Rocco Chadwick & Christopher Ready for the 2016 New London Waterford Speedbowl Season

WATERFORD — His accomplishments at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl are mind-boggling. Keith Rocco has racked up 121 wins in his 13 seasons at the Bowl, 15 more than any other competitor. He’s the all-time win leader in the SK Modified division with 73 victories. He’s also nailed down eight track championships, including five in the SK Modifieds, and has won the last three SK crowns in a row.

Even with all those accomplishments in his resume, Rocco says his desire and determination remain at full speed. He’s just as hungry as he ever was.

“Nothing beats winning races,” Rocco said. “When you get older, it does get more difficult in the shop, especially when you and your crew do all the work on the car. And I have a lot more going on in my life, with two kids and a lawn to mow.

“But when you step on the track, it makes it all worth it.”

Rocco will be in action Saturday at the 2016 season opening Blastoff. Ten Divisions will be making the debuts Saturday, including the SK Modifieds.

That means Rocco will be out to defend his title.

“Nothing has changed from last year,” Rocco said. “We have the same car, same team. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off. Obviously, we’ll be shooting for victories. We always have, and we always will.”

Rocco won the final race of 2015, the Modified Nationals, as he fought off the challenges posed by Tyler Chadwick, Ted Christopher, Rob Janovic  and Diego Monahan.

“We missed the opening practice because we didn’t want to show all our cards,” Rocco said. “But we’ll be ready.”

So will Chadwick, who missed winning his second SK championship by just four points.

“That’s given me extra motivation to get ready for the season,” Chadwick said. “I have been on both sides of the championship picture — I’ve won one and I’ve lost one, and last year taught me I’m capable of winning another one. I’m much more focused.”

Chadwick has upgraded his game. His team has renovated his back-up car, Old Betty, and it has become his new ride for 2016.

“It’s not a new car, but it feels like one,” Chadwick said. “It’s the best piece I’ve had in a few years. We practiced last week, and we did everything we wanted to accomplish.”

Chadwick knows the Speedbowl’s SK competition level also has been upgraded.

“Nothing is better than beating the best in the business,” Chadwick said. “There are going to be a lot more good teams this year. And there’s also Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher. Last year they had everyone’s number. I definitely hope to stay with those guys this year.”

That’s why Chadwick and his team made sweeping changes to his car.

“We couldn’t come back with the same stuff we had last year and hope to run with those guys,” Chadwick said. “We knew we had to make some changes. We made those changes and now we’ll see what happens.”

Ted Christopher finished third in the SK standings in 2015, 13 points out of the lead. He led the division in wins, however, with eight. The same car-driver combination is back for another season.

“We practiced last week, and the car started to come around,” Christopher said. “I’m happy.”

He’s also healthy. Christopher underwent rotator-cuff surgery on his right shoulder during the off-season and now has 95 percent motion back in the arm.

“I kept it a secret last year, but I was driving on adrenaline,” Christopher said. “But now I’m 100 percent healthy.”

And that means he’s in perfect shape to renew his rivalry with Rocco, one of the best in Modified racing.

“It was a lot of fun last year,” Christopher said. “We seem to mirror each other. And we’ll probably be doing it again this year.”

Also expected to be part of the field are Speedbowl veterans such as Janovic Jr., Monahan, Joe Gada, Tim Jordan, Paul Kusheba, Frank Mucciacciaro, Dylan Izzo, Ryan Morgan, Kyle James and Tom Abele Jr. Bo Gunning, a three-time Stafford SK champ, will be joining the field , along with rookie Paul Buzel, the reigning SK Light champ.

The SK division is just one layer of Saturday’s blastoff. The race program will also feature the Late Models, Limited Sportsmen, Mini Stocks, the Magnus Racing Products SK Lights, the Joie of Seating Legend Cars, the Micro Blue Bandoleros, the Coastline Fire Protection Super X Cars, the X Cars and the Mr. Rooter Trucks.

Qualifying heats for all divisions will get under way at 2 p.m. The features will get under way at 5:30 p.m.

