The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - December 15, 2015

  NASCAR’s Touring and weekly divisions were be honored this past Friday and Saturday in Charlotte, NC. On Friday night, For Lee Pulliam, 2015 was another historic season. For the third time in five years, the 27-year-old from Semora, North Carolina, took the stage in the Grand Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center / NASCAR Hall of Fame to accept the biggest award in short-track racing, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. Fifty-seven Division I track champions, and 31 U.S. state and Canadian province champions along with state and province rookies of the year were also recognized for their 2015 achievements. Among those honored was Keith Rocco who was the Connecticut state champion and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Modified champion, Stafford champion Rowan Pennink, Thompson champion Woody Pitkat and Riverhead Raceway champion Tom Rogers.
  On Saturday night, the evening honored Doug Coby, the Whelen Modified Tour Series champion and six fellow 2015 NASCAR touring series champions including NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Ander Vilariño, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion Scott Steckly, NASCAR Mexico Series champion Rubén García Jr., NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Chris Eggleston and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion William Byron.

  The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP} announced the expansion of its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule to 10 events in 2016. The announcement was greeted with excitement by many teams and drivers who are looking forward to competing in more races at the historic speedway. The schedule is highlighted by four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) events, the return of the Triple Crown Championship for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions, and the inaugural Fan and Driver appreciation month.
  This will be the 30th season that the track operates under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) banner, offering Sunoco Modified, Late Model, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stock competitors the benefits of NASCAR membership, awards, as well as state and national championship competition.
  The season will begin on Sunday, April 10 with the 42nd Annual Icebreaker. This year’s season opener has been enhanced to include twelve divisions of racing throughout the weekend. It will once again be headlined by the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, with the first championship race of its 31st season, and include TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions, the NEMA Lites, and the Vintage Outlaws. The most notable addition is the Pro All Stars Series, as they will do battle in a 75-lap main event on Sunday afternoon, marking their first event at the 5/8-mile oval since 2012. The North East Street Stock Tour and New England Pro 4 Modifieds will be opening their seasons on Icebreaker weekend, also. As another new addition, Thompson will be organizing their own Truck race, including a generous and consistent purse. Fans will once again be invited to the Icebreaker Fan Appreciation party on the track Sunday morning for the opportunity to meet the stars and cars and enjoy some live entertainment.
  The Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks races at the Icebreaker will be their first in the Triple Crown Championship series. Both divisions will participate in three events in which their finishing positions will earn them both TSMP championship points and Triple Crown Series points. The Triple Crown will pay their own point fund and award the top three.
  The regular Wednesday night season will start on May 18 with the Limited Sportsman Long Distance, presented by Circuit One Events. A new event in 2016, the Limited Sportsman Long Distance will be an opportunity for Division III drivers to be showcased. Known for their wheel-to-wheel racing, the drivers of the Limited Sportsman will headline the only NWAAS event in the month of May. They will be joined by the Sunoco Modified, Late Model and Mini Stock divisions.
  TSMP will hold Military Night on Wednesday, June 1, honoring our military and veterans with discounted pricing. The event will feature the 3rd Annual Late Model 20/20 Sprint. Known for its unique, segment-style format, the Sprint will once again be run in the same format that it has been for the past two season. A complete inversion of the second segment will set the stage for a charge to the front for the front-runners of the first segment. The final segment will be ordered by lap times of lead lap cars. The winner will not only take home $1,000 in purse money, but will also be a guaranteed starter for the American-Canadian Tour race at the World Series.
  The NWMT will return on Wednesday, June 15 for the 2nd Annual Mr. Rooter 125. The only 125-lap event of the four NWMT races at TSMP, this one is guaranteed to be exciting with pit strategy playing a big part. TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions will also be in competition, as well as the NEMA Lites. This will be their second of three stops.
  TSMP has dedicated July as Fan and Driver Appreciation month, kicking off with "For the Fans Night" on Saturday, July 9. This special event will give fans an opportunity to attend a weekend race at a reduced ticket price – only $12. The event will include Ladies Night, honoring females in all positions of motorsports. Fans will also have the opportunity to take home a trophy as a souvenir, as all drivers will be given two – one to keep and one to give to a lucky fan. This event will include the second Triple Crown race of the season for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions.
  "For the Drivers Night" on Wednesday, July 27, will show appreciation for drivers, with free admission for them for that night’s event. Cash bonuses will be added on top of the already substantial $22,000 purse for the four NWAAS divisions. The highlight of the night will be the Sunoco Modifieds, competing in their 3rd Annual 20/20 Sprint, with a purse of $2,000 on the line for the winner of the race.
  One of Thompson’s most popular summer events, the Budweiser ‘King of Beer’s 150 on August 10 will see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour return for their 3rd time in 2016. The program for the evening will include six divisions including TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions and the first of two stops for the NEMA Midgets.
  Back to School Night will return on Wednesday, August 24. This event will feature the Sunoco Modified Twin 25 Lap races, giving fans double the open-wheel excitement, and drivers the opportunity to make up some ground in the NASCAR and TSMP points. This will also be the final race in the Triple Crown series for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions.
  #WayBackWednesday, the final event of the summer stretch will be a throwback event, held on September 7. It will feature many of the cars and drivers of the rich 75-year history at TSMP, and will include local involvement from racing museums and historical organizations. Past champions will be invited to gather, giving fans and competitors a great time to reflect and celebrate the rich history at Thompson.
  The final championship weekend once again promises to be the one of the largest short track racing events in the country, with 15 divisions on the card for the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, Friday October 14 – Sunday, October 16. This three-day extravaganza will see many champions crowned, culminating on Sunday afternoon with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the International Supermodifieds (ISMA), NEMA Lites and Thompson’s own Limited Sportsman and Sunoco Modified divisions. Thompson’s Late Models will start off the racing for the weekend with a 25-lap feature on Friday evening. The American-Canadian Tour will return for a 75-lap feature on Saturday, after a great showing at last year’s World Series with a field of over 35 cars. They will be joined on Saturday by the NEMA midgets, Pro4 Modifieds, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Thompson’s Mini Stocks, the North East Mini Stock Tour, the Trucks, the North East Street Stock Tour, and the Lite Modified division. In addition to an action-packed weekend on track, fans will also be treated to a variety of off-track activities. The NWMT will once again arrive with a Hauler Parade on Friday afternoon, giving fans the chance to cheer for their favorite driver as their car enters. TSMP will also offer fan hay rides on Sunday morning, which will tour the paddock area, take a lap around the track, and feature guest appearances from some of the drivers. When all is done, 13 drivers will emerge as champions at the end of the Sunoco World Series weekend.

  After an 11 year absence, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Seekonk Speedway in 2016, with a Saturday event set for Sept. 10 under the lights. The Modifieds will hit the one-third mile oval for a 150-lap event that falls in the middle of the final stretch of the season, and the Venditti family at Seekonk is proud to return NASCAR’s premier modified touring series to the "Action Track of the East."

  It was also made official last week that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour would make its long awaited return to the Oswego Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 3 as part of the 60th annual Budweiser International Classic Weekend lineup at the Port City oval.

  Riverhead Long Island town officials have issued a stop-work order for Riverhead Raceway stating the raceway needs proper permits before continuing with plans to "improve aesthetics" on the property.
  The town began an investigation after receiving a complaint that construction was underway without site plan approval or permits. They found the raceway’s new owner, Ed Partridge, had taken down a fence and demolished two trailers without acquiring permits from the town. "The raceway is very old," said Partridge, who bought the raceway earlier this year from longtime owners Jim and Barbara Cromarty. "The trailers have been there since 1960. The roofs were caving in. The existing fence had fallen down on the east side."
  Partridge’s plan to spruce up the property included demolishing the two dilapidated trailers, installing a new 10-foot fence and creating a picnic area. The eastern boundary of the Riverhead Raceway property, adjoining the Saber Riverhead (Dick's Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops) retail plaza, where the raceway owner took down an existing fence and demolished some trailers without a site plan or permits from the town. But after demolishing the trailers and taking down the already-existing fence, which he described as "old, brittle and ugly," Partridge was stopped by an investigating officer from the town, who posted the stop-work order and advised Partridge to attend a planning board work session before continuing.

