The Chrome Horn News


by Walt Stubbs

    Itís been some time since my byline has made these pages and my apologies to those who usually read this space. Much has gone on since my last column, some two and a half months ago. Donny Lia wound up capturing the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship in convincing fashion as the Tour finished off one of its worst years ever. Much can be attributed to that, starting with the death of one of its own, John Blewett III and ending with Lia clinching the championship before the final race was even run at Thompson. In between you had a Tour that was reeling with the loss of its public relations director, Mark Mockovak, the reduction of car counts, FLASH races, and finally, not the greatest year of racing that the Tour has seen since its inception in 1985.
    You put that all together and that pretty much explains my absence at any of the Tour races since Blewettís death. As someone who has followed the modifieds since the age of five and who has covered the Tour since 1986, I can honestly say something was missing from this yearís Tour. Iím not exactly sure what, but itís a safe bet that it starts in the quality of racing that was put on by this edition of modified drivers. Way to many cautions ruled the day at most of the races and itís a theme that has been on the Tour for the last few years. Call it a lack of experience or maybe a lack of respect for each other but whatever the cause, it didnít lead to much side by side racing that the Tour used to put on for its loyal fans. Maybe some of that can be attributed to some of the drivers who are not looking at the Tour as a place to run for any length of time, but instead, as a pitstop before heading somewhere else in hopes of catching a break and going down south to run with the big boys. Some will say thatís being going on forever, with the likes of Jimmy Spencer, Brett Bodine, Mike McLaughlin, Greg Sacks, Jeff Fuller and Steve Park all making the jump down south. What was different then compared with now is that all of those drivers were established in the modified division for some time before leaving the division. The same canít be said of todayís drivers, who seem to be more concerned with there resumes than car set ups and the race at hand. Of course, thatís not just the Tourís problem but one that has spread to all of the racing divisions, including Cup. What ever happened to some of the characters who used to roam the pits, guys like Dick Trickle, Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans and Jimmy Spencer, to name a few. In some ways, racing has become too corporate, which isnít good for the fan who looks to get away from the corporate world for a few hours so they can be entertained. Whatever the case, the Tour was missing something and NASCAR needs to do something to get it back on track. And if NASCAR doesnít want to or feel the need to, then those who do care, the loyal owners, fans, tracks, and drivers need to look at an alternative route to bring back the division to what it once was.
    On that note, it appears that NASCAR might be trying to link the old with the new by having all its past living modified champions on hand at the Tour banquet, which will be held once again at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut in December. While itís a nice gesture, will it merely be just a facade by NASCAR to make people think that they do care about its oldest division and are planning to do more to make it a better product? If past history has shown us anything when it comes to NASCAR and the Tour, most of you reading this should already know the answer.
    There are already signs that things might not get any better concerning the Tour in 2008. There are swirlings that legendary car owner Bob Garbarino, finally capturing a championship with driver Donny Lia, might be calling it quits. There are also rumors of other teams leaving the Tour or combining forces with other teams, which could lead to less car counts than more. Thatís something the Tour doesnít need now. It needs more quality teams to come aboard but thatís hard when you have a division where most, if not all the teams, lose money versus making any. It also needs a quality schedule, without FLASH races or if so, FLASH races that pay a lot better purse. There are some rumors out there that we could see Chemung, Spencer and IRP back on the schedule. Thatís a good thing, because the Tour needs to be more than Stafford and Thompson. It needs tracks in Upstate New York as much as it does in New England. Iíve always been a proponent of returning to IRP and never understood how NASCARís only open wheel division doesnít race during the week of the Brickyard in an area where open wheel racing is king. Of course, the Tour could use a public relations director to answer many of these questions on behalf of NASCAR but no replacement has been named since Mockovak left over four months ago. Not a good sign. The banquet should provide some answers of the Tourís future but again, being NASCAR, thatís never a certainty. It all leads to much more questions than answers, which if you are a fan of the Tour, is not a good sign. Hopefully, I will be wrong. If I am, I will be the first one in line when the 2008 season begins. If not, it will be interesting to see how many come out to support the Tour, including yours truly.

    All views and news can reach me at 2 Constitution Court, Unit 501 Hoboken, N.J. 07030 where we are wondering, Whatever happened to Marty Radewick?


Source: Walt Stubbs/
Posted:  November 21, 2007

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