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   The Chrome Horn - News




The “Racing Community” is Always There
When You Need Them

Denise DuPont

With a purse of $45,000 on the line, thirty-two modifieds came to Star Speedway for the third annual SBM 125 with a quest for the win and their share of the purse. The pits and grandstands were full and the air was that of the 70’s and 80’s when pits had over fifty modified teams preparing to compete for the big purse of “Open Shows”. Over the years these shows have become far and few between as tracks have closed and the economy changed.

Star Speedway owner, Bob Webber, and his family worked with Kevin Rice and Jim Schaefer (Aka "Long Island Mod Maniac”) to pull together for the third time an “Open Show” just as it was thirty years ago at Star Speedway. There were Red Sox tickets, Kyle Bush race items to be had along with t-shirts, hats, autographs…. Race teams and fans filled the track and pits once again came together to celebrate a special night of racing.

The one major absence from this year’s show was veteran car owner Chuck Montville. Montville left the “Racing Community” with a void way too early and he is missed by his family, team and his fellow competitors. In celebration of Montville’s life a special car owner award was established in his honor. Long time car owner and modified racing supporter, Art Barry was chosen to receive the special award.
The best appearing car award was accepted by Les Hinckley for the Chuck Montville race team. It was a tough moment but also part of the healing process that the #06 team continues to go through. “We have had so much support getting through all this. It just has been amazing that the “Racing Community” is everything that people talk about. We fight like brothers sometimes but you know when you are down and out they are right there to help you.”

When modified drivers fired up their engines, it was none other than the renowned modified photographer, Howie Hodge, who gave the command at race start. Then when the checkered flags flew, it was second generation modified driver, Matt Hirschman, who crossed the finish line first for the second year in a row.

Matt Hirschman won the first heat race, redrew to start second and lead all if not almost every single lap of the SBM 125 lap race. “To dominate the performance is just the way that it worked out there with the long green run. We were not sure when a caution was going to come out. Then everybody pitted about the same time and when we came back out we were right back in the front. Last year it was a lot tougher. We had to work harder and pass a lot more cars. This year it was tough enough staying focused and just making your mark all while being mistake free. It was a great night for the team.”

After a long stretch of green racing, cautions brought with them restarts and challenges for the lead spot. “I tried all night to run a clean race. I do not think there was a car on the track that I touched. And there were a lot of restarts with Ryan (Preece). I like to race clean. I do not get into banging and grinding. I am glad the way that it all worked out “Do It My Way”. Now you have to enjoy the moment.”
Watching Hirschman on the track he makes thing look so easy. But we all know after a long day of racing that things are not as easy as they appear.“ These races are not that easy to win even though it was a dominating night. It is just tough to do this and then come back and do it again. I feel a little bit worn out right now from the focus. Everybody did such a great thing with the car in the preparation and all through the day. It all comes down to me getting the end result done. So I did not want to make a mistake and let these guys down. So it is a great night for the team.”

Les Hinckley also won his heat race then redrew to start back in eighth. He came from the rear of the field more than once but his last charge was the hardest most intense try for the win.

“Finishing second was a success and that was the most important thing.” Les Hinckley said about the second place finish for the #06 race team. “Matt had a good car and was up front all night so congratulations to him.”

Summing up the team’s day as they tore the car down for inspection Hinckley controlled his emotions as best as he could. With everyone’s focus on the second place team’s night, Hinckley expressed the team gratitude and bitter sweet moments that the second place finish brought with it. “It was an emotional day today no doubt and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t without Chuck. There was a lot on my mind without him here but the guys did a great job and they made it easy on me. I felt a lot of pressure to come here and be successful with all the help that I have gotten from family, friends and the crew. There is a lot of transition going on. I could not be happier to be successful for all the people that have been involved in this. I have had more support through all this. It just has been amazing. The “Racing Community” is everything that people talk about. We fight like brothers sometimes but you know when you are down and out they are right there to help you.”

Ryan Preece came off of double wins the night before at Stafford Speedway. He came to Star Speedway with a try to make it a trifecta for the weekend but only a solid third place finish was his at the end. Wheeling the family owned #40 modified in the competition Preece also won his heat race. “It was a good race. And that was what we had for the race. We went for it. We made some adjustments during our pit stop. We just did not have enough for Matt (Hirschman). I am pretty happy. The car is in one piece. It was a good day and as in any open show when you finish in the third place is pretty good. So I am happy.”