  On a very sad note, Ronnie Bouchard passed away on Thursday Dec. 10, at the age of 67, after battling cancer. Bouchard, a NEAR Hall of Fame inductee was a New England Modified Superstar who made it to the big time, winning the 1981 Talladega 500.
  He won more than 400 modified races at tracks up and down the East Coast from 1965 to 1980, including the Westboro Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway, Seekonk Speedway, Waterford Speedbowl, New Smyrna Speedway in Florida, Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire, and Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.
  He captured the first of five consecutive track championships in 1967 at Seekonk Speedway, moving up to the Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut, where he had 35 career wins, including track championships in 1973 and 1979. Those involved in racing took notice of Bouchard after a fantastic run in a Modified event at Pocono where he drove the former Jack Tant/Clayton Mitchell Modified owned by Richard Armstrong from a dead last starting spot to lead the event before being sidelined with mechanical problems.
  After racing in Winston Cup, Bouchard returned home to Fitchburg and opened up Ron Bouchard Auto Stores, where he sold cars for Honda, Dodge, Nissan and other manufacturers. At the time of his death, Ronnie owned six dealerships, including one in Fitchburg, one in Auburn, three in Lancaster and one in Memphis, Tennessee.
  Adrienne Venditti pretty much summed it up, "There was no one quite like Ronnie, Even when he became very famous, he never forgot his roots and the people that were good to him. Racing did a lot for Ronnie, but I think, he was a gift to racing. He always put his all into a race and his showmanship was a promoter's dream. At the finish of any race, no matter what, he smiled and you just knew that he loved his fans . He took time to talk to those fans. There will never be another racer like Ronnie in my book. He had a kind, caring way about him that stayed with you because you knew that he really cared. I always said to myself as I watched him talk to people. He would stop and talk to a person and would pause, and look into their eyes as if they were the only one there talking with him, and that you were special. The fact is that he was the special one. An American Modified Stock Car Hero and Icon, that is Ron Bouchard"
  He leaves his wife, Paula (Flemke) Bouchard; five children, Eugene Bouchard, Robert Bouchard, Michelle Bouchard, Tracey Bouchard Dinardo and Chad Bouchard; his mother, Lorraine (Henault) Bouchard; a brother, Kenny Bouchard, all of Fitchburg; a sister, JoAnn Bouchard Bergeron of Mason, New Hampshire; nephews and nieces. His father, Robert H. Bouchard, 88, died in 2010.

  Legendary Modified car owner Joe Brady, passed away last Friday evening. He didn't run every event, but you knew when he showed up, that car would either win or be in the front. It was the whose who of drivers that wheeled the famous "Brady Bunch" ride. Among the drivers who had driven for Brady at one time or another were Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Leo Cleary, Bob Santos, Ken Bouchard, John Blewett III, Steve Park and Ted Christopher to name a few. Even short track legend and longtime Sprint Cup Series driver Dick Trickle drove for Brady.
  Brady, 71, was walking across Route 27 in the area of 630 Park St., about 8:35 p.m., Friday, when he was hit by a car. The driver of the vehicle, The driver, Michael Burns was determined, after officer Nate Derby did a drug evaluation, to be under the influence of drugs.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week all three speedway stocks had negative results. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.36 to 20.08 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.28 to 35.00 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.04 to 2.22. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.12 to 3.65 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 2.72 to 32.16 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 3.04 to 30.75. The car manufacturers were also down for the week. Toyota dropped 2.23 to 123.67 while General Motors dropped 1.70 to 34.55 and Ford dropped 0.56 to 13.64. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 4.09 to 130.44 and Lowes dropped 1.75 to 75.01. The big teams sponsor s stocks also took it on the chin. Fedex dropped 11.21 to 144.26 and Coca-Cola dropped 9.37 to 183.77 while McDonalds dropped 0.12 to 116.08, Target dropped 2.06 to 71.84 and Aarons Rentals dropped 2.32 to 22.26

  On the tube this coming week:

  Wednesday, December 16

4:30 PM, NASCAR the List: Memorable Moments, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
  Thursday, December 17
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports 1
  Friday, December 18
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
  Sunday, December 20
4:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN

   That’s 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: December 15, 2015

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