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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Silva Classic always a must-see

August 08. 2018 11:16PM
Epping's Dan Bowes won the ISMA tour event in Ontario earlier this season. He'll be one of the featured drivers at the Ollie Silva Classic on Friday at Lee USA Speedway. (Photos Jim Feeney)
On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m.

Lee USA Speedway: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

New London/Waterford (Conn.): Saturday, 2 p.m.

Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.

Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.

White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Hudson: Sunday, 5 p.m.

THE International Supermodified Association (ISMA) winged warriors will be swooping around Lee USA Speedway Friday in the 75-lap Ollie Silva Classic.

Get there early if you can. This is a race date that got circled on calendars as soon as Lee announced its 2018 schedule. Qualifying for Lee’s weekly Small Block Supermodifieds and Late Model Sportsmen will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Ollie Silva (1929-2004) was the first ever inductee into the Northeast Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He started racing at Dracut Speedway in 1949. His ability to win races from Canada to Florida to California — in cars that didn’t cost nearly as much as those of his most competitive rivals — was legendary.

Silva was a fixture at The Pines, Hudson and Star, a multi-time winner of Star Speedway’s International Classic, and a Modified and Supermodified champion who won an estimated 500 features in 12 states.

Another NEAR Hall-of-Famer, Russ Conway, co-founder of the New England Supermodified Association (NESMRA) in 1965 and an influential track owner and promoter including a stint at Lee, will serve as the Classic’s Grand Marshal.

ISMA’s most recent race was in Ohio at Sandusky Speedway. Dave Shullick Jr., a multi-time Ollie Silva Classic winner from Northridge, Ohio, came out on top.

Dan Bowes of Epping and Tennessean Kyle Edwards will arrive at Lee tied atop the championship point standings — a new perch for both.

Bowes pilots the Northeast Metals Technologies/G & D Tool Company No. 25. He finished second to Canadian Mike Lichty at Monadnock earlier this season and later drove to his first ISMA win at Jukasa Speedway in Ontario.

Bowes finished fifth in last year’s Ollie Silva Classic, which was won by Mike Muldoon of Baldwinville, N.Y. He struggled at Sandusky.

“I was passing a car on the outside on lap three when something broke on its rear and it got into me and bent my left rear tire,” Bowes said. “By rule, when you replace a tire during a race, it has to be a previously used tire, not a new one. I had to put on a tire I’d raced hard the night before and there were still 97 laps to go.”

Bowes predicts fans will see a good race Friday in part because ISMA is running a better right rear Hoosier tire than it had a year ago when Lee’s surface, which is notoriously rough on tires, dictated some save-your-stuff riding around.

“The new tire is softer, but it holds up better,” he said. “The leaders will probably be in lapped traffic fairly soon, which forces more side by side racing. You don’t want to go a lap down.”

“Do well in your heat race and start towards the front. That’s the best way to go,” Bowes noted.

The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Autosaver Group 150 at White Mountain — postponed by rain until Sunday — turned out to be a seat squirmer. Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, Vt., won it with a crossover move on lap 146 against Scott Payea. The pair had been swapping the lead since a lap 141 restart when Rich Dubeau lost power while in the lead.

It was the second straight win for Hebert. He had broken a years-long drought at Speedway 51 a few weeks ago. The victory moved him to within 41 points of points leader and defending champion Payea. Eddie MacDonald finished third to stay in title contention. Everybody chasing Payea has a problem though. He has seven top-five finishes in seven starts.

White Mountain Late Model regulars in the top ten were Quinny Welch (sixth), Stephen Donahue (seventh) and Oren Remick (ninth).

ACT returns to action at Oxford Plains Saturday, Aug. 25 as part of Oxford 250 weekend.

The Valenti Modified Series is at New London/Waterford Speedbowl Saturday along with the ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites. The Modified field is usually loaded because of Waterford regulars. Defending champion Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass., is the VMS point leader, 44 points up on Mike Willis Jr. of Grantham.

Monadnock, which got rained out last weekend, is back at it this Saturday with the Granite State Pro Stock Series John Hoyt Memorial 100 as its headliner.

It was a struggle, but five-time and defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby of Milford, Conn., broke into the 2018 win column Friday night in the Starrett 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Coby pitted several times after a tangle with Justin Bonsignore early in the race, but he stayed out when the leaders went in for tires on lap 118. Woody Pitkat, who pitted on the final caution on lap 140, raced back up into second place.

Ben Poland of Charlestown ended a three-year drought by winning the 40-lap R.E. Hinkley Super Street feature at Claremont. The race was held Saturday due to heavy rainfall Friday. Ricky Bly and Alex Poisson were second, third respectively.

Todd Buchwold of Canaan took the lead with nine to go and won for the first time this season in the 40-lap Sabil & Sons DIRTcar Sportsman Modified main event at Bear Ridge Speedway.

It’s Topless Night for the Sportsman Modifieds this Saturday sponsored by Swenson Insurance of Bradford, Vt.

Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at

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