51's Modified Madness
News From The Ground Pounders - Dirt, Asphalt, North and South
Compiled from Series, Team and Track PR Reports
WMT / TVMRS : ROWAN PENNICK PLANS A BUSY SEASON

The last time the young rumbler, Rowan Pennink, was in a NASCAR Modified he was driving away from Victory lane at Wall Speedway’s (Belmar, NJ), Turkey Derby, after winning a prestigious 100 lap feature in November 2008.  The 2009 season has not started yet, for Rowan but he already feels like a winner again.

“The way the 2008 season finished up in victory lane, there’s no way I wanted it to end, stated Rowan.  For 2009, I will again be driving the Monk Mechanics hand cleaner, FBR custom fabrication # 93 for the entire NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, selected Southern Modified Tour races and the Big Open Shows including the Race of Champions, Seekonk, North South Shootout and Turkey Derby.  We feel we are ready to step up our program.  Our team’s consistency resulted in a top ten finish in the 2008 points.  Our goal this year is to step it up and go for top 5 finishes which would also put us in a position to go for wins.”

In addition to the NASCAR Modified tour in 2008, Rowan ran a few races for veteran and well respected True Value Modified Series car owner, Gary Casella.  Gary has owned modified cars for many years on the True Value Series with a number of different drivers.  This year, the schedule will allow Rowan to compete in all the True Value Modified Series races for Gary in the Monk Mechanics, Roscoe Racing sponsored #25 with one conflict; that being the Oct. 4th weekend.  Gary is excited about working with Rowan for the entire 2009 season.

WMT: THOMPSON ICEBREAKER DRAWS CLOSER

New England race fans are counting the days until the season-opening Thompson ICEBREAKER kicks off the 25th year of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s racing season. The ICEBREAKER ushers in the beginning of the season for the Modified Tour and for Thompson’s “Super Six” NASCAR All American Series divisions. All of this is scheduled for the weekend of April 4th & 5th at the Thompson International Speedway.

Preparations for this event have been going on for some time and winter weary fans are beginning to get excited about the start of another season of exciting races at the historic speedway. The first signs of racing will come alive on Saturday, March 21st when virtually any legal race car will be welcomed at Thompson for the first of two open practice sessions. The second such session will be held on Saturday, March 28th.  The director of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Chad Little, has given permission to “Tour” teams to take advantage of both of the Thompson open practice dates. The open practices will be held between the hours of 11 AM and 6 PM.

Thompson’s ICEBREAKER is one of he most exciting race weekends of the season. New teams, new drivers, new paint schemes and more are mixed with the return of many veteran race teams. Some driver’s find themselves working with new cars and crews while others return with their tried and true cars and teams. Each race team looks to kick start their season with a good finish at the ICEBREAKER. Many racers believe that a good performance at the ICEBREAKER will lead to a successful season of competition in their respective divisions.

Many eyes will be on the famed NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team owned by Mystic, CT veteran car owner, Bob Garbarino.  This team, with driver Donnie Lia, won the 2007 “Tour” championship. Lia then moved to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His 2009 efforts will be centered on the Garbarino team’s desire to capture a second Modified Tour title. However, Lia will compete in selected Camping World Truck Series events as well.

Lia’s championship year began with wins in five of the first eight events and that momentum carried him to the team’s first-ever division title. Both Lia and Garbarino have made no secret about the fact that they are looking for that second title. Defending champ, Ted Christopher, along with last year’s ICEBREAKER winner, Ed Flemke, Jr. may have something to say about that as will many other WMT race teams searching for the season-ending brass ring.

Thompson’s ICEREAKER will be a two-day event with practice and qualifying on Saturday, April 4th. Once qualifying events have been completed, fans will be treated to the first of two feature races that weekend from Thompson’s Sunoco Modifieds and the Late Models. Each of these divisions will compete in feature event races on both Saturday and Sunday.

The introduction of Thompson’s Super Late Model division will also take place as part of the ICEBREAKER weekend. Super Late Models is the new name for the track’s former Pro Stock division. The name change was announced over the winter and was done to more closely reflect the changes that these ultra sleek and fast race cars have gone through in recent years.

In addition to the WMT, Sunoco Modifieds and Super Late Models, the ICEBREAKER will also host the Thompson Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions. Competition in these divisions is also expected to be fierce.  2008 division champs will be looking to defend their titles while others will be dedicated to claiming the crowns themselves.

