RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Mother Nature Wins, Stafford Spring Sizzler News & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Due to a cold and rainy forecast for March 12, Sunday Afternoon, the Warrior 100 at Caraway Speedway has been postponed until Saturday, March 25th!

The SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic turns its focus to our next event in the Mod Squad Nationals, Saturday, March 18 at the Lonesome Pine Motorsports Park in Virginia.

In NASCAR cup action in Phoenix Arizona William Byron made it two in a row. Ryan Preece finally got the monkey off his back with a solid 12th place finish on the lead lap.

The Stafford Motor Speedway and the Arute family are hard at work with the installation of their soft walls at the half mile facility. The project is half way completed with the new wall in place between turns one and two. Installation of new grandstands from the turn four area to the existing high rise grandstand is just about completed. The Arutes care about the welfare of their competitors as they continue to lead the way in the operation of their track. Competitors reap the benefits of FloRacing. In addition to world wide exposure of their sponsors competitors also get monetary rewards from FloRacing in addition to the tracks point fund.

As entries continue to come into Stafford Speedway for the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® scheduled for April 29-30, two well known names in modified racing will be teaming up to make a run at the Sizzler trophy. Bryan Narducci will team up with Boehler Racing Enterprises to pilot the #3 “Ole Blue” that has been made famous by some of the best modified drivers of all-time sitting behind the wheel. Fred DeSarro won the original Spring Sizzler in 1972.

Narducci had already arranged a 5-race Whelen modified Tour schedule with the BRE team for the 2023 season and it was this connection that led to Narducci joining forces with the #3 car for the Sizzler®. “I had a 5-race deal with the Boehler family to run 5 tour races and I asked them what their plans were for the Sizzler® and they said they didn’t have any, so that’s how this all came together,” said Narducci. “We’re going to Richmond at the end of this month to run the 3 car and then Stafford will be my second race with the team.” While Narducci will go to Richmond looking for a good run, he will also be using that race as preparation for working together with the BRE crew for the first time in preparation for Stafford and the NAPA Spring Sizzler®. “Richmond will be really important to get out there and give the guys on the team some good feedback and that chemistry should only help us once we get to Stafford,” said Narducci.

“You always want to win but there’s going to be 50 cars there and only one driver can win,” said Narducci. “Ryan [Preece] has a lot of experience and he is where he is now because of how good he is. We should have a good baseline with how good Ryan ran last year so I’m excited for that and hopefully we can get the car dialed in pretty well and we’ll see what happens. Stafford is my home track and I’ve ran there for 8 years now so I’m sure I have a lot more laps than some of the other guys and overall I have a good idea of how the track changes throughout the day, which should be a big factor in how we do. With all my years of racing at Stafford, I know where to pass, how to pass, and when to pass. Stafford is a tough track that can see guys who show up for the very first time get a little lost, which is somewhat of an advantage for me.”

In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the #3 Ole Blue car, Narducci will also be in the SK Modified® field behind the wheel of the #85 car, but he is not concerned at all about splitting his time between the two cars.

Another source of motivation for Narducci to have a good run in the #3 car will be family. With Narducci getting behind the wheel of Ole Blue, he will be fulfilling the wishes of his late Aunt Venetta with the help of his Uncle Greg, who is providing sponsorship through The Florida Connection. “My Uncle Greg is behind this deal,” said Narducci. “Before my Aunt Venetta passed away, he told me that her wish was to see me in a tour type car so he’s doing everything he can to help fulfill her wishes and without my Uncle Greg and Aunt Venetta, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.

On Tuesday, March 7, a 20-foot piece of the soft wall in the turn three area at the Martinsville Speedway was removed to be preserved honoring Ross Chastain’s ‘Hail Melon’ move during last fall’s NASCAR Cup Series race. It was in the same area where Richie Evans lost his life in a crash in the fall of 1985. Too bad the soft wall wasn’t in place then as maybe the beloved champion would still be with us. It has been said that the wall section will be moved to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC.

The 2023 fundraising event season at the New England Racing Museum (922 NH Route 106, Loudon, NH 03307) opens up with the 2nd annual New England Racers Reunion: Race Car Show on Saturday May 6th. Each of the museums events are essential fundraisers to help meet financial obligations so they can continue their mission of New England motor racing preservation, education and inspiration. Last year’s reunion featured 50+ historic oval, drag and road racing race cars on display outside of the museum.

Their 6th annual Legends Day event will take place on Sunday November 12th and will honor four of the regions most accomplished radio and television broadcasters. Legends Day which was created by the late Russ Conway was established to honor a group of regional motor racing legends from various backgrounds and forms of racing. The 2023 Legends Day honoree line up will be announced soon with tickets available at that time.

The Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina will be getting some upgrades courtesy of more than half a million dollars in state grants. On Tuesday, the Hickory City Council approved agreements with the N.C. Department of Commerce to receive $568,254 in grant funds for the speedway. The money comes from the commerce department’s Motorsports Relief Fund, which allocates COVID-19 relief funds to tracks around the state.

Speedway General Manager Kevin Piercy said they plan to use the money to resurface pit road, remodel the track’s bathrooms and potentially add a new scoreboard. One has to wonder what the states in New England and New York did with their COVID-19 relief funds???

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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