Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the Street Stock division took center stage with the extra distance Casagrande Builders Street Stock 30, the second leg of the RSMPCO.com Street Stock Triple Crown.
Jason Lafayette was the big winner of the night, taking the checkered flag in the Casagrande Builders Street Stock 30. Other feature events saw Todd Owen outlast Glen Reen in a thrilling finish to collect his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win, Tom Fearn scored his second consecutive Late Model win, Noah Korner was the winner of the SK Light feature after Bryan Narducci’s car came up light in post race inspection, and Matt Clement was also a winner for the second consecutive week in the Limited Late Model feature.
In the Street Stock feature, Lafayette got clear of Fuller in turns 3+4 on the final lap and he took the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2019 season. In the Late Models, Tom Fearn scored his second consecutive win and third win of the 2019 season. In the Ltd Late Models, Matt Clement led Jeremy Lavoie to the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2019 season.
In the SK Lites, Bryan Narducci took the checkeded flag for the second week in a row and was again snake bitten as his car failed to make weight. A piece of lead fell off during the feature due to broken bolts that secured it to the car. Narducci was placed 22nd in the final order. Noah Korner was awarded the win for the second time in 2019 with Steven Chapman, Wesley Prucker, Alexander Pearl, and Chris Matthews making up the top-5.
In the 40 lap SK Modified main, Todd Owen cleared Glen Reen in turn 4 on the final lap and he picked up his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win. Reen nipped Ron Williams at the line for second with Stephen Kopcik and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. Sixth thru tenth were Michael Christopher, Jr., Keith Rocco, Michael Gervais, Jr., Matt Galko and Joey Cipriano.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series part of the third annual New England Short Track Showdown which was held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Ronnie Williams made certain he’d be leading when it counted, on lap-50 and he did by about a foot, to capture his second win of the season.
William’s outran Anthony Nocella, in a drag race to the checkered flag, with Jeff Gallup, who finished third, Chase Dowling, fourth, and Mike Willis Jr, fifth. The victory was worth $5000, 00. Four caution flags slowed the race on laps 2, 20, 39, and 42. A red flag was displayed on lap-20 after veteran driver Roy Seidell spun in turn two and was struck by Dave Etheridge. Seidell was transported to a local hospital alert and conscious. Less than 500 fans were in the grandstand. The Valenti Modified Racing Series next competes at Monadnock Speedway July 6.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island defending NASCAR Modified track champion Kyle Soper won his fifth race in seven starts Saturday topping the 50-lap Whelen All Anmerican Series feature event. The Manorville resident is now halfway home to tying the single season win mark of 10 that was set twice by the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek (1976 & 77) and once by Gary Winters (1962). Twelve point paying NASCAR Modified races remain on the 2019 Riverhead schedule and with the early season roll Soper is on he may very well not only tie but break the record for wins in one season.
John Baker had his best outing of the year with a runner-up finish in the Staria Aitomotive Chevy while veteran John Fortin Sr. was third in his John’s Tree removal Chevy. Tom Rogers Jr. and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top five.
In racing at the Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina Brandon Ward took advantage of a restart with 10 laps remaining Saturday night to slip past Burt Myers and hold on for the win. When Burt Myers won the 100-lap race three weeks ago, he also won the $3,000 Fans’ Challenge after electing to start in the back of the field and finished in the top four. Saturday night Tim Brown won the pole, followed by Lee Jeffreys, John Smith and Jonathan Brown. Jonathan Brown and Smith elected to go to the back of the field, and Jonathan Brown started 22nd. Jonathan Brown went all the way to third and was able to collect the $3,000 Challenge.
The New London Day reported that despite longer-than-anticipated grandstand construction delays, the general manager of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl says the track will open and run events this year, even if the season stretches into November. General Manager Mike Serluca and town officials say plans and permit applications are under review for the first time this year for new grandstands at the Speedbowl, owned since 2014 by wealthy businessman Bruce J. Bemer, who is appealing a recent 10-year prison sentence on sex trafficking crimes, for which he also faces ongoing civil suits.Serluca, who took on the management role last fall, and Town Planning Director Abby Piersall said applications were submitted earlier this week to get the ball rolling on grandstand replacement, a first in the popular track’s 69-year history.
