Despite the fact that winter has descended upon us, race fans and competitors are thinking positive and are looking foreword to 2006. As of this Friday, January 17, three weeks remain until Speed Weeks start in Florida. The New Smyrna World Series will get the green flag on Friday night, February 10. Action at Daytona Beach for the Nextel Cup division shifts into high gear on Saturday, February 11. Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck and Rolex 24 Hour cars will be holding practice sessions during the month.
Even though winter has settled in there is still a lot going on. This coming weekend on January 21 & 22 is the annual Ben Dodge Swap and Sell on January 22 & 22 at the Better Living Center on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass. The Thompson Speedway will hold their annual awards banquets on January 27-28 and on January 29 is the Ninth annual NEAR Hall of Fame induction’s at the LeRenissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. Tickets for the NEAR HOF are $40 each and can be secured by contacting Dan Pardi at 860-569-1299 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race wise, January is one of the deadest months of the year. For Ted Christopher it will be business as usual. Christopher has secured a ride for the 2006 edition of the Three Quarter Midget/600cc Micro-Sprint spectacular in the Atlantic City Indoor Race at Boardwalk Hall, which is scheduled for Jan. 20-21 in Atlantic City New Jersey. Christopher's visit to Atlantic City will come in the midst of what is a very busy period for him. Last Friday (January 13th) Christopher signed autographs at the Motorsports 2006 Presented by VP Racing Fuels show in Fort Washington, Pa. On Saturday he flew to Homestead, Fla., to test the Bromos Racing Porsche that he'll co-drive in the Jan. 28-29 Rolex 24 sports-car race at the Daytona International Speedway. After returning home to run the Indoor Race, he heads back to Florida on Jan. 25 for some asphalt Modified testing at New Smyrna Speedway and then the Rolex 24 activities at Daytona. Christopher, who owns and operates a transmission rebuilding service in Plainville, Ct, will return to the north for about a week before making another Florida trip to compete in asphalt Modified and Super Late Model events that are part of the Feb. 10-18 World Series
It looks like former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Todd Szegedy and James Civali have landed full time rides for 2006. Szegedy, who had been working for Nextel Cup car owner Robert Yates, has been selected to drive for Michael Smeriglio of Greenwich, CT who has purchased the cars of Don Barker Racing. Smeriglio also announced that Phil Moran of Waterbury, CT will take on the crew chief duties of the Unilever modified, reuniting the combination that captured a total of seven victories over the two seasons they were together as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2003. Moran had been working as a fabricator at Chassis Dynamics. Wisk detergent is among the car sponsors. James Civali will be in the King Racing 28 Tour Modified for the full tour season in 2006. He will also be driving the family owned Busch East car in a few select Busch shows. Civali replaces Tyler Haydt.
A note from Joe Brady Racing indicates that Nevin George will not be driving for Joe Brady at New Smyrna this year, John Blewett III will. Don Lia has filed an entry as has Chris Pasteryak. Pasteryak hopes to hone his time trialing skills as well as getting valuable. Ted Christopher will definitely be in the Bear Motorsports No.14 and Zach Sylvester will be in the Hills Enterprises No.79. Kevin Goodale has filed an entry along with Mike Ewanitsko. Modified Race Director Richard Brooks says that entries now total 26 for the Modifieds and 16 for the SK Modifieds.
The Waterford Speedbowl held its annual awards banquet last Saturday. Guests of honor included Track Champions Rob Summers, in the SK Modifieds, Mark St Hillaire in the Late Models, Norm Root JR in the Sportsman, Danny Field in the Mini Stocks and Jeff Paul in the Legends.
The Speedbowl, in continuous operation since 1951, has been a mainstay for outside summertime entertainment on the Connecticut shoreline. Modifieds have been their lead division since day one. In addition to their regular racing divisions the Speedbowl hosted the Whelen Modified Tour Series, Busch North Series, NEMA Midgets, ISMA Supers and True Value Modifieds.
Over 600 looked on at the affair capped off a season that produced almost 50 winners. All are first-time champions. "Now I know what it takes," said Summers who praised his fellow champions.
