Tuesday November 26, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Congratulations to Mike Stefanik who edged out Woody Pitkat for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Most Popular Driver Award. Stefanik has yet to indicate what if any plans he has for 2014. Among the big surprises last week was the fact that Boehler Racing has applied for a Valenti Modified Racing Series Number for 2014. It appears that Michael Boehler has made a wise decision as he will cut back on his Whelen Modified Tour schedule for 2014. The mighty Ole Blu, with a yet unnamed driver, will still be seen but most of their racing will be confined to New England. There are some good paying events in New England on the Mod Tour and there are some good paying events on the Valenti Modified Racing Series plus there have been some good paying open shows at Seekonk and at the Star Speedway.

While those at NASCAR continue to pat themselves on the back and fatten their bank accounts the Modified competitors continue to jump ship.

The 2013 racing season has wound down in the northeast. The only event remaining is the Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Derby at the Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey. This year will mark the 40th running of the Turkey Derby at the Jersey shore oval. Time trials start on Friday, November 29th.

The Turkey Derby is a three day auto racing event held during the daylight hours. On Friday, November 29, the Sportsman cars, Factory Stocks and 4 Cylinder cars will all compete in qualifying and 50-lap main events. The Legend Cars will qualify and compete in a 40-lap feature. The Wall Modifieds will also be on the card as they qualify for their Saturday main event and the restored cars of the Garden State Vintage Stock Car club will also be an important part of the day. The pit area will open at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, while practice will start at 8:30 a.m. Grandstand seating will open at 9:30 a.m., qualifying is set for 12:30 p.m. and main events are planned for 2:15 p.m.

Day two of the 40th Turkey Derby will see the Touring Modifieds battle in a 150-lap championship race while the Wall Modifieds battle for 100-laps. Dirt Modified/Sportsman and Limited Late Models will compete in 50-lap races while the TQ Midgets are set for a 25-lapper. Qualifying, as needed, is set for all divisions on Saturday. The pit area will open at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, while practice will start at 8:30 a.m. Grandstand seating will open at 9:30 a.m., qualifying is set for 11:00 a.m. and main events are planned for 1:00 p.m.

The 40th Turkey Derby weekend will then wrap up on Sunday, December 1 with a championship Demolition Derby, a 75-lap race for the 4 Cylinder cars, a 50-lapper for the Factory Stocks and a ladies’ Powder Puff race. The pit area will open at 10:0 a.m. on Sunday, while practice will start at 11:00 a.m. Grandstand seating will open at noon as qualifying begins and main events are planned for 1:00 p.m.

The Stafford Motor Speedway played host to their 44th Annual Awards Ceremony last Friday, November 22nd. Headlining the night’s festivities, Woody Pitkat was crowned the 2013 SK Modified® Champion, which is his first career SK Modified® championship after finishing second in the SK Modified® standings four times since the 2007 season. Adam Gray was also a first time champion in the Late Model division with a season for the ages that saw him record 16 consecutive podium finishes. Tony Membrino, Jr. was honored as the SK Light champion, which was be his second career Stafford championship, Josh Wood came out on top of a tight 3-man race to win the Ltd. Late Model championship, and Dave Secore was be honored as the DARE Stock champion.

The SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts Rookie of the Year awards were presented to Joey Cipriano from the SK Modified® division, Cory Casagrande from the Late Model division, Chase Dowling from the SK Light division, and Austin Bessette from the Limited Late Model division. Winning the very first R.A.D. Automachine DARE Stock Rookie of the Year award was David Comeau. The awards will be worth a $700.00 bonus to Cipriano, $500.00 bonuses to Casagrande, Dowling, and Bessette from SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts and a $400 bonus to Comeau from R.A.D. Automachine. Each Rookie of the Year bonus will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2014 season.

The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Woody Pitkat in both the SK Modified® and Late Model divisions, Geoff Boisjolie from the SK Light division, David Arute from the Limited Late Model division, and Doug Phelps and Johnny Walker from the DARE Stock division. The Most Popular Driver Awards are voted on by the fans who attend Stafford Motor Speedway race events and fill out the ballots found weekly in the track’s PitStopper Magazine.

