LEFTOVERS: NORTH-SOUTH SHOOTOUT  by Mike Twist, Denise DuPont & Amy Hayes
Myers, The Hirschmans, The Beers, Grigas, Hossfeld, Two Kings and Much More

The most controversial incident during the North-South Shootout didn’t occur with one lap to go exiting turn four.  It didn’t happen in a tight pack of Modifieds racing at full-throttle or with a car fighting to stay on the lead lap.
It happened under caution.

On lap 50, Donny Lia was running fifth when contact was made with John Blewett, III.  Lia went around.  Ted Christopher went around.  And when Lia attempted to get his car pointed in the right direction, he ran smack into the #1 of Burt Myers, who was innocently just trying to get by the frontstretch wreck at caution speeds.

The crowd went nuts.  Myers is a fan favorite down south and the home crowd didn’t take kindly to his exiting the race due to the mistake of a driver from Long Island.  Myers stirred up the crowd some more calling Lia “stupid” off the PA system.

After the race, Myers had not calmed down much at all.
“I don’t know if you call it a brain fart or if you call it stupidity or if you just call it Donny Lia,” said Myers.  “It was about the stupidest thing that I’ve ever seen anybody do.  We don’t race back to the flag and caution laps don’t count.  What did he possibly have to gain to beat the car coming through the wreck.”

“He said that he was against the wall and tried to gas it and spin the car around.  Well, if there are cars coming through the intersection in front of you, you damn sure don’t drive through the intersection do you?  I was way behind him.  I was all slowed down and going through there when he slammed me.”

Lia took full blame for the incident.
Burt Myers  (51 Photo)
“He said that it was the last thing that he meant to do.  Well, I about popped his face and said that was the last thing that I meant to do.  It will be handled accordingly though I’m sure.”

But Lia knows that he did all that he could to try and take responsibility for what happened.

“There’s not much more than I can do than to apologize to him.  Every now and then you make a mistake and that’s what I did.  I’m sure he’s not happy, but I’m sorry it happened.”


Eric Beers finished third in the Hoosier 100 right on the heels of runner-up Ted Christopher.  It was a tight battle to the finish made even more amazing by the fact that Beers was only running on seven cylinders.
The Hirschman family in victory lane.  (Jim DuPont Photo)
But things weren’t over yet.  Beers would do more than just maintain fifth-place after losing power, he would actually move up to a podium finish.  That shocked even the driver.

“On seven cylinders.  Unbelievable.  We pulled the valve cover off in tech just to see what was wrong.  The valve spring was broke, the rocker had a big crack in it and the pushrod was lying next to it.  So we had a seven-cylinder, third-place racecar.”

Handling was the key to that fact.

“The crew did an awesome job,” said Beers.  “This car was really stuck to the race track. I could put the car anywhere on the race track that I wanted to. It is just a shame that we did not get a chance to show what we really had.”

Although Beers was thrilled with finishing third, he also regretted the fact that he wasn’t able to dice it up for the victory with his Northampton, Pennsylvania neighbor – Matt Hirschman.

“With eight cylinders, it definitely would have been a Mud Lane one-two and little Matt might have been chasing me,” said Beers.  “Next year, we’ll come down and make sure that we have eight cylinders for the whole race.”


To finish in the top five of a prestigious race like the North-South Shootout is pretty darn impressive for most people.  But not for John Blewett, III.  In three previous runnings of the race, he won twice and finished second to Donny Lia once.
“About lap 55, I was on the bottom of John Blewett when it started skipping at the end of the straightaway,” said Beers.  “I thought maybe it was the carburetor.  I was watching the oil pressure because I didn’t want it to blow up and crash.  Then it finally went from skipping to dead and I had no power.  I figured that whatever was broke had broken, so I kept going.  The car was so glued to the track…it sucked.  I said to the guys on the radio that I didn’t think that I could pass anybody and we had what we had.

“Every time we got a good run on someone in the straight away they would pull away form me. So I had to do all my passing in the turns. The cars are pretty much running wide open in turn one and two.”
Beers' #9  (51 Photo)
The #66 team was second to none on pit road, according to Blewett.

