Tag Archives: NERF’ers Corner

Know What You Are Getting Into…

RELOADED by Jared Echo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t know.” The first answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speedline Celebrates Year of Tremendous Success

– Friday, February 8th, 1980 –

SPEEDLINE CELEBRATES YEAR OF TREMENDOUS SUCCESS

Whether at home or in your car, as you move the needle across the dial of your radio you’ll pass stations broadcasting everything from music to news to talk shows and if you live in the area of Nashua, N.H. or happen to be in and around that vicinity between the hours of six and eight some Tuesday evening, dial in FM106 and you’ll hear the very popular SPEEDLINE auto racing talk show originating from the studios of WOTW Radio in Nashua.

Speedline-1The show was born on February 20th of last year out of the dream of two dedicated racing individuals, Bob Watson and John Spence.

Watson, the Racing Director at Lee Speedway, and Spence, P.R. Man and Announcer at the same track, had been thinking about some type of racing program for some time. When WOTW changed hands, these two gentlemen contacted the powers to be at the station about their idea and after some three weeks of negotiations SPEEDLINE went on the air.

The first program was an hour long and featured a guest considered by many to be the most popular driver in New England. That individual was none other than the “Travelin’ Man”, Pete Fiandaca.

SPEEDLINE expanded to an hour and a half two weeks later and with the show rapidly growing in popularity the following week it moved to its present two hour format.

The thing that’s unusual about this racing talk show in comparison to other programs of its type is that this particular show has run continuously through the winter months with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s week.

Speedline-2Many well-known racing people have graced the SPEEDLINE studio including such individuals as Ron and Ken Bouchard, Geoff Bodine, Carl Merrill, Dave Thomas, Ed Yerrington, Larry Record, Lee Allard, Stevie Bird, Ken Smith, Paul Mathews, Smokey Boutwell, Lee Smith, Bob Bonser, Dave Kane, Dick Williams, John McMullin, Phil Miller, Don MacLaren, Dave Kolenda, Russ Conway, Ross Niciewsky, Mike Dawalga and yours truly has been a guest on two occasions. You have to add one more name, probably the most popular of all, to the long list of guests who have been on the show, that being Seymour the Clown who reeked havoc with Watson and Spence the time he visited.

Some people who are expected to be on the show in the months to come are Indy Champ Car owner and driver Bill Alsup along with his motor builder Robbie Patterson, Tom Curley, Director of NASCAR North: Oxford Plains Speedway Promotional Director, Tom Elliman; Lou Modestino, Oxford Public Relations Director; Dick Stevens and Lee Emery, Claremont Speedway modified driver/owners and Speedway Scene columnists “BonesBourcier and the Ol’ Nerf.

Gerry Hervieux joined the show in May of last year as the NASCAR-Winston Cup Grand National correspondent. Hervieux’s insight into Grand National racing adds a special dimension to the program and through him a half hour phone call was set up with G.N. Star Neil Bonnett.

When asked why he wanted to put together a program such as this, Spence replied: “Watson and I love racing and we’ve always worked well together in the past at both Lee and Hudson Speedway and we felt the area needed a show of this type.”

Evidently the area did need a program such as this and even though the show face a short period of turmoil during the late summer, canceling operations for one week, it still has been a tremendous success.

When asked what they thought of the show, nearly all of the drivers, owners and fans contacted replied that they felt the show is professionally done and is a definite plus for the sport of auto racing.

To emphasize the shows popularity, one car owner living in the outlying reaches of WOTW drives downtown parking the right side of the car on the side walk so he can hear the show. He said the only problem is when the traffic light on the corner turns yellow he gets a lot of static. Another owner drives twenty-miles to a shopping center so he can listen to the program.

Tuesday night, following the Daytona 500, SPEEDLINE will celebrate one year on the air. Let’s hope this is the first of many years for the Watson and Spence produced show as auto racing needs ’em. “Happy Anniversary” to SPEEDLINE…..

