RPW Column: The Champ Trail: More Off-Season News From Stafford, Riverhead & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – A very Happy and Prosperous New Year to one and all.

As of this coming Friday, Jan 6, 33 three days remain before the green flag drops for the 2023 Whelen Modified Tour Series and the World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.

There is nothing quite like it in motorsports, 9 straight night of heart pounding, intense racing action on the New Smyrna high banks! The 2023 World Series of Asphalt is setting up to be one of the biggest ever! in total, 13 different divisions will hit the track over the course of the 9 nights! Plus, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and The ASA Southern Super Series kicking off their seasons this February as well!

Its like competing in an entire season’s worth of racing in a week and a half and it is the ultimate test of both man and machine. It is often an accomplishment just to make it the final night competition! Some travel down to escape the harsh elements of the northern winter and some come down hell bent on winning knowing it could make their career! Sitting in the shadows of the Daytona International Speedway, a win in any division is a huge deal! You never know who might be watching and it may lead to opportunities you’ve only dreamed of. Stars are made here at the New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series! The World Series at the end of the day is the ultimate racing vacation destination for both racer and race fan and there will be no shortage of action each and every night in 2023.

As of last Friday, December 30, 2022, there were 23 tour type Modifieds and 23- 602 Modifieds entered. That does not include entries for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event that will open the series on Friday, February 11.

Special Notice: The long awaited documentary on Fred DeSarro went up on 12/26/22 on Sid’s View which can be seen on u-Tube. A fantastic tribute to a fallen friend and champion.

Stafford Speedway officials have announced a new lap sponsor program for the 2023 NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Each lap sponsor will receive a limited edition signed Matt Hirschman 50th Spring Sizzler Champion trading card in honor of Matt’s triumph in the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The Matt Hirschman trading cards will only be available with a lap sponsorship and will be numbered 1 to 100 corresponding to the lap purchased.

Each lap of the 100 lap event is available for purchase for $150 with all proceeds being distributed to the leader of the corresponding lap in the 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®, April 30, 2023. With support from lap sponsors, race teams will earn an additional $15,000 on top of the $130,000+ in prize money.

“We wanted to start a new Spring Sizzler® tradition and honor last year’s winner,” explained Stafford GM David Arute. “The fans loved the Spring Sizzler® trading cards we printed for the 50th and thought it only made sense to do a limited edition card for Hirschman’s triumph in the 50th. Only 100 cards will be printed, it will be important to order your lap early to ensure you get a card.” The limited edition Matt Hirschman Spring Sizzler® trading card will be signed by Matt and will also include a protective case and display stand.

The 2022 Riverhead Raceway Champions Award Banquet, coming up this Friday, Jan 6, will feature a cocktail hour from 7-8 pm followed by reception and awards from 8:00 pm through midnight. An open bar will be available for five hours complimented by a full course, sit down dinner during the affair. Coffee and dessert will also be served.

Breaking from tradition, Riverhead Raceway recently announced their 2022 Rookie of the Year drivers for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series in advance of the upcoming Champions Award Banquet that is set for Friday January 6th at Giorgio’s Baiting Hollow. Seven drivers will receive Rookie of the Year plaques during the ceremony that will honor the fourteen 2022 track champions led by NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville.

Chris Rogers of Patchogue has been named the 2022 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year. Rogers, a five-time winner in the Crate Modified class was tabbed by Dave Brigati’s Outlaw Inc. to drive a second Coors Light entry in 2022. The pairing yielded an 8th place tally in the overall 2022 championship rankings. Car owner Dave Brigati placed fourth in the final standings for the team led by veteran crew chief Brian Schwarz.

With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.

The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:

Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.

Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181).

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