Tag Archives: Robert Echo

NERF’ers Corner 1978 SEYMOUR AWARDS

–  OCTOBER 6TH, 1978 – PAGE 6 –

LOTS of Z’s & SEYMOURS TOO!

This iz gonna be the week that wuz or iz it wuz the week that iz or iz it iz the week that iz?…  Oh..  Hell..  How do I get myself into these situations?..  Right!..  Who cares!

The NERF's Seymour Awards named after the great entertainer of the speedways, Seymour the Clown. Howie Hodge photo.
The NERF’s Seymour Awards named after the reigning king entertainer of those times, Seymour the Clown. Howie Hodge photo.

Well anyway, we all know that entertainers in other walks of life vie for awards with such illustrious names as Oscar, Emmy, and Toni.  So, this ol’ NERF decided to institute a new award of supremacy for the auto racing elite who are deserving.  After searching desperately for a name with great character, I settled on Seymour, but I haven’t figured out why.  This award will be given in many categories including, “Driver of the Year”, “Rookie”, “Most Improved”, “Tire Changing”, “Bonehead” and numerous others before culminating with the “Outstanding Personality”.

So now, on to the NERF’ers Corner “Seymour Awards Ceremony” starring yours truly.  I knew someday I’d finally be a star..  Heh, Heh!

Driver of the Year Seymour, Geoff Bodine receives a congratulatory smooch from Seymour in 1979. Howie Hodge photo.
1978 Driver of the Year Seymour, Geoff Bodine receives a congratulatory smooch from Seymour in 1979 victory lane at Stafford. Howie Hodge photo.

The first “Seymour” goes to the man who’s won 51 races in 76 starts. Yes!  1978 has become the “Year of Bodine” in the Big Red Machine of Dick Armstrong’s Nu-Style Racing Team.  We give the first “Seymour” to Geoff Bodine as “Driver of the Year”.

The “Seymour” for the “Most Improved Driver” goes to a man who went from 9th in 1977 to Track Champion this year at Riverside Park and was also the the top 340 CI runner at Stafford for ’78.  It’s none other than Stan “the Man” Greger.

The “Rookie of the Year” goes to first year Modified competitor who has a feature win, many top five finishes and runner up in the points race at Westboro Speedway.  A “Seymour” to John Falconi.

A “Seymour” for the “Come Back of the Year” goes to a fellow who lost his ride in ’77, picked up a new one this season in the S & S Racing Team Modified, finished 7th in the points at Stafford running only 10 of 17 races and is the man they call “The Lion”.  Leo Cleary.

The next “Seymour” is for the man who finished 436th out of 435 competitors at the 1978 Bob Polverari Summer Outing.  Says he will definitely improve in ’79.  Yes!  The “Tire Changing Seymour” goes to Chuck Jeffries, unopposed.

The gorgeous Bobby Vee machine won the 1978 was quite the looker.  Howie Hodge collection Mike Adaskaveg photo.
The gorgeous Bobby Vee machine won the 1978 “Best Looking Car Seymour”. You can clearly see why as it was quite the looker. Howie Hodge collection Mike Adaskaveg photo.

The “Best Looking Car” goes to the beautiful white Chassis Dynamic’s Plymouth Arrow bodied Modified.  A “Seymour” to Bobby Vee, Bob Cuneo and Bill Flynn for their super lookin’ AND RUNNIN’ MACHINE.

A “Seymour” is presented to the man who has been the wrench  and crew chief for the Nu-Style No. 1 Racing Team in 1978.  He’s the guy behind all those Bodine wins.  Billy Taylor gets our “Mechanic of the Year Seymour”.

To the Monadnock Speedway employees, for the donation of their paychecks to the “Ollie Silva Fund” back in August, goes the “Good Guy Seymour”.  The High Banks Bunch’s contribution was just over $800.  ($800 in 1978 would be about $3,000+ in 2014)

The “Best Looking T-Shirt Seymour” is awarded to Booker T. Jones for his “What It Is!” Vega shirt established by Richie Evans, designed by Mark “Maypo” Lyon and printed by Fred Potito’s “Oval Track Design”.

