RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Inching Ever Closer To Speedweeks ’23; Who’s Ready For New Smyrna?

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – As of this coming Friday, Jan 27, 13 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.

Modified entries totaled 32 as of last weekend. In addition there is expected to be an additional 25-30 Whelen Modified Tour Series entries on hand.

There is nothing quite like it in motorsports.  Nine straight nights of heart pounding, intense racing action on the New Smyrna Speedway high banks! The 2023 World Series of Asphalt Racing is set 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!

Race fans can watch the entire World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, including the season-opener for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, live on FloRacing February 10-18.

NASCAR has announced, what they consider exciting news is that now all members, new , renewing and minors, can purchase their license through their new portal for all license types, including Per Event and 15-day temporary licenses. 2023 At-Track License Prices: Feature Driver/Owner – $225, Charger Driver/Owner – $125, Crew – $125

Online Renewal with the $25.00 Discount: Feature Driver/Owner – $200, Charger Driver/Owner – $100 and Crew – $100.

One of the highlights of heading to Florida should include attending the Living Legends of Auto Racing 30th annual Awards Banquet and Auction. The Russ Moyer Media Award this year goes to veteran race announcer Jackie Arute. Other awards include the Ray Fox Memorial Award to Larry McReynolds, Allison Family Corporate Award to Manfredi and the Logistic Award to Kyle Petty.

In a somewhat surprise announcement comes word that Jack Bateman has sold the Modified Racing Series (MRS)as of January 11th 2023 to William Doucette. Doucette says he will continue to make the MRS

the most racer friendly and competitive series in the Northeast providing a cost conscious attitude for the teams.

With the addition of MiltonCAT as a title sponsor the MRS will, for the first time in while, will have a point fund available to our competitors that attempt to qualify for all of our 2023 point races.

A tentative schedule will be released shortly.

Young Jacob Perry recently made his debut at the Daytona International Speedway in an ARCA test session. Upon returning home to Pawcatuck Conn. He made the following reflections: 10). The amount of G-Force pushing you into the seat as you get into the corner. 9). The temperature difference between Super late models, Modifieds and how hot ARCA cars are with the right side window. 😎. The amount of games played by top teams to not let you draft with them. 7). The amount of banking makes you look out the top of the windshield to see ahead of you. 6). Feeling the air pack against the wall and changing the way the car drives as you run the fence depending on the shape of the wall. 5) Coming down the back straightaway and seeing planes take off. 4) Sucking up in the draft, learning small tips to play with air and change EVERYTHING. 3). 3 for Dale obviously. 2) How such minimal car adjustments make the biggest difference at such high speed. (A single piece of tape) 1). Having the Ilmor Racing Engines guy plug into my data and being impressed enough to want me to jump into another car to make sure it was ok as last drivers data was all over the place. BONUS— Almost SMOKING a bird at about 185mph in the middle of turn 3 gets your attention for sure!

Summing it up he said, “Once again, I would like to thank all of my amazing sponsors and supporters for helping make this all happen. Excited for what is coming up” Those who helped to make it happen included

RaceChoice, K1 RaceGear, BobValenti.com, SPY, JMR racing, Team Chevy, Royal Screw Machine Company, APE, Jack’s Competition Engines and RickRak

Word comes from Bob Finan that Long Island’s original Daytona 500 Party returns for the 31st consecutive year Sunday February 19th, 2023 at The All Star of Riverhead. The popular gathering of the Long Island racing community will be hosted by Riverhead Raceway announcer Stephen Halpin and his twin brother, noted racing spotter Tim. The Long Island Daytona 500 Party featuring free admission will be presented in the restaurant/pub area of The All Star, a state-of-the art bowling and entertainment center located east of Riverhead Raceway on Main Road.

Race fans from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are also invited. A one hour ferry ride from New London Ct gets you to Orient Point which is less than a half hour away.

From modest beginnings at Gallagher’s Pub in Rocky Point where the Halpin’s, Bob Finan and a few friends gathered to have lunch and watch the “Great American Race” in 1992, to the current configuration, the Long Island Daytona 500 Party has seen many changes before settling in at The All Star. “When looking back over the 30 years it is pretty amazing” Stephen Halpin reflected, “we dodged snow, freezing temperatures, ice and even a worldwide pandemic, but here we are entering our 31st year. It truly is the unofficial start of a new race season on Long Island”, Brother Tim added. “it’s just a ton of fun all afternoon, rooting our favorite drivers on, reacting to all that makes the Daytona 500 the great race it is and of course hoping you win one of the pools. Why sit home, come out and find out what all the fuss is about”. Over the years the L.I. Daytona 500 Party has often been imitated but never duplicated.

Tickets are going fast for the July 13 SRX event at Stafford which is looking to be the best yet. The best part is that this event will be on Thursday night which means no confliction with any Friday or Saturday weekly venues. The SRX event at Stafford has become one of the premium racing events in New England. The Spring Sizzler is also a premium event. NASCAR Cup stars Kevin Harvick and Clint Boyer have added their names to the impressive line-up of drivers that will be on hand for this event.

When Stafford Speedway kicks off its 2023 season with the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, Ron Silk is sure to be counted among the pre-race favorites. Silk and the #16 Blue Mountain Machine / Future Homes team finished third in last year’s Sizzler® and won the season ending NAPA Fall Final in September. With an average finish of 4.3 in three Stafford starts last season, Silk and his team are eager to return to the Connecticut half-mile facility.

“The team and I are certainly looking forward to coming back to Stafford,” said Silk. “We thought the Sizzler® was an awesome event last year with a lot of cars, a lot of people in the stands, and a really good payday. We ran well in the Sizzler® and finished third but we needed just a little more to be able to keep up with Matt [Hirschman] and Ryan [Preece]. We made some improvements over the two remaining races we ran at Stafford and it was really good to get a win at the Fall Final last year. It’s a new year and a new race, but it’s always nice to come back to a track after your last visit there was a victory. We’ll try to take all the positives we can from the Fall Final to the Sizzler® but you’re still going to have to have a fast car and make the right decisions, so we still have a little bit of work ahead of us.”

Speedweeks in Florida officially begins this coming weekend with the running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

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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