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Tuesday November 18, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series news former champion Rick Fuller has announced that he has retired from racing. Fuller, of Auburn, Mass., made his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in the series’ inaugural race on March 31, 1985 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway with a 13th place finish in the Icebreaker. Ultimately, Thompson became the site of his last race when was caught up in an early accident and came home 30th in the No. 77 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Modified in the Xtra Mart World Series on Oct. 19. Fuller compiled 20 wins, 145 top fives, 231 top 10s and 11 Coors Light Pole Awards in 439 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts. His win total ranks seventh in tour history.


Fuller with his championship-winning team and car. (Photo Credit: Howie Hodge/NASCAR)

The highlight of Fuller’s distinguished career was his championship season of 1993. A year after his brother, Jeff, had captured the title, Fuller strung together a win and 14 top 10s in 17 starts to finish 93 points ahead of Reggie Ruggiero for the crown. Fuller has become a color commentator for the Stafford Speedway telecasts seen on NESN.

Good news comes from the Waterford Speedbowl. Terry Eames has announced that he will partner up with Shawn Monahan to operate the shoreline oval in 2009. Monahan has raced at the Speedbowl since 1996. He owns and operates Critical Signs and Graphics, which is located next to the track on Route 85. In a prepared news release Eames also announced that Tom Fox who was the track’s Chief Tech Inspector in 2008 will now have full authority over all aspects of the race program as Race Director. Track historian Sid DiMaggio will serve as a coordinator of multi-media and events.

Hopefully Monahan will give some stability and provide longevity to the historic track that has seen more than its share of problems in the last few years. Eames has a reputation of not being too good at paying his bills and has had foreclosure issues in the past. Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli bailed him out after the original mortgage holder, the Washington Mutual Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings in 2006. Arbitell and Borelli have since filed foreclosure proceedings of their own as Eames had failed to pay property taxes. The Connecticut State Court in New London has set March 2, 2009 as the foreclosure date.

Prior to Eames leasing the track to Jerry Robinson, Eames had all but run the facility into the ground. Robinson’s tenure looked to be the saving grace of the 1/3 mile oval but in 2008 things went from bad to worse. Competitors and fans were treated with disrespect plus competitors were held hostage as money owed them was held back. Competitors have still not been paid for the season ending Fall Finale.

Crowds at the shoreline oval have been way down in recent years when the track was under both Eames and Robinson. For the most part they never advertised the fact that there was racing going on at the track. No wonder the place was never more than 25% full! Both Stafford and Thompson advertise their events and both tracks have been rewarded with crowds that allow them to turn a profit. Unless the Speedbowl management changes their ways the track will just fade away.

Eames and Monahan will host a kick-off meeting on December 1st at 7:00 PM at the Groton Inn and Suites to announce some of their plans for the upcoming season. The event on December 1st will combine the tracks annual toy drive with an informational meeting about all aspects of the upcoming season. 2009 driver and car number registration forms will be available. Rules meetings and details about the Awards Banquet will also be announced that night.

It is ironic that Pete Zanardi and Dave Dykes have been given the boot, especially after these two individuals were responsible for keeping the Speedbowl afloat the previous two years under the Robinson regime and the two years previous to that when Eames ran the track.

A capacity crowd filled the historic Francis Farm banquet facility in Rehoboth, MA., Saturday night, November 15, as the True Value Modified Racing Series, presented it’s fifth annual Awards Banquet honoring drivers, car owners, and the 2008 series champion, Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT.

Pasteryak, winner of two races, at Waterford and Seekonk, addressed the crowd from a well prepared and well delivered script that detailed what the season meant to him and his family. The second generation driver thanked his fiancé, family, his Babcia, friends, his sponsors, series sponsors, and TVMRS officials, for their support. His father, Charlie, and uncle, Carl, have been involved in modified racing since the mid-seventies. “I guess they didn’t know what they were getting into,” said the new champion.

Series founder Jack Bateman, joined by series officials and True Value representatives, Rick and Robin Tullock, made presentations to the top fifteen drivers and car owners as well as achievement awards in several categories. Sponsorship awards and the the 4th annual Bob Polverari “7-11” presentation were also part of the evenings festivities. Series announcer, John Spence Sr, hosted the event, with opening remarks focusing on a review of the 2008 season. Spence noted, “despite the just concluded campaign being tough economically for everyone, 61 different drivers were awarded points this year. All things considered, that’s not too bad.” Spence also recognized special guests and thanked media representatives for their continued support. Bateman recognized series officials for their hard work, professionalism, and dedication. He offered comment on each official pointing out their qualities and what they mean to the series. The tours officials have been lauded by fans, media, speedway management, and race teams, for the respect they show competitors, and their easy going manner. Bateman thanked track owners, series sponsors, participating New England True Value stores, New England Racing Fuels, Black Mountain Painting, Hoosier Tire East , SPAFCO Race Cars, Koszela Speed, Dart, UniFirst, Inside Track, Sherwood Racing Wheels, for their support. The series founder also spoke of a 16 race schedule, down from 19 this past season, with some adjustments and possible additions to be made to a tentative schedule already in place for 2009. The series will also assist in officiating the “open” race at Seekonk in July.

