Tag Archives: Asphalt Modifieds

340 OUT, FULL NASCAR IN

– Friday, September 15th, 1978 –

Next season will tell the story at Riverside Park Speedway as the track ventures into the land of bigger motors. The Park has never allowed engines larger than 340 cubic inches in 30 some years the Agawam oval has been in operation.

Riverside has been under the sanction of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) for the past three years after a long association with Harvey Tattersall and United Stock Car Racing Club. During the three year period with NASCAR the number of Modifieds signing into the pits each week has declined very drastically.

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

NASCAR officials feel that Riverside’s 340 CI motor limit has been somewhat of a factor in the short turnout of cars while many Modified owners think the rising cost in auto racing is the main culprit. Both feelings are a definite factor in the shortage of cars. Many owners of the 340 powered Modifieds feel they’re not competitive when venturing out to other tracks.

Just a few seasons ago you could find upwards of 50 Modifieds on pit road fighting it out for the 20 or 24 car starting fields while over the past eight weeks the number of cars at Riverside hasn’t reached 30. The first leg of the “Triple Crown”, a 100 lapper, saw only 26 Modifieds sign in and only 22 took the green flag in what was supposed to be a 24 car starting field.

The Park is not the only track having a problem with a shortage of Modifieds. The recent NASCAR National Championship race held at Monadnock Speedway had only 23 cars sign in with only 22 starting instead of the 24 that were advertised and that same track has fielded as few as 14 cars for a couple of their regular Friday night shows. Stafford Motor Speedway has had as few as 31 Modifieds sign in trying for 26 car starting spots on a couple of occasions. Claremont Speedway has started as few as 17 Modifieds and only eight cars showed to run the feature at Hudson Speedway on August 27th, a “Thompson 300” qualifier. Also, the Danbury Fair Racearena which generally has between 40 and 50 Mods in the pits each week under a closed sanction, has of late had as few as 32 cars sign in. So, as you can see, it’s not only Riverside that has felt the crunch with small turnouts of Modifieds.

A few of the Stafford regulars should now be entering the Park scene or will they? Remember, only two Modified tracks run on Friday nights, Stafford and Monadnock, and the turnout of cars at these two tracks has been less than impressive at times this year. Add to this the fact that there are eight ovals drawing Modifieds on Saturday nights in New England and there’s a good chance that going full NASCAR rules at Riverside may not have been the answer. There will be several Park regulars heading for other tracks such as Plainville Stadium, Westboro Speedway and Claremont.

Geoff Bodine and Reggie Ruggiero motor down the front stretch to start the 1978 Riverside 500 at the Park. The packed grandstands at Riverside Park Speedway back then was the place to be on Saturday nights. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore's collection.
Geoff Bodine and Reggie Ruggiero motor down the front stretch to start the 1978 Riverside 500 at the Park. The packed grandstands at Riverside Park Speedway back then was the place to be on Saturday nights. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore’s collection.

Several long time Riverside competitors will head elsewhere to run because they feel they’ve supported Riverside for a lot of years and now have been cast aside like so much garbage. One owner spoke of meetings that were held by many of his fellow owners with the approval of Riverside’s NASCAR Racing Director, Ralph Ouderkirk. The meetings covered the 340 motor, a need for a gear rule and also some kind of tire regulation. A ballot passed out in the pits at the Park during August showed that 70% were in favor of the 340 and the gear and tire items saw 80% vote in favor of both. The owner in question stated, “Why the hell did waste our time holding meetings to try and lower the cost of racing when NASCAR and the Park were going to do what they wanted anyway?” He also added, “One owner came to Agawam all the way from West Haven on a week night and for what?

The main cause for the shortage of Modifieds in New England is money. Racing has become very expensive over the last few years and during that time many cars have been parked. In the past five years tire costs have risen and some racing parts have doubled in price.

Two cars that won’t return for 1979 are the Czarnecki Brothers #20 Vega driven by Bob Polverari and Earl Reynolds #71 Bobcat wheeled by Bob Stefanik. Both car owners cite money as the main reason they won’t return next season.

Polverari also wheels his own #711 Vega at Stafford, and Jack Gelgut, owner of the #65 Pinto that runs at numerous tracks, both feel it’s almost impossible to lower the cost of racing.

Bobby Stefanik and car owner Earl Reynolds won plenty in 1977 & '78 and Riverside Park in their Richie Evans Chassis, Bobcat bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.
Bobby Stefanik and car owner Earl Reynolds won plenty in at Riverside Park in their Richie Evans Chassis, Bobcat bodied Modified. But the team folded at the the end of the ’78 season. Howie Hodge photo.

Polverari stated, “Auto racing today is an expensive sport just like yachting.” He also added, “If you can’t afford a Modified any longer and want to stay in racing then you best think about dropping to a lower more economical class.

Gelgut said, “A head rule would lower cost a great deal, but then how are you going to police it without tearing the heads off of every car in the pits each and every week?

Everyone knows there are rules, such as the 340 CI motor limit that aren’t being policed or enforced now.

It seems as though the 340 engine has been one of the biggest expenses for its car owner. The number of 340’s blown this season by Riverside competitors, but not necessarily at the Park, is in excess of twenty five. If you average that out at a conservative $4,000 per engine, that’s a cool $100,000 in scrap metal. One driver-owner, Don Desrocher, has exploded four this season at the Park. The entire season’s purse at Riverside doesn’t reach the hundred thou mark and many feel that if Riverside would boost its payoff it could help to alleviate some of the cost.

If you average out a Saturday night crowd at Riverside Park at around 4,000 fans and then estimate a $2 per head average it would come to $8,000 and now let’s figure that an average of $1 is spent per fan at the beer stand and snack bars, you would then have a total of $12,000 spent by Park enthusiasts for a regular 50 lap show. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. The Riverside payoff for a 50 lap show is $4,900 and then add on a $1,500 sanction fee paid to NASCAR for that weeks show plus let’s figure $1,000 for employees that night and you will have a grand total of $7,400 paid out. Subtract the latter from the former and you will have an approximate profit of $4,500. Not bad for a nights work and please remember that all figures are estimated. Do you think an extra thousand or two could be thrown into the purse?

One owner told us that NASCAR is definitely structured towards the man who has a lot of money to spend on building his car and maintaining his equipment.

