The cross into a new century marked a decade that saw top Pro Stock talents rise, while veteran drivers fought for Late Model titles in some of the most competitive races the class has ever seen. Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association launched, with upcoming stars beginning their tenure as competitors, some of them who would go on to be Saturday night winners. Two brothers would put their grasp on the Sport Truck division, winning back-to-back titles, and one of the most prestigious races in the history of New England motorsports would begin with a familiar face in Victory Lane.
Fred Astle Jr., Len Ellis, Dick Houlihan, Vinny Annarummo and David Darling — five drivers that will go down as some of the best in Seekonk’s Pro Stock division history. All five earned titles in this decade, with Annarummo earning his final two career titles, tallying five and six, while Darling began his dominance. Houlihan would put two to his credit, while Ellis would earn his final. Astle ended the decade with three straight in dominating fashion. Celebrating their 30th year as a division, one of the more hotly contested championship battles occurred in ’08, when Astle held off Tom Scully Jr. by a mere few points.
At the end of the ’03 season, Seekonk would transition the Division II class from the Sportsman name over to the Late Models. The beginning of the decade was all about James Lawrence, who earned two straight in ’00 and ’01, but after that, it was time for some young talent to clash with rising veterans. Kenny Spencer would spotlight himself in 2002, winning the crown before eventually moving to Pro Stocks in the middle of the decade, while Gerry DeGaspere Jr.’s dominant tenure began in ’03 with his first track title. Over the next seven years, DeGaspere would win three more — but the battles in ’04 and ’05 — two that he ended up trailing in the end — were some of the best. In 2004, a spited fight between DeGaspere and Glenn Lawton ended with Lawton holding the trophy, while Mike Brightman blasted the front in ’05, scoring his first and only Seekonk title. DeGaspere would spend ’06-’08 at the top, battling with Kyle Casper in ’08, in a race that went right down to the final laps. In ’09, Ryan Vanasse would storm to the front, scoring countless wins that year, and bolstering his resume with his first track title.
The Street Stock division, taking center stage on most nights with three-wide racing becoming a reality, would see seven different champions during the decade, with just Al Clements IV and Sparky Arsenault repeating. Clements would win two straight titles in ’05-’06, while Arsenault would push to the front of the field, winning two of his own in ’07-’08, after already celebrating in ’02. Additional names at the front included Bobby Rose, Dick Cavallaro, Dave Ratcliffe, Elmer Wing III and Mike Mitchell — all earning their own track titles.
The Sport Trucks celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2005, with this decade centering around the Casper brothers, Brian Clarke and Mike Cavallaro. The four drivers would combine to win eight of the titles in the stretch, with Lee Hayes (’04) and Jody Tripp (’09) the only two others to join them. Clarke would win the first two, while Kyle and Kevin Casper would hoist the Casper name to the top in the two years following. The division continued to grow, with Trucks debuting and some veterans marking their territory with victories. In the final year, Tripp would go tooth-and-nail with veteran Rick Martin, coming out on top. Both Casper brothers would go on to be Pro Stock winners.
Seekonk’s Fast Friday program launched during this decade, with go-karts racing in the back pit area, before a second night of weekly racing was officially introduced. Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association would begin, with the MiniCup division taking center stage. Early, it was names like Jason Heroux, Brit Andersen, Matt Hudon, Chris Robinson and Zach Tucan taking control. Tucan and Heroux would go on and compete in the Sport Trucks years later, while Hudon would become victorious in the Pro Stocks. By the end of the decade, it was Jake Spillers, Dylan Estrella and David Hutchins Jr. taking a full grasp of the class, winning races and championships. Estrella would become a Late Model champion and Pro Stock winner years later, while Spillers would take his talents south. The SYRA class would evolve into one of the country’s best divisions to find rising talent.
After years of competition, the Formula 4 division would wrap their Seekonk tenure with four years of competition to start the decade. Mike Brodeur, Lance Cambra, Jason Arsenault and Rob Murphy would earn titles. The Pure Stock division took the green flag, with Randy Arruda, Bill Chouinard and Scott Cestodio etching their names into history as some of the first to win top honors.
Seekonk would run under the NASCAR sanction from 2000-2005, before dropping back to just a weekly series track and finishing out the decade. The NASCAR Busch North Series visited six times early in the decade — with five different winners. Dave Dion, Kelly Moore, Dale Shaw, Matt Kobyluck and Andy Santerre would be victorious in events that had more than 20 cars come to Massachusetts for 150-lappers.
NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour competed in the first five years, with Jerry Marquis, Chris Kopec, Ed Flemke Jr., Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers winning 150-lap races, all from the top six starting positions.
In 2005, Open Wheel Wednesday took its first green, with some of the top drivers from the Modified ranks coming to Seekonk chasing a $10,000 prize. In the events first year, Modified veteran Donny Lia would edge the late Ted Christopher for victory. Kirk Alexander would score checkered in year two, while track favorite Vinny Annaurmmo would sit behind the wheel and drive to victory a year later. Matt Hirschman and Chris Pasteryak would also visit Victory Lane. Open Wheel Wednesday would also include the Boston Louie Seymour Memorial Classic for the NEMA Midgets, an event that would run during that race all the way through 2019.
The decade would begin with Ted Christopher wheeling an SK Modified into Victory Lane at the D.A.V. Fall Classic, and end with the late Mike Stefanik scoring his only career Seekonk win in the D.A.V. Fall Classic for the True Value Modified Racing Series. Two modified veterans that would lose their lives, both in air accidents, a decade later.