Tag Archives: Northeast Auto Racing

Old Man ’78, Gone But Not Forgotten

– Friday, January 5th, 1979 –

Old Man ’78” has now passed from our midst and with it went twelve months filled with many happenings in NERF’ers Land. It was definitely a year of thrills, mysteries, controversies, tragedies and oh yes, some big surprises.

The question that will be running through the heads of many racing fans, drivers, owners and promoters in the Northeast is, “What will 1979 hold for the auto racing world or more exact, for us within the coverage area of this publication?”
 
It’s also time, once again, for “New Year Resolutions” and a little later on in this column we’ll give you our promises for ’79.
But for now, let’s review some of the happenings that made 1978 a very interesting year in Northeast auto racing. We’ll take it item by item as listed in the first paragraph of this conglomeration of illiterature, heh, heh.
 
Thrills
1. The battle between Richie Evans and Jerry Cook for the National NASCAR Modified Championship.
2. The head to head track duels between Geoff Bodine and Maynard Troyer.
3. The miraculous fight for life and recovery shown by the “Big OOllie Silva.
4. Seeing the fantastic support exhibited by competitors and fans at the “Fred DeSarroMemorial Race.
5. Watching the weekly antics of Seymour the Clown at Stafford Motor Speedway, especially his daffynitions of the flags.
Richie Evans
Richie Evans won the NASCAR National Modified Championship over Jerry Cook in 1978. Seen here at speed at Monadnock Speedway in 1978. Mario Fiore collection.
Mysteries
1. Why did the mighty Firestone suddenly go flat in the racing tire industry?
2. What super setup was really hidden under the rear wheel canvas of the “Big Red Machine“?
3. What kind of unearthly problem was built into the beautiful new #711 driven by Bob Polverari?
4. Whatever happened to crowd pleasing Modified chargers John Anderson and Roger Westbrook?
5. Why Riverside Park Speedway and NASCAR continues to let John Tallini handle the track’s flagging duties?
Controversies
1. The Geoff Bodine bumping incidents with Ken Bouchard, George Savory, Bugs Stevens and Richie Evans.
2. The battle between Riverside Park’s NASCAR officials and Fred Felton, over his #11MA Monza known as the “Radical Racer“.
3. Eddie Flemke not running Stafford Motor Speedway after an early season conflict with the track’s NASCAR officials.
4. The refusal to let the Bugs Stevens, Ron Bouchard and Geoff Bodine Fan Clubs sell certain articles at Stafford by Mike Adeskaveg.
5. The “T-Shirt” hassle between Oval Track Design’s Fred Poteto and Riverside Park Speedway concessionaire, Shany Lorenzet.
Marty Radewick
Fred Felton’s Radical Racer Modified were turned away again and again at the Park in 1978. The previous reported issues at Stafford were resolved. Jim Snape photo.
Tragedies
1. The loss of Fred DeSarro, one of New England’s finest Modified chauffeurs and former National NASCAR Modified Champion.
2. The death of probably greatest Modified dirt drivers ever and super car builder Dick Toby Tobias.
3. The Northeast also lost another fine Modified dirt wheel man with the passing of Mike Grbac.
4. Andy Maine wasn’t a driver, but his death left a definite void in auto racing as part of the CFA team.
5. The deaths of Formula One drivers Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson, both of Sweeden, within a couple of weeks time was a shocker.
1978 saw the tragic loss of Modified ace, Fred DeSarro. 1976 Howie Hodge photo.
1978 saw the tragic loss of beloved New England Modified ace, Fred DeSarro. 1976 Howie Hodge photo.
 Surprises
1. The No. 1 Racing Team breakup and Geoff Bodine, along with Billy Taylor, joining the Bob JohnsonJack Beebe GN venture.
2. Personable Stan Greger winning the Riverside Park Speedway NASCAR Modified Championship in Billy Simons #9.
3. Geoff Bodine’s complete domination of Modified racing in Dick Armstrong’s Nu Style Jewelry Pinto.
4. Sonny Fleury, owner of Claremont Speedway, turning the track over to the owners and drivers to operate in 1979.
5. Stafford Motor Speedway’s PR man Mike Joy heading South for a similar job at Daytona and John McMullin taking over for him.
Geoff Bodine puts down some practice laps in his Dick Armstrong Nu Style Pinto bodied Modified at Riverside Park Speedway (1978). Mario Fiore photo.
Geoff Bodine and Dick Armstrong’s Nu Style Modified team absolutely dominated in 1978 and then shocked everyone at the end of the season by going their separate ways. Mario Fiore photo.
1978 was definitely a year of many happenings and no one can predict what the new year holds for auto racing, but here’s hoping that the next 360 some days offer us a lot of good Speedway action and a lot less tragedy.
 
Checkered Chatter… Fans who venture to Stafford in 1979 will treated to the “Spring Sizzler“, the “Mark’s Auto Parts 100“, “Ferrara 100“, “Winston 100“, the “200 at Stafford” and the  Modified – Late Model Doubleheader plus 14 regular season racing events… Ron Bouchard has also stated that he will campaign at Seekonk Speedway in 1979 as it is rumored that D. Anthony Vendetti will up the Modified purse on top by 100 bucks… Ernie Clark has purchased Bob Polverari’s #711 Vega that brought him the 1976 and 1977 Riverside Park titles and will put 1978 RiversideRookie of the YearEd Kennedy behind the wheel… NASCAR Grand National Champion, Cale Yarborough, who collected a single season record of $530,751 for Junior Johnson’s Oldsmobile team, was selected as “Driver of the Year” by the National Motorsports Press AssociationRiverside Park will not only lose a driver or two, they will also lose a faithful Bob Polverari follower as Scott Rodowicz will vacate the Park for greener pastures, Army green that is… Oh yeah! Here’s a resolution I promise ya. Here goes! I do hereby promise not to pick on anyone named Geoff Bodine or Bunky Skawski. I wish Geoff the best of luck as he joins the big boys on the Grand National circuit and Bunky doesn’t have to worry about me any longer as I’ll spend my Saturday nights at Claremont Speedway in 1979. Gee! Ain’t ya’ glad Bunky… Til we meet again, I wish everyone in NERF’ers Land a “Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.”
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Cars, Clowns and Congratulations

– FRIDAY, September 1st, 1978 –

The biggest auto racing weekend of the year has arrived in the Northeast and boy has it arrived.

Motor racing fans from throughout New England will be able to enjoy some of the finest and longest races of the year this Labor Day weekend. If you can’t decide where you want to go after reading the following selections of racing programs, then I suggest you put your index finger above this column, close your eyes and drop point of finger on column… There! Problem solved.

Weekend racing is on with the “Riverside 200” at Riverside Park, The “Genesee 200” and “International Classic 200” at Oswego, Stafford hosts the “200 at Stafford”, the “Labor Day 7 in 1 Special” at Thompson, the “Labor Day Classic” at Albany Saratoga, Fonda hosts the “Montomery County Fair Races”, the “New York State Modified Championships” at Syracuse, the “Labor Day 78” at Plattsburg, Rolling Wheels hosts the “R.M. Etrocci Memorial” and Bear Ridge runs it’s “Labor Day Special”.

Just think, if you catch the regular season wrap-ups at Stafford on Friday, the shows at Riverside Park or Oswego on Saturday, Oswego on Sunday and then back to Stafford for Monday, you’ll see 630 laps of main event racing plus nearly 300 laps of qualifying heats. If dat don’t saturate a racing mind, nuttin’ will.