A survey, taken on August 26th, involving 100 Riverside fans showed they were in favor of the full NASCAR rules by a vote of 73-27.

So 1979 will show whether Riverside is right in the decision, whether NASCAR is good for Riverside, and whether the fans choice is right.

Till next week; “NERFers Abide, the Big 55!”

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1979 RACE OF “ONE” CHAMPION

– FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH, 1979 –

1979 RACE OF “ONE” CHAMPION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Jared

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

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

Need Sponsorship Dollars? Go Get ‘Em!!!

Foreword…

The BIG Picture.. It all starts with Exposure..

After Stafford Motor Speedway’s Spring Sizzler most of us checked out the online racing news sources along with comments on the social pages by friends in the sport involving the happenings from Sizzler weekend.

During my reading I was very pleased to see a post on the social pages by National Speed Sport News with a photo of Bobby Santos III celebrating his Sizzler victory. I “liked” National Speed Sport News a while back as they are an outstanding source for coverage in many of the open wheel happenings around the nation. Publisher and co-owner, Ralph Shaheen is originally a Northeastern boy and knows plenty about Modified racing in the Northeast so when he took the reigns of the publication made famous by Chris Economaki and family it only said big things were to come. The story may have been the actual NASCAR press release, but I shared the it to a related group page for a reason, to give kudos to the publication for recognizing a Northeast Modified tradition and the division.

What soon followed on the post was a case of hardheadedness by one commenter. They questioned why someone would share a post and attempt to push traffic to the National Speed Sport News website that they believed had no interest in making any kind of effort to cover the Modifieds on any level. They followed it up by claiming National Speed Sport News didn’t care enough about the Modifieds to offer them any true coverage of the division. If that were the case they wouldn’t have made an effort to post it. Furthermore, what’s wrong with national exposure? So much for recognizing the big picture.

If a post on any regional division or series by a national publication receives a high number of shares and “likes” that national publication takes notice because the link is hit. It’s called feedback. It’s something that anyone who works or has worked for a website, in social media, or racing publication should be quite familiar with. Those “likes” or feedback via write ins gives props to the publication for that exposure by the fan base regardless of whether it was a NASCAR press release.

It’s not rocket science to recognize when a national publication gives any coverage, regurgitated or not, it’s still coverage and if you have ever been a part of the promotional side of things where sponsorship is sought after and signed, most all coverage is good coverage as far as the almighty dollar is concerned. When it comes from the likes of a national publication that coverage becomes major exposure which reaches many fans that may not be familiar with a particular division. In this case National Speed Sport News took the time to post something about the Whelen Modified Tour and that is a good thing for Northeast asphalt Modified racing no matter which way you slice it or how one tries to spin it.

Coverage on a national level boosts exposure to those that might not yet be exposed to the type of racing. It’s a national publication, one with a high traffic website that reaches millions of online viewers not to mention those subscribing to the printed publication. The way to gain new fans, unfamiliar with a division or series, is through that national exposure. Many fans are business owners or operators and have set aside advertising money just waiting to be put to good use. These are potential sponsors. That’s potential sponsorship dollars that could come to teams in desperate need to not only continue competing, but improve. Sponsorship dollars that could dish out bigger purse money for a division or series that so desperately needs it. Funding or contingencies that can give a great boost for a tour or series.

Who else benefits from it? That’s right, the local news sources; television stations, radio stations, websites and publications that may only cover the regional racing or touring series. They all prosper from the additional exposure. Those new sponsors see the local coverage and dish out advertising dollars to those entities to promote their sponsorship investment and their product. So, contrary to what the closed minded might think, it’s not only the national publication that could land advertising dollars, it’s the locals who cover it as well.

Why have I brought this subject up, you ask? Well, as what some had predicted, National Speed Sport News coverage has taken a dive head first into television.

Less than two months after the Sizzler MAVTV (available on over 50 service providers including; DirectTV, Comcast, & Dish) and National Speed Sport News have come together to bring a bi-weekly two hour block of shows, hosted by Ralph Shaheen. “SPEED SPORT Magazine” which will pretty much be a televised edition of what you commonly see in their publication. The second hour is titled “SPEED SPORT” and will provide coverage of racing events across the nation. Check out the link to the announcement by MAVTV here for information regarding the shows bi-weekly format.

If you tuned in to their first show then you know they featured coverage of Oswego Speedway’s Richie Evans Memorial Modified event won by “Money” himself, Matt Hirschman, which just took place the week before. Rather peculiar for a national racing publication/website that supposedly doesn’t care to give the division any coverage, wouldn’t you say? Now there’s word they have been contacting other series in the Modified division for video coverage to provide more exposure.

Kudos to National Speed Sport News and any future coverage of our beloved asphalt Modified division that could use the national exposure!

This weeks NERF’ers Corner features something that Robert Echo believed in, helping the teams get the money needed to compete.

When I read the following column I thought for 1980 this little piece by the “Ol’ NERF” had to be a boost to those who knew how to prep and set up they’re cars, but lacked the know how to seek sponsorship.

Many from back in the day will tell you that he offered his assistance for free with no strings attached.  There were times back in the 80’s that Robert Echo would meet an owner or team over lunch, or before an event, or a lengthy phone conversation.  Just to give pointers and help teams continue on by getting those needed extra funds to compete.  He was a strong believer on giving back to the sport he took so much enjoyment from.

I hope you enjoy this latest reopening of the NERF’ers Corner time capsule as much as they did back in the 80’s.

On a sad note, Anne Fiore, mother of legendary Modified car owner and racing personality Mario Fiore, passed away this past Tuesday.  On behalf of NERF’ers everywhere we pass along our thoughts and prayers to the Fiore family and friends.  Best wishes.

Yours in Racing,

Jared


– Friday, March 21st, 1980 –

NEED SPONSORSHIP DOLLARS? GO GET ‘EM!!!

Have you ever figured out what it costs you in dollars and cents to racing week in and week out?

Well!…If you happen to be one of the lucky die hard racing fans then all you have to do is load the loved ones into the family car making sure there’s a full tank of go juice aboard and enough bucks in the ol’ wallet to cover the price of tickets, some snack bar delicacies, a few beers and you’re off to the races.

