. Richie Evans and arguably the most recognized trophy lady in all of motorsports, Miss Hurst Shifter Linda Vaughn pose in Daytona International Speedway’s victory lane after Richie’s runaway victory in the 1980 Modified 200. Photo courtesy of Speedway Scene archive.

Why’s that?” I asked.

A moment of silence.. “Hmm.. Uh.. Because it was from our second win at Daytona.

It’s only you and that lady. No crew or friends, just you and her and it’s your favorite?

-Silence-

I then asked, “What’re you looking at?

-More silence- 

“I was looking at a photographer.“, Richie says.

That camera guy must’ve been laying on his belly taking photos.” I remarked completely oblivious.

Enough about the picture, get over here and hold this for me..

We had a conversation about how he got his number. He told me that he started off in Modifieds with the number 6. To which I inquired why he changed it. He replied that he ran against Maynard Troyer and Maynard had the number first and was known for it so he changed his to 61.

Since he had mentioned Maynard, I started talking about how Maynard’s cars were always good looking and shiny. I asked him about his paint job, not the color per say, but why he didn’t have chrome like Maynard. He stood up from being hunched over the engine. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, which was holding a screw driver, and said to me with a smile, “Because, pretty doesn’t make it go fast.

I giggled and replied, “Well it sure seems to work for Maynard!

His smile left and he looked at me quick, “Why don’t you go get me some rags or go outside and play in traffic.

Off I went to fetch some rags. Playing in traffic didn’t seem very appealing at the time.

I held his rags, stuffed in my back pockets, his tools while he worked and I ran to the tool box to get him things. -Heck, I was so preoccupied, I can’t recall where my father was all that time until everyone went home or I went to bed- I even answered the phone a couple times with specific orders regarding answering, “Sales people hang up on the third ring, so don’t answer it until after the third ring!

The few times I did answer the shop phone it really threw the callers off, “Uh…? I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.

Richie got a kick out of it. I’d answer back, “No, this is Richie’s shop. Who do ya’ want to talk to?

Of course being the youngster that I was, I had been eyeballing his Mod in the east bay, just inside the front door, and itching to sit in it since we arrived. Periodically I would mosey on over to the window, just lean into the window or start sliding my leg over the door and Billy, who had to either be clairvoyant or one of just good timing would catch me and say; “No sitting in the cars!” and again, “Not now, maybe later!” and again, “They’re not toys, Echo!“.. as he would walk by to retrieve something for his current task at hand without even looking in my direction.

Well, later Tuesday morning, while Billy was in the other bay behind the wall welding, another gentleman was out back, and Richie was hunched over the other Modified, I strolled slowly over to the east bay and slipped into the Pinto bodied Modified. About the time I got comfortable and reached up to put my hands on the wheel..

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THAT CAR?!?! Get out of there! No one said you could do that! How many times have I told you?“, Billy screamed as I scrambled from the cockpit so much so that my feet were hanging on the door and my hands were on the shop floor, “They’re not toys!

As soon as I was completely out of the car I went the opposite direction of where Billy was coming from and made a “B” line straight to the camper.

I followed Richie everywhere the first full day. After so long it wouldn't have surprised me if he told me to go play in traffic, but he never seemed to get frustrated. I was the go'fer. "Go'fer a couple rags.", "Go'fer a phillips head." Val LeSeiur photo.
I followed Richie everywhere the first full day. After so long it wouldn’t have surprised me if he told me to get lost for a while, but he never seemed to get frustrated. I was the go’fer. “Go’fer a couple rags.”, “Go’fer a phillips head.” Val LeSieur photo.

Of course I knew I had done wrong, but in my 11 year old thick cranium I couldn’t understand why I could sit in Polverari’s car, Mario’s car, had free reign in every car at Troyer’s huge airplane hanger of a shop, along with so many other race shops, but not Richie’s.

At that moment in my eyes, no matter how nice he had been to me in the past, Billy was now ‘the bad guy’.

Early afternoon Richie started yelling for me. I opened the door to the camper and looked out. Richie asked if I wanted to take a ride and off we went. -trying to remember where we went I’m drawing a blank, but I remember the conversation very well- After a little silence Richie says, “You know, Billy’s a real good guy, right? He’s joked with you before at the track.

I answered, “Yeah, but now he doesn’t like me very much.

Richie says, “He didn’t say that. He’s just doing his job. He’s protecting his work. Racing’s what feeds our families just as selling subscriptions and going to all these tracks you visit with your Dad puts clothes on your back and food on your family’s table.  He works hard on the cars. We all do. Billy is protecting our work.

But he really screamed at me. He was pissed.

Billy and Richie working on one of their Modifieds. Circa 1983 or '84. Val LeSeiur photo.
Billy and Richie working on one of their Modifieds. Circa 1983 or ’84. Val LeSieur photo.

Richie says; “Your dad doesn’t let you talk like that so don’t start now. Billy’s reminded you how many times not to get in the cars? But you still did, didn’t you?” I nodded in silent agreement. “Just listen to Billy and respect what he says, okay? You do that and everything will be fine.

I nodded again..

On the way back to the shop he asked if I wanted a job cleaning his office and of course I said yes.

We walked into the shop, took a left as we got in the door and arrived at a door located by the front of the shop. He opened the door and there are all these trophies from wall to wall. Some piled in the east corner. Some piled in the west corner and some sitting upright on the floor. All a mess. I stood there like a deer in the headlights. During that time I failed to notice he had walked away and brought back some rags to which he lifted the back of my shirt and shoved them into both of my back pockets along with a half spray bottle of glass cleaner. “Dust them off, clean them and straighten it up the best you can. After that, maybe, just maybe you can get in one of the cars by the end of the day.

As I grew older and recalled that memory I realized Richie was just trying to keep me out of his hair for a while, -much like watching haulers in the Riverside Park parking lot- but at the time I thought cleaning up that “office” was something of major importance on 608 Calvert.

I have memories such as these from stopping by with my father and of course when we camped in the shop in 1981, but they were Pinto bodied. Val LeSeiur Photo.
I have memories such as these from stopping by with my father and of course when we camped in the shop in 1981, but they were Pinto bodied. It was always a fun time when we visited. Val LeSieur Photo.

A couple hours later the door opened and in walks Richie.  He looks around and says, “Hey look’it there! (pointing down) I can see the floor! How’d that get there? .. Looks good.

He stepped in and said; “Okay, Jarrett, pick out a trophy to bring home until I need it back.

I stood there in shock. I didn’t believe what I just heard so I looked at him and, “Huh?

Pick out a trophy.  Any of ’em.

I looked all over the room and while I scanned I was thinking I didn’t want to grab anything huge like the enormous Oswego trophy. I decided to go small and pick a Riverside Park regular fifty lap feature winning trophy.

“All that silver and gold and you pick that? C’mon, pick a good one.”

I put it back and scanned the room over and over long enough that Richie said, “Hurry it up. We got work to do.

I walked over and picked up a pretty nice trophy that was a big cup on a wood base. I turned around and held it up by the handles for Richie’s approval. “This one?

Sure. It’s yours.” Richie said and backed up to let me walk out of the room. “You earned it. When I need it I’ll know where to find it, but take good care of it. That’s a good one. Put it in the back of your van where it won’t get wrecked.

I went and put it in the back of the black Speedway Scene van.  While doing so I thought about earlier when I didn’t listen to Billy and what Richie told me in the ride earlier.  As soon as I shut the doors to the van I sought Billy out. I walked up to him in the back of the east bay and said, “Billy? I’m sorry for not listening to you. I promise I’ll listen to you from now on.

Billy told me,  “The best kind of helper listens to what they’re told and if you didn’t hear it right the first time you should ask again. Okay?

Yes.

Okay. Now go do something useful will ya?.. Except DON’T get in the cars! (pointing a finger at me and smiling) Got it?

Yup!

That next day, mid morning, I was in the camper when Billy knocked on the small half-door while heading for the back room behind the west bay, “Richie wants your help.

I came out of the camper, walked up to Richie who was in the east bay and announced my presence.  Richie points to the driver side door while rummaging through a box and says, “Now’s your chance, get in.

I looked at him as if he was trying to trick me into getting yelled at. I scanned around as if I was being pranked or set up. “What the heck are you doing? You heard me, get in. You’re not scared of heights are you, because I’m putting you up on the lift?

Uh, yeah I’m REALLY SCARED of heights, “No. I’m okay.

Richie. “When I say so, I want you to pump the brakes.  Okay?

Okay.”  I got in the car. The lift goes up and.. And.. And.. “Hello?

I’m here, I had to grab something.” Richie yells from what sounds like behind the car. His voice got closer and then, “Okay, Start pumping the breaks until I say so.

Okay!” I started pumping the brakes.

Stop.” After a moment or two, “Alright, press the breaks as hard as you can.. Are you pressing them hard?

Struggling, with a grunt, “Yes!

Press harder.  Use both feet, Jarret!

At this particular moment in time I had my left hand on the cage by the door, my right hand pulling on the steering wheel, my shoulders against the driver’s seat and both feet on the brake pressing with all my might.. “Keep pressing..  Keep press-

–  BAM!!! –

The brake peddle slammed straight to the floor board and at this moment in time there were two things occupying my thoughts..

1. I just broke Richie’s car and he’s going to kill me.

and..

B. Worse yet. When Richie is done with me there’s Billy. And Billy is going to say, “That’s why I said to stay out of the cars!” and then HE was going to kill me!

The car starts lowering in silence and my stomach was filled with butterflies so much so that if I opened my mouth it wouldn’t have surprised me if a few Monarchs flew out. I was frozen in the same ‘hand on the cage, hand on the wheel, and both feet on the pedal’ position… And I am going to die..

As the car is lowering I see the top of Richie’s head then a splat of fluid on his forehead above his brow, a bit on his nose and the right side of his face. His chin had a bit dripping off too..  He is just staring at me with a straight face. –Yeah, I’m a dead kid

He stopped the lift to where the window opening by the door is at his chest and wipes the fluid off of his face with a rag..

I broke your car. I’m really sorry.” is all I could manage to quietly whisper.

Richie steps closer, places both hands on the door, peers in and then grinned , “You did good.

-What??? I did good?-  But I broke your car.

Richie smiles and says; “You broke the car, but it’s better than it happening at the track.

-Huh? What?- “I broke the brakes and that’s good?”

That could’ve happened this weekend at the races. You did good.. But now I’m going to tell Billy.” Richie screams across the shop to Billy; “Billy, Lil’ Echo got into the car and broke it.

A couple minutes later Billy yells something from behind the wall and comes over –while I’m still sitting in the car TRAPPED and awaiting my execution-. He and Richie discuss something briefly and then Billy walks over to the window. -Here it comes-

I told you to stay outta’ the cars, didn’t I?” Smiling as he said it.  While walking away he says out loud, “See? You are good for something, Echo!

Thursday morning,  just as Richie had said, Billy welded and repaired the camper. We were ready to roll.  That is until my father opened the back of the van to throw some things in and.. “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS, JARED?!?!

He comes out holding the trophy, “Did he give this to you?

Yes!

My father looks the trophy over and says, “I highly doubt that! You take this back and apologize right now!

Dad, he gave me it to hold onto. I cleaned..” But my father wasn’t listening and just walked past me with trophy in hand. I followed him as he walked up to Richie.

My father held up the trophy, but before he could speak Richie says, “He cleaned my trophy room and I let him pick out a trophy. That was the deal. It’s his to hold onto.

My father looked at the trophy, looked at me, looked back at Richie, looked at the trophy again then back at Richie and said, “I’m sorry, but this year you’ve given him 3 shirts, a jacket and a hat.  You fixed the camper. That’s more than enough. Besides..

He hands the trophy out to Richie, “If you’ve ever seen his room, there’s just no way in hell you would be letting my son take home your Race of Champions trophy.

-All these years later, after seeing numerous photos, I believe my father spoke of the wrong trophy or I recall the wrong name being said. Not sure,  but I remember how the trophy looked and felt in my hands. I believe I had actually picked out one of the Martinsville Speedway trophies. I also remember my father’s reaction left Richie standing there with his mouth open.

Pebbles at Stafford..

One night at Stafford the track management allowed me to accompany my father into the pits in order to assist him handing flyers out for Racearama ’82 or something to that effect. Quite frankly, my father had so much going on with promotional ideas and such, it could’ve been for anything..  So we arrived at Polverari’s hauler and I was checking out the car from a distance as the crew worked on it.  While standing there at a distance I get hit in the back by something small and heard whatever it was click off the ground. I turned and looked around. Nothing. I look across the packed pit area. Nothing.

I went back to watching the crew work on the car only to get hit again as a pebble bounced off me and landed by my right foot.  I spun around quick, scanned the pits close by. Across the pits I spot Richie by George Kent’s hauler in what looked like a deep conversation. I even scanned the crowd to see if Val was around because he was quite the prankster as well, but came up empty again. So I went back to admiring my favorite driver’s car.

Not long after came another pebble. I spun around fast and saw Richie, still by Kent, but he was scanning the sky and.. whistling? Kent, however is looking at Richie and laughing. At the same time I see Richie drop a handful of pebbles. Richie then turns and looks at me with a big grin. I pointed at Richie who immediately gestures “shame-shame”  with an index finger pointed up waving side to side and then yells with his right hand cupped by the side of his face, pointing back at me with his left hand, “It’s not polite to point!

All the while he has that trademark grin on his face. I laughed and followed it up by sticking my tongue out at him, “Ththththth!

Stafford Motor Speedway 1981. A photo featured in the book "RICHIE". I saw this while reading the book for the first time. Imagine my surprise. Shawn Sienkiewicz (Right in the 32 shirt) was one of my very best friends growing up, Center is myself in my Bob Polverari / Czarnecki Brother's #20 shirt. I actually don't recall this, but there we are. Oh, and there's Booker's tow truck. I'd bet Booker was waiting just before the race to give Richie that good-luck handshake too! Howie Hodge Photo.
Stafford Motor Speedway 1981. A photo featured in the book “RICHIE”. I saw this while reading the book for the first time. Imagine my surprise. Shawn Sienkiewicz (Right in the 32 shirt) was one of my very best friends growing up, Center is myself in my Bob Polverari / Czarnecki Brother’s #20 shirt. I don’t recall this, but there we are. Oh, and there’s Booker’s tow truck. I’d bet Booker was waiting just before the race to give Richie that good-luck handshake too! Howie Hodge Photo.

