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Tuesday January 22, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Rumors of the demise of the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey continue to surface. Track Public Relations Director Mike Clayton says things look good for 2008 and expects to be able to make an announcement shortly. On the local front in New England at the Waterford Speedbowl Jerry Robinson along with Dave Dykes are working hard to bring some weekly stability to the shoreline oval. Like their peers at Wall Township, the competitors and fans at the Speedbowl are an extremely loyal group and will support the current management provided they continue to make an honest attempt at keeping the facility afloat.

For the most part itís pretty quiet on the auto racing front. As of this Friday, Jan 25, its only 14 days before the green flag drops at the Annual World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Modified Tour type and SK type entrys have been slow in arriving. With gas prices running between $3.05 to $3.25 along with diesel fuel going through the roof car owners may be having second thoughts about traveling to Florida this year. To date only 10 Tour type and six SK type Modifieds are entered.

Rounding out the month will be the 11th Annual New England Antique Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Dinner which takes place this coming Sunday at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in E. Windsor, CT.

Congratulations to Preston CT Modified car owner Art Barry who was inducted into the New York State Stock Car Racing Association's Hall of Fame last Saturday night in Albany, NY. Barry, who originally started at the Waterford Speedbowl in 1952 as a teenager advanced to a point where he is considered one of the top Modified car owners and builders. He was honored along with drivers Buzzie Reutiman, Maynard Troyer and Bob McCreadie. Among the many drivers that have driven Barry cars were Bob Santos, Jerry Dostie, Leo Cleary, Mike Stefanik Bob Potter, Eddie Flemke and Mike Ewanitsko to name a few.

The Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts held their 62nd consecutive Banquet of Champions at the Venus de Milo Restaurant in Swansea, MA on Saturday, January 19. In addition to many competitor awards the Venditti family which operates the ľ mile Speedway presented the prestigious D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Award to an individual who has devoted his life to short track auto racing, veteran writer and historian R. A. Silvia. The Warwick, RI resident, who serves as chairman of the NEAR Hall of Fame Veteranís Committee, has worked tirelessly and effectively to bring honor to many pioneering racers. In 2003, he and fellow archivist Ric Mariscal dug into their own pockets and created the Pronyne Motorsports Museum in Pawtucket, RI, a 7,400 square foot shrine to New Englandís stars and cars of yesteryear.

In TV land this week NASCAR Pre-season Thunder for the Nationwise Series wraps up their season at 7:00pm on Tuesday. On Wednesday at 3:30pm Speed presents Drag Boat Racing. At 7:00pm Speed shows highlights of the NASCAR Pre-season Thunder, Sprint Cup Series Media Tour from Charlotte, NC. On Thursday, starting at noon, Speed will show three hours of Summer Shootout, Legends Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing that was held last summer at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. At 7:00 itís the highlights of the days NASCAR Pre-season Thunder, Sprint Cup Series Media Tour from Charlotte. On Friday it will be more Summer Shootout, Legends Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing from Charlotte beginning at noon and running through 4:00pm on Speed. At 7:00pm Speed will recap the days activities on the NASCAR Pre-season Thunder, Sprint Cup Series Media Tour from Charlotte. Saturdays action on the Speed Channel begins at 11:00am with boat racing. FOX goes live at 1:00pm with coverage of the start of the Rolex Sports Car Series 24 Hours of Daytona from the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Among the anticipated starters is Ted Christopher. At 2:30 the action moves to the Speed Channel for continued live coverage from Daytona that will last until 10:00pm. Live coverage of the 24 Hours resumes at 6:00am on Speed and carries through the finish, somewhere around 2:00pm. Following the Daytona event Speed heads for the snow in upstate New York for coverage of the recent Bodine Bobsled Challenge where famous drivers on the NASCAR circuit try out the speed sensation on Geoff Bodine's bobsleds at Lake Placid, NY. At 4:00pm Speed goes to Charlotte, NC for round 7 of the Summer Shootout for Legends Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down in what was one of the worst weeks on Wall Street in years. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.24 to 29.31 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.22 to 39.21. Dover Downs showed a modest gain for the week as they went up 0.03 to 6.66. Sprint/Nextel took a dive as they dropped 3.55 to 8.70. Nationwide, which recently took over from Busch Beer didnít do much better as they dropped 5.44 to 39.01. Sun Oil dropped 0.98 to 59.68 and Goodyear dropped 0.03 to 24.25. On a positive note, DIRT Motorsports went up 0.03 to 0.38. The home improvement sector had a positive week. Lowes went up 1.88 to 22.19 and Home Depot went up 1.57 to 26.28. The parcel carriers were down for the week. UPS dropped 2.43 to 67.16 and Fedex dropped 0.03 to 84.01. Coca Cola, one of the best stocks in the world, had an off week as they dropped 0.41 to 56.24. Dupont, another Blue Chip, dropped 1.96 to 42.70. Retail giant Target was on the positive as they went up 0.15 to 50.10. Aarons Rentals took another dip as they dropped 1.25 to 15.30.

Sprint Nextel Corp reported deeper than expected subscriber losses late last week and said it would cut about 4,000 jobs which sent its shares down 26 percent and raised fears that an economic slowdown would take a greater toll on the wireless industry. The No. 3 U.S. mobile phone service has been losing ground to bigger rivals such as AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless amid network and customer service problems that drove away valuable post-paid subscribers who pay monthly bills. Analysts said it was a dismal performance even for Sprint, which lost post-paid subscribers in five of the last six quarters, since end-year holiday sales are usually a strong point for wireless carriers.

Last Friday, Sprint shares fell $3.01 to $8.56, its steepest drop in a single trading day for nearly three decades. AT&T shares slipped 2.8 percent to $36.27. Shares in Verizon Communications, which along with Vodafone Group Plc owns Verizon Wireless, dropped 3.9 percent to $39.30. Sprint will also eliminate more than 4,000 kiosks within other retailers. Sprint has 20,000 total distribution points, including 1,400 of its own retail stores.

Thatís 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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