By Chris Romano
Eighteen years ago the Northeast Midget Association held its first Boston Louie Seymour Memorial at Seekonk Speedway, and it rapidly became a signature event for midget racing in the northeast. On July 23 the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites will invade Seekonk Speedway again for Open Wheel Wednesday, joining the Modifieds for a night of record breaking lap speeds and three abreast racing.
This year’s Boston Louie will be special as Ralph Sheheen and the crew of MAVTV’s SpeedSport Magazine show will be on site to film the 29 lap event for broadcast on August 14. For co-founders Mike and Bobby Seymour, the broadcast of their father’s race brings the legacy of Boston Louie Seymour full circle. For years Boston Louie towed the family’s Sprint Car to the Midwest to race with USAC’s finest, and in 1976 with Billy Casella the team won the USAC Silver Crown championship.
“From 1971 to 1980,” said Bobby, “ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast USAC Sprint Cars from Terre Haute, and our car won the first year, the second year, and the last year.” That exposure, said Seymour, helped propel his father to a national stage.
Asked if he thought the race would grow to the size and stature it has, Seymour responded, “In some ways, yes, and in some ways no. I never thought we’d get a TV deal. But I knew a lot of people in the Midwest were behind it because of his notoriety. You’ve got to work it all the time, and that’s what we do now. There’s a lot of history there but there are fans who weren’t even born when my father was racing. That’s when I show them the Wide World of Sports clip.”
Coming on board for corporate sponsorship this year is Acquia, A Burlington, MA commercial open source software company. Other associate sponsors also on board will help make the Boston Louie one of the best paying shows on the NEMA calendar.
In addition to NEMA regulars like Randy Cabral, Todd Bertrand, and Avery and Bethany Stoehr, the NEMA field will see former Whelen Modified Tour champions Doug Coby and red hot Bobby Santos seeking to repeat their own Boston Louie wins. Coby is the defending champion of the race and will drive for Tim Bertrand, while Santos won the race in 2002 and will drive the car normally driven by John Zych. Santos comes to Seekonk off of wins in the USAC Silver Crown Series in St. Louis, and a last lap pass at New Hampshire International in the Modifieds.
NEMA Lites will be represented by P.J. Stergios, Paul Bigelow, Anthony Nocella and rookie Anthony “The Tornado” Payne. Overall Bobby Seymour is expecting a record turnout for the event.
“Between the NEMA Midgets and the NEMA Lites,” said Seymour, we’re expecting between forty and fifty cars. Given the way things are in racing, I’d say that is pretty good.”
By Chris Romano