I turned back to Polverari’s hauler.  A minute or two passes and I get hit with a bunch of pebbles.  This time, before I have the chance to spin around, the back of my Polverari shirt gets pulled out of my pants and over my head, hockey style and I’m being grabbed by the arms.  I start yelling; “Hey, Stop it! Leave my shirt alone!

The familiar voice of Richie grunts; “Get that no good shirt off. Where’s the one’s I gave you?

While struggling to stop him from removing my shirt in front of everyone in the pit area I screamed, “I don’t wear your shirts where Bob races! LET ME GO!”

He let me go, but not before he got my 711 shirt off and everyone around us laughing.

The T-Shirt Game..

Between 1978 and 1984 I accumulated a couple dozen Richie shirts (or so I thought). It really picked up when we started traveling to Spencer, Shangri-La, New Egypt and Oswego more often. If we were at any facility that ran asphalt Modifieds, twenty percent of the time I was wearing a Speedway Scene shirt and the other eighty percent, I was wearing a Bob Polverari shirt proudly, but that would usually end before practice even began, only if it wasn’t one of Polverari’s home tracks..

It was always the same.  We would get to the track and pull the Speedway Scene Firebird (’80-mid ’81) or Van (mid ’81 to ’84) into the main gates behind the grand stand.  After setting up early my father would head to the pit area.  Upon his return he would have an orange shirt with him and when he got close enough to me he would more often than not throw the shirt at me underhanded and say; “Richie said Bob doesn’t race here. Put it on.

When we saw him after the races the ribbing would commence, “See! You’re wearing my shirt, so I AM your favorite.” (-ding- And the typical questioning and ribbing would start over again!)

Then came one race at New Egypt Speedway.  Polverari was chasing the NASCAR Budweiser Northeast Regional Points in 1982.  I was unaware because it was early in the season, we were hitting much more dirt races and we had been away from Stafford, the Park and Thompson more often.

The familiar smile that greeted most everyone who approached him. Howie Hodge photo.
The familiar smile that greeted most everyone who approached him. Howie Hodge photo.

We arrived at the track, set up inside the gates and my father moseyed on into the pit area.  A while later, right when practice was about to roll out I was sitting in the stands with my “Black Magic 711” shirt on. My father arrives with no shirt in his hands. He sits down beside without looking at me and without expression.

I was puzzled and quite disappointed, to be honest.  Is the little joke between Richie and I over? Where’s the shirt?  I know Richie’s here. Heck they blew past us on the interstate’s breakdown lane a few miles before the exit!  The roar of the engines filled the air.  My father looks at me straight faced.

What?” I put my hands up gesturing ‘What gives?’

No answer.  The the first group of Modifieds start up and begin rolling onto the track.  That’s when my father stands up, glances over the fence by the pit exit and leans over, “Richie says you’re awful lucky tonight.

My Dad points to New Egypt’s pit gate as Bob Polverari in his black Modified with the familiar yellow 711 numbers rolled out onto the racing surface.  I sat stunned as my father busted up laughing at my expression and walked back to the Speedway Scene booth.

At the beginning of this part I wrote, “or so I thought” because..

In 1992 while my father and I were heading to Sugar Hill Speedway to work (he as the promoter and announcer, me as the chief starter) we were reminiscing about the 80’s which led to the subject of Richie. After a couple good laughs I brought up, “I remember all the shirts he gave me in those years.  I had to have a few dozen by the time it was all said and done.

You didn’t have as many as you thought.” my father answered with a chuckle.

“Are you kidding?  I had a butt-load of Richie’s shirts!” I fired back as if my father had lost his mind.

Richie goofing around as Howie Hodge takes his photo. This side of Richie was always my favorite.
Richie goofing around as Howie Hodge takes his photo. Sure watching him cut through a field of Modifieds on the way to the front was always a great thing to witness, but this Richie was always my favorite. What a great shot.

No. No you didn’t.” He said smiling and looking out the passenger window. “After you accumulated about a dozen shirts I told Richie that from now on I’ll bring some of what you already have because you already had way too many.  So I started grabbing the recent ones out of your drawer before we hit the road and if we saw him before he hit the pit area I’d hand him one of them for later. If we didn’t catch him I’d bring it to the pits with me, tucked into the back of my belt. So, when I returned with his message, I’d give you a shirt. Oh, he was in on it, you just didn’t have as many as you thought.

Huh?  Are you serious?” There was silence in the car.  I thought back and came to the conclusion he was b-s-ing me.  Then a thought hit me. I had him now.., “What about when we were at Spencer then Shangri-La or New Egypt then Oswego?  How do you explain that?

I took two shirts out of your drawer after you were all packed and did the same thing.” my father answered with a huge belly deep laugh.

“You son of a…

I thought, seven years since Richie’s been gone and he’s still pulling one over on me.

Well played, Richie. Well played.

The Last Time I Saw Richie..

In 1985 my father reluctantly stepped down from his position with Speedway Scene and accepted a second stint as Promoter and Race Director for Claremont Speedway and C.O.D.A..

Through his travels with Speedway Scene he had made many friends. One of which was Jerry Cook who had since retired from racing and whom in 1985 was given the reigns to the new NASCAR Modified Tour. That connection helped my father get a NASCAR Modified Tour date for the non-NASCAR sanctioned Claremont Speedway which was quite the feat for any promoter at the time and a BIG DEAL for Claremont Speedway and their great region of racing fans.

The Tour stop was the very last time I would ever see Richie compete or talk to. That day started off with seeing him at the pit booth when they pulled onto the speedway grounds. I had just brought more sign-in sheets to the booth when they must’ve pulled in. While speaking with some of the folks at the booth and unaware of their arrival, I hear from behind me, “Hey-hey! It’s not so little Echo!

Recognizing the voice I turned around and Richie was right there with that trademark smile, “Hey Richie. How are you?

Richie at speed in 1983. Stafford Motor Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.
Richie at speed in 1983. Stafford Motor Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.

He put out his right hand and I shook it, “You know I should’ve brought the trophy along to give it to you in front of your father after the race, just to see the look on his face. I thought about it after we left the shop.”

We both laughed about it. Things like him remembering the trophy from a few years prior just made my day. He asked where my dad was. I told him he was doing his typical race day, chicken-with-its-head-cut-off-routine, “I’m sure he’ll be by your hauler before practice starts.

They signed in. I wished him and the guys a good race and off they rode into the pit area.

After the event was over, won by the man himself, I walked into the pit area to his hauler. There he was greeting, shaking hands, saying thank you’s to the many congratulations he was receiving from the fans who made their way to see him.

I waited until a few finished their conversation before I walked up and shared my congratulations as well. I told him he ran a great race and looked like he had the field handled. I asked him how he liked the track, being that it was his first time there, “It’s a neat place. Fun to drive. Going to have to talk with your dad to get with Cookie and get us back here next year. Fun place. Too bad about the weather though. That kept a lot of the fans away.

We talked a few more minutes and said our goodbyes until the next time. But there wouldn’t be a next time..

Saying Goodbye..

When Richie passed Bones wrote what I personally consider the most perfect tribute piece for any driver that I have ever read. Quite honestly, I don’t think anyone else could have captured the emotions we all felt. It bled off the pages. Rightly titled, “The Day The Music Died” couldn’t have been more accurate regarding the feelings of Richie’s fans, friends, family and the Modified community as a whole.

Kenny Hartung, Billy Nascwitz and Richie with chicken pox beard in '81. Howie Hodge photo.
Kenny Hartung, Billy Nacewicz and Richie with the chicken pox beard in ’81. Howie Hodge photo.

If you were around back in those days, you remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with, the shock and the sinking feeling of dread that came once the news of Richie’s passing settled in.

I still tear up regarding the memory of first finding out about Richie’s passing, it was my father who broke it to me.

We were still living in Claremont, New Hampshire and I was attending a friend’s high school girls soccer game. I heard my name being called from behind me. I turned and was surprised to see it was my father as the tone sounded nothing like what I was used to. As he drew closer I could see why his voice was unrecognizable. He was trying to scream my name while all choked up in tears. His face was red and eyes were bloodshot.

Seeing the expression on his face, my immediate thought was that something had happened to my older brother or our Mother. I walked a few fast steps towards him and asked, “What’s wrong, Dad? What’s going on? Are mom and Shane okay? What’s the matter?

No. No. ..” He let out a long winded sigh and looked up at the clouds, “No, Jared, it’s Richie…

He could see my bewilderment. -Richie? Who the hell is Richie? The only Richie I know is..-

Richie’s gone.” he said, “I got a few calls earlier and made a couple myself to be sure.. Richie was killed in a practice crash at Martinsville. He’s gone, Jared. Richie’s g-…

My father couldn’t hold back the tears as his face contorted in a failed attempt to keep a cry at bay. He embraced me and started to sob, bowing his head. I hugged him, still somewhat confused. I stood there with my arms around him looking over his shoulder in absolute disbelief. My thoughts were of all those years watching him race, I had never seen him get in a bell-ringer or bad wreck.. Richie was invincible. “No. That can’t be right. Are they sure it was Richie? Are you positive it was him?

Another win in the record books for Richie. 1981. Howie Hodge photo.
Another win in the record books for Richie. 1981. Howie Hodge photo.

In between the sobs I heard lightly, “It was Richie. It was Richie, Jared. He’s gone. We’ve all lost Richie.”

He tried to get me to go back to the car and ride home with him. I passed, still in shock, and told him, “I think I need to walk home. I’ll see you in a little bit, Dad.

Without another word said, he just gave a nod, bowed his head as tears continued to roll off his cheeks and turned to walk away. I stood and watched him with his head down only stopping before walking through the gate and briefly looking up to the clouds again. I’ll never forget that memory of him pausing and looking to the overcast skies. Not many times does a child see his father in a terribly emotional state. That pause and gaze to the heavens still breaks my heart thinking about it.

After watching him drive away, I walked home the long way. It really hit me as I crossed the street from the park. I struggled to see through the burning tears to make sure I didn’t trip over the curb when reaching the sidewalk on the other side. There were a lot of tears shed that night in the Echo household just as was the case around the Northeast racing community as word continued to spread. We ALL had lost Richie.

I thought of his family, his girls and young son, his crew, a band of guys who seemed the tightest of friends, the folks we knew in racing that would be most effected by this terrible, terrible news. I also thought of Val and how he was dealing with it. It was nothing short of dreadful to think about how many this was effecting. My father even tried contacting Val for the first time since leaving Speedway Scene, but couldn’t get through.

The next day was my Freshman football game. My number was 78 (only a die hard race fan could figure out how I chose that number; 711, 61, 8.. Polverari, Evans, Shampine..). That morning in school I spoke to my coaches and asked if I could switch my jersey to 61. When I struggled through tears telling them why, the answer came by way of one of my freshman coaches placing the 61 jersey on my shoulder and a pat on the back.

That afternoon, as I sat by my locker fully dressed for the game, I bowed my head in my hands and said these words as my eyes weld up, “Richie, no matter what I ever said to you before, no matter how much we joked around, YOU have ALWAYS been and will FOREVER be a favorite.. Thank you for the memories and giving me some of your time. Rest in peace Richie. I’ll miss you. I’ll NEVER, forget you.”

In Closing..

Yes.. Richie was, is and always will be the King of the Modifieds. Yes.. He was and still is in my and many others eyes, the greatest Modified driver ever. Yes.. He was the “Racer’s Voice” of the division, the name that to this day represents the division..  But most of all, to many of us that grew up watching him and were fortunate enough to be around him periodically, he was more than that. He was Richie, who knew you by name and made you feel like you were important. A driver that could cater to the fans like no other. In my honest opinion, ALL of those things mixed together are indeed the reason why he was loved, admired and respected by so many. To me, THAT along with his kids are what makes up his legacy.

Folks talk about his NASCAR National Championships, his track titles, his big race wins, his stats, the hi-jinx and partying after the races, but with all that said his greatest attribute, in my opinion, was Richie’s dedication to the fans.

Martinsville Speedway. 1982. Howie Hodge photo.
Martinsville Speedway. 1982. Howie Hodge photo.

Through all the time and effort, long hours at his shop and on the road, his valuable time doing interviews for radio, newspapers and racing papers to help promote the sport of Modified racing and promote certain events for promoters, it’s the memories he gave us fans that made him the King of the Modifieds.

As I said in the beginning, Richie always had time for not only HIS fans, but ALL fans. If you had a chance to meet him you walked away thinking you knew him. A rare DNF, wreck, incident on the track or any other deal that would put any competitor in a sour mood never made him unapproachable. THAT is what makes Richie THEE champion of the Modifieds to this very day.

I always wondered how a driver of his caliber, who could strike up a conversation with any stranger at the race track, sharing his time and some laughs, yet look so vulnerable when a mic was shoved in his face.

It used to make me laugh while at the track or the Racerama and someone walks up with a mic or worse yet, mic and camera, and starts asking questions. Instantly Richie would (hide the cigarette if he was smoking) start looking around his surroundings, glancing down at the ground, and ending every answer with a “uh-huh” or “so..”, an up-nod of the head or any combination of the three. Even in victory lane he seemed shy during interviews. But not a minute after the particular media turned the mic, recorder or camera off he was back to his same old self.

This is where he always seemed so damned comfortable.. with the fans. His people. THIS, in my opinion, is what defined Richie Evans on the track and off.

Post Script..

For certain two things I would ask if granted wishes would be to ride shotgun one more time with my father and take in one last race with him. The other would be to travel to a race where Richie was competing. Walk up to Richie and wait for him to say, “So am I your favorite yet?” Just once.. But that’ll have to wait until my days are up and I see my father again. Hopefully that time will come, but a long time from now.

As is the case with quite a few of the Forewords and Post Scripts I’ve added to my father’s republished NERF’ers Corner columns as well as many of my own penned RELOADED’s, this piece was my way of sharing some, but not all of the personal experiences, memories and interactions I was fortunate enough to have had. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did sharing them.