The “Fan of the Year Seymour” goes to two people.  Co winners are a husband and wife who follow their favorite, Bob Polverari and the #711 where ever he goes and are faithful followers of racing.  The winners are Robin and Ray Zanoli.

Our “Bone Head Seymour” goes to the NASCAR officials at Riverside Park Speedway for their asinine barring of the Fred Felton owned, Marty Radewick driven #11 Mass. Monza, known as the “Radical Racer”.

The Little Guy Seymour went to the Fitchburg Flyer or Travelin Man, Pete Fiandaca. Doing more with less was Pete's trademark. That and the old Maxwell House coffee can. Howie Hodge photo.
The Little Guy Seymour went to the “Fitchburg Flyer” or “Travelin’ Man”, Pete Fiandaca. Doing more with less was Pete’s trademark. That and the old Maxwell House coffee can. Howie Hodge photo.

A “Seymour” for the “Little Guy” in racing goes to a fellow who runs everywhere he can.  Some call him the “Fitchburg Flyer” while others say he’s the “Travelin Man”, but no matter which, Pete Fiandaca exemplifies the little guy in racing and his bulk of fans everywhere.

The “Blown Motor Seymour” goes to another little guy, a driver-owner who had 4 motors go up in a cloud of smoke over the past season at Riverside Park Speedway.  To Don Desrocher we give this award if you want to call it that.

Stafford Speedway gets the “Sneaky Pete Seymour” for its advertising that Maynard Troyer would be there for the August 4th “Winston 100” after he had stated 2 weeks earlier that he wouldn’t attend.  The incident left a lot of fans very upset.

Bob Polverari's beautiful Vega bodied Modified experienced problem after problem at Stafford in 1978 forcing the team to back to their 1976-77 Vega. Andy Boright collection  John Driscoll photo.
Bob Polverari’s beautiful Vega bodied Modified experienced problem after problem at Stafford in 1978 forcing the team to back to their 1976-77 Vega. Andy Boright collection John Driscoll photo.

The next award goes to a man who had nothing but bad luck all year at Stafford.  He built a beautiful new Modified and had one problem after another with it before bringing out his car from the year before.  The “Hard Luck Seymour” goes to Bob Polverari and the crew of the #711 who have decided to pack it in for the 1979 season.

Our “Clown of the Year” is none other than the little man with the “Big Red Nose”.  He entertains the many thousands, young and old alike, at Stafford each week during the season and he gives away what seems like A MILLION LOLLIPOPS TO THE KIDS.  A “Seymour” goes to “Seymour the Clown”.  Now I know where I got the name “Seymour” from and I couldn’t have picked a better one… Right!

Speaking of Seymour the Clown, we have to give our “Ding Bat of the Year Seymour” to the Riverside Park official, whoever he may be, for removing the Big Red Nose from the Speedway during the second leg of the Triple Crown Series on August 26th after Seymour had brought the fans to their feet with his antics and black flagging of Starter John Tallini.

The following are “Seymours” that we thought should be handed out to other deserving individuals.

“Best Starter Seymour”Frank SgambatoStafford Speedway

“Fiasco of the Year Award Seymour”To whoever thought up the idea of changing to 10″ Tires next season without consulting the car owners.

“Owner of the Year Seymour”Dick Armstrong – Owner of the Big Red Machine that has won all those races with Geoff Bodine behind the wheel.

“Race of the Year Seymour”Spring SizzlerStafford Speedway.

“Best Up and Coming Driver Seymour”W.J. Grez – Driver of the Pelly Racing Team’s Pinto Modified that appears weekly at Riverside Park and Stafford.

“Best Fan Club Seymour”Bugs Stevens Fan Club – Outstanding ideas, super souvenirs and a well organized club.

