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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
May 6, 2014
And we're off!!! The 2014 season is now underway after our opening weekend doubleheader was completed this past Saturday & Sunday. What a great weather day greeted the NASCAR Whelen All American Series teams on Saturday which in my estimation was one of the nicer days in the last decade or so for the opener. Sunday may not have been as warm as Saturday but still a great day for some Enduro racing
We will go with the same format for the Eye as we introduced last year writing random thoughts as we go along in no particular order as we try to capture some behind the scenes news.
Great to see former 6-time NASCAR National Modified champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Jerry Cook on hand Saturday. We all joked with Jerry that his trips to the Island usually mean wet weather but not this year. Cook admitted he is nervous about the upcoming vote that will determine the class of 2014 for enshrinement with that class will be voted on May 21st in Charlotte. Time will tell.
Jimmy "The Kid" White Jr. and his Busy Bee Pest Control Blunderbust team had to scratch the fancy looking #32 machine for the feature as they suffered rear end issue that they fear might also have affected the drive shaft and maybe even the transmission. Jim White Sr. told me the team had all the broken parts out of the car before breakfast Sunday awaiting replacements to be ready for this Saturday night.
As always all the race cars looked wonderful for opening night and one thing I'm sure you noticed if you were in the pits are the equally as impressive race car haulers. Wayne Anderson and his Eastport Feeds #15 team purchased the former NEMCO Motorsports rig from Joe Nemechek, while Dave Sapienza and his racing partner Frank Vigliarolo are the now proud owners of a former Rusty Wallace transporter. Check them out during the season.
Great night for the brothers Turbush as Roger won the 20-lap Super Pro Truck contest in his Allied Air Conditioning #88 with Chris backing that win up with his Charger triumph in the Eastern Fuel Chevy. Both came to the season wanting to win for their departed friends "Fooney" as well as Greg Hayes, father of LM standout Jarrod Hayes. Mission accomplished on night #1. Of course the racing Gods messed with Roger a tad during his win as his truck started to misfire from time to time but not enough to keep him out of the winners circle.
Tough break for Don Nelson Jr. in the Sunday 4/6-Truck Enduro as with just a handful of laps of the schedules 50 in the books his Nelson Brothers Farms Chevy lost an engine leaving a puddle of oil beneath it on the infield.
Nice field of 34 Legend Race Cars signed in for the opening night tilt which was captured by Kevin Nowak #53, the fun loving driver did quite the burnout after he crossed the stripe.
Busy weekend for Shawn Solomito and his lovely wife Kristy as after the driver of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation #66 swept both ends of the Twin 30's they went home caught a few hours sleep before heading to Rhode Island to be Godparents in a family Christening. Shawn's win marks the 4th year in a row that either he or brother Timmy have won on opening night.
If you missed Scott Kulesa's #10 Eastport Feeds Late Model this year go get your eyes checked right now! A bright, very bright orange paint scheme adorns the car this year. After early race contact Scott was able to salvage a 5th place finish.
Talk about having to earn 3rd place honors in the Super Pro Truck feature both on and off the track then you must be talking about former champion "Dangerous" Dave Koenig #97. The team, which early last week we were sure they'd miss opening night, indeed got their motor back very late in the week and pulled an overnighter to have the Nelson's Auto Salvage machine ready to race. Dave then had to come from the back of the pack, once at the start and secondly after being involved in an early race tangle to post the podium finish. For good measure Koenig also made his Legend Race Car debut earlier and was 19th in the 27 car field.
How is this for irony? When Barbara & Jim Cromarty introduced Enduro racing at Riverhead Raceway in May of 1986 the winner of the first ever race was Peter Verwys Sr., a familiar name to many Freeport Stadium fans. Well this past Sunday kicked off the 29th year of Enduro action with Peter Verwys Jr. in his Usedautoparts.com #88 being declared the winner!
Jack Handley Jr. #49 sure didn't want to see a late race yellow in the 20-lap Blunderbust feature but that is exactly what he saw but not to worry he was able to fend off "Slick Pick" Tom Pickerell #4 for the win in his Liccardi Builders entry. By the way Jack's Mom Cyndi is now publishing the track program which is titled Riverhead Race Review; make sure you grab a copy weekly.
Figure Eight winner "Johnny Electric" lit up the night as John Vullo #66 topped the field having to survive some restarts along the way in his Teddy Bear Graphics Cadillac. John on one hand is seeking sponsor via his posts on Facebook and then tells Steve Halpin in victory lane that his car is for sale which is kind of confusing to me but then again I'm not hard to confuse!
Charger standout John Baker #07 was among the missing with his Sunrise Medical Labs Camaro but he indeed had a very good reason. That was the birth of his first child late last week and we wish John and his family congratulations!
Ken Darch was on pins and needles when we saw him Sunday at the Enduros. Seems his all new Precision Auto Works Lawn Sprinklers #03 threw a belt during the NASCAR Modified features and he is hoping that no internal damage was done to what is a brand new engine. He and Dennis Scott had the engine out of the car Sunday ready for a trip to the engine builder in Amityville Monday morning.
Chris LaSpisa #7 triumphed in the 25-lap Late Model feature and quite honestly folks he was in the best spot for that rough and tumble race, out front. Chris, like Figure Eight winner John Vullo had McBetts Racing Engines under their hoods for their triumphs. LaSpisa told us he is now down to 2 cars this year having sold one to a racer from New Jersey.
Two drivers have switched to the #27 for 2014. One is former Figure Eight champion Scott Pedersen who last year along with car owner Benny Vecchio kept the #3 on a car they bought from George Seus, which is the former car of the late Ralph Tasso. Scoot won his lone title with the #27. The other is Eric Hersey who jumped at the number when Tom Sherman sold all of his Legend Race Car equipment. Sherman recently retired from the Nassau County PD and is moving to North Carolina once his house is built for his family.
Rob "The Racer" McCormick had what one could call a very successful Enduro Sunday. The driver of the Sneaker Aquarium #48 swept both ends of the 8-Cylinder races, this after a third place run in his #17 4/6-Cylinder Truck, not a bad outing at all.
Like to take a moment to wish defending NASCAR Modified champion Howie Brode's mother a speedy recovery after some heart surgery. "Mama" Brode as she is known to many at the track is rehabbing at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and we canít wait to see her back at the races. Howie was 6th and 2nd in the Petro Fuel Oil Chevy Saturday.
Cory Midgett had a stellar night in the Chargers as he finished third in the Quakenbush Cesspools #14 after leading the first 6 circuits.
Ditto "Johnny Drama" Johnny Cricchio #66 in the Blunderbust race who also finished third after mixing it up with some of the divisions big guns so to speak.
Not only is Brad Van Houten a good racer but he can see into the future too. How do I know this? After BVH set fast time we did a quick interview about his lap prior to him drawing for position. As he put his hand in the bucket he looked at me and said "it will probably be 8th' and darn if that was not what he pulled for a starting berth. BVH did race the Lighthouse Market to a fine 3rd place showing.
Nice to see Greg Harris pocket the Truck Enduro win Sunday in memory of his Mom Kay who passed away last November. After winning the title last September in the Trucks Greg was going to sell the SGS Stone Works Chevy but when Mom passed he just couldn't bear to part with it as she loved seeing him race the machine. Sunday we are sure she was smiling down on her son.
A couple of grinding crashes marred Sunday's action. First came in the Truck event when Ciaran Gallagher #75, a lapped truck spun in between turns 1&2 and was collected by Ben Gregor #45 who was running second to and trying to catch Greg Harris. The right front of the Gregor Well Drilling #45 was torn up pretty bad as well as Gallagher's Snap On Tools entry which was damaged on the left front suspension. Then later, in the 8-Cylinder race, Donald Elliston #07 tagged the wall hard just before the entrance to turn three and in that same incident Anthony Pizzo hit something or somebody hard. Pizzo's United Exhaust Shop #81 needed a double hook, with Elliston's car a write off too. All drivers were okay!
After his Wheel Racing #06 spent the week at G-Force Collision for some repairs after a practice crash the week before, RJ Gage rewarded all the efforts of Richie Giordano with a career best 4th place tally in the Truck Enduro. Gage is the third generation of the racing Feola family and we want to wish Neal Sr. all the best as he will undergo heart surgery in the coming weeks.
Great to see X-Car driver Mitch Bombard #10 and his B&H Race team on hand for the 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro Sunday. After competing Saturday night at their home track Waterford Speedbowl the team headed south to Riverhead for some racing fun.
Sophomore driver Brandon Esposito came within one lap of scoring his first career win in the 4/6 Cars which would have been a nice Birthday present for his Mom Idina.
This Saturday night May 10th is Mobil 1 Racing Night at Riverhead Raceway featuring Twin 30's for the NASCAR Modifieds with all the same classes as last week in action again this week; features will start at 5:30 pm.
Until next time - BF
2014 Eye On Riverhead Archive
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