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: IT’S TIME FOR LEE
When the True Value Modified Racing Series visits Lee USA Speedway, Lee NH, Sunday May 21, four of its drivers share a common bond. They have visited victory lane at the NH seacoast facility with those wins coming in each of the last two seasons. In 2004, veteran driver Jim Boniface entered the series record book as the first ever TVMRS race winner to score at Lee when he captured a 100 lap event driving for Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame member and car owner/builder Goodwin Hannaford. Later that season, at the speedways annual Oktoberfest weekend, Westbrook Me driver Tony Ricci, aboard a Bob Polverari owned racer, captured the “open” modified event, his first time driving the car. Ricci returned to the tour this season with the hope of running as many events as his busy schedule allows. He doubles as a crew chief for LW Miller, on the Hooters Cup Series in addition to maintaining race cars for several northeast teams.
Lap after lap, Miller tapped the bumper of Jeffreys. And with each encounter, the crowd’s cheers could be heard over the roaring engines. “He was beating the tar out of me,” said Jeffreys. “The fans got a good show tonight.”
TRACKS: TC ALREADY LOOKING AHEAD TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
Ted Christopher will be looking for his fifth consecutive New Hampshire International Speedway NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour victory at the New England 100 on Saturday, July 15. Christopher’s present winning streak at NHIS started in July of 2004. If he finds his way to Victory Lane this July, Ted will tie the NHIS Modified Tour record set by Reggie Ruggiero from July of 1992 to September of 1994.
Christopher also became the second driver to sweep both the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in the same weekend last September. Mike “Magic Shoes” McLaughlin managed this feat first during the Speedway’s 1990 inaugural season.
2005 saw the reigning tour champion Kirk Alexander score one of his 12 wins at the 3/8 mile speedway. Alexander shared the Lee winners circle with Jimmy Dolan, Bethel, Ct., who drove to a popular win at the Oktoberfest weekend this past fall.
This weekend’s race will find the two top point men with the same totals going into the 3rd race of 2006. Connecticut entry Ed Dachenhausen and Vermont’s Dwight Jarvis each have tallied 138 points after the first two events of the new campaign. Monadnock winner Alexander and Canaan winner Les Hinckley are tied for third with 132 points. Holyoke Ma., driver Chris Wenzel is fifth in the point’s standings.
The first of four events at Lee this season will also be a first in New England motorsports history as the two touring
divisions will share the billing for twin 100 lap races for the first time. When Lee management booked both groups this past winter, TVMRS founder Jack Bateman called it “a great opportunity to showcase our tour with a top notch operation like the ACT,”.
The Lee event is a homecoming of sorts for several members of the TVMRS. Rookie Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA was named rookie of the year at Lee last season in the tracks Late Model division and still plans to campaign a car there when the track switches to it’s traditional Friday night programs. Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH, is last year’s most popular driver, New Smyrna, Fla., Speed Weeks champion and a former Lee late model competitor. Seuss cut his teeth in open wheel racing on karts and in Lee’s supermodified division. Former Lee hobby stock racer Mike Douglas Jr. is a second year competitor. He qualified for the season opener at Monadnock. His father and crew chief, Mike Sr. is a longtime Lee racer and ISMA supermodified competitor. Former Lee Race Director and Pit Steward John Tebbetts is a member of the team.
Fremont, NH, driver Karl Fredrickson, a longtime Lee Speedway competitor is also a second year driver on the tour. Former supermodified standout and 2005 ISMA rookie of the year Jon McKennedy is a rookie modified racer driving for Nashua’s Marco Turcotte. Turcotte is a former championship car owner at Lee. Veteran driver Jim Storace of Kingston, N.H., is another driver that is no stranger to Lee. Storace ran with the tour at Canaan last weekend.
Busch East standout, Eddie MacDonald, Newbury MA, is reportedly shopping for a ride for this Sundays 100 lap race. Reports indicated he may be teaming with veteran owner/driver Gary Casella, Saugus MA MacDonald’s parents own the Lee oval.
Fans are reminded of a change in schedule by the speedway for this event. Originally slated for Friday May 19, the program will be run on Sunday afternoon, May 21, with teams practicing at 12 noon. Qualifying for the history making event is at 2pm.
Advance tickets for all NASCAR events, including a limited number of seats for the New England 300 on Sunday, July 16 and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, September 17, are available online at www.nhis.com or by calling Speedway Guest Services at (603) 783-4931.
RIVERHEAD MODS: BRODIE BESTS ‘EM AT THE HEAD
Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway former NASCAR Modified champion Howie Brode of East Islip returned to victory lane when he won the 35-lap feature event, which at times was run in a heavy mist. Brode in the post race interview dedicated his 9th career victory to the late “Tiger” Tom Baldwin with whom Howie was friends both on and off the track.
At the outset Howie Brode took full advantage of a rare pole starting position while Sal Accardi Jr. slipped in behind Brode for second. The first two positions would not change during the race and in most cases that would indicate a single file race without much fun. Well maybe where the lead was concerned but further back in the field some exciting and at times wild racing for position occurred and at times fans found themselves looking back at the second half of the top five.
Meanwhile Brode and Accardi did not mind all the torrid racing taking place behind them, especially later in the contest when a heavy mist would come and go making the tricky quarter mile that much more difficult. Dave Sapienza raced his way to third to battle Joe Hartmann for position just car lengths off the leading tandem.
At the conclusion Howie Brode in the General Utilities Chevy was one happy and relived winner. Sal Accardi Jr. of Deer Park would shadow Brode all race long for runner-up money in the Peter J. Dunn Attorney Chevy with Dave Sapienza of Riverhead a solid third in the Michael Angelo Auto Sales Dodge. Joe Hartmann of Riverhead and Mike Andrews Jr. of Quogue completed the top five.
DIRT: McCREADIE ELECTED TO HoF ON FIRST TRY
In his very first year of eligibility, “Barefoot” Bob McCreadie has been selected as a 2006 inductee into the DIRT MotorSports™ NorthEast Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, May 28 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds.
The Mods will get turned loose for 100 green flag laps at lee. (51 Photo)
BG MODS: AGELESS JEFFREYS GETS IT DONE
While most men his age are driving around in golf carts, Robert Jeffreys of Winston-Salem spends his Saturdays at Bowman Gray Stadium behind the wheel of a Modified – the most powerful division of cars sanctioned by NASCAR. And in the Craftsman 100, the 61-year old Jeffreys showed that he can not only run with the best of them – he can run in front of them.
Robert Jeffreys shot out to an early lead in the 100-lap race for the GMAC Insurance Personal Pit Crew Modified Series, but it wasn’t long before Junior Miller of Walnut Cove moved up to 2nd place on Jeffreys’ tail. Miller is chasing a record for most wins at the Stadium and has made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to mark a few more notches in his win column.
The laps ticked by, and the crowd could sense Miller getting more and more desperate to pass Jeffreys for the lead.
Tony Ricci gets interviewed in victory lane at Lee in 2004. (51 Photo)
The New England 125 for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series and the New England 100 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will also start the chase for the Lincoln Electric/Merriam-Graves 2006 NHIS Track Championships. Christopher won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship in 2005. Ted has his sights on both titles in 2006.
“I've been fortunate to win the Whelen Modified Tour portion of the Lincoln Electric/Merriam-Graves Track Championship, and I think it would be a kick to win the Busch East title too,” Christopher said.
McCreadie's #9 Mod. (DIRT Photo)
TC swept both NHIS Mod races in 2005.
McCreadie began racing in 1971 in dirt small-blocks at the Watertown (NY) Fairgrounds Speedway. His first car was donated by local driver Cliff Carr. The coupe carried Carr’s number #9 but Cliff was still racing so Bob changed it to #66 --- for reasons he can’t remember now. The following year Carr announced his retirement and Bob appropriated the number 9 in Cliff’s honor. McCreadie made the number famous and it became as much of a McCreadie trademark as his catchy nickname, “Barefoot.” Friends had dubbed McCreadie with the moniker during his “long haired, barefoot hippie” teenaged years.
