All posts by Michael Jaworecki

ROGER OXEE & TOMMY WALKOWIAK TO BE INDUCTED ONTO RIVERHEAD RACEWAY WALL OF CHAMPIONS DURING BALDWIN, EVANS & JARZOMBEK 77 PROGRAM SATURDAY OCTOBER 3RD.

Riverhead, NY Sept. 25th.
By Bob Finan

Collectively they both are the all time leading winners in their respective divisions and have combined for 127 victories between them and this Saturday October 3rd at Riverhead Raceway Roger Oxee of Peconic and “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge will be enshrined onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions. The induction ceremony will take place during the annual Baladwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 NASCAR Modified event that will highlight the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing series program. 

Ever since posting his first Late Model win over Memorial Day weekend of 1985 on May 25th Roger Oxee embarked on what many consider a legendary driving career that now finds him joining three other LM Cromarty Wall of Champion inductees Peter “Buzzy” Eriksen (48), Paul McElearney (45) and Steve Tooker (30). All told “RJ” as he is known to close family and friends would post 64 career Late Model wins as well as the 2005 LM title. As fast as his cars were week in and week out he also always kept them in immaculate condition no matter what may have transpired the week prior and over the entirety of his career remained popular with fellow competitors and fans alike.

“The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowaik scored his first of 63 Blunderbusts wins on June 30th, 2001 after spending several seasons competing in Spectator Drag, Car Rollover, 8-Cylinder Enduro and Demolition Derby events. It was during a Spectator Drag event that Walkowiak was dubbed “The Wildchild” as he competed in his candy apple red Corvette that was is in showroom condition, he won. Aside from his 63 career victories Walkowiak went on a championship run that found him winning five Blunderbust titles in six years, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 & 2011. In fact Walkowiak is only one of four drivers who have won a Blunderbust championship at the track since 2003 with only Scott Maliszewski, Tom Pickerell and Jack Handley Jr. having joined Tommy as champion of the class.

On track Riverhead Raceway will pay homage to three NASCAR Modified legends in presenting the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77. “The Fancy Farmer” Dave Brigati of Calverton won the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 in 2019 and if he is to repeat will have his hands full with the likes of Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills, Howie Brode of East Islip, Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck, defending champion Kyle Soper of Manorville, Chris Young of Calverton, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick & John Baker of Brookhaven.

The Saturday October 3rd event at the track will be history making as it marks the first time in the 70-year history of the facility racing will take place through the month of October due to the delayed start of the race season due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic. With October racing and the cooler temperatures that come with the 10th month of the year qualifying for the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek could very well yield a new NASCAR Modified track record. Tom Rogers Jr. set the new benchmark in qualifying prior to The Bubba 150 event on September 19th with a lap of 11.272 and the question might very well be will it stand up come Saturday.

Also in action October 3rd are the Late Models, Crate Modifieds, Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks (30-laps, TT), INEX Legends, Vintage All Stars and a Truck Enduro.For those who can’t be at the track for this very special evening you can watch our live stream at RiverheadRaceway.Tv, the link for the live stream along with all other pertinent information can be found at www.riverheadraceway.com. E-mails reach us at Riverheadraceway1@gmail.com and our phone number remains 631-842-RACE.

Justin Bonsignore Looking to End Stafford Winless Streak in NAPA Auto Parts 150

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Now in his 11th full-time season as a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver, Justin Bonsignore and his #51 Phoenix Communications, Inc. team have established themselves as perennial front runners.  Bonsignore has amassed 29 career wins and he has finished in the top-3 of the points standings for the last 4 years in a row, including a championship run in 2018.  One track that has been a nemesis for Bonsignore over the years has been Stafford Speedway.  Bonsignore has 37 career starts at the Connecticut half-mile track and he has yet to post a victory.  Bonsignore’s best Stafford finish has been second place, which he has achieved four times.  As he and the #51 team prepare for this Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 150, Bonsignore is looking to put an end to that winless streak.

