Tag Archives: Mike Stefanik

Ladies And Gentlemen! It’s Time For The 2nd Annual Seymour Awards!

–  FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd, 1979 – PAGE 6  –Seymour-Awards-2

It’s once again time for auto racing’s answer to the Oscar, Emmy and Toni Awards. Yes, it’s time for the NERF’ers2nd Annual Seymour Awards Ceremony.Seymour

So, Racin’ Person! When I call your name, please come forward and pick up your Seymour! Notice how the Ole’ Nerf said ‘PERSON’ so he wouldn’t get into trouble. Well, now on to the presentations.

1979-Richie_EvansVLThe first Seymour goes to “Driver of the Year” for 1979 and as Geoff Bodine dominated with 54 wins last year in the Big Red Machine, our winner this season is a 52-time victor in Big Orange. Semour #1 goes to Richie Evans who captured his second straight NASCAR National Modified Championship this year.

A Seymour for the Most Improved Driver goes to the gentleman who captured the track championship at Thompson Speedway this year. Mr. 1X himself, Joe Howard.

Jeff Fuller in the T-5 he took the Westboro Modified crown with. Howie Hodge photo.
Jeff Fuller in the T-5 he took the Westboro Modified crown with. Howie Hodge photo.

For the second year in a row, the Rookie of the Year Seymour goes to a Westboro Speedway driver, this year’s track champ at that facility, young Jeff Fuller.

Mario “Fats” Caruso #69. Comeback Seymour award winner for ’79. Howie Hodge photo.

The Comeback of the Year Seymour is awarded to the fellow who seems to get younger with age, Mario “Fats” Caruso.

We’ll give two Seymours in the next category because of a tie in the voting. Best Looking Car Seymours go to Ed St. [Michael] Angelo for his 19jr plus one to Dan Mason and his #04 as both were super looking Modifieds and could run too.

The Mechanic of the Year Seymour for 1979 is being awarded to the super crew chief of the Big Orange, the man who kept it running like a fine tuned piano, Billy Nacewicz.

A driver from Maine competing at Star Speedway gets the Good Guy Seymour because that’s just what Pete Madden is, a good guy.

The Best Looking T-Shirt Seymour once again comes from Fred Potito’s Oval Track Design. It’s a new look shirt for Reggie Ruggeiro designed by Potito with car drawing by super artist Bruce Roll.

A gentleman who drove every week from Mattydale, NY to Owego, NY to see the racing programs at Shangri-La Speedway has been selected as the recipient of the Fan of the Year Seymour. Earl Watchorn drove 120 miles (240 round trip) in his first year as an auto racing fan.

Last year, the Tire Changing Seymour went to my old buddy Chuck “Tire Iron” Jeffries. The honors were returned this season as Dave Kolenda and yours truly received the award for our much less than spectacular performance during the Claremont Speedway Pit Crew Competition in July.

Our Bonehead Seymour for this season has to go to the individual or individuals, whoever they may be, that decided to ban the rear engine SuperModifieds at Oswego Speedway for 1980.

Track champion for the last two years at Plainville Stadium in his Rock Age chassied Fred Flintstone-mobile, Ronnie Rocco get the Little Guy Seymour as a definite low-buck operator with great results.

The Hard Luck Seymour goes to last years Little Guy winner. He tried everything possible to make his Modified run like it had in years past, but never got it up to par. So to the Travelin’ Man, Pete Fiandaca, goes this Seymour.

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
60 of Modifieds best and over a third of them left the event with an expired motor at the 1979 CAM-2 RoC on Pocono’s 2-1/2 mile tri-oval. Peter Montano photo

The 1979 ‘CAM2 Race of Champions’ at Pocono International Raceway gets the Blown Motor Seymour by a landslide as more than twenty were lost during the 300-mile event and somewhere near forty went up in smoke during the entire weekend’s activities.

The Sneaky Pete Seymour goes to the Unknown Political who raised havoc with a certain clown during his campaign for re-election as Mayor of Stafford Motor Speedway. Our Unknown friend is still unknown, hiding under his brown paper bag. Some are still askin’ if that was his lunch or his head under the bag, but hiding inside a sack is really sneaky.

