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Friday November 7, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Last year, 2007, it looked like former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Tony Hirschman had lost his sponsor/car owners as they told him they were retiring from the sport. Hirschman, who was on the Gary Danko radio show, stated that the owners (the Keheleís) got the team together at the Stafford Fall Final and told them they were retiring at seasons end. Hirschman, who had nothing left to prove, could very well retire himself and devote his time to his son Mattís career. The younger Hirschman had recently scored an impressive win in the North/South Shootout.

In other Whelen Modified Tour news it looked like Series Champion Don Lia would be replacing Terry Cook on the Craftsman Truck series in 2008. If that was the case a strong rumor had Bob Garbarino retiring from the sport. Tour regular Wade Cole scored a victory in Connecticut politics when he was elected First Selectman in the town of Hartland. The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island announced at their annual banquet that they would host the Whelen Modified Tour on Saturday night, August 2. The Stafford Speedway was expected to announce their Tour dates at their annual banquet.
 

It was announced that Preston, Connecticut Modified car owner and builder Art Barry would join a select group when he would be inducted into the New York State Stock Car Association's Hall of Fame on January 19, 2008. Barry's five-decade career as a NASCAR modified owner and fabricator had seen him build scores of asphalt cars for himself and others. He first came to the forefront of the New York racing scene at the Albany-Saratoga, Airborne Park and Utica-Rome Speedways with a winning coupe driven by Bobby Santos, grandfather of current NASCAR up and comer Bobby Santos 3rd. Since that time, his own cars had been wheeled by such notables as Leo Cleary, Bob Potter, Eddie Flemke, Brett Bodine, George Summers, Jeff Fuller, Greg Sacks, his son, Ken and Mike Stefanik, with whom he won the NASCAR national championship in 2000 and 2001. A tireless worker, Barry is also known for helping others perfect their car's handling, whether or not they were customers of his Spearpoint Auto fabrication business. Prior to teaming up with Santos at the Norwood Arena in Massachusetts Barry fielded a Modified for Chapin, CTís Joe Trudeau Joining Barry as inductees would be drivers Buzzie Reutimann, "Barefoot Bob" McCreadie, who has an amazing 507 documented feature wins at some 54 speedways from Canada to Australia, Maynard Troyer and the late Les Deuel, a sportswriter, who covered the local racing scene for both the Albany Times-Union and the racing trade papers.



Car Owner Art Barry (top photo far right) and driver Buzzie Reutimann were selected for induction into the New York State Stock Car Association's Hall of Fame

The newest NYSSCA Hall of Fame members would be inducted at the association's annual awards banquet, set for Saturday, January 19th at the Polish Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension in Albany, NY.

For the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, Stafford Motor Speedway announced they would institute a tire rule for its SK Modified and SK Light Modified divisions. The tire rule would limit the number of tires that teams would be able to purchase each week and use during the course of the 2008 season. SK Modified teams would be allowed to purchase 2 tires each week at the track, while SK Light teams would be allowed to purchase one tire each week at the track. The Waterford Speedbowl management was looking at similar rules. This type of tire rule is not new; in fact it was first used in 1978 when Dick Williams leased the Waterford Speedbowl from the late Harvey Tattersall.

Connecticut native Joe Lewandoski, who at one time managed the now closed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass., resigned after three years as general manager at the Lake Erie Speedway in Pennsylvania. Lewandoski resigned less than two weeks after saying he planned to return for the 2008 season. In that time, he discovered he needed a new challenge in his racing career.

Kyle Busch's run of bad luck officially ended Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. Busch followed his Friday night Truck Series win with a victory Saturday in the Busch Series, giving him a chance today in the Nextel Cup event to become the first driver to sweep all three of NASCAR's national series at the same track on the same But Kenseth, who had no power steering, had nothing for Busch on the restart and he jumped out to a lead of about six car-lengths and coasted toward his fourth Busch Series win of the year. It was the final Busch Series race of Busch's career at Hendrick. He's leaving the team at the end of the season as it makes room for Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Busch isn't scheduled to race next weekend in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson took command of the Nextel Cup championship Sunday, winning at Phoenix International Raceway to open a daunting lead over his teammate in the race to the title. It was his 10th win of the season, most since Jeff Gordon won 13 in 1998 and barring a collapse in next week's finale, Johnson will become the first driver to win consecutive championships since Gordon did it in 1997 and 1998. Gordon was off all day. He had a tire rub after making contact with Kevin Harvick, and finished a disappointing 10th. Greg Biffle finished second and Matt Kenseth, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, was third. Tony Stewart was fourth and was followed by Ryan Newman, Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch, who was trying to become the first driver to win three of NASCAR's national races at the same track on the same weekend, finished eighth.

This week are several vintage racing photos from the Pete Zanardi collection of just some of the drivers who were behind the wheel of the Billy Simons owned #9 over the years.
Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com.

 


Dick Caso


Ernie Gahan


Gene Bergin


Ray Miller


Stan Greger


Charlie Webster

Thatís 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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