In return, I’d like to encourage anyone who may have a Richie Evans story, to share it by either leaving it in the comment section with this column or on the Richie Evans – Nine Time NASCAR Modified Champion – Tribute Facebook page where young, old and everyone in between, including Richie’s family and friends, have been enjoying reading and sharing some fantastic memories and photos of Richie.

Again, I have my father to thank for these great memories and letting me be his sidekick up and down the roads from racetrack to racetrack, spring through fall for many years.

With this I bid you all a reluctant adieu. As of this moment in time this is the final RELOADED column. A good one to bookend with, I think. Rest assured, the NERF’ers Corners from days gone by will continue to be republished in memory of Robert “Bob” Echo and those of days gone by.

All the best to you my fellow racing fans. Be sure to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHORT TRACKS! That’s where the real life stars of our sport compete each and every week and the real racing is.

Thank you for stopping by and as my father always said, “Till next time, Keep on trackin’.”

All the best..

– Jared

RICHIE EVANS.. 61 FOREVER

RE-NCR-Richie“So am I your favorite yet?”
“No, Bob Polverari is my favorite.”
“So I’m your second favorite then.”
“No, that’s Jim Shampine.”
“Third?”
“No, Merv Treichler is.”
“What?  Merv?  He’s a bum! Pavement not dirt. So I’m third in pavement.”
“No, Dave Bibens is.”
“Dave who?  Never heard of him.”
“He races Late Models at Claremont Speedway.”
“Okay, so where am I on the list? Top 5?”
“Top 10.”
“TOP TEN? Awe what do you know, little Echo! You’re just a press brat.”..

The conversation would usually end with my hat bill pulled down over my face and a chuckle as he walked away…

1980 at Stafford. The third of three taken. The first pic Richie squeezed my neck and I ran out of the photo. The second photo taken he did it again, but quickly grabbed me in a head lock. By the time this photo was taken we were all laughing. The leather visor was one my brother made in high school. Bonnie Echo photo.
1980 at Stafford. The third of three photos taken. The first pic Richie squeezed my neck and I ran out of the photo. The second photo taken he did it again, but quickly grabbed me in a head lock. By the time this photo was taken we were red-faced from laughing. Bonnie Echo photo.

29 Years ago, on October 24th, 1985 our auto racing community was struck it’s most devastating blow leaving everyone absolutely shell shocked.  Our great champion, the division’s voice and greatest friend, Richie Evans was taken from us after suffering a crash in turn 3 at Martinsville Speedway.

God bless you Richie. You were ALWAYS a favorite. We all miss you. 

– “Little Echo”

TEN YEARS.. IN FIVE DAYS.

 Ad·vance·ment: 

The progression to a higher state of development.

Advancement is indeed the fuel that has fed and strengthened our sport for so long. It’s considered one of the most important aspects of auto racing and thinking outside the box has driven that very advancement.

The masterminds of yesteryear’s racing machine builders and fabricators constructing their interpretation of the rules played the biggest roll in every four wheeled division we see today. Those forward thinking creative geniuses were equally as responsible for the all important advancement of safety.

In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the age of innovation on the Northeast oval track scene was in overdrive on both dirt and pavement. The battle of wits between competitors and rule makers resembled every bit of strategic warfare as they continued to push the envelope. The Northeast auto racing landscape not only changed mechanically, but physically and visually recognizable which peaked fan’s interest . The changes carried that all important buzz throughout each racing season regardless of whether you believed asphalt was for getting there, dirt was for planting potatoes or loved to play on or take in both types of racing .

Supermodifieds

Innovators o’plenty. Shampine alone had three creations..

The Formula One of short track asphalt ovals had so many advancements in that time frame by numerous builders. One was Jim Shampine who was as much an innovative creator as he was Supermodified’s greatest champion. Shampine alone unleashed three of Supermodified’s most talked about rides.

In 1969 Shampine showed up with a Supermodified everyone coined as “the Wedge”. It was the first Super to have it’s front axle outside of the body work with a nose that sloped down like a door jam, much like Andy Granatelli’s Indy cars. The engine set over to the left of the machine for more left side weight distribution. The nose piece changed through the years, but “the Wedge” continued to collect plenty of checkered flags. (Click here to view photos of “the Wedge” on Retro Rockets)

Shampine then unveiled “the Radical Offset” in 1976 which incorporated more weight distribution and seemed as though the engine was just hanging off the left side of this new Super. The tin work also made it easy on the eyes. Although Jim hardly campaigned it in ’76, by the time ’77 rolled around he was in “the Radical Offset” and winning as usual. (Click here to view photos of “the Wedge” & “Radical Offset” on Retro Rockets)

In 1979 Shampine got together with Kevin Reap who helped design and build a new creation nicknamed, “the Green Machine”. It was Shampine and Reap’s answer to the four wheel drive rear engine Supermodifieds that were beginning to challenge and beat the conventional cars. When Shampine finally figured it out he had picked up a feature win. In that year’s Oswego Classic, Shampine stuck to his trusty “Offset” and handed the Green Machine seat to rival Canadian driver, Warren Coniam. Shampine dropped out of the Classic. Coniam also ran into an issue early that placed him a lap behind the leaders, but Coniam made it up and was contending with the front runners until an oil leak ended his day late in the event.

After the 1979 season, in order to prevent anymore rise in costs to compete and build four wheel drive rear engined Supers, Oswego Speedway outlawed them from competition. Shampine’s Green Machine was obsolete at his home track after just one season. Shampine responded by quitting and went Sprint Car racing.  (Click here to view photos of “the Green Machine” rear engined Supermodified on Retro Rockets)

Jim Shampine (8-ball) outside of Eddie Beliinger Jr. (02) on a pace lap prior the start of the 1980 Oswego Classic. Peter Montano photo.
Jim Shampine (8-ball) outside of Eddie Beliinger Jr. (02) on a pace lap prior the start of the 1980 Oswego Classic. A race Shampine dominated. Peter Montano photo.

In late 1980 Shampine returned to Oswego in the 5 year old “Offset”. And when the Oswego Classic arrived, so did Jim Shampine with a strong determination to win. Shampine did just that by leading all 200 laps (still a Classic record) and scoring what most believe to be his most satisfying victory. That Radical Offset became the defined template of what Supermodifieds are today.

Pavement Modifieds

Because that’s what MODIFIED stood for!

Ed Flemke built asphalt Modifieds that were considered ahead of their time. Howie Hodge photo.
Ed Flemke built asphalt Modifieds that were considered ahead of their time. Note, the car pictured is an earlier Manchester Sand & Gavel car built by Chassis Dynamics. Howie Hodge photo.

The 60’s through 80’s asphalt Modifieds experienced so many changes in the technical side as well as physical appearance. The division produced every bit of the visual “eye candy” fans craved.

Ed Flemke and Raceworks turned out Modifieds that seemed to sit an inch lower with bodies that appeared to have that lean forward, low slung roof line with every new season.

A young Mike Stefanik in the Evans' straight axle Modified runs side by side with Bobby Vee and his Chassis Dynamics creation. Both cars turned quite a few heads. Howie Hodge photo.
A young Mike Stefanik (61x) in the Evans’ straight axle Modified runs outside Bobby Vee (2) and his Chassis Dynamics creation. Howie Hodge photo.

Geoff Bodine, Bob Cuneo, and Bobby Vee at Chassis Dynamics, not only dished out winners for Bodine, but notebly Bobby Vee’s two versions of the Busch beer sponsored number 2 in ’78 through ’80 and his infamous X6, equipped with dragster style breather in 1981 turned plenty of heads.  The success of their creations turned plenty of their competitors into clients.

Richie Evans, Modified’s King, also ventured into new areas within the Modified realm. With the help of Kevin Reap, the same guy who helped design Shampine’s rear engined Green Machine a year earlier, Evans rolled out the “Straight Axle”. It was a different looking Modified and it worked. Evans never competed in it though. He chose a young kid, by the name of Michael Stefanik, to pilot the straight axle Modified at Thompson Speedway’s World Series. Stefanik answered the opportunity by contending for the win before dropping out. That off season the car was sold.

Maynard Troyer's Soucy 17 creation was like nothing ever seen before in 1981. Howie Hodge photo.
Maynard Troyer designed, built and piloted the Soucy 17. The front end alone blew everyone’s mind at the beginning of the 1981 season. Howie Hodge photo.

Maynard Troyer seemed to show up every season in the late 70’s with a lower roof line, stretched out body and more offset. His own machines were also nothing short of gorgeous. The success of his chassis created Troyer Engineering and made his cars the most sought after customer chassis in the division for years.  Troyer also built Dean Hoag a Supermodified and would later start the “Mud Bus” Revolution in dirt Modifieds.

Ed Close's Hemi-Cudas were always brilliant creations. Jean Guy Chartrand behind the wheel at Stafford in 1974. Howie Hodge photo.
Ed Close’s Hemi-Cudas were always brilliant creations. Jean Guy Chartrand behind the wheel at Stafford in 1974. Howie Hodge photo.

There were other builders and independents that created innovative Modifieds. The Pinto revolution was started by Bob Judkins. Charlie Jarzombek and family always had different looks that worked and won. Ed Close’s versions of his very own Hemi-Cuda were competitive entries for drivers like Jean Guy Chartrand, Jim Shampine and Chuck Ciprich.  Fred Felton’s “Radical Racer” piloted by Kirby Monteith, Marty Radewick, Dwight Jarvis and John Rosati, drove tech inspectors nuts. Along with a list of others, they helped change the face of the asphalt Modified division by wreaking havoc with it’s rule makers and giving us fans sweet, sweet eye candy.

Dirt Modifieds

Again, because that’s what MODIFIED stood for!

In the 60’s and 70’s dirt Modifieds experienced plenty of changes chassis wise, mechanical and body styles. The bodies changed as manufacturers released new models. Coupe and coach bodies turned to Gremlins, Pintos, Vegas, Astres, Pacers (yes Pacers) even Plymouth Horizons and others littered the fields. Some of the Modifieds like Mike McLaughlin’s CraZ8 and Charlie Rudolph’s 72 were low slung like asphalt Modifieds. Although the dirt Mods had seen plenty of mechanical innovations and physical changes through the years, they lacked that extreme pushing of the envelope which led to the major changes their asphalt counterparts continued to have throughout those years. Change that caused the competition to rush back to their shops and start drawing out ideas and the rule makers to sweat, bite their fingernails and rewrite rule books.

Super Dirt Week IX

The Drivers.. The Prestige..

Jack Johnson was well on his way to winning the DIRT sanction's Modified Championship in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.
Jack Johnson was well on his way to winning the DIRT sanction’s Modified Championship in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.

The dominating driver in 1980’s D.I.R.T. sanction was Jumpin’ Jack Johnson. Johnson capped off the 1979 season by tasting the Schaefer 200 champagne and carried that momentum right on into 1980. He was well on his way to the 1980 D.I.R.T. sanctioning body’s big block crown and many believed “Jumping Jack” was the favorite to repeat at Syracuse come October.

The challengers for the Schaefer 200 crown were the who’s who of the division; 1979 D.I.R.T. Champion, Will Cagle, Alan Johnson, Merv Treichler, Jimmy Horton, Kenny Brightbill, Buzzie Reutimann, Lou “the Monk” Lazzaro, Sammy Beavers, Billy Osmun, Dave Lape, C.D. Coville, Dave Leckonby, Frank Cozze, and the list goes on and on. Super Dirt Week also attracted high profile pavement Modified chauffeurs like Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook, and Geoff Bodine.

Asphalt Modifieds had the CAM-2 Race of Champions, Oswego Classic and Thompson 300 which built up as the season progressed with guaranteed qualifying races at facilities all over the Northeast. D.I.R.T.’s Schaefer 200 had the same type of guaranteed starter events. The Schaefer 200 even went so far as to hold guaranteed starter races for pavement tracks too, like Scarborough, Maine’s Beach Ridge Speedway. Car counts of 140 plus for just the big block division made the New York State Fairgrounds the place to be when Super Dirt Week opened their gates.

So with the 1980 racing season drawing to a close and the premier season ending championship event about to begin, most of the dirt Modified community was totally unaware that Super Dirt Week IX would be the scene of a forced decade of change.

It began with the arrival of a dirt Modified who’s body work was designed and fabricated in Indianapolis, Indiana, chassis built and tested in Independence, Missouri and a driver who had tasted victory in that very event on three previous occasions.

And now for something completely different..

The BATMOBILE  (“Orgazmatron”)

34 years ago, on a typically cool Wednesday in early October, a crowd surrounded a section of the pit area at Syracuse’s New York State Fairgrounds. And when the tarp was removed those in the crowd attempted to wrap their heads around what sat before them. The Modified Gary Balough would be piloting looked nothing like what any of us knew a dirt Modified to be.

Like many of us who attend races, Bob Scott was on the speedway grounds with family when Balough’s team found their parking spot, “I can remember the car coming into the pits with a tarp over it. Most everyone had heard that (Kenny) Weld was building a car for the race, but no one had any idea of what he was building. My father, brother and I thought it would be some tricked up version of his regular cars.. Until they pulled off the tarp.”

Balough-112-01
Gary Balough takes his first laps in the new Modified first nicknamed by Kenny Weld as “The Orgazmatron”. The wild look, the black paint, red skirt and number outlines caused everyone else to refer to it as “The BATMOBILE”.  John Gallant Sr. photo, John Gallant Jr. collection.

Balough explained that plans for the Batmobile started nine months before while he, Weld and others were in Florida, “We were at Speed Weeks when we decided we were going to build the car. Not long after that I had a bad wreck and broke my neck.”

Balough said thoughts of building the car were almost put on hold, “Kenny Weld came to visit me while I was in the hospital. Kenny figured any plans for the car were off because I had broken my neck. I told him ‘no way, we’re doing it’.”

Another side of the 112. Bob Scott photo.
Another side of the 112. Bob Scott photo.

