Tuesday October 28, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series has closed out another successful season. Car counts were down a bit but overall the competition was great. When the final checker dropped at Thompson, Ted Christopher led the championship standings by 127 points over Matt Hirschman. Hirschman, who lost his ride in the Bennett mount, was one of the first to congratulate the new champion. Todd Szegedy finished the year in third spot with Chuck Hossfeld and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top five. Rounding out the top ten in the final standings are Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Rowan Pennick, Jimmy Blewett and Ryan Preece. Next on the agenda is the annual Banquet of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Casino in December.

The weekly stars of NASCAR head for Las Vegas this coming weekend for the 27th annual NASCAR Whelen All-American Series awards banquet at the Rio Hotel. The event will be co-hosted by Mike Joy and Dick Berggren, NASCAR on FOXĒ telecast teammates. Both began their careers at local short tracks, and understand the sense of accomplishment the honorees will receive. Joy, the best there is when it comes to calling a race began his career at the Riverside Park Speedway. Berggren began his racing career at the Stafford Motor Speedway as a driver. He later switched to race photography and writing before becoming a broadcaster. Both have never forgotten their roots. Those of us in the northeast are proud to call them ďOne of UsĒ.

At the Waterford Speedbowl competitors are still wondering if and or when they will be paid for the Fall Finale. Word has it that track operator Jerry Robinson will not renew his lease of the shoreline oval, which means that the purse will never be paid. NASCAR, which competitors at Waterford were forced to join needs to go after the non-paying promoter and take legal action if necessary in order to protect their paying members.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Twin State Speedway Matt Hirschman, who has won 12 times in three of four Modified racing series won the Ricky Miller Memorial 100. Hirschman started 16th. Lisbon Connecticutís Chris Pasteryak came from last starting spot to finish seventh and sewed up the series championship. In the 100 lapper, Dwight Jarvis finished second and was followed by Kirk Alexander, Jon McKennedy and Bob Goodenough.

Mike Joy interviews Ronnie Wyckoff in the 70's  before his "NASCAR on Fox" career, Mike along with Dr. Dick Berggren will be hosting the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet.

Belated congratulations to Bill Slater who was presented with a special recognition award from Mark and Lisa Arute from the Stafford Motor Speedway. It was Slater who convinced construction company owner Jack Arute to lease the speedway in 1970 when it was about to go under. Arute bought the track prior to the 1971 season and with Slaterís help made the track one of the premier racing facilities in the northeast. Slater, originally from Danielson, CT, began his racing career at the Waterford Speedbowl and at the Lonsdale Arena. In addition to his being a vital part of the Stafford Speedway Slaterís accomplishments include winning the 1965 Race of Champions at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania and wins at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds at Trenton. He was also a five time track champion and all time Sportsman winner at the Norwood Arena in Massachusetts.

In All Star Modified action at Epping, NH on Saturday night a paltry field of only 15 Modifieds were on hand. According to reports Ronnie Silk led about 2/3 of the 100 lapper before being passed by Mike Stefanik for the lead and eventual win. Silk hung on for second with Matt Hirschman, third. Kyle Ebersol and Rowan Pennick rounded out the top five. Among those who didnít finish was Ted Christopher who ended up 11th.

Interest continues to build for the 6th Annual North-South Shootout: Nov. 4th - 8th at the Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, NC. The main event will be the 6th Annual John Blewett III Memorial 100 lapper. Also part of the weekend are the SK type Modifieds, Vintage Modifieds, Rolling Thunder/Vintage Sportsman and EastWest Supermodifieds

Seymour the Clowns antics with Bugs Stevens was just a part of the crazyness that racing experienced in the 60's and 70's.

Get well wishes to John Farone Jr who underwent surgery for Colon Cancer on Friday October 17th. He was operated on at the New Britain General Hospital and was released on Wednesday, October 22nd and will be recovering at home for the next few weeks. According to doctors the prognosis is very good as they believe all the cancer was removed. For those of you who donít know, John or Butch spent countless hours as Seymour the Clown. Butch, who cheered up so many could now use some cheering up of his own. Cards of cheer can reach Butch at home, 1725 Berlin Turnpike #104, Berlin, Ct. 06037. Two days after returning home Farone had the misfortune of having his wife Sandra pass away. Sandra was a niece of the late racing legend "Money Bags" Moe Gherzi.

It seems like yesterday but it was 23 years ago in 1985 that we lost Richie Evans at Martinsville. Considered the undisputed King of the Modifieds, Evans' influence lives on today.

In TV land this week televised action on the Speed Channel begins on Thursday at noon with a replay of last weekendís Sprint Cup Pep Boys Auto 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Friday, Speed gets an early start with live coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at the Texas Motor Speedway at 10:00am. Qualifying for the Nationwide Series will also be on Speed starting at 6:30. NASCAR Live follows at 8:00. At 8:30 Speed has the pre-race show for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Silverado 350k, which gets the green at 8:30. Trackside at Texas Motor Speedway rounds out the day at 11:30. Saturdayís action begins at 3:00pmwith a one hour Sprint Cup practice session. At 3:00 espn has their Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead into a 3:30 start of the OíReilly Challenge at the Texas Motor Speedway. At 4:00pm the Speed Channel hosts a two-hour recap of the recent Super Dirt Week at Syracuse. The DIRT Modifieds on the mile at Syracuse will raise the hair on the back of your neck. At 6:00pm espn2 hosts Sprint Cup final practice from Texas. On the Speed Channel at 6:00 will be the World of Outlaws Late Models for two hours of competition from two tracks in Ohio. At 8:00pm Speed provides same day delayed coverage of the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars on the dirt track at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. Sundayís viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR RaceDay. ESPN2 has NASCAR Now on at the same time. Speed returns at 2:00pm with another 60 minutes of RaceDay. At 3:00 the action moves to ABC for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Dickies 500 from Texas, which gets the green at 3:30. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend on Sunday night with The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. If you can stay awake ESPN2 has a one-hour NASCAR Now at 10:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week the racing related stocks reflected the bear market conditions on Wall Street with a few exceptions including the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 1.44 to 28.24 and NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint/Nextel which went up 0.10 to 3.16. Speedway stocks, Dover Downs, which dropped 1.32 to 2.05, and Speedway Motorsports, which dropped 0.67 to 12.36, pretty much followed market trends. Nationwide, which sponsors NASCARís second division, dropped 0.43 to 48.56. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.96 to 24.19 while Goodyear dropped 2.81 to 8.89. The NASCAR team sponsors didnít escape. Dupont dropped 4.44 to 29.33 as Coca-Cola dropped 3.05 to 38.28. Target Department Stores dropped 6.45 to 32.92 as Aaronís Rentals dropped 1.45 to 19.28. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.70 to 18.51 and Lowes dropped 2.11 to 17.20. The parcel carriers followed suit. Fedex dropped 5.74 to 56.81 and UPS
dropped 3.99 to 46.55. Still on the bottom is the World Racing Group at 0.02.

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. 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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