Tag Archives: Tri-Track Open Modified Series


(PRESS RELEASE) WINCHESTER, NH- Back in time, New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway played host to both weekly and special event Tour-Type Modified racing. The history is memorable, with the likes of Jerry Marquis, Reggie Ruggiero, Mike Stefanik and dozens more very talented drivers who have raced at the high-banked quarter mile known for exciting Modified racing.

In recent years, Monadnock has hosted some weekly racing, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti Modified Racing Series events, but none have brought all of these teams together for one event, and none have brought the race winner a minimum $5,000 payday.

This payoff to the race winner could double by the end of 100 green flag laps this Saturday night, June 13. If attendance exceeds 3,000 adults, including pits and grandstand the winners share will double. Any additional lap money or bonuses would push the winners share beyond that.

This “Riverside Park Reunion 100” is race two of the Northeast Race Cars Tri-Track open Modified Series for 2015, and drivers who have proven success at Monadnock are ready to show the influx of newcomers and tour racers the way around the tricky quarter-mile.

Kirk Alexander is perhaps the best here, but Dwight Jarvis, Todd Patnode and Russ Hersey are also proven winners and champions at the historic track. Short track specialist Matt Hirschman, Lee (NH) winner Chris Pasteryak, Andy Seuss, Woody Pitkat, Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink and many more figure to be among the contenders for victory.

The number of drivers on this list of talent goes even beyond those “glory days” events held at Monadnock in the 1980’s. Todd Annarummo, Doug Coby, Steve Masse, Zane Zeiner and Andy Jankowiak are just a few of the race winning-champion drivers entered.

Perhaps the most likely of all to be the one to beat however is Ryan Preece, who is on a hot streak, winning both Friday and Saturday this past weekend. He will wheel the TS Haulers entry, representing the NWMT. Preece is a former winner at Monadnock on the NWMT.

Racing at the western New Hampshire track on Saturday begins at 5:00 PM with heat races for the Monadnock weekly divisions, followed by four very competitive Tri-Track Modified qualifying heat races as drivers not only look to put themselves at the front of the 27 car starting field, but to qualify among the expected 40 entries.

The Northeast Race Cars Tri-Track Open Modified Series event on Saturday carries a payoff that will exceed $50,000. That includes the “Red Roof Inn 25” B-Main, which carries a purse payoff as well. The winner will have the option to start the main event or pocket the $1,000 winners share. The Red Roof Inn has several locations in New England, including nearby in South Deerfield, MA., Springfield, MA., Enfield, CT., and also in Salem and Loudon, NH.

Among the bonus money paid out will be $2,000 in lap leader money, sponsored by Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair. Dunleavy’s will also pay another $500 in lap money as part of the B-Main payoff. Race leaders in both event will earn $20 on every lap.

A Waddell Communications Halfway Bonus of $200, $1,700 in Red Roof Tow Money. Hard Charger ($100) and lap 90 leader ($100) will be paid by Diamond and Crown Racing. The 3rd annual Chuck Montville Car Owner Award will also be part of this event, paying a deserving car owner more than $700 in his memory.

A $500 bonus goes to the driver leading the most laps for the overall Tri-Track Series, paid by Joe Duarte and Bridgewater-Raynham Overhead Door. Coil Over Commander has a $300 gift certificate to the B-Main winner, and Seals-It will pay $100 to the feature event winner as well.

These are all a part of what makes this event special, and with Grand Marshall Bob Polverari there to add a historic flavor to this “Riverside Park Reunion 100”, this race is sure to go into history as one of the most memorable Modified events ever held at Monadnock Speedway.

Adult admission for this event is just $25 for adults, $35 for pit entry, $20 for seniors 65 and over, $10 for students with a valid ID and kids under 12 will be admitted FREE. More information on this event and late-breaking updates can be found on the Northeast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series Facebook page, at: http://www.tritrackopenmodifiedseries.com and also at http://www.monadnockspeedway.com.


Racin’ People, The Big Red Nose And Jokes Too!

– FRIDAY, May 30th, 1980 –

Racin’ People, The Big Red Nose And Jokes Too!

As I hopscotch around the Northeast visiting the various speedways in my promotional duties with this publication, I’ve met and made many new friends involved with the sport in one capacity or another.

In all points of the Northeast, the hospitality extended to the Ol’ Nerf has been unbelievable over the first seven weeks of the season.

The response from the some seventeen or so tracks I’ve been to so far has been absolutely fantastic! The way people have opened up their facilities and homes to this Marco Polo of the roundy-round world shows me that racing folks are, for sure, the greatest people on earth.

My Northeast racing season began at Thompson (CT) Speedway on March 30th and since then I’ve been to such tracks as Stafford and Plainville, also in Connecticut; Oxford in Maine; Claremont and Riverside in New Hampshire; Catamount, Bear Ridge, Thunder Road, and West Haven in Vermont; Shangri-La, Spencer, Oswego, Brewerton, and Brookfield in New York along with New Evergreen and Penn-Can in Pennsylvania.

Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vermont. Howie Hodge photo.
Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vermont. Howie Hodge photo.

This past weekend saw Lil’ Nerf and myself at Bear Ridge where we saw the six cylinder coupe bodied Modified Sportsman run with Chuckie “C.V.” Elms taking the checkered flag for the second week in a row. At the conclusion of that evening’s racing Elms gave the Ol’ Nerf a tour of the 1/4 mile dirt track in his #6 coupe, the only Ford-powered machine at the Ridge.

Track owner Chuck Elms Sr. and promoter Robert Nutting were gracious hosts.

Saturday night my son Jared, and myself headed for Groveton, NH to Mike Beattle’s Riverside Speedway. This 1/4 mile asphalt facility is one of the most spotless and professionally run speedways in the Northeast. The Late Model Sportsmans that headline the weekly program plus the Street Stocks were some of the best looking racing machines this writer has seen in their respective categories.

There’s several tracks in the Northeast that could take a lesson from owner-promoter Mike Beattle and his able bodied assistants who start their show on the dot and move it right along in a very professional manner.

Beattle and his wife, Sally, had the Ol’ Nerf and his son over to their home in Lancaster, NH after the races for a little lunch and a few drinks.

Sunday we headed for Tom Perry’s West Haven Speedway to see the big block dirt Modifieds run.

A good field of cars were in attendance with some sixty machines in the pits and considering there was another track only miles away running the same three classes, it was quite a shot in the arm for the second year promoter Perry.

The Modified win was a popular one with veteran Vince Quenneville taking the win as he gave his fellow drivers a lesson on how to get around the 2/5th mile dirt oval.

Once again we were treated with southern hospitality in the West Central part of Vermont.

Mike Barry was victorious at Thunder Road on Tom Curley's NASCAR Molson North Tour.  Howie Hodge photo (taken at Stafford).
Mike Barry was victorious at Thunder Road on Tom Curley’s NASCAR Molson North Tour. Howie Hodge photo (taken at Stafford Motor Speedway’s 1981 Fall Final).

Monday it was on to Thunder Road for the NASCAR-Molson North Tour “Memorial Day Classic 100” for the high powered Late Model Sportsman cars.

Young Mike Barry ran away and hid from the field for his second win on the Tour this year, the other being the Spring Green at Catamount Speedway.

As usual, we were treated with the total courtesy of Tom Curley, David Farris and the rest of the NASCAR North professionals.

By the time you read this we’ll have already been to New Egypt Speedway for the Winston 100 for the NASCAR Mod Squad.

I saw in last week’s Speedway Scene where the Big Red Nose tried to burn down the flag stand at Claremont Speedway with head starter Dave Kolenda and his assistant Rusty Fowler on it.

In making a quick check in to Claremont, compliments of Ma Bell or is that Mrs. Ding Dong, I learned that Ol’ Seymour the Clown purchased some southern style white lightnin’ up there in the Northlands from well bootlegger Joshua Croamler Hogbeck McCoy.

Well, anybody who knows anything about nothin’ would know ya’ can’t mix the North with the South.. If ya’ all don’t believe me just look back a couple of few years to the Civil War. I’ve been trying to tell this to the Bionic Brain for the last couple of years and he shoulda’ guessed somethin’ was wrong when Ol’ McCoy sold him five bottles of hooch wrapped in a rebel flag.

As the story goes, Seymour was kinda’ tired of from his previous night’s work of tom-foolery at Stafford Motor Speedway plus the trip up I-91 to CODA land, so he decided to take a snort of his recently acquired moonshine.

Upon taking the first swig, he spit it halfway up the track and let out a yell that could be heard for twenty miles. I understand McCoy used CAM-2 instead of alcohol to make his White Lightnin’.

Well… Seymour got so mad he decided to to take it out on… you guessed it… the flagman… So he poured those five bottles of clear liquid all around the fagstand and tossed a match to in the hopes of fryin’ one Polish flagman and one short tubby carrot topped assistant… As usual, the flagman always gets blamed.

