Tuesday October 9, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

The celebrations continue on Long Island and in Mystic Ct as the Whelen Modified Tour Series closes out the 2007 season this weekend at the Thompson Speedway. Going into the final event which is part of the annual World Series, Donnie Lia holds a 183 point lead over Todd Szegedy. Lia’s championship is cast in stone. Szegedy’s position is not as he leads James Civali by only 98 points. Ronnie Silk is breathing down Civali’s neck as he is only down 9 points. Matt Hirschman rounds out the top five. Hirschman is 114 points behind Szegedy and still has an outside shot at finishing in the runner-up spot. Sixth through tenth are Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik, Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino and Eddie Flemke JR.

In Whelen Modified Tour news rumor has it that Ed Cox may retire as the Tour Director. His replacement is rumored to be former Nextel Cup driver Chad Little. Currently employed by NASCAR, Little is currently the sanctioning body’s Director of Racing Development in Mexico.

The Seekonk Speedway closed out their 62nd season last weekend with the Annual D.Anthony Venditti Memorial Racing Festival. A vital part of that event was the True Value Modified Series. Conceived and owned by Modified racer Jack Bateman, the series has become an affordable alternative to those who can’t afford to travel or compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. The Hartford Courant stated recently that Bateman may be interested in selling his series. The Courant alluded to the fact that a likely buyer might be Ben Dodge. If that comes to be it could very well be the saving grace for Modified racing in the northeast. Behind the scenes it’s a known fact that NASCAR officials have asked Modified competitors not to support the series. A lot of confusion and indecision has placed a dark cloud over the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series at various times during the past season. Maybe the time is right for new beginnings. Ben Dodge has the experience and the ability to make the True Value Modified Series the top racing division in the northeast. In addition to his promoting skills Dodge is also a former Modified car owner who understands the ins and outs of being a car owner. Although they wont go public because of possible retaliation from NASCAR many of the prominent drivers and car owners feel the time is right for a change.

Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, Mass. passed Kirk Alexander of of Swanzey, N.H with just three laps remaining to win the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Festival of Racing True Value Modified Series 100 lap event at Seekonk Speedway. Alexander’s second place finish clinched the 2007 series point championship. It was the third win at Seekonk this season for Annarummo and a hard fought victory. After starting the event in third he was placed to the rear of the field following a lap 2 accident with Andy Seuss. Annarummo methodically worked his way back to the front to take the lead on lap 81. Alexander then retook the lead on lap 86 and held off the challenges of Annarummo for the next 11 laps before the final pass for the win.The 2007 True Value Modified Series Championship is the third for Alexander in the last four years. He also is the series leader in career wins. Les Hinckley, who entered the event 14 points behind Alexander, suffered suspension failure and finished 25th. Alexander’s 56-point margin with one race remaining mathematically eliminates Hinckley who is assured of second place in the standings. Dick Houlihan, Chris Pasteryak and Rob Goodenough rounded out the Top-5 at Seekonk.

The New England Antique Racers have announced their choices for inductees for the Class of 2008 Hall of Fame. Drivers include Dave Alkas, Dave Darveau, Dick Batcholder and the late Howie Brown, car owners Joe Brady and the late Mike Scrivani Sr. along with media members Dr. Dick Berggren and writer Pete Zanardi will be inducted at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT on Sunday, January 27th. Still to be announced are the three selections from the Veterans Committee and the Jack Ratta Memorial Media Award winners.

Hundreds upon hundreds of racecars will gather on October 12th, 13th, & 14th for the biggest auto racing event in the northeast. The sprawling complex that is the Thompson International Speedway will be filled, wall-to-wall with well over five hundred racecars that will be ready to compete in the 34th annual XTRAMART World Series of Speedway Racing. It is an incredible sight whether flying over, driving by or walking through the grounds of the Thompson Speedway. No other race track even comes close to hosting an event the size of Thompson’s the World Series and it’s this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fourteen different and distinct divisions of racecars will compete in this three-day racing extravaganza. It’s an event that race fans have waited a full year to see. Headline divisions include the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the Winged Super Modifieds of ISMA, the mighty Midgets of NEMA and Thompson’s Super Six NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions. Add to this the extremely quick Pro Four Modifieds, The American Race Trucks and three Outlaw divisions and you have one of the most diversified race programs to be found anywhere.

In TV land this week, viewing will begin on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the recent NASCAR Grand National Busch East Sunoco 150 that was run at Dover Downs on Sept 21. At 3:00pm the World of Outlaws sprint cars get top billing with their National Open that was run at the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. Thursday’s action starts at 3:00pm with last Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW-Ford 400 that was run at Talladega. The action moves to ESPN2 at 6:00pm for NASCAR Busch Series final practice at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Nextel Cup qualifying from Charlotte follows at 7:00pm. Friday’s action starts at noon when the Speed Channel presents the Sept 22 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Soy Biodiesel 225 that was run at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. Speed goes live with NASCAR Live from Lowes at 3:00pm. NASCAR Busch Series qualifying on ESPN2 follows at 4:00pm. Nextel Cup final practice follows at 6:00pm. ESPN2 has a 60 minute pre-race show at 7:00 followed by live flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series Dollar General 300 from the Lowe’s Motor Speedway at 8:00pm. Trackside at Lowe’s Motor Speedway wraps it up at 11:00pm on the Speed Channel. Saturday’s viewing starts at 5:30 with a two hour NASCAR RaceDay, which leads into live coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Bank of America 500. Sunday’s viewing starts at 2:00pm with the ARCA RE/MAX Series 200 from Toledo, OH. The World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA follows at 4:00. 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 had positive results. Leading the pack was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 1.94 to 47.80. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.98 to 37.98 and Dover Downs went up 0.17 to 6.64. Sprint/Nextel went up 0.01 to 19.01 while Sun Oil went up 2.22 to 73.00. Goodyear dropped 0.40 to 30.01 while DIRT took a digger as they dropped 0.20 to 0.40. It was a good week for the drug sector as Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 1.27 to 30.09 and Pfizer went up 1.15 to 25.58. The home improvement sector followed suit as Home Depot went up 1.78 to 34.22 and Lowes went up 1.27 to 29.29. The parcel carriers followed as both Fedex and UPS went up 1.31 for the week. Fedex closed at 106.06 and UPS closed at 76.41.

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

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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