Tuesday January 29, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

As of this Friday, February 1, two 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.

The World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway begins on Friday night, Feb 15. Action at the Daytona Int. Speedway also begins on Thursday Feb 14 with ARCA practice at 1:00pm and on Friday with NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at 5:00pm and at 6:30pm as teams prepare for the Sprint Unlimited (formerly Busch Clash) event.

NASCAR announced early last week the appointment of Jimmy Wilson to the position of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director and Juston Ellis to the same position for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Wilson, originally from Orlando, Fla., has served the two previous years as director of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Heíll now lead the northeast-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which traces its roots back to the first NASCAR-sanctioned event in 1948. Ellis, who hails from Suffolk, Va., will fill the void left by Wilson. He served the two previous seasons as the technical director for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

Hopefully Wilson will take more of an interest in the Modified division and it's competitors than Chad Little did!

Former Modified car owner Mario Fiore reported on his Facebook account that a great time was had last Saturday night at the Ryan Preece "Fan appreciation Party" held at the Stafford Speedway Clubhouse. All of Ryan's race Team's, family & fans filled the old clubhouse including the whole Eric Sanderson/ EastWest Marine WMT #16 Whelen Modified Tour Race Team was present along with Bob Hitchcock's #40 SK Team, Al & Cathy Moniz's #31 SK Team & a very large L.I. contingent from Bill Park's #20 Nascar Modified.

Fiore added that the "high-point" of the evening came after all the prizes were given out including a Flat-Screen when a little about 10 year old kid came up to the microphone & started telling us about how he was hospitalized recovering from a very serious operation when he received a visit from Ryan Preece & just how much that visit meant to him & his recovery & is something that he will be forever grateful. Said Fiore, " Ryan Preece "gets-it" & that's why he is where he is today !!!"

On a sad note the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH announced that Former Race Director, Carleton Merrill had passed away. Carl was a fixture in the handicap tower at Monadnock Speedway for many many years (too many to count) greeting competitors at each race event with a smile prior to his retirement in 2011. Carl had a passion for racing and was very dedicated to his passion! He will be missed!

Carl Merrill became the NASCAR Chief Steward at the Norwood Arena Speedway in 1961 and held that position until the track closed for good in the fall of 1972. Merrill also served as the NASCAR Chief Steward at Thompson and Race Director at the Waterford Speedbowl when Dick Williams leased the track from Harvey Tattersall in 1978.

Another sad note, long time Modified Competitor Charlie Jones passed away Wednesday January 23rd. at the age of 71.

This weeks viewing schedule shows that the Speed Channel will replay Camping World Truck events at noon on the Speed Channel. The event from Kansas Speedway will air on Tuesday, Jan 29, Charlotte on Wednesday, Dover on Thursday, and Texas on Friday.

The Speed Channel will air a special on Kurt Busch at 8:00pm on Saturday, Feb 2 and a 90 minute special covering the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week with negative results from last week. Taking the biggest dip was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 2.49 to 26.45. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.21 to 16.16 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.03 to 1.77. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.01 to 5.64 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.00 to 46.25 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.06 to 13.87. Two of the three car makers were down for the week. Toyota went up 0.20 to 96.09 while Ford dropped 0.44 to 13.67 and General Motors dropped 0.21 to 29.07. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 2.35 to 67.82 and Lowes went up 1.59 to 38.58. The big team sponsors were mostly positive except for Coca-Cola which dropped 1.70 to 64.26. Dupont went up 2.34 to 48.33 while Target Department Stores went up 0.01 to 61.54, Aarons Rentals went up 0.13 to 30.25 and Fedex went up 2.65 to 102.57.

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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