Tuesday November 22, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The 2011 northeast racing winds up this coming weekend with 37th annual Turkey Derby at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Judging by the entries received at the speedway office and the large turnout of racecars at a recent practice session, the upcoming edition of the Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium could be the most well attended in the 37 year history of the event. Turkey Derby is a two-day stock car racing spectacular set for Friday November 25 and Saturday November 26 during the daylight hours.

Among the recent entries in the Touring Modified division are standout Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y., Shaun Carrig of Little Falls, Steven Reed of Howell, Dave Sapienbza of Riverhead, N.Y., Howell's Ken Woolley, Jr. and Pennsylvania veteran John Markovic.

The Touring Modified portion of Turkey Derby will feature a 150-lap main event with caution flag laps counting during the first 100 circuits. The Late Model stock car field for Turkey Derby XXXVIII is also filling up fast. Among the entries already received are Seekonk Speedway ace Craig Weinstein, Mike Scorzelli of Malta, N.Y., Greg Kleila of Lindenhurst, N.Y., Bruce Bernhardt, a 2009 winner here, and local favorite Rob Ormsbee of Wall.

Turkey Derby XXXVIII is set for Friday November 25 and Saturday November 26 during the daylight hours. On November 25, practice will start at 8:30 a.m., while qualifying will start at noon and feature racing will begin at 2:00 p.m. On November 26, practice will start at 8:30 a.m., with qualifying set for 11:00 a.m. and feature racing set for 1:00 p.m.

With the 2011 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Racing season in the history books the Arute family and their staff hosted the 42nd Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor this past Friday. In addition to crowning their division champions the speedway released their schedule for 2012.

Guests of honor were Ryan Preece, Ryan Posocco, Matt Galko, Kevin Gambacorta, and Don Wood as the 2011 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions. Also honored were the top-20 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. Other awards that were presented during the evening's festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, Most Improved Driver Awards, Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards, and the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award.

Receiving awards for Most Improved Driver were Michael Gervais, Jr. in the SK Modified® division, Patrick Townsend in the Late Model division, Steve Greer in the SK Light division, and Duane Provost in the Limited Late Model division. The Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards were presented by Brad and Linda Hietala of Reliable Welding and Speed to Heather DesRochers from the SK Modified® division, Peter Thickett from the Late Model division, Cody Gneiting from the SK Light division, and D.J. Burnham from the Limited Late Model division. The awards will be worth a $700.00 bonus to DesRochers, and $500.00 bonuses to Thickett, Gneiting, and Burnham from Reliable Welding and Speed. Each Rookie of the Year bonus will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2012 season.

The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified® and Late Model divisions, Joey Cipriano from the SK Light division, Cory Casagrande from the Limited Late Model division, and David Arute from the DARE Stock division. The Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award was awarded to Rick Casagrande. Casagrande prepared and maintained cars for his two sons, Cory and Kyle Casagrande. Cory won three races and narrowly missed out on winning Rookie of the Year honors in the Limited Late Model division, while Kyle tied for the DARE Stock division lead with 5 feature wins.

Stafford will again host four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series events starting with the season opening Spring Sizzler 200 on April 29. The Modifieds will also two Friday nights, May 25 and Aug. 3 and will wind up the season with the Fall Final on Sept 30.

The biggest change is the fact that the Arutes have eliminated Extreme Tuesday and replaced it with Super Saturday on June 30. ISMA SuperModifieds, NEMA Midgets and Pro Four Modifieds will again be the bill of fare. Coming back for two events is the Valenti Modified Racing Series on June 22 and Aug 31.

Based on the fact that the Spring Sizzler at Stafford will be on April 29 one would have to speculate that the Whelen Modified Tour Series Thompson Speedway IceBreaker will be held two weeks earlier on April 15. The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island announced that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be in town for their annual 200-lap Flash race on Saturday July 28th NASCAR is expected to announce the entire 2012 Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule at the annual awards banquets coming up on December 9 and 10. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet will be Friday, Dec. 9. The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Banquet – celebrating the champions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (East and West), the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR Mexico Series presented by Toyota – will be held the following night, Saturday, Dec. 10. Mike Joy and Dick Berggren, both of NASCAR on FOX and NASCAR on SPEED, will once again return to serve as co-hosts for both banquets. In a somewhat related matter, Mario Fiore stated that Lime Rock announced that they will not host the Modified Tour in 2012. In another tidbit, ISMA released their schedule last week which stated that the Supers would be running as part of the World Series at the Thompson Speedway on Sunday, Oct 14.