“We had great pit stops.  We blew everyone away in the pits again.  I’ve been saying all year long that we have the best crew on pit road and they did it again.”

So all in all, it wasn’t a bad day.  It was not up to Blewett standards.

“We came home with a fifth and led some laps,” said Blewett.  “All that you can do with these races is to put yourself in a position to win and we did that on pit road and with a little bit of racing.  We were just a little bit short.”  


Through practice, qualifying and the 100-lap feature, Matt Hirschman appeared that he could do no wrong.  His #60 RoC Modified was close to perfect all weekend and won the race in convincing fashion.

Matt Hirschman was the top gun of the Shootout.  (Jim DuPont Photo)

Bobby Grigas headed down to Concord Motorsport Park for the North-South Shootout not quite sure what to expect from the unique track.  Grigas is only in his rookie season of Modified racing, and Concord is viewed a very challenging track too many of the competitors who race there.  Sometimes it can take years for a driver to learn the best way around the facility.

So nobody would have guessed that the driver of the #09 machine was a rookie after seeing the times he set in qualifying and practice.  Grigas put down an impressive
Donny Lia  (51 Photo)
“This is the first time that I’ve been here except to watch the North-South Shootout,” said King.  “We showed up for practice the other night and were really off.  We were off in qualifying and the heat race.  We came in here today, changed a bunch of springs and made a lot of changes.  We were pretty good.  A little bit more in the same direction and we probably would have been right up there at the front.  But we’re happy with this.”

Before the race, King wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his day.

“This morning when we went out to practice, the car was two or three tenths quicker than before and that was on old tires.  I knew that we would be good, but with the
Blewett's #66  (Rick Ibsen Photo)

Ted Christopher likes to win and usually he is happy with nothing less.  But after finishing second at the North-South Shootout, he had a pretty big smile on his face thanks to a strong run that nearly got to the front.
This year, Blewett finished fifth and was just a tick off.  But he was still happy with the effort that his #66 team put forth.  Winning this time out just wasn’t in the cards.

“We were strong,” said Blewett.  “We were really strong in the beginning.  I was really surprised that we could pass cars with such ease in the beginning.  It was on a rail and I said to the guys on the radio that was too good, too soon.  We tightened it up on the pit stop.  Maybe we should have left it alone, but hindsight is always 20/20.  We actually went loose.  It seems weird to me that we went loose by tightening it up.

“I wish that I could have made a few better decisions set-up wise.  But I know what my mistakes were.  I knew as I was doing them.  Second guessing bit me in the ass.”
Grigas' #09  (51 photo)
“The car had been awesome since we unloaded it,” said Hirschman.  “We didn’t really change anything.  We set fast time and dominated the race.  This was hands down, the best racecar that I’ve ever driven in my life.”

“We timed fast. We practiced good and then pretty much dominated the event. It is a good car. We had great success with this car all year. It just has been awesome. I am glad that I drive for some great people but I am so proud that I did this on my own. I just cannot believe that I won this race. “

NSS rules require that teams make a mandatory pit stop during the race.  Hirschman pitted, but his car was so good that his team just jacked it up and let him go – without making a tire change.

“Tires?  I really didn’t think that we needed them.  The car was just so good.  Tires can help you a lot of time, but you can also take a chance if you miss the stagger.  The car felt good, so I said let’s go for it.”

“I was not worried about tires. I liked these tires. They are similar to what we run on ROC and this car has just been awesome on that series. Hoosier tires just work great. These tires are just a little harder but I just love these tires and so does this car.”
Christopher (#00) races with John Blewett, III's #66 and Eric Beers' #9
Christopher wheeled Tour-type Modifieds for four different teams this season.  At Concord, he was behind the wheel of the Brady Bunch #00.

“When you switch rides all of the time, it’s hard.  I’ve been in this car before but you have to get used to it again.  We came one spot shy, but I passed a lot of cars and had a lot of fun.  That is a fun track to race at.”


When Speed51.com caught up with Ted Christopher after the race, the interview was interrupted when his cell phone rang.

“Hold on, I need to take this,” said Christopher.

