Geoff Bodine and the Big Red Machine: ROUND 1

Drivers have their fair share of not so great days, even the very best of them.  I speak of the face-palm tantrum moments of playing park-and-go with a tow truck on the track after being black flagged or foolishly spinning someone out well after a race is over.  Another form comes outside of the car in front of the fans with an interview or an altercation.  The better you are on the track the brighter the spotlight that’s cast upon you.  Enter one Geoff Bodine.  The driver of the Dick Armstrong owned Nu Style Racing red Pinto bodied Modified during the mid to late ’70’s.  Geoff’s unbelievable talent behind the wheel got overshadowed on occasion by an uncanny ability to do the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Some of his most notable racing feuds with  fellow competitors are well documented (Bones Bourcier’s RICHIE and BUGSY” books) and every once in a while it would happen outside of the car and make the papers.

The NERF had an additional reason for starting his anti-Bodine campaign and it all started when Geoff and his Big Red Machine decided to compete regularly at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977.

Geoff Bodine in Dick Armstrong's Big Red Machine speeds down the backstretch at Riverside Park Speedway, in Agawam (MA) 1977. Mario Fiore Photo.
Geoff Bodine in Dick Armstrong’s Big Red Machine speeds down the backstretch at Riverside Park Speedway, in Agawam (MA) 1977. Mario Fiore Photo.

Back in the mid to late 70’s Riverside Park Speedway featured Modifieds and Figure Eights.  After intermission the Modifieds would roll out of the pit gates, run over the scales in the infield in turns three and four, and park in their respective positions on the front stretch.  The drivers would then get out of their Mods and start signing autographs for the mobs of fans at the fence.  On this night in ’77, my older brother Shane was in that mob hoping to get an autograph from his new favorite driver, Geoff Bodine.

After waiting his turn, Shane started to pass the driver his new WINSTON Racing hat through the fence.  Geoff looked up at my brother with a distasteful expression and blurted out; “Sorry, but I don’t sign autographs for older kids.  Go bug someone else.”

Up until that moment my family attended the Park with an equal amount of interest each Saturday evening.  After that night the trips were less a family member.  The negative response wiped out my brother’s interest of attending the Park for quite some time and his new favorite driver became his last.  On a scale of 1 to 10 my father’s anger reading was nothing short of severely pissed off.

Obviously many years have passed since then and as I stated earlier, every driver sees their fair share of not so good days, but at that moment in 1978 and being as it was his son, it was taken personally.

The next week Robert Echo began setting aside space in every article he submitted to the local paper and that space focussed on Geoff Bodine.  When he left that local publication and started writing NERF’ers Corner, it only took one nasty incident at Stafford Speedway for that space to creep back into his column.  So, to quote Apollo Creed in ROCKY III; “Ding.. Ding..”

-Jared

Friday, May 26th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-Corner

Hello once again from Fan Club Headquarters here in NERF’ers Land. I’m sitting here at my rickety old wooden desk, that must have been left over from the days of President Washington, typin’ my column for all you NERF’s. In fact I think ol’ George used this desk to cross the Delaware in. It’s not really a bad old desk as there are only a couple of minor things wrong with it. The top drawer on the right side has never been open cause I ain’t gotta key and when you pullout the drawer on the bottom left, the right front leg falls off. Oh yes, I call my desk “Sexy” because the top has more bumps in it than Raquel Welch or Charo.

Well back to fan club news.

One New England fan club is presently planning their second trip to the “Cardinal 500” in Martinsville, VA in late October. Details have not been completed and the fan club’s president has asked that the club not be named at this time. When full details are set, we will pass them on to you.

I know there must be several fan clubs out there with some news for all the NERF’s in the Northeast. It could be you who might want to add some new members to support your favorite driver or you could need information on how to start a fan club. Drop us a line and we’ll put your news in this column or we’d be glad to help you organize a club for support of your favorite track gladiator.

Do you remember the old “I hate Elvis” clubs when the late Elvis Presley hit the scene in the 1950’s. Well after last Friday nights 30 lap Modified feature at Stafford Motor Speedway, there may be a new ”I hate” club and with all the tee shirts around with ones favorite driver scrolled across the front with a picture of his car, the new shirts would read “I Hate Bodine” with a big “X” across the picture of Bodine’s Pinto.

