RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Second Week Of April

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1952 the New London Waterford Speedbowl began its second year of operation. Red Bolduc, who would lose his life in a wreck at the Norwood Arena on June 18, 1960, won the season opening 25 lap Sportsman Main event. Charlie Webster was the Claiming Car winner.

Fifty five years ago in 1967, the Grandnationals (Winston Cup) was at North Wilkesboro. Darel Deringer took the win. Racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain. Pete Salvatore was the winner at Seekonk.

Fifty years ago in 1972, it was dubbed the Greatest Race in the History of Spring. Dick Berggren, Bruce Cohen and Lew Boyd conceived the idea of a high paying short track sprint of 80 laps called the Spring Sizzler. It was run at the Stafford Speedway and was such a rousing success; track owner Jack Arute bought the rights to the event. Close to 100 cars and 12,000 spectators were on hand for the inaugural event. Eddie Flemke, a Modified legend in his own time, appeared to have victory in hand until the closing stages when his car suffered a broken water pump, forcing him out. Fred DeSarro had dogged Flemke most of the way took over the point and went on to record the victory. Denis Giroux finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary, Jerry Cook, Moose Hewitt, Ray Miller, Bob Santos, Bob Potter and Marcell Corivieu. Glynn Shafer was the 40 lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Mott was the Sportsman Sedan winner.

Forty five years ago in 1977, the NASCAR Modifieds were at Hickory, N.C. where Paul Radford took the win over Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Harry Gant. In open competition Small Block Modified action at Thompson, twin 25’s was the order of the day. Geoff Bodine in the Dick Armstrong No.1 won the opener over Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Ron Bouchard and Dick Caso. Bouchard won the nightcap after Bodine got collected in a wreck that was triggered by a blown radiator hose on the car driven by Armand Holley. DeSarro finished second to Bouchard. On the same day, Monadnock opened their season with a 100 lapper. Punky Caron ruled the roost as he beat out Ollie Silva and Freddie Schulz for the win.

Forty years ago in 1982, the only action was at Wall Stadium where Tom Commerford took the win over Jim Tyler, John Blewett Jr. and Tony Siscone.

Thirty five years ago in 1987, Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 took top honors in the Spring Sizzler. George Brunnhoelzl finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Jim Spencer, George Kent and Jan Leaty. Ted Christopher was the 50 lap SK Modified winner. Riverside Park had an overflow crowd of 8100 on Saturday night as Ted Riggot took the win over Spencer, Bob Polverari and Stan Gregger. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Harry Gant was the pole sitter but at the finish it was Dale Earnhardt who prevailed

Thirty years ago in 1992, Rick Fuller in the Mario Fiore No.44 won the 200 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Mike Stefanik in the Koszela No.15 finished second and was followed by Jeff Fuller, Doug Hevron and Mike McLaughlin. Bob Potter won the 35 lap SK-Modified feature over Steve Chowanski, Richie Gallup and Mike Christopher. Saturday night racing at Riverside Park rained out.

Twenty five years ago in 1997, Rick Fuller went pole to pole to win the Featherlite Modified Touring Series Ice Breaker at the Thompson Speedway. It was not a cake walk as Fuller almost saw his win trashed when Gomer Taylor pulled out in front of the lead pack during a lap 26 restart. Tony Hirschman, in the Boehler No.3 finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik, Tom Cravenho, Ed Flemke Jr. and Jamie Tomaino. Jim Broderick with his Mopar powered mount won the SK Modified feature over Bob Potter, Ricky Young, John Anderson and Mike Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Jeff Gordon dumped Rusty Wallace on the last lap and went on to take the win. NASCAR parked Geoff Bodine after it was determined that he was too aggressive in getting even with Jim Spencer for an early race incident.

