Tuesday March 13, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                           

Now that Speedweeks in Florida is history it is time to look foreword to the season openers in the northeast. As of this Friday, March 16, sixteen days remain before the season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday; April 1.. Two weeks later on the 15th the Thompson Speedway presents their annual IceBreaker, which will be the official beginning of the 2007 Whelen Modified Tour Series. Two weeks after that itís the annual Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Waterford Speedbowl comes alive when pre season warm-ups begin a week from this coming Saturday on the 24th.

Auto Racing Trade Paper Area Auto Racing News announced last week that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series will not be a part of the prestigious Toyota Showdown at the Irwindale Speedway in California in October. It had been hoped by some that the NASCAR Modifieds would be part of the event but in all reality it just is not practical for competitors to travel across country for any amount of money. With the exception of a chosen few most race teams just couldnít afford it.

The big news this week is the joining forces of Zach Sylvester and Curt Chase for a run for the Whelen Modified Tour Series title. Sylvester, who calls Hebron , CT home and Chase who is from Mansfield are almost neighbors. It should make for a good team.

Veteran photographer Howard Hodge reports that Wild Bill Slater has successfully undergone open heart surgery. Hodge stated that the 1965 Race of Champions winner was operated on at the St Francis Hospital on Friday, Mar 9. He added that he has a couple months of recovery time ahead of him, but is handling it well. Cards can be sent to Bill at: 12 B Bluefield Dr. , Manchester , CT 06040 .

Slater, originally from Danielson , CT became one of the first New England Superstars of Auto Racing. Numerous feature wins and track titles topped by a Race of Champions win at Langhorne , PA made him a true icon of the sport. It was Slater who convinced Jack Arute to first lease, then buy the Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970-71.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot seven days a week. This weeks viewing begins on Wednesday at noon when the Speed Channel presents the AMA Superbike Championship that was held at the Daytona International Speedway on March 10. The AMA Grand National Motorcycle event at the flat track Municipal Stadium in Daytona follows at 1:30 . The Daytona 200 featuring the AMA Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Motorcycles goes at 2:30pm . Thursdayís action begins at noon when the Speed Channel presents last Saturdayís NASCAR Busch Series Samís Town 300 from Las Vegas , NV . The NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 from Las Vegas follows at 3:00pm . Fridayís viewing begins at 2:30 when Speed goes live for 30 minutes at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Georgia . Another half hour segment airs at 5:30 . Live action on Speed continues at 6:00 with Trackside from Atlanta . NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Kobalt Tools 500 follows at 7:00pm . At 8:30the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes to the track for the American Commercial Lines 200 qualifying followed by the Truck feature at 9:00pm . Saturdayís programming starts at 9:30am with two hours of coverage of the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Speed. At 11:30 the action switches back to Atlanta for NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for the Nicorette 300 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Final practice for the Nextel Cup Kobalt Tools 500 follows at 1:00pm . At 2:30 ABC previews the NASCAR Busch Series Nicorette 300 which gets the green flag at 3:00pm . While ABC covers Atlanta the Speed Channel goes back to Florida at 2:30 for eight hours coverage to the finish of the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Sundayís viewing gets an early start as Speed goes to Atlanta for NASCAR Performance at 8:00am . At 10:00 ESPN2 has a one hour version of NASCAR Now. At 11:30 the Speed Channel presents a two hour RACE DAY which previews the NASCAR Nextel Cup Kobalt Tools 500 from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. FOX goes live at 1:30 with Green to Checker coverage of the 500. NASCAR Victory Lane from Kobalt Tools 500 goes at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00pm .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended up on the negative side. Speedway Motorsports had a positive ending as they went up 0.76 to 38.53. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.47 to 52.30 and Dover Downs dropped 0.02 to 5.39. Nextel/Sprint dropped 0.49 to 19.47 while Sun Oil dropped 1.50 to 65.37. Goodyear continues to rebound from their recent strike as they went up 1.32 to 28.51. DIRT Motorsports also had a positive ending as they went up 0.10 to 2.00. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 0.62 to 25.41 and Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.50 to 26.92. In the area of home improvement Lowes went up 0.40 to 32.34 while Home Depot dropped 0.37 to 38.67.The parcel carriers had another banner week. Fedex went up 2.17 to 114.67 and UPS went up 1.16 to 70.63.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail

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

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