Then again, if you happen to serve as a driver of some race car, you’ll most likely need all of the above plus you fire suit and helmet.

Now comes the fun part of going racing every week, if you want to call it that, which is that of being the car owner or the man who pump the mainline dollars into the sport of auto racing.

As a car owner, it helps if you own Fort Knox, a bank or a loaded Brink’s truck but if you don’t it still doesn’t matter because you still need a good supply of Uncle Sam’s greenbacks to keep your racing operation on the move.

Unless you hold down two or three jobs, have your wife working, mortgage your house, personal car or whatever else you might find, then you must come up with another means of raising some green stuff to support your race car.

Marty Radewick was just one of the many Robert Echo assisted with getting sponsorship through the years. Howie Hodge photo
Marty Radewick was just one of the many Robert Echo assisted with getting sponsorship through the years. Marty seen here at at speed at Riverside Park Speedway in one of the Tom Thomas Racers. Howie Hodge photo

Let’s face it!… In the last two or three years the number of race cars, especially in the asphalt modified field, has dwindled substantially… and why?… Because of the continuing high cost of building a race car. You can’t afford to build a car at eight to ten thousand dollars, buy motors costing some eight to twelve grand and tires at a hundred and fifty bucks apiece and continue to keep your race car running…. So what do you do then?… You either park your car and let it rust in the rain… or you get your act together, if you love the sport, and go find yourself a sponsor to help with the financial end of your operation.

So now we’ve got down to the brunt of this week’s column… Is there sponsor’s available?… If so!… Where do you find them?…How do you find them?… How do you get a potential sponsor to turn over his hard earned dollars to you especially if he’s never been involved with racing or ever seen a race?

Yes!… There are hundreds of sponsors available out there in the racing land… In fact!… The next time you drive through your home town, take a look at how many businesses are lined up down both sides of the street and they all spend money on advertising whether it be radio, television, in the newspapers or on that sign hung over their store front.

Billions and billions of good ol’ American dollars are spent every year by very big business and very small business and all those in between… So why aren’t you getting some of this advertising money?… You’re in a very highly conscious advertising market.

You might feel there are many businesses out there that aren’t good prospective sponsors… Hogwash!…Every business on every block is a good prospect and while some are better than others, they all are potential sponsors.

If you don’t believe it, take a look around your house and think about all the things you and the family use that come from almost every business imaginable. There’s food, clothing, cigarettes, sundries, pharmaceuticals, appliances, books, furniture, tools, automobile and even the haircut and hairdo you and your better half got recently… So!… Now you can see just how many potential sponsors are waiting for somebody to ask.

I’ve now covered three of the four items in regards to sponsor hunting… The availability!… Where to hunt!… How to find them!… Now I’ll try to give you some idea of how to get money out of a prospective sponsor.

You must first put together a proposal book explaining all the facets of your racing operation and at the same time giving the potential sponsor some insight into the sport of auto racing and what it has to offer them.

List your experience and years in racing as an owner and then do like wise for your driver… List information and statistics on your race car… List the speedway you’ll run on a regular basis and the estimated attendance at same… List all tracks you plan to compete at and there projected attendance figures… List statistics on Northeastern racing including estimated attendance and then do the same for the National racing scene… List any other pertinent information that might be of interest to a prospective sponsor… List your projected racing budget for the coming season… Enclose several photos of your race car in your proposal… Make sure that everything put together in the book is neatly typed and use an appealing report cover, preferably of the imitation leather grain style which can be purchased for under a dollar… Also, make several duplicates of the book off a copy machine using the same type cover. You can leave one of these with the potential sponsor after giving your presentation with the original.

When going out to see a prospective sponsor, make sure you dress appropriately. Wear a suit if your prospect is big business such as a manufacturer, large chain store or any big firm. Dress casually if you’re going to see a small business such as a tavern , service station, the corner shoe store or neighborhood grocery.

If your going after a big dollar sponsor, don’t be afraid to tell them that you’ll paint and letter the car in their company colors or colors of their choice.

I hope the information I’ve given in this column has served a purpose to someone in racing land who’s been trying to figure out how to get a sponsor.

Now!… All you have to do is psyche yourself into a positive frame of mind and go get that sponsor you’ve sorely needed. Why not go after some of those advertising dollars that are available?… You deserve them!… Go get ’em!

You can also raise money through raffles, fund raising dinners and what about community sponsored race car?

The Ol’ Nerf’s spent his lifetime in sales, public relations, promotional work and sponsor hunting of one kind or another.

If you’d like more information, suggestions or just want to discuss how to find a sponsor, give me a call at 413/XXX-XXXX or drop me a line at (address withheld). I’ll be glad to give you what moral support I can.

NERF’ers Nibblets…  Promoter C.J. Richards of Albany-Saratoga Speedway has added Winters Performance and Kendall Oil to the $25,000 Point Fund he’s offering at the Malta track in 1980…  Bob Polverari’s trip to Martinsville,VA. Speedway for the “Dogwood 500” came to an abrupt halt early due to a motor problem. Tough luck for “Rapid Robert’s return to racing especially after qualifying ninth in the field…  After reading the story on Jack Gelgut’s Depot Square Racing Team, what I want to know is what will happen if someone paints out the Depot in the name. Let’s see now, there’s square meals and could be a squa—oops…  It was good to hear one of my friends is out of the hospital after some serious internal problems. Get well wishes are in order for Becky Colt, sister and fan of Claremont Speedway modified driver Dick Stevens…  Thanks for the support of the “Cutter Connection” down Portland, Tennessee way. It’s great to hear from fans as super as Don, Nancy, Karen, Kelly and Father Steven Cutter who reads the Ol’ Nerf’s column faithfully…  Word has it that the grounds are starting to quake and shake up Claremont way. Could it be that Big Foot has come out of hibernation and is on the rampage upon hearing that the CODA track is opening on May 10th with the “Dale’s Radiator -CODA ’80 Opener”!…  Till next week; Roast the Rat” on April 11th, support the “NARAC Fund” and get a friend a “Scene” Subscription!

Geoff Bodine and the Big Red Machine: ROUND 2

Friday, June 9th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-CornerHey NERF’ers!!!  It’s your ol’ buddy, Robert “Howard Cosell” Echo here for another weekly fat chewing session.