Twenty years ago in 2002 the Thompson Speedway took center stage with the running of the annual Ice Breaker. The opening NASCAR Modified Tour Series event drew 50 Modifieds and 9500 spectators. Jerry Marquis took the lead from Todd Szegedy on lap 113 of the 150-lap event and went on to take the win over Rob Summers, Chris Kopec, Rick Fuller and Tony Hirschman. SK Modified winners were Ted Christopher and Chuck Docherty. At Wall Township on Saturday night Jimmy Blewett took the win over Dave Michael and Mark Rivers.

Fifteen years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was slated to begin with the running of the Ice Breaker at the Thompson Speedway but Mother Nature won out as she swamped the entire northeast with rain and sleet on Sunday. Speedway officials and NASCAR made a joint announcement postponing the event on Saturday evening. With fuel prices being what they were it was a wise decision.

The speedway was quite busy on Saturday as qualifying was completed for the Modifieds along with the tracks weekly divisions. Features were also run for the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds and Late Models.

Forty eight NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for practice and qualifying. Reggie Ruggiero and Richard Savory were early casualties as their cars suffered severe damage. Ruggiero’s mount had a water hose let go which dumped water on the track, causing him to lose control and hit the wall. Savory, who was driving for Preston, Ct car owner Art Barry spun in the water and landed on top of Ruggiero’s car. Both drivers escaped unhurt but both cars were damaged severely and had to be withdrawn. Barry had a back-up but Ruggiero didn’t as his car owner, Dick Barney was forced to return to his shop in New Jersey to make repairs and hope for a provisional starting spot which he eventually got. Todd Szegedy broke the Modified track record set by Bob Polverari in 2001 as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.457 seconds as he won the Busch Pole. Second fastest was former series champion Tony Hirschman. Zach Sylvester made a fine showing for himself in his first outing in the Curt Chase No.77 as he qualified third fastest. Rounding out the top ten were Donnie Lia, Ted Christopher, Richard Savory, Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik, Bobby Santos III now in the Boehler Racing No.3 and Danny Sammons. A re-draw inverted the top six for the main event. Later in the day after the Ice Breaker was postponed NASCAR impounded four motors, the Chevrolets of Lia and Tony Hirschman and the Fords of Szegedy and Stefanik. They were taken to NASCAR’s R & D center in North Carolina for examination.

Todd Ceravolo started his season off on the right foot as he won the first of twin features scheduled for the Sunoco Modifieds. Rick Gentes followed suit in the Late Models. Ceravolo, who won his qualifying heat, led every lap to score the win in the first of twin features scheduled for the Sunoco Modified division.

After his heat race victory, Corey Hutchings started the 25-lap Late Model feature from the pole. Hutchings capitalized and took the top spot over Rick Gentes and Mark Jenison. In a distant third was Steve Landry. The field was bunched up for a caution on lap six for a spin by Jeff Hartwell. Under the caution, Jenison was forced to give up third position with a flat tire. Hutchings maintained his lead on the restart but had his hands full holding off Gentes. Jeff Zuidema moved into the third spot. Gentes went low to get by Hutchings in turn two. Hutchings got out of shape losing positions to both Zuidema and Landry.At halfway, Gentes continued to show the way over Zuidema, Landry, Hutchings and Conrad Cote inside the top five. Things settled down as the laps wound down. Cote made a bid on Hutchings in fourth with two laps remaining. Cote could get underneath Hutchings in the corners but could not muster up enough steam to take the spot away. Gentes posted the victory over Zuidema, Landry, Hutchings, and Cote.

The Waterford Speedbowl beat the impending rain on Saturday night. Dennis Gada survived several late race restarts to claim the 35-lap SK Modified feature. The defending champion pulled ahead of eventual runner-up Frank Ruocco for the final time with only three circuits remaining. Rob Janovic finished third with Doug Coby and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five. Both Gada and Ruocco earned guaranteed spots in this coming Saturday’s TrueValue Modified Series 100 at the Speedbowl.

Other winners were Allen Coates (Late Models), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stocks), Chris Bakaj (Legends) and Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman).

