The Chrome Horn News


by Polly Reid

    What does the 2007 Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Champion do during the winter? Race- and because of Mototown USA, he can. A double header weekend at ¼ mile dirt oval in Windsor, CT.
    Thompson Sunoco Modified Champion Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT showed up Friday night in the Scott Fern 8 cylinder scoring his first win in only his second outing at the indoor facility.
    Rocco battled side by side for several circuits with Jonathan Routhier before taking command of the lead and crossing the line by nearly three car lengths over Routhier. Rocco will be happy to tell you, he’s hooked on Mototown USA.
    “The first time here, it was a big learning curve,” said Rocco smiling. “The biggest challenge is getting used to have to throwing it into the corner. If you don’t throw it in, you don’t get through the corner. It’s just so hard to get used to because on asphalt you don’t want to do that; here, you do.”
    “I’m getting a feel for it, we’re getting the car closer to what we want,” Rocco continued. “Things are coming around. Last time, the whole race was like practice for me. We have no dirt experience- Scott (Fern) has no dirt experience. We figured out what we had to do over the last week and a half and came back. I knew when we came here after the first practice I knew we had a top three car.”
    Sunday afternoon at Mototown USA for round 2 of the doubleheader weekend, Rocco took the green deep in the field 16th and by the half way mark was up to 5th. Rocco continued to pick off his challengers one by one taking 4th a lap later then 3rd on the next circuit. While Rocco continued to close in on the leaders, lap traffic eventually played into Rocco’s march forward as he settled for third at the checkers. “We were as good as the leaders, but lap traffic messed us up,” said Rocco shrugging his shoulders. Then, smiling even bigger he added, “next week, it's another week. If it were up to me, I’d come here every night. It’s a great place.”
    A wider track surface complete with additional banking greeted competitors at Mototown USA Friday night, the re-worked surface getting the nod from drivers who were pleased to see continued improvements since their last event two weeks ago.
    The change sure agreed with Jay Pepin from Ridgefield, CT who scored a big win Sunday afternoon in the 8-cylinder division besting a field of 17. The 2006 Orange Co. Speedway champion claimed his second victory of the series with his ’73 Z28 Camaro. “When we got in the heat race, we knew the car was going to be pretty good,” said Pepin. “We won the last time we were here, a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got a crew chief that knows his way around the car and when we put a lot of stagger in it and the car came right to life.”
    “People here are trying,” said Pepin about the facility. “The track is better- there is room to pass and definitely it is a little faster. I don’t want to call anyone a rookie, but once the guys get to know the track, they’re going to learn they’re going to get better. It’ll be better racing.”
    If you’re a new fan to Mototown, USA, keep your eye on Marc Guerard who takes on double duty with the Ciammella Construction sponsored 750 and 1200 sprints. Friday night was a double trip to victory lane for the Hartford, CT driver followed by another stop at the winner’s circle on Sunday with the 750. While Matt Norrie scored the 1200 win over Jimmy “Bubba” Broderick and Guerard, the pair of 95’s Guerard pilot has set the bar and will continue to be the one to watch through out the remainder of the Bud Light 12 Pack Racing Series season.
    Lafler Chassis sprints cleaned house in the 600 division with Friday’s win going to Timex Morgan of Rochester, NY, the Sunday victory to “Liquid” Lou Cicconi of Aston, PA. More 600’s would be a welcomed sight-this week, Ed Wilberg Sr. made the trek hauling from Newark, Delaware to race under the roof in the 600 class.
    Slotted between reporting for ESPN/ABC college football and the Indy Racing Series, Jack Arute took advantage of his “free” weekend to compete in the Haskell Motorsports 750 sprint. It was an opportunity to also talk to Arute about the large trophy that can’t be missed as you sign in at the Mototown USA lobby. The brass plates read Jack Arute’s 2009 Chowder Bowl.
    “What we want to do with the Chowder Bowl is take some of the buzz that was created when the Chili Bowl started and give it a New England flare,” said Arute. “At this point, what we’re looking at is an invitation only race for non-winged midgets. What we’re doing the feasibility study on now is to come up with 40 key invitations with 24 cars making the main event. It’s going to be built around the drivers rather than the cars. What I mean by that is we’re looking for are representatives from New England, like Bobby Santos, Ted Christopher and Randy Cabral that want to drive here now, you’ve got top names. What you want to do is get a Kenny Schrader, a P.J. Chesson, a couple of guys from the Badger Series- marry them all to come here. Rather than the Chili Bowl where it’s non-stop racing, it’s more of a chance for the fans to meet all these top drivers, make it unique, so it has it’s own signature, it’s own flare- that’s what we’re doing the feasibility study on now. The next step is to try and get some midgets here and do some testing. We think the racetrack is big enough now that it will work. And if it works well enough, that’s what we’ll do.” Arute continued, “In a perfect world, I’d like to do it the week before the Superbowl, the last weekend in January. That will be two weeks after the Chili Bowl, you’ll get an off weekend then make it a Friday, Saturday show. Then Sunday, people can be back on the road and home for work on Monday. Run the time trials and qualifying on Friday night. Then run your last chance, the pit party, maybe a concert, then the main event Saturday night. Have a big party after and on Sunday, everyone go home and talk about the Chowder Bowl.” I’m looking forward to passing on more info as this event unfolds.
    Majority rules and as that goes, it was another great day at Mototown USA. However, if you’re looking for a helmet thrown on the track, got that. Or how about the ugly jumble on a restart in the 750’s that had race director Dave Haskell flexing some muscle to keep the zealous youngster in line- got that too. However and above all, if you’re looking for headline drivers doing it on dirt such as Teddy Christopher, Lou Cicconi and Randy Cabral, got that way covered at Mototown USA. Bring a blanket for the aluminum bleachers and wear something warm for your feet, the next event is Sunday afternoon for details.


Source:  Polly Reid /
Posted:  March 9, 2008

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