WOW! How can anybody pass judgement on someone when they didn’t even witness the incident in question on May 19th at Stafford Motor Speedway.  You see, I was in the Press Box along with a dozen or so other News Media people.  The lady wrote the letter about the May 26th NERF’ers Corner was not in attendance at Stafford.

In the first paragraph of her letter, she said that some people might think you’re speaking out of line.  Definitely!  But also, you do have the right to speak your mind and this I respect.

Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong's Nu Style Racing #1. Martinsville Speedway. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.
Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong’s Nu Style Racing #1 at Clay Earles’ Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.

I think you should read the article of May 26th again.  Not once in the column did I say that the crash was Geoff Bodine’s fault and right up until now I doubt if anyone other than the four drivers who were in the front two rows on the restart really know what happened.

As for the “I Hate Bodine” club, that wasn’t my idea but I thought it was a very interesting one and why not?  If you can have a club for a driver then why not one against him.  This world is filled with Pros and Cons.  Let’s face it; if I was Bodine I would like having an “I Hate” club in my honor showing that the fans know I’m there rather than having a bunch of people claiming to be racing fans throwing bottles and cans at me.  Oh!  You want to know where this happened?  It was at your hometown track, Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night, May 27th after fans thought Bodine purposely put out George Savary.  I wasn’t there and I cannot pass judgement as someone else did.

No one should hold Seekonk owner-promoter D. Anthony Venditti responsible for the actions of a few so-called racing fans who have criminal intentions of bodily harm.  This type of fan is not needed and if they are known, they should be barred from future events.

The thing was not so much the accident of May 19th but the action of Mr. Bodine following the crash.  The raising of the arms in what the fans thought was a victory sign, showing more compassion for his car than he did the injured Ken Bouchard and the “Victory Lane” remark of ;  “If these people were real racing fans, they would understand”.  If you had been in the stands, would you have accepted this remark without a single boo?

The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.
The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.

Geoff Bodine is a good driver if not the best and this I do not dispute.  With the equipment he has I don’t think he should have to put anyone into the wall at any track.  What I dislike is some of his actions and one that comes to mind happened at Riverside Park last year.

Bodine was my older son’s favorite driver but when he asked Bodine for his autograph one Saturday night, the driver of the Dick Armstrong #1 Pinto refused.  My son was a track regular last season but since the incident he has been turned off to auto racing and hasn’t attended a single race this year.  Would your favorite, George Summers, refuse to give an autograph to a fan.  Funny things happen when you become a star.  You seem to forget how you started and where you were before.  Aw heck!  Who cares…

Now on to other things!  For the letters we’ve had inquiring about the address of the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club”.  The club’s president, Patti McConnell, has given me the info you want.  Here’s the address; Bugsy Stevens Fan Club, P.O. Box ****, East Providence, R.I. 02914. Membership fees are $3 for adults and $2 for children.  For your money you’ll receive one (1) autographed picture of Da Bugman, one (1) bumper sticker and membership card and the club’s newsletter.  If ya want a Stevens jacket, they are $18 for adults and the child’s is $16.50.  Adult T-shirts are $4 while the children’s cost $3. Other items available are bumper stickers – 50 cents; patches – $1.50 & 50 cents; pictures (Large) $4, (medium) $3, (small) $2.  You can also find the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club” on Fan Club Alley beneath the grandstands on Friday nights at Stafford.  Stop down and see Patti and support the “Bugman”.

I received a very interesting fan club newsletter from a NESS counterpart this past weekend.  Thanks to Bob Paulin who pens “Maine-ly Racing”, a column on racin’ in the State of Maine. Bob sent me a newsletter from the “B&H Club” (Beds and Herts Stock Car Supporters Assn.).  The club follows stock car racing in all places, Merry Ole England from way ‘cross the Atlantic.  The newsletter has seven pages, front and back, of very interesting European stock car racing news and also indicates that this is probably one of the finest clubs anywhere in the world.  I pan on writing to the English club and will have future articles and addresses of the “B&H”.

*For those fans who may in any way be sensitive to republished columns penned over 30 years ago, please read the NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo DISCLAIMER located in the Site Notices category or read the ABOUT page.  Thank you.

Railroading of the Radical Racer

When Robert Echo caught wind of team owner Fred Felton and driver Marty Radewick being singled out by a group of tech inspectors he refused to stand by and watch.  Much like his colleagues back then who filled the pages of auto racing news papers, Robert Echo didn’t just report the news nor did he step over to bypass the real issues for fear of rocking the boat.  He wasn’t afraid of the heat.  He welcomed it.

After this story published in New England Speedway Scene, Robert Echo’s press credentials were suspended by the sanctioning body.  Did this stop him?  No.  It had the exact opposite effect on his writing.  His reaction to the suspension of his press credentials;  “They want to take my press pass, fine by me.  They can have them.  I’m a fan.  I have no problems paying to get in every week like my fellow racing fans.  It won’t stop me from writing.  It won’t stop me from sticking up for what’s right.  Anyone who allows something like this to effect the way they write is just working for their press pass.”

Robert Echo had the stones to stick his neck out for what was right in the sport he loved and never thought twice about the consequences that might follow.  He cared about the fans, the teams and the speedways.  So rather than stand by the wayside and watch a team get “railroaded”, as he put it, he chose to fight for their cause by investigating the issues surrounding them.

Integrity.

– Jared

Friday, July 28th, 1978 – SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-Corner

Somebody told me recently that we should change the name of this column to “Controversy Corner” and so in keeping with the weekly trend of this little corner in NESS, here we go again!

Can you tell me what Fred Felton, Marty Radewick, railroading and NASCAR (National Association fro Stock Car Auto Racing) have in common?

Marty Radewick crouches beside Fred Felton's 11MA Monzo bodied 'Radical Racer' Modified in the pit area at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, NH. - Jim Snape photo.
Talented asphalt Modified driver Marty Radewick with Fred Felton’s 11MA Monzo bodied ‘Radical Racer’ Modified in the pit area at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, NH. – Jim Snape photo.

Well, car owner Felton and driver Radewick are being railroaded out of two Southern New England speedways by a couple NASCAR technical inspectors.

Frank “Bunky” Skawski of Riverside Park Speedway and Bruce Watt of Stafford Motor Speedway have joined forces to keep Radewick, Felton and the No. 11M Monza bodied Modified, which has become known as the “Radical Racer”, out of those two tracks.

Neither inspector has been able to give a straight answer as to why the car will not be allowed to compete at the two facilities except that they feel the car’s roll cage is too narrow therefor making it a supermodified. They will also tell you that it is probably the most well-constructed and safetest race car to enter the pits at either track.

Doesn’t make much sense does it?

The funniest thing, if there is one, about the whole situation is that no where in the NASCAR Rule Book does it say how wide the the roll cage has to be. It sates the size and thickness of the material that can be used in the construction of the cage. It also states that there has to be at least four bars on each side of the car plus additional bracing added at specified areas in the roll cage. The Felton built Modified has all of these required bars and then some. (See photo inserts)

Robert Echo photo 1978.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

In a telephone conversation with Skawski on July 20th, I was told that it states in the rule book that the roll bars can be no farther than 4 inches from the body at any point. I replied that I’d read the complete Modified section of the rule book plus the roll bar paragraph in each of the other seven divisions included in the book. Mr. Skawski then told me that if I wanted to take a ride to his house he would be glad to show me the 4 inch rule.

I took the 10 mile trip to the Skawski residence where he told me he had the page marked so he could show me. He tried to pass off the four bars on each side of the car as the 4 inch rule. I pointed this out and he replied it was somewhere in the book which he would show me. As of this time I have still not been shown the rule.

Robert Echo photo 1978.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

Ralph Ouderkirk, racing director at Riverside Park Speedway, said the roll bars must follow the configuration of the car’s body, but again it doesn’t state this in the rule book. Ouderkirk then added we should look at the picture in the back of the rule book. All fine and dandy, except that Felton didn’t build a Grand National car, as pictured in the rear of the book. He built a Modified by the NASCAR Rule Book or to the way it reads.

Early in the season, Mr. Skawski gave Felton a check list of 4 things he had to correct and a period of three weeks to do them in. They were completed in the specified time. Later Ouderkirk added a couple of things he wanted done and they too were finished by the next racing program. The car then ran for a couple of weeks after that at the Park up until the time they had problems with their 340 ci engine. For three or four weeks they went north to run Claremont Speedway with a 356 ci mill, which is legal at Riverside.

Robert Echo photo 1978.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

Upon returning to the Park on July 15th, they were told not to unload the care by Mr. Skawaski because they wouldn’t be allowed to run with a Supermodified roll cage. It was at this time they found out that the NASCAR people at Stafford had contacted Skawaski and told him that since Radewick wasn’t allowed to run at Stafford he shouldn’t be allowed to run at the Agawam, Mass. Oval. It’s nice to know Stafford now runs the racing program at Riverside Park.

An irate Radewick, the 24 year old Riverside Park Speedway Rookie of the Year, stated; “They are insulting my intelligence. I wouldn’t get in the car if I thought it was unsafe.”

Robert Echo photo 1978.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

Felton added this comment; “My conscience wouldn’t allow me to put anyone in the car if I thought there was the slightest chance he should be hurt because of the construction of it.”

Two Modified car builders, including Richie Evans, stated they felt the car was as safe as any Modified they’d seen at either speedway.

In my phone conversation with Mr. Skawski, he first stated he didn’t give Felton a check list and moments later admitted he had. He also said that none of the other drivers and owners were jealous of the car, but later referred to thirty Riverside Park Car owners that were on his back about the “Radical Racer”. When I brought up that there were many rules in the NASCAR Rule Book that were not being adhered to, he stated he didn’t give a damn about them and he still wasn’t going to let Radewick run at the Park.

Robert Echo photo 1978. From Speedway Scene 7/28/78.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

Ouderkirk, in a phone conversation on July 20th, told Radewick that Skawaski had told him that if everything on the checklist was completed he could run. In a return call Skawski moments after the Ouderkirk conversation, Skawski denied ever saying such a thing.

Sounds like a whole lot of double talk and run around being handed out by what are supposed to be qualified NASCAR officials.

To add to all of this, Skawski told me that both Riverside and Stafford had a serious shortage of Modifieds, but that he wished Felton would take his car and run somewhere else.

Watt stated; “I’m afraid that others, in seeing the Felton car, will take the role cage to extremes.” he’s most likely right, but why should they penalize Felton and Radewick now? Change the rule over the coming winter and state that the roll cage can be no narrower than so many inches. That would keep this problem from arising again.

Robert Echo photo 1978.
From the pages of Speedway Scene 7/28/78. Robert Echo photo.

 It’s not right that two tech inspectors can bend the rules in their favor just because. “They don’t like the car” is no reason. It is not right because there are rules in black and white in the NASCAR Rule Book that are not being enforced at either track.

How would you like to spend 15,000 hard earned dollars to build a Modified to the way the NASCAR Rule Book reads only to find out that you can’t run it because some guy working for NASCAR, who thinks he’s a genius, doesn’t like the car. By the way, the Modified section in the NASCAR Rule Book is only nine (9) pages long in a book that measures 4” x 9”. “Ya gotta be kiddin’!” How can you build anything as complex as the Modified today with only nine pages of rules, regulations and specifications to go by in a book that leans almost entirely towards the Grand National division?

There will probably be more on this in weeks to come, but in the meantime what we’d like to know is this; “Has NASCAR gone into the railroad business?”

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Next week comes a new RELOADED.  Until then, take care everyone!

Tiregate Part 2: Looking Back and Moving Forward

RELOADED03The evening “Tiregate Part 1: Controversy Out of Canaan” was published, the Director of the Valenti Modified Racing Series, Scott Tapley emailed me to vehemently deny any conversation took place between himself and Superior Team Racing car owner Rob Walendy that night at Seekonk;  “The only people who came to the trailer to discuss their tires were Joey (Kourafas) from the 99 and Steve Masse with Josh Steeves with the 13.  They were all shown the same thing and were told that the tires would be going to Canaan where Jack (Bateman. Series President) would have to make a determination.  That is what I said and those 3 people know that as they were there.  I made it very clear that the finality of any decisions would have to be decided by the series president.  Jack was not at the race track as he left before so his input as the president would have to be done when he could see the tires.”

