The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


December 23, 2014

  NASCAR has announced that Sprint will not re-up after their current sponsorship of NASCAR’s top division runs out. Citing a need to focus more directly on its core business priorities, Sprint announced it has informed NASCAR it will not extend the title sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after the current agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season.

  NASCAR has announced its 2015 schedules for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The 30th anniversary season of the Whelen Modified Tour will feature 14 points races and an all-star event across six distinguished facilities while the Whelen Southern Modified Tour campaign will include 11 championship events at seven popular southeastern short tracks.

  The 2015 schedules feature a new event for each tour. Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will once again welcome the Whelen Modified Tour for an early summer event on June 10 under the lights while the Whelen Southern Modified Tour will make its inaugural visit to North Carolina’s famed Hickory Motor Speedway on Oct 3.

  Next year’s slate for the northeast-based Whelen Modified Tour includes the traditional season-opening and season-closing events at famed Connecticut speedways including Thompson (Icebreaker on April 12, World Series on Oct. 18) and Stafford Motor Speedway (Spring Sizzler on April 26 and Fall Final on Oct. 24) as well as a pair of mid-season night races at each track (Thompson on June 10 and Aug. 12; Stafford on June 5 and Aug. 7). Long Island bullring Riverhead Raceway returns with two dates, (June 27 and Aug. 29) while New Hampshire quarter-mile Monadnock Speedway on July 25 will welcome the tour for the sixth consecutive season.

  Among the tracks not on the schedule is the Waterford Speedbowl. The Speedbowl hosted the Whelen Modified Tour with June events the last three years, but with the track management situation currently up in the air, there was no event scheduled for the Connecticut shoreline oval for 2015.

  The 11th season of Whelen Southern Modified Tour competition will once again commence at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on March 14. The venerable track will have a pair of subsequent engagements on March 28 and July 4. Another celebrated North Carolina oval, Bowman Gray Stadium, has its staple date (Aug. 1) while popular Virginia short tracks Langley Speedway (April 11, Sept. 5) and South Boston Speedway (April 4, Sept. 19) return with two events apiece.

  It looks like the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series may get an invasion from the New Jersey shore in 2015. Jimmy Blewett and Anthony Sesely have indicated that it is a good possibility that they will participate in tour events. Recent Turkey Derby winner Eric Mauriello, who drives the famous Dick Barney No. 14, is looking at a partial schedule at this time for both himself and possibly team mate Shawna Ingraham. Another strong possibility is Andrew Krause.

  Unfortunately for NJ race fans, their home state has barely been represented in recent years on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The 1990 NWMT Champion Jamie Tomaino of Howell still competes on the "Tour", but with a limited budget, and small team, Tomaino is rarely a threat for a win against the much better funded teams mostly based in New York and Connecticut.

  While the New Jersey group heads north to Connecticut, former Waterford Speedbowl driver Tom Abele has indicated that he will be heading south to compete in Whelen Southern Modified Tour events below t The Mason-Dixon line.he Mason-Dixon line.

  A major factor in the lack of NJ competitors is that most of the series races are held in Connecticut. The combination of travel time, hotels, and racing expenses, makes it virtually impossible for a team from the Garden State to compete at the highest level without spending a small fortune to do so.

  Congratulations to Dick Berggren who will be inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 4, 2015. Berggren, President of the Racing History Preservation Group (RHPG) that is the parent company of the North East Motor Sports Museum. Berggren will be one of six inductees who have influenced motorsports in Maine. He made his mark on the sport in his #80 Super Modified at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in the mid-1970s and raced Modifieds there in the early 1980s. As editor of Stock Car Racing Magazine and later his own Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated, he put Maine motorsports on the national stage with his stories about Beech Ridge, the Oxford 250 and Maine racing personalities. In total, only 80 other significant Maine racing figures have been inductee into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.

  In addition to his time behind the wheel of a racecar and writing about motorsports, he became best known for reporting from pit road at NASCAR tracks all over the United States. In his long storied career, Dick could be found on some of the biggest TV networks including CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Speed and Fox Sports just to name a few. Never to shy away from a story, he was ready with the microphone and the ever important questions that the TV audience wanted to know the answer to.

  In his many years of involvement Berggren never forgot where he came from. He did it all and he did it with class.

  An At-A-Boy is in order for the Thompson Motorsports Park which is now offering discounted pricing for seniors, veterans, and active military members. "It is very important to us to ensure our events affordable for those who have supported us for so long." Josh Vanada, TSMP General Manager, remarked. "In addition, the discount and free admission dates for our veterans and active military members is a small gesture of appreciation and respect for their loyalty and incredible sacrifices to protect our freedom."

  Seniors (65 & over), active duty military and veterans will now be able to take advantage of a discount – ranging from 5% to 10%- on general admission tickets at the majority of TSMP’s 2015 racing events. Active Duty military and veterans will also receive free admission to the Historic Oval Invitational (May 15-16) on TSMP’s 5/8 mile oval, as well as the Formula Lites race (May 29-30), Vintage Motorsports Festival (June 18-21), and SCCA Regional races (July 10-11 and Oct. 9-10) on the 1.7 mile road course.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week almost all of the racing related stocks rebounded from the previous week’s blood bath. The exceptions were Dover Entertainment which dropped 0.02 to 2.43 and FedEx which dropped 1.76 to 174.22. Speedway stocks Speedway Motorsports and the International Speedway Corporation showed moderate gains. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.21 to 21.49 and ISC went up 0.41 to 30.99. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.08 to 4.16, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 2.95 to 62.98 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.60 to 28.08. The car builders were also included in the rebound. Ford went up 0.04 to 15.03 while General Motors went up 1.24 to 32.81 and Toyota went up 2.45 to 127.01. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 2.05 to 101.93 and Lowes went up 2.00 to 66.90. In sponsor related stocks, Dupont went up 3.92 to 73.29, Coca-Cola went up 2.17 to 86.74, Target went up 1.52 to 73.95 and Aarons Rentals went up 1.13 to 28.60.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Thursday, December 25

9:30 AM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Toughest Race, FOX Sports 1
10:30 AM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star race re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, 100,000 Cameras - NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, FS1
12:00 PM, Empty Cup - Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
6:00 PM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Toughest Race, FS1
7:00 PM, NSCS All-Star race re-air, FS1
8:00 PM, 100,000 Cameras - NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, FS1
8:30 PM, Empty Cup - Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship, FS1
9:00 PM, NASCAR 2015 Season Preview, FS1

  Saturday, December 27
10:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1

  To one and all, have a Merry Christmas.

   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: December 23, 2014

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