When word was leaking out that Don Hawk, the director of
NASCAR's touring series had either resigned or was asked to leave, it set off
shock waves in the modified community.
While many people liked Hawk for his direct approach, many also viewed him as
another in the long line of NASCAR mouthpieces telling people in the modified
series what they wanted to hear.
I called Phil Kurze, the director of Whelen Motorsports and the modified series
sponsor, to get his reaction to Hawk leaving his post.
"I had no idea that anything like this was going to happen." Kurze told me over
the phone with a hint of shock in his voice.
When NASCAR first released the 2006 schedule the first week of the New Year, 14
races dotted the schedule and many in the modified family were not happy, either
were Phil Kurze and Whelen.
"I don't get involved in signing up the events, that is for NASCAR. We were not
happy about the 14 races and we let NASCAR know it when it was first announced.
We told NASCAR our views on the schedule and to their credit, they got to work
on it and added races at Jennerstown, Holland and Waterford Speedways."
Kurze said that Hawk told him what goes into signing a sanctioning agreement,
and Kurze said he learned a lot of what is done to sign up a track for an event.
"Don told me that they have to listen to the promoter and get their concerns and
that NASCAR also tells the promoters about NASCAR's concerns."
While Kurze said that Whelen is pleased with how the 2006 schedule came
together, he also knows that 2007 and beyond will be better.
When Kurze was told that rumors of Bob Duvall, a senior manager in events and
operations for NASCAR and who worked for the Jennerstown Speedway was going to
be taking over Hawk's job with the help of another NASCAR employee, he was
upbeat about the news.
Phil said he had no official word but seemed happy if that is indeed how
everything shakes out.
"If it is going to be Bob, I will be very pleased with that. Bob is the one who
got us to get involved the NASCAR Weekly racing series and I have worked with
him for over six years."
Phil was asked to comment on the NASCAR Whelen southern modified tour in just
its second season under the NASCAR banner and you could hear the excitement in
"I feel that there is a great deal of growth there. The enthusiasm for the
series is evident. We have tracks down there that wants more races.
When people on the southern modified tour saw how their champion, Junior Miller
was treated at the banquet with all the awards and then going to be apart of the
banquet in New York and getting together with Tony (Hirschman) and Tony
(Stewart), they saw what NASCAR could bring."
Word is that NASCAR is looking to add more combination races, like the event at
the Martinsville Speedway for next season, something NASCAR officials are
It is rumored that the Motor Mile in Virginia is interested in hosting an event
next season and that is something that most figure would benefit teams on both
the southern modified tour as well as the northern modified circuit.
Kurze said that he would be thrilled to see more combination races. "I think it
would be great for both tours. The southern modified have good drivers and good
enthusiasm and I think that they would have fun with the North South rivalry."
When news broke that Hawk had indeed left his position, Kurze said he called
Hawk to thank him.
"Don Hawk did a lot for the modified tours, for Whelen Engineering and for Phil
Kurze. I just wanted to let him know."
STEWART A NO SHOW FOR NHIS? EDWARDS IS IN
Everyone with the modified tour was thrilled that Nextel Cup champion Tony
Stewart was going to get behind the wheel of one of Curt Chase's modified for
the July event at New Hampshire International Speedway.
That excitement seems to have waned when Stewart was injured not once but twice
at Charlotte last weekend and his status is up in the air right now.
Word is that Joe Gibbs, owner of the Home Depot car that Stewart drives told his
driver to cut out the moonlighting so that they can concentrate on another
It would be his first NASCAR Whelen modified tour start, which is being
sponsored by Foxwoods Casino and it would benefit the Cancer Society.
While Stewart is up in the air, Carl Edwards is set to make his first modified
tour start when he drives for Don Barker, who was the car owner of 2003 modified
tour champion, Todd Szegedy.
STAFFORD RAINED OUT FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT WEEK
The 2006 season started off great for officials of the Stafford Motor Speedway
when a packed house watched Doug Coby win the Spring Sizzler, since then, it
been nothing but rain.
It was so frustrating for Stafford, that they canceled their June 2nd event the
day before because of threats of rain and more rain and did it ever rain with
over 5 inches falling on some parts of Connecticut.
The Connecticut Classic 150, which is a Memorial Day tradition on the modified
tour was postponed to Tuesday night, July 4th because of rain but it must be
hard to get all set to host your weekly racing series and Mother Nature
interferes with plans week after week.
JENNERSTOWN UP NEXT
The modified tour, which has been in hiatus since the running of the Spring
Sizzler the end of April returns to the Jennerstown Speedway in western
Pennsylvania on Saturday, June 17th.
This 100-lap event will offer the modified competitors a purse of $75,000.