By Lou Modestino

Seven drivers and one car owner with hundreds of victories and dozens of championships comprise the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. It is the 16th class and brings the membership to well over 115.

Drivers Stan Meserve, Brian Ross, Drew Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp and car owner Ron Berndt will be inducted at the 16th annual NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Lodge at Manelley’s in South Windsor, CT.

The New England Antique Racers website will have complete times and ticket prices in the near future. Meserve, a Maine product, has been a driver, car owner/mechanic and race official for four decades plus including a season (1968) as an independent on the NASCAR Grand National circuit. As a driver, he won throughout Maine, including a pair of Oxford Opens and captured championships at Unity, Speedway 95, Wiscasset and Oxford Plains.

Berndt, a Meriden, CT native, has won in six different decades, most recently in 2012. Grandson Eric Berndt is on the end of a long list of drivers that include Sparky Belmont, Danny Galullo, Ted Christopher and Dave Alkas. His win total is estimated to be well into triple figures and his championships were won at Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speebowl and Thompson Speedway.

Originally from Chelmsford, MA, Eldridge was the Northeastern Midget Association’s first champion (1953) and, some 40 years after retiring, is sixth on the clubs’ all-time win list with 32. Driving for the likes of Gibby Parmenter, Mike Scrivani, Bob Bahre and Rollie Lindblad, Eldridge, who began in the post World War II days, captured four NEMA championships.

A Bay State native, Stefanik competed throughout New England, but found his greatest success at Riverside Park. Over a 20 year run, he was successful in Novice and Sportsman (titles in ’66, ’67 and ’68) cars before busting on the Modified scene with car owner Joe Czarnecki in 1968, winning three championships (1970-71, ’73). His 21 Riverside Modified wins include the 1972 Riverside 500 with Billy Greco. Stefanik passed away in 1984.

Fornoro, who joins his father Nick in the Hall, holds Northeastern Midget Association records with 85 victories and nine championships, most of the former and all of the latter with owner Gene Angelillo. Born in Danbury, Fornoro won at least one NEMA feature in 21 different seasons, grabbing checkereds at over 20 different tracks.

Readily identified with Datsun, Connecticut’s Sharp is one of New England’s most accomplished road racers. His list of SCCA and IMSA championships stretches well into double figures, winning three different titles alone in 1975. He achieved even more success as an owner, putting wheels under the likes of actor Paul Newman, Jim Fitzgerald and son Scott, all of whom added championships to the Sharp name.

A NASCAR Modified mainstay in three decades, the 1984 Stafford championship and the 1986 Spring Sizzler, both coming in his own cars, are included in Brian Ross’ impressive resume. The Ballston Spa, NY product started in 1961 at Saranac Lake, NY and before it was over in 2000 scored from Maine to Florida in both Modifieds and Late Models driving for others (Bob Garbarino, Ed Cloce) and himself. He was the 1984 Race of Champions winner at Pocono and a multi-time champion at Oswego.

Maine’s Ralph Nason has truly done it all over six decades – race driver, owner/builder, track owner/promoter. Starting in the early 1960s, “Racin’ Ralph” has won just about everywhere in Maine including Getty Open and Oxford 250 wins (three of them) at Oxford Plains. A two-time NEPSA champ, he has promoted just about everywhere as well. He continues to own Unity Raceway.

Brooks Clark of Fayston won the Times Argus 75-lap Late Model main event on Mid-Season Championship double-points night at Thunder Road despite losing a half-track lead with eight laps to go because of the race’s lone caution.

Clark took the lead for keeps on lap 33. On the restart, he had 16 year-old Joey Laquerre, who drove a courageous race, on his outside with Brett Gervais and rookie point leader Derrick O’Donnell of North Haverhill, NH in row two, ahead of Kyle Pembroke and Nick Sweet.

Clark got a quick jump on Laquerre and immediately took the A. W. Clark Jr. & Son No. 68 to the rim of the race track. The win was Clark’s second of the season. He thanked his team for rebuilding his car after a hard crash Sunday in the ACT International 500 at Airborne Speedway. “It’s been a long week for my crew,” he said.

O’Donnell overtook Laquerre on the final lap to finish second and maintain his spot atop the Late Model standings. Nick Sweet, who started 19th, finished 4th at Laquerre’s rear spoiler. Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier was 5th.

Brett Gervais and Laquerre raced door-to-door for 30 laps, stacking up the field in a double wide conga line that went 12 cars deep while Clark made his getaway. Gervais wound up 6th, ahead of Cody Blake, Dave Pembroke, Jean-Paul Cyr and Dave Whitcomb.

Gervais, Whitcomb and Joey M Laquerre won the Late Model heats. Rookie point leader Derrick O’Donnell finished third in his heat, inches behind Emily Packard. Nick Sweet, 2nd in points at the start of the night, spent most of his qualifier boxed in, but managed a 4th-place finish.

Two-time champion Shawn Fleury of Middlesex survived a tumultuous Tiger Sportsman feature to record his first win of the season and parlay the double points at stake to unofficially become the division’s point leader.

Scheduled for 50 laps, the race came unglued on the first lap. Front row occupants Chris Roberts and Chris Pelkey spun out negotiating the first turn, which scattered the field and sent cars over the top of the track.

Four laps later, Mike Martin turned sideways across the field and crashed into Adam Pierson. The carnage continued through three more collisions during the next six laps.

When the smoke cleared, the front row of the lap-12 restart consisted of Josh Demers and Shawn Fleury with Eric Badore and Jason Woodard in row two. After a 6th caution on lap 14, it was announced that the race would be shortened to 35 laps.

On lap 16, Josh Demers, battling Fleury for the lead went flying off the top of the third turn and slammed into the styrofoam barriers. Demers limped into the pits and made it back out for the next green flag.

Fleury held the lead from lap 12. Eric Badore bested Jason Woodard after a lengthy wheel-to-wheel duel to place second and unofficially move into 2nd in the standings. Brendan Moodie passed Jason Allen of Barre in the final turn to finish 4th. Allen, the point leader to begin the night settled for 5th.

Greg Adams of Hardwick, a three-time feature winner and the No. 2 man in the Allen Lumber Street Stock standings, breezed to a win in his heat race. Bunker Hodgdon and Tommy Smith were 1-2 in the other Street Stock qualifier.

All three competitors were back in victory lane to receive their trophies for podium finishes in the 35-lap Street Stock feature. Adams, driving the VT Engine Service/Shatney Auto Body No. 38, passed rookie George Butler for the lead on lap 19 and sped off to his 4th victory of the season. Hodgdon, who also hails from Hardwick, finished second with Smith’s R&L Archery No. 50 Tommy Smith perched on his bumper in 3rd.

Thunder Road International Speedbowl will be back in action next Thursday, August 1 with VP Racing Fuels Night. The evening will feature a Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen 100 lap feature plus regular events for the Late Models, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and the Rough Riders. It will kick off a busy month of August for the star of Thunder Road as they will have seven events in just 22 days.

Times Argus Mid-Season Championships
Thunder Road – Barre, VT
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Late Models Unofficial Results
Pos. Driver (Car #) Hometown
1. Brooks Clark (68vt) Fayston, VT

2. #Derrick O’Donnell (60vt) N. Haverhill, NH

3. #Joey M. Laquerre (51vt) E. Montpelier, VT

4. Nick Sweet (88vt) Barre, VT

5. Kyle Pembroke (27vt) Montpelier, VT

6. Brett Gervais (11nh) Island Pond, VT

7. Cody Blake (99vt) Barre, VT

8. Dave Pembroke (44vt) Middlesex, VT

9. Jean-Paul Cyr (32vt) Milton, VT

10. David Whitcomb (25vt) Essex Jct., VT

11. Jamie Fisher (18vt) Shelburne, VT

12. Scott Payea (89vt) Milton, VT

13. Emily Packard (9me) E. Montpelier, VT

14. Trampas Demers (85vt) S. Burlington, VT

15. Mike Bailey (00vt) South Barre, VT

16. Rick Roberts (3vt) E. Barre, VT

17. Joey Laquerre (15vt) E. Montpelier, VT

18. #Jason Corliss (66vt) Barre, VT

19. Eric Chase (40vt) Milton, VT

20. Phil Scott (14vt) Middlesex, VT

21. Joey Becker (16vt) Jeffersonville, VT

22. Brett Wheeler (1vt) Waterbury, VT

23. Marcel Gravel (5nh) Wolcott, VT

24. #Robert Eldred (38vt) Waterbury, VT

25. #Terry Reil (11vt) E. Barre, VT

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen Unofficial Results
Pos. Driver (Car #) Hometown

1. Shawn Fleury (31) Middlesex, VT

2. Eric Badore (04) Milton, VT

3. Jason Woodard (68) Waterbury Ctr., VT

4. Brendan Moodie (94) Wolcott, VT

5. Jason Allen (29) Barre, VT

6. #Cameron Ouellette (90) Barre, VT

7. Mike Martin (01) Craftsbury Common, VT

8. Joe Steffen (00) Grand Isle, VT

9. Mike Ziter (26) Williamstown, VT

10. Adam Pierson (85) Bradford,VT

11. Scott Coburn (1) Barre, VT

12. Chris Roberts (9) Washington, VT

13. John Lambert (2) Northfield, VT

14. Randy Gonyaw (22) S. Barre, VT

15. Jeffrey Bousquet (60) Worcester, VT

16. Mike Billado (8) Essex, VT

17. Darrell Morin (71) Essex Jct., VT

18. Tucker Williams (11) Hyde Park, VT

19. Josh Demers (10) Montpelier, VT

20. Christopher Pelkey (64) South Barre, VT

DNS Clem Despault (3) Waterbury, VT

DNS Eric Johnson (20) Randolph Center, VT

Allen Lumber Street Stocks Unofficial Results
Pos. Driver (Car #) Hometown
1. Greg Adams (38) Hardwick, VT

2. Bunker Hodgdon (83) Wolcott, VT

3. Tommy Smith (50) Williamstown, VT

4. Dean Switser, Jr. (16) Lyndonville, VT

5. Donnie Yates (05) N. Montpelier, VT

6. Jamon Perry (62) Hardwick, VT

7. Will Hennequin (47) Morrisville, VT

8. Jamie Davis (43) Wolcott, VT

9. Troy Kingsbury (39) Waitsfield, VT

10. #George Butler (9) Randolph, VT

11. Jaden Perry (02) Hardwick, VT

12. Alan Maynard (10) Fairfax, VT

13. #Tyler Austin (5) E. Calais, VT

14. Gary Mullen (29) Tunbridge, VT

15. Jennifer Getty (25) Cambridge, VT

16. #Patrick Tibbetts (48) Barre, VT

17. Scott Maynard (59) Burlington, VT

18. George Sanders (68) Northfield, VT

19. Paul Grant (46) East Calais, VT

20. Jeremy Colson (44) S. Royalton, VT

21. Kyle Streeter (37) Waitsfield, VT

DNS #Tommy Elwood (88) Morrisville, VT

DNS Kevin Dodge (8) Barre, VT

DNS Joe Fecteau (75) Hardwick, VT

Modified hot shoe Justin Bonsignore took home the lion’s share of the gold Saturday, July 27, night at Monadnock Speedway, dominating the 200-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour main event presented by Town Fair Tire.

But while Bonsignore’s star shone brightest in front of the capacity crowd, he was one of four different drivers to score career-first feature wins at the high-banked speedplant on the busy eight-division racing card.

Cole Littlewood earned his first-ever victory lap, winning the night’s Young Guns event. Thunder Stocker Bryan Town made his first outing on the high banks a memorable one, topping his division’s 30-lapper; and Champ Kart strongman Juris Kupris made his ride from New York City worthwhile by winning his feature event.

Other winners Saturday at New England’s fastest high-banked quarter mile included Super Stock powerhouse John Lavoie, who scored his fourth win of the summer; Sportsman Modified rookie sensation Steve Fifield, victorious for the second time this season; Mini Stock strongman Mike Stebbins, winner of his third feature event of the summer; and Lightning Stock points leader Chris Davis, who gobbled up the field to score his third win this year.

Bonsignore grabbed the lead just past the lap-50 mark in the Town Fair Tire 200 and then held off all chargers to win the night’s main event. Donny Lia and Patrick Emerling were among the contenders who fell off the blistering pace set by Bonsignore, and in the end, it was Doug Coby unable to match the leader on three restarts, as Bonsignore roared off to the big pay day.

Coby was able to hold off hard charging Rowan Pennink – who fired from row six – to notch the runner-up finish. With Pennink coming home a strong third, Bryon Chew and series points leader Ryan Preece rounded out the top five.

Nathan Johnson grabbed the early lead in the Sportsman Modified main, with a huge moment in the event occurring on the first lap, as Tyler Jarvenpaa, who entered the night’s action atop the points parade, looped along the frontchute, then exiting on the hook, never to return.

Joey Kendall charged into the lead on lap three, bringing Steve Fifield with him as Johnson dropped back to third. Fifield took command on lap six and never looked back, as he sped off to score the second win of his rookie open-wheel season.

Bill Kimball and Adam Norton, moving up to second and third, respectively, on lap 11, finished nose-to-tail with Fifield, with Kimball’s runner-up finish moving him to the top of the points parade. Keith Carzello and Brian Chapin rounded out the top five.

Nancy Muni took the early lead in the Super Stock feature, with Tyler Lescord taking control on a lap-five restart. John Lavoie, though, was sailing through the field, seizing the point from Lescord on lap 12 and then holding high-flying Dave Striebel at bay to earn his fourth win of the summer.

With Striebel strong in second, points leader Eddie Brehio III came home third. Tom Carey III charged back from a big lap-eight wreck to finish fourth, and Ed Laquire Jr. was solid in fifth.

Mike Stebbins won a thriller in the Mini Stock main event, with Beth Adams pulling alongside him out of turn four as the checkers waved, with the two then trading paint down the frontchute as Stebbins scored the win a half-car ahead of the surging Adams.

Julia Raymond was the early leader, holding the point until Stebbins took command on the second of two lap-ten restarts. He then pulled away, but Adams – who powered into second on lap 15, pulled alongside him on a lap-20 restart and ran in his shadow the final five laps.

Kimmy Rivet, caught in a lap-ten melee, charged back through the field to finish third, with Louie Maher and Raymond – both strong and steady all night – coming home fourth and fifth.

Cole Littlewood led every lap of the Young Guns event – surviving both a caution and a red flag restart – to score his first career win. Three-time winner Cameron Sontag was second on the night, with Mike McGoldrick Jr. third Joe Collins and Dylan Stebbins rounded out the top five.

Henry Martin led laps one through nine of the Thunder Stock feature, then giving way to speedway newcomer Brian Town. Town led the rest of the way, edging points leader Ed Lofland to score his first win. With Lofland earning the runner-up finish, Joe Ethier, Marshall Usher, and Paul Barnard rounded out the top five.

Pete Hyrne was the early leader in the Lightning Stock feature, then giving way to Tim Paquette on lap eight. Pauquette would lead the next seven laps, but points leader Chris Davis – from row seven – was on a mission, charging through the field to take charge on lap 16 and then dart off to his third win of the summer.

Tim O’Shea, steady all night, scored the runner-up finish, with Paquette a close third. Matt Gauffin and Dick Houle rounded out the top five.

Juris Kupris had a smooth run to the checkers in the Champ Kart 20-lapper, leading early and often en route to victory ahead of David Goley. Josh Slater was third under the checkers.

Monadnock Speedway will host its previously rained-out Christmas In July event this Saturday, August 3, with the Granite State Pro Stocks invading the high banks for the JBH 100 special event. The Whelen All-American Series Sportsman Modifieds, Super Stocks, Mini Stocks, Thunder Stocks, and Young Guns will also be in action, with post time at 6 p.m.