Category Archives: Riverhead Raceway

FESTIVE TURNOUT HELPS RIVERHEAD RACEWAY CELEBRATE 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS FRIDAY NIGHT

Riverhead, NY Jan. 11th By Bob Finan

Noah Watts Photos


Friday night at Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow it was time to celebrate the 2018 Riverhead Raceway championship drivers and teams of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and Enduro competition as a festive crowd of 325 turned out at the gala affair hosted by Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz. Leading the 2018 parade of champions with both his NASCAR Modified and Late Model titles in ’18 was 22-year old Kyle Soper of Manorville.

All seven NASCAR Whelen All American Series champions received championship rings from Riverhead Raceway while the top five in each of those classes also taking home a 2018 point fund check and plaque.

Modified Champion Kyle Soper with his 2018 Big Brother Big Sister Trophy

In his first full season as the driver of the Wayne & Joette Anderson owned NASCAR Modified Kyle Soper would pilot the Eastport Feeds Chevy to victory lane three times earning his first ever NASCAR Modified title. For Wayne Anderson the 2018 championship was his 7th overall at the track having won five as a driver and now two as a car owner. For the second consecutive year Soper won the Late Model title for car owner Rob Pelis with that effort also backed by the Corwin family of Eastport Feeds. Kyle won three LM features in route to the crown.

Crate Modifed Champion Michael Rutkoski

Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck was honored as the 2018 Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified champion winning six of the sixteen races contested driving for his grandfather Buzz Chew. Rutkoski had to survive a tight championship battle with close friend Justin Brown before laying claim to the championship in his Buzz Chew Chevrolet entry. 2018 Figure Eight champion

Figure 8 Champion Tom Rogers Jr.

Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead simply dominated the class in 2018 on his way to a fifth career title. Wheeling the Keith Repp owned United Exhaust Shop Chevy Coupe Tom won 8 of the 11 races run.

Blunderbust Champion Jack Handley Jr.


Also dominant on his way to his third career Blunderbust championship would be 22-year old Jack Handley Jr. of Medford who won 8 of the 14 races run in ’18 steering his Relle Electric Chevy owned by his Mom Cyndi. Handley indicated he’ll make a title run in the Super Pro Trucks in 2019 in a Mike Albasini owned entry.

Super Pro Truck Champion Mark Stewart

The 2018 Super Pro Truck champion Mark Stewart of Riverhead also turned in a dominant performance on his way to his first career title in the Andre Vega owned East End Builders Chevy winning 7 of the 12 races contested.

INEX Legends Champion Jim Sylvester

Another driver enjoying a first career championship was 2018 INEX Legend Race Car kingpin Jim Sylvester of Massapequa who won three races along the way in his 860 Racing entry which he self owns and fields with a very modest sized team.


Dave Antos of Lindenhurst was feted for his 2018 Street Stock championship, his third overall at the track having won two Grand Enduro titles in the past. Antos was a two time winner in his CR Customs Chevy during the season. Soft spoken Paul Wojcik of Centereach won the 2018 Mini Stock title, the second career championship for the driver of the VDR Graphics machine having won a 4/6-Cylinder championship in the past. Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point repeated as the Truck Enduro champion with his Abner Tree Experts team.


Two drivers who enjoyed a first career championship in 2018 were Jarred Halsey of Southampton in the 8-Cylinder class and Gut & Go champion Christian Conklin of Riverhead. Jarred now joins his father Brian as a 8-Cylinder champ at the track and the driver of the Sabrosa Mexican Grill entry dedicated the championship to his later grandfather “Hot Rod” Halsey who also ran Riverhead Raceway. Conklin’s path to the Gut & Go title was a dominant one with the driver of the Spit Speed Shop Hyundai honoring his late mother Fran during his championship speech.


Six Rookie of the Year drivers were saluted during the ceremony with Roger Turbush the top freshman driver in the NASCAR Modifieds. Charles Macwhinnie (Late Models), Chris Rogers (Crate Modifieds), Russ Jansen (Blunderbusts), Tom Sullivan (Super Pro Trucks) and Scott Cheslak Legend Race Cars) all taking Rookie of the Year honors as well. There were no eligible drivers in the Figure Eight division in 2018.


