Ct.----The second annual UNOH showdown at the Thompson International
Speedway has been the talk since the season began and once again, one of the
big draws for the fan appreciation party was North Carolina’s Burt Myers.
Myers, one of the ‘stars’ on the
History Channels presentation of the ‘Mad House’ which portrayed the weekly
racing at the historic Bowman-Gray Stadium and was clearly one of the
favorites with the fans. “We look forward to this race.” Burt said. “This is
one of the races that we look forward to. We enjoy coming up here and the
Hoenig family has gone out of their way to make it easier for us from the
While Myers loves racing at the
Thompson Speedway, it costs him and all of the southern competitors a lot
because of their much smaller budgets.
“One of the reasons that we love coming
back here is the passion of the fans and how much they love the modifieds.
We have pockets of fan support but not like up here. This is modified
country.” Burt said winning over more of the ‘Yankee’ fans with his quick
While Myers would like to see a track
down south reciprocate and run twin races like here at Thompson and then a
shootout, he realizes that it is tough.
“You look at some of our races this
year, we’d have 25 cars and at some of the races we’d only have 15 so it’s
kind of a hit and miss.”
When I asked Burt what would be the
perfect track to host a mod tour doubleheader and shootout, he naturally
said Bowman-Gray Stadium. “Could you imagine that? I can tell you one thing
is that it would be entertaining. Then with the shootout….”
When you think about it, it would be
the only track that realistically could play host in separate paying tour
shows. They traditionally draw anywhere from 10,000 to upwards to 18,000
fans on a WEEKLY basis and it could get downright ugly if an incident
occurred with a southern driver and a guy from the north. But wouldn’t it be
a great event!
While Myers would like to make more
starts at other tracks in the northeast, he said he must weigh his racing
“I would love to race at Hew Hampshire.
That is definitely on my bucket list.” Burt said as the line of autograph
seekers continued to get bigger. “I would love it but you’d have to manage
it just right. It’s hard to spend money like that for just one race when we
could race a lot of southern races with that money.”
When I brought up the race at Daytona
Speedway during Speedweeks, he said that is another track and race that he
would love to be a part of and it would be nice if he had that guaranteed
spot that comes with winning a modified series event.
“That is a long way to go and not get
in the show, though I am sure that we would and it would be something to
race at Daytona and win that race.”
While Myers priorities are running the
southern modified tour and the weekly series at Bowman-Gray, he always looks
forward to seeing his northern competitors and friends.
“As I said, we look forward to this
because of the way the Hoenig’s help all of us out from the southern tour
and how much we enjoy racing at Thompson speedway.”
Doug Coby has had a ‘dream season’ in
many ways on the modified tour but don’t expect him to say that.
Coby, of Milford, CT is the current
modified tour point’s leader and has been the most consistent driver on the
tour. Coby is also the defending champion of the UNOH shootout as well as
northern modified tour feature and earned over $25,000 for his days work
last year in his major break out win.
“I’d like to have the same kind of
results today.” joked Doug. When asked about the ‘dream season’ he said he
doesn’t look at it that way. “As a driver, you go to each race thinking that
you are going to win but you know realistically, that isn’t going to
Coby driving the Reynolds Auto
Wrecking/Furnace and Duct Supply Company #52 has three wins at Stafford this
year on the tour and one at Waterford and has a 27 point cushion over last
year’s champion Ronnie Silk.
With just five races left in the 2012
season, I asked if there is a point when you are points racing instead of
racing to win.
“Well, I’d say you have to wait at
least until after New Hampshire before you can afford to do that. You have
to get through today and then the wildcard in Riverhead and who knows what
can happen at New Hampshire.”
But, Doug said in a perfect world, he
love to have a good lead heading into Stafford, the second to last points
race of the year before he’d think about points racing.
“Right now, we are just focused on
today race and when it’s over we’ll look at Riverhead. That could be the key
race for this year. We would love to win at New Hampshire because it’s New
Hampshire. Once we get through the next few races we’ll know better where
we are. A couple of bad races and you can go from 30 up to 30 down so the
best way is one race at a time.
As I walked through the pit area, I ran
into many long time friends who ran the tour when I covered the series from
1985 to 2007 full time.
Reggie Ruggiero was seen walking
through the pit area talking with many people as way his long time car
owner, Mario Fiore.
Had the chance to talk with former
modified tour champion, Wayne Anderson from Long Island. Wayne was the 1994
series champion driving the Len Boehler modified.
Wayne is still involved with racing,
owning a car at the Riverhead Raceway where Ted Christopher ran it in the
top five on a consistent basis ending up fourth in points and TC missed two
shows because of a tour commitment.
Talked with both Tony Hirschman, Sr.
and Tony Jr. Senior is now following and helping out with his son, Matt’s
career. Matt was making a start in the southern modified tour race as the
youngest Hirschman has won every big modified race in both prestige as well
as purse wise.
Young Tony is spotting for Kyle Busch
on the Sprint Cup series as well as spotting for current truck points leader
Timothy Peters but he has to come back ‘home’ to get his modified fix.
Also chatted with Charlie Pasteryak and
brother, Carl. Charlie son, Chris is an upcoming modified driver on the
Modified Racing Series and finished second at Waterford Saturday night. Also
in the pit area was Kevin “Bono’ Manion, crew chief for Jamie McMurray on
the Sprint Cup series.
The twin races for the 2012 edition of
the UNOH Shootout were reduced from 125 laps last year to 75 laps this year
and most people expect that to make the races much better this year. While
each race pays separate points and is important to the overall series
champion, many drivers are concerned with keeping their cars ready for the
$50,000 shootout portion of the shootout plus with the additional Lap money,
one driver, like Doug Coby last year, could walk away with over a combined
pay day of over $25,000.
IN FOR DAYTONA SHOOTOUT
With the Thompson win. Seuss now joins
George Brunnhoelzl, III, Brian Loftin, Brandon Ward and Jason Myers as
southern winners and a guaranteed spot in Daytona from the southern series
while on the northern side, Doug Coby, Ron Silk, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik,
Justin Bonsignore and Donny Lia all have northern spots all sewed up.
CROWD GOOD BUT
The crowd for the second annual race
was good but certainly not great. With the opening of the NFL season, kids
back in school and hundreds of New England Fairs to attend it wasn’t quite
what the Thompson Speedway management was hoping for. Also, a $55.00 adult
admission is still very tough to swallow in this very poor economy,
especially in the eastern part of Connecticut.
While Andy Seuss may talk with a New
Hampshire accent, he won the 75 lap feature for the southern modified tour
in a race that ran green to checker. Matt Hirschman chased him across the
line with pole sitter, Robby Fuller third.
Fuller, who set the fastest lap in time
trials, was forced to start last when his crew chief missed the drivers
meeting but still worked his way back to the front in a very entertaining
Burt Myers was fourth and fifth was Tim
Brown while points leader George Brunnhoelzl, III was eighth but extended
his points lead over Jason Myers who was 12th.
CAPTURES NORTHERN 75
Justin Bonsignore used a great move on
lap 68 to secure his first modified tour win of 2012 season as he passed
Ryan Preece to earn his second career win.
Bobby Santos was second followed by
Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy and Ted Christopher. The race only had three
cautions but it ended when Ronnie Silk bounced off the wall and then crashed
hard in turn one after the leaders had taken the white flag.
Doug Coby had a miserable day as he
finished 13th but extended his points lead with Silks bad finish
although Preece cut into points off the runner up spot.