Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The big news is 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. Even bigger news is the fact that the Spring Sizzler at Stafford in April will be open competition. Stafford dropped their weekly NASCAR sanction last year and is none the worse for it. The track has areal good fan base and boasted excellent car counts through out the season. As an added bonus teams were rewarded with a TV bonus as all events were live streamed by FloRacing. Stafford and NASCAR are expected to announce their season schedules within a couple of weeks.
New Hampshire will host the tour on Saturday, July 16 and Richmond will bring the Mods back on Fri, April 1. The biggest problem with Modified Tour events is on the promotion end. Very little PR from tracks or the sanctioning body produced less than desirable crowds for what turned out to be excellent events.
Riverhead Raceway on Long Island is expected to re-up for at least two events as is Lancaster and Oswego in New York State. It has also been rumored that the Wall Stadium will be back on the tour and Martinsville will close out the season in November.
Chuck Hossfeld will return to the Whelen Modified Tour Series full time in 2022. Starting at New Smyrna in February Hossfeld will be diving cars formerly driven by Ron Silk. A new team headed by Tommy Wanick will also be in competition in the New York based Race of Champions Series and the New England based Tri-Track Series.
Internet racing news site RaceDayCt reported that Ole Blue will have a new look behind the wheel for the 2022 racing season. Boehler Racing Enterprises team owner Mike Boehler confirmed to RaceDayCT that the team will part ways with driver Matt Swanson. “There were no issues,” Boehler said. “They’re first class people. A great family. They helped a ton. We just kind of stalled out. We really weren’t going much forward.
“Three and a half years together. What are you going to do? A lot of top-five’s, a lot of top-10’s. A few times leading, couple times could have had a win. It just didn’t work out. That’s racing.”
Swanson said he felt blindsided by the news Saturday. “It’s kind of so fresh to me I don’t even know what to say right now,” Swanson said. “Definitely [took me by surprise]. We normally wait until the race season dies down a little bit and then we all go down to the shop and kind of discuss what we’re going to do. When you get a phone call like that it kind of blindsides you. But it is what it is. I guess it comes down to kind of sitting down as a family and figuring out what we’re going to do and going from there.” Swanson has been behind the wheel of the iconic No. 3 ride since midway through the 2018 season.
Smacktoberfest at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has been postponed 1 week to Saturday, 11/6/21. They will attempt to finish up the Ron Bouchard Auto Stores SK Modified® Fast Five Series Presented by The Racing Guys, $2000 to win Northeast Street Stock Championship, $500 to win Mini Stock Open, Exit Realty Pro Truck Championship, Enduros, and more.
Also on tap this weekend is the annual North-South Shootout which will be held at the Carraway Speedway in North Carolina.
Burt Myers was like a kid in a candy store on Tuesday Oct 26 as NASCAR’s top division made a visit to historic Bowman Gray Stadium John Dell of the Winston Salem Journal reported. Myers, a 10-time champion of the track from Walnut Cove, helped drivers Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with any tricks of the trade when it comes to navigating the quarter-mile track.
Goodyear had Stewart test the tires privately, then the track opened for journalists when Earnhardt and Bowyer took turns with the car. Those three drivers combined to win 85 Cup races during their careers.
NASCAR was there because a track around the football field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be the same shape for the opening event of the 2022 season in February. The new Next Gen car is part of the reason more than 30 journalists covered Tuesday’s test.
On a sad note, Mark Geer a former driver and official at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and official at the Speedbowl and at Stafford passed away last Thursday, October 28 after a long battle with cancer. Mark Geer
Waterford- Mark Edward Geer, age 72, of Waterford, died Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at his home surrounded by his family.
He was born in New London April 28, 1949, the son of Ray N. Geer, Sr. and Catherine Dew Geer. He married the love of his life and high school sweet heart Linda Palmieri on April 4, 1970; she survives him.
