The Chrome Horn News


by Matt Wiernasz

   When we go to a race track, we always look back at the fond memories. You always share good stories. You have a driver you root for or even idolized. Over the last 3 years, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has lost some of the greatest modified drivers in the Northeast. Last year, John Blewett, III lost his life in a tragic accident on lap 107. He was only 33 years old. Many people remember Blewett as a racer’s racer. He drove for great car owners such as Mario Fiore, Curt Chase, and Joe Brady. A memorable moment for John and Jimmy was last year at Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. Jimmy would end up winning the race and John would come home with a 2nd place finish. His last win on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour would come at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 15th, 2006.
    Danielle Ostrander out of Wall Township, NJ raced Legends cars at Wall Township Speedway. She remember Blewett always smiling. One night she was upset after her race and ran into Blewett. Blewett then asked what was wrong and Ostrander told him. Blewett gave her advice about the track and what to do next time she races.
    NEMA Midget driver Joey “ Jersey Jet” Payne out of Fairlawn, NJ would hang out with Blewett at the track as he would watch both his sons race. Payne just a few weeks back was with one of Blewett’s old sponsors at Oswego Speedway in New York. “ It feels like yesterday to be honest with you. I can’t believe it’s been a year. We used to goof around a lot.” Payne Said.
    One of Payne’s memories with John Blewett was when they were racing at Atlantic City. Payne ended up winning the race while Liquid Lou Cicconi came in 2nd and John Blewett was third. “ We stood there in victory lane together. That was the first time I was in victory lane with John. It was special.
    Payne remembered Blewett at Wall Stadium as a racer’s racer, bad to the bone and hard core. In the pits, John would always lend a hand to anyone to get their car better. “ He was one of a kind”
Payne and Blewett would always watch their sons race at the quarter midget track. Payne would always look forward to that and sharing laughs with John. John’s son John IV is racing quarter midgets. Payne would always to see the Blewett’s do something to their cars that the other drivers would just take their stuff and throw it away.
    Payne would always tell or make a hint to John that he should drive a modified. Blewett would try to take Payne a ride for the annual Turkey Derby that would be held each other at Wall Stadium. The deal would fall through. John would then tell Payne to take Jimmy’s (Blewett) car out. John would then tell Jimmy that Payne was taking the car out. “ Jimmy, John and I had a great time. It’s a tragedy. I miss him dearly. I just hope Jimmy get a tour championship and dedicate it to his brother.”

    Back in 2004, the racing community lost another great modified driver from the Northeast. Tom Baldwin out of New York lost his life as he was in an accident on lap 10. He was 57 years old. Many fans remember Baldwin as Tiger Tom. Back in the 80's. When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour would visit the old Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, MA. The track would have a pit competition. The 7ny team was always competitive in the competition with the help of Tommy Baldwin, JR changing tires.
    Adam and Alan Cantor worked with the late Baldwin. When kids are growing up and racing quarter midgets, to a late model, or even a modified, they idolize a cup driver. Adam Cantor looked up to Tom Baldwin as his idol. “ Every time we got to go to Riverside Park or Riverhead. It was a treat to watch him race. He never left anything for questioning. He gave it all he had every lap.” Adam Cantor Said.
    One of the fondest memories Adam Cantor had was when he was going to Thompson Speedway to race his midget for the first time. He called up Baldwin and Baldwin told him to come to the shop. Baldwin would then draw out the track for Cantor and show him how to run the place. It helped him to run well at Thompson to this day.
    Alan Cantor will always remember the memories at the track or the shop. Cantor believes it was a joy to work with Baldwin. “ We were like brothers, family. There were times where would be working on the car. We wouldn’t have to think what each other was wondering.” Alan Cantor Said.
    If Baldwin and the crew were going to either Martinsville, or Oswego, to them they were having a great time. When the 7ny came back to life in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, it brought back a good feeling for Alan Cantor. “ It made me real good and I am glad Bono was able to accomplish that. He did that with Tommy, Jr’s blessing. It was a good feeling.”

    Ronnie Silk was the winner in the Budweiser 150 at Thompson International Speedway. The next event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is Saturday August 23rd at Mansfield Motorsports Park in Mansfield, Ohio. It will be a doubleheader with the NASCAR Camping World East Series.


Source: Matt Wiernasz / The Chrome Horn
Posted: August 15, 2008

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