Next comes the Ding Bat of the Year Seymour and this award goes to the fellow who told a certain group of car owners and drivers that he didn’t need them and then found out it was tough to run a show with a few cars and low turnout of fans. Wherever you now may be, it’s all yours.

Our Clown of the Year Seymour belongs to Speedway Scene’s Fat Rat for his outstanding performance during the “Busch 250” at Westboro Speedway in his stove-pipe hat and special ‘Omar the Tent-maker’ made suit. Eat yer heart out, Butch!

The Best Starter Seymour this year goes to the man who handles the flags for the D.I.R.T. of Central New York organization and does one heck of a job at it. The man is Bobby Watson.

Opposite of the aforementioned award is the Worst Starter Seymour and this goes to the man who took over for the late Ken Small at Star Speedway. He’s so bad I don’t even know his name, but the award is all his.

The Fiasco of the Year Seymour goes to Ernie Hastings as anytime he takes to the track it’s certainly a fiasco.

Next comes the Owner of the Year and this Seymour goes to the man with the bucks behind the Big Orange, Mr. Gene DeWitt.

Our Race of the Year Seymour goes to the Schaefer 200 during SUPER DIRT WEEK at the New York State Fairgrounds. The race, won by Jack Johnson, was definitely all it was billed to be.. Super….

Last years Best Fan Club Seymour went to Bugs Stevens Fan Club. Once again it’s a Stevens Fan Club, but this time it’s Dick Stevens. Although not nearly as large as da Bugman’s club, this little group of people are still big in heart and support for their driver so this season’s award is theirs.

Understatement. The Nerf nailed it on this one leaps and bounds. Howie Hodge photo.
“Up and Coming Driver Seymour” winner, Mike Stefanik. The Nerf really had his crystal ball out and nailed it on this one leaps and bounds. Howie Hodge photo.

The Best Up and Coming Driver Seymour goes to a young man who captured the Stafford Motor Speedway Limited Sportsman Championship in ’79 and also doubles as a pretty fair Modified driver. Mike Stefanik gets this award for he is definitely an up and comer. Watch him in the future.

Following are new Seymour Awards instituted this year:

Dan Meservey’s work and dedication to not only NEMMA, but the Mini-Modified division helped build car counts, peak fan interest and put on some of the highest quality racing the division’s ever seen. SPEEDWAY SCENE photo.

The Promoter of the Year Seymour goes not to a track promoter, but to an owner-driver who led a certain group of race cars to a banner season. Dan Meservey gets this award for his leadership of N.E.M.M.A. (New England Mini Modified Association) who had their most successful year ever.

Before internet there was Paul Tremaine (seen here manning the video camera) and his Checkered Flag Announcer call in hotline. The best way to get your immediate racing results. Paul was indeed a great racing personality. Howie Hodge photo,
Before internet there was Paul Tremaine (seen here manning the video camera) and his Checkered Flag Announcer call in hotline. Back in the day it was the best way to get your immediate racing results in the Northeast. Paul was indeed a great racing personality and dearly missed. Howie Hodge photo,

Next is the Racing Media Person of the Year which will encompass writers, photographers, announcers, public relations, television and radio people. This Seymour goes to Ole Baldy hisself, Paul Tremaine, for his dedication to the sport of auto racing via his phone lines for the Checkered Flag Announcer.

The Toy-Let Seymour for this year goes to a fellow who was voted this honor unanimously by Claremont Speedway Tech Man, Howard Bowie and if you knew how big Howard is you’d know why I said, ‘unanimously’. The award goes to Lee Emery and his #71 Toilet…. I mean Modified….

The Racing Organization of the Year Seymour goes C.O.D.A. (Claremont Owners & Drivers Association) who did a super job at their track against all odds.

No surprise at all that da' Bugman received the Personality of the Year Seymour for '79. Howie Hodge photo.
No surprise at all that da’ Bugman received the Personality of the Year Seymour for ’79. Howie Hodge photo.

Our final presentation was given to Ollie Silva last year and this season that same award, the Outstanding Personality Seymour goes to another fantastic driver, one who has more fans than people in Massachusetts and also a super personality, da Bugman – “Bugs Stevens“….

