Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – For many years NASCAR has had a strangle hold on much of the Modified racing in New England. Those days are gone as only two Whelen Modified Tour Series events are scheduled in Connecticut and three in New Hampshire.
Stafford Motor Speedway dropped their weekly sanction for the 2021 season and dropped their Tour series events for the 2022 season. In place of the tour series Stafford will five “Open Competition” events including the highly successful Tri-Track Series.
Based on feed-back and reports from competitors most agree that this is the way to go. The NASCAR weekly and regional point funds are gone from Stafford but in their place is a very healthy point fund plus healthy bonus’ from the TV (FloRacing) coverage.
With the exception of two sanctioned tour series events all racing at the Thompson are open competition including the Thompson 300.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour presently consists of fifteen events in eight states, one in Florida, three in Virginia, three on Long Island, one in Pennsylvania, one in New Jersey, three in New Hampshire, two in Connecticut and one in New York state. The pay outs and point fund are decent but the travel expense is outrageous as is the time that many have to lose from their jobs.
The Tri-Track Modified Series consists of seven events in three states. Three are in New Hampshire, two in Massachusetts and two in Connecticut. All are one day good paying events with a healthy point fund and can be conveniently reached from anywhere in New England.
The Modified Racing Series, which has all their events in New England, has not released their 2022 schedule as yet. The reborn Southern Modified Auto Racing (SMART) has yet to release their 2022.
North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR events between 1949-1996. However, the track has seen very little attention since 1996 outside of one-off short track events. It’s a 0.625-mile oval with a backstretch and front stretch that goes up and down in elevation. The track is a fan favorite yet it’s been out of sight for nearly three decades.
In August, Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke in favor of funding to support the speedway. That followed an effort in 2019 when Earnhardt, Marcus Smith and others cleaned up the racing facility, which was in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Following the cleaning, the track was scanned by iRacing and placed into the digital world.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper signed a $25.9B budget into law for the state. Of that, $40 million is allocated to three race tracks. Race tracks in NC budget: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway. $18 million of that budget is set for Wilkes County upgrades. Specifically, “to coordinate with relevant local government units for water and sewer and related infrastructure projects for service to the North Wilkesboro Speedway.”
The 48th Annual Turkey Derby at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey comes to life the day after Thanksgiving – on Friday Nov. 26 – with a five event card that includes three racing features and two demolition derbies.
The final day of Turkey Derby for Saturday Nov. 27 features a six-feature card headlined by the $10,000 to win 150-lap Tour Type Modified feature.
On a sad note Dick Trayner who raced Modifieds in the mid 1980s passed away. Trayner, originally from Connecticut had been living in Florida when he passed.
During the mid 1970s the Stafford Speedway hit a rough patch. Bill Slater, who was the General Manager, quit the speedway. Attendance was down along with the car count. Ed Yerrington, who was the 1970 Modified Track Champion was hired as General Manager and Promoter. One of Yerrington’s first promotions was a mid-week Open Competition event called Modified Madness. As a gimmick to fill the seats Yerrington allowed all women to enter free provided they were accompanied by a male. The competitors were allowed to use wings and fuel injection. The idea worked and the place was packed!
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!