Donny Lia never knew Charlie Bradberry, but the passing
of the young racecar driver had such an effect on Lia that
even after winning his first race of the season, thoughts of
Bradberry were still heavy on his mind.

“I want to dedicate the win to Charlie Bradberry,” said Lia. 
“I didn’t know him, but I can relate to him because he was a
young guy trying to make it in the racing world.  He didn’t
die on the track, but it hits home a little bit.  He’s my age,
and it’s just sad.  Sometimes you forget that you got to live
every day like it’s the last one, and take every opportunity
and try to make the most of it. It’s just a sad deal.” 

Lia also mentioned Bradberry during his interview over the
track’s PA system in victory lane.  Many of the fans at
Waterford had probably never heard of the young NASCAR
Southeast Series champion who lost his life Saturday
morning, but it’s still a reminder to everyone that life is


Mike Stefanik and his Flamingo Motorsports team weren’t able to get their car running perfectly, but after a long night at Waterford they were happy to come home with a top-five finish.

“It was good, I mean obviously we would have liked to have done a little better, but we struggled early on in the race, then the car kind of came around,” said Stefanik.  “It ended up just being a little too tight for us.  We worked well together today and our team has been putting endless hours in, and obviously its getting down to crunch time, so another top-five finish is a good thing for us.”
Hirschman Gets Some Help From His Friends, Familar Ground for Flemke and More
Lia in victory lane.  (Howie Hodge Photo)
The Whelen Volunteer Fire Department 150 was delayed almost two hours due to the malfunction of the track’s light banks in turn 3.  Teams and fans waited for the lights to be repaired as the temperature dropped to a chilly 46 degrees.  Stefanik said that the drop in temperature and delay were actually beneficial for him and his racecar.

“It probably made the track looser, which actually probably would have helped us, because we actually got tight,” he said.  “I’ll tell you what it did do, it took all the excitement and the nervousness out of I think myself and probably all the other drivers.  After you hang around for two hours in the cold you just want to get going and go
TC's #36.  (Howie Hodge Photo)
home, so it did kind of takes some of the electricity that’s running through your veins out, which is always good.”

Stefanik’s fourth place finish keeps him on top of the point standings, 99 points ahead of second-place Ted Christopher.

Ted Christopher was almost forced to take a provisional after a weak qualifying effort, but once the green flag dropped he proved he had one of the fastest cars on the track.  He quickly began passing cars on the outside and made his way up to third before the race was over. 
“I must have passed freakin’ fifteen cars in like ten laps on the outside there, it was fun,” said Christopher.  “I know the outside’s good here, and everybody bottom-feeds, so it was really good then.”

Even though his car was fast, Christopher didn’t seem to have a good enough car to challenge Lia or Flemke for the win.

“We just fought the same thing we did all day long, it was just too tight up off,” said Christopher.  “At least I went forward, I didn’t go backwards.”

While everyone else was practicing, Zach Sylvester and his crew were just trying to get their racecar to run.  Motor issues early in the day on Sunday forced the #15 team to go to great lengths to even be able to run the race. 

“We had something let go on the first motor that was in the car, and we were hoping it was something small, something that we could change out without having to pull the whole motor, and it didn’t work out that way,” explained Sylvester.  “So the guys went back to the shop, grabbed the other motor and did an excellent job getting everything prepared.

“I mean the only laps we had before the feature were eight in the [tire] scrub [session] and then two in time trials…and I just wung it from there,” he said. 

Sylvester started 13th and was able to stay out of trouble and work his way up to fifth.

“I didn’t know what kind of car we had…but it just seemed like it was a game of survival out there, and I didn’t want to be too cautious and give something up or too aggressive and cost us in the points.  It was definitely a good day for the whole team and we were able to get in some good company up there and just ride and see what we had.”


Tony Hirschman’s first qualifying lap was good enough to earn him a 12th place starting spot, but his second lap left him with his racecar backed into the frontstretch wall. 

