RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1955, the Seekonk Speedway closed out their season with twin 100s. Fred Luchesi won the Sportsman 100 and Frank Hacket was the non-Ford winner.
Luchesi, a 13 time winner at Seekonk, the 1956 champion spent his weekends traveling from track to track, all along the east coast. The Pawtucket, RI native won his first race at Seekonk in ‘54, and his final in ‘62. In that time, he could be found behind the wheel of anything he could get his hands on.
Sixty years ago in 1960 Ernie Gahan closed out the season at the Stafford Springs Speedway with a win on the dirt. Don Collins scored a one – two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl as he scored wins in the Modifieds and non- Fords. Ed Moody won in the Bombers. Deke Astle won the season ending 50 lap A division feature. Bob Pike was the Novice winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1965, Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket No. V-8 won the first ever-open wheel Modified race at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. Bob Bahre, who purchased the speedway in 1964, tore down the original wooden grandstand and erected a new steel high rise grandstand that would hold 15,000. Following Slater at the finish was Johnny Thompson and Eddie Flemke. Rene Charland and Pete Hamilton rounded out the top five. New York driving legend Pete Corey scored his fourth win on the dirt at Stafford on Friday night. Dick Watson registered a 50-lap win at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner and Bob Lee was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Dave Humphrey won the season ending 30 lap Modified feature. Hank Korlacki was the B winner.
Fifty years ago in 1970, the Modifieds were at the monster mile, Dover Downs for twin 100s for Late Model Modifieds and the All Star League Modifieds. Ray Hendrick in the Tant/Mitchell Camaro cleaned house as he won both events. Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler 3 recorded two seconds. Charlie Jarzombek walked away from a mean wreck during the All Star event. Driving his offset coupe, the popular Long Island driver got launched into the turn two fence and almost went out of the high-banked speedway. Also running that day was Thompson where Bob Santos took the 30-lap win over Hop Harrington, Ed Yerrington and Moose Hewitt. Waterford was also on the Sunday schedule. Seabury Tripler took the Modified win.
Seekonk rained out
Forty five years ago in 1975, the Thompson 300 and the Martinsville 150 ran on this weekend. With the exception of Jerry Cook, Bob Park and George Kent who went to Martinsville, just about everyone else was at Thompson. Satch Worley beat out Cook for the win at Martinsville. Seekonk ran twin 50’s for the Mods on Saturday night. George Murray and Billy Clarke took the wins. Lou Russo took the Late Model win.
Thompson was open competition and it was Geoff Bodine taking the win over Bob Santos, Moose Hewitt and Donny Ayer.
Forty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans won the 100-lap final at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Bob Polverari finished second with Ray Miller, third. Evans made it two for two as he won the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday. Brett Bodine finished second with John Rosati, third.
Thirty five years ago in 1985, Charlie Jarzombek wrapped up the 1985 Stafford Speedway title as he won the Fall Final 100.George Brunnhoelzl Jr. finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and George Kent. Jerry Pearl wrapped up the SK modified championship. Riverside Park closed out their season on Saturday night with Jeff Fuller taking the win. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Harry Gant took the win with Geoff Bodine, second.
Thirty years ago in 1990, Ray Hendrick, known as Mr. Modified passed away from cancer at the age of 61. Hendrick won just about every major event on the East Coast. It was also on this weekend that young Rob Moroso died from injuries received in an accident while on his way home from North Wilkesboro. The Fall Final ran 125 laps and it was Mike Stefanik taking the win over Jeff Fuller, Satch Worley and Jamie Tomaino. Bo Gunning won the SK modified portion.
Twenty five years ago in 1995, Eric Berndt, 16, led from pole to pole at Waterford and became the youngest ever to win a modified race at the shoreline oval. Reggie Ruggiero won his fifth of the year at Riverside on Saturday night and at the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday, Mike Stefanik won the 150 lap main event. Stefanik passed Steve Park with five to go on his way to the checkered flag. Jamie Tomaino finished third with Ed Flemke Jr., fourth. Ted Christopher won the SK 50 lapper. Bob Potter finished seventh and became the track’s first 5 time modified champion. In a non-racing matter, OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder charges. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Mark Martin took the win over Rusty Wallace. Ernie Irvan returned after suffering severe injuries. Irvan finished sixth.
