Tuesday November 20, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Stafford Motor Speedway honored its 2012 champions this past Friday night, Nov 16, at the LaRenaisance Banquet facility in East Windsor, CT. Among the honorees were Ted Christopher, SK Modified Champion and Woody Pitkat, Late Model Champion along with Zach Aszklar, Cory Casagrande, and Cliff Saunders as the 2012 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions.

The Speedway staff welcomed a guest list of nearly 500 people consisting of teams, drivers, sponsors, and employees this past Friday night, November 16 at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor to officially honor the 2012 track champions. Speedway broadcasters Matt Buckler and Joe Coss serving as the Masters of Ceremony, the 43rd annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony not only honored their five track champions, they also honored the top-20 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. Special awards that were presented during the evening’s festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, Most Improved Driver Awards, SPAFCO Race Chassis & Parts Rookie of the Year awards, and the UNOH Ultimate Mechanic of the Year Award.

The 2012 SK Modified® season saw Ted Christopher add to his record haul of Stafford track titles by capturing the 8th championship of his career. Christopher won the season opening CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler feature and he was on the podium in each of the first three SK Modified® races this season. A 20th place finish on May 25th left Christopher having to play catch up in the points standings, but once he retook the points lead following the June 29th feature, he led the standings for the remainder of the 2012 season. In 18 starts this season, Christopher and the #13 Broadband Access team posted 4 wins, 13 top-5, and 15 top-10 finishes for an average finish of 5.3, which gave him the championship by a 34-point margin over Woody Pitkat. Christopher's lifetime total at Stafford is an impressive 117 wins including 98 in the SK Modifieds, 12 in Whelen Modified Tour events, 6 Pro Stock wins and one Camping World Series East wins.

Stafford Motor Speedway released its 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event schedule. The 2013 schedule will consist of 22 racing events, with the season kicking off with the 42nd Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST on April 26-28, and concluding with the 41st Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend on September 28-29.

Highlighting the 2013 schedule will be 7 races featuring Modified touring divisions. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make their customary four visits to Stafford, and the Valenti Modified Racing Series Stafford schedule has been expanded to include three races. The Whelen Modified Tour comes to Stafford on April 26-28 for the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler, May 24 for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125, Aug. 2 for the Stafford 150, and Sept. 28-29 for the CARQUEST Fall Final Weeeknd. The VMRS visits Stafford on June 21 for the VMRS 80, Aug. 30 for the Shark Cycle 80, and Sept. 13 for the Lincoln Tech 80.

The ISMA Supermodifieds return to Stafford for the 10th consecutive season with CARQUEST Super Saturday scheduled for Saturday, June 29. Along with the ISMA Supers, CARQUEST Super Saturday will play host to the NEMA Midgets, NEMA Lites, Pro-4 Modifieds, and the CARQUEST Champions For Charities event with Senior Outlaw Wild Thing Karts.

The Thompson International Speedway played host to an impressive class consisting of twenty of the regions auto racing pioneers being inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame this past Sunday.

Inducted were stock car drivers Tony Mordino, Sparky Belmont, Hank Stevens, “Big Ed” Patnode, Johnny Georgiades, Wally Silva, and Ray Brown. Midget racing standouts Eddie Casterline, George Rice, Al Pillion, Billy Tibbert, Frank Simonetti, Charlie Ethier, and George Monson round-out the open-wheel inductees. Completing the list of inductees were car owners Anthony “Beebe” Zalenski, Ed Stone, Wen Kelley, Bob Oliver, Gordon Ross, and owner & promoter of Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium, Joe Tinty.

All members of the Inaugural Pioneer Class have passed-on, but not before leaving an indelible mark on the sport in their own unique way. “It was truly a feel-good event,” stated Hall of Fame Executive Committee Chairman Bruce Cohen. “We had started putting this together a number of months-ago, and it’s obvious by today’s turnout and the appreciation expressed by those present that it was the right thing to do. The entire team with the project worked hard to make this a reality. We could not be happier for the families and friends of today’s very-deserving inductees.” NEAR President Val LeSieur himself a Hall of Fame member, echoed a similar sentiment. “This being the first-time we presented a Pioneers Induction Ceremony, we’re particularly pleased with the turnout. The day could not have gone better,” he said. “It appears that we hit-upon something very-special today,” stated presenter and well-known racing historian R.A. Silvia. “Whatever it-was, things just aligned perfectly making for a very-enjoyable celebration of racing’s early days. So-many segments of the sport’s history were well-represented today by a group of very-deserving new inductees.”

Popular Matt Buckler served as Master of Ceremonies. Presenters were veteran New England racing personalities Bones Bourcier, Lew Boyd, Dick Monahan, and R.A. Silvia. In a particularly poignant speech, Hall of Fame member Billy Greco made the presentation for Sparky Belmont. The pair had been both friends and competitors for years. Renowned New England racing photographer & writer Steve Kennedy served as the day’s official lensman.

National Speed Sport News contributor Ron Hedger leads a diverse group of inductees into the New York State Stock Car Ass’n Hall of Fame in 2013. The induction ceremony will be held at the Saratoga Automobile Museum at 11 am on Saturday, Jan. 26, with the inductees to also be recognized that evening at NYSSCA’s annual awards banquet in Albany, NY.

Best known as a columnist and reporter for National Speed Sport News and its successor SPEED SPORT Magazine for some 35 years, Hedger also wrote dozens of stories as a contributing editor to Stock Car Racing and Open Wheel Magazines along with numerous articles for Speedway Illustrated and Autoweek. Joining Hedger in the NYSSCA Hall of Fame is DIRT organizer/promoter Glenn Donnelly. Donnelly, who is also a member of the Eastern Motorsport Press Ass’n Hall of Fame and the Syracuse Hall of Fame, left General Electric in 1970, when he bought the rundown Weedsport Speedway, and from there his career went straight up.

Don Diffendorf, George Kent and Bob Devine makeup the list of drivers entering the Hall this year.

In action on the tube this week, last weekend's season ending Nationwide Series race that was held at the Homestead Speedway in Florida will re-air on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel. Speed will re-air the season ending Sprint Cup race that was held at Homestead at 3:00pm on Wednesday. The Sprint Cup finale will also air on Sunday night at 7:00pmon Speed. From now until February racing on TV will be scarce.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. Speedway Motorsports was a winner as they closed out the week at 15.50, up 0.17 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.31 to 24.70 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.03 to 1.51. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.06 to 5.08 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.37 to 11.16 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil (Energy Transfer) went up 0.27 to 42.36. With the exception of Toyota which went up 3.38 to 82.09 the car builders were down for the week as Ford dropped 0.43 to 10.50 and General Motors dropped 1.21 to 23.85. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.16 to 62.12 and Lowes went up 0.50 to 31.98. With the exception of Target Department Stores which went up 0.49 to 62.50 the big team sponsors were down for the week. Dupont dropped 1.35 to 41.95 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.70 to 62.93, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.92 to 28.81 and Fedex dropped 3.49 to 86.13.

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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