51's Modified Madness  Presented by Advance Auto Parts
News From The Ground Pounders - Dirt, Asphalt, North and South
Compiled from Series, Team and Track PR Reports
DIRT: NORTHEASTERN DIRT MOD SEASON SET TO START UP

2009 marks DIRTcar Racing’s 34th consecutive year of sanctioning motorsports events in the Northeast. Twenty-four tracks currently carry full membership while more than a dozen ovals in the region maintain associate status as hosts for either Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series, Western Pa./Ohio-based BRP Modified Tour or specially approved events scheduled during the upcoming summer months.

Beginning with the season openers at all DIRTcar member tracks, valuable points will be on the line for teams contending for both DIRTcar Weekly Racing Series Track and DIRTcar Regional Championships, as well as the overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar titles.

The Big-Block Modifieds already began their season in February during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park while Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway kicks off the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series on March 28. Lernerville (Pa.) Speedway unlocks its gates further north that same weekend with all but the New York State Fairgrounds opening up from early April through mid-May.

The premier DIRTcar Big-Block Modified class was first established in 1976, current 358-Modified division was initiated in 1980 and Sportsman gained notoriety in 1987 before the Northeastern Pro Stocks comprised the first full-fender class to be recognized in 1995. In competition at many tracks around the DIRTcar NE circuit today, entry level Street Stocks are officially enjoying the fifth year of sanctioning in 2009 while the Pro Late Models make their debut at Can-Am Motorsports Park in April.

Including the specials-only cards at both the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, Big-Blocks now make up the headline class at 11 full member tracks, Small-Blocks rank first at nine speedways and Sportsman top the weekly race program at four facilities. Pro Stocks will be competing at 10 DIRTcar tracks this season with six speedways playing host to the Street Stocks. Super DIRT Week once again marks the lone stop at the Syracuse Mile with DIRTcar Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman Modified and Pro Stock racers filling the autumn card in 2009.

To find links to every DIRTcar Racing track affiliate hosting events during the upcoming season, log into http://www.dirtcar.com and select ‘Tracks’ at the top and follow the instructions provided. Bookmark each track selection for quick review at a later time.

ASA SOUTHERN MODIFIEDS: PROCEDURES FOR THE FROSTBITE NATIONALS

Officials from C & C Racing Promotions and the Southern Modified Race Tour have announced some cost saving changes for the fast approaching “Josh Jenkins Memorial 125”. The Jenkins Memorial is the feature event of the “Frost Bite Modified Winter Nationals” set for March 6 & 7 at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC.

“We have decided to hold two rounds of qualifying for the ASA / SMRT Modified feature. First-round qualifying will still take place on Friday, March 6th at 5:00 PM. A second round of qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, March 7th at 2:00 PM.  We also changed the tire compound rule for the event.  Gary Freeman from Hoosier Asphalt South felt it may save teams in the long run to move to the new M-20 & M-30 Compounds the series will be using in 2009 for this event as well. The previously posted tire rule for the event had teams on the M-45 compound on the right rear and we thought the extra compound might increase costs to teams.  If someone had a problem during the race and wound up with “scuffed” tires they wanted to use later, that M-45 would be wasted since they could not use it at later events. We think the new qualifying procedures and tire rule will add to the quality of the event and are looking forward to kicking off the 2009 Modified season in the South”, said Randy Myers from the ASA / SMRT Series.

TVMRS: ZUIDEMA TO CHASE TRUE VALUE MOD SCHEDULE

Putting it in perspective, Jeff Zuidema has been racing for a quarter century. 25 years of driving race cars on weekends, spending time with friends of which he has made many.” You gotta do what you love, right.” said the married racer, and 46 year old father of two. And he does, with great consistency.

He’s driven Pro-Stocks, Late Models, Pro-Four Modifieds, and even NEMA Midgets. He’s driven to six championships, and over 150 feature wins. This upcoming season he’ll try to add to that resume with an eye on the Modified Racing Series.

Zuidema, an auto dealership service manager by trade, recently disclosed he and long time car owner-friend Dennis Gagliardi decided to go modified racing in 2009 and have chosen the New England based touring series. It is something they have been considering for awhile.