When I asked Gary if they had tested the Batmobile prior to their arrival at the New York State Fairgrounds, his answer was with a laugh, “Did we test it before Syracuse? Yeah we tested it. Sure. We tested it in Independence, Missouri on the same street Kenny’s shop was located. I drove it up the street, got it around and drove it back down. Kenny said that was good enough and I said ‘alright’ and got out.”

The first practice session arrived and that’s when all hell broke loose. Gary recalls, “When we went out in the first practice the track went green and right away we started passing a lot of cars.  I thought, ‘Why is everyone else driving like we’re under caution?’ I really thought that. That’s how good the car was.”

The Batmobile sits on pit lane on Wednesday. John Gallant Sr. photo, John Gallant Jr. collection.
The Batmobile sits on pit lane on Wednesday. John Gallant Sr. photo, John Gallant Jr. collection.

“We came in after practice, I got out of the car and Kenny asks how it felt. I told him the car ran great and felt amazing. He looked at me and said ‘I know, and now everyone else knows it too.”

Gary said Kenny figured he would run half laps, in other words, running it down the front chute and through turns one and two then back off and the next lap run the back chute and through three and four and back off. Gather enough info and combine the times to see where the car really is without showing the competition all your cards. That just wasn’t part of Gary’s make up when it came to driving, “I know what he was thinking, but I couldn’t do that you know? It’s just not me. When I get behind the wheel I don’t know anything else but seeing what she’s got. We never put it over three quarter throttle all week because I didn’t need to, but I really would have liked to.”

Balough easily grabbed the pole for the Schaefer 200 in Wednesday’s time trials.  At three-quarter throttle and not many adjustments from the first rounds of practice, the 112 toured the track at 31.957 seconds, a speed of 112.853 mph.  Sammy Beavers, racing for the same team Gary Balough had won his previous Schaefer 200’s with, the Ferraiuolo Brothers 73, timed second quick at 33.203 seconds, 108.433 mph.

The three second interval Kenny Weld told Lenny H. Sammons in Area Auto Racing News‘ 1990 10 year anniversary feature “The Batmobile”, must have increased in the final practice.  Bob Scott clearly remembers, “The car was on rails right off the trailer. Late in the day, on Wednesday after time trials, they had practice for the Modifieds and Balough was turning laps almost as quick as the sprints.”

From Personal Memory

My first Super Dirt Week was indeed memorable..

My father and I arrived on Wednesday evening in the gold Speedway Scene Firebird and parked by the group of campers we were staying with. As soon as we walked around the corner where everyone was sitting and chatting, friends and acquaintances bombarded him with their eye witness accounts regarding the Batmobile. It continued on through the night.

Later, before we turned off the lights in the camper, my father was talking about all their accounts and commented the talk was probably similar to those “.. in the stands at Indy when Parnelli Jones put down his first laps in the Turbine.”

The next morning we hoped to see the 112 in all her glory, but no such luck. The 112 team was off-site at a shop nearby making slight adjustments and waiting for Sunday’s Schaefer 200. They only ran Wednesday’s pre time trial practice sessions, time trialed, ran the post time trial practice sessions and that was all until Sunday’s DIRT Modified main event.

Modifications

Some Decided to Change Their Game..

(Above) kenny Brightbill's conventional Modified. John Gallant Sr. photo. (Below) Brightbill's revamped Modified just days later. Rick Sweeten photo.
(Top) Kenny Brightbill’s conventional Modified. John Gallant Sr. photo. (Bottom) Brightbill’s revamped Modified just days later. Rick Sweeten photo.
(Above) Buzzie Reutiman's 1980 Schaefer 200 ride before alterations. John Gallant Sr. photo. (Below) Reutimann sits on the grid with a new look. Rick Sweeten photo.
(Top) Buzzie Reutimann’s 1980 Schaefer 200 ride before alterations. John Gallant Sr. photo. (Bottom) Reutimann sits on the grid with a new look. Rick Sweeten photo.
(Above) Geoff Bodine time trialed 22nd on Wednesday. (Below) On Friday after he and Billy Taylor's revamp, Bodine was second quick. Bob Scott photos.
(Top) Geoff Bodine time trialed 22nd on Wednesday. (Bottom) On Friday after he and Billy Taylor’s revamp, Bodine was second quick. Bob Scott photos.
View from the front and rear of the Geoff Bodine-Billy Taylor reconfigured Show Car Chassis dirt Modified. John Gallant Sr. Photos, John Gallant Jr. collection.
View from the front and rear of the Geoff Bodine-Billy Taylor reconfigured Show Car Chassis dirt Modified. John Gallant Sr. Photos, John Gallant Jr. collection.

Before Sunday arrived a handful of teams had made alterations to their Modifieds in an attempt to match the machine Balough, Weld and team brought to the table.

Jimmy Horton and the number 3 Statewide team had rounded pods that ran as part of the body work which split and rolled over the top of the rear tires like fenders.

Kenny Brightbill and his 19 team gave the impression they had removed their spare car’s body, cut it in half and riveted it on both sides of their Modified while adding aero inside the new body panels. The original body was still intact, paint, numbers and all.

Merv Treichler and his 58 team took another approach. The body style on Treichler’s car was already a wide open type like that of a Plymouth Horizon or Dodge Omni so they decided to raise the roof dramatically far above the roll bars as if it was indeed a wing. Some folks later referred to it as the “red top hat”.

The Geoff Bodine-Billy Taylor 99B team, Buzzie Reutimann and the Vince Valeriano 60 team along with Frank Cozze’s number 44 entry did somewhat the same as Brightbill.  They all widened their bodies with plenty of new or in some cases, used tin, added skirting, added the aero inside of new body panels, and opened up the rear of their Modifieds to allow free air flow.

As Maynard Troyer told AARN‘s Sammons in that same 1990 “The Batmobile” feature article, Geoff Bodine and Billy Taylor’s work paid off as when they brought their converted Modified back on Friday. Bodine went from 22nd fastest on Wednesday to second fastest Friday.

Schaefer Showtime

Dominating at Three-Quarter Throttle..

Gary Balough sits on the grid in awaiting the Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.
Gary Balough sits on the grid in awaiting the Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.

On Sunday when the Schaefer 200 took the green, just as expected, Gary Balough and the Batmobile ran away from the field and hid.

The most memorable moment for this writer was from race day. After pacing the field with the Gold Speedway Scene Firebird, along with twenty or so other pace vehicles, my father backed up to the fence just inside the infield guardrail off turn four. When Chief Starter Bob Watson finally dropped the green flag the field flew out of turn four in a giant roar. Coming around to complete lap number one, out of turn four, there went Gary Balough…..

Tic.. tic.. tic..

…..and there went the rest of the field. One lap and the 112 was already checking out.

Gary said they wanted to do things differently for the race, “We decided to start the race with the hardest tires we could find and planned on being the last to pit.”

It only seemed right that the aerodynamic ground effect rich masterpiece was built in Indianapolis, Indiana the home of Indycars. Rick Sweeten photo.
It only seemed right that the aerodynamic ground effect rich masterpiece was built in Indianapolis, Indiana the home of Indycars. Rick Sweeten photo.

They pitted under caution on lap 73 placing them deep in the field for the restart. When the green flew again Balough easily cut through the field only passing on the straightaways and sometimes multiple cars per lap. It didn’t take much time at all before the 112 was back in the top spot and pulling away.

There was plenty of great racing action taking place throughout the huge field of Modifieds. However, by the end of the race, it seemed like almost every fan was focused on the resentment they felt towards the 112 Modified team and their driver. (Click here to view the 1980 Schaefer 200 results on The Third Turn site)

Boos, Jeers and Shaken Fists

As Balough, Weld, and crew celebrated the results of their hard work in victory lane loud boo’s filled the air with the covered grandstands assisting the sounds. ESPN’s Larry Nuber acknowledged the crowd’s discontent during his interview with the now four time Schaefer 200 winner, “Gary, there was an unpleasant response to the announcement of your victory, but I think it aught to be pointed out that you won this race three times in a conventional car. I don’t think it was all race car.”

While we discussed Super Dirt Week IX, I brought up that although many in attendance responded with booing there were other fans who appreciated the car.  Gary quickly replied with a chuckle, “Really? Because I remember 50,000 people booing me in victory lane.”

Future NASCAR Modified and Grand National standout Mike McLaughlin (CraZ8), in his regular dirt Modified ride battles Kenny Brightbill. Rick Sweeten photo.
Future NASCAR Modified and Grand National standout Mike McLaughlin (CraZ8) has Kenny Brightbill looking to the high side. Rick Sweeten photo.

A great memory of achievement in his career, encased in a chorus of jeers. Multiple times during our conversation Gary spoke high praise of that team and how they all worked so hard on the car together. This particular win, with this car and the people who made it happen, was obviously something Gary took extreme pride in. It wasn’t about what he achieved from the cockpit that day, but what they accomplished as a team.  I might add that most times when answering questions about the Batmobile he used “we” not “I”. Unfortunately, for him and the team, it’s hard for any of them to look back on the special moment without remembering the negative sound coming from the covered grandstands. 

Mostly every driver who’s visited victory lane steadily has heard the chorus of boos.  Jack Johnson, Alan Johnson, heck these days most folks love to hate Brett Hearn.  After all, Balough was an established winner in dirt Modifieds and other forms of the sport. He had already proven he could win in big events, especially Super Dirt Week’s premier event. They showed up with a car that exploited rule book loopholes in an extreme manner, and dominated with an already proven winner behind the wheel. It was indeed the absolute perfect recipe for jeers.

It’s also the “nature of the beast” in sports and in many ways it’s one of the sport’s highest compliments, but it doesn’t mean those strong expressions of discontent didn’t sting. Like most successful and dominating racing creations, teams and drivers, that have come and gone in the sport, the appreciation for what they created, how the car and crew performed would only come sometime later. 

Rumors and Myths

Most of their peers hated the Batmobile..

An incident brings out the caution as (99B) Geoff Bodine, (57) Tommy Corellis and (3) Jimmy Horton speed by. Rick Sweeten photo.
An incident brings out the caution as (99B) Geoff Bodine, (57) Tommy Corellis and (3) Jimmy Horton speed by. Rick Sweeten photo.

One thing that was brought up years ago was their fellow competitors didn’t appreciate what they built. Gary Balough said that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As mentioned in Lenny H. Sammons’ 1990 AARN piece “The Batmobile”, Maynard Troyer and Merv Treichler gave a nod to the craftsmanship.

Gary says there were plenty of other guys that week who he ran into at the track or stopped by their hauler and complimented them on the creation, “Many guys thought the car was well crafted. Billy Taylor (Long time wrench for Geoff Bodine) was one of the guys who thought highly of the car. Of course drivers like Geoff and Buzzie didn’t like what we showed up with, but that’s because drivers like Geoff, Buzzie and others show up to win races. It didn’t mean they didn’t appreciate what we built because they did. I wouldn’t have liked it either if I were them, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have appreciated it.”

The ground effects were just to hide the illegal motor!..

Brightbill (19) and C.D. Coville (61) battle it out in the Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.
Brightbill (19) and C.D. Coville (61) battle it out in the Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.

Some still speculate that the Don Brown and Tim Light ground effects package wasn’t a key factor to the Batmobile being dominant. They claim the ground effects and gadgetry were only a cover for an illegal power plant. Gary disagreed with the myths and rumors that even exist in published stories surrounding the Batmobile and that week, “That’s not true at all. The motor was built by Ron Hutter. It was just as legal as the Ron Hutter motors that powered Richie (Evans) and others to wins and championships. There was absolutely nothing illegal about that motor what so ever.”

Glenn Donnelly informed Sammons in “The Batmobile” article of 1990, they sent a D.I.R.T. Official to the shop in Indianapolis for a pre-inspection and on Super DIRT Week weekend the car was equally run through tech inspection at Syracuse. With all the hub-bub that the machine caused, and microscope it was under, if the engine was too big D.I.R.T. officials surely would have found out. 

The car cost a fortune. They out-spent everybody!..

The team was accused of spending a fortune to build the machine, out pricing any Modified that was in the pit area. Again, referring back to the Area Auto Racing News article “The Batmobile” Sammons reported that Balough said in a pre-race interview, those beliefs were false. They had as much money invested in their machine as the top runners of the division had.

The differences between their Modified and the rest were the Don Brown and Tim Light ground effects package, perfectly legal tricked out custom Weld chassis (as if there was any other description for a Kenny Weld creation), and the much talked about air induction system.

1979 Schaefer 200 winner, Jack Johnson (12a) looks up and sees a full mirror of Gary Balough on his tail during the 1980 Schaefer 200. Bob Scott photo.
1979 Schaefer 200 winner, Jack Johnson (12a) looks up and sees a full mirror of Gary Balough on his tail during the 1980 Schaefer 200. Bob Scott photo.

The air induction system has been one of the most discussed areas on the Batmobile. The most common description of the system was it forced air by way of the tin work channels under the hood that started at the chrome surrounded grill on the nose as well as through the duct work that ran back from the side pods of the car. The faster the car went, more air was pushed into the motor. The increase of air into the motor, the more power the motor produced. In 1981 and ’82, Schaefer 200 winner, Merv Treichler, along with other teams, had their own basic variations of the system with visible intakes on their Modifieds that fed air straight to the motor, but only direct through the front.

That car caused all the cars to look the same..

Some argue the Batmobile led to cookie cutter Modifieds. If making that claim with the immediate rise of the Troyer Mud Bus in mind, sure there were more and more customer cars coming out of Rochester, New York’s Troyer Engineering. Troyer came out with the Mud Bus and sold bunches, just as he had sold bunches on the asphalt side of things, because they worked.

In 1981 Alan “A.J. Slideways” Johnson and a couple others helped push Troyer’s Mud Bus orders up by tearing up the competition.  However, others built chassis too and won just the same. Did that venture into producing dirt Modifieds stem from what took place that week? That’s a question only Maynard himself can answer. But placing blame on Weld, Balough and crew for making everything look the same is rubbish. One only has to go so far as to look at photos from 1981, ’82, ’83, and on to see clearly the differences started rolling on through the years much like the asphalt Mods experienced in the 70’s and 80’s. (Click here to view photos of 3 Wide’s Picture Vault from the 1980’s)

They caused the increase in costs to race..

