LOUDON, NH: This weekend is what many will argue to be the biggest race of the year and even the biggest race ever if you are a true Whelen Modified Tour fan. On Saturday New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be hosting the Musket 250 for the Whelen Modified Tour as part of their Full Throttle Weekend. With the track at Loudon being a little over a mile in length it will be the longest race in the history of the tour and with that comes the highest paying race as well at $25,000 to win and with another $25,000 in lap money up for grabs! This race is a bit different.
Typically the cup series returns to Loudon in September as well but this season with a change in the schedule it opened up the opportunity to bring the tour in as a headline event as they deserve and are always said to be the best race of the Cup weekends. This triple-header event is very different as it will be highlighting three different short track divisions. On the race card along with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR PINTY's Series. The Whelen Modified Tour race will not only be 264.5 miles long but it will include live pit stops with teams allowed 20 tires each.
Going into this event Justin Bonsignore seems to be having a season that will not soon be forgotten. He is coming off yet another win from the last tour event at Riverhead Raceway, marking his seventh of the 2018 season so far. Going into the Musket 250 at NHMS Justin Bonsignore now leads the field by 81 points. Chase Dowling sits in second with just as many second-place finishes on the season as Bonsignore has wins. Currently in third in the points battle is Timmy Solomito at 106 back from the leader. Following them to fill out the top ten in points are P4 Doug Coby, P5 Craig Lutz, P6 Rob Summers, P7 Eric Goodale, P8 Dave Sapienza, P9 Ronnie Williams, P10 Rowan Pennink.
This race is uncharted territory for all the teams. They have not had to compete at a distance as long as this so everyone has the same playbook to go off of on this one so to say. The equipment will be put to the test, there is no question there. Several drivers have talked about putting a new engine in for this race alone to go chase some cash and a win too! This event comes with a total purse of $186,000 with $25,000 of that going to the winner and a custom designed handmade flintlock musket built by Edwin Parry of Black Hart Long Arms of Eastford Connecticut. Along with the large purse is also the added twist of lap money. Up for grabs is $100 for every lap lead of this event giving an incentive for drivers to want to get to the front and stay at the front of the pack as much as possible.
For this event, Matt Swanson will be back in the #3, Ole Blue and we will be looking to see what that team puts together for this event. Ryan Preece will be driving the 77 of Gary Putnam for tomorrows race. Putnam ran the car today for practice and qualifying as Preece couldn't be there, but he will be to NHMS in time for the big event. Southern champ Burt Myers has entered the event and turned his first laps ever at the Magic Mile today. Eddie Harvey is fielding two cars for the event. Myers will be in the #11 and Jeff Rocco will be in his #1 car. Jamie Tomaino is also registered to run for the 250 laps as well.
In practice earlier today, Justin Bonsignore was the top of the speed chart following him was Andy Seuss and Ron Silk. Chase Dowling was fourth fastest with Jeff Rocco in fifth. Qualifying has already taken place as well. On the pin for tomorrow is Chase Dowling. We know he will be hungry after his first trip this season to NHMS. Following him will be Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling, Ron Silk and Doug Coby for the top five starters. Saturday the garage opens at 9 A.M. with the Musket 250 scheduled for 3:30 P.M. The 250 will be run in two segments with a caution to be shown near lap 100 of the event. The competition yellow will allow for five guys over the wall. The maximum tire allotment per team available for this event is 20.
NASCAR K&N East will be in action for the Apple Barrell 125. This is the first time in almost two decades that they will be competing there without one of the top three divisions being on the same race card at NHMS. The Apple Barrell 125 is scheduled to begin approximately at 1:45 P.M. On the Pinty's Series side of things, this will be their first ever visit at the Magic Mile for the inaugural New Hampshire 100 to be run approximately at 12:15 P.M.
We have been looking forward to this race all season. The modifieds always put on an epic show at NHMS. Earlier this season it came down to the wire between Bobby Santos and Chase Dowling. Santos edged him out at the end for the win in a photo finish but it was a finish that was talked about long after the event. Dowling is long over due for his first win on the Tour, could it be his first comes at the biggest Tour modified race in history? That would be epic and a real possibility, could Bonsignore put one more nail in securing the Championship with the win. Will Solomito tighten things up? No one can ever count out Coby or Santos at Loudon. Silk also runs strong in NH. Preece is always a factor, Swanson is looking hot in Ole Blue. There are many that can win, it is one we do not want to miss. With the Black #15 of Dowling on the Pole he might just finish this one where he started it after a long battle we all will see. It will be a game of tires, pit strategy, hard racing as Loudon can chew cars up and who wants that huge payday the most!
We are expecting lots of that out of this race. Lots of tight battles and lots to talk about it long after the race has already been finished. There is going to be so many levels to this event with the extra distance and lap money alone there are two factors these teams are not accustomed to preparing to run for. If you can get there we highly recommend it. It will also be more of a fan friendly environment without one of the top three series being there. The general admission pass will allow you to get to the infield for the infield party. It will not allow you into the garage but will allow you closer to the action than a regular NASCAR event would at NHMS. There is nothing better than mods bump drafting at Loudon. As a rule there is always a lot of great passing as well as 3 and 4 wide moves at this high speed track for the modifieds. Be there, well worth the $35 price!
WATERFORD, CT- Last Friday an announcement from the Waterford Speedbowl was put out on the cancellation of last Saturdays races due to "unforeseen circumstances." After lots of thought, consulting and conversations the very tough decision was made over the weekend by Whitney Farms Racing LLC to cease active operations of the New London Wateford Speedbowl by George Whitney and Family. On Tuesday, Mike Serluca a former and current employee/volunteer and long time member as well as supporter of the Speedbowl announced he would take over running the Bowl as GM and would lease the facility from track owner Bruce Bemer.
George Whitney and family gave the Speedbowl two good seasons that we most likely would have never had. They put their heart and soul into giving the drivers a fun, fair place to race and a great place for fans to take in some of the best racing anywhere. They made lots of personal investments and sacrifices that many will never know of to keep the track running as long as they did. We commended them on this and the effort they made for all of us. They were a racing family who never worked at, managed or ran a race track. They stepped up and jumped in basically blind to save a place they loved, to give fans and drivers a place to race and watch. They did it only to save a track and for the race community selflessly. They knew they had a firestorm that they were walking into when they started leasing the track, as the track owner's legal problems and the black eye from the public were still very fresh. Regardless, they took it on anyways. Tho they will tell you it had its ups and downs and issues they learned as they went. Over the last two seasons we have seen some great changes and fun times had at the Bowl not to mention some of the best racing as always anywhere.
Last weekend when George Whitney had to make the very tough call to cancel the racing, the Bowl had 20 Saturday races events on the schedule for 2018 between May 5th to Sept 15th (still four remain). Of those twenty scheduled races, eight were rain outs (not including the three Wednesday rain outs)! That is forty percent! Just think about that, what if your business was forced by no control of yours to close two days out of every five day work week for a full year. But you still had to pay 100 percent of your operating expenses (utility's, rent,insurance, some payroll etc.) with only three days of possible business income and not necessarily three good days of income either. Or for those who work for others imagine not getting $40 out of every $100 of your take home pay for a year... This is ultimately the unfortunate situation the Speedbowl and Whitney's were faced with this year because of rain. George Whitney made this very hard decision to stop operating the Speedbowl. He rightfully put his family and family's future first. As it did not make sense for him to personally keep putting family money into the race track every week to keep it going. "If I stop running right now, I basically can walk away knowing all the drivers and our help and basically everyone can be paid" George told Mod Squad Racing Media "I want to do right by everyone as that has been my mindset from day one. I do not want to screw anyone over or take a chance on screwing people by continuing, the Bowl does not need that it has been through enough the last 25 years. Sure I could have taken a chance on "one more" event and maybe for once all the support would have been there by cars and fans, but unfortunately low attendance and low car counts on the nights we were not rained out were more the norm so far this season...." Whitney would go on and say "It was a very hard decision but the right one for everyone. I can walk away knowing I did not owe help or drivers money and walk with my head high. Instead of taking a gamble for the next race or races not knowing come the following Monday if I could pay the bills or have to take more money from our family to keep the track going... We made many friends and built great relationships, we want to thank everyone who supported us right along and we will miss each and everyone of you." George concluded. This is an honorable way to move on, unfortunately in our sport from top levels on down we have seen often many walk/run away from tracks, teams, series etc. not paying drivers, employees, venues, vendors etc.
