Category Archives: VMRS- Valenti Modified Racing Series

Jon McKennedy Claims Speedway 51 Victory

By Jim Snape
Photos by Crystal Snape
Sometimes you have to travel far to find success. For Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, MA the three hour haul to Speedway 51 in Groveton,NH is just what the Exit Reality sponsored team needed as they came away with the victory in the first visit for the Valenti Modified Racing Series to the fast, tight quarter mile speedway.
   “It turned out we had a really good car here, we rode in the third and fourth spot saving it and with thirty to go I decided to go but it was really tough. the track is narrow and was hard to pass”. McKennedy said.
   Starting from the third row Mckennedy stayed within striking distance and eventually took the lead from hard charger Russ Hersey of Swanzey,NH on a lap 43 restart and five laps later gave up the number one position to Todd Patnode of Richmond,NH.
   McKennedy added, “A little before halfway I lost power steering and it was intermittent the whole race. To win with no power steering to be honest, I didn’t think I could finish the race, to steer one of these cars with thirty inches of front rubber is hard.”
Starting midpack Todd Patnode seemed to be in constant battles for position, eventually picking off the leaders and muscling the lead  from McKennedy on lap 47. His lead would only last 6 laps before Hersey took over the top spot. Patnode’s Swanzey Oil sponsored #24 was stout enough to finish in the runner up position following McKennedy across the stripe.
   “Were still trying to get a handle on this Troyer, we never ran a Troyer before and this is our third race with it” Patnode said. “That first caution (lap 20) gave us a chance to make some adjustments and we’re starting to understand it.” About the track he said, “It’s a fun track, I like it, at first I thought it was going to be tight for racing but once the tires wore down there was plenty of room out there. I hope the fans enjoyed the show, it was fun being a part of it . About lap 50 I backed off a little trying to save it but still had to race wheel to wheel with Russ (Hersey) for a long time and that’s always fun. But Jon (McKennedy) had us covered and congratulations to him.” He also added, “Hats off to my crew, we threw this team together at the last minute and bought the car three weeks before our first race, again thanks to those guys”.DSC_2393
   Veteran Mike Holdridge of Madison, CT is known for his cool, calculated approach to the modified battles and at Speedway 51 it was no different. Not being happy with his sleek, black #0 after practice and qualifier, the team made changes that ended up getting Mike a third place podium finish after the one hundred lap marathon.
   Holdridge said, “I conserved tires as long as I could, I feel lucky to get third. Jon had a perfect strategy and it worked for him. You have to save your stuff at tracks like this. I’m happy with third after the long tow, getting here late, lack of practice, and old age.” He added, “It’s a racey track but for me I liked the bottom, but after halfway it didn’t matter, most guys faded back and I still tried to conserved my stuff. This sure makes for a better ride home.”
   Defending VMRS champion Woody Pitkat of Sturbridge,MA started on the pole and lead from lap 2 to lap 22 but didn’t have the right combination to challenge for the victory and finished forth while Rob Richardi Jr. of Easton,MA. turned in his finest performance in a modified to finish fifth.
   Sixth through tenth were Colbey Fournier, Mike Willis Jr., Russ Hersey, George Sherman, Branden Dion
Heat winners 52-Woody Pitkat,    15CT.-Chris Pasteryak
Track—Speedway 51,      0.250 mile    Groveton,NH.
Race—VMRS NAPA Night 100
Time of Race—46:57.216
Cautions—(4)—laps 20—28—43—89
Margin of Victory—2.683
Best Lap Time—12.485
Best Lap By—88-Russ Hersey
Lap Leaders—(Lap 1, Willis Jr.)-(2-23, Pitkat) (24-43, Hersey)(44-47, McKennedy) (48-53, Patnode) (54-79, Hersey) (80-100 McKennedy)
1—29-Jon McKennedy
2—24- Todd Patnode
3—0-Mike Holdridge
4—52-Woody Pitkat
5—33-Rob Richardi Jr.
6—16-Colbey Fournier
7—38-Mike Willis Jr.
8—88-Russ Hersey
9—93-George Sherman
10-04-Brandon Dion
11-117-Donnie Lashua
12-22-Roy Seidell Jr.
13-17-Dylan Rock
14-15CT-Chris Pasteryak
15-50-Carl Medieros Jr.
16-77-Matthew Mead
17-14-Dana Smith
Next Race—June 4th—Seekonk Speedway-Seekonk,MA.

McKennedy Grabs First Win At Speedway 51

Groveton, NH

Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, MA, played his usual waiting game making tire maintenance a top priority, battled through a failed power steering pump on lap-30, then took the lead from race leader Russ Hersey on lap-79, to go on and win the 100-lap Valenti Modifed Racing Series first ever race at Groveton, New Hampshire’s, Speedway 51 Saturday night.

17-cars took the green flag from Chief Starter Tim Bennett with Mike Willis Jr, of Grantham, NH, leading the opening lap with reigning series champion Woody Pitkat, of Sturbridge, MA, taking the lead on lap-2 and holding it until the 23rd circuit when a hard charging Hersey drew the interest of fans. Hersey looked to be heading home to Swanzey, NH, as he opened a sizeable lead over second place driver McKennedy and the rest of the field.

A lap-43 caution flag brought Hersey back to the rest of the field with McKennedy,  cruising in second place saving his tires and arm strength for the late stages of the event. McKennedy led laps 44- through 47.