Costs rose, but they rose throughout the sport in general. Again, if pointing to the mass production of the Mud Buss, it was no different than the mass production of Troyer’s asphalt Modifieds.

When a chassis is a proven winner and takes a division by storm it forces independents who normally would run the same chassis for a couple or so years to build a new chassis or purchase one from the mass producers like Troyer. It’s the old “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Sure that was a forced extra cost to compete, but it’s nothing that didn’t happen in other divisions. Remember sprint cars going through the Gambler Chassis phase? It seemed at one time half the field was running one.

Blame D.I.R.T.? Blame The Team?.. No, just blame the times.

What about Donnelly sending an official to Indianapolis for a pre-inspection?  One interesting tid-bit that should be pointed out took place during ESPN’s live broadcast of the event.  High ranking D.I.R.T. Official, Andy Fusco, answered on behalf of D.I.R.T. regarding the “surprise” arrival of the Batmobile, “That’s certainly an understatement. It started with one automobile here in practice on Wednesday that quite frankly we didn’t expect to be here and quite honestly we prefer not be here..”

Later some who saw the telecast and heard about Donnelly’s pre-inspection through certain channels started small grumblings, adding to the mystique of the Batmobile and how it was all handled. I recall my father conversing with his fellow friends in the press sometime later in the off season regarding the pre-inspection and contradicting statements during ESPN’s live telecast, but I personally can’t recall anything coming out in print until Lenny H. Sammons’ 1990 article.

In D.I.R.T.’s defense, what was any D.I.R.T.  representative supposed to do or say? Were they expected to pick up the phone, call the racing publications and all its competitors to inform them about what Balough and Weld were bringing to Super Dirt Week IX? Should they have taken out ads in publications like Speedway Scene, Area Auto Racing News or Gater Racing News to inform the fans “Expect the worst and hope for the best”? No, of course not.

The conventional Modified of Win Slavin (53) and Frank Cozze's (44) remodeled dirt Modified during the 1980 Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.
The conventional Modified of Win Slavin (53) and Frank Cozze’s (44) remodeled dirt Modified during the 1980 Schaefer 200. Rick Sweeten photo.

No one, but those involved with the 112 knew that it would run and run well. If they showed up and the new Modified was an absolute pig on the track it would’ve created that “point and laugh” effect.

D.I.R.T. did what was expected. The sanctioning body did what they had to do. They kept it close to the vest and hoped for the best. If Fusco were aware of the pre-inspection in Indianapolis prior to his statements, after Balough blew everyone’s doors off in practice and time trials, he stuck to his guns and guarded his sanctioning body.  Anyone would have done the same thing. Their hands were tied.. Again, the car was completely legal.

Other than knowing for five days they would be competing and watching a race for second, the negative reaction towards the 112 team can be attributed to many factors.

The aforementioned length of time between someone pushing the envelope within the division, while other divisions continued to change shape dramatically through the seasons. On “Part 3” of the Super Dirt Week video broadcast that can be also found on YouTube, the late Larry Nuber goes over the differences in the conventional dirt Modifieds by comparing Brett Hearn’s entry and the revamped, re-tinned Geoff Bodine dirt Modified. Nuber mentions that the conventional Modifieds have been similar for the last 15 years. (All links to the ESPN telecast are listed at the end of this column for your viewing pleasure)

The Batmobile’s arrival within the absolute latest stage of the season in the biggest event also helped amplify the negativity. In auto racing ninety-five percent of all debuts occur at the beginning of the season. It’s the time when teams unveil the racing machines they labored on over the off-season winter months. The typical season kick-off events were where fans packed the house to not only cheer their favorite driver, but catch that all important visual review of the new machines being campaigned. When the big season ending championship events roll around, all involved in the sport; fans, competitors, officials and press, have seen the season unfold and believe we know what to expect.

Like all season ending championship events, we show up to see the best of the best competing against each other on an even playing field. Then something like the Batmobile comes along and decimates the field and sets everyone on their ear.

At Oswego's 1981 Bud 200 Geoff Bodine and Billy Taylor unveiled the first Cavalier bodied asphalt Modified and ran away with it. Howie Hodge photo.
At Oswego’s 1981 Bud 200 Geoff Bodine and Billy Taylor unveiled the first Cavalier bodied asphalt Modified and ran away with it. Howie Hodge photo.

Just as Shampine did with “The Wedge” and “Radical Offset”, and  Geoff Bodine and Billy Taylor did when they debuted the first Cavalier bodied Modified at Oswego’s Bud 200 and won, so goes Weld, Balough and the 112 team. They took the glory and off into the sunset they went leaving most everyone up in arms because it was nothing any of us expected.

Back to that heavily bushwhacked D.I.R.T. rule book.. When any rule book is looked at by brilliant thinkers, in this case Kenny Weld and Gary Balough, they will indeed find the loop holes. It’s only natural not only in our sport, but mostly all of sports. In the case of the D.I.R.T. rule book at the time, which was similar to every track’s rule book that ran dirt Modifieds, it held loop holes the size of elephants just waiting to be driven through. Common sense suggests, why pick and choose parts of the loop holes for a slight edge when you can go all in?

The Schaefer 200 winners share was a big pay day. Why do a little and take some when you can do it up and take it all? Really, what would you do? If you’re racing for big money it’s the latter. Forget what part of the season it is. Forget how long it has been since a significant change has come in dynamics. Forget taking it easy on the rule book. And above all throw any traditional beliefs right out the window. This is a thinking man’s sport. No one advances or wins by sitting idle and believing what’s worked will always work. In that day and age, you built it, worked on it and raced it to win and make money, and for some make a living.

Eventual second place finisher, Buzzie Ruetiman (60) pulls away from fifth place finisher, Ken Brenn Jr. Rick Sweeten photo.
Eventual second place finisher, Buzzie Reutimann (60) pulls away from the highest finishing conventional Modified of, fifth place finisher, Ken Brenn Jr. Rick Sweeten photo.

What would the reaction have been per say if Troyer showed up with his #6 Pinto bodied Modified in 1972 rather than 1977? How about Shampine’s “Offset” being debuted at the beginning of the ’70’s or his rear engined machine debuting in ’75? The same reaction that was shown towards Weld and Balough would very well have taken place because of the extreme physical and visible change in appearance and how advanced the machines would have been.

Don’t forget, just as soon as Shampine, for example, started winning races with his new creations the discontent among fans came in high numbers because of the unjust feelings of an unfair advantage crossed with the fact he’d dominated before.

As mentioned earlier, if any of the machines spoken about were absolute pigs on the track or merely even with the rest of the field, not a soul would have made a fuss. The creations would’ve been an afterthought within the racing community.

34 Years Later

Traditionalists fuss and argue that it changed dirt Modifieds as we knew it and ruined the division. I agree yet disagree wholeheartedly. It did, without a shadow of a doubt change the division forever, but by no means did it ruin the division. It created a spark within the division with chassis builders, designers and mechanics. Many Modifieds that were built in ’81 and beyond showed visual signs of forward thinking.

Dirt Modifieds today feature many characteristics to what Weld, Balough and team unveiled at Syracuse back in October of 1980. The ground effects inside the body panels, though not as complex, are somewhat similar in nature. The length of the door panels and the width of the body are similar. The skirting and the openings in the rear of the machines help “steer” the air.  It’s been decades for the division to actually have any characteristics the Batmobile had.

The dirt Modifieds of today share similar characteristics of a 34 year old legendary Modified. Chad Frey photo.
The dirt Modifieds of today share similar characteristics of a 34 year old legendary Modified. Chad Frey photo.

By all accounts the racing is just as exciting as back when four wheels first touched dirt ovals.  The only thing that has changed are the tightening of the rules. Something that has been a heated topic for the past few years.

I spoke to Gary about how times have changed and I couldn’t agree with him more on his opinions regarding Modifieds, dirt or asphalt, “It’s sad today. There are so many rules in place now that no one has room to come up with something new. Way too many rules. Dirt Modifieds, asphalt Modifieds, they are called Modifieds for a reason and that’s been forgotten.”

Well said.

The Batmobile’s Return, Well Kind of..

With all that hard work put into the Batmobile’s ground effects, the Modified, as it ran that October, was outlawed almost immediately following their 1980 Schaefer 200 triumph and “broke up the band” per say.  The Modified was sold to, coincidentally enough, Balough’s old team, the Ferraiuolo Brothers.

The Ferraiuolo’s reskinned and reworked the machine over the years and entered it in Super Dirt Week on at least five other occasions in different forms with different drivers. Heading into Super Dirt Week every year from 1981 to it’s last known appearance in 1987, carried with it the hype of the Batmobile’s return. The Ferraiuolos showed up with chauffeurs like Anthony Ferraiuolo III, Will Cagle, Doug Wolfgang and Merv Treichler. The questions always were, “what version of body work the Batmobile chassis would have this time?” and “would the Ferraiuolo’s show up with the right combination to return the legendary Weld chassis to the front?”. Unfortunately the versions to follow were never very successful, but God bless them for giving it their all.

1980 versus 2014?

The question has been asked every so often as each Super Dirt Week has come and gone, “Could the Batmobile compete against today’s Modifieds in it’s original form?”

Not withstanding the differences in the track surface over 30 years, here’s some food for thought..

This year at Super Dirt Week Matt Sheppard won the pole position with a fast time of 29.410 seconds, a speed of 122.449 mph.

Gary Balough flies under Bobby Watson's checkered flag to take home the $26,000 winner's share. Rick Sweeten photo.
Gary Balough flashes under Bobby Watson’s double checkered flags to take home the $26,000 winner’s share. Rick Sweeten photo.

Balough and the Batmobile circled the Syracuse mile in 31.957 seconds, a speed of 112.853 mph, 9.5 mile per hour slower than Sheppard’s 2014 pole speed.

The second quickest in 1980 was Sammy Beavers time of 33.203 seconds, a speed of 108.433 mph which was 4 mph slower than Balough’s.

Many witness reports, including Bob Scott’s, said that Balough went out in a practice after time trials and was turning laps close to what the Sprint cars were setting for the Super Nationals that weekend. But let’s just say Balough’s times were indeed 3 seconds faster than the next Modified. If so, that would place lap times in or around 30.2 seconds and a speed of 119.205 miles per hour, raising his speed just under 3 miles per hour off Matt Sheppard’s 2014 pole time.

If Balough did a lap of 30.2 seconds it would have placed the 34 year old Batmobile 21st fastest in the 2014 Syracuse 200 time trials right behind Jimmy Horton and ahead of Carey Terrance.

If you consider the much talked about maximum “three quarter throttle” Balough and Weld said was only used the entire weekend and how they only made minor adjustments to the car all week, along with the fact that other than race day they only ran on Wednesday, a very strong argument could be made.  And that argument being in it’s original form, the Orgazmatron / Batmobile / Lincoln Continental could very well be competitive at the Moody Mile 34 years later.

And the legend of the Batmobile continues..

T-E-A-M.. TEAM!

Chassis Builder, Kenny Weld was also the Crew Chief.  Gary Balough as the Chauffeur. Pete Hamilton, the 1970 Daytona 500 winner was Balough’s Spotter/Driving Coach. Ron Hutter was the Engine Builder. Mario Rossi served as Motor Tuner. Eddie Labretone was also a Motor Tuner and served as a Tire Changer for the team along with Mark Clark and Bob Henry. Billy Sanchilli served as jackman on the car which was also equipped with air jacks. Tim Light and Don Brown engineered Aerodynamics and Sheet Metal for the Batmobile. Forgive me as I might have forgotten some others, but rest assured this group all had specialties. For a group of all stars to stick together from the Batmobile’s inception to it’s moment of glory at Syracuse speaks volumes about their belief in each other as a team.

Since 1981 the subject of conversation arises every year as each Super Dirt Week approaches and then passes. It always surrounds the team that stunned the community with their dirt Modified in 1980. The Batmobile will forever be one of the most discussed and argued over racing machines in American motorsports. They built and competed a perfectly legal and superior machine by interpreting the rules, finding the loop holes and helping dirt Modifieds evolve TEN YEARS.. IN FIVE DAYS.

Gary Balough poses not only with a car he was proud of, but more so a cast and crew of all stars that worked hard as a team. John Gallant Sr. photo, John Gallant Jr. collection.
Gary Balough poses not only with a car he was proud of, but the hard working team he took pride in being a part of.                                            John Gallant Sr. photo, John Gallant Jr. collection.

*       *       *       *       *

More Rumors and Myths Still Circulating..

Since the publishing of this feature in 2014 there are still those who question the Modified, the team, Kenny Weld, Gary Balough and DIRT’s officiating. So let’s review and clear all this up.

“The roof had shocks on it which allowed it to move like that of a SuperModified wing.” – That is a MYTH. The roof was mounted and not a movable piece. The roof was wide and did act as a wing, as any large wide roof would, but it did not move like a wing.

“Something broke on the Batmobile early in the race..”That is TRUE. The Batmobile actually had two issues during the race itself.  During my interview with Gary Balough he stated that the rocker arm broke on lap seven and not long after the engine had dropped a cylinder. Dropping a cylinder might really be a stretch for some to swallow, but not when you look at the facts. The aerodynamics and ground effects of the Modified included a large roof, side pods with skirting to direct air for rear steering, much like today’s dirt Modifieds. The air for the natural air induction system, that forced air directly into the engine, was not just fed by duct work beginning at the opening of the grill. The side pods also had channels which drove more air back into the engine. This air induction system increased the horsepower dramatically.

Again, “The engine was illegal.”That is a MYTH and one that most surfaces by those still in disbelief that aero, ground effects and an air induction system could have given them that much of an edge. As stated earlier in the story, the engine came from the same builder, Ron Hutter, who’s power plants powered Richie Evans’ machines to National and track titles through the years. DIRT officials inspected the motor as well as inspected the futuristic Modified itself not once, but twice. The motor was perfectly legal.

Thank you to Gary Balough for his valuable time, insight and very enjoyable conversation.

