“Well whatever it is, it won,” I said.

Collectively, the entire #06 team, Les Hinckley included, shouted “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT DID!”

Hey, give me a break.  In northern Vermont, all we know how to race is taxi cabs.


Ed Dachenhausen was excited about finishing third at Monadnock two weeks ago, but was even more excited about the debut of his new race car at the next event at Canaan.  Unfortunately, the new car’s engine wasn’t finished in time. Fortunately, the old car had at least one more great performance left in its blood.  Dachenhausen finished a very strong second.
Alexander, Grigas, Wenzel, Suess & More
This writer is no stranger to short track racing, but is admittedly a little wet behind the ears when it comes to the world of open-wheeled modifieds.  At Monadnock, I asked about Les Hinckley’s new chassis for 2006, but mistakenly reported that it was a Troyer.  When I approached Hinckley after his dominating win at Canaan Fair Speedway last weekend, his crew members were waiting for me.

“There’s that 51 guy that said the car was a Troyer,” they said.

“Yeah, it’s a Spafco,” Hinckley said.
Dachenhausen's bright #48 Mod.
Some people thought the new car might be better off staying in the shop.

“It’s looking that way, ain’t it?” Dachenhausen laughed.  “Maybe we’ll leave it for another year.”

To even the casual observer, it’s obvious that Dachenhausen is having a good time racing with the True Value Modifieds.

“Jesus, this is great, we’ve been having a blast.  For the most part, the races have been clean from where I’ve been sitting.  It was a cold night and everybody used their
Hinckley's Spafco chassis racecar.
(Jim DuPont Photo)
heads, no slamming, no banging.  It was great.  I just really have to thank my Mom and Dad – P&C Excavating – Gary, he’s the mastermind behind it all, and I have to thank my crew.  Without them all, I’d be shit.  It’s just un-freakin’-believable.”


Holyoke, MA, driver Chris Wenzel is making strides in 2006.  After starting 15th, Wenzel drove to the front of the pack and battled hard with the top guns of the True Value Modified Racing Series before pulling off a strong fourth-place run between Dwight Jarvis and Gary Casella.
“That was a good run tonight,” Wenzel said after the race at 12:10am on Sunday.  “It was a crappy day, but it turned out real well, and we’re real happy with it.  We’ve had a good car in both races.  The first race didn’t work out so well, but the breaks went our way tonight.  We were able to get up front and stay there.  We had a lot fun racing those guys.”

Wenzel was looking forward to a side-by-side finish, but feels that the cold temperatures and a late caution prevented that.
Not bad for eight days!
“Everyone up front races really good, it was great, but the last caution hurt everybody.  It seemed like we all dropped off a little bit and couldn’t race as hard as we were before.  I think if the last caution hadn’t come out, it would have been a real good finish.  It’s pretty late, it’s cold, and we should all be in bed right now, but we did well and we’re very happy.”


Gary Casella raced at Monadnock with a car that was less than 24 hours old.  His crew built a new car in just eight days.  That’s it.
Chris Wenzel's #83 ran strong at Canaan.
The season opener was a tough outing, but after a spin and a moving rear-end housing, Casella finished 11th.  Although he was slightly down on horsepower at Canaan Fair Speedway, Casella used his liking of the track to leave with a fifth-place finish and high spirits. 

“I wasn’t around this week, and the guys did all the work themselves,” Casella said.  “They set the car up, they did the whole bit, I just showed up and drove it.  Usually I kill ‘em here on the straightaways, but we were down on power a little tonight.  Oh well, we’re happy.  You know it could always be better, but it’s in one piece and we’re going home happy.”
Casella enjoyed watching the late-race battle unfold between Dwight Jarvis and Chris Wenzel in front of him.

“Dwight drives so funny,” he said.  “His car looks like it doesn’t handle at all, but he’s always fast.  He’s driven like that for years.  He drifts way up, and you’re like, ‘well, he’s all done,’ but he’s fast.”


“It wasn’t the best of nights,” said two-time TVMRS champ Kirk Alexander, “but it wasn’t the worst either, I guess.”

After spinning in his heat race and failing to qualify, Alexander took an optional provisional starting spot for the feature.  Starting 22nd had its inherent disadvantages, and Alexander had a rough outing.  By the end of the race, both the front and rear bumpers on his car were destroyed.