Kolenda told me he’ll definitely get even when the Six Million Dollar Idiot makes his return to Claremont on July 19th while Seymour told me there’s gonna’ be a big cookout featuring two two flagmen.. Don’t miss it..

NERF’ers Nibblets….  The best show this past weekend was the Ol’ Nerf trying to get into C.V. Elms’ coupe. It was like trying to put a whale into a sardine can as I almost became a permanent part of the machine. Just think! He could of taken off all the lead and half the body….  I understand that Sally Beattle, wife of Riverside Speedway owner, Mike, is still sitting in the rear of their club cab pickup trying to find the steering wheel. Oh well!….  Beech Ridge Speedway photographer Ray Coffin could play the keyboard on the ol’ organ with the best of them, but as the story goes, his wife Bonnie, who handles the public relations for the track, has one favorite song. All she wants him to play is “Helicopter” which is a song I’ve never heard before, but come to think of it, she’s definitely a little whirly. You know what I mean….  Bill Alsup failed to qualify for the Indy 500 won by Lone Star J.R.Johnny Rutherford, but the Alsup Racing Team finished fourth in the Miller Beer Pit Crew Competition which is a fine tribute to the entire team. Congratulations to Alsup and crew…. Connie Parr, who works for the Skylark Diner in Vestal, NY, may have her own pole at Shangri-La Speedway shortly. Word has it that her boss Walt Stevens told her one week, while at the track, that Street Stocker and friend, Vince Rendisi was on the pole for that evening’s feature. Evidently Connie checked out the top of every pole at the speedway. Now really!….  Congrats to Geoff Bodine who swept the Empire State Sweepstakes last weekend winning at Spencer Speedway, Shangri-La Speedway, and Oswego Speedway. Making him $6,000 richer including a thousand dollar bonus for being #1 in the series….  Also congrats to Maine’s best Mike Rowe who’s now 12 for 12 in Late Model racing winning six at Oxford Plains Speedway and an equal amount at Lincoln County Speedway….  Until next time, Don’t forget to subscribe….

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Tommy Barrett Jr. may not have been the only driver who put in a hell of a performance in Wednesday night's Tri-Track Finale, but he crossed the line first and picked up a well deserved 10 LARGE! Crystal Snape photo.
Tommy Barrett Jr. may not have been the only driver who put in a hell of a performance in Wednesday night’s Tri-Track Series finale, but he crossed the line first and picked up a well deserved 10 LARGE! Did TB try cashing the BIG check at the bank Thursday morning? Crystal Snape photo.

First, I would like to congratulate Tommy Barrett Jr. on his huge victory in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series $10,000 Grand Finale at Seekonk Speedway Wednesday night.   The atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm, passion and excitement and it bled profusely through the social pages and streaming  broadcast of the guys at Victory Lane Radio.

I’d like to congratulate all the drivers and teams for showing up to take a “shot at the title”.  It was an event for the ages.  Huge crowd, great organizers, a track with deep roots in Modified history, and a super sized Modified roster not seen for any asphalt Modified event in years.

Victory Lane Radio did a spectacular job.  Tuning into the broadcast was like being at the track and listening to the equally pumped up fellow race fans sitting around you.  Lastly, what’s there to say about the organizers who made up what we know as the Tri-Track Open Modified Series.  The Racing Guys, Jim Schaefer, Kevin Rice, the facilities, the staff of these tracks and those who contributed lap money, prizes and walked through the gates to support it.  As a Modified fan, THANK YOU!!!

Could anyone have thought of a better night to hold a Championship Modified event than The Rapid Roman Richie Evans’ Birthday?  It was meant to be….

Now about this recent NERF’ers Corner column….

These time pieces shake the cobwebs off in the corners of the memory banks. Memories vaulted up tight until a few words cause the doors to fly open. Besides the joy of creating this site to honor his memory and share the Nerf’s past work, this is one of the bonuses I really enjoy about these classic columns by my late father. Priceless.

That Speedway Scene Firebird passed through a ton of speedway gates throughout the Northeast and southbound in 1980. Robert Echo photo.
That Speedway Scene Firebird passed through a ton of speedway gates throughout the Northeast and Southbound as well in 1980. Robert Echo photo.

Reading about the night at Bear Ridge for the the first time had me laughing. As you can tell by the Nerf’s own words, he had a ginormous gut and as you can see he was the first to poke fun at himself. All the weekends I rode shotgun with him in the Speedway Scene gold Firebird or Van he would share his wisdom on the road and one of those words of wisdom was; “If you can’t make fun of yourself and laugh about it, then you have no right to laugh at anyone else.”

Well, we were all laughing at him trying to squeeze through C.V. Elms’ coupe window. After C.V. scared the track food out of the Nerf and they pulled off the track, shutting the motor off, he attempted to exit and screamed out; “I’m stuck in a Bear Ridge Trap! -(still struggling)- A human sized shoe horn would come in handy right about now.”

– Jared

The SBM 125 IV Has Arrived!



This week is not so much about a column, it’s about a race and all the information you need to know to prepare yourself for The SBM 125 IV at Star Speedway on Saturday, June 14th!  It’s the second jewel of the triple crown that is the Tri-Track Open Modified Series.  A race that was the dream of one Kevin Rice who put an idea in motion and stuck with it.  In “OPEN SEASON” Kevin spoke of his early days writing for Oswego Speedway’s racing program, The Oswego Eagle.  It’s the drive that was key to his dive into race promotions like so many before him; “I got satisfaction from how my work as a writer helped short track racing.”

SBM 125 creator Kevin Rice poses in victory lane with 2 time SBM 125 Champion Matt Hirschman in 2013. Howie Hodge photo.
SBM 125 creator Kevin Rice poses in victory lane with 2 time SBM 125 Champion Matt Hirschman in 2013. Howie Hodge photo.

For the last few years Kevin Rice along with help and support made up of fans, drivers, teams and everything in between have turned an idea of an old school open Modified race into reality.  This year he’s had plenty of assistance from one of the Modified division’s biggest supporters, Jim Schaefer.

Without looking at the posted purse money, just a glance at the contingency awards and lap sponsors it’s very evident that the Northeast asphalt Modified community is alive and well where the SBM 125 Open Modified event is concerned.

The facility the SBM 125 takes place at has seen it’s fare share of open Modified racing history.  Star Speedway in Epping, NH, known as the track “Where Champions are Made”, is a high banked quarter mile asphalt oval that breeds nothing, but fast and exciting action.

It was recently announced that Ben Dodge was chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal and yet again what a fine choice for a representative of the event and the asphalt Modifieds.  Ben is known by everyone in the racing community and has been a friend to fans and competitors alike for decades.  Again, what a fantastic choice for the SBM 125 IV Grand Marshall!  Alright Ben!!!

The SBM 125 IV has nearly $45,000.00 payout up for grabs.  The base purse is $31,400.00.  The possible winning take home including bonuses could reach $10,000.00.  $1,000.00 is guaranteed to start this old school open Modified race.  That’s the least you can take home as a starter, but with contingency award money the possibilities are endless.

RELOADED’s Fast Dozen to Watch..

*Order is random.

  1. Tommy Barrett Jr. in his family familiar #9 Modified was a strong contender at last years SBM 125 being one of few that seemed to have a little something for eventual winner Matt Hirschman until mechanical issues ended the charge.
  2. Jon McKennedy will be back in his own Modified. The inaugural SBM 125 Champion is one of Modified’s most talented and can’t be counted out.
  3. Ryan Preece returns in the Boehler Racing Enterprises Ole’ Blue and is coming off of a runner up finish at the Bullring Bash. Look out for this Modified ace.
  4. Andy Jankowiak wrecked his main Modified last week in Race of Champions competition, but he’s a true racer and true racers race. Working all week repairing the car, he and crew will be making the 5 plus hour trip to compete in the SBM 125. A true Modified competitor.
  5. Rowan Pennink will be in the familiar colors of his VMRS ride. The driver is always a factor when he hits the track. Can he be the one to break Matt Hirschman’s strangle hold as Open King?
  6. Woody Pitkat will be piloting Stan Mertz’s #6 Modified in the SBM. Pitkat is the definition of old school Modified pilots. Point him to the empty seat of any Modified and he’ll strap himself inand ready to compete. Another racer’s racer.
  7. Matt Hirschman?  What’s not to be said about Matt Hirschman and any event he enters. Just seems when the big money is on the line “Money” instantly becomes the driver to beat.
  8. Steve Masse is hot off of an absolute dominating performance in the most recent VMRS event at Seekonk Speedway. He’s run very well in the SBM in the past and has to be a favorite to contend.
  9. Richard Savary and his team are one’s to keep an eye on. Savary has already won this season on the VMRS and was one of the biggest challengers at the Bullring Bash.
  10. Todd Szegedy who holds the fastest time and heat lap in SBM 125 history will have his sights set on the big money and that comes with performing and being the first to pass under the checkered flag.
  11. Justin Bonsignore has to be a favorite to give “Money” a run for the SBM 125 money.  Legendary car owner Art Barry always has his Modified’s fine tuned for battle and this dynamic duo will be a force to be reckoned with at Star.
  12. Dennis “The Underdog” Perry shocked the the open fans with a podium finish in the Bullring Bash at Lee USA Speedway.  Will he and his tight knit team match their performance in the SBM 125? Do not count the Underdog out by any means!