Thank you to the Photographers for the privilege in granting me permission to use some really spectacular photos that preserve memories and allowed me publish the story with fine photographic descriptions that no words could truly describe..
Rick Sweeten (Feature Photo included)
Peter Montano
Howie Hodge
John Gallant Sr‘s by way of John Gallant Jr.
Bob Scott
Chad Frey

Special Thanks to a key individual, Joe at “3 Wide’s Picture Vault”. His site’s link to photos of the 80’s dirt Modifieds is provided in this column and a link to the site is listed with many other great racing sites on our links page. Thank you for your assistance Joe!

Sources referred to and quoted.. If you never had the chance to read the following time capsule of a piece, I recommend searching for it or going through your old stacks of Area Auto Racing News.

Sammons, Lenny H. “The Batmoble” Area Auto Racing News 2 Oct. 1990: 39,41,42. Print.

Other works of interest to which I acquired certain information for this story and equally enjoyed reading.

Bourcier, Bones. Richie!: The Fast Life and times of NASCAR’s Greatest Modified Driver : The Richie Evans Story. Newburyport, MA: Coastal 181, 2005. Print.

Fusco, Andy, and George Caruso. The Pine: The Authorized Biography of Jim Shampine, the Greatest Open Wheel Short Tracker of All Time. Oswego, NY: Speedway, 2003. Print.

ESPN’s Full Super DIRT Week IX Broadcast on Youtube:
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 1 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 2 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 3 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 4 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 5 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 6 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 7 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 8 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 9 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 10 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 11 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 12 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 13 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 14 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 15 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 16 of 17
Super DIRT Week IX – SCHAEFER 200 Part 17 of 17

A Night In The Valley and Nothing But The Truth..

RELOADED by Jared Echo

One Night In The Valley..

Last Wednesday myself and a good friend of mine hopped on the interstate, which led to another interstate, and another.. -sigh- and another.. 16 hours later we arrived at our destination to spend some time with another good friend in Connecticut. The next day the three of us made the hundred mile trip Northwest to take in the Mr. Dirt USA big block Modified event at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, NY.. We grabbed $30 pit passes and watched the night’s proceedings from the pit area or what many refer to as “The Hornet’s Nest”. It was great to be back in familiar surroundings from days gone by.

Walking through the pits and soaking in the environment, the scents and the scenery I looking up at the stands in turn 1.  Many a night spent at “The Valley” with my family and many with just my father..  That’s when it dawned on me..

Back in the early 70’s our family resided in East Greenbush, NY. Sometime during the summer of ’74 my family attended our very first auto race. We all piled into the family car and traveled about 15 miles down the road to Lebanon Valley Speedway and Dragway in West Lebanon, New York. Sometime during that evening’s events that high banked dirt oval instantly hooked us and made all of us auto racing fans. At that moment in the pit area, looking up at that section of grandstands, I realized this year makes 40 years that I have been an auto racing fan and how right it was to be at the very facility which sparked this awesome addiction. Pretty cool..

The Brett Hearn Haters Club were out in full force last Thursday night and probably all let out a huge moan with a few choice profanities when the Sussex, N.J. veteran hot shoe broke the track record. The familiar #20 set a blistering lap of 19.33 seconds during the group time trial session. Love him or hate him, Brett “The Jet” has always been one heck of a talented driver through the years.

Prior to the Mr. Dirt USA event speedway officials and management brought some of the youth onto the front stretch to draw for starting spots for drivers by way of seat cushions. There were plenty of laughs drawn from the grandstands and those grouped up on the front stretch as the gentleman manning the microphone asked each child questions prior to picking for their driver. It was enjoyable kind-hearted fun that was well received by all. Kudos to the Valley’s treatment towards the young fans as after all that is what it’s all about.

Andy Bachetti (34) and Donnie Corellis (57) await tech. Chad Frey photo.
Andy Bachetti (34) and Donnie Corellis (57) await tech for Mr. Dirt USA. Chad Frey photo.

During the re-draw the club of Hearn haters exploded with a roar of approval when the child helping Hearn selected the 10th spot.  At the drop of the green Mr. Dirt was dominated early by Andy Bachetti of Great Barrington, Mass. in the #34. Bachetti shot out to a half-straightaway lead, but a caution flag put the kibosh to the distance he put between himself and second place runner Kolby Schroeder out of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in the black and blue #98.

Once the field bunched up Hearn went to work and by lap 28 or 29 had taken the lead from Bachetti and never really challenged again. Hearn, as my father used to say, “was on rails”. So much so that we could clearly hear him letting off the throttle three quarters of the way down the backstretch as the #20 would set back down closer to the racing surface. Midway through turn 3 we could hear his foot hit the throttle briefly as if to set the car up for turn four and then back on the throttle again, flat footing it in four and continuing all the way down the front stretch.

JR Heffner's Modified goes through tech at Lebanon Valley Speedway. Chad Frey photo.
JR Heffner’s Modified goes through tech at Lebanon Valley Speedway. Chad Frey photo.

There was plenty of great racing action going on throughout the field during the 100 lap feature. Two great battles that stood out involved “The Doctor” Danny Johnson, who earlier had ran away with his heat race piloting his Modified with his visor wide open. Johnson, in a very familiar orange #27J, battled with the #1 of Canadian driver Stewart Friesen early in the show then with the #99L of Larry Wight in the later stages. Wight put on a show as he seemed to be the only driver to hang up top in turns three and four consistently, lifting that left front way off the surface and powering to the inside of Johnson as they ran down the front stretch.

When the checkers fell Hearn had his haters furious by nabbing the $17,500.00.  Bachetti tried every line to gain some steam on the #20, but the distance between first and second ended the same as it was the last 25 circuits or so.  Bachetti wasn’t the only other driver showing power. Donnie Corellis finished a strong third.  Corellis put on fine performance going winning some tight battles, one coming on a restart. (Read the race report here)

One observation after Mr. Dirt USA.. There were many comments on the social pages and forums regarding folks being “glad they didn’t show” up for the Mr. Dirt USA event because of Hearn’s dominance. According to the driver’s website, as of Thursday, August 21, Hearn entered 49 events, started 46 of them, won 15 with 30 top fives and 39 top ten’s. So what gives with this “dominant” tag?

My question to those folks; “Why not show up to support your driver?” Go ahead and boo anyone you like for that matter because that just comes with the territory, besides you the fan are paying to attend and that’s your right. Disregarding all the conspiracy theories some have voiced regarding Lebanon Valley, Albany Saratoga and Brett Hearn, what about the drivers you do support?  What if one of them beat Hearn at the Mr. Dirt event?  Would you commence to kicking yourself in the hind end for not attending?

When Tommy Corellis, Kenny Tremont, C.D. Coville, A.J. Slideways or Jack Johnson were dominating many showed up with the hopes they would witness them getting beaten on the track. The same goes for their asphalt counterparts like Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine, Bugsy Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek or Greg Sacks. Not attending to support your driver only hurts that driver and more so the track that driver supports and competes at. Where’s the loyalty to your favorite? As a racing fan, it just seems awful shallow to avoid attending and supporting your driver because you think you know who’ll win. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Nothing But The Truth..

It seems the last two weeks have been saturated with the happenings of an Empire State Sprint Car event held at Canadaigua Speedway in New York. Personally speaking, I wiped away the pathetic opinions of some uneducated-casual fans who were making asinine statements and comments towards or about Tony Stewart. However, the uneducated media’s headlines were a depressing sign of the times in this day and age.

These writers who were either blindly assigned the story or looking to grab some attention for the almighty ‘clicks’ and ‘hits’ and ran with only what they knew (which wasn’t much) or believed (which only proved their unintelligence) was nothing short of disgraceful. They reported without looking at the facts or the past history and failed to do their HOMEWORK. Why? Because THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SPORT! They only cared about grabbing attention with unjustified slanderous headlines and fill their digital trash with the utmost uneducated adolescent verbiage.

One story claimed it was a NASCAR race, another sad excuse suggested the government needed to get involved. If the factual subject didn’t surround the loss of life these reports would be the equivalent to the Sunday paper funny pages.

I do have to give props to Dave Moody (“Tragedy Highlights Media At Its Worst“) and Nick Teto (“Clarion Call: A Word to the Wise“) for voicing opinions with some damn fine pieces about this very subject.

I guess the correct word that best describes what the uneducated media would be irresponsibility. My view? The following is just part of what I wrote immediately after finding out about the unfortunate tragedy..

6:30am Sunday morning I took my first sip of coffee and settled into the recliner to enjoy a beautiful beginning to the day. That mood changed as soon as I read the news and then the pathetic and down right disgraceful comments and headlines that followed regarding young Kevin Ward Jr and veteran ace Tony Stewart.

For as long as there has been auto racing there has been confrontation. That confrontation comes in many forms. In-car, out-of-car, and a little cross of both. Last night a young driver lost his head, as we’ve all seen take place from the highest form of the sport to the young fundamental divisions.

Unlike a few who chose to write something immediately with their emotions being fueled by the same adrenaline that pushed Kevin Ward Jr. from the cockpit to the race track on foot. I chose to soak it in to a degree, merely posting for my friends to see and let it settle while the comments and headlines continued to prove, the more some folks talk the more they show their cards as to their level of education in the sport.

Saturday night August 9th at Canadaigua Speedway in Canadaigua, New York a young driver lost his temper and ran to the moving car of a veteran driver. That young driver lost his life by getting “too close”, plain and simple.. And if you don’t believe that, well I don’t know what to say to you other than when looking at any racing incident YOU MUST LOOK AT IT THROUGH UNBIASED EYES and COMMON SENSE. Although these out-of-car to in-car confrontations have occurred multiple times every weekend throughout the decades, we veterans of the sport (fans, crews, drivers, officials, media; FANS), tend not to worry because “these guys are professionals”.. and then this.. A terrible graphic tragedy happens.

As I spoke about uneducated and casual kool-aid fans in my last column “Know What You Are Getting Into”, so should go a common sense that takes hold before making completely biased and unjust comments about a loss of life. This is even more so for the exploiting, grandstanding media, that only seems to pay attention when our sport experiences severe injury and or tragedy.

The uneducated media grabbed this unfortunate incident and proverbially picked up the banner and sped off sprinting through the streets screaming; “look at this!”. The majority did so with nonfactual and damn near made up representations of what really took place. Some of those clearly knew nothing other than the incident involved NASCAR Cup Champion Tony Stewart. They took an approach that was simply based off of their colleagues headlines rather than DO THEIR HOMEWORK. Some went so far as to go into detail that this accident involved fenders in their write up. Fenders? Sprint cars don’t have fenders.  Sure, why be factual when you can grab hits by grandstanding a tragic happening in a sport you know absolutely nothing about!

These media types followed up this sprint car tragedy with reports that were nothing short of careless, classless and disrespectful. Sick fictitious versions sprinkled with bull droppings. It proved to us veteran fans in the know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how truly oblivious the mainstream media are, not only to the situation, but our sport. The fact is, THEY DON’T KNOW. “Tony Stewart KILLS driver..” IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED! Oh, but it works for great headlines, grabs readers or viewers.. These people are not fans of the sport, but merely leaches.. Scum suckers.. A school of Plecostomuses latched on to the side of the auto racing fish tank, only bothering to make a move or effort when shit happens. It’s the only time the sport is recognized or serves a purpose in their pathetic and shallow world.

Every unfortunate time true fans of the sport hear about a fatality, regardless if it takes place overseas, across the borders or on our own soil, it hits home and causes us all to pray for all parties effected and then reflect.. I’ll tell you one thing, my friends, as a former chief starter and track official this on-track incident hit rather close to home and caused some heavy reflection..

My good friend John Agor (#61) was always good for a dirt shower every race night. 1993 Roberge photo.
Jahn Agor, one of the friends who I attended the Mr Dirt USA race with was always good for a dirt shower every race night. 1993 Sugar Hill Speedway – Roberge photo.

The many times being on the track during warm ups pointing to the area of the speedway to “run in” and pack the wet surface.. As close as we all were.. Always a few drivers who would get close and as they just passed down low, would gun it within inches of me, coating my backside with clay or dirt, a common tactic by driver friends and smart-asses showing their cards.. Sure it’s funny, yet dangerous.., but there’s a trust there..

The countless times doing the crossover down on the front stretch as these 20 to 30 drivers in their machines came within less than a foot of hitting me, but there’s a trust there… If a loss of balance or clip of arm or flag by the speeding race machines by myself would’ve meant serious consequences.., but there’s trust.. A miss judgment of acceleration, turn of the wheel or contact with another race machine.., but there’s trust.

Running down off the flag stand in anger to get within inches and put that rolled up flag in the driver’s face as a warning, to show the driver the black flag and point to the pits or to point at that driver then my rear, a gesture well understood as “rear of the field”, but in the heat of the moment.. Even if we’re not on friendly terms.. There’s a trust there.

I viewed the grotesque footage of the terrible incident, and once was enough. That’s when I thought back to the thousands of times the aforementioned actions took place and immediately was overcome with emotion giving me the overwhelming desire to wake my wife & daughter up from their sleep and hug them tight.

We all hear the stories of days gone by involving a driver out of their wrecked machine and stopping, running along side, or jumping through the window.. That heat of the moment.. That temporary hatred fueled by that competitive temperament and rush of adrenalin.. That stupid act, but.. There’s trust there.

There’s countless stories of the drivers giving a fellow driver “the business” by getting into the strapped in driver’s face, throwing objects or jumping on a competitor’s car in the heat of the moment.. What if the other driver still strapped in accidentally hit the accelerator or had it in gear?.. What if he was still in motion and couldn’t stop?.. What if the driver on foot lost his balance?.. Pretty easy to get sucked under any open wheel machine, but even with all the anger there’s still a trust there. It’s an odd trust that only our sport has, but believe me, it’s there. NO DRIVER WOULD INTENTIONALLY TRY AND TAKE THE LIFE OF ANOTHER DRIVER, OFFICIAL, SAFETY CREW MEMBER, CREW MEMBER, MEDIA MEMBER, OR FAN. ESPECIALLY A RACER LIKE TONY STEWART.