“We just got bottlenecked up there for a while and couldn’t go anywhere,” he said.  “With my luck tonight, I got behind some guys that were losing water, and one guy lost a motor, so we’re lucky to even come out of it.”

Like most of his competitors, Alexander thought that the cold weather (and one slower driver) affected his race.

“There was a lot of grip on the inside, but almost none on the outside.  It’s tough to pass like that, and when
there’s a guy that doesn’t want to give you a line, he can easily keep you behind him unless you put the bumper to him.  It wasn’t a great night, but we’ll take what we earned.  It’s better than bringing it home in a box I guess.”


The True Value Modified Racing Series has a talented rookie crop challenging the veterans in 2006.  So far, two of them have shown that they can really run with the big dogs.  Twenty-four-year-old Bobby Grigas of Marshfield, MA, and 22-year-old Canadian Marc-Andre Cliche have turned heads this season, and the event at Canaan was their best efforts yet.   With neither driver ever having seen the town of Canaan, NH, let alone the 1/3-mile Canaan Fair Speedway, they set out determined to bring some victory lane hardware home with them.
Alexander had a tough night at Canaan.
Andy Seuss was fast until being caught in a wreck.
“The car was running good,” a disappointed Seuss said.  “We were up to 6th and a couple of cars started spinning in front of us.  I tried to go through the infield to try and avoid them and apparently that wasn’t enough.  One of them came down and tagged me in the right front, and we spent probably 30 laps in the pits.”

Despite the damage, Seuss’ crew worked hard to salvage the night.

“The guys did an awesome job getting me back out,” Seuss said.  “As off as everything is like they tell me –
the toe is out, the camber’s off, the caster’s off, the sway bar’s not even hooked up – the ol’ girl wasn’t all that bad, and we were actually pulling away from the leaders when we came back out.  We definitely had a winning car tonight, and it’s unfortunate.  It’s just a points’ night I guess.  When Kirk doesn’t have a good night, you have to capitalize on that.  We weren’t able to do that tonight, but congratulations to Les Hinckley and Ed Dachenhausen and Dwight Jarvis; they did real well.  They’re all real class acts and I just wish I was up there to race with them, because they’re a fun group to race with.”

Seuss said that his team has a good setup for the TVMRS/ACT doubleheader this weekend at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway.  After turning in a 3rd-place performance last time at the fast 1/3-mile, the 19 year-old is optimistic.

“We ran great there last time and we’ve got a whole new bag of tricks for it this time.  If it works, we should be unstoppable.”

It was a breakthrough performance for Grigas, well almost.
Grigas set fast time in practice, and looked like the only driver that could compete with Les Hinckley for the feature win.  Cliche won his qualifying heat, and was solidly in the Top-5 in the feature running with the leaders.

Then, the bottom fell out for both racers.

On lap 30, Cliche spun out of fourth place on the backstretch, collecting Bucky Demers and Andy Seuss in the process.  Just three laps after the caution, Grigas broke a panhard bar mount and was forced to pit out of a battle for second place with Ed Dachenhausen.
While Grigas’ Triple G Scaffolding car was done for the night, Cliche recovered to finish 11th.

Both were disappointed with their finishes, but happy to prove that they could run well in unfamiliar territory against established veterans.

“I had never raced here before and with all these cars in the pits, I just wanted to make the race,” said Grigas.  “I didn’t expect the car to be as good as it was.  It just all clicked.  I was planning to ride out the race until the panhard bar mount sheared off.  I know that I wouldn’t have won; (Hinckley) was just a touch faster.  But I know that we could have finished second.”

“This track is hard to run on the outside,” said Cliche, “but I got good starts and raced well on the inside line.  I won my heat and I’m very happy.  I feel very good, the car is still good and I’m ready to rock.”


With Monadnock Speedway winner and two-time champion Kirk Alexander running in the back of the pack, Andy Seuss was looking to make major strides and gain valuable points toward the TVMRS championship.  After starting 14th, things were going according to plan until Marc-Andre Cliche spun on lap 30.  Bucky Demers also spun, and as Seuss went low to miss the crash, Demers came down into him, tearing the right-front corner of Seuss’ Rockingham Boat/One Stop Toy Shop car off.