Tuesday February 24, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Weather permitting, the Bristol Motor Speedway, the newest addition to the schedule for the NASCAR Whelen and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours, will host teams from each series for a Hoosier Tires test this week on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be represented by its defending champion Ted Christopher, 2003 titlist Todd Szegedy and Ronnie Silk. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will have its reigning champion Brian Loftin and 2007 series winner L.W. Miller on hand to test. Troyer Race Cars was also invited to provide its No. 98 house car for the test session and Matt Hirschman was selected to get behind the wheel. In addition, all teams from both the NASCAR Whelen and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours with a valid 2009 NASCAR license are welcome to attend and observe.

Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig has shifted gears again at the northeastern Connecticut oval. In 2008 the Speedway hosted two Thursday night dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series in addition to his traditional dates. For 2009 he announced that he was dropping the June event and replacing it with an open competition non sanctioned Modified event. After much thought, Hoenig has decided to drop the idea of an open event and has replaced it with the True Value Modified Series and his regular Thursday Night Thunder Series divisions. The True Value Modified Series has become a legitimate alternative for those who can not afford the travel and associated expenses of racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Founded by Jack Bateman, the True Value Series runs at just about every track in New England. Notably absent from the True Value Series Schedule is the Stafford Motor Speedway.

Word has it that Donnie Lia will be back in the Mystic Missile for 2009. Through no fault of his own, Lia lost his full time truck ride due to the downturn on the economy. Chuck Hossfeld says he run his own equipment in the New York area. Lia will continue to race the truck in selected events. In addition to the possibility of Hossfeld not being on the Whelen Modified Tour Series it looks like Matt Hirschman will also be missing from the line-up as he has not secured a ride as yet.

The Waterford Speedbowl property continues to be a hot topic especially with a foreclosure looming in the near future. As of today, 2/24, six days remained before the shoreline oval was scheduled to be on the block. Itís a known fact that Rocky Arbitell is a big race fan. Chances are he will buy the note from himself and will own the Waterford Speedbowl, lock, stock and barrel for $750,000. If he hires the right professional people to run and promote the track it could be put back on a profitable basis. Years ago when the Arutes leased the Speedbowl, Ed Yerrington, who was the General Manager stated that the Speedbowl kept Stafford afloat while the track was rebuilding their weekly program after tossing out the Modifieds in favor of the SK Modifieds.

The Speedbowl needs to be owned by someone who doesnít need to make a living from the place. At least until the mortgage is paid off. You canít live high on the hog and not pay your bills very long because it catches up to you.

Surprise, surprise! In the never ending soap opera or shall we call it the Eames Gong Show, the master of deceit has done it again and dodged another bullet. When Rocco Arbitell got the word last week that Terry Eamesí lawyer had got an extension to the scheduled foreclosure and had it moved out to October, he was livid. In the mean time it is rumored Eames is continuing to try to sell the property to Ted Parker who he reportedly owes $800,000. Speaking of owing money, Eames owes Shawn Monahan $47,000. In lieu of paying, Eames has made the loan into a partial sale as the real estate transactions in last Fridayís New London Day indicated that 1080 Hartford Road LLC (Eames) had conveyed property to Monahan for $47,000. In an other tid bit, it was learned that the reason that all those who have applied for season passes or numbers using their Visa and Mastercards have not received anything as yet is because Eames does not possess the means to do the transactions. Visa and Mastercard do not give the means to conduct transactions to businesses or individuals who have bad or no credit.

When the Waterford Speedbowl gates open for the 59th consecutive season on March 28-29 for the 13th annual Modified Nationals, Budweiser and Levine Distributing will once again sponsor the 150-lap thriller. Boasting $20,000 in prize money, the event was the first of its kind for the SK Modifieds. The $5,000 winnerís share is the most lucrative in the region and historically attracts a banner field of competitors vying for bragging rights and the big payday.

Coming up this weekend is the annual Speedway Expo at the Big E in West Springfield, MA. As sponsor of Speedway EXPO, Sunoco is distributing thousands of $5-off coupons at 160 participating Sunoco stations throughout New England. The coupons will allow adults to attend EXPO for just $11. Children under 10 are free. The $5 discount coupons may be redeemed when tickets are purchased at the Speedway EXPO box office.

The Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 Modified driven by seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Mike Stefanik will be featured in the NASCAR display. Stefanik will be in attendance Friday evening, Feb. 27, for the Riverside Park Speedway reunion which will be held in conjunction with SpeedwayEXPO, along with fellow NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors Ted Christopher, Renee Dupuis and Reggie Ruggiero.

