A BRIEF TRIP TO LOUDON
Hey gang! It has been a while since I’ve had a chance to
venture off to a track. Saturday an opportunity was afforded me and I jumped
at the chance. I have a few observations from Saturday and I promise; I’ll
try to be brief.
This venture might have seemed spontaneous or impetuous but it was
actually carefully planned out by Rick Jarzombek. Rick combined a trip that
was necessary for his business with an opportunity to check out some racing.
I was just thankful that he thought to include me.
Bob “Grump” Heagy provided my transportation to the track. Ladies,
most of you would not believe how few words might be exchanged during the
course of a drive which lasted more than five hours with four men in the
vehicle. Five hours of quiet…man heaven. Thanks to Grumpy for sleeping most
of the way.
We have to give a special thank you to Ralph Solhem for putting
Rick and I on his guest list. Tim Arre got some good speed out of Ralph’s #0
Modified. Unfortunately, Timmy was forced to retire after some early race
This was my first trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Well, it
was the first time I had been there since Speedway Motorsports purchased the
former New Hampshire International Speedway venue. I have to say that most
of the changes that have been made really improved the Magic Mile. Most of
what I noticed, besides the numerous electrified signs, was changes made in
Excavation and re-paving has been completed behind the wall from
the Center Garage towards the pit exit which yields a regular pit wall for
that entire length. I really liked that. We can be hopeful that similar
changes are coming to the area from the Center Garage back to the North
An emphasis seems to have been made for providing unobstructed
travel lanes everywhere in the infield. Although I found myself a little
disoriented at times, these changes are clearly for the better. I’m sure
that more changes are coming and I’ll get to my suggestion later.
It was great to see so many folk I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Among those, who are way too numerous to mention, were Art & Ken Barry. I
hadn’t seen Art that enthusiastic about being at a racetrack in a long time.
Phil Kurze from Whelen Engineering & the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and
John Morgan, the Dean of American Bobsledding were pretty excited about the
announcement they made on Thursday. It was announced that Joey Logano had
been signed as the first entrant in the Fifth Annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine
Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering. Pictures of Joey’s
bobsled are gorgeous and I can’t wait to share them with everyone on TCH.
My thoughts of Cup happy hour:
1) Juan Montoya was fast.
2) Not many Cup fans felt like getting up early enough to watch Cup
3) Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson are the greatest opossum players in
My thoughts of Truck qualifying:
1) Watching time trials is like watching a chef try to boil a huge pot of
water with butane cigarette lighter.
2) The #02 truck was sponsored by a “Chillaxation” beverage with a brand
name that is a homonym for “coma”. Insert your favorite Reverend Jim Jones
3) NASCAR has to work at growing the Truck Series.
Something that was very positive for the Whelen Modified Tour that
came out of this weekend is really only a rumor at this point. The folks at
SPEED TV, who broadcast the WMT New Hampshire 100 on a brief tape-delay
Saturday, apparently really like airing the Modifieds in combination with
the Camping World Truck Series races. This began with the race at Bristol in
Now I’m not one to break stories, nor am I one to carelessly plant
rumors. I didn’t hear anything from any official sources either. However, I
heard it discussed several times that SPEED might be interested in airing a
combination event with the WMT and the CWTS at Richmond in 2010. Will that
rumor come to fruition? One can only hope. The Tour belongs there.
One thing that will keep the Modifieds out of the minds of people
who broadcast races on television is excessive caution periods. Eleven
caution periods, caused during less that half the compliment of scheduled
laps contested under green, isn’t doing to the Tour fans justice, nor does
it make the Tour saleable. I’m not throwing any one driver under the bus,
too many cautions during televised races has been the recent paradigm that
must be broken.
What has gotten and will continue to get the Modifieds exposure
from the races at NHMS is the incredible amount of side-by-side racing and
passing that our beloved Tour readily provides. Saturday was no exception. A
really big crowd got to enjoy a very good race under weather conditions
which were just about perfect.
Ryan Newman and Bono Manion’s guys put on a show. Steve Park
qualified Manion’s Modified on Thursday for Newman. Ryan had NASCAR
obligations in New York that kept him away. Consequently Newman started from
the rear of the field.
After an early race tangle, Newman pitted several times under
yellow to straighten out the 7ny. His march to the front was strong and
seeing the Baldwin livery out front was something I’ll remember for a long
time. The team’s run probably peaked a little early but Ryan still brought
home a top-ten finish. That in no way diminishes this team’s repair efforts
which were stellar.
Defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Ted Christopher finished
seventh and leaves the Magic Mile with a forty-eight point lead over a
surging Donny Lia. Lia seemed to be in the eye of the storm through much of
the race. Donny’s late-race charge yielded a runner-up finish.
Ron Silk ran a very smart race. He’s the kind of driver that has
the ability to fly under the radar, largely because he tends not to put
himself in questionable situations. Usually when he finds himself in a bad
spot, he backs out, regroups and gives it another shot.
Silk drove a second T.S. Haulers Modified, as a teammate to Keith
Rocco, for owner Connie Partridge. Ron passed multi-time Loudon winner,
Reggie Ruggiero on the final lap for the victory. It was the first New
Hampshire win for driver and the team.
I had a great time at Loudon. I’d like to thank Fred Neergaard,
Kristen Costa and the rest of the staff in the Jack Ratta Media Center for
their accommodations. This is a PR staff that always seems to be on the top
of their game.
Suggestions for improvement at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Something must be done to separate vehicle traffic from pedestrian traffic
between the infield tunnel and the main exit onto NH 106.
I only have one suggestion. I believe a large pedestrian bridge or
a system of bridges, perhaps with an elevator or two might help alleviate
this chronic problem.
We left the track at a time when there wasn’t a particularly large
amount of pedestrian traffic. Despite a fair number of people directing
traffic and most of those driving vehicles appearing to progress at a
patient crawl, we saw pedestrians who went out of their way to be
confrontational with drivers. I can only imagine how bad that must be trying
to exit the facility after the conclusion of a Cup race. We’ll put that on
our Christmas wish list along with the WMT race at Richmond.
Source: Walt Newcomb
/ Newk's Notebook