Aug. 1, 2005

SEEKONK, MA-------

For Eric Beers of Northampton, PA, it wasn’t a matter of if but when.

When became a win on Saturday night when the ‘other’ driver from Northampton scored a win on the NASCAR Whelen modified tour.

Beers, who moved into seventh in points and that, despite missing one race because of an injured shoulder in the opening event at Thompson.

Beers passed Ted Christopher for the lead on lap 31 and then held off John Blewett, III for his first ever Whelen modified tour.

“This is just awesome.” An ecstatic Beers said in victory lane. “I knew that I had to get by Ted quickly because at the end of the race he’d be tougher to pass. He gave me room and I went by him.”

While Beers was solidly in front, his old racing companion from the Flemington Speedway days, John Blewett was on his bumper.

“I raced with John a long time and he barley touched my rear bumper. I knew that he’d have to work to get around me, I stayed on the bottom and if they wanted to pass me, do it on the outside.”

The rest of the top five was Blewett, Jerry Marquis for third, Tony Hirschman and Doug Coby.

Rumors were running rampant around the ‘Action track of the east’ that NASCAR and the modified tour are likely in their last year at Seekonk.

It would be too bad because the track, which has seating all around the track, was packed for the only modified tour event. The track does run the True Value Series modifieds and also ran an open competition show but for the fans to see stars of the modified tour, the only way is to run the Whelen series.


Even though the NASCAR Whelen modified tour at the Seekonk Speedway has been on the schedule since the 2005 schedule was released in January, the race this past weekend almost didn't take place.

A week ago, NASCAR tour director Ed Cox received a call from Seekonk Speedway and an official there said that Seekonk wasn't going to honor NASCAR's request of allowing up to 10 team members per team into the pit area for $25.00

When Cox announced this at the drivers meeting at Beech Ridge Speedway last weekend, it sent a shock wave through the pit area and team owners, in solidarity announced that if Seekonk wasn't going to honor the request, they as a whole group would withdraw their cars.

This past Monday, Seekonk officials relented and said that they indeed would honor the agreement. When I asked Ed if this was on the NASCAR entry blank, he said no because "We can't mandate this to those tracks, its just something that they do."

If the modified teams had not shown such a resolve, it would have allowed all tracks on the tour to charge whatever they want and the modified tour teams would face hundreds of dollars in more expense at each and every race.

This on top of the higher fuel cost that teams face traveling from Virginia to Maine and west to Jennerstown, Pa.

It is hard to believe already what some tracks charge competitors and crew for entry into the pit area and I for one, am glad that the teams as a group, stuck up for their rights.

Now, they need to show this commitment when it comes to getting NASCAR off their backside and get the tour some welled deserved television time.


The Seekonk Speedway is one of the oldest tracks around and continues to be run by the founding family.

The one-third mile oval opened on May 30, 1946 and was owned, operated and promoted by D. Anthony Venditti.

When he passed away in 1991, his wife, Irene, and his son, Francis, along with grandsons, Marc and Davis continue to run the speedway that has provided fans in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island with weekly Saturday night racing.

This is the sixth appearance for the modified tour at the track known as 'The Cement Palace'. The first race was a 200-lap event in 1987 won by Reggie Ruggiero. Other winners include Chris Kopec, Jerry Marquis, Eddie Flemke, Jr. and Chuck Hossfeld.

The purse for the race was $74,255.


Although the modified tour race at the Martinsville Speedway is a little more than a month away, the folks at Martinsville Speedway and Whelen Engineering are gearing up for the historic race.

Last Thursday, July 21, Clay Campbell, Martinsville track president and grandson of track founder, H. Clay Earles and his public relations director, Mike Smith joined Phil Kurze, director of Motorsports for Whelen to announce Whelen's sponsorship of the modified event.

The race will be known as the "Made in America 300"

Kurze was thrilled to have lent Whelens name to the first night race at the historic Martinsville Speedway.

"It's a very special event. And the title 'Made in America 300' on Labor Day weekend is what Whelen Engineering is all about."

"Whelen was excited about becoming the entitlement sponsor of NASCAR's first division and to have the opportunity to become part of history by sponsoring the very first night races at one of the historic modified race tracks in the country, the Martinsville Speedway." Kurze told the media and the many Whelen employees on hand for the announcement at the companies' headquarters in Chester, CT.

"The 2005 season has been good for us but it just got a great deal better."

For Smith, it was a first chance to visit the Connecticut shoreline area and he was so impressed that he is making a return visit next weekend to further promote the event.

"Well, actually, it will be a working vacation." Smith said. "We are coming up to meet with the fans and we want the teams to see the effort that we are putting into this race. We not only want it big this year but in the future."

That is why Smith will be at Thompson Speedway on the 11th, at the Stafford modified tour race on the 12th and at Waterford on the 13th.

One of the traditions of the Martinsville Speedway is the grandfather clock that is giving to winners of the Sunday events. For the first time, the track will break tradition and award a grandfather clock to a non-Sunday winner.

Ted Christopher, who is eagerly awaiting the race and is getting married next fall, would love that clock for his living room.

"That is what I really want." Ted said, "I can't wait to get to Martinsville and race. The teams on the southern tour are also going to be tough to beat as well as our own tour teams, it should be quite an event."

Smith said that the response down in southern Virginia and the Carolina's have been unbelievable.

"I think that it's a combination of the lights, the southern modified tour being revitalized and you have a lot of young drivers on the modified tour who have heard about Martinsville Speedway but haven't had the chance to race there."

Smith said that the speedway has worked with the local hotels to keep rates at a non-race weekend price. Calls to many hotels in the Martinsville area are already booked but many fans can stay in nearby Danville, VA or Eden, NC.

Smith is hoping for a great response from the northern fans in making this first event, something to build on.

When he was asked about the possibility of television, Smith said, "If I was a betting man, I would say that we'd have TV. I know that NASCAR has been working real hard, talking to a couple of groups about doing it."