AS THE THUNDER STOPS,
RACING SEASON COMES TO AN END
by Denise DuPont
With the racing season comes to an end, we hear less and less
of the rolling thunder as drivers and race teams alike head to their race
shops and the long winter nights.
So as the team’s are ending their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
racing, I would also like to end my 2009 racing coverage of the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour with some season end notes from some of the Modified
In the end their can only be one champion and Donny Lia came out of nowhere
to take the lead and capture the NWMT Championship.
What was the turning point in your team’s year?
“NHMS car fire that was a real key event of the season. The
hard work then guys put in to get us back going. Back to the race track on
Sunday to finish second in that race. That was huge. But the real key to the
whole deal was the Spencer race date where I also had a wedding, my sister’s
wedding. I was committed to be there first because family comes first. There
was no way I was going to make the race at Spencer. It turned out that it
was rained out. So we were able to go up there the next day. So that was two
deals rights there that were make-it or break it deals, particularly the
rain-out. If we missed that deal we definitely would have been out of the
“But it is like anything else in racing, it is 70 to 80% luck, so
you need luck on your side. It really feels good to get it done. It is an
honor to work with Bob (Garbarino) and everybody on the whole team. It has
just been an incredible ride since ’07 and then again in ’09. We won two
championships so that says a whole lot about the whole deal. “
Going down to the last three races was it like a runner
getting a last surge of energy at the end? “Maybe
a little bit at Stafford where we got our last win. We definitely took the
point win over then. We caught Christopher on a bad day and we increased
ourselves by a couple of spots so it was a good race. That was the hugest
jump that we had all season. We were able to grab the point lead. Thompson
was just about finishing it all out. We went to win the race but missed a
little bit with the car. We tried adjusting it during the race but we still
did not have the car to drive right to the front and win the race. So I got
what I could out of the car without driving over 100%. I knew that if I
drove over 100% I might put us in a bad spot. But is the car was good enough
to win the race I would have gone out there and tried to win the race. Being
that it wasn’t it was smarter for me to just run the car where it was, which
actually ended up being fourth. It was close but the guys did a great job. I
cannot say it enough. They provide me with unbelievable race cars and that
starts right at the shop.
Lia’s plans for 2010?
“I do not know yet. I have to iron out some stuff. I have
some things at a personal level. So right now next year is a little bit up
in the air right now. Hopefully we will get it all worked out shortly.
GEORGE BRUNNHOELZL III
During 2009, the #28 NSWMT car of George Brunnhoelzl III had a very dominate
presence on the track. The hard work of the team and persistent of their
driver allowed them to come to the top and secure the 2009 NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour Championship.
How does it feel to be on the verge of your first Southern
It feels great. You cannot put it into words how awesome it is.
NASCAR does a great job with the banquet and putting us up all week, keeping
us busy and making us feel like kings.
Thoughts of running some NWMT races?
We definitely thought of running some northern tour races. We do
not have the budget right now to run the full north tour, nor the full south
tour right now. So we are probably going to pick and choose and run a little
bit of both.
If you were given and opportunity to run a full fender car in
a series would you hop on that?
Definitely, I always am looking to further my career in racing. If
it is good stuff (equipment) and a successful team then yes we would. If not
then we are content with running the modifieds.
Brunnhoelzl’s plans for 2010?
Still up in the air right now. I do not know what is going to go on
for next year. Hopefully we will be able to secure the sponsorship and
funding that we need to do what we did this year.
Ryan Preece had an excellent 2009 season and held on to a second place in
Was Preece happy with his 2009 Season?
“It was just a good season. It was one of those deals where you did
everything that you could. I did not win the Championship, but I am very
proud of my crew and the whole team. To be able to get that many top fives
and top tens and then win a couple of times back to back that was an
accomplishment. I am really happy with this year.”
What was Preece’s biggest accomplishment in 2009?
