Monthly Archives: April 2020

Riverhead Cancels Racing for May Due to COVID-19 Restrictions

Source: Riverhead Raceway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Michael Jaworecki


Riverhead Cancels Racing for May Due to COVID-19 Restrictions

Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz announced this week that due to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent federal and state restrictions put into place by local & state officials they are forced to cancel all racing events for the month of May. The track had previously canceled two safety technical inspection days and a warm-up up day slated for the final three weeks of April.

The official statement reads, “Due to Federal and Local regulations regarding the Covid-19 virus, Riverhead Raceway regrets to announce that all events in the month of May have been canceled. We will continue to monitor regulations set forth by the state and we will be ready to race when those regulations change and allow us. All of us at Riverhead Raceway are hoping that you and yours are staying safe and home during this worldwide pandemic.”

Riverhead Raceway is located 77 miles east of New York City considered by experts to be a “hot spot” of the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States.

Sadly the Long Island racing family has been directly affected by the coronavirus with the April 15th passing of Street Stock/Late Model legend Paul McElearney, 70. Both Joe Krukowski and Jim Kelly former Modified drivers at the track also contracted the virus. Earlier this week Kelly who remains active in racing with the LIVARS Vintage Race Car group was transferred to a physical therapy facility. Krukowski is also expected to be transferred from Southampton for PT later this week. Both McElearney & Krukowski are enshrined on the Riverhead Raceway Cromarty Wall of Champions.

Any updates concerning the 2020 Riverhead Raceway season will be posted on the track web page, and various social media outlets.

Maine Governor’s Plan Not Encouraging for Short Tracks

Courtesy of

28 APR

Maine Governor’s Plan Not Encouraging for Short Tracks

Janet Millls, Governor of the State of Maine, released her administration’s plan to reopen businesses in the state during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.  For entertainment venues, including short track racing facilities in the state, her proposed plan is not encouraging.

The four-stage reopening plan will see the stay-at-home-order extended to May 31, with limited expansion of some businesses that were closed under the previous stay-at-home order that ends Thursday, April 30.

Stage 1 of the reopening process, which begins May 1, will continue with gatherings limited to less than 10 people.

Tentatively scheduled to begin on June 1, Stage 2 will contemplate increasing gathering to less than 50 people. While this may open the door for testing and limited practice sessions at race tracks throughout the state, it will likely rule out any spectator events during this time.

Stage 3, which is scheduled to tentatively begin July 1 and run through the month of August, will also continue with gatherings being limited to less than 50 people.

That leads into Stage 4 of Mills’ reopening plan, which would contemplate lifting restrictions and allowing all businesses to resume with appropriate safety precautions.  The problem: the timeline for that stage is undetermined at this time.

That is not encouraging news for short track racing facilities in the state that rely on the summer months to bring in revenue.  Normally operating between the months of April and October, short track racing facilities in the state typically enjoy seven good months of racing each year before the winter season begins.

Currently, there are four asphalt race tracks in the state that operate on a regular basis: Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Speedway 95 in Hermon and Wiscasset Raceway in Wiscasset.  Spud Speedway in Caribou was also scheduled to host an event in August.

Smaller venues such as Richmond Karting Speedway in Richmond and Bartlett Bridge Raceway in Lyman also host events throughout the season.

(Update: Wiscasset Speedway announced Tuesday evening that they have suspended the 2020 season until further notice. “Due to the extension of the Governor’s stay at home orders and subsequent plans for slowly opening businesses and group activities, we will be suspending our 2020 racing schedule until further notice,” the statement read. “However long – or short – this suspension will be is unknown at this moment.”)

While Mills indicated that her reopening plan could change based on the success of the state’s fight against the coronavirus, the plan she released Tuesday did not provide a lot of hope for those in the short track racing industry.

-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Editor

Photo credit: Speed51

NASCAR set to resume racing action on Sunday, May 17 at Darlington, SC with no fans

Source: Matt Weaver at

If all goes according to plan, the NASCAR Cup Series will resume its 2020 season on May 17 at Darlington Raceway, contesting a new look makeshift schedule primarily in the southeast amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, and the a limited number of states close to the race shops in Charlotte, North Carolina with loosened restrictions, the first six races back will take place in the Carolinas and Virginias without fans in attendance.

Autoweek obtained a copy of this schedule disseminated to teams this week.

  • Sunday May 17 | Darlington 400
  • Wednesday May 20 | Darlington 310
  • Sunday May 24 | Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
  • Wednesday May 27 | Charlotte 310
  • Sunday May 31 | Martinsville
  • Wednesday June 3 | Bristol
  • Sunday June 7 | Atlanta
  • Sunday June 14 | Miami

It was also important for NASCAR to contest four consecutive races with the 550 HP, high downforce package, since teams had a surplus of these cars prepared for races at Atlanta, Homestead and Texas prior to the shutdown.

It remains unclear where the Xfinity Series and Gander Truck Series fits into the current plans.

Rumors have NASCAR making at least a preliminary announcement regarding plans by the end of the week.

Some of the speculation/expectations:

People at the track will be limited. No fans. Races will be one day shows. There may not be live pit stops and over the wall crew will be cut down. Practice sessions are not likely early on. Teams would be expected to show up, take the cars through inspection, drivers would qualify, cars would be impound.

IMS Museum Featured Car Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Why is this car a special piece in IMS Museum history?
What does this car have to do with Frank Lockhart’s fateful Daytona Beach record speed attempt?
Do you know how many drivers piloted this car in the Indy 500?
Do you think equipment that is almost 20 years old could never make the “500?” Think again!
IMS Museum Historian, Donald Davidson, has the answers to these questions and many more on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum YouTube channel as part of our “Featured Cars” playlist.
If you are enjoying our “Featured Cars” series and are able to make a donation, your support would be greatly appreciated.

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Class of 2020 Georgia Racing HOF inductees announced: Brockton’s Ray Stonkus is among them

By Brandon ReedReporter

Mike Rich watches from the pits during a NASCAR Cup Series race. Rich served as the rear tire changer for the Melling Racing team from 1988 through 1990. He lost his life in a pit road accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway in November of 1990. He was announced this week as an inductee for 2020 to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

The latest five inductees into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame have been announced.

Mike Rich, who lost his life almost 30 years ago in a pit road accident at the Atlanta Motor Speedway,  joins car owner Gene White, mechanic and car builder the late Ray Stonkus, a Brockton, MA native, motorcycle racing champion Scott Russell and dirt track Super Late Model ace Wade Knowles as 2020 inductees to the Hall of Fame, located in Dawsonville, Georgia.

Mike Rich, of Blairsville, Georgia, served as the right rear tire changer on the No. 9 Melling Racing Ford driven by fellow Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.  After earning his place on the team in a 1988 try out at the team’s Dawsonville shops, Rich and his team would win six races in 1988, along with the NASCAR Cup Series championship.  The team would follow with three wins in 1989, adding an additional victory in 1990, along with the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge at North Carolina’s Rockingham Speedway.

Rich was gravely in a pit road accident late in the running of the 1990 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on November 18, 1990.  He passed away a few hours later after surgery at a Georgia Baptist Medical Center.  He was 32 years of age.

“Mike was a super nice guy,” said teammate Charles Palmer. “He took one of the old race cars to his home and practiced constantly changing tires until he was good enough to make the pit crew. He worked hard to make it. Being on the crew meant so much to him. When started going to the races with the team he just loved doing it. He absolutely enjoyed life.”

Rich’s death would lead to sweeping pit road innovations across the world of motorsports beginning in 1991.  Those innovations continue to this day.

To read more about Mike Rich, go here.

Ray Stonkus was a New England native who settled in Flowery Branch, Georgia.  Working with fellow Georgia Racing Hall of Fame inductee the late Pete Hamilton,a Newton, MA native, his first racing experience came as a car builder and owner.  The two would win the 1967 NASCAR Nationals Sportsman championship, opening the door for both to compete in the NASCAR Grand American and NASCAR Grand National Series. Incidently, Hamilton won the Daytona 500 in 1970 driving a team car for Petty Racing.

Stonkus moved to Atlanta in 1969 to work on Gene White’s Grand American Team, where Pete Hamilton drove to 10 wins and the series championship.  He would work for Sam Posey’s Trans-Am team in 1970 and 1971 before moving back to NASCAR with Pete Hamilton for 1972 and 1973.

He would work with Hamilton to build trail blazing short track cars, building cars that won the Snowball Derby for Hamilton, Gary Balough, Ronnie Sanders and Mickey Gibbs, as well as races all across the south and the Midwest.

Stonkus later served as Crew Chief for Rick Crawford in the NASCAR Truck Series, resulting in a win at Daytona in 2003.  Stonkus also worked as a part of the founding of JTG Dougherty Racing, which now fields two cars in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Stonkus passed away on March 19, 2020.

Gene White of Marietta, Georgia was an early racer who became a renowned car owner.  He saw his driving career at Atlanta’s famed Peach Bowl in the late 50s, and finished 18th in the first running of the Daytona 500 in 1959.

White became a racing tire dealer for Firestone, one of four national distributors, selling tires for all forms of motorsports.

As a car owner, he entered cars in the USAC Champ Car Series in 1967.  With Lloyd Ruby as driver, he competed in the Indianapolis 500 that year.  His career as a car owner saw him score wins at Phoenix Raceway, the Milwaukee Mile and at Trenton, New Jersey.  He would record three finishes in the top 10, with Ruby, Sam Sessions and Cale Yarborough behind the wheel.

White was also an innovator who helped to develop the fuel cell, replacing the dangerous old steel gas tanks.

White died on April 15, 1986.

Scott Russell of Conyers, Georgia was a five time winner of the prestigious Daytona 200 (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998), earning him the nickname “Mr. Daytona.”  He was the AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year in 1988, and won the AMA Superbike Championship in 1992.  That same year, he was named the AMA Pro Athlete of the Year.

He became the third American to win the World Superbike Championship in 1993, and finished runner-up in 1994. 

Russell scored a rousing win over Carl Fogarty in 1995 at Daytona, overcoming a first lap crash to record his fourth win in the event.

In all, Russell boasts 14 World Superbike Series wins, 14 AMA Superbike victories, 23 AMS 750 Supersport wins.  He also scored three championships in an undefeated season in 1991 in AMA 750 Supersport. 

Russell was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2005.

Wade Knowles of Tyrone, Georgia is a second generation racer, along with his brothers and other family members.  Knowles began his career at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia in 1981, scoring five Hobby division wins in his first season.

He went on to record 59 career victories at Dixie, with 40 coming in Super Late Models.  He can boast wins in the Hav-A-Tampa Series, the Southern All Star series, and is also notable as the winner of the last 200-lap event on dirt at Lanier Motorplex in Braselton, Georgia.

Knowles has won an estimated 200 victories across the east coast. He retired from driving in 2006.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame hopes to have a date for the 2020 induction banquet announced soon.  For more information, visit

COVID-19 forces Car Shows CANCELLED for the 53rd consecutive season of racing

Bear Ridge Speedway


With the talk of the town being COVID-19, people are beginning to wonder if we will be able to race opening night May 2nd, and if tracks across New England will be ready to open. Have no fear Bear Ridge Speedway “the fastest DIRTcar track in Vermont” is moving full throttle ahead, as we finally are able to get into the track and start preparations for 2020 our 53rd consecutive season of racing.

The “99ROCK wfrd” Weekly Racing Series is taking shape as well with registrations coming in daily. If the number of applications already received is any indication of what they year holds in store for us, we can expect a banner year of competitors in all divisions. With a lot of drivers suddenly realizing they are out of time to get their cars ready, they often forget until practice day to get in those applications, so we are expecting a bumper crop of applications over the next few weeks. Drivers if you haven’t gotten your application in yet, why not take a break from getting your car ready and get your paperwork in, to save time and waiting in line on practice and opening days!

Sadly we have had to CANCEL our two car shows in April due to COVID-19. We want to thank Newport Chevrolet in Newport NH the Fireside Inn in W Lebanon for once again wanting to host these shows, and we are already hoping that 2021 we will all be back to normal. The final show of the season located in Bradford VT at the Bradford Fairgrounds is still on our schedule. As we progress thru the month, we will keep you updated of any changes. As you know Butch won’t cancel till the last minute, so we are holding out hope that things may be swinging back to a more normal life in the next 30 days. Our stars and cars are hoping they will be on display on opening day Saturday May 2nd. The car show will be from 10:00 to 1:00, and will be followed by practice session in the afternoon. The 99ROCK wfrd weekly racing season will then see weekly competition in all five divisions starting that same night May 2nd. Racing will kick into gear at 5:30 pm(ish), based on track conditions. We at Bear Ridge Speedway hope and pray that everyone is staying healthy and safe.

Remember in today’s society we could all use a little more family entertainment, and the Ridge is your best place to be for just that. The admission price is more than reasonable; the show top-notch, the food superior, and the family friendly atmosphere is just what you are looking for.