*Honorable mention.. Max Zachem. This young Modified pilot just keeps improving and moving forward. His 4th place finish in the recent VMRS event at Seekonk shows if there is a sleeper type pick to open some eyes this Saturday at Star, my bet would be Max.

Alright Modified fans, PACK THE HOUSE at Star Speedway this Saturday night for the old school open we know as the..

SBM 125 IV

SBM 125 Fast Facts

The winners of the first three SBM events have earned a total of $25,781.64. TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS PLUS!!! (SBM I- $7,225) (SBM II- $8,792) (SBM III- ($9,764.64).

SBM I was also 125 laps, but it was completed in just under 34 minutes with only one caution. Much like SBM III, everyone pitted at the same time because of the long green run, leading to the rule change for pit safety at the June 14 race this year.

Best average finishers are- #1 Matt Hirschman at 2.67 with finishes of 6th, and two wins. #2. Ryan Preece is at 3.33 with finishes of 5th, 2nd and 3rd, Preece has an average payoff of $3,270 per race despite being winless in the SBM. He hopes to change that driving “Ole Blue” this year on June 14 at Star Speedway. They earned $1,324 for a 16th place finish last year with Ted Christopher.

The fastest qualifying lap in SBM history was 12.291 seconds by Todd Szegedy in his only lifetime appearance at Star Speedway in 2012. Pole last year was 12.347 by Matt Hirschman. Szegedy also had the fastest final heat race lap to get the Mountainside Graphix Screenprinting & Embroidery bonus in ’12 at 12.632. Can he beat Hirschman again?

SBM 125 Champions

2011 – SBM 125 I – #73 – Jon McKennedy – Howie Hodge photo.   SBM 125 I – Video from the Race – By David McGuire

2012 – SBM 125 II – #59 – Matt Hirschman – Howie Hodge photo.    SBM 125 II – Video of the Race – By David McGuire

2013 – SBM 125 III – #59 – Matt Hirschman – Howie Hodge photo.   SBM 125 III – Video of the Race – By David McGuire

And now let’s look at those who have helped make this event so special..

SBM 125 IV Lap Sponsors

Lap 1  –  Norm Wrenn III, #1M Pro Four Modified Race Team
Lap 2  –  SPAFCO Race Chassis
Lap 3  –  $53- In Loving Memory of Michael J. Perry from Carol Perry
Lap 4  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 5  –  JRD Racing #05 Jacob Dore
Lap 5A  –  CCP Pasteryak Race Team
Lap 6  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports from Bruce Bachta
Lap 7  –  Ryan Gath Electrical Services www.yourelectricsource.com
Lap 8  –  Good Luck Mike Douglas Jr. #23 from the Theriaults
Lap 9  –  Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists 617-770-0629
Lap 10  –  Ted Krajewski
Lap 11  –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply- Butch Valley
Lap 11A  –  Good Luck “Southern Style” to Andy Seuss #11
Lap 12   –  Derek Griffith Motorsports Pro Stock #12
Lap 13  –  El Gee Products/Masse Racing from Andrew Truchinskas
Lap 14  –  Derek Griffith Motorsports GSPSS Pro Stock Race Team
Lap 15  –  CCP Pasteryak Racing
Lap 16  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 17  –  www.myracenews.com Your source for short track racing news
Lap 18  –  In Memory of Ed Friend Sr., from Eddie Friend
Lap 19  –  Majowicz/Webber Motorsports #19 350 Supermodified
Lap 20  –  Broad Brook Heating & Cooling
Lap 21  –  Broad Brook Heating & Cooling
Lap 22  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 23   –  Douglas Automotive of Manchester, NH (603) 625-5854
Lap 24  –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 25  –  VMRS Champion Roscoe Racing #25 from Gary Casella
Lap 26   –  Tour Fan Ed
Lap 27  –  Furst Edition Photography – Stephen Furst
Lap 28  –  C.A. Ordway Builders
Lap 29  –  “Welcome to our world Hayden Guillemette- The Youngest SBM 125 Fan of All!”
Lap 30  –  Race Track Responder – Andy Biron
Lap 31  –  Good luck to Ryan Preece and Mike Douglas Jr. from Prodigy Plumbing & Drain 603-998-1146
Lap 32  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com Shawn Waddell
Lap 33  –  Seekonk Grand Prix Go-Kart Track- Seekonk, Mass
Lap 34  –  J & R Precast
Lap 35  –  J & R Precast
Lap 36  –  Barry Goldberg- Thank you Kevin Rice for SBM IV and Good Luck Jerome Bettis- future Hall of Famer
Lap 37  –  Good Luck to all from Chris Buchman
Lap 38  –  In Honor of Supermodified driver Jim Martel from Jim Verge
Lap 39  –  Good Luck to All from Bruce Bachta
Lap 40  –  Valenti Family of Dealerships – www.bobvalenti.com
Lap 41  –  Richard Johnson
Lap 42  –  Good Luck to all from Strictly Stock 42
Lap 43  –  In Honor of Six-Time Champion “Wild” Bill Greco from Jim Verge
Lap 44  –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply from Butch Valley
Lap 45  –  Good Luck to All from Bruce Bachta
Lap 46  –  In Loving Memory of Tommy Cormier from Rob MacRae and the #52 Race Team
Lap 47  –  LCM Racing Engines
Lap 48  –  LCM Racing Engines
Lap 49  –  Seekonk Grand Prix Go-Kart Track- Seekonk, Mass
Lap 50  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 51  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 52  –  In Loving Memory of T.C. from the #52 Outlaw Late Model Team
Lap 53  –  Norm Wrenn #53 VMRS Race Team
Lap 54  –  Beard’s Auto and Truck Repair, Merrimack, NH
Lap 55  –  $$$- RESERVED FOR NICKEL AND DIME LAP- and $25 from Racing Against Cancer 100
Lap 56  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports
Lap 57  –  $57- In Memory of Paul Szaban from Bruce Bachta
Lap 58  –  Beard’s Auto and Truck Repair, Merrimack, NH
Lap 59  –  $100- J&J Motorsports and Matt Hirschman
Lap 60  –  Hirschman’s Cellar Dwellers
Lap 61  –  Butch Valley, in memory of Richie Evans
Lap 62  –  Preece Racing
Lap 63  –  LATICRETE HALFWAY BONUSES – $2000 ($200 to each team running in positions 1-10)
Lap 64  –  Preece Racing
Lap 65  –  Valenti Family of Dealerships – www.bobvalenti.com
Lap 66  –  Good Luck this season, 2013 ROC Rookie of the year Austin Kochenash- Algie Graffam
Lap 67  –  Dave Meredith and Family
Lap 68  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 69  –  C.A. Ordway Builders
Lap 70  –  Good Luck Andy Seuss #70 from Rockingham Boat of Hampstead, NH
Lap 71  –  Hannaford Racing Engines and the #71 Modified of Josh Cantara
Lap 72  –  Mike and Lisa Chapman
Lap 73  –  McKennedy Brothers Mason Contractors (978) 459-5148
Lap 74  –  Preece Racing
Lap 75  –  CCP Pasteryak Race Team
Lap 76  –  Preece Racing
Lap 77   –  www.NEMRS.biz New England Motor Racing Supply- Butch Valley Jr
Lap 78  –  Merrimack House of Pizza
Lap 79  –  In Loving Memory of Roger Hill from Sandra Hill
Lap 80  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 81  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 82  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 83  –  Seekonk Grand Prix
Lap 84  –  Village Bake House, Groton CT – Good Luck All Drivers
Lap 85  –  Village Bake House, Groton CT – Good Luck All Drivers
Lap 86  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 87  –  http://www.chem3.com/
Lap 88  –  In Support of Jim Boniface and Family -Rev Scott RWJM.
Lap 89  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 90  –  Cliff Nelson Motorsports from Bruce Bachta
Lap 91  –  Gary Noe -GN Auto Core 607-321-9904
Lap 92  –  Good Luck to #92 Anthony Nocella from Nocella Paving of Woburn, Mass
Lap 93  –  George Sherman #93 Racing Team
Lap 94  –  A-1 Automotive of Ashland MA – Mike Horn
Lap 95  –  Sherwood Racing Wheels- from Lee Sherwood
Lap 96  –  In Memory of “Irish” Jack Murphy and his Shamrock #6 from Marsha Gadzera
Lap 97  –  Good Luck to all Teams from Dr. Mom Says, “School is Cool!” and Tony “the Tuna”- proud sponsor of the #97 Supermodified
Lap 98  –  In Honor of Retired Racer Ron Narducci from James Osterhoudt
Lap 99  –  $100 -Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists 617-770-0629
Lap 100  –  $200 – Gary Laro at “Powderkeg Powdercoating” – (603) 892-8019 – “Good luck to Mike Douglas Jr. #23”
Lap 101  –  The Billerica Project – Go Purple – from Rob MacRae
Lap 102  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 103  –  In Memory of Lenny Boehler and Jimmy Fournier from Jennifer Fournier Ready
Lap 103A  –  www.AutomartUsedCars.com and the #03 Super Late Model of Joe Squeglia
Lap 104  –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 105  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 106  –  In Loving Memory of Harold Whitney from Pete Newsham
Lap 107  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 108  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 109  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 110  –  Good Luck to all from Marilyn and Don Toal
Lap 111  –  Good Luck Competitors from Jillian Leonard
Lap 112  –  Majestic Motors Merrimack NH 603-424-6122
Lap 113  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 114  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 115  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 116  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 117  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 118  –  Red Roof Inn
Lap 121   –  www.WaddellCommunications.com – Shawn Waddell
Lap 122  –  Better Maintenance Sheet metal of Rowley, Mass
Lap 123  –  Tisdell Transmission Sponsored #23 Modified of Mike Douglas Jr
Lap 124  –  Dedicated to his father, Rocco “Butch” D’Alessandro from Ron D’Alessandro
Lap 125  –  Hannaford Racing Engines and Josh Cantara #71 Modified

