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
SPEEDWEEKS: WHERE THE STARS WILL BE

There are currently 29 Modified teams registered to take part in Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway.  The series of nightly races will start on February 10th and run though Saturday night, February 18th.
Hearn, with 679 career feature race victories and more than 60 track and series championships to his credit, is a full-time professional driver whose career spans 32 seasons. He's a five-time winner of the Eckerd 200, the "Super Bowl" of dirt track Modified racing, contested annually at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Hearn's records place him among the country's top drivers in all forms of auto racing. 

RoC MODIFIEDS: SCHRADER TO GO FOR A RIDE

Ken Schrader has a score to settle.

Some 16 seasons ago, the Fenton, Mo., native invaded Five Mile Point Speedway (NY) and almost landed in the historic quarter-mile oval’s Victory Lane.
formulated,” stated Chadwick, “We're excited to have finalized our 2006 plans.”

The 59th consecutive season of auto racing at the Orange County Fairgrounds begins on Saturday April 22. Racing starts at 6 pm. A full card of six divisions will open the 23rd season of racing under the DIRT banner. The pit gate will open at 3 pm, the drive in at 4 and the main grandstand at 4:30. Two practice nights for all divisions, which features free general admission, are set for April 8 and 15.

The 2006 schedule is highlighted by a return appearance of the World of Outlaws® Sprint Series on Monday, May 29. The Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series is scheduled for Thursday, July 20. ARDC midgets make a return visit on Saturday May 20 after an exciting show in 2005.

The 45th running of Eastern States Weekend, the longest continuously run dirt track event for Modifieds, will take place from Friday, October 20 through Sunday, October 22. The Eastern States 200 for big-block Modifieds, one of the crown jewels of the Advance Auto Parts SDS, highlights that event with both DIRT 358-Modified and DIRT Sportsman teams in competition for Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRT Championship honors. The full schedule will be available from OCFS management in the coming weeks.

OCFS management is looking forward to seeing fans and teams at the Middletown Motorsports show at the fairgrounds from Friday, March 17th to Sunday, March 19th. Rules and schedules will be available.

Orange County boasts one of the largest and talent-laden DIRT Modified fields in the Northeast each week, and 2006 promises to be no different. Heading the list is three-time and defending big-block champion Jeff Heotzler of Wallkill, NY. Heotzler will be the wheelman for a new big-block Modified ride in 2006 as he will jump behind the wheel of a Mike Petruska-owned Bicknell to defend his 2005 crown. With the return to DIRT, all-time OCFS Modified feature win leader Brett Hearn will once again call OCFS his home track in 2006. Past track champions Tommy Meier, Rich Eurich and Chuck McKee are part of a veteran contingent that defend their turf each week against young lions Chris Shultz, Craig Mitchell, Mike Kolka, Dave VanHorn Jr., 2005 Rookie of the Year, Jeff Heotzler, Jr. and Jim Secor among others.

Modified star Jerry Higbie is the defending 358-Modified Champion and will bring his potent Jim Winchell owned PMC #17 back to defend his crown in 2006. VanHorn, veteran Tim Hindley, Meier and upstart Alan Sturhann are all expected back to try and unseat Higbie.



NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers entered in the event include a pair of brothers (Jimmy and John Blewett, III), as well as Ted Christopher, Donny Lia, Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld, Zach Sylvester, Tyler Haydt and Rob Summers. 

True Value Modified Racing Series standout Andy Seuss will also be there, as will New Yorkers J.R Bertuccio and Buck Catalano.

Speed51.com will have coverage of every night at Speedweeks.
Emphasis on almost. On that 1990 evening, “Irish” Joe Donahue Jr. outdueled Schrader in a Modified feature event. Driving a back-up Chuck Akulis car, Schrader came up one spot short when the checkered waved.

This summer he’ll be back to do one better.

Five Mile Point owner/promoter and Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour administrative director Andrew Harpell announced that Schrader would return to FMP on Wed., Aug. 9 for a 75-lap RoC Dirt Modified Tour South Region event.

Schrader will strap into a big-block Modified for the evening. He’ll also be available for a “meet and greet” session.

“Ken Schrader is a talented racer, but all around he is a great guy,” Harpell said, adding that Schrader also competed at FMP in a USAC Midget during the 1980s. “I know the last time he was at Five Mile, he ran a line that nobody else used, all the way around the top of the track.
DIRT MODIFIEDS: HEARN GETS NEW NUMBER WITH SOME OLD ROOTS

No, it isn't a time warp, but for the first time since 1988 champion dirt track Modified driver Brett Hearn will be driving a No. 20 race car in Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series and major independent events during the 2006 racing season. "When we merged my team with Guy and Patricia Madsen's the decision on a number was easy," said Hearn, 47, as he prepared to leave for races later this month in Florida. "I began racing using No. 20, and that was their team's number as well, so it was like a homecoming."

