IT HAPPENS once a year. On Saturday night, the Big Block Supermodifieds return to Lee USA Speedway for the 22nd annual Ollie Silva Memorial Classic 75.
The annual August event will run under the New England Supermodified Series (NESS) sanction for the first time, instead of the ISMA Supermodified Tour that it has been run under since the event’s inception.
Also new this season is the move to a Saturday night instead of Lee’s traditional Friday night program. Star Speedway in Epping has moved to Friday this week to avoid having the neighboring tracks running at the same time. The race will pay a $5,000 winner’s share.
Among the favorites are Jon McKennedy, Anthony Nocella and Rob Summers, all accomplished pavement Modified drivers. Russ Wood Sr. of Pelham hopes to make a return to victory lane, as his legendary career in Supermodifieds continues. He is a multi-time race winner at Lee, but McKennedy, who won his first career Supermodified race in the event 10 years ago, is hoping to become the only five-time winner of the race. He is currently tied with Chris Perley at four wins apiece.
Silva, who died in 2004 at the age of 75, won an estimated 500 feature races across 12 states, and was inducted into the New England Racers Hall of Fame. After working on his family’s farm in Topsfield, Mass., Silva began racing at the age of 20, calling Star Speedway home for many years, before his retirement from racing in 1980.
Two cars fielded by legendary car owner Vic Miller are expected to be driven by New Yorker Michael Barnes and Ben Seitz of Bourne, Mass. Bobby Chartier, Dan Bowes and Dave Duggan of Milford are also entered.
Some of the regulars on the ISMA Tour, most notably Fremont’s Mike Ordway Jr. and Otto Sitterly, will not be in the field. A primary factor in that decision is the NESS rule for top wings on the cars. NESS requires a smaller wing than ISMA, and although a change to that rule was considered, it never came to fruition, leaving a car count expected to be in the 12-15 range.
Lee also has the Norm Wrenn III Memorial 31 for Pro Four Modifieds on the schedule, to honor Wrenn, who was operating the track for his father before his unexpected passing in 2020 following a brief illness. Four weekly divisions will also compete, with a $25 admission price.
Around the tracksStar Speedway in Epping returns with the 350 Supermodifieds Jim Belfiore Memorial 40 on a special Friday night schedule that also includes the Woody’s Auto Street Stocks, the MLM Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks, with an admission price of $10 for everyone 10 and older, or two for $15. The “Outside Groove Saloon,” located in turn four, will be open for the first time in track history.
Legion Speedway in Wentworth remembers New Hampshire Ice Racing founder Jack Cook with a memorial event in his name on Friday night. They have a five-division program that includes the Non-Wing Sprint cars and 602 Dirt Modifieds.
One week after what has been called the most successful Saturday night in track history, White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock reopens on Saturday night with a special 50-lap Dwarf Car event, plus their regular four-division feature program. Quinten Welch of Groveton currently leads Barrington’s Alby Ovitt by 47 points in the headline Late Model division as the season’s stretch run begins.
Riverside Speedway has their weekly divisions back in action on Saturday after a week off, featuring the NELCAR Legends added to weekly divisions.
The Hennessey Memorial for Pure Stocks headlines the Sunday Hudson Speedway schedule. The New England Dwarf Cars will also compete as part of a five-division program. Last Sunday night there was a strong field of 18 cars and a packed grandstand for the NHSTRA Modified event, run in the memory of Choppy Baldwin, an accomplished Hudson racer who passed away recently.
Claremont Motorsports Park welcomes the STAR Senior Tour Auto Racers, joining their five weekly house divisions on Friday night. Late Model Sportsman driver Ricky Bly of Sunapee comes into this weekend second in the NASCAR Division III national standings, four points out of the lead.
In Vermont, the New Hampshire-based Granite State Mini Sprints return to Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford on Saturday, added to a weekly division schedule, while the Thunder Road Speedbowl has a four division program on Thursday and a special 200-lap Enduro event on Sunday.
Heading south into Connecticut, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series goes 100 laps at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday for $10,000 to win, while Stafford Motor Speedway has its annual $5,000-to-win SK Modified special scheduled for Friday night.
Down in North Carolina
North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway reopened on Tuesday night with the “Race Track Revival 50” for pavement Modifieds. Former NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Newman took the lead on lap 43 and was able to hold off Spencer Davis and Matt Hirschman for the win before a sold-out crowd. “Matt Hirschman has been the best and we got his number tonight,” a jubilant Newman said in victory lane.
The 0.625-mile oval hosted NASCAR Cup events until closing in 1996 as part of a deal that brought a second Cup event to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It briefly reopened in 2010, but has been lying dormant until this year, with the help of financing provided by the state of North Carolina.
Following some pavement races this month, the track surface will be removed for dirt racing in October, and then repaved during the winter months for a potential return of some national touring series events beginning in 2023.
Thunder Road (Barre, Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m. and Sunday, 6 p.m.
Star: Friday, 7 p.m.
Legion: Friday, 7 p.m.
Claremont: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Lee: Saturday, 6 p.m.
White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Bradford, Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.
Riverside: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Hudson: Sunday, 5:05 p.m.