Race fans look forward to the ICEBREAKER every year with great anticipation. It is not only a huge racing weekend, but it is also a truly wonderful social event. Campers take full advantage of the track’s free parking policy and move in as early as a week before the race. The Thompson complex offers fans a full lineup of food, drink and fun at the on-site Raceway Restaurant and Lounge.  It all starts Friday night with a special Clubhouse menu for dinner. The famous breakfast buffet will be available on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Saturday night is when the clubhouse shines with a special ICEBREAKER menu and live entertainment. On Sunday night, once the racing is complete, many fans avoid the traffic congestion by heading to the Clubhouse for food and drink to complete the season-opening celebration.

Tickets for ICEBREAKER 09 are now available by calling the track office. 860-923-2280. More information along with the weekend’s schedule, the entire season’s schedule, driver rosters, nearby accommodations, attractions and much more are all available on the Thompson web site.  www.thompsonspeedway.com

TRACKS: STAFFORD SCHEDULES PRACTICE FOR THE SPRING SIZZLER

Stafford Motor Speedway will host its first on track action of the 2009 season on Saturday, April 18 with an open practice session in preparation for the season opening 38th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST scheduled for April 24, 25, & 26.  The practice will be open to all divisions scheduled to race at Stafford in 2009, which includes: SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, ISMA Supermodified, NEMA Midget, and Pro-4 Modifieds.  And for the second year in a row, the practice session will be open to Whelen Modified Tour cars.  The rain date for the open practice session will be Sunday, April 19.

The paddock gates will open at 10:00am, with the practice session running from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.  The cost for admission into the paddock area for the practice session will be $25.00.  Stafford Motor Speedway season paddock pass holders have their admission cost covered by the pass.  The general admission grandstands will be closed to the public for the practice session.

“The CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler is our premier event of the season, and the open practice session is a great way for our teams to get some seat and track time before the start of the season,” said SMS CEO Mark Arute. “We have a lot of new teams and engine combinations this year and this test is a great opportunity to work out any bugs and get a good baseline for the Sizzler.”

The 38th annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST is the first race of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at SMS, and is scheduled for April 24-26, 2009.  The 2009 Tech-Net Spring Sizzler kicks off on Friday, April 24 with pit gates opening at 9:00am with a practice session running from noon to 7:00pm for Stafford’s weekly divisions.  The General Admission grandstands will be open to the public at no charge for the practice session.  The G.A. Grandstands will open at noon.

Action continues on Saturday, April 25 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars at 1:30pm, with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions following Coors Light Pole Qualifying.  Saturday wraps up with feature events for Stafford’s SK Light Modified, Limited Late
Model, and DARE Stock divisions.

The Sizzler continues on Sunday, April 26 with the famous Stafford CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party kicking off the day’s activities from 11:00am to noon, with 270 laps of feature racing to follow.  Stafford’s SK Modifieds® will take to the speedway at 1:00pm for 40-laps, with the Whelen Modified Tour 200-lap Tech-Net Spring Sizzler scheduled to take the green flag at approximately 2:30pm.  Following the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler will be a 30-lap Late Model feature event that will conclude the weekend’s festivities.

DIRT: CAYUGA TO HOST A BIG THREE-DAY SUMMER DIRT SHOW

Summer has a destination. For the first time in history, the DIRTcar All-Star Weekend takes over Cayuga County Fair Speedway July 17-19 in Weedsport, N.Y., for a three-day racing party.

A $20,000-to-win Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series 100-lap special caps three days of racing, concerts, fireworks, camping, infield parking and the best food in Central New York. Big-Block Modifieds, Sportsman Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pro Late Models all will take center stage during the monster mid-summer event.

“Super DIRT Week remains the greatest autumn attraction and All-Star Weekend is on the brink of becoming the biggest spectacle of the entire summer to showcase short track stars in our region,” said Cayuga County Fair Speedway General Manager Jack Deery. “With a posted purse in the neighborhood of $100,000, this is certainly a destination event like no other for fans and racers to mark on their calendars.”

The DIRTcar All-Star Weekend launches Friday, July 17, with Big-Block Modified practice and title events for DIRTcar Street Stocks and CRSA (Capital Region Sprint Agency) 305 Sprints. The Saturday program is highlighted by a $3,000-to-win, 50-lap Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series preliminary event, with 2008 track and series champion Big-Block drivers also contending in a unique ‘Challenge of Champions’ dash. The event culminates Sunday with the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series ‘DIRTcar All-Star 100’ boasting a whopping $20,000 on top and $1,000 to take the green.