The 2008 “7-11” award, for professionalism on and off the track, was presented to Vinnie “WHO” Annarummo. The recipient was chosen by former winners, Bateman, Dwight Jarvis, and Ed Dachenhausen and the special plaque was presented by New England Hall of Famer, Bob Polverari. Service Award: Ray Legere. A race car owner/builder since the early 70’s, Legere, now a member of the series tech staff, joins Jarvis and Bateman as one of three original race car owners that remains with the series today. 2008 True Value Modified Racing Series Achievement Awards Recipients: Hoosier Tire East Award: (Presented By Bobby Summers) - Chris Pasteryak Black Mountain Painting Award: (Presented By Jack Bateman) - Kirk Alexander, Most Improved Driver: (Selected By Series Officials) – Shelly Perry, Touch Luck Award: (Selected By Series Officials) – Les Hinckley, Sportsmanship Award: (Selected By Series Officials) - 77 Gangsta Racing, Koszela Speed - Rookie of the Year: Kenny White Jr (presented by Peter Jarvis).


Midget & Sprint Car ace the late Bert Brooks is one of the inductees into the the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Pictured here at Trenton Speedway.

The New England Antique Racers have added their Veteran’s Committee selections which will be included with the Annual New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductions in January. Open cockpit sensation Burt Brooks, stock car ace Harold ‘Hardluck’ Hannaford and car owner Bertha Small are the Veteran Committee selections. The trio will be inducted along with drivers John Fitch, Bobby Dragon and Paul Richardson, promoters Bob Bahre, Jim McConnell and Tom Curley and car owner/ builders Rollie Lindblad and Art Barry on Jan. 25, 2009 at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.

Still to be named are the Jack Ratta (Media) and Danny Pardi (Service) Memorial Award winners. Ticket information and request forms are available on the New England Antique Racers website NEAR1.com.

New Britain, CT-based Brooks won four straight (1950-53) ARDC Ford championships and four URC Sprint Car crowns in five years (1954-1958) in a 23-year career that ended with his untimely death at Hershey, PA in 1968. With well over 100 wins, he ranks as one of New England’s premier open cockpit drivers.

The first female in the NEAR Hall of Fame, the late Bertha Small fielded cars for Jack Foley, Joe McNulty, Cy Yates, Red Bolduc and Hop Harrington over a 12-year (1950-61) run. The cars ran at Seekonk, Norwood, Kingstown, Waterford and Lonsdale. Denied entrance because of her sex, Small often directed things from outside the pit fence.
A New Hampshire native, Hannaford made a definite mark throughout Northern New England. An outstanding competitor through the 1950s and into the 1960s, his resume includes two of the first three (1962, ’64) Milk Bowls and multiple championships at Thunder Road. A competitor at Daytona in the 60s, he won his last race at Bryar Motor Sports Park in 1966.

In TV land this week viewing begins on Thursday at noon when the Speed Channel replays last Sundays season ending Sprint Cup event that was run at Homestead, FL. The event will be shown again at 5:30pm. The weekend will be quiet for the most part. On Friday night at 6:00 Speed will showhighlites of the Sept 7 IHRA Nitro Jam drag racing Amalie Motor Oil North American Nationals that were held at the New England Dragway in Epping, NH. On Sunday at 1:00pm espn2 will show their 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Review followed by their 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Season Review at 1:30.

The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend on Sunday night with The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. If you can stay awake ESPN2 has a one-hour NASCAR Now at 10:00pm plus at the same time

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week there was more doom and gloom. All three speedway stocks had a negative ending. Taking the big hit was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 3.63 to 26.24. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.75 to 13.45 and Dover Downs dropped 0.26 to 1.72. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 1.07 to 2.30 while second tier sponsor Nationwide went up 0.60 to 50.00. Fuel supplier Sun Oil took a big jump as they went up 6.21 to 37.97. Tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.72 to 5.42. The team sponsors didn’t escape the wrath. Coca-Cola dropped 3.68 to 37.50 while Dupont dropped 3.03 to 27.43 and Target Department Stores dropped 3.49 to 33.03. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.52 to 20.54 and Lowes dropped 1.43 to 18.23. The parcel carriers had a mixed bag. Fedex dropped 0.21 to 64.37 while UPS went up 1.22 to 53.14. On the bottom is the World Racing Group which dropped 0.01 to 0.02.

That’s 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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