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For Tuesday Aug. 23, 2005

By Phil Smith
 
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night in what had to be considered a perfect night of racing. A good crowd, 8-9,000, a good field of cars, 37 Modifieds and good weather were the orders of the day. The hot topic of conversation is the ever increasing cost of fuel. Gasoline and Diesel fuel are now priced in the $2.60 per gallon range. Heating oil is expected to go through the roof this winter. Race fans are forced to pay more as are competitors. A survey in the pit area showed that car owners are all but paying the ultimate price. Roger and Sandra Hill own Hillbilly Racing based in Westfield, North Carolina. The Hills transport their car and gear to each event. Last weeks trip to Thompson saw $800 spent on fuel for their truck plus around $125 for tolls. Defending series champion Tony Hirschman says it costs $200 in fuel to make the round trip from North Hampton, Pa. Hirschman feels that engine and tire costs are still the biggest expenses. An engine rebuild is $10,000 and it took 11 tires to run 150 laps last Thursday night. Eric Beers also lives in North Hampton but doesnít have to deal with the expenses of transporting a race car now that he drives for Mike and Jannis Boehler. Beers says he spends $45.00 in gas to run a street car back and forth from his home to Thompson and back. Eddie Partridge has a unique expense as he has to pay $200 just to put his truck and trailer on the ferry that runs between Long Island and New London, CT. Home based in Riverhead, NY, Partridge makes the trip every week during the season as he races at Thompson as well as at Stafford on a weekly basis in addition to fielding a car for the Modified Tour Series. Partridge stated that he and Bo Gunning have had a parting of the ways and Jimmy Blewett, who has been driving for him at Riverhead, will also be driving weekly at Thompson and Stafford as well as running in Tour events that donít conflict with his weekly commitment at Riverhead. During the week Partridge operates a lucrative sand and gravel business on Long Island and has had to adjust his prices in order to keep up with the fuel increases. NASCAR Modified Tour Series Official Joe Larsen stated that the cost for a passenger car and the driver on the ferry is $41. Race teams and drivers who are based in Connecticut donít have it as bad but their costs have also gone up. Bob Garbarinoís Mystic Missile is based in Mystic, Ct, roughly sixty miles from Thompson and Stafford. Garbarino says his transportation costs are about $32.00. His driver, Jerry Marquis is also a Connecticut resident. Marquis travels from his home in Broadbrook in a motor home. He estimates his cost to Thompson, round trip, is $45-50. No one knows when the fuel costs will level off or go down. We are at the mercy of our friends in Washington, Texas and the Middle East.

Tony Hirschman cruised to a convincing win in the NASCAR New England Dodge Dealers 150 at the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night. Hirschman, the top time trailer, started seventh after the top ten redrew. Doug Coby, driving the Mansfield Ct. based No.77 of Curt Chase, started on the pole and led the first 80 laps before pitting. Coby ended up 14th after bad luck reared its ugly head. Ricky Fuller came from 18th to finish 2nd, his best finish in quite a while. Eric Beers started 19th and finished third. Mike Christopher had his best run to date in the Hills Enterprises No.79 as he took advantage of John Blewett IIIís transmission problems in the late going. Blewett had only high gear. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld. Sixth through tenth were Blewett III, Marquis, Tom Bolles, Donnie Lia and Dave Etheridge. Ted Christopher entered the event as the point leader but left in the runner-up spot, some 63 points in arrears. Christopher ended up 20th after experiencing a flat tire and an encounter with Tyler Haydt. Former series champion Mike Stefanik had one of those nights he would like to forget. Stefanik took a hard trip into the first turn wall after blowing a right rear tire on a lap 112 restart. In other Thursday night action at Thompson, Tom Cravenho ran away with the 30 lap Sunoco SK type Modified feature. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Ricky Shawn, third. Eric Bourgeois was the Mini Stock winner, Larry Barnett in the Sportsman div, Jeff Zuidema in the Late Models, Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads for the Waterford Speedbowl this coming Saturday night, August 27. This week's Big Y Supermarket flyer advertises a $5.00 discount off the general admission, using their discount card. The ticket price for the Mod Tour event at Waterford Speedbowl on August 27th is posted at $30.00. It was also announced that with Waterford ticket stubs from 8/6, 8/13, and 8/20 you would save an additional $5, potentially making admission $20.

