Tuesday February 27, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                           

Now that Speedweeks in Florida is history it is time to look foreword to the season openers in the northeast. As of this Friday, March 2, thirty days remain before the season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday; April 1.Two weeks later on the 15th the Thompson Speedway presents their annual IceBreaker, which will be the official beginning of the 2007 Whelen Modified Tour Series. Two weeks after that it’s the annual Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway.
All eyes will be on the first annual Speedway Expo at the Better Living Center at the Big “E” in West Springfield, Mass. The show will feature just about every speedway and series in the northeast along with many top NASCAR stars and personalities. The show opens on Friday at 5:00pm and will run through Sunday. Show hours for Saturday are 10:00am to 9:00pm and Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets are priced at $15 each. Town Fair Tire is sponsoring the event and has a $5.00 discount available. A $5 parking fee is collected by Eastern States Exposition and does not benefit either Speedway EXPO or Speedway Illustrated. One parking-special coupon can be redeemed at the Speedway Illustrated booth at Speedway EXPO for $5 in savings on subscriptions to the magazine and on Speedway Illustrated hats and T-shirts. Another parking coupon is redeemable towards a “night of thrills with Tri-State Racing Limousines,” also an exhibitor at the show.

NHRA stars Melanie Troxel and Tommy Johnson, Jr. and NASCAR personalities Kenny Wallace, Clint Bowyer, Todd Bodine, Jeff Hammond and Mike Joy will make celebrity appearances. There will also be autograph sessions throughout the weekend with well-known racers from the Northeast.

The recent World Series in Florida served as a warm-up for many including John Blewett III. Blewett appears to be poised to make a serious attempt at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Blewett, who drove for Joe Brady in Florida will be driving a family owned Modified. Racing in Florida gives one a “leg up” on the competition. Don Lia is proof of that. A few years ago Lia used his time at New Smyrna to springboard his driving career on the Mod Tour. Lia is now a potential winner at every event plus is a championship contender. James Civali, who drove a Brady Team car is also on the brink of being a championship contender. Civali has honed his driving skills to the point where he too, is a potential winner at any event. Jimmy Blewett has the best of both worlds. He has a car owner who has the means to field both Tour type and SK type Modifieds. The younger of the two racing Blewetts, Jimmy cleaned house in the SKs and won the final three Tour type Modified events including the Richie Evans 100. He has joined his brother as being a potential winner and championship contender. Eric Beers, despite losing his ride in the Boehler No.3 because of a lack of sponsorship is expected to be a front runner in the car he drove at New Smyrna.

The Northeast Racing News recently carried the announcement that HD Net would extend their coverage of Busch East events to 2007. A while back NASCAR had indicated that there would be extensive television coverage of Tour Series events. With Speedweeks in Florida over and most of the major announcements made it looks like the Modifieds and NASCAR’s other regional series got the short end of the stick again.

In some sad news, Malcolm R. "Johnny" Thompson, 78, of Pond Drive, formerly of Pendleton Hill Road, North Stonington, died on Monday morning, Feb. 19, 2007 at his home. Johnny, a die hard Ford man, drove at many racetracks throughout his career from the old Kingston Fairgrounds in Rhode Island then at the Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Speedway and the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. He achieved his greatest success at the Norwood Arena where he was a Modified Champion. For many years Thompson and the late Leo Hill shared a garage in North Stonington where they fabricated their own cars.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Patricia E. (Ellal) Thompson of North Stonington; his son, John M. Thompson, husband of Beth of North Stonington; his daughter, Darlene C. Williams, wife of Michael of Ashaway, RI and his daughter, Donna L. Thompson of North Stonington; five grandchildren, Jakob, Nickolas, Malcolm, Thomas and Ethan; his brother, James Thompson of Bowdoinham, Maine; and many nieces and nephews.He was predeceased by his brother, George W. Thompson.

Mr. Thompson was born in North Stonington on March 9, 1928, the son of the late Malcolm E. and Arlena (Arzamarski) Thompson. He became a mechanic in the United States Army who received the World War II Victory Medal and the Korean Occupation Medal. He went on to own and operate Thompson Refrigeration Inc. of Westerly for many years. After retiring from racing, he spent his spare time snowmobiling, hunting and fishing. What he enjoyed the most though was the time he spent with his five grandsons.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot seven days a week. Last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Stater Brothers 300 which was run at the California Speedway will be re-shown on the Speed Channel at noon on Thursday. Last Sunday’s Nextel Cup event follows at 3:00pm. At 7:00pm the Speed Channel will show a preview of NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow. On Friday the action switches to ESPN2 for the final hour of Busch Series practice from Mexico City, Mexico at 5:00pm. At 8:30pm the Speed Channel presents their annual SPEED Performance awards. A one hour presentation of Great moments in the history of the Daytona 500 follows at 9:00pm. Saturday’s action begins at 11:30am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for the telcel Motorola Mexico 200 in Mexico City. On Sunday morning at 10:00am a special edition of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will preview the Busch Series event in Mexico City. The telcel Motorola Mexico 200 gets the green on ESPN2 at 2:00pm. The Speed Report on the Speed Channel wraps up the day’s racing at 7:00pm. Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel on Sunday night at 9:00pm caps off the weekend.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week the speedway stocks had a somewhat off week. Dover Downs had the only positive result as they went up 0.06 to 5.47. The International Speedway Corporation finished the week where they started, at 53.97. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.07 to 39.18. Nextel/Sprint went up 0.30 to 19.27. Sun Oil took a big jump as they went up 4.47 to 66.25. Goodyear also had a positive week as they went up 0.94 to 26.12. DIRT Motorsports remained at 2.00 all week for a no change. In the drug sector, Pfizer dropped 0.68 to 25.62 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.59 to 27.05. In the home improvement sector Lowes went up 1.66 to 34.93 while Home Depot dropped 0.48 to 40.96. The parcel carriers had a mixed bag. Fedex went up 3.92 to 120.97 while UPS dropped 0.70 to 73.34.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail

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

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