Now on to a little bit about a whole lot of a bunch of everything. If you made any sense out of what I just said then you’ve did better than I’ve done or is that done better than I did? Oh well, who cares.
We understand that if Reggie Ruggeiro wins the Riverside Park Track Championship, instead of celebrating with champagne they’re gonna eat “Reggie Bars.” He’s done a super job this season in the “Italian Connection Car”. The Mario FioreDean Nardi owned #44 Chevette driven by Reggie Ruggeiro is definitely an Italian Connection, tain’t it?..

Geoff Bodine took home the Modified portion of the Cardinal 500 Classic in 1978. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge Collection.
Geoff Bodine’s hot streak at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1978 was nothing short of spectacular. Mike Adaskaveg photo / Howie Hodge Collection.

Congratulations to Geoff Bodine on winning the Stafford Track Championship and the Yankee All Star Series. Whether you like him or not, he’s got his act together and he won both titles going away. Let’s face it, you have to give credit where credit is due, right!..
Conratulations are also in store for Jerry Cook who took the Track Title at New Egypt Speedway and Jerry Marquis who captured the Figure 8 Crown at Riverside Park

It’s good to hear that Ollie Silva is now listed in fair condition and on his way to a full recovery. I know that all NERF’ers wish nothing but the best for the “Big O” and his wife, Susan

Mentioning Stafford Technical Inspector, Bruce Watt, in the same breath with Tech Man at Riverside Park in recent articles on the “Radical Racer” was a definite injustice. No two individuals could be that bad. My apologies, Bruce

To Chuck Jeffries: I won’t release the secret if you if you give me your tape recorder and clip board. You can keep your pen. Yes, CJ, it’s called blackmail…

A hearty NERF’ers well done to all the fan clubs that put their thoughts and hard work into the bringing about of their part of the “Ollie Silva Fund”. The clubs involved are the Bugs Stevens, Geoff Bodine and Ron Bouchard Fan Clubs and with all three being involved, all three should receive credit, not just one…

Full NASCAR rules at Riverside Park next year with a 340 ci bonus. That word was given at the pre-race meeting last week and officials feel this will boost the low turnout of cars this year. There’s a lot of pros and cons on this subject and no one will know the answer until next season…

Seymour the Clown and Geoff Bodine prepare to battle it out at Stafford in 1978. Howie Hodge photo.
Seymour the Clown and Geoff Bodine prepare to battle it out at Stafford in 1978. Howie Hodge photo.

Seymour the Clown has issued a challenge rematch race with Geoff Bodine. Seymour stated last week, “Geoffrey better watch out because now I got my s#=t together!” We understand that the Mayor of Stafford Motor Speedway is looking for a couple of motorized bar stools. Might I suggest one lap around the mini-track on Pogo Sticks and I’ll furnish them…

A BIG solute to the employees of Monadnock Speedway who donated their paychecks of August 11th to the “Ollie Silva Fund”. The amount of the donation was just over $500. A great gesture by the “High Banks Bunch”…

The Fran LeamyPeter Dupey #34 Vega has picked off a ninth and a second in the last two weeks at Riverside Park with W.J. Grez at the wheel and gang…

I wonder how Riverside Park Figure 8 runner up, Gary Orton feels about losing the title by a scant two points especially when he can look back a few weeks to when a fellow competitor put him in the wall intentionally. He finished eighth instead of second where he was running at the time and the 12 point difference between the two positions cost Orton the Championship…

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

I have to give an “Outstanding Performance Award” this week at Riverside Park to “Seymour the Clown” who did his famous “Climb the Fence and Explanation of the Racing Flags” routine. He got a standing “O” when he Black Flagged starter John Tallini. My “Worst Performance Award” goes to Riverside Park itself for throwing Seymour off the track during that first Red Flag. It’s another case of thinking only of money and not the fans. What else is new…

The “200 at Stafford” Monday has posted approximately $30,000 in awards of which the winner could take home better than $3,500 including contingency money. Top Southern entries are Ray Hendrick, Satch Worley, Paul Radford, Billy Middleton, Johnny Bryant and Bubba Beck. From New York and New Jersey will come Fred Harbach, Charlie Jarzombek, Wayne Anderson, Bob Park, Cliff Tyler, Gary Cretty, Roger Griffith, Maynard Troyer, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. Don’t miss this biggie…

1978 Tom Rosati Wrapped up his second Limited Sportsman Championship at Stafford. He made the decision to try his hand with Northern Tour Late Models and wound up shocking the Northeast with an epic win at the 1979 Oxford 250. Howie Hodge photo.
1978 Tom Rosati wrapped up his second Limited Sportsman title at Stafford. He made the decision to try his hand with Northern Tour Late Models the next season and earned an epic win at the 1979 Oxford 250 at 19 years old. Howie Hodge photo.

Congrats to Tom Rosati for wrapping up his second straight Limited Sportsman title. Rosati who will campaign exclusively on the Northern NASCAR circuit next season, has sold his car to Dick Armstrong.  Ricky Armstrong will wheel the new #1 entry of the Nu-Style Jewelry Racing Team… The Stafford Banquet has been set for January 13th at the Sheraton Sturbridge on US Route 20 in Sturbridge, Mass. While the Riverside Park Banquet will be held on November 18th at the Chez Josef in Agawam, Mass…. NASCAR Executive Vice President Lin Kuchler has resigned to take the position of Executive Director of the American Motorcyclist Association. Replacing Kuchler is Bill Gazeway, who has been NASCAR’s Winston Grand National Competition Director and Bob Smith, NASCAR’s Marketing Manager.  Winston Grand National Technical Director, Ray Hill will assume Gazeway’s former duties…. The “Rapid Roman” is now leading the “Cookie Monster” by 132 points in the chase for the NASCAR National Championship.  Richie Evans now has 3,036 to Jerry Cook’s 2,904. Cook picked up 16 points on the current leader last week…. Modified and Late Model Sportsman drivers went into the stands for charity at the NASCAR National Championship race at Monadnock Speedway on August 20th and using their helmets collected well over $1,250 from a capacity crowd. That’s what puts auto racing drivers and fans among the greatest people in the world…. The “Radical Racer”, owned by Fred Felton and driven by

Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton's Radical Racer Modified. Jim Snape photo.
Driver Marty Radewick and Fred Felton’s 11 Mass Radical Racer Modified woes with NASCAR officials was resolved with both sides communicating and working together. Jim Snape photo.

Marty Radewick, returned to Stafford two weeks ago with one change.  They widened the roll bar hoops at the roof of the car about 6 to 8 inches.  On the right side of the car only, while the car’s width remains the same at all other points. Felton stated, “We gave a little and NASCAR gave a little.” Felton also told me that Bruce Watt had been very understanding and helpful during the “Radical Racer” conflict…. The racing world is always saddened when tragedy strikes the sport. 42 year old C.H. Whorton of Tulsa, Oklahoma was killed a couple of weeks ago at the Tulsa Speedway when he backed his Modified onto the track after a spinout and was t-boned by another car. Our deepest sympathy to the family, relatives, and friends of C.H. Whorton.

Maynard Troyer was on a hot streak in 1978. Howie Hodge photo.
Maynard Troyer and his famous #6 Modified were not the only ones on a hot streak in 1978.  Howie Hodge photo.

