The Chrome Horn News

5/9/2007

PAVEMENT NOTES: WALT STUBBS
Wall Township Speedway

    I have been attending races at Wall Township Speedway (formerly Wall Stadium) for over 40 years. In that time, I have seen good races, bad races and races that were both good and bad. Needless to say, more than a few asked my opinion then on how I thought the new Flash format would work out on the high banks. Most of the people who I had spoken to sneered and said things like, "It will be a flash in the pan, to flush the flash or it will be gone in a flash. All catch phrases, I must admit. Being the optimist, however, I reserved my opinion until Judgment Day, when the Tour would initiate it's new Flash format at Wall, to then be followed at Twin State Speedway (Claremont) in July and concluding at Riverhead Raceway on August 4th. And to be honest, the first leg did not go well. Not well at all.
    When the Flash concept was sketched up by those in Daytona, the intent was to give the fans more racing while cutting the cost for the teams. The feeling was that fans would rather see heat races than time trials. This argument of time trials versus heat races has been going on for years. The theory is the fans want to see cars racing each other rather than seeing cars go single file for two laps racing against a stop watch while owners and teams favor the time trials for fear of damaging cars, not making the field, and in the process losing money to repair those cars. Two valid arguments, if I do say so myself. So, rather than stay in the press box during the two 50 lap qualifying races, I decided to venture into the stands to see for myself what the fans thought after seeing the end result. What they saw wasn't pretty as both heat races had there share of cautions, with not much passing.
    So, the question is, did the fans get there bang for the buck? My guess is not. Watching cars crash every fifth lap with very little passing for fear of going off on the hook and not making the field, is not most fan's idea of racing. So, what exactly, are we to make of this Flash event concept and can it work? And, if it was a failure, then why was it a failure? Is it the fault of the actual race track itself, in this case Wall, for it being too small in configuration to hold of Modified Tour race? Is it the fault of NASCAR, for the three 50 lap race concept with no caution laps counting? Or is it the fault of some of the drivers themselves, too inexperienced or anxious to drive a track like Wall, and as a result, banging into each other causing caution after caution to be thrown? My guess is a combination of all three. Needless to say, in speaking with all of the driver's in attendance, all had an opinion on the concept and none of it was positive. Tony Ferrante, who has been racing at Wall since the early 80's and attempted to qualify on Sunday but was knocked out in his qualifying race and thus watched the race in the fourth turn stands, had the nicest thing to say. "I'm glad I wasn't in the feature. No, I wanted to be in the race," joked Ferrante, who then got serious. "Listen, they (NASCAR) tried something. You have to give them credit for trying but I hope they don't continue with it. That was a terrible race. There were guys that were in every wreck and caused every wreck. They shouldn't have been left to get back on the race track. But being 50 laps and double file the whole race, that's the way you have to race. You have to push each other. What are you going to do? It's a small race track but they need to go back to the way they used to do it, run 100 to 150 laps."
    Reggie Ruggiero, who wound up third in the race, was never a supporter of the Flash concept and even with his finish, was not about to change his mind. And Ruggiero actually thinks the race at Twin State Speedway, a track Ruggiero has raced before, will be even worse. Ruggiero, though, does have a suggestion to improve the Flash events if anyone in Daytona is listening. "I finished up front but there was nobody passing The only time passing occurred on the restarts because the guy on the outside or gets stuck. If this was a 150 lap race, after 100 laps some guys will have there tires get loose or tight and someone can pass him. It's not going to happen in only 50 laps. I love this race track. Since they put the guardrail up, you can bang off the wall and it doesn't suck you in. I think we should run time trials, take two cars out of time trials. Then run a 15 or 20 lap heat race for the other guys, starting them where they time in time trials. Then run 75 to a 100 lap event race. Then, your getting two heat races and a little bit longer feature. That's what they should do. 50 laps is not enough laps to do anything. Today, if it was 150 laps, it is likely John (Blewett) wouldn't have been able to hold on for second because he was getting loose but 50 laps it wasn't going to happen," said Ruggiero.
    John Blewett III, who finished second, joined in the conversation with Ruggiero with his own observations. "It's frustrating for me here because I know what this place is capable of. The Turkey Derby format here is pretty good-you qualify 20 thru time and run two heat races with not a lot of cars so nobody is killing each other. Doing something like that in one day can somewhat justify the cost of a lower purse. As for today, you can blame a lot of the cautions on guys with no experience on a short track like this. It was the same guys over and over again. Where did they come from and what did they do before they came to the Tour? If I couldn't win a race here on a Saturday Night, damn if you'd see me going to a Tour race. Blewett's brother, Jimmy, who wound up winning the Flash event, took it even one step further. "I wasn't allowed to move out of here (Wall) until I proved myself on a weekly basis running every Saturday Night."
    One driver who echoed those same sentiments was a driver who chose not to run in the race at all. Tony Hirschman had made a decision at the end of 2005 to cut back on the Tour and not run it on a full time basis. His reasons were many, but had mainly to do with the fact that running the Tour had taken up too much time while the daily grind of running the tour had become tiring to both he and his team. He also was not happy with the 2007schedule so his decision to scale back became even more justified. Thus, the first race he missed wound up being Wall on Sunday, a race track that Hirschman had raced on a regular basis some 25 years earlier, getting his feet wet on what wound wind up being a great career. Hirschman, though, not racing, was in the pits, helping his son Matt. When asked if the results of the Flash justified his reasoning for not racing, Hirschman just shook his head. "I said all along I didn't like the format. This is the kind of racing we did here twenty five years ago. We couldn't wait to get away from that and go to bigger and better places. Now, it seems like none of the younger drivers get there feet wet at places like here and then move on like we did. Now, it seems like some of the guys are coming with just money and getting rides like they're doing in Cup and Busch. Do some of those guys belong there? What's there background? They don't have anybody. They come with a trunk of money; that's how they got there and the same thing is going on now here on the Tour. And that's where all those cautions come from. That's the way racing has turned out to be." Both Hirschman and Ed Flemke wondered why the Tour wasn't at Richmond racing on this particular weekend, be it on Thursday or Friday. Flemke even took it a step further with this suggestion, "I know we have to try something. Here's an idea; lets go to Richmond. Let's have a $300,000 purse and do it. Lets try it. We just took our cars and purse and did the same thing reversed. We came here with the same cars we always run and a 40% reduction on the purse. We tried it. Now let's try it the other way and see what happens and if it doesn't work, fine. At least we have some money in our pockets."

