Vinnie Annarummo Proves That the Cement Palace is His House By Denise Dupont
Experience, Not Youth, Wins in the End
After 37 years of racing there, Vinnie Annarummo truly has the right to call Seekonk Speedway (MA) his house. On Saturday night, June 14th, Vinnie stood in victory lane winning his first True Value Modified Racing Series event of the season at his home track and confirmed that fact. As he grabbed the checker flag, he said with a big smile, “My house!”
Last year was a good year for Annarummo with three TVMRS wins at 'his house'. While this year the #12 Francis Farm sponsored car has been off to a slow start.
“We have not had a good car all year,” said Annarummo. “Even at tonight's race the car was not the best in the world. The last thirty laps I did not have any right rear left. But we held on. That is all that counts.”
There were late race cautions where it looked like the tables might turn for Annarummo and that the race was going to be won by one of the younger contenders who were chasing him.
“Yellows were not good for me. It seemed like my tires cooled down and my car was bad for about five laps after a yellow.”
After the 2007 race season the owner of Annarummo car made the decision not to continue racing another season. And who else other than Vinnie Who, which is his widely known nickname, to became the new car owner.
“We are starting to get the car better. We hit the wall at Lee and took the whole right side off. We went to Waterford and we started fifteenth and finished fifth, which was good.”
Finishing in twelfth place at Thunder Road Speedbowl, the team took a step back, regrouped and came back racing.
“We went to Thunder Road and I just shouldn't have been there. I was not in the mood to drive that day. We then went home and took the whole car apart and then put it all back together and the car ran half way decent tonight.”
Chris Pasteryak won the first TVMRS heat race at Seekonk Speedway earning him the best spot on the track, the pole. Pasteryak brought the field of cars around to start the race and hung on to the first spot until Vinnie Who was there right at his side.
Then the race became the Pasteryak-Annarummo duel as the two cars swapped the lead several times. At the end Pasteryak finished just shy of his first win. But still, it was a great second place finish when you consider that it was against the master of 'The Cement Palace'.
“I have always loved Seekonk,” said Pasteryak. “I loved it in the middle of last year when it was one two me and Vinnie again. Now I have to go to Waterford and try to beat him this time.”
The #15 car has been right there at every TVMRS race and at the end in sight of the checkered flag as it flies. So what has been the magic formula for the team?
“It is a little bit of everything,” said Pasteryak. “The whole team is getting better. The
car is getting better and I am learning a little bit. We are having fun and it show we are
running pretty good too.”
Jon McKennedy came across the start finish line third with one of the fastest cars on
“We had an awesome car,” said McKennedy. “I think that we had something for Vinnie.
Chris was making his car a little wide. Outside of that it was a heck of a race between
Chris, Vinnie and I.”
McKennedy had a strong run going when a caution came out on lap 95. Everyone
was on the edge of their seat as the race restarted and you could have thrown a net
over the top three cars.
“The fans probably did not know who was going to win until the last lap,” said McKennedy. “The car was really good tonight. Third is good. We would like a win but we will take a third.”
“We had an unfortunate problem when the car was spun out in the middle of the race. We had to work our way back up,” Said McKennedy as he reflected on the race and his racing experience so far this year. “Every race that we have gone to this year we have been competitive. I think every race this year except for one we have been in the top five this year. It has been a really good this year. Every race we have been in the race in a contention to win. It is a good year.”
In the past Jon McKennedy had been known as a Supermodified driver. But now his name is among the front running New England Modified competitors.
The crowds came out for the Seekonk TVMRS race and they got to see some great racing. (Rick Ibsen Photos)
Chris Pasteryak chases race leader Vinnie Annarummo's #12. (Jim Dupont Photo)
“Last year we started to pull the pieces all together when we won a True Value race. We won back a month ago at Star and every where we have gone we have been very competitive.”
This year McKennedy has competed with the TVMRS and All-Star Weekly Modified cars and also plans to run a few races with the Northern Whelen Modified Tour.
“We plan on doing a few NASCAR Tour races. We will see what the situation is at the time. If you are going to do that tour you need seven or eight committed guys. If you do not have that there is not point at doing the Tour. If you do that Tour, it is potentially a whole team effort. But we plan on doing a few races.
“Luckily we have been running good so the money that we have been taking in racing has paid for all the tires and fuel. So overall we are doing better this year.”
At Thunder Road, Les Hinckley and the Chuck Montville Racing race team had a flying race finish but it was not the finish they were looking for. After a disappointing 22nd-place finish, the team regrouped and headed to Seekonk.
(L-R) Winner Vinnie Annarummo, runner-up Chris Pastreyak and third-place finisher Jon McKennedy. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Les made his way to the front using the lapped cars to his advantage at Seekonk.
“The lapped cars helped us there. Chris and Dwight seemed like they were pretty tentative with those lapped cars there about midway or two thirds through the race. I really had no pressure from behind, so I was kind of in the catbird seat.”
Cautions also were an aid to Hinckley.
“The caution would enable you to get to the outside of a guy. It was harder under green to get to the outside of a guy then it was if you started on the outside and it made the pass easier. The cautions helped us on a few occasions.”
On Lap 77, Hinckley passed Annarummo and took the lead for a lap. He was pushed back to second spot though when Annarummo came right back to the lead. “We had a good race car. It was good racing with Annarummo. He left me just enough room. Gave me nothing more than what he had to. I cannot ask for anything more than that. That is what you expect.”
Then all of a sudden Hinckley was in fourth spot before he knew it with just one wrong
“I kind of got up into the marbles one time and drove it down into the next corner trying
to get it back to keep him pinned on the bottom. And the car got crossed up on the
bottom and that let Chris get up underneath me. They just one-two-three'd me after
that and I got backed up to fourth.”