Geoff Bodine has won 46 races so far this season to lead the Nations Modified drivers, but there are some other big winners in the Northeast. Maynard Troyer has collected 37 wins, Richie Evans has 30 wins to his credit and Punky Caron has entered victory lane 19 times. You put this bunch together and you could call them auto racing’s Fearsome Foursome…. Fred Felton told me recently that he is really happy with the job that Marty Radewick has been doing in his car. He stated, “Marty drives like a man with 20 years experience instead of only a few years.” Radewick retired the Claremont Top Ten Drivers Trophy last Saturday by winning it twice in a row for the 11 Mass Racing Team. Felton’s car won last years races with Kirby Montieth at the wheel. It’s only the first time since the trophy was instituted nine years ago that a car has won back to back…. Have you seen all those Booker TWhat It Is – tee shirts?  Well, with Riverside Park going full NASCAR next year, we won’t have to worry about anyone runnin’ those Fat Motors will we?…. To Becky Coit of the #6 Racing Team; I think your poem on Ollie Silva was just super and you only confirm what I said earlier in this column about racing people…. It’s beginning to look like old times at Yarrington’s Yard. August 11th saw 51 Modifieds at Stafford and the following week there were 45. Last week’s total was 35, but weather seems to hold down the number of cars as Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Vee were among the missing.

To all of the people who don’t like what I write in NERF’ers Corner, all I have to say is don’t read it and you won’t get your ulcers in an uproar. If you continue to read this column, then as the Fonz would say; A-y-y-y-e-e-e, Sit On It!…. Until next week remember; “NERF’ers Do It Trackside.

BRING ON A REAL FLAGMAN

– Friday, July 14th, 1978 –

In the “Oval Dustings” section of NESS on June 28th was a letter from Diane Scott of East Lyme, Conn. which was in agreement with Dick Armstrong’s article of a week earlier.

Now here’s the shocker of this week’s “NERF’ers Corner.” I’m not going to rap this letter, but instead would like to commend her on a letter well written. One line in the letter; “Where the hell are this starter’s glasses?” gave us the initiative for this weeks column.
The line fits one flag waver to a “T”, that being the flagman of Riverside Park Speedway. This man is about as far from being a flagman as I’ve seen in New England or anywhere else for that matter. He never drops the green flag in the same place twice and seems to use the yellow flag when he needs a break.
In the next few paragraphs I will try to illustrate the problems of flags at Riverside.

A few weeks ago Mr. Flagman saw rookie Jim Tourville spin three times during the qualifying heats and the consi, but no yellow flag was thrown. After his third spin he was black flagged. A week later, young veteran Bruce D’Allesandro looped it three times but low and behold no black flag. When questioned on this, his reply was; “They were different circumstances.” Maybe so, but down on the track a spin out is just that, a spin out.

Bob Polverari (Czarnecki Bros. #20) and Stan Greger (Simons Excavating #9) Battle at Riverside Park in 1978. Photo Courtesy of Speedway Scene.
Bob Polverari (Czarnecki Bros. #20) and Stan Greger (Simons Excavating #9) Battle at Riverside Park in 1978. Photo Courtesy of Speedway Scene.

Last season with a few races to go and on a restart, there was a rookie in the front row outside with Roger Westbrook outside second row. Coming out of the fourth turn the green flag flew, but a change of heart by Mr. Flagman, for whatever reason, saw him drop the yellow almost simultaneously causing the rookie to lock up the brakes and with no where to go Westbrook was pushed into the wall. His Vega was so badly bent up that it ended up the season for the talented driver who was running 8th in points in only his second year at the wheel of a Modified. You could blame the rookie, but I think everyone involved and in attendance laid blame on poor flagmanship by Mr. Flagman.

In a recent 100 lapper, Tourville not running at speed with the leaders, was being given the passing flag while he was passing an even slower car. Two of the leaders rolled up up on his bumper with one whalloping the wall demolishing the right front half of the car. Tourville was black flagged for causing the accident. Evidently, a slower car isn’t allowed to pass. I’ve heard several drivers say they’ve been given the passing flag for three laps before anyone passed them. If Tourville was to get the black flag then why wasn’t Gig Smith given the same flag for putting Billy Knight into the wall a few weeks ago? Knight’s car was so badly damaged that he has yet to return to action as of this column.

Why doesn’t the yellow flag fly for lesser known drivers when they spin, yet it always seems to fall for the big names so they won’t be lapped by the field?

Why does one NASCAR official state that he’s never seen a certain big name rough ride as he has seen, but Mr. Flagman sees nothing?
Why are the big names allowed to run dumping fluids all over the track while the little guy gets the black flag fora small puff of smoke?
“Why”? Because Mr. Flagman needs more than glasses to cure his problem.

If you ever get a chance to visit the pits at the Park watch and see which drivers Mr. Flagman hangs around before and after the races. It sure isn’t the little guy.

Drivers have been complaining about Mr. Flagman since he came to Riverside some three years ago, but to no avail. One popular big name refuses to return to the Park in his own car because of Mr. Flagman.

When will NASCAR wake up and put someone on the flagstand that knows what he’s doing? I’m no flagman and I don’t pretend to be, but Mr. Flagman gets paid for the job he’s doing. What job? The fans are not blind and have booed Mr. Flagman on many occasions. NASCAR had better hurry up before there’s a $250,000 pileup or someone gets killed.

The drivers should get a yellow flag when they come out of the pits for getting on the speedway with Mr. Flagman on the flagstand.
The Flagman should get the black flag so the Park can get a flagman like Frank Sgambato who knows what he’s doing.

Till next week; “Keep on Trackin'”

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

The NERF was just one of many columnists and media types that were heavily critical of certain chief starters back in the day. Over the decades, most all were written about certain incidents particular writers felt were wrong, biased or unjust.

One of the NERF’s examples was the repeated “rookie” move of immediately dropping the yellow after throwing the green. That has always been a huge “no-no”. That type of action by a flagman wrecks a ton of machinery. 

Another example of the same flagman at the same facility is one evening in 1980 “Mr. Flagman” threw the green flag on 12 rows of Modifieds and as the field went through turns one and two, this flagman turned his back on the track and made numerous failed attempts to light a cigarette. During his failed attempts he glanced over his shoulder once and went back to flicking his lighter repeatedly in cupped hands. As the field headed out of turn four and flew past the flagstand, this guy still had his back to the track trying like mad to light his smoke. People in the stands were throwing up their hands at him while watching it all go down.

Being a former chief starter or “flagman”, as the NERF always referred to it, during my time in the profession, I was two short steps from being classified as a chain smoker. However, I NEVER had a smoke in my hand on the flagstand or lit one up in between races, let alone turned my back on the track to light one up under red, yellow or green flag conditions. I always waited until after practice or during intermission after the heats to partake in my terrible habit. A flagman’s job is the safety of all on the speedway grounds as soon as those cars fired up and began rolling out of the pit gate. To do anything of the sort, especially after observing the position during my young years and being trained by one of New England’s greatest flagmen, Jim Hanks, it would have been great disrespect the one who tutored me and equally cheating the very definition of the position.

In those days you didn’t have a Race Director in your ear barking out orders like the micro-managing, chatterbox, choreographers some are today. Back then the majority of a Race Director’s job was to move the show along.  When the racing was going on however, they were an “extra set of eyes” helping the flagman out just as the Pit Stewart and Assistant Flagman. The chief starter was considered the highest ranking official when those race machines took to the speedway. EVERYONE’S SAFETY on the speedway grounds was the chief starter’s responsibility.