The Sherwood Industries No. 12 Vega Modified of Ken Bouchard get some attention in the Stafford Motor Speedway pit area in Stafford Springs (CT). Howie Hodge Photo.
The Sherwood Industries No. 12 Vega Modified of Ken Bouchard gets some attention in the Stafford Motor Speedway pit area in Stafford Springs (CT). Howie Hodge Photo.

Bellingham’s (Ma.) Geoff Bodine and Ken Bouchard of Fitchburg (Ma.) are the only ones who really know what happened on the 25th lap restart with the possible exception of Ken’s brother Ron and Rehobeth’s (Ma.) Bugsy Stevens who lined up behind Bodine and Ken Bouchard.

With Bodine in the number one spot and Ken Bouchard on the outside, the two touched wheels sending the latter for a wild ride into the fourth turn wall. He then rolled back down across the track through traffic where he collided with Plainfield (Ct.) Dick Traynor.

A confrontation between Ron Bouchard and Bodine was thwarted by starter Frank Sgambato and several drivers sitting out the action in the infield.

It was twenty minutes before they removed the badly shaken Ken from his modified and he was later taken to the hospital for examination and release.

I don’t know who or what really caused the accident as there are many versions of the accident, but I do know Ron stirred the crowd up to a frenzy by going after Bodine and rightfully so as he was disturbed over his brother being hurt.

A couple of things cost Bodine a lot of his faithful fans. One was when he climbed from his car after the accident and raised his arms in what everyone in attendance thought was a gesture of victory. This brought a loud booing from the stands. Bodine also later remarked to fans in a “Victory Lane” interview with Pete Falconi; “If these people were real racing fans, they would understand.” Again the boos rose loud and strong from the spectators. The statement was a bad mistake. The people that attend Stafford week after week would have to be considered good dedicated racing fans and without them there would be no payday for winners like Bodine.

Just wonderin’ who’ll be the first to dawn an “I Hate Bodine” shirt or who’ll be the first to start a club under the same name.

NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo DISCLAIMER

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Nitpicking For Thousands

 

RELOADED03Being a relocated Northeast asphalt Modified fan can be extremely frustrating.  Any fan away from the region can relate.  We keep abreast of the happenings through friends still involved in the Northeast auto racing scene and try to hide our envy the best we can.  Fortunately for us, there are a few sites who supply excellent in depth coverage.  Our friends at TheChromeHorn.com and MyRaceNews.com post articles and have live race reports of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Valenti Modified Racing Series as well as “open” Modified events.  If we need updates on tracks running weekly programs, they have that too.  Both are extremely great news sources.  We also look for the writers of both sites and others who are on the scene covering the events to give additional insights leading up to events and the days following.  However, sometimes news slips through the cracks unnoticed and unquestioned.  The following was one of them that certainly peaked this writer’s curiosity.

On Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 many of us, who couldn’t be in attendance tuned into the Chrome Horn’s race report as Waterford Speedbowl was playing host to NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour.  The Waterford, Connecticut speed plant is a 3/8ths mile semi-banked asphalt oval with a deep history in Northeast auto racing.

The Hill Enterprises crew works on their Modified at the Waterford Speedbowl. Howie Hodge Photo.
The Hill Enterprises crew works on their car during the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour stop at the Waterford Speedbowl. Howie Hodge Photo.

During coverage of the 150 lap tour race, the Chrome Horn reported NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour officials had handed down a penalty to the Hill Enterprises #79 Modified, piloted by Woody Pitkat, for an unapproved change.  The team was forced to start at the rear for repairing their Modified’s kill switch.

For those unfamiliar, the kill switch is one of many safety devices equipped on a Modified and many other types of racing machines for the sole purpose of saving a driver’s life.  In years past, stuck throttles have been the cause of numerous horrific wrecks, some taking the lives of some of the best to sit behind the wheel of a Modified.

Speaking with a source close to the team I asked at what point in the night’s proceedings was the issue discovered; “[The Hill team] noticed the kill switch not working right before time trials.  Some wires were grounding out on the steering shaft.”

