LAST WEEK I commented on Tour-type Modified racing in the region generally and the Valenti Modified Series race at Monadnock specifically.
Among my remarks: “Modified fields have been holding up well in the region so far despite a hefty number of events” and “the various traveling series have a somewhat shared cast of characters, but they have managed to avoid too many direct scheduling conflicts.”
After taking in the Modified Series Matco Tool 100 at Monadnock, here’s an update.
Monadnock had a respectable crowd on hand in its recently installed upgraded grandstands and the night went well despite extended victory lane interviews for numerous divisions. That’s an old gripe of mine, not unique to Monadnock.
Qualifying heats began at 6 p.m. and the Valenti Modified Series main event rolled out at approximately 9:45.
There were 17 Modifieds on hand. That’s an underwhelming number of cars, but it’s possible to have a good race unfold anyway.
It turned out to be a good night for Ronnie Williams of Ellington, Conn., who was driving Gary Casella‘s No. 25 –- a car often driven with success in recent years by Rowan Pennink, who has retired from racing due to a chronic back condition.
Williams started 10th and employed a strategy often used by New England Hall-of Famer Dwight Jarvis, which is to stay apace on the lead lap without using up the car too much until after the halfway mark and then charging to the front.
Williams was up to fourth when Jeff Gallup‘s spinout brought out the race’s third caution on lap 62. To that point, Ben Byrne of Greenfield, Mass., coming off an earlier win in the Sportsman Modified feature in the same car, had led most of the way.
TJ Bleau muscled his way into the lead a few laps later and Williams followed him through. When Bleau shunted in turns two and four on lap 74, Williams swooped into the lead for keeps.
With the race three-quarters over and tire wear becoming a factor, everything began to get increasingly dicey. Gallup and Bleau, to name two, were guilty of some overdriving. It wasn’t dirty driving or intentionally rough – more like fishing for salmon with 2-pound test line. Several more yellows ensued.
As the finish neared, things got uglier. Mike Willis Jr., who was dicing with Gallup for fourth behind Williams, Kirk Alexander and Brian Robie, got sideswiped by Gallup. With his car sparking and slowing, Willis slogged around off the pace until Gallup came back around behind him. Willis proceeded to apply a vigilante, eye-for-an-eye brake job that stacked up the field and created, when the track was cleared, a green-white-checker finish.
Williams, Alexander and Cameron Sontag wound up as the top three cars. “I rode for 50 laps and then went for it,” Williams said.
Friday night the Valenti Modified Series – what’s left of it – will be at Claremont to make up a race that was originally scheduled at Monadnock but got derailed by the weather. The night’s card includes Claremont’s weekly divisions and the New England Antique Racers.
Sunday afternoon, White Mountain Motorsports Park hosts the first of three races in a new Tour-type Modified series called the Bullring Bash and sponsored by RaceChoice.com. The event will be run as a three-segment race and will pay the winner $5,000. Former Thompson Speedway General Manager Josh Vanada is the Series promoter.
The Bullring Bash includes a 35-lap, $1,500-to-win race for the Inex Legends Cars sponsored by Midstate Site Development. Also in action: Late Models, Flying Tigers and Strictly Stock Minis.
Speedway 51 in Groveton hosts the Granite State Pro Stock Series 100 Saturday.
The American Canadian Tour Late Models are at Thompson Speedway Saturday.
The top five finishers in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson were Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, Craig Lutz, Burt Myers and Ron Silk. On lap 98, Anthony Nocella and Patrick Emerling wrecked and Nocella came out of it with a broken thumb. He’s unsure whether he will be able to get back behind the wheel in time for the $10,000-to-win Tri Track Open Modified Series event at Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday, June 26.
The PASS Super Late Model Series is headed to Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine, Sunday.
Racing at Star Speedway this weekend includes the NorthEastern Midget Association (NEMA) Lites, who will zip around the Epping quarter-mile for 50 laps.
Saturday’s line-up lncludes the MLM Diagnostics Fast 40 Series for Street Stocks Can Somersworth’s Alby Ovitt be beaten in that one?
Motorcycle Racing Weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s new quarter-mile dirt track — out behind the North East Motor Sports Museum –- is the site this weekend for some American Flat Track (AFT) Motorcycle action (no roll cages here!) Saturday and Sunday. Opening ceremonies begin Saturday at 4 p.m.
AFT Twin Cylinder (90-plus horsepower) and AFT Single Cylinder classes will compete in a full race program including heat races, semis and a main event. Sunday it’s the 96th running of the Loudon Classic, the longest running motorcycle race in America, beginning at 11:45 a.m. For a detailed schedule of all events, visit nhms.com.
Next weekend New Hampshire Motor Speedway presents the 3rd Annual North East Short Track Showdown: Super Late Models, Valenti Modifieds, Street Stocks, Super Stocks and Mini Stocks with New England Hall-of-Famer and New Hampshire native Dave Dion returning to Loudon to serve as Grand Marshal.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m.
Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.
Lee USA: Friday 7 p.m.
NHMS: Saturday 11:45 a.m.
Rumtown: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Thompson (Conn.): Saturday, 5 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.
Monadnock: Saturday 6 p.m.
Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.
White Mountain: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Hudson: Sunday, 1 p.m.
NHMS: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.