“Coming off of (turn) four, I was in it hard and it just seemed like the right front either broke traction, just lost grip, or like the tire almost went down, and I just got into the wall,” said Hirschman.
Flemke's #10  (Howie Hodge Photo)
“The people are just great here.  They’re true racers, true grit racers, and its kind of neat, you know?  I like it here, I really do, and even when we don’t do well here, I still like it here.  It’s just a nice.  It’s still one of the true short tracks, like what I came from, so I like it here.”

Flemke attributes his success at the track this weekend to his knowledge and experience there.

“I like the racetrack, and we just knew [after seeing the dew on the cars as a result of a drop in temperature] that the place was going to get loose and we kind of knew it, so we kept the car tight, even beforehand, and you know this place, its usually a late night at Waterford…not to take anything away from it, this is a wonderful place.  I
Eric Beers (R) helps Tony Hirschman (C) fixed his mangled #48.  (April Barker Photo)
Hirschman’s #48 car was towed off the track after suffering extensive damage to the right front suspension and the right side bar.

“We tore the car up pretty good, and we had a lot of help from a lot of people here that helped get us back on the track, and I gotta thank everybody that pitched in,” said Hirschman.

Eric Beers was among the crowd of people gathered around the #48 car, working to try to get it back out for the feature. 

“Tony and his guys would be the first guys helping us if we were in trouble,” said Beers.  “Everybody’s like a big family around here.  There are guys over there from 10 different crews helping out.  We just wanted to pitch in and make sure he gets back out there.” 
“You know who your friends are, people that come over and offer and jump right in there,” said Hirschman.  “We just gotta thank everybody, because time-wise we didn’t know how much time we had to be ready.  But we had it to get back together and in enough time, so I just gotta thank everybody for that.”

Hirschman finished 18th.  He had a fast car at the start, but contact with another racecar prevented him from earning a better finish. 

“Something happened up in the front, and they checked up and my left front hit the back bumper of another car…and it broke a spindle end on it,” said Hirschman.  “And so here we are, just riding the next 100 laps, and it is just terrible.  That’s the way the end of the year has been going for me.  I’m glad there are only two more races left.”


Eddie Flemke loves Waterford Speedbowl.  He ran at the track weekly years ago and says that Waterford is where he really started getting good as a racer. 

“In like ’85, I came back to racing and came here and ran the SK division for three years,” said Flemke.  “We finished second and third in the championships, and I won my first race ever here, in anything, ever.  It was the Winston 100, my first 100-lap race in an SK.
love racing here, and I hope we race here for years to come.” 

Flemke and the rest of the drivers on the Whelen Modified Tour head to Thompson International Speedway this weekend for the World Series of Speedway Racing.


Jerry Marquis set a new track record in qualifying, completing his fastest lap in only 13.618 seconds at a speed of 99.133 mph .  Success in qualifying didn’t come easy for the #4 team.  It took them all afternoon to get their car up to record-breaking speed. 

“We struggled with the racecar all afternoon long,” said Marquis.  “We would have it good, and then we’d be bad.  It was back and forth, back and forth.  We couldn’t really get a happy medium out of it and be consistent with it…we did the scuff session and we made a crucial decision there and it really made the car really fast.  And then after that we were just hoping that whatever we did for the feature was going to be good enough, and the car was real good in the feature.”

The car may have been really good, but Marquis never got a chance to show it.  After the re-draw, Marquis started from the fifth spot.  He was caught up in a wreck in turn one on the second lap, and the bad luck didn’t stop there.

“We just got bottled up and tangled up in a couple of mischief accidents there.  That put us to the back of the pack,” explained Marquis.  “We were able to come back and get in the top ten again and start fighting again, and every time I seemed to get close, the door got closed and we got involved in another accident or another skirmish or something.  But these guys did a great job getting the car back out there a couple of times, trying to keep me going, and we just can’t buy any luck this year. It’s tough, it’s frustrating.”

Marquis has been winless on the Tour this season, and Waterford wasn’t his night to bring home his first victory of 2006. 

“It just wasn’t meant to be tonight, that’s how we’re looking at it.  I don’t know, we’ll just go to the next race and hopefully we’ll have a good car.”

Stefanik's #16  (Howie Hodge Photo)