It turned out to be an important call.  Christopher’s twin brother Mike, an accomplished Modified driver himself, wasn’t at Concord and was calling to hear all about TC’s race to second place.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Christopher.  “It was almost like the SMART race here where I started dead last and won.  We weren’t sure how far to go on the pit stop and that was basically my fault.  But it was a good run to second there.”

Late in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, Christopher was battling for the championship, so you’d expect him to have been racing different.  Well, that wasn’t the case.

“That deal with the points…well, I don’t race for points,” said Christopher.  “You can see that in that last two years on the Tour.  I race to win.  We were trying to do that here and came up a little bit short.”
lap that secured him one of the coveted top-five qualifying positions for the North-South Shootout feature.  It was lining up to be a great weekend for the young driver.

Then the feature started.

Grigas was black-flagged on the start of the race for a leaking fuel line.  The team went to work under the caution and thought that they had the car repaired.  But there wasn’t such luck for the team at Concord. 

“It was leaking gas out of the fuel cell at the beginning of the race,” said Grigas.  “We went and tried to get it fixed under caution but it just kept leaking.  It’s really too bad.  We had a super fast car. But what is there that you can do?  We just got to keep on going.”

Grigas ended up finishing 28th.


The Hillbilly Racing #79 driven by Chuck Hossfeld was faster towards the end of the race than any seventh-place finisher had a right to be.  Hossfeld took over the lead during the middle stages of the race, when Matt Hirschman pitted, and if the Hoosier 100 had played out a little bit differently, would have been there battling for the victory at the end.
“Sometimes you get that.  There was stuff to learn.  We’ll keep plugging away and racing.  I think that it won’t be long until you see us doing really well.  I’m really happy with how things are coming along.  I know that we finished seventh, but we led and we might have pitted one stop too late.  I agreed with the call at the time though.  We were leading and getting some lap money.  It was right around halfway and I got caught behind four or five cars that were racing hard at the end.  If it wasn’t for that, we might have done even better.”


There is a notion that when the Modifieds teams of the North and South get together, the Yankee racers have the upper hand due to experience, funding or equipment.

Burt Myers is on a mission to disprove that.  We’ve already seen how the North Carolina boy who runs with the term “Dirty South” on his car exited the race prematurely.  Before that though, his #1 was coming around as one of the cars to beat.

So does that prove that a Southern team can win a big show like the North-South Shootout?
Most of all, the driver and team had a fun weekend.

“We really were going good,” said Hossfeld.  “It was a fun weekend.  All that I can do is to thank the Hills for a fun weekend.  We have a good race team and now we’re showing it.  We’re definitely staying together this next year.”

Hossfeld had been the subject of a few silly season rumors, but you can take him out of that mix now.  2006 was a building year for the #79 team and its driver.  Hossfeld knows that the combination of capable of some great things for 2007.
weather being colder, I didn’t know if we did enough.  At that point, we didn’t know whether to keep going or not.  The car was a lot better than we really expected once the race started and it stayed that way.”


It’s not unusual for a Hirschman to win big while another member of the family is calling the shots pit side.   Tony Hirschman has won his last two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titles with his son Matt as a co-crew chief.
Chuck Hossfeld  (51 Photo)
“Absolutely,” said Myers.  “A southern car can win this race just as easy as a Northern car can.  It just needs to be working good.  The #17 car and Jason were both running good at the end.  It can be done.  People come down here and see that the first five cars are Yankees, but they outnumber us three to one.  With 10 of us and 35 of them, they should be favored.”

Before his incident with Donny Lia, Myers felt that the race was coming right into his hands.

“This is the first time that I’ve actually gotten to run this race with a decent starting position.  Our last three visits, we’ve been in heat race wrecks or blown a motor before qualifying.  This was our first real shake at it.  I really think that we could have picked our way into the top three easily.

“We had a really good car that was way too tight from the beginning.  We had a problem all weekend when the stagger would close up after we got running.  We would be really tight.  The car was never right until we came in
and got right side tires.  We made an adjustment and after that, she was right.  I was biding me time coming through there.”