At the Texas Motor Speedway Nextel Cup qualifying was rained out. NASCAR set the field by current points which meant that Michael Waltrip would miss his sixth straight race. The two-time Daytona 500 winner, in the first year with the Toyota team he owns, didn’t have enough season points to get in the 43-car field. The latest setback for Waltrip comes less than a week after he was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident after hitting a telephone pole and rolling his SUV about a mile from his North Carolina home. Matt Kenseth made the save, then picked up the victory Saturday in the O’Reilly 300 Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After pulling out of a spin without hitting the wall early in the race, Kenseth ended Carl Edwards’ two-race Busch winning streak, overtaking Denny Hamlin with 11 laps left. Kenseth won by 0.128 of a second, the closest margin in a Texas Busch race. Kenseth, running second when he spun, got his second Busch win of the season and 10th top 10 in 12 Texas races. Edwards was third. Jeff Burton passed Matt Kenseth on the final lap Sunday of the Nextel Cup Samsung 500 to become the first repeat winner at Texas Motor Speedway, winning 10 years after he won the inaugural race.Burton didn’t lead until he overtook Kenseth on the backstretch coming out of turn 2 after more than 10 laps of trying to get past him. It was Burton’s 19th career victory.

ISC director Raymond K. Mason Jr gave himself a nice Spring bonus of approximately $643,750 when he sold 12,500 shares for $51.50 to $51.70 each. Company insiders are required by the Security and Exchange Commission to report their transactions.

President and CEO Tom Deery, of DIRT MotorSports, Inc. announced that it will change its corporate name to World Racing Group, Inc. The Company will operate under the d/b/a World Racing Group until the formal name change is voted on at the Company’s upcoming shareholder’s meeting. Following the formal corporate name change, the Company will also obtain a new stock symbol. Now based in Concord, N.C., the World Racing Group unveiled an extensive television package which will showcase their events on the Speed Channel and ESPN.

Ten years ago in 2012, The northeastern hills of Connecticut came alive with the sound of ground pounding NASCAR Modifieds as the Men that live by the Grace of God and 600 horsepower were off on the run back under the sun as the Whelen Modified Tour Series began the 2012 season with the running of the annual IceBreaker at the Thompson Speedway.

The speedway came alive on Friday with hundreds of camp trailers and race car carriers entering the speedway grounds. With gasoline hovering around the $4.15 mark many just decided to bite the bullet and went to enjoy their favorite form of auto racing.

Summer-like weather greeted fans and competitors on Saturday morning. Twenty nine Modifieds were on hand. In 2010 the IceBreaker drew 37 of the ground pounders. Maybe it is a sign of the times. The recent announcement by NASCAR that only one Whelen Modified Tour would be televised while 26 NASCAR K&N (Kids and Nephews) Development Series events would be seen on television. Granted, the Whelen Modified Tour Series is regional but their competition and fan appeal is far above many of The K&N events that are run in front of almost empty grandstands. Whelen Industries pours millions into the Modified series and the lack of television is a slap in the face to the Connecticut sponsor. Even though the Whelen Modifieds are primarily in the Northeast there are many potential sponsors out there and if television coverage existed maybe there would be a few who would like to see their company names on the sides of the cars. A race team can not exist on race purses alone. Sponsorship dollars are desperately needed to keep the division alive or more race teams will fall by the wayside.

Ryan Preece, who took over the seat formerly occupied by Mike Stefanik, posted a lap of 18.387 seconds (122.369 mph) Justin Bonsignore posted a fast lap of 18.402 (122.269). Bobby Santos III had the third-fastest lap of Saturday qualifying at 18.545 (121.327). Keith Rocco (18.560/121.228) and Rowan Pennink (18.594/121.007) rounded out the top-five qualifiers.

Ron Yuhas Jr., Mike Stefanik, defending Whelen Modified Tour Champion Ron Silk, Todd Szegedy and Donny Lia rounded out the top 10 qualifiers for Sunday’s event. Don Lia who is in Santos’ former ride was 11th and defending race winner Ted Christopher was 12th fastest.

