The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

March 24, 2015

  The countdown to the season openers at Thompson, Stafford and New London-Waterford continues. As of this coming Friday, March 27, two weeks remain before the green flag drops for IceBreaker 2014 at Thompson on April 12 followed by the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 26 and the long awaited rebirth of the New London Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday, May 2. Thompson has a practice scheduled for this coming Saturday. It would be wise to check with the speedway for track conditions.

  It looks like Bob Garbarino has put his retirement from racing on hold as Area Auto Racing News announced last week that he has teamed up with Todd Szegedy for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Szegedy ran a partial season on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2014 after splitting up with the Mike Smeriglio III owned team after the 2013 season. Szegedy had been driving for Smeriglio from the start of the 2006 season and had 10 of his 18 career series victories with the team. Szegedy brings to the Mystic Ct team a rťsumť that includes 18 wins, 10 poles and 115 top 10s in 187 career starts. He won the tour title as a second-year driver in 2003 with the No. 50 team owned by Barker, and was twice the runner-up with Mike Smeriglio III Racing before his departure following the 2013 season.

  Corey LaJoie is filling the seat left vacant by Todd Szegedy. Rob Fuller Motorsports announced late last week that LaJoie, son of Randy LaJoie, will drive the No. 15 15-40 Connection Chevrolet in seven races in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) this season.

  The KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series had their season opener at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina this past weekend. Burt Myers took the lead with five laps remaining in the 125 lapper, passing Chris Pasteryak for the win. Jason Myers rounded out the top three. Ryan Preece who was the fastest in practice and the pole sitter was never a factor. Zach Brewer finished fourth with Gary Putnam, fifth. Preece ended up in sixth spot. There were twenty cars on hand.

  New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Bruce Bemer and General Manager Shawn Monahan were pleasantly surprised to hear from a structural engineer that the grandstands at the shoreline oval are generally in good shape. Bemer hopes to have the stands painted before opening day and to have new stands in place by the 2016 season. While the stands are acceptable for this season, the bathrooms, especially the ladies facilities, are not. Those will be a major focus once the weather breaks. "I would like to do more than I possibly can do in 45 days," Bemer said.

  But other things have already changed. As was previously announced, the name was changed to differentiate the new ownership and give the facility a fresh start, something that Monahan deemed necessary for a business that "had a cloud over it." Itís actually the original name of the facility before New London was dropped somewhere in the 1980s, according to Monahan.

  Above all, race teams will know that checks will be handed out at the end of the night. "Thatís totally done, there will never be a problem with that with Bruce Bemer here," Monahan said. The previous owner/operator stiffed many competitors of moneys earned while living a high life style. Monahan said he is still owed by the former owners of the track for trophies that he provided last year. He did it, he said, because he did not want the competitors to go without. He also lost money in the foreclosure deal, but money, sometimes, isnít everything. For Monahan, true satisfaction will come when the lights go on in May.

  Bob Finan advises that the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All American Series will go green at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday May 2nd, the first half of the annual opening weekend. Twin 30 features for the NASCAR Modifieds will be joined by the Late Models, Figure Eights, Chargers, Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks and Legend Race Cars at 5:30 pm. The very next afternoon May 3rd the opening weekend will be completed with a full card of Enduro racing at 12:30 pm.

  Word comes from Lou Modestino that Francis Venditti, president of Seekonk Speedway, is looking hard at building a one-eighth mile drag strip on the extensive track property. This has been looked at over the 70 years that the track has existed. "I think that we have a good chance of making this expansion happen. I just need to concentrate on it. Iíve been working with some of my neighbors who own the land on other issues. Itís a lot of give-and-take," said Venditti.

  There will be a lot of hearings and permits to obtain before a shovel even turns on this expansion. It will be tricky with some pitfalls. But Venditti indicated heís pretty committed to the project at this point in time.

  Modestino also advised that One of the famed Eastern Bandits, Denny Zimmerman of Connecticut, has committed to attend the 11th Annual Norwood Arena/New England Dragway South Reunions set for Sunday, June 7, at Bezema Motors on US Rt. 1 in Norwood from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. He was among three other members of that group that traveled the eastern seaboard back in the 60's. The quartet of drivers also included the late Rene Charland, Ed Flemke, Sr. and Ernie Gahan.

  On a sad note, Andy Fusco, a longtime attorney and the city of Auburn. NYís assistant corporation counsel, died unexpectedly Thursday morning. He was 62 years old. Beyond his legal achievements, Fusco was known as a sports fan beyond his auto racing interests, and was also a noted music buff and antique car enthusiast. The Auburn man's racing interests were expanded through his weekly columns in Syracuse publication Gater Racing News from 1970 through 1976. He also served as an editor for Virginia magazine "Stock Car Racing" and appeared as a racing personality on WIXT-TV Channel 9.

  This varied background made him the perfect choice as the counselor for the DIRT organization, said DIRT founder and former president Glenn Donnelly. Despite his other duties with the city and his private practice, Fusco remained a presence as counselor and board member for the DIRT Modified Stock Car Museum for more than 20 years.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week all three-speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.02 to 22.60 while the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.75 to 32.25 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.02 to 2.22. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.17 to 4.95 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.42 to 25.66 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.85 to 56.26. The car manufacturers ended the week on a positive note. Ford went up 0.28 to 16.48 and General Motors went up 0.82 to 16.48 while Toyota jumped 6.92 to 143.09. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 2.67 to 117.49 and Lowes went up 1.07 to 75.23. The big team sponsor stocks were a mixed bag. Aarons Rentals went down 0.35 to 28.23 and Fedex went down 1.28 to 172.04 while McDonalds went up 0.70 to 97.05, Coca-Cola went up 0.94 to 107.59 and Target Department Stores went up 2.13 to 81.31

  On the tube this coming week:

  Wednesday, March 25

6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 2

  Thursday, March 26
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS2

  Friday, March 27
10:00 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Martinsville practice, FS1
12:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Martinsville practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NCWTS Martinsville practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
3:00 PM, NCWTS Martinsville final practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NSCS Martinsville qualifying, FS1

  Saturday, March 28
8:00 AM, One on One: Kevin Harvick, FS1
8:30 AM, NSCS Martinsville qualifying re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, NSCS Martinsville practice, FS1
11:00 AM, NCWTS Martinsville qualifying, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
1:00 PM, NSCS Martinsville final practice, FS2
2:00 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
2:30 PM, NCWTS Martinsville race, FS1
5:00 PM, The 10 Greatest Truck Series Moments, FS1

  Sunday, March 29
3:00 AM, NCWTS Martinsville race re-air, FS1
5:30 AM, The 10 Greatest Truck Series Moments, FS1
10:00 AM, NSCS Martinsville qualifying re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX
1:00 PM, NSCS Martinsville race, FS1

  Monday, March 30
10:00 AM, NSCS Martinsville race re-air, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS2

   Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

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

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: March 24, 2015

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