“I saw something posted from Stafford that said I was 0-for-37 there and I didn’t know I had that many races at Stafford,” said Bonsignore.  “It’s always on the mind of if and when we can break through.  I think we were the closest we’ve ever been last season at Stafford and we were really looking forward to having 3 shots at winning there this season.  We were really excited with how we ran at Stafford last season to get back there this year and possibly get our first win.  Especially the Sizzler, I would love to win that race but the NAPA 150 is also a prestigious race and we’re happy and thankful we’re able to get back to Stafford in 2020 even if it’s only for one race.  I’m really optimistic that we’ll have a shot at winning this race as long as we have the right strategy.”

In 7 starts this season, Bonsignore has recorded 3 wins, 2 second place finishes, and 2 fifth place finishes.  Dating back to the 2019 season, Bonsignore and the #51 team have recorded 13 consecutive top-5 finishes.  Bonsignore has also completed all 1,247 laps that have been run this season to date and he leads the Whelen Modified Tour field with 390 laps led this season.  Looking at Bonsignore’s 2020 performance, he would have to be ranked among the favorites to win the NAPA 150.  

“This season has definitely been tough for all of us but our season has been really good,” said Bonsignore.  “We started off with back to back wins and we’ve had some good top-5 finishes.  Every race has been a top-5 finish for us so it’s been really successful and we feel like there have been a couple races that we let slip away.  It’s been great to be as competitive as we have been and it just shows how hard Ryan Stone and my entire team work and it’s a pleasure to be able to drive cars that are this good.  Going back to last year, knock on wood we’re on a pretty good top-5 streak.  The goal is always to win or finish in the top-3 every week knowing how good our team is and the potential we have but to not have any issues or an off day where maybe you finish 6th or 7th, it’s a pretty cool stat to have and we’re really proud of that.  If you can be in the top-5 every week you’re going to put yourself into a position to do some really good things.”

Normally when the Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Stafford in September, it’s the third Stafford event of the season.  With the NAPA Auto Parts 150 serving as the one and only NWMT Stafford race this season, teams won’t have any notes from earlier races to fall back on and with a new tire compound and pit stop rule, Bonsignore says fans could be in for a treat when it comes to pit strategy changing up the running order through the NAPA Auto Parts 150.

“This race is going to be different for sure,” said Bonsignore.  “We have different rules this year for pit stops with the tires where we can only take 2 tires per caution period, so that’s kind of a big unknown for everybody and with not running at Stafford yet we don’t know how things will play out but we’ll all watch everything unfold live on Saturday.  We’re also running a different tire compound with a softer tire which I think might open up some different strategy options and it could jumble track position during the race.  I think it’s going to be a crazy race with strategy and we’ll have to make sure we get that right on race day.”

As always, time trials for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be important for teams to get the best starting position possible, but Bonsignore says that practice could also play an important role in determining who will be among the front runners once the green flag drops.

“Qualifying will be important to start up front but practice is also going to be important,” said Bonsignore.  “Our pit stalls are determined from our practice speeds so you want to have a strong practice run to possibly get that first pit stall, which will definitely help you out during the race.  We definitely want to try to start on the pole if possible and if we can’t be on pole we want to at least be somewhere in the top-5 to start the race so we can be up front and get into a nice position and not have to race our way through the field and burn up the tires.  As always at Stafford, if you can start up front it can be a huge advantage for how your race is going to play out.”

Bonsignore and the Whelen Modified Tour field will be joined in feature action for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 by Stafford’s SK Lights and Limited Late Models along with the Vintage All-Stars.  General Admission tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 have met the State mandated capacity, but there are still a limited amount of paddock passes available for purchase online through www.staffordspeedway.com.  Tickets will not be sold day of show.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Corliss, Therrien Both Ready for Another Piece of Milk Bowl History

Buzz Fisher/Creative Outbursts photo

Barre, VT — When the 58th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank goes green at Barre’s Thunder Road on Sunday, October 4, two drivers will be on everyone’s short list of contenders. Barre’s Jason Corliss and Hinesburg’s Bobby Therrien have combined to win the last three Milk Bowls, making them the early favorites as “The Toughest Short Track Stock Car Race in North America” draws closer on the calendar.

Both Corliss and Therrien have been drivers to watch every time they’ve showed up at Thunder Road over the past four seasons. Corliss has now won the last two “King of the Road” titles. Therrien captured the 2017 title and finished second to Corliss this year. The duo has six Thunder Road wins this year between them and split the track’s two American-Canadian Tour (ACT) events.

