Champ Trail -
October 31, 2016
Two major storms enveloped the New England this past weekend. On came in the
form of a ‘noreaster which came up from the south, dumping tons of rain. The
other storm came from North Hampton, Pa. In the form of Matt Hirschman who
won an excitement filled Tri-Track Open Haunted 100 at the Seekonk Speedway.
Prior to the event at Seekonk race officials announced a bounty of $1,500 to
anyone who beat the high-flying king of the Big Money events.
With 39 Modifieds on hand an afternoon of high caliber racing was the
order of the day. Twenty six went to post with Ron Silk on the pole and
Steve Masse on the outside. Hirschman started a distant 14th and Anthony
Nocella, sixth. Pitkat led until just past the ¼ mark at lap 29 when Russ
Hersey took the top spot. Hirschman had broke into the top ten and was
running 8th. Two laps later when Richard Savory spun Hirschman had moved
into the sixth spot. At the half way mark Hersey continued to lead. Silk was
running second with Rowan Pennink, third. Johnny Kay was fourth as Hirschman
broke into the top five. By lap 58, Kay had slipped out of the top five as
Anthony Nocella moved into the fifth spot.
Ryan Preece, who was having an off day, spun for the second time on lap
69 as Hirschman moved into the second spot. By lap 83 Nocella was third. A
caution on lap 90 when Blake Barney stopped in turn four, set the stage for
some intense racing and exciting finish.
When the green flag was shown on lap 91, Hirschman got a big ump, taking
the lead for the first time. Nocella moved into the second spot. By lap 94:
Hirschman's lead was about a car length over Nocella. As the laps clicked
off Nocella closed to within inches off the leader’s bumper. On lap 97
Nocella stuck his nose low and found enough room to go side by side for the
lead. With two to go, Nocella inched his way into the lead. Not to be
denied, Hirschman pulled off a cross-over on the white flag lap. They
touched but didn’t spin. Hirschman crossed the finish line in the top spot
and recorded the victory.
Rowan Pennink finished third and was followed by Richard Savory and Les
Hinkley. Sixth thru tenth were Steve Masse, Andrew Krause, Keith Rocco, Ron
Frees and Chris Pasteryak.
On Nov. 4, George Summers will claim a permanent space in the North-East
Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire as a living “Legend” in
modified racing. After being inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall
of Fame in 2000, and being put onto the Wall of Fame at the Seekonk
Speedway, this, he said, is a humbling addition after 34 years off the
Summers is still the winningest driver at the Seekonk Speedway for the
last 70 years of the track’s existence. For that impressive feat, among
others, he is being honored, said museum president Dick Berggren.
In Summers’ career, on and off for NASCAR, he won more than 200 races,
and more than 100 of them were at Seekonk. George was so good that certain
tracks offered a “bounty” to defeat him; whoever did would earn a bonus.
“People who have participated in sports usually sort of wither away and
people forget,” Berggren said. “But George’s career was so profound and so
strong, he is hardly forgotten. He was respectful, successful, and very well
The museum opened in June and this is the first commemoration celebration
the facility has held, meaning that, once again, Summers is ahead of the
pack. “His career was long and profoundly successful,” Berggren said. “He
raced against the best we had in this part of the world and he beat them,
and he beat them often.”
Summers’ interest in cars started when he was young. At 12 years old,
once school had let out for the day, he would head to the garage of Jack
Griffin in downtown Upton. Griffin had a race car, and Summers couldn’t
resist, he said.
“As soon as I got out of school I was down to the race car shop,” he
laughed. Summers hung around with Griffin helping around the shop for years,
and when he turned 17, he bought one of his own. Little did Summers know he
would be racing for 31 more successful years. Sadly, his mentor Griffin,
would lose his life in a racing accident at the New London-Waterford
From 1952 to 1983, Summers watched cars become more advanced. The speeds
became faster, the lanes tighter, but Summers never wavered. He embraced the
evolution of racing that he witnessed, and succeeded because of it. “I had a
wonderful career, and I met a lot of nice people,” he said. “It’s an honor
to have all of these things that have happened.”
Summers has owned and operated an successful trucking company for the
last 50 years, and still works there. But after he put the brakes on his
racing career for good in 1983, he wasn’t sure how to spend his free time.
“When I quit racing, I didn’t know what the hell to do with myself, so I
started playing golf,” he said. Among his other trophies for racing, sit
three hole-in-one plaques, indicating that no matter what Summers does, he
comes out on top. Among his many golfing partners were the late Leo Cleary
and the late Ronnie Bouchard.
The success of former modified race car driver and Upton native George
Summers, 82, is easy to gauge by taking a walk through his living room and
basement. Hundreds of trophies sit on shelves while plaques and photographs
fill the rest of the wall space.
On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway
stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports dropped 3.58 to 19.51
and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.05 while Dover
Entertainment remained a no change at 1.95. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster
Beverage went up 0.29 to 56.75, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy
Transfer) dropped 0.53 to 17.01 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped
1.76 to 32.18. The car manufacturers were almost all negative for the week.
Ford dropped 0.04 to 12.06, General Motors dropped 0.97 to 44.64 while
Toyota went up 0.52 to 124.23. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot
went up 3.91 to 167.34 and Lowes went up 0.57 to 80.61. With the exception
of Fedex which went up 5.40 to 230.47, big team sponsor’s stocks were down
for the week. McDonalds dropped 0.91 to 165.39, Coca-Cola dropped 1.27 to
222.57, Target dropped 1.50 to 60.26 and Aarons Rentals dropped 3.60 to
On the tube this week:
Thursday, November 2
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Special, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Scan All: Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, NBCSN
Friday, November 3
1:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Texas practice, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Texas practice, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Texas qualifying, FOX Sports 1
8:00 PM, NCWTS Texas race, FS1
11:30 PM, MENCS Texas qualifying delayed, NBCSN
Saturday, November 4
6:30 AM, NCWTS Texas race re-air, FS1
8:30 PM, NXS Texas race, NBCSN
11:00 PM, NXS Post Race show, NBCSN
Sunday, November 5
1:00 AM, NASCAR Scan All Special, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR Scan All: Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, NBCSN
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
2:00 PM, MENCS Texas race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Post Race show, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, 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.
Smith / Champ Trail