RPW Column: The Champ Trail; NASCAR Sets ’21 Whelen Mod Tour Schedule, New Smyrna & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – NASCAR announced last Friday the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour calendar, and the slate includes 14 races across six states – from Maine to Virginia.

The schedule is a mix of historic Modified staples, the return of a pair of tracks and an inaugural trip to an upstate New York venue.

The 2021 season will open at Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, April 8, as part of the NASCAR Cup Series weekend. It will conclude with the traditional Fall Final race weekend at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will also race on the national series weekends at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway on Sept. 10 and New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17.

Stafford, which has hosted 132 races for the tour since tour began in 1985, will have three dates, including the season races of the season as part of its annual Spring Sizzler weekend. The tour will also visit Riverhead Raceway on Long Island three times: May 15, June 19 and Sept. 18. The quarter-mile bullring has hosted 64 tour races since 1985 but was unable to in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the tour’s first race at New York International Raceway in Lancaster, New York, on July 31, upstate New York will see a pair of races at Oswego Speedway — on June 12 and Sept. 4. Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, will have a tour race for the first time since 2005 with an Aug. 21 races. The tour has run at the third-mile oval, a long-time part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, five times between 1995-2005. Jerry Marquis won the most recent race there. Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway, which returned to the schedule last year and had two events, will bring the tour back on May 29.

2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Schedule

Date Venue Location Laps Size
Thursday, April 8 Martinsville Speedway Martinsville, VA 200 0.533
Sunday, April 25 Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford, CT 150 0.5
Saturday, May 15 Riverhead Raceway Riverhead, NY 200 0.25
Saturday, May 29 Jennerstown Speedway Jennerstown, PA 150 0.522
Saturday, June 12 Oswego Speedway Oswego, NY 150 0.675
Saturday, June 19 Riverhead Raceway Riverhead, NY 200 0.25
Saturday, July 17 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, NH 100 1.058
Saturday, July 31 New York International Raceway Lancaster, NY 150 0.5
Friday, Aug. 6 Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford, CT 150 0.5
Saturday, Aug. 21 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Scarborough, ME 200 0.333
Saturday, Sept. 4 Oswego Speedway Oswego, NY 150 0.625
Friday, Sept. 10 Richmond Raceway Richmond, VA 150 0.75
Saturday, Sept. 18 Riverhead Raceway Riverhead, NY 200 0.25
Sunday, Sept. 26 Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford, CT 150 0.5

It appears that NASCAR has extended Speed Week in Florida two additional weeks. Speedweek usually begins one week prior to the running of the Daytona 500 and wraps up with the running of the 500. Due to challenges resulting from the ongoing pandemic and the need for significant advance planning, NASCAR has adjusted two race weekends immediately following the 63rd running of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14. All three NASCAR national series will now remain in Daytona to run a tripleheader at the infield road course Feb. 19-21 before the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series head down to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 27-28.

The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series races on the Daytona road course will replace the events originally scheduled to take place at Auto Club Speedway in California on Feb. 27-28. The Camping World Truck Series race is realigned from the event originally scheduled to take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, Feb. 19.

After consecutive race weekends in Daytona, the Cup and Xfinity Series will make the trek to Homestead-Miami Speedway one week later than originally scheduled, rounding out the Florida swing Feb. 27-28. Following the events at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will all head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway as originally planned March 5-7.

The New Smyrna has released the following schedule for the 2021 World Series:

  • Friday 2/5/2021 – David Rogers Super Late Models, Modifieds, Pro Late Model, Sportsman , Bomber A
  • Saturday 2/6/2021 – David Rogers Super Late Models, Modifieds, Pro Late Model, Sportsman , Mod Minis
  • Sunday 2/7/2021 – David Rogers Super Late Models, Modifieds, Pro Late Model
  • Monday 2/8/2021 – Tour Modified & ARCA Menards East Series 175
  • Tuesday 2/9/2021 – David Rogers Super Late Models, Tour Modified , Modifieds, Pro Late Model
  • Wednesday 2/10/2021- David Rogers Super Late Models, John Blewett lll Memorial Tour Modified 75 , Modifieds, Pro Late Model.
  • Thursday 2/11/2021 – David Rogers Super Late Models, Tour Modified , Modifieds, Pro Late Model
  • Friday 2/12/2021 – Richie Evans Memorial Tour Modified 100 , Pro Late Model, Ground Pounders, Pro Trucks
  • Saturday 2/13/2021 – Orange Blossom David Rogers Super Late Model 100, Modifieds, LKQ Super Stocks, Pro Trucks

On a sad note, World War II veteran Dave Humphrey passed away last week at the age of 95 . He raced with and beat the best competed with, and beaten, the best including A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Johnny Rutherford in Sprint cars. In midgets, he’s run with Lew Duncan, Gary Bettenhausen, and John Andretti. In supers, he’s competed against Eddie West, Howie Brown, and Ollie Silva. Driving stock cars, Dave has run with Ed Flemke, Fred DeSarro, Bugs Stevens, Richie Evans, Ron Bouchard, and Leo Cleary.

He was a 6-time Northeastern Midget Association champion with 72 wins between 1965-1986, he recorded 8 United Racing Club wins from 1959 – 1961, He was the 1951 The New London-Waterford Speedbowl Modified champion with 8 wins 1951-53, He was a 3-time Seekonk Speedway champion (1951-52, 1959) with 37 wins 1949-86. Seekonk opened in 1946. Humphrey was the winningest driver in the track’s early years with 36 wins between 1949-1966. The late George Summers tied it in 1971. His first and last NEMA wins were at Seekonk. He is a former track champion at the Norwood Arena and the West Peabody Speedway in Massachusetts

Overall he recorded over 100 wins at places like Beech Ridge, Catamount, Claremont, Devil’s Bowl, Flemington, Hudson, Island Garden, Lee, Malta, Monadnock, New London-Waterford, Norwood, Old Bridge, Onteora, Oxford, Plattsburgh, Seekonk, Selinsgrove, Speedway 95, Spud, Stafford, Star, Thompson, Unity, Utica-Rome, W. Peabody, and Westboro.

Dave was inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame in 2012 and is a member of the Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame. His first feature win took place in 1941 when Dave was 21. His final feature win was in 1986 at age 61.

September 15, 1967 Gene Bergin made it two in a row at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Jerry Wheeler and Rene Charland. The USAC Sprinters were also on hand for the Joe Csiki Memorial. Former Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, who would go on to become a Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis, won the event. Gene Bergin finished second with Earl Halaquist, third.

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, it’s all there. Read all about it in the all new book. 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 Christmas gift!