Congratulations to Modified racing pioneers Moe Gherzi, Jerry Humiston and Roland Lapierre, Sr. who have been selected by the Veterans Committee of the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. The trio will be inducted along with drivers Reggie Ruggiero and Joey Kourafas, owner/mechanics Mario Fiore and Jim Jorgensen and track operators/promoters Irene Venditti and Donald Hoenig at the 15th annual Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday Jan. 29 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.

Racing scribe Lou Modestino recently reported that New England racing history will be featured in the new state-of-the-art Northeast Motorsports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Racing History Preservation Group and “The Magic Mile” announced the beginning of fund raising efforts to create a 20,000-square-foot motorsports museum on Rt. 106 in Loudon, N.H. The announcement was made by Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway, RHPG president Dick Berggren and New England fan favorite and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ricky Craven.

The Board is filled with New England racing greats including Ricky Craven, Ron Bouchard, Lew Boyd, Russ Conway, Andy Cusack, Ken Smith, Ed Shea, Joe Lombardo, Ric Mariscal, Skip Matczak, R.A. Silvia, George Summers and Pete vonSneidern. “It’s great to be home,” said three-time NHMS winner Ricky Craven. “This museum is such a great opportunity to protect some of the things that have been a big part of my life and a big part of my career. How I preserve those things is important to me, and what Dick is doing is motivation for me to bring some things to the table for this attraction, one of which is the car I raced during the Thanksgiving race here. It’s also the car I won my first race in at Martinsville. I have that car, and my objective is to get that car refurbished and make it part of the display, mainly because I want people to understand the history of the sport.”

The museum will display numerous cars on the first floor of the building. The second floor will house a library, memorabilia collection that will include helmets and trophies, as well as a theatre that will show videos of the regions motorsports history. The museum’s library will include photographs, slides, negatives, programs, books, posters and magazines.

“We feel an urgency to preserve as much of the Northeast’s racing history as we can,” said Dick Berggren. “Too many photo collections, newspapers, books, programs and even cars have already been lost. The sport will benefit when folks can come to a first class museum and learn about as much of the area’s rich racing history as we can save and make available to the public.”

Every collector that’s been contacted has agreed to loan cars and/or motorsports artifacts to the museum. An ever-changing array of items will mean that repeat visitors will see something new each time they visit. Displays will focus on racing history in the Northeastern part of the United States, focusing mainly on the New England region although eastern New York and eastern Canada tracks are included.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 6:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Race viewing for the week on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday with the Sept 24 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Pro4 and Superlite events that were run at the Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, AZ. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford 400 that was run at the Homestead-Miami Speedway gets replayed on Wednesday at noon. The NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford 300 that was also run at Homestead-Miami Speedway follows at 3:00pm. At 5:00pm the action shifts to Versus for the Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour. On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the only racing on TV will be at 3:00am on the Speed Channel when the Nov 12 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Casino Arizona 125 at the Phoenix International Raceway will be rerun. On Friday, the Speed Channel will have Formula 1 practice from Brazil at 7:00am and again at11:00am. On Saturday at 1:00pm, those of you who are not at the Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium can watch the Australian V8 Supercars, Norton 360 Sandown Challenge that was run at the Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, Australia. At 6:00pm Versus has another segment of the Lucas Motorsports Hour.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had positive results. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.08 to 12.96 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.05 to 1.10 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.72 to 23.75. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.29 to 2.62 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.36 to 36.11 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.16 to 12.76. The car makers were also off for the week. Ford dropped 1.04 to 10.10 while General Motors dropped 0.83 to 21.68 and Toyota dropped 0.57 to 57.66. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.18 to 37.88 while Lowes went up 0.20 to 23.31. With the exception of Coca-Cola which went up 1.08 to 55.58, the major team sponsors were down for the week. Dupont dropped 2.11 to 46.41 while Target Separtment Stores dropped 0.07 to 53.00, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.43 to 24.78 and Fedex dropped 1.01 to 81.22.

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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