NEWS FLASHES: It's hard to believe, but one track that Mike Stefanik has never raced on in a modified, has been Wall. Stefanik only practiced at Wall in a Busch North car a few years back but had never taken a spin in a modified. That changed on Sunday as Stefanik drove a very smart race, avoiding all troubles while moving up from his ninth starting spot to grab fifth. One driver who was making his way up from his 20th starting spot was Jamie Tomaino. Tomaino has been a veteran of the high banks for many years and the savvy veteran was firmly entrenched in the top seven until he got into a melee in turn four. Tomaino was not happy with the turn of events and who can blame him. For some reason, NASCAR officials let Anthony Sesely enter the track from the pits as the race was about to restart, causing much scrambling and the ultimate pileup in turn one. Tomaino was not a happy camper afterward, "There is no way this Flash deal is ever going to work. I'm looking here at five or six race cars that are totally totaled. And whoever is running things, to let somebody out of the pits in front of the leaders is ridiculous, especially when the guy can't get lapped. I ran 247 laps total today. At Stafford, I ran less than 170 laps between the race and warmups and used six tires the whole day. Here, I used eight tires and ran 247 laps and got 300 dollars to take the green and 100 bucks for the heat. Can't forget that. I really can't blame the track because the Turkey Derby race was good. It really was the concept and because of that a lot of people were not looking forward to coming here other than myself and the Blewetts because we live two feet away," said Tomaino. By the way, Wall has made some more noticeable improvements, including a freshly pained grandstand, concession area, and complete guardrails around the track. Well, the Tour takes a few weeks off before heading to Stafford on the Friday Night of Memorial Day Weekend. And, finally, whatever happened to Ed Lilly? And This Week's Quote of The Week comes from John Blewett Jr, " I don't think my sons listen to me. There always right and I'm always wrong." All news and views can reach me at 2 Constitution Court Unit 501 Hoboken, N.J. 07030...

THE END

Source: Walt Stubbs/Independent WMT PR
Posted:  May 9, 2007

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