“Dennis sold the Pro-Four operation to do this. We are going at it slowly, probably five shows with a chance for more, but we are focusing on five to get started,” said the 2008 Thompson Speedway Late Model champion. “With the economy being what it is and this being a new deal for us, we thought it was the best way to go. We could run more shows, but we are saying five is our plan.”

The five races on the Zuidema-Gagliardi radar are at Monadnock, Thompson, Seekonk and Lee. The selected events are to be determined.

The North Brookfield, MA; driver has been with Gagliardi for many years. “I started with Dennis when I was 15 years old, when he was running Hudson and Westboro. We’ve had a lot of fun through the years. Hopefully this effort will be too.”

In addition to the modified attempt, the personable Zuidema could be coming to a speedway near you. He just announced his plans to commit to the ACT tour in 2009, his regular pro-stock-late model gig at Thompson on Thursday nights, selected late model races at Lee on Friday nights, and selected races at Stafford Springs, CT. Last year, Zuidema competed in 53 races cutting back from 89 the year before. The new Zuidema-Gagliardi team will be a welcomed addition to this years MRS schedule.

The date is set for the 59th running of the Sunoco Race of Champions at Oswego Speedway.  The prestigious Modified 200 will take place on Sunday, September 13th at the historic 5/8 mile oval.  The Modified 200 will culminate a huge weekend of racing that will satisfy the greatest racing appetites.

RoC MODS: RACE OF CHAMPIONS DATE AND DETAILS ARE ANNOUNCED

The weekend will get underway on Friday morning with an open practice session for the teams competing over the weekend.  On Friday evening the intensity will grow for the annual SST Modified 100.  The SST stars will be joined by the annual Mini Stock open and Factory Stock event on that evening.  Qualifying on Friday will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday will serve as a huge day of racing as well with qualifying to get underway at 1:00 p.m.  The Late Model teams will have their opportunity to shine with a major 150 lap event slated for that day.  The main pit road will be utilized for the Late Model teams so they have an opportunity to showcase their talents.  The NORA SBS Super Modifieds will compete in a full program along with a 35 lap feature and qualifying for the annual Super Stock Championship will take place.  The SST Modifieds teams that failed to make the Friday night 100 will have their shot in a non-qualifiers race as well.

For open Modified fans Saturday night will get things warmed up prior to Sundays Sunoco Race of Champions 200.   The first Modified All-Star Winners Classic race will be a highlight of Saturdays racing card.  A 30 lap special event will feature all of the 2009 RoC Qualifier race winners in an event to determine guaranteed starting status for the 200.  The top five finishers in this race will be locked in to the field for Sundays 200 lap event.  RoC Qualifying events will be held at speedways throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the New England region.  Fans can be assured the best will be in competition on Saturday night.

All of the focus will shift to Sunday, September 13th with the 59th running of the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200.  The 200 lapper is scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m.  The Modifieds will be joined with only the Super Stock 75 lapper on that day so that spectators and teams can arrive back home in a reasonable time frame on Sunday.

The Modified 200 is expected to be the only event for the Modified teams in the northeast on that day.  All of the top names of Modified racing will have the opportunity to compete for the 59th RoC title.  Once again the winners share will be a minimal of $10,000 and with incentive lap fund money that total could easily soar over $20,000.

Race of Champions owner Andrew Harpell commented on the exciting new format, “We wanted to present the race fans with a huge weekend of racing at Oswego.  We are thrilled to provide all of the top Modified teams an opportunity to once again put their name on the Al Gerber Memorial Trophy.”  “We are also in discussions with Pat Furlong and Steve Gioia (Oswego Speedway owners) to offer some incentive race fan packages between the Classic Weekend and Sunoco Race of Champions Weekend.”

Defending Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour Titlist Matt Hirschman remarked on the new format, “The scheduling date will make the event a true Race of Champions this season with the best in the business able to participate again.”  He added, “This is one event that I really want to win and just having the opportunity this season will be special for our race team.”