Now the pair again set their sights on one of the country’s most famous short track races. Both understand the importance of the Milk Bowl and the place it holds in Thunder Road annals.

“(The Milk Bowl) is such a prestigious race, and so much weight is put onto the race because it’s so difficult,” Corliss said. “It’s so hard to win or even just have a good run. And there’s been so much prestigious and nostalgia that’s gone along with this particular race. There’s just such a feeling going into the track on Milk Bowl Weekend. You get pumped up about it even if you’ve been in (Thunder Road) a thousand times before — there’s a certain energy the Milk Bowl brings that’s just special.”

It is no surprise these two stars have shone the brightest on one of New England racing’s biggest stages. Therrien was unstoppable in 2019, winning the Vermont Milk Bowl from the pole. His final score of 8 points was almost twice as good as runner-up Brooks Clark.

Corliss won the previous two Milk Bowls in two of the biggest thrillers the event has ever since. He captured the 2017 event in a tiebreaker with Trampas Demers after passing him with less than 10 laps to go in the final segment. In 2018, Corliss waited until the last second, stealing the overall win from Therrien on the final corner as they scrambled around a slower car.

Both have their sights set on another piece of history in the 2020 edition. Corliss could become just the seventh driver to win at least three Milk Bowls. He would join Robbie Crouch, Brian Hoar, Russ Ingerson, Kevin Lepage, Patrick Laperle, and Nick Sweet. Only Ingerson, Laperle, and Sweet have pulled the 3-wins-in-4-years feat Corliss is aiming for.

Therrien, meanwhile, would be the seventh driver to go back-to-back in the Milk Bowl if he triumphs on October 4. If not for Corliss’s late pass in 2018, Therrien could well be in position for the first Milk Bowl three-peat.

The quest for both drivers begins Saturday, October 3 with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Milk Bowl Qualifying Day. A good performance in Saturday’s time trials and 50-lap qualifying races puts a driver in excellent position on Sunday. Therrien is one of 12 drivers to win the Milk Bowl from the pole while Corliss started sixth and third, respectively, for his two wins. Conversely, a poor Saturday effort can affect the rest of the weekend, as Corliss experienced in 2019.

“There’s no guaranteed success in this race, that’s for sure,” Corliss noted. “We came in last year, again on a championship, but quite admittedly I didn’t qualify well…even though we run 200 laps’ worth of racing between the 50-lap qualifier and the three 50-lap segments, those two laps (in time trials) do matter. We put ourselves in a hole to start the weekend and started too far back in our qualifier.”

Corliss and Therrien will also have plenty of challengers in their bid to continue Milk Bowl dominance. Two-time “King of the Road” Scott Dragon, Midsummer Classic 250 winner Dillon Moltz, multi-time Pro All Stars Series (PAS) Champion Ben Rowe, and defending ACT Rookie of the Year Ryan Kuhn are just a few of the big names that have committed to the 58th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank. Most of the Thunder Road Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models are confirmed for attendance, and several other top regional Late Model drivers are rumored to be planning their trip to Barre.

Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend begins Friday, October 2 at 6:00pm with Mekkelsen RV Milk Bowl Friday. An afternoon open Late Model practice will be followed by a four-division card featuring the PASS Super Late Models, PASS Modifieds, Honey Badger Bar & Grill Street Stock Series, and North East Mini Stock Tour.

Saturday, October 3 at 1:00pm is Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Milk Bowl Qualifying Day with the three-segment Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank on Sunday, October 4 at 12:15pm. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors, 7-Eleven Dwarf Cars, and Junior Champ Karts are also in action throughout the weekend.

Advance tickets for all three days of Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend are available now at https://happsnow.com/event/Thunder-Road-Speedbowl.  Adult admission is $20 for Friday, $10 for Saturday, and $30 for Sunday. Kids ages 12 and under are $5 on Friday/Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Visit www.thunderroadvt.com for camping information plus health and safety requirements for in-person attendance. All three days of the Vermont Milk Bowl will also be broadcast live on the Northeast Sports Network. Sign up now at www.NSNsports.net/sponsors/racing.

For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, media@thunderroadvt.com, or visit www.thunderroadvt.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ThunderRoadVT.

For more about the Northeast Sports Network, visit www.NSNsports.net or follow them on Facebook and Twitter at @NSNsports.