The NERF was spot on in this particular write up.

– Jared

Racing’s Now In Full Swing As It’s “Sizzler Time!”

– FRIDAY, APRIL 11TH, 1980 –

The new decade of auto racing in the Northeast can now be considered in full swing with the Waterford Speedbowl BLAST OFF 80 now three weeks into the history books with Marty Radewick the victor, and last weekend’s ICEBREAKER ’80 at Thompson Speedway now completed with six winners being crowned.  John Rosati took the Modified win while Bently Warren captured the SuperModified feature.  The Mini-Modified victory went to Dick Houlihan as Jeff Fuller made his return to the Late Model Sportsman ranks a winning one while Hank Rogers took the Midgets and Steve Johnson won the Street Stock event.

The weekend of all Spring weekends is now upon us with the “First Annual Speedway Scene Roast” set to go tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Greek Cultural Center on Plainfield Street in Springfield, Mass with SPEEDWAY SCENE editor-publisher Val LeSieur set to be roasted.

Tomorrow and Sunday features the 9th Annual SPRING SIZZLER with warmups, time trials and heats set to go Saturday with consolation races, a 50 lap Non-Qualifiers event and then the 80-Lap SIZZLER.

Saturday also marks the opener for the Southern New York Racing Association at the Danbury Fair Racearena or you can go dirt trackin’ at the Orange County Speedway in New York or down to Pennsylvania way to Grandview Speedway.

If you can’t make it over to Stafford Motor Speedway for the SPRING SIZZLER on Sunday from New York State then take in the D.I.R.T. of New York opener at Weedsport Speedway. Up in Maine you can see the “5-in1 Show” at Lincoln County Speedway or if you’d like to view the USAC Stock Car boys you can travel to Trenton International Speedway to watch the “American 250”.

This coming Wednesday through Sunday you can see some of the  racing machinery that’ll be competing at Beech Ridge Speedway in 1980 by stopping out to the Maine Mall in Portland, Maine.

Friday night, the 18th, will find Albany-Saratoga Speedway kick off their season and then on Saturday for Shangri-La Speedway, Wall Stadium and at Fonda Speedway on the dirt.

On Sunday, the $400,000 NASCAR North Molson Tour begins it’s season with the SPRING GREEN at Catamount Stadium while Lee Raceway will also get away from the starting line and Weedsport will host a 50-lap dirt Modified SPRING SPECIAL.

Saturday, the 26th, Martinsville Speedway and Star Speedway hosts two day shows with 150-lap Modified event set for Martinsville the first day and then the “Virginia 500” for the Grand National stars on Sunday. Star hosts its Super Series Special on both days. Also scheduled for Saturday openers are Islip Speedway and Lebanon Valley Speedway.

On that Sunday, Oxford Plains Speedway runs its first of three NASCAR North Molson Tour events with the Pine Tree State 100 and Rolling Wheels Raceway opens their season.

These dates with take you through the month of April and just think… you have May, June, July, August, September, October and even November ahead. There is plenty of racing in the months to come and keep an eye out for the Ol Nerf and the Speedway Scene Promotional Team at your favorite racing facility. We’ll be there soon.

NERF’ers Nibblets…

*The Mini Modified feature at Thompson last weekend had cheers galore as NEMMA president, Dan Meservey thrilled the crowd with his charge from 21st spot to take over the lead at one time. He finally ended up fourth in his Coke Machine 11A Volkswagon and proved one thing in doing so, “Things do go better with Coke!”

*Rumor has it that da champ, Rene Charland, is going to tie the knot in the near future. From losing his hat to getting caught with his pants down to a ring in his nose. Whew! How unlucky can ya get. Now just think, if he has to spend Spring Sizzler weekend with Wayne Carroll, he’ll really be in bad shape! Hic-up!

*The new decade of auto racing has been filled with some early tragedies. First Tim Williamson at Riverside (CA) and Ricky Knotts at Daytona and now the death of a spectator and injury of two others when the Limited Sportsman of Fred Peacock got loose in a race at Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA last weekend. Peacock was in the second race of his young career. The name of the spectator is not known, but our sympathy goes out to the family.

*Rich Vogler of Indianapolis took the checkered flag in the first USAC Sprint Car event of the season. The race was run at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH.

*Did you know that Thompson Speedway’s assistant flagman, Bob Gelinas has a nickname. He does! It’s Boom-Boom and it doesn’t come from being a belly dancer. It has something to do with the hotdogs at Martinsville. Next time ya see him, ask ‘im.

*Word has it that Ronnie Bodge will get himself a real pickle when Claremont Speedway opens on May 10th. Well, they do call his Modified the Pickle Wagon because of it being sponsored by Garrow’s Market of Rutland, Vermont and Garrow is known as the Pickle King. Also, Rumor has it that Sony Fleury’s Detective Agency is close to solving a two year old mystery known as the “Famous B&M Hotdog Caper” where tow boxes of hotdogs and some buns were hijacked on their way to storage from Fleury’s Snack Bar. I hear Bodge and his car owner, Karl Makela are under strong suspicion and you talk about being in a pickle. Heh! Heh!

*Did you know that popular SPEEDWAY SCENE photographer, Paul Bonneau quit school in the thrid grade, but later returned and then attended medical school where he graduated with the highest temperature! Got ya!

*We’ll have a few tickets at the door for “Roast the Rat” so come on. Enjoy a very funny night at the Greek Cultural Center at 8 Plainfield Street in Springfield, MA. It’s all to benefit the “Northeast Auto Racing Accident & Casualty Fund”.

*The Grand National ranks will now try out the rule that was run by both Modifieds and Late Model Sportsman during the Dogwood 500 at Martinsville. Any car changing tires under the caution will be penalized two-laps. They’ll try the rule out at seven events this season including the Virginia 500, Music City 420, Nashville 420, Volunteer 500, Capital City 400, Holly Farms 400 and Old Dominion 500.

‘Til next time: Old racers Never Die, They Just Keep Going In Circles!

Some SHAKE, RATTLE And ROLL From Late 1979!

– DECEMBER 14TH, 1979 – PAGE 10 & 11 –

WILL THE REAL PROMOTER OF THE YEAR PLEASE STAND UP?

The November 23rd issue of SPEEDWAY SCENE carried an article entitled; “Nominees Selected As Voting Begins For Promoter of the Year,” which ran beneath the photos of the ten men who’d been nominated by their constituents.

Charlie-ElliottSelected as candidates for the award to be presented during Daytona Speed Week ’80 in February are Earl Baltes and George Eisenhart of Ohio, Hugh Deery of Illinois, Bob Barkhimer of California, Jack Gunn of Maryland, John Marcum of Michigan, Roger Holdeman of Indiana, Don Martin of Pennsylvania plus Glenn Donnelly and Dick O’Brien of New York.

RPM (Racing Promotion Monthly), a newsletter printed each month for oval track and drag strip promoters and businessmen, is the publication behind the award which is presented annually by the Thermo King Corporation.

The honoring of a promoter each year is a great idea as these are the people who work long hours week in and week out during the on and off season to keep their little part of the racing industry in operation.

Joe Fan, who the promoters work so hard to entice to his or her speedway each week, has no idea how many hours these people work at their job.  They only see them on race day and then in most instances its in the infield observing the show.

In many cases the promoter is the general manager, public relations person, racing director and at one time or another can be found doing a dozen or so other odd jobs as they come up.