Our last “Seymour” goes to a man who has been thrilling racing fans for close to thirty years.  This year he met with disaster on the high banks of Monadnock when his #0 black Gremilin bodied Modified tangled with the trees coming out of the second turn.  He suffered extensive injuries, but has been recovering steadily at a New Hampshire hospital all season and auto racing fans from all over the Northeast have showed their love for the man with cards, letters and contributions.  We’re positive that when the man fully recovers, he’ll be back behind the wheel entertaining fans once again.  He’s a total competitor, whether in the hospital or on the track, and to the “Big O” Ollie Silva, goes our “Outstanding Personality Seymour”.

Congratulations to all the recipients…  Some of the “Seymour Awards” were great…  Some were humorous…  And yet others went to clowns that were deserving.

“The Seymour” voting was done by the very prominent organization of Memiselfni.  Tabulating the votes was my 8 year old son, Jared Echo.

If ya mizzed this column last week, weez iz sorry, but weez wuz down wit da bug… no, not Stevens…. Sick.

Until next years “Seymour Awards Ceremony“, remember; NERF’ers stay alive by doin’ 55.

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Missing for 1979, Will Return in 1980

– FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, 1978 –

Missing for ’79, Will Return in ’80

New England racing fans will miss seeing one of the premier Modified chauffeurs and his very popular car come 1979.

Yes. The rumor that has been floating around the Northeastern racing scene since the season ended at Stafford Motor Speedway is true. 

1978. Bob Polverari in his new 711 Racing Team Vega bodied Modified he campaigned at Stafford Motor Speedway. The beautiful machine was a featured spread in Stock Car Racing Magazine. Andy Boright Collection - John Driscoll Photo.
Bob Polverari in his new 711 Racing Team Vega bodied Modified awaiting competition at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1978. The beautiful machine was a featured spread in Stock Car Racing Magazine. Andy Boright Collection – John Driscoll Photo.

Bob Polverari and his crew have decided to pack up their 711 racing operation for the coming year.

The following is a conversation that I had with the three time Riverside Park Speedway Champion a week or so ago.

Nerf: Is it true that you have decided to halt all 711 racing action for 1979?

Bob Polverari: Yes!

Nerf: Did your crew have a voice in this move?

Bob: We’d been thinking of this more over for a couple of years.

Nerf: Did your family have any bearing on this decision?

Bob: I wanted to spend more time doing some of the things we haven’t been able to do in the last few years.

Nerf: Why is the 711 Racing Team taking a year off?

Bob: Being so involved over the past years hasn’t really given us the time to do some of the things we like such as hunting, fishing or just spending some time traveling around.

Nerf: Has your poor showing at Stafford this season brought about this decision?

Bob: Not really.

Nerf: Are you disappointed with your Stafford performance this year?

Bob: No! Every week we headed for the track, we were positive we could win.

Nerf: Were you pleased with the season you had at Riverside Park in the Czarnecki Brothers #20? 

Bob: Yes! With a break or two we could have won another title, but of course with a break or two there’s a couple others who could have won it all.

Nerf: What do you think of Stan Greger, the new Riverside Park Champion?

Bob: He did a super job all season and both he and his car owner, Bill Simons, deserve the title. They don’t have a lot of bucks, but they made them count.

Nerf: Can you tell me what the season has cost you? 

Bob: With the new car, expenses and all, I would estimate approximately $20,000. We’ve taken in around $2,500, sold about $6,000 in equipment since Stafford closed and if we can sell what we have left, we should come out on the plus side for this year.

Late 1978 at Stafford Speedway after Polverari and the 711 Racing Team sat their beautiful new 711 Vega and brought out the old Modified to finish out the season. Howie Hodge Photo.
Late 1978 at Stafford Speedway after Polverari and the 711 Racing Team parked their beautiful new 711 Vega and brought out the old Modified to finish out the season. Howie Hodge Photo.