Myers will have one more shot at “kicking some Yankee ass” this season with the Thanksgiving Weekend Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston Speedway.  Plus, he’s already planning for next season’s Shootout.

“We’ll come back next year to give this another shot and we’ll be up at South Boston ready to kick their ass too.”


With Myers exits and Junior Miller’s black-flag penalty for leaking fluid [more on that later], Brian King carried the flag for the Southern contingent.  The Shootout rookie came home in the seventh finishing position after 100 green flag laps.
While this doesn't have anything to do with any particular story in Leftovers, it was nice to see that even in the heart of NASCAR country, the North-South Shootout was recognized as being in town.  (51 Photo)
King's #17  (51 Photo)
The tables were turned at the Shootout though.  Matt was the winning driver and Tony, a five-time NASCAR champion, was on the sidelines.

In victory lane as Matt Hirschman got out of his car, his proud father took some time to express his feelings.

“I really wanted to bring my own car, the # 48, but we could just not get enough crew guys,” said Tony.  “I was here to help Matt. I want to thank all the guys who came down from up north. Matt did an awesome job. This car was flawless all weekend. He drove the wheels off if it as you could tell. He deserves to finally get a big win under his belt. I guess next year he needs to get a real Whelen Modified Tour Car win. He is well on his way.”
In the past, Tony has had to miss some of Matt’s races when schedules conflicted.  This year, they both raced full-time on the Whelen Tour and every time that Matt raced, his father was right there.

“He’s been helping,” said Matt Hirschman.  “I called the shots with the set-up, but he’s helping and he’s here.  He goes to all of the races that I go to with this car.  Now that we are both racing the Whelen Tour, we don’t have any conflicting races.”  


Tony Hirschman was a proud father after the races at Concord, but his neighbor Eric Beers might have been beaming even more.  Beers’ three-year-old son Austin won the annual pedal car race at Concord before the big-car features began.
“Mine’s a little younger than Tony’s, so I have more to brag about,” joked Beers.  “Austin was awesome.  He’s three years old and was racing against five and six year old kids.  There were some big kids there.  I got a little worried, but the kid was focused all day.

“It was his first race ever and he smoked the field.  He beat them by a half straightaway.  I told him that all he had to do was to pedal to his Mom.  He told me that he would do that and that he wasn’t lifting.  He went to the front.  He drove his butt off and there was no catching him.”

Austin’s skill as a racecar driver shouldn’t come as a surprise.  He’s been studying the sport pretty hard for a toddler.

“He loves racing.  He’ll go to Stafford or Thompson for a big race like the Fall Final or World Series and sit in the stands all day long from the beginning until the end of the races.  He won’t move.  He loves racing that much.”
For the first three years of the pedal car race, the Crowley girls of Massachusetts have won the event.  This year, they outgrew the event, but their father Kevin Crowley was at the track crew chiefing both the full-sized cars driven by Eric Beers and the pedal car of Austin Beers.

“I have to thank Kevin,” said Eric Beers.  “He went off there and moved the pedals up for him because he’s such a little guy.  It worked out well.”


Les Hinckley and his team came down from Windsor Locks, Connecticut to compete in the North South Shootout race.  Hinckley had just completed a successful year in the True Value Modified Series were he had two wins.
Austin Beers and his winning 'Ole Blue pedal car.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Hinckley's #0 - renumbered from his usual #06.
(Jim DuPont Photo)
“This was a great race,” said Hinckley of the Shootout.  “I really enjoyed running on this track once we figured it out. It was very challenging during practice to figure out the setup and how to get around the track.”

Hinckley turned some heads in the race when he ran as high as second-place before having a tire go down, spinning and finishing 19th.

“Coming here very few people knew who I was. But after running up in second place in my bright yellow car, I think that people now know who I am. We may not have used the best tire pitting strategy. We thought that a people may have come in a little too early so we waited to pit for tires. In this race it proved not to be the best plan.”
You can count on Hinckley to be back in the future.