The sounds of the open-wheel Modifieds returned to Orange County Speedway in North Carolina last week for the first time in over 15 years and despite cold weather and snowy conditions the teams in attendance knocked off some very competitive laps in preparation for the March 6 & 7 Frost Bite Modified Winter NationalsĒ at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC.

Temperatures in the low 40ís and blowing snow did little to dampen the spirits of those on hand for the test and lap times were about a second a lap quicker than the regular OCS divisions. Ronnie Silk in the Hillbilly Racing #79 was the quickest of the group with laps in the 13:40 second range. Jay Foley wasnít far behind in his Foley Machine Chevy with laps in the 13:60 bracket and Jason Myers in the Tranthem/Moorefield, Myers Racing Ford turned laps in the 13:80ís. Silk and Foley tested the softer M-20 and M-30 combination and Myers ran the set-up with the harder M-45 compound on the right rear. ďThe OCS track record for the Modifieds was 12:92 when we ran here lastí, said Gary Myers, owner of the Jason Myers ride. The track is located on NC Hwy 57 half-way between Hillsborough and Roxboro, NC.

Interest continues to build for the upcoming indoor Midget Races at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Noted auto racing historian R.A. Silvia has been named the Grand Marshal for the March 6-7 event. Silvia, then 18, attended the three indoor Midget Car races held at the Rhode Island Auditorium in 1959. The final race on April 18, 1959, was won by Jerry Wall of Wallenburg , N.J. Silvia was recently presented the prestigious Danny Pardi Memorial Award by the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) club for his contributions as a long-time New England-area auto racing enthusiasts. Silvia, who has authored many articles over the years, said he has at least 50,000 photographs and/or negatives at his residence. Also, Silvia started the Pronyne Motorsports Museum in Pawtucket , R.I. The building is jammed with racing memorabilia from numerous race tracks over many decades.

Tickets can be purchased at the Dunkiní Donuts Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or online at: Friday tickets are $20 (front row for adults and children), $15 (adult seats) and $10 (children age 12 and under). Saturday tickets are $25 (front row for adults and children), $20 (adults) and $10 (children age 12 and under).

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now will be on at 5:00 on ESPN2 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for racing news. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel will replay the recent Daytona 500. On Thursday at noon Speed will replay last weekendís Auto Club 500 that was run in Fontana, CA. On Friday, NASCAR Confidential on Speed starts the day off at noon. Using archival footage and interviews, we get to see how the youth evolution began in NASCAR. Speed goes live at Las Vegas at 1:00pm. Live coverage by Speed continues at 1:30 with Nationwide Series practice and at 3:00 with Sprint Cup practice and again with more Nationwide practice at 4:30. NASCAR Live on Speed and NASCAR Now on ESPN2 go head to head at 6:00pm. At 6:30 Speed covers Sprint Cup qualifying from Las Vegas. At 8:30 they discuss the qualifying for 90 minutes. Saturdayís coverage begins at noon with Nationwide Series qualifying on Speed. Live coverage continues at 1:30 with 2-1/2 hours of Sprint Cup practice. The action moves to ESPN2 at 4:00 for the pre-race show that leads into the 4:30 start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas. This event will be replayed at 9:00am on Sunday on ESPN Classic. NASCAR Now goes at 10:00am on ESPN2. At 11:30 Speed presents the August 12 Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout, Round #10, Championship Night at the Lowes Motor Speedway. NASCAR RaceDay previews the Sprint Cup Shelby 427 at Las Vegas at 2:00. FOX goes live at 3:30 with flag to flag coverage. The Speed Channel has the Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:30 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:30pm on Sunday night.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. While Dover Downs went up 0.08 to 2.39, the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.87 to 20.51 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.37 to 11.93. For the second week in a row NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint had a positive ending as they went up 0.40 to 3.22. Fuel supplier Sun Oil fell 3.83 to 33.10. Tire supplier Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.95 to 5.97. The auto makers were also negative for the week. General Motors dropped 0.73 to 1.77 while Toyota dropped 0.71 to 64.74 and Ford dropped 0.18 to 1.58. With the exception of Aarons Rentals which went up 1.21 to 24.02 most of the team sponsors were down for the week. Dupont dropped 2.02 to 20.38, Coca-Cola dropped 1.39 to 46.38 and Target Department Stores dropped 0.33 to 29.75. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.76 to 19.46 and Lowes dropped 1.94 to 15.86. World Racing continues to hover at 0.04.

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, 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.

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