  • Lap sponsors contributed $50.00 a lap unless noted otherwise.
  • Lap money will be split between the leader of the lap, and a random driver in the top ten unless noted otherwise.

SBM 125 IV Contingencies & Awards

  • 2nd Annual Chuck Montville Car Owner of the Race Award $350 from Steve Mendoza plus a plaque from Danger Designs
  • Waddell Communications Fast Time Award $100 and plaque
  • Crown Award – $100
  • Heat Bonus – $200 -Tisdell Transmissions of Londonderry, NH.
  • First Timer Bonus – $300 – Messina’s Flooring of Salem, NH.
  • Top VMRS Bonus – $250 to highest VMRS finish from Bruce Bachta and 30 pack from Lu-Mac’s Package Store
  • Top Finishing Father – $100 from Carl Rice
  • Sherwood Racing Products – $60 Gift Certificate – 7th place
  • Hard Charger Award from Russ Wood Sr – $200 to the driver gaining the most positions
  • FastTrac Concessions -Star Modified Bonus – $350 ($150,100,100)
  • Shirley Z Award – $200
  • Danger Designs Best Appearing Car – $100 and plaque
  • Whelen Tour Highest Finisher – $200 from Rockingham Boat
  • Longest Tow ( 3 teams) – $500/300/200 from Doug Dunleavy
  • Top 3 ROC Finishes from Fred Wilcox – $300 (150/100/50)
  • Highest Finish for a driver from MA – $100 from Linda and Glen Chartier
  • Fastest Last Lap of the 4 Heat races – $100 from Mountainside Graphix Screenprinting & Embroidery
  • Tough Luck Award – $250 sponsored by J&J Motorsports (Voted on by media members)
  • First Car One Lap Down Award – $100 from Gary Laro at “Powderkeg Powdercoating” – (603) 892-8019

Schedule of Events for the SBM 125 IV

Saturday, June 14 – Star Speedway, Epping, NH

Grandstand General Admission
Adults: $25.00
Seniors and Juniors: $20.00
Children 10 and Under with Paid Adult: Free Admission
Pit Area
Pit Pass: $35.00

11:00 AM  –  Gates open (for parking haulers only)
11:30 AM  –  Pit Pass Window Opens
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM  –  Tech & Tires
1:15 PM  –  SBM 125 Drivers Meeting
1:45 PM  –  General Admission Opens
1:45 PM – 2:45 PM  –  SBM 125 Modified Practice
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM  –  Star divisions rotating practice
3:15 PM – 3:30 PM  –  SBM 125 Final Practice- Scuff Session
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM  –  Star Weekly Divisions final practice
4:00 PM  –  Tech and Time Trial Lineup Prep. (TEAMS MUST HAVE CARS READY BY THIS TIME!)
4:30 PM  –  SBM Modified Time Trials to set heat lineups only
5:15 PM  –  Star weekly division heats: Stricklys, Roadrunners and Outlaws
6:00 PM  –  12 Lap SBM 125 Modified heats
6:40 PM  –  Roadrunner Feature
7:00 PM  –  Strickly Stock Feature
7:30 PM  –  Mod B Main
7:45 PM  –  Outlaw Late Model Feature
8:10 PM  –  SBM 125 Pre-race
* Driver Introduction
* National Anthem
* SBM 125 IV Grand Marshal, Ben Dodge gives the commands.
* SBM Mod 125 Green Flag 8:30 PM

Money and the Underdog


Money Matt Hirshman. A rendered Michael Jaworecki photo
Money Matt Hirschman. A rendered Michael Jaworecki photo

Money..  Big Money..  Tony’s boy..  Call Matt Hirschman  whatever you want, but don’t call him anything less than the current king of the opens.  This talented driver does nothing, but win when big purses are on the line.  Before the event took the green many were expecting he’d come out on top when the checkered flag fell.  Later in the event as Hirschman layed back to the point where some were believing he might have mechanical issues, it soon became clear it was all strategy.  A well thought out plan that, like the Opens days gone by, needed some help from lady luck and the ability to say “when” at the right time.

Let’s get one thing straight and out of the way.  Any crying that sandbagging ruined the BULLRING BASH is nothing short of nonsense.  Anyone who’s raced at Lee or has spoken to those who have competed at Lee USA Speedway (VMRS, Late Models, Ministocks, etc..) will tell you the track is a low grip facility that eats your lunch where the right rear tire is concerned.  This well known fact with a low grip facility amplifies what strategies are used making it extremely telling early in the run what type of strategy any team has decided upon.  It’s also what creates some interesting and extremely dicey racing.  Strategy is a live by the sword die by the sword deal with much depending on luck.  If Hirschman made his stop too soon or too late, if the caution never came out in the last 40 laps, if, if, if goes on until the checkered flag falls.  That’s the BEST thing about racing in general and the greatest thing about extra distance big money short track racing.

The famous Hill Enterprises #79 made the trip from N.C. with young pilot Spencer Davis. Here Spencer battles with Tommy Barrett Jr. and in a three wide battle. Howie Hodge photo.
The famous Hill Enterprises (79) made the trip from N.C. with young pilot Spencer Davis. Here Spencer battles with Tommy Barrett Jr. (9) and Jim Storace (47) in a three wide battle. Howie Hodge photo.

Sandbagging does not just occur in Open events.  It takes place in all forms of racing and in the Modified division just the same.  Opens, NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour events, the Race of Champions events, Valenti Modified Racing Series races and throughout the decades upon decades of Modified events all have seen their share of sandbagging.

How many times have we witnessed a late race pit stop and charge to the front or a “lay-back” and stay out of trouble until it’s time to make that charge?  Richie, Geoff Bodine, Charlie Jarzombek, Greg Sacks, right up to Doug Coby, Matt Hirschman, Tommy Barrett, Jr., and Steve Masse have all done it and in damn fine and exciting fashion to boot.

From all those in attendance, fans, competitors, and officials, the consensus was that the BULLRING BASH was a spectacular event filled with tons of passing, some three wide at times.  The BULLRING BASH ended with a tangle stemming from a battle between Ryan Preece in the Boehler #3, said to be a car built for the VMRS shows and VMRS hot shoe, Steve Masse.  The end result was Preece going on to nab second and leaving Todd Annarummo, in his VMRS mount, no where to go besides up and over Masse, literally taking the top off Masse’s Mod.

Rowan Pennink (25) and Richard Savary (99) battle it out in their VMRS machines. Howie Hodge photo.
Rowan Pennink (25) and Richard Savary (99) battle it out in their VMRS machines. Howie Hodge photo.

The field was filled with a handful of Race of Champions teams, Star Speedway, SK, and Sunoco Modifieds.  The Modified of eventual winner, Matt Hirschman, is believed to be used strictly for Open shows. The Valenti Modified Series was well represented however, only ONE full time NASCAR Modified team showed and that was the North Carolina based Hill Enterprises team that competes on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.  We’ll get to that lack of WMT team support later.

With that said, I pose the question to you..  What do you do with a “low buck” Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified during one of many off weeks?  If you’re Dennis Perry and his crew, you took a shot at the BULLRING BASH this past Sunday at Lee USA Speedway. Everyone’s eyebrows on the speedway grounds met their hairline and if by chance you go “chrome dome”, by age or by choice, then those eyebrows made it over the head and disappeared down the back of your shirt collar.  Dennis and his team’s amazing performance was the very definition of what Open Modified races from the past and present define; ANSWERING THE BELL.

Dennis Perry (21) battles Steve Masse (13) at the BULLRING BASH. Howie Hodge photo.
Dennis Perry (21) battles Steve Masse (13) at the BULLRING BASH. Howie Hodge photo.

With a new spec motor in their 2012 Troyer ( their last engine blew up at the ICEBREAKER), a four barrel carb, and a change in gear, Dennis and the crew headed to the BULLRING BASH.