Twenty years ago in 2000, John Brouwer Jr. got his first ever-modified win as he put the Whittle No.49 in victory lane at Waterford. Dennis Gada finished second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Stafford hosted the Fall Final 300, which carried a purse of $94,211 and drew 51 modifieds. Jerry Marquis took the lead from Mike Ewanitsko on lap 245 and led the final 55 laps for the win. John Blewett III finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller. Eric Berndt won the 50 lap SK Modified event and Chris Wenzel won the Mod Tour non-qualifiers event. On and off rain all weekend kept the Stafford crowd down. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Tony Stewart took the win. Matt Kenseth was the Busch Grandnational winner.
Fifteen years ago in 2005 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series made its final stop of the year at Stafford for the annual Fall Final. There were 43 Modifieds on hand for the 150 lapper that carried a purse of $80,328. Taking the top spot in time trials was Donny Lia who turned the half-mile oval in 18.469 seconds. Second fastest was Tony Hirschman who was a tick slower at 18.524 seconds. The top six redrew for starting positions. Carl Pasteryak, who was sixth fastest, drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett, who was fourth fastest, drew the outside pole. Hirschman drew third, Jamie Tomaino, fourth, Lia, fifth and Ted Christopher, sixth. Among those who didn’t qualify were Tom Bolles and Mike Ewanitsko.
Tony Hirschman got a little closer to Ted Christopher’s point lead as he won the Fall Final 150. Hirschman passed outside pole sitter and early race leader Jimmy Blewett on lap 17 and went non-stop to record the win. Blewett ended up 13th. Busch Pole sitter Donny Lia provided some late race excitement when his left front spindle broke on the final lap. Lia maintained control and finished second on three wheels. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Pole sitter Carl Pasteryak finished 15th, one lap down. Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino, John Blewett III and Reggie Ruggiero.
The Thompson Speedway closed out their regular season on a wet note as showers put a damper on the final Thursday night Thunder program. Jeff Malave, with 18 top tens including three wins was the 2005 Sunoco Modified Champion. Malave survived a season long battle with Bert Marvin as he won the title by 90 points. Marvin had 17 top tens including two wins. Defending champion Todd Ceravolo rebounded after a slow start to finish third, 78 points behind Marvin. Ceravolo had 15 top tens including three wins. Kerry Malone had an absolute horrible season but somehow managed to finish fourth in the final standings. Malone also scored three wins but had only 14 top tens. Rounding out the top five was Tom Cravenho with 11 top fives including 1 feature win.
The Waterford Speedbowl ran one of their quickest programs ever as the final checkered flag dropped around 9:00p.m. on Saturday night. Kurt Lenahan went pole to pole to record his first win in two years. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot after Jay Miller faded in the latter stages of the event. Tom Fox finished third. Jeffrey Paul, who is rumored to be moving up in 2006, recorded his seventh victory in the Legends Cars. Other winners were Wayne Coury in the Late Models, Bill Gertsch in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini Stocks.
The Stafford Motor Speedway also wrapped up its regular season with the Fall Final. Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified portion.
In some sad news, Rick “Sleepy” Knapp, 53, of North Windham, Ct died Saturday Sept. 24, 2005 at Windham Hospital. He was an auto body technician by trade having worked in several places in the Windham/Chaplin area. At the time of his death, he was employed at Chris’s Automotive in Chaplin. Rick began his racing career at the Waterford Speed Bowl at the age of 15. He drove is car, Sweet 16, in the Late Model division at the Waterford Speed Bowl, Stafford Speedway and Thompson Speedway until the early 1980’s when he began driving in the modified division. Rick held 3 track championships at Thompson.
Dale Jarrett used a three-wide pass to challenge Tony Stewart for the lead on the final lap of a three-lap overtime shootout, then passed Stewart on the backstretch in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talledega for his first victory since 2003 at the now-defunct North Carolina Speedway. Stewart finished second, Matt Kenseth was third and Ryan Newman fourth.
