Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced today that former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Bobby Santos III will run a combination of 15 ARCA RE/MAX and NASCAR Busch Series events in 2007. Santos is scheduled to compete in 10 ARCA RE/MAX races in the No. 02 machine, in addition to five events in Busch Series competition.
“Keeping an eye out for young talent has become an important part of every race team, and we think Bobby has a good future ahead of him in this sport,” commented team owner Bill Davis. “We’re looking forward to working with him to build his skills in a stock car and get him ready for even bigger things in the future. He was impressive in his first outing with us and I think it will be interesting to see what he can do next year.”
Santos, 21, made his Bill Davis Racing debut in the ARCA RE/MAX event at Iowa Speedway in October. After posting an impressive 10th-place qualifying run, he went on to finish sixth on the 7/8-mile tri-oval, one of only seven drivers remaining on the lead lap when the checkered flag waved.
51's MODIFIED MADNESS Presented by Advance Auto PartsCompiled by Mike Twist
News From Throughout The Mod-ern World - North and South, Asphalt and Dirt
TVMRS: 2006 BANQUET A HIT
The 2006 True Value Modified Racing Series season was finalized with the awards banquet that was held on Saturday, December 2nd.
It was the third year of competition for the series and its founder, Jack Bateman, summarized the season in his own words.
“2006 was a great season for us,” said Bateman. “It produced multiple feature winners and only a few won more than one race. This is a credit to all teams and it shows the quality of the people in the series. Also this year we were invited to compete at the Thompson Speedway which was an opportunity of great value for our series. This season also produced a new champion, Dwight Jarvis. He is a huge supporter of our series and has run in every point race that this series has ever had. We are here to honor that accomplishment tonight. “
The 2007 schedule for the TVMRS has not been firmed up yet, but the addition of the Oxford Plains Speedway was announced by Bateman.
“They have invited us to be part of the Oxford 250 weekend, an event that draws national attention and has included some big name drivers over the years.”
Dwight Jarvis has many wins and championships on his resume, but a TVMRS championship was the one that he
wanted badly. At the end of the 2006 season, Jarvis was caught up in a race for the championship with Jimmy Kuhn. At the end of the last race, Jarvis finished 10 points ahead of Kuhn to win his first TVMRS Championship. Jarvis was consistent and had top ten finishes most of the season. Jarvis was also known for late race charges to the front.
Bobby Grigas III captured the GMH Transportation Rookie of the Year award as the highest finishing rookie. Driving the Triple G Scaffolding # 09 modified Grigas secured two wins at Waterford, CT., and Canaan, NH. Bobby also is the first rookie to win a series event.
Dwight Jarvis and some of his championship hardware. (Jim DuPont Photo)
our track regulars to participate be it on a smaller scale,” Deery added.
More information will be released as details are finalized for the ‘Five-Star’ series. Contact the DIRT MotorSports NorthEast Office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours for specific questions or log into the DIRT homepage at www.dirtmotorsports.com to find out more about the entire circuit.
TURKEY DERBY: REED ROCKS SK/WALL MOD FEATURE
Jimmy Blewett and the Tour-type Modifieds were not the only show in town for the Turkey Derby at Wall Township Raceway (NJ). 32 Wall/SK Modifieds were also on hand for the Wall/SK/B Modified race on Saturday evening as part of the event. Steven Reed won the pole and then redrew to start the race first in his #55 car. Reed led all 100 laps of the race and managed to avoid the nine cautions of the night.
Springs, Conn.) Speedway, Santos won both the Midget race and then went on to win the PRA Big Car feature after starting last, securing himself a $50,000 bonus. Santos also won The Night Before the 500 event at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August.
DIRT: FIVE STAR SERIES FOR 2007?
Track officials from Can-Am Motorsports Park, Canandaigua Speedway, Cayuga County Fair Speedway, Fulton Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway Park announced a preliminary agenda for a ‘Five-Star’ series that would debut during the 2007 race season.
