November 14, 2014
Thirty years ago in 1984, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup
event at Atlanta. On November 9, Jack Arute stated that most of the Stafford
“Officials Team” would be running the show at Waterford during the tenure of
his lease. Arute also unveiled plans to move the pit “On Gate” to the turn
Twenty years ago in 1994, Greg Sacks
was the pole sitter at Atlanta but Mark Martin was the eventual winner in
the season ending Winston Cup event. Dale Earnhardt won the series
championship. Rusty Wallace lost second spot in points after he ran over
debris from a fiery crash that involved Geoff Bodine. Hoosier Tire announced
that they were dropping out of Winston Cup and Busch Grand National racing
and Martinsville Speedway announced that they were dropping the Busch Grand
National series from their schedule for 1995. On November 15, George
Korteweg ended his tenure as track operator and promoter at the Waterford
Speedbowl as he announced that he had sold his interest in the track to the
Waterford Sports Center, owners of the property. Korteweg was responsible
for the repaving of the track and new lighting.
Fifteen years ago in 1999, Ted
Christopher was the New Smyrna track champion. Jerry Marquis quietly showed
his skills as he won the SK Modified championship at Stafford as well as the
Northeast Regional title of the Winston Racing Series. Ricky Miller won the
last ever-modified championship at Riverside Park and Frank Vigliarolo won
the title at Riverhead. Dennis Gada was the mod champ at Waterford. Jay
Stuart was the late model king and Moose Douton was the Strictly Stock
champ. Todd Ceravolo took the SK title at Thompson and at Seekonk it was
Rick Martin. Tony Hirschman was the Featherlite Modified Tour champion after
beginning the year with out a ride. Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series
champ and in the Busch South division it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jarrett
was the Winston Cup champ and Tony Stewart was awarded Rookie of the Year.
Ten years ago in 2004, Eric Beers was
the Modified Champion at the World Series in New Smyrna. Ted Christopher was
the SK Modified Champion at Stafford. Ryan Posocco was the Late Model Champ.
At Thompson it was Todd Ceravolo taking the Sunoco SK type Modified
Championship. Corey Hutchings was the Late Model Champ and David Berghman
was the Pro Stock Champ. Hutchings was also the Late Model Champion at
Waterford where Ed Reed Jr. dethroned Dennis Gada for the championship.
Keith Rocco was the Sportsman Champion. Tony Hirschman was the NASCAR
Featherlite Modified Tour Series champion and Andy Santerre was the Busch
North Series Champion. Tom Rogers was the Modified Champion at Riverhead and
ageless veteran Dave Lape was the Champion at the Fonda Speedway. Kurt Busch
was the NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and Martin Truex Jr. was the NASCAR Busch
Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series was part of the NASCAR Touring Series Awards
Gala in Concord, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at which Donny Lia and the rest
of the touring series champions were honored. The NASCAR Night of Champions
Touring Gala featured the champions and top drivers from all of NASCAR’s
North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR
Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
NASCAR champions Jason Bowles (Camping World Series West), George
Brunnhoelzl III (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Donny Lia (Whelen Modified
Tour, Philip Morris (Whelen All-American Series), Andrew Ranger (Canadian
Tire Series presented by Mobil 1) and Ryan Truex (Camping World Series East)
were honored at the end of the week during awards ceremonies at the Concord
In a somewhat related matter, Keith Rocco was released as the driver for
Eddie Partridge Racing.
NASCAR also announced that they were working on final details of
televised coverage of a select number of Whelen Modified races with Versus
Now that the Waterford Speedbowl property owner Terry Eames (1080
Hartford Road LLC) was protected against foreclosure by a Chapter 11
Bankruptcy Petition some interesting questions and facts had come to light.
