RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Florida Speedweeks Are Almost Here & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The countdown to speedweeks in Florida continues as only a little over a week remains before action begins at the Daytona International Speedway and at the New Smyrna Speedway.

The Modifieds, 41 on the entry list, run at New Smyrna starting on Monday, Feb 8 and will finish up with the Richie Evans 100 on Friday, Feb 12. It is anticipated that NBC Track Pass will provide live nightly coverage.

At one time there were a certain group of northern drivers and owners who cheated so much in order to win that they drove many modified competitors away. Once the speedway smartened up and starting enforcing rules the field of cars increased to what we see now.

The Daytona International Speedway has released the following schedule for events and TV times. First up will be the annual Busch Clash on Tuesday, Feb 9. Fox Sports 1 and the Motor Racing Network will provide coverage beginning at 7:00pm. The NASCAR Cup Series has a practice session scheduled for Wednesday, Feb 10 at 12:05pm and Daytona 500 qualifying for the Cup cars at 7:00pm. Both will be covered by FS1 and MRN.

On Thursday, Feb 11 the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has a practice at 5:35 p.m. followed by the NASCAR Cup Series Duels at Daytona at 7:00pm on FS 1. Friday, Feb 12 will be busy starting with ARCA practice at 1:00pm, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying at 3:10pm, NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying at 4:35pm and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 at 7:30pm. All will be on FS 1.

Saturday, February 13 will see ARCA Menards Series qualifying at 8:30 a.m., NASCAR Cup Series second practice at 9:30 a.m and the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at 1:30pm on

FS1and MRN. On Saturday night at 5:00pm it will be the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at 5:00pm on FS1 and MRN.

Action at the Daytona Speedway oval wraps up on Sunday, Feb 14 at 2:30pm with the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at 2:30pm with FOX and MRN providing coverage.

NBC Sports has announced that the Sports Network will shut down by the end of the year. NBCSN is the home of NASCAR, IndyCar and IMSA. Have no fear video fans as NASCAR will reportedly head to USA Network once the network shutters.

According to reports in both the Wall Street Journal and Sports Business Journal, NBC Sports Network will shutter by the end of the year, representing a shift in the television rights agreement for NASCAR, IMSA and IndyCar. NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood has called his network ‘America’s Home for Motorsports. The network premiered in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was rebranded as Versus in 2006.

For race fans who are unable to take in the Daytona 500 there is a viable alternative in the northeast on Long Island as Stephen Halpin has finalized plans with The All Star of Riverhead to host the 2021 L.I. Daytona 500 Party with free admission for guests. “The All Star of Riverhead makes perfect sense on a couple of fronts” Halpin revealed, “their restaurant and bar area are beyond spacious and even with the 50% capacity restrictions mandated by New York State we can have as many as 105 guests enjoy the race”. Addressing other Covid 19 restrictions that might impact the bash Halpin furthered, “it won’t be any different than when you go to your local diner or pub, you must wear a mask to enter The All Star and wear that face covering when you stand up from your chair or table”. Stephen added, “while there will be restrictions in place not having the party was never an option we just had to find a facility large enough to continue it in in a safe and conforming environment”.

“This year more than ever guests are going to feel like they are at Daytona 500 while watching the race at the Long Island Daytona 500 Party” Bob Finan projected, “one wall that is a huge TV screen made possible by combing sixteen 55″ TV’S together with 15 other big screen TV’S available for guests to enjoy from the comfort of stadium style seating”. As for food and drink The All Star will offer numerous drink specials during the afternoon with some delicious items available from their race day menu.

Several long standing traditions will remain intact at the 2021 Long Island Daytona 500 Party including a “Super Bowl” style race pool hosted by CJ Lehmann & Kyle Halpin with one lucky winner going home with a large flat screen TV. Tim Halpin as he has for 28 years will again coordinate the Daytona 500 pools where guests draw 2 starters in the race for $10 with the pool winner netting $200. A 50/50 raffle and other raffles will also be part of the fun.

The Daytona 500 is slated to start at 2:30 pm with doors opening at 12 noon at The All Star of Riverhead to start the various race pools and raffles. The All Star is located at 96 Main Road (Route 58), Riverhead, NY 11901.

The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) have released the official entry form for the Thompson 300 at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on October 9-10. More than $100,000 in projected awards are posted for the return of the historic event as part of the 59th World Series of Speedway Racing. As previously announced, the 300-lap event will pay the winner a guaranteed minimum of $20,000. Second place receives $7,500 with $5,000 for third. Everyone who takes the green flag will bring home at least $1,200. Thirty-six starting positions have been posted with a total of $85,475 in base purse money.

Lap money is also up for grabs. Every lap sold will award $50 to the driver who leads that lap. This means up to $15,000 in lap money and the Thompson 300 winner could pocket up to $35,000 total. A Last Chance “B” Feature has been posted as well. This final round qualifier will pay $1,000 to win and $250 to start for teams that do not transfer into the Thompson 300.

“The Thompson 300 is one of the most famous events in Modified racing,” ACT managing partner Cris Michaud said. “When Tom Mayberry and I reached out agreement to promote events at Thompson Speedway, Tom’s first idea was to bring back the Thompson 300. Together, we’ve put a lot of work into figuring out how to make it happen. We’re already excited even with the date still nearly nine months away. It’s going to be a must-see event this year and hopefully for years to come.”

The entry form has been posted at www.acttour.com/outlaw-open-modifieds and www.proallstarsseries.com. Teams that register by Thursday, April 15 receive an early-entry discount. The first 26 teams that register will also receive a garage stall for World Series weekend.

On May 31, 1968 Bugsy Stevens in the mighty No.3 of Len Boehler took the win in the 75 lap Nutmeg Classic Memorial Day weekend special event over Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Fred Harbach and Tommy Borget. Stevens passed Eddie Flemke on lap 57. Flemke had led the event since lap 13. The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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