Summers and St. Hiliare captured two of the closest point races in Speedbowl history, Summers edging Ron Yuhas Jr. by four points and St. Hiliare besting Allen Coates by just two. Yuhas was the SK "Sportsman of the Year Winner," Race Director Steve Harraka praising his attitude and behavior through the point battle. The other Sportsman of the Year winners were Mark and Chris Bakaj (Legends), Tom Smith (Mini Stocks), Joe Curioso III (Sportsman) and Duane Noll (Late Models). The pit crews of St. Hilaire and Root were also honored. Other top pit crews were the Esposito Brothers (Mark and Vin) in the Legends, Bill Leonard in the Mini Stocks and Tom Fox in the SKs, the latter two earning praise for their perseverance. Ken Cassidy, who had four wins including the 50-lap "Finale" and also set a new Mini Stock qualifying record, headed up the Rookie of the Year winners. Other top rookies were Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends), Rich Staskowski (Sportsman), Jay Lozyniak (Late Models) and Diego Monahan (SKs). The Most Improved winners included teenagers Jason Palmer, who went from 20th in 2004 to third in the 2005 Legends standings, and Joe Godbout III, the 2004 Mini Stock Rookie of the Year winning four features and finishing fourth in 2005 with four wins. Other Most Improved trophies went to Joe Perry (Late Models), Al Stone III (Sportsman) and Mike Finkeldey (SKs).
The coveted Race Directors Award went to Tim Fogg III, the veteran Sportsman competitor providing one of the great emotional 2005 moments with his first-ever feature win. Richard "Bubby" Brouwer, the grounds supervisor was recognized as the top employee. General Manager Bill Roth presented the special plaque. Charlie Pasteryak, the wrench on son Chris’ car, won the Mechanic of the Year from NASCAR. Paul Schaefer, senior editor of NASCAR Illustrated, presented the award.
"Nothing beats being champion," said Field who has captured other prizes along the way. Root called it "a dream fulfilled." Jeff Paul, who recalled playing with model cars in front of the grandstand, made special mention of grandfather Arthur while an emotional St.Hilaire acknowledged a special relationship with his father John. "I remember many years ago bringing home some piece of junk race car," said St. Hilaire. "’What are you going to do with that?’ he asked. He’s been there all the way."
Roth, who received high praise from owner Terry Eames, said 2005 was a "great year" and predicted "an even greater 2006." The season starts April 1-2 with the tenth annual Budweiser Modified Nationals.
Track announcers Matt Buckler and Gary Danko shared the master of ceremonies role
In TV land, this week’s viewing will consist of mostly Speed Channel programming. This weeks viewing begins on Tuesday, January 17 at 6:30pm same day tape delayed coverage of Nextel Cup testing at the Daytona International Speedway. At 7:00pm the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction in Scotsdale, Arizona gets four hours of live coverage. On Wednesday, NASCAR Beyond the Wheel starts the day at 9:30am. NASCAR Fast Forward, at 2:00pm, recaps the September Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck events at Bristol. At 6:30 another day of Nextel Cup testing at Daytona gets reviewed. At 7:00pm it will be another four hour session of the Arizona auction. On Thursday at 9:30am NASCAR’s Beyond the Wheel features Mark Martin at the Kansas City Speedway. At 2:00pm NASCAR’s Fast Forward recaps the Nextel Cup and Busch Series events that were run at the California Speedway in September. On Friday evening at 7:00pm the 1997 Bosch Spark Plug Champ Car event run at the now closed Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania will be shown on ESPN Classic. The only viewing on Saturday will be an eight hour marathon session of the Scotsdale auction beginning at 2:00pm. More of the same on Sunday beginning at 3:00pm. On Sunday evening at 7:00pm same day taped delayed coverage of Busch Series testing will be shown. Speed News Sunday wraps up the weeks racing activities at 7:30pm.
On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three-speedway stocks had a positive ending. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports, which went up 0.42 to 35.57. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.05 to 48.45 and Dover Downs went up 0.05 to 6.33. Nextel finally had a positive week as they went up 0.08 to 23.34. Sun Oil had another good week as they went up 2.74 to 88.26. It was also a good week for Featherlite Trailers as they went up 0.52 to 4.66. On the down side for the second week in a row was DIRT Motorsports which dropped 0.05 to 5.75. The drug sector had a negative week. Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.35 to 22.43 and Pfizer dropped 0.20 to 24.65. Just the opposite was the home improvement sector. Lowes jumped up 1.51 to 66.21 and Home Depot jumped up 1.52 to 41.90. A new Lowes is in the process of being built about a mile from the Waterford Speedbowl. Home Depot, which is in close proximity, has scaled back it’s ordering of stock and appears to be running scared. A little competition never hurt anyone. The concearn with the best quality and best prices will win out in the end. The parcel carriers had an off week. Fedex dropped 2.59 to 100.00 and UPS dropped 0.72 to 74.51.