Story By: KYLE ZOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – ATTLEBORO, MA – All NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams will carry the name of a fallen hero on their roof decal this Saturday, May 29, at Jennerstown Speedway.
As part of a partnership with Operation Vet NOW Inc. (OVN), JDV Productions — led by Josh Vanada — and NASCAR, the fourth race of the Whelen Modified Tour season will be the Jennerstown Salutes 150 presented by DGV.
The race — which comes on Memorial Day weekend — will honor those lost fighting in war for the freedoms of the United States of America, and beyond. Some of the heroes that will be on the Modifieds hit close to home for the drivers — with some carrying the name of their lost family members.
The list of heroes includes members of the Air Force, Marine’s, Army and Navy, with a mix of Captains, Majors, Staff Sergeants, Corporals, Master Sergeants, Sergeant 1st Class, Warrant Officers, Seaman, Lieutenant’s and more. The list includes heroes who earned the Medal of Honor, Silver Star and Bronze Star — and some who were a Prisoner of War or Missing in Action. It should be a special day for all involved. As the race day draws near, promoters have come together to release a list of the fallen heroes that will be honored on Saturday, which can be seen at the bottom of this story.
J.B. Fortin, who is in the middle of his third straight year of full-time Whelen Modified Tour racing, returns to Jennerstown for the third time in his career, looking to earn his first top-10 at the Pennsylvania oval. Fortin will carry the name of Air Force Airman First Class Gerard J Fortin — his grandfather — for Saturday’s event.
It’s a special moment for J.B. and the entire Fortin family. His father, John Fortin Sr., is coming off a win in NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series action at Riverhead Raceway last weekend, and the entire team is ready to honor their family member with a strong run in his honor.
“It’s big for me, and it would mean a lot to me to go out there and have a good run, especially on a weekend like this,” J.B. Fortin said. “My grandfather was my best friend when I was younger… we were inseparable. I actually have a tattoo with the Air Force symbol on my arm with his name on it. He never really got to see me race, moving down to Florida before I really got going. When NASCAR approached me and asked what name I would like to carry, I told them right away I was using my grandfather. No doubt about it.”
As previously released, two-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore will carry the name of Air Force Staff Sergeant David Weiger, and Weiger’s family will also be in attendance on Saturday’s as a Gold Star Family. Both of Weiger’s parents, and his brother, will be at Jennerstown Speedway to watch Bonsignore wheel the No. 51 Phoenix Communications machine.
Jon McKennedy, driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing, will carry the name of Army Sergeant Jason McClary — while McClary’s brother will be in attendance. The Wing Man & Name sake of Army Warrant Officer James L Darcy will be at the track, with Ron Silk carrying his name on top of his Kevin Stuart Motorsports No. 85 for the 150-lap affair.
Craig Lutz, Tyler Rypkema and six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby will carry the name of a hero who earned the Medal of Honor — the highest honor in the United States military from 1863 to current — with just over 3,500 awarded the honor.
Additional names may be added to the list if additional entries are received prior to race day. As of Tuesday, May 25, 23 cars are entered for the Jennerstown Salutes 150 presented by DGV.
Operation Vet NOW Inc. (OVN), a non-profit organization established to reduce veteran suicide and improve the overall wellness of veterans, regardless of era served, through innovative outreach experiences. OVN concentrates on veterans who suffer from the invisible injuries of PTSD, TBI, combat and transition stress issues, and mental health concerns, stemming from military service, connecting them to heal their mind, body and soul.
As part of a one-day show, the Jennerstown local Late Models and Modifieds will also join the action. Practice begins at 2:45 p.m. for local divisions, with the only Whelen Modified Tour practice of the day set from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole qualifying, which will be single-car time trials, is set for 5:45 p.m. Following tour qualifying, local divisions will race, and the green flag in the Jennerstown Salutes 150, presented by DGV, will drop at 7:30 p.m.
General admission tickets are $30 for adults, with advance tickets now on sale at JDVProductions.com. A discounted ticket of $27 will be offered for Active Duty Military and Veterans. Tickets will also be available at the gate on the day of the race. Pit passes will be sold at the track only and are also available to the general public. There are no capacity restrictions in place for the event. The race will also air to a live audience on NBC Sports Gold through their TrackPass platform, which will include a special opening ceremony.
CONFIRMED FALLEN HEROES ON WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR CARS AT JENNERSTOWN:
01 — Melissa Fifield — Air Force Captain Frederick A Reid
07 — Patrick Emerling — Air Force Major James A Crew
1 — Woody Pitkat — Marine Staff Sergeant Robert L Babula
2 — Chuck Hossfeld — Private 1st Class Marine Paul A Gilbert
5 — Kyle Ebersole — Lance Corporal Marine Abram Howard
7 — Jon McKennedy — Army Sergeant Jason McClary
10 — Doug Coby — Air Force Master Sergeant John Chapman
14 — Scott Wylie — Army First Lieutenant James R Kalsu
22 — Kyle Bonsignore — Lance Corporal Marine Joshua T Twigg
32 — Tyler Rypkema — Army Sergeant 1st Class Randall Shughart
34 — JB Fortin — Air Force Airman First Class Gerard J Fortin
36 — David Sapienza — Air Force Staff Sergeant Dashawn Briggs
45 — Timmy Catalano — Army Sergeant First Class Brent Adams
46 — Craig Lutz — Army Private 1st Class Melvin Brown
51 — Justin Bonsignore — Air Force Staff Sergeant David Wieger
54 — Tommy Catalano — Army Sergeant First Class Justin K Bluementhal
58 — Eric Goodale — Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy
64 — Timmy Solomito — Air Force Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin
77 — Max McLaughlin — Navy Seaman Ralph L Hann
78 — Walter Sutcliffe — Army Specialist Christopher A Golby
82 — Anthony Nocella — Army Staff Sergeant Stevon Booker
85 — Ron Silk — Army Warrant Officer James L Darcy