Todd Patnode of Richmond, NH, made his presence known as he took the lead on lap-48 and held it until lap 53. Hersey suddenly blasted into the lead on lap 54 and appeared to be the car to beat as he again took off on the field but McKennedy reached Hersey and went by leading lap-80 through 100.

McKennedy, tired from the heat and humidity of the day and wrestling a car for 70-laps, spoke about his 47 minutes of work. “We had a real good car at the start. Most of the race I rode around fourth and fifth. The front cars the beginning of the race and towards the middle half were running hard and at one point a straight-away ahead and I was thinking to myself why.”

“With the cautions we were able to close up from a straight-away behind and go by them. Everything worked out. The car was fast all day. We had issues earlier in the day. We ran over a piece of asphalt and blew the nose off the car putting us a little behind but the crew worked hard to get us ready. The car was hard to steer but everything worked out,” said the three-time series champion.

McKennedy becomes the third different driver in three races to win this season. The victory was his 16th career VMRS win, his last was in September of 2012

Patnode, still getting accustomed to the Troyer chassis he purchased off season, was solid and finished second followed by Mike Holdridge, of Madison, CT, who made it up to third, slipped back to sixth and at the checkered flag got the podium finish.

Pitkat and Rob Richardi Jr, of Easton, MA, rounded out the top five.

Colbey Fournier, Willis, Hersey, George Sherman, and Brandon Dion, finshed the race sixth through tenth.

Heat winners were Pitkat and Chris Pasteryak.

The race, slowed by 4-caution flags, was completed in 47 minutes.

Next Event :  Seekonk (MA) Speedway   June 4, 2016

Race Summary :

Speedway 51  Groveton NH

Quarter Mile-High Banked  (asphalt)

May 28, 2016

Entrants (17)

Caution Flags (4) Laps, 20,28,43,80

Time of Race : 47:06:997

Best Lap Time: Russ Hersey  12.485

Best Speed : 72:087   (Hersey)

Margin of Victory:  2.683

Lap Leaders: Willis (1) Pitkat (2-23) Hersey (24-43)  McKennedy (44-47)

Patnode (48-53) Hersey (54-79) McKennedy (80-100)

Unofficial Order of Finish : (1) McKennedy (2) Patnode (3) Holdridge (4) Pitkat (5) Richardi (6) Fournier (7) Willis Jr (8) Hersey (9) Sherman (10) Dion (11) Lashua (12) Seidell (13) Rock (14) Pasteryak (15) Medeiros Jr (16) Mead (17) Smith

Valenti Modified Racing Series Makes First Appearance at Speedway 51

Canaan, NH.  – Ever since the announcement the Valenti Modified Racing Series was heading to the Great North Woods of New Hampshire in 2016, many have embraced the thought of visiting a popular racetrack they had never seen, never raced on, or only heard or read about. This weekend the opportunity to race at Speedway 51 in Groveton, New Hampshire becomes a reality.

The ground-pounding modifieds, never before seen by many northern New Englanders, will be going the distance of 100-laps as part of the season opening event Saturday, May 28, presented by NAPA.

Reigning VMRS champion, Woody Pitkat, of Sturbridge, Mass, fresh off a strong runner up finish at Stafford (CT) Speedway last Friday, recalls going to the then Riverside Speedway as a child.

“I’ve been up there when I was probably 10 or 12-years old. My great grandmother had a house up there and we went to the races once or twice, explained Pitkat.”

Pitkat furthered, “That’s one of the things I like about this series like last year for me going to Claremont and Beech Ridge and a neat challenge like this will be. I like getting on the Internet and try to learn as much as you can about the tracks. Walk the track when you get there. A lot of people have said it’s a real nice place. Looking forward to it.”

In addition to Pitkat, other champions who will make the trip Saturday include three-time series Champion, Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, MA, a 15-time series winner. Two-time Champion Chris Pasteryak, of Jewett City, CT, an 11-time series winner who won the series opener at Monadnock Speedway in April.

Grantham, New Hampshire’s Mike Willis. Jr, another strong finisher at Stafford, is expected, as is Todd Patnode, of Swanzey, NH. Russ Hersey, of Swanzey, Matt Mead, of Richmond, NH. and Dana Smith, of Sunapee, NH.

18-year old Brandon Dion, of Taunton, Colbey Fournier, of Berkley, George Sherman, of Framingham, Carl Medeiros of Westport, Roy Seidell, of Easthampton, and Rob Richardi, of Easton, lead the Massachusetts contingent.

Mike Holdridge, a two-time series winner from Madison, CT, looks forward to the challenge of competing at a new venue.

That has been the general consensus among those making the trek.

A new challenge, curiosity, and knowing that a legendary race track has been brought back to life – by a racer.

Built in 1964, the quarter mile oval has gone through a major revamping by new owner Joey Laquerre, a New England Hall-of-Fame member and Thunder Road racing legend. The last two years Laquerre has made major improvements to the facility.

Series founder Jack Bateman visited the track this week. “Very impressed with the facility. Joey and his staff have done a wonderful job. They just paved the pit area. I think our fans who make the trip and our competitors will be pleasantly surprised.”

Qualifying races start at 5:30 PM on Saturday

Speedway 51 is located on Brown Road in Groveton, NH.