Fan voting via the track web page determined the 2018 Most Popular Driver in nine of the twelve divisions with those drivers announced Friday night. Kyle Soper (Mods & Late Model), Justin Brown (Crate Mods), Tom Ferrara (Figure 8), Alyssa Paprocky (Blunderbusts), Jimmy Rennick Jr. (Super Pro Trucks), Allan Pedersen (Legends), Brian Brown (Street Stocks) and Russ Jansen (Mini Stocks) were all voted Most Popular Driver.


Led by GM John Ellwood with Mike Cappiello, Randy Murray and Tom Gatz banquet hosts Bob Finan and Stephen Halpin completed all the award presentations in one hour allowing attendees three hours to socialize, enjoy a gourmet meal with dessert and dance to the sounds of the band Noiz until the clock struck midnight.


The 2019 season will commence at Riverhead Raceway with opening weekend set for Saturday night May 4th and Sunday afternoon May 5th. The complete 2019 schedule of events can be viewed at www.riverheadraceway.com. To contact the track forward an e-mail to riverheadraceway1@gmail.com. The track phone number remains 631-842-RACE.

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY KICKING OFF 69TH SEASON OF RACING WITH OPENING WEEKEND MAY 4TH & 5TH, WEDNESDAY NIGHT SHOWS AND RAIN DATES ANNOUNCED

Riverhead, NY Jan 6th

By Bob Finan


Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz released their 2019 event schedule on New Year’s Day with the 69th season of racing and family entertainment at the historic quarter mile oval getting underway with opening weekend Saturday evening May 4th and Sunday afternoon May 5th. The 2019 slate of events features plenty of new twists and turns along with way, most noticeably the implementation of Wednesday night rain dates for full card Saturday night rain outs where applicable. The promotional trio also revealed in the new schedule they’ll stage three regularly scheduled Wednesday night events in 2019. Riverhead Raceway like so many tracks in the Northeast during a soggy 2018 season was besieged by rain having suffered 8 washouts along the way. 

The NASCAR Whelen All American Series weekly menu of racing will be headlined by the NASCAR Modifieds who’ll find their weekly feature event distance increased to 50-laps. The open wheel warriors will have many special races dotting the 2019 slate  including the 3rd annual Islip 300 on Saturday June 15th with the race now carrying double track points. Another signature race returning for 2019 will be the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 that will compliment the annual Cromarty Wall of Champions induction ceremony on Saturday evening July 27th. Other extra distance races planned for 2019 include the 69th Year Celebration event Saturday June 29th and a 100-lap affair set for Whelen Engineering Night September 14th. Three 75-lap feature event races are also on the new schedule taking place on May 11th, June 1st & August 24th. In total 19 scheduled points paying events are scheduled for the NASCAR Modifieds of Riverhead Raceway in 2019.


The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make their two customary visits to the Route 58 oval on Saturday evening July 6th and again Saturday September 7th featuring 200 lap events. The regulars of the WMT consider the two Riverhead races “wild card” events that can quickly change the complexion of the 2019 championship chase. 

The backbone of the Whelen All American Series are the various support division that compliment the NASCAR Modifieds weekly and all six of those classes will be in action for opening night

Saturday May 4th. The INEX legend Race Cars will be nearly as busy as the Mod Squad this year going to post 18 times during the spring & summer. The Late Models, Crate Modifieds, Blunderbusts and Super Pro Trucks all go to post 15 times with the Figure Eights in action 13 times in ’19. The Street Stocks as well the Mini Stocks will race 12 times in the new year. The newly announced Vintage All Stars will see action on 4 occasions.


Another new twist in 2019 finds the Enduro racers having just two stand alone Sunday events book ending the schedule on opening weekend Sunday May 5th and then final weekend Sunday September 29th. The loyal “Enduromania” racers will transition more towards Saturday night racing in 2019. The Truck and 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro classes have 7 races planned while the 8-Cylinder class is scheduled for 6 races.


The first of the three Wednesday night shows will entertain fans on July 10th and be followed by mid week events on August 7th and August 28th. The final Wednesday night will be the 2nd annual Back to School special with a special event to be announced at a later date.