Series Director, Scott Tapley (top) and VMRS Officials during the drivers meeting at Thompson Speedway (CT) just days after the happenings at Seekonk. Howie Hodge photo.
Series Director, Scott Tapley (top) and VMRS Officials during the drivers meeting at Thompson Speedway (CT) just days after the happenings at Seekonk. Howie Hodge photo.

Scott made his stance clear about the conversation Rob Walendy’s spoke of and shared additional info on the decision process for the tires;  “So the recollection by Rob that he was told the tires would be sent to a lab is impossible and never occurred.  By phone conversation that night Jack stated that he wanted to see the tires and if it weren’t visibly obvious he would have the labs done.”

When I mentioned news sources reporting that the series would indeed be sending the tires to a lab, Scott’s response wound up drawing questions rather than answers;  “As far as the report in other media is concerned, I was called at about 12:00am by [a member of the media] while I was driving home to Maine from the Seekonk event and [that media member] told me he was told that we had found issues with the 3 cars from multiple sources and I relayed to him exactly what I just told you.  That Jack would make a determination when he inspected the tires and they would be sent to a lab if he questioned the findings and the things he saw.  [He] is the only person whom I have spoken with about the Seekonk event, other than yourself now and that is because you are the only two who have actually asked.”

I looked up the report that Scott referred to and found that the media person he made reference to actually published a story the next day that coincides with what Rob and Andrew told me.  That article clearly states Tapley said the VMRS would in fact be sending the tires to a lab.  In the same report, Tapley also comments on the length these tests could take in order to see results.  It also supports what Steve Masse is quoted as saying to that very same media member in a follow up article.

So which was it?  Misinformation by the series director or were his words misinterpreted by not only the 4 individuals on record, but numerous others who have relayed the same thing?

Eventual 2013 VMRS Champion Rowen Pennink (25) and Richard Savary (99) take the green flag at Thompson. Howie Hodge photo.
Eventual 2013 VMRS Champion Rowan Pennink (25) and Richard Savary (99) take the green flag at Thompson. Howie Hodge photo.

I spoke with Rob Walendy and he stands by his previous statements.  If you recall from “Part 1” Rob stated he went back to tech because of what transpired from Oxford Plains Speedway earlier in the season in which his tires were confiscated by the series and were not returned nor was his team reimbursed for them.  Nowhere did he mention he was in the tech trailer to review the tires with Tapley.  During that same interview I asked Rob if he was there to review the tires with Tapley to which he answered;  “I know Joey Kourafas from our team went over and spoke with Scott after the race and looked at the tires with Scott.”

Now back to where we left off with Part 1.  Was Tiregate the final act of a proverbial witch hunt?  If so, who was the hunted?  Conspiracy theories can be easily brushed off, but when an overwhelming amount of people cry foul and witnessed incidents first hand, the theory has to be taken into consideration.

Former crew member for Steve Masse’s team, Andrew Truchinskas looked back and thought something was fishy about the way they went about the disqualifications from the start.  He pointed out the changes announced in the drivers meeting that night and that the series, in so many words, seemed to have an agenda;  “It was almost like they already decided on which cars they were going to disqualify that day and they wanted to make sure they were going to be able to catch them..  Tommy Barrett’s team appeared to have been under the VMRS microscope since 2012.  It’s well documented in terms of penalties and suspension for issues that others who have wound up winning titles have been guilty of.  Including the Rookie of the Year issue.  With that said I believe that since we all associated with each other that it was easier to disqualify 3 teams then dealing with the confrontation of only disqualifying Tommy, which they were out to do.”

Richard Savary is interviewed by VMRS announcer and long time racing personality John Spence Sr. in Thompson's victory lane. Howie Hodge photo.
Richard Savary is interviewed by VMRS announcer and long time New England racing personality John Spence Sr. in Thompson’s victory lane. Howie Hodge photo.

Superior Team Racing, Rob Walendy’s thoughts are very similar to others;  “The VMRS officials couldn’t just check the 9 for soaking tires without looking partisan.  They had to check everyone or no one.  I believe the VMRS believed that Tommy Barrett Jr. was cheating.  The VMRS could not believe that Tommy was beating their guys like he was without some sort of an edge.  I have worked with that team.  I know that he doesn’t need to cheat.  Tommy Barrett Jr. is an incredibly talented driver.”

To understand what they are referring to we must go back further in time to the Valenti Modified Racing Series 2012 season, a year prior to Scott Tapley taking the position of series director.

The Conspiracy Theory

As many may recall the much talked about Tommy Barrett Jr. vs. VMRS thing started, coincidentally enough, at Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, MA..  The talented young driver was said to be involved in more than one incident during the feature that night.  However, many following the series at the time recall similar incidents taking place that very same season not involving Barrett, yet those drivers went without reprimand.  The results of the incidents at Seekonk, the one happening late being the most talked about, was considered by series officials as one constituting Tommy Barrett Jr. being placed on probation.

Then came the Port City 100 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. on Friday, June 29th, 2012.  Refer to the David McGuire video capture of the event here to review.

  • 27:03 – Rowan Pennink (#25 Red w/Yellow #’s) and Les Hinkley (#06 Yellow w/Orange #’s) share the front row while Jon McKennedy (#2 Red w/White #’s) and Tommy Barrett #9 Black w/White #’s) make up row 2. On the restart McKennedy takes the lead from 3rd, Barrett follows through.
  • 27:31 – By lap 84 Barrett takes second and starts closing in fast on new leader McKennedy By lap 84.
  • 27:54 – Barrett is on McKennedy’s tail. Here is where one needs to pay attention..
  • 28:34 – McKennedy changes his line for the second straight lap. McKennedy who took a lower line off turn 2 than the past laps due to Barrett looking low in the previous corner moves up (change of line). As they head down the backstretch Barrett has a little run high on McKennedy and McKennedy in the lower line moves up high forcing Barrett to back off (change of line).
  • 28:50 – McKennedy goes higher part way into the corner to block Barrett’s higher line of entry. (change of line) McKennedy again exits turn 2 low throwing another block on Barrett who coincidentally gets a run on McKennedy. Doing so McKennedy moves high forcing Barrett to back off (change of line).
  • 30:18 – Having the inside line Pennink (red 25), battling behind the leaders, takes a strange line into turn 3 and touches Hinkley (yellow 06) who was on the high side of Pennink.
  • 31:50 – Last restart before the McKennedy-Barrett incident.

