51's MODIFIED MADNESS  Presented by Advance Auto Parts Compiled by Mike Twist
News From Throughout The Mod-ern World - North and South, Asphalt and Dirt
DIRT: HEARN DOMINATES FLORIDA TOUR (AGAIN)

Race Weeks 2006 at Volusia Speedway Park for the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series opened last Wednesday with Brett Hearn pulling pitside with a cracked engine block in his no. 20 entry. In the Florida Tour Championship finale on Saturday, when Hearn pulled into victory lane he could only crack a smile after being crowned big-block champion of the Winternationals for a second straight year.

Waterford Speedbowl has one race scheduled for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and one True Value Modified Racing Series event planned for the 2006 season.  They also run the SK Modified division on a weekly basis.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR:  FRESH FACES FOR SOLHEM

There was no shortage of young Modified drivers associated with the Ralph Solhem race team in Florida these past few weeks.  Danny Sammons ran Solhem’s #0 in Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway, which SK Modified drivers Ronnie Silk and Woody Pitkat were down helping out Solhem’s ARCA team at Daytona.

Sammons will race for Solhem this season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

iMCA MODIFIEDS: GOING TO THE GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE

Bear Ridge Speedway at Bradford will become the first track in Vermont to sanction its Modifieds with IMCA.
"This is probably the one title I least expected," said Hearn.  "When you drop out of the first in a four-race series, where you are in the points is the last thing on your mind. All that's really at stake here is bragging rights but coming back the way we did is something our guys can talk about all the way home. We've got a great team in place."

With the coveted Florida Tour championship on the line coming into the Saturday showdown, the title seemed to rest in the hands of front row starters Jimmy Horton and Tim Fuller. The point leaders going into the finale had each scored a 30-lap feature win during the week and
Opening night at the 1/4 mile clay track is May 6, with points races through Sept. 23.
  
“We’re enthusiastic to be involved with Bear Ridge and promoter Chuck Elms,” said Joe Skotnicki, IMCA’s Eastern operations manager, “and we look forward to a long association with them.”

Eastern Region race fans can also get an early look at the IMCA Modifieds during Racearama March 3-5 in Foxboro, Mass.
won their respective qualifying heats to rank as the early favorites. Horton (1999) and Fuller (2003) also own Winternational crowns while Pat Ward (2004) is the only other DIRT NE driver to loosen Hearn's stronghold.

Even after Hearn overtook Horton for the top spot on lap 16, Horton remained the first choice to wear his third crown at Volusia. Yet that scenario was quickly thrown out the window when went up in smoke with a blown motor.

Despite a rash of yellow flags over the final dozen circuits, the running order remained intact and Hearn coasted home for a commanding eight car-length victory at the stripe.

After climbing in the back-up blue no. 20 machine following opening night motor trouble, Hearn (192) stormed back to top the Winternationals points chart ahead of Fuller (188), 22ndplace race finisher Horton (183), three-time Race Weeks heat winner Dale Planck and two-time Florida Tour points king Alan Johnson.

With the 2006 Florida Tour safely in the recordbook, teams packed up and headed home to get ready for the start of DIRT MotorSports NorthEast's 31st season at their hometrack. The first major event of the season is the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series opener scheduled at Hagerstown (MD) Speedway on Saturday, March 25.

TRACKS: WATERFORD IN TROUBLE?

Thursday New London (CT) Day reports that a short track that is well known throughout asphalt Modified circles could be in some serious financial trouble.  [Click here for more]

TVMRS: HINKLEY STEPS UP GAME FOR 2006

Miriam-Webster defines the word change as, to make radically different, to give a different position, course, or direction, to replace with another, and that’s exactly what the Windsor Locks CT., based modified racing team of car owner Chuck Montville and driver Les Hinckley are preparing to do for the upcoming season on the True Value Modified Racing Series. They are making a change, a kind of out with the old and in with the new approach for the upcoming campaign that kicks off Saturday night April 15 at the Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, NH.
Last season, Les Hinckley won the TVMRS opener at Monadnock.  (51 Photo)
Hinckley, the winner of the season opener last year at the western NH race track, will be piloting a brand new SPAFCO modified racer that will again carry the teams familiar # 06 and Montville, with the help and support of his girlfriend Debbie Marquis, a hard working dedicated crew, and power from a Tim Mangus engine, couldn’t be happier. “A new 06 for 06 that hopefully will turn things around for us.” The 2005 season was a tough one for the owner of the new car who is entering his 27th year in New England short track racing. Montville has been no stranger to victory lane throughout his career with Rick Fuller, Ed Kennedy, Ted Christopher and Hinckley all driving Montville racers to feature wins.

Montville, who started racing in 1979 driving a former Bob Stefanik coupe at Riverside Park, has also served as a crewman for veteran car owner Ralph Solhem and has
In June 2005, Matt Hirschman and Chris Pasteryak both made their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debuts in front of a packed grandstand at Waterford. (Hodge Photo)
The IMCA Modifieds are coming to New England.  (IMCA Photo)
The story states that Washington Mutual Bank has filed suit in a Norwich, Connecticut court against track owner Terry Eames for not making scheduled and accelerated payments on a $1.7 million mortgage.  The bank has requested to the court that the property be foreclosed upon immediately.

Eames will appear in court next Tuesday to answer the charges, but told The Day that the charges are technical in nature and that racing will not be affected this season because of the situation.

Last season, there were reports that the track could be sold to developers and shut down within the next few years. The proposed deal fell through and track officials assured competitors that they will have a place to race in the foreseeable future.
dabbled at SK Modifieds in the 90’s. But when Jack Bateman created the TVMRS for the 2004 season he felt that was the way to go and is somewhat surprised at the amount of interest the 3rd year series has drawn. Did he expect to see the number of registered cars bordering sixty with the opener close to two months away?

“Absolutely not, it will be tough to qualify.” He added, “When we first started this thing we were looking at 20 cars and it has continued to grow, I’m just happy to be one of the first guys involved.”
Montville’s driver, the 32-year-old Hinckley says he is anxious for the new season and the new ride.
“After the win opening night last year everything that could go wrong did go wrong but with all the changes that we are making I’m extra excited about the new season.” “With a lot of people I know heading down to New Smyrna, I get a little antsy”. The second generation driver’s thoughts are surely agreed upon by fans throughout New England. The 06 team are hoping to shake down their new racer on practice day April 8 at Monadnock.  (John Spence Sr. – True Value Modified Racing Series)

SK MODIFIEDS: JIMMY BLEWETT WINS SPEEDWEEKS SK TITLE

It was a wild title fight, even after the checkered flag, but Jimmy Blewett was determined to be the 2006 Speedweeks champion in the SK Modified ranks at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).  The championship was originally awarded to Tom Ferrell, but a recheck of the math declared Blewett as the actual winner.  Click here for the full wild story.



Brett Hearn in victory lane during the DIRT Florida Tour.  (BrettHearn.com / Mike Johnson Photo)