Keith Rocco made a hasty retreat to the Waterford Speedbowl where he made it two out of three in SK Modified competition. Rocco saved the best for last as he passed Tom Abele Jr., who had led from the start of the 35-lap feature, on the final turn on the 1/3 mile oval. Other winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Ken Cassidy Jr. who won his third straight Mini Stock feature. Tyler Jackson picked up his first career win in the SK Light Modified race and Chris Meyer found Victory Lane in the Street Stock feature. In Saturday Showdown Series action, Dan Butler won the Super X-Car feature race and Scott Limkemann scored the win in the accompanying X-Car event. The Late Models had the weekend off.

Ron Silk celebrated his eighth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in an extended 159-lap Thompson IceBreaker after Rowan Pennink was posted for not allowing Silk, who chose to take the inside groove for the final restart, to set the pace. He officially jumped the restart. “I had a better car than Rowan (Pennink),” said Silk after the race. “Before the last restart, he had me up in the marbles. He didn’t even give me a chance to have a line. You can’t beat the leader to the line. If you do, you have to lift. I’m happy to win and we had a better car than he did. I ran him down and passed him with 15 to go. The rule is in black and white. You can’t beat the leader to the line.” Ted Christopher was sitting in the cat bird seat and had the best view of what happened. Christopher stated that Pennink went early and when Silk realized what was happening he jabbed the gas and spun the wheels. As a penalty NASCAR placed Pennink at the tail of the lead lap which gave him a tenth place finish. The official order of finish saw Christopher finishing second with Mike Stefanik, third. Jimmy Blewett and Don Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through ninth were Jamie Tomaino, Patrick Emerling, Doug Coby and Wade Cole. Fifteen of the original 29 starters were running at the finish.

Silk started the race in eighth and led just one time throughout the race distance taking the lead at lap 138 when he dove underneath Pennink in turn three. Ryan Preece took the lead at the start and led through lap 84 before giving way to Bobby Santos III. Santos led for only two laps when Preece took the lead back, but only momentarily as Don Lia took his turn at the point. Lia led from lap 89 to lap 129 when Pennink took control following a restart on lap 130. Pennink and Silk slugged it out until lap 138 when Silk took the lead for the final time.

There were 12 caution periods that slowed the 157 lap event with some of them taking out some of the pre-race favorites. The first caution flew on lap 9 when Patrick Emerling , Doug Coby and John Jensen spun in turn 2. The second caution occurred on lap 39 when Todd Szegedy spun while attempting to pass Mike Stefanik. It was during this caution that Jensen dropped out with engine troubles. Caution no.3 came on lap 52 when Eric Goodale spun in turn four. Eddie Flemke JR and Doug Coby got together for a spin in turn two on lap 69 to bring out the fourth caution. One lap later Long Islander Ken Heagy dropped out with engine woes. Coby spun with Keith Rocco during a restart on lap 74 for caution No. 5. The field had no sooner taken the green on lap 78 when Patrick Emerling got sideways coming out of turn two. Szegedy and Silk went on the defensive. Silk survived but Szegedy didn’t as he went into the inside wall a ton, ending his day. Caution no.7 on lap 85 had to be considered “The Big One” as it involved 13 cars and caused NASCAR to throw the red in order to clean the track of multiple wrecks. Rob Fuller and Bryon made the initial contact in turn one that triggered the mess. Among those who were collected and eliminated were Tony Ferrante Jr, Eric Berndt, Eric Goodale, Eric Beers, Ron Yuhas Jr and Keith Rocco along with Fuller. Doug Coby spun in turn 2 on lap 113 for yellow No.8. Another multi car wreck on lap 122 brought out caution no. 9. Mike Stefanik hit the rear of Ryan Preeces’ car sending him into a spin in turn three. Preece made contact with the wall and destroyed his radiator, putting him out for the day. Also eliminated was Bobby Santos III. On lap 142 Wade Cole spun, for caution No. 10, in turn two setting the stage for the first green-white checker. When the field went back to green on lap 149 Lia and Justin Bonsignore tangled. Lia was able to continue but Bonsignore had terminal suspension damage and was done for the day. On the restart, Christopher wrested the lead from Silk only to lose it because Cole spun again bringing out the 12th and final caution of the day.