“It’s hard to be any more excited about an event of this magnitude, especially with back-to-back Advance Series races headlining the card,” said Cory Reed, DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning. “What’s even more special is the best in the business coming to contend at Cayuga County, the same place that DIRTcar began. It’s a legendary track that is also a great equalizer, where the ‘little guy’ always has a legitimate to chance to pull off a win no matter what the distance.”

To capture an inaugural event of this magnitude would rank high on any driver’s career accomplishments.

“I’m certainly glad to see DIRTcar’s flagship track taking such a bold step like this in support of Big-Block racing,” stated defending overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Champion Billy Decker, himself a four-time Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series winner in Weedsport. “I’m hoping it’s a successful endeavor and will set the groundwork for more events like this in the coming years.”

Added all-time Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series winner Brett Hearn, who scored his landmark 100th tour triumph last season, “This is definitely a big target for all of us now and will play a pivotal part in our own summer plans. It’s great to see DIRTcar moving ahead like this and I hope this event is well attended. I’m already planning to attend a couple Sunday races earlier at Cayuga County just to help prepare for this one.”

Making the event more spectacular for fans is a huge Saturday show, with a full program for Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman point chasers and a main event for the DIRTcar Pro Late Model division.

“We’ve only been to Weedsport a couple times for weekly shows, so I’m looking forward to going back in a few months,” said teenage sensation Chris Raabe, the reigning overall Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman points king from Napanee, Ontario. “I just remember it being a little narrow. With a lot more money and prestige on the line this time, we’ll just have to make it a little wider when we return.”

Reserved seats and reserved camping for the inaugural DIRTcar All-Star Weekend go on sale Wednesday, April 1, at Cayuga County Fair Speedway (315/834-6606). A two-day reserved ticket purchased in advance is a steal at only $49, and includes a Saturday pit pass. Camping permits are $50 for reserved spots and $30 for general camping. Infield parking and access to the infield stage also will be available.

For additional information, contact Cayuga County GM Jack Deery (315/834-6606) in the DIRTcar Racing Northeast Office or Series Director Cory Reed (315/224-9009) during normal business hours. Surf the Web at www.cayugacountyfairspeedway.com and www.superdirtcarseries.com anytime to find out more about the ’09 race season.

SK MODIFIEDS / WMT - SUMMERS HOPES TO CONTINUE SPRING SIZZLER SUCCESS

As the off-season winds down and the cold temperatures begin to warm up, the 2009 season at Stafford Motor Speedway is ready to kick off with the 38th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.  With the Sizzler on the horizon, Rob Summers is looking to repeat his Sizzler success of one year ago, where he won the 40-lap SK Modified® feature and started the 200-lap Whelen Modified Tour from the pole and led the first five laps
before a broken drive shaft ended his day after completing only 50-laps.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to Stafford,” said Summers.  “I’ve raced at Stafford since the legends cars around the mini-mile and I really enjoy racing at Stafford.  I got my first tour pole at Stafford, and we
always have a good car and we always seem to run well at Stafford, we’ve just had some crazy things happen to us.  We had a good run going last year, but the driveshaft broke and ended our day in the tour race.  But if we can get the monkey off our back and have the racing gods on our side, I think we can be real good at the Sizzler again this year.”

In addition to his SK Modified® and Whelen Modified Tour efforts, Summers will also return to Stafford for the track’s 6th Annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday event, scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, behind the wheel of Howie Lane’s #97 ISMA Supermodified.  Summers took that car to victory lane in 2007 at
Stafford, a race that he says stands out as one of his career highlights.

“That Supermodifed race at Stafford definitely is one of my career highlights,” says Summers.  “Being able to win at Stafford and to beat Chris Perley was really special.  Now if I can just get a Modified Tour win at
Stafford to go along with my SK and Super wins, I’d be really happy.”

Summers will have two chances to add to his victory total at Stafford as he will participate in both the SK Modified® and Whelen Modified Tour portions of the 38th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler weekend.  The 2009 Tech-Net Spring Sizzler kicks off on Friday, April 24 with pit gates opening at 9:00am with a practice session running from noon to 7:00pm for Stafford’s weekly divisions.  The General Admission grandstands will be open to the public at no charge for the practice session.  The G.A. Grandstands will
open at noon.

