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Tuesday October 16, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

The Annual World Series at the Thompson Speedway closed out the 2007 season for many in New England last weekend. Forty-two NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for time trials. Part time Tour competitor Tony Ferrante provided a pleasant surprise when he set the fastest time and captured the Busch pole. Ferrante's time of 120.656 mph around the .625-mile oval beat out Tony Hirschman Jr. by .025 seconds. Don Lia, Billy Pauch Jr and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. Qualifying went smooth except for the fact that Jamie Tomaino slammed the first turn wall after completing his second qualifying lap. Tomaino’s time wasn’t good enough to make the starting field but he was eligible for a provisional spot, which he took.

Lenny Boehler and Bob “Frito Bandito” Santos, both deceased and NEAR Hall of Fame inductees, had to be smiling last Sunday as Bobby Santos III drove the Boehler Racing Ole Blu to victory in the NASCAR Modified portion of the World Series. Based on the re-draw after time trials Santos started second in the 150-lap event. Santos, who was in the hunt the entire race, grabbed the lead on a restart on lap 131 and went on to victory over Reggie Ruggiero, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Ronnie Silk. Sixth through tenth were Kevin Goodale, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Renee Dupuis. Series champion Don Lia finished 28th. After dropping out with reported ignition problems. James Civali, who completed all 150 laps was disqualified by NASCAR and placed last for rough riding. Richard Savory, son of George Savory and the driver of the Art Barry No.21 was awarded the series Rookie of the Year award.

The Thompson regular weekly divisions finished off the 2007 season in grand-style with Larry Barnett (Ltd. Sportsman), Mike Romano (Mini Stocks), and Leo Adams (TIS Modifieds) scoring victories. Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, continued his stronghold on the Outlaw Late Model laurels during the World Series. In other Outlaw action, Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor won a barnburner in the Strictlys and visiting Randy Churchill, Jr. of Niantic bested the Outlaw Mini Stocks. The Touring Series competitors established a pattern on Saturday night as both Seth Duvall of Ashford in the All-Star Truck Series and Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, in the Pro-Four Modifieds rode feature wins to 2007 championships.

The 34th Annual World Series is now in the record books ending a bittersweet racing season at Thompson International Speedway. In addition to Bobby Santos III those adding their names to the Thompson history books were Chris Perley of Rowley, MA, in the International Supermodified Association (ISMA); and Randy Cabral of Plymouth, MA, in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA). Also garnering World Series glory was Jimmy Blewett of Howelll, NJ, in the Sunoco Modifieds, Jeff Connors of Ellington in Pro Stocks, and a surprise winner in the Late Models Ron Levesque, Jr. of Tiverton, RI. Ben Seitz had a run for the ages when the young driver from Pocassett, MA, scored an unprecedented fourth Northeastern Midget Association driving championship.
Jimmy Blewett made a triumphant return to the victory lane at Thompson. Blewett was greeted by a number of his fellow competitors and a standing ovation when he exited his Eddie Partridge owned TS Haulers #12 in victory lane. Blewett took over the lead before the completion of the first lap and never looked back. In the early going, Blewett and second-running Malone drove away from the rest of the pack. Blewett withstood a pair of late race restarts and persistent challenges from Malone to score the victory. Josh Steeves came home with an impressive third place finish over Bert Marvin and a returning Ted Christopher. Sixth through tenth were Tom Cravenho, Bo Gunning, Bobby Santos III, Danny Cates and Todd Ceravolo.

Dick Houlihan made his final career start at Xtra/Mart World Series at Thompson last weekend. Houlihan, who began his racing career in 1972 at the now closed Lakeville Speedway (MA), has raced at tracks all around New England, the east coast, as far west as Indiana and even in Canada. Throughout his career he has driven for many car owners including Danny Fournier, Jim McCloud, Sam Medeiros, Frank Procopio, Bill Ambrosio, Dan Andruck, John McKenna, Lenny Ellis, Greg Paquin and Wayne Darling. Along the way Dick won over 150 Features and 9 championships including 3 NASCAR Weekly Series titles, one at Thompson in 1996 and back to back titles at Seekonk in 2002 and 2003. He was also voted the Most Popular Driver at Seekonk in 2001 and 2002.