In other Thompson IceBreaker action, Ryan Preece, Tommy O’Sullivan, Derek Ramstrom, Glenn Boss, Scott Sundeen, and Tyler Poulin all took victories in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions.

Preece jumped to the lead in the Sunoco Modified feature and held off Woody Pitkat for the win in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature. It was Preece at the drop of the green with Woody Pitkat getting by Ted Christopher for the second position. As Preece began pulling away, the first caution flew at lap four when John Catania spun and hit the backstretch wall. The green quickly went to yellow when on the restart Shawn Thibeault, Wayne Arute, and Moose Douton got tangled up in turn four. The action continued with Pitkat and Preece side-by-side through turn one and Pitkat pulling ahead by a nose in turn two, however, it was Preece ahead at the line with Pitkat in tow. Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top-three and the trio pulled away to a significant lead over the rest of the field.

The torrid pace of Preece and Pitkat saw them lapping the field by the 17th circuit, and as they maneuvered through lapped traffic, Ceravolo dropped a half a straightaway in the rear view mirror. Preece took the checkers in commanding style followed by Pitkat, Ceravolo, and Christopher, who was later disqualified for an altered muffler. Christopher’s finish was reinstated after it was determined that his mufflers had not been altered. There were 18 Sunoco (SK) Modifieds on hand.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returned to action for the South Boston (Va.) 150. While the Whelen Modified Tour Series in the north had been losing some of it’s competitors the southern series appears to be gaining as 27 cars were on hand for the event. Brandon Ward won the South Boston 150 on Saturday night in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at South Boston Speedway. Ward took the lead from defending tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III, who led a race-high 130 laps, on Lap 131 and never looked back over the 19 laps of the race. It was Ward’s first tour victory in 17 starts. Andy Seuss rebounded from an early-race incident to finish second followed by Danny Bohn in third. Kyle Ebersole and L.W. Miller rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Thomas Stinson, Burt Myers, Brunnhoelzl, Renee Dupuis and John Smith.

The Stafford Motor Speedway management announced that veteran car owner Bob Garbarino would be the Grand Marshal of the upcoming Spring Sizzler. Garbarino has been an avid supporter of Modified racing at Stafford since the track was paved in 1967. His Mystic Missile has carried some of NASCAR Modified’s Greatest drivers including Dick Watson, Ted Stack, Hop Harrington, Leo Cleary, Gene Bergin, Geoff Bodine, Tim Connelly, Satch Worley, Brian Ross, Bugsy Stevens and SJ Evonsion. In recent years Bobby Santos III and Don Lia have steered the Missile. Garbarino owns and operates the Mystic River Marina in Mystic, CT.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Greg Biffle held on tight in the fastest Sprint Cup race ever on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway, pulling away after charging below Jimmie Johnson for a winning pass with 30 laps remaining on a windy and fast-paced Saturday night. In Nationwide Series action, Ricky Stenhouse pushed his Ford out in front with six laps left before Denny Hamlin came from behind to get side-by-side at the start-finish line. Stenhouse was ahead by only .001 seconds after that first lap before pulling away for his second victory of 2012. Kasey Kahne celebrated NASCAR’s return to Rockingham Speedway with a victory Sunday in the Truck Series race. The track was purchased at auction by Andy Hillenburg, and he successfully brought NASCAR back. The truck race was the first NASCAR-sanctioned event at The Rock since 2004. In other Rockingham action Corey LaJoie continued to bat a 1.000 at the speedway in the UARA Late Model Series, winning his third event in three outings at the 1-mile track, while Frank Kimmel II finally made it to victory lane after narrowly missing it in November in the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals.

Five years ago in 2017 After a week’s delay because of weather the 43rd Annual Icebreaker at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway got the green under sunny skies. There were 31 NASCAR Tour Modifieds on hand and 25 Sunoco (SK type Modifieds).