NERF’ers Niblets….. Attended the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Awards Banquet last weekend and what a night. Had a long conversation with track champion Jack Johnson who was wearing his 1979 Schaefer Championship Ring exemplifying his victory in the modified segment of the prestigious race. Also spoke in length with A-S and Lebanon Valley Speedway Sportsman Champion Don Ackner who will move up to run full time with the modifieds in 1980. A-S Promoter C.J.Richards has posted a $25,000 point fund for ’80 with $7,000 going to this year’s mod champ. Not bad!… Sat with JoAnn and Don Davies, writers of the New York Modified column, plus Diane and Kenn Van Wert, who pen Just Stompin’ Thru both in Speedway Scene, at the A-S Banquet. We all received a mug from A-S management and I won’t say who, but we had a candle thief at our table, right JoAnn…. Ooops! ….. Rumor has it that CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and USAC (United States Auto Club) will be getting back together soon with CART as the driving force. Evidently USAC has seen the writing on the wall as this year’s Indianapolis 500 has been billed as an open competition Indy Champ Car race. Who says owner-driver run organizations can’t work…. Word has it that 1979 Winston West Grand National Rookie of the Year, Tim Williamson, who succumbed to injuries suffered during the running of the Stock Car Products 300 three weeks ago, was to try his hand at the Winston Cup Grand National trail this season competing ten events. He is also featured in the new Stock Car Racing Magazine Poster BookUSAC has announced a ten-race series for their Indy Champ Car division and fifteen-event tour for stock cars. The Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas, will be the sight for the opener in both divisions as the Stockers compete there on March 9th and the Indy cars on April 26th… CART PPO Automotive Indy Car Series opens at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona on March 2nd. We’re only 49-days away from the Northeastern auto racing opener that being ICE BREAKER ’80 at Thompson Speedway. The two-day show, running March 29th and 30th, will feature late models, midgets and street stocks on Saturday while the modifieds, mini-modifieds and super modifieds compete Sunday. It’s always a super duper show but bundle up as the events name generally holds true. Other big openers shortly after includes the Spring Sizzler on April 12th and 13th at Stafford Motor Speedway, the first Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model Open on April 20th and NASCAR North’s Spring Green at Catamount Stadium on the same day…. Stafford is running three 100-lap events during the regular season including the Nutmeg 100 on May 30th, the Ferrara 100 on July 4th and the Winston 100 on August 8th. The Annual 200 at Stafford will run on Friday night, August 29th instead of Labor Day Monday. The 2nd Annual Fall Final for late models and modifieds will get off the mark on September 29th and 30th… Thompson has planned three 100 lap champion shows for mods on May 4th, June 1st and August 3rd plus two Wednesday events on July 23rd and August 13th. The Thompson 300 is set for September 12th, 13th, and 14th while the World Series will run October 4th and 5th… Oxford has scheduled six other open shows, besides their opener, including May 5th and 25th, June 15th, August 10th and 31st and September 28th plus the prestigious Oxford 250 on July 13th… Really John Spence! Best man at who’s wedding? Ya gotta be kiddin! Who’d marry ‘im!… Super Star Series Round 1 will open the season at Star Speedway on April 26th and 27th while Lee Raceway will open the Sunday before with the first leg of the five race Pepsi Cola Series. Til’ next time, “Keep the Rat Fat, subscribe today!..”

** All photos were taken directly from the original published column **

From the Heart and the Clipboard Incident

Friday, June 1st, 1979 – SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-CornerRETURN OF THE NERF

Ya all probably been wondering what’s happened to this Ol’ Nerf, eh? Some people most likely thought I’d been fitted with a pair of cement shoes by one of my disapproving readers or maybe ya just figured I disappeared from the face of the earth. Well!!….. No such luck!…. I’m back!…. In living and loving color!….. heh, heh!

I just took a few weeks off until Claremont Speedway was put into motion and now with that feat accomplished we’ll be here with our weekly tiduals and tutatuts,  heh, heh. Bart gave me those wordsout of the Korlacki Unabridged Dictionary. What ever that means.

It’s ironic that my return to the pages of Speedway Scene should bring with it an interesting happening or maybe I should say something that shouldn’t have happened.

Last Saturday night I was behind the microphone at Claremont Speedway as usual and after the show, which by the way was won by Allen Whipple, my wife and I decided to stay over along with our two sons and another young lad who’s helping out at Claremont.

I’ve been co-hosting a racing talk show on WCNL AM-FM with a gentleman by the name of Ron Dunham. I had planned to attend Bear Ridge Speedway Sunday night to cover for WCNL but since Rod had decided to cover for our “Let’s Talk Racin’ Show” I decided to head south to Monadnock Speedway to see the Regal 100, since it was on my way home.