It was also on this weekend that Matt Kobyluck won the Busch North Series event at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. NASCAR announced that the No. 74 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series team, including the driver, car owner and crew chief, had been assessed multiple penalties, following several incidents which took place after the Oct. 1 race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. Driver Ryan Moore was fined $1,000 and penalized 25 driver championship points. Moore violated section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; hitting another competitor’s car after the completion of the race – twice. Moore was suspended from the next Busch North Series event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 31, 2005. Moore was also placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Car owner Richard Moore was penalized 25 car owner championship points, for the violations by his team’s driver. Crew chief James Lorfano was fined $250 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Lorfano was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; use of inappropriate language. Driver Kelly Moore was also fined $500 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Kelly Moore was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; use of inappropriate language.
The International Speedway Corporation announced on Friday, Sept.30,that Rocky Mountain Speedway Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of ISC, had entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Pikes Peak International Raceway (“Pikes Peak”). Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ISC planned to petition NASCAR to realign the facility’s NASCAR Busch Series event to Martinsville Speedway for 2006. The transaction was expected to close within a week, and was expected to have minimal impact on the Company’s future earnings. The purchase price was fully supported by the appraised value of Pikes Peak’s tangible assets, including land and certain fixed assets ISC intends to relocate to other facilities in its portfolio. These assets include grandstand seating and other structures that can be utilized for future speedway expansion projects. ISC will honor all of Pikes Peak’s currently scheduled community uses and rentals through October 31, 2005. After that date, ISC expects to close the facility and begin to market the approximate 1,200-acre parcel for sale, with the requirement that the property not be used for motor sports-related events. Pikes Peak International, which includes a 1 mile oval, was completed in 1997 at a cost of $35 million. The facility, which also includes a 1.315 mile road course, had permanent seating for 42,787.
Forbes Magazine released its list of the 400 richest people in the USA. Among those on the list were Jim France and Bill France JR. who are tied in 198th spot with assets of $1.6 billion each. Also on the list is O. Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports who is 207th on the list with $1.5 billion. At the top of the list is Microsoft’s Bill Gates with $51 billion.
Ten years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Loudon, NH for the F.W. Webb 100 which carried a race purse of $166,513. Thirty five Modifieds were on hand for practice and qualifying. NASCAR Sprint Cup competitor Ryan Newman won the Coors Light Pole Award with a speed of 129.300 mph. Second fastest and taking the outside pole was Todd Szegedy who went 127.816mph. Third through fifth were Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos JR and Ed Flemke Jr. Rounding out the top ten were Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Goodale, Erick Rudolph and defending race winner Ron Silk.
Ryan Newman didn’t do the Whelen Modified Tour Series any favors as he won the FW Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For the most part Newman had the field covered as it looked they regular tour runners were racing for second place. Jimmy Blewett, who triggered a big wreck on lap 37 that eliminated Ted Christopher, Ed Flemke Jr and Jamie Tomaino, provided some last lap drama as he made an unsuccessful run at Newman. Blewett ended up second. It was a big day point wise for Mike Stefanik. Stefanik finished third and closed to within two points of series leader Bobby Santos III. Stefanik was in the hunt all day but had nothing for Newman. Doug Coby made a remarkable run as he came from starting dead last to finish fourth. Coby also had a shot at Newman on the final restart but fell short. Rounding out the top five was Ron Silk. Sixth through tenth were Dale Quarterly, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Goodale, Joe Hartmann and Rookie sensation Richie Pallai Jr.