Due to the timing of the kill switch failure the team’s driver, Woody Pitkat, was forced to hit the bypass switch in order to get through time trials.  When time trials were over Pitkat had the Hill Enterprises Modified 13th fastest in a field of 27.

Upon returning to the pits, the team went to work to correct the issue with the kill switch.  That’s when officials informed the team they were receiving a penalty for the repair and would start at the rear.  When asked if anyone involved with the team questioned the tour officials over their ruling; “There wasn’t really much to talk about the penalty.  [NASCAR officials] just said it’s a safety issue.  You fix it and you will start at the rear.”

The Hill Enterprises Team has fielded a Modified on the WMT for decades. Here Pitkat is at speed during the feature at Waterford. Howie Hodge Photo.
The Hill Enterprises Team has fielded a Modified on the WMT for decades. Here Pitkat is at speed during the feature at Waterford. Howie Hodge Photo.

With the Waterford event being a one day show it’s considered an impound race; “I believe the procedures are that during an impound race, which is usually a one day event, you cannot work on your car after time trials.  If you do you have to start at the rear.  Officials do have to be at your car when making adjustments or changes, but you still have to start in the rear if it’s something besides air pressure, tire stagger or spring rubber.”

The Hill Enterprises team has been a strong supporter of the Modified division for decades on end.  The popular North Carolina based team has made the haul to every tour stop on the Northeastern tour schedule for many decades.  They are not only known for it’s late great driver/owner/patriarch, Roger Hill, but the great racing family carrying on the legacy.  Drivers who have sat behind the wheel of the famous 79 since the team began competing on NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour is a who’s who in the division.

The rig they transport their Modified in guzzles fuel for the long hauls to each race costing enough for one to spray a mouthful of coffee across your computer/tablet/smart-phone screen.  I’ll spare you the clean-up, but how about some other costs you may or may not know?

From what I have been told, the owner pays an entry fee every tour stop costing somewhere around $150.00.  Those on the Hill crew, like many of their fellow competitor’s crew members, are made up of mostly all volunteers who pay for NASCAR licenses somewhere in the neighborhood of $370.00 a season just to help out.  Last season, the Hill Enterprises team would bring with them anywhere from 3 to 8 crew members from their home base in North Carolina.  A driver on the tour dishes out about $385.00 for their season license to compete.  None of these costs include the pit passes everyone must purchase to enter each speedway’s pit area.  Nor do these approximate numbers include other expenses such as lodging, meals, etc.  Barring any major damage, the preparations to field one of these machines for each tour stop has been estimated around $2,500.00. The Modified teams competing on the tour haul into the speedway grounds early so their racing machines can be inspected by officials.  I believe the inspection comes with another fee which is unknown to this writer.  Considering that the tour purses have decreased terribly over the years the teams are racing dollars for donuts.  When the night is over, more often than not, they’re leaving the grounds and heading home out of pocket.  These are the true weekend warriors.

Jimmy Blewett (76) and 7 time tour champion Mike Stefanik (22) battle side by side as Pitkat (79) his way from the back of the field at the Waterford Speedbowl. Howie Hodge Photo.
Jimmy Blewett (76) and 7 time tour champion Mike Stefanik (22) battle side by side as Pitkat (79) claws his way from the back of the field at the Waterford Speedbowl. Howie Hodge Photo.

Their opinion of the unapproved change rule including safety devices; “My feelings were that because it was a safety issue it needed to be fixed and I don’t think [the Hill team] should have been put to the rear.  If it was a shock or something then I understand being put back.”

I couldn’t agree more.  The repair had no effect on the machine’s performance and everything to do with making sure the Hill’s driver, Woody Pitkat had that additional life saver inside the cockpit at his disposal.

It’s laughable when you think about it.  The penalty NASCAR officials handed down to the Hill Enterprises team is the same as being sent to the rear for replacing; the window net, safety harness, fire extinguishing device, or even a driver’s suit or helmet for that matter.  Call it petty or nitpicky .  Whatever tag you want to slap it with,  it’s a costly penalty and should have been a no-call.  If NASCAR wants to penalize a team during an impound race for changes after time trials then so be it, but safety devices should be excluded from the rule entirely.

