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Tuesday November 13, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

It looks like former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Tony Hirschman has lost his sponsor/car owners as they have told him they are retiring from the sport. Hirschman, who was on the Gary Danko radio show a while back, stated that the owners (the Keheleís) got the team together at the Stafford Fall Final and told them they were retiring at seasons end. Hirschman, who has nothing left to prove, could very well retire himself and devote his time to his son Mattís career. The younger Hirschman recently scored an impressive win in the North/South Shootout.
In other Whelen Modified Tour news it looks like Series Champion Don Lia will be replacing Terry Cook on the Craftsman Truck series in 2008. If that is the case a strong rumor has Bob Garbarino retiring from the sport. Tour regular Wade Cole recently scored a victory in Connecticut politics when he was elected First Selectman in the town of Hartland . The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island announced at their annual banquet that they will host the Whelen Modified Tour on Saturday night, August 2. The Stafford Speedway is expected to announce their Tour dates at their annual banquet this coming Friday, Nov. 16.

Preston , Connecticut Modified car owner and builder Art Barry will join a select group when he is inducted into the New York State Stock Car Association's Hall of Fame on January 19, 2008 . Barry's five-decade career as a NASCAR modified owner and fabricator has seen him build scores of asphalt cars for himself and others. He first came to the forefront of the New York racing scene at the Albany-Saratoga, Airborne Park and Utica-Rome Speedways with a winning coupe driven by Bobby Santos, grandfather of current NASCAR up and comer Bobby Santos 3rd. Since that time, his own cars have been wheeled by such notables as Leo Cleary, Bob Potter, Eddie Flemke, Brett Bodine, George Summers, Jeff Fuller, Greg Sacks, his son, Ken and Mike Stefanik, with whom he won the NASCAR national championship in 2000 and 2001. A tireless worker, Barry is also known for helping others perfect their car's handling, whether or not they were customers of his Spearpoint Auto fabrication business. Prior to teaming up with Santos at the Norwood Arena in Massachusetts Barry fielded a Modified for Chapin , CT ís Joe Trudeau.

Joining Barry as inductees will be drivers Buzzie Reutimann, "Barefoot Bob" McCreadie, who has an amazing 507 documented feature wins at some 54 speedways from Canada to Australia , Maynard Troyer and the late Les Deuel, a sportswriter, who covered the local racing scene for both the Albany Times-Union and the racing trade papers. The newest NYSSCA Hall of Fame members will be inducted at the association's annual awards banquet, set for Saturday, January 19th at the Polish Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension in Albany , NY . The next day they will be introduced to the public at the Saratoga Automobile Museum , located on the Avenue of the Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park . The event is set for 11 am in the Racing in New York gallery, site of the permanent NYSSCA Hall of Fame display.

For the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, Stafford Motor Speedway will institute a tire rule for its SK Modified and SK Light Modified divisions. The tire rule will limit the number of tires that teams will be able to purchase each week and use during the course of the 2008 season. SK Modified teams will be allowed to purchase 2 tires each week at the track, while SK Light teams will be allowed to purchase one tire each week at the track. The Waterford Speedbowl management is looking at similar rules. This type of tire rule is not new; in fact it was first used in 1978 when Dick Williams leased the Waterford Speedbowl from the late Harvey Tattersall.

Connecticut native Joe Lewandoski, who at one time managed the now closed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass., resigned after three years as general manager at the Lake Erie Speedway in Pennsylvania. Lewandoski resigned less than two weeks after saying he planned to return for the 2008 season. In that time, he discovered he needed a new challenge in his racing career. "I feel like I've completed my challenge (at LES)," he said. That new challenge could be as the general manager at one of two North Carolina short tracks. He also has pursued a sales position at a track in Connecticut .