“We really like the Concord track. It is one of the best tracks that we have raced at and I am looking forward to returning here. We definitely will be back.”
“I was trying to get the car turned around and I got into Burt a little bit.  I feel really bad about it.  I was just trying to get the car off the wall when he was going by.  I ended up getting into him and ending his night.  I feel really bad and went over to him to tell him that I was sorry about it.  It wasn’t what I was looking to do.”

Lia went to Myers to apologize, but that didn’t go over so well.

“He apologized, but that didn’t do anything,” said Myers.  “He can apologize all that he wants to.  It would be like me smacking you in the face right now and saying, ‘Man, I’m sorry.’  That don’t play with me.  I don’t take that crap.  It will all come out in the wash, I’m sure.

Earl Paules drove the wheels, well actually the tires, off his car trying to go from second to contending for the lead.  It didn’t quite well out and Paules dropped to fourth at the finish.  It was still a good night though, as Paules was officially the highest finishing RoC Modified driver [Matt Hirschman and Eric Beers were classified as NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regulars].

“We just couldn’t hang in there at the end,” said Paules.  “We lost the right rear.  I pitted early and wore it out.  Tonight we had a car that could have won.  The track really freed up and we just wore it out.”

By finishing in the 10th position, Rick Kluth earned a automatic starting spot for the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston on November 25th.
Kluth's #44  (51 Photo)
"I am really excited about being offered that spot,” said Kluth.  “I have heard a lot about it.  I have been to South Boston a long time ago, I don't remember too much about it but I would like to go back."

"We hadn't made any other plans for Thanksgiving Weekend.  I am glad I lost those spots at the end of the race to finish 10th.  Hopefully it will be warmer than it was here"


Junior Miller, ‘King of the Southern Modifieds’ was a bit underpowered in practice and qualifying with his Bowman-
Gray car at the Shootout.  But he raced it well, getting into the top 10 before being blacked-flagged for an apparent fluid leak.

“We got the nose bent up and the motor did get a little bit warm,” said Miller.  “I did push out a few drops of water.  They blacked flagged us, we knocked the nose down and the temperature dropped to 180 degrees.  Then they held us.” 
It wasn’t a bad overall night and now Miller is gearing up to try for an even better one at the Mason-Dixon Meltdown.

“For a stadium car, we didn’t do too bad,” said Miller.  “If we had put tires on, we probably would have been a top five car.  But it just wasn’t our night, we’ll just have to go to South Boston and get ‘em.”


Not all of the racers at Concord Motorsport Park were driving this past weekend.  Several driver who didn’t
compete in the Hoosier 100 were spotted in the pits throughout the three-day event.

Ken Barry, fresh off a runner-up finish in the Fall Final at Stafford, was on hand Thursday to practice Frank Ruocco’s Tour-type and SK Modifieds.  Jerry Nadeau was at the track visiting with old pal Todd Szegedy.  Tour regulars Doug Coby and Ron Yuhas were also seen it the pits during the weekend.


This year’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top rookie hoped to have a good showing down South, but it wasn’t to be.  James Civali ended the race backed against the frontstretch wall and in the 32nd finishing position.
Paules' #8  (51 Photo)
Pitkat (L) talks with James Civali (R) at Thompson.  (51 Photo)
“We came in early and put a tire on and it tightened up like crazy," said Civali.  "But that was before that 20-lap caution, so the next caution we came back in and we just jacked the car up and let it down, and we beat all of the other guys out off of pit road.

“The car was really good, it was really hooked up.  Then something happened in front of me and they got together, everybody checked up and I got hit from behind.  I spun around and backed up into the wall hard it bent the motor and the throttle linkage.  And left it hung wide open so we couldn’t drive it.”

There might still be one more race in the cards for Civali
this season.  His car owner Don King is considering entering the #28 team in South Boston’s Mason-Dixon Meltdown.

“We might go to Mason-Dixon, we will see what the car owner says."


Matt Hirschman’s #60 won the Shootout and came close to also winning the Race of Champions at Oswego earlier this year.

“This car could have won more then two races this year,” said Hirschman.  “The Race of Champions was a heart breaker. This is a big win. My career needed a big win like this. The Race of Champions would have been it, but this is a huge win for my career. I am just so proud and thankful to all the people who helped me get to this point.”