Steve Masse started this race in seventh and after pitting gauged his pace back to the front. He followed fellow competitor Tommy Barrett as he charged to the front. Masse defended his position and at the end held off the hard charges of Richard Savary for a fourth place finish. “I am very happy to come home with a car in one piece. This is one of the strongest fields that I have competed in since I can remember racing in a modified. I am more than happy with a top five finish.”

“I guess what they say is true - cautions breed cautions.” Masse said after enduring several restarts that tested his driving skill. “We went green for 60 to 70 laps and then I do not know how many cautions that we had. But I was worried about running out of gas. Luckily I was up front so I was out of most of the trouble.”

The Star Speedway “Open Show” was once again a step back in time for those who lived through the legendary times of modified racing. And just like then, teams and fans left the race with the urge for more. Winner Matt Hirschman had words that expressed it best: “There were some quality teams and drivers here tonight. What I like about the “Open Shows” is that you get a mix of different guys from different places that do not race together all the time. I wish there were a lot more shows like this.”

“The open show, no matter how few there are, is still a throwback to probably the best days that this division has had. And I certainly wish there was more of them. I am going to support the ones that there are because these are good nights. ”
“The next one will be Seekonk with “Open Wheel Wednesday “and that is going to be a fun night. I hope that the fans come out and I appreciate the effort that people take to put these shows on.” Thanks Kevin and Jim.

So place Wednesday, July 17th on your calendars for the next modified “Open Show” at Seekonk Speedway with $10,000 on the line to win!

Race Notes from Star Speedway:

When Ryan Preece won the NWMT race at Stafford on Friday night he mentioned that the hardest thing to do at the Star “Open Show” was to beat the defending race challenger, Matt Hirschman. What are Hirschman’s thoughts on this:

Matt Hirschman
“I know that there are a lot of guys that came here and paid attention to what I do to win. Especially after the feat that I had to win the race here last year the thought was that I would potentially be the guy to beat this year. And you take that as a compliment. You know that these guys want to beat you more than anything so they know that they have to beat me to win so you have to take it that way.“

Thoughts on “Open Shows”:

Matt Hirschman
“It was a big money night and there are a lot of people that put money into this. And the efforts of Kevin Rice and Long Island Maniac along with all the people that put in for the special awards and all. I know we came out of here with a great night last year and I know that tonight is going to be even better do I appreciate that. I am enjoying the moment looking ahead to the next one. We have a couple of big races coming up in July. I always enjoy that Open Modified Seekonk race on a Wednesday night in the summer. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had and the position that I am in to be successful and I will try to keep the momentum going.”

During the race officials warned Matt Hirschman twice that his restarts after cautions were aggressive. Was Hirschman racing aggressive?

Matt Hirschman
“I was not aggressive on the track. They like there restarts to be at a certain speed. If you are the leader of the race and you keep going a certain speed and do the same thing it is an opportunity for guys to beat you or move you up a little bit. I think that the one time that they called it off it was after all that water was on the track. And to be honest with you I thought that I did the right thing because I had a little bit faster pace and I did not jam up the field where the mess from the water was. But that was their call and we just made sure that we did it right the next time. I just did what I thought was the safest thing not just from my corner but for everyone. In the end it all worked out. It was not aggression but just clean starts.”

Ryan Preece
“There was not very much room coming up through the corners and he (Matt Hirschman) did not rough me up by any means. But in the end you do what you have to do to protect the lead.”

Max Zachem started the SBM race on the pole and held his own against seasoned driver Matt Hirschman. He was all smiles after the race even though a race mishap ended his night early.

Max Zachem
“It felt good to race along some of the top modified drivers. We had a real good car out there today.”
“I have to thank all my crew because the car was really super. We had a plan to do tires and then came in when everybody else did and got caught up. We then came back in late in the race to change the right rear and then got stuck in the wrong lane with the #6 (Ron Silk) and was involved in an accident. But hey that is racing and we will try again at Stafford. And go for that MRS win!”

Les Hinckley
If we came out of here with a decent shape the plan was for the team to go to the Seekonk Open Show (Wednesday, July 17th). Then we will figure it out from there. It is going to be one race deal at a time unless something drastically changes that. As everybody knows the financial burden is pretty big with these cars. And I can only do what I can do at this point. What we are doing now is a whole lot different than without Chuck here. But we will go to Seekonk and we will figure it out from there.”

Thank You to TS Haulers Hoosier Racing Tires, Monk Hand Cleaners and Seekonk Grand Prix.

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: June 17, 2013

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