“In reviewing my accomplishments, I realized I beat one of my
idols, Teddy Christopher. So that was definitely an accomplishment for me. I
am definitely happy about that. I fell one position too short. There was not
anything that we could do at that race at Thompson. We still would not have
won the Championship. So I am just having a good time. “
Thoughts of NWMT going to Monadnock Speedway?
“I am excited. I have been there twice. Once in a NEMA Midget
and once in a True Value car when I first started modified racing. I was
talking to my dad and we might go there for a couple of modified shows
(weekly). This will help us just to get some more laps down there and to
make some adjustments for the track.”
Thoughts of NWMT going to Lime Rock ?
“I am excited about that. I love road course racing. I have
never really done it in a professional sense, but I have done a lot of
go-cart and stuff. I like it a lot.“
Preece’s plans for 2010?
“Plan for next year, a couple of Weekly Modified races and
the NWMT. I am not sure what car yet. Right now I do not know what I am
going to be in. I am planning on the #3 but I do not know. We have to sit
down and talk about what will be going on.”
Andy Seuss had an excellent 2009 season and held on to a second
place in the end.
Was Seuss happy with his 2009 Season?
“It has been the best year that I have ever had in racing.
Coming down to the end there I started to get down a little bit as the
Championship started to get further and further away. But I just said I was
going to enjoy myself. You do not get too many opportunities to come to
Charlotte in a hotel room and hang out with all these people. And really get
to be friends with all our competitors throughout the year.”
Seuss’s thoughts of his competing with the Rigg’s race team
on the Southern Modified Tour?
“It is a great opportunity and I am loving it. Looking back I
am just a kid from Hampstead, New Hampshire that got a great opportunity and
I am having a blast. If I ever have a year as half as good as this one, I
will be happy about that too. We did not win a Championship but we lost it
to a great competitor and a great team. Those guys deserve it. They
(Brunnhoelzl team) had a great year.”
Seuss’s plans for 2010?
“We will just see what next year brings. Hopefully we will win some
races. If we can be second in points again that will be fine. But we are
definitely going for the Championship next year.”
Do you feel that the #47 team is a family oriented team?
“Every race that you race with a team you grow stronger to
each other. I feel like I have been racing with these guys for years. It is
still just as fun as something new at the same time. It is a great deal. We
all get along so well. Maybe I won’t place myself in certain spots that I
did this year. That probably put us out of the Championship Hunt.”
A summary of Seuss’s 2009 race season..
“Overall just having a blast and I would not want to do it
with any other team. These guys have been great.”
“Last year team owner David Riggs said it best “If we knew each
other before we would have been racing with each other before.” We get along
so well. You spend so much time together you get real close. Luckily that
has happened for us. We get along so well, there is no conflict and
everybody gets along so well. That is what makes it so much fun.”
TED CHRISTOPHER (TC)
A summary of TC’s 2009 race season..
“It was disappointing not to win the Championship (NWMT).”
Thoughts on having been selected the most popular NWMT driver
“To have won that two years in a row, I feel real
appreciative for that. People like me in the series. They must enjoy my
driving technique. That must be why I got the Most Popular Driver award two
years in a row after not getting it for years. That is really gratifying. I
am appreciative of that and I am thankful to everybody that voted for me.”
TC’s plans for 2010?
Going to do the same thing. I do the same thing every year. I will
try though to make a couple less mistakes at the end like I did this year
for the Championship. It is a luck deal and hopefully my luck changes. I
have two or three more races left this season including Turkey Derby. So we
will see what happens.”
In 2009 Chris Pasteryak drove on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT)
the full year in the Darling owned #52 car. At every race the Pasteryak team
came to the track with a pristinely prepared car and the Pasteryak smile to
go along with it. “It was a fun year, said Pasteryak as he reflected on
2009. “We did pretty good and we are looking forward to next year.”
What event caused Chris Pasteryak to migrate to the NWMT
“In fact if Wayne hadn’t called me I really would not have
run any modified races this year. Because of him we were able to run whole
season, instead of doing it once in a while. As of right now we are a go for
next year so it is more of the same.”
