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Friday November 20, 2009
This is the final "Looking Back" for 2009.
Looking Back will return in Feb 2010 in time for Florida Speedweeks.

By Phil Smith

Last year, 2008, former champion Rick Fuller announced that he had retired from racing. Fuller, of Auburn, Mass., made his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in the series’ inaugural race on March 31, 1985 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway with a 13th place finish in the Icebreaker. Ultimately, Thompson became the site of his last race when was caught up in an early accident and came home 30th in the No. 77 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Modified in the Xtra Mart World Series on Oct. 19. Fuller compiled 20 wins, 145 top fives, 231 top 10s and 11 Coors Light Pole Awards in 439 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts. His win total ranks seventh in tour history. The highlight of Fuller’s distinguished career was his championship season of 1993. A year after his brother, Jeff, had captured the title, Fuller strung together a win and 14 top 10s in 17 starts to finish 93 points ahead of Reggie Ruggiero for the crown. Fuller has become a color commentator for the Stafford Speedway telecasts seen on NESN.

Good news comes from the Waterford Speedbowl. Terry Eames announced that he would partner up with Shawn Monahan to operate the shoreline oval in 2009. Monahan raced at the Speedbowl since 1996. He owns and operates Critical Signs and Graphics, which is located next to the track on Route 85. In a prepared news release Eames also announced that Tom Fox who was the track’s Chief Tech Inspector in 2008 would have full authority over all aspects of the race program as Race Director. Track historian Sid DiMaggio would serve as a coordinator of multi-media and events.

Prior to Eames leasing the track to Jerry Robinson, Eames had all but run the facility into the ground. Robinson’s tenure looked to be the saving grace of the 1/3 mile oval but in 2008 things went from bad to worse. Competitors and fans were treated with disrespect plus competitors were held hostage as money owed them was held back.

Crowds at the shoreline oval had been way down in recent years when the track was under both Eames and Robinson. For the most part they never advertised the fact that there was racing going on at the track. No wonder the place was never more than 25% full! Both Stafford and Thompson advertise their events and both tracks have been rewarded with crowds that allow them to turn a profit. Unless the Speedbowl management changes their ways the track will just fade away.

It is ironic that Pete Zanardi and Dave Dykes had been given the boot, especially after these two individuals were responsible for keeping the Speedbowl afloat the previous two years under the Robinson regime and the two years previous to that when Eames ran the track.

A capacity crowd filled the historic Francis Farm banquet facility in Rehoboth, MA., Saturday night, November 15, as the True Value Modified Racing Series, presented it’s fifth annual Awards Banquet honoring drivers, car owners, and the 2008 series champion, Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT.

Pasteryak, winner of two races, at Waterford and Seekonk, addressed the crowd from a well prepared and well delivered script that detailed what the season meant to him and his family. The second generation driver thanked his fiancé, family, friends, his sponsors, series sponsors, and TVMRS officials, for their support. His father, Charlie, and uncle, Carl, have been involved in modified racing since the mid-seventies. “I guess they didn’t know what they were getting into,” said the new champion.

Series founder Jack Bateman, joined by series officials and True Value representatives, Rick and Robin Tullock, made presentations to the top fifteen drivers and car owners as well as achievement awards in several categories. Sponsorship awards and the the 4th annual Bob Polverari “7-11” presentation were also part of the evenings festivities. Series announcer, John Spence Sr, hosted the event, with opening remarks focusing on a review of the 2008 season. Spence noted, “despite the just concluded campaign being tough economically for everyone, 61 different drivers were awarded points this year. All things considered, that’s not too bad.” Spence also recognized special guests and thanked media representatives for their continued support. Bateman recognized series officials for their hard work, professionalism, and dedication. He offered comment on each official pointing out their qualities and what they mean to the series. The tours officials have been lauded by fans, media, speedway management, and race teams, for the respect they show competitors, and their easy going manner. Bateman thanked track owners, series sponsors, participating New England True Value stores, New England Racing Fuels, Black Mountain Painting, Hoosier Tire East , SPAFCO Race Cars, Koszela Speed, Dart, UniFirst, Inside Track, Sherwood Racing Wheels, for their support. The series founder also spoke of a 16 race schedule, down from 19 this past season, with some adjustments and possible additions to be made to a tentative schedule already in place for 2009. The series will also assist in officiating the “open” race at Seekonk in July.

The 2008 “7-11” award, for professionalism on and off the track, was presented to Vinnie “WHO” Annarummo. The recipient was chosen by former winners, Bateman, Dwight Jarvis, and Ed Dachenhausen and the special plaque was presented by New England Hall of Famer, Bob Polverari. Service Award: Ray Legere. A race car owner/builder since the early 70’s, Legere, now a member of the series tech staff, joins Jarvis and Bateman as one of three original race car owners that remains with the series today. 2008 True Value Modified Racing Series Achievement Awards Recipients: Hoosier Tire East Award: (Presented By Bobby Summers) - Chris Pasteryak Black Mountain Painting Award: (Presented By Jack Bateman) - Kirk Alexander, Most Improved Driver: (Selected By Series Officials) – Shelly Perry, Touch Luck Award: (Selected By Series Officials) – Les Hinckley, Sportsmanship Award: (Selected By Series Officials) - 77 Gangsta Racing, Koszela Speed - Rookie of the Year: Kenny White Jr (presented by Peter Jarvis).

The New England Antique Racers have added their Veteran’s Committee selections which will be included with the Annual New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductions in January. Open cockpit sensation Burt Brooks, stock car ace Harold ‘Hardluck’ Hannaford and car owner Bertha Small are the Veteran Committee selections. The trio will be inducted along with drivers John Fitch, Bobby Dragon and Paul Richardson, promoters Bob Bahre, Jim McConnell and Tom Curley and car owner/ builders Rollie Lindblad and Art Barry on Jan. 25, 2009 at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.

Still to be named were the Jack Ratta (Media) and Danny Pardi (Service) Memorial Award winners.

Carl Edwards led a race-high 157 laps, running out of gas as he crossed the finish line to win the NASCAR season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Still, his series-high ninth win of the year wasn't enough to wrest away the Sprint Cup title. Jimmy Johnson locked up his third championship in a row with a solid 15th-place run, beating Edwards by 69 points to join Cale Yarborough as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win three straight titles.

Carl Edwards also won the season-ending Ford 300 on Saturday night, but came up 21 points short in his attempt to overtake Clint Bowyer for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. All Bowyer had to do to keep Edwards from winning a second straight title in the second-tier series was finish in the top eight. He did that easily, taking fifth to stay on top of the standings, right where he has been most of the year despite winning only one of 35 races. Edwards wrested the lead from Kyle Busch late in the race and stayed out front to the end of the 200-lap event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He earned his seventh Nationwide victory and kept Busch from recording a record 11th series win.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos of Tony "Jap" Membrino, courtesy of, SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com. Jap suffered a stroke on last Saturday Nov. 14th. After a couple of days in intensive care Jap returned home Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery. Jap is currently having a problem with his right arm and leg, but hopefully will be back hunting with his hunting partner "The Reg" soon. Get Well cards can reach Jap at:
Tony Membrino
328 Bassett Rd
Watertown, CT 06795-1112
Click on Photo for Full Size
Photos by Phil Hoyt, Frank Faust and Steve Kennedy

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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