Admission is $22 for adults. Tickets for youths 13-16 are $5 and children 12 and under will be admitted free. For more information, go to speedbowlct.com

 

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Pasteryak Claims Valenti Modified Racing Series Season Opener

If the opening event at the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday night, April 30, is any indication of how things will go this year, then this should be one of the best racing seasons to date.

Thirteen years ago Larry Cirillo, promoter of Monadnock, gave series founder Jack Bateman the opportunity to showcase the new Modified Racing Series.  Bateman must have done something right because the MRS has opened all but two seasons at the high-banked 1/4-mile speedway.

In the end a packed grandstand witnessed some hard fought side-by-side bumper-to-bumper action with Chris Pasteryak of Jewett City, Ct. besting a stellar field to take down his first victory of the MRS 2016 season. It was his 11th win overall with the MRS putting him 4th on the all time win list.

Chris commented, “I ran a little harder than I wanted to in the heat to finish second which gave us a good starting position for the feature because of the heads up start.”

Pasteryak ran in the top six until lap 20 when he stepped up his program and started pressuring the leaders. “I really didn’t know how the car would be and I guess I could have taken it a little easier and stayed around 5th or 6th but I did what I thought was right. Jon’s (McKennedy) car was getting better but he spun himself out trying not to wreck me. It took off real good on restarts, just a little tight on entry had to slow down to keep it on the bottom, other than that it never changed, it was flawless. Any time you have guys like Jon McKennedy and Kirk Alexander lined up behind you and beat them for the win is a good night” he said.

Even though the season is one race old, Kirk Alexander looks to be a serious challenger for another MRS championship. Starting midpack, Alexander of West Swanzey, NH, showed why he was the 2004-05-07 MRS champion working his way into 8th place by the quarter century mark, then pressing race leaders Woody Pitkat and Pasteryak when flagman Tim Bennett showed the crossed-flags. By lap 60, with Pitkat now in his rear view mirror in the Trader John’s Gun Shop sponsored modified set his sights on Pasteryak for the lead. McKennedy worked his way under Alexander taking second place from him but McKennedy spun himself out six laps later while going for the lead.

For the last 20- laps, Pasteryak and Alexander put on an edge of your seat duel for the victory but three yellow flags tightened the field and Pasteryak jetted into the lead on each restart crossing the finish line 0.282 seconds ahead of Alexander.

One second behind Alexander’s #43 was another local favorite. Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, had to be the hard charger of the event after starting from the fourth row and working his way forward until a lap 24 caution where he suffered a flat tire under yellow. But a new tire and an adjustment saw him use the next 75 laps to drive his way to the front for a podium finish.

“We have an all new rear suspension in the car, trying to figure it out. Things we changed on the car didn’t work out so we threw some stuff at it and got really good. We set fast time in warm-ups and was fast in our heat. We got a cut tire under caution and pitted, then worked our way methodically back to the front, then we got back to Chris and Kirk but just didn’t have the car to get by them. I had to keep an eye on guys behind me like Todd Patnode and Richard Savary, those guys ran me awesome. We just didn’t have the forward drive we needed. To come out for the first time with a new suspension, have to pit with a flat and come from the back to finish 3rd with a chance for a win is all we can ask.”

Hersey also added, “Jack and his staff have done a great job with the 15s and 28s (Hoosier tire compounds).  You can come and race, the other tires were so hard, they would last but you couldn’t race anybody on the outside. You still have to be careful with this tire but now you can race on the outside.”

Rounding out the top 5 were Donnie Lashua 4th, and Jon McKennedy recovering from his lap 81 spin to finish 5th.

Summary VMRS Spring Dash 100 Monadnock Speedway

1-15CT.-Chris Pasteryak

2-43-Kirk Alexander

3-88- Russ Hersey

4-117- Donnie Lashua

5-29- Jon McKennedy

6-24- Todd Patnode

7-99- Richard Savary

8-52- Woody Pitkat

9-16-Colbey Fournier

10-0- Mike Holdridge

11-72- Ryan Kuhn

12-04- Brandon Dion

13-38- Mike Willis Jr.

14-15NH-TJ Bleau

15-22- Roy Seidell Jr.

16-50-Carl Medieros Jr.

