RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Modified Action Coming At Martinsville, Thompson & Stafford; News & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – As of this coming Friday, April 2, only six days remain before the green flag drops at Martinsville on Thursday April 8. Round two of the WMT will be the annual Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 25.

Despite an abbreviated schedule, 52 different competitors ran in 2020 — with 15 competing in all nine events. There were five different winners and 18 drivers recorded a top-five finish.

Hot on the heels of the Martinsville event Thompson Speedway opens its 82nd season with the annual Icebreaker on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11. A total of 10 divisions will compete across two days of racing. Sunday’s card features the $10,000-to-win Icebreaker 125 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series with qualifying going green at 1:15pm. There’s also a 40-lap ACT-type Late Model shootout plus the Limited Sportsman and SK Light Modifieds. A test and tune session scheduled for last Sunday was cancelled due to a bad weather forecast.

Saturday’s six-division card is highlighted by the season-opening Thompson 75 for the PASS North Super Late Models. They’re joined by the Sunoco Modifieds, NEMA LITES Midgets, EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge, Mini Stocks, and an 8-Cylinder Street Stock Open with a 1:00pm post time. An optional Test N’ Tune practice day is slated for Friday, April 9 with all Icebreaker divisions welcome.

When Matt Hirschman pulled out of the pit area at the Wall Stadium last Saturday he should have attached a broom to his tire rack as he scored a clean sweep of the twin 50s that made up the tour type Modified Turkey Derby. Hirschman displayed total domination as he ran lap after lap with the precision of a surgeon performing a heart transplant. Wall Stadium is a high speed – high banked 1/3 mile speedway. Hirschman mastered it, no doubt about it!

After posting fast time in time trial qualifying, Hirschman jumped to the lead of the first 50-lapper and never looked back. Tom Martino, Jr. chased Hirschman most of the way before Andrew Krause slipped into second in the final laps. Martino held on for third at the finish, with Long Island’s Timmy Solomito and Ron Frees rounding out the top five.

In the second 50-lapper Martino was the early leader as Hirschman came from fourth spot. Hirschman advanced to second by lap four and then closed on the bumper of Martino for nearly 30 laps. Hirschman then dove to the inside to take the lead as Krause advanced to second seven laps later. Krause then chased Hirschman to the finish line with Martino, Solomito and Anthony Sesely completing the top five.

The Winston-Salem NC Journal reported that buying a ticket to Bowman Gray Stadium racing just got easier. Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement that outdoor sporting events can now have up to 50% capacity sent a shockwave of good news to those who provide outdoor entertainment.

“Our official attendance is around 16,000, so the 8,000 number is a better number,” said Gray Garrison, promoter of Winston-Salem Speedway Inc., which puts on the NASCAR-sanctioned series each summer at Bowman Gray. “One of the things we have to do as the management company is we need to find out the other stipulations that go along with this.” Social distancing requirements will have to be analyzed, Garrison said, before they decide just how many tickets can be sold. The 72nd season of racing as one of the oldest tracks in the state is scheduled to begin April 17.

May 2, 1969, Fred DeSarro in his own No.11 took the opening night 50 lap feature win. Eddie Flemke in the Garutti-Arute No.14 was second. Gene Bergin, in the Garbarino Bros.V-4 was third with Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler No.3 and Ed Yerrington in the Freddies TV No.23 rounding out the top five.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which 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!

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