Tom-CurleyMany competitors and fans alike have the feeling that promoters show up to unlock the gates, turn on the lights and for doing this they get to see the show for free.  Most promoters wished it was that easy.  Very few competitors work as hard as a dedicated promoter.  Oh yeah!  There’s always the exception to the rule like in anything such as the “dud” that almost put Thunder Road International Speedbowl into total oblivion a year and a half ago or the one who decided to bail out at Monadnock Speedway this past season after making numerous enemies amongst both competitors and fans alike.

That’s the way I feel a promoter who does a super job in his or her field should definitely be honored for what they’ve accomplished.

RPM’s idea of paying tribute to a promoter is a great one, but a lot of people, including myself, do take exception to some of the qualifications and criteria established for nominating and voting for a “Promoter of the Year.”

There are four qualifications set forth by the publication, so let’s look at each one individually.

1. Success and longevity of his operation  ….  Personally, I feel a promoter should also be considered for the accomplishments of the immediate year.  If a promoter takes over a speedway or a racing related organization on the down hill slide and in one year has great success in pumping life back into the facility, then he or she should be eligible for “Promoter of the Year” honors.  They shouldn’t be penalized for being a new promoter or for how long they’ve been involved with a certain speedway.  How many times has a “Driver of the Year” been selected because he’s driven ten or fifteen years?  Never!  He’s given the honor for his accomplishments of the immediate year.  Would they give Carl YastrzemskyPlayer of the Year” honors in the American League just because he’s had a great career with the Red Sox?  Of course not!  They’d give it to a man who’s had an outstanding season for that specific year.

2. Image of his operation  ….  If the promoter’s speedway has had a successful season then the facility will in all likelyhood have a most favorable image.

3. Personal reputation and character  ….  I don’t totally agree with this item as who cares if the promoter is a jerk or a crook or an …hole.  If the speedway this person is involved with has had a very successful season then who cares as to whether the promoter is a good guy or a bad guy.  I don’t as I feel his accomplishments are on trial not his reputation or character.

4. His concern with betterment of the industry  ….  This qualification I’m in total agreement with as I believe a promoter has to have consideration for the sport, fans, competitors, other speedways and his contemporaries.

Dick-WilliamsPersonally, I feel that several people have been overlooked for this year’s RPM award and it has really bothered me with such names as Dick Williams, Dale Campfield, and Tom Curley not even being mentioned.

Williams has had an outstanding year with Westboro Speedway increasing both attendance and purse structure while Campfield took over at Shangri-La Speedway and proceeded to have the best season in many a year.  Curley took a floundering Northern NASCAR and turned it into a super successful NASCAR North Tour in just one year.

Others in the Northeast who could be considered for nomination are N.E.M.M.A. (New England Mini Modified Association) president Dan Messervey who had a heck of a season promoting the organization and C.J. Richards who has put Albany-Saratoga Speedway back on the map.  What about C.O.D.A. (Claremont Owners & Drivers Association) and myself who doubled the attendance at Claremont Speedway in 1979 and at the same time brought about an increase purse and a substantial point fund.  There’s Charlie Elliott at Hudson Speedway.

Dale-CampfieldAs far as that goes, what about a couple of fellows outside of the Northeast?  Ted Johnson who has had a tremendous success in promoting his World of Outlaws series for sprint cars and N.D.R.A. (National Dirt Racing Association) promoter Robert Smawley who success with his dirt stock car travelling show is now well known across the country.  There’s probably plenty of other promoters around the U.S. who are deserving of the award but these are the only I know of outside the Northeast.

MeserveyThe ten individuals selected may all be deserving, especially Glenn Donnelly who is probably overdue for the award after seeing hist Dirt of Central New York operation in motion at Super Dirt Week in Syracuse.  I do know O’Brien but having not made it to Oswego Speedway yet I can’t give an opinion.  Baltes ripped up the asphalt at his New Breman Speedway returning the facility to dirt and then played to standing room only crowds for the remainder of the season. He did what he had to do to make his track a winner and that’s what it takes to be an outstanding promoter.

The thing I’d like to see RPM do is break the United States into ten regions, therefor presenting regional “Promoter of the Year” awards.  The ten nominees would then be eligible for National honors.  A map accompanying this column shows by shaded area the over emphasis to one area of the U.S..  What about the Western, Midwestern, Central, South and Southeastern part of the country that are not even represented?  There has to be a promoter in all these areas that is equal to any of the ten finalists.

Proposed-Regional-MapThe map shows ten regions in bold outline with the approximate number of speedways and drag strips located in each state.  Alaska and Hawaii are included with the Far West Region.

It’s definitely got to be a tough job to select ten, let alone one outstanding promoter of the more than 900 tracks and drag strips across the USA.  I feel the Minnesota based RPM has the right idea in honoring a promoter each year, but again there has to be a fairer way to go about it.

Let’s honor each region individually giving a better overall picture of the American Auto Racing promoter, then maybe people like Williams, Campfield, Curley and others mentioned before might have a fair chance at the honor.  Of course, they may not even get recognized then, but it would seem to be a better way of picking outstanding promoters on a more regional basis.

CJ-RichardsThis is the fourth year of RPM’s promoter award and in that time there has only been eighteen different nominees.  A couple questions I’d like to ask are how can six of this years candidates be four year repeaters including 1976 winner Deery.  One of the men has been selected for the third straight year.  J.C. Agajanian, 1977 winner, promotes Ascot Park Speedway in Gardena, California just outside Los Angeles and plays to packed 10,000 seat audiences.  Hell!  Mickey Mouse could promote a track just outside a city the size L.A..  I’m still trying to figure out how last year’s winner got the award after what Williams accomplished at the Waterford-New London Speedbowl.  I guess it’s who you know, but it shouldn’t be this way.

My idea may not be the right one, but RPM has to take a serious look at the system it presently uses in selecting the “Thermo King Auto Racing Promoter of the Year.

Until this happens; “Will the real Promoter of the Year please stand up!

Till next time; “Don’t forget the FASSR and also give a friend a Christmas present, get him or her a subscription to SPEEDWAY SCENE!

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– FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28TH, 1979 – PAGE 3 –

“RACING PROMOTION MONTHLY” EDITOR STRIKES BACK AT ECHO

Mr. Val LeSieur,
Editor & Publisher
SPEEDWAY SCENE
Northeaston, Mass. 02356

Dear Val,

Since you devoted the better part of two pages in the 12/14 issue of SPEEDWAY SCENE to Robert Echo’s critique of the Promoter of the Year awards program, I can only assume that you are in agreement with what he wrote.  I find that regrettable, but can’t argue with your right to give space to whom you choose — even to the occasionally rabidly-prejudiced views of Dean Nardi.

Stew-ReamerI don’t know much about Echo or his background in racing.  I’ve read his stuff since his “NERF’ers Corner” column appeared in NESS. My most notable recollection of his writings is that he once suggested that fans should start a non-fan club and demonstrate against a certain driver he didn’t like.  Echo may have some qualifications beyond that of an unpaid “hobby columnist,” but his views of the ARPY program are so flawed and tainted with naive regional prejudices that I feel compelled to comment.

