Story by Souza Media's Kyle Souza
NEW SMYRNA, Fla. -- With just over two short weeks remaining until the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, fans from across the country are making their final travel preparations to head south. The annual World Series has another stout schedule planned for 2023 -- with a practice day on February 9 -- followed by nine consecutive nights of short-track racing from February 10-18.
One of the headlining divisions for the week again this year, alongside the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models, is the Tour-Type Modifieds. The division will return for five straight nights of action from February 13-17 -- including multiple major events -- like the John Blewett Memorial 76 and the Richie Evans Memorial 100. New for 2023, the minimum distance for Tour-Type Modified races will be 50 laps, up 15 circuits from other years.
However, before the Tour Mods hit the track for racing action, the opening act might be the best way to get the week rocking. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to New Smyrna for the second year in a row on Saturday, February 11, for the New Smyrna Visitors Bureau 200. The season-opener for another year of Whelen Modified Tour action is expected to draw close to 30 cars or more to try and compete in the 200-lap event.
Last year, it was Matt Hirschman, a multiple-time Tour Mod champion at the World Series, who picked up the victory. But he has a strong field of drivers going to try and knock him down. Reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion Jon McKennedy, three-time champion Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Patrick Emerling, defending Sunoco Rookie of the year Austin Beers, Jimmy Blewett, Kyle Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and many others are hopeful to open the season on top.
Once the Tour moves out of town, all eyes will turn towards the World Series action for the Tour Modifieds, beginning with a 50-lap race on Monday, February 13. Tuesday will follow with another 50-lap event, followed by the Blewett Memorial 76 on Wednesday, February 15. Thursday includes one more 50-lap race before Friday's Richie Evans 100, which will help crown the champion of the World Series for 2023.
The updated Tour Modified entry list for the week includes defending champion Jimmy Blewett, who will return to action with Tommy Baldwin Racing for another year. Baldwin is also fielding a car for Caleb Heady, who won the SMART Modified Tour title with the team in 2022. Names like Emerling, Silk, Spencer Davis, Ronnie Williams, Teddy Hodgdon, Tommy Catalano, Eric Goodale, Anthony Nocella, Anthony Bello and others are entered to compete. A full list entry list as of January 22 is posted at the bottom of this story.
Tickets for events, including the Whelen Modified Tour 200 (which was jam-packed in 2022, we would suggest buying ahead in case of sellout) are available online now by clicking here. New Smyrna also has a World Series central placed on their website where fans can find the updated entry lists, rules, daily event schedules and much more. You can find World Series central by clicking here.
TOUR MODIFIED NEW SMYRNA SCHEDULE '23 WORLD SERIES:
Saturday, February 11 -- NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 200
Monday, February 13 -- Tour Modified 50
Tuesday, February 14 -- Tour Modified 50
Wednesday, February 15 -- John Blewett Memorial 76-lapper
Thursday, February 16 -- Tour Modified 50
Friday, February 17 -- Richie Evans Modified 100-lapper
Below Entry List Is For Monday-Friday Tour Modified Racing as of January 22:
2 JR Bertuccio. Centerreach NY
2X Gershow Racing Driver TBA
7nc Caleb Heady. Louisville KY
7ny Jimmy Blewett. Howell NJ
7 Rich Parker. Forked River NJ
8 Cam McDermott. Canterbury CT
11X Dillon Steuer. Bohemia NY
11 Norman Newman. Kincardine ON
14 Patrick Emerling. Orchard Park NY
16 Ron Silk. Norwalk CT
20 Eddie McCarthy. Brick NJ
20nj Dylan Serratelli. Brick NJ
21 Joe Bertuccio III. Statesville NC
25 Brian Robie. Sunapee NH
29 Spencer Davis. Dawsonville GA
32 Tyler Rypkema. Owego NY
36 David Sapienza. Riverhead NY
38 Ricky Moxley. Palm City
45 Brett Meservey. Brewster MA
50 Ronnie Williams. Vernon CT
54 Tommy Catalano. Ontario NY
54 Tyler Catalano. Ontario NY
55 Teddy Hodgdon. Danbury CT
56 Amy Catalano. Ontario NY
58 Eric Goodale. Riverhead NY
71 Kyle Ellwood / Michael Rutkoski. Riverhead NY
73 Paul Hartwig Jr. Galloway NJ
73H Paul Hartwig SR. Galloway NJ
92 Anthony Nocella. Berlin MA
08 Nicholas Halkowicz. Shelton CT
09 Christopher Hatton. Ormond Beach, FL
179 Anthony Bello. Newton CT
Ron Silk Ready For NAPA Spring Sizzler $20,000 To Win Race at Stafford Speedway
Press Release by Stafford Speedway about Haydt-Yannone Racing (Souza Media client)
When Stafford Speedway kicks off its 2023 season with the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, Ron Silk is sure to be counted among the pre-race favorites. Silk and the #16 Blue Mountain Machine / Future Homes team finished third in last year’s Sizzler® and won the season ending NAPA Fall Final in September. With an average finish of 4.3 in three Stafford starts last season, Silk and his team are eager to return to the Connecticut half-mile facility.