It states in the VMRS Rule Book under rule;  “2.23. AGGRESSIVE DRIVING. ..  C.” that says; “Aggressive driving would be considered continuous use of front bumper, chopping, blocking, etc.  Any of these can result in placement at the rear of the field or disqualification, depending on the severity of the infraction and possible probation.”

The aftermath of the Port City 100 at Lee USA Speedway. Barrett sits in the grass as McKennedy had already driven off. Crystal Snape photo.
The aftermath of the Port City 100 at Lee USA Speedway. Barrett sits in the grass as McKennedy had already driven off. Crystal Snape photo.

Anyone familiar with the fundamental aspects of short track racing are very well aware of racing etiquette.  Watching the video repeatedly from 27:09 right up until the incident that resulted in the tangle can clearly see Barrett never touched the leader until turn 3 of the incident.  The only thing Barrett appears guilty of was not giving McKennedy a few warning shots with his bumper after all the laps of blocking.  The young driver repeatedly tried to find ways around the ever widening Modified of McKennedy.  When Barrett finally gets a great run off turn 2 and moved low entering the backstretch, McKennedy counters by moving low in an attempt to force Barrett to back off.  By that point however, Barrett was committed to the run and as they approached the corner McKennedy backs off due to the line he took to defend.  Barrett pulls along side and McKennedy fails to give room to Barrett who is even with him entering the corner.  The two tangled between turns 3 and 4 resulting in a caution and ending Barrett’s night with a disqualification and soon after a 2 race suspension.

To sum up the Port City 100, the young driver’s actions prior to the incident showed he was well aware of his probation.   One might say that McKennedy showed that he too was very well aware of Barrett’s probation thus continuing to throw block after block.  The most that should have happened after the race was a no-call and the officials talking with McKennedy about blocking.  Barrett showed not only patience, but the same characteristics of a well seasoned veteran driver, by not making some form of contact with McKennedy after dealing with repeated blocks.

The immediate reprimand on Barrett rather than McKennedy gave it the appearance that series officials were just waiting for anything, even the smallest of contact to occur so they could penalize him.

If you watch the event video from start to finish you’ll notice this race was filled with numerous incidents that brought out yellows involving two or more competitors.  This is where some started believing the standards the VMRS officials held for Tommy Barrett were quite different than the standards for the rest of the competitors.

At 2012 seasons’ end Tommy Barrett, who was listed as a rookie and carried a yellow stripe on his rear bumper all season long, was notified that he did not win Rookie of the Year.  It was said he didn’t fill out the proper paperwork then the rookie eligibility in the rule book was brought up.  Even giving the benefit of the doubt that the Barrett crew didn’t fill out the proper paperwork, which seems laughable, or read the rule book about eligibility.  Even if the series officials were unaware and neglected to pay much attention to their own press release, it all falls back on the series for organizational issues.  One argument was, you would think the yellow stripes on Barrett’s rear bumper would have been noticed resulting in a VMRS official mentioning it to the team at some point during the season.

All three of these examples that occurred in 2012 are more than enough to cause those to cry conspiracy and point the finger at the VMRS for singling out Tommy Barrett Jr..  It also set up what Rob, Andrew, Steve Masse and others believed and were quoted regarding their belief the series had it in for Barrett from the get go.  It definitely didn’t help the VMRS’ cause.

Back To Tiregate
Tommy Barrett Jr. (9) passes Ted Christopher (00) at Thompson. Howie Hodge photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr. (9) passes Ted Christopher (00) at Thompson. Howie Hodge photo.

Starting 2013 it seemed all was well with the series and Barrett’s team moving forward from the past season’s issues.  Under the watch of the Valenti Modified Racing Series freshman director, it seemed things were more consistent with green flag incidents.  Many of the green flag incidents similar to those that took place in 2012 went without reprimand showing improvement in consistency of on track calls.

Then Saturday, August 17th, 2013 all hell broke loose.  When you break down the whole mess of Tiregate and look at all the elements surrounding the night, it boils down to two things.  These two things have a way of amplifying when neglected by those running the show and that’s information lack of written procedures.  Those two elements brought the VMRS vs. Barrett scenario back into the fold.  The fact that Barrett currently held the top position in the points at the time of Tiregate again, didn’t help the VMRS’s cause.

Anytime a kid arrives on the scene and is fast right out of the box it turns heads and draws immediate attention.  Was Barrett rough around the edges in his first showings, sure maybe, but wasn’t that to be expected?  These newbies are the future stars and champions of their selected series and division.  It’s part of the official’s job to spend time with them after the driver’s meeting or stop by their hauler occasionally to see how they are doing.  Maybe that’s not the case anymore, but I think most will agree it should be no matter the series or track.

I admitted wholeheartedly and agreed with Tapley that 5 out of 5 tests showing positive results for treating tires was indeed more than enough to disqualify any team, but if a lab test was announced or mentioned, to save face, the series should have submitted the tires to an independent lab.  It’s what is said at that time which needs to be followed through with or the trust factor takes a nose dive.

Let’s say the series did send the tires to a lab and, whatever the results, afterwards the series were to announce there would be no lab testing  from that point forward.  I’d be willing to bet those teams penalized would have been fine with that because the officials would have followed through.  I’d be willing to wager because it’s exactly what I have heard from many of those I’ve spoken to.

Tommy Barrett Jr. in victory lane at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in June 2013. Howie Hodge photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr. in victory lane at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in June 2013. Howie Hodge photo.

How the sniffer came into play and how it was handled crossed with many teams being unfamiliar with the device while it played a huge roll in the final outcome again, didn’t help the VMRS’ cause.

Rumors swirled about a lawsuit.  Masse is on record saying that should the tires NOT be sent to a lab the VMRS was looking at a lawsuit, but when asked about it Tapley said;  “As far as any lawsuit, I’m not aware of any. The VMRS rule book, as is the case with most current racing series/track rule books, all decisions are non-ligitable.”

So are there any new procedures in place to prevent the controversy that followed the disqualifications from last years Seekonk race? If so, what changes or additions were made? Tapley answered; “There are no new procedures in place, with the obvious issues that were seen first hand it would be tremendously wrong to not use that information that was 100% obvious in the immediate of the situation.”