What do you attribute your success in the modifieds to?
“I have been kind of successful I do not know if I was all
that successful. It is not like I have been a super star or anything.
Patience plans a big thing in it and willingness to learn.”
Thoughts on the NWMT racing at Monadnock Speedway for 200
“I know how to go around Monadnock so I have one up on the Whelen
guys (NWMT). I enjoy going there but it (the track) hates me. Some night
there we had almost 200 laps total by the time that you counted the
cautions. Actually I am looking forward to it. I think that it may be a fun
Plans for 2010?
“Plan on doing the same thing as next year and anything else that
may come up between then and now.”
Thoughts about the NWMT going to Lime Rock?
“Last time I drove in Lime Rock was in a Legends car in the
rain. I ran a Legends car there twice forward on the track. As a driver, I
am looking forward to going there. As far as getting the cars ready to go
there, they waited just long enough after the last Watkins Glen race that
everyone go rid of their road course stuff. So we have to go out and get it
“I think if they had stuck with Watkins Glen or maybe gone to Lime
Rock when we left Watkins Glen it would have been a good idea. Because
everyone would have built up their equipment and had a little bit of a
knowledge base and now we have all forgot what we are going to do and what
the rules package was for when we went to a road course so it will take some
of adjustment. It will be a good weekend to go (July 4th), a weekend that we
did not have a race up until this year, so it should hopefully get some
exposure and some press out of it and put on a very good race.”
What about your car owner Wayne Darling and Lime Rock?
“Wayne was a road racer for a lot of years after running a
modified. He drove for a lot of years until the mid to late eighties. So he
drove himself so he is excited about it. No matter what car we run in, it
should be a good time.”
2009 was a tough year for Woody Pitkat when it came to weekly SK
Did Pitkat spread himself too thin in 2009?
“Maybe I spread myself too thin. Behind the scene I have to
do a lot of other work just because of the way the economy is. We are
loosing crew each year. It is hard for people to show up at the shop and you
have to take over the slack.”
Pitkat’s thoughts about racing at Lime Rock?
“I think that running Lime Rock will be pretty cool. I have never
raced a road course besides on a video game. I talked to Ryan (Preece) a
little bit about it because he ran a car of some type there. I also think
Don (King) has run at a road course so he has some equipment that will help
us out. I may have to go to school and see what I have to do. It definitely
will be exciting going left and right.”
Pitkat’s plans for 2010?
“I will have to think what I want to do next year. Obviously
I would like to have the modified tour be my primary focus. “.”
“We just need to get back after winter and regroup and get
everybody on the same page and just try to come out better next year. “
Steve Park was at the Touring Series Banquet to receive awards for
his fifth place finish in the series in 2009.
What were Steve’s thoughts on the combined banquet for the
“It is great. It is what it is all about. I remember several years
ago at a banquet in Nashville for the touring series and modified. Now they
moved everything here. It is a lot closer for us that live here down in the
North Carolina area. But it is a lot further for a lot of the guys in New
England and the west coast but I think being centrally located in the heart
of NASCAR where the museum is going is good. If you want to be part of the
NASCAR family here is where it is happening. I think a lot of people go a
chance to tour the race shops and enjoy their couple of days down here at
Charlotte. For you touring divisions you need to have a banquet like this in
the Charlotte area. The economy has been affecting every Touring Series
right now. “
Steve’s thoughts on the Modified Touring Division...
“The Modifieds are struggling to hang on. You look at
fifty-four cars and twenty something races down to twelve races and
struggling for twenty-five cars. Whelen has to hang on to get through this
economy until everything get back to where it was a couple of years ago.”
* * * * * * * *
Last weekend when NASCAR officially released the 2010 race
schedule, rumors stopped and teams switched gears to start their plans and
dreams for the New Year.
So we too will take the time to say “Thank You” to you all for
another great year of racing and see you back next year for more fun and
Source: Denise DuPont