Everyone is anxious to see the 2020 season, the Ridge’s 53rd consecutive to kick into gear on May 2nd, you will be able to hear April May and Butch as they join Stephen John for all the highlights of Bear Ridge Speedway from the week before and what is coming up every Friday morning from 6:30 to 7:00 on WYKR.

Season passes application forms are available online at our website. This year you can get just a front gate general admission pass or a combo pass for both the front and the pit gate (BRS license required for combo pass.) Check out our new and improved website for all the details.
2020 driver and crew membership applications are now available on the website. Be sure to get yours sent in early to beat the lines on opening day. To be eligible for the Bear Ridge Speedway points fund, and recognized at the annual awards banquet, drivers must hold a 2020 Bear Ridge Speedway or DIRTcar license, compete in the required number of events and run on track designated tires as indicated in the rule book.

The price of a regular show general admission (front gate) ticket for adults (ages 17 to 61) is $10.00 a person and children 11 and under $2.00. Teens 12 to 16 and seniors 62 and older is $8.00. Military Discounts are available at $2.00 off for those with a valid ID. The back gate (pit gate) ticket price for Bear Ridge Speedway and DIRTcar 2019 license holders is $25.00. Non-license holders are $30.00 (both prices are in addition to the front gate ticket.)

The 2020 kid’s club membership is only $12.00 (one time fee) per child, infant to 11 years old, ($10.00 with front gate ticket stub), and once you are a member you get in free the rest of the season!

Bear Ridge Speedway is as an alcohol-free family friendly entertainment spot, with our goal to make each experience at the Ridge better than the last. We continue to offer the best source of good inexpensive high-quality entertainment for families.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted. Racing begins at the famous “6:00-ish” start time every Saturday starting in May thru September.

Bear Ridge Speedway is located on Kidder Road in Bradford, VT, just off Exit 16 on Interstate 91. For more information, call (802) 222-4052 or visit Questions can be sent to Visa and Master card accepted

Contact: April May Preston-Elms

Here’s what’s up at Wiscasset

COVID-19 UPDATE (4/28/20)
Due to the extension of the Governor’s stay at home orders and subsequent plans for slowly opening businesses and group activities, we will be suspending our 2020 racing schedule until further notice. However long – or short – this suspension will be is unknown at this moment.

Our plan, for now, is to continue to communicate with state officials to determine specifically when we will be able to conduct group practices and eventually races.

In the meantime, the track will be available for individual car practices as well as tire & parts sales BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
• limited to driver and maximum 5 crew members
• call Vanessa Jordan (207) 491-3720 between 9a-5p Monday thru Friday to schedule.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation

Ken Minott GM

North Carolina Governor greenlights Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

Courtesy of


April 28, 2020 By Lee Spencer

North Carolina Governor greenlights Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper expects NASCAR to hold the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans in the grandstands, unless health conditions in the state deteriorate before then.

“I have had conversations with NASCAR officials and officials of the Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Cooper said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference, “and they have submitted plans that involve social distancing. Our public health officials—(secretary of the department of health and human services Mandy) Cohen and state health director Betsy Tilson—have looked at them and made some suggestions but will approve those.

“And we believe that, unless health conditions go down, that we can have the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend in Concord. I think NASCAR will be making that announcement, but we believe that’s what will happen.”

The announcement was good news to Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, which owns Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“On behalf of our team at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’d like to thank Gov. Cooper and all of our state and local government officials who are working with us to get NASCAR back on track with the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend where it belongs,” Smith said in a statement. “We’ll have more details to share soon in conjunction with NASCAR’s release of a revised event schedule.”

NASCAR shared a possible schedule with its Cup teams on Monday, showing a possible return to action May 17 at Darlington Raceway, with another event to follow at the Lady in Black on May 20. The Coca-Cola 600 would be held on its scheduled date of May 24, followed by another Charlotte date on May 27.

NASCAR has expressed its commitment to running a full schedule of 36 points races, despite the lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic. To do so, the slate of events of necessity must be condensed.

Alex Bowman, winner of the eNASCAR iRacing event on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, hopes NASCAR can return to racing in front of fans as soon as health conditions allow.

“Yeah, it’s going to be different without fans for sure, obviously,” Bowman said. “The fans are why we get to do what we get to do. It’s unfortunate that we’re not going to be able to have fans there, but at least we’ll be able to put on a show for everybody at home watching. 

“Hopefully, we get to go do that soon.  That would be great.”

Newman, Kenseth can run for NASCAR Cup title

NASCAR announced on Tuesday afternoon that both Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth have been granted waivers that will allow them to compete for the championship in the Cup Series. Newman sustained a head injury in the Daytona 500, missed the next three events and received medical clearance from NASCAR on Monday.

Team owner Chip Ganassi announced on Monday that Matt Kenseth will come out of retirement and replace Kyle Larson in the No. 42 CGR Chevrolet. Larson lost his job April 14, after using a racial slur while competing in an iRacing event on virtual Monza’s F1 course.

Matt Kenseth to replace Kyle Larson at Chip Ganassi Racing

Courtesy of Catchfence

CBS photo

By Chris Knight

“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car. We are doing exactly that with Matt,” said team owner Chip Ganassi.

“Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”

The Wisconsin native is a 39-time Cup Series winner and will join a talented group on the No. 42 team, which entered the 2020 season following a best-ever sixth-place finish in the 2019 point standings, a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs, and a playoff race win at Dover International Speedway.

With a newly designed Chevrolet Camaro for the 2020 season, the No. 42 team started the year strong, with three top-10 finishes in the first four races.

“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure,” offered Kenseth. “I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

While this marks the first time Kenseth will race with Team Chevy in the Cup Series, he is no stranger to the manufacturer. Kenseth began his racing career in 1988 in a Camaro and made his debut in the NASCAR Southeast Series in 1994 behind the wheel of a Chevrolet, and continued racing Chevrolet’s in the Xfinity Series through the 2001 season.

“I’m excited to work with Kurt (Busch) again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet,” added Kenseth. “In 1988, I started my career in a Camaro and I can’t wait to finally race a Chevy in the Cup Series. I also need to thank Chip and all his partners for this opportunity. Hopefully, we will be on the track soon.”

No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman | Getty Images)CGR partners AdventHealth, Clover, Credit One Bank and McDonald’s all plan to remain with the organization with Kenseth in the seat.

According to the Associated Press, Ganassi will petition NASCAR for a waiver that could make Kenseth become Playoff eligible should he win a race and finish inside the top-30 in the regular championship standings before the opening Playoff race.

Ganassi also revealed to the Associated Press that Kenseth brings the ingredients that the No. 42 team needs.

“I think Matt gives us the best chance to win, run up front and compete for wins,” Ganassi told The Associated Press. “I’ve always gone with the mantra of trying to take the best driver available, and he’s the best driver available right now. And he brings something to our sponsors that they need right now. Stability. No baggage. Family man. Daytona 500 winner. Championship winner.”

The Cambridge, Wisc. native retired from Joe Gibbs Racing following the 2017 season but returned less than a year later for 15 races to drive for Roush Fenway Racing, his original team, in 2018.

He was Cup Rookie of the Year in 2000 driving for Roush, where he won his only Championship in 2003. He has 39 career Cup career victories and won the prestigious Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

Kenseth departed Roush for JGR in 2013 and enjoyed immediate success. He won 15 races behind the No. 20 Toyota and was runner-up for the title in 2013, the year he won a career-high seven races.

Kenseth turned 48 on March 10.

Seekonk Speedway announced that its 2020 racing season has been delayed

To Our Friends, Fans and Race Teams: 

Seekonk Speedway announced on Tuesday that the track has further delayed the start of both the Fast Friday and NASCAR Saturday 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New guidance released on Tuesday by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the extension of a Stay-At-Home Advisory until May 18th. Seekonk Speedway will continue to comply with all local public health and government officials to keep our race teams, drivers, staff and fans safe during this difficult time. The original opening weekend, set for May 29-30, will not happen as scheduled. The Memorial Day Thrill Show, scheduled for May 23, has been cancelled. Seekonk Speedway will continue to wait for further guidance from officials before releasing a full updated race schedule for the 2020 season. Seekonk will allow ample practice time to race teams before the season takes the green flag, with four nights of practice set to begin as soon as the advisory is lifted, with two divisions each night, and more information is available about crowds and mass gatherings.

Thank you to all of our loyal fans and race teams who continue to anxiously await racing at Seekonk Speedway as we roll into our 75th season. 

Stay safe everyone and we look forward to seeing you when this is over!