Please, lets not confuse this incident with what’s filled the social pages and racing news pages regarding the “chase the ace”, demo derby scenarios between a number of Modified drivers at Bowman Gray Stadium. Yes it’s pathetic and makes us veteran fans do a damn near choreographed “face-palm”.. Yes, it’s inexcusable and highly dangerous, not to mention childish tantrums with high dollar machines.. These guys have no disregard for the safety of the officials and track crews, however policing, or lack there of, by the management of that facility is where the responsibility lies. If they don’t gather their senses and stop it, there will be a death.. Sure it hasn’t happened yet, but neither has an out of cockpit driver on moving vehicle death occurred in many, many moons.. That is until now..

And let’s also not associate or categorize this in the same context as a driver vs. driver confrontation in competition. That’s different as the factors of in car protection and trust in equipment comes into play with the offending driver knowing full well they are securely and safely strapped into their machines ..

When a driver steps out onto a “running surface”, just as an official or track crew does on any given race evening, those behind the wheel click into “pedestrian awareness” as all of us do driving on village streets or in subdivisions. However many factors have to be taken into consideration and the view from the cockpit of a sprint car is one of them.

The easiest way to solve this issue is now what many speedways and series are doing across the country as you read this. A universal rule simply involving; “UNLESS THERE IS FIRE, THE DRIVER IS TO REMAIN STRAPPED INTO THEIR MACHINE UNTIL SAFETY CREW REACHES THE VEHICLE OR IT IS A MINIMUM 2 WEEK SUSPENSION.”

Those less familiar with the sport are probably questioning; “Why hasn’t that rule been in place from the get go?”

Well, for one, our sport’s safety standards advance as much as the seasons progress. When there’s a hard wreck or injury to the driver, a fan, crew member, official, etc.. we advance in safety. Lastly, something anyone in all walks of life can relate to.. Sometimes the obvious solution is never the first  nor the second answer any of us arrive upon until it’s too late.

Now since then Tony Stewart has decided to step away from behind the wheel and that is his choice and his way to deal with this matter. Only Tony knows what he needs to do to get through this painful time.  As a fan of racing in general, I pray for the family of Kevin Ward Jr. for strength to make it through this terrible loss. Equally, I pray for Tony Stewart and his family and friends for strength to recover and help him deal with what he is going through.  I hope he gets back behind the wheel soon as the sport of auto racing is less without Stewart. Although Ward Jr has been tragically lost, Tony Stewart is still very much alive and a gifted driving talent filled with a unique passion for the sport.  He’s a racer’s racer.

A competitor lost his life in a racing incident. As part of the auto racing community we can only mourn, reflect, improve standards, and always remember… Those in our sport who have lost their lives at the track are never forgotten, but remembered and honored when others walk away in the future from similar incidents and those avoided.

God bless our awesome sport and all who make up it’s community. Safe travels to all of you, where ever you may be competing or taking in the races this week.

Next week NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo returns with.. The Rat Roast..

Know What You Are Getting Into…

RELOADED by Jared Echo

I didn’t think I’d be back with another RELOADED until a week or so after the big money, $17,500 to win Mr. DIRT USA event at Lebanon Valley Speedway, but after what transpired this past week I felt there was a need and it’s not what you’re thinking either.

The conspiracy and corruption issue in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Championship was already covered so I’ll point you all in the right direction in case you missed it.. “Corruption or Confusion?” by Langly Austin and “Kieth Rocco Reacts to Greenville Controversy” by Andy Marquis over at Race22.com as well as “Keith Rocco Hot Over NWAAS Point Drama at Greenville”  by Matt Kentfield and Brandon Paul at Speed51.com were three absolutely outstanding investigative reports that covered the whole subject solidly.  They all did their homework and got the interviews this past Monday, August 4th.  Very informative and MUST READS.

This week’s subject is about last week’s republishing of a May 1980 NERF’ers Corner column titled “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream” as it definitely had a reaction amongst readers.

Some compared Robert Echo’s column “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream” to what is still going on today.  Others enjoyed the history, educational side of the 34 year old column.  Then came a few emails from those who failed to read the bold print that it was a column from 34 years ago.  Yet these folks took the time to type lengthy emails?  Not being familiar whatsoever that sadly Charlie Jarzombek is no longer with us or that Maynard Troyer and Bob Polverari both climbed from behind the wheel for the final time many moons ago is excusable for the new generations of fans.  So benefit of the doubt..

What concerned me was the empty and baseless anger these folks had towards what they believed was a new column that bashed today’s NASCAR.  In my opinion it’s a reaction by uneducated, kool-aid drinking NASCAR fans who neglected to read the two lines in bold that bordered the logo of a racing publication that has long since ceased operations.  It not only had me laughing, but brought me back to a similar situation that arose when Indianapolis Motor Speedway built a road course and opened it’s doors for the first time to Formula One.

Formula One 2006 US Grand Prix at Indy. Jared Echo photo.
Formula One United States Grand Prix at Indy. Personal photo collection.

In 2000 myself along with my better half, four friends, and 250,000 fans sat in the grand stands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway awaiting the inaugural Formula One United States Grand Prix.  The skies had been steadily opening up with showers all morning.  Behind us a group of fans were talking about the weather and how, “..it would suck if these guys traveled from Europe only to get rained out.”

My fellow English speaking fans and those foreign fans around us, who understood English were completely aware that the Formula One show moves on rain or shine, started chuckling under our breath.

“When is the rain date anyway? Tomorrow maybe?” The second gentleman asks.

“Don’t know.” The first answers

“Does it say on the ticket?” The third inquires as he stands up and reaches in his pocket.

“Nope. Nothing.” The second says, while looking at his ticket through his transparent, outta’ sight, ticket holding necklace. (Oh yes, it most certainly did state it on the stub)

“What about the program?” The first asks the fourth, “I thought you picked one up?”

“I didn’t buy one. I’ll go get one and see.” The fourth said and he and the second proceeded down the steps.

A slight sighing chuckle drew up from our section again. The first turns to a young Italian fan to their right, who appeared to be sitting next to his father or uncle.  These were the two whom took their seats not 20 minutes before, opened one of their coolers and passed a beer down the entire row until the cooler was empty and instantly gained friends, “What happens if it rains? When’s the rain date?”

The young Italian looks at the native fan and starts to grin wide as if Mr. First is kidding; “They race in thees’. It is good when they race in thees. Good racing when it rains!”

Mr. First looks over at his buddy and says laughing; “He said they race in this shit. No way in hell.”

The Fifth in the group, whom until now remained silent, rejects the Italian fans words and proceeded to not only disagree, but belittle the foreign gentleman as if the foreign fan didn’t speak English and made a horse’s behind out of himself in the process; “No, no, that’s not right at all. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He can’t even speak English good.”

With that our little group looked around each other and my wife mouths with a smile, “’Speak English good?’ Did he just say that?”

The friends, Mr. Second and Forth come back up without a program. “Hey, we asked around. They do race in the rain! What the hell?”

Mr First and Third both reply in unison, pointing at the kind Italian fan; “That’s what he said!”

The Italian looks back with a scowl then looks over at us, smiles, rolls his eyes, and raises his beer to us.  We raise ours back with smiles included. 

The rain picked up and the Unprepared-Uneducated Five started to mumble, grumble, and moan.

At this time a deep, gravely southern voice, coming from under a beat up cowboy hat littered with pins of every track on Formula One’s schedule and then some (also wisely dressed in rain gear), cries out loud, “Yeah baby! Let it rain! I love it when it rains! Best racing when it’s raining! Yeah! We’re going to see some real racing today boys! Woo-Hoo!”

The section lets out a giant roar of laughter that was littered with a few moans by the remaining folks in our section who just realized these million dollar machines could care less if it’s raining, because as the saying goes “that’s how they roll”.

Scuderia Ferrari, Michael and Rubens race into turn 1 at the USGP and Indy.
Scuderia Ferrari, Michael and Rubens race into turn 1 at the USGP and Indy.  A “still” from personal video collection.

The lights went out, the race went on, and Michael Schumacher ran away and hid from the field in his Scuderia Ferrari.

On the way home, my friend, my wife and myself were laughing about Mr. First through Fifth and how they each purchased $85 dollar tickets, drove 300 plus miles and bought a weekend’s worth of hotel stay all the while being oblivious that Formula One ran rain or shine. It was a joyful, hysterical, joke filled ride home to say the least.

Once my wife and I settled in at home we flicked around the local channels and came upon the stations out of Terre Haute, Indiana and Indianapolis. The reports came across involving fans who were extremely upset with giving away their tickets as they headed out of the speedway grounds during the down pour 2 hours prior to race time.

One reporter was doing interviews at the airport. An infuriated gentleman with a group behind him had a meltdown, “This is an outrage! I purchased $150 tickets on the front stretch for my friends and myself.  It started pouring out and we left and gave away our tickets at the gates.  It was raining for heaven’s sake!  Any delay would have caused us to miss our return flight home.  We didn’t know they actually ran in the rain. Who does that?  –(Formula One pal. It says so on the ticket..)–  They should have informed us in advance that they race in the rain.  It’s absolutely ridiculous!  We were ripped off!”

Another woman and her family were caught outside the gates, “We gave our tickets away when it started to dump out and headed to the car. We had the local radio station on as we were driving away and the announcer said cars were lining up on the speedway and they were getting ready to start the race in this crap. So we came back and went to the gates and tried to get back in, but the speedway staff wouldn’t let us back in –(No common sense. “No tickey. No laundry”)-.  $500.00 ON TICKETS AND GOT SCREWED!”

Each interview that followed was similar and when it came back to the on the spot reporters they too were appalled by Formula One and Indianapolis Motor Speedway running the race in the rain..

What’s my point?  As I’m sure Formula One, IMS, and the city of Indianapolis were very appreciative to both loyal and new fans coming to watch the race, as am I for those who read my late father’s columns and the RELOADED’s that I have written, it’s still about education and paying attention.  In the case of last weeks column, it’s paying attention to the bold print before just skimming through and unjustly taking offense and looking silly.

At IMS it was knowing what to expect when attending a sporting event.  Neither these fans nor the local television reporters bothered to educate themselves prior to blowing gobs of money on tickets, travel and lodging nor reporting accurately on the entire situation.  I was angered at the news reports and equally on the verge of tears from laughing so hard as well.  Really.  The mere thought of fans blowing hundreds to thousands on a sporting event without any knowledge of the simplest rules about the division was sad yet made my stomach hurt and eyes water from hysterical laughter. To top it off they cried to the heavens on the air waves how wronged they were, blaming the speedway and Formula One for their own shortcomings and lack of doing their homework!  Sound familiar?

As for those who angrily emailed about the 34 year old Robert Echo column “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream“, well like those angry F1 fans back in 2000, what’s left to say except KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO.

Next week is another 33 to 36 year old NERF’ers Corner column.  I’ll be back with another RELOADED in two weeks time with hopefully much to report on the Mr DIRT USA event at Lebanon Valley and other happenings around the sport.  Until then, enjoy the racing wherever you may roam and safe travels!  Keep on Trackin’!

The SBM 125 IV Has Arrived!

RELOADED

BY THE FANS.. FOR THE FANS!

This week is not so much about a column, it’s about a race and all the information you need to know to prepare yourself for The SBM 125 IV at Star Speedway on Saturday, June 14th!  It’s the second jewel of the triple crown that is the Tri-Track Open Modified Series.  A race that was the dream of one Kevin Rice who put an idea in motion and stuck with it.  In “OPEN SEASON” Kevin spoke of his early days writing for Oswego Speedway’s racing program, The Oswego Eagle.  It’s the drive that was key to his dive into race promotions like so many before him; “I got satisfaction from how my work as a writer helped short track racing.”

SBM 125 creator Kevin Rice poses in victory lane with 2 time SBM 125 Champion Matt Hirschman in 2013. Howie Hodge photo.
SBM 125 creator Kevin Rice poses in victory lane with 2 time SBM 125 Champion Matt Hirschman in 2013. Howie Hodge photo.

For the last few years Kevin Rice along with help and support made up of fans, drivers, teams and everything in between have turned an idea of an old school open Modified race into reality.  This year he’s had plenty of assistance from one of the Modified division’s biggest supporters, Jim Schaefer.

Without looking at the posted purse money, just a glance at the contingency awards and lap sponsors it’s very evident that the Northeast asphalt Modified community is alive and well where the SBM 125 Open Modified event is concerned.

The facility the SBM 125 takes place at has seen it’s fare share of open Modified racing history.  Star Speedway in Epping, NH, known as the track “Where Champions are Made”, is a high banked quarter mile asphalt oval that breeds nothing, but fast and exciting action.

It was recently announced that Ben Dodge was chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal and yet again what a fine choice for a representative of the event and the asphalt Modifieds.  Ben is known by everyone in the racing community and has been a friend to fans and competitors alike for decades.  Again, what a fantastic choice for the SBM 125 IV Grand Marshall!  Alright Ben!!!

The SBM 125 IV has nearly $45,000.00 payout up for grabs.  The base purse is $31,400.00.  The possible winning take home including bonuses could reach $10,000.00.  $1,000.00 is guaranteed to start this old school open Modified race.  That’s the least you can take home as a starter, but with contingency award money the possibilities are endless.

RELOADED’s Fast Dozen to Watch..

*Order is random.

