all of you who thought I moved, got put in jail, or as Lenny Sammons
commented on Saturday, “ I was ready to ask Earl for your date of birth to
look for your obituary,” I will only say that I’m back. After taking a year
off due to too many things to recall in this space, this past weekend gave
me an opportunity to watch a race live for the first time in over a year.
What better place to re acquaint yourself than to go back to the place where
it all started for me over 40 years ago when my folks dragged me to the
stands between the fourth turn and the flag stand while I watched the
Hoffman’s, Hearne’s, Kremer’s, and Siscone’s do battle every Saturday Night.
Some added incentive was the fact that the track had once again closed in
early September under the leadership of Jim Morton. With uncertainty of what
would happen to the track, two families got together one day and decided to
lease the track to continue the tradition of the year ending Turkey Derby, a
race started in 1974 by the original owners of the track, the Nicols. The
two families weren’t your typical families mind you. Both had been around in
one way or another for the past 36 Turkey Derby’s. So when the Blewetts and
Lings got together in the early fall and decided to take a crack at
promoting the race, it was all systems go. In order to make something this
big work in such a short period of time, took a lot of resources, manpower,
and devotion. Having both families involved took care of all that. Many who
were working at the track this past weekend, from Jessie (O’Rourke) Blewett
at the track sign in, to Donny Ling working security, were there to not only
lend a hand, but to make the weekend a success.
Of course, promoting a race and getting a full house to the track is only
part of what can make a successful weekend. Having good racing is the icing
on the cake. Unfortunately, Saturday’s main events, the Wall Modified 100
lapper and the open competition Modified 150 lapper did not give us the
icing for the cake. Matt Hirschman dominated the Wall Modified event,
leading from start to finish. His dominance, however, wasn’t the problem.
The cautions were. It was worse in the main 150 lapper. They say cautions
breed cautions. After running a relatively smooth first 30 laps, the
remaining 120 laps took as long, or felt as long as it would have taken me
to drive from New Jersey to New Hampshire. The brisk temperatures and wind
didn’t help either. Going into the race, I had two concerns. The first had
to do with the race format for both the 100 and 150 lap features. Much like
last year, it was decided to count only green flag laps. While this concept
sounds all well and good, it just doesn’t work at Wall. It never has and
never will. Wall is too small of a track with too many race cars. Giving
drivers opportunities to take chances that they otherwise might not take for
fear of having to pit and lose a lap all goes out the window. Instead, you
have drivers spinning out, crashing, pitting and coming back out without
losing a lap. To me, there should be a penalty for this versus none at all.
Starting at the back of the back just doesn’t cut it as it gives another
opportunity. Possibly losing a lap while you attempt to pit would seem to be
the way to go. It also set up many delays during the caution period, as
officials had to stop the field on more than one occasion to get the right
line up on the track. While these delays might help the coffee and hot
chocolate sales, it doesn’t leave a good taste in the fans mouths, no matter
how good the coffee or hot chocolate is. The other concern had to do with
people’s perception of Jimmy Blewett and if he would get any favoritism over
other drivers based on his family ties to one of the families and driving
for the other promoter. To Blewett’s credit, he did not drive the Ling
Racing entry in the Wall Modifieds. (Pete Brittain took over the reins)
However, Blewett was in the Blewett Racing #76 for the 150 lap feature, a
feature he wound up winning but not without controversy. Matt Hirschman was
looking for a clean sweep of the weekend. Both were battling towards the end
of the race, with Blewett coming out the winner. A few in the pits and
grandstands thought that Blewett should have been penalized for some of his
actions on the track, much like what happened to Keith Rocco in the Wall
feature. However, the victory stood and Blewett was not going to apologize.
Nor should he. That is up to the officials and if the fans should boo
anybody, it should be them if they felt an injustice. It’s unfortunate,
however, that many felt leaving the track that Blewett got some favoritism.
Sometimes perception is not reality and sometimes perception is reality.
It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.
TURKEY LEFTOVERS: Is it me, or was the Dirt/Asphalt Series so 1990’s?
Well, it was back this weekend with the Dirt modifieds putting arguably one
of the better shows of the weekend on the high banks. I have to admit, they
looked kind of cool sliding around the track three wide. Management
definitely hit a home run with the running of the event. If you weren’t at
the track by 11:00 you were bused over from the airport as parking was
completely full at the track. It was good seeing a lot of familiar faces,
including the Lenny and Donna Boyd, the Ferrante’s, Eyres, and all of the
rest. Usually, I will take in the action either from the pit area or the
tower. This year I decided to take in the action from turn four with all the
spotters, along with my usual designated driver Scooter Flores and the
entertaining Richie Evans Jr. Needless to say, it was an interesting
perspective. As for the future of Wall, it appears there a few interested
parties in taking over the lease for next year. It will definitely make for
an interesting winter. One note on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. As most
of your know, the Tour released its schedule for 2011 and the tour will be
making its first trip to Canada. While the idea sounds great, I’m kind of
thinking many teams and fans will be caught up for a while in dealing with
customs crossing over the border on Labor Day Weekend, don’t you? And
finally, This Week’s Quote of The Week comes from AARN editor Lenny Sammons
on seeing me in the pits, “I was going to have Earl write your obituary.”
All comments and views can reach me at 2 Constitution Court Unit 501
Hoboken, N.J. 07030.