I want to take a moment and congratulate three men that earned a permanent place in the history of Seekonk Speedway this past Saturday. I am sure you can find the video online for all of the details, but Nat Chiavettone, Rollie Linblad and Fred Astle Sr. were inducted onto the Seekonk Speedway WPRO Wall of Fame Saturday night.
I have always been honored to be a part of this process, and I am proud of each individual that I have been able to be a part of getting on. This year’s group was special, because they were all connected in some way. Fred Astle Jr said it best was it was like being a part of all three fathers. His dad, Rollie, which Fred drove for and had a lot of success with, and Nat, who was a good friend of his dads. It was a special moment for all three.
On Sunday, we had out first thrill show of the year, and what a great show it was. Thousands of fans filled the stadium for fun, action and thrills. And I would like to think they received all of that and more.
I don’t usually talk about the thrill shows, but I just wanted to take a moment and share my favorite moment of the day. We came up with the idea of honoring our fallen men and women in a special way, but not trying to overdo it, and I think we nailed it.
As taps was played throughout the loudspeakers, you could hear a pin drop. Thousands of fans, men, women and children all paid their respects together. To me, it was chilling. I loved how it all went down. Then a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem was sung to a thunderous applause. Thank you to the men and women who showed their support, and to the men and women who have given us literally everything they could give so we could continue on in celebration.
I asked Race Director Ron Manfredo late during the race what he told the drivers in the drivers meeting that night. His exact words were, “Apparently not what I told them the week before.” The question was raised due to the apparent lack of respect that was shown from the drivers to the drivers as the races went on. Too many cautions, too many drivers seeming to do what they wanted on the track. Too much carnage for the third week of the season, and too many wrecked race cars.
Some of the racing was exciting, but too many egos getting in the way it seems. The Pro Stocks got it. They had a couple of cautions for simple spins, which is going to happen. But a lot of passing and a lot of respect.
The Sport Trucks, not to mention the Late Models showed just the opposite in a few areas. I get it, sometimes the car/truck isn’t handling as you were hoping, and you have to fight to hang on. Well, if it’s off, then you have to take what you can get. Not try and block everybody who tries to pass you. Yes, there are points on the line, prize money for each position. I know that countless hours are spent on the racecar to get it better each week. But so does everyone else.
We have a great racetrack. It’s competitive, it’s wide enough for side by side racing. It’s a drivers’ track. Not a blocking track. Not a push out of the way so I can move inside of you track. There are two true grooves to race in. I’ve seen it over and over again. What needs to be done to fix this? What needs to be done to stop the blocking and pushing? What needs to be done to put a better show on for the fans?
Maybe that’s what it is? Maybe some of the drivers forget that they are a show. That, while amateurs in a super competitive sport, they are the participants. They are the stars of the show that people want to watch. And maybe, just maybe, it isn’t really the other guy’s fault.
Mike Cavallaro finally had some colors on his Sport Truck, and boy, did it look beautiful. But he got caught up in someone else’s mess and destroyed the truck. Two drivers were fighting for position, when they got out of control and the six-time champion had no where to go but up, literally. He bounced off the front stretch wall and slid all the way into turn one on his side before slamming against the wall again, only this time it was with the roof of his truck. From what I am told, the truck is no longer savable. But that isn’t the most important thing. Mike could have been seriously injured in that hit. Luckily no one else hit him before he hit the wall. I hope that he is ok. I know he’s sore, but it may be a while before he returns. No one wants to see another hurt due to the stupidity of another driver. Things will happen, I know that. But you don’t have to make it happen by being ignorant.
The Sportsman race saw another driver on their side, but in my opinion, this one was more of a racing accident.
Let me give my view of what I saw. Now, I could be wrong, and if I am, so be it. It’s not the first time.
Anthony Kohler was leading the race and trying to win his first race. He did a phenomenal job out front for 29 of the 30 laps. Over the final laps, both Scott Serydynski and Corey Fanning were racing for second, literally right off the back bumper of the Kohler machine. As they came off turn four, Kohler seemed to get a little loose. Not much, but with the second and third place cars on his back end, there was a little contact that spent Kohler spinning. Kohler tried to save it and came up the race track and Rob Murphy had no where to go and ended up on his side with Kohler pinned underneath. Everyone was ok.
Nine times out of ten, that wreck doesn’t happen, and the lead car is able to save it. This was the one out of ten. I was rooting for Ant, as he has been trying to get that first checkered for a while. It’s coming, and coming soon. Trust me.
The Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models did put on some good racing, but when eventual winner Austin Blais was trying to take the lead, he had a tough time keeping the car straight, but not because he couldn’t handle it, or because the car was off. Just the opposite. His driving ability is what helped him carry the checkered flag at the end. As he was trying to get by the leader, instead of running his line and accepting the come what may, he forgot his focus and started defensive driving. Worrying more about losing the race that driving he car the way he was earlier that got him there in the first place. Last week we applauded him for his driving. This week, not so much.
It was good to see a new face on the podium after the Late Model feature. Mike Benivedes finished third, his first podium finish in 38 year, according to him. Great run and great to see.
This week kicks off the Fast Friday program, and a new format that goes with it. I had some discussion on Sunday with a couple of competitors who read online what some understood as the new format, which wasn’t the whole story.
Qualifying heats are being eliminated. Understandably, as there would be possibly 17 of them. A little too much. So, the management has added a third round of practice, which will actually be a European style qualifying format. The fastest 20 cars from there will automatically advance to the main event. Handicapping rules will still apply. The remaining cars will have a consolation race, or “B Main”, where the top six will transfer to the A Main. The remaining cars will not transfer, so their night will be over. There are a maximum of 26 cars in the A Main, or feature race as we call it. There are still a few things that need to be worked out, but that is the basic premise of the format.
Saturday, the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown returns, and the Late Models will take center stage with a 50 lap main event. Facebook is buzzing about former NACAR Whelen All American Series National Champion Keith Rocco making his LM debut at Seekonk this week. We look forward to having him compete with some great seasoned and young talent here at The Action Track of the East.
That’s a wrap for this week. I hope you all enjoyed it. Or at least got something out of it. Or, had something to read on the…………