Legendary car builder Jim Belfiore has been chosen as Grand Marshall for this Friday night’s Annual 75 lap Ollie Silva Memorial Summer Classic at the Lee USA Speedway presented by Haffner’s Gasoline and Fuels, “It Kicks.” Belfiore , who considered Ollie Silva as a personal friend, describes his selection as “A great honor.”
Born and raised in Haverhill, MA, Jim Belfiore was a participant during the early days of super modified racing both as an owner and a driver, and was a charter member of New England Super Modified Association organization. He also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at U Mass Lowell. Career opportunities took him to San Jose, CA where he resided for several years. He attained a Master’s Degree in California, and it was in the Golden State where his enthusiasm for super modified racing was rekindled.
In the early 1970’s, Silva and crew chief Vic Miller scored several victories on a NESMRA tour of tracks in the Central Valley of California. Belfiore was reunited with his friends from back east and had racing fever worse than ever. He owned and built supers on the west coast for a while before returning to his native Haverhill and establishing Belfab Engineering, dedicated to designing and building winning super modifieds. In 1989, Dave Simard prevailed in a duel with Bentley Warren in the first ever ISMA sanctioned event at the Lee USA Speedway in Belfiore’s car. It was his first big win. Since then many drivers have gone on to victory in Jim Belfiore designed super modifieds, and there will be several Belfab super modifieds on the track this Friday night at Lee USA.
One of those cars will be driven by his son, Justin Belfiore, former winner of the Star Speedway Classic and a distinguished ISMA driver. Last season, rookie ISMA driver Danny Bowes came within two laps of winning the Ollie Silva Memorial Classic in a Belfab car. Tom Tombarello has won one Small Block Super modified title and many races at Lee USA in a similarly designed Belfiore machine. At age 71, Jim Belfiore is currently living out west and still designs and builds some of the more advanced super modifieds in the country in his shop on the grounds of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His shop was the subject of a recent Dick Berggren article in Speedway Illustrated Magazine.
The biggest news in ISMA this year is that of the abrupt retirement of its two greatest stars; Russ Wood and Chris Perley. They are the top two on the ISMA all time win list with a combined total of 123 races. Together they have won 14 ISMA championships including the last 6 in a row and have dominated the sport for the better part of two decades. This incredible void has opened the door for rookies and veterans alike.
Mike Litchy, Lou Cicconi, Ryan Coniam, and Fremont’s Mike Ordway Sr. have one win apiece on the ISMA trail, and others are looking for theirs. Former NASCAR ace Johnny Benson is second in the points standings heading toward Lee, yet winless so far this season. Former Lee USA Small Block Super Modified stars Jeff Locke, Danny Bowes, and two time Lee USA champ Eddie Witkum figure prominently among the potential winners of the Ollie Silva Memorial Classic.
Prior to the start of the 75 lap event, racing legend Bentley Warren will conclude his annual motorcycle for the benefit of the Petty Victory Junction Gang Camp at the speedway. Over 200 bikes are expected. Feature events for the Benson Hardware Small Block Super Modifieds, David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stocks, will be on the agenda. Also added to the program are the Classic Lites and the NEMA Lites. Pits open at 2PM, and the racing program begins at 6:30PM.