Tuesday January 10, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

While some race fans are settling into the New Year almost all are looking foreword to 2012 when racing begins again. As of this Friday, Jan 13, five weeks remain before the start of the annual World Series at New Smyrna and Speedweek at the Daytona International Speedway. Racing at New Smyrna begins on Friday night, Feb 17 and the 34th annual season-opening Sprint Cup Shootout event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 18. Speedweek is actually one week later than usual this year. Because of the fact that Speedweek is a week later this year many timeshare owners for the traditional Speedweek have been literally been left out in the cold. Evidently the International Speedway Corporation didn’t think or didn’t care about the ramifications to fans and competitors when they made the change. Maybe they didn’t have a choice as the TV networks dictate schedules. The Super Bowl is on Sunday, February 5, 2012.

The Speed51 web site reported that there has been a major shake-up in the tech and race directing roles for the various Modified divisions for February's World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). Glenn Luckett (of the CRA Super Series) will be the race director for the Tour-Type Modifieds, the SK Modifieds and the Florida Modifieds, while noted Deep South Late Model tech man Ricky Brooks will handle the tech duties for the Modified divisions. Luckett and Brooks will assume the roles previously held by longtime World Series Modified race director/tech man Dick Brooks. Luckett will also handle the race directing for the full-fendered divisions, as well.

Just when you thought that NASCAR was trying to help the racer they go ahead and raise license fees. For the 2012 season driver/owner licenses are $350.00 each Crew members get a deal at $295.00 each.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series lost one of its biggest and most loyal supporters last Thursday, Jan 5, when long time car owner and former driver Roger Hill passed away. Hill co-owned Hillbilly Racing with his wife of 43 years, Sandra. He was 64 years old. He is also survived by two sons and a daughter-in-law, David Hill & Susan Gammons of Westfield and Dale Hill & wife, Amanda of Westfield; his mother, Virginia Gray Hill of Westfield; six grandchildren, Derrick Hill, Tara Hill, Allison Hill, Dale Jr. Hill, J.D. Gammons and Casey Gammons; two brothers and a sister-in-law, Jerry Hill & wife, Jessie and James Michael Hill all of Westfield; two sisters and a brother-in-law, Renee Harper & husband, Mark of Apex, NC and Tammy Merritt of Westfield, NC; a honorary son, Daniel Hemrick of Kannapolis, NC and a special friend, “Yankee Jon” Jon Siglain of Westfield, NC.
Funeral services for Roger were held on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 3:00pm at State Line Primitive Baptist Church with Pastor Dr. Jerry Whitlow, Rev. Ricky Rogers, and Rev. Bobby Dalton officiating. Burial immediately followed in the church cemetery.

Belated Happy Birthday wishes to the Rocco twins who turned 27 last week. Former National Champion Keith Rocco will tie the knot with Cassie Ceravolo on Sept 2. Rocco has been described as hugely determined, immensely aggressive and spectacularly daring. Both quick and controversial, performances by Keith have made him some enemies while thousands have become fans. He has been at the top of "The Hunter Index", a ranking system of all NASCAR drivers, in each of the past four seasons.

During the 2011 season he surpassed 100 feature wins in his career while winning his third State Championship successively. For 2012, he explained his devotion and that of each team will remain unchanged.

The Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts is proud to announce that the US Legend cars sanctioned by INEX , Presented by Nick’s Pit Stop, will be an addition to the Fast Friday Line up for the 2012 Race Season. Seekonk, operated by the Venditti family since 1946, will still be running their regular racing programs on Saturday nights. Legends will also be running at the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday nights during their regular season. Riverhead, which is NASCAR sanctioned, has been informed by the sanctioning body’s legal department that they will not permit Riverhead Raceway's NASCAR sanction for the Legend Race Cars.

In TV land, viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Thursday at noon with “The 10”. Another episode airs at 12:30. Winter Testing coverage from Daytona follows at 1:00pm and again at 3:00. At 5:00pm Speed replays the 1984 Firecracker 400 that was run at the Daytona Speedway. Thursday’s viewing winds up at 6:00pm with another Daytona test session. Friday’s afternoon schedule is a mirror image of Thursday except with the 1992 Atlanta Cup event replaying at 5:00pm. At 8:00pm Speed presents a Hall of Fame Biography of Glen Wood followed at 9:00 with a biography of Darrell Waltrip. Rounding out the weekend are Daytona Test sessions at 1:00pm, 3:00pm and at 7:30pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three-speedway stocks had positive finishes for the first week of the year. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports, which went up 0.12 to 15.45. Dover Motorsports went up 0.04 to 1.08 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.03 to 25.38. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.15 to 2.19 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.56 to 41.58and tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.98 to 15.15. The car makers were also strong for the week. Ford went up 0.95 to 11.71 while General Motors went up 1.65 to 22.92 and Toyota went up 2.38 to 68.51. The home improvement also had positive results for the week. Home Depot went up 1.16 to 43.20 and Lowes went up 0.96 to 26.34. The major team sponsors were a mixed bag. Dupon went up 0.26 to 46.04 and Fedex went up 1.98 to 85 49 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.72 to 56.73, Target Department Stores dropped 2.27 to 48.95 and Aarons Rentals dropped 0.30 to 26.10.

That’s 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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