Ryan Preece won the opening round 30 lap Sunoco Modified (SK) event. Ted Christopher led from the start until lap 3. Preece took the lead following a restart on lap 4 and never looked back. Christopher dogged Preece until lap 16 when he pitted with a flat right front tire. Rowan Pennink took over the runner-up spot until five to go was displayed. Keith Rocco moved into the second spot and held it over the final circuits and finished second. Pennink finished third and was followed by Woody Pitkat and Ron Williams.

In Whelen Modified Tour qualifying Timmy Solomito, the defending IceBreaker winner, took the pole position with a 18.865 second run on the 5/8 mile oval. Second fastest was Chase Dowling. Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

Solomito led the start. Dowling failed to come up to speed and triggered a mee-lee going into turn one. As a result Max Zachem ended up in the grass and as the field slowed Preece and Coby got together with Coby ending up in the wall with severe damage which resulted in him being double hooked by wreckers to the pit area. The red was displayed to clean up the mess. Both Preece and Coby were done for the day.

Solomito led the restart but was overhauled by Pennink on lap21. By the half way mark Pennink had opened up a big lead but that all came to an end on lap 78 when Shawn Solomito in the Wayne Anderson entry hit the wall a ton. There were 16 cars on the lead lap at the time. Solomito faded to the bottom of the top ten by lap 100. Moving into contention were Bobby Santos, Ron Silk and Max Zachem.

Jimmy Blewett spun out on lap 122 which brought out the caution which saw the leaders including Pennink, pit for tires. Pennink restarted in seventh spot on lap 132. Ron Silk led the restart.followed by Eric Goodale and Justin Bonsignore. Santos, who was fifth, rocketed into second on lap135 and took the lead one lap later. Pennink moved into second. Silk spun around in turn two on lap 135 as does Pitkat and Blewett. After riding around under caution, NASCAR threw the red on lap 141 which would set up a dash to the finish.

On the restart another jumble occurred in turn one which eliminated among others, Silk and Andy Seuss. Another red was displayed. With six laps to the finish the field restarted with the field going green on lap. The final green flew on lap 147. Santos led going into turn one but by the time the field reached turn three Pennink had shot into the lead with Timmy Solomito and Max Zachem following while Santos faded to fourth. Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat, Justin Bonsignore and Todd Szegedy

In Southern Modified Racing Series action at the Southern National Speedway in North Carolina Brandon Ward made it three in a row in SMRS action as he held off Burt Myers for the win. Jeremy Gerstner finished third with Bobby Measmer, fourth and Danny Bohn, fifth. Twelve cars were on hand.

(WTNH) TV 8 in New Haven, CT reported that two of the victims from the Danbury sex trafficking ring are suing the suspects in a civil case.

According to a release from the attorneys representing the victims, their clients are suing both Bruce Bemer, of Glastonbury, and William Trefzger, of Westport, who were recently arrested for their involvement in a sex trafficking ring that targeted young men with mental disabilities for racketeering and sexual trafficking. Bemer is a well-known business man who owns two businesses in the state, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford and Bemer Petroleum in Glastonbury.

The victims are looking to receive financial justice after Bemer and Trefzger allegedly forced them into drug addiction, drug use, and prostitution over the course of many years. According to court arrest warrants, Bemer admitted to police that he repeatedly coerced sex from victims. Bemer and Trefzger would promise access to vintage cars and aircraft to coerce the victims with mental illnesses into partaking in sexual acts. Following his arraignment, Bemer was released on a $500,000 bond.

The victims have filed a motion to freeze the assets of the defendants up to $10,000,000. If the motion is approved, the defendants will not be able to sell or transfer their assets until the civil case is settled.

In the mean time, Speedbowl race officials have resigned their positions as well as NASCAR pulling their sanctions for both weekly racing and the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Scott Gregory, who has been running the day to day operations at the Speedbowl told Auto Racing trade paper Area Auto Racing News stated “I’m doing everything on my power to keep the race track as a race track in 2017”. The racing season is scheduled to begin on Friday, May 5 with a practice session followed by the beginning of the actual racing season on Sunday, May 7.