There were 16 changes involving 6 drivers which made for much excitement on the track they call the magic mile. There were seven cautions for 28 laps. The first yellow was displayed on lap seven when Glen Reen and Rowan Pennink spun and crashed in turn two. Pennink was all done for the day after the incident. The second caution flew on lap 28 when James Civali spun the Roger Hill No. 79 in turn four. Civali had handling issues all day as he finished in 17th spot. The third caution was for Rob Summers and Andy Seuss who wrecked on the front stretch. The fourth caution was one of the biggest wrecks of the day which was triggered when Jimmy Blewett got into Ed Flemke Jr in turn four. Blewett drove away while Mike and Ted Christopher along with Kevin Goodale , Richard Savory and Justin Bonsignore were eliminated. Flemke continued on for 20 more laps before calling it a day in 26th spot. The fifth caution was displayed on lap 66 when Jake Marosz spun in turn two. George Brunnhoelzl III and Rene’ Dupuis spin on lap 92 brought out the sixth caution and the seventh and final caution was brought out when Ryan Preece and Bobby Santos made contact between turns three and four which resulted in both taking a hard shot into the wall which eliminated them as well as Glen Reen. Santos was credited with 19th spot in the final rundown. Preece ended up 20th and Reen, 21st.
Thursday night Thunder Racing at the Thompson Speedway was cancelled due to a forecast of heavy rain and high winds for northeast Connecticut. Mother Nature handed NASCAR Whelen All-American division championships to Sunoco Modified driver, Ted Christopher and Mini Stock driver, Chuck Rogers. Both Christopher and Rogers had built up enough track points to clinch their crowns before the final points race on September 26th.
The Stafford Speedway was back in action with its final Friday night program. Ryan Preece outdueled Woody Pitkat to score his first career SK Modified® feature victory in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ryan Posocco scored his fourth win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his 10th win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr., won his second consecutive feature of 2010 in spectacular fashion by crossing the start/finish line sideways in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly scored his third win of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl defending division champion Ron Yuhas Jr. took the lead on the 18th lap and was able to keep it on four separate restarts to take the checkered flag in Saturday’s 35-lap SK-Modified feature. Yuhas was pressured by some of the division’s top drivers, including national champion and current division leader Keith Rocco, Rob Janovic Jr., Todd Ceravolo and Tyler Chadwick, but was able to pull out the win, holding off a late charge by Rocco, who finished second. Tucker Reynolds Jr. was third, followed by Joe Perry and Jeff Pearl.
Other winners on Saturday were Bill Leonard (Mini Stocks), Anthony Flannery (Legends) and Corey Coates (A.B. CDL Trucks).
Clint Boyer won the Sprint Cup race at Loudon. His car failed a follow-up inspection and he was penalized 150 points. Bowyer led a race-high 177 laps, lost the lead to Tony Stewart, but stretched his final tank of gas 92 laps to win the race when Stewart ran out of fuel right before the final lap. The victory snapped an 88-race winless streak for Bowyer.
Five years ago in 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Loudon, New Hampshire last weekend. Doug Coby earned a season sweep of Coors Light Pole Awards at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he took the top qualifying honors for the F.W. Webb 100. Coby posted a fast lap of 29.130 seconds (130.752 mph) to notch his eighth career pole overall and third at the 1.058-mile oval. It was his fourth Coors Light Pole of the 2015 season, which includes the Whelen Modified Tour’s first trip to NHMS in July. Bobby Santos qualified outside pole with a quick circuit of 29.249 (130.220) while Woody Pitkat was third-fastest at 29.256 (130.189).
Doug Coby bumped Ryan Preece out of the race lead in Turn 1 after taking the white flag and drove away from New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday evening with the F.W. Webb 100 trophy. The result was a big boost to the title defense hopes of the driver from Milford, Connecticut, who is back in the game with two races remaining on the schedule. Twenty-five points behind Preece entering the event, Coby moved to within 11 of new championship leader Woody Pitkat at 529-518 while Preece slipped to second at 521.
Coby was in control for the majority of the event, but Preece moved to the lead on the Lap 100 restart after the eighth of nine cautions in the event. It marked the 15th career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Coby, and third at the “Magic Mile.” It was also his tour-leading fifth of the season. Patrick Emerling ended up second for his best finish in 67 career starts. Bobby Santos was scored in third followed by Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk. Rounding out the top ten were Donny Lia, Jeff Goodale, Chase Dowling, Dave Sapienza and Pitkat.