A New London Connecticut Attorney who represented a mortgage holder in
another matter stated that at least three petitioners are required to force
an entity into Chapter 11 rather than the sole petitioner, Rocco Arbitell,
in this case. He also alluded to the fact that a petition for Chapter 11may
be deemed frivolous if it is clear on the date of filing there was no
reasonable likelihood that the debtor intended to reorganize and no
reasonable probability that it would eventually emerge from bankruptcy
proceedings. The lawyer also added that he felt the intent of the last
minute filing was done to frustrate Arbitell’s efforts to exercise his
rights and foreclose on the mortgage that he holds. Arbitell had another
option. He could petition the court to dismiss the Chapter 11 petition and
have it converted into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which would call for the
immediate liquidation of all assets that come under 1080 Hartford’s
The True Value Modified Racing Series concluded their 2009 season when
they crowned Jon McKennedy the 2009 series champion. McKennedy scored four
wins in 2009 (Twin State, Seekonk, Oxford Plains and Beech Ridge), paving
the way to his first series title. McKennedy held off a late-season charge
by veteran driver Rob Goodenough to capture the title by a 15-point margin.
In some sad news it was announced by Kevin Rice of the Area Auto Racing
News that True Value Hardware had decided not to renew their sponsorship for
2010. Series founder Jack Bateman felt confidant that a new title sponsor
for the series would be found. The True Value Series had become a legitimate
alternative to “Tour Type Modified Racing” for both competitors and
promoters. Plans for 2010 were already in motion with a maximum of 18 races
to be run included a spring event on April 10 at the Albany-Saratoga
Speedway in Malta, NY.
Series officials deemed the 2009 season a big success. Seventh-three
racers competed with the TVMRS in 2009. In 15 races, 12 different drivers
Carl Edwards rolled to a dominating win at Phoenix International Speedway
that temporarily staved off Kyle Busch's bid to clinch the Nationwide Series
title. Busch spun his Toyota eight laps into the race, suffered heavy damage
when he hit the wall, and had to battle to a ninth-place finish.
In Sprint Cup action Jimmie Johnson cruised to a dominating victory
Sunday that moved him to the edge of history, winning the fourth race of
this Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in what his rivals considered a
"statement" showing. His win at Phoenix - Johnson's fourth in the last five
races here, and seventh victory of the season, stretched his lead to 108
points over Martin heading into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, 2013, Asphalt Modified
drivers from the North and South converged on the Caraway Speedway in North
Carolina last weekend for the 11th annual John Blewett III Memorial
North/South Shootout. Twenty six Modifieds were on hand.
Matt Hirschman made it five out of 11 as he dominated the event from his
pole starting position. Hirschman normally competes in the New York State
based Race of Champions Tour. NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour regulars
George Brunnhoelzl III was second with Andy Seuss, third. Conspicuous by
there absence were competitors of the Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti
Modified Racing Series teams.
Southern competitor Brian Loftin and Valenti Modified Racing regular
Tommy Barrett rounded out the top five. Ron Silk and Cole Powell were the
only representatives of the northern Modified Tour. Silk finished 10th and
Woody Pitkat had something to shoot for in 2014. His soon to be car owner
Buzz Chew, a Long Island Chevy dealer made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Said Pitkat, "Wow! I really do have the best car owner in the world. I was
told if I win 4 races on the modified tour next year he will hand me over
the keys to a brand new 2014 Chevy corvette ZO6!!! — with Billy the kid
In other Whelen Modified Tour Series news Todd Szegedy was given the boot
from the Mike Smeriglio No.2. Rumor had it that Max Zachem was a prime
candidate for the ride.
The big event this past weekend in New England was the 16th annual NEAR
Hall of Fame Induction and Banquet. Drivers Stan Meservey, Brian Ross, Drew
Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp
along with car owner Ron Berndt were inducted on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the
Lodge at Manelley’s located at 65 Rye Street in South Windsor, CT.
Hundreds of victories and dozens of championships comprised this year’s
New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class. It brings the membership to well
over 115. Inductions are a result of a nomination/selection process that
includes voting by a special selection committee and the living members of
Peter Vander Veer, a standout auto racing writer for over 3-decades,
received the 2013 Jack Ratta/Charlie Mitchell Award. The award memorializes
two outstanding motor sports journalists – Ratta who wrote for the
Manchester Union Leader and Mitchell, a sportswriter/editor for many years
at the Norwalk (CT) Hour.
In some sad news former Waterford Speedbowl Champion Walt Dombrowski
passed away along with Supermodified driver Jim Winks.
Kyle Busch picked up his 12th NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season
at the Phoenix International Raceway. Kevin Harvick was the Sprint Cup
winner. Former Daytona 500 winner and Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor
Bayne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
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.
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