NASCAR Will Also Recognize Three New Jersey Champs
Daytona Beach, FL — As part of a season-long celebration of 60 years of Modified champions, 1994 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist Wayne Anderson will be honored at the Miller Lite 140 on Aug. 2 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway.
NASCAR will honor each of its 31 all-time Modified champions throughout the season. Anderson, who hails from Yaphank, N.Y., on Long Island, will be recognized for his 1994 title and career accomplishments at Riverhead, his home track. Anderson, who last competed full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1995, has been a regular in Riverhead’s Modified division of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He will participate in this year’s Miller Lite 140.
In addition to Anderson, NASCAR will posthumously recognize the championship seasons of a trio of drivers from New Jersey. Wally Campbell (Trenton), the 1951 NASCAR Modified division champion will be honored along with 1950 titlist Charles Dyer (North Bergen) and 1958 winner Budd Olsen (Paulsboro).
“I got hooked up with Lenny Boehler because he needed a driver and a motor,” Anderson said. “I had my motors so I asked him if he’d put me in the car and see what we could do. Then we went out and won the championship.”
In 21 total starts in 1994 Anderson finished with 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s. Although Reggie Ruggiero would finish just 20 points behind in the final standings, Anderson essentially secured the championship with a win in the Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway with one race left on the schedule.
“Lenny put a great car under you that would always finish races, and I was a pretty consistent driver that wasn’t out front knocking the wheels off all the time,” Anderson said. “So the combination of the two things really worked well for us.”
Following his 1994 title run, Anderson ran full-time just one more season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and then took two years off from racing. He got back in the car in 1998 and has since drove in the weekly series at Riverhead. Since 2002 he has made nine NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts, including eight at Riverhead. In 153 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races Anderson has recorded three wins, 37 top fives and 79 top 10s.
During the early days of NASCAR the Modified division was at the forefront of organized racing and drivers from New Jersey were major players in intense competition for a national title. As NASCAR’s first sanctioned division, the inaugural Modified title chase was in 1948 with drivers collecting points at tracks throughout the eastern seaboard by running multiple times a week. In the first 11 years of the division, four winners were crowned from the Garden State, and nine others made runs that placed them among the top five national finishers.
Following in the footsteps of NASCAR pioneers Red Byron and Fonty Flock, who won the first two Modified titles, Dyer became the first northern driver to take home the trophy in 1950. To earn the championship Dyer had to distance himself from legendary drivers such as Curtis Turner, Fonty, Tim and Bob Flock, Fireball Roberts and Ralph Earnhardt. His ultimate competition, however, came from fellow New Jersey native Jerry Morese. Dyer was able to finish 213 points ahead of the Newark driver.
Dyer, who would later register two top-10s in three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in 1955, passed away from an apparent heart attack at the age of 39 in 1957 while racing in Fredericksburg, Va.
Campbell would follow the path that Dyer had blazed just a year earlier when he captured the 1951 NASCAR Modified title. Campbell came to NASCAR with a pedigree of success with