ARCHIVES

Tuesday November 12, 2013
 

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Asphalt Modified drivers from the North and South converged on the Caraway Speedwayin North Carolina last weekend for the 11th annual John Blewett III Memorial North/South Shootout. Twenty six Modifieds were on hand.

Matt Hirschman made it five out of 11 as he dominated the event from his pole starting position. Hirschman normally competes in the New York State based Race of Champions Tour. NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour regulars George Brunnhoelzl III was second with Andy Seuss, third. Conspicuous by there absence were competitors of the Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti Modified Racing Series teams.

Southern competitor Brian Loftin and Valenti Modified Racing regular Tommy Barrett rounded out the top five. Ron Silk and Cole Powell were the only representatives of the northern Modified Tour. Silk finished 10th and Powell, 14th.

Woody Pitkat has something to shoot for in 2014. Is soon to be car owner Buzz Chew, a Long Island Chevy dealer made him an offer he can't refuse. Said Pitkat,"Wow! I really do have the best car owner in the world. I was told if I win 4 races on the modified tour next year he will hand me over the keys to a brand new 2014 Chevy corvette ZO6!!! — with Billy the kid Power".

In other Whelen Modified Tour Series news Todd Szegedy has been given the boot from the Mike Smeriglio No.2. Rumor has it that Max Zachem is a prime candidate for the ride.

The big event this past weekend in New England was the 16th annual NEAR Hall of Fame Induction and Banquet. Drivers Stan Meserve, Brian Ross, Drew Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp along with car owner Ron Berndt were inducted on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Lodge at Manelley’s located at 65 Rye Street in South Windsor, CT.
Hundreds of victories and dozens of championships comprised this year’s New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class. It brings the membership to well over 115. Inductions are a result of a nomination/selection process that includes voting by a special selection committee and the living members of the Hall.

Merserve, a Maine product, has been a driver, car owner/mechanic and race official for four decades plus including a season (1968) as an independent on the NASCAR Grand National circuit. As a driver, he won throughout Maine, including a pair of Oxford Opens and captured championships at Unity, Speedway 95, Wiscasset and Oxford Plains.

Berndt, a Meriden, CT native, has won in six different decades, most recently in 2012. Grandson Eric Berndt is on the end of a long list of drivers that include Sparky Belmont, Tony Mordino, Jap Membrino, Jimmy Cash, Danny Galullo, Ted Christopher and Timmy, Tommy Berndt and present day his grandson Eric Berndt. His win total is estimated to be well into triple figures and his championships were won at Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speebowl and Thompson Speedway.

Originally from Chelmsford, MA, Eldridge was the Northeastern Midget Association’s first champion (1953) and, some 40 years after retiring, is sixth on the club’s all-time win list with 32. Driving for the likes of Gibby Parmenter, Mike Scrivani, Bob Bahre and Rollie Lindblad, Eldridge, who began in the post World War II days, captured four NEMA championships.

A Bay State native, Stefanik competed throughout New England, but found his greatest success at the former Riverside Park in Massachsettes. Over a 20 year run, he was successful in Novice and Sportsman (titles in ’66, ’67 and ’68) cars before bursting unto the Modified scene with car owner Joe Czarnecki in 1968, winning three championships (1970-71, ’73). His 21 Riverside Modified wins include the 1972 Riverside 500 with Billy Greco. Stefanik passed away in 1984.

Fornoro, who joins his father Nick in the Hall, holds Northeastern Midget Association records with 85 victories and nine championships, most of the former and all of the latter with owner Gene Angelillo. Born in Danbury, Fornoro won at least one NEMA feature in 21 different seasons, grabbing checkers at over 20 different tracks.

Readily identified with Datsun, Connecticut’s Sharp is one of New England’s most accomplished road racers. His list of SCCA and IMSA championships stretches well into double figures, winning three different titles alone in 1975. He achieved even more success as an owner, putting wheels under the likes of actor Paul Newman, Jim Fitzgerald and son Scott, all of whom added championships to the Sharp name.

A NASCAR Modified mainstay in three decades, the 1984 Stafford championship and the 1986 Spring Sizzler, both coming in his own cars, are included in Brian Ross’ impressive resume. The Ballston Spa, NY product started in 1961 at Saranac Lake, NY and before it was over in 2000 scored feature wins from Maine to Florida in both Modifieds and Late Models driving for others (Bob Garbarino, Ed Cloce) and himself. He was the 1984 Race of Champions winner at Pocono and a multi-time champion at Oswego.

Maine's Ralph Nason has truly done it all over six decades – race driver, owner/builder, track owner/promoter. Starting in the early 1960s, “Racin’ Ralph” has won just about everywhere in Maine including Getty Open and Oxford 250 wins (three of them) at Oxford Plains. A two-time NEPSA champ, he has promoted just about everywhere as well. He continues to own Unity Raceway.

Peter Vander Veer, a standout auto racing writer for over 3-decades, received the 2013 Jack Ratta/Charlie Mitchell Award. The award memorializes two outstanding motor sports journalists – Ratta who wrote for the Manchester Union Leader and Mitchell, a sportswriter/editor for many years at the Norwalk (CT) Hour.

In some sad news former Waterford Speedbowl Champion Walt Dombrowski passed away along with Supermodified driver Jim Winks.

On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.27 to 32.92 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.06 to 2.36 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.08 to 17.99. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.20 to 7.07 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.21 to 21.06 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.32 to 52.68. The car makers were down for the week. Toyota took the biggest hit as they dropped 2.39 to 127.37. General Motors dropped 0.73 to 36.66 and Ford dropped 0.04 to 16.85. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.51 to 75.48 and Lowes dropped 0.46 to 48.72. With the exception of Fedex which dropped 2.08 to 132.57 the team sponsors had a fairly good week. Dupont went up 0.91 to 62.00, Coca-Cola went up 0.77 to 64.32, Target Department Stores went up 0.49 to 65.11 and Aarons Rentals went up 1.10 to 29.48.

In TV Land this week:
 
11
14
Thurs
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Atlanta
FS1
 
11
14
Thurs
4:00 PM
5:00 PM
NASCAR Race Hub
 
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
10:00 AM
11:00 AM
NNS Practice
Homestead
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
11:00 AM
1:00 PM
NCWTS Final Practice
Homestead
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
1:00 PM
2:00 PM
NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Atlanta
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
1:30 PM
3:00 PM
NSCS Practice
Homestead
ESPN2
 
11
15
Fri
3:00 PM
4:30 PM
NNS Final Practice
Homestead
ESPN2
 
11
15
Fri
4:00 PM
5:00 PM
NASCAR Race Hub
 
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
4:30 PM
5:30 PM
NCWTS Keystone Light Pole Qualifying
Homestead
FS2
 
11
15
Fri
6:00 PM
7:30 PM
NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying
Homestead
ESPN2
 
11
15
Fri
7:30 PM
8:00 PM
NCWTS SetUp
Homestead
FS1
 
11
15
Fri
8:00 PM
10:00 PM
NCWTS: Ford EcoBoost 200
Homestead
FS1
8:18 PM
11
16
Sat
3:30 AM
5:30 AM
NCWTS: Ford EcoBoost 200
Homestead
FS1
 
11
16
Sat
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
NSCS Practice
Homestead
FS2
 
11
16
Sat
1:00 PM
2:30 PM
NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying
Homestead
FS2
 
11
16
Sat
3:00 PM
4:00 PM
NSCS Final Practice
Homestead
FS2
 
11
16
Sat
4:00 PM
4:30 PM
NNS Countdown
Homestead
ESPN
 
11
16
Sat
4:30 PM
7:45 PM
NNS: Ford EcoBoost 300
Homestead
ESPN
4:46 PM
11
17
Sun
4:00 AM
6:00 AM
NNS: Ford EcoBoost 300
Homestead
ESPN deportes
 
11
17
Sun
10:00 AM
11:00 AM
NASCAR RaceDay
Homestead
FS1
 
11
17
Sun
2:00 PM
3:00 PM
NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Phoenix
FS1
 
11
17
Sun
2:00 PM
3:00 PM
NSCS Countdown
Homestead
ESPN
 
11
17
Sun
3:00 PM
7:00 PM
NSCS: Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead
ESPN
3:15 PM
11
17
Sun
7:00 PM
7:30 PM
NASCAR Victory Lane
Homestead
FS1
 

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, 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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