Carl Pasteryak took a chance and made the deal to give away his winnings from the Non-Qualifers race to compete in the North South Shootout’s Hoosier 100.  He finished the race in the 21st position.
“That was exactly what we to do,” said Pasteryak.  “We came here with a new car. We had a pretty big crash at Thompson a couple weeks ago. We were pretty mad after qualifying. We had some problems with tires and setup. We wanted to come and run good. The main event is the North South Shootout and that is what we came here for.

“The non qualifiers race is a wonderful thing. I am glad that they had it. They should continue to have it. I am proud and honored to have been able to have won the race. It is great to have won at Concord. There are no very many people that can say that they won at Concord. We did not have the best setup to run the race
with. We used up all our old tires. We knew what we were up against. We wanted to finish the best that we could with all the wheels on it. No hits, no runs and no flats and we did it.”


Bobby Santos, III returned to the Modifieds at the Shootout behind the wheel of Eddie Whelan’s #36 machine.  The weekend had its good times, as Santos was plenty fast, but also its bad times – Santos was involved in a early wrecked that dropped him to a 36th-place finish in the Hoosier 100.

“I think I just got hit in the right rear and turned into the wall,” said Santos.  “I am not really sure, we just got hit and spun around.  We had a good car, the guys did a great job, its just really disappointing in the end.

“it was fun going back to back (in the SK race and the Mod Race) I just felt good going into these races, it just didn’t work out.”

Donny Lia was running in the top five before getting involved in a mid-race wreck and then running into Burt Myers accidentally under caution.  Both events conspired to end his night.

“We had a good car,” said Lia.  “The guys worked hard and we chased it.  It ended up really good.  But it was one of those deals when we got turned around and ended up in the fence.  That ended the night.  It wasn’t what we wanted, but we are you going to do?  We’ll just give it a shot next time.”

When practice began for the Shootout weekend, Andy Seuss had one of the fastest cars out there.  He was also lightning quick in qualifying when he spun on his first qualify lap and then amazingly came back to time trial in the top 10 with flat spotted tires on his second lap.

But some early bad luck took its toll on Seuss in the Hoosier 100.  He got caught up when Bobby Santos, III and Ronnie Silk tangled early on in the race.
“We got shuffled back early.  Some people weren’t using their heads out there.  I thought that I was safe where I was, but we got put into a bad position.  I saw the trouble and thought that I had it slowed up, but I just got into the marbles and it got sideways.  We broke a rear trailing arm bracket.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of the deal and part of racing.  We had a fast car and I think this was definitely a time that I could honestly say that I had a shot at the win.  We proved that all weekend long.”

Now, like many of his fellow competitors, Seuss is gearing up for one more shot at another win this year with the Thanksgiving weekend Mason-Dixon Meltdown.

“We’ll head to South Boston.  The guys did an awesome job here.  Now we’ll keep our heads up and take a few
weeks to regroup.  We’ll be well prepared for the Mason-
Dixon Meltdown and take it from there.”


Danny Sammons had a very rough weekend at Concord.  He hit the first turn wall very hard during practice, when it appeared that something broke in the car. The crew took the car to a nearby shop and redid the entire front end along

Then, during his second time trial session, Sammons hit the first turn wall hard in the same place so he did not make the feature race. There were two solid lines on the track from just after the start finish line that led directly into the first turn wall which definitely looked as though something had broken.  The crew parked the car and loaded up after the second wreck.

Marisa Niederauer spun out during her qualifying race Marisa spun and failed to qualify through that route. She then ended up running in the non-qualifying race and finished secon with her #74.

“I was actually going for a qualifying spot the guy in front of me spun,” said Niederauer.  “I guess he didn’t hit his brakes so he went back up the race track and I caught him with my left front. There was nothing that I could have done. I was on a mission.” 

Miller's #69  (Jim DuPont Photo)
Civali's #28  (51 Photo)
Pasteryak's #75  (51 Photo)
Lia's #18  (51 Photo)
Andy Seuss  (Jim DuPont Photo)
The #74 goes into the spin cycle. (Jim DuPont Photo)