It’s apparent the majority of the fans and teams who attend and compete in NASCAR Modified racing are at their wits end as how to get the Modifieds back on track and headed in the right direction; “I know the costs for everything right now is outrageous and I think NASCAR could take some money from the big 3 (Cup, Nationwide and Trucks) to help the NASCAR weekly guys.  [NASCAR] always talk about how it all started with the local short track series.  So why not help [the Modifieds] out and give us bigger purses so we can make [Modified racing] a little more feasible.”

The amount of money these teams spend to field a Modified is bad enough.  The volunteered hours these people spend working on the car beyond their full time job proves their love for the division, but hasn’t paid back as it should.  They spend time in the shop after hours away from their families with out of pocket expenses to support a series that currently pays crumbs in comparison to all the costs.

This is NASCAR’s first sanctioned division.  At one time the Modifieds were considered part of the “Big 3”, but lost out when the sanctioning body gradually placed more effort into their young fender-friendly series labeled as trucks.  The Modifieds are the division which laid the foundation for the success of NASCAR.  Whether its lack of consideration by rule book makers, lack of care by the sanctioning body, the empty promises heard every season or otherwise, one thing is for certain.  The respect and attention for the Modified division as a whole, by the sanctioning body, has been long overdue.

If you have any news items, questions or comments you would like to discuss or bring to my attention you can comment on the post or drop me a line at nerferscornerreloaded@gmail.com.  Until next time, always remember; The shorter the track, the shorter the temper.

*The individual who was kind enough to answer my questions will remain anonymous, but not from their own wishes.  History has shown where there exists a “Rule 12-4A”, there exists a chance that anyone crewing, driving, owning or reporting can be effected just for giving their honest opinion.  I appreciate the time they spent providing the information.  You know who you are and I thank you. 

ALL TIME RACE: The Line Up

Howie Hodge Photo
Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford Springs, CT..  1982.  Howie Hodge Photo

ALL-TIME ASPHALT MODIFIED RACE as voted on by the FANS!

Voters could select up to 30 drivers and add drivers not listed.