“Rule 1.13. TIRES” mentions nothing in regards to inspection other than simply stating tires may not be chemically treated and tires may not be altered in any way.

“Rule 2.27. TIRES” lists the tires may be pulled from the first five finishing positions and two random positions determined by MRS officials each week and broken down and checked for any illegal substances or other issues.  It further goes on to say that should tires be found illegal, penalties and fines will follow.

I inquired about any type of appeals process and was told by Tapley; “All decisions are non appeal-able.”

What about 2013’s issue in question?  Was it a learning experience for the VMRS and will it improve how things are done?  Tapley answered;  “I learn something new everyday because I want to and know with my years of racing experience that the technology is changing literally every day.  In regards to at track tire inspection we will continue to use all of the tools that are available in the industry to keep up with that changing technology.”

After the Tiregate fiasco and all what followed many believed the VMRS would have implemented some sort of direction or listing as to clarify what will be involved in the tire testing process.  Currently there’s nothing in print.  It appears that any demand for clarification regarding those procedures will need to be addressed directly by the competitors if anything were to change.

Looking Forward
Steve Masse does a lap with the checkered after an August 2013 victory at Stafford Motor Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.
Steve Masse does a lap with the checkered after an August 2013 victory at Stafford Motor Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.

It was announced late last year that the Valenti Modified Racing Series would be taking part in a combination event with the Race of Champions asphalt Modified tour at Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburg, New York.  This undoubtedly is a major step in the right direction and Modified fans can only hope it will lead to more points paying, higher purse race combo events similar to that of the late model / Nascar North type open events of days long past that Oxford Plains Speedway was famous for.  For now, the race is said to award equal points to those that show on the VMRS side.

Scott Tapley, entering his sophomore year as Director of the VMRS, is very much looking forward to the new season; “2014 is exciting for the VMRS, with the addition of the combo event (Valenti Modified Racing Series and Race of Champions Modified Tour race), which will be an incredible event. We have had a tremendous amount of race teams make it known that they will be partcipating in VMRS events in 2014. We travel to some of the most historic tracks in the country and with the talent level of our race teams, the 2014 championship chase will be the most action packed in the 10 year VMRS history.”

As for Rob Walendy. He plans on fulfilling the same duties this season season on the VMRS with Richard Savary at the wheel of the Superior Team Racing number 99 and hopes that the series continues to improve on relations and from the past issues of Tiregate.  Rob also may be assisting a team on NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour as well.

Andrew is hoping to get on board with a racing team in some way shape or form this season. The split with Steve Masse was a friendly one which was proven with Andrews statements early on in the interview; “Steve is one of the most talented and respectful drivers out there right now. He always does what he is asked of by VMRS and goes to the track to have fun and win races.”

Tommy Barrett Jr poses with his new NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride at Frank Maratta's Auto Show & Racearama this past weekend. Crystal Snape photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr poses with his new NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride at Frank Maratta’s Auto Show & Racearama this past weekend. Crystal Snape photo.

Tommy Barrett Jr. has moved on from all the controversy he experienced on the VMRS.  The driver landed a top ride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with Chris Our’s Our Motorsports 22 NASCAR Whelen Modified.  He competed in his new ride this February at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks.  On Tuesday, February 18th, the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds competed in a 150 lap race on a Daytona International Speedway backstretch temporary oval where Barrett Jr. finished a respectable 5th.   It’s possible he might compete in a few Valenti Modified Series events this year and the big dollar, old school Tri-Track Open Modified Series shows.

I’m sure most of us can agree upon issues such as disqualifications and suspensions have a way of taking on a life all their own.  The case of Tiregate and the issues surrounding Tommy Barrett from 2012-2013 fully resembles that remark.  The rough riding issues that led to his probation which others say was nothing different than the same tactics by other top competitors in the series.  The baffling disqualification and suspension for nothing more than committing to a racing line for a pass after putting up with lap after lap of blocking. Then being called Rookie of the Year contender all season only to be informed at season’s end he was never eligible.  Those three instances certainly had that “magnifying glass” feel and had fans buzzing all off season heading into 2013.

Moving on to Tiregate.  It really added fuel to the aforementioned Barrett vs. VMRS conspiracy theorists’ fire.  How could it not?  The sniffer device, not used prior by the series, popping up and never being introduced by the series.  The same device became a deciding factor in the teams being disqualified.  A crewman unfamiliar with the sniffer who inquires and is told “not to worry about it” by the official. A crewman who says the sniffer never went off and another who says his crew never heard it go off on their tires in pre-race.  All these things caused the snowball effect.  All of it could support what some called a witch hunt.  Whether it was or wasn’t well, that’s for you to decide.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series feature storms around Seekonk Speedway. Howie Hodge photo
The Valenti Modified Racing Series feature storms around Seekonk Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.

As a columnist there’s 2 things I am obligated to do.  Report the findings and give my honest views and opinions on the subject at hand.  Contrary to what many might think, I am a fan of the Valenti Modified Racing Series, because I’m a fan of the Modifieds.  I believe the VMRS’ product with events of advertised “Green Flag Laps”, being a cheaper alternative Modified tour, and the quality of racing is a good representation of what Northeast asphalt Modified racing is.  They are a series that is only 10 years old and every organization experiences hiccups along the way especially as those holding official positions come and go.  Even the greatest of series like those of famed tour architect Tom Curley has had to endure major controversy along the way.  However, what concerns me about this matter is the lack of accountability on the series behalf in the way these issues were handled.  A series or track is always measured up by how they handle a controversy.  This is what shows the true character of any organization.  For that matter only time will tell.

What’s inevitable is the full throttle arrival of the 2014 racing season.  Let’s also hope it’s a safe, exciting and successful one.  You can almost smell the sweet mixed aroma of racing fuel, burning rubber, and concessions.  Sniff-sniff.  Wait.  What does that say about us race fans’ if indeed smell is 75% taste?  Until next week’s republishing of yet another original NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo, straight out of the pages of Speedway Scene, take care everyone.

*       *       *

*I’d like to thank Rob Walendy, Andrew Truchinskas, Scott Tapley and others for lending me some of their time and answering questions as well as assisting with gathering information.  My sincerest thanks.                                    – Jared