RPW Column: The Champ Trail: NASCAR Mods At Monadnock, Racing At Local Tracks & More…
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – With the Stafford Sizzler on hold until May 12-13 action switched to the Monadnock Speedway where the Whelen Modified Tour made its next stop, “The Dual at the Dog”.
Thirty cars were on hand but way less than a full house was in the stands. Doug Coby dominated the majority of the second annual Duel at the Dog 200, earning a special bulldog trophy and the right to be called a champion of competition at New Hampshire’s high-banked oval.
Starting fourth, Coby wasted little time as he passed Justin Bonsignore for the lead on lap 13 and never looked back. Coby ran hard, real hard, for the entire distance. In victory lane he reflected on his roots in quarter midget racing.
“When I was a young kid in the quarter midgets you had to run hard on these tight tracks in order to win.”
Defending series champion Jon McKennedy made a strong late surge to finish up his day in third spot. Ron Silk, and Austin Beers and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five.
Sixth thru tenth included Sam Rameau, Eric Goodale, Kyle Bonsignore, Matt Hirschman and Patrick Emerling. Four cautions slowed the event. The first caution came on lap 30 when Tim Connolly spun in turn 2. The second caution flew when Anthony Nocella hit the wall in turn 2 on lap 95. Nocella’s car suffered righ rear chassis damage. The third caution came on lap 118 when Andrew Krause spun to the infield after making contact with Matt Hirschman on lap 118. The fourth and final caution flew on lap 143 when Anthony Sesley hit the wall. Hirschman didn’t cry over spilled milk as he loaded up and headed back to his native Pennsylvania to the Evergreen Raceway where he scored a win as he parlayed his outside front row starting spot with a return to his winning ways as he cruised out front for all 50 laps and earned his 50th career Tour Type Modified win.
A replay of the Duel at the Dog 200 at Monadnock will air on CNBC on Saturday, May 13 at 9:30 a.m. ET. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season resumes with the first of two trips this season to New York’s Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, May 20. That event will air live on FloRacing beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The Spring Sizzler at Stafford takes center stage this weekend. The NAPA Spring Sizzler® weekend kicks off on Friday, May 12 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 Saturday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) will make its return to Stafford Speedway on May 12th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model and Street Stock feature events will complete Friday’s racing program.
Saturday, May 13th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. 49 Modified Teams Pre-Entered in the 51st Spring Sizzler. Filling out Saturday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
The Bowman Gray Stadium played host to a 100 lap Modified event which was won by Tim Brown over Burt Myers. Brandon Ward finished third with Danny Bohn and Jason Myers rounding out the top five.
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island began their 2023 season on Saturday night. Timmy Solomito of Islip really had no concrete plans on running the 73rd season opening night NASCAR Modified event Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, however with the recent announcement of Wayne Anderson’s retirement Timmy’s wheels started spinning. After all it was Wayne & Joette Anderson who gave Timmy his first big break and so he wrapped his car in one of Anderson’s more popular colors and at the end of 50-laps tribute turned to triumph as Solomito pocketed his 21st career win. The thank you brought the 76-year old Anderson, who Solomito affectionately calls “Pops” to the winners circle one more time. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead was runner-up in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet entry while the returning Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead came home third in the Precision Water Works racer. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills came from deep in the field to finish fourth while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick was fifth.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speeedbowl Jon Puleo took the win over Timmy Jordan and Todd Owen. Nicholas Hovey was the SK Lite winner and Jason Palmer won in the Late Models. Puleo rocketed off to an early lead when Anthony Flannery didn’t get off to a good start. Joey Gada looked strong at the start giving Puleo a challenge before dropping back in the field, letting Tim Jordan dive into second. With ten laps in the books, Jordan would nail the restart and inch ahead of Puleo forcing a lead change. The two would trade positions throughout the course of the race with defending champion Todd Owen throwing his hat in the ring against Jordan. With 9 laps to go an incident on the front straight shuffled up the field, but that didn’t affect Puleo at all as he managed to hold off the 2018 champion. The win marked Puleo’s first in the headline division.
Early indications show that the duel in the Late Models now has a third player. 2021 champion Jason Palmer had to fight off the defending champion Ray Christian III and Cory DiMatteo for the entire race. The three drivers pulled away leaving the rest of the field in their dust but putting on a show of their own. Palmer commanded the high line as DiMatteo held off numerous charges by Christian. DiMatteo solidified his 2nd place finish when lapped traffic came into play. The battle for 4th was tight too, with Derryck Anderson holding off advances by Mike Benevedis. Palmer led every lap to add to his impressive win total at the facility.
The next SMART event will be on May 26 at the Franklin County Speedway located in the heart of the Moonshine Capitol of the World in Callaway, Va.
On a sad note, Legendary Modified racer Billy Greco passed away Friday. Greco was 93 years old. Greco, a native of West Haven, began his racing career in the late 1940’s at the old Savin Rock Speedway in West Haven. He was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1999. He was a cornerstone on the old United Stock Car Circuit under Harvey Tattersall. He was, without a doubt, the best of his eras which included the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s.
During his career “Wild Bill” amassed more than 300 feature victories and multiple championships at numerous tracks. He dominated for a 15-year span at the old Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass., driving for his brother George and collecting 68 victories at the historic bullring.
On a sad note, Mark Bourcier sends word of the passing of Drew Fornoro, a terrific racer and always a great guy to run into at race tracks everywhere. Drew W. Fornoro, 72, of Andover passed away on Monday, May 1, 2023 at Newton Medical Center after suffering complications from diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Drew was born on October 12, 1950 in Danbury, Conn. to the late Nick and Elizabeth (Keiper) Fornoro. He was raised in Connecticut and moved to New Jersey in 1962; Drew lived in Rockaway, graduated from Morris Hills High School, and eventually moved to Andover Township in 1982. Prior to his retirement, he was an Ironworker with Ironworkers Local 11 in Newark, N.J. and a racecar driver.
Winner of over 100 races, Drew was a 9-time champion in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) and raced 3/4 midgets, midgets and sprint cars throughout the country. He was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2017 and the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2013. Despite his significant accomplishments in racing, Drew’s personality was even bigger! He loved interacting with his fans after the races, always a huge smile and kind word. He also loved to orchestrate cookouts in the pits for all of the race teams to enjoy. He held epic events at home during the summer for his extended family and close friends, “Calamari Fests”, often had over 100 guests!
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).