Poll Opened: February 1st, 2014 – Closed: December 28th, 2014

16,172 Total Voting Sessions

139,182 Total Drivers Voted on or Added

8.606 Average Selections Cast Per Voter

136 Drivers Voted On

Results…

Pos. Driver Votes %age of Votes  
1 Richie Evans 7,774 5.5855% 48.0707% of Voters Selected this Driver
2 Geoff Bodine 5,225 3.7541% 32.3089% of Voters Selected this Driver
3 Charlie Jarzombek 4,148 2.9803% 25.6493% of Voters Selected this Driver
4 Mike Stefanik 4,046 2.9070% 25.0186% of Voters Selected this Driver
5 Bugsy Stevens 3,954 2.8409% 24.4497% of Voters Selected this Driver
6 Reggie Ruggiero 3,944 2.8337% 24.3878% of Voters Selected this Driver
7 Ron Bouchard 3,893 2.7971% 24.0725% of Voters Selected this Driver
8 Ed Flemke 3,740 2.6871% 23.1264% of Voters Selected this Driver
9 Maynard Troyer 3,621 2.6016% 22.3906% of Voters Selected this Driver
10 Fred DeSarro 3,349 2.4062% 20.7086% of Voters Selected this Driver
11 Mike McLaughlin 3,230 2.3207% 19.9728% of Voters Selected this Driver
12 Greg Sacks 3,179 2.2841% 19.6574% of Voters Selected this Driver
13 Ted Christopher 3,128 2.2474% 19.3421% of Voters Selected this Driver
14 Jerry Cook 3,077 2.2108% 19.0267% of Voters Selected this Driver
15 Tom Baldwin 2,873 2.0642% 17.7653% of Voters Selected this Driver
16 Steve Park 2,839 2.0398% 17.5550% of Voters Selected this Driver
17 Tony Hirschman 2,754 1.9787% 17.0294% of Voters Selected this Driver
18 George Kent 2,737 1.9665% 16.9243% of Voters Selected this Driver
19 Bob Polverari 2,635 1.8932% 16.2936% of Voters Selected this Driver
20 Ray Hendrick 2,159 1.5512% 13.3502% of Voters Selected this Driver
21 Jeff Fuller 2,091 1.5023% 12.9298% of Voters Selected this Driver
22 Jimmy Spencer 1,904 1.3680% 11.7734% of Voters Selected this Driver
23 Mike Ewanitsko 1,870 1.3436% 11.5632% of Voters Selected this Driver
24 John Blewett III 1,836 1.3191% 11.3530% of Voters Selected this Driver
25 Corky Cookman 1,700 1.2214% 10.5120% of Voters Selected this Driver
26 Jerry Marquis 1,649 1.1848% 10.1966% of Voters Selected this Driver
27 Matt Hirschman 1,581 1.1359% 9.7762% of Voters Selected this Driver
28 Satch Worley 1,513 1.0871% 9.3557% of Voters Selected this Driver
29 Jamie Tomaino 1,496 1.0749% 9.2506% of Voters Selected this Driver
30 Ken Bouchard 1,428 1.0260% 8.8301% of Voters Selected this Driver
31 Brian Ross 1,421 1.0210% 8.7868% of Voters Selected this Driver
32 Rick Fuller 1,397 1.0037% 8.6384% of Voters Selected this Driver
33 Ryan Preese 1,394 1.0016% 8.6198% of Voters Selected this Driver
34 Leo Cleary 1,377 0.9894% 8.5147% of Voters Selected this Driver
35 Wayne Anderson 1,360 0.9771% 8.4096% of Voters Selected this Driver
36 Brett Bodine 1,309 0.9405% 8.0942% of Voters Selected this Driver
37 Jim Shampine 1,292 0.9283% 7.9891% of Voters Selected this Driver
38 John Blewett Jr. 1,156 0.8306% 7.1482% of Voters Selected this Driver
39 Bill Greco 1,139 0.8184% 7.0430% of Voters Selected this Driver
40 Dutch Hoag 1,088 0.7817% 6.7277% of Voters Selected this Driver
41 Gene Bergin 1,054 0.7573% 6.5174% of Voters Selected this Driver
42 Merv Treichler 1,037 0.7451% 6.4123% of Voters Selected this Driver
43 Jimmy Blewett 1,028 0.7386% 6.3567% of Voters Selected this Driver
44 George Brunnhoelzl Jr. 1,022 0.7343% 6.3196% of Voters Selected this Driver
45 Fred Harbach 1,020 0.7329% 6.3072% of Voters Selected this Driver
46 Ray Miller 986 0.7084% 6.0970% of Voters Selected this Driver
47 Paul Radford 986 0.7084% 6.0970% of Voters Selected this Driver
48 Bobby Santos 969 0.6962% 5.9918% of Voters Selected this Driver
49 Bobby Santos III 935 0.6718% 5.7816% of Voters Selected this Driver
50 John Rosati 935 0.6718% 5.7816% of Voters Selected this Driver
51 Jan Leaty 901 0.6474% 5.5714% of Voters Selected this Driver
52 Ollie Silva 901 0.6474% 5.5714% of Voters Selected this Driver
53 Bob Park 884 0.6351% 5.4662% of Voters Selected this Driver
54 Punky Caron 867 0.6229% 5.3611% of Voters Selected this Driver
55 Tony Siscone 816 0.5863% 5.0458% of Voters Selected this Driver
56 Charlie Pasteryak 807 0.5798% 4.9901% of Voters Selected this Driver
57 Don LaJoie 799 0.5741% 4.9406% of Voters Selected this Driver
58 Burt Myers 765 0.5496% 4.7304% of Voters Selected this Driver
59 Tommy Barrett Jr. 753 0.5410% 4.6562% of Voters Selected this Driver
60 Pete Fiandaca 748 0.5374% 4.6253% of Voters Selected this Driver
61 Stan Greger 726 0.5216% 4.4892% of Voters Selected this Driver
62 George Brunnhoelzl III 714 0.5130% 4.4150% of Voters Selected this Driver
63 Roger Treichler 697 0.5008% 4.3099% of Voters Selected this Driver
64 Gil Hearne 688 0.4943% 4.2543% of Voters Selected this Driver
65 George Summers 688 0.4943% 4.2543% of Voters Selected this Driver
