November 13, 2015
Five years ago in 2010, The eighth annual 109 U-Pull It John
Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took center stage weekend in
Concord, NC. Thursday's practice sessions were rained out which made for a
hectic Friday schedule. The excitement began to build early Friday as the
pit area was crammed with 31 Tour Type Modifieds, 18 SK type Modifieds, 27
Super Late Models along with 25 USA (Thompson type) Modifieds and some
scattered Vintage Modifieds. As the day wore on a cold front descended on
the speedway driving temperatures down to between 25 and 30 degrees.
Time trials were held for the SK and Tour types. In the SKs Ronnie Silk
in the Eddie Partridge entry took the top spot over Ryan Preece and Ron
Yuhas Jr. Chuck Hossfeld was the Tour type top qualifier over Justin
Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman. SK type qualifying heats were won by Keith
Rocco and Steve Reed. Shortly after the completion of the SK type heats rain
descended upon the speedway forcing officials to cancel remaining
qualifying. The decision was made to start all Tour type cars straight up
from time when the action was scheduled to resume on Saturday.
Despite a shivering chill in the air the Shootout made it into the history
books. Matt Hirschman and Keith Rocco survived a wreck filled day to win the
modified and SK portions of the annual North-South Shootout. Hirschman
picked up his third victory in the prestigious event, putting an end to the
two-year domination of Burt Myers, who spun twice early in the 125-lap
modified feature which took him out of contention. Hirschman started third
and ran in the top five most of the event. He was running second behind
leader James Civali on lap 89 when contact between he, Civali and
third-place Ryan Preece sent all three spinning, giving fourth-place Ted
Christopher the lead.
Christopher didn’t hold the lead long as he was dumped two restarts later
by Rowan Pennink entering turn one, causing a tangle that eventually
included seven cars. Pennink was sent to the rear of the field for causing
the crash. George Brunnhoelzl III inherited the lead, but Hirschman had
recovered from his spin on lap 89 and was up to fourth for the restart. By
lap 105 Hirschman was up to second and eight laps later he took the lead for
good, passing Brunnhoelzl in lapped traffic. He survived one final restart
with four laps left to earn the victory. Polesitter Chuck Hossfeld finished
second, followed by Brunnhoelzl, Eric Beers and Ron Silk. The modified race
featured 11 caution flags and two red flags. One of the red flag stops was
to allow the track crew to repair water barrels on pit road.
Tommy Farrell finished sixth and was followed by Pennink, Les Hinckley,
Jason Myers and Eric Goodale. Justin Bonsignore finished 14th after being
one of the race leaders who had problems. His was a dead battery. Jimmy
Blewett finished 15th and Burt Myers was 19th. James Civali finished 20th
with Ryan Preece and Christopher following.
With eight laps remaining in the 50 lap SK type race Keith Rocco was
sitting in seventh spot. A lot can change in the closing moments of any race
and this 50 lapper was no different. Earl Paules led the restart and after
just one lap Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat and Tom Farrell spun. Christopher
suffered suspension damage and was towed off. Paules led the final restart
which was single file. Almost immediately the field bunched up and went
three wide. With three to go Ryan Preece went into the lead only to lose it
to Rocco in the final moments. Preece ended up second with Silk, third.
Paules and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were
Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Tom Barrett, Tom Farrell and Woody Pitkat.
A real scary wreck took place on lap 41 when New Jersey racer Steven Reed
got up on the backstretch wall, riding it for quite a way before crashing
back on to the track. Reed hit a lightpole plus ripped down a portion of the
catch fence. The car's chassis did its job as Reed emerged unhurt. In a
track PA interview, Reed stated he lost a right-front tire going through the
dogleg causing his car to hit the wall and get airborne.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Denny Hamlin completed a Texas two-step,
winning at the track for the second time this year and taking over the
points lead from four-time defending season champion Jimmy Johnson. Hamlin
took the lead with 29 laps to go and then overcame a push from Matt Kenseth
on the final restart with three laps left, holding on for his series-best
eighth victory this season. Matt Kenseth finished second with Mark Martin,
third. Joey Logano was fourth. Kyle Busch was penalized three laps Sunday -
the first for speeding on pit road and two more for flashing an obscene
gesture through his windshield at the NASCAR official who signaled the
infraction while standing in front of Busch's car.
Brad Keselowski clinched the Nationwide season title by finishing third
in Texas on Saturday, giving owner Roger Penske his first championship in
one of NASCAR's national series. Keselowski, who had to finish only 21st or
better to wrap up the driver's championship with two races left, crossed the
line behind winner Carl Edwards and runner-up Kyle Busch to earn his 24th
top-five result of the season.
