the NASCAR Whelen modified tour was off in the western hills of Pennsylvania at
the Jennerstown Speedway, I decided to head off to the Connecticut shoreline and
take in the newest rave for modified racing, the True Value Racing series.
The True Value modifieds are the brainchild of former modified tour driver, Jack
Bateman, who became disenchanted with the owners of the Claremont Speedway.
His goal was to give owners, drivers and crewmembers a chance to get onto a
touring series, run by a set of rules with a set purse that was affordable for
One of the best parts of the series according to several teams is that from 11th
to 24th, the purse is the same BUT it pays their tire bills.
I caught up with former modified tour driver, SJ Evonsion, his wife, Carol, and
their son, Dale who now competes on the True Value Series.
When I asked Dale, who was a crewmember when his dad was running on the modified
tour what the best thing about the True Value Series was he said, "Money. You
don't need to have a whole bunch of it. If you qualify you know that you are at
least going to get your tires paid for."
The series rules stipulate that you can only buy three tires for the day and
that makes it affordable for all of the teams that are running the series, which
is a cousin to the NASCAR Whelen modified tour.
Getting to qualify for a True Value modified series is getting harder and harder
and at the Waterford Speedway, a total of 41 modifieds attempted to make the 24
car-starting field at the one-third oval.
When the series started only 20 car were in the feature event, most if not all
races are 100 laps of green flag racing that offers no infield pitting, just
flat out racing.
Last year because of expanding car counts, the features started 22 cars and this
Waterford car counts were higher because the rules were modified to allow
Waterford competitors to be legal and compete in the event, making it a bonus
for the promoters of the Waterford Speedbowl because they can make it 'them vs.
While many on the series see more positives than negatives with the series, the
addition of the 'big' track Thompson Speedway in September has many questioning
where the series is going. Several midweek events are on the schedule in 2006
and that hurts everyone on the lower buck True Value series.
One car owner said that expanding to 21 races was "too much, too soon."
The series has already lost an event this season when Seekonk was forced to
cancel because of weather but it does have a few 'open', non-points paying
events offering $10,000 to win. The down size is that it is open to all drivers
including those on the modified tour.
SJ Evonsion, who was always a favorite because of his low buck approach to the
NASCAR modified tour, likes most of what the TVMS stands for.
He was on the tail end of his career when he ran the tour but in his hey day, SJ
was track champion at the Riverside Park Speedway and ran in all the big events
at tracks such as Martinsville and Pocono Speedways.
He and his wife know about cost as they help Dale achieve his goal of running
modifieds on a touring series.
SJ said that as long as the series is going to run Thompson, and being a
non-points paying events, you can skip it if they feel the cost are too
prohibitive, that they should put in a gear rule and that would help everyone.
SJ continues, "As long as they don't make the races longer and add in pit stops,
that the series is staying within budget."
One of the biggest cost is that of a pit cart and if you have infield pitting,
everyone is going to spend a ton of money making a war wagon, it's just
something on the series we don't need."
When I brought up the fact that series founding father, Jack Bateman is still
competing on the tour, how can he be objective?
All of the car owner and drivers I talked with said he does a good job of
keeping everything separate.
Many said privately the series would be better served if he either quit racing
and ran the tour or handed off responsibility of the series to an official of
the True Value Racing series full time.
The series does have a friendly attitude about it with other teams pitching in
and helping out each other, much like that of the Whelen modified tour or the
Busch East tour.
All in all the True Value modified series is just another reason to believe that
modified racing is alive and well, whether it is the Whelen modified tour, the
Race of Champions circuit or the True Value modified series, there is a series
out their for anyone.
SJ Evonsion said it the best when he said, "We are not in competition with the
modified tour, I wish we could run it and I hope that someday Dale can, but
right now this fits our needs."
Robert Gingras, III won the Waterford 100 lap event while second was Jimmy Dolon
and third was Dale Evonsion. Johnny Bush was fourth and fifth was Waterford
regular, Jeff Pearl.
The event was cut to 53 laps because of curfew after heavy showers hit the area
around 7-p.m. Saturday night.
A week ago, Ted Christopher literally saw his modified future sitting on flat
bed Haulers after being seized by federal marshals into the alleged allegations
that his car owner, James Galante of Danbury, CT was running a racketeering
business in the trash hauling business.
Teddy figured that there was no way he would be racing on the modified tour
anymore in 2006 unless something special happened.
On Thursday, Long Island car owner, Ed Whelan called and offered his back up car
to Christopher for the race at the Jennerstown Speedway.
Christopher repaid Whelan by winning the race beating Tony Hirschman and Eddie
The win propelled TC into the point's lead by 20 over Mike Stefanik and
according to TC he will be in Whelan car for the June 29th race at Thompson
speedway and hopefully beyond that.
The modified tour needs Ted Christopher, just as much as Ted Christopher needs
the modified tour.