First, the ARPY voting is conducted (via Racing Promotion Monthly) among our 1,800-plus readers  —  who include virtually every promoter, track and drag strip owner/operator, racing association officials and members of the racing press.  On the first nominating ballot, they can name any ten individuals they wish as nominees. There are no restrictions, regional or otherwise, although we do suggest the minimal criteria he mentioned.  The ten promoters who receive the highest number of nominating votes become the nominees for each year’s award.  They are listed on a final ballot in another issue of RPM, on which the same 1,800-odd people can vote for one of the ten nominees as their choice for Promoter of the Year.

Regarding Echo’s evaluation of the nominating criteria: (1) Success and longevity of the operation.  He feels more weight should be given to success in the current year.  While that should certainly be taken into consideration, we feel that continued successful operation is a much more logical measure of the ability of a promoter.  The ARPY awards seek to honor individuals who are making continuing contributions to our sport, not just those who have had a successful first year or a great season.

(2) Image of his operation.  This means simply what people think of that promoter’s operation  —  its continuing reputation as a credit to the sport  —  again, not just on the basis of a given or current season, although those factors should be considered.

(3) Personal reputation and character.  Here Echo is dead wrong.  We feel strongly that the personal character of a nominee is of prime importance, in that when he is nominated he becomes, in effect, a representative of the sport and of his contemporaries.  Those in Echo’s categories of “jerks, crooks or …holes” are seldom nominated, and we are perfectly happy with that.

(4) His concern with the betterment of the industry.  Echo says he is in total agreement with this qualification — and he is thereby hoist by his own petard.  First because he is in conflict with his statements on #3 (jerks and crooks seldom contribute anything to the sport), and secondly and more importantly, because This criterion is key to why most promoters are nominated: BECAUSE THEY ARE VISIBLE AND ACTIVE IN THE INDUSTRY.  Not just at their own tracks or in one area, but in addressing matters of concern to all track operators; in attending meetings of their contemporaries and taking part in discussions and actions effecting the general well being of racing.  In doing so, a promoter becomes more visible, and becomes known among his fellows.

Echo names several promoters he thinks should have been among the nominees for Promoter of the Year.  By strange coincidence, they are all from the northeast.  We’ll forgive him this regional chauvinism, but point out that those promoters were not necessarily forgotten in the voting.  As an example, Dale Campfield got a substantial number of nominating votes; not enough to become one of the top ten in the country, but knowing Dale, I’d guess he would be the first to say he doesn’t feel he should be one of the top ten promoters in the country based on a successful first season.

In any voting conducted among their fellow promoters, visibility in the industry is going to be a highly significant factor in the outcome.  Of the eight promoters Echo said he thought should have been nominees, three, to our knowledge, have attended national meetings of promoters, where they gather to share problems and solutions, get to know each other, and become known by others in the trade (incidentally, two of the promoters he thought should have been considered did get some votes, but their operations got more bad press than good during this year — which makes one wonder where Echo has been hiding).

As for his query about how, “last year’s winner got the award after what (Dick) Williams accomplished at (his track), the answer is very simple; he got more votes.  With all due respect to Williams and what he did at the Waterford Speedbowl, does Echo really think more people across the country are aware of Williams and his operation than of a D. Anthony Venditti?  As for Echo’s remark, “I guess it’s who you know,” that is stupid and insulting.  More accurately, it is who knows YOU.

Finally, Echo reveals his lack of knowledge of today’s race promotion with the asinine remark that “Micky Mouse could promote a track outside the city of L.A..”  (Suggesting that J.C. Agajanian shouldn’t be  a ARPY nominee because he has an easy promotion at Ascot).  For Echo’s information, the difficulty in promoting successfully increases in proportion to the population factor, for many reasons; costs of all phases of the operation (advertising in particular), plus the hundreds of things competing for the entertainment dollar in major markets.  In California in particular, there are not only more professional sports and attractions, but the huge, year round outdoor recreation industry (more cycles and off road vehicles than all other states combined).  Echo’s suggestion that a track in any major metro area should be an automatic success is 100% out of phase with what’s happening.

The method of voting for the Thermo King Promoter of the Year awards was established for the initial five-year period of the program.  Because the permanent awarding by the voting in each of the five years, the methodology cannot be changed during that period.  Like any such program of voting, it probably has its short comings, but we believe it has provided outstanding nominees and, to date, three most worthy Promoters of the Year in Hugh Deery, J.C. Agajanian and D. Anthony Venditti.  At least the program is an honest attempt to offer long-overdue recognition to people whose hard work in racing is largely unrecognized.

Very truly yours,
Racing promotion Monthly
STEW REAMER
Editor-Publisher

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Directly under the RPM Editor-Publisher’s letter in SPEEDWAY SCENE was the following reply by SPEEDWAY SCENE’s Editor-Publisher        Val LeSieur.

Vals-Response

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– FRIDAY, JANUARY 4TH, 1980 – PAGE 4 –

NERFer's-Corner-RLE-14More Accurately, It Is The WHO Knows YOU Popularity Contest

After reading Stew Reamer’s reply to my column of December 14th entitled, “Will the Real Promoter of the Year Please Stand Up.”, I see no alternative, but to counter some of the things this editor-publisher of Racing Promotion Monthly had to say.

In the opening paragraph of his letter to SPEEDWAY SCENE’s Editor-Publisher Val LeSieur last week, Reamer said something about the rabidly prejudice views of Dean Nardi.  What I can’t understand is how the name of Mr. Nardi got into the subject.  Nardi has been gone from this publication for at least six months, in fact no one has seen or heard from him in all this time and the last I knew he was in France or somewhere in that general vicinity.  Personally, I think Mr. Reamer has been waiting for his chance to get a shot at Nardi and picked this as the inappropriate time…..for shame!

Mr. Reamer should talk about rabidly-prejudice views for it is he who did a three part assassination attempt in RPM on Mike Adaskaveg and the Journal Inquirer after their controversial award winning articles on safety at Thompson Speedway.

Mr. Reamer stated that my views of the ARPY program are so flawed and tainted with naive regional prejudices that he felt compelled to comment.  He later stated, and I quote, “..we’ll forgive him (me) this regional chauvinism..”, unquote …..  Well, Mr. Reamer ….  Don’t!  If you’d have read my column closely you’d have realized that I’m primarily a Northeastern racing enthusiast and I’m interested in the readership within SPEEDWAY SCENE’s coverage area which just so happens to be the Northeast by coincidence, but I also stated in the column, and I quote, “There’s probably plenty of other promoters around the U.S. who are deserving of the award.”, unquote…  yes, you could say I’m prejudice to the Northeast since my column is entitled, “NERF’ers Corner” which, just by chance, stands for, “North East Auto Racing Fans Corner.”

You shouldn’t guess as to what a person might say if he was to be confronted with the questions as to whether he thinks he’s deserving of the award.  I asked the person in question and the answer I got might surprise even you Mr. Reamer.  One of the men listed in your final top ten feels the same as the editor of this publication, that being that your award is only a “popularity contest.”  You stated it yourself in your reply, and I quote, “More accurately, it is WHO KNOWS YOU!”  unquote….  Need I say more?

As far as the two promoters I mentioned in my column who got more bad press than good during the year….  Well, are we looking at the end result which is in the number of cars in the pits and people throughout the gates or are you more interested in bad press about three of the individuals listed in your final ten nominees for 1979?  If you’re interested in bad press then you’d better drop these three people from the voting, in fact you might think about withdrawing RPM from the ARPY program because you’ve got some bad press lately.

One promoter told me after reading your reply, that your remark about it being tougher to promote a track in a high population area than it is in a less populated region is totally asinine.

