Tuesday June 13, 2006

By Phil Smith

It looks like the proposed domed speedway in Plainfield, CT is a dead issue as town zoning commissioners voted 4-1 late last week to eliminate a controversial one-year-old development district that incorporated 822 acres east of Interstate 395 near exits 87 and 88. The commission voted unanimously to also repeal the supporting zoning regulations that enabled the district to be established. The decision became effective last Saturday. The development district, which was commonly referred to as the C5 zone, was originally proposed by New England Raceway LLC, a Trumbull, CT-based firm. Developer Eugene Arganese, who had previously all been run out of North Stonington, spent the better part of the summer of 2004 garnering support for the zoning concept and his proposal to build a nearly $400 million domed auto racetrack. After a first failed attempt in November 2004, Arganese was successful in getting the regulations passed and the zoning map amended to establish the district with the Plainfield Greyhound Park on Lathrop Road at its anchor. He secured options on hundreds of acres in the area with promises to purchase the properties for prices much higher than market value once he received all necessary approvals for his project. Arganese, who did not attend last week’s meeting, has never filed an application for his proposed 140,000-seat racetrack. In May, the LeBlanc family on 226 Lathrop Road filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Arganese. Family members allege he failed to purchase their property for the $894,700 he promised by Dec. 31, 2005.

The Thompson Speedway was scheduled to start it’s Thursday night Thunder Series last week but after close to five inches of rain fell on the speedway track owner Don Hoenig had no choice but to cancel the event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of Summer Blast-Off Night last Friday as the weatherman finally gave the speedway a break. In the consecutive win category, Jeff Baral racked up his second consecutive SK Modified feature win while Woody Pitkat took home his third consecutive Late Model feature win. Shelly Perry was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature event, George Nocera, Jr. was the winner of the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Steve Berardi was the 15-lap DARE Stock feature winner, and Woody Pitkat was the winner of the Late Model 16 feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Jeff Baral, of Enfield, survived a crash marred feature event to take his second consecutive win of the 2006 season. Baral and Bo Gunning were dueling for the lead in a nose to tail battle when a caution came out with 32 laps complete. Baral got around Gunning on the ensuing restart, and he outlasted Gunning to the checkered flag. Woody Pitkat took third, with Jeff Malave fourth and Chuck Docherty fifth. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, captured his third consecutive Late Model feature win of the 2006 season.

Conspicuous by his absence from the SK Modified feature was Ted Christopher. Christopher had planned on competing at Stafford until federal and state marshals raided his race shop in Plainville, CT on Friday morning taking six cars plus truckloads of racing related equipment and parts. The racecars that he drives belong to Danbury Connecticut businessman Jim Galante. Galante was arrested Friday with others as part of a federal investigation into organized crime's influence over the trash hauling business. Galante also owns the Danbury Trashers hockey team. Christopher is Stafford’s all time feature winner plus a top contender on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Christopher will bounce back from this temporary setback.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Shawn Monahan survived seven restarts after starting on the pole and became the seventh different SK-Modified feature winner of the season. Monahan, who battled defending champion Rob Summers most of the way, secured one of two guaranteed spots for this week’s True Value Modified Series 100. Summers has a Whelen Modified Tour commitment in Jennerstown, PA giving the second True Value spot to Monahan’s brother Diego, a winner earlier this season. Diego, who finished third, fought off Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada over the final seven laps.

Other winners included Tim Jordan (30-lap Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (20-lap Sportsman) and Ken Cassidy (20-lap Mini Stock).

The Speedbowl will host the True Value Modified Racing Series this coming Saturday night, June 17. The TVMRS is an affordable alternative to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. The cars are open wheeled and are somewhere in between and SK and a Tour Type Modified. Tour founder Jack Bateman feels confident that the series will be a hit at the shoreline oval. Waterford regulars Tom Fox, Jeff Pearl, and Rob Janovic Jr. have all shown interest in taking on the visiting TVMRS drivers.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make its only appearance in the state of Pennsylvania this coming Saturday, June 17 at the Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway. The Wheeler Brothers 100 will be the third race of the 2006 campaign. Posted awards are $75,953 for the 100-lap event. Mike Stefanik is the current point leader. Ted Christopher, who is currently second in the standings is a doubtful starter as he has had all his racing equipment confiscated by federal agents. James Civali, Doug Coby and Tony Hirschman round out the top five.

The Busch East, formerly Busch North Series, got its new beginning last Saturday night at the Greenville- Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Live HD Net TV coverage and a purse of $118,911 served as another slap in the face to the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Sean Caisse, the 2005 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, won his first career NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race. Caisse, driving for four-time champion Andy Santerre, took the lead for the final time on lap 142 of An American Revolution 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet. A near-capacity crowd at NASCAR’s second–oldest speedway, including racing legends David Pearson and Jack Ingram, enthusiastically enjoyed the classic short track bumping, grinding, and three-wide racing on the nearly flat half mile track where the first live NASCAR telecast on a major network took place 35 years ago. Brian Hoar, Mike Olsen, Matt Kobyluck, and Bryon Chew completed the top five

In TV land, this week’s viewing begins on Wednesday, June 14 at noon when the Speed Channel presents the June 10th ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono 200. At 5:00p.m. Speed presents the June 10th USAR Hooters Pro Cup that was run at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Mansfield, OH. At 8:00p.m. the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the World of Outlaws. Thursday’s coverage begins at noon when the Speed Channel reruns last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Federated Auto Parts 300 that was run in Nashville, TN. Following at 2:30 will be a NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay of last Sunday’s Pocono 500. Speed goes live at 2:00p.m. on Friday with NASCAR Live from the Michigan International Speedway. Live coverage continues at 3:00p.m. with NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying for the 3M Performance 400 at Brooklyn, MI. followed by the ARCA RE/MAX Series “200" at 5:00p.m. At 7:00p.m. it’s Trackside from Michigan International Speedway. Saturday’s coverage begins at 3:00p.m. with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Con-way Freight 200 from Michigan. Same day, taped delayed coverage of NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the Meijer 300 from the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY.follows. At 6:30 the action switches to FX for the NASCAR Nextel Cup final practice at Michigan. SPEED News Saturday wraps up the day’s activity at 7:30. The action switches back to FX for the NASCAR Busch Series Meijer 300 from the Kentucky Speedway. Sunday’s action begins at 11:30am with NASCAR RaceDay which will preview the 3M Performance 400 Nextel Cup event from Michigan International Speedway. At 1:00p.m. the action switches to FOX for the pre-race show followed by live green flag action at 1:30. Speed News Sunday at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 wrap up the days racing. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Speed finishes up the day at 9:00p.m.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene, it was tank week as just about everything took a dive. All three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side Leading the way to the cellar was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 0.48 to 47.45. Dover Downs dropped 0.18 to 5.91 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.09 to 38.11. Nextel dropped 0.30 to 21.16 while Sun Oil dropped 4.98 to 65.90. Featherlite Trailers showed a no change at 4.68as DIRT went up 0.25 to 3.75. In the drug sector, Pfizer dropped 0.66 to 23.53 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.30 to 24.95. In the home improvement world Lowes dropped 1.29 to 62.23 and Home Depot dropped 1.05 to 36.95. The parcel carriers didn’t escape the wrath as they were also down for the week. UPS dropped 2.05 to 78.99 and FEDEX dropped 4.54 to 106.57.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail  

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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