Tuesday June 6, 2006

By Phil Smith

Like Tom Deery before him, former NASCAR vice president Don Hawk has had his legs cut off at the knees and has been thrown to the wolves. Hawks’s e-mail box at the sanctioning body has been closed and his name has been removed from his office door. Last winter Hawk promised to under promise and over deliver, maybe that’s why he is gone. Deery, a member of a respected race track owning family from the mid west has landed on his feet and is now part of the top management of DIRT Motorsports. Maybe he has a spot open for Hawk. Hopefully Hawk will re-appear somewhere in the world of auto racing as long as he doesn’t tangle with Tony Soprano and ends up sleeping with the fishes somewhere off the Jersey coast, never to be seen again.

The Thompson Speedway begins their weekly Thursday night Thunder Series this week. Pit gates will open at 3 p.m. with the track’s huge grandstand opening at 4:30 p.m.. Qualifying races are slated for a 5:45 p.m. start and are followed immediately by six NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series main events. "Our goal, said Special Advisor, Ben Dodge, Jr., is to have our show start on time and be over on time. We work very hard to have our fans headed home by 9:30 p.m. Todd Ceravolo, Tom Cravenho and Woody Pitkat are currently locked in a three way tie for the Sunoco Modified point lead. Jeff Malave and Bert Marvin round out the top five. Ryan Posocco leads the Late Models while Todd Owen leads the Pro Stocks. Danny Cates leads the Limited Sportsman and Brian Vincent leads the Mini Stocks.

The Stafford Motor Speedway suffered its fourth rain out in a row last Friday. With the high cost of travel the Arute family is to be commended for making an early decision. Whenever it rains everybody loses. The track loses its advertising along with admission revenues. The people who work at the speedway don’t get paid, the guy who sells the racing gas has no sales, the parts guy doesn’t sell any parts and the paying fan loses a night out. The speedway also announced that they have extended their 2006 NASCAR racing season with two extra Friday night race events in September. The new dates will be September 15 and September 22. Stafford Motor Speedway will resume its regular Friday Night NASCAR Racing schedule this coming Friday, June 9th with the 6th Annual Summer Blast-Off Fireworks Spectacular. Stafford's SK Modifieds, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and DARE Stocks will all be in action along with a multimedia fireworks display set to music. All tickets for Friday night's event are available at a discounted price. Adult General Admission tickets are $12.50, while all children ages 14 & under are admitted free of charge. Reserved seat tickets are available for $15.00 for all ages. This is one of the best deals in auto racing entertainment!

At the Waterford Speedbowl the weatherman took down his fourth win of the year. All of New England was under a wet spell. The Speedbowl returns with a six-division program this week, the AllStar Race Trucks will be joining the SK-Modifieds, Late Models, Sportsman, Mini Stocks and Legends. The Speedbowl management has also announced that both guaranteed spots for the June 17 True Value Modified Series 100 will come out of Saturday’s 35-lap SK Modified feature.

Western New York race fans will get a rare treat when the Lancaster Raceway Park (formerly known as Lancaster Speedway) will present its annual Heroes Homecoming reunion on Saturday, June 17, from 1-5 p.m. The event reunites retired Lancaster Speedway drivers and officials with race fans to relive the good old days of stock car racing at the 48-year-old, half-mile asphalt track near Buffalo, N.Y. The reunion is sponsored by UBS and the FOAR SCORE Fan Club and also will feature vintage stock car racing in the afternoon and evening at the speedway.

In TV land, this week’s viewing begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the Champ Car World Series Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 that was run in Milwaukee, WI, on June 4. At 5:00 p.m. its the USAR Hooters Pro Cup event run at the USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fl on June 3. At 8:00p.m. the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the World of Outlaws Sprinters. Later in the evening, at 11:00p.m. on Speed, Driven To Win, Erin Crocker will air. Another segment featuring Martin Truex Jr. follows at 11:30. Last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series 200 run at Dover, DE gets the Speed replay treatment at 2:30 on Thursday. The NASCAR Nextel Cup, Neighbourhood Excellence 400 follows at 2:30. Friday’s action begins at 2:30 when Speed goes live from the Pocono Int. Raceway. Live coverage continues at 3:30with Nextel Cup qualifying. Live coverage from Pocono continues to 9:00p.m. when Speed shifts gears to present live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Sam’s Town 400 from the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX. Saturday will be busy. Starting at noon on Speed its NASCAR Live from Pocono for an hour. Speed’s live coverage continues at 1:00 with the ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono 200. At 4:00p.m. the action switches to NESN for NASCAR New England which will be showing the weekly races from the Stafford Speedway. At 5:00p.m. its back to Speed for live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the Federated Auto Parts 300 in Nashville, TN. FX picks up NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour practice at 6:30 then moves over to Nashville at 7:30p.m. for the Busch Series Federated Auto Parts 300. Sunday’s coverage begins at 11:30 with NASCAR Race Day. The Nextel Cup Pocono 500 gets the green on Fox at 2:00p.m. 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, two of the three speedway stocks were in the green at week’s end. Speedway Motorsports was the winner as they went up 0.15 to 38.20. Dover Downs was also up as they gained 0.05 to close at 6.09. Nextel dropped 0.12 to 21.46 while the Sun Oil Company went up 2.27 to 70.88. Featherlite Trailers dropped 0.06 to 4.68. DIRT Motorsports showed a no change as they remained at 3.50. The drug sector had a positive ending. Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.28 to 25.25 and Pfizer went up 0.14 to 24.19. In the home improvement sector Lowes went up 1.65 to 63.52 while Home Depot dropped 0.66 to 38.00. Parcel carrier Fedex had a big week as they went up 3.56 to 111.11. UPS showed a no change as they remained at 81.04.

Anybody who thinks there aren’t big bucks in NASCAR teams that participate in NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series had better read the June 5 edition of Forbes magazine who did an interesting article on NASCAR and says Jack Roush Racing is the most valuable organization in NASCAR (Cup and Busch does not include the Trucks). They estimate the value of the team at $218 million. Forbes reports Roush with his five Cup teams and six Busch teams will collect in the neighborhood $108 million dollars from sponsors and as of a few weeks ago the teams have banked an estimated $8.3 million in prize money. In second place is Rick Hendrick Motorsports with an estimated $146 million. He has one less Cup car and four less Busch entries. Forbes says their sponsorships add up to $77 million for 2006.Rounding out the top five are Joe Gibbs Racing third ($103 million), Richard Childress Racing ($100 million) and Chip Ganassi Racing ($79 million). The magazine goes on to say total sponsorship for the top 35 Cup cars in 2006 will be in the $650 million range. Five short years ago that figure was a mere half a billion. As a comparison the National Football League takes in $485 million with all their teams. None of the figures in the article takes into account money made from TV deals.

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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