With an official series title and sponsored point fund still being negotiated, the fledgling series for Big-Block Modifieds has been given the green light with tentative ’07 tour dates penciled in at Canandaigua (June 20), Fulton (June 30), Cayuga County (July 15), Can-Am (July 28) and Rolling Wheels (July 29).
“We continue to develop a strong working relationship with the core big-block tracks in our area,” said DIRT MotorSports NorthEast General Manager Jack Deery. “The creation of this unique series is a credit to those track promoters agreeing to take the lead and form a team to make it successful. Everyone shares a common goal and that is to bolster the health of Big-Block Modified racing in Central New York.”
Can-Am, Canandaigua and Fulton each host regular weekly shows on Saturday and Cayuga County runs Sunday while Rolling Wheels follows a specials-only format throughout the summer. When the series arrives at one of the three Saturday sites, big-blocks will not be scheduled at either of the other two.
“With the furthest tracks only a couple hours apart, this will provide a great opportunity for track regulars to visit other facilities and run against their best.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series remains the premier series for Big-Block Modifieds in the country, however, this mini-series is just another opportunity for
Bobby Santos, III ran one ARCA race this past season for Bill Davis Racing with their #02 entry. (51 Photo)
Rob Summers presented Jarvis with the Hoosier Tire East award. Les Hinckley was awarded The Sunoco Hard Charger award. The "Most Improved Driver" award was given to Tom Abele Jr. Andy Seuss earned the Black Mountain Painting Award given for winning the most half way bonus awards. The "Tough Luck" award went to Gary Casella. Jimmy Kuhn Jr. took home the “Sportsmanship” award.
The last award of the night was the second annual "711 Award" for professionalism and sportsmanship. Bob Polverari was on hand to present the award. Dwight Jarvis last years winner joined Bob in announcing Jack Bateman as the 2006 recipient.
Announcer John Spence summarized the banquet’s honor to the series champion by changing a quote of former president John F. Kennedy
“Tonight we pass the Torch to an older generation,” Spence said. (Denise DuPont)
(L-R) Bateman, Jarvis and Polverari on stage.
(Jim DuPont Photo)
The Big Block Modifieds might get some extra track time at five New York tracks next season.
The hard charger of the night was NASCAR star Ken Schrader driving Reed’s team car numbered as the #14. Schrader started 12th, spun on lap 73, pitted for tires and then charged towards the front to finish the race in fourth position. After the race Schrader stopped by and congratulated Reed on a job well done and to thank him for the opportunity to drive his team car.
Reed’s domination actually started on Friday, when he earned the pole for the event. At the time though, he wasn’t sure if that would translate into a good run in the race.
“We were fastest in time trails,” said Reed. “The car was working good, but that doesn’t really mean too much because they are going to invert the field. It is nice to have the pole award and to be the recipient of the award and the money.”
Meanwhile, Reed’s teammate Schrader had a tough time in time trials.
“The car felt good, but I just did not do any good,” said Schrader. “Wall is a nice little place. The last four years [for Thanksgiving] we went down to Mississippi and raced. I always wanted to run this race. I was looking forward to coming here. I got me a good race car and it makes things a lot easier. I didn’t qualify good, so we will have to see what happens. My goal is to go out there and survive one hundred laps and see where we end up.”
Also time trialing outside of the top 10 was NASCAR Division Four champion Woody Pitkat.
“The car didn’t handle too bad. This track is very different, it was fun,” said Pitkat after qualifying. “We got here and had problems running around. We had the wrong gear in the car, so we had to change that. We then had a flat tire. I only got eight or nine laps of practice and then just went out and timed. We’re looking forward to getting another practice and getting a little more seat time. I am trying to get comfortable and do some more adjustments and see what happens.”
What happened for Pitkat was that he had the worst wreck in a feature with nine caution. On lap 25, Pitkat attempted to bring his #25 car high on the outside to pass Justin Gumley. At the same time that Pitkat was
Steven Reed celebrates. (Jim DuPont Photo)
Reed's beautiful #55 ride. (Jim DuPOnt Photo)
making his move, Gumley was gearing himself to pass another car to his inside. With the three cars suddenly three wide going into turn three, the cars ran out of room. Pitkat was forced way up on the track and into the pit road barriers.