The new Wednesday rain date policy for 2019 is explained on the Riverhead Raceway schedule as follows: “In the event of a full card rain out on a Saturday, Riverhead Raceway will attempt to make up the event on the Wednesday following that rained out event date. Exceptions to this will be all Whelen Modified Tour events. Possible exceptions to this may also include, but are not limited to: Any special event such as the Islip 300, Fireworks night, INEX National Qualifier, etc. Riverhead Raceway will communicate any possible rain dates as soon as a decision is made.”

The 2019 schedule is again chock full of fun and exciting family entertainment attractions including 4-Cylinder Demolition Derbies, Fireworks, School Bus Figure Eight & Demolition Derby events, Monster Trucks and Kids Big Wheel races. New in ’19 will be a Mini School Bus/Van Demolition Derby contest.


Two practice days will preview the new season of racing Saturday afternoons April 20th & 27th featuring free grandstand admission for spectators. The track Technical Inspection staff will host two Safety Tech inspection days Saturday April 6th & 13th, no car can take to the track on the two practice days without first going through and passing Safety Tech.

Complete details as to what is happening, new & exciting in 2019 at Riverhead Raceway can be found at www.riverheadraceway.com. Marketing and race sponsorship opportunities are plentiful for 2019 with further details available by e-mailing the track at riverheadraceway1@gmail.com. The track phone number remains 631-842-RACE. 

KYLE SOPER’S STAR CONTINUES TO RISE WITH RIVERHEAD RACEWAY NASCAR MODIFIED, NEW YORK STATE WHELEN ALL AMERICAN SERIES AND LATE MODEL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2018

Riverhead, NY

By Bob Finan

Even since strapping into a INEX Legend Race Car at Long island’s Riverhead Raceway in the spring of 2010 Kyle Soper of Manorville showed he had what it takes to succeed in the weekly NASCAR Whelen All American Series at the historic track. With nine race seasons now under his belt the 22-year old Soper has won 25 feature events at the demanding quarter mile oval spread across four divisions along with four track championships in three classes. In 2018 Kyle Soper not only won his first career NASCAR Modified championship at Riverhead driving the iconic Eastport Feeds entry of Wayne & Joette Anderson but also the New York State Whelen All American Racing Series New York State championship.

Like many of his generation Kyle’s path to weekly stock car racing began when he was just 7 years old competing in the Sunday Go Kart program locally at Riverhead Raceway as well other venues in the region. From 2004 through 2008 Soper complied nearly 100 victories to compliment Go Kraft championship not only at Riverhead but regionally and nationally as well. Kyle along with his father former Riverhead Charger driver Tom made the move to the popular INEX Legend Race Car series at Riverhead in 2010 with Kyle the leading rookie driver in the class during that freshman season. Along the way during his stint in the INEX Legend Race Cars Soper would win six times and capture the 2014 Riverhead track championship. During those formative Legend years Kyle would go fender to fender with fellow Go Kart graduates Kyle Ellwood, Chris Young, John Fortin Jr. and Dylan Slepian who like Soper all moved into other classes at Riverhead Raceway before eventually landing in the highly competitive NASCAR Modified ranks.

In 2015 the Soper family with the backing of a few loyal sponsors invested heavily in Kyle’s racing future when they purchased their own NASCAR Modified for competition in 2015 at Riverhead Raceway. Again Kyle immediately showed pure driving talent as he would finish second to Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead in the championship chase winning the Rookie of the Year honors in the process. It would be during his sophomore season of 2016 that Kyle would lay claim to his first NASCAR Modified victory in the rough and tumble NASCAR Modified ranks at Riverhead and he would back that first career win up with three more triumphs during the campaign.

However the grind and expenses associated with fielding a NASCAR Modified for weekly racing took it’s toll on the Soper family and the tough decision was made during the off season leading up the 2017 to park the car until a major sponsor could be found.

All was not lost for Kyle heading into 2017 however as he was tabbed by local Late Model car owner Rob Pelis to steer a team car as a teammate to former champion Scott Kulesa. What transpired after caught both Pelis and Soper off guard as they promptly went out and won six LM races along with the 2017 championship in what started out to be a back-up effort to the primary car of Kulesa. Surprisingly enough that would not be the turning point of Soper’s career although driving for Pelis would play a role in what transpired early in the summer of ’17.