“The team and I are certainly looking forward to coming back to Stafford,” said Silk. “We thought the Sizzler® was an awesome event last year with a lot of cars, a lot of people in the stands, and a really good payday. We ran well in the Sizzler® and finished third but we needed just a little more to be able to keep up with Matt [Hirschman] and Ryan [Preece]. We made some improvements over the two remaining races we ran at Stafford and it was really good to get a win at the Fall Final last year. It’s a new year and a new race, but it’s always nice to come back to a track after your last visit there was a victory. We’ll try to take all the positives we can from the Fall Final to the Sizzler® but you’re still going to have to have a fast car and make the right decisions, so we still have a little bit of work ahead of us.”
“We’re all pumped for the Sizzler®,” said Silk’s co-car owner Joe Yannone. “Ronnie is comfortable at Stafford and the team always has a great time when we race there. We feel like our car has everything it takes to make it happen at Stafford so we’re all looking forward to the Sizzler®. The Sizzler® will be one of our highlight races for the 2023 season for sure and we’re definitely confident and looking forward to April.”
Last year’s 50th running of “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” brought about several changes to the format. Rather than time trials, teams had to qualify for the race by finishing in a qualified position in one of two 40-lap NAPA Duel races. Drivers who didn’t qualify through a NAPA Duel went into a 15-lap last chance qualifier to earn the final starting positions in the 100 lap NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The new format saw 41 cars attempt to qualify for the 33 car starting field and brought about an atmosphere around the race that was appreciated by all competitors.
“I was really impressed with the atmosphere,” said Silk. “It felt like being at the track 15 or 20 years ago when I was younger with a buzz around the track and the race. Honesty as a racer, I’m kind of a fan of time trials, but for the fans it’s more exciting to have heat races, especially when the race is spread out over two days like the Sizzler®. I really like the idea of a 40-lap heat race rather than a 10-lap heat because if you get a poor starting draw, you at least have some time to do something about it. Last year we were fortunate enough to win our duel race, which was a great payday in itself for a 40-lap race, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why there was so much excitement around the race last season. With everything that happened last season, the race should only be bigger and better this season.”
Last year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler® paid a guaranteed $15,000 to win plus any contingency money earned and it paid $1,250 to start the race from total posted awards of over $130,000. For the 2023 NAPA Spring Sizzler®, the purse has increased to pay the winner a guaranteed $20,000 with $1,500 to start the race from total posted awards of over $140,000.
“Stafford has done a fantastic job with the purse,” said Silk. “I was looking at the purse the other day, and although it would be a very tough feat to pull off, if a driver could win their duel race and lead all 100 laps to win the race, the payout would be around $38,500, which would really be something remarkable.”
“The Sizzler is always exciting with the amount of competitors who come to Stafford and the track is always packed with fans,” said Yannone. “Stafford does a great job with the purse and that really helps draw attention to the modifieds.”
Silk made his NAPA Spring Sizzler® debut in 2004 and he has since made 15 starts with a best finish of third, which he has done three times, including last season. Silk would like to add the Sizzler® to his career win list while his owner says that a Sizzler victory would be a bucket list item for himself and the team.
“The Sizzler is certainly a prestigious race and it’s one of the bigger races that I haven’t won yet, so it would certainly mean a lot to me to win a race like that against that field of competition with a great atmosphere surrounding the race,” said Silk. “It would be really good for the team to get some momentum early in the season and it would be a nice payday on top of that. Thanks to my car owners Tyler Haydt and Joe Yannone, Future Homes, Blue Mountain Machine, and all the crew guys who give up their free time to go racing with us. We all enjoy doing it but it’s still a big commitment and we couldn’t do this without their help.”
“If we were able to win the Sizzler®, it would definitely be something for our bucket list and we would all be ecstatic,” said Yannone. “Ronnie is the guy to do it and our crew chief Phil Moran along with Tyler Haydt, myself, and everyone on the crew, we all have the utmost confidence that we can make it happen and it would be totally awesome to win the Sizzler®.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.