Prior to the running of the Bud 150 at Thompson last Thursday NEAR Hall of Fame driver George Summers was honored for his many years as a driver, 1952 to 1983 with over 200 wins and numerous track championships. Summers paced the field in a Connie LaJoie Vega Modified that he had driven at Seekonk and Westboro. Summers had the distinction of winning the last race in which he drove which was the 1983 World Series at Thompson where he put the Art Barry No.21 in victory lane. Prior to pacing the field Summers received instructions on driving from George Savory!

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Kenny Horton took the win in the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Horton started third and after putting away Jeff Malave on the second lap, led the balance of the event to record the win. The first 29 laps went non-stop until the full moon syndrome kicked in which resulted in eight cautions for accidents. In the end, following Malave at the checker was Willie Hardie in the runner-up spot with Ted Christopher, third. Malave and Chuck Docherty rounded out the top five. Worth noting was the impressive run turned in by Jimmy Blewett who is the new hired gun for the Eddie Partridge Racing stable. In his first ever race at Stafford, Blewett finished an impressive sixth. Jim Peterson was the 30-lap Late Model winner and Andrew Durand was the Limited Late Model winner.

Waterford Speedbowl SK Modified competitor Diego Monahan was looking to become the first ever driver to win in all divisions at the shoreline oval. Rob Janovic had other ideas. Janovic went into no-mans land (the outside groove), on lap 19 of the 35 lap SK Modified feature, to take the lead and eventual win. Monahan, trying to protect his second place spot, ran Jeff Pearl into the turn three wall. That cost Monahan a top five finish as track officials put him to the back of the field. Ronnie Silk inherited second spot but had nothing for Janovic and had to settle for a runner-up finish. Dennis Gada, Rob Summers and Jay Miller rounded out the top five. Other winners were James Procaccini in the Sportsman, Allen Coates in the Late Models, Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks and Jason Palmer in the Legends.

 

Itís been just about a year since Don Hawk came on the scene to oversee the Modifieds of NASCAR. After asking many in the Thompson pit area what they thought of his job performance the general conclusion is he has done what NASCAR has allowed him to do. It was a big plus that Hawk was instrumental in getting Martinsville back on the schedule plus raising the purses. Television coverage of Modified Tour Series events never happened but it wasnít his fault. He did try. The general overall attitude of competitors and officials is the best that it has been in many years. Thatís a big plus!

Hopefully Hawk can convince his bosses to give him a broader range in which to operate. The Modifieds are an extremely healthy division and should stay that way for many years to come. NASCAR needs to dwell on that. It must be noted that competitors were extremely unhappy that there would be a half hour hot dog break in the middle of this yearís Thompson 300.

George Bessette, recently injured in a qualifying race for the Oxford 250 in Maine is now at home but has a long row to hoe before he gets back to work and racing. The Thompson Pro Stock racer is very sore and has a brace on. He is allowed to get out of bed to eat. He has to be in bed most of the time for the next couple of weeks. The brace will be on until December. He spoke with Randy LaJoie and Randy spoke with some people in the know at GM and they estimated his injuries displayed symptoms and bruises reflecting an 80-100 G hit! The HANS device did save his life! Bessette hit the wall head on which folded up the front clip like an accordion and went so far as to ruin the fuel cell! He crossed his arms to brace for the hit and had bruises on his forearms from the steering wheel. He also has bruised ribs. Cards of cheer can be sent to George Bessette, 55 North Nabby Road, Danbury, CT 06811.