Summers will practice and qualify his two cars on Saturday, April 25 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars at 1:30pm, and heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions to follow time trials.   Saturday wraps up with feature events for Stafford’s SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions.

Before Summers takes to the track for his two feature events, his cars will be on display during the famous Stafford CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party from 11:00am to noon, with Stafford’s SK Modifieds® taking to the speedway at 1:00pm for 40-laps.  The Whelen Modified Tour 200-lap Tech-Net Spring Sizzler is scheduled to take the green flag at approximately 2:30pm, with a 30-lap Late Model feature event concluding the weekend’s festivities.

TRACKS: AIRBORNE MODIFIEDS ON DISPLAY

Over a dozen Ernies’ Tools Modifieds will be among the 70 cars on display when the Budweiser Champlain Valley Motorsports Show opens at the Crete Civic Center in Plattsburgh Friday March 20 from 6-10 p.m. The show is open Saturday, March 21 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The Modifieds are the weekly headliners at Airborne Speedway, which will host its first ever Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified event Sunday, June 7. Defending Airborne Modified champion Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake, George Foley, Leon Gonyo, Aaron Bartemy, Jason Durgan, Matt Woodruff, Mike Reyell, Craig Reyell, Greg Atkins and Jim McComb are among Modified drivers who will display their 2009 mounts.

A wide variety of motorsports machinery will be on hand, including vintage racecars, go-karts, classic cruisers, dragsters, mini-sprints, Tiger Sportsmen, Renegades, Mini-Modifieds, Bombers, drag bikes and a Bonneville Salt Flats Land/Speed car.

Fans are able to informally meet drivers, owners, sponsors and team members in person. Admission is $7 for adults and $2 for kids (6-12). The Crete Civic Center is located in Plattsburgh just off I-87 exit 39. For further information, contact Mike Watts at 518-563-3581.

Airborne begins its 58th season May 2. For current news, information, and work-in-progress photos, visit www.airborneparkspeedway.com.

TRACKS: WALL TO GIVE FANS A FREE SNEAK PEEK AT TESTING THIS WEEKEND

Fans of professional auto racing at Wall Township Speedway will have their first chance to see action on the third mile paved high banked oval since last November’s Turkey Derby event this Saturday (March 21) from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. While it is a paid practice session for competitors, fans will be admitted to the grandstands free of charge for the six hour session.

We’ve got a lot of interest from the competitors. Licenses and pit area parking spots are going fast,” Promoter Jim Morton said. “Judging by all the enthusiasm we’ve seen in the office and at the Swap Meet and Promotional Day last Saturday, I think we’ll have a lot of cars here testing and practicing this Saturday.”

The first auto racing event on the third-mile oval for the 2009 season is set for Saturday, April 18. On the opening day agenda will be a special 100-lap Championship Race for the Wall/SK Modifieds. Also on that agenda will be the Sportsman racers, Street Stocks, Legend Cars and the Flanagan Retail Development Factory Stocks. Next up will be racing events on May 9 and May 23 before several racing events are presented on selected Saturday nights during the summer months. The annual Turkey Derby caps off the season in November.

In addition to the auto racing events, Promoter Jim Morton is currently working with various promoters in an effort to bring other “family friendly” shows and events to the Wall Township stadium this season. Details will be announced soon.

Wall Township Speedway is located on Route 34 in Wall Township, N.J., just one mile north of Garden State Parkway exit 98 and Interstate 195 exit 35B. The speedway office is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and all day Saturday during events. The speedway hotline number is 732-681-6400, while more information is available at www.wallspeedway.com.

TRACKS: POKER AND MODS TO MIX AT MAHONING VALLEY

Poker tournaments have become quite the popular attraction over the past few years and now Mahoning Valley Speedway has incorporated a unique format for the track’s headline Modified class that will play out with a driver’s best hand of stud poker after five extra distance races.

The Mahoning Valley Speedway Poker Tournament is a special five race series for the Modifieds. Each race will be a 100-lap, $3000 to win feature and at the end of the series there will be a $5000 jackpot which will be divvied between the top three drivers who were able to put together the best poker hand.

Here’s the deal.

At the end of each of the five special events, the top 13 finishers will receive a card all from the same suit starting with an ace going to the winner and so on. The suit, clubs, spades, hearts or diamonds, will be picked at the end of each feature by the winner who will draw a card to what suit the race was run in that evening.

Each of the five races will be done in the same manner and at the end of the final race the top three drivers with the best poker hand will share in the jackpot.

