six decades Connecticut photographer Howie Hodge has
been creating memories for countless auto racing
enthusiasts through his camera lens. A good number
of those photos taken were of his first racing love,
the tour-type Modifieds.
"A very big part of it," Hodge said when asked if
the people in Modified racing have played a role in
his longevity in racing. "Both (wife) Mary and I say
its not the racing so much as it is the people. That
was always a big part of it."
Hodge and the people in all forms of Modified racing
seem to have a connection. It doesn't matter if they
are NASCAR Tour Modifieds, Valenti Modifieds or SK
Modifieds, Hodge has been photographing them all.
That is why it seems only fitting to honor the man
who has been such a big part of Modified racing
since he first was drawn to the sport by Modified
legend Buddy Krebs in the 1960's. Hodge will be the
Grand Marshall of the SBM 125 III Modified Open on
June 15 at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.
Hodge began as a fan in the stands taking photos on
the 1960's. His passion for photography, and the
Modifieds led him to the infield. By the mid-'70's
he began working in the infield at Ct's Stafford
Motor Speedway to help then track photographer Mike
Adaskaveg, which led to him becoming track
photographer in the early '80's.
With the inception of the NASCAR Modified Tour,
Hodge began traveling to all of those races, and for
a time he took photos regularly for both the
Modified and Busch North Series, now known as the
K&N Pro Series East.
Hodge's wife Mary has been his infield teammate for
most of those years. In the early days his wife of
50 years now, would sit in the stands, while Howie
took photos in the infield. Mary decided to become a
photographer with her husband rather than sit in the
stands, and the photography team is still covering
Modified races today.
"I probably wouldn't have done so much for so long
if we weren't a team," Hodge admits. "It's been fun.
We just celebrated our 50th anniversary and we
haven't even had a fight. The old body is getting
tired now, but we still attend quite a few races.
"I don't know if I could have one favorite (driver)
because we have known so many. When they do good
we're happy for them, and when they don't do good
we're diasppointed for them. That's what has been
cool over the years. Watching someone like Mike
Stefanik go from this kid to a champion."
The June 15 SBM 125 and its $45,000 payoff will
bring race teams from all three Modified touring
series together in the same race, to compete against
the best Star Speedway regulars. More than 30 race
teams will converge on the racey quarter-mile oval
for an event that has brought rave reviews from
across the Modified spectrum in 2012. This third
annual event promises to be the best one yet.
The Saturday night event has the most complete field
of Modified drivers you won't see anywhere else.
Modified stars Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece will
represent the NASCAR Modified Tour. Chris Pasteryak
and Dwight Jarvis are among those from the Valenti
Modified Racing Series. Andy Seuss is from the
NASCAR Southern Modified Tour.
Jon McKennedy and Rob Summers from the ISMA
Supermodified Tour will compete. Zane Zeiner and
Austin Kochenash from the Race of Champions Tour,
and the last two Star track champions Jacob Dore and
Josh Cantara will all be trying to dethrone
defending SBM 125 Champion Matt Hirschman, who has
an unmatched winning percentage at Star.
For the full event schedule of the Saturday race log
www.star-speedway.com and click on the
"Forms/Rules" link, and for a complete list of
sponsors who have added the $20,000 to make this the
highest paying Modified race in Star Speedway
history click on the lap sponsors link on the site.