The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


July 8, 2014

  The fourth of July weekend began on a wet note as heavy rains from Hurricane Arthur forced officials of the Stafford Motor Speedway to cancel their holiday special. The Inaugural NAPA SK 5k was postponed last Thursday to Friday July 25th due to the impending threat of Hurricane Arthur. The SK 5k, dubbed the biggest race in SK Modified history, will take place in three weeks on July 25th under what will hopefully be beautiful clear skies. Close to three inches of rain was recorded in Connecticut from the storm.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series took on the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday night. Richard Savory, who won the series race at Lee NH recently made it two in a row and three for the year. With 28 cars strong, three qualifying heats were run. Savory started 14th and at the half way 50 lap mark was running sixth behind leader Chris Pasteryak. Savory waited until the closing moments as he took the lead with only three laps to go. Pasteryak settled for second with Justin Bonsignore, third. Rowan Pennink who qualified thru the consi came from the rear to finish fourth. Russ Hersey rounded out the top five.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, One week ago Bill Park and his team were thrashing on the orange no. 20 in the Riverhead Raceway pit area following a crash in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire 200 with Todd Szegedy behind the wheel. Seven days later that same orange no. 20 car, albeit with a new white nose, was in Riverhead’s victory lane with Ryan Preece celebrating his second win of the season.

  While Preece put down the fastest lap in time-trials earlier in the evening it was clear that he didn’t have the fastest car during the Cromarty Cup 50-lap feature. But as Preece said at the end of the night, sometimes you get lucky, and he ended up winning this race for the second year in a row even with only leading just the last three laps.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes a weekend off before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The tour's top drivers will race Friday, July 11 in the non-points Whelen All-Star Shootout; the championship season will resume Saturday, July 12 with the New Hampshire 100.

  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval's l’s mid-season championship Overdrive Radio 300 event hit the asphalt Saturday night with extra distance racing by the track’s regular six divisions. The big winner was Keith Rocco scoring top honors in the night’s 100-lap SK Modified® main event. Bruce Thomas Jr. won an entertaining 50-lap Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race, while Jeff Smith was a first-time winner in the SK Light Modifieds after an impressive performance. Josh Galvin was back in Victory Lane in the 50-lap Street Stock race and Garrett Denton won his second consecutive race in the night’s 50-lap Mini Stock event. Mike Christopher Jr. won his third straight INEX Legend Cars race to round out the winners.

  Rocco, the class of the field, as he methodically picked his way through the top ten until he landed in the lead on lap-34. He was in control the rest of the way to pick up his seventh win of the year in the division. Rob Janovic put forth a strong effort to wind up runner-up. Jeff Rocco had a solid outing to run among the top-three all race and finish third with limited appearances in the division in 2014. Tyler Chadwick and Kyle James completed the top-five.

  A big spike was driven into the heart of the speedbowl early in the evening when an official with his mouth drove Sid DiMaggio and his crew out of the track which they have done so much for no pay. A Waterford Speedbowl rule states "No crew member could touch a car after it crossed the inspection pad for time trials". Evidently an official got his jockey shorts twisted when an adjustment was made to an in-car camera. Fans were sad to learn that the Sids Vault team has left the Bowl. With all the free advertisement and promotion the track has received it would be a smart move on the part of track operator Terry Eames to mend the fences that this over zealous official has torn down.

  In Modified racing in the Southland, Andy Seuss continues to roll in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events at Caraway Speedway. The 27-year-old from Hampstead, New Hampshire, completed the sweep on the day's on-track events at the .455-mile banked asphalt oval. Seuss was fastest in practice, won his eighth pole Coors Light Pole Award at the track and led every lap en route to winning the Daggett Shuler Attorneys At Law 150 at Caraway. It was his fourth consecutive victory at the track and 10th of his career. Following Seuss was George Brunnhoelzl III, J.R. Bertuccio, Danny Bohn and Kyle Ebersole.

  Gary Putnam was sixth, followed by Jason Myers, Bryan Dauzat, Spencer Davis and David Calabrese. The wire-to-wire win was the fifth of Seuss' career and fourth at Caraway. He won the 2014 season opener in similar fashion. There were 19 cars on hand. Among those who had problems was Burt Myers who completed 72 laps before retiring with electrical problems which placed him 17th.

  The Bowman Gray Stadium was quiet for the holiday. Racing resumes there this week.

  On Saturday night 20 southern Modifieds ventured to the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina for the KOMA Unwind American Freedom 125. Zach Brewer took the win over Burt Myers, Bobby Sheffield, Mike Speeney and Jason Myers.

  Anyone on vacation and traveling through upstate New York should put the Saratoga Automobile Museum on their "Must See" list. A pair of radically different Modifieds wheeled by star drivers Brian Ross and Wes Moody who grew up together in, of all places, the tiny Adirondack mountain village of Saranac Lake, NY are now on display.

  On loan from Brian and Sharon Ross of Ballston Spa, NY is a rare homebuilt car in a division populated by cars from the Troyer, Chassis Dynamics and Raceworks chassis factories, Brian Ross’ modified was a consistent winner and spawned a pair of successors built by Ross for owner Ed Cloce and wheeled by Ross and NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kenny Schrader.

  Originally fabricated in the summer of 1982 by Ross and his son Chris, this car went on to win at Stafford Springs and Thompson, CT, Riverside Park in Agawam, MA, Monadnock, NH and the Shangri-La Speedway in Owego, NY. The car was especially suited to the super-fast Stafford Motor Speedway, where Ross claimed the 1984 NASCAR modified division title and the 1986 Spring Sizzler, the iconic half-mile’s premier event, against the best in the business.