Last year, 2014, Fans and competitors
of the Waterford Speedbowl received some good news when the New London Day
reported that New London Superior Court judge Emmett Cosgrove had ruled that
actions among parties involved in the Oct. 18 foreclosure auction of the
Waterford Speedbowl did not lead to a chilling effect on bidding.
Creditor Edward DeMuzzio claimed in an objection filed earlier this month
that collusion led to a winning bid that was artificially low, as the track
is valued at about $3 million. Bruce Bemer, owner of Bemer Petroleum in
Glastonbury, CT, won ownership of the track with a bid of $1.75 million at
“Although there is a substantial difference between the appraised value
of the property and the amount of the sale, the court is not confident that
a new sale would render any different results, but rather would only incur
additional expenses and the continued accrual of interest,” wrote Cosgrove
in a memorandum of decision released on Friday, Nov 14. He added “The court
approves the committee of sale’s report, approves the requested committee
fees and expenses and appraisal fees,” The committee of sale is defined as
the attorney who oversees a sale at auction.
With that out of the way Bemer had 30 days following the approval of sale to
close on the property, though he said his attorney had informed him that
DeMuzzio has a window for appeal of the court’s decision.
Once the sale is consummated creditors, competitors and vendors who were
owed money by Terry Eames would be out of luck as it appeared that most or
all the $1.75million paid by Bemer would go to Rocco Arbitell and Peter
The Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway saluted its NASCAR champions. Ryan
Preece was the Sunoco (SK type) Modified champion by six points over Keith
Rocco. Preece was absent from the affair but had a good reason as he was
driving the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 Accell Construction Chevrolet in a
NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Preece started 33rd and finished 28th on the lead lap. Todd Ceravolo ended
up in the third spot with Keith McDermott and Kerry Malone rounding out the
top five. Sixth thru tenth were Tyler Chadwick, Danny Cates, John Catania,
Woody Pitkat and Andrew Carron.
Rick Gentes took the Late Model Championship at TMPS by a mere eight
points over Larry Gelinas. Mark Curtis, Glenn Boss and James Banfield
rounded out the top five. Other TMPS Champions included Scott Sundeen in the
Limited Sportsman, Michael Veins in the Mini Stocks and Robert Palmer in the
Numerous special awards were presented. Sunoco Modified Most Improved
driver, Andrew Charron and Rookie-of-the-Year, Keith “Cam” McDermott. The
Most Improved Late Model driver, Jared Materas and Rookie-of-the-Year, Nick
Ladyga. Ladyga as also presented with the UNOH Youth Achievement Award, an
award that is open to NASCAR drivers between the ages of 14-17. Xtra Mart
Limited Sportsman Most Improved Driver award was presented to Hank Stott. In
the Mini Stocks, Most Improved driver, Jeff Moffat and Rookie-of-the-Year,
The John Hoenig Memorial Award, which recognizes one individual for their
hard work and dedication to the Speedway, was presented to Barbara Pickett.
Pickett has been with Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for 45 years. She
began her tenure as a bookkeeper, but soon was assisting in management of
the golf course, restaurant, the Pro Shop, and the trucking company. She has
served any role necessary including waitress or bartender if needed, and
even served as Donald Hoenig’s personal secretary. The one constant
throughout her 45 years of service, however, has been working the ticket
booth at the speedway.
Good news came from the Stafford Motor Speedway. According to their
website pitch for season tickets the 2015 schedule currently consisted of 23
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series events, 4 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
events, Valenti Modified Racing Series events yet to be determined, NAPA SK
5k, and Legend Cars.
The New England Antique Auto Racing Hall of Fame held their annual
induction. Drivers Deke Astle, Jim Martel, Mike Rowe, Fred Schulz, Ron
Wyckoff, drag racing icon Bob Tasca, historian R.A. Silvia and car
builder/mechanic Dave Tourigny and auto racing writer Bones Bourcier made up
the New England AntiqueAuto Racing Hall of Fame’s class of 2014. Also
inducted were Briggs Cunningham II, Roy “Pappy” Forsyth and Fred Borden were
the veterans committee picks for inclusion into the Hall of Fame.
Kevin Harvick did everything he needed to do at Homestead-Miami Speedway,
holding off a determined Ryan Newman to win the Ford EcoBoost 400 and
capture his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In Nationwide
Series racing at Homestead, Matt Kenseth celebrated his first NASCAR win in
more than a year, Chase Elliott basked in the glory of a Nationwide Series
championship. Kenseth passed Kyle Larson on a green-white-checkered restart
to win the Ford EcoBoost 300, his first victory of the year in any series.
The 18-year-old Elliott capped off an incredible rookie season by becoming
the youngest driver in NASCAR history to claim a major-series championship.
A flat tire on Saturday relegated him to 17th at the finish, but he’d
already clinched the title a week earlier at Phoenix Int’l Raceway. He
finished the season with a 42-point advantage over JR Motorsports teammate
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, 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.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit