News & Comment

It's 20-some degrees in Southern New England as THE RED RACECAR is released. Did we mention that the story takes place the summer after Jimmy and Danny graduate from high school? That's makes for great winter reading.

The action's pretty hot, too.

19 comments

  • From Thom

    From Thom On NASCAR

    I've heard a lot lately that auto racing is struggling to maintain its popularity. Of course, by referring to "racing" the people making this claim really are talking about NASCAR - and "Cup" racing (Let's call it just "Cup" and not worry about who's paying to call the Cup its own this year). But you know it like I know it; racing is not just NASCAR Cup racing. In fact, to some of us Cup racing is the worst racing there is. I have folks ask me all the time "How can you watch racing? How can you sit there and watch cars going around in a circle for hours. Don't you find it boring? Yes, I do. They ARE just going around in circles for hours. I also know race fans who check in on a Cup race on TV every once in a while as they watch something else. When they find there's ten or 15 laps left in a Cup race, then they stay to watch. I tell people who ask that question what other racing they've seen. Usually they haven't seen anything else. Yeah. No Indy cars or F1, with their incredible technology and mad rushes around a road course. No sprint cars, no midgets, no Saturday night shorttrack action. Have YOU ever been to a local shorttrack? You'll see more door-slamming in one night than in half a season of NASCAR. More photo finishes, too. And if it's open wheel; sprints or midgets on dirt or pavement, those outrageous supermods like they run across the country, or those modifieds, there's more action to be seen watching one car than you'll get in an hour of NASCAR on the tube. The problem is, nobody knows about all this racing - other than you and me, that is. Up here in the Northeast we have these wild cars called modifieds. They race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway any time the Cup cars race there. They have to run restrictor-plates - you know, those things Cup cars run on the big tracks so they won't go TOO fast? Well, the mods are required to run them at New Hampshire because otherwise they'd be faster than the Cup cars. Three-wide racing on the Magic Mile is not unusual. With the mods, that is, Any racing is unusual with the Cup cars there. So spread the word.

    I've heard a lot lately that auto racing is struggling to maintain its popularity. Of course, by referring to "racing" the people making this claim really are talking about NASCAR - and "Cup" racing (Let's call it just "Cup" and not worry about who's paying to call the Cup its own this year).

    But you know it like I know it; racing is not just NASCAR Cup racing. In fact, to some of us Cup racing is the worst racing there is. I have folks ask me all the time "How can you watch racing? How can you sit there and watch cars going around in a circle for hours. Don't you find it boring?

    Yes, I do. They ARE just going around in circles for hours. I also know race fans who check in on a Cup race on TV every once in a while as they watch something else. When they find there's ten or 15 laps left in a Cup race, then they stay to watch.

    I tell people who ask that question what other racing they've seen. Usually they haven't seen anything else. Yeah. No Indy cars or F1, with their incredible technology and mad rushes around a road course. No sprint cars, no midgets, no Saturday night shorttrack action.

    Have YOU ever been to a local shorttrack? You'll see more door-slamming in one night than in half a season of NASCAR. More photo finishes, too. And if it's open wheel; sprints or midgets on dirt or pavement, those outrageous supermods like they run across the country, or those modifieds, there's more action to be seen watching one car than you'll get in an hour of NASCAR on the tube.

    The problem is, nobody knows about all this racing - other than you and me, that is.

    Up here in the Northeast we have these wild cars called modifieds. They race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway any time the Cup cars race there. They have to run restrictor-plates - you know, those things Cup cars run on the big tracks so they won't go TOO fast? Well, the mods are required to run them at New Hampshire because otherwise they'd be faster than the Cup cars. Three-wide racing on the Magic Mile is not unusual. With the mods, that is, Any racing is unusual with the Cup cars there.

    So spread the word.

  • Thom

    Thom After the Auto Swap & Sell

    Had a great time at the Automotive Swap and Sell at "The Big E" in Springfield, MA January 17 and 18. Sold and signed some books, talked with a bunch of racers and fans young and old, and hung out with Walt Scadden and his friends. The Swap & Sell is a giant flea market with everything related to cars as a hobby instead of just an appliance. That means race stuff, street-performance goodies, and piles of rusting antique artifacts. Just in Walt's booth I was surrounded by old race-programs and biographies, some great metal-working manuals written by Walt - a blacksmith and metal-worker of some fame - and some of his wild projects, like a weld-on attachment that makes your street rod's boring old rearend look like a quick-change, copies of seats originally made for fighter-planes and bombers and later used by early street rod builders, and an English Wheel. No, it's not off a Jaguar. An English Wheel is this thing that can bend metal in two directions at a time - compound curves, they call 'em. Think of a metal bowl. An English Wheel could make one. Or, you could if you knew what you were doing, as an English Wheel doesn't plug in. You don't gas it up, turn it on, or program it. It's a hand-tool, one that stands five foot high. You need to force a piece of metal through the two rollers of the "wheel," controlling it so the bends and curves end up where you want them. It takes a knack, in other words. I was surprised by how many people would gather around the wheel, inspecting and discussing it. I was more surprised by how many young guys were interested in this old-school tool, but the bike-builder Jesse James popularized the English Wheel on his TV-show before he got distracted by marrying Sandra Bullock, which I probably didn't spell correctly. Look it up if you want. Better yet, look up an English Wheel or one of his old shows. They're not used much in racing, where everything now is plastic; fiberglass or carbon-fiber, that is. But for custom-metalwork, it's an essential tool. I had to get some goodies for myself, but I limited it to some shrink-wrap for new wiring harnesses I'm making for the antique-bike I'm rebuilding. And an interesting old guy went and bought me some old Popular Science magazines after he'd told me about the old days. One of them had a fantastic new car-paint you applied with a mitten. I wondered what happened to that stuff. They also featured flameproof paper. The primary ingredient was asbestos. No need to wonder what happened to that.

    Had a great time at the Automotive Swap and Sell at "The Big E" in Springfield, MA January 17 and 18. Sold and signed some books, talked with a bunch of racers and fans young and old, and hung out with Walt Scadden and his friends.

    The Swap & Sell is a giant flea market with everything related to cars as a hobby instead of just an appliance. That means race stuff, street-performance goodies, and piles of rusting antique artifacts. Just in Walt's booth I was surrounded by old race-programs and biographies, some great metal-working manuals written by Walt - a blacksmith and metal-worker of some fame - and some of his wild projects, like a weld-on attachment that makes your street rod's boring old rearend look like a quick-change, copies of seats originally made for fighter-planes and bombers and later used by early street rod builders, and an English Wheel.

    No, it's not off a Jaguar. An English Wheel is this thing that can bend metal in two directions at a time - compound curves, they call 'em. Think of a metal bowl. An English Wheel could make one. Or, you could if you knew what you were doing, as an English Wheel doesn't plug in. You don't gas it up, turn it on, or program it. It's a hand-tool, one that stands five foot high. You need to force a piece of metal through the two rollers of the "wheel," controlling it so the bends and curves end up where you want them. It takes a knack, in other words.

    I was surprised by how many people would gather around the wheel, inspecting and discussing it. I was more surprised by how many young guys were interested in this old-school tool, but the bike-builder Jesse James popularized the English Wheel on his TV-show before he got distracted by marrying Sandra Bullock, which I probably didn't spell correctly. Look it up if you want.

    Better yet, look up an English Wheel or one of his old shows. They're not used much in racing, where everything now is plastic; fiberglass or carbon-fiber, that is. But for custom-metalwork, it's an essential tool.

    I had to get some goodies for myself, but I limited it to some shrink-wrap for new wiring harnesses I'm making for the antique-bike I'm rebuilding. And an interesting old guy went and bought me some old Popular Science magazines after he'd told me about the old days. One of them had a fantastic new car-paint you applied with a mitten. I wondered what happened to that stuff. They also featured flameproof paper. The primary ingredient was asbestos. No need to wonder what happened to that.

  • Thom

    Thom on "Deflategate"

    I'm getting a kick out of all the nonsense surrounding the scandal of footballs being used by the New England Patriots being softer than the rules allow. You'd think they'd killed someone. I wonder what's wrong when we condemn a team for allegedly skirting a rule that plenty of players in the league seem to agree gave them little or no advantage. That's not to mention the quarterbacks who have admitted messing with the balls themselves. But two other points have been inescapable for me. First, if this was racing and racers found a competitor was getting away with something, they wouldn't run to a race official, they'd figure out how to take advantage of the situation themselves. It's called "creative interpretation" of the rules. Besides, these aren't laws, they're rules. Second, while we get lied to every day by politicians and almost every ad on television, this is the big sin that has so many in an uproar? We need to get our priorities right. It's a game.

    I'm getting a kick out of all the nonsense surrounding the scandal of footballs being used by the New England Patriots being softer than the rules allow. You'd think they'd killed someone. I wonder what's wrong when we condemn a team for allegedly skirting a rule that plenty of players in the league seem to agree gave them little or no advantage. That's not to mention the quarterbacks who have admitted messing with the balls themselves.

    But two other points have been inescapable for me.

    First, if this was racing and racers found a competitor was getting away with something, they wouldn't run to a race official, they'd figure out how to take advantage of the situation themselves. It's called "creative interpretation" of the rules. Besides, these aren't laws, they're rules.

    Second, while we get lied to every day by politicians and almost every ad on television, this is the big sin that has so many in an uproar? We need to get our priorities right. It's a game.

  • Thom

    Thom Racer's Expo and OMS banquet

    I was the featured speaker February 6 at the awards banquet for the Lucas Oil PowRI Outlaw Midget Series. Yes, this is yet another racing series for midgets in addition to those linked to on the "Other Stuff" page here. In addition to speaking at the OMS banquet, I spent some time wandering Bobby Seymour's Racing Expo, an open-wheel trade show going on concurrently (that means at the same time) with the banquet at the Royal Plaza Hotel. Chatted with Skip Matczak of Seals-It, who also was manning the USAC Dirt Midget Association booth. Of course, reps from the Northeast Midget Association were there, as Bobby's a prime mover in that club, but I also met folks from the Wicked Fast Midgets, who run NEMA Lite/DMA/OMS-style midgets in New Hampshire and Maine. Plus I spoke to reps from the Vintage Midget Association, which will be holding exhibition-style races for "any midget with a cage," at tracks in southern New England. That included the antique midget the spokesperson campaigned - with Ford Focus-style power. That's six midget clubs in New England. not counting the Atlantic Coast Old Timers. These new clubs are supposed to be setting up websites, and I'll provide links on this site when they do. The outlaw series does not have a site (Whaddya expect? They're outlaws). They point to their Facebook page, but they need a website. I'm trying to convince them. In the meantime, there's a ton a midget racing to check out. We'll keep you posted on the biggest, baddest and best shows over the course of the season. Maybe I'll see you there. Maybe I'll be racing. That's what we're hoping - on the dirt, anyway.

    I was the featured speaker February 6 at the awards banquet for the Lucas Oil PowRI Outlaw Midget Series. Yes, this is yet another racing series for midgets in addition to those linked to on the "Other Stuff" page here.
    In addition to speaking at the OMS banquet, I spent some time wandering Bobby Seymour's Racing Expo, an open-wheel trade show going on concurrently (that means at the same time) with the banquet at the Royal Plaza Hotel. Chatted with Skip Matczak of Seals-It, who also was manning the USAC Dirt Midget Association booth. Of course, reps from the Northeast Midget Association were there, as Bobby's a prime mover in that club, but I also met folks from the Wicked Fast Midgets, who run NEMA Lite/DMA/OMS-style midgets in New Hampshire and Maine. Plus I spoke to reps from the Vintage Midget Association, which will be holding exhibition-style races for "any midget with a cage," at tracks in southern New England. That included the antique midget the spokesperson campaigned - with Ford Focus-style power.
    That's six midget clubs in New England. not counting the Atlantic Coast Old Timers. These new clubs are supposed to be setting up websites, and I'll provide links on this site when they do. The outlaw series does not have a site (Whaddya expect? They're outlaws). They point to their Facebook page, but they need a website. I'm trying to convince them.
    In the meantime, there's a ton a midget racing to check out. We'll keep you posted on the biggest, baddest and best shows over the course of the season. Maybe I'll see you there. Maybe I'll be racing. That's what we're hoping - on the dirt, anyway.

  • Thom

    Thom from winter...

    I just heard that Seekonk Speedway, my "home" shorttrack, just re-upped as a NASCAR Weekly Series member. I'm never really sure that this is as big a deal as the local sports-broadcasts make it out to be. Those sportscasters, ignorant of racing beyond the crashes, at least recognize that NASCAR exists. But beyond a likely NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-series visit, I don't know what the track stands to gain from this relationship. After all, NASCAR cares so much about its weekly-series partners that it telecasts Cup racing in direct conflict with their shows. And they seem more interested in making their undercard-series MORE expensive and exclusive, not less. I still miss the competitive and exciting NASCAR Busch North Series, which essentially was a New England touring series for Cup-type cars. Seekonk would benefit from a rethink of their headlining Pro Stock and undercarding late model divisions, possibly combining them into an American-Canadian Tour type racer, like the late model I drove at Seekonk years ago. Late models, by the way, are the type of car featured in my upcoming racing novel. I don't even have a name for it yet, but you can find the first two chapters in our "Stuff to Read" page. Check it out.

    I just heard that Seekonk Speedway, my "home" shorttrack, just re-upped as a NASCAR Weekly Series member.
    I'm never really sure that this is as big a deal as the local sports-broadcasts make it out to be. Those sportscasters, ignorant of racing beyond the crashes, at least recognize that NASCAR exists. But beyond a likely NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-series visit, I don't know what the track stands to gain from this relationship. After all, NASCAR cares so much about its weekly-series partners that it telecasts Cup racing in direct conflict with their shows. And they seem more interested in making their undercard-series MORE expensive and exclusive, not less. I still miss the competitive and exciting NASCAR Busch North Series, which essentially was a New England touring series for Cup-type cars.
    Seekonk would benefit from a rethink of their headlining Pro Stock and undercarding late model divisions, possibly combining them into an American-Canadian Tour type racer, like the late model I drove at Seekonk years ago. Late models, by the way, are the type of car featured in my upcoming racing novel. I don't even have a name for it yet, but you can find the first two chapters in our "Stuff to Read" page. Check it out.

  • Thom

    Thom post 500

    Congrats to Joey Logano for winning his first Daytona 500. The reporters make a big deal of Joey being from Connecticut, but he's a Connecticutter in name only. virtually all of Joey's career happened down south. He raced no streeters, no pro stocks, no midgets or supers, nothing at Stafford or Seekonk or Star. He was wise to realize that the movers and shakers of NASCAR don't take the racing in the Northeast very seriously. The fact is, I believe there are drivers racing in New England today who are better than he is. Yet he never gave them a chance to prove, it and no one else will either. Crew Chiefs, though? Mechanics? Plenty of those from up north.

    Congrats to Joey Logano for winning his first Daytona 500.
    The reporters make a big deal of Joey being from Connecticut, but he's a Connecticutter in name only. virtually all of Joey's career happened down south. He raced no streeters, no pro stocks, no midgets or supers, nothing at Stafford or Seekonk or Star.
    He was wise to realize that the movers and shakers of NASCAR don't take the racing in the Northeast very seriously. The fact is, I believe there are drivers racing in New England today who are better than he is. Yet he never gave them a chance to prove, it and no one else will either.
    Crew Chiefs, though? Mechanics? Plenty of those from up north.

  • Thom

    Thom after Race-A-Rama

    Went with my brother (and chief mechanic) Ward to the Race-A-Rama at the Big-E in West Springfield, Mass. This event traditionally has for years served to introduce area racefans to the upcoming racing season. Fans could find out what new series or division would visit each track or where their favorite racecars could be enjoyed. It used to be a big deal. No racetrack in the area would have dared skip the show. No racing-series would pass on it. Every vendor of race gear would be there in full force so that racers could fill last-second holes in their cars or equipment. For years the event was hosted by Speedway Scene, a weekly paper that provided the same level of news and exposure all year. After the publisher of that tabloid schlepped away in the middle of the night, sponsorship shifted for a short time before the event died - or, as it turned out, went into hibernation. Recently the show was combined with a hot rod show that's gone on for years. Ward and I went hoping to hook up with officials from the five (count 'em!) midget series that will' be running in the region in 2015, as we consider what to do and where to go with our "6X" midget. We also wanted to check out options for the showroom-stock road-racer we plan to build out of my old Suzuki Reno. Again, this is an exciting time for racers like Ward and me. More options for midget-racing than there's been in the region in 75 years, not one, but two (count 'em!) new road courses literally minutes from my house. We're excited. Yet, only a few area shorttracks even had representation at this year's Race-A-Rama. And as for touring groups? Yes, the New England Mini Stocks were there, but none of the touring midget clubs! Out of five, not one (count 'em!) club bothered an appearance. Never mind, touring pro stock or modified clubs. Even Seekonk Speedway, which just re-upped with NASCAR, didn't have a booth. So, as far as the modget is concerned, mission NOT accomplished. Oh, well. We'll figure it out. Stay tuned.

    Went with my brother (and chief mechanic) Ward to the Race-A-Rama at the Big-E in West Springfield, Mass. This event traditionally has for years served to introduce area racefans to the upcoming racing season. Fans could find out what new series or division would visit each track or where their favorite racecars could be enjoyed.
    It used to be a big deal. No racetrack in the area would have dared skip the show. No racing-series would pass on it. Every vendor of race gear would be there in full force so that racers could fill last-second holes in their cars or equipment.
    For years the event was hosted by Speedway Scene, a weekly paper that provided the same level of news and exposure all year. After the publisher of that tabloid schlepped away in the middle of the night, sponsorship shifted for a short time before the event died - or, as it turned out, went into hibernation.
    Recently the show was combined with a hot rod show that's gone on for years. Ward and I went hoping to hook up with officials from the five (count 'em!) midget series that will' be running in the region in 2015, as we consider what to do and where to go with our "6X" midget. We also wanted to check out options for the showroom-stock road-racer we plan to build out of my old Suzuki Reno.
    Again, this is an exciting time for racers like Ward and me. More options for midget-racing than there's been in the region in 75 years, not one, but two (count 'em!) new road courses literally minutes from my house. We're excited.
    Yet, only a few area shorttracks even had representation at this year's Race-A-Rama. And as for touring groups? Yes, the New England Mini Stocks were there, but none of the touring midget clubs! Out of five, not one (count 'em!) club bothered an appearance. Never mind, touring pro stock or modified clubs.
    Even Seekonk Speedway, which just re-upped with NASCAR, didn't have a booth. So, as far as the modget is concerned, mission NOT accomplished. Oh, well. We'll figure it out. Stay tuned.

  • Thom

    Thom uh - another thing

    No, a "modget" is not a hybrid of a modified and midget. It's a misprint. Intriguing idea, though.

    No, a "modget" is not a hybrid of a modified and midget. It's a misprint. Intriguing idea, though.

  • Thom

    Thom after NASCAR event in Californiay

    Boy, NASCAR teams need to make their cars a little more durable - but only for a couple more laps. I say this after another race slowed by debris on the track - during the last couple of laps of the March 22 race. It set up - surprise! - a green/white/checkered finish, which changed everything. Funny how those yellows happen just as a race seems in the bag. Years ago - years and years ago - someone standing with NASCAR-creator Bill France remarked that the seemingly in the bag race they were watching "needed a yellow flag," France took off his hat, flung it onto the racing surface, and "remarked, "There's your yellow." But that was in the old days, right? They'd never do that now.

    Boy, NASCAR teams need to make their cars a little more durable - but only for a couple more laps. I say this after another race slowed by debris on the track - during the last couple of laps of the March 22 race. It set up - surprise! - a green/white/checkered finish, which changed everything.
    Funny how those yellows happen just as a race seems in the bag.

    Years ago - years and years ago - someone standing with NASCAR-creator Bill France remarked that the seemingly in the bag race they were watching "needed a yellow flag," France took off his hat, flung it onto the racing surface, and "remarked, "There's your yellow."

    But that was in the old days, right? They'd never do that now.

  • Thom

    Thom after my visit

    I recently made a presentation to a large group of seventh graders at the Gilbert Stuart Middle School in Providence, RI. I talked about why being able to read is so important (In a nutshell: "It's just the only way to learn about EVERYING). I also read from The Red Racecar. By the standards of seventh-grade teachers, the kids gave me their attention and seemed interested in what I had to say. Many wanted to know how and why I got into writing. Frankly, I'd wanted more questions about racing. No matter. A good group of kids and a fun afternoon. And three books in the Gilbert Stuart library plus a couple at Central High.

    I recently made a presentation to a large group of seventh graders at the Gilbert Stuart Middle School in Providence, RI. I talked about why being able to read is so important (In a nutshell: "It's just the only way to learn about EVERYING). I also read from The Red Racecar.
    By the standards of seventh-grade teachers, the kids gave me their attention and seemed interested in what I had to say. Many wanted to know how and why I got into writing. Frankly, I'd wanted more questions about racing.
    No matter. A good group of kids and a fun afternoon. And three books in the Gilbert Stuart library plus a couple at Central High.

  • Thom

    Thom after Seeklonk's opener

    Was at Seekonk Speedway for its season-opener Sunday along with a young friend of mine who'd never been there. I promised he would see some close racing, and more than one race come down to the wire. As usual, Seekonk didn't disappoint or make a liar out of me. Even the 50-lap pro stock feature came down to a side-by-side battle. One thing about Seekonk does disappoint me. Their top division is known as the pro stocks. These cars are late models anywhere else in the country. But Seekonk won't change their name. For one thing, the track's late patriarch, Anthony Venditti, came up with the term when he desgigned a new class of racecar decades ago. Late models at the time had more in common with NASCAR stock cars than they did today's late models. That means when Venditti came up with the name "pro stock" they were nothing like a late model of today. Venditti was proud of his creation, which rejuvenated racing at The Konk. So, folks there are understandably proud of their creation. In the years since, however, they introduced their own self-proclaimed late model division, a step below the pro stocks, which at this point should probably be called "super late models." Think of a car racing with one of the Pro All-Star Series (PASS). Seekonk's late model division is similar to the cars racing in the American Canadian Tour (ACT). Add to all this the fact that this year street stock teams can utilize aftermarket skins that don't even have to match the cars to which they're mounted. That means many streeters look more like late model than street stocks. You're left with compact pickup trucks as the only Seekonk division that is visually unique. They hardly get the heart pounding as an alternative to aluminum-skinned full-body racecars. Seekonk needs another division. I'd suggest (as I have before) that they bring a modified division back to the self-proclaimed "Action Track of the East." With Thompson not running regularly, and Waterford not having its "X-Mods" on hand for Wacky Wednesdays, there likely are a ton of limited modifieds looking for a place to play. Mods always run well at Seekonk, and that's a division the Seekonk fans would love. Me, too.

    Was at Seekonk Speedway for its season-opener Sunday along with a young friend of mine who'd never been there. I promised he would see some close racing, and more than one race come down to the wire.
    As usual, Seekonk didn't disappoint or make a liar out of me. Even the 50-lap pro stock feature came down to a side-by-side battle.
    One thing about Seekonk does disappoint me. Their top division is known as the pro stocks. These cars are late models anywhere else in the country. But Seekonk won't change their name. For one thing, the track's late patriarch, Anthony Venditti, came up with the term when he desgigned a new class of racecar decades ago. Late models at the time had more in common with NASCAR stock cars than they did today's late models. That means when Venditti came up with the name "pro stock" they were nothing like a late model of today.
    Venditti was proud of his creation, which rejuvenated racing at The Konk. So, folks there are understandably proud of their creation.
    In the years since, however, they introduced their own self-proclaimed late model division, a step below the pro stocks, which at this point should probably be called "super late models." Think of a car racing with one of the Pro All-Star Series (PASS). Seekonk's late model division is similar to the cars racing in the American Canadian Tour (ACT).
    Add to all this the fact that this year street stock teams can utilize aftermarket skins that don't even have to match the cars to which they're mounted. That means many streeters look more like late model than street stocks.
    You're left with compact pickup trucks as the only Seekonk division that is visually unique. They hardly get the heart pounding as an alternative to aluminum-skinned full-body racecars.
    Seekonk needs another division. I'd suggest (as I have before) that they bring a modified division back to the self-proclaimed "Action Track of the East." With Thompson not running regularly, and Waterford not having its "X-Mods" on hand for Wacky Wednesdays, there likely are a ton of limited modifieds looking for a place to play. Mods always run well at Seekonk, and that's a division the Seekonk fans would love.
    Me, too.

  • Thom

    Thom more on Seekonk's divisions

    Here's a crazy idea that only a guy not running a racetrack could imagine. Could a track go back to the days when modifieds were exactly that? You know, modified stock cars. I'm thinking of a division where cars can be built for racing from the ground up - but only with parts taken from street vehicles. Imagine starting with a rail chassis from the very compact pickups that run in Seekonk's truck division, but with V-8s such as the ones in Seekonk's street stocks. Then any body could be mounted, maybe a Focus or Cobalt skin. Any suspension could be adapted from any street vehicle. And rear could be used provided it came from some pickup or van. The only racecar stuff allowed would be for safety, rollcage, seat, wheel, that sort of thing. Now THOSE would be visually unique. And gain Seekonk publicity, not just locally but across the country - just as the pro stocks once did. Just a thought.

    Here's a crazy idea that only a guy not running a racetrack could imagine. Could a track go back to the days when modifieds were exactly that? You know, modified stock cars. I'm thinking of a division where cars can be built for racing from the ground up - but only with parts taken from street vehicles.
    Imagine starting with a rail chassis from the very compact pickups that run in Seekonk's truck division, but with V-8s such as the ones in Seekonk's street stocks. Then any body could be mounted, maybe a Focus or Cobalt skin. Any suspension could be adapted from any street vehicle. And rear could be used provided it came from some pickup or van. The only racecar stuff allowed would be for safety, rollcage, seat, wheel, that sort of thing.
    Now THOSE would be visually unique. And gain Seekonk publicity, not just locally but across the country - just as the pro stocks once did.
    Just a thought.

  • Thom

    Thom after an auto weekend

    It was car stuff both days this past weekend, although I have to admit, both events I attended left me a bit disappointed. Saturday a friend and I attended the inaugural race for the Sports-Car-Club-of-America-supported Formula Lites series at Thompson, CT, Speedway. They're new racecars, and they look pretty exotic on their website. But the lites are being peddled as a gap-filler between karts and other formula series up the food chain. That's a little hard to accept. These cars combine carbon-fiber chassis with a production-car Honda motor. That puts them a few steps UP from formula-car series that already exist. So how do they bridge the gap between karts and more modest formula cars such as Formula F cars or F-Mazda, particularly when they're much more expensive than those formulas? As one driver racing a VW-Beetle-based Formula-V car Saturday said, "Why would I want to pay $105,000 for one of those when I paid seven grand for my Formula-V and I'm having a blast?" A lot of racers evidently agreed. There were only 6 lites cars at Thompson. The best racing of the day was turned in by the Legends cars, those 3/4 scale mod-like coupes powered by Yamaha street-bike motors. In fact, a few of their drivers were doing exactly what the lites supposedly were designed to do, taking a step up and into racecars from karts. Take Mike Christopher, Jr. His dad was a more than respectable driver of mods and late models around New England. His Uncle Ted, a NASCAR modified champion, is considered by many to be the best driver in the region. I think Mike and his dad chose a Legends car because they race on ovals and road courses, are wicked fast, and, with street tires mounted, are a real handful to drive. Christopher learned a lot Saturday. We watched him made spectacular passes at the end of Thompson's endless straightaway, only to get passed right back as he struggled to stay out of the dirt. The Legends also slid all over the track - always a fun visual. Sunday my wife and I visited the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport, RI. They were displaying a variety of cars sharing the theme of the evolution of supercars. Mostly it was a collection of Ferraris, with a couple of other exotics such as a Bugatti Veyron, a recreated Ford GT-40, and a couple of Lamborghinis. But no Muira. No Coontach. Actually, I think we just were seeing a few cars from somebody's private collection. Probably some rich guy names Audrain. I'm not a big fan of supercars. If you can't build a great car for quarter of a million dollars it's time to find a new job. Show me something I've never seen, something that surprises me, some Quixotean (as if Don Quixote tilting at windmills) created out of nothing. The worst part of the deal was the misplaced reverence the staff applied to the displayed cars. No touching is understandable, but no leaning over the ropes - or even extending your hand past them to point something out? There was a Formula-One Ferrari on display. What, Ferrrari racecars can't handle fingerprints? Is it too fragile to endure some drooling? Give me a break. They're not even racecars until you get them dirty.