Order 51st NAPA Spring Sizzler® Tickets
Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
Caleb Heady To Defend SMART Mod Tour Title, Run Additional Events With Tommy Baldwin Racing
Press Release By Souza Media for Tommy Baldwin Racing
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Tommy Baldwin Racing announced today that rising star Caleb Heady will return to the seat of the 7NY for the 2023 season. Heady will defend his 2022 SMART Modified Tour title down south, showcasing his talents in a diverse 14-race series schedule for the new year.
On top of competing on the SMART Modified Tour, Heady is also scheduled to begin the season in one of TBR’s Tour-Type Modifieds for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway from February 13-17. Heady will also drive a TBR entry in the Race of Champions 73rd Annual Lucas Oil Race of Champions 250 at Lake Erie Speedway in September.
The group will also team together for Open Modified events during the 2023 season, with an exact schedule to be released at a later date.
“Caleb and our team clicked last year and we’re expecting similar results for the 2023 racing season,” Tommy Baldwin Jr. said. “The SMART Modified Tour has grown into a successful division down south – with a large variety of tracks – and they have a great schedule ready for the year. We’re excited to chase the championship again with them and also eager to get Caleb down to New Smyrna for the World Series against a stout driver lineup for even more Modified experience.”
Heady, who has quickly moved up the ladder in racing from Legends Cars to Modifieds, anticipates getting to the front of the field and contending for trophies.
“We’re super excited to be back with Tommy Baldwin Racing and be chasing a second SMART Modified Tour title this season,” Heady said. “I can’t wait to apply all that I learned during the 2022 season to this year. Being able to branch out and run more races with the team is exciting and we’re looking forward to it. I love learning new tracks and racing with the top competition in Modified racing in the country. I can’t wait to see what the season has in store for us.”
For more information on Tommy Baldwin Racing, visit TommyBaldwinRacing.com and follow the team on social media for the latest updates.
Press Release by Souza Media For Granite State Pro Stock Series
Eight-Race Slate Includes Two Tracks in New Hampshire, One in Maine & One TBA Race
WALPOLE, N.H. – Granite State Pro Stock Series officials announced today an eight-race schedule for the 2023 season. The schedule includes three events at ‘The Place To Race’, Star Speedway, two at Riverside Speedway, two at Speedway 95 and one at a track to be announced.
Star Speedway, owned by the Webber family, has been on the Granite State Pro Stock Series schedule since inception of the series and will return for the new season.
The three dates include the Hedges Excavating 100 on Saturday, May 6, a special race to pair with the Racers Honoring Racers Open Modified 100 at Star on July 1, and the annual Star Classic Friday night event on September 15.
Outside of Star, the series will also frequent two other ovals in 2023 – Riverside Speedway and Speedway 95. Riverside, located in Groveton, New Hampshire, is a true bullring style track with banking and tight corners. Speedway 95, in Hermon, Maine, is a bit flatter, but produces excellent side-by-side racing for Pro Stocks, and will once again do it with the stars of the Granite State Pro Stock Series in 2023.
The series will stop at Riverside Speedway on June 3 and August 12, and at Speedway 95 on June 2 and August 19. The final race of the season, set for September 24, is to be announced at this time.
“Our 2023 schedule brings us back to some tracks where we have a great relationship with ownership, and those facilities produce some of the best Pro Stock racing in the Northeast,” Mike Parks, Granite State Pro Stock Series owner and President, said. “The champion from the 2023 season will have mastered these tracks against some tough competition. Star Speedway hosting three events is going to be a major deal for our series, with all three being major races, especially the one paired with the Modified show on July 1. Heading back to Riverside and Speedway 95 is a great opportunity for our fans to travel and see our stars compete at two more great tracks. We’re excited for 2023.”
Additional information about the 2023 season, and the final to be announced date that will be the championship race on September 24, will be announced at a later date.
For more information on the Granite State Pro Stock Series, visit gspss.net and follow the series on social media for the latest updates.
2023 Granite State Pro Stock Series Schedule
May 6 – Star Speedway – Epping, N.H.
June 3 – Riverside Speedway – Northumberland, N.H.
June 24 – Speedway 95 – Hermon, Maine
July 1 – Star Speedway – Epping, N.H.
August 12 – Riverside Speedway – Northumberland, N.H.
August 19 – Speedway 95 – Hermon, Maine
September 15 – Star Speedway – Epping, N.H.
September 24 – Championship Race TBA
Souza Media writes for several tracks, sanctioning bodies and race teams in the motorsports field, while also presenting original content by staff.