Mark was a graduate of Waterford High School, class of 1967. He was Co-Owner of Geer Brother’s Septic Service with his father Ray Sr, and brother Ray Jr. The family business was closed in the mid 80’s and Mark opened Mark Geer Backhoe and Plumbing Service. In 1997 Mark was hired by his childhood friend John Lombardi, they worked together for the next 27 years until his retirement in the late summer of 2021.
Mark loved his home town, in 1978 he was nominated to be Waterford’s Elk of Year, he served his community by serving on several boards and commissions including the Town of Waterford Conservation Commission, RTM, Waterford High School Music Boosters. He also served as the Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, was appointed President of Catholic Charities and served as a member of St. Paul’s Board of Directors.
His longtime love of auto racing started when he was a child. At age 18 he built his own Modified Stockcar to race at the Waterford – New London Speedbowl and won the Rookie of the Year Award for 1968. He continued to race his own cars and drive for various car owners competing at the Speedbowl, Stafford Speedway, Thompson International Speedway and Seekonk Speedway. Mark retired from driving in the early 80’s and became a Technical Inspector for the Modified division at the Speedbowl, Stafford and Thompson and was promoted to Race Director at the Waterford Speedbowl.
Mark enjoyed camping with family and friends at various Nascar racetracks and much to our surprise, going to Broadway Musicals. In 2017 he discovered that his camper was allowed to go to places other than race tracks. Mark and Linda took many family camping trips travelling to Yellowstone, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Washington DC.
In addition to his wife Linda, he is survived by two sons, Mark Edward Geer Jr (Krista Super Geer); Michael Ray Geer (Amanda Wasylik Geer); a brother Ray N. Geer (Donna Geer); granddaughters Emma Rose Geer and Isabella Rose Geer and his special niece Valerie Warren.
The funeral service will be conducted at 10:30 AM on Saturday, November 6, 2021 at the Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home, 48 Grand St., Niantic. There will be a calling hours beginning at 8:00am prior to the service. Interment will follow in St. Mary Cemetery in New London. Condolences may be left on Mark’s memorial page at www.neilanfuneralhome.com. John Lombardi Jr who owns Lombardi Construction had this to say. “Mark Geer was a great guy and knew a ton of people and I didn’t know a person that did like him. He grew up on a dairy farm next to my poultry farm on Fog Plain Road in Waterford. I knew him for 70 years, growing up as neighbors. I’m going to miss him very much. He worked for me the last 28 years and retired the first of this year when he became sick. He suffered with this cancer on and off for the past 10 years” he said. He added, “They had a nice event at his house this past Saturday and he told me he was looking forward to seeing the other side. They also had an old coupe race car owned by Pat Doherty the number 47 that he raced at Waterford.”
On another sad note, Robert B. “Ink” Greene, 68, of Groton, Ct unexpectedly passed Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. He was born Jan. 5, 1953, in New London, the son of the late George F. Greene Jr. and Sadie Willcox Greene. Robert attended Ledyard schools. He served in the Army during the Vietnam Conflict. He was married to Emma J. Evans Coates July 3, 1988, in Ledyard.
Robert co-owned Quality Tire and Auto in Mystic. He was an avid race car driver and owner of #11, #6X and #1 and raced at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the 70s to 90s.
In addition to his wife Emma who also drove race cars, he is survived by his children, Allen Coates, Joseph Coates, Phillip Evans and predeceased by a son. He has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; two brothers, George and Noyes Greene; and three sisters, Sadie Lewis, Ginger Greene Wright and Cindy Greene Wright. He was predeceased by two brothers, Thomas and Ray Greene.
Calling hours were held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, at the Dinoto Funeral Home, 17 Pearl Street, Mystic, Ct.. Burial with military honors will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at the Peckham Main Brown Cemetery, Iron Street, Ledyard, Ct.
The Stafford Motor Speedway has been the epicenter of Modified Racing since 1967 when it was paved. Drivers Bugs Stevens, Ray Miller, Leo Cleary and Bobby Santos were there from beginning to end along with car owners Len Boehler, Bob Garbarino, Art Barry, Ted Marsh and Sonny Koszela.
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!