– FRIDAY, MARCH 14th, 1980 – PAGE 9 –
Tom “Mr. NASCAR North” Curley has been working feverishly since the close of the 1979 season in hopes of increasing the monetary rewards for the already prosperous NASCAR North Tour.
Curley’s relentless pursuit for hunting down big dollar sponsors for his very popular year-old Late Model Sportsman series has again paid off with the signing of a lucrative multi-year agreement with Molson Breweries of Canada, Ltd.
Last year’s twenty-seven race tour paid out in excess of $270,000 including $40,000 point fund, but with increased monies from Molson, this season’s total series dollars has already topped the $370,000 mark for the twenty-six events scheduled so far. A point fund of $65,000 is included in the total money posted to date.
The 1980 point fund will be paid over a newly created three-leg program much like the one operated within the Grand National ranks. The first two-legs, ending in June and August respectively, will each pay a total of $10,000 in point fund monies while the final leg will pay the remaining $45,000 for the overall point standings with the champion picking up a cool ten grand.
The final schedule is expected to reach at least thirty events which would put the posted awards over $400,000 with the point fund over $70,000. Several companies, other than Molson, have already pumped many dollars into the series including Champion Spark Plug, McCreary Tires, the STP Corp and Bell Helmets. Some thirty-eight companies have been contacted by Curley in hopes of increasing the rewards for the Tour including the likes of Hurst, Castrol and Hawaiian Tropics.
Curley has got STP of Canada back into racing, after a seven-year absence, to take over the Canadian Challenge Series sponsored by Molson last season. The $3,000 put up by STP will go to the top Canadian finishers on the Tour.
With Molson being the big dollar sponsor of the series for the next few years, the NASCAR North Tour will now become known as the NASCAR North Molson Circuit.
McCreary will once again furnish the official tire for the series and the North Tour’s success with a tire rule in ’79 has caused both Hickory [NC] Speedway and Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, VA to adopt a track tire rule.
NASCAR North competitors will be happy about one thing disclosed by Curley, in a recent discussion with the Ol’ Nerf, that being a twenty percent purse increase over last year which will definitely benefit the guys finishing from fifth on back.
With the purse increase comes word that several cars are either being built of purchased for the upcoming season including a new Emanuel Zervakis machine for last year’s NASCAR North Tour Champion, Beaver Dragon, which was originally destined for Darrell Waltrip. 1977 Nascar North Rookie of the Year, Mike Barry will also pilot a new Zervakis car while popular Pete Silva has purchased a complete Banjo Mathews set up including car, motors and hauler. Top runner Robbie Crouch is building two cars for himself which will feature some new Late Model innovations.
Jean Paul Cabana will once again return to the Late Model wars in the car which was driven last year by Tom Rosati. Sophomore driver Tim Dykeman has purchased last year’s Wood Brothers short track Grand National machine driven by Neil Bonnet while Phil Gerbode has obtained the car campaigned by Butch Lindley in ’79.
Hector LeClair, last year’s Tour runner up, has had his 1979 car completely reworked by Howe Chassis in hopes of an all out assault on the series crown in ’80.
So, even before the second year of operation, the Curley run Tour has become the highest paying single division stock car series in the Northeast and Southern Canada.
Curley is in the same class as the National Dirt Racing Association’s Robert Smawley, Ted Johnson of the World of Outlaws and D.I.R.T. of Central New York’s Glenn Donnelly.
There are some people in the Northeast who dislike the way Curley and NASCAR North operates, but there are also individuals I’ve talked to who do not like Smawley, or Donnelly as I’m sure there are people who don’t especially care for Johnson. A couple of years ago I didn’t like Geoff Bodine, but you can’t shoot down the fact that he was successful nor can you knock the success of Curley, Smawley, Johnson or Donnelly because after all, success is the name of the game, isn’t it?
NERF’ers Nibblets *** “I Wonder Where the Yellow Went?” was the heading over this column a couple of weeks ago with the ensuing story relating to the finishing of races under the yellow flag by NASCAR. Well I’m sure this writer’s blasting of that practice had nothing to do with it, but USAC has just announced that all of their sanctioned Stock Car events will now finish under the green starting with this past weekend’s “Texas 250” at the Texas World Speedway in College Station. The new rule is aimed at giving the race fan a guaranteed green flag finish. All USAC Stock Car races will finish under green flag conditions, with races on speedways of at least 1.5 miles in length requiring at least the final two laps completed under green and races on shorter tracks requiring at least the final three laps under green. This will end the disappointing single-file yellow flag finishes which in the past have often ruined fantastic races. Hats off to USAC for their move in alleviating this problem and now if NASCAR would only get off its duff and follow suit…..
Stopped over to see the new Bob Polverari Chevette bodied No. 711 Modified and it is one beautiful lookin’ machine which will definitely put it in the runnin’ for best appearing Modified at Martinsville [VA] Speedway this weekend. The car carries Polverari’s usual white paint job and Dave Bendtson of Springfield, Mass. has done some fantastic pin striping and lettering work on the machine while almost everything that isn’t painted or lettered has been chromed by West Springfield’s Jim Steup. If the new 711 runs as good as it looks, then competitors of the three-time Riverside Park Speedway champion had better watch out…..
While on the subject of Polverari, I forgot to mention his early January deer hunting trip. Word has it that this was a very successful one a he was spotted several times in the West Springfield area, in his Cadillac Eldorado, with Donner or Blitzen or was it Rudolph strung across the hood of the car. Seems as though this is the first time the deer hunter, or is that dear hunter, has returned with anything other than nothing at all. I understand he’s so happy about his success that next year he’s goin’ huntin’ for John Darveau’s dancing elephants. How about it Dear Hunter?…..
New England Mini Modified Association president Dan Meservey told Ol’ Nerf recently that as many as forty cars are expected for Thompson Speedway’s ICEBREAKER ’80 on March 29th and 30th including the cars of 1979 Pocono champion Randy Snyder of Bryan, OH; Florida Speed Week’s champ Bob Flagg of Toledo, Ohio; Livonia, Michigan’s Dick Meyers, Bob Hackle of Albany, NY and Joe Santiago from Brentwood, L.I. plus the usual line-up of NEMMA stars such as Meservey, Darrell Smith, Rick Hussex, Randy Slack, Jim Marceline, Pete Schluter and Billy Smith. Don’t miss this great turnout of Mini-Mods…..
Auto racing recently suffered another sad day as former Grand National star Lee Roy Yarbrough, a fourteen-time winner on the tour, was committed to a mental institution in Florida after a Jacksonville judge found him incompetent to stand trial for the murder of his mother last month. The 43-year-old ex-driver had his best year in G.N. racing in 1969 when he won seven super-speedway events including the Daytona 500…..
Da Champ, Rene Charland is still lookin’ fer his Olympic hat which was stolen off his head at New Smyrna [FLA] Speedway during Speed Week’s while he was perched precariously upon the throne. Ya might say he got caught with his pants down. Tsk, tsk…..
Till next time, “Catch you later and don’t forget, ‘Roast the Rat Night’ to benefit the NARAC Fund.“