Tickets will go on sale in late April for the Race of Champions weekend with further scheduling details to be released shortly.   For additional information please contact the Race of Champions offices at 607-775-5555 or email rocpavement@aol.com.  The official website can be found at www.raceofchampions.net. 

TRACKS: MAHONING VALLEY SETS PRACTICE DATES

The 2009 season at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway will be getting the green flag on Saturday evening, April 18 but, prior to the first night of point racing taking place there will be three test and tune days for all classes of cars.

March 28 and April 4 & 11 will be the specially designated days for all and any teams to take advantage of pre-season practice.

All test and tune days are free admission to the grandstand and will run between noon and 4:00pm.

The first of 25 weeks of action begins on April 18 at 6:00pm with a full program of stock car racing which will be headlined by “Hand One of the Modified 100,” the first of five $3000 to win 100-lap features for the track’s lead class, the Modifieds.

WMT: PIT PARTY SET FOR STAFFORD SPRING SIZZLER

Stafford Motor Speedway and CARQUEST Auto Parts are proud to continue the annual CARQUEST Belts and Hose Pit Party at the 38th Annual TECH-Net Spring Sizzler on Sunday April 26th.  The racecars, drivers, teams and sponsors will convene on the infield of the ½ mile oval giving fans the opportunity to meet and greet their favorite drivers which marks the traditional start to the another season of racing at Stafford Motor Speedway.

USCS: COLUMBUS & DREW COUNTY SPEEDWAY SET TO OPEN USCS SEASON

The United Speed Contest Sanction (USCS) Weekly Racing Series for the Rislone Modified Series (open wheel modified) type cars will open its' 2009 and inaugural season with sanction events at two participating tracks on Saturday, March 7th. Columbus Speedway in Columbus, Mississippi and Drew County Speedway in Monticello, Arkansas. Each track will host events that will be the first opportunity for drivers to earn Championship points in the new-born series. The two tracks are located approximately 180 miles apart and don't normally share drivers.

The USCS Weekly Racing Series has been created to allow a driver to stay home and compete for the USCS Weekly Racing Series Championship. It will also allow drivers to compete with virtually hundreds of drivers in the area that USCS competes in over the 2009 season. Series Founder and President, Pete Walton said, “The USCS has created the Weekly Racing Series as a way to promote open wheel modified drivers, teams and their sponsors. The USCS Weekly Racing Series gives the open wheel modified drivers and teams that aren't able to travel our whole Rislone USCS Modified Touring Series schedule more recognition and a chance to compete for a prestigious Championship. 

Five tracks have united to make the USCS Weekly Racing Series possible for the open wheel modified division. Tracks already committed where drivers can collect USCS Weekly Racing Series Championship points also include Magnolia Motor Speedway also located in Columbus, Mississippi, Malden Speedway in Malden, Missouri and Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas. Several more tracks are expected to be announced soon.   

At least the top twenty drivers in the 2009 USCS Weekly Racing Series final standings will be rewarded at season's end with a Championship Banquet, Trophies and Championship Jackets.  Based on just six tracks participating, the cash points fund will award the Champion with at least $3,000.00 plus merchandise and will pay back at least twenty positions.

Drivers can earn points at participating tracks during weekly racing events that pay no more than $1000 to win for the event. At season's end, the drivers' best sixteen (16) accumulated event finishes will count toward the Championship point standings. Drivers may earn points at more than one track and participate in as many Weekly Racing Series events as they wish. 

The USCS Weekly Racing Series will also reward drivers in the popular open wheel modified division with the opportunity for additional recognition via the increased media coverage for them. The results for the Weekly Racing Series will be included on a new USCS website, www.openwheelmodifieds.com that is dedicated to recognizing drivers and teams competing in the Rislone USCS Modified Touring Series and USCS Weekly Racing Series.

DIRT Modifieds are getting ready to fire up in the Northeast.
The ASA Modifieds will be heading to Orange County.
Oswego Speedway is gearing up for another Race of Champions this year.
Jeff Zuidema's #19 Pro Stock (Super Late Model) at Thompson Speedway (CT).  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Scenes from a past version of the Spring Sizzler pit party.  (51 Photos)