This wraps up another night of Seymours, named after that refugee from Dr. Frankenstein’s Funny Farm, Seymour the Racing Clown. He shows dedication to the sport of auto racing through his humor by making thousands laugh at speedways throughout the northeast.

Till next week; “If you’ve never seen the SPEEDWAY SCENE then you should never be seen again without the SPEEDWAY SCENE, or you just may never be seen again!”


*   *   *   *   *   *   *


A few things from this 1979 column by “the Ole’ Nerf”..

The Bonehead Seymour awarded to Oswego Speedway for banning the rear engine SuperModifieds did create an uproar and major criticism, but in hindsight it was a step in the right direction that saved SuperModified racing. The newer rear engined machines being built were fast and very competitive, but also quite a bit more expensive to build. So, yes, it wasn’t the first time the Ole’ Nerf was wrong and certainly wasn’t the last.

Fiasco of the Year Seymour goes to Ernie Hastings” and “Toy-Let Semour” to “Lee Emery”, were not rude shots, but ribbing between friends. Both recipients were friends of the Ole’ Nerf. They were a part of C.O.D.A. and the friendly racing community at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, New Hampshire.

Bobby Vee's gorgeous Arrow bodied Modified from 1978. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge collection.
Bobby Vee’s gorgeous Arrow bodied Modified from 1978. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge collection.

The “Best Looking Car Seymour“? Ed St. [Michael] Angelo, as the Ole’ Nerf put it, and Racin’ Danny Mason, both had a couple of beautiful Modifieds. The only reason I can think of as to why he neglected the amazing Bobby Vee, Busch Beer, #2 Arrow bodied Modified, is because Vee’s Modified debuted in 1978. Personally, I still would have given Mr. Vee’s machine the nod, but if I confronted the Ole’ Nerf about it as he wrote this particular column back in late November of 1979, there was the possibility I might have landed in my room, grounded.

All the best to you! And as the Ole’ Nerf said many a time, Keep on Trackin’!


I’m Not Sayin’, I’m Just Sayin’ and Good Memories


It’s been an interesting last couple of weeks since the publishing of my last column, “Money and the Underdog”.  Rain may have postponed and cancelled quite a bit of racing last weekend, but Memorial Day weekend’s televised events did not disappoint for this auto racing fan.  It was far better than any retired basketball star showing up to my birthday party that’s for sure.

I’ve been saying for the last month or so that Kurt Busch’s attempt at the double is a pretty significant deal.  Sunday it played out flawlessly for the first true fendered driver to attempt the 500 since 1972. Placing 6th in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 and taking Rookie of the Year honors along with a $423,889.00 check for his efforts says plenty from behind the wheel.  Sure his double ended early at Charlotte, but love him or hate him you can’t deny Busch proved he is one talented driver.  Well done.

We’re just two weeks away from the 4th annual SBM 125 at the very racy Star Speedway quarter mile in Epping, NH..  Kevin Rice, Jim Schaefer, and their fellow organizers are getting everything in line for the much anticipated second jewel in the triple crown of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series on Saturday, June 14th.  If you haven’t seen the SBM video promo produced by Bobby Webber’s 14 year old son Timmy, you should check it out.  It’s been shared by James Schaefer, the Tri-Track Open Modified Series, and on the NERF’ers Corner RELOADED facebook page.  Stop by either of those and give the young Mr. Webber some kudos.  Timmy Webber, you did a fantastic job!

A rabid blogger names a handful of people involved in the sport and proceeds to throw them under the bus with cries of being a victim of bullying.  When the one doing the crying and making accusations has been guilty of the same claims he is crying victim about, it falls flat.  What were the hopes behind this pathetic smoke and mirrors article other than an attempt to get those reprimanded in some way shape or form by their peers, employers or sanctioning bodies? Holding others to standards that one does not hold themselves to while throwing accusations and pointing the finger is absolutely pathetic.  So call it for what it is, Karma.  K-A-R-M-A.. You reap what you sew.  What was the line from back in March?  “You can’t have it both ways”?