66 Ed Flemke Jr. 663 0.4764% 4.0997% of Voters Selected this Driver
67 Ronnie Rocco 646 0.4641% 3.9946% of Voters Selected this Driver
68 Ron Silk 612 0.4397% 3.7843% of Voters Selected this Driver
69 Tony Jankowiak 581 0.4174% 3.5926% of Voters Selected this Driver
70 Moose Hewitt 578 0.4153% 3.5741% of Voters Selected this Driver
71 Woody Pitkat 544 0.3909% 3.3638% of Voters Selected this Driver
72 Richard Savary 531 0.3815% 3.2835% of Voters Selected this Driver
73 Junior Miller 527 0.3786% 3.2587% of Voters Selected this Driver
74 Doug Hewitt 510 0.3664% 3.1536% of Voters Selected this Driver
75 Dick Caso 493 0.3542% 3.0485% of Voters Selected this Driver
76 Mike Christopher 481 0.3456% 2.9743% of Voters Selected this Driver
77 Bill Park 476 0.3420% 2.9434% of Voters Selected this Driver
78 Jason Myers 459 0.3298% 2.8382% of Voters Selected this Driver
79 Fats Caruso 442 0.3176% 2.7331% of Voters Selected this Driver
80 Carl Pasteryak 399 0.2867% 2.4672% of Voters Selected this Driver
81 Rowen Pennink 398 0.2860% 2.4610% of Voters Selected this Driver
82 Bob Stefanik 395 0.2838% 2.4425% of Voters Selected this Driver
83 Chick Stockwell 392 0.2816% 2.4239% of Voters Selected this Driver
84 Sege Fidanza 391 0.2809% 2.4178% of Voters Selected this Driver
85 Charlie Rudolph 377 0.2709% 2.3312% of Voters Selected this Driver
86 Dwight Jarvis 374 0.2687% 2.3126% of Voters Selected this Driver
87 Jerry Pearl 289 0.2076% 1.7870% of Voters Selected this Driver
88 Marty Radewick 275 0.1976% 1.7005% of Voters Selected this Driver
89 Wade Cole 272 0.1954% 1.6819% of Voters Selected this Driver
90 Dave Alkas 255 0.1832% 1.5768% of Voters Selected this Driver
91 Tommy Druar 238 0.1710% 1.4717% of Voters Selected this Driver
92 Roger Hill 221 0.1588% 1.3666% of Voters Selected this Driver
93 Bobby Vee 204 0.1466% 1.2614% of Voters Selected this Driver
94 John Berganty 201 0.1444% 1.2429% of Voters Selected this Driver
95 Sonny O’Sullivan 187 0.1344% 1.1563% of Voters Selected this Driver
96 John Anderson 187 0.1344% 1.1563% of Voters Selected this Driver
97 Jerry Dostie 179 0.1286% 1.1069% of Voters Selected this Driver
98 George Savary 174 0.1250% 1.0759% of Voters Selected this Driver
99 Ronnie Wyckoff 173 0.1243% 1.0698% of Voters Selected this Driver
100 Vinnie Annarummo 170 0.1221% 1.0512% of Voters Selected this Driver
101 Charlie Glazier 153 0.1099% 0.9461% of Voters Selected this Driver
102 Donnie Ayer 151 0.1085% 0.9337% of Voters Selected this Driver
103 Ricky Miller 136 0.0977% 0.8410% of Voters Selected this Driver
104 Allen Whipple 119 0.0855% 0.7358% of Voters Selected this Driver
105 Donnie Miller 117 0.0841% 0.7235% of Voters Selected this Driver
106 Mike Murphy 111 0.0798% 0.6864% of Voters Selected this Driver
107 Bob Riley 108 0.0776% 0.6678% of Voters Selected this Driver
108 Dennis Albro 102 0.0733% 0.6307% of Voters Selected this Driver
109 Rick Donnelly 87 0.0625% 0.5380% of Voters Selected this Driver
110 Joe Howard 86 0.0618% 0.5318% of Voters Selected this Driver
111 Rusty Ball 85 0.0611% 0.5256% of Voters Selected this Driver
112 Bob Potter 68 0.0489% 0.4205% of Voters Selected this Driver
113 Wayne Edwards 65 0.0467% 0.4019% of Voters Selected this Driver
114 Johnny Tripp 62 0.0445% 0.3834% of Voters Selected this Driver
115 Gail Barber 58 0.0417% 0.3586% of Voters Selected this Driver
116 Ernie Bodreau 54 0.0388% 0.3339% of Voters Selected this Driver
117 Roland LaPierre Jr. 51 0.0366% 0.3154% of Voters Selected this Driver
118 Roger Raymond 51 0.0366% 0.3154% of Voters Selected this Driver
119 Billy Knight 37 0.0266% 0.2288% of Voters Selected this Driver
120 John St. Angelo 34 0.0244% 0.2102% of Voters Selected this Driver
121 Danny Mason 23 0.0165% 0.1422% of Voters Selected this Driver
122 Ted Riggot 17 0.0122% 0.1051% of Voters Selected this Driver
123 Bill Slater 15 0.0108% 0.0928% of Voters Selected this Driver
124 S.J. Evonsion 12 0.0086% 0.0742% of Voters Selected this Driver
125 Ernie Gahan 10 0.0072% 0.0618% of Voters Selected this Driver
126 Denis Giroux 9 0.0065% 0.0557% of Voters Selected this Driver
127 Jerry Bly 9 0.0065% 0.0557% of Voters Selected this Driver
128 Bill Wimble 8 0.0057% 0.0495% of Voters Selected this Driver
129 Don McTavish 7 0.0050% 0.0433% of Voters Selected this Driver
130 Jim Hendrickson 4 0.0029% 0.0247% of Voters Selected this Driver
131 Doug Coby 3 0.0022% 0.0186% of Voters Selected this Driver
132 Don Collins 1 0.0007% 0.0062% of Voters Selected this Driver
133 Sean Foster 1 0.0007% 0.0062% of Voters Selected this Driver
134 Erick Rudolf 1 0.0007% 0.0062% of Voters Selected this Driver
135 Artie Tappen 1 0.0007% 0.0062% of Voters Selected this Driver