Hearn's career dates from 1975 when as a 16-year-old he first raced at Middletown, New York's Orange County Fair Speedway. "My dad (Gordon Hearn) had a brief fling as a car owner in the 1960s," Hearn noted. "He bought a used race car, but when he repainted it, the outline of its old number ---20--- showed through. That became his car's number and when I started racing I picked No. 20 as well."
“To him it was common sense; no one else was up there.”

A regular on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit since 1984, Schrader has amassed over 640 starts, $25 million in earnings, four victories and 23 poles. Schrader has been victorious in every division he’s attempted over the years; he’s won on everything from quarter-mile dirt tracks to road courses to 2.66-mile superspeedways.

For the 2006 season, Schrader will compete on NASCAR’s top circuit for the famed Wood Bros. in the No. 21 Ford Fusion.

He’s known as a true “racer’s racer,” competing in over 90 events per year at 50 years of age.

Schrader, who owns I-55 Speedway in Pevely, Mo., loves to race; he has since his days as a three-year-old when his dad Bill tied a cable to his go-kart and a post in the backyard of their Midwestern home. Schrader would go around in circles until the go-kart ran out of gas.

“I want to spend my time racing,” Schrader said. “It’s not only my job, but it’s also my hobby. I love the time that I get to spend behind the wheel, and as long as I can, I’m going to race whenever I get the chance.”

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR: LITTLE HIRSCHY PLANS FOR 2006

Matt Hirschman has lined up two rides to tackle the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this season.  For the full story, click here.
The Southern Modifieds are heading to Greenville-Pickens this season.
NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will make a first ever appearance at Greensville-Pickens Speedway on Saturday, April 8th for a 150 lap feature event.

The open wheel racers promise plenty of excitement with a large field of competitors squaring off on the flat GPS oval, a course that's sure to showcase the exciting fender to fender and wheel to wheel action that the series has become known for.

"This will really be something special for GPS race fans," said the track’s marketing director Keith Cochran. "Look for sparks to fly and a large field of competitors for this special event."
An artist's redending of Brett Hearn's 2006 ride.  (BrettHearn.com Photo)
Ken Schrader (NASCAR Photo)
Ironically, Hearn's first race car was painted blue, the primary color, albeit with a deeper hue, for his 2006 big-block Modifieds. "I feel like I've come full circle," said Hearn as he and the crew loaded the team hauler for the long trip to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. Hearn and some 40 other DIRT MotorSports NorthEast speedsters will be racing four nights at Volusia (Feb. 15-18) in the Florida Winternationals with a stop on the way home for a race meet Feb. 26 at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.

Primary sponsor for the 2006 Madsen-Hearn Modified is Wentworth Custom Homes of Oneida, New York. Hearn's longtime associate sponsors ---WLR Construction, Kruger, 417 Bus Line Ltd., and Loudenville Cleaning Service--- are back on the car as well.
"Orange County stood as a prominent member of ours for so many years, I think we're all thrilled that it’s back where it belongs," DIRT NE VP Tonya Moschell said. "With so many great race teams, sponsors and fans, OCFS is a key to our continued success.”

Reed has returned to the Company as Director of Marketing for the DIRT NorthEast office. Chadwick, who has managed the day-to-day operations of the speedway since 2001, will remain on as General Manager of the speedway.

“We appreciate the support and patience of our race teams, fans and sponsors as the plans for 2006 are
SK MODIFIEDS: PITKAT PLANS BUSY FRIDAY NIGHTS

Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified® competitor Woody Pitkat will join Todd Owen as "double dippers" during the 2006 season, participating in both the SK Modified® and Late Model divisions On Friday nights. Pitkat will team up with the Marcia Kretschman owned #48 Ford that is sponsored by The Davidson Company, which also sponsors Pitkat's SK Modified® effort. The Kretschman Late Model will also carry sponsorship from Arbitell Convenience Stores.

DIRT MODIFIEDS: ORANGE COUNTY BACK IN THE FOLD

The wait is finally over as the much anticipated return of the famed Orange County Fair Speedway to the DIRT MotorSports family is finally official. DIRT MotorSports, 2005 promoters JoAnne Chadwick and Cory Reed, and Fairgrounds owner Orange County Agricultural Society-Michael Gurda President have reached an agreement that will bring DIRT-sanctioned racing back to the fast 5/8th-mile oval after a brief one-year hiatus.

After first joining the DIRT organization in 1983, Orange County was a core member track for over two decades. OCFS brings back to the DIRT fold a great group of racers in six classes, as more than 160 teams fill the pits each week throughout the season.
DIRT is returning to Orange County Speedway.  (Orange County Speedway/Bob Armbruster Photo)
Ted Christopher was the man at Speedweeks last year.  Will he repeat?  (51 Photo)