RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Bonsignore Celebrates In Nashville, Big Money On Dirt & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore headed to Nashville, Tennessee this week to collect his hardware as a three-time series champion. Bonsignore was invited to the NASCAR Awards events that took place in downtown Nashville, beginning on Tuesday night, November 30.

Bonsignore was part of multiple fan events over the course of three days, received his championship ring, and was part of the NASCAR Awards festivities on Thursday. Bonsignore won two races en route to his 2021 Whelen Modified Tour title, his third in the last four years driving for Ken Massa Motorsports.

Bonsignore ran in all 14 events. Including his two wins he scored 11 top fives. Patrick Emerling finished second, 22 points back. Emerling has nine top fives including three wins. Ron Silk finished up in third spot with Kyle Bonsignore and Doug Coby rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Eric Goodale, Woody Pitkat, Jon McKennedy, Tyler Rypkema and Anthony Nocella.

In a somewhat surprise move, Nascar inked a multiyear deal with FloSports that will make the sports streamer the exclusive global home of the Nascar Roots series of 280-plus annual racing events starting in 2022. The Nascar grassroots programming previously has been available on the NBC Sports Gold subscription streaming service, which NBCUniversal is phasing out. NBCU, which also is shutting down the NBCSN sports cable network at the end of the year, has moved the bulk of the content that had been available via NBC Sports Gold over to Peacock Premium.

The Nascar events that will be available on FloSports’ FloRacing going forward worldwide include: the ARCA Menards Series, Nascar Whelen Modified Tour, Nascar Pinty’s Series and Nascar Advance Auto Parts Series. Under the partnership, Nascar also will boost investment in grassroots racing, including providing funding for local tracks and bigger purses for drivers who compete in Nascar’s touring and weekly series events.

“Our partnership with FloSports is a win for motorsports fans at all levels and doubles down on Nascar’s commitment to grassroots racing — the foundation of our sport,” said Brian Herbst, SVP of media and productions for Nascar. According to Herbst, more than 50% of the revenue from the FloSports partnership will go back to the tracks and drivers on the grassroots circuit.

The U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for Nascar’s three national racing series — Nascar Cup Series, Nascar Xfinity Series and Nascar Camping World Truck Series — are set to remain with NBC and Fox through the end of 2023.

Founded in 2006, FloSports doesn’t disclose its subscriber figures but the company says it has fewer than 1 million paying customers. Over the past 12 months, the service’s FloRacing vertical has seen 120% year-over-year subscriber growth, according to FloSports.

A subscription to FloRacing costs $150 a year, which also gives customers full access to the entire FloSports network spanning hockey, cheerleading, wrestling, football, baseball, softball and more.

More than 280 Nascar Roots races annually will stream live and on-demand under the TrackPass banner on FloRacing. That will join FloRacing’s lineup that includes USAC, All Star Circuit of Champions, Eldora Speedway, IRA Outlaw Sprints, Short Track Super Series, weekly racing at Stafford and at Fonda, Chili Bowl, the SMART tour and Gateway Dirt Nationals events.

The Nascar deal reflects FloSports’ ongoing efforts to bring together fragmented grassroots racing media rights on to one platform while also expanding into other motorsports categories like drag racing, motocross, supercross, and snowmobile racing, according to Phil Wendler, FloSports SVP of global rights acquisition. Unlike the TV broadcasters that are looking for the biggest viewing audiences possible, Wendler said, “Our model is different: We want to super serve fans of these Nascar properties.”

With the new Nascar pact, FloRacing’s dedicated content team will produce new original programming including driver interviews, behind-the-scenes access, and on-site race day coverage and analysis. The expanded coverage will provide fans with more content from tentpole events including those at Bowman Gray Stadium, New Smyrna Raceway and Berlin Raceway.

In 2019, FloRacing streamed 141 races, expanding that to over 1,600 races in 2021 — and boosting the tally to nearly 2,000 next year. The FloSports app is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast.

Stafford Motor Speedway became part of the FloRacing subscription package in 2021 and will continue with the streaming service in 2022. Their coverage of the events at Stafford was nothing short of top shelf. It’s the best deal in auto racing.

While the asphalt modifieds hope to enjoy their busiest year in 2022 their dirt track brothers will have their prosperity increase to levels never seen before.

The Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco continues its expansion with the launch of STSS ‘Elite’ program: six uber-high-paying events for the big-block/small-block Modifieds. Halmar International based in Nanuet, N.Y., has signed on as the title sponsor of the STSS ‘Elite’ program. STSS ‘Elite’ sponsor Halmar International boasts more than five decades of performance and integrity, a name with a proud legacy in the heavy civil construction market: highways and bridges, rail and mass transit, underground, aviation and civil.

The six Halmar International STSS ‘Elite’ events will take place at a half-dozen facilities across four states (South Carolina, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania). A $25,000 point title awaits at the conclusion of six events. A complete point fund will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are thrilled to shake things up in Modified racing with the launch of the Halmar International ‘Elite’ program,” Short Track Super Series director Brett Deyo said. “It’s a breath of fresh air for racers and fans that will put our style of racing on a national stage.”

STSS ‘Elite’ fires off in the Palmetto State with a visit to Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., Thursday-Saturday Feb. 24-26, 2022. The ‘Rebel 50’ will offer $25,000 to win, $1,000 for 16th and $500 to take the green flag. Thursday night (Feb. 24) is reserved for open practice for both STSS and local competitors. Friday night (Feb. 25) includes fully paid Qualifying Races. B-Mains and feature events take place on Saturday (Feb. 26) including the 50-lap $25,000-to-win headliner. STSS Crate 602 Sportsman will join the Modifieds at the “Place Your Mama Warned You About” just 40 minutes south of the Charlotte/Concord racing hub.

Historic Georgetown Speedway in Georgetown, Del., is the site of the second STSS Elite event. The Melvin L. Joseph Memorial 49-lap event on Saturday (March 12) with $25,000 up for grabs for the winner, $1,000 for 16th and $500 to take the green flag. The 2022 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial will take the distinction of the richest dirt-track event ever held in Delaware.

The ‘Legendary House of Power’ Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., hosts Round No. 3 of the STSS ‘Elite’ points chase. On Saturday, April 2, the ‘Hard Clay Open’ 50-lap main will pay $25,000 to win, $1,000 for 16th and $500 to take the green.

After the summer stretch, the ‘Elite’ program picks up on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, N.Y., for the New Yorker 50 paying $25,000 to win, $1,000 for 16th and $500 to take the green at the ‘Home of Heroes’ half-mile oval.

The first of two $50,000-plus-to-win events takes place at the ‘Track of Champions’ Fonda Speedway in Fonda, N.Y., with the running of the Fonda 200 weekend Thursday-Saturday Sept. 15-17. The 200-lap event pays $1,000 just to take the green flag.

Port Royal Speedway in Port Royal, Pa., will serve as the Championship Round of the STSS Elite program. The ‘Speed Showcase’ weekend Thursday-Saturday Oct. 13-15 will culminate with a $50,000-to-win, $1,000-to-start event on Saturday. A preliminary $5,000-to-win feature will be run on Thursday night for the Modifieds.

All six STSS ‘Elite’ events will be streamed live on FloRacing. FloRacing will also live stream all events from the Stafford Motor Speedway, the southern based SMART Modified tour and weekly dirt track racing from Fonda, to name a few.

Dick Berggren sends along word pertaining to the future of Drag Racing at the New England Dragway. “Shareholders of New England Dragway stock turned down an offer to buy and repurpose the property. In some parts of today’s America there are still people who put something ahead of money to put in their pocket. Be proud of the people in our sport and especially the Dragway shareholders who did the right thing to keep the track going and to keep NHRA national drag racing in New England. The Dragway shareholders have set a good example for the rest of us.”

The repaving of the flat track Bowman Gray Stadium is just about done. Among the changes is a low concrete curb all the way around on the inside. It will have all winter to cure. Modified racing is rough and tumble at the historic track that draws in excess of ten thousand fans each week. The curb is low enough so as not to clean out any oil pans.

Fred Harbach was the first Long Islander to venture to Stafford in the late 60’s. His Chevy II Modified was competitive but never won. Charlie Jarzombek made his first off island venture a successful one as he entered a 100 lapper on Memorial Day weekend in 1969 with his highly off-set coupe. He won the event and set the stage for other outside competitors to take on the regulars at Stafford.

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!

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