Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The big news last weekend was the fact that the Thompson Speedway will return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule in 2022 with a Wednesday, Aug. 17, race. The Connecticut 5/8-mile track has hosted 148 Whelen Modified Tour races, starting in 1985.
Oval track promoters the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) announced they had reached an agreement with NASCAR to host the Thompson 150 on Wednesday, August 17, 2022.
It will be the 149th time the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has visited Thompson Speedway and the first since the 2020 Sunoco World Series 150, which was won by Craig Lutz.
It has previously announced that Whelen Modified Tour Series events will be held at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida during Speedweek, Richmond International Speedway onApril 1 and at Loudon on July 16.
This past weekend, Saturday, October 23, Seekonk Speedway roared back to life for the final time in 2021 with the return of the Haunted Hundred. The Saturday afternoon special, showcased the top stars from the Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Late Models from across New England with the Tri Track Open Modified Series, Pro All Star Series and American-Canadian Tour.
Thirty eight Modifieds made up the Tri-Track portion. Doug Coby, Dana DiMatteo, Ron Silk and Chase Dowling were the qualifying heat winners. Anthony Sesely and Tommy Catalano took the top spots in the two 15-lap consolation heats. Anthony Nocella got a provisional into the starting field to set the 27-car main event lineup. Pre-race favorite Matt Hirschman finished third in the fourth heat. Last years season ending event at Stafford drew 51 Modifieds.
Chase Dowling started at the front and never relinquished the top spot in a victorious afternoon. Dowling bested the field in the Tri Track Open Modified Series Haunted Hundred, outlasting 26 of the top Modified drivers in New England to score a $6,000 check in the season-finale. Dowling was one of few front-running cars that didn’t pit for a fresh tire during the race, while Ron Silk, who charged to finish second, pitted and raced through the field. Jake Johnson, in his debut in a Tour Modified, fought to third, while Matt Hirschman and Ronnie Williams finished the top-five.
While Dowling held the checkered flag, Matt Hirschman’s fourth-place finish was enough for him to hoist his sixth Tri Track championship. Hirschman entered the day needing to finish 17th or better to win the crown, but the Pennsylvania veteran did much better than that after a pit stop as he charged through the field in the late laps to get to the top-five, where he settled to win the crown. It’s the sixth time in eight years that Hirschman is the series champion.
Sixth thru tenth included Tommy Catalano, Max Zachem, Richard Savary, Matt Swanson and Dylan Izzo.
Dowling was originally slated to start fourth in the feature, but a spin of a wheel determined there would be a four-car invert, placing Dowling on the pole, and in control, for the 100-lap feature. He was also honored on Saturday for being the winner of the inaugural Call 811 Before You Dig Modified Challenge, worth $8,111, prior to the race.
Outside of the headliner, the American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Star Series also joined the Seekonk show to wrap the year in front of a packed house. Ben Rowe defeated DJ Shaw in a final lap dash to seal the win, and the championship, in the ACT 100. In the third Pro All Star Series race of the season at the third-mile, Johnny Clark made it two wins at Seekonk in 2021, storming by Angelo Belsito in the final laps to get the win.
Rowe gave the 30th American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model season one of the most dramatic finishes in series history by passing D.J. Shaw on the final lap to win the Haunted Hundred at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, October 23. Rowe rode the outside rim on a green-white-championship finish to beat his rival by 0.043 seconds for the win and by five points for the championship.
If all goes well and the catch fence is repaired the New London-Waterford Speedbowl will swing into action this coming weekend. The shoreline Connecticut track was scheduled to host its annual Smacktoberfest family fun show this past Saturday (Oct. 23). Smacktoberfest will now be rescheduled to Oct. 30, with the final 58 laps of the SK Modified finale added to the event card that day.
Hopefully Glen Reen will not be allowed to restart the event as he intentionally drilled Timmy Jordon into the backstretch wall and resulted on the turn three catch fence being destroyed.
Bob Finan advises that the 2021 Riverhead Raceway Champiosa will be honored prior to the season ending ISLIP 300 which will be held 0n Saturday, Nov 13th.
While restrictions pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic have eased over time that easing of regulations has not been fully seen at indoor catering facilities in New York State. With that in mind for the second straight year Riverhead Raceway management announced they will have to forgo a indoor championship celebration at Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow. The nine 2021 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champions along with the top five from all divisions will be recognized track side prior to the Islip 300 Saturday November 13th.
In addition to their championship plaques the 2021 Riverhead Raceway champions will receive a handsome championship ring noting their accomplishments. The ring tradition was started in 2016 by the late Eddie Partridge, his wife Connie and nephew Tom Gatz when they took over ownership of the historic race track. The 2021 presentations will include the drivers who placed second through fifth in each of the nine divisions.
Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! 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!