NASCAR has released the final standings for the Weekly Racing Series. Four of the top ten in the final standings race at the Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedways including runner-up Woody Pitkat who lost out to Steve Carlson by a mere six points. Carlson races at the LaCrosse Speedway in the Mid-West. Philip Morris who races at the Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia, finished in third spot with Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Kerry Malone, who races at both Thompson and Stafford finished tenth I the final rundown.

Longtime motorsports executive Dennis Huth, through his company Racing Speed Associates, has reached an agreement to fully acquire all rights to the American Speed Association, it was announced today. Huth, the president of Racing Speed Associates, brokered the deal to purchase the 39-year old sanctioning body from Stephen M. Dale. No stranger to the motorsports industry, Huth’s background includes 17 years with NASCAR where he founded and managed the Craftsman Truck Series, was director of the NASCAR Winston Weekly Racing & Touring Series, and had formation oversight on the former NASCAR Southwest and Northwest Tours. In addition, Huth was president of IMSA and the Trans-Am Series, as well as many years spent as owner and promoter of several racetracks in Oregon and Northern California. The ASA has also sanctioned a few Modified races in North Carolina.

The New England Antique Racers have announced that the annual NEAR Annual Movie Party will be held on Saturday November 10th, 2007 at 6pm at the DANTE CLUB at 1198 Memorial Ave. in West Springfield, Mass. (ACROSS FROM THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION GROUNDS) TICKETS: Advance (Before Nov. 2nd $15.00) At The Door $20.00. The party features a HOT & COLD BUFFET * CASH BAR * Proceeds will go to help fund the 2008 Hall of Fame Banquet. For more info, go to NEAR1.com

In TV land this week, Speed Channel viewing will begin on Wednesday at 3:00pm with the World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. The Oct. 6 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Mark Brooks Memorial Naturally Fresh 250 that was run in Myrtle Beach, SC follows at 4:00pm. Thursday’s viewing starts at noon with a re-showing of last Friday night’s NASCAR Busch Series Dollar General 300 that was run at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. The Nextel Cup Bank of America 500, also run at Charlotte, follows at 3:00pm. The Speed Channel previews this weeks Nextel Cup event that will be run at Martinsville at 8:00pm. Speed goes live at Martinsville at 11:00am on Friday for an hour. At 2:30 it’s a 30 minute segment of NASCAR Live from Martinsville. The action switches to ESPN2 at 3:30 for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying from Martinsville. At 6:00pm its back to the Speed Channel for another hour of NASCAR Live from Martinsville. At 8:00pm the Speed Channel heads to the west coast for NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown qualifying at Irvindale, CA. Saturday’s action begins at 10:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice at Martinsville. At 11:00am its back to the Speed Channel for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Martinsville. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville gets the green at 3:00pm. Later in the day, at 10:00pm, the Speed Channel will provide live coverage of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown where the the top teams in NASCAR's Grand National division compete for national recognition in Irvindale, CA. Sundays action starts at 9:30 with a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay. At 1:30 the action switches to ABC for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Subway 500 in Martinsville, VA. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on a negative note. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.43 to 37.55 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.30 to 47.50 and Dover Downs dropped 0.04 to 6.60. After three positive weeks Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.97 to 18.04. On the positive side the Sun Oil Company went up 4.33 to 77.33. Goodyear also had a positive week as they went up 0.75 to 30.76. Despite a successful race week in Syracuse, NY, DIRT Motorsports showed a no change as they remain at 0.40. In the drug sector, Pfizer dropped 0.32 to 25.26 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.32 to 29.77. The home improvement sector was also down for the week. Home Depot dropped 0.78 to 33.44 and Lowes dropped 0.36 to 28.93. The parcel carriers sector continued their rally. Fedex went up 1.45 to 107.51 and UPS went up 0.21 to 76.62.


That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail 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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