Before the last lap incident that took out Masse and Annarummo, the low buck Sunoco Modified team was a solid 5th.  But after that accident Dennis Perry was posing with a grin from ear to ear and a third place Modified with the front end resembling a pug dog’s snout;  “First thought was ‘I hope that was the end as I just killed this car!’ They said in the drivers meeting the race would end under green no matter what and when I saw Matt had taken the checkers I was just hoping the race was over.”

Tommy Barrett (9) and Dennis Perry (21). Howie Hodge photo.
Tommy Barrett (9) and Dennis Perry (21). Howie Hodge photo.

Dennis started racing part time back in 1987 in the wonderful world of the old school enduro racing and like so many young aspiring drivers before him he may or may not have fibbed just a little about his age;  “Then I went to ministocks in 95 to 97 Sportsman in 98 and late model in 99 thru 2008 when I semi retired to get my son started. I got into mods for 1 open show in 2011 at TIS (Thomspon International Speedway) and then went Sk at TIS driving for my cousin in 2012 where we won rookie and finished 3rd in points and again in 2013 where we were 4th in points.”

I asked Dennis if it was his first time competing at Lee and how he and his crew decided to take a shot at the BULLRING BASH;  “In a mod yes.  It was actually the first short track I ever drove a mod at as TIS is 5/8th of a mile.  I did run a couple of shows in the late 90s in ministocks and loved the place.  I love how the track doesn’t have a lot of grip and makes you drive on the right rear tire.  It fits the way I like my cars and I am just very comfortable there.  The Racing Guys are good friends of our team and as soon as we heard about the race we promised to support them.  Then when we saw the rules package for the Sk’s we felt we would be very competitive especially at the end. The bullrings help to equal the cars and then the rules package they put forth kept us close.”

Dennis Perry poses next to his Modified after a stellar performance in the BULLRING BASH. Mary Hodge photo.
A happy Dennis Perry poses next to his Modified after a stellar performance in the BULLRING BASH. Mary Hodge photo.

As if his landing on the podium with a Sunoco Modified wasn’t enough of a “feel-good” story, Dennis’ support team and crew at Lee was made up of friends and family;  “Norm Perry is the car owner and engine builder.  He owns APE (out of Ashway, RI) and is also the crew chief.  Norm is legally blind and I am always amazed by what he does.  Then it was a few friends and family.  My cousin Shelly Perry.  Chris Williams, my spotter who did an awesome job!  Chris Garside, Mitch Bombard, and Brendon Parenti helped in the pits.  My 12 year old son Jacob was involved heavily too as he helped Norm and I pull the transmission after issues on Saturday practice.  Our sponsors are limited, but we had Shantok Motors out of Uncasville and Groton, CT, who stepped up the day before the race and paid for tow fuel.  Treats Pools and Spas in Uncasville, CT has helped with a couple tires at Thompson this year other than that we race on what we win.”

Perry's Modified suffered damage in the last lap incident, but scooted by for a step on the podium. Howie Hodge photo.
Perry’s Modified suffered damage in the last lap incident, but scooted by for a step on the podium. Howie Hodge photo.

After wrecking in qualifying and having to make the field through the consi Dennis and his team had to come up with a strategy for the 100 lapper;  “We started 22nd right behind Preece and outside Matt and decided that we would do what Matt does.  When we went green we found a hole and saved what we had.  Matt took his change of tire earlier than we wanted so I rode around a little longer and I guess that cost us in the end.  With 19 laps left we were in 19th and the car was great just not a lot of room to maneuver.  The cautions kept killing us I think there was a few cars I passed 4 or 5 times only to have a caution come out and have to do it all over again.  At the end I think we were the only car with the Speed and handling left to give Matt a run but Masse, Preece and Todd were running each other hard and there was just no where to go so I dropped back in line and waited to see if I could capitalize if they made contact and as it happens that’s how the race ended.”

That underfunded team of Dennis and crew, Sunoco Modified and all, plan to run the SBM IV at Star Speedway on June 14th and Modified Madness at Seekonk Speedway on July 24.  That’s regardless of whether Dennis has ever seen Star or run a single lap at the Cement Palace.  It’s not surprising after his team’s amazing performance at the BULLRING BASH.  And what besides the Tri-Track Open Modified Series, are the team’s plans for the rest of the season?;  “Survive!  With limited funds we plan the next two open shows and the rest at TIS but money determines everything.  This was a race that could have taken our entire seasons funding if we did not make the show and as we race on our winnings the payout will be a welcome bonus.  Would like to run an MRS show or two at TIS and Lee but without putting a paying sponsor on the car it seems unlikely.”

The top 3. Dennis Perry (L), Winner Matt Hirshman (C), and 2nd place finisher, the always smiling Ryan Preece (R) pose for Mary Hodge's camera.
The top 3. Dennis Perry (L), Winner Matt Hirschman (C), and 2nd place finisher, the always smiling Ryan Preece (R) pose for Mary Hodge’s camera.

Dennis, with third place trophy and $2,500.00 to show for it shared his view on what it says about the open shows when a team like his earns a shot against the very best in the division and winds up turning heads; “I think the fact that a no name, low buck team like ours that ran with the top dogs will make the other Sk teams take notice and hopefully bring more teams to support this series.  I feel a lot of teams showed disrespect by not showing up after they said they would. These guys, Jim Schaffer, Dick Williams and the rest did something for the racers that has not been done in a long time and not enough racers supported them.  All the teams and drivers these guys have supported through the years need to apologize to them for not showing up and supporting the best paying series there is.  As for competition, I believe Matt was in a ROC car, Ryan was in a Whelen Car, my Sk and Rowan with his MRS ride were the top 4.  If that does not speak to rules parity what does?

Well said, Dennis.  Well said..

Opinions similar to Dennis’ regarding the BULLRING BASH have been mixed, but not in a negative way about the event itself as all who attended came away with high praise.  It was the teams that didn’t show which have received some harsh criticism and rightly so.

More three wide action at the BULLRING BASH. (20) Max Zachem, (15) Chris Pasteryak and (92) Anthony Nocella. Howie Hodge photo.
More three wide action at the BULLRING BASH. (20) Max Zachem, (15) Chris Pasteryak and (92) Anthony Nocella. Howie Hodge photo.

There have been complaints over the years by many WMT teams regarding the purses since the series was down graded by it’s sanctioning body many, many years ago.   The purses being terrible compared to glory seasons past while the expenses have shot through the roof.  Some teams and drivers had very legitimate excuses for being unable to make the trip due to repairs or what not.  A few of the drivers who compete on a regular basis on the tour already had rides for the event leaving their WMT seats idle.  However, the fact that only one full time NASCAR Modified team showed was quite shocking and downright disappointing.

Much has been said about Jim Schaefer’s dedication to the WMT Riverhead Tour shows along with teams he’s assisted with funding out of his own pocket through the years.  He’s worked hard for these guys to put extra money in their pockets over the years.  Where were they?  The majority of those teams didn’t show and to many it was a lack of respect for someone who has given so much to them.  Unfortunately “doing the right thing” is a belief that doesn’t appear to be part their vocabulary or beliefs in some cases and that in itself was a terrible discovery this past weekend and quite frankly heartbreaking.

A shot of champions. BULLRING BASH winner poses with the organizers responsible for such a spectacular show. Howie Hodge photo.
A shot of champions. BULLRING BASH winner poses with the organizers responsible for such a spectacular show. Howie Hodge photo.

Those teams without a legit excuse for not showing up, the same one’s who moaned and groaned over the years about poor purses, have landed themselves in the same boat as the legal US citizens, 18 years or older, who cry about the government, but don’t go and vote.  The race was put on. The purse money was put up, but you chose to be a no show and now you have absolutely no right to bitch about it.  The next time one of these teams breaks out the crying towels of crappy purses or expecting that extra money being placed in their hand which they’ve grown accustom to,  don’t be surprised to receive a “have a fresh cup..” type of response.  Dennis was right, the organizers deserve an apology.  They also deserve answers.

$43,660.00 was taken home by the 26 starters and $5,600 went home with those that didn’t make the field.  The real champions at the BULLRING BASH were those in attendance and the organizers who worked their butts off for the division to put on the high paying show.

Les Hinkley had planned to be competing at the BULLRING BASH, but family comes first.  He and wife Tracey’s 8 year old son Allen’s medical issues have understandably placed racing on the back burner.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Allen and his family.  We’re all thinking of you and wishing you all the best!  If you would like to make a donation to help with the tough eight year old’s fight please click here.