McCreadie struggled mightily during his early years in the sport. He didn’t win any feature races the first four seasons of his career. His breakout year finally arrived in 1975, behind the wheel of a radically light, narrow, Barracuda – bodied small- block modified. He scored 12 feature wins that year and that ‘Cuda set a standard: from 1975 onward, McCreadie always tried to stay technologically one step ahead of the competition.
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, McCreadie became the undeniable “King” of small-block modified racing; winning as many as 32 main events in 1979 and 34 in 1980. It was only after doing just about everything a man could do in small-blocks, that McCreadie finally graduated to the DIRT big-block circuit in 1981. He would go on to win hundreds of DIRT features and scores of DIRT point titles. But it is interesting to note just how close Bob McCreadie came to never running the DIRT circuit.
In the mid-and late 1970s, McCreadie split his time between dirt and asphalt modifieds. Bob became pretty successful in NASCAR-style modifieds; in-fact, he won the last-ever asphalt feature staged at Fulton Speedway. As McCreadie’s progress on macadam grew, he generated much interest from blacktop car owners. One of them, Toronto-area’s Norm Hagen, who owned a winning supermodified team at Oswego. Hagen and McCreadie sealed a deal that would have made McCreadie a full-time supermodified driver in 1979. Then Hagen died suddenly before the start of the season and the team disbanded.
Bob McCreadie (DIRT Photo)
As a DIRT big-block driver, McCreadie quickly went from “star” to “superstar.” His success on the race track was only exceeded by his popularity with fans. Bob’s “shoot from the hip” candor, his scruffy beard and thick glasses, and his utter distain for expensive haulers and enclosed trailers made “Barefoot” a hero to the masses. His frequent run-ins with officials and promoters only further fueled his popularity. Not only was McCreadie loved by the fans, but he was hugely regarded by his fellow racers. In racing, a guy who wins “too much” is likely to earn the ire of both the grandstand faithful and the pit-side competitors. But McCreadie was an unbelievable exception. Even when his feature win total reached a record 47 in 1994, “Barefoot” heard nary a boo from the fans. The more he won, the more they loved him.
Although McCreadie has never masked his distaste for Syracuse (“modifieds don’t even belong on a track that big”), he was the master of the Moody Mile for more than a half-decade. Borrowing a number of ideas from his asphalt days, McCreadie’s Syracuse rides were always state-of-the-art trick. And a
nightmare for DIRT inspectors. McCreadie only won the Super DIRT Week biggie once, 1986, but he was pretty much the guy to beat at the ‘Cuse from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. Bad luck and bad breaks cost McCreadie some Syracuse wins, but he gained even a greater legion of fans in the process.
Not only is McCreadie unquestionably the most popular driver in DIRT NorthEast history, his accomplishments put him right up there with legends like Brett Hearn, Alan Johnson and Jack Johnson as the most successful, as well He’s won 20 DIRT track championships, five DIRT touring series point titles and the overall Mr. DIRT points crown twice.
McCreadie’s career feature win total went over the 500 mark during the 2002 season. It stands at 507 going into the 2006 season. Although the last few years have been lean ones for McCreadie, his fan-popularity remains as high as ever --- a fact that perplexes the Watertown veteran. “We haven’t been running well the last couple of years, but the fans don’t seem to really mind,” he observes. “They are just as supportive as they were when I was on top.”
When, if ever, Bob McCreadie hangs up the helmet is unknown. But the signs that he is in the twilight of a remarkable career are unmistakable. He spends as much --- if not more --- time trying to advance the career of his son Tim nowadays, than he does concentrating on his own efforts. And he hints in his current best-selling autobiography, “Barefoot,” that his years in the cockpit are indeed numbered.
But McCreadie need not retire to be honored as a DIRT Hall of Fame inductee. Bob turned 55 years old in January 2006. Under the DIRT Hall of Fame rules, any driver who is 55 or older is eligible for induction even if still active. (Andy Fusco)