  1. Tommy Barrett Jr. in his family familiar #9 Modified was a strong contender at last years SBM 125 being one of few that seemed to have a little something for eventual winner Matt Hirschman until mechanical issues ended the charge.
  2. Jon McKennedy will be back in his own Modified. The inaugural SBM 125 Champion is one of Modified’s most talented and can’t be counted out.
  3. Ryan Preece returns in the Boehler Racing Enterprises Ole’ Blue and is coming off of a runner up finish at the Bullring Bash. Look out for this Modified ace.
  4. Andy Jankowiak wrecked his main Modified last week in Race of Champions competition, but he’s a true racer and true racers race. Working all week repairing the car, he and crew will be making the 5 plus hour trip to compete in the SBM 125. A true Modified competitor.
  5. Rowan Pennink will be in the familiar colors of his VMRS ride. The driver is always a factor when he hits the track. Can he be the one to break Matt Hirschman’s strangle hold as Open King?
  6. Woody Pitkat will be piloting Stan Mertz’s #6 Modified in the SBM. Pitkat is the definition of old school Modified pilots. Point him to the empty seat of any Modified and he’ll strap himself inand ready to compete. Another racer’s racer.
  7. Matt Hirschman?  What’s not to be said about Matt Hirschman and any event he enters. Just seems when the big money is on the line “Money” instantly becomes the driver to beat.
  8. Steve Masse is hot off of an absolute dominating performance in the most recent VMRS event at Seekonk Speedway. He’s run very well in the SBM in the past and has to be a favorite to contend.
  9. Richard Savary and his team are one’s to keep an eye on. Savary has already won this season on the VMRS and was one of the biggest challengers at the Bullring Bash.
  10. Todd Szegedy who holds the fastest time and heat lap in SBM 125 history will have his sights set on the big money and that comes with performing and being the first to pass under the checkered flag.
  11. Justin Bonsignore has to be a favorite to give “Money” a run for the SBM 125 money.  Legendary car owner Art Barry always has his Modified’s fine tuned for battle and this dynamic duo will be a force to be reckoned with at Star.
  12. Dennis “The Underdog” Perry shocked the the open fans with a podium finish in the Bullring Bash at Lee USA Speedway.  Will he and his tight knit team match their performance in the SBM 125? Do not count the Underdog out by any means!

*Honorable mention.. Max Zachem. This young Modified pilot just keeps improving and moving forward. His 4th place finish in the recent VMRS event at Seekonk shows if there is a sleeper type pick to open some eyes this Saturday at Star, my bet would be Max.

Alright Modified fans, PACK THE HOUSE at Star Speedway this Saturday night for the old school open we know as the..

SBM 125 IV

SBM 125 Fast Facts

The winners of the first three SBM events have earned a total of $25,781.64. TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS PLUS!!! (SBM I- $7,225) (SBM II- $8,792) (SBM III- ($9,764.64).

SBM I was also 125 laps, but it was completed in just under 34 minutes with only one caution. Much like SBM III, everyone pitted at the same time because of the long green run, leading to the rule change for pit safety at the June 14 race this year.

Best average finishers are- #1 Matt Hirschman at 2.67 with finishes of 6th, and two wins. #2. Ryan Preece is at 3.33 with finishes of 5th, 2nd and 3rd, Preece has an average payoff of $3,270 per race despite being winless in the SBM. He hopes to change that driving “Ole Blue” this year on June 14 at Star Speedway. They earned $1,324 for a 16th place finish last year with Ted Christopher.

The fastest qualifying lap in SBM history was 12.291 seconds by Todd Szegedy in his only lifetime appearance at Star Speedway in 2012. Pole last year was 12.347 by Matt Hirschman. Szegedy also had the fastest final heat race lap to get the Mountainside Graphix Screenprinting & Embroidery bonus in ’12 at 12.632. Can he beat Hirschman again?

SBM 125 Champions

2011 – SBM 125 I – #73 – Jon McKennedy – Howie Hodge photo.   SBM 125 I – Video from the Race – By David McGuire

Matt-Hirschman-2012-SBM
2012 – SBM 125 II – #59 – Matt Hirschman – Howie Hodge photo.    SBM 125 II – Video of the Race – By David McGuire

Matt-2013-SBM
2013 – SBM 125 III – #59 – Matt Hirschman – Howie Hodge photo.   SBM 125 III – Video of the Race – By David McGuire

And now let’s look at those who have helped make this event so special..

SBM 125 IV Lap Sponsors

Lap 1  –  Norm Wrenn III, #1M Pro Four Modified Race Team
Lap 2  –  SPAFCO Race Chassis
Lap 3  –  $53- In Loving Memory of Michael J. Perry from Carol Perry
Lap 4  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 5  –  JRD Racing #05 Jacob Dore
Lap 5A  –  CCP Pasteryak Race Team
Lap 6  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports from Bruce Bachta
Lap 7  –  Ryan Gath Electrical Services www.yourelectricsource.com
Lap 8  –  Good Luck Mike Douglas Jr. #23 from the Theriaults
Lap 9  –  Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists 617-770-0629
Lap 10  –  Ted Krajewski
Lap 11  –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply- Butch Valley
Lap 11A  –  Good Luck “Southern Style” to Andy Seuss #11
Lap 12   –  Derek Griffith Motorsports Pro Stock #12
Lap 13  –  El Gee Products/Masse Racing from Andrew Truchinskas
Lap 14  –  Derek Griffith Motorsports GSPSS Pro Stock Race Team
Lap 15  –  CCP Pasteryak Racing
Lap 16  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 17  –  www.myracenews.com Your source for short track racing news
Lap 18  –  In Memory of Ed Friend Sr., from Eddie Friend
Lap 19  –  Majowicz/Webber Motorsports #19 350 Supermodified
Lap 20  –  Broad Brook Heating & Cooling
Lap 21  –  Broad Brook Heating & Cooling
Lap 22  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 23   –  Douglas Automotive of Manchester, NH (603) 625-5854
Lap 24  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 25  –  VMRS Champion Roscoe Racing #25 from Gary Casella
Lap 26   –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 27  –  Furst Edition Photography – Stephen Furst
Lap 28  –  C.A. Ordway Builders
Lap 29  –  “Welcome to our world Hayden Guillemette- The Youngest SBM 125 Fan of All!”
Lap 30  –  Race Track Responder – Andy Biron
Lap 31  –  Good luck to Ryan Preece and Mike Douglas Jr. from Prodigy Plumbing & Drain 603-998-1146
Lap 32  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com Shawn Waddell
Lap 33  –  Seekonk Grand Prix Go-Kart Track- Seekonk, Mass
Lap 34  –  J & R Precast
Lap 35  –  J & R Precast
Lap 36  –  Barry Goldberg- Thank you Kevin Rice for SBM IV and Good Luck Jerome Bettis- future Hall of Famer
Lap 37  –  Good Luck to all from Chris Buchman
Lap 38  –  In Honor of Supermodified driver Jim Martel from Jim Verge
Lap 39  –  Good Luck to All from Bruce Bachta
Lap 40  –  Valenti Family of Dealerships – www.bobvalenti.com
Lap 41  –  Richard Johnson
Lap 42  –  Good Luck to all from Strictly Stock 42
Lap 43  –  In Honor of Six-Time Champion “Wild” Bill Greco from Jim Verge
Lap 44  –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply from Butch Valley
Lap 45  –  Good Luck to All from Bruce Bachta
Lap 46  –  In Loving Memory of Tommy Cormier from Rob MacRae and the #52 Race Team
Lap 47  –  LCM Racing Engines
Lap 48  –  LCM Racing Engines
Lap 49  –  Seekonk Grand Prix Go-Kart Track- Seekonk, Mass
Lap 50  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 51  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 52  –  In Loving Memory of T.C. from the #52 Outlaw Late Model Team
Lap 53  –  Norm Wrenn #53 VMRS Race Team
Lap 54  –  Beard’s Auto and Truck Repair, Merrimack, NH
Lap 55  –  $$$- RESERVED FOR NICKEL AND DIME LAP- and $25 from Racing Against Cancer 100
Lap 56  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports
Lap 57  –  $57- In Memory of Paul Szaban from Bruce Bachta
Lap 58  –  Beard’s Auto and Truck Repair, Merrimack, NH
Lap 59  –  $100- J&J Motorsports and Matt Hirschman
Lap 60  –  Hirschman’s Cellar Dwellers
Lap 61  –  Butch Valley, in memory of Richie Evans
Lap 62  –  Preece Racing
Lap 63  –  LATICRETE HALFWAY BONUSES – $2000 ($200 to each team running in positions 1-10)
Lap 64  –  Preece Racing
Lap 65  –  Valenti Family of Dealerships – www.bobvalenti.com
Lap 66  –  Good Luck this season, 2013 ROC Rookie of the year Austin Kochenash- Algie Graffam
Lap 67  –  Dave Meredith and Family
Lap 68  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 69  –  C.A. Ordway Builders
Lap 70  –  Good Luck Andy Seuss #70 from Rockingham Boat of Hampstead, NH
Lap 71  –  Hannaford Racing Engines and the #71 Modified of Josh Cantara
Lap 72  –  Mike and Lisa Chapman
Lap 73  –  McKennedy Brothers Mason Contractors (978) 459-5148
Lap 74  –  Preece Racing
Lap 75  –  CCP Pasteryak Race Team
Lap 76  –  Preece Racing
Lap 77   –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply- Butch Valley Jr
Lap 78  –  Merrimack House of Pizza
Lap 79  –  In Loving Memory of Roger Hill from Sandra Hill
Lap 80  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 81  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 82  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 83  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 84  –  Village Bake House, Groton CT – Good Luck All Drivers
Lap 85  –  Village Bake House, Groton CT – Good Luck All Drivers
Lap 86  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 87  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 88  –  In Support of Jim Boniface and Family -Rev Scott RWJM.
Lap 89  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 90  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports from Bruce Bachta
Lap 91  –  Gary Noe -GN Auto Core 607-321-9904
Lap 92  –  Good Luck to #92 Anthony Nocella from Nocella Paving of Woburn, Mass
Lap 93  –  George Sherman #93 Racing Team
Lap 94  –  A-1 Automotive of Ashland MA – Mike Horn
Lap 95  –  Sherwood Racing Wheels- from Lee Sherwood
Lap 96  –  In Memory of “Irish” Jack Murphy and his Shamrock #6 from Marsha Gadzera
Lap 97  –  Good Luck to all Teams from Dr. Mom Says, “School is Cool!” and Tony “the Tuna”- proud sponsor of the #97 Supermodified
Lap 98  –  In Honor of Retired Racer Ron Narducci from James Osterhoudt
Lap 99  –  $100 -Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists 617-770-0629
Lap 100  –  $200 – Gary Laro at “Powderkeg Powdercoating” – (603) 892-8019 – “Good luck to Mike Douglas Jr. #23”
Lap 101  –  The Billerica Project – Go Purple – from Rob MacRae
Lap 102  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 103  –  In Memory of Lenny Boehler and Jimmy Fournier from Jennifer Fournier Ready
Lap 103A  –  www.AutomartUsedCars.com and the #03 Super Late Model of Joe Squeglia
Lap 104  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 105  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 106  –  In Loving Memory of Harold Whitney from Pete Newsham
Lap 107  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 108  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 109  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 110  –  Good Luck to all from Marilyn and Don Toal
Lap 111  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 112  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 113  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 114  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 115  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 116  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 117  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 118  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 119  –  B C BRENNENSTUHL
Lap 120  –  B C BRENNENSTUHL
Lap 121   –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 122  –  Better Maintenance Sheet metal of Rowley, Mass
Lap 123  –  Tisdell Transmission Sponsored #23 Modified of Mike Douglas Jr
Lap 124  –  Dedicated to his father, Rocco “Butch” D’Alessandro from Ron D’Alessandro
Lap 125  –  Hannaford Racing Engines and Josh Cantara #71 Modified

  • Lap sponsors contributed $50.00 a lap unless noted otherwise.
  • Lap money will be split between the leader of the lap, and a random driver in the top ten unless noted otherwise.

SBM 125 IV Contingencies & Awards

  • 2nd Annual Chuck Montville Car Owner of the Race Award $350 from Steve Mendoza plus a plaque from Danger Designs
  • Waddell Communications Fast Time Award $100 and plaque
  • Crown Award – $100
  • Heat Bonus – $200 -Tisdell Transmissions of Londonderry, NH.
  • First Timer Bonus – $300 – Messina’s Flooring of Salem, NH.
  • Top VMRS Bonus – $250 to highest VMRS finish from Bruce Bachta and 30 pack from Lu-Mac’s Package Store
  • Top Finishing Father – $100 from Carl Rice
  • Sherwood Racing Products – $60 Gift Certificate – 7th place
  • Hard Charger Award from Russ Wood Sr – $200 to the driver gaining the most positions
  • FastTrac Concessions -Star Modified Bonus – $350 ($150,100,100)
  • Shirley Z Award – $200
  • Danger Designs Best Appearing Car – $100 and plaque
  • Whelen Tour Highest Finisher – $200 from Rockingham Boat
  • Longest Tow ( 3 teams) – $500/300/200 from Doug Dunleavy
  • Top 3 ROC Finishes from Fred Wilcox – $300 (150/100/50)
  • Highest Finish for a driver from MA – $100 from Linda and Glen Chartier
  • Fastest Last Lap of the 4 Heat races – $100 from Mountainside Graphix Screenprinting & Embroidery
  • Tough Luck Award – $250 sponsored by J&J Motorsports (Voted on by media members)
  • First Car One Lap Down Award – $100 from Gary Laro at “Powderkeg Powdercoating” – (603) 892-8019

Schedule of Events for the SBM 125 IV

Saturday, June 14 – Star Speedway, Epping, NH

Grandstand General Admission
Adults: $25.00
Seniors and Juniors: $20.00
Children 10 and Under with Paid Adult: Free Admission
Pit Area
Pit Pass: $35.00

11:00 AM  –  Gates open (for parking haulers only)
11:30 AM  –  Pit Pass Window Opens
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM  –  Tech & Tires
1:15 PM  –  SBM 125 Drivers Meeting
1:45 PM  –  General Admission Opens
1:45 PM – 2:45 PM  –  SBM 125 Modified Practice
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM  –  Star divisions rotating practice
3:15 PM – 3:30 PM  –  SBM 125 Final Practice- Scuff Session
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM  –  Star Weekly Divisions final practice
4:00 PM  –  Tech and Time Trial Lineup Prep. (TEAMS MUST HAVE CARS READY BY THIS TIME!)
4:30 PM  –  SBM Modified Time Trials to set heat lineups only
5:15 PM  –  Star weekly division heats: Stricklys, Roadrunners and Outlaws
6:00 PM  –  12 Lap SBM 125 Modified heats
6:40 PM  –  Roadrunner Feature
7:00 PM  –  Strickly Stock Feature
7:30 PM  –  Mod B Main
7:45 PM  –  Outlaw Late Model Feature
8:10 PM  –  SBM 125 Pre-race
* Driver Introduction
* National Anthem
* SBM 125 IV Grand Marshal, Ben Dodge gives the commands.
* SBM Mod 125 Green Flag 8:30 PM