Checkered Chatter…  This weekend is Indianapolis 500 qualifying.  On the opening day of practice the first full fendered driver to attempt to qualify since 1972, Kurt Busch went out and sat 2nd on the list with a lap over 224 miles per hour…  A brief reminder.  History proves that the more a driver wins the more fans will show up to see them get beat.  It’s great for the gate and great for business.  So the next time someone calls you a moron because you jeer and give a thumbs down to any driver remember, it’s YOUR right as a fan.  YOU are the ones paying your hard earned money for a seat in the stands along with food and beverages.  YOU have every right to boo, jeer, cry foul, and point fingers.  Don’t sweat the small things nor let those non paying in attendance put you down.  It’s your money and your butts in the seats that keeps this thing called auto racing going and makes it so damn great…  Dave Shipee, formerly of the Speedway Scene column he co-wrote with John Brouwer titled The B.S. Report passed away this past week.  The B.S. Report, much like the old NERF’ers Corner turned a lot of heads and fired people up over the years.  It was always an entertaining and tell it like it is corner of the once great paper.  One line from the column that always stuck out was; “Richard Petty Enterprises announced that Bobby Hamilton will drive the famous 43 this season.  Petty further announced that they have no plans on competing for a title this year.”  Gotta love the humor those two put out. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends…  13 years ago the Modified division lost one of it’s great championship owners and supporters.  Lenny Boehler who owned and wrenched the famous Ole Blue #3 won many races with some of the best drivers the division has ever witnessed behind the wheel; Bugsy Stevens, Freddie DeSarro, Ron and Kenny Bouchard, Wayne Anderson, Tony Hirschman, and many more.

Until next week’s republishing of another NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo, have a safe and enjoyable weekend at the races!

Open Season!


Next Sunday, May 11th is a holiday for Mothers everywhere. It’s also an asphalt Modified fans holiday. It signifies the beginning of Open Season with the running of THE BULLRING BASH Open Modified race. The event takes place at the 3/8 mile asphalt oval known as Lee USA Speedway located in Lee, New Hampshire. It’s an exciting time for the division and the first race of the crown jewel of asphalt Modified racing that is the Tri-Track Open Modified Series. The BULLRING BASH kicks off the division’s old school tradition of the open format races which draws teams, drivers and fans from every series and speedway that runs tour-type Modifieds. It’s an opportunity to witness a championship caliber event with representatives from all series and tracks.

Tommy Barrett (22) and Ronnie Silk (6) are always ready for a challenge. Howie Hodge photo.
These two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour aces, Tommy Barrett (22) and Ronnie Silk (6), are always ready for an Open Modified challenge. Howie Hodge photo.

The two other events that make up the series are the SBM 125 IV on Saturday, June 14th at Star Speedway in Epping, NH and the MODIFIED MADNESS at the place they call the Cement Palace, Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Mass on Wednesday night, July23rd. As if each race purse isn’t enough, the bonus is a point fund at the end of the season.

I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the individuals who were kind enough to take a quick break from running absolutely ragged, gathering sponsorship, contingency and lap money from fans and businesses who wish to be a part of something special. Truly special is exactly what this band of individuals and all contributing truly are.

A 3 Step Program. Step 1: Become a Modified Fan.

It’s that ever popular question where everyone has a unique, yet at the same time, similar answer; How did you become a Modified fan?

Kevin Rice’s recollection is an all too familiar one for many of us. Kevin, an auto racing journalist and creator of what will soon be the 4th Annual SBM Open Modified race, was infected with the racing bug by his parents; “I have been a fan of racing since before birth while going to the races in my mothers stomach. In those early days, Spencer Speedway was my Friday night home first. Watching Bodine, Evans, Troyer, Kent, Cook, Treichler, Seamon, Loescher race weekly how could you not get hooked on racing? As I got older into the teen years I spent most of my Saturday nights at Oswego Speedway. There was no better place for racing in the 1980’s. At age 17, I made my first trip from home in Fulton, NY to Thompson, driving on a frosty morning in a compact car with no working heat and the rest is history. After traveling to New England for racing for many years, I moved there in 1998.”

Richie Evans' 9 NASCAR Modified Championships were also sprinkled with some huge Open Modified wins.  Howie Hodge photo.
Richie Evans’ 9 NASCAR Modified Championship seasons were sprinkled with some huge Open Modified wins and even more “outsider friendly” NASCAR sanctioned events. Howie Hodge photo.

And when did James Schaefer first catch the bug before he metamorphosized into the Long Island Mod Maniac? “I went a few times as a kid back in the late 60s and early 70s, but only to Riverhead (Raceway in Riverhead, NY). Finally around 1980, went to Islip (Speedway in Islip, NY.) for the first time and I was hooked. There was something special about those damn Modifieds! Who were my favorite drivers? It was all Charlie Jarzombek and Junior Ambrose back in the day. When I finally got to Islip, Charlie J was still the man.”

Step 2: Getting Involved..

Once the Long Island Mod Maniac got involved in the sport his level of enthusiasm, drive, and willingness to give to the Modifieds became easily defined by his nickname. “In 1985, the town of Riverhead was trying to shut the track down. I had my 4th grade students show up to town hall to give speeches to keep it open. Had a petition going around to keep it open too. Met the Brunnhoelzl family and sponsored my first car, the 8x of Eddie Brunnhoelzl. As I got older and had a little more money to spend, I started to travel, and started to help out when I could at different races with different drivers. I will always remember when I asked this woman to sign the petition, and she said, ‘I guess I better! My brother races there!’. Turns out she was the sister of Eddie Brunnhoelzl. So I asked her.. ‘so if someone wanted to sponsor one of these cars…how do you go about it?’ She told me to come in the pits next Saturday. I did and I haven’t stopped writing checks since then!”

He then took it another step further at a “flash” race in 2009 at Riverhead Raceway. “I decided to put up some extra money to the winner. The following year, I decided to hand out extra money to all the teams that participated at the Tour race at Riverhead. It just felt like the Modifieds were always getting screwed on good purses, and I just figured if I could help, why not.

“The idea of helping out the Modifieds seemed to grow each year we did it. More people would come on board, so it just continued to grow. We didn’t have the lap money at Riverhead at first, but it just seemed to make sense to have it, and get more fans involved. Now, we have lap leader money and leading Riverhead regular money to help out the local guys who don’t run the tour on a regular basis. This year , we almost have $9,000 raised to be split among the 2 races. We already have close to 30 people who are putting up $300 to each race team.” His dedication to raising extra cash for Riverhead Raceway Whelen Modified Tour stops for years should make it an easy decision for WMT teams to show their support by throwing their hats in the BULLRING BASH next weekend as well as the other two Tri-Track Series events.

Oswego Speedway's (Oswego, NY) history is not only filled with SuperModified champions, but the best Modified events of the division's past. Howie Hodge photo
Oswego Speedway’s (Oswego, NY) history is not only filled with SuperModified champions, but some of the best Modified events of the division’s past. Howie Hodge photo.

Kevin Rice’s love of racing caused him to take it up a notch early on as a teenager. He began writing and putting together racing programs at the age of 16 when he operated a pedal bike track in the woods of Fulton, NY. “I started a weekly racing program with photos, points etc. I still have a couple of those programs. That was the best thing I have ever done. At one point we had 80 kids racing at that track, and knowing today they carry that experience with them for the rest of their lives is very special. In the early 1990’s I answered an ad to become a writer for the Oswego Speedway Eagle Program. As I gained experience I just got better at it, and I got satisfaction from how my work as a writer helped short track racing.”

His first taste of being a part of the promotional side of things in the auto racing world started at one of the most talked about facilities in the Northeast, the 5/8th mile Steel Palace, Oswego Speedway which used to play host to the Modifieds in an Open format about 6 or so times a year. It biggest Mod event was the 200 lap Bud 200 held on Oswego Classic weekend. “Oswego Speedway asked me to be their representative at the Guaranteed Starter events they used to have and use to promote Classic Weekend. So I took their pace car to Stafford, Shangri-la and other places promoting the Classic Weekend for them. That ended when they dropped the Modifieds from Classic Weekend. I quit.”

History My Friends..
Jerry Cook (38) sometimes passed up NASCAR points races to take a shot at in an Open.  Canadian legend Junior Hanley liked to go open wheel in outsider friendly and Open shows.  Mike Murphy, a Star regular had no problem traveling for the big shows.
Charlie Jarzombek (1) won quite a few Opens in his career.  Jerry Cook (38) sometimes passed up NASCAR points races to take a shot at in an Open.  Canadian legend Junior Hanley (72) liked to go open wheel in outsider friendly and Open shows back in the day.  “Irish” Mike Murphy (M3), a Star regular had no problem traveling for the former big NASCAR sanctioned “outsider friendly” shows.  George Kent (26) also skipped NASCAR point races for Opens. All Howie Hodge photos.

For those unfamiliar with the significance of Modified Open shows I’ll explain just a little the part they played in the division back in the day. Modified Opens were practically jammed into a weekday every other week during the summer. Sometimes a track would take a weekend off from it’s regularly scheduled program just to run an open Modified show. At the end of the season us fans got to enjoy what we all called championship races. These events included some open and some “outsider friendly” races throughout the 70’s, 80’s and even the early 90’s. They drew the big names with big money and it also gave the home track Modified regulars or invaders an opportunity to defend their turf or compete against the very best teams and drivers the division had to offer. In doing so the fans, press and even other speedway’s personnel with their pace cars and wreckers would show up to not only promote their speedway or business, but witness great racing while sometimes lending a hand. It was good for all the facilities. Like bugs to a light and we couldn’t get enough of these championship level races.

