WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J. ~ If the overflowing number of cars that were in the Wall Stadium Speedway pit area for the two pre-race practice sessions are any indication, the 43rd running of the Turkey Derby stock car classic at Wall Stadium Speedway could feature a record setting field in both quality and quantity. The event is presented on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend during the daylight hours.
Among the Tour Type Modified standouts expressing interest in the annual classic are Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa., Jackson’s Steven Reed, Austin Kochenash of Danielsville, Pa., Dave Sapienza of Riverhead, N.Y., Howell speedster Eric Mauriello, Shaun Carrig of Little Falls, Les Hinkley of Windsor Locks, Ct., Holmdel’s Andrew Krause, Earl Paules of Palmertown, Pa. and Long Island racers Amber Fortin and Kenny Darch. Also planning to compete in Tour Type Modified action are Matawan’s Anthony Sesely, Jamie Tomaino of Howell, Brick’s Ron Frees, Tommy Catalano of Ontario, N.Y., Howell’s Jimmy Blewett, John Markovic of Bethlehem, Pa., Jonathan Mandato of Toms River and Freehold’s Chas Okerson. More entries are expected during the final two days leading up to the race.
The speedway’s own Downs Ford Modifieds will also be well represented by both local favorites and invaders. Ken Matlach of New Hyde Park, N.Y., Jason Hearne of New Egypt, Brick’s Marc Rogers, Dennis Perry of Pawcatwak, Ct., Derek Stachecki of South Harbor, N.Y., Buffalo, N.Y.’s Andy Jankowiak, Mike Benevides of Westerly, R.I., Howell’s Chris Lane, Derek Hopkinson of Toms River, Wall’s Jack Ely, Ricky Collins of Willow Grove, Pa. and Keith Rocco of Norwalk, Ct. are all reportedly planning to compete in the Wall Modified 100-lap feature. Howell’s Chris Reynolds, brothers Zack and Trevor Alspach, both of Willingboro, Shawna Ingraham of Brick, Adam LaCicero of Lavallette, Jackson’s Jason Treat and Manasquan’s Kenny Van Wickle also plan to be in the field.
Reed, Okerson, Sesely, Krause, Hirschman, Blewett, Mauriello, Carrig and Mandato are among those contemplating competition in both pavement type Modified races. In fact, both Blewett and Krause plan extra duty as they are also planning to compete in the Dirt Modified feature race. A healthy field of Dirt Modifieds has practiced during the two tune-up sessions.
In fact, each division that will compete in Turkey Derby action was well represented at both practice sessions indicating that large fields will be on hand for every class.
On Friday, November 25, day one of Turkey Derby, pit area gates will open at 6:30 a.m., practice will begin at 8:30 a.m. and grandstand seating will open at 9:30 a.m. Qualifying is set for 12:15 p.m. with feature racing scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. The Snap-on Sportsman cars will compete in a 50-lap main event, the Elite Maintenance Limited Late Models will battle in a 50-lapper, the O’Shea’s Auto Repair Factory Stocks and the Surf Side Collision 4 Cylinder Stocks will each battle in 40-lap races.
On Saturday, November 26, the pit area will again open at 6:30 a.m. with practice at 8:30 a.m. and grandstands opening at 9:30 a.m. Qualifying will start at 11:00 a.m. with main events set for 1:00 p.m. The Tour Type Modifieds are set for a 150-lap, $5,000 to win feature race while the speedway’s Down Ford Modifieds will compete in a 100-lap feature race that offers $4,000 to the winner. Dirt Modifieds will also be on the Saturday card in a 50-lap feature and the Green Flag Driving Experience Legends cars will compete in a 30-lapper. The TQ Midgets will race on the inner oval in a 30-lap race.
