The Chrome Horn News



   Call Wayne Anderson on a weekday and there’s a good chance he’ll be under some piece of heavy machinery at his Medford shop, as was the case when a scribe gave him a ring Thursday.
   It’s all about taking care of responsibilities, something Anderson knows all too well.
   The 1994 champion of the Whelen Modified Tour will be honored this Saturday at Riverhead Raceway prior to the WMT’s Miller Lite 140. Last year he was among a group of past Modified champions recognized at Mohegan Sun as part of the series banquet. That followed 2006, when he was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.
   He’s had several chances in the past few years to enjoy his championship season—which was next to impossible when it was actually taking place.
   “My father had gotten sick over the winter of ’93, and in January of ’94 he went in the hospital with esophagus cancer,” Anderson remembers about his dad, longtime driver Axel Anderson. “He never really came out of it. He was in the hospital through September of ’94 [when he passed away].”
   Anderson, who had always competed as part of a family team, hooked up with car owner Len Boehler, and the results were magical. Driving the No. 3 “Ole Blue” machine, Anderson recorded 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s in 21 races, essentially securing a title with a victory in the Tour’s second-to-last race at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
   But success aside, Anderson drove that year with a heavy heart and a lot on his mind.
   “My father was always by my side for all those years that I raced. And he wasn’t this time, and we won a championship,” Anderson, who has three career wins in the WMT, says. “Basically, I’d go to the races and just come home and go to the hospital and come run my business. So I never really got to enjoy the camaraderie and the fans and the owner's family and stuff like that. You’d [normally] hang around after the races, and have a few beers, and relax. And you’d get there early the next week. I would just show up, drive the car and come back to Long Island as soon as I could so I could be back at the hospital on Monday morning.”
   These days, though, the positives take center stage. He appreciates title sponsor Whelen, saying the company has done a wonderful job honoring all the Modified champions from the division’s 60-year history. Having a crew that stayed loyal—whether they were celebrating a touring championship or returning to a simpler life racing mostly at Riverhead following the ’95 WMT season—made it all worthwhile as well.
   “I’ve been very fortunate to have the same six or seven guys help me the last 25 years I’ve been racing,” Anderson, 61, says. “And there’s only a few crews that race like that and have those kind of dedicated people that hang with them…If it wasn’t for those friends that help me do that, I would have to look at some other things to do.”
   Anderson, who normally competes in the Riverhead WMT event, is just watching this week after having issues with his car. But he knows he’ll see a good show and wishes that more people would take advantage of Riverhead Raceway’s entertainment. He’s seen other local tracks wilt away over the years and wants Riverhead to be a top pastime for the public.
   “My business [Axel Anderson Inc., which does heavy-duty truck repairs and towing], I have customers come in here all day long saying, ‘You race cars. Where do they have races?’ Very few people know that every Saturday night there’s races at Riverhead, and they can bring the family and have a good night.”


Source:  Josh Stewart / Long Island Press
Posted:  July 31, 2008

©2008 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.