Looking from the back of the lead pack Hinckley saw a lot of racing action.
“When we were fourth, Jon I could see was better than Chris. I think that we were
better than all of them. We all had good race cars. It is just one thing to be a little
better but it is a whole other thing to pass them.”
Hinckley may not have finished first but he had fun racing and a race car in one piece
at the end.
“If we are going to get a fourth it was a good fourth. We had a good race car. It was one of those deals that we challenged for the lead and backed up but it was circumstance. It was a good fourth.”
Seekonk may be a round cement circle to some but to the TVMRS drivers it is a fun place to race with little car damage.
“It was a good race all and all. This place is a lot of fun to be side by side with people,” said Hinckley as glanced at the track.
David Pinkham ended up with a fifth place finish at his first race at Seekonk. The track was challenging to Pinkham but he did well after starting back in twentieth position
In his heat race he finished in eighth place finish so Pinkham found him self in an unfamiliar spot. He was competing in the consi race.
“The right rear from the heat race had a hole in it and it was flat when I came in, it went flat.”
After that, he understood that the track was going to be a challenge. “So I had to do a new right rear after the consi. I just think that it was a good learning day for us here since I really have not run here before.
“There were a lot of cautions and they were long. Sometimes you would heat the right rear up and then cool it down so many times. It took a while to get it back. The car sometimes took five or six laps to come back. It was real loose on the side.
“I have never run a full race here so I learned a lot. I will be making changes for when I come back.”
Kirk Alexander was not where he wanted to be at the end of the race. But in a different race car, he was okay with a sixth place finish knowing that the new A-Team had lessons learned.
“It was a good car we missed the stagger a little bit tonight and the car was a little loose. It had us free right off the bat and I knew that I was going to be having some trouble at the end. So I just tried to take it easy on the tires.”
On lap 94, Pinkham passed Alexander to take the fifth finishing spot from him.
“I just lost a spot right there at the end. The car was not too bad, but I could not hold on. The back end just wanted to chase around. Besides that it was a pretty good race. You know you win some and you lose a lot more.”
Unlike Hinckley, the cautions did not help Alexander.
“The cautions at the end hurt us a little bit,” said Alexander. “I just wish that we could have kept running. I settled in pretty good and it was decent. With all those cautions it kept getting worst and worst.” But the car made it from the back of the pack and finished sixth. “We did not scratch the car and learned a lot tonight about the car. So next week at Waterford maybe we will do a lot better”
Alexander is now splitting his time between his own car and the Modified owned by Leon Holmes.
“Going forward we will see how it goes. We are going to take this car to Waterford (the renumbered #40 car). Then we will take it to Wiscasset. When we go to Monadnock we will take mine. Maybe, possibly there may be another driver in this car for Monadnock I do not know. We will be bringing back an old legend. I can't tell you who it is though. This is just a possibility though. We have to see how this plays out though. How things are going with the cars. I am looking forward to it.”
Dwight Jarvis finished his heat race in third and was in the top five racing most of the day until and incident happened on Lap 70. After forty laps of green racing, the veteran modified racer was spun after some good hard racing.
“There was not enough give and take,” said Jarvis. “I was right on the bottom and the #15 car came down across the right front tire and turned me around. I just cannot believe that everybody did not see it. But the race director should have put Chris right back to the rear with me. I know I belong in the rear but I went right back up there because I figured he belonged there also.”
David Pinkham was behind Jarvis and Pasteryak, so what was his opinion?
“I just think that it was a lot of taking and not enough giving. I have raced against Dwight a long time. The Pasteryak boy is young and would really like to get his first win. I can't wait for him to him get his first win and he probably will.”
Next week the True Value Racing Series returns to Waterford for their second race of 2008. To Vinnie Who it means: “Next week I have to go to his house (Chris Pasteryak's hometrack of Waterford Speedway).”
Seekonk Speedway Officials Move the TVMRS race forward to beat the Weather - Was it a Win, Win for All?
On Saturday, June 14th the weather was threatening all evening to drench the track with Thunderstorms. Seeing the pending weather situation the track officials moved the qualifying and heat races right along and made the decision to move the TVMRS race as the second main event of the night.
Was this a bad move for the track? From what I could see, the racers, fans and teams embraced the idea and made it mutually work for all. The race teams that came from far got to finish their 100 lap race. The track sold food and drinks. The local fans saw the modified cars race and then their local teams.
So was it a win, win for all? Let's here what some of the drivers said:
“It was probably better that we raced early because the track was close to how when we heat-raced on it. It was pretty good. I am glad we are all done with the race.”
“I think that they used their heads. There have been other times whether it be the race
track we have gone to or the communication between the series and the track, where they kind of sat on their hands and not done things like that. A lot of us travel from a long ways and when you have weather on the horizon it is nice to see them make some concession for us. There local guys can come back the next week and run double features. We have a busy schedule and it is hard for us to get back. It was nice for them to accommodate us and push us up. As far as it affecting the race or what we did. No it did not. We were ready.”
“I think that it made for a bit of an exciting show. I do not think that normally Vinnie would have run that hard that early. And I know I definitely would not have ran that hard early unless we thought that it was going to rain. And the rain held off and we got it all in. They move the show up at Seekonk Speedway and everybody got to see something.”
“Were we ready to race earlier? Yes and no. I just think that you had to make quick decisions on what you wanted to do with the car. And we had had to run the consi so it was a lot of quick decision making which may have hurt us a little bit. I think that it was really good that they did that to get the show in. I just think that it was a good call on their part.”
“Were we ready to race earlier? We were all ready to go so it was no big thing starting the race early this evening.”
Dwight Jarvis (#28) and Les Hinckley (#06). (Jim Dupont Photo)
Kirk Aleander's "New Look" #43. (Jim Dupont Photo)