The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - November 14, 2017

  A trio of well-travelled post-World War II drivers – Midget icon Dutch Schaefer and Modified standouts Joe McNulty and Henri “Red” Barbeau – were the Veterans Committee selections for induction into the New England Auto Races Hall of Fame this past Sunday. All three inductions were made posthumously. r
  Long Islander Schaefer and New Englanders McNulty and Barbeau joined drivers Russ Wood, Bobby Gahan, Gardiner Leavitt, and brothers Jeff and Rick Fuller, crew chief Steve Bird, car owner Tom Dunn, and announcer/promoter Ben Dodge Jr. in the Class of 2017 of the NEAR Hall of Fame. Brian Danko was awarded the Charlie Mitchell/Jack Ratta Media Award. The induction ceremony was held at Maneely’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut.
  The New London Waterford Speedbowl management announced that Opening Weekend for the 2018 season will take place Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th 2018. Management also announced that there will be an Open Practice on Friday May 4th 2018 for teams who are taking part in the 2018 Blast-Off Weekend. Qualifying for all divisions will take place on Saturday with features to follow for the NEMA Midgets, NEMA Lites, Modified Racing Series, Ct. Pro-4 Mods, X-Cars, Super-X Cars, and Bandolero Cars. Sunday will start with a Pit Party for all fans beginning at 11 am. Awards for Best Appearing cars in each of the Saturday Night Divisions will be presented with feature racing for the Legend Cars, Trucks, Mini-Stocks, Sportsman, SK Lites, Late Models, and SK Modifieds to follow the Pit Party.
  Opening night for the Wild n Wacky Season will take place on Wednesday May 16th 2018 and concluding on Wednesday August 29th 2018. The popular Wild n Wacky Awards Banquet returns under the tent 2 weeks later on Wednesday night September 12th 2018.It hasn’t been announced yet but it looks like the New London-Waterford Speedbowl will be in operation in 2018.
  Dan Meservey Sr has announced that the shoreline oval will host the Pro 4's for 8 shows in 2018. The dates that are locked in are May 5th, June 23rd, July 7th & 28th, Aug 4th & 18th, Sept. 22nd & Oct 20th. The series will work in conjuction with the Pro 4 Tour that will be promoted by Bob Guphill of the New England Mini Stock Tour. The total effort should bring 16 dates to the table. There will be separate points involved and a special event on the last show at Waterford
  Speaking of the Speedbowl, congratulations to Kyle Gero on his 2017 X-Car championship. Kyle is the son of Kim and Mike Gero and the grandson of the late George “Moose” Hewitt.
  “Our goal was to go out and race every single race like it was a must win,” Gero said. “We worked so hard week in and week out It was non-stop work. A lot of people didn’t put in the effort during the week in the shop that we did. My dad always says if you arrive at the track and have to work on your car, you’ve screwed up. You have to be ready when you get there.”
  Gero obviously was ready. He captured seven wins in 11 starts to capture the 2017 X-Car championship by 23 points over Wayne Shifflett. In 2018, Gero plans on moving up to the Limited Sportsman division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
  Keith Rocco has plans to run in the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Racing Fuels trio of races to be held this coming winter. Len Sammons Motorsports Productions received confirmation from Rocco declaring his intentions to race in the Allentown (PA), Atlantic City (NJ) and Albany (NY) races.
  Rocco, who has never driven a Three Quarter Midget nor raced indoors, has acquired the car Ryan Preece has raced in recent Indoor races with considerable success.
  Preece recently announced that he will drive the car now solely owned by Donnie Preece, Ryan’s uncle, in the three-race Indoor Auto Racing Series. Donnie Preece acquired sole ownership of the car from the late Ted Christopher’s wife Quinn shortly after the racing legend’s death in a private plane crash.
  Noted auto racing scribe Lou Modestino had an opportunity to talk to Wayne Darling of Seekonk who promoted the recent Tri-Track Haunted 100 at the Seekonk Speedway. The event drew 34 Modifieds and only 24 started the main event. Darling and Mark Pennink are the co-promoters of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series that present paved Modified events at selected venues. Among the topics discussed were racing tires for paved track Modifieds and the 2018 TTOMS schedule.
  Darling and his partners in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series continues to move that Modified Tour in the right direction with a quality show at selected tracks in the New England area. Four or five races could be in store for fans for the 2018 racing season.
  Darling went on to say, “I’d like to do four races next year, maybe five. It looks like two at Seekonk Speedway and two more at Star Speedway in Epping, NH.” He didn’t give a hint which the third track could be. It might be the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut, provided it gets sold to the current promoter by the present owner, who was charged with a crime this past spring
  As far as tires were concerned, Darling had this to say: “If you race at a particular speedway, you have to run the track tire. Although I like the Hoosier because that’s the one I’ve used for a long time because they work well on Modified paved race track cars. They cost about $160 apiece. I also don’t know that much about the American Racing Tire or how good they are and how long they last.”
  “We’ve heard the same about American Racing Tires, and that a lot of Modified drivers don’t like them as they are too hard. Some feel that they last longer than the Hoosiers. However, the American Racing Tire was used by the recently-established (2017) Exit Realty Modified Touring Series,” he added. Principal of that tour, Gary Knight, recently announced that he’s switching to the Hoosiers in 2018 in an effort for his young Modified series to draw more entries at his events in both New England and Long Island, NY. The three other New England Modified Tour-Type clubs are the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Tri-Track Open Modified Racing Series and the Valenti Modified Racing Series that also utilize the Hoosier tires.
  In other related Modified Tour news from Modestino, organizer Bob Carrita announced that he will start a new Modified tour utilizing American Racing Tires called the American Modified Series in the wake of the Exit Realty Modified Touring Series, switching to Hoosier Tires in 2018. ERMTS’ Gary Knight made the announcement of going with the Hoosier brand following his season-ending event at the Waterford,Conn. because he is trying to increase his car counts for the 2018 racing season.
  Knight’s decision had a ripple effect on the American brand taking a big hit on its racing tire market share in the New England/New York market. Carrita, along with Bill Galloway of American Race Tires, had no alternative because all four current Modified tours, NASCAR, Valenti, Tri-Track and Exit Realty, will all be on Hoosiers next year. It all boils down to increasing American’s marketing share . The American race Tire brand is getting squeezed out of the Modifieds by Hoosier. It appears to be a tire war with American looking in from the outside because Hoosier now has a 75 percent marketing share.
  Modified Touring Series champion Eric Goodale had this to say. “I've heard a lot of BS about the series for awhile and I can tell you that I have received every check that was due to me and Gary A Knight has delivered on everything he said he was going to. All I know is that every time I strapped in my Modified I was having fun and banging wheels with some of the best! Good luck to both American Racer and the MTS in the future!”

