(This Photo is a combination of Friday night at Stafford and Saturday at Waterford Speedbowl)
It has been a crazy couple weeks with everyone’s emotions running high. With races won and good byes said at tracks and at services. With the passing of Ted Christopher social media has been a live tribute it seems to him. All the stories and photos and sediments are truly amazing to go through, but become consuming as you lose track of time looking at them all. As so time passes, I see some of the sadness turning in to memories and some smiles and a few laughs at stories. Last Friday would also be a roller coaster of deep emotions for thousands as we all witnessed an incredible night. With that I will try to keep this as short as possible as I am sitting in the camper at Stafford, we got here at 10:30 pm Wednesday night after attending the Waterford Speedbowl's Wednesday night racing series Banquet. It was really fun and a good time. The track staff did a great job. It fit the Wednesday night atmosphere perfect. Wednesdays are “fun”, that’s the best word, the teams, the drivers, the fans and the track are all just laid back and all are having fun. This year there was great car and crowd counts as well as some awesome racing! It reminds me of the older days when racing was more simple and everyone loved doing it and helped each other. The Wednesday community is very tight. We have a lot to jam into this weeks story here so lets get started.
In the DARE stocks George Bessette Jr. would take down his first win in a DARE Stock with a well deserved win. In an emotional victory lane speech he said he won this one for his friend “Ted” [Christopher] 1.George Bessette 2. Jr., Johnny Walker 3. Brandon Michael. Johnny Walker would also get the Championship congrats to him. The limited late models would also have a young hot shoe take down a win also for his hero Ted Christopher as Bryan Narducci would take the checkers first. The top three would be Bryan Narducci, Al Saunders, Duane Provost. The late models would see Michael Bennett dominate the race and take an easy win. Michael Bennett, Kevin Gambacorta, Glen Reen were the top three. Dan Wesson would put on a good show as the SK Lites tend to do every week. Dan took his second win of the year in a impressive run. Thanks Dan for the "Mod Squad Racing Media" shout out in victory lane. Your top 3 of the night, Dan Wesson, Marcello Rufrano and Wesley Prucker.
As I walked through the pits that day and saw all the TC tributes, flags, shirts and makeshift memorials it was tough. When I turned the corner and had seen Keith Rocco leaning over his “Waterford” SK in deep but probably somber thought I knew right there Keith was going to win. He looked shook up still from the passing of Ted as they were very close and had lots of history. I knew he came here only to win and no one was going to beat him or get in his way. The SK race would start with the pole left open for TC, it started with a great tribute by Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler over the PA. Click HERE to see the video we took.
The race would have a hard time getting going and to find a rhythm. By lap 18 Keith Rocco would take the lead after dodging wrecks and laying it all on the line to get up to P1 in TC style. Then, well he just checked out in Ted style. Everyone was cheering and many had tears, I know I did. He had a co pilot with him this night for sure. He would lead still at lap 38 of 40. When the white came out Rocco was leading and on the back stretch he would start to slow and in an amazing act orchestrated by the Stafford staff and SK Drivers and spotters Keith would lead the whole field down pit row. As Matt Buckler and Ben Dodge would call the end of the race coming off turn 3 and 4 down to the checkers that would wave one last time for the legend Ted Christopher who took the win. It was amazing and something many will never forget. It was very touching. Click HERE to see our video of this. As this happened Rocco was given a #13 TC flag as he did a great burn out down pit lane and lead the field to the paddock. He would pull his car behind the “Ted Christopher" bleachers and in front of the “Wall Of Fame” where TC is also pictured. It was an emotional "victory lane" with lots of tears from all as Keith placed TC’s flag on his car and stepped back and just looked as all of us were shedding tears with him. Click HERE to see our video of this. I could say so many things about this amazing night but the best way I can some it up is in a few phrases. "Simply perfect" Stafford, and Keith Rocco if there was ever anything “meant to be” buddy it was that night with your win. Hats off and I know TC was looking down proud and saying “No sh*t heeey?!” To learn more about Stafford’s great point races click HERE.