Loudon Notes: There were 34 Modifieds on hand. During practice Ryan Preece was the fastest as he toured the one mile oval in 28.89 seconds (131.838mph). Melissa Fifield was the slowest with a time of 31.815 sec. Among the missing was Keith Rocco who chose, with car owner Robert Our’s blessing, to race at the New London Waterford Speedbowl where he is in contention for the SK Modified Championship, which he ended up winning.
Ground was broken on the speedway property for the North East Motor Sports Museum on Friday to protect and preserve the stories and artifacts of the region’s racing and riding past. Among those taking part were Dick Berggren, Ronnie Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Joey Logano, Andy Cusack, Bentley Warren, Ken Smith, Skip Matczak, Dave Frahm, Frank Manafort, Bill Manafort, and Paula Bouchard (in memory of her father, Ed Flemke) assisted in the groundbreaking, which took place on speedway property near the south entrance.
Also taking part were Marcus Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Bruton Smith, Executive Chairman of SMI, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway VP/GM Jerry Gappens.
Seventeen of the original 34 starters were running at the finish. There were actually ten cautions for 29 laps including the race ending confrontation between Coby and Preece. The first caution came on lap 3 when Anthony Nocella spun in turn 2. He was able to restart and drive away. The second caution flew on Lap 10 for Rowan Pennink who also spun in turn two and pulled away. Turn two continued to be the hot spot as Dave Salzarulo spun in front of the field on lap 35 for the third caution. The fourth caution came on lap 42 when Nocella spun with a flat tire in turn 2. The competition caution on lap 50 was the fifth of the day.
Max Zachem’s day came to an end on lap 85 when he spun into the wall, bringing out the sixth caution. The seventh caution occured on lap 88 when Troy Talman wrecked hard on the back stretch. The tenth and final caution came on lap 96 when James Civali got in the grass going into turn three and triggered a massive wrech which collected the cars of Matt Swanson, Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Ryan Newman, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat and Jeff Goodale. The track went to red in order to clean the track of debris. On the final restart Coby hit the left rear of Preece, spining him in turn two. When Preece spun he was hit by Pitkat. Ted Christoper was attempting to squeak through in the incident when he was hit by the Preece machine after collision with Pitkat. Todd Szegedy then ran over the right wheels of Christopher and ended up on his side on the outside wall. As Coby exited turn four the checker and the yellow were displayed
The FW Webb 100 mile Whelen Modified Tour Series event is scheduled to be televised this coming Thurs, Oct 1 at 7:00pm on the NBC Sports Net. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action this coming Sunday, Oct. 4 at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150.
The Stafford Motor Speedway announced that Bob Summers of Hoosier Tire East would serve as the Grand Marshal of the 42nd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final. Summers, now a Hoosier Tire distributor, began his 60-year career in the tire business in 1955 working for the Firestone tire company in Indianapolis. During his time with Firestone Summers worked with some of the legends of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway such as Mario Andretti, the Unsers, and A.J. Foyt as well as a host of Grand National, Sprint Cup as it is currently known, drivers. Summers left Firestone in 1981 and a phone call from Bob Newton shortly thereafter got Summers into the business as a Hoosier distributor. Summers passion for short track racing is still going strong 34 years later operating Hoosier Tire East out of Manchester, CT. Currently Hoosier Tire East services local tracks Stafford, Thompson, and Waterford as well as the Whelen Modified Tour, and the Super Modifieds at Star Speedway.
The New London-Waterford Speedbowl closed out its Saturday night season with Champion’s Night. Keith Rocco won the battle and the war as he recorded a victory in the SK Modifieds and locked up the Track Championship in the division at the shoreline oval. Rocco brought his track win total to 119 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 209 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways. Ted Christopher ended up second with Joe Gada, third. Diego Monahan and Zach Sylvester rounded out the top five.