  All this news begs the question on where the additional Modified Tour entries are going to come from. There’s concern that the region could have five Modified type tours with only 15 entries each, which would not be good. Consider the fact that when the Exit Realty Series and the Valenti Modified Tour had conflicting race dates, the fields at those two venues were around 15 each. We’re talking about ticket prices here ranging from $25 to $45. Fans paying that amount of money should expect to see at least 24 entries or better still 30 race cars in the pits.
“That’s not the whole story on the regional paved track Modified scene”, stated Modestino. “Joe Lowendowski, formerly manager of the now shuttered Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, as well as a former top level NASCAR official, announced a proposed new Modified tour for 2018. Lowendowski revealed that his tour will have a crate motor rule. He will try to draw the Sk Light type Modifieds which race weekly at a some New England ovals. Joe’s talking about mid-week Wednesday and Sunday programs in 2018 if it does get off the ground.”
  Lowendowski by the way, is promoting a new to the region racing show and race car auction on Saturday, December 2, at the MA Mutual Center in Springfield.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on the positive side. The International Speedway Corporation went up 1.65 to 40.15 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.15 to 19.62 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.20 to 1.90. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 3.49 to 61.16 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.96 to 16.54 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.38 to 29.07. The car manufacturers were somewhat stable except for Toyota, which dropped 1.13 to 124.49. Ford dropped 0.35 to 12.01 and General Motors went up 0.32 to 42,66. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went down 0.43 and Home Depot went down 0.28 to 164.11. In big team sponsors stocks, Target went up 2.04 to 61.40 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.16 to 36.59 while McDonalds dropped 3.06 to 165.59, Coca-Cola dropped 8.32 to 195.87 and Fedex dropped 6.09 to 218.15.

  On the tube this week:

  Friday, November 17
8:30 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Homestead practice, FOX Sports 1
10:00 AM, NCWTS Homestead final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Homestead practice, NBC Sports Net
2:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Homestead practice, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NCWTS Homestead qualifying, FS1
5:00 PM, NXS Homestead final practice, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Homestead qualifying, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:00 PM, NCWTS Homestead race, FS1
10:00 PM, NCWTS Post Race Show, FS1

  Saturday, November 18
6:00 AM, NCWTS Homestead race re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, MENCS Homestead practice, CNBC
11:00 AM, NXS Homestead qualifying, CNBC
12:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
1:00 PM, MENCS Homestead final practice, NBCSN
2:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Homestead race, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NXS Post Race Show, NBCSN

  Sunday, November 19
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR America Sunday, NBC
2:00 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBC
7:00 PM, MENCS Post Race Show, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
9:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

   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: November 14, 2017

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