They were so important to the division that the likes of Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, George Kent and Jimmy Spencer who were chasing NASCAR National Championship points made agreements to skip points paying races to hit many of these open shows.

Now let’s be honest here. Back in the 70’s and early 80’s no Modified tours existed and tons of tracks ran a regular Modified program with good fields. The much talked about ALL-STAR LEAGUE was pretty much a series of Modified Open shows all over the Northeast and lived up to their title. There were shows being put on everywhere.

Points in the NASCAR National Modified Championship were collected by competing at any NASCAR sanctioned track or event. Some of these points paying events for the Modifieds were held at facilities like Catamount Stadium (formerly in Milton, VT) which was a NASCAR North track. (Where you might see the likes of Jean Paul Cabana, Beaver and Bobby Dragon, Robbie Crouch, Claud LeClerc and Joey “The Kid” Kourafas competing regularly) would have an occasional NASCAR Modified points event that drew non-NASCAR competitors.

Oswego’s Modified events were all open shows that awarded a Modified title at the end of the season and events like the ICEBREAKER, SPRING SIZZLER, THOMPSON 300, and the RACE of CHAMPIONS were outsider friendly for competitors of non-NASCAR sanctioned facilities. Oswego’s Bud 200, Thompson’s 300 and the Race of Champions all had guaranteed starter races at most facilities around the Northeast that ran Modifieds with or without sanction.

What would be an Open show back in the day without the ultimate invader, Maynard Troyer and his beautiful machines. Howie Hodge photo.
What would an Open show be back in the day without the ultimate invader, Maynard Troyer and his beautiful machines? Howie Hodge photo.

Once the tours started to gain momentum most tracks running a weekly Modified division started to drop the division or go to an alternative Modified class. So in these modern times of three Northeast Modified tours and a small number of facilities running weekly what is now referred to as tour-type Modifieds, any thoughts of saturating the weekdays and off weekends with Open Modified shows would be unrealistic. Teams are competing for titles and with the extreme high costs of racing any damage could be a season killer for some teams. It’s a sign of the times, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for a few big money open Modified shows. It only means the few that are out there is all that can be afforded to a division mostly made up of tours.

Kevin added some interesting insight and thoughts on asphalt Open Modified events. “The Open show was so popular back in the day but it is a LOT of work. I think that is the primary reason why you don’t see them much anymore. Maybe an even bigger factor though is cost. No matter what you do the tire bill is going to be a deterrent. Take last July at Seekonk for example. The racing that night was spectacular, but it was on life support because of car count issues. But now with this Tri-Track deal you will see a resurrection of that event for sure. If these were dirt track races for a $45,000 purse you would see 50 cars or more. Generally dirt teams can run the same tires more than once. It’s an unfortunate part of pavement racing. Open shows offer fans something different in these days of points and the same starting lineups week after week. To me there is nothing in the world more exciting than a field of 24 Modifieds that has six from the WMT, six from the VMRS, six from the RoC , three locals and three outlaw invaders. There is nothing better, and the fan reactions I have gotten all point to that.”

James Schaefer or Mr. Mod Maniac, same guy, shared his view on having Open shows for the asphalt Modified division and the teams that compete; “Remember, two of these races already exist. I’m putting up the extra money at Seekonk ( $7,030) and Star ($6,400) so that they become $1,000 to start shows. Who knows how long these shows will continue? Seekonk’s car count was low last year. And Star, unfortunately lost Kevin Rice to the south. So, the extra money is to let teams know, the fans want these races to continue! Hopefully, the support of race teams and fans will prove that we really do want these races. We were hoping to have a 3rd race just to try something different and make a series out of it! I’ve sponsored a lot of drivers over the last 5 years and I’d like to think I can count on those guys to support this series, knowing my involvement, and also because of the large amount of money we are willing to lay out to make this possible. Obviously, if it’s not supported, we’d be foolish to ever do this again. Word of mouth, says that these are going to attract a good number of cars and be a success. Hopefully, I am right.”

Their feelings of additional open shows for the future?

Reggie Ruggiero in Mario Fiore's 44 always looked forward to the Open shows.  When they first showed with their famous Chevette the were a team to be reckoned with. Howie Hodge photo.
Mario Fiore’s 44 and team always looked forward to the Open shows. Showing up with their famous Evans built Chevette they were a team to be reckoned with. Howie Hodge photo.

James; “There’s not much room on the schedule for many new shows. I doubt you will see much change overall. The 3 main tours will continue to do what they do. I wish the rules would allow for teams to go easily from one touring series to the next. For example, it is a crime that Dwight Jarvis can’t easily show up for a Monadnock show. But I can dream. It’s not going to happen. Even, with the Tri Track, many teams won’t support it because of the rule package. Some teams think they are at a disadvantage with the rules. Rules are not my area – so I can’t really say. But others tell me, when you race at a short track.. no matter where you come from, it should be a fairly even playing field.”

Kevin; “I think having too many of these Open shows would be a big mistake. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the less impact it has. Too many races could run the Open show into the ground completely, and if it didn’t, then it would just become another tour. We already have enough tours. We don’t need another one. My hope is that Open shows create new Modified fans, who then would want to go see these drivers on the tours. That would be a win-win for everybody involved.

Those last two sentences are exactly why one Northeast Modified tour, The Valenti Modified Racing Series gave it’s support for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series and all open shows in general. These opens not only are great opportunities to pit the very best of all tour-type teams in a championship event, but in turn further promotes the series’ and tracks in which tour type Modifieds compete. VMRS understands the big picture and potential of such events. It is every sense of the word a win-win for all involved and promotes those series and facilities who run the tour-type Modifieds.

The SBM Open Modified Event.
A flyer from a 1979 Star Speedway Open that featured Supers and Modifieds.  It also was a rare Super appearance by Richie Evans who did double duty.  Evans won the Modified portion.  Cynthia Tebbetts collection. (Click to enlarge)
A flyer from a 1979 Star Speedway Open that featured Supers and Modifieds. It also was a rare Super appearance by Richie Evans who did double duty. Evans won the Modified portion. Cynthia Tebbetts collection. (Left click photo to enlarge)

In recent years Kevin Rice has built a fantastic 125 lap tour-type Modified all star race that has grown into one of the most talked about events in the division. The SBM 125 is going into it’s 4th year of existence. The high banked quarter mile of Star Speedway is where the event calls home and it’s somewhat fitting as in the past, Star was the scene of some memorable open Modified shows. The uniqueness of the event were the lap sponsors, contingencies, and awards are all funds from not only the organizers themselves, but

businesses, fans, teams, and drivers. The Grand Marshals are not placed there by sponsors. They are true legends of the sport chosen for their true contribution and hard work within the Modified division. The last two years it was legendary former Modified team owner Mario Fiore giving the command and last year it was legendary racing photographer Howie Hodge. Both were very humbled by the honor and equally deserving of it as well.

The other side of the flyer. This very same Star Open saw the likes of Geoff Bodine (99NH) and Satch Worley(66NH) compete in Lee Allard's team cars. Cynthia Tebbetts collection (Click to Enlarge).
The other side of the flyer. This very same Star Open saw the likes of Geoff Bodine (99NH) and Satch Worley(66NH) compete in Lee Allard’s team cars. Cynthia Tebbetts collection (Left click photo to enlarge)

However, the SBM Open Modified race’s beginnings arose from some not so wonderful circumstances, but none the less, it got Kevin interested in being involved again; “It was rekindled when Bobby MacArthur took over Star Speedway. I helped him try to get the Modified Open Show format going. I sponsored the first open show myself for $3,000 out of pocket. From there he got big ideas and drove himself into debt. It was very difficult for me after he ran out of money and didn’t pay the teams.”

From those misfortunes the SBM race was born because although he wasn’t responsible he took it upon himself to make things right; “That is how the SBM got started. SBM I was run to raise money for the teams who didn’t get paid. It was a struggle. We had only 16 cars, but made a little money and gave it to those teams who were owed money by the previous owner. Teams were skeptical to support it, which was unfortunate.

“I thought it would end there, but in the process something magical was happening. The race was incredible and so many people asked me to give it another chance. Year two- SBM II we had 28 cars and a larger purse, but still not the crowd I had hoped for.

After thinking about it for a couple of months. I became determined to conquer the challenge of making something of this event. SBM III was hundreds of hours of very hard work in the making. It paid off. We had 32 of the best. I would say the most talented field of drivers anywhere all year.

After SBM III, which still didn’t have the overflow crowd I wanted. I was done. Too much work and I was getting set to move to North Carolina. But Jim Schaefer wouldn’t let this race die. Now I’m jumping in because this event means so much to me. I have a couple of things in the works and if they come to fruition I think we’ll pack the place, which is my ultimate dream, to see a packed house for a Modified race at Star Speedway.”

