Last year, 2008,
former champion Rick Fuller announced that he had retired from racing.
Fuller, of Auburn, Mass., made his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in the
series’ inaugural race on March 31, 1985 at Thompson (Conn.) International
Speedway with a 13th place finish in the Icebreaker. Ultimately, Thompson
became the site of his last race when was caught up in an early accident and
came home 30th in the No. 77 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Modified in the
Xtra Mart World Series on Oct. 19. Fuller compiled 20 wins, 145 top fives,
231 top 10s and 11 Coors Light Pole Awards in 439 career NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour starts. His win total ranks seventh in tour history. The
highlight of Fuller’s distinguished career was his championship season of
1993. A year after his brother, Jeff, had captured the title, Fuller strung
together a win and 14 top 10s in 17 starts to finish 93 points ahead of
Reggie Ruggiero for the crown. Fuller has become a color commentator for the
Stafford Speedway telecasts seen on NESN.
Good news comes from the Waterford Speedbowl. Terry Eames announced
that he would partner up with Shawn Monahan to operate the shoreline oval in
2009. Monahan raced at the Speedbowl since 1996. He owns and operates
Critical Signs and Graphics, which is located next to the track on Route 85.
In a prepared news release Eames also announced that Tom Fox who was the
track’s Chief Tech Inspector in 2008 would have full authority over all
aspects of the race program as Race Director. Track historian Sid DiMaggio
would serve as a coordinator of multi-media and events.
Prior to Eames leasing the track to Jerry Robinson, Eames had all
but run the facility into the ground. Robinson’s tenure looked to be the
saving grace of the 1/3 mile oval but in 2008 things went from bad to worse.
Competitors and fans were treated with disrespect plus competitors were held
hostage as money owed them was held back.
Crowds at the shoreline oval had been way down in recent years when
the track was under both Eames and Robinson. For the most part they never
advertised the fact that there was racing going on at the track. No wonder
the place was never more than 25% full! Both Stafford and Thompson advertise
their events and both tracks have been rewarded with crowds that allow them
to turn a profit. Unless the Speedbowl management changes their ways the
track will just fade away.
It is ironic that Pete Zanardi and Dave Dykes had been given the
boot, especially after these two individuals were responsible for keeping
the Speedbowl afloat the previous two years under the Robinson regime and
the two years previous to that when Eames ran the track.
A capacity crowd filled the historic Francis Farm banquet facility
in Rehoboth, MA., Saturday night, November 15, as the True Value Modified
Racing Series, presented it’s fifth annual Awards Banquet honoring drivers,
car owners, and the 2008 series champion, Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT.
Pasteryak, winner of two races, at Waterford and Seekonk, addressed
the crowd from a well prepared and well delivered script that detailed what
the season meant to him and his family. The second generation driver thanked
his fiancé, family, friends, his sponsors, series sponsors, and TVMRS
officials, for their support. His father, Charlie, and uncle, Carl, have
been involved in modified racing since the mid-seventies. “I guess they
didn’t know what they were getting into,” said the new champion.
Series founder Jack Bateman, joined by series officials and True
Value representatives, Rick and Robin Tullock, made presentations to the top
fifteen drivers and car owners as well as achievement awards in several
categories. Sponsorship awards and the the 4th annual Bob Polverari “7-11”
presentation were also part of the evenings festivities. Series announcer,
John Spence Sr, hosted the event, with opening remarks focusing on a review
of the 2008 season. Spence noted, “despite the just concluded campaign being
tough economically for everyone, 61 different drivers were awarded points
this year. All things considered, that’s not too bad.” Spence also
recognized special guests and thanked media representatives for their
continued support. Bateman recognized series officials for their hard work,
professionalism, and dedication. He offered comment on each official
pointing out their qualities and what they mean to the series. The tours
officials have been lauded by fans, media, speedway management, and race
teams, for the respect they show competitors, and their easy going manner.
Bateman thanked track owners, series sponsors, participating New England
True Value stores, New England Racing Fuels, Black Mountain Painting,
Hoosier Tire East , SPAFCO Race Cars, Koszela Speed, Dart, UniFirst, Inside
Track, Sherwood Racing Wheels, for their support. The series founder also
spoke of a 16 race schedule, down from 19 this past season, with some
adjustments and possible additions to be made to a tentative schedule
already in place for 2009. The series will also assist in officiating the
“open” race at Seekonk in July.
The 2008 “7-11” award, for professionalism on and off the track,
was presented to Vinnie “WHO” Annarummo. The recipient was chosen by former
winners, Bateman, Dwight Jarvis, and Ed Dachenhausen and the special plaque
was presented by New England Hall of Famer, Bob Polverari. Service Award:
Ray Legere. A race car owner/builder since the early 70’s, Legere, now a
member of the series tech staff, joins Jarvis and Bateman as one of three
original race car owners that remains with the series today. 2008 True Value
Modified Racing Series Achievement Awards Recipients: Hoosier Tire East
Award: (Presented By Bobby Summers) - Chris Pasteryak Black Mountain
Painting Award: (Presented By Jack Bateman) - Kirk Alexander, Most Improved
Driver: (Selected By Series Officials) – Shelly Perry, Touch Luck Award:
(Selected By Series Officials) – Les Hinckley, Sportsmanship Award:
(Selected By Series Officials) - 77 Gangsta Racing, Koszela Speed - Rookie
of the Year: Kenny White Jr (presented by Peter Jarvis).
The New England Antique Racers have added their Veteran’s Committee
selections which will be included with the Annual New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame inductions in January. Open cockpit sensation Burt Brooks,
stock car ace Harold ‘Hardluck’ Hannaford and car owner Bertha Small are the
Veteran Committee selections. The trio will be inducted along with drivers
John Fitch, Bobby Dragon and Paul Richardson, promoters Bob Bahre, Jim
McConnell and Tom Curley and car owner/ builders Rollie Lindblad and Art
Barry on Jan. 25, 2009 at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.
Still to be named were the Jack Ratta (Media) and Danny Pardi
(Service) Memorial Award winners.
Carl Edwards led a race-high 157 laps, running out of gas as he
crossed the finish line to win the NASCAR season-ending Ford 400 at
Homestead-Miami Speedway. Still, his series-high ninth win of the year
wasn't enough to wrest away the Sprint Cup title. Jimmy Johnson locked up
his third championship in a row with a solid 15th-place run, beating Edwards
by 69 points to join Cale Yarborough as the only drivers in NASCAR history
to win three straight titles.
Carl Edwards also won the season-ending Ford 300 on Saturday night,
but came up 21 points short in his attempt to overtake Clint Bowyer for the
NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. All Bowyer had to do to keep Edwards
from winning a second straight title in the second-tier series was finish in
the top eight. He did that easily, taking fifth to stay on top of the
standings, right where he has been most of the year despite winning only one
of 35 races. Edwards wrested the lead from Kyle Busch late in the race and
stayed out front to the end of the 200-lap event at Homestead-Miami
Speedway. He earned his seventh Nationwide victory and kept Busch from
recording a record 11th series win.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my
chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is:
This week are several vintage racing
photos of Tony "Jap" Membrino,
Jap suffered a stroke on last Saturday Nov. 14th.
After a couple of days in intensive care Jap returned home Tuesday
and is expected to make a full recovery. Jap is currently having a problem
with his right arm and leg, but hopefully will be back hunting with
his hunting partner "The Reg" soon. Get Well cards can reach Jap at:
328 Bassett Rd
Watertown, CT 06795-1112
Photos by Phil Hoyt, Frank Faust and Steve Kennedy
All other photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive