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   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series presented by



by Denise DuPont

On Saturday, May 1st the Modified Racing Series (MRS) returned to the untamed asphalt of Monadnock Speedway. Experienced drivers the past experienced have both loved and hated the challenge of the tight groove. All know that it takes just one small mistake and then you find yourself on the sideline.

The track is also very hard on equipment and even the best of teams find themselves in a quandary when engines suddenly overheat, brakes fail or the car just can’t find the racing groove. Among the ranks of competitors that found themselves in this situation Saturday night were veteran drivers Kirk Alexander, Les Hinckley and Mike Holdridge. The disappointment that you see in the eyes of these seasoned drivers when the track wins is heart wrenching.

Then again it is not very often that you have see Dwight Jarvis competing in a consi race to get into the main event. But on Saturday night the veteran driver overcame an ill handling car and a second place finish in a consi race to go forward and win the 100 lap event. “The guys worked hard all day.” Dwight Jarvis said about his crew. “We did not have a good car when we got here. They changed springs and shocks and they put a good car under me. And I love this place down here (Monadnock Speedway). I knew the car was good when I went on the outside on the consi and I hoped it did the same thing in the main. And it did.”

Jarvis started the race in seventeenth position and had to maneuver his way around the field to make it to the front. Once he made it to second, he had the major challenge of passing experienced driver, Jim Boniface. Jarvis has competed with Boniface for years on New Hampshire tracks including Monadnock Speedway. So he knew that he was going to have to use his expertise and luck to take the lead away from Boniface. “I was real confident that if I drove it in right there that the car was up to stick. I did not want to drive in and take a chance at wrecking him. You could say it was experience and having a good car. It is a combination of everything and luck.” So with a little bit of luck, Dwight Jarvis won the 100 lap MRS Monadnock Bond Auto Parts Spring Dash race.

Among the veteran drivers there are a few “youngsters” to use the phrase that MRS announcer, John Spence, Sr. has coined for racers who have barely gotten their drivers license. One of these youngsters is 2009 rookie of the year, Jacob Dore. Dore finished third in a qualifying race with Monadnock regulars Kirk Alexander, Jim Boniface and 2009 Champion Jon McKennedy. Dore held his own ground finishing third.

Then in the main event, by half-way Dore found himself in the top five competing along side of some of the best short track modified drivers in history. So was Dore intimidated running up front with the leaders? “We were not really intimidated. We were really digging for it. It is a tough track to pass. We started out pretty bad here last year. I think that we are just starting to figure it (the track) out. We still do not know all that we need to do because the car was a little bit too loose at the end and tight at the same time.”

And at the end of a caution laden race, drivers and teams alike were spent. “Everybody’s car at that point was all used up. Dwight, Boniface and everybody out there ran us good. We were aggressive but relatively clean. We were just tight on the top. I think we could have had Dwight if we had a shot at the bottom. But at the top we did not really have a shot so I was just trying to get to the bottom as quick as I could and just ride. I was really happy running second at that point.” It was a struggle but in the end it was worth it for the young driver knowing he came in second behind winner Dwight Jarvis.

Jim Boniface was fast in qualifying and started the race on the pole. He continued to dominant the race leading the field lap after lap until Dwight Jarvis found the move to get made around him for the lead. “When Dwight got underneath me going into three I was surprised. Just before that my radios got unplugged and I did not have a spotter. I could not communicate with my spotter so I had no idea he (Dwight Jarvis) was really there. So it was kind of a surprise.”

Could Boniface have won the race if there were fewer cautions and restarts? No one will ever know. But no matter what the final outcome was, everyone knew that Jim Boniface had the car to beat. “The car was pretty awesome the first fifty laps, “said Boniface about the fast #88 car. “I probably set too fast of a pace. We probably should have slowed it down a little bit because we used our tires up. Towards the end of the race we were just hanging on.”

But Boniface did have one last spurt of energy when he made a bold move within the last five laps to pass for third. Jacob Dore had Rowan Pennink coming on his outside and he knew if Pennink had the car to go on the outside groove he could not stop him. So Dore gave him room on the outside for the pass. “I knew he was there and I was just trying to give him enough room. We were sideways coming out and I was hoping that I was not pinching him into the corner. We were trying to make sure that we had enough room to race with him. I thought he had finished third I did not know what happened to him.” But Boniface saw the opportunity and the win within in grasp and he snuck under Pennink to claim a solid third place finish.

It was back to back races all on the same day as Rowan Pennink raced across three states to Monadnock Speedway. He got to the track as qualifying was completing so Pennink had to start at the rear of the field with little or no practice. The challenge was tough but the talented driver managed to come up through the pack not once but twice to secure a fourth place finish. “We had a really good car. I got up to the front pretty quick there. I did not think that I was going to get up to the front that quick.”

Once up in front Pennink was racing the leaders and then he found himself spun out in the infield. “I do not know what happened. I had a good run on the #2 car (Ken Barry) and I drove way underneath him and then he came down. He pegged me right in the right front and knocked me dead sideways. I was not expecting it. I thought he would come down and rub me a little bit. I held it all the way down and he came down and hit me pretty good in the right front to knock me dead sideways. I got down on those bumps down there and I could not hang on to it. “

So close to forty laps into the race, Pennink found himself back were he had started the race and a field of cars ahead of him. “Coming back through again the car was still really good but I just had used up too much tire coming back up through the field again for the second time and passing all those cars. I used too much of the car up. The car was awesome when I drove it and if I had not spun around, I believe we would have won the race.” But at the end of one long hot day, it was the second fourth place finish of the day for Pennink.

The MRS drivers and team now have a few weeks off to enjoy Mother’s Day and to regroup. They then return to racing at Albany –Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on May 21st for a 100 lap make-up event from April.

Monadnock Speedway Left Over Notes

Why do you race?

Dwight Jarvis
“I guess I race because I love to race. The whole family has been all into it. I guess it is my whole family like my nephew Joey is coming along and before long I will just be sitting around and watching him. I have had a good time since 1973 racing. I guess it is the young guys that keep me going. They keep pushing, working on the car and giving me encouragement. So we just keep going.”

Jacob Dore
“I race for the fun of it., for the love of it. We enjoy every minute of it even though we crash a little too often. It is a family thing. We all spend and invest time and money and we all enjoy it.”
“I have a great grandfather. I stay at school all week and I am only home on the weekends. I work on the car whenever I can on the weekends. When ever I have to do my school work, he (grandfather) takes care of it the rest of the week. He keeps me right on top of it. He helps me out so much. He built the horse power under the hood. It is not the biggest motor here but it was strong enough for second tonight.”

Jim Boniface
“What else are you going to do?”
“I love to race. You do not make any money doing this around here. You love to race and you give a lot of time money and effort into this thing (car). With the money that we do have we race. But it is a lot of fun”.

Source: Denise DuPont /
Posted: May 5, 2010

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