  The Cavalier bodied car was raced from New York to Virginia and was the first to sport a “head protector bar” next to the driver’s helmet, a safety improvement immediately mandated by NASCAR for all cars. Sold by Ross in 1990, the car went on to win 38 of 42 dirt track races in Vermont and New Hampshire wearing late model sheet metal. It then rusted away in a New Hampshire pasture until Ross tracked it down in 2012 and restored it to original condition.

  One of the car’s secrets for success was an extremely low center of gravity, with the 364 cubic inch Chevrolet small block built by Ed Lanier at Ed's Auto Machine in Mystic, CT and mounted so low in the chassis that Ross had to cut the curved bottom off the Muncie transmission and weld a flat plate over the hole to keep the transmission, which has first and second gear removed to save weight, from dragging on the track. The car’s other major secret was a set of front spindles that Ross designed and built. Their geometry keeps both front tires flat on the track through the entire corner, improving grip and cornering speed, while allowing ample suspension travel without unwanted camber changes.

  According to Ross, “When a hole opened up or the car in front of me slid up a little off the inside, I could turn sharp left anywhere in the corner to get under him and the car would stick. That’s why we were so successful with it!” Other features of the car include an extremely low fuel cell location that keeps the fuel load in the center of the car, huge Wilwood disc brakes and a Mustang rack and pinion steering gear. The 2475 pound racer has a 50/50 front to rear weight bias while the left side carries 58% of the weight compared to 42% on the right.

  Also on loan to the museum is a 1936 Chevrolet Modified owned by Wes Moody. Moody, who in 1970 became the first to turn a lap averaging over 100 mph at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Sporting roll bars bent in the crook of a tree, the #63 has a ’36 Chevy coupe body on ’54 Chevy frame rails, the standard of the 1960’s and early 1970’s in the Northeast. The car has a period correct “Flemke” frontend, a pair of semi-elliptical springs with individual “wedge” bolts controlling a Ford straight axle in a set-up made famous by asphalt master Eddie Flemke. The leaf springs in the rear are also original, along with the fuel cell, Frankland quick-change rear and the molded fiberglass seat.

  Powered by a fuel-injected big block Chevrolet from B and M Speed Shop in Rochester, the #1 engine builder of the day for both NASCAR and open competition events, this iteration of the #63 featured an extra-long wheelbase for asphalt tracks, where Moody was every bit as good as he was on dirt.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down as the stock market closed for the fourth. Dover Entertainment dropped 0.10 to 2.70 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.02 to to 18.32 while the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.62 to 34.03. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.09 to 8.60 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.19 to 57.80 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.16 to 27.91. The car manufacturers had a positive week. Toyota went up 2.89 to 121.73 while General Motors went up 1.12 to 37.74 and Ford went up 0.04 to 17.32. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.92 to 82.05 and Lowes went up 0.81 to 48.23. For the most part, the big team sponsors were in the green. Dupont went up 0.36 to 65.80 while Coca-Cola went up 1.05 to 75.61 and Target Department Stores went up 1.39 to 59.61. Aarons Rentals dropped 0.11 to 35.50 while FedEx went up 2.20 to 153.61.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, July 9

6:00 AM, NASCAR America - Scan All 43 Special, NBC Sports Net
2:30 PM, NASCAR's The List - Greatest Finishes, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR's The List - Rookie Seasons, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 2

Thursday, July 10
2:30 PM, NASCAR America - Scan All 43 Special, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR's The List - Legendary Drivers, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS2

Friday, July 11
12:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS2
11:00 AM, NASCAR Live, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire practice, FS1
1:00 PM, NASCAR Nationwide Series New Hampshire practice, FS1
2:00 PM, NASCAR Live, FS1
3:00 PM, NNS New Hampshire final practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NSCS New Hampshire qualifying, FS1
7:00 PM, NCWTS Iowa qualifying, FS1
8:00 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Iowa race, FS1

Saturday, July 12
3:00 AM, NSCS New Hampshire practice re-air, FS1
4:30 AM, NSCS New Hampshire qualifying re-air, FS1
6:00 AM, Empty Cup - Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship, FS2
6:30 AM, NNS New Hampshire practice re-air, FS2 7:30 AM, NNS New Hampshire final practice re-air, FS2
9:00 AM, NSCS New Hampshire practice, FS1
10:00 AM, NNS New Hampshire qualifying, FS1
11:30 AM, NSCS New Hampshire final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR America - Scan All 43 Special, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NASCAR Countdown, ESPN2
3:30 PM, NNS New Hampshire race, ESPN2
6:30 PM, NASCAR's The List - Fights & Feuds, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NCWTS Iowa race re-air, FS2
10:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS2

Sunday, July 13
3:00 AM, NSCS New Hampshire practice re-air, FS1
4:00 AM, NSCS New Hampshire practice re-air, FS1
5:00 AM, NNS New Hampshire race re-air, ESPN2
5:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
6:00 AM, 100,000 Cameras - NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, FS2
6:30 AM, NSCS New Hampshire qualifying re-air, FS2
8:00 AM, NSCS New Hampshire final practice re-air, FS2
9:00 AM, 100,000 Cameras - NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, FS1
9:30 AM, NSCS New Hampshire qualifying re-air, FS1
11:00 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:00 PM, Countdown To Green, TNT
1:00 PM, NSCS New Hampshire race, TNT
2:30 PM, NASCAR's The List - Greatest Finishes, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, Scan All 43 Special, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, Scan All 43 Special, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
10:00 PM, Mega Countdown - Epic NASCAR RV, Travel

   That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

SourcePhil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: July 8, 2014

©2014 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.   Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent