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
NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR: 2006 SCHEDULE HITS THE STREETS

The tentative schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is out and it will be less than two weeks before the ground pounders start their year off at Caraway Speedway (NC).
2004 & 2005 Series Champion Kirk Alexander won the qualifying race for the Shootout event at the Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Mass, last summer and represented the TVMRS at the November race. In addition to Alexander, TVMRS regular Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH makes the trek south to race against the best of the best in modified racing. Seuss would like to represent the tour and the track that he has raced Supermodifieds at in the past.

ASA SMRT: ANOTHER CHOICE IN SOUTHERN MOD RACING

Fans of pavement Modified racing are the real winners with the recent announcement on the formation of the ASA Southern Modified Race Tour as it gives them another choice in regional Mod touring series.

“There are three Modified touring series in the Northeast and they all co-exist quite well so there is no reason why we cannot be the same way,” said Randy Myers who will head the ASA SMRT program the first season.

ASA SMRT was founded on the principle of having as many drivers be competitive as possible at a reasonable cost by utilizing existing equipment and not putting them at a disadvantage.

“The way we are doing this allows the group of drivers in the Southeast who choose not to race at certain tracks or change their cars to follow other tour rules still have a place to race and be competitive with what they have already in the shop,” Myers explained.
The season will begin at Caraway on Saturday, March 25th and return to the track on April 15th, June 30th, September 9th and September 23rd.

Motor Mile Speedway will host a pair of Southern Tour events.  Those dates are April 22nd and October 14th.

Also on the schedule will be single visits to Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) on April 8th, Bowman Gray Stadium (NC)  on August 5th, Martinsville Speedway (VA) on September 2nd and Ace Speedway (NC) on September 15th.
"Everybody always wants to move around if they're not winning. They're constantly checking into any new combinations that are out there. When something's working you can stay with it awhile before somebody else catches on. Then trying to find another advantage keeps all the guys working overtime until the next race," added Johnson, the only driver to win at least one sanctioned event every year since DIRT MotorSports was established in 1976.

The '06 Advance Auto Parts Series lid-lifter at Hagerstown will mark the fourth different team that Johnson has complemented in the new millennium with his familiar no. 14J distinguishing the latest Bicknell
DIRT: ALAN JOHNSON READY FOR HAGERSTOWN

Name a Modified chassis design and he's probably driven it. Mention a big-block engine type and he's probably harnessed its power. Team sponsorship has come and gone at a similar rate so when the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series kicks off at Hagerstown Speedway (MD) on March 25, open-wheel veteran Alan Johnson will be ready to go at it all over again with what he expects is another winning formula.

"It's hard to keep the same thing together nowadays," said Johnson, now 48, yet showing no sign of slowing down or changing his customary style; one that has required as many car owners as set-up changes during his 33 seasons behind the wheel. Co-owners Jeff Rudalavage and Tony Laughing lead the latest entourage southward when 'A.J. Slideways' crosses the Mason-Dixon Line in defense of Hagerstown's 'North-South Shootout 100' Advance Auto Parts SDS season opener.
copy. The most recent trip last year in an event rain-delayed until June was highlighted by his first-ever big-block triumph at Hagerstown, steering the Sherlock Racing no. Ten.

In DIRT NorthEast's 2001 tour debut in Maryland, Johnson placed sixth aboard the Beachy Motorsports no. 1 Doughboy Racing/Bicknell machine equipped with an Enders powerplant. Boasting a Finger Lakes motor in the Pillsbury mount the following spring, A.J. improved to third in the Hagerstown lid-lifter while the 2003 event was rained out. Johnson returned in '04 to finish 12th piloting the H&H Motorsports no. 98H Troyer mount complete with a Bob Bruneau-prepared engine.

"I've always liked Hagerstown, but I've had a lot more seconds than firsts over the years," said Johnson, who also scored a small-block victory in 2003 at promoter Frank Plessinger's traditionally smooth half-mile clay oval. "It's definitely more racey at night and there's a lot of room with more than one lane to make a run on. If you've got a good car it's a place that will let you take it to the front in plenty of time."

Johnson will be looking for his 40th career Advance Auto Super DIRT Series win in the "Old Line State." The Phelps, N.Y. native is also DIRT's all-time big-block Modified win leader with 329 with another 111 coming in the DIRT small-block ranks.

"Anytime I go out I'm hoping for a good run, but this is about the freshest equipment I've ever had to start out the series with at Hagerstown," added Johnson, who will once again call the Central New York circuit home during the summer months with regular weekend stops planned at Brewerton (Fri.) and Fulton (Sat.) speedways. He was credited with a pair of top-five feature finishes at Volusia Speedway Park and settled for fifth on the final Florida Tour points chart in February. "Right now we have the things ready that we thought we would in Florida. We've pretty much got the same car but I'm confident the new motor will make a difference once we get back on the track." 
Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C., will be the core track for the 2006 season, hosting six dates, with Coastal Plains Speedway in Jacksonville, N.C., adding one event. Although the complete schedule is still being finalized, Myers anticipates it to be around a dozen events, and hopes to have an official announcement in a week or two.

“This Modified tour will give the fans something a bit different than what they may be used to seeing,” said Dennis Huth, president of the ASA Member Track program. “There will be different qualifying procedures which include several eight-lap dashes to help set the grid for the feature. There will be a six-lap ‘Dash for the Cash’ for the top six qualifiers. The plan is to provide nearly non-stop action for the fans, and plenty of opportunities for the drivers to gain experience in Modifieds.”

The Southern Modified Race Tour will be part of the ASA Racing program which allows the participants to enjoy enhanced participant accident insurance, marketing assistance, and monetary contributions to a year-end point fund.

“What ASA offers is the type of insurance we could not afford to get as a stand-alone program,” Myers said. “And that, along with National Exposure, is just a few of the many benefits of going with ASA as we get this program off the ground.”

TRACKS: BOWMAN GRAY GETS NEW FIELD HOUSE

Construction has started on a new field house facility for historic Bowman Gray Stadium. When finished, the new building and its modern amenities will greatly improve operations at the stadium.
Friendship Speedway (NC) will be one of the tracks on the ASA SMRT schedule.  (51 Photo)
“Everybody suffers when the ‘lessors’ in any touring series are not competitive,” Myers said by way of explaining the age-old conflict between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” “When they get discouraged they tend to move on to something else and this becomes a problem for everyone. Less than full fields provide less than exciting racing which is bad for the fans, track promoters, and sanctioning bodies. By developing the ASA SMRT Tour we are looking at as many ways as we can for as many people to be as competitive as possible at as reasonable a cost as possible.”
One of Alan Johnson's past rides - the "TEN" car.
Bowman Gray Stadium  (NASCAR Photo)
TVMRS – STAR RACE TO BE A NORTH vs.
SOUTH QUALIFIER EVENT

True Value Modified Racing Series founder Jack Bateman and Star Speedway owner Bob Webber have jointly announced that the Epping, NH, race track will play host to a 100 lap qualifying race on Saturday night August 12 for the 4th annual North-South Shootout Race ™ for modified race cars. The event, scheduled for Friday and Saturday Nov 3 & 4 at the Concord Motorsports Park, Concord, NC, will once again showcase the best that Modified racing has to offer from both the tour-type and SK Modifieds ranks. The winner of the Star Speedway race will automatically qualify for the fall event and represent the TVMRS.
"We're very pleased with how the city has worked closely with us in planning this new improvement," said Gray Garrison, promoter of Bowman Gray Stadium Racing. "We feel that the building process and the finished site layout will have only a minimal impact on our operations. But the completed facility will be a very positive change for Stadium Racing," said Garrison.

"Not only will the new field house enhance the overall appearance of the stadium, it will also provide for a much needed improvement to the pit facilities for Bowman Gray Stadium Racing," said Bucky Dame, Director of the Joel Coliseum Complex. "Not only is Bowman Gray Stadium NASCAR's longest running weekly track, this addition will continue to make it one of NASCAR's finest weekly race track facilities in the country," said Dame.
The Southern Modified Tour will visit Caraway Speedway five times in 2006.  (51 Photo)
This will be yet another project in a long line of improvements that the city of Winston-Salem has made to the stadium in recent years. The city resurfaced the track, built a new press box, renovated restrooms, paved parking lots, and installed parking lot lighting systems in order to better serve fans and competitors for all events at the stadium.

The stadium is host to both NASCAR-sanctioned Bowman Gray Stadium Racing and Winston-Salem State University Football. The city of Winston-Salem has taken great care to account for the needs of both sporting franchises not only in the final design of the building but also in the planning of the construction process.
Demolition of the old field house has already occurred, and site work will be put on hold when race season begins. The area will be graveled, pit road repaved, and appropriate temporary facilities put in place for convenience in the pit area. No more construction will be done until after the last checkered flag falls for the 2006 season of Bowman Gray Stadium Racing.

Stadium regulars are very grateful for the work that the city of Winston-Salem has done in renovating and improving the facility so far, and look forward to the new field house. Hilda Riffle, long-time scorer for Robert Jeffreys in Modified #75, remembers the old press box where she scored many races for the Jeffreys team.
"It was hot and cramped.  Scorers were practically on top of each other," said Riffle.

The city demolished the old press box and rebuilt a new one in 2001.

