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Friday February 29, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos at bottom of Page for Full Size                                

Thirty years ago in 1978, the NASCAR Modifieds had an early season event at Hickory, North Carolina. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Wayne Anderson, Gary Cretty, Joe Thurman and Fred Harbach.

Ten years ago in 1998, Jim Spencer took the lead with 25 laps to go and went on to win the Busch Grandnational 300 at Las Vegas. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. Randy Lajoie provided some excitement on the last lap when he flipped. Mark Martin was the Winston Cup winner.

Five years ago in 2003 the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series racing teams headed for Las Vegas. Because of intermittent rain qualifying for both events were run at night. Many of the teams arrived late after they were stuck in an ice storm in Texas. Terry Labonte was the Winston Cup Busch Pole sitter. Matt Kenseth took the lead after a pit stop on lap 237 and held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win. Michael Waltrip finished third. In last lap action, Jimmie Johnson and Sterling Marlin wrecked while fighting for eighth spot. Joe Nemachek won the Busch Series race over Kevin Harvick.

Last year, 2007 All eyes were on the first annual Speedway Expo at the Better Living Center at the Big “E” in West Springfield, Mass.The show, which replaced RaceaRama featured just about every speedway and series in the northeast along with many top NASCAR stars and personalities. Based on numerous reports Speedway Expo was a rousing success. It was gratifying to see that a large contingent of drivers that were on hand representing the NASCAR Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour Series.

Saturday saw a large turnout of fans for autograph sessions from some of their favorite drivers including eighteen competitors from the NASCAR Busch East Series and Whelen Modified ranks. NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers Clint Bowyer and Kenny Wallace proved popular with the fans seeking their autographs. The dunk tank, which featured NEMA's Mike Scrivani along with officials from Seekonk and Twin State Speedways, was an enjoyable festivity as folks tried their luck for a good cause.

Among those on the prowl was former Connecticut SK Modified Champion Jim Broderick who says his son Jimmy will be in a SK at Waterford in 2007. It also appeared that Mario Fiore and his mighty No.44 would reappear in the form of a True Value Modified. Fiore indicated that he could field a competitive Modified on the True Value circuit for considerably less than it costs to run the NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour Series. Speedways and racing series from every New England state as well as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were represented. Cars and trucks representing just about any form of motorized competition were on hand.

The highlight of Sunday afternoon was the inaugural Speedy Awards, which were voted on by the fans to recognize drivers, the media, promoters and tracks for their efforts. The winners were: BREAK-OUT RACER OF THE YEAR WINNER: MATT HIRSCHMAN, LONG HAUL AWARD WINNER: BENTLEY WARREN, BEST WEEKLY RACER WINNER: WOODY PITKAT, BEST NORTHEAST TOURING RACER WINNER: CHRIS PERLEY, BEST WEEKLY SHOW WINNER: BEECH RIDGE SPEEDWAY, BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN AN EVENT WINNER: LARRY BARNETT, BEST INDIVIDUAL PROMOTION WINNER: TD BANKNORTH 250 OXFORD PLAINS SPEEDWAY, BEST SERIES OR TRACK COVERAGE WINNER: NICOHOLAS TETO, RACE FAN OF THE YEAR WINNER: TOM ‘SID’ DiMAGGIO. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARD Winner: Bill Channell, SOLID LIFTER winner : This non-racer (not a driver, car owner, or crew member) award recognizes lifelong support of a spouse who has played a tremendous role in their spouse’s and family’s racing career. They have supported the decision to be financially involved, understood time away from chores and sometimes family, and then takes a backseat during victory lane photos, interviews, and team-oriented decisions and they have done so for years, in some cases decades. WINNER: LOIS MATCZAK.

It looked like the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts was working hard to keep admission prices at a reasonable level as they had secured major sponsorship for their True Value Modified Series events. The Speedway announced that AAA of Southern New England had signed on as the title sponsor for the True Value Modified Racing Series 100-lap event on Saturday night, June 23 and Airgas Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, specialty and medical gases, process chemicals, welding, safety and related products, has joined forces with the speedway to present the True Value Modified Racing Series 100 on Saturday night, August 18.

Down on the shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl the new management team of Bill Roth and Jerry Robinson had begun their upgrade program at the Route 85 oval. Roth and Robinson, under the corporate name, The New Waterford Speedbowl, LLC, officially signed their lease Jan. 1, about a month and a half later than they would've liked to, taking over the day-to-day operations at the track from property owner Terry Eames. Roth and Robinson would have a long row to hoe as Eames had let the historic oval slip into a stage of disrepair.

The New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) announced the addition of the New Hampshire 75 for the United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering on Saturday, September 15. The New Hampshire 75 will be part of an already action packed NASCAR SYLVANIA 300 event weekend. Saturday’s schedule would also feature the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200 and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New Hampshire 100.

Juan Pablo Montoya spun teammate Scott Pruett to take the lead with eight laps left, then held off Denny Hamlin to win the Telcel-Motorola 200 for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.

Montoya, the Colombian star who jumped from Formula One to NASCAR late last season, recovered from a bad pit stop to aggressively move from 19th to first, taking the lead when he sent Pruett's car spinning on the 72nd lap.

The Nextel Cup cars had the weekend off

This week here are several vintage racing photos from the old West Haven, CT. Speedway courtesy of vintagemodifieds.com


                      Tommy Martino                                                         Sherm Saunders                                                Ralph "Zippy" Zullo
                                                                                  
Photos from the collection of Billy Greco

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467

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

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