Monday January 2, 2006



By Brian Danko                              Photos at Bottom of Page       


UNCASVILLE, CT-------The 2005 NASCAR Whelen modified tour closed the season off on December 16th as Tony Hirschman of Northampton, PA was crowned the tour champion for the second straight year and the fifth time in his career.

The rest of the top twenty in points was also honored at the annual event.

The gala banquet was held at the magnificent Mohegan Sun Casino in southeastern Connecticut and was attended by more than 500 people. It was the third straight year the banquet has been held at the Casino and judging by the response of those attending, the banquet has found a permanent home.

His peers honored Hirschman whom along with the rest of the Kamco Supplies #48 team and he was thrilled to capture another title for the Kehley brothers who own the team.

"They took a chance on me and I am proud to give them their second straight title." Tony told the large audience, the second largest of all the NASCAR touring series banquets; just the Nextel Cup banquet had more attendees.

Not only was a large contingent of drivers, owners, crewmembers and media on hand but NASCAR had a large contingent also.

Jim Hunter, vice president of Communications for NASCAR and a big modified fan was there as was Brett Bodine; he is also a former modified competitor who now runs the Research and Development for NASCAR in Charlotte, NC.

Jerry Cook, who himself is also a six-time modified champion as well as a NASCAR official was also on hand for the big event.

Whelen Engineering, the series sponsor from nearby Chester, CT had Phil Kurze, director of Motorsports for Whelen on hand as well as owner Sonny Whelen.

Whelen also brought up for the occasion two drivers that they have sponsored in the past, Geoff Bodine and Steve Park.

Brian Williams, who heads the NBC news anchor, sent about a five-minute video clip wishing congratulations to Hirschman on yet another championship.

Williams, who lives in Connecticut can be seen at modified events at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.

Jimmy Travis, a comedian/songwriter performed for the crowd during a break in presentations and most people seemed to enjoy the break from the awards.

There were several awards that were handed out at the banquet. The annual Len Boehler award was given out to Tony Ferrante for his many years of service to the modified division in particular and the modified tour since its inception.

The annual Women's Auxiliary Award was given to Walter Newcomb. Walt is a columnist for the website of Mod Series Scene. He is a deserving recipient of the award for the work that he does.

The Donna Parks award is given to usually a NASCAR official who goes above the all of duty and the winner was official Jeri Duefrene.

The Featherlite Award was given to John Blewett, III. The award is given to the driver who has moved up the most positions in a race from one race to another.

The Powerade Award was given out to Dave Etheridge while Tony Hirschman won the Budweiser Award for most poles won in a season.

The Tommy Baldwin Memorial Award was given out to Ted Christopher. Ted certainly was honored to receive the award as he embodies the driving style that Baldwin had shown in his 30 plus years of modified racing.

The annual Dedication Award given out by NASCAR went to the father and son duo of Tony Ferrante Sr. and Tony Ferrante, Jr.

They are retiring after many years of modified racing. They were given a long-standing ovation by the large crowd when it was announced.

The Sportsman Award went to modified series competitor Jake Marosz. Marosz has been a longtime competitor on the series and like many low buck drivers, struggles to make events but when he doesn't he is the first to offer his help to other teams.

Mike Joy of New England Racing Fuels also awarded Marosz with three barrels of Sunoco gasoline for next season.


Brian Danko accepts the Featherlite award from Bill Cotrofeld for John Blewitt III

Edd Cox, Phil Kurze, Tony Hirschman, Tom Kehley and Bob Kehley

Tony Hirschman and Crew