 

Competitors in the southland got out of control which resulted in a bloody fight after a NASCAR-sanctioned Mini-Stock race at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC on August 13 which resulted in the indefinite suspensions of a driver and a car owner, NASCAR officials said. The victim, Maynard Peters, 47, was released Tuesday from Forsyth Medical Center after surgeries on his face and nose. He said he had 15 fractures in bones around his eyes and a broken nose, and that he can't work or eat solid food for at least six weeks. In notices issued to driver Kris Bradley and car owner James Rupert Sink, NASCAR officials said that they were suspended for actions detrimental to stock-car racing, failure to follow directives from NASCAR officials and fighting. Jerry Cook, NASCAR's competition administrator, said he was still gathering information from police and stadium officials. He said it was too early to say how long the suspensions will last. Winston-Salem police also are investigating Saturday's fight, but no charges have been filed, police Lt. Bill Cobb said. Peters said their cars made contact during the first stadium-stock, Mini Stock race of the night, causing Bradley to spin out. The fight started because they disagreed on who was at fault. Peters said he remembered about four men kicking and stomping on his head outside the Bowman Gray field house, where drivers collect their money when the races are finished. Sink has been involved in a racetrack fight before. He was convicted in Forsyth District Court last year of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury after he and other drivers were involved in a fight with driver Gary Brewer on Aug. 21, 2004. Brewer had a broken finger and cuts on his face, court papers said. Winston-Salem Speedway Inc. runs NASCAR-sanctioned racing on Saturday evenings during the summer at the Bowman Gray Stadium, which is owned by the city of Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

 

The New London Day reported last week that one of the major partners in New England Raceway LLC, which is proposing to build a $343 million auto racetrack in Plainfield, Ct, is embroiled in a stock-trading controversy involving another corporation. Gilbert Rossomando of Milford, who along with principal partner Eugene Arganese has promoted the racetrack development, is listed as a director and officer of Host America, a Hamden Ct-based company that is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and the target of several lawsuits. Host America, which trades as CAFE on the Nasdaq exchange, has experienced a dramatic rise and fall this past month. For most of its 19 years, it primarily operated as a food-service provider for schools, companies and government programs such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels. Recently, it has branched out into energy conservation.

 

In TV land, this weekís viewing will consist of an extensive amount of Speed Channel programming. NASCAR Nation is now on every day, Monday thru Friday at 7:00pm. This weeks viewing begins on Wednesday at noon with a rerun of last Saturdayís Busch Series 200 run at the Michigan International Speedway. At 5:00pm NASCAR Fast Forward recaps last weekends Busch Series and Nextel Cup events at Michigan. The action moves to the Outdoor Channel at 8:00pm for the World of Outlaws Sprints. The Speed Channel goes live at 9:00pm with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from Bristol, TN. Thursdayís action begins at noon when the Speed Channel revisits the 2004 Nextel Cup Sharpie 500 run at Bristol last August. At 3:00pm the action continues with last Sundayís Nextel Cup event run at Michigan. On Friday at noon the USAR Hooters Cup moves to Jefferson, GA. NASCAR goes live at 2:00pm at Bristol with final practice for the Nextel Cup Sharpie 500. Live coverage continues at4:30pm with live coverage of Busch Series qualifying from Bristol. At 6:00pm the live action switches to TNT for Nextel Cup qualifying followed by the Busch Series Food City 250 at 8:00pm. The Nextel Cup Sharpie 500 at Bristol goes live on TNT Saturday night at 7:30pm. Subscriptions for Louís Motorsports TV Calendar are now by e-mail only and can be had for $12.00 per year. The all-new version features larger type, better accuracy and more detailed. Checks can be sent to LMTVC, 27 Bayberry Drive, #2, Sharon, Mass. 02067.

On the Speedway Stock market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a negative note. The International Speedway Corporation was the big loser as they dropped 1.36 to 56.75. Dover Downs also had a negative week as they went down 0.18 to 6.62. On the positive side was Speedway Motorsports, which went up 0.09 to 38.50. Nextel bounced back after two negative weeks as they went up 0.95 to 25.95. On the down side was Sun Oil which went down 3.24 to 62.48. Action Performance dropped 0.01 to 10.84 and Featherlite Trailers dropped 0.21 to 3.44. For the second week in a row Boundless Motorsports showed a no-change as they rested at 4.65. The drug sector had a negative week as Pfizer dropped 0.61 to 25.55 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.32 to 24.68. The home improvement sector didnít fare any better. Home Depot dropped 0.91 to 40.37 and Lowes dropped 0.50 to 64.69. Parcel carrier UPS dropped 1.58 to 71.48 while Fedex went up 0.12 to 84.77.


 

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com  


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