Saturday we would get to Loudon for the NASCAR Whelen Tour race. With such and incredible points battle we knew it would be a good one, and it sure was. It would also be an emotional one with a small tribute to TC and the first tour race without him. Woody Pitkat would honor TC as he would wheel the #82 that TC had been driving for Dan Watts. Woody did Ted proud as he drove hard and put on a show. He would not win this day but it sure was not for a lack of trying. Woody will be in the #82 again for this weekends Stafford Tour race. There were lots of battles and action in this race as it was one of the better Loudon races in my opinion. But at the end of the day Bobby Santos would take the Loudon sweep for the 2017 Tour season as he won in July as well. Coby had lead many of the laps and doing so has the point lead. We will get more into the wild points battle in a little bit. But here are the top 10 finishers of the FW Webb 100 1. Bobby Santos
Rowan Pennink, Patrick Emerling, Donny Lia, 5th Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Ryan Newman and 10th Anthony Nocella.
After the Mod race at Loudon we would drive south to the Waterford Speedbowl on the CT shore. We got there in time to catch the features. Mini Stocks (25-laps): Charles Canfield, Nathan Taylor, Sean Caron. Mini Stocks (25-laps) Makeup from 9/16: Jordan Hadley, Nathan Taylor, Wayne Burroughs Jr. Legends (25-laps): Joey Ternullo, Steven Chapman, Kyle Rogers. Limited Sportsman (30-laps): Chris Meyer, Monte Gibbs, Al Stone III. The SK Lites would see Andrew Molleur get one more win to bring him closer to his first championship a couple years before he can even get a drivers license! He would take this one down for TC. SK Lites (25-laps): Andrew Molleur, Bryan Narducci, Wayne Burroughs. The Sk race would be action packed with a couple cautions and passing and action going on as well. Kyle James would put on a show after having to come from the back after a yellow. It would be Keith Rocco that would get out front and take the lead. Many times when this was the story TC would be there to challenge and put on a show with Rocco.
Though Ted would not be wheeling the Dipisa #13 I think many of use saw him right there side by side with Rocco, as many of us have so many found memories of some of the best battles we have ever seen take place here at the Bowl with these two and it will be missed. Andrew Molleur would also be impressive in his SK as he not only battled fellow young gun Jacob Perry but he held off season veterans and until the last few laps as it looked like he might finish on the podium. Kyle James would get by him and work towards the front. It would be Rocco nailing his second win in as many days for Teddy. SK Modified (35-laps): Keith Rocco, Kyle James, Matt Galko, Andrew Molleur, Todd Owen. For more results and points for the Bowl click HERE.
At the end of the night the Speedbowl staff would bring the Dipisa brothers #13 that Ted drove to the finish line. The car was on the midway all night for fans to see one last time to take a photo or two, leave cards or flowers, sign side panels or just sit and say good bye. At the finish line where the #13 has been many times fans would be allowed on the track and were handed candles for a candle light vigil. It was done very well with the lights turned down, a prayer and some fitting background music. Many told stories, laughed, cried or just sat there with their thoughts. We were honored to be part of it and will not forget this night as well. There is a link to our video of this HERE. The Speedbowl did a wonderful job with this and anyone who was “actually” there would agree. I know the Dipisa family, crew and team along with many of Teds family and friends were very touched and appreciative of all the gestures. We also would like to thank not just the Bowl but the Dipisa crew for bringing their car for the fans to see, touch and honor on last time while Ted Christopher’s name was still on the roof. We wrote a whole piece and photo tribute to Ted Christopher. We have gotten amazing feedback and thank you all for that. If you would like to take a read and look at photos click HERE.