Other winners at the Speedbowl were Bruce Thomas Jr in the Late Models, Al Stone III in the Limited Sportsman, Roger Turbush in the New England Trucks, Josh Galvin in the SK Lights,Sean Caron in the Mini-Stocks and Dana Dimatteo in the Legends.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Loudon, race leader Kevin Harvick ran out of fuel with three laps to go. Matt Kenseth sped by and went on to clinch his fifth win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in the Sylvania 300. Kyle Busch held off a determined Matt Kenseth to win Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Last year, 2019, In more sad news, Champion Driver Bob Potter, 78, passed away on Wednesday, September 18. The operator of a pickup truck traveling westbound on W. Town Street in Norwich, Ct., Potter. appeared to be having a medical emergency and lost control of the vehicle, according to a police report. The vehicle turned sharply, striking a school bus and several other vehicles, then came to rest in the parking lot of the Global Gas Station at 154 W Town Street, police said. Potter, who suffered a heart attack, was the only person injured in the crash, police said. After fire crews extricated the operator from the vehicle, American Ambulance transported the victim to William W. Backus Hospital under life threatening conditions.
Potter’s racing career started at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, He began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and at Waterford. A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.
Bob Potter is the only active driver to run on all three surfaces at Stafford. He only ran one event on the dirt and only a few in the early days on asphalt including the first Spring Sizzler in 1972, when he drove Roger Bonnville’s outlaw NO. 110 to a 9th place finish. A good part of his career was spent at the Waterford Speedbowl where he has six championships and 96 career wins.
With the advent of the SK Modifieds division, Potter became a regular weekly competitor at Stafford. His first Stafford win came on Sizzler weekend in 1982 and then tallied up 24 wins through 1999. Potter is the track’s five- time modified champion, winning titles in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1994, and 1995 and ranks second to Ted Christopher who has nine track titles.
A retired x-ray technician at General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut, Potter did most of his own race car fabrication. His partner and car owner Jiggs Beetham supplied the power. Potter, who was in his mid 50’s at the time, became the first modified driver to turn a lap on the newest Stafford surface.
In addition to his successes at Stafford and Waterford, Potter had numerous wins at Thompson and had successful drives at Trenton, New Jersey and Martinsville, Virginia. In 2007 he was inducted into the New England Auto Racing (NEAR) Hall of Fame.
Potter is survived by his wife Dale, son Bob, Jr., daughters Debbie and Ginny, and all his family and friends.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed north this with heavy hearts for the second annual Musket 250 presented by Whelen at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The main event, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Musket 250 presented by Whelen, is the longest mileage and richest purse of the season. The Saturday tripleheader also featured the sport’s stars of tomorrow at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Apple Barrel 125 and the only chance in America this year to see Canada’s NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers race at the Visit New Hampshire 100. A fourth race was been added to the lineup with a 20-lap J&J’s Yolk & Co. Oval Series race featuring Granite State Legends Cars competing for a $5,000 purse on Friday.
Thirty – four Modifieds were on hand. Andy Jankowiak was a no-show. For the eighth time this season, Doug Coby earned the Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole award in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour qualifying. Coby, driving the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet, posted a quick time of 29.333 seconds (129.847 mph) around the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway, taking the pole for the Musket 250 presented by Whelen. Coby tied Mike McLaughlin for the third most poles in one season all-time (eight), and only trails Steve Park’s record of 10 (1995) and his own of nine in 2016. Jon McKennedy, who earned his first career pole at New Hampshire in July, ran the second fastest time of the session with a lap of 29.348 seconds (129.781 mph). Justin Bonsignore, July winner Ron Silk, and Bobby Santos III completed the top five.
In a wild 250 laps around the ‘Magic Mile’, countless drivers had the opportunity to lead the way. But when it mattered most, it was a battle between three modified veterans for the crown. Santos, five-time series champion Doug Coby, and Jon McKennedy, who led a race-high 93 laps, were the three drivers at the front when the field crossed for the white flag. Off turn two, Coby would draw even with Santos for the lead, edging him out as they approached the entrance to turn three. Santos regrouped and would drive deep into turn three, slide up, and hold off Coby and McKennedy across the line, while the two battled side-by-side for second. McKennedy would beat Coby to the line, but was .129 seconds behind Santos.