Let There Be NERF!

Sometime in early April, 1978 the local newspaper Robert Echo was writing for decided to drop coverage on the local auto racing scene. Riverside Park Speedway, Stafford Speedway, Monadnock Speedway, Westboro Speedway, Plainville Stadium, Thompson Speedway, Seekonk Speedway, Lebanon Valley Speedway, and the Danbury Fair Racearena were all within 100 miles from where the publication was located.  Robert confronted the sports editor questioning his motives and personal affiliation with a local radio personality that questioned auto racing as a legit sport and it’s competitors as athletes.  After some additional choice words Robert quit.

Richie Evans' 1979 & 80 Daytona Superspeedway Modified sits on display at the inaugural Racearama at the Springfield Civic Center in Sprinfield (Ma.) 1981. Howie Hodge Photo.
Richie Evans’ 1979 & 80 Daytona winning Superspeedway Modified sits on display at the inaugural Racearama held at the Springfield Civic Center in Sprinfield (MA) 1981. Howie Hodge Photo.

I’m unsure of the details thereafter regarding the conversations between Val LeSieur and Robert Echo.  Regardless, it led to NERF’ers Corner gracing the pages of New England Speedway Scene.  Eventually Val hired Robert as Speedway Scene’s Public Relations Director in late 1979.  As a team they helped bring Speedway Scene to another level.  The publication was reaching more fans, spread like wild fire to a wider audience and creating great things in the Northeast racing community in just a few short years, most notably the RACEARAMA ‘n’ Trade Show.

The very first column published on Robert Echo’s NERF’ers Corner RELOADED could only be the very column that started it all.  I feel it is only fitting that this first column be dedicated to The Fat Rat himself, Val LeSieur, who gave so many a voice by creating the perfect platform to print it in.  Thank you, Val.

– Jared

Friday, May 12th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-Corner

What makes the auto racing world go round?

It takes the race cars, the car owners, the drivers, the speedways and the number one ingredients, the fans.

