The Chrome Horn - Walter Stubbs


by Walt Stubbs

     It wasn’t that long ago that a holiday weekend, be it Memorial Day, July 4th or Labor Day, would mean catching three races in three days at any number of asphalt modified tracks across the northeast. I can still remember, and I’m not that old, where I’d be at New Egypt for there weekly Wednesday Night show, then head to Stafford for Friday Night’s 100 lapper, and then shooting up to Shangri-La for their Saturday Night race before ending up in Oswego on Sunday. Talk about traveling. I can just imagine how much money I would spend in gas alone to make that kind of trip today. While there was still some modified races to be taken in this past weekend, be it at Monadnock or Mahoning, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was quiet as it gears up for it’s first appearance at Spencer Speedway since the early 1990’s.
   People are still talking about the fantastic finish at Loudon a few weeks back in which Chuck Hossfeld edged Ted Christopher for the win. New Hampshire’s website had a place to vote for the best race of the weekend and the modified race ran away with the voting in a landslide. They’re also people still upset with how the modified race never made it to television, especially considering the fact that it was initially announced that it would be on a tape delay on the Speed Channel. I inquired to those in Daytona for an explanation and was advised, “Unfortunately, there was an unavoidable scheduling conflict with our television partners that precluded the taping and subsequent airing of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. By the time the situation was brought to our (NASCAR’s) attention, it was too late to fix in time to broadcast the event.” Now, what does that exactly mean? Good question, because I haven’t got the foggiest. Usually, when an event is broadcast, no matter what type of event it is, the television network plans for it months in advance. With that being the case, then one has to wonder how there could have been a scheduling conflict in the first place. You would think any conflicts would have been worked out way in advance of the weekend that an event is to be telecast. The sad part in all of this is that many fans missed the chance (And there aren’t many chances when it comes to Modified Tour races being broadcast) to see the race who didn’t have an opportunity to make it to New Hampshire. And in this economy, with many people choosing to stay home to save money, I’m sure there were more than a few who were planning the television route. Taking it a step further, how about those fans that chose to stay home specifically because they had heard the race was going to be broadcast and decided to save there hard earned money, only to learn after the fact that the race was not going to be televised? This is not even taking into consideration those sponsors, who signed up with some modified teams, with the expectation that they would be getting some TV time at Loudon, only to find out at the last minute that it wasn’t going to happen. You’d think NASCAR would want to keep the people at Whelen happy, considering all of the sponsorship Whelen is involved with in all of NASCAR. It doesn’t seem to me to be good business, does it? Once again, another black mark has been painted on NASCAR and how it views its oldest division. Unfortunately, whoever is to blame for the television mix up, the perception is that NASCAR should have taken the bull by the horns and made sure the race would be televised. No excuses, end of discussion. One thing I can assure Kyle Busch, if the race at New Hampshire really is the modified’s Daytona; don’t you think it would then deserve to be broadcast on television?
   On another note, I got a chuckle out of a few media members asking Cup drivers and NASCAR on how they are helping our environment stay green. Lets be honest, it’s kind of an oxymoron based on the fact the racing world is based on a lot of things that being Green is not. Engines built for speed, tires built for speed, noise and high octane fuel aren’t exactly things that help our earth stay pollutant free. But the question did get me to thinking, and lo and behold, there is one thing NASCAR can do to lend its hand to the cause. With all the talk of Cup teams possibly being allowed to do more testing at race tracks, why not ban testing altogether? Why do the alleged best drivers need all this testing while your weekly racer just shows up at his local track and races? Why not just have the drivers and teams just show up on race weekend, practice, qualify and race? Take back racing to its roots. Is there really a need to have to test at all these tracks when it all means nothing anyway based on track conditions constantly changing based on weather, temperature, and the like. It also would create more of a level playing field for the teams and put more guessing into race set up, which would create a little more excitement for the fans. The drivers might actually like the idea, when instead of having to fly off to some track during mid week to test, they could actually stay home and relax with there families and friends. There’s a concept. Sometimes you need to go back to go forward, and think of all the pollution that wouldn’t go into the air by not having these tests.
   Being at New Hampshire, as always, gave me an opportunity to catch up with some old faces. I was especially interested in getting the thoughts of Ray Evernham and Martin Truex on Wall Township Speedway closing. As most know who read this space, I was brought up at Wall and like everyone, have a lot of memories. I can still remember touching the tires of Jim Hoffman’s #11 coupe after the Garden State Classic after being told not to by my Dad, and burning my hand in the process. I also remember Jim Hendrickson racing in an All Star race, with the likes of Buzzie Reutimann and other invaders, and holding off Hoffman for the win. I also remember Dick Robbins winning the Garden State Classic out of nowhere for the biggest win of his career. And of course, the battles in the late 70’s and early 80’s with Charlie Kremer, Gil Hearne, Tony Siscone, Jamie Tomaino and John Blewett Jr. being at the forefront. Now, it’s all done and I’m still puzzled at why and how it happened. Evernham admitted that he thought about purchasing the track before its closing, but that the price was too steep. He also was sad to see its doors close. When asked his best moment at Wall, Evernham thought long and hard and said, “I think they’re all good memories. Winning there was always a good memory but the friendships are what I’ll remember most. You don’t realize how special that is until you get to reflect back.” Evernham then was quick to add, “The parties after the races also was one of the best memories because it was camaraderie, friendships and I met a lot of great people throughout the years there. It definitely had an affect on my life and career and it’s just sad to see go away because kids that are starting out now won’t have an opportunity to do that.” As for his worst memory, Evernham didn’t hesitate, “The worst memory is obviously the place closing. It’s just a shame it closed.”
   Truex was also reflective and was more succinct. “It s..ks,” said Truex. There’s no where else to go. There’s no more asphalt tracks in Jersey with it closing. There’s just a lot of people who aren’t going to get to experience short track racing without it. It’s been there for so damn long.”
   Jamie Tomaino loved competing at Wall, especially coming back in the mid 80-s as a non regular and going against the Wall regulars. “I loved going back there from running the Tour and whooping up those guys even though I was a home town guy. When I was a young kid, I didn’t even know there were other tracks other than Wall. I thought this must be the only race track in the world because the Gil Hearne’s and the Charlie Kremer’s never left. So when I started racing, I went to other tracks no matter what and then when they started this Tour up, I was fortunate enough to have good people behind me and started racing it. But when we had a weekend off, I went over there (Wall) and made sure everybody knew I was still from that area and was still pretty good at that track.” Tomaino’s worst memory still brought a laugh to him some 30 years later. “Second week of my racing career I’m leading the feature with five to go and run out of gas. The irony is that my father owned a gas station plus we ran with a 22 gallon gas tank for a thirty five lap feature.” I guess you could say This Week’s Quote of The Week needs to go no further than that. All views and news can reach me at 2 Constitution Court , Unit 501 Hoboken, N.J. 07030.


Source: Walter Stubbs /
Posted:  July 8, 2008

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