17-4- Jeffrey Gallup

18-32-Chris Bajaj

19-55-Joe Doucette-

20-19-Dave Schneider

21-77-Mathew Mead

22-93- George Sherman

Heat winners

Richard Savary

Mike Willis Jr.

Dave Schneider

 

Time of race–54: 41

Lap leaders–1-24 (Savary), 25-49, (Pitkat), 50-100 Pasteryak

Cautions–Laps-24, 31,40,64,73,81,83,92

Margin of victory–0.282

Best lap time–12.912

Best speed–69.703

 

Next event–Stafford Springs, CT.  May 20

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Riverhead Raceway Hosts its Final Pre-Season Practice.

Story and photos by Michael Jaworecki

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John Fortin #84 Modified

On the last day of April Riverhead Raceway hosted its final practice for teams to get ready for the 2016 season.   Cars from all the regular Saturday night divisions rotated in practice sessions to work out the bugs and  test new and old equipment.

We ventured out to the Rt 58 oval to see the last track time the teams will get before next weeks grand re-opening of the track.

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Terry Stiles #41 Riverhead Modified Crate

At the end of the 2015 season  new owners Eddie and Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz made a major decision to replace the Chargers  with a more affordable Riverhead  Modified  Crate division. Over the winter several Charge drivers and drivers from other divisions built cars for the new class.

CJ Lehman will be behind the wheel of an immaculately prepared #74  John Visconti owned car.  John sold his potent #1 Legend to focus on the new modified. The car is numbered in honor of Johns dad Cookie who ran a #74 Late Model at Freeport Speedway for many years and still makes it out to the track to lend a hand.

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Roger Oxee #39 Late Model
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Chris Turbush #81 Late Model

Dennis Krupski, Terry Stiles Peter Bertuccio, Dave Brigati, Brian Midgett  had their Riverhead Modified Crate machines on hand and is ready to do battle, since this is new division it is wide open among the dozen or so drivers that could win the inaugural championship.

On a day when there were so many beautiful cars at the track for practice a couple stood out.  Roger Oxee spent a good portion of the off season rebuilding his Late Model  for his farewell season and is going out with a throwback black #39 paint scheme.  Roger has always fielded beautiful race cars and this seasons race car is no exception. If indeed this is Rogers last season at Riverhead Roger is looking to go out in style as he was the fastest Late Model in practice.

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Mike Van Houten Jr. #3V INEX Legend

A family name that has been around Riverhead for decades is Turbush. This season both Roger in his Super Pro Truck and Chris in his brand new Late Model will call Riverhead their weekly home.  For the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All American  Chris moved up to the Late Model division.  Chris was extremely happy with the car at practice and is looking forward to this Saturdays season opener.

Several INEX Legends were at the track, one that was a little unexpected was #3 Mike Van Houten Jr. Just a few weeks ago he was not so sure if finances would allow him to race this year. Mike pays most of the bills out of his own pocket and has few sponsors. But with a new engine under the hood there he was having a great time. Mike told me that no one at the track will have more fun than him this year except that nights race winner.

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Tom Roger Jr #43 Figure 8

Mike is still looking for a sponsor or 2 to help get through the season.

The modifieds had several competitors on hand for next weeks 40 lap feature, Shawn Solomito fresh off his great run at the Stafford Spring Sizzler and a great 6th place finish was shaking down the car for opening night. Former champion Howie Brode, Champion Tom Rogers Jr., rookie John Baker, John Fortin with a beautiful new paint scheme Ken Darsh and others all took laps over the 4 hour practice session.

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Bob Muller #39 Blunderbust

Figure 8’s included last years Champion Tommy Rogers Jr. Roger Maynor, Tom Kraft Jr, Tom Ferrara and Mike Mujsce Sr.

 

Walking through the pits we also noticed a whole bunch of buses for this years Figure 8 School Bus race and  demo’s. The sheer number of buses should  make every crowd pleasing event bigger this season with literally double the amounts of vehicles crashing and smashing. IMG_0642

Opening night is only days away on May 7th and with the great fields of cars expected, fireworks and all of the improvements to the track facilities it could  be the biggest opening night  in the long storied history of Riverhead Raceway.

 

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