A True Racer is Lost After John Blewett, III Passes Away by Mike Twist
New Jersey Driver Dies After Thompson Modified Wreck
There’s no doubt which group John Blewett, III belonged to. He was a racer through and through. Blewett passed away on Thursday night from injuries suffered in a wreck during the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson International Speedway. He was 33 years old.
The New Jersey native was a throw-back to the glory days of racing, an answer to fans who complained that drivers who become too buttoned-down, too politically correct and too willing to second-place in recent times.
Blewett’s list of accomplishments in Modified racing was extensive. He had 10 career victories, 42 top five finishes and 76 top 10 finishes on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Blewett won two North-South Shootout races at Concord Motorsport Park (NC). He was the 2003 and 2006 New Hampshire International Speedway Modified division track champion. He was the 1996 NASCAR Regional Racing Northeast champion.
John Blewett, III 1973-2007 (Jamie Williams Photo)
Among the starting fields of auto racing events across the United States, you will find some drivers and you find some racers. The first group is happy to enjoy the notoriety of driving racecars. To them, it's fun, it's a hobby. The second group truly loves what they are doing, has an extreme hunger to win and can’t wait for their next race. To them, it's what they do.
But Modifieds weren’t the only cars that Blewett would wheel. Just this season alone, he tried out TQ Midgets and ISMA Supermodifieds. Just last week, he collected a top five finish in the ISMA event at Mansfield Motorsports Park (OH). It was his second ever start in that type of unique racecar. In 1997, Blewett was the Late Model champion at the now-closed Flemington Speedway.
Through his career, Blewett drove for familiar Modified owners such as Curt Chase, Sheba Racing and Joe Brady. However, he was best known though for driving the red, white and blue #66 Modifieds fielded by his family’s team.
Blewett was also well-known for his aggressive driving style. He had a series of well-publicized run-ins last season with Ted Christopher, and was battling for the lead with his brother Jimmy when he crashed at Thompson in his final race.
There was a softer side to Blewett though as well, including a sense of fairness. He was awarded the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, 2006 after a recheck of NASCAR scoring. Originally, James Civali was flagged the race winner and went to celebrate in victory lane. It took nearly 20 minutes for officials to declare Blewett the winner instead. When he talked about the victory later on, Blewett seemed more genuinely upset for Civali having the win taken away than he did for winning the race himself.
In recent seasons, Blewett took great pride in watching his younger brother Jimmy blossom into a contender on the NASCAR Tour. In 2007, John Blewett, III took over doing the set-ups for Jimmy’s cars and the two raced together weekly in the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson, as well as on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“I’m proud of Jimmy,” John told Speed51.com in 2006. “He’s doing a good job. He’s with a great team and it is only going to get better from here…. He’s a little rough around the edges, but when he gets that smoothed out there are going to be a lot of people in a lot of trouble on this tour, including myself.”
The brothers Blewett finished one-two on two occasions on the NASCAR Tour. In the July 2006 race at Stafford Motor Speedway, John was ahead of his brother at the finish. At their home track of Wall Township Speedway earlier this season, Jimmy beat John.
Blewett was also especially proud of his team. He hand-picked a number of crew
members from his time driving for other car owners and repeatedly told Speed51.com
that those were the guys who were responsible for his three Tour victories, while only
running a limited schedule, in 2006.
“I’ve got some really good guys,” said Blewett after winning at Stafford in July, 2006.
“There are some guys on it from Sheba Racing and from the Chase team. There are
a few of my own guys too. They all fit well together.”
Blewett was part of a New Jersey racing dynasty that included his father and
grandfather. He leaves behind a son, John Blewett, IV.
Johnson-McGinley Funeral Home
2652 State Route 138
Wall Township, NJ 07719
Vistation with the family is Tuesday, August 21, 2007 2 to 4 PM and 7 to 9 PM.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to:
The John W. Blewett Educational Fund
c/o 246 Herbertsville Road
Howell, NJ 07731
Cards of condolences can be sent to:
The Blewett Family
246 Herbertsville Road
Howell, NJ 07731
Blewett would race anything. Here he is finishing in the top five with a winged Supermodified (#75) last weekend at Mansfield. (ISMA Photo)
The Blewett #66. (51 Photo)