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   The Chrome Horn - News




For 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 onto 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.

Source: Kevin Rice / Star Speedway
Posted: June 5, 2013

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