    It was car stuff both days this past weekend, although I have to admit, both events I attended left me a bit disappointed.
    Saturday a friend and I attended the inaugural race for the Sports-Car-Club-of-America-supported Formula Lites series at Thompson, CT, Speedway. They're new racecars, and they look pretty exotic on their website. But the lites are being peddled as a gap-filler between karts and other formula series up the food chain. That's a little hard to accept. These cars combine carbon-fiber chassis with a production-car Honda motor. That puts them a few steps UP from formula-car series that already exist. So how do they bridge the gap between karts and more modest formula cars such as Formula F cars or F-Mazda, particularly when they're much more expensive than those formulas? As one driver racing a VW-Beetle-based Formula-V car Saturday said, "Why would I want to pay $105,000 for one of those when I paid seven grand for my Formula-V and I'm having a blast?" A lot of racers evidently agreed. There were only 6 lites cars at Thompson.
    The best racing of the day was turned in by the Legends cars, those 3/4 scale mod-like coupes powered by Yamaha street-bike motors. In fact, a few of their drivers were doing exactly what the lites supposedly were designed to do, taking a step up and into racecars from karts.
    Take Mike Christopher, Jr. His dad was a more than respectable driver of mods and late models around New England. His Uncle Ted, a NASCAR modified champion, is considered by many to be the best driver in the region.
    I think Mike and his dad chose a Legends car because they race on ovals and road courses, are wicked fast, and, with street tires mounted, are a real handful to drive. Christopher learned a lot Saturday. We watched him made spectacular passes at the end of Thompson's endless straightaway, only to get passed right back as he struggled to stay out of the dirt. The Legends also slid all over the track - always a fun visual.
    Sunday my wife and I visited the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport, RI. They were displaying a variety of cars sharing the theme of the evolution of supercars. Mostly it was a collection of Ferraris, with a couple of other exotics such as a Bugatti Veyron, a recreated Ford GT-40, and a couple of Lamborghinis. But no Muira. No Coontach. Actually, I think we just were seeing a few cars from somebody's private collection. Probably some rich guy names Audrain.
    I'm not a big fan of supercars. If you can't build a great car for quarter of a million dollars it's time to find a new job. Show me something I've never seen, something that surprises me, some Quixotean (as if Don Quixote tilting at windmills) created out of nothing.
    The worst part of the deal was the misplaced reverence the staff applied to the displayed cars. No touching is understandable, but no leaning over the ropes - or even extending your hand past them to point something out? There was a Formula-One Ferrari on display. What, Ferrrari racecars can't handle fingerprints? Is it too fragile to endure some drooling? Give me a break. They're not even racecars until you get them dirty.

  • Thom

    Thom Dinosaurs Racing

    Just a note to let you know that my latest novel, DINOSAURS RACING, is in production. Which means, it's finished being written. But no, I ain't gonna tell ya what happens. Once it's printed you'll be able to find it at all the places listed on the "WHERE TO BUY" page. In the meantime, you still can find the first two chapters on the "STUFF TO READ" page.

    Just a note to let you know that my latest novel, DINOSAURS RACING, is in production.
    Which means, it's finished being written. But no, I ain't gonna tell ya what happens. Once it's printed you'll be able to find it at all the places listed on the "WHERE TO BUY" page.
    In the meantime, you still can find the first two chapters on the "STUFF TO READ" page.

  • Thomj

    Thomj Tri-State Speedway

    Ran some laps at Tri-State Speedway in Webster, MA, Sunday with a friend. Yeah, they're basically concession karts, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found that if I flat-footed it all the way around, I could get the electric kart into some four-wheel drifts. Not much room to pass, though.

    Ran some laps at Tri-State Speedway in Webster, MA, Sunday with a friend. Yeah, they're basically concession karts, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found that if I flat-footed it all the way around, I could get the electric kart into some four-wheel drifts. Not much room to pass, though.

  • Thom

    Thom Trials bikes and vintage cars

    That was my weekend. Saturday my brother and I attended the U.S. round of the World Trials Championship, which was held at Stepping Stones Ranch in West Greenwich, RI. TV makes a big deal of those extreme motorcyclists who do somersaults and stuff off giant jumps. I'm more impressed by trials riders. A trials rider doesn't know how extreme he'll need to get until he's in the middle of some pile of rocks the size of cars or at the bottom of a 25-foot shear cliff of stone he needs to climb without touching a toe to ground before literally hopping his bike to change its direction in a space no bigger than the bike itself. A trials event lets you walk the path the bikes take from points-scoring "observed section" to the next observed section. You can stand and look into the eyes of each rider and also listen as he talks to his "minder," who inspects the section and then offers advice on how to get through it. The bikes are that quiet. Yeah, and I said "he." Haven't spotted a woman trials rider yet. These were the best trials riders in the world. They were amazing. I swear they could ride over a mini-van without breaking a sweat. Amazing stuff. I saw some amazing stuff the next day at a vintage car show in Guilford, CT, where I was signing and selling THE RED RACECAR. They were antique cars, and the variety and quality of the restorations was amazing. From a 100-year old steam-powered Stanley to a pristine early 1970s Toyota Corolla (Yeah, I know.), with big 1950s-era turnpike boats pulling in next to Lotuses and Porches, there was something for every car enthusiast to ogle. Yeah. Ogle. Look it up.