Dennis Perry, a driver, owner, fan and his family have supported the Speedbowl thru three generations of family involvement, summed up what many are feeling about all that has happed at and to the shoreline oval. “Ok I’m done I have kept quiet thru all this Speedbowl drama but I can’t sit here and watch supposed fans and supporters share all the negativity. I know there are things happening that could save the bowl. Sharing every negative post and crying the sky is falling helps no one. Over the last week I don’t know how many people I have had to explain to that the bowl is not the enemy. The acts were done by a man not a location. I don’t condone in anyway what was done but I also don’t condone the tearing apart of a historic site that has been a part of so many people’s lives. I have serious issues with the way NASCAR pulled out and the way Inex did too. These are both companies that exist due to the support of racers. I understand distancing yourself from Bruce and in doing so the Speedbowl but what have they offered the racers who paid the 2017 fees and what support have they shown those same racers.”

He added, “Unfortunately the bowl is now the face of this scandal do to the media and the people who claim to be supporters who helped share it. I have faith a buyer is in the wings and the old girl doesn’t need her so called family of racers showing a lack of support for the facility”.

The final 102 laps of Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway ran caution free with Erik Jones leading every one of them.

Driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Jones beat Ryan Blaney’s Team Penske Ford to the checkered flag by .512 seconds for his first victory of the season and the seventh of his career.

On a day when track position was key, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson battled from the rear of the field to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Johnson, who took only two tires on his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during a pit stop with 33 laps remaining, raced around Joey Logano’s Ford with 18 laps remaining and led the remainder of the distances for his first victory of the season.

Last year, 2021, The SMART Modifieds paid a visit to the South Boston Speedway on Saturday. Ryan Preece held off Chuck Hossfeld and Burt Myers on a seven-lap shootout. On a late restart, Hossfeld took the inside line at the choose cone, hoping for a good restart. Unfortunately, he was unable to pull even with Preece and slotted back into second on the decisive restart.

Burt Myers rounded out the podium, unofficially taking the SMART Modified Tour points lead in the process. Myers entered the race seeking an elusive first career win at South Boston Speedway, but didn’t have the track position late in the race to capitalize on a fast car.

Just before the half way mark on lap 49, Tim Brown was involved in a multi-car incident on a restart. According to a release from South Boston Speedway, Brown was transported to a local hospital following the incident for non-life-threatening injuries.

Among the missing was Matt Hirschman who chose to remain in Pennsylvania where he won in a photo finish, the Bill Teel Memorial 64 at Mahoning Valley Speedway, with a last lap pass on Austin Beers. For Hirschman, he may have chocked another victory at the paved quarter mile oval, his fifth in a row and 23rd overall, but it was by far one of the most hard-earned yet.

On a sad note, the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame joined the racing world in mourning the death and celebrating the incredible career of “Jumpin’” Jack Johnson, one of DIRTcar’s all-time great heroes, who passed away after a long and courageous battle with ALS on April 1, at the age of 76.

Johnson, from Duanesburg, NY, was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2012. Jack began racing Modifieds in 1966 at the track he would call home for his entire career—Fonda Speedway, where he was an 11-time champion, a perennial fan favorite, and the all-time winningest driver.

In a career spanning 43 years, Johnson won 428 times at 35 different tracks in 10 states and two Canadian provinces. As good as he was in the short sprints, Jack was outstanding in the extra-distance races, winning prestige 200-lap events at Flemington (NJ), Lebanon Valley (NY), Orange County Fair (NY), Rolling Wheels (NY), Weedsport (NY), Susquehanna (PA), Devil’s Bowl (VT) and Fonda (NY).

But his greatest achievements came on the mile dirt tracks. In 1979, Jack was the first New Yorker to win a Super DIRT Week main event at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. He repeated that career-making feat in 1984. In Pennsylvania, Johnson had three wins on the Nazareth National mile and was the track’s 1983 champion.

NASCAR’s top tier divisions enjoyed a weekend off.

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