Tuesday January 22, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

As of this Friday, January 25, four short weeks remain before Daytona and New Smyrna come alive with the sound of racing engines as Speedweeks shift into high gear. Ryan Preece has added his name to those who will compete in the inaugural "Battle at the Beach" Whelen Modified Tour Series event at the Daytona International Speedway. Preece will drive the Flamingo Motorsports #16 that he drives in Tour series action.

In what had to be a big surprise Florida's New Smyrna Speedway, and its first cousin Orlando SpeedWorld, signed contracts last Friday afternoon to become part of the NASCAR Home Tracks program. “It's time to change horses,” track general manager Terry Roberts said. “It's time to move on and remember FASCAR as a great racing tradition.”

With a NASCAR sanction in place hopefully the speedway will better enforce tech rules better than they have in the past. Modified fields of cars have dwindled in recent years. The economy is partly to blame but another factor has been allowing a certain few ignoring the rules of competition.

New Smyrna Speedway was built by a group of investors, led by Clyde Hart, in the early 1960s and formed its own sanctioning body, FASCAR, in the 1980s. The track has been wholly owned by the Hart family for four decades. The half-mile asphalt oval, which has become a favorite test track for Sprint Cup Series teams, will hold its last FASCAR-sanctioned races Saturday night.

Among those who have filed entries for the upcoming World Series are Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeldt, Eric Goodale, Matt Hirschman and Woody Pitkat. All though he has yet to file an entry it has been said that Ted Christopher will compete in the Joe Brady entry.

Stefanik, and his Brad Lafontaine-led crew, is heading to the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18-19. But the team will get in a couple nights of racing a few miles down the road during New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing for a pre-Daytona shakedown. Following the Daytona event Stefanik will return to New Smyrna to finish out the week which will culminate with the Running of the Richie Evans Memorial 100.

With New England’s Valenti Modified Racing Series celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013, President and Founder Jack Bateman announced a 19-race schedule for the upcoming season. The Waterford Speedbowl will host the season opener on April 6 & 7.The upcoming season looks to be the best yet as ‎59 teams have registered so far for the 2013 MRS racing season.

Newcomers include Dylan Kopec, Dan Meservey, and Rob Richiardi . In addition, Keith Rocco, Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, and Richard Savary are registered. Former regulars, Jacob Dore, Todd Annarummo, Kevin Ianarelli, David Roys, Eddy Spiers , Butch & Shelly Perry, Kirk Alexander, Jim Boniface and Jimmy Dolan have also secured their car numbers.

Racing scribe Lou Modestino advises that Seekonk Speedway has announced that the 9th Annual Open Wheel Wednesday will be held on Wednesday, July 17th. The Modified Madness portion of this event has produces some of the most spectacular races in recent New England history, starting with the last lap pass by Donny Lia to pick up the first $10,000 winner prize. With a green, white, checkered finish, Lia squeezed past Ted Christopher and went on to carry the checkered flag, in a race that the fans talked about for years. The 2012 event still has people buzzing about the side by side clinic put on by Ryan Preece and eventual winner Matt Hirschman. Matt became the only driver to win this prestigious event twice. Additional winners include Doug Coby, Chris Pasteryak, Kirk Alexander, Vinny and Todd Annarummo and Lia.

Competitors from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Race of Champion Modifieds, and from independent speedways from New York to New Hampshire have attempted to bring home the big dollar prize.

In addition to the Open Wheel Wednesday, The Action Track of the East will host the Valenti Modified Racing Series on three occasions, as the speedway celebrates their 68th season of competition. The VMRS will invade the Bay State oval on Saturday, June 8 and August 17, and again on October 5, for the annual D.Anthony Venditti Fall Classic.

In an unrelated matter the famous BatMobile was sold at auction last week for $4,200,000.

This weeks viewing schedule shows that the Speed Channel will replay the Phoenix Sprint Cup event at noon on Tuesday, 1/22. Speed will also replay Cup event run at Homestead-Miami on Wednesday at noon. The Camping World Truck race held in Daytona last February will replay on Thursday at noon and the truck race run at Martinsville will air on Friday at noon. NASCAR RaceHub airs Monday through Friday at 6:00pm.

Speed goes live on Saturday at 3:00pm for the start and the first nine hours of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Speed picks it up again on Sunday morning at 9:00am. Coverage will continue to 4:00pm when the event finishes up. Speed Center at 7:00pm rounds out the weekend. On Monday at noon Speed will air the Rockingham Truck event.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week in the black. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.34 to 28.94 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.01 to 1.80 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.35 to 17.37. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.27 to 5.65 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.49 to 47.25 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.03 to 13.81. Two of the three car makers were down for the week. Ford went up 0.11 to 14.11 while General Motors dropped 1.08 to 29.28 and Toyota dropped 0.22 to 95.89. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.77 to 65.47 and Lowes went up 1.16 to 36.99. With the exception of Coca-Cola which went down 0.50 to 65.96, the big team sponsors had a pretty good week. Dupont went up 0.84 to 46.99, Target Department Stores went up 1.46 to 61.53. Aarons Rentals went up 1.09 to 30.12 and Fedex went up 2.42 to 99.82.

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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