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Tuesday March 20, 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 23, nine 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 this coming Saturday on the 24th.. Doug Coby, from Milford, CT who recently lost his Whelen Modified Tour Series ride is an early entry for the Waterford opener along with Bert Marvin, Ted Christopher, Dennis Gada, Tom Fox and Frank Ruocco. Other contenders include Kenny Horton, Rob Summers, Dennis Charette along with Speedbowl stalwarts Rob Janovic, Jeff Pearl, Diego and Shawn Monahan, ageless Donnie Fowler and young sensation Jeffrey Paul.

It appears that the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino and the Boehler Familyís Ole Blu are still driverless for 2007. It had been rumored that Bobby Santos III would be steering the mighty No.3 but that was strictly rumor. Garbarino, who is 70, admitted that he is getting tired of the traveling to tour races among other things.

For those of you who like to read about the history of Modified Racing and those who made it great a new book titled Memories of Ed Flemke will make its debut on April 29. Flemke, a Modified Legend in his own time won hundreds of races up and down the east coast and was a mentor to many. Flemke was also an innovator as his famous split spring straight axle Flemke Front end was the standard in the Modifieds until the advent of the independent coil over shock front end. Bones Bourcier is the author of acclaimed biographies on Tony Stewart, Richie Evans, and Bugsy Stevens; Steady Eddie promises to be another classic! One of Flemkeís greatest attributes was his power of observation. Prior to many events in which he raced Flemke would spend considerable time observing his competition and could predict their moves in many situations. Flemkeís greatest calling was that of an official. For a short time he served as competition director at the Waterford Speedbowl under Dick Williams. When Flemke made a call it was not questioned as he had been in every conceivable race track situation there ever was. He was the master! For more information and for ordering contact Call Coastal181 toll free at 1-877-907-8181 or email them at info@coastal181.com.

NASCAR has announced their touring series television package and as usual the Whelen Modified Tour Series got the crumbs or better yet what the cow left behind after she jumped the fence. HDNet will air the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway on August 25, while the SPEED channel will air the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire International Speedway on June 30 and the combination event with the NASCAR Whelen Modifed Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at Martinsville ( Va. ) Speedway on Sept. 1. The television package features live coverage in high definition by HDNet, which began a partnership with NASCAR three years ago with its coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division. In addition, SPEED will provide expanded coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division in 2007, as the network will air 23 races as part of its Racing Across America series, re-airing all 16 of HDNetís live events while originally producing six others. SPEEDís coverage of the division will culminate with live post-season coverage of the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in October.

Itís really too bad that NASCAR didnít do more for the Whelen Modifieds as it has been proven by the Arute family at the Stafford Motor Speedway that produces NASCAR New England that TV coverage pays big dividends for both the competitors and the Speedway. Stafford ís weekly car count exceeds 200.
The Stafford Speedway recently announced that Phil Kurze, Vice President of Motorsports for Whelen Engineering, will serve as the grand marshal for 36th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST on April 27-29, 2007 .

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 Tuesday with Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr at 9:30am on the Speed Channel. On Wednesday at 4:00pm Speed shows the Hooters Pro Cup Sears Auto Centre 200 that was run at the USA International Speedway in Lakeland , FL on March 7. At noon on Thursday last Saturdayís NASCAR Busch Series Nicorette 300 that was run at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton , GA gets rerun on the Speed Channel. Last Sundayís Nextel Cup event follows at 3:00pm . ESPN2 goes live at Bristol , TN on Friday at 2:30pm for NASCAR Busch Series final practice for the Sharpie Mini 300. Live coverage moves to the Speed Channel at 3:30 for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Food City 500. At 7:00 on Speed live coverage continues with Trackside from the Bristol Motor Speedway. Saturdayís viewing starts at 10:00am on Speed with a one hour Nextel Cup practice session. The action switches to ESPN2 at 11:00am for Busch Series qualifying from Bristol . At 12:30 Speed goes live with the final 90 minute practice session. ABC goes live at 2:30 with a pre-race program before the NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Mini 300 gets the green flag at 3:00pm . The Speed Channel wraps up Saturday racing at 7:30 with NASCAR Performance from Bristol Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Food City 500 doesnít get the green until 1:30 on FOX. Pre-race coverage begins at 10:00on ESPN2 and carries over to Speed at 11:30 . The Speed Report wraps up the Bristol race at 7:00pm on the Speed Channel. Last, but not least, is Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm .

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. Taking the big hit was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 0.76 to 51.54. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.31 to 38.22 and Dover Downs dropped 0.11 to 5.28. Nextel/Sprint dropped 0.43 to 19.04 while Sun Oil went up 0.53 to 65.90. Goodyear was also off as they dropped 0.25 to 28.26. DIRT Motorsports also went for a slide as they dropped 0.30 to 1.70. The drug sector had a negative week. Pfizer dropped 0.42 to 24.99 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.10 to 26.82. The home improvement sector suffered the same fate as Home Depot dropped 1.16 to 37.51 and Lowes dropped 0.41 to 30.93. The parcel carriers took the biggest hit of all. Fedex dropped 3.53 to 111.14 and UPS dropped 1.37 to 69.26..


Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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