Pitkat spun and hit the metal barrier and barrel filled with water and sand hard just in front of his driver’s side. The car was pulled onto a flat bed and brought to the pits. The track crew had to replace the barrier barrel and straighten the pit road Armco barrier. Pitkat got out of the car on his own, and then walked off the track to the pits.
“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” said Santos. “This is my first chance to race stock cars and I can’t think of a better place to start than Bill Davis Racing. We had a good race at Iowa Speedway earlier this season and if the way things went there is any indication of the way things will go in the future, then I can’t wait to get the season started. I’ve raced my whole life and this is the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for.”
The third-generation driver began his racing career driving Quarter Midgets at the age of four before moving to Supermodifieds when he was a teenager. Specializing in open wheel competition, he spent the past several years running among the United States Auto Club (USAC) ranks. 2006 was a breakout year for the Franklin, Mass., native, who won 11 features in USAC competition, five of which were USAC National races. At Stafford (Stafford
“When I went up there to pass, somebody must have checked up and ran into the side of me,” said Pitkat. “That was it. They were telling me I should have drove up on pit road. I could see that it was coming. I braced myself as best that I could. I will probably be sore tomorrow.
“I was having fun. I had a little bit of a skip in the motor and then I guess “Showtime” [Jimmy Blewett] did not want to screw with me. I asked my spotter after he got into the side of me and he spun out what lap we were on. It was lap 20. I asked my spotter to tell him that it was only lap 20. After that I lost a couple of spots but I was getting use to the track and getting comfortable. I was pretty much having fun and then people checked up. I
tried to go to the outside to get a couple of extra spots and it did not work. I do not usually wreck often. But when I do wreck it is big.”
Jimmy Blewett in his family owed green #66 car had engine problems during Friday time trials. The team returned the car to the shop to replace the motor but the car could only get an eighth finish after the 100 laps were up. The car was sponsored by the Status Green Band who provided entertainment to the crowd during intermission.
Reed was followed across the start finish line by John Blewett, III, Tim Arre, Ken Schrader and Mike Carpenter.
John Blewett, III just could not get by Reed for the race win.
“He was good,” said Blewett. “The last night that we raced here, he was quickest in the qualifying. Then we finished one, two. Tonight again they were a little quickest in qualifying and then in the race. But I am happy with the finish. The guys did a good job.” (Denise DuPont)
WAGNER DESERVING OF MAHONING VALLEY CROWN
You may not find a driver more deserving of a championship then Dover, NJ’s Don Wagner. After two decades of motoring around the region's race tracks, Wagner, who rarely has run for points, earned this year’s top honors in the Modified division at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway.
having to deal with the record setting 10 rain outs that the track suffered through didn’t help either.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet because with my wife Sharon being sick and pregnant then delivering our twin girls and to get over that it was all at the same time at the end of the point season, it’s been quite hectic to say the least in the last few months,” said Wagner.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s an honor to have won the point title at Mahoning Valley and I’m sure by the time we get to the banquet is when it will really hit me.”
Wagner admitted he was not 100% and that it all came down to his diligent crew. While he was tending to the needs of his wife, he relied on the team to have the car race day and giving the history of his career that was just the case. Come race nights Wagner had no worries when it came time to compete.
“Personally I couldn’t stay focused. Had it not been for the crew there is no way this would have been at all possible. One of my crewmen, John Rakos, lives right down the street from me and he would be at the shop every night letting me know we need to do this or that. He makes sure everything is ship shape at the shop.
“At the same time I would be going to the hospital to visit Sharon even before she had the girls and I wasn’t putting 100% into the effort. And anyone who knows me knows I always go out full bore and give it 100% each time I race.”
For all intent and purposes the numbers put up by Wagner weren’t reflective of a title wining year. With no feature wins it came down to just trying to finish steadily.