Meanwhile, the Prischak family, which owns LES, plans to address the North East PA ís asphalt track's disappointing attendance totals. The search for the third general manager in the track's five-year history will begin immediately, co-chief executive officer Don Prischak said. Officials want to fill the position by mid-December. Todd Melfi, general manager from June 2002 to January 2005, struggled to build a quality program through a strong car count and fan base. The car count improved to nearly 100 per event the past two seasons under Lewandoski. But crowds at the 8,000-seat facility largely hovered at about 2,000 to 3,000 per event. "It's hard to say whether he fell short or not," Prischak said of building attendance. "Unfortunately it didn't turn out the way we wanted." A strong program should lead to an improved fan base, Prischak said. "We have to make it where the attendance reflects the appreciation of his program." The split was amicable, Lewandoski said. "We think Joe did a great job," Prischak said. Officials had planned to renegotiate a new one-year deal with Lewandoski, who had one-year contracts during his tenure at LES. However, officials did not attempt to change Lewandoski's mind. "Sometimes parting ways works out for both parties," Prischak said. "We thought overall it was for the best." Lewandoski said he would not change his mind even if Lake Erie Speedway had tried. "It was a great three-year run," said Lewandoski, who hasn't spent more than four years in one position during his 17-year racing career.

In TV land this week, Speed Channel viewing will begin on Tuesday at 8:00pm with NASCARís Championship Week #1 from Homestead , FL. On Wednesday at 4:00pm itís the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Series, Robert H. Brooks Memorial Aaron's 250 that was run at the USA International Speedway in Lakeland , FL. At 5:30 the action switches to ESPN2 for a behind-the-scenes look at the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. At 8:00pm its back to the Speed Channel for NASCARís Championship Week #2 from Homestead . On Thursday at noon Speed replays last Saturdays NASCAR Busch Series Arizona Travel 200 that was run at the Phoenix International Raceway. The Nextel Cup Checker Auto Parts 500 follows at 3:00pm . A special Homestead preview airs at 8:00pm . Speed goes live at Homestead at 10:00am on Friday. Craftsman Truck Series practice follows at 10:30am . At 11:30 a 90 minute practice session for the Nextel Cup division is on tap. At 1:00pm Busch Series practice at Homestead takes center stage. At 3:00pm the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying from Homestead . Back to back Hooters Cup Pro events go to post at 3:00 and at 4:00 on Speed. At 5:00pm the Craftsman Trucks qualify. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ford 200 goes green at 8:00pm . Speed wraps up the day with Trackside at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 10:30pm . Saturdayís viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Live from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Live coverage continues at 11:00 with Nextel Cup practice followed by Busch Series qualifying at noon followed by NASCAR Live from Homestead at 2:00pm . At 3:00 the action switches to ESPN2 for a one hour final practice for the Nextel Cup cars. The NASCAR Busch Series Ford 300 gets the green on ESPN2 at 4:30pm . ESPN2 starts Sunday off at 9:58am with NASCAR Now, pre-race coverage. At 11:30 the action moves to Speed for a Wind Tunnel Special Edition: Homestead Special. A three hour NASCAR RaceDay, previews the Ford 400 at Homestead which gets the green at 3:45 on ABC. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 , NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week a general downturn occurred. Two of the three speedway stocks had a positive ending but that was it. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.60 to 37.18 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.29 to 44.28. Dover Downs dropped 0.04 to 6.51. Sprint/Nextel continued to fall as they dropped 0.84 to 16.31. Sun Oil also dropped as they went down 1.11 to 70.32. Goodyear took a big dip as they dropped 3.31 to 27.11. DIRT Motorsports was also down as they dropped 0.07 to 0.44. In the drug sector it was all red as Pfizer dropped 3.84 to 22.83 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.59 to 28.29. The home improvement sector also took a hard hit. Home Depot dropped 2.35 to 28.05 and Lowes dropped 2.08 to 23.92. The parcel carriers followed suit as UPS dropped 3.32 to 70.71 and Fedex dropped 2.69 to 99.74.

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is 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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