SIX-TIME MODIFIED CHAMPION COOK TO BE
HONORED AT MANSFIELD
NASCAR to Recognize Cook
on Aug. 23
As part of the season-long celebration of 60 years of Modified
champions, six-time titlist Jerry Cook will be honored at the Whelen
150 on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park.
In one of the more dominant runs in the history of NASCAR’s
Modified division, Cook captured six national championships during a
seven-year span from 1971-77. His six titles are the third-most in
the 60 years of the division.
“Just winning one is pretty tough,” Cook said. “I remember trying
to win the first one and lost it to Bugsy Stevens after leading the
points most of the year. Losing before you win one makes you want it
all the more.”
After consecutive national runner-up finishes to Stevens in 1969
and Fred DeSarro in 1970, Cook turned the tables the following year
and outdistanced DeSarro by 370 points for his first NASCAR Modified
championship. Cook, originally from Rome , N.Y. , garnered his
second title in 1972 when he defeated Stevens in the national
standings. Fellow Rome native Richie Evans took the title in 1973,
but Cook grabbed it back in 1974 and kept it for the next three
Cook was a consistent contender for the NASCAR Modified title
throughout his career. During a remarkable run from 1969-82, Cook
finished in the top three in the national standings in each season.
That span included six titles and six championship runner-ups.
“It took a lot of preparation; making sure the car was ready to
race and that it didn’t fall apart,” Cook said. “We spent a lot of
time in the garage before we went to the track. My sponsor,
Hollebrand Trucking, also played a big part. If it wasn’t for Pete
Hollebrand and his son, Pete Jr., it would have been awful hard for
me to accomplish the championships and go to all the races that I
Following a third place finish in the championship standings in
1982, Cook hung up the helmet and stepped over to the other side of
the fence to work for NASCAR.
“They [NASCAR] said we need to get someone up in the northeast, and
we’d like to have you,” Cook said. “Of course that meant quit
racing. I decided this was a good chance to do something different,
so I quit racing and went to work for NASCAR.”
Since coming on board with NASCAR in 1982, Cook has overseen the
weekly tracks in the northeast and was instrumental in the
development of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1985 and the
NASCAR Camping World Series East in 1987. Today he lives in
Mooresville , N.C. , and serves as a competition administrator in
the NASCAR Research and Development Center .
A legend of NASCAR Modified racing, Cook’s career has been
appropriately recognized in many avenues. He was named to the
“NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers” list in 1998 and the "NASCAR Modified
All-Time Top 10" list in 2003. Cook is also enshrined in the
National Motorsports Press Association and New York Stock Car
Association Halls of Fame. Additionally, he is a finalist for
induction in the prestigious International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Class of 2009.
“When you look at the list of people that are nominated, it’s
pretty impressive,” Cook said. “I sure would like to be inducted
into that, but it’s a tough one because there isn’t anybody on that
list that isn’t deserving.”
The Whelen 150 on Aug. 23 at Mansfield will be the 10th race of the
2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. Cook will be honored by
NASCAR prior to the start of racing action that evening. Ticket
information for a doubleheader of racing action that will also
include the NASCAR Camping World Series East can be found by
visiting Mansfield ’s official Web site (mansfieldmotorsportsonline.com).