October 18, 2011

ARCHIVES                                         

By Brian Danko                           

THOMPSON, CT----- On the 52nd lap of the 150 lap season ending Whelen modified tour event at the Thompson Speedway, pointís leader Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT.  thought his dreams of capturing his first NASCAR touring series title went away.

He slid his car backwards into the wall and then was hit by a sliding Tony Ferrante, Jr. as both cars were caught up in someone dumping oil on the track.

But the crew worked to keep Silk on the track and despite being 9 laps down at one time, Silk managed to survive the carnage that was the modified tour finish and win his first title. Silk entered the race with a 54 point advantage over past series champion, Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT. and after Szegedy led early to give himself an extra five points towards the title, Szegedy always seemed to be in the middle of action on the track and when the race restarted a green-white-checkered finish on lap 149, Szegedy got caught up in a wreck in turn four to officially hand Silk the title as Szegedyís car went off the track hammock style.

It was a memorable win for Glenn Reen as the youngster secured his first ever modified tour win beating out Bobby Santos and Matt Hirschman but the story line was the battle for the title and despite being nine laps down, Silk was able to make up 6 of them as he continued to be the ĎLucky Dogí as the caution flag continued to fly in a race that saw the scheduled distance of 150 brought out to lap 168.

Silk final tally would show it was a margin of 76 points over Szegedy with Eric Beers third in the pointís final run down.

ISSUES FACING NASCAR AND TOUR IN 2012

While the 2011 season came to a close under perfect racing conditions at the Thompson Speedway, it wonít be too long before the 2012 season will be upon the race teams and NASCAR and in the short few months before now and then, a lot needs to be accomplished.

The economy is still going to be poor as the calendar will turn another year and with several race teams looking to call it a career, or at least reduce the number of races that they are going to run, it is time that NASCAR needs to step up in the scheduling department and while doing that reduce the number of races that are two day and reduce them to one day.

Phil Kurze of Whelen did announce that they are looking at ways to reduce both track cost and race teams cost and that is one way to achieve it. He also said that the schedule would be more balanced where there wonít be a race for almost a month and then have six races in a row.

One item that NASCAR needs to address is the Bristol race followed by the race in Canada. You canít have two races at faraway venues, one in the middle of the week and one in another country. These teams just canít afford it with part time crew members, many whom already exhausted their vacation time on racing. 

Someone with common sense needs to sit down with both NASCAR and the teams and toss ideas around to save cost for everyone in racing.

NASCAR also needs to get something done for television for 2012 and beyond. After having many races taped delayed last year and shown later was great but then to have just two races in 2011 was and is unacceptable.

HOENIG BOWS OUT

Don Hoenig, who for more than 35 plus years has been the name and face of the Thompson International Speedway bowed out at the drivers meeting for the modified tour competitors. Hoenig, whose son and grandson will be taking over the leadership of the flagship track for the modified tour and into the future. Donís father built the track after the Hurricane of 1938 and turned it along with Don into one of the premier racing facilities in the country.

Hoenig said that he has enjoyed the friendship and support given by all of the modified teams over the many years and that he looks forward to just being in the background going forward.

I had the chance to talk with Don before the drivers meeting and complimented him on the North South Thompson Shootout and he said most of the talk after the race was good but that there was some complaints but he also acknowledged that is also part of putting on a first annual event and that it will grow bigger and better into the future.

Don has been an intrigue part of auto racing in the northeast and he will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame this coming winter.

Don said that next August that they are looking at returning one of the modified tour races dates but making it a one day show.

PHIL KURZE TALKS ABOUT 2012

Phil Kurze, the director of Whelen motorsports and one of the biggest supporters of the modified tour said he saw a glimpse of the 2012 modified tour schedule and while he couldnít tip his hand about it, he said he is hopeful for a good season next year.

Kurze did say that there were some sanction issues to work out and that he is still working on television for next year and beyond.

Kurze also mentioned that the banquet in Charlotte is attended by more people from the modified tour than any other sanctioned series under the NASCAR banner. (Now maybe they could return it to Mohegan Sun)

THANKS TO EVERYONE

A few weeks ago, I suffered a seizure and was hospitalized for four days. I want to thank the racing community for the cards of cheer and the support at the track. I have always considered the teams and people associated with the modified tour as part of my extended family and I truly am humbled by your best wishes for a speedy recovery.