Tuesday November 17, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was part of the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala in Concord, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at which Donny Lia and the rest of the touring series champions were honored. The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Gala featured the champions and top drivers from all of NASCAR’s North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

NASCAR champions Jason Bowles (Camping World Series West), George Brunnhoelzl III (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Donny Lia (Whelen Modified Tour, Philip Morris (Whelen All-American Series), Andrew Ranger (Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1) and Ryan Truex (Camping World Series East) were honored at the end of the week during awards ceremonies at the Concord Convention Center.

The week long gathering of the great began on Tuesday when the six champions participated in an extensive media tour in the Charlotte area. The day started with local television and radio appearances followed by the Second Annual NASCAR Toyota Champions/Media Go-Kart Showdown presented by Sirius XM Radio at Victory Lane Karting. The Sirius NASCAR Radio show “Tradin’ Paint” will broadcast live from the event. Yahoo! Following the karting challenge, the champions departed for appearances at Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Performance Racing Network (PRN). The day concluded with a photo shoot at the under-construction NASCAR Hall of Fame and a VIP dinner at the Sam Bass Gallery.

The rest of the week’s activities were highlighted by the Jim Hunter Golf Invitational on Wednesday, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series State Champions Dinner on Thursday and the Driver Briefings Friday morning.

Details of the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series came together last week in Charlotte. Stafford will host four events including the Spring Sizzler in the Spring and the Fall Final, in obviously the Fall. The Thompson Speedway will again host three including the IceBreaker in the Spring and the World Series in the Fall plus on Thursday, on Aug. 12. The management of Monadnock Speedway has confirmed the Whelen Modified Tour will be making a return to the 1/4-mile high-banked speedway. The special event will be held on Saturday, July 17, featuring 200 laps. The Riverhead tour race is July 31. NASCAR announced that the Whelen Modified Tour would make its debut at Lime Rock Park in a combined event with the NASCAR Camping World East Series on July 2-3. Two events at Loudon, on June 26 and Sept. 18 plus the previously announced return to Bristol TN on August 18. In a change for 2010, Martinsville will be a doubleheader with the Camping World Series East, and not a combination race with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. That brings the total events to 14 so far with hopefully more to come.

NASCAR also announced that they are working on final details of televised coverage of a select number of Whelen Modified races with Versus and SPEED.

Now that the Waterford Speedbowl property owner Terry Eames (1080 Hartford Road LLC) is protected against foreclosure by a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Petition some interesting questions and facts have come to light. A New London Connecticut Attorney who represents a mortgage holder in another matter recently stated that at least three petitioners are required to force an entity into Chapter 11 rather than the sole petitioner, Rocco Arbitell, in this case. He also alluded to the fact that a petition for Chapter 11 may be deemed frivolous if it is clear on the date of filing there was no reasonable likelihood that the debtor intended to reorganize and no reasonable probability that it would eventually emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. The lawyer also added that he felt the intent of the last minute filing was done to frustrate Arbitell’s efforts to exercise his rights and foreclose on the mortgage that he holds. Arbitell has another option. He can petition the court to dismiss the Chapter 11 petition and have it converted into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which would call for the immediate liquidation of all assets that come under 1080 Hartford’s holdings.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will honor its track champions at the 40th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony this coming Friday, November 20, 2009 at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor. A crowd of over 500 guests is expected to be on hand as the Connecticut half-mile hands out its post-season awards.

In addition to recognizing the 2009 track champions, other prestigious awards, including Most Improved Driver, Most Popular Driver, and the Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards will also be presented. Stafford Motor Speedway will also recognize the top-20 finishers from the 2009 SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock points standings.

Headlining the night's festivities, Ted Christopher, despite being tossed out for one event, will be recognized as the 2009 SK Modified® Champion, which is his record seventh SK Modified® championship at Stafford. Jim Peterson will be honored as the 2009 Late Model track champion, his third career championship in Stafford's Late Model division. Michael Gervais, Jr. picked up the SK Light Modified championship in not only his first season at Stafford, but his first competition sitting behind the wheel of an open wheeled modified car. After being so close to winning a championship in Stafford's Limited Late Model division in years past, Andrew Durand led the Limited Late Model standings from season's beginning to season's end to earn what had been an elusive track championship. Don Wood was locked in a tight battle for much of the 2009 season before driving away from his competition over the final races of 2009 to claim the DARE Stock track title.

Stafford Motor Speedway Most Popular Driver candidates include Ted Christopher, Sean Foster, and Woody Pitkat from the SK Modified® division, Dillon Moltz, Woody Pitkat, and Ryan Posocco from the Late Model division, Lauren Cooper, Heather DesRochers, and Erica Santos from the SK Light division, Carla Botticello, Andrew Durand, and Dan Flannery from the Limited Late Model division, and Stephanie Berardi, Kyle Casagrande, and Albert Saunders from the DARE Stock division. The Most Popular Driver winners were voted upon by the fans, who submitted Most Popular Driver Ballots from the PitStopper Magazine to the Speedway Office throughout the 2009 season.

Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year honors will go to Mark Bakaj from the SK Modified® division, Adam Gray from the Late Model division, Michael Gervais, Jr. from the SK Light division, and Dan Flannery from the Limited Late Model division.

The True Value Modified Racing Series concluded their 2009 season last weekend when they crowned Jon McKennedy the 2009 series championThe curtain will officially close on a very successful season, tonight, when the New England based Modified Racing Series crowns its 2009 champion and recognizes its competitors for their accomplishments in the recently concluded season. McKennedy scored four wins this season (Twin State, Seekonk, Oxford Plains and Beech Ridge), paving the way to his first series title. McKennedy held off a late-season charge by veteran driver Rob Goodenough to capture the title by a 15-point margin.

In some sad news it was announced by Kevin Rice of the Area Auto Racing News that True Value Hardware has decided not to renew their sponsorship for 2010. Series founder Jack Bateman feels confidant that a new title sponsor for the series will be found. The True Value Series has become a legitimate alternative to “Tour Type Modified Racing” for both competitors and promoters. Plans for 2010 are already in motion with a maximum of 18 races to be run included a spring event on April 10 at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY.

Series officials deemed the 2009 season a big success. Seventh-three racers competed with the TVMRS in 2009. In 15 races, 12 different drivers were victorious.

In TV land this week viewing begins at noon on Wednesday when the Speed Channel replays last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 that was run at the Phoenix International Raceway. At 5:30 its NASCAR Now on espn2 and at 7:30pm its NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel. Thursday’s action begins at noon when the Speed Channel has a re-showing of the 2005 Ford 400 that was run at Homestead, FL. At 6:30 pm Speed goes live in Homestead for NASCAR Truck Series practice. Friday’s viewing begins with NASCAR Live from Homestead-Miami Speedway at 11:00am. Sprint Cup practice for 90 minutes follows at 11:30. Live coverage continues from Homestead at 1:00pm with a two hour practice session for the Nationwide Series cars. At 3:00pm the action shifts to espn2 for Sprint Cup qualifying from Homestead. At 5:00pm the action switches back to the Speed Channel for Truck Series qualifying from Homestead. Nationwide Series final practice follows at 6:30pm. The Truck Series has their pre-race show at 7:30, which will lead into an 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Trackside (NASCAR) from Homestead-Miami rounds out the day at 10:30pm. Saturday’s action starts at 11:00am with NASCAR Live. At 11:30 the Nationwide Series has their qualifying session. Sprint Cup practice follows at 1:30pm. At 3:00pm the action moves to espn2 for another hour of Sprint Cup practice. Action continues on espn2 at 4:00pm with the Nationwide Series countdown, which will lead to a 4:30 pm start of the final Nationwide Series event of 2009, the Ford 300. A season ending Trackside Special edition follows at 7:30pm. Sunday’s viewing starts at 10:00am with a 60 minute session of NASCAR Now on espn2. At 11:30 the Speed Channel begins what will be a three hour Sprint Cup preview from Homestead. At 2:30 the action shifts to ABC for the Sprint Cup pre-race show that will lead into the season ending Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. On Sunday evening, the Speed Channel has The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm followed by NASCAR Now on espn2 at 10:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three-speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 0.52 to 27.15. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.39 to 16.08 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.15 to 1.81. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.25 to 3.10 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.53 to 26.68. Tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.21 to 14.34. Two of the three carmakers had positive endings. Ford went up 1.16 to 8.41 and Toyota went up 0.09 to 78.25. On the down side was General Motors which 0.04 to 0.56. With the exception of Coca-Cola, which dropped 0.31 to 44.62, and Target Department Stores, which dropped 0.71 to 48.99, the team sponsors had a positive week. Dupont went up 0.93 to 34.31 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.06 to 27.17. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.26 to 27.34 and Lowes went up 0.91 to 21.85.

It looks like there definitely will not be NASCAR racing in the New York City area in the near future as the International Speedway Corporation has a buyer for land in which they intended to build a speedway on. The International Speedway Corporation announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to sell its 676-acre parcel of property located in Staten Island, New York, to KB Marine Holdings LLC ("KB Marine"). The Agreement contemplates KB Marine's purchase of 100 percent of the outstanding equity membership interests of 380 Development LLC ("380 Development"), a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of ISC and owner of the Staten Island property, for a total sales price of $80 million. The agreement also calls for the transaction to close no later than February 25, 2010; the closing would be subject to certain conditions. Upon execution of the agreement, ISC received a $1 million initial payment, which is non-refundable subject to limited conditions of ISC performance. KB Marine has the opportunity to receive a $5 million credit to the sales price if the closing date occurs on or before December 31, 2009.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

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

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