Geoff Bodine poses next to his Lee Allard 99NH Modified at Trenton Speedway in 1979. Howie Hodge photo.
Modified legend and 1986 Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine poses next to Lee Allard’s 99NH Modified at Trenton Speedway in 1979. Howie Hodge photo.

When I asked Kevin what it meant being in the same journalist /publication group who were also race organizers or promoters at one time or another; “I don’t consider myself to be in the group of the promoters you speak of at all. I was just very motivated to help the race teams who were screwed out of promised point fund money and the only way I could think of getting them paid was to hold a profitable event on their behalf. I had no plans for an SBM II, especially after only 16 teams showed up for the first one.”

Ah yes, but many of his predecessors also experienced rough goings in their first attempts and just like Kevin, those predecessors didn’t give up either and moved forward.

Nay Sayers and Critics..

Yes it’s true. There are a few out there who have unjustly thrown criticism, accusations and even gone so far as to avoid mentioning the series altogether.

For some reason the concept of a racing journalist dipping into the promotional side of the sport was questioned on ethics in his chosen profession for starters. An accusation that falls flat on it’s face if you know anything about the history of auto racing in the Northeast and quite frankly everywhere.

Journalists and publications being involved, through organizing or promoting racing events are as much a part of our beloved Modified history as our past great Modified champions who define the division itself. To name a few, Dick O’Brien formerly of Oswego Speedway, Speedway Scene, National Parts Peddler, Russ Conway formerly of NESMRA, Star Speedway, Hudson Speedway and Lee USA Speedway, as well as editor of many publications and television reporter, Dr. Dick Berggren, was a co-founder of Stafford’s SPRING SIZZER. All were/are writers/publications that promoted, managed or organized racing events. Most of those mentioned wrote about and pushed their events through their write ups in the paper they wrote for or within their pages. Do you think they were ever challenged over ethics in journalism?

Writing about an event a journalist or publication may be involved in is no different than those writing for websites throwing in mentions of their advertisers in articles to give their advertisers a push. It’s far more ethical than a site purposely tricking users such as posting what appears to be an article on a social media page, only for the reader to click and find it isn’t an article at all. A deceptive move by the one posting the link in hopes the reader will sift through pages for the article in a pathetic effort to boost their site’s views and hits.

We’ll not bother with the tactics of those who report on Modifieds and clearly cover the Northeast’s touring series, yet for some odd reason or another refuse or avoid covering these Modified Opens, because excuses are like, well you know. However, just for amusement, let’s tackle the other accusation of profiting from these events. Some have gone so far as to accuse Kevin Rice of profiting off the SBM races. These accusations are equally as laughable as those which challenged his ethics in journalism for being involved in the promotional side. More often than not, these baseless accusations are a sad attempt to grab the attention of anyone listening to their jeering and steer them away from attending or competing.

Satch Worley sits takes a seat on the front left of his Lee Allard 66NH at Trenton Speedway in 1979.  If you look to the right I believe the gentleman standing by Satch is the always classy Booker T Jones. Howie Hodge photo.
Satch Worley sits on the front left of his Lee Allard 66NH at Trenton Speedway in 1979. If you look to the right I believe the gentleman standing by Satch is the always classy Booker T Jones. Howie Hodge photo.

The whole point of running any show, or running any facility, being in business is to make a profit. If they make money, what would be the downfall? Creating more big dollar Open races? Increased purses for those events? Both of which everybody involved; fans, series, teams, drivers, organizers and facilities all prosper. Who could possibly think negative towards any successful Modified event where everyone leaving the parking lot have smiles ear to ear because of what they just witnessed. What teams would not be happy leaving with a good wad of cash in their pockets? What could be so terrible about that? What’s so bad about making money? However, these recent open shows by like The BULLRING BASH at Lee, the SBM IV at Star and MODIFIED MADNESS at Seekonk, as far as James, Kevin and the Racing Guys, are another story in terms of where profits go.

Step 3: Making Profits?

Kevin Rice made it clear regarding the earning of any profits from the SBM races. “Money? How much did I lose you mean? Year one I probably lost another three grand in all. Funny to look back on it that was more than the teams got from event proceeds. I could have just given out a three grand point fund and saved myself a few hundred hours of hard work.

“Year two I was reimbursed for most of the expenses for promotional materials and such, but I put a bunch of my own money into the purse so I guess that would be considered a pretty significant loss, although it was my choice to do so.”

For 2013 the SBM III race drew a great car count with all three Northeast asphalt Modified Tours being well represented along with competitors from a few remaining tracks running tour type Modifieds regularly. “For SBM III last season I worked so hard and did so much that I really couldn’t tell you how the final numbers came out, but Bob Webber Sr., was very thankful and gave me more than I had asked him for. Honestly though, I have no idea if factoring in every expense and the money I put into the race myself was more or less than what I got in return, but I would guess that it was pretty close to even.

“We added $19,621 to the payoff through my efforts, so that was very rewarding, although we fell $379 short of the ultimate goal of an all-time record purse at Star of $45,000. That record was from an ISMA race when Russ Conway was promoter there, so it was quite a few years ago. I would probably go berserk if we made it to $45,000 this year with a packed house.”

When I asked James Schaefer about profits, laughing, he answered; “I make no money from this.. I take a lot of money out of my pocket.. The Tri Track is probably costing me $15,000 this year. Riverhead, on the other hand, may cost me only $3,000. It would have cost me nothing, except I made this promise to make the June race a $1,000 to start feature. I get no money back from doing this except for the possibility of the Lee race. If that show takes in any profit, any money I receive will go back into other races. We might even just raise the payout for the May 11 show on the spot. I am NOT doing this for profit.”

"Big Money" Matt Hirshaman is considered KIng of the Opens. Here victorious in the SBM III. Howie Hodge photo.
“Big Money” Matt Hirschman is considered KIng of the Opens. Shown here victorious in last year’s SBM III. Howie Hodge photo.

“Kevin Rice got me involved with some stuff at the SBM over the last few years. Now, with the Tri Track Modified Open Series, I recently retired, so I have more time on my hands. Dick Williams, one of the Racing Guys (along with Wayne Coats, Steve Main, Fred Perry, Butch Perry, and Charlie McGowan), had this idea of promoting a 3 race series with big money on the bottom, hence the $1,000 to start idea. I only met him last year at Seekonk, but he’s become a good friend who I talk to on the phone almost every day.” The Long Island Mod Maniac explained.  And that my fellow fans is how next week’s, Sunday, May 11th BULLRING BASH at Lee USA Speedway’s 3/8th mile semi-banked asphalt oval in Lee, NH came to be.

James’ response to trying his hand at the promotional side of a touring series is not only great material, but just as much a tribute to the kind of individual he is; “NO! There are days when I think even what I’m attempting this year will be a disaster and have no support. I’d have to take up drinking. I don’t think I can handle the large number of races that a series has. We have 3 races on this Tri Track and technically they are each independently run. What I do works because I have a lot of friends who love the Modifieds and are willing to fork over their money to make this a success. Without them, this wouldn’t even be happening. I’ve tried to get people to come on board as sponsors but it’s not easy. Thankfully, Applebees, Panera Bread and Red Roof Inn are helping out at Riverhead. But mostly you get rejected if you try to get corporate sponsors. And on the Tri Track, Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists, and Sunoco have come on board.”

“I’d love to see the LEE race be a huge success, with 40 Modifieds, and 4000 fans in the stands.” he said; “And the Racing Guys and Long Island Mod Maniac don’t lose their shirts. It would show us that people really want to see creative ideas in racing, and they want to see their Modifieds run for good money”

Matt Hirshman has got to be the favorite for the BULLRING BASH next Sunday at Lee USA Speedway.  Howie Hodge photo.
Matt Hirschman has got to be the favorite for the BULLRING BASH next Sunday at Lee USA Speedway. Howie Hodge photo.

So what’s the future hold for the Tri-Track Open beyond 2014? James laughed; “Future? Just get me through this year! Some teams have asked for a guaranteed spot, but unfortunately,this year, it’s gonna be race to get in. I will never forget going to my first Turkey Derby, and watching Charlie Jarzombek NOT qualify. It sucked for me as a fan and him of course, but I will never forget that. I’d hate to see Ryan Preece or Matty Hirschman show up for a race like this and not qualify, but I think having a large number of cars will make it very interesting.”

These guys, as all of us, are fans first. They are in it for all the right reasons and unlike some in the past who have made good money off of Open Shows, the money taken in from these events for which they gather get’s poured back into the sport. The payoff for their efforts is a great field and packed house at every event. Considering the purse, contingencies and awards, I’d say the Tri-Track Open Modified Series events will live up to the old school opens of great seasons past. In turn the teams and drivers who compete in these events will join the likes of the old school Modified warriors who align our hall of fames and championship walls at speedways across the Northeast and down the east coast. Is there anything better? I doubt it.

Until next week, with a very special NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo, safe travels and enjoy the racing where ever you may go.