The Turkey Derby weekend will then wrap up on Sunday, November 27, with pit gates opening at 10:00 a.m., practice starting at 11:00 a.m., qualifying at noon and main events set for 1:00 p.m. The Legend Cars will be competing in a 40-lapper and the Factory Stocks will race in a 50-lapper. The 4 Cylinder Stocks are set for a 75-lapper on Sunday while the Dirt Outlaw Stocks and the Dirt Sportsman cars have been added this season in 25-lap main events. A Demolition Derby will cap off Sunday’s action.
Among special awards offered for the weekend will be the Larsen Brothers Memorial Fast Time Award for both the Tour and Wall Modified divisions. The fast qualifier in each division will pocket $200.
Aspecial commemorative Turkey Derby 43 sweatshirt will be available during the weekend and fans are reminded to bring small headset type radios to listen to the live call of the race events over the track’s 90.1 FM frequency. Campers are welcome but they are urged to call the speedway office prior to the event to make mandatory reservations.
Turkey Derby rules, registration forms, ticket purchase forms and more detailed information are all available on the speedway website at wallspeedwayracing.com.
Wall Stadium Speedway is located on Route 34 in Wall Township, N.J., just one mile north of Garden State Parkway exit 98 and Interstate 195 exit 35B. The speedway hotline number is 732-681-6400 and email address is CKMotorsports@aol.com.
Andy Jankowiak is a young rising star in the racing world, he recently was one of only a handful of finalists for the Ken Schrader Real Racer award. Here is his next installment about the racing world that is Andy J.
They say you always remember the ones you lose better then the ones that you won…I hate losing. I hate losing more then I like winning. I go into every race believing we can win. When one slips away…that gets to me. I’m not sure if a win got taken away from us at Turkey Derby but I know we had a car that was going to be racing for it at the end. We had track position, good rubber, a great handling car and most of my side bars still intact. We we’re one of the survivors that had managed to keep the wheels on strait through the wrecks and devastation that always seem to encounter drivers in the great “Turkey Derby”… We had our sights set on the top three and a run to the finish…
…Back up! Roll the tape back here a little bit. Hit the rewind button, I have one more story to tell for the 2015 season before I get to far.
A week before we headed out to New Jersey we took a little trip down south to Myrtle Beach for a modified event. I’m not sure if its typical or to be expected at this point, but to no ones surprise we had a hauler issue on our longest tow of the year. Shocking as that may be… Our heater core blew out on the way down causing the windshield to fog out for the whole trip. We try to make light of everything here on Facebook but the reality is this wasn’t fun. This happened early on. I drove the last 500 miles with a micro fiber rag that I used to wipe off the windshield every ten miles or so. Not good. We filled the truck with water as we went but must have gotten behind at some point which resulted in a temperature spike and concerns that we may have blown a head gasket…thankfully this was not the case. Once we arrived we were able to locate the tools to bypass the heater core so the trip home was OK!
Perhaps the truck issues were a forecast of bad things to come as things didn’t seem to go our way at the track this weekend either. We didn’t have great speed during practice. We had a clearance issue with the drive shaft that caused a vibration on day one. On day two the clutch started slipping in warm ups. We thrashed…never gave up though. Somehow, we put together a solid race. Pitted on 80 and rode a little bit. We rode all the way to second with 10 to go. Steve Mendoza called 10 to go on the radio and we started to run down the leader. Then a caution.. They have a rule down there. The leader has to be the first car to the line. So we had a fairly conservative restart that put us in second. I knew we had a good car. I didn’t have one doubt behind that wheel that we were going to win that thing…confident as I am…Going down into turn three half a lap after taking the green we got rail roaded by the third place car and taken out of the groove. With debris on the tires and a bad line on the track we were quickly consumed by a few of the later pit stop cars that followed. By the time we got settled down we had to settle for a 6th in the running order and a feeling of…”what the **** just happened? …Sheesh. I hate those damn side bars.
Onto the Turkey Derby! We lost a bearing on our trailer on the way down so we only had three wheels once we pulled in. We were there though! I love the Turkey Derby! One of my favorites for absolutely no good reason.. I just love that place. Off the track I love seeing Tom Farrell, Tara Evans Farrell and my spotter Richie Evans! That is reason enough to keep making the trip.