First place pays $2500 with $1500 for second and $1000 for third. A driver must compete in all five 100-lappers to be eligible for a chance at the pot.

There is a separate entry fee for the tournament and thus far there has been quite a bit of interest leading up to the first 100-lap showdown which will be Opening Day, April 18.

If the odds play out right one very lucky driver has the possibility of earning over $17,500 if he or she can win all five races and draw the best poker hand.

Based on his average finish from last year’s 100-lap runs, Brian DeFebo would have claimed the tournament.

Former track champion Eric Beers is one of the first entries and has signed up for all five features. Given his odds on how well he does at Mahoning long distance shows he’s no doubt thinking jackpot. But, it’s never easy at Mahoning as some of the best racing takes place in the century runs and it’s almost commonplace that the win comes right down to the final lap.

Along with the April 18 opener the other tournament races will be held on June 6, July 25, August 22 and October 3.

Mahoning Valley will be open for business starting March 28 with an open practice session from noon to 4:00pm. April 4 and 11 are also test and tune days.

On Saturday night, April 18 starting at 6:00pm the 2009 season rolls off with all divisions which along with the Modifieds include the Late Models, Street Stocks, Dirt Modified and Pro4 Late Models.

For additional information log onto www.mahoningspeedway.com or call the track office at 570-386-4900.

DIRT: A CARTER WINS AT VOLUSIA

Volusia Speedway Park had another great night of racing Saturday with plenty of cars and racing action for the fans. 

Jamie Carter of Jacksonville took the Modified win with seventeen cars in the field.  Coming home second was Rob Underwood who settled for seventh on week one.  Ronnie Chance took third over Nick Kirkus in fourth and Jimmy Carter in fifth.

DIRT: MS. DIRTCar IS CHOSEN

As we gear up for another exciting year in dirt track racing, a new crop of beautiful women made their way to the stage on Saturday March, 14th in hopes of being crowned 2009 Ms. DIRTcar during the 23rd Annual Motorsports Exposition and Trade Show at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York.

With extra lip gloss in hand, six women from around New York state competed in front of an esteemed panel of judges, including NASCAR Cup driver Mike Wallace and 2006 Ms. DIRTcar Chelsea Miller. Announcer Doug Elkins in addition to Aprill Gray, Ms. Parts Peddler 2008, guided the contestants through three levels of competition including Introduction, Sportswear and Interview.

Who would wear the tiara and sash when it was all said and done? In her first-ever pageant appearance, Allison Dopp from nearby Fulton, New York stole the hearts of the judges and fans, becoming the 12th crowned Ms. DIRTcar. “Its unexplainable, I don’t know what to say… I’m in shock!” Dopp remarked. Falling short of the crown, Jamie Toth and Samantha Lewis, Miss Canandaigua Spedway, were all smiles as they rounded out the top-three spots.

Allison’s love of DIRT racing started at a very young age, hanging around her Uncle Mike Prentice’s shop, as her step dad and uncle perfected his #72 Small-Block powered Modified. Her hometown track, Brewerton Speedway, remains her favorite among numerous ovals visited, but Allison looks forward to hitting all the stops on her 2009 Ms. DIRTcar tour as she hopes to get more young people involved with the dirt track scene. “The young drivers are our future and I think it’s important we get them excited about DIRTcar Racing,” Dopp stated.

Currently a full-time college student at Cayuga Community College in Fulton, the future elementary school teacher received a $500 check along with her title thanks to Leaf Racewear, manufacturers of auto racing apparel and safety equipment.




Rowan Pennick (#93) battles with Reggie Ruggiero's #14 last season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Scenes from the 2008 Icebreaker.  (Top - Jamie Williams Photo, Middle - Jim Dupont Photo, Bottom - Rick Ibsen Photo)
Rob Summers  (Top - Jim Dupont Photo) put on a show at last year's Spring Sizzler in both his Tour Modified (Middle - Jim Dupont Photo) and his SK Modified (Bottom - Rick Ibsen Photo)
The fans at Cayuga are in for quite a show this summer.  (Jay Fish / Cayuga County Fair Speedway Photo)
The Motorsports Expo in Syracuse.  (Gater Photo)
Scenes from the 2008 Spring Sizzler.  (Top - Rick Ibsen Photo, Bottom - Jim Dupont Photo)
The stands probably won't be full, but they will be free to get into, this weekend at Wall.
The Ms. DIRTCar podium finishers.  (DIRT Photo)