I’ll say it once again, the sport of auto racing needs a “Promoter of the Year” award, but I think RPM and Stew Reamer could find a better way of selecting the ARPY winner like the regional method I pictured in the map which accompanied my earlier column.  I also feel Mr. Reamer has to take a serious look at the criteria for selecting the ARPY Award winner each year…  Year?

Remember, RPM has titled the award, “Auto Racing Promoter of the Year” not of the twenty years or thirty-two years or one hundred years, but “..of the Year!“…..  You did say “of the Year” didn’t you Mr. Reamer?

Till next time, Introduce a friend to SPEEDWAY SCENE….

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Postscript..

This was the first time I had the privilege of reading “Will the Real Promoter of the Year Please Stand Up”, the RPM Editor-Publisher Stew Reamer’s response, Val LeSieur’s response to Mr. Reamer’s letter, and the rebuttal to Stew Reamer’s response by the NERF, “More Accurately, It Is The WHO Knows YOU Popularity Contest”.  Boy the nominee announcement kicked off plenty of a buzz.

Looking through the the old SPEEDWAY SCENE editions I have, it should be noted that Robert Echo was only one of many who questioned certain promoters being passed over.  Among the numerous columnists of the times who commented on it was Bones Bourcier who mentions in his Modified Madness column from December 14th, “Can’t figure out how those who nominated this year’s “Promoter of the Year” candidates overlooked Dick Williams for the job he did at Westboro, Dale Campfield of Shangri-La, Tom Curley of NASCAR North, Danny Meservey of NEMMA (New England Mini Modified Assoc.) and several other folks who deserved at least a nomination…”

Another note.. “Personally, I think Mr. Reamer has been waiting for his chance to get a shot at Nardi and picked this as the inappropriate time….” This line struck a familiar chord due to a present time issue with an mad blogger out of Connecticut who’s first verbal attack on yours truly and used his chance to take a shot at a few other media folks with whom, at the time, I was only somewhat familiar with. Inappropriate perfectly describes it when the shots the angry one took should have only involved myself. How do you describe someone who is clearly searching for drama by throwing others into the fire in an issue where only one individual is involved?

The NERF took on this subject because it was indeed one close to him.  He had just finished a successful season promoting at Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire and his new Public Relations position with SPEEDWAY SCENE was essentially the promoter’s position for the publication.

Let it never be said that SPEEDWAY SCENE and it’s Editor-Publisher, Val LeSieur didn’t give his writers a platform that allowed them to freely speak their peace whether he agreed or disagreed with what they wrote.  It was a publication by the fans for the fans and most certainly The Racer’s Voice by Choice.

– Jared

*All photos in these republished works were taken were published with the original pieces in SPEEDWAY SCENE.

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, NO IT’S SUPER DIRT WEEK!

– FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5TH, 1979 –

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, NO IT’S SUPER DIRT WEEK!

If I were to say blue body suit with red trunks and cape, what would you reply with?…Right!…Superman! What was the name of that berg where he lived?…What’s that you say?…Metropolis!…Right again!

Well, if I were to say Glenn Donnelly, what would your reply be?…Right!….”Super Dirt Week”!…Ok!…Now!…What’s the home of this five day extravaganza?…Good golly!…You say Syracuse, New York!…Hey! You really know your stuff!….One thing is for sure, you ain’t one of Mister Kotter’s Sweathogs!

The $200,000 event, run at the one mile New York State Fairgrounds track, is the biggest dirt show in the Northeast.

Jumping Jack Johnson was ready for the 1979 Schaefer 200 at the Syracuse Mile. Howie Hodge photo
Jumping Jack Johnson arrived at Super Dirt Week VIII ready to challenge for the win. Howie Hodge photo

Everything got underway on Wednesday with inspection and practice for Modifieds. Thursday, the Modifieds will once again practice and then time trial for the first three rows for Sunday’s Schaefer 200 while the Super Sprints will face inspection and a practice session. The Mods will practice and take more time trials on Friday plus the Super Sprints will have inspection, practice and then time trials for the Super Nationals on Saturday.

On Saturday, beside the Super Sprint 100 kilometer (63 lap) event, there’ll be a Sprint Car practice, a non-qualifiers race and Modified semi-finals. Forty cars will start the Super Nationals event.

A non-qualifiers race will precede the Schaefer 200, which will start 53 Mods going 125 laps or 200 kilometers.

C.D. Coville #61 was always a tough competitor on the dirt. Howie Hodge photo
The always exciting C.D. Coville #61 had a reputation as one of dirt Modified’s toughest competitors. Howie Hodge photo

There’ll be many stars in attendance for this wild week of dirt. Look for names like Jack Johnson, Will Cagle, C.D. Coville, Geoff Bodine, Bobby Allen, Steve Kinser, Jim Shampine, Chuck Ciprich, Gary Bettenhausen, Tommy Corellis, Bently Warren, Paul Pinzer, Jimmy Horton, Lou Lazzaro, Dave Lape, Billy Osmun, Chuck Ely, Dave Leckonby, Randy Ford, Jim Linder, Gary Balough and Rich Eurich. There’ll be many more stars in attendance and one could be the 1978 NASCAR National Modified Champion and current leader for the same title, Richie Evans, who’d be in the Statewide backup car.

If all this isn’t enough you can attend the Decade on Dirt Entertainment and Trade Show which will take place in the Fairgrounds’ Farm Machinery Building just off the third turn. The show will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday from approximately 6pm until midnight and will feature exhibits by many racing oriented companies plus several bands will be presenting music for the three day event.

And if that still isn’t enough, you can take in Supermodifieds on Saturday at Oswego Speedway as both Syracuse and Oswego are offering a special dirt-asphalt challenge point fund with $1,200 going to the highest overall in both the Super Nationals and the Oswego race.

This will be my re-introduction to dirt racing as the Ol’ NERF will be in attendance for the full five days in Central New York. Come on down for Super Dirt Week and if you do get here, take in the trade show and say hi to the Ol’ NERF and the Speedway Scene folks. Hope to see ya here!

The NASCAR North stars were ready for battle at the Stafford Fall Final, but rains dampened a full event on lap 57. Howie Hodge photo.
The NASCAR North stars were ready for battle at the Stafford Fall Final, but rains dampened a full event on lap 57. Howie Hodge photo.

Nerf’ers Nibblets…. The weatherman reeked havoc with the Fall Final weekend at Stafford Motor Speedway. The 100 lap Late Model event was rained out after 57 laps with Hector LeClair being declared the victor. Dick McCabe and Bobby Dragon were second and third respectively. The Modified 100 lapper will be run this Friday, October 5th starting at 8pm…. Hey! Fan Club freaks! Wanta’ join the R.C. Fan Club? It doesn’t stand for Royal Crown or Radio Controlled, even though both make reference to to the individual. Send two cents and one trash bag to a star…. Richie Evans got closer to $12,000 for his CAM2 RoC win than the originally reported $16,280…. Belated thanks to Kelly Arrison for his post card from Ontario Motor Speedway in California…. Word has it that Ronny Wyckoff has retired and car owner NILS LINDSTEDT is now behind the wheel of the 10X…. When asked if he was getting a new Troyer Engineering Chassis, Pete Fiandaca replied, “Don’t need one. What I need is more horsepower.” Well Peter, I’ve ordered you one of those Budweiser Clydesdale Teams. Hope they help…. Lee Raceway announcer John Spence has resigned from Hudson Speedway and contrary to rumors, he won’t be going to Star Speedway either. He’ll remain at Lee for next year at least….Speaking of John Spence, the WOTW Speedline Show he does with co-host Bob Watson is still going strong. Evidently the people involved with the show aren’t allowed to voice their opinion or somebody might sue, sue, sue. I wonder if all those opinions might have been true and that’s why a certain individual wanted to file a lawsuit. We all knows who’s right regardless of any retraction from the Nashua, N.H. Radio station….Tony Papale will take delivery on a Ralph Solhem chassis shortly and he will debut the car at New Smyrna Beach, Florida in February…. Darrell Waltrip’s NASCAR Grand National point lead has dwindled to 48 points over Richard Petty. Waltrip has won seven events while Bobby Allison has 5, Petty 4, Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker 3 each, Neil Bonnett 2, with David Pearson and Rookie Dale Earnhardt each having 1….