We purchased our tickets, $22 for the five of us, along with CODA (Claremont Owners & Drivers Association) Secretary and flagman Dave Kolenda, his wife Mary, CODA driver Ernie Bodreau, his wife Carol and Rachel Chastenay.

We sat just in front of the rest rooms in the fourth turn bleachers where we planned to lean back and enjoy the late afternoon racing program.

This was not to be as you’ll soon know.

Midway through the warmup session Jim Coppo in his bright red NASCAR jacket and one of Winchester, New Hampshire’s finest summoned me as I sat in the bleachers compiling the point standings for the three divisions we run at Claremont. I was told to bring my clipboard and follow them. With Mr. Coppo leading the way, myself and Kolenda, who I invited along, and the police officer bringing up the rear we headed out the main gate into the parking lot.

When we got to the second row of cars directly in front of the main gate, guess who was waiting to greet me. Track owner Bill Brown gave me some greetings!

I was accused of bringing my clipboard so I could spy on Monadnock for Claremont. When I explained what I was doing with my clipboard it seemed to infuriate Mr. Brown something awful. Since he couldn’t catch me with my hand in the cookie jar or espionage on my clipboard, it made him super mad. He screamed, and I quote; ” I’ll knock your f…… head off.” after which he proceeded to try and attack me. He was restrained by Mr. Coppo. I explained that I had paid my $5 to get in and then along with my close friend Kolenda, I headed back to my seats in the stands.

All the aforementioned proceedings happened in front of a couple of hundred fans in the top row of the bleachers who had forgotten about warmups to watch  the parking lot escapades of Bill Brown and company.

Earlier in the afternoon, Kolenda was conversing with a friend when Mr. Brown asked him if he’d brought his clipboard with him. At the time Kolenda didn’t understand the statement.

I knew it was a no-no to bring alcholic beverages into the track but what’s this thing about clipboards.

There’s no need for anyone to go to Monadnock for the purpose of spying as there’s several ways CODA officials can find out if someone has violated the 60 mile radius rule. A good example of this is everybody and their brother knew Jack Bateman was going to be at Monadnock in direct violation of the rule. So who needs to spy?

I know Mr. Brown was upset with me over somethings I’d written in the past and he should be. It’s only human nature.

Bill Brown has nobody but himself to blame for the situation he is presently in.

A couple of years ago Brown was asked by the car owners competing at Monadnock to up the purse a few dollars. At the time he was paying $400 to win, so he told them he couldn’t afford it. What’s he doing now, paying $700 to win on a regular show and $1200 for a special show. Really makes the guys who supported him for so long know where they stand or stood, whichever. Evidently, the old bunch wasn’t worth anything but the new bunch are.

Mr. Brown has antagonized several car owners and drivers over the years.  Ask Spike Jones, owner of the Donnie Ayer car. Ask Dave Grantz who was Sportsman Champion at Monadnock a couple of times. Ask Fred Felton, owner of the “Radical Racer” driven by Marty Radewick. Ask…. Oh well, I could go on and on but I won’t.

To any of the things I have written about Bill Brown in the past he could have answered by writing a letter or article to Speedway Scene and I’m positive it would have been published.

Anything that is written in NERF’ers Corner is my opinion and not necessarily those of Speedway Scene, Claremont Speedway or CODA.

Checkered Chatter….. While on the subjecty of Monadnock Speedway, it was a super turnout of Modifieds on the high banks for the Regal 100…. Stafford Motor Speedway will host the “Mark’s Auto Parts 100” tonight with a $14,000 posted purse. $2,000 goes on to the winning modified in the NASCAR double point show….. Late Model runnerJerry Marquis had to be the most disgusted gentleman at Monadnock Speedway last weekend. He was close to lapping the second place car when a caution fell. After the green came out, Marquis’ car started missing and he had to settle for second. Tuff luck for the 1978 Riverside Park Speedway Figure 8 Champion….. It doesn’t look like Geoff Bodine’s record of 54 wins in 1978 will stand for long. Richie Evans now has 18 victories and is once again atop the National NASCAR Modified Point Race….. The first Demolition Derby of the season at Claremont Speedway will be run on Saturday night, June 23rd. Anyone interested in entering can call…. One closing note on Monadnock Speedway. It seems that Claremont Speedway is now called “Up the River Speedway” when giving the results of Saturday night action….. Until next week, remember, “NERF’ers like racin’ New England Style!”

 NERF’ers Corner By Robert Echo DISCLAIMER