Once we got there we were pretty good actually. My buddy Rick Kluth gave me some things to try that only he would ever run and despite my usual skepticism he made me faster all weekend, like usual. This event wasn’t our usual though…they were sending cars home from this one. Our usual qualification tire saving shenanigans wouldn’t be an option in this one…
Wait, let me re phrase. That sounds incriminating…Lets just say we had to make sure our “power steering” issues that have plagued our heat race and time trail runs all year were cleaned up. …Yes. We had to time trial. We did ok considering our lack of exercise so to say. Timed in 10th within a couple tenths. Not bad for a motor with 8,000 laps on in this season!
Now the hard part. We only made it 8 laps last year. Wall Stadium is a mean mean bitch if you don’t respect her.. Laps 1-80 had a simple plan: Live. Don’t crash. Keep the wheels strait. I dropped back a few spots in search of a safe spot to ride. At least that’s what I was telling myself I’m doing… Their is no safe spot. Turkey Derby is a field of land mines and I’m the nervous soldier trying to get to the finish line on the other side. We did some maneuvering in this one! I caught pieces of the wrecks here and there. I even had to use the apron to track transition to try and bend my left side side bar up off the track at one point. The wheels were strait though! We made it to the pit stop and we started to move after lap 90. We got into the top 10 following my buddy “Showtime” up through the field. I found a spot I liked and rode a little around 8th. We got to 7th and then the rains came…
I thought we missed our shot. I had very little hope we would go back racing. I was pretty beat so I decided to take a nap in Kluth’s toter while we waited out the rain delay. I woke up to news that we would be going back on the track. I had talked to Trey earlier in the day.. He had one line of advice that just kept repeating in my head as i settled back into my racer: “just go for it”. I got strapped back in and I gave Steve my air pressure recommendations. Lord only knows what he actually did…whatever it was we were good. We started 7th. Zip* Zip*…up to 5th. Zip* past Coby for 4th. The eventual 1st and 2nd place finishes were numerous sports behind me on the track at this point. A familiar plague to my racing career stood in third place between me and my race with the leaders. I got up to his door by the start finish and he starts moving left to choke me off. I go to the apron before I hit the flat and contacted his side bar. He spins off and race control determines that I will be able to keep my spot. Problem was he cut down my right front tire in the process. I wanted to puke. We pit. I’m pissed. We start charging. I pass the car that put us in the back..cleanly…despite certain primal impulses and urges that raged in my frustration with my new found predicament. We passed a few more cars before our demise in the event.. I wish I had calmed myself down. We had time to come back. We had all the car we needed to come back and we had 30 laps. I didn’t cause my wreck. Two cars wrecked while I was on the outside of them and we got caught up. Normally I know how to keep myself out of those deals though. We had just passed a car before this that ended up close to if not in the top 5 by the end. Everything just came unraveled with our on track incident.
I don’t bash people, so I wont. I take responsibility for whatever happens to me out there. I believe we all make our own destiny. That’s why I love being so hard on myself when these things don’t go our way….Holy hell though would my life be a lot easier if they would just get that kid a Street Stock…or a spotter…hint? …..I’ll paint that as constructive criticism so as not to lesson my good character…
I’m ready to move past these failures though. We had a wonderful weekend at PRI and received some humbling acknowledgment for being a finalist in the Ken Schrader real racer award proceedings. Its been an up and down run here at the end of the season. Our season starts at Allentown with the indoor midget series on January 2nd. I’m dieting hard so I’m light for the indoor car and I’m excited to get going on building on the Modifieds for next year. We’re ready to take that next step in 2016. All arrows are pointing forward at Jankowiak and Co, we’re going in the right direction.
Big thank you to my team, my family and my supporters! None of this happens with out all of you. I can’t say it enough.