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Tuesday February 26, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

This weekend, from Friday Feb 29 to Sunday, Mar 2 the second annual Speedway Expo takes center stage. The brainchild of Dick Berggren, Speedway Expo has something for everyone who is involved in auto racing. The show serves as a preview of the upcoming season.

SpeedwayEXPO ‘08 sponsored by Sunoco will be held in the Mallary Complex on the grounds of the Eastern States Expo Center in West Springfield, MA. With more than three acres of indoor space dedicated to motorsports, displays will include local and regional race tracks and association as well as vendors of performance parts, safety equipment, accessories and apparel and memorabilia. In addition there will be a full schedule of special events, including autograph sessions, the Pit Crew Challenge, pedal-car races for the kids and a host of special vehicle displays like Tony Stewart’s "Smoke deVille."

SpeedwayEXPO tickets are $15 for adults and children 10 and under are free. Coupons worth $5 off EXPO admission are available at participating Sunoco stations or may be ordered online at speedwayexpo.com or by calling 978-465-9099.

With the New Smyrna Speedway World Series and Daytona Speedweeks in the history books it’s now time to look foreword to season openers in the northeast. As of this Friday, February 29th thirty seven days remain until the Whelen Modified Tour Series opening Thompson Speedway IceBreaker gets the green flag on Sunday, April 6. Waterford opens one week later on April 13. The True Value Modified Series begins on Saturday night, April 12 at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester , NH . Two weeks after that the Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the Annual Spring Sizzler on April 26-27.

In some sad news, Ronnie Ambrosi, 78, of Stafford Springs, passed away on Saturday, (February 16, 2008) at Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs. Ron retired in 1992 as owner of the food concessions at Stafford Motor Speedway and Ronnies Restaurant where everyone came from far and wide to enjoy ice cream. Prior to the food concessions and the restaurant, Ron was co-promoter along with Clarence Benton of all events that took place at the speedway. He has had a relationship with the speedway for close to 67 years. As co-promoter of the track, which was dirt at the time, Ron had American Motorcycle Association motorcycle races on Sundays. On Thursday evenings he had semi-pro boxing. The ring was placed at the start-finish line of the racetrack. He was a member of the New England Antique Racing Association.

In TV land this week NASCAR Now continues on Monday through Friday on ESPN2 at 6:00pm . The Speed Channel will re-run last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 that was run at the California Speedway at noon on Thursday, Feb 23. Speed goes live at 1:00pm on Friday with NASCAR Live from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway followed by NASCAR Nationwide Series practice from Las Vegas at 1:30pm . NASCAR Sprint Cup practice follows at 3:00pm . The Sprint Cup cars qualify for the UAW Dodge 400 at 6:30pm . Sprint Cup practice will follow and will continue until 11:00pm . Saturday’s coverage begins at 11:00am with Trackside at Las Vegas followed at noon with NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying. Sprint Cup final practice follows at 2:30pm . The action moves to ESPN2 as they countdown to a 4:50pm start to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300. At 9:30 the Speed Channel reviews the 2007 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Sunday’s viewing will begin at 10:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Now. The Speed Channel will have a two hour Sprint Cup preview beginning at 2:00pm . Fox goes live at 3:30 for flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup UAW-Dodge 400 from Las Vegas . 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 out of the three speedway stocks were down. The positive finisher was Dover Downs which went up 0.07 to 6.98. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.24 to 29.79 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.66 to 41.41. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.66 to 8.91 while Sun Oil jumped 2.28 to 63.59. Goodyear went up 0.07 to 26.93 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.64 to 56.23. The World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) went up 0.02 to 0.35 as Target Stores dropped 1.00 to 52.07. Dupont rose 0.47 to finish out the week at 45.96 and Nationwide followed suit as they went up 0.21 to 43.24. Aarons Rentals also had a strong showing as they went up 0.72 to 19.68. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.25 to 27.77 and Lowes went up 0.26 to 23.59. The parcel carriers had a mixed week finish. Fedex went up 1.17 to 89.09 while UPS dropped 5.53 to 71.89.

Nationwide Financial Services Inc.'s board of directors approved an increase in the quarterly dividend to 29 cents a share from 26 cents on Wednesday, Feb 20. The dividend is payable on April 14 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 1. In other sponsorship financial news, The Board of Directors of FedEx Corporation declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per share on FedEx Corporation common stock. The dividend is payable April 1, 2008 to stockholders of record at the close of business on March 11, 2008 . The International Speedway Corporation received a huge financial shot in the arm as they announced a 10-year, multi-million dollar partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California ("Auto Club"), the nation's largest member of the AAA federation, to re-name California Speedway as Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. Specific financial terms were not released.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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