Champ Trail -
December 22, 2015
NASCAR announced last week that the 32nd season for the Whelen Modified Tour
will feature nine different facilities and 17 championship races, the most
for the tour since 2005. Here is a breakdown of the 2016 calendar:
• Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will once again hold
the season opening and season closing events as well as two midseason races.
Each of Stafford Motor Speedway’s four traditional dates also return to the
famed Nutmeg State oval.
• The Whelen Modified Tour will remain a fixture on the racing card for
both New Hampshire Motor Speedway NASCAR national series weekends.
• The Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours will return to
Bristol Motor Speedway for the eighth edition of the annual combination
event during the popular August NASCAR race week.
• Long Island New York’s Riverhead Raceway once again will return with
events while Monadnock Speedway and New London-Waterford Speedbowl will
feature one race each.
• The late spring run of consecutive Connecticut events at New
London-Waterford, Stafford and Thompson returns for the second year, but is
spaced out over the course of a month this time around.
• The Oswego, NY speedway, a .625-mile oval near the shore of Lake
Ontario, contested four Whelen Modified Tour races in both 1988 and 1989, is
back on the schedule as well as The Seekonk Speedway, bordering Rhode Island
and its capital city Providence which held its first Whelen Modified Tour
race in 1987.
The 12th season of Whelen Southern Modified Tour competition will feature 11
points races at seven different southeastern tracks. Here’s how the 2016
schedule shakes out for the southern tour:
• North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway will once again play host to the
season opener. The venerable oval will have three subsequent dates, one more
than a year ago.
• A champion will once again be crowned at Charlotte Motor Speedway,
marking the seventh consecutive year the tour has visited the front stretch
quarter-mile at the legendary North Carolina facility.
• Virginia’s South Boston Speedway will return with two events while
famed Bowman Gray Stadium has its traditional summer showcase.
• Concord, a high-speed, half-mile tri-oval located in the heart of North
Carolina’s NASCAR industry, held one previous Whelen Southern Modified Tour
event in 2009.
• East Carolina’s high banks are set to play host to the first Whelen
Southern Modified Tour event in its history. The D-shaped, .375-mile oval is
located in Robersonville, North Carolina.
The All-Star Shootout will also return for a third season as part of the
July NASCAR race weekend at New Hampshire. The non-points event features
champions, race winners and Sunoco Rookies of the Year from both the Whelen
Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours.
The 2016 television broadcast schedules for each of NASCAR’s regional
touring series will be announced at a later date.
With the 2015 season over auto racing trade publication Area Auto Racing
News has compiled and released their top Northeast Winners List. Dirt track
racer Stewart Friesen was the over-all top winner with 34 victories to his
credit. Friesen does most of his racing on the up-state New York DIRT
circuit. Second overall was another dirt tracker, Matt Sheppard with 27
wins. Third overall in the northeast is Keith Rocco with 25 wins to his
credit. Rocco, who races primarily at Stafford, Waterford and Thompson
amassed 15 of his wins in Modified competition and ten in Late Model
competition. Fourth overall is Brett Hearn with 22 wins. Hearn is also a
dirt tracker. Rounding out the top five is Ryan Preece with 21 wins, all in
the asphalt Modifieds.
The Tri Track Open Modified Series announced two more dates for their
2016 schedule last Friday morning, with a double return to the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut on tap for the organization. The
shoreline oval will host the first of the two races on Thursday night Aug.
25, with $10,000 up for grabs to the winner of the 100 lap feature. A second
event will be on Sunday Oct. 23 as part of the 2nd annual "Bemer’s Big
Out on the east end of Long Island, Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie &
Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz, along with track General Manager John
Ellwood, announced today an exciting 2016 race schedule for the historic
quarter mile oval. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will again make two
visits to Riverhead Raceway next summer with the first 200-lapper set for
Saturday June 25th with a return trip for the WMT racers set for Saturday
After two pre-season practice days April 23rd & 30th, the May Meltdown
program featuring a full card of Enduro racing will mark the official start
of the new season Sunday May 1st. The 2016 NASCAR Whelen All American Series
will get underway on Grand Opening night Saturday May 7th complete with a
Fireworks display to usher in the new era of Riverhead Raceway.
A somewhat of a surprise announcement has emerged from the Valenti
Modified Racing Series. Wayne Wildermuth has been named as the Race Director
for the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) for 2016. Though his
experience has been scarce in the role, Wildermuth did work a small stint as
Race Director at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the past. The new
position comes as a surprise to some in the racing community, but in
reality, it could be the perfect fit the series needs to push towards the
Retired car owner Mario Fiore attended a meeting at the Knights of
Columbus in East Longmeadow Mass where a meting was held for competitors who
may be interested in yet another Modified Racing Touring Series. Gary Knight
chaired the meeting and stated that proposed events would carry $2,500 to
win, tapering off to $1,000 for tenth. Series backer American Racer tires
pledged a $150 race tire & the first event it's buy THREE & the FOURTH tire
is FREE. No other details were given.
Mario alluded to the fact that the "Word on the Street" is that Tom
Mayberry (Pass Tour) is about to buy MRS.
Meanwhile, one driver can take home $30,000 by winning the triple crown
of racing, the Northeast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series. Starting
on Wednesday, June 29 at the Seekonk Speedway.... Then on to Star Speedway
July 30.... Then The New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Thursday, Aug 25.
Michael Burns, 33, of Taunton, Mass, pleaded not guilty during his
arraignment in Stoughton District Court to a charge of motor vehicle
homicide while operating under the influence of drugs. The 33-year-old
Taunton man was high on painkillers and delivering pizzas when he struck and
killed Modified car owner Joe Brady.
On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway
stocks were down at weeks end. Dover Entertainment went up 0.01 to 2.23
while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 2.00 to 33.00 and
Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.72 to 19.26. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went
up 0.01 to 3.66 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped
2.55 to 28.20 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.29 to 31.87. With
the exception of General Motors which dropped 0.88 to 33.67, the car
manufacturers had a fairly good week. Ford went up 0.16 to 13.80 and Toyota
went up 0.72 to 124.39. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 1.12
to 73.89 and Home Depot dropped 0.15 to 130.29. In the area of big team
sponsorship stocks, Fedex went up 2.89 to 147.15 and McDonalds went up 0.58
to 116.66 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.93 to 182.84, Target dropped 0.57 to
71.37 and Aarons Rentals dropped 0.18 to 22.08.
On the tube
this coming week:
Wednesday, December 23
1:00 PM, How It's Made - Impact Wrenches, Marble Sinks, Plantain Chips,
NASCAR Cars, SCI
4:30 PM, NASCAR The List: Greatest Finishes, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
Friday, December 25
4:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports 1
5:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
6:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
7:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
8:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
9:00 AM, NASCAR Masters of the Clock: The Legend of Martinsville, FS1
10:00 AM, One Hot Night: The NASCAR 1992 All-Star Race, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
3:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
4:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
8:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona 500, FS1
Saturday, December 26
5:00 AM, One Hot Night: The NASCAR 1992 All-Star Race, 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.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Smith / Champ Trail