Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – With the Northeast racing season now quiet the only unfinished business appeared to be the running of the $7,000 to win, 7th Annual Islip 300 on November 11th and the annual Turkey Derby at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey on Thanksgiving weekend.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Veterans Day Saturday twelve year old Paulie Hartwig III captured the pole for the Islip 300 but it was Matt Hirschman’s day to shine. Track announcer Steve Halpin said it all when he spoke in victory lane. He said, “It was one of the greatest performances ever seen at Riverhead Raceway”. At the drop of the green Hirschman jumped out in front with Timmy Solomito in tow. They ran that way until lap 107 when Hartwig took over second following a restart. The pair set the pace until lap 170 when the young gun momentarily took the point. Two laps later Hirschman took it back. The leaders pitted on lap 186 for fresh tiles. Hartwig stayed out and assumed the lead. Hartwig pitted on lap 213 giving Timmy Solomito the lead with Justin Bonsignore, second. Following a caution on lap 232 when Walter Sutcliff lost his muffler Hirschman took the lead and sprinted to the finish and the $7,000 payday that went with it. Mark Stewart finished second with Solomito, third. Rounding out the top five was Roger Turbush and Kyle Ellwood. Sixth thru tenth included Owen Grennan, Paulie Hartwig, Dylan Slepian, Jack Handley Jr. and Dave Sapienza.
Numerous cautions slowed the event. The first yellow was displayed on lap 42 when Andy Jankowiac spun in turn 2. The second yellow was a controlled caution on lap 69 for general refueling. The third caution came on lap107 for a spin by Jack Handley. Walter Sutcliff spun on lap 125 for the fourth yellow and Lou Strohl spun on lap 155 for the fifth caution. JR Bertuccio brought out the sixth caution after he stopped with a flat tire. Roger Turbush spun on lap 209 for the seventh caution. Sutcliff lost one of his mufflers on lap 232 for caution number eight. John Beatty was put to the rear after spinning Kyle Elwood in turn two on lap 243 for caution 9. Bertuccio spun on lap 256 for caution Number 10. Lou Stohl lost an engine on lap 285 for yellow number 11. Bertuccio spun on lap 294 for yellow number 12 setting up a sprint to the finish.
In post-race ceremonies Kyle Elwood was presented the Ted Christopher Cup and as the sun was setting in the west started Bruce Knoll retired.
Other winners at Riverhead were Owen Grennan in the Crate Modifieds, Joey Braun in the Legends and Tony Ferrante Jr in the Vintage All-Stars.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!
With the cooperation of the Arute family another 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).