The 3/8th mile clay oval of Thunder Mountain Speedway, located in Center Lisle, NY, held a $5,100.00 to win Open Dirt Modified event.  “Lightening on the Mountain”.  It was the second event for the National Dirt Racing League’s Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP.  Lightening on the Mountain, held Tuesday, May 17th had $31,813 in purse money on the line.  The event paid $500 just to take the green. 73 of dirt Modified’s finest showed up to qualify.  32 Modifieds made up the starting field which meant 41 Modifieds did not qualify.  Among those notables not making the field were Brett Hearn, Alan “AJ Slideways” Johnson, and Dale Planck. The event was won by dirt ace Matt Sheppard.  The huge turn out speaks volumes about the strength of the dirt Modified division.

Jerry Cook at Stafford in 1976, the year of his 5th NASCAR National Modified Championship. Howie Hodge photo.
Jerry Cook at Stafford in 1976, a year where Cook captured his 5th NASCAR National Modified Championship. Howie Hodge photo.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame have found their new class of inductees.  6 Time NASCAR National Modified Champion, Jerry Cook was unfortunately passed over yet again.  Cook is a 6 time title holder of what was a National Championship.  Cook battled door handle to door handle for years against Hall of Famer Richie Evans and chased each other up and down the east coast to collect those valuable NASCAR National

Mike Stefanik's Busch Grand National North and NASCAR Modified machines get prepped for battle at Nazareth in 1997. Howie Hodge photo.
Mike Stefanik’s Busch Grand National North and NASCAR Modified Tour machines get prepped for battle at Nazareth in 1997. Howie Hodge photo.

Modified Championship points.   First year nominee, Mike Stefanik also was passed over.  Mike’s 7 NASCAR Modified Tour titles and 2 Busch Grand National North titles are more than enough to get him in.  What more can anyone say about a driver who not only won multiple championships in two of NASCAR’s touring series, let alone earning titles for both series in the same year, not once, but in consecutive years, 1997 and 1998?  That my friends is the definition of a weekend warrior at the top of his game.  In my personal opinion, these guys both are more deserving of the honor than past inductees Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett, who each have 1 Cup title in 1989 and 1999 respectively.  No disrespect towards those two former Cup champions.  I am admittedly very biased on this one can’t you tell?

A Flood of Memorial Day Weekend Memories.

On the morning of Friday, May 25th, 2012 my wife, our daughter, a great friend of ours and myself walked into the Stafford Motor Speedway office and were told to go straight to the infield and take as much time as we needed.

Bob Polverari and his famous 711. Had a ton of photos of his Mods back in the day thanks to Mary. Howie Hodge photo.
Bob Polverari and his famous 711. I had a ton of photos of his Mods back in the day thanks to Mary. Howie Hodge photo.

We walked through the gates and I glanced over to the left where on so many a Friday evening, before the races or during intermission, I would bug Mary Hodge to death and enjoy some fun and good natured ribbing with Kevin and Howie.  Pointing at the booth I shared a memory with our daughter;  “I used to take a dollar over to that booth almost every Friday and I’d walk up to the side door.  I’d talk and talk to the Hodges, then hand Mary a dollar for a grab bag of 3 photos and Mary would usually hand me 2 or 3.  You know, I never really wondered how there just happened to be a couple photos in there of my favorite driver, Bob Polverari.  I thought it was luck, but now I know different.”

Further on down the midway, where it slopes down hill, memories of Seymour and Geoff Bodine each carrying newspaper sacks filled with lollipops as they both campaigned for mayor of Stafford Speedway came rushing back.  A little farther down and looking over towards the right was the spot by the fence I could be found as a youngster back in the day waiting for Bob Polverari to walk to the front of his hauler on the other side of the fence.  Many of the drivers always found time to meet and talk with the fans during prepping and intermission and Bob was always one of those guys.

Frank Sgambato and Chris Hopkins man Stafford's flag stand back in the day. Howie Hodge photo.
Frank Sgambato (left)  and Chris Hopkins (right) man Stafford’s flag stand back in 1982. Howie Hodge photo.

We walked down to the flagstand for which many a time back in the day Frank Sgambato with his “comb the hair” around the head flag wave and good friend of my parents, Chris Hopkins commanded the race track.