The Rapid Roman Richie Evans was on his way to a second straight NASCAR National Modified Championship. Here he collects another win at Stafford in 1979. Howie Hodge photo.
The Rapid Roman Richie Evans was on his way to a second straight NASCAR National Modified Championship. Here he collects another win at Stafford in 1979. Howie Hodge photo.

Richie Evans continues to lead the NASCAR MODIFIED Point Standings over Jerry Cook, Paul Radford, Wayne Anderson, Roger Hill, George Kent, Billy Middleton, Johnny Bryant, Melvin Swisher and Melvin Chilton. There are no Northerners in the Late Model top ten with Geh Glover, Butch Lindley and Morgan Shepherd holding down the top three spots. Beaver Dragon sits in 13th spot. Larry Hoopaugh leads Dean Combs in the race for the Baby Grand title…. Don’t forget the Easter Seals Benefit race this Saturday at Claremont Speedway. Admission is $2 with no entry fee for cars. Holsum Bakery is donating the trophies as all proceeds will go to the Easter Seals less track expenses. Everybody is invited and you run what you bring…. If ya can’t get to Syracuse for Sunday, then take in the Harvest Classic for Modifieds and Late Models at Monadnock Speedway or the Eastern Fall Classic for Modifieds, Midgets and Late Models at Seekonk Speedway…. Till next time, “See all you dirt NERF’ers at Syracuse!”

Missing Drivers and Versatile S.J. Evonsion

– FRIDAY, AUGUST 4TH, 1978 –

Missing Drivers and Versatile S.J. Evonsion

You’ll find this weeks column a little less filled with controversy for sure. Let’s say that it will be from the lighter side.

Never the less, the “NASCAR-Radical Racer” battle will continue at Riverside Park Speedway this Saturday night and I’m sure we’ll hit on the controversy again as more details arise and I’m sure they will.

While on the subject of Riverside, how’d you like the field of cars they had last week? What do you mean, “What field”? They had a total of 26 cars sign into the pits for the night including one that made it to the track just before the feature. Don Desrocher blew his engine in warm ups and motor problems befell Ronny Wyckoff. That left 23 Mods to fill a 24 car field until the late arrivals made the scene. How long will fans put up with racing programs that are short on cars? The only good side of last weeks program was that some cars that are never able to qualify, fell into starting positions.

Ray Miller and many other notable names were absent at Stafford that Friday in 1978. Why? Dunno! Howie Hodge photo.
Ray Miller and many other regulars were absent at Stafford that Friday in 1978. Why? Dunno! Howie Hodge photo.

How about only 30 cars for the July 26th All Star show at Stafford Motor Speedway? Just enough to fill the starting grid. Thompson Speedway had some 51 Modifieds the week before. The question is, why do the cars continue to stay away from Stafford? The track hasn’t got the Black Plague, only the Red Menace. Come on back guys, we need ya! The field of cars was again small last Friday night. Some of the regulars missing were Dick Caso, Ray Miller, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Moose Hewitt, Mike Murphy, Dick Traynor, Ron Rocco, Gene Bergin, Tom Sylvester, Leo Cleary, and Billy Knight.

Ron Bouchard's M&H Tires No. 7 had troubles at Stafford, but not to fear, S.J. Evonsion and his car owners were there and gave him the seat to the No. 91 Mustang bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.
Ron Bouchard’s M&H Tires No. 7 had troubles at Stafford, but not to fear, S.J. Evonsion and his car owners were there and gave him the seat to the No. 91 Mustang bodied Modified. Howie Hodge photo.

The M&H Tire Vega got engine sickness last Friday night at Stafford. Could it be because it was without it’s snazzy white sidewalls? We know it doesn’t make ol No. 7 go any faster, but it’s nice to see some color put in the sport besides red!

Could it be that the driver of the Big Red Machine has cleaned up his driving act over the last few weeks? Was that really G.B. Who was passing out red lollipops at Stafford last week? Seymour, ya still got Jared’s vote.

Watch for the new edition of the “Modifieds of the Monthcalendar this week. It will have a centerfold of No. 1 and No. 6 or is that No. 6 and No. 1? The Winston 100 will tell us who’s who.

You always hear about the front runners, the stars so to speak. Well, here’s a switcharoo for you. We want to give some ink to some of the lesser known who are going good. At Stafford let’s mention Dave Monaco, Corky Cookman, W.J. Grez, Ronny Rocco and Jeb Balise in the Limited Sportsman. At Riverside the praise goes to W.J. Grez, Jim Whipple, Dick Taylor and Frank Minch. Tony Papale, Jerry Dostie and Jack Hamilton are to be cited at Thompson.

This is for Deborah Johnson of West Haven. You are definitely right and I’m sure you’d like to know that many of the drivers feel the same way.

S.J. Evonsion in the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette bodied Modified, seen here at Stafford in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.
S.J. Evonsion in the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette bodied Modified, seen here at Stafford in 1980. Howie Hodge photo.

This years most versatile driver has to be S.J. Evonsion who wheels the Bolles, Telasandro, and Checci No. 91 Mustang at Stafford and the Connolly-Hosmer No. 28 Chevette at Riverside. He also straps into the Jim Fournier No. 47 Vega to run Thompson. Super job in three different cars. The personable Evonsion gave up his ride last week at Stafford to Ronny Bouchard. To the owners of the No. 91 and Evonsion, I say you should be commended. The only bad side of the whole thing was that the car got severly damaged in a six car pile up in the third turn.

The Ronny Bouchard Fan Club is set up on Fan Club Alley at Stafford on Fridays, Seekonk on Saturdays and Sundays at Thompson. See Barbara or Diane of write the fan club (address withheld). They have t-shirts, jackets, bumper stickers, pencils, pads, and pictures for sale. Membership is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

Here are some short quotes on the new tire rule for the 1979 season from the men who drive the cars..

Tony Papale; “Middle guys will run new tires every week.”
Richie Evans; “I’ll quit racing.”
Ken Bouchard; “It’ll be the same guys running up front.”
Jerry Cook; “I really don’t know yet.”
Jon Potter; “Where will I get used tires?”
Brian Ross & Marty Radewick; “It sucks.”
Stan Greger; “It’ll help the little guy.”
Bob Polverari; “Should make it more competitive.”
Ed Flemke; “Promoters should test them first.”

What do you think? Let us know by dropping us a line to NERF’ers Corner c/o NESS.

Until next time, “Keep on Trackin’.”

–  In  Memory  of  Rollie  Jacobs  –