Doug Corwin of Eastport Feeds who not only sponsors Wayne Anderson’s NASCAR Modified team at Riverhead but also the Late Model team of Rob Pelis liked what he saw in how Soper performed not only on the track but away from it as well. Despite having won the 2016 NASCAR Modified championship together at Riverhead Raceway Wayne Anderson and driver Shawn Solomito made the mutual decision to part ways after just six starts into the 2017 season. Enter a suggestion from Doug Corwin and Kyle Soper was tabbed to drive Anderson’s mount for the remainder of the season and the rest as they say is history.Soper again answered the call collecting one victory along with 10 top five finishes in 12 starts for his new Eastport Feeds team of Anderson with his father Tom calling the shots as his crew chief.

With a full off season to prepare for the 2018 campaign at Riverhead Raceway the Soper/Anderson tandem was successful right out of the box winning the opening night main event the first of three wins on the year for the team. As spring turned into summer it became evident if the Kyle were to win the 2018 title there would be one driver in particular he’d have to contend with, that being four time and defending NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. Coming to the season with a chance to win his fifth career crown that would put Rogers in elite company with Soper’s car owner Wayne Anderson, Don Howe and the late Charlie Jarzombek as the only driver’s to win five titles Tom would be tough to beat for the 2018 crown.

The 2018 title would boil down to the last night of racing on the final Saturday of September between Soper and Rogers with the latter scoring his 4th win of the season but Kyle on the strength of a fourth place tally after dropping as far back as 10th during the race realized the dream of a lifetime winning the NASCAR Modified championship.

Reflecting back on the intense NASCAR Modified championship chase with Rogers Soper looked back, “battling with Tommy like that is something I’ve never experienced before. We both hate to lose and that is what made it so much fun”. Not lost on Kyle is what the championship also meant for his car owner Wayne Anderson who during his driving days not only won five Riverhead driving titles but also the 1994 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title. “For Wayne and his team to have the faith to put me into the ride of a lifetime is something I’ll forever cherish. To win the 2018 Riverhead and New York State championships just takes it to a whole other level”.

As for car owner Wayne Anderson when asked about his versatile driver who not only won the 2018 NASCAR Modified title but also backed up his 2017 LM championship with a second straight LM crown in 2018 Wayne offered, “Kyle doesn’t say too much outside of the car but when he straps into the car his driving talent does all the talking”.

In a career where Kyle Soper has recorded those 25 career Riverhead Raceway wins ( 9 NASCAR Modified, 9 Late Model, 6 INEX Legend & 1 Crate Modified) since 2010 to go along with his four championships Kyle of course hopes to advance his career to one of the NASCAR Touring series or perhaps even one of big three NASCAR series. In fact a few years back Kyle and his family leased a Camping World Series Truck for the fall Martinsville race with limited success and he’d love another chance but admitted, “unless you have a bucket full of money your chances are much more limited”.

Whether it was the NASCAR Modified or Late Model Kyle Soper was the model of consistency in route to both 2018 championships. He started 15 NASCAR Modified events winning three times and posting 12 top five finishes while one the Late Model he started 13 features going to victory lane three times while in the top five in 11 races. To that end Wayne Anderson noted, “Kyle is real smooth, takes what the car gives him and doesn’t tear up equipment no matter if it’s the Modified or Late Model”.

Looking towards 2019 Soper announced he’d be returning to the Eastport Feeds team of Wayne & Joette Anderson to defend their NASCAR Modified championship at Riverhead Raceway starting Saturday May 4th, 2019 when the tracks opens for it’s 69th season of stock car racing.

Aside from Kyle Soper other 2018 Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Whelen All American Series championships went to Michael Rutkoski (Crate Mods), Tom Rogers Jr. (Figure Eights), Jack Handley Jr. (Blunderbusts), Mark Stewart (Super Pro Trucks) and Jim Sylvester (INEX Legend Race cars). Riverhead Raceway will host it’s 2018 Championship Awards Ceremony Friday January 11th, 2019 at Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow. Tickets can be obtained from John Ellwood who’ll be available at the track Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.

Further information can be obtained by e-mailing riverheadraceway1@gmail.com or calling 631-842-RACE

Photo By Noah Watts Myracenews