The same flagstand the undisputed mayor of Stafford Motor Speedway, Seymour the Clown climbed and proceeded to wave flag after flag as Mike Joy played along defining to the crowd what each flag was for.  After each explanation Seymour would toss the flag over his shoulder onto the track as the crowd would let out laughs.  When Seymour got to the black flag, oh boy!

Seymour atop the front stretch fence at Stafford doing what he did best, entertain. Howie Hodge photo.
Seymour atop the front stretch fence doing what he did best, entertain the thousands of fans. Howie Hodge photo.

We hopped over the wall and onto the start finish line in which legends flew over and new ones are still made thankfully.  I stopped for a moment to soak it all in, turning around to look up at the press box where I spent many nights sitting next to Brother Pat Evans and laughing it up.

This was the place my father and I enjoyed so many races together.  Besides the now long passed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass, this was home.  Man he loved this track and that’s why it felt so right with what we were about to do.

We walked into the infield and picked a nice grassy spot.  I pulled the container from the box and opened the lid.  I said some heartfelt words.  Then a memory hit me that made me crack up through the tears and I shared it with those with me; “Years ago when Dad was still around he said that when he died he wanted to be mixed with the speedy dry and have the track crew spread him around with it during the night’s events.”

All of us chuckled and I then proceeded to spread my father’s ashes in the green grass.  Robert Echo was finally home for good.

Brother Pat Evans was always fun to sit with in the Stafford press box. Good times. Howie Hodge photo.
Brother Pat Evans was always fun to sit with in the Stafford press box. A true friend to the sport and dearly missed. Howie Hodge photo.

That evening we attended the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 under threatening skies and rain all around us.

Frank and Martin, long time family friends, awaited us in the stands.  When we got to their seats Frank said that as he watched us walk through the gates the cloud hanging over the speedway broke open enough to allow light to shine down onto the infield of the track.  With what took place that morning, to us it was just  another sign that my father was there with us.

The skies opened up with a light shower interrupting the Whelen Modified Tour’s time trials.  One of my very best friends, John turned around and remarked that my father might have a little something to do with it; “Bob always hated time trials.  He must have put an order in for rain so he could get watered in.”

The whole group of us laughed as that was the very type of humor my father had and would have appreciated.  Immediately after the shower the sun shined through for a spell and all in attendance witnessed a double rainbow in the direction of the 3rd and 4th turns.

Howie Hodge, myself, and my daughter pose for Mary to capture some more memories. Mary Hodge photo.
Howie Hodge, myself, and my daughter pose for Mary to capture some more memories. Mary Hodge photo.

During intermission my wife, our daughter and myself met up with Howie and Mary Hodge at the driver’s autograph session.  Seeing those two made this trip to Stafford feel a bit like all those years of attending with my father.  Again, it felt right.

Our daughter Madison soaking in the knowledge. Howie Hodge photo.
Our daughter Madison soaking in the knowledge and taking in the speedway her grandfather once attended. Howie Hodge photo.

At times that Friday night our daughter, who for the last couple of years would ask what her grandfather and I did together at her age, was understandably filled with emotion.  She never met him, but heard endless stories about him through family and friends.  Being on the same ground that myself and her grandfather used to frequent and sharing it with her after all these years had me feeling the same too.  She was like a sponge, soaking up the wall of champions banner that draped over the back of a concession stand for the pit area.  Howie managed to snap a shot of her studying it.  It’s a shot her mother and I will forever treasure.

Doug Coby crosses the line for the 2012 TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Howie Hodge photo.
Doug Coby crosses the line for the 2012 TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Howie Hodge photo.

The rest of the night’s events went on without a hitch.  Bobby Santos III had dominated the event from the start until the closing laps.  Doug Coby who charged to the front, after making a late race pit stop, took the top spot away and a well deserved victory as a light rain started to fall.

These are the memories that filled my Memorial Day.  I hope your memories were just as wonderful and all of you made some more this past weekend as well.  Until next week’s republishing of another classic NERF’ers Corner by Bob Echo, all the best!  Stay safe and enjoy the racing wherever you may attend!