"The new press box has much more space for the scorers, it has better restrooms, we can see better, and the air conditioning is very nice," said Riffle.  "I don't know anyone who would want to go back to the old press box.  Nobody."

Stadium Management feels that fans, crew members, and drivers will feel the same way about the new field house once it is completed. "I think when people walk into the building for the first time, they'll be thankful for all that the city has done," said Garrison.

ROC DIRT – IT’S SHOWTIME THIS WEEKEND

It's showtime for the Race of Champions Dirt Tours.

Literally.

The RoC Dirt Modified and Sportsman Tours will be prominently represented at four auto racing trade shows during a whirlwind month of March for Andrew Harpell and his sophomore dirt-track traveling group.

"I always enjoy going to the shows and interacting with the racers and fans before the season starts," said Harpell from the Five Mile Point (N.Y.) Speedway office. In addition to his RoC Dirt duties, Harpell is the owner/promoter of Five Mile Point and the RoC Asphalt Modified Tour director.  "This year, RoC will certainly be 'out there' in a big way. We didn't have that opportunity in 2005 because we were just getting off the ground in February."
Burt Myers stands in front of the exisiting Bowman-Gray Stadium fieldhouse.  (51 Photo)
Kirk Alexander won one of the two TVMRS events at Star Speedway in 2005.  (Jim DuPont Photo)
The weekend of March 17-19 will provide "double exposure" for the RoC Dirt squad, with simultaneous show appearances being coordinated.

For the first time, RoC Dirt will make an all-out assault at Ed and JoAnn Stevens's Middletown Motorsports Show, stationed at the Orange County Fairgrounds Arena in Middletown, N.Y. Highlighting the RoC Dirt booth at the 15th Annual event will be the immaculate No. 77F dirt Modified of Mark Flach Jr. Flach, 22, of Coxsackie, N.Y., will be a RoC Dirt regular in 2006.
Roughly two hours across Route 17, RoC Dirt will also be represented at the World of Racing Motorsports Show presented by Gary's U-Pull-It at the former Ames building (Northgate Plaza) in Binghamton, N.Y., an event promoted by Don Lane and Doug Gardner.

Information, schedules, registration forms and apparel/novelties will be available at each of the RoC Dirt show appearances.

The second season of RoC Dirt on-track action officially gets underway on Sat., April 8 at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway with the "Ice Jam" for the Modifieds. It will be the first event of the Tour's North Region.
TVMRS – SEUSS ON THE RADIO

Andy Seuss, driver of the #70 On Stop Toy Shop/Rockingham Boat entry in the True Value Modified Racing Series, will appear as a guest this week on the Jordan Rich Show on WBZ 1030 AM Radio.  Seuss will appear in a racing segment with Weekend Thunder host Troy Germain at approximately 1:15am on Saturday morning.  He will be on the air for approximately 15 minutes and will discuss his recent Florida Speedweeks championship as well as racing in general.

WBZ is a Boston radio station that broadcasts to over 26 states includes the Carolinas.  The show can also be heard live on the WBZ website at www.wbz1030.com.  Jordan Rich, a native Bostonian, has appeared on-air for the station for 10 years. 
Seuss will be in good company on the show.  Previous guests on the Jordan Rich show have included Mickey Rooney, Tony Bennett, William Shatner, Hulk Hogan, Roger Moore and Liza Minelli. 

IMCA – ARKANSAS SPORTMODS GET ROLLING

The first track in Arkansas to sanction Jeff’s Performance Southern SportMods opens for its first full season of racing this weekend.
  
Promoted by Joseph and Michelle Chapman, Monticello Speedway hosts points races for the IMCA class on Saturday night programs from March 18 through Sept. 23. The big 1/4 mile clay speedplant also rolls out the red carpet for the top paying event in the division’s two-plus year history, a $3,000 to win feature during the Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 Modified Mania special.

“The SportMods are an affordable class for drivers and the rules are simple to go by. They make everybody equal,” Chapman said. “I like classes like that because it comes down to the car and driver, and not just the guy with the most money who wins.”

Located south of Monticello on Highway 425, the speedway was built last year and four race programs were held during its inaugural season. Grandstand seating for 3,000 is in place, with work already underway to add another 1,000 seats.
  
“This is a good, fast track,” said Chapman. “We wanted it as fast and as safe as we could get it, and I think we accomplished that.”
  
A 6 p.m. open practice session on Thursday, March 30 precedes the Modified Mania. Pit gates open at 3 p.m., hot laps are at 5 p.m. and racing gets underway at 6 p.m. both days.



Andy Seuss has been on the radio several times since Florida Speedweeks.  Here he appears on Weekend Thunder's weekly show.  (Linda Kimel Photo)
The RoC Mods will be on display this weekend.  (RoC/Bobby Armbruster Photo)