“It was a good run,” McKennedy said. “Tommy (Baldwin) and the guys gave me a great car. We led a lot of laps. Just one position short. As far as I’m concerned, Bobby is one of the best short-track drivers in the country.” Chuck Hossfeld, subbing for Jimmy Blewett, was fourth, while Justin Bonsignore completed the top five. Matt Swanson was sixth, followed by Rob Summers, Chris Pasteryak, Gary Putnam and Craig Lutz.
Before a crash racing for the lead, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore were dominating the late stages. The two drivers combined to lead laps 133-222, but when Silk and Eric Goodale split a lapped car, they made contact, ending both of their races early with damage. Bonsignore drilled Sam Rameay into the third turn wall on lap 234 and did slight damage to his car.
There were 25 cars running at the finish, nine on the lead lap. As previously stated Sam Rameau crashed after an over aggressive Justin Bonsignore drilled him, Burt Myers took himself out when he bounced off the wall as he exited turn four. Eric Goodale and Ron Silk crashed after making a lapped car the meat in a sandwich on lap 222, Patrick Emerling, Chase Dowling, Anthony Nocella and Walter Sutcliff suffered engine failure, Mike Willis crashed on lap 228 with Calvin Carrol on the front stretch, Timmy and Amy Catalano had driveline failure and Joey Mucciacciaro had power steering failure.
Coby leads Bonsignore by 21 points with two championship points races remaining. Coby is looking for his sixth title, while Bonsignore is seeking his second straight. The Musket 250 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 26, and 6 p.m.
Eric Sanderson, long time car owner and past competitor has been named as the Grand Marshal of the 47th Annual NAPA Fall Final. Sanderson will close out the 2019 Stafford Speedway season with the command to fire engines for the 150-lap event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Sanderson’s racing roots date back to the days of the All-American Sportsman division at Stafford in the early 1970’s. Sanderson got started as a car owner for Warren Bren’s #66 car before taking the wheel himself in the #89 car for the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Sanderson then moved up to Stafford’s modified division behind the wheel of the #43 owned by Ken DePeau in 1974 before stepping down as a driver and becoming a crew member with Everett Manning.
In 1995 Sanderson debuted the #16 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car with Chris Kopec behind the wheel. The #16 has since been a staple of the NWMT for over 24 years. Sanderson is a two-time championship winning car owner, taking the NWMT championship with Mike Stefanik in 2006 and Ryan Preece in 2013.
With the days getting shorter and the season winding down at the Riverhead Raceway action continues at a fever pitch. CJ Lehmann drove off to his second win in the past three Whelen All American Series NASCAR Modified events scoring a victory in the non-stop 50-lap race. On the strength of his third place finish Kyle Soper sewed up the 2019 NASCAR Modified track championship for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson. It’s their second consecutive track title and earlier in the week the team was officially declared New York State champions of the Whelen All American Series for the second year running. Michael Rutkoski finished second in the 50 lapper with Soper, third. John Baker and Tom Rogers Jr. rounded out the top five.
In NASCAR Monster Cup racing at Richmond Martin Truex Jr took the win. Ryan Preece finished 30th. Christopher Bell was the Xfinity series winner.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Sonic Financial Corp. are nearing the completion of an $800 million merger that will make the track operator a private company. On Tuesday, Sept 17, publicly held Speedway Motorsports disclosed in filings that owners of 65% of the shares not controlled by Sonic and the Smith family have agreed to terms of $19.75 per share.
Company founder Bruton Smith also owns Sonic Financial and, with other family members, controls 29.4 million of Speedway Motorsports’ 40.8 million shares, or 70%. The value of the tender offer is $226 million for 11.4 million outstanding shares. According to the filing, 7.4 million of those shares, or 65%, have been tendered. The rest will be acquired at the same price of $19.75 per share.
Speedway Motorsports generated revenue of $457 million in 2018. Wells Fargo Securities forecasts $462 million this year with earnings per share of 91 cents. National TV and media-rights contracts with NBC and Fox have become the one consistent area of revenue growth for the track companies.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, its all there. Do you remember the night the races at Stafford were called after a Modified got airborne and hit the starters stand while Frank Sgambato waved the flags? Read all about it. Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal181and soon to be available thru Stafford’s web site. Order yours now.