The thousands of fans that fill the speedway grandstands each and every week to see their favorite car and driver are what makes the auto racing world what it is today.

Whether it be the home of the Indianapolis 500, or at the super speedways of Daytona, Charlotte, Darlington or your favorite New England race track, without you, the fan, there would be no auto racing.

An interesting discovery I made just recently was astounding.  The Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway drew arecord 13,049 fans which was comparable to recent National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoff games.  Crowds at Monadnock Speedway, Plainville Stadium and the Danbury Fair Racearena have been out drawing the New England Whalers during the World Hockey League playoffs.

A packed house at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs (CT.). Howie Hodge Photo.
Fans jam pack the house at the famed Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs (CT). Howie Hodge Photo.

We hear from time to time that auto racing is dying.  This was confirmed by a fellow reporter, told by his newspaper that they didn’t want any further articles on motor racing as there weren’t enough people interested in reading about it.  This same publication furnished most of the figures I used in this comparison.  They should read the figures they publish.  Fans won’t allow auto racing to die, will we?

I believe in the fan and this new weekly column is for you, the fan.

If you are an officer or public person for a fan club, we want you to send us any information you have on your club.  We’ll print your fan club news in this column, so let us know what’s happening such as; driver, car and tracks he runs, type of car and division he runs in, club officers, meeting dates and where held, how to join your club and fee, club addresses and anything else pertinent to your organization.

No matter where your track is located in New England or New York, and no matter what type of car your favorite drives, Modified, Late Model Sportsman, Supers, Street Stocks, Midgets or Go-Carts we want to hear from you.

If you as a fan have a question about auto racing of any type or if you have some interesting information about the sport, then let us know.

This writer’s name is Robert Echo and on any given Friday night you’ll find me in the press section at Stafford and on Saturday, I’m at Riverside Park Speedway.  You’ll also find me from time to time at Plainville, Monadnock, Thompson Speedway, Westboro Speedway and Catamount Stadium.

We’ll call this column, “NERF’ers Corner”, meaning New England Racing Fans Corner.

This is your own little corner within the New England Speedway Scene, so send me your news or questions so we can fill the space.

2014 “NERF’s Hall of Fame” Theme

Alright all my fellow NERFs!.. (and if you’re wondering why I’m referring to you as NERFs, take a gander at the “About” page. It pretty much ‘splains everything.. Go ahead. I’ll wait.. Good now?)..  We’re going to start this year off right by setting the tone and keeping our minds sharp for the upcoming racing season.  Us NERFs are going to go “ALL-TIME“.

The decisions we make through these polls are going to be kept on record.  The results will be added up in Mid December and Listed for all to see.  Think of it as our own NERF Hall of Fame.  The overall theme for 2014’s “NERF’s Hall of Fame” is (drum roll please) what makes up our ALL-TIME ASPHALT MODIFIED RACE.  The starting field, the setting, the track, etc..

Throughout the season we will throw up polls that will eventually decide, as a majority, many details of our ALL-TIME ASPHALT MODIFIED RACE.  The feature race of course is none other than our beloved Asphalt Modifieds, the Kings of the pavement! (No disrespect Super Modifieds, as you are the Hyde to our Jekyll.)

Okay, get yer your thinking caps on and warm up that memory bank..  You and me, my fellow NERFs, we’re going to build our ALL-TIME ASPHALT MODIFIED RACE.

*If any of these polls do not have your choices listed, I got ya’ covered.  I left you a line to type in a choice or numerous choices some of us might have forgotten.  Polling starts February 1st and ends December 1st.

DISCLAIMER

All NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo columns are works of days gone by.  In some of the bodies of work from these old columns certain individuals may be characterized in a negative way.  In no way should these characterizations in the past be taken as representation of any of the individuals in present day.  They are merely views of the times that once were by the late writer Robert “Bob” Echo.

Any pre-column or post-column comments by this site’s author/administrator are strictly for insight purposes.  The comments may detail past memories or insights behind the scenes of the late writer at the time these NERF’ers Corner columns were written and originally published.

These are PAST writings.  The point of republishing NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo is only for those wishing to relive or educate themselves with a little ‘Corner of Northeast racing history.

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