by Fran Lawlor
When Richie decided to start this segment, I first told
him he was nuts. I told him that I take pictures and could probably get a
masterpiece from a monkey with a typewriter before I can make a coherent
story. After thinking about it, I guess this should be easy because I'll
just write about something I've known all my life: MODIFIEDS.
There really isn't a period in my life where I don't remember
going to a modified race. For those that don't know me, I grew up in the
modified world. My dad was friends with Ed Flemke Sr.; so needless to say, I
was around RACE WORKS a lot as a kid. I learned the sport as a young fan.
not saying I could set up a car, but I know a lot about them.
As I mentioned, there isn't a period in my life I don't
remember going to see the modifieds. My earliest memories are around 4 or 5
years old going to the now defunct Riverside Park. I've been told my first
race was around 2 or 3 years old. Like most kids I looked forward to going
away on summer vacations. Most kids I knew went to Disney or Block Island or
Ocean City. Not us. Our family vacations always started at the Wednesday
shows at Riverhead, drive to Jersey on Thursday and be at New Egypt Friday,
Wall Stadium on Saturday. It never crossed our minds where we were going.
Call it what you will, but that was what we did and my brother and I enjoyed
every minute of it. I remember thinking I was cool because my dad was in the
infield taking pictures. It feels like yesterday, I was in the stands taking
pictures with my dad's old Minolta 110 camera. I still have those pictures
in the mix somewhere.
My first memory of being in the pits was Pocono 1991. I was
14 or 15 and it was the last race there. I remember my dad throwing his
backup camera together and giving me a crash course in photography right in
turns one and two. It was neat and that is when the photography bug really
bit me. From there on out I would shoot here and there. It was fun when I
did it, but film was expensive and developing was even more. If developing
prices were then what they are now, I probably would have shot a heck of a
lot more. So for the most part I would run around the pits, handing out
Speedway Scene's for Sonny Richards. I would also snag press releases or
lineups for Sonny, but photography was still something that would pop up now
and then. In 1997 I tried the pit crew thing. When my brother would go with
my dad, Sonny would have my brother help teams short on crew members. Most
of the time, my brother helped Eddie D'Hondt or Ed Flemke Jr. I figured I
knew as much as him, so I went to work on a prostock at Stafford. I realized
it wasn't for me. I had fun but, I never got to see the races, except for
the prostocks. I missed my mods, and that's when I realized, real race cars
don't have fenders!!!!
So I went back doing what I did before, 'working' for Sonny.
Unfortunately we lost Sonny in 2001. After that I would kind of just hang
out at the track. I missed doing something at the track. I knew the pit crew
thing wasn't for me. I wanted to do the photography, but film was starting
to go by the way side and to go out and buy digital from the ground up would
cost a fortune. Then in 2003, the perfect opportunity came along. An
affordable digital camera, which worked like a professional one, that didn't
cost a ton. I bought it and as they say the rest is history.
I started shooting for Speedway Scene, just sending my stuff
with my dad's. Towards the end of the 2003 season, my dad and I decided to
go back to Area Auto. My dad had shot for them in the 80's and early 90's.
I'm not really sure why he left in the 90's, but he did and Lenny Sammons
welcomed us back. In 2004, I was looking to do more with my pictures, just a
place to display them. I started shooting for Yankeeracer.com.
Unfortunately, the webmaster and I had different views, but through him I
met Richie and J.A. Needless to say, Richie and I had the same views on
things and we work well as a team. J.A. is great to work with because he
understands how Richie and I think and gives us the freedom to do so. So for
two years we've posted my pictures and race reports on
longislandjam.com. During the
past summer, we realized that people were coming to the site and decided
that we wanted to have a dedicated spot for tour stuff. Nothing elaborate,
just its own place.
I hope you folks enjoy the site. We're not trying to reinvent
the wheel, or trying to be the next greatest, we're just to give another
avenue. I hope you enjoy the site and a big thanks to Richie for all the web
work and ideas.
January 24, 2007