“We would show up and finish in the top 10 most every week and we won ourselves a championship. So be it but in reality that’s not us. We were always the team that won all the races,” he noted.
“I would have given up on this whole deal by late August.
Racing is one thing but nothing is more important than
family and your really close friends.”
Wagner also points to crew chief Matt Balliet for his
leadership for keeping everything in perspective.
“He’s (Balliet) there every week. If there’s a problem on
the track and I have to come into the pits for a quick
repair, Matt is unbelievable in that way.”
Nearing the end of the season Wagner was in some
heavy company with the likes of multiple time track
champion Rod Snyder, Jr., and John Bennett, the ’06 top feature winner, both bearing down on him.
“I just had to finish the races. Rod Snyder made me nervous. That guy has five championships at that track and he knows how to beat you and win titles at the same time. John (Bennett) is a young guy and he’s going to keep winning races in this class just like he has in every class he’s run in.
“To have those two guys was hard enough but the whole field at Mahoning is tough to race against. It’s still amazing to think that we won the title racing against guys like that and having to deal with all the things away from the track.”
Wagner has been to race tracks throughout the eastern seaboard and feels that Mahoning Valley is one of the most demanding no matter where you go.
“Physically it’s (Mahoning) a lot like Flemington were you’re always in a turn and you have the g-forces trying to throw you out of your seat. It’s not a horsepower track rather it’s a driver’s ability track which makes it uniquely different than any other track that you would run with a Modified,” explained Wagner.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to race there and you’re not going to go real fast. You will, however, learn how to drive. Don’t let anyone kid you about Mahoning. It’s a little tiny quarter mile circle but if you’re not a descent driver then you will not win races there. There aren’t too many guys that come into Mahoning and take the money away.
“As far as fan involvement and how that makes you as a driver every week is incredible. They’re there with their air horns and they buy your t-shirts and are obviously involved with the different drivers that race at the track. The fans at Mahoning are what fire you up. We’re all show-offs and they make you feel so special that way.”
The career of Don Wagner goes back to the mid 80’s at the defunct Pine Brook (NJ) Speedway running micro stocks. He eventually was introduced to Bill Fitz who had been searching for a driver to run his Street Stock car. It became a great pairing.
Known as the Labrador Racing Team, Wagner and Fitz enjoyed a successful run over the following 15-years that saw them go from the Street Stocks, into Modifieds and then the former NASCAR Sportsman division, then the NASCAR Modified Tour.
Fitz passed away a few years ago after a battle with cancer. Wagner is not hesitant to give credit to him for jumpstarting his career as well as the close bond they shared over the years.
“I would probably still be racing micro stocks in someone’s backyard track. I’ve had a lot of success thanks to him (Fitz) and it would be right if part of this championship was not dedicated to his memory.”
With the birth of his twin girls plus already having a son, Donny, Jr., Wagner put together an eye catching car this year when he showed up on Opening Day with a station wagon bodied Modified car. He simply noted that with the family growing he needed the extra space.
Wagner has always been a great representative of short track racing and indeed he is deserving of now being called champion. (Dino Oberto – Mahoning Valley Speedway PR)
Wagner is known far and wide throughout the northeast racing circles as one of the most dignified chauffeurs to race against. He is an excellent race car driver and has always maintained an outstanding rapport with the fans.
However, judging by the stats and the whole season in general, it seemed unlikely that this very personable talent had the makings of a titlist. Wagner’s year was filled with all types of drama which continually swayed his focus away from the championship picture.
Most times his concentration was not on racing but there was good reason. His wife, Sharon, was pregnant with twins and throughout the year and leading up to the birth of his baby girls, Jessie and Sammie, it was hard to stay focused on the week-to-week grind at the track.
Other factors included not winning any features although
Don Wagner meets fans and sign autographs. (James Pritchard Motorsports Photo)
Don Wagner in victory lane with his Modified. (Henry Wilt / Mahoning Valley Speedway Photo)