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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Lee gears up for Silva Classic Friday night

August 09. 2017 12:03PM
ISMA points leader Jon McKennedy will be on hand Friday for the 17th annual Ollie Silva Memorial Classic 75 at Lee USA. (Jim Feeney - ISMA Supermodifieds)
On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m.

Lee USA: Friday, 6 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday 7, p.m.

Claremont Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 6 p.m.

White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.

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

Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Beech Ridge (Me.): Saturday, 7 p.m.

Hudson Speedway: Sunday, 5 p.m.

Friday night, the ISMA Supermodifieds will flash and slash about Lee USA Speedway in the track’s biggest race of the season: the 17th annual Ollie Silva Memorial Classic 75.

The 800-plus-horsepower methanol guzzlers share the billing with Lee’s weekly Small Block Super division that will compete in a 40-lap $4,000-to-win event of its own.

The combined purse for the two Supermodified events tops $50,000.

Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., is the current ISMA points leader. Last month at Jennerstown Speedway (Pa.), he drove the P&L Motorsports No. 21 to his eighth career ISMA win.

McKennedy is a two-time winner of the Ollie Silva Memorial Classic. He was the 2005 ISMA Rookie of the Year after starting racing at Hudson Speedway at the age of 14. His closest rival in the point chase is Ohioan Timmy Jedrzejek, driver of Howie Lane’s No. 97.

Lane’s last Ollie Silva Classic win as a car owner came in 2006 with Bobby Santos at the wheel. “We haven’t won yet this year,” Lane said, “but we’ll be good. We’ll get one.”

Mike Ordway Jr. of Fremont, a former Lee Supermodified champion, is coming to Lee off a big win out in Ohio at the Sandusky Hi-Miler. Ordway drives the Clyde Booth No.61.

“We experiment a lot with the car,” Ordway Jr. said. “We were fortunate to be going good at Sandusky. Whoever has the discipline to save their tires for the end can do well at Lee. But, you can’t let the leaders get to lapped traffic without you. On an ISMA restart, the lapped cars are left in place.”

Dave Helliwell of Pelham has four wins and the points lead in the weekly Supers division, which is sponsored by Les Sanborn, aka The Rodfather, a renowned Street Rod collector and admitted racing fanatic. The Rodfather also is a sponsor of the Go Fas No. 32 NASCAR Cup car driven by Matt DiBenedetto.

Ollie Silva (1929-2004) was a part of the first class of New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame inductees in 1998. The honorees included Richie Evans, Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan, Ron Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens. He was a four-time winner of the Star Classic. Another Star Classic winner, Hall of Famer Dick Batchelder, has said of Silva “he didn’t ride in the car, he wore it.”

Glen Luce of Turner, Maine, was the best in a 16-car field of Pass Super Late Models last week at Lee. Mike Netishen of Auburn carried the Supermodified checkers. Jay Sands of Hampton, James Russell and Nathan Leavitt were first, second, third in the Late Model Sportsman 50-lap, $1,000-to-win feature sponsored by R&R Public Wholesalers.

Hats off to Bear Ridge Speedway promoter CV “Butch” Elms and his crew for once again defying Mother Nature on Saturday at the “Home of the Coupes” clay oval. While asphalt tracks all around him threw in the towel early, Elms, as is his custom, forged ahead.

“We were determined and lucky,” Elms said. “It rained until 5 o’clock. We put a grader to it and used a bladed tiller and pack trucks. You always have a better surface with rainwater. Mother Nature does it better than we can. We’ll put 15- or 20,000 gallons on during dry weather, but this time it came ready.”

Fans and racers alike know that Elms will make every effort to get the races in, which helps avoid a rash of no-shows when the weather’s iffy.

“The racers are going to show up,” Elms said. “It’s what they do. Our crowds are pretty steady. There were people sitting in their regular seats with umbrellas waiting it out. They didn’t want to lose their spot.”

Once the racing got going, Todd Buckwold of Canaan drove to his second Sabil & Sons DIRTcar Sportsman Modified win in the Walter Buckwold Logging & Excavating No. 631 (dirt trackers are fond of three-digit numbers).

Jason Colbeth of Newbury, Vt., became 12th different winner in the Sportsman Coupe division.

Paul Wainwright of Salem won the 15th Annual Don Hayes Memorial for Roadrunners at Hudson.

The American Canadian Tour (ACT) will be at Beech Ridge on Saturday to make up last weekend’s rainout. White Mountain has an ACT event slated for Saturday, Aug. 19.

The Granite State Pro Stock Series is at Monadnock Speedway Saturday for the John Hoyt Memorial 100.

Star Speedway will hold its First Annual Junior Fan Appreciation Night Saturday. Kids Race Car Rides will be get underway on or about 5:30 and backpacks filled with school supplies will be given away to the first 200 kids through the front gate. Free admission for kids 10 and under.

Ten Years Ago ……. Chris Perley won the Ollie Silva Memorial at Lee; Joey Polewarczyk Jr. won his first ACT race at Seekonk …… Kirk Alexander was a Valenti Modified Series winner at Beech Ridge. Chad Turck won the Sportsman Modified feature at Legion Speedway for the second week in a row.

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