Tuesday April 1, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

As of this Friday, April 4, two days remain until the Whelen Modified Tour Series opening Thompson Speedway IceBreaker gets the green flag on Sunday, April 6. Waterford opens next Sunday on April 13. The True Value Modified Series begins on Sunday, April 20 at the Lee USA Speedway in Lee , NH . The Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the Annual Spring Sizzler on April 26-27.

Tickets for the Thompson IceBreaker will be $40 for adults, $10 for kids and a three day pit pass is $50. In addition to the Whelen Modified Tour 150 the IceBreaker will consist of six features including double features for the Sunoco Modifieds and Late Models. (Rain Date April 12-13).

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour tops the eight divisions of racing competition that will comprise the makeup of ICEBREAKER 08. The mighty NEMA Midgets will open their 56th consecutive season at the ICEBREAKER and these two exciting divisions will be joined by Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series “Super Six”. The “Super Six” consists of the fan favorite Sunoco Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Late Models, Thompson Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks.

All divisions will practice and qualify on Saturday. Once qualifying is complete, the Sunoco Modified and Thompson’s Late Model divisions will roll out onto the track for their first of two feature races on ICEBREAKER weekend.
Sunday’s activity begins with breakfast served between 7 and 11 AM . The track’s huge grandstand will open at 9:30 AM and the first on-track activity will begin at 12 Noon . Fans will be treated to eight feature event races in a very fast-paced race program.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 150 is slated for a mid-afternoon start and will be preceded by a very special pre-race program that will honor three of the NASCAR Modified division’s past champions.

Those wishing to avoid the long ticket lines on Sunday are urged to purchase their tickets ahead of time by calling the Thompson International Speedway track office. 860-923-2280.

NASCAR plans to recognize each of its past Modified champions throughout the season. The celebration will begin with the honoring of Frankie Schneider, Donny Lia and the late Richie Evans at the season-opening Icebreaker.

Schneider, who captured the NASCAR Modified division title in 1952, is the oldest living champion. Lia became the 60th Modified champion in NASCAR history when he won his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title in 2007. Both champions will be in attendance and will be honored during the pre-race festivities. In addition, NASCAR will recognize the accomplishments of Evans, one of the greatest champions in Modified history. Evans will be represented at the Icebreaker by family members, and one of his restored cars will be on hand for the event.

The Thompson Speedway held their second of two practice sessions this past Saturday in somewhat blustery conditions. According to Howie Hodge the following Whelen Modified Tour Series drivers were on hand to shakedown their cars: 0 - Danny Sammons, 3 - Ryan Preece, 10 - Ed Flemke, 11 - Anthony Sesely, 17 - Glen Reen, 21 - Richard Savory, 28 - James Civali, 32 - Tom Abele. Jr., 46 - Eric Beers, 58 - Kevin Goodale, 90 - Renee Dupuis, 93 - Rowan Pennink and 99 - Jamie Tomaino.

Kenny Barry, pinch hitting for Todd Ceravolo, in got in some decent runs in the Dick Ceravolo owned Sunoco Modified. The Ceravolos suffered engine problems the week previous and had installed a new powerplant.

With gasoline prices closing in on $4.00 per gallon Speedways hosting weekly racing programs will have a tough time getting their share of the entertainment dollar in 2008. For many, weekly wages have not kept up to the rising cost of fuel. Our entire economy is based on fuel costs because everything we buy is delivered by truck, most of our electricity is generated from burning fuel plus the fact we depend on our own transportation to get to work and to where we relax. The three ovals in Connecticut have their own areas in which to draw fans. The Thompson Speedway is in close proximity to Worcester, Ma as well as to Providence , RI . Thompson also draws fans from Norwich and Willimantic. The Waterford Speedbowl is located next door to New London , CT. Waterford draws its main core of fans from the Groton-New London area as well as Norwich and Willimantic plus southwestern RI. The Stafford Motor Speedway has Hartford and Springfield to draw from. Point being, there are many out there with entertainment dollars to spend. To fill their grandstands track operators have to bend a bit and ensure that anyone coming to their track gets the best bang for the buck. Family discounts, senior discounts, ladies nights, Scout nights are just a few ideas. Track operators need to encourage car pooling. Anyone entering the parking lot with four or more adults in the vehicle, give them a discount on admission. Ed Yerrington, who successfully promoted and managed Stafford and the Waterford Speedbowl often said, “Every place you have an empty seat you are losing money”, he added, “Even if you let them in for free, nine times out of ten you get something as they will eat and drink while they are there”. Hopefully all three Connecticut speedways will have successful seasons but it’s going to take a lot of work!

In TV land this week NASCAR Now continues on Monday through Friday on ESPN2 at 6:00pm . This weeks viewing begins at noon on Thursday when Speed replays last Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500the that was run at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia . Speed goes live on Friday at 1:00pm with NASCAR Sprint Cup practice from the Texas Motor Speedway. NASCAR Live and NASCAR Confidential follow at 2:30 . Qualifying at Texas begins at 4:00pm . NASCAR Live and Trackside at Texas follow at 6:30 . A taped delayed 90-minute practice session follows at 8:00pm . Speed goes live again at 9:30 with Sprint Cup qualifying. Trackside at Texas rounds out the day’s activities at the Texas Speedway. Saturday’s TV action starts at noon with Sprint Cup practice. At 2:30 the action switches to ESPN2 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Rounding out the day will be NASCAR Performance and Tradin’ Paint at Texas at 7:30 . Sunday’s action begins at 11:30 with a two hour NASCAR RaceDay which previews the upcoming Sprint Cup event. At 1:30 FOX goes live with flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung 500 from the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth , TX . On Sunday night the Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 . Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.00 to 40.92. Dover Downs went up 0.40 to 6.15 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.29 to 25.25. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint/Nextel showed a slight gain as they went up 0.04 to 6.41 while Nationwide Insurance which sponsors what was the Busch Series dropped 0.32 to 47.08. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil (Sunoco) dropped 3.42 to 52.26. NASCAR Tire supplier Goodyear was also down as they dropped 1.46 to 24.80. Coca-Cola dropped 1.54 to 60.46 while Dupont showed a gain of 0.99 as they closed at 46.44. Target Department Stores dropped 3.56 to 49.69 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.69 to 21.26. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.68 to 27.38 and Lowes dropped 0.56 to 22.67. The parcel carriers had a positive ending. Fedex went up 4.25 to 91.27 and UPS went up 0.60 to 72.26. The World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) showed some spark as the went up 0.05 to 0.34.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

Web Design Copyright © 2006 & - All Rights Reserved
Opinions expressed in Phil Smith's "Champ Trail" do not necessarily reflect the opinions of and the contents are the sole responsibility and opinions of the author.
For permission to reproduce any part of"Champ Trail" contact Phil Smith @
The "Champ Trail" is Copyright © 2006-2007 Phil Smith