“We are 100 percent planning on running events this year,” Serluca said in an interview “I don’t know how many I can guarantee at this time. If I have to run into November, it’ll be cold but I’ll get these guys as many races as they can race.”
Serluca said he’s meeting with a contractor who will help establish a timeline, and he added that “the town of Waterford has been absolutely remarkable to work with. We’ve met zero resistance from them the whole time.”
Piersall said the town technically has 30 days to complete its review of permit applications; as long as applications are complete, building “officials try to make that effort to do it quicker,” she said. The track can’t open without the permits, inspections and a security plan in place with town police, she said.
Serluca, working directly for the track’s management company, of which Bemer is president, said he plans on managing the track “for the long haul,” if given the chance. The 40-year-old New London resident said his father took him and his brother to the Speedbowl as kids, and “if you go once, you’ll get bitten by the bug and want to come back for more.”Serluca added that “there’s been a ton of interest from people that want to buy it, but it’s hard to buy something that’s not for sale,” noting he hasn’t had “any indication” from Bemer that he intends on selling it.
The return of Modifieds to the Seekonk Speedway and the return of a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver headline the 16th annual Open Wheel Wednesday this week. Five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby, and former event winners Ron Silk, Tommy Barrett, Richard Savary, Matt Hirschman and Kirk Alexander are just some of the many drivers already entered for the race. Whelen Modified Tour regulars Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat and Calvin Carroll are also scheduled to compete. There is $10,000 on the line in a 100 lap main event that is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
The Modifieds aren’t the only division in action. The annual Boston Louie Seymour Memorial will take place for the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites, but the Lites will take their race to the next level with a 50 lap event in memory of Dave Steele. The NEMA Midgets will honor the history of the Seymour family with a 29 lap feature. In the NEMA Lites, one driver fans will want to keep an eye on is a former winner in NASCAR’s highest level. Ken Schrader, who competed in the Monster Energy Cup Series for 29 years, won four times and finished a best of fourth in the championship standings. Schrader has two career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins, one Gander Outdoors Truck Series win and multiple victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. He will compete in a NEMA Lite for 50 lap Dave Steele Memorial main event, and will be on hand to sign autographs.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to action this coming Sunday, June 30, with the second appearance by the Lock City Drift Street Series helping to headline a full card of racing. All five of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in action as their championship battles hit the halfway point.
Practice begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by the beginning of qualifying heat racing at 2:30 p.m. Feature racing will follow, with the 30 lap Sunoco Modified feature set to complete the afternoon.
Glastonbury Connecticut businessman Bruce Bemer was sentenced Monday, June 17 to 10 years in prison for his role in a Danbury sex trafficking ring that preyed upon vulnerable young men who were suffering from drug addiction or mental illness. Bemer, 65, was also sentenced to five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender. He faced as many as 60 years in jail after a Danbury jury convicted him April 10 of being an accessory to human trafficking and four counts of patronizing a trafficked person.
Judge Robin Pavia set an appeal bond for Bemer at $750,000 that he expects to post. He will wear a GPS monitor, have a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew and will not be able to leave the state.The defense had asked Pavia to toss out the conviction, arguing the jury reached its verdict based on a faulty explanation of the law. In the alternative, the defense asked the judge to order a new trial.
At Monday’s sentencing, prosecutor Sharmese Hodge asked the judge to send Bemer to prison for 25 years. Bemer’s attorney Anthony Spinella argued in favor of probation. A 25-year prison sentence is what murderers get, he said. Bemer turned down a plea agreement that would have allowed him to avoid jail.
Bemer is the owner of several businesses, including the Waterford Speedbowl and Bemer Petroleum of Glastonbury. He had been free on $500,000 bond since his arrest. After the guilty verdict, Judge Robin Pavia increased Bemer’s bail by another $750,000, which he posted.