We here at Mod Squad want to thank George Whitney, and his family for all the support from the beginning. George chose to reach out to us long before it was public he was taking over the Bowl, chose Mod Squad Racing Media for his first interview about the news that he was taking over the Speedbowl last season (click HERE for that original story on George. And click HERE for another story we did after a visit with Whitney at the track before his first race). Our feelings and opinions from these two previous stories still hold true, things that were said that would be done got done, the Bowl survived once again. I was also very right on my prediction that we would become great friends with George and he sure did spend countless hours and many late nights at our camper over the last two years (sorry Tiffany lol) .
We have built very close relationships with George and his family that we are very thankful for having the opportunity to call them true friends. We have had many laughs and some cry's together along with lots of plotting and made many memories over the last two years that we would not trade for anything. We look forward to continuing our friendships and wish George and his family all the best in their next chapter in life. Our hats are off to you for a job well done over the last two years and thanks for the memories from all of us at #BowlNation!
The next chapter of the Waterford Speedbowl is already being written, Mike Serluca a well known face at the Bowl is now the new GM. Mike has been at the Bowl for most of his life either as a fan, employee or volunteer. Mikes the big guy always with a smile on his face willing to talk to anyone. We always say "Mayor Mike can be found shaking hands and kissing babies." Mike has been a public face and PR representative for the Speedbowl on and off over the last few years. Mike has a big social media presence as well as a weekly podcast and a fairly regular Facebook Live racing show.
Mike has taken on the very hard task to finish off the Speedbowl 18' season of 4 races and 2 events on short notice. Mike told Mod Squad Racing Media "It all was basically thrown together in less than a couple days. It was either I basically find a way or the Bowl is done for this year. So I somehow made it happen after hundreds of calls and texts later. My goal is to pick up the ball where George left it and continue the great job he did. I am going to try and keep everything simple, in place and the same to finish off the season so it's smooth for the teams, fans and me" Mike said as he laughed. "This is all new for me ,I have never done anything like this but I do know the Bowl and the Bowl community well. As a team we can make this happen! I do not have time for social media drama and any negativity now, I have a mission and a great responsibility and I am going to let that do the talking for me." Mike would finish by saying "I want everyone to come on out and support the Bowl, drivers and fans. We all know it is the best racing and fun anywhere. To stay up to date follow the website at speedbowlct.com".
Many of the same faces you will see at the Bowl and we are sure it will still have that family feel the Bowl is known for. The Bowl is running this Saturday as planned with a full schedule. Motor Jam is also this weekend, Sunday at the Waterford Speedbowl. This is always a great and very large event with lots of cars in the car show, on track drifting and much, much more.
We know Mike pretty well and also have become good friends over the past 4 years with him. We cannot think of anyone who has more passion for the Speedbowl and know he will put his whole heart into making the Speedbowl a success, we wish him nothing but the best in his new adventure!
The Speedbowl has had many ups and downs, it may be the longest book with the most chapters and probably the most interesting chapters of any track anywhere. The few sure things are the Bowl is strong, it is a survivor, it will not give up. Though in a sport that is in rough shape all over as strong as the Bowl has been it still needs help and support. We wish Mike all the best as we will continue to support the Bowl as we have from our beginning, it has been our home tack, favorite track and has been "home" especially the last two years. We spent lots of time there when we were young as well as adults. We hope many teams and fans will continue to also show support for our beloved Speedbowl. As we coined the very true hashtag #BowlStrong it once again is needed just as much as ever. RG & MT #ModOn #ShortTrackNation #BowlStrong