The UNOH Ultimate Mechanic Award was awarded to Earl Pelletier. Pelletier prepared and maintained the #27 Gunsmoke Stables championship winning SK Modified® car of Woody Pitkat.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series crowned series champion Rowan Pennink this past Saturday at the Banquet Court in Manchester, NH. Tommy Barrett was the runner-up in the standings at the conclusion of the 17 race schedule. Second generation driver Richard Savory finished third. Louie Mechalides and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.

For their efforts, the Pennink/Gary Casella team received a check for $10,000 in honor of the series 10th anniversary by founder Jack Bateman. Pennink captured two wins in 2013 at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire and Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, but it was his consistent solid runs that paved the way to his first series championship. Pennink had 13-top five finishes and 15-top 10 finishes, the most of any series competitor. Pennink was the only driver to qualify through heat races in every event. The Roscoe Racing # 25 team never ran a consolation race in 2013.

Pennink also became the only driver in series history to win all marquee events in VMRS history when he garnered the 10th annual Spring Dash at Monadnock in April.

The season’s top 14 finishers in the point standings also received awards for their achievements.

Numerous special awards were handed out including the Hoosier Tire East Award to Rowan Pennink, the Sunoco Hard Charger Award to Matt Mead, the Mountainside Graphix Rookie of the Year award to Dana Smith, the Spafco Most Improved Driver Award to Anthony Nocella, the Tough Luck award to Mike Holdredge, the Most Popular Driver Award to Max Zachem, the Sportsmanship Award to Dylan Kopec, the Mechanic of The Year Award to Josh Steeves, the Volunteer of The Year Award to Joe Doucette, the Dedication to Racing Award to Charlie Pasteryak and the Bob Polverari Award to Louie Mechalides. Recognised for 10 Years Of Service to the Valenti Modified Racing Series were Jack Bateman, Chris Grey and John Spence Sr.

A varied schedule for 2014 was announced. The VMRS will open April 5th & April 6th at the Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford, CT, 100 Laps. Round two will be on April 12th at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH, 100 Laps. May 29th Thompson Speedway Thompson, CT, 75 Laps. June 7th Seekonk Speedway Seekonk, MA, 100Laps, June 20th Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Springs, CT, 80 laps, June 27th Lee USA Speedway Lee, NH, 100 Laps, July 5th Monadnock Speedway Winchester, NH, 100 Laps, July 18th Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Springs, CT 80 Laps, August 9th Waterford Speedbowl Waterford, CT, 100 Laps, August 16th Seekonk Speedway Seekonk, MA, 100 Laps, August 23rd Monadnock Speedway Winchester, NH, 100 Laps, August 29th Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Springs, CT 80 Laps. September 5th & 6th Airborne Speedway Plattsburgh, NY 100 Laps, October 4th Seekonk Speedway Seekonk, MA 100 Laps, October 11th Lee USA Speedway Lee, NH 100 Laps and October 18th Thompson Speedway Thompson, CT 75 Laps.

NASCAR made it official as they have announced that the second annual "Battle at the Beach" will be held at the backstretch flat track that uses a section of the Daytona International Speedway. Its nice that there is a race for the Modifieds at Daytona but it is not a true representation of what Modified racing is all about. The event will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 18. A full day of practice, qualifying and racing will be headlined by two 150-lap events with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. No mention of TV coverage has been announced.

Last year's "Battle at the Beach" was a total fiasco, especially the officiating. Flat track hit and run racing may be good at the Bowman Gray Stadium but not so good at Daytona.

On the speedway stock market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week in the green. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports which went up 0.42 to 19.70. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.30 to 34.37 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.10 to 2.55. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.41 to 7.83 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.95 to 54.05 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.09 to 21.75. The car makers were down for the week. Toyota dropped 1.69 to 126.31 while General Motors dropped 1.14 to 37.63 and Ford dropped 0.05 to 17.01. In the home improvement sector Lowes dropped 3.88 to 47.90 and Home Depot dropped 0.89 to 79.18. In the area of big team sponsors Coca-Cola went up 1.43 to 66.35 while Dupont dropped 0.39 to 61.70, Target dropped 3.19 to 63.70, Aarons Rentals dropped 1.21 to 29.01 and Fedex dropped 1.58 to 137.07.

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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