Tuesday March 6, 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 9, twenty-three 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 it’s the annual Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

All eyes were on the first annual Speedway Expo at the Better Living Center at the Big “E” in West Springfield , Mass. , last weekend. The show, which replaced RaceaRama featured just about every speedway and series in the northeast along with many top NASCAR stars and personalities. Based on numerous reports Speedway Expo was a rousing success. It was gratifying to see that a large contingent of drivers were on hand representing the NASCAR Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour Series.

Saturday saw a large turnout of fans for autograph sessions from some of their favorite drivers including eighteen competitors from the NASCAR Busch East Series and Whelen Modified ranks. NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers Clint Bowyer and Kenny Wallace proved popular with the fans seeking their autographs. The dunk tank, which featured NEMA's Mike Scrivani along with officials from Seekonk and Twin State Speedways, was an enjoyable festivity as folks tried their luck for a good cause.

Among those on the prowl was former Connecticut SK Modified Champion Jim Broderick who says his son Jimmy will be in a SK at Waterford in 2007. It also appears that Mario Fiore and his mighty No.44 will reappear in the form of a True Value Modified. Fiore indicated that he can field a competitive Modified on the True Value circuit for considerably less than it costs to run the NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour Series. No driver has been named by Fiore at this time.

Speedways and racing series from every New England state as well as New York , Pennsylvania , and New Jersey were represented. Cars and trucks representing just about any form of motorized competition were on hand.

The highlight of Sunday afternoon was the inaugural Speedy Awards, which were voted on by the fans to recognize drivers, the media, promoters and tracks for their efforts. The winners were: BREAK-OUT RACER OF THE YEAR WINNER: MATT HIRSCHMAN, LONG HAUL AWARD WINNER: BENTLEY WARREN, BEST WEEKLY RACER WINNER: WOODY PITKAT, BEST NORTHEAST TOURING RACER WINNER: CHRIS PERLEY, BEST WEEKLY SHOW WINNER: BEECH RIDGE SPEEDWAY, BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN AN EVENT WINNER: LARRY BARNETT, BEST INDIVIDUAL PROMOTION WINNER: TD BANKNORTH 250 OXFORD PLAINS SPEEDWAY, BEST SERIES OR TRACK COVERAGE WINNER: NICOHOLAS TETO, RACE FAN OF THE YEAR WINNER: TOM ‘SID’ DiMAGGIO. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARD Winner: Bill Channell, SOLID LIFTER winner : This non-racer (not a driver, car owner, or crew member) award recognizes lifelong support of a spouse who has played a tremendous role in their spouse’s and family’s racing career. They have supported the decision to be financially involved, understood time away from chores and sometimes family, and then takes a backseat during victory lane photos, interviews, and team-oriented decisions and they have done so for years, in some cases decades. WINNER: LOIS MATCZAK.

It looks like the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts is working hard to keep admission prices at a reasonable level as they have secured major sponsorship for their True Value Modified Series events. The Seekonk Speedway has announced that AAA of Southern New England has signed on as the title sponsor for the True Value Modified Racing Series 100-lap event on Saturday night, June 23 and Airgas Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, specialty and medical gases, process chemicals, welding, safety and related products, has joined forces with the speedway to present the True Value Modified Racing Series 100 on Saturday night, August 18. Throughout the United States and Canada , AAA offers its members a multitude of benefits and services including roadside assistance, insurance information, financial services, and vacation planning. Airgas Inc (ARG) is a publicly traded company with stock currently selling for $40 a share. AIRGAS also pays quarterly dividends of 0.28 per share. Airgas, Inc. and its subsidiaries distribute industrial, medical, and specialty gases and hard goods primarily in the United States. The AAA 100 and the Airgas 100 are two of the four 100-lap feature events featuring the True Value Modified Racing Series at Seekonk Speedway in 2007.

Down on the shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl the new management team of Bill Roth and Jerry Robinson has begun their upgrade program at the Route 85 oval. Roth and Robinson, under the corporate name, The New Waterford Speedbowl, LLC, officially signed their lease Jan. 1, about a month and a half later than they would've liked to, taking over the day-to-day operations at the track from property owner Terry Eames. Roth and Robinson have a long row to hoe as Eames had let the historic oval slip into a stage of disrepair. “The grandstands and restrooms have top priority” stated Roth. The Waterford Speedbowl has been a great place to race and has provided great entertainment to race fans for over 50 years. It is sincerely hoped that Roth and Robinson will be successful with their efforts.

The New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) has announced the addition of the New Hampshire 75 for the United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering on Saturday, September 15. The New Hampshire 75 will be part of an already action packed NASCAR SYLVANIA 300 event weekend. Saturday’s schedule will also feature the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200 and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New Hampshire 100. We hear that the NHIS management is pushing for TV coverage of their Modified events.

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. Last Sunday’s Busch Series event in Mexico City gets rerun on Thursday at noon on the Speed Channel. At 2:30 Speed goes live at Daytona for Daytona Bike Week. On tap is qualifying for the Formula Extreme Daytona 200 and the AMA Superstock & Supersport races at the Daytona International Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed presents Daytona 500 Memories: Great moments in the history of the Daytona 500. Speed goes live in Las Vegas at 4:00pm for a two-hour lead in to NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 which begins at 6:00. NASCAR Busch Series, qualifying for the Sam’s Town 300 follows at 8:00pm. Same day tape delayed coverage of the Daytona Motorcycle Supercross gets the green at 9:30pm. Saturday’s action begins at 11:00am on Speed with the AMA Superbike Championship from Daytona. At 12:30 pm Speed shows their coverage of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Grand Nationals that was run at the Municipal Stadium in Daytona. Live coverage of Bike Week racing continues at 1:30with the AMA Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Motorcycles, The Daytona 200. ABC will provide live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series Sam’s Town 300 from Las Vegas at 3:00pm. Speed moves to Las Vegas at 5:30 for NASCAR Nextel Cup final practice. At 8:00pm Speed returns to Daytona for the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series, Fresh from Florida 200. Before you hit the hay change your clocks as DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME STARTS (MOVE CLOCKS FORWARD ONE HOUR AT 2:00 A.M.). Sunday’s TV gets going at 10:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Now which previews the Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At noon the action moves to Speed for the Lucas Oil Late Model Series, Blue Grass Nationals, that were run in Calvert City , KY last October. At 2:00pm a two hour preview of the Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 takes place before FOX goes live at 4:00 with flag to flag coverage of the event. The Speed Report Part 1 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 on Speed will follow. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain finishes out the weekend at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week a “market correction” put the stock market in a dive with few exceptions. All three-speedway stocks ended the week on a negative note. Speedway Motorports dropped 1.41 to 37.77. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.20 to 52.77 and Dover Downs dropped 0.06 to 5.41. Nextel/Sprint and Goodyear were the exceptions. Nextel/Sprint went up 0.69 to 19.96 and Goodyear went up 1.07 to 27.19. Sun Oil dropped 2.38 to 63.87 and DIRT Motorsports dropped another dime to 1.90. In the drug sector, Pfizer dropped 0.83 to 24.79 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.63 to 26.42. The home improvement sector and the parcel carriers followed suit.Home Depot dropped 1.92 to 39.04 while Lowes dropped 2.99 to 31.94. Fedex dropped 8.47 to 112.50 and UPS dropped 3.87 to 69.47.

That’s 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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