The Chrome Horn News


Wall, New Jersey
by Walt Stubbs

    It’s hard to believe that it’s been 33 years since the Nicol family came up with the idea of running an end of the year race on the weekend after Thanksgiving and naming it the Turkey Derby. More than a few people scoffed at the idea, thinking who would come to a race when the weather can best be described as iffy in the Northeast. Well, Sunday marked the 34th time the event was run, and once again a good crowd was on hand to take in the action. It also marked the end of an era, as the #76 Blewett Motorsports modified, which has been such a prevalent fixture at Wall Township Speedway, was being put into retirement, never to be again raced. As most of you know who have been to Wall, that number and team has had a long marriage with the track, first with John Blewett Jr and then followed by John Blewett III and Jimmy Blewett. Like most marriages, there have been a lot of ups and downs between the Blewetts’ and there home track. All three Blewetts at one time or another had been kicked off the grounds and suspended for life but after every disagreement, all would be forgotten as the track would realize that they needed the Blewetts while the Blewetts needed the track.
    Needless to say, Saturday afternoon was an emotional one, especially for Jimmy Blewett. Blewett was looking for the perfect send off, in tribute to his family and brother John in particular. What better way to go off into the sunset then with winning the Derby? Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t the story book ending most in attendance had hoped for but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Blewett’s part. In the open modified event, Blewett’s hopes appeared dashed right from the onset, when he and Reggie Ruggiero came in contact at the start of the race, sending both into the fence in turn one. Ruggiero’s day ended but Blewett and his crew were determined to keep the #76 on the track. With caution laps not counting, it helped in there efforts. Also helping them were the many cautions that were thrown at the beginning of the 100 lap event. With adjustments constantly being made, Blewett appeared to have his car back up to full speed. Driving patiently and precisely, Blewett made his way back up to the front but didn’t have enough for James Civali, who wound up the winner of the event. In the small block main, Blewett’s day ended on lap 74 after Kevin Flockhart got into the rear of the Blewett mount. Needless to say, the effort was there, just not the result Blewett was looking for. “It’s racing and that’s just the way it goes. We did what we could,” said Blewett. While Blewett will not be running at Wall regularly as things currently stand, he will be awfully busy with weekly appearances at Stafford and Riverhead planned along with running the full Tour schedule.
    I guess you could call it surprising that an invader would win the Derby. In the 33 previous Derby’s only one real outsider, George Kent, won the event. and that was back in 1979. A lot of invaders have tried, Richie Evans, Jimmy Spencer, Geoff Bodine to just name a few. Well, James Civali can add his name next to Kent. Civali's car owner, Don King, has always liked Wall. Much of that has to do with the fact that his car has always run fast on the high banks. Civali confirmed as much on Saturday, explaining is presence at the Jersey Shore. “Don has always fielded a fast car here, even going back to when Doug Coby drove for him. We were fast here at the Tour race in May but we got into three accidents. He just wanted to race today and so did I, especially with what happened to John. This was his track,” said Civali.
    To be honest, going into the race, if there was one outsider who would have been considered a contender, Les Hinckley would have appeared to be that driver. Last year Hinckley made his first ever appearance at Wall one to remember, as he almost stole the win from Jimmy Blewett, falling just short in his attempt. Hinckley made the trek back down from his New England home to Wall but wasn’t as fortunate on this day, getting involved in a wreck in turn one.

    TURKEY LEFTOVERS: Word is that the Tour schedule is almost completed for 2008. It looks like Chemung and Spencer are definitely on the slate, with IRP almost a certainty. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to New Hampshire and the modifieds in the 2009 season. While 2008 is set, with new management headed by Bruton Smith, will he keep the tradition of running modified tour races at New Hampshire or will he look in a different direction? If the Tour can make money for Smith, I’d put the odds of the modifieds staying as a pretty good bet. However, if they lose money, who knows. Hard to believe, but the banquet is just around the corner, December 14th. As always, it should be interesting.

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


Source: Walt Stubbs/
Posted:  November 28, 2007

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