1990s (1990-1999)

A new division became a reality, Pro Stock drivers solidified their resume with championships, a veteran found success in multiple divisions and weekly series racing was the spearhead of this successful decade. But, it began with one of the largest losses in the history of the Seekonk Speedway.

D. Anthony Venditti, “The Godfather of New England Auto Racing,” who had a vision and watched it become a reality with the creation of the third-mile, lost his life in ‘91. The death shook the racing community, but in the hands of his wife Irene, the track would continue to flourish through the decade and into the future — all in his honor. By the end, D. Anthony would make his way into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class of ’99, going down as one of the best track promoters to ever live. He was the youngest promoter around in the track’s first year.

In ’92, the D.A.V. Fall Classic would begin, honoring his legacy. It would continue for years to come, as the future looks bright for the race that has morphed over the years into a New England favorite. In the inaugural D.A.V. Pro Stock race, Rick Martin would win the 50-lap feature. Rick Hanatow Jr. scored the Sportsman checkered, while Jeff Waterman was victorious in the Street Stocks. Stacey Holewiak and Kevin Casper split Formula 4 races.

Seekonk Wall of Fame member Vinny Annarummo dominated the Pro Stock division, winning three of the first four crowns, but Rick Martin wasn’t far behind in this decade. The two would battle throughout, joined by names like Fred Astle Jr., Len Ellis and Bobby Tripp. Astle would win the first of his six track titles during the span, while Martin would enter the decade with none and leave with his first four. With 15 years under their belt by the middle of the decade, the Pro Stocks were one of the top divisions in all of New England, with some of the largest car counts and best competitors. It was clear that D. Anthony Venditti’s historic vision was working. In 1998, Rick Martin and Chad Chace would be victorious in open-competition Pro Stock mains.

On top of the many other divisions at Seekonk, this decade was one owned by Rick Hanatow. He would earn his final three track titles, with three consecutive to open the decade, all in the Sportsman class (now Late Models). He had won titles previous in the Street Stock class. Outside of him, Late Model title-holders included Bob Pelland Jr., Mike Hassell, Bobby LeClerc, Scott Estrella, Bryan Souza and James Lawrence. Lawrence would win another title in the future, while the others saw their championship glory begin and end in this decade.

A street stock division that already had a strong base continued to grow, with drivers ending the decade by winning two titles in dominant fashion. Early, it was Jim Proulx winning the first two, while current Street Stock all-time wins leader Scott Serydynski would hoist his own in ’92. As part of the historic Boehler family, Mike would win in 1993, while Matt Dewey (’94) would earn his own before eventually deciding to take a step up the ladder, where he ended up in the Pro Stocks years later. The end of the decade was dominated by two names: Rusty Bryant and Bob Bettencourt Jr. Between the two, they won countless feature races over the last four years and all four titles. Outside of them, Stacey Moulton would win a variety of races near the end of the decade. In 1997, Ernie LaRose would win two Street Stock races in the same night.

The beginning of the Sport Truck division was in 1995, and in the final five years of the decade, three champions would rise to the top. Turk Gunbay would win the first-ever crown, while veteran Ray Souliere would win two straight, followed by Billy Flint with two of his own. The Sport Truck division was intended to be another cost-effective class that would give drivers the opportunity to make a step up and head in the direction of the Sportsman and Pro Stocks. They may have the same type of look that the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series machines have, but they are far more underpowered and stock-based. A new truck chassis will be introduced in 2020. Just a year after the division started, it was roaring with excitement, truck count was growing, and it would prove to be a winning move by management to head into the future. It would become a staple of the NASCAR Saturday program at Seekonk for years to come.

This decade also spotlighted the winged warriors of NEMA, who competed with races won by the likes of veteran Nokie Fornoro, Jeff Horn, Greg and Russ Stoehr and Mike Seymour. Outside of NEMA, a select few touring divisions would head to Massachusetts, but it was mostly weekly competition with the Pro Stocks, Late Models, Street Stocks, Formula 4 and Trucks that populated the decade.