    That was my weekend. Saturday my brother and I attended the U.S. round of the World Trials Championship, which was held at Stepping Stones Ranch in West Greenwich, RI. TV makes a big deal of those extreme motorcyclists who do somersaults and stuff off giant jumps. I'm more impressed by trials riders. A trials rider doesn't know how extreme he'll need to get until he's in the middle of some pile of rocks the size of cars or at the bottom of a 25-foot shear cliff of stone he needs to climb without touching a toe to ground before literally hopping his bike to change its direction in a space no bigger than the bike itself. A trials event lets you walk the path the bikes take from points-scoring "observed section" to the next observed section. You can stand and look into the eyes of each rider and also listen as he talks to his "minder," who inspects the section and then offers advice on how to get through it. The bikes are that quiet. Yeah, and I said "he." Haven't spotted a woman trials rider yet.
    These were the best trials riders in the world. They were amazing. I swear they could ride over a mini-van without breaking a sweat. Amazing stuff.
    I saw some amazing stuff the next day at a vintage car show in Guilford, CT, where I was signing and selling THE RED RACECAR. They were antique cars, and the variety and quality of the restorations was amazing. From a 100-year old steam-powered Stanley to a pristine early 1970s Toyota Corolla (Yeah, I know.), with big 1950s-era turnpike boats pulling in next to Lotuses and Porches, there was something for every car enthusiast to ogle.
    Yeah. Ogle. Look it up.

  • Thom

    Thom post Speedbowl

    What a frustrating day August 8 at New London/Waterford Speedbowl! Sure, I signed a bunch of copies of THE RED RACECAR, plus added quite a few folks to our mailing list. I saw a ton of old friends from my days publishing Shorttrack Magazine - some of whom I hadn’t seen in years - as well as when I covered racing for a host of New England’s daily newspapers. Even renewed acquaintances with a few guys against whom I raced. I also met many Waterford fans and chewed the fat about shorttrack racing, which looks pretty healthy if the packed grandstands and decent fields of NEMA midgets, ISMA Supers and Valenti Modifieds on hand were any indication. It was great to see the joint that is Waterford Speedbowl jumping. So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, it was the NEMA midgets, ISMA Supers and Valenti Mods. These are maybe my three favorite types of racecar - at least my three favorite shorttrack racecars - and the only action I saw was the blur of cars rushing by the opening in the grandstands opposite where we were set up. I was told the racing was pretty good. Crap!

    What a frustrating day August 8 at New London/Waterford Speedbowl!
    Sure, I signed a bunch of copies of THE RED RACECAR, plus added quite a few folks to our mailing list. I saw a ton of old friends from my days publishing Shorttrack Magazine - some of whom I hadn’t seen in years - as well as when I covered racing for a host of New England’s daily newspapers. Even renewed acquaintances with a few guys against whom I raced.
    I also met many Waterford fans and chewed the fat about shorttrack racing, which looks pretty healthy if the packed grandstands and decent fields of NEMA midgets, ISMA Supers and Valenti Modifieds on hand were any indication. It was great to see the joint that is Waterford Speedbowl jumping.
    So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, it was the NEMA midgets, ISMA Supers and Valenti Mods. These are maybe my three favorite types of racecar - at least my three favorite shorttrack racecars - and the only action I saw was the blur of cars rushing by the opening in the grandstands opposite where we were set up. I was told the racing was pretty good.
    Crap!

  • Thom

    Thom a heads up

    It's Rhode Island Authors Day, Saturday, August 22 @ 1:00 PM at Barnes & Noble, Warwick Centre 1350-B Bald Hill Rd,, in Warwick, RI 20 Rhode Island authors will be selling and signing books - including me! I may have my latest, DINOSAUR RACING, with me by then. You can read the first two chapters in the "STUFF TO READ" page on this site. And it's: Free!

    It's Rhode Island Authors Day, Saturday, August 22 @ 1:00 PM at Barnes & Noble, Warwick Centre 1350-B Bald Hill Rd,, in Warwick, RI
    20 Rhode Island authors will be selling and signing books - including me! I may have my latest, DINOSAUR RACING, with me by then. You can read the first two chapters in the "STUFF TO READ" page on this site.
    And it's: Free!

  • Thom

    Thom

    I'm at the Scituate Farmers Market, Saturday, September 5 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, on the Village Green, Scituate Art Festival Grounds, West Greenville Rd and Silk Lane, North Scituate, RI The farmers market often hosts authors. This day will be celebrated as Rhode Island Authors Day, so they'll be a few of us there. Come check out some books while you support local farmers and real food.

    I'm at the Scituate Farmers Market, Saturday, September 5 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, on the Village Green, Scituate Art Festival Grounds, West Greenville Rd and Silk Lane, North Scituate, RI
    The farmers market often hosts authors. This day will be celebrated as Rhode Island Authors Day, so they'll be a few of us there. Come check out some books while you support local farmers and real food.

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