This weekend is Stafford’s famous Fall Final. One of our favorite weekends of the year. Sad as it closes Stafford race season but it is always such a fun time on and off the track. We are camping Wednesday to Monday AM with some of our best friends and the many friends and fans that pop in and out all weekend. The on track action never lets down either. With the many close points in Stafford’s divisions it should be one for the history books. The New England Truck Tour will be racing Saturday as well. The epic points battle of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make this 150 lap race one that will make and break some for the points and they will lay it all on the line. The Stafford points are as follows. SK Mods-Keith Rocco 636, Chase Dowling 632, Ronnie Williams 620. The SK Lite- CORY DiMATTEO 632, DAN WESSON 626, DAVID ARUTE 602. Late Models- GLEN REEN 708, KEVIN GAMBACORTA 698, TOM FEARN 694. Limited Late Models- DUANE PROVOST 720, AL SAUNDERS 708, JEREMY LAVOIE 700. DARE Stocks- JOHNNY WALKER 756, GEORGE BESSETTE, JR. – R 668, VINCE GAMBACORTA 628.
After this weekend Thompson is the last Whelen Tour points race. Here are the top 10 in points for the Tour.
1. Doug Coby 526 2. Justin Bonsignore 515 3.Timmy Solomito 512
4. Rowan Pennink 509 5. Ryan Preece 500 6. Eric Goodale 491
7. Dave Sapienza 443 8. Matt Swanson 437 9. Rob Summers 417
10. Max Zachem 373
After a rough start Coby has bounced back and sits on top impressively. Coby has 10 wins at Stafford but only 1 win this year at Seekonk. He is looking for his fifth championship. Consistent describes Bonsignore's winless season. With six top fives and eleven top tens. He has never won at Stafford but if there ever was a time it would be this weekend as he needs a win. Solimito has had a roller coaster of a year and has hung on fighting to the end. Timmy has four wins this season and also needs this win. Rowan Pennink Started with the Icebreaker win and has had a consistent showing all year. He has been right in the points all season. Stafford being Rowan's “home” track he has many successful laps on this track in recent years. The “Ole Blue” #3 has looked very competitive all year and this could be the next “W” for the team. Ryan Preece’s 5th in points does no do his season justice. Ryan missed two races this year where he got no points. He has won the most races of anyone this year, five including both races this year at Stafford.
Some note worthy drivers not in the Championship race, Bobby Santos who has two wins this year running part time, both at NHMS and most recently last weekend. Santos has six wins at Stafford and nine poles as he knows how to wheel around Stafford. Chase Dowling finished third this year at the Stafford Spring Sizzler. He has looked good all year and has run a full season at Stafford in the SK mods and is 2nd in points. It will be interesting to see how the added seat time at Stafford will play out for him. Woody Pitkat has called Stafford his home for many years. He has lots of laps and wins at this track. Woody will be back in the #82 of Dan watts that was driven by Ted Christopher. I know Woody would like nothing more than to park it in victory lane for Teddy at the track where Ted is known as the “king” with his 9 championships and 131 wins at one of the toughtest tracks in the country. Woody Pitkat is more than capable. As he has both the experience and talent to do so along with the drive to do it for Ted; do not be surprised if he gets it done. Keep an eye on the 21 of Ronnie Williams as he has been looking real racey as of late and this is his home track where he is in the run for a SK Modified Championship as well. Top wheelman Jon Mckennedy will once again be behind the wheel of the famed #00 of the Brady family. A car ran many times by Ted Christopher. Jon does well at Stafford and that #00 has had some good runs with him behinde the wheel this year. Stafford will also be retiring TC’s #13 on Sunday before the races and after the pit party. For more info on the Whelen Tour Click HERE.
With at least four days of camping with friends and race family and fans and two days of some of the best racing we think we will see this season to date we can not wait. We will have the smoker going and looking forward to good food and good times with good racing. Be sure to say “hi”. Come on out on this awesome weekend for some great family fun and support your local track and drivers. Everyone be safe. Until the next green flag drops RG #ModOn #13ModOn4Ever