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Friday November 15, 2013
 

By Phil Smith

Five years ago in 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, many thought, came 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 added their Veteran’s Committee selections which would 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.

Last year, 2012, the 10th annual Colors Edge John Blewett III North-South Shootout presented by PPG is took center stage at the historic Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. There were 30 Tour type Modifieds and 11 SK type Modifieds. In pre-qualifying practice on Friday, Ryan Preece who was driving the 7ny that is normally driven by Ryan Newman was one-upped by Woody Pitkat who was the fastest of the fast in practice.

Competitors ran against the clock for the top 12 starting spots for the Tour type Shootout. Burt Myers took the top spot over Matt Hirschman, Jason Myers, George Brunnhoelzl III and Kyle Ebersole. Sixth through twelfth was Ryan Preece, Erik Rudolph, Tommy Barrett, Patrick Emerling, Danny Bohn, Brian Loftin and Chuck Hossfeldt. Woody Pitkat and Chris Pasteryak were the heat winners.

In SK type time trials Michael Gervais took the pole over Matt Hirschman and TJ Zacharias.

Sticking out like a sore thumb by their absence were just about all of the northern Whelen Modified Tour competitors.

The SK types were up in the late afternoon for their 25 lap feature event. Michael Gervais, a regular in the SK Modified division at the Stafford Motor Speedway led from pole to pole to take down the win. Jimmy Zacharias finished second with Glen Reen, third.

The Modified North-South Shootout 125 lapper saw Ryan Preece, in the #7ny driven normally by Ryan Newman take a surprise win over Chuck Hossfeldt and Matt Hirschman. The Shootout was a caution filled event as the yellow was displayed 17 times for numerous spins and crashes. The most important yellow came on lap 121 when Tommy Barrett attempted to pass Woody Pitkat on the low side. Pitkat moved to block and the two collided. Both were able to restart and finished respectively in seventh (Barrett) and ninth (Pitkat).

Danny Bohn finished fourth and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Johnny Sutton, Barrett, Charlie Pasteryak, Pitkat and Kyle Ebersole.

Preece and his team, co-owned by Gary Putnam and Kevin “Bono” Manion, had their winnings cut by two-thirds for a rules infraction, track officials told RaceDayCT.

Track owner and promoter Renee Hackett confirmed that the team was fined $4,000 for an unapproved tire change during the event. Hackett read a statement from the track addressing the issue: “Following the conclusion of the event, during the [North-South Shootout] officials breakdown meeting, it was discovered that [Ryan] Preece had made an unapproved tire change. The 7NY team claimed a tire on the car was flat, but it was not. Thus resulting in the use of an unapproved tire, as he had already changed two on a previous pit stop. To be considered flat, the tire must have 12 pounds or less of air pressure. The tire in question had 15 pounds of air when checked. During the driver’s meeting all drivers were informed of the tire change rule and air pressure requirements. Drivers were informed that they would be penalized if a tire change occurred without prior approval from a [North-South Shootout] official.” Hackett said the $4,000 fine from Preece’s team would be redistributed to the teams that finished second through fifth. Hossfeld will be awarded an extra $2,500 and Hirschman an extra $1,000. Fourth place finisher Danny Bohn of Mooresville, N.C. will get an extra $300 and fifth place finisher Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon was given an extra $200.

The rules for the race said teams got a six-tire inventory for the event, which included the four tires the teams started on and two tires that could be changed during the event. Preece said the team never went outside their six-tire inventory. North-South Shootout competition director Tom Fox said the team used an unapproved third new tire during the event.

Congratulations went out to fellow scribe Kevin Rice who was the recipient of the Star(NH) Speedway Appreciation Award for his loyal support of the track. Rice is a reporter for the Lowell (Mass) Sun and trade publication Area Auto Racing News.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Phoenix Kevin Harvick snapped a 44-race losing streak by beating Kyle Busch on a pair of late restarts, the ironic winner on the same weekend news leaked he's reportedly signed a deal to leave Richard Childress Racing to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.

Harvick and Busch crossed the finish line ahead of a melee of crashing cars, a chain reaction caused in part because NASCAR failed to throw a caution when Danica Patrick was spun on the restart. Then others slid in oil, into Patrick's wrecked car, bounced all over the track, and even Keselowski was hit.

But the carnage was simply the final exclamation point in a sequence triggered by four-time champion Jeff Gordon. He intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, and that led to a full brawl in the garage and a red-flag of nearly 15 minutes for clean up on the track. Gordon slowed his car to wait for Bowyer so he could intentionally wreck him as retaliation for several weeks of on-track contact between the two. The fireworks started with seven laps left, when Bowyer made contact with Gordon, sending him into the wall. Gordon's No. 24 car was black-flagged, but he didn't leave the track, instead waiting for Bowyer for his chance at redemption.

After Gordon climbed from his car in the garage, he appeared to be jumped from behind by one of Bowyer's crew members who wiped the ground using him as the broom. It led to a full brawl between the crews, with Bowyer sprinting from his car to join the fracas. Bowyer was held back by NASCAR officials from entering Gordon's hauler.

Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000, docked 25 points and placed on probation through the end of the season. NASCAR levied the penalties against Gordon the result of his altercation with Clint Bowyer during Sunday’s race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.

Rick Hendrick, owner of the No. 24 car, was also penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 car, also was found to be in violation of Section 9-4A (at all events, crew chief assumes responsibility of his driver, car owner and team members) and was placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

Bowyer was not penalized, but Brian Pattie, crew chief for Bowyer’s No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing car, violated Sections 12-1 and 9-4A and was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

Point leader Brad Keselowski was fined not for his profanity-laced tirade following the race, but for carrying his cell phone in his car during the event.

Joey Logano picked up his ninth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the year Saturday at Phoenix Int’l Raceway while Elliott Sadler’s shot at the series championship may have ended after a late-race crash. Logano dominated Saturday’s Great Clips 200, but a pair of late-race caution flags nearly did him in. Logano had a comfortable lead with nine laps left when Noel Dowler lost a tire in turns three and four to bring out a caution flag.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos from the old West Haven, Ct. Speedway, courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & RacintThroughTime.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size


Bobby Black



Jim Cash


Charlie Centenaro


Tony Dadio

Charlie Glazier

Bernie Palmer

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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