Nerf: Is the fact that you parked the new 711 before the photo expose came out in Stock Car Racing Magazine been embarrassing to you?

Bob: No! We’ve never been embarrassed about anything the 711 has done. We always try as hard as we can, the best we can and that’s all that anyone can ask.

Nerf: What were some of the problems with the new 711? 

Bob: We had motor problems all season and spent so much time on engines that we couldn’t sort out other things in the car. We also lost a very valuable crew member that definitely hurt us.

Nerf: What are your plans for 1979 as far as auto racing goes?

Bob: We plan to build two identical chassis and two as close to identical motors as possible for our 1980 return.

Nerf: Is it true that the 711 Racing Team plans to spend some time with Maynard Troyer and Jack Tant in hopes of getting some insight on chassis and motors?

Bob: We plan on spending as much time we can with as many people as we can. We’ll also be asking as many questions as possible.

Polverari #711 lines up for heats at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977. The same year he won his 3rd consecutive track championship. Jared Echo Photo.
Polverari 711 lines up for heats at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977. The same year he won his 3rd consecutive track championship. Jared Echo Photo.

Nerf: We know you’ll be returning in 1980, but will you return to both Riverside Park and Stafford or if one, which will it be?

Bob: Being they’ve changed the motor rule at the Park, we’d like to run both Stafford and Riverside. If we can’t find time to run both tracks, then we’ll only compete on Friday nights.

Nerf: Will you have the same crew?

Bob: It’ll be primarily the same crew with a couple additional members.

Nerf: I would like to clear up another rumor now. What was the real reason you left Riverside Park with the 711 this past season?

Bob: We were only able to run one night a week and after running Martinsville Speedway and Stafford, we decided to try our luck on the bigger half-mile track.

Nerf: Are you sure it wasn’t the Riverside officials or in particular, John Tallini?

Bob: No! We’ve been upset with the officials before, but again, who hasn’t? The officials were definitely not our reason for leaving Riverside.

Nerf: Will you be racing anymore this year?

Bob: Yes! We’ll be at Martinsville for the Cardinal 500 on October 29th.

We concluded our conversation with Polverari at this point.

Reggie Ruggeiro #2 ahead of Geoff Bodine #1 and Bob Polverari #3 during the running of the 1978 Riverside 500 at Riverside Park Speedway. Reggie was teamed with Richie Evans. Bodine was teamed with Bob Stefanik. Polverari was teamed with Jerry Cook. Cook broke early forcing Polverari to drive 488 straight laps to win his fourth Riverside 500 victory. Mario Fiore Collection.
Reggie Ruggiero #2 ahead of Geoff Bodine #1 and Bob Polverari #3 during the running of the 1978 Riverside 500 at Riverside Park Speedway. Reggie was teamed with Richie Evans. Bodine was teamed with Bob Stefanik. Polverari was teamed with Jerry Cook. Cook broke early forcing Polverari to drive 488 straight laps to win his fourth Riverside 500 victory. Mario Fiore Collection.

Polverari took track titles at Riverside Park Speedway in 1975-76-77 plus he finished third in 1974 and came home second this year behind Stan Greger. Among his accomplishments are four Riverside Park 500 crowns, captured in 1971-75-76 and again this year. Add to this a second place finish in the 1977 Spring Sizzler behind Maynard Troyer and you know you have a very talented driver.

The 6’1” driver of the beautiful 711 Vega, sponsored by Perry Auto Supply in West Springfield, Mass., is looked upon by his fellow competitors as a super wheel man and a first rate gentleman on or off the track.

The men who have formed one of the finest and best looking crews around are; Barry Kuhnell (Crew chief), Don Merriman and Ed Foley. These are the guys that spend hours every week in between racing programs to prepare the 711 for the following racing show and then work their tails off on the night of the race.

So, to the fans we say; this dedicated driver, crew and car haven’t vacated the racing scene. They’ve just taken a year off to regroup for a mad charge in 1980. That being a challenge for a duel championship at Stafford and Riverside Park. As 1978 was the “Year of Bodine”, could it be that 1980 might be the “Year of Polverari”? Who knows! Stick around and you’ll find out.

Until next week; “NERF’ers Abide the Big 55”

*     *     *

Postscript

What’s not to say about a driver who was able to step away repeatedly from the sport he loves over his career only to return each time in grand fashion.. He went on to become a 5 Time Riverside Park Speedway Modified Champion 1975, ’76, ’77, ’82, and ’90. Won 4 Riverside 500’s, including the last one in 1978 by driving 488 straight laps to grab the checkered after his team mate, 6 time National Modified Champion, Jerry Cook broke 11 laps into the race.

As a life long Polverari fan since the age of six, I can name some of the most memorable races that had me cheering on the 711 driver and worn down afterwards.. Some were wins where others may not have been victories, but were just plain awesome performances that showed how clean, smooth, consistent and competitive of a driver Bob truly was.

In 1980, Bob was in a battle for the track title with Richie Evans. The title came down to the final race in Riverside Park Speedway’s triple crown. The Riverside 200. The race came down to Richie and Bob. For laps on end they battled. Richie down low, Bob up high, vice versa. They swapped the lead a few times and Richie eventually got by for good when the two were side by side coming into lapped traffic.  The lapped car pinched Richie down farther causing the National Champion to run all four tires under the line between turns 3 and 4. He was forced and it was obvious. The officials saw that and did not penalize. The remaining laps it was Richie leading and Polverari behind. Richie went on to take the victory and the 1980 Riverside Park title.

After the event, this upset and extremely biased 10 year old fan went right to his favorite driver and asked; “Why didn’t you protest?  He had all four tires under the line. That  was illegal! You should be the champ!”

I will never forget his answer; “I don’t want to win that way. Nobody would. Richie wouldn’t do that to me. He won. He’s the champ.”

It showed character and more so to a 10 year old it taught me that although racing may be about winning, it was equally about winning the right way and losing gracefully. A true trait of a first class veteran champion.

Although Bob Polverari has had many victories and fine performances throughout his career (The Park, Stafford, and Thompson) his 1981 Spring Sizzler victory, two years removed from his hiatus in 1979, is the most discussed and memorable finishes among the Modified faithful.

His team unveiled a different color scheme on a Plymouth  TC3  bodied Modified built by Chassis Dynamics for it’s first weekend of competition at the Sizzler set the stage. The black and gold Modified was sleek, clean and brilliant looking. Most importantly it was fast right out of the box.

Polverari's famed #711 from 1981 that took him to Spring Sizzler victory lane. A race which has been called the most exciting Spring Sizzler ever. Howie Hodge Photo.
Polverari’s famed 711 in 1981 that took him to Spring Sizzler victory lane. A race which has been called the most exciting Spring Sizzler ever. Howie Hodge Photo.

In 1977 Polverari shocked many when he finished on the podium of the Sizzler as a rookie at Stafford behind winner Maynard Troyer and ahead of Richie Evans who finished 3rd. So as fate would have it, what many fans believe to be his greatest performance on the biggest stage outside of Bob’s home track of Riverside Park, came down to two battles in the ’81 Sizzler, one with Maynard Troyer and the other with Richie Evans..

The finish of the race was as they say; “The stuff of legends”.

Lifelong fan, creator of the Bring Back Riverside Park & Speedway facebook page, and organizer of this past year’s well received Riverside Park Speedway reunion, held during a Springfield Falcon’s hockey game, summed up what it means to be a Bob Polverari fan; “It meant cheering on a man that truly appreciated his fans just as much as we appreciated watching his skill on the track. The meaning of class act on the track and in life. I’ve had guys I’ve cheered on since he retired but none I could get behind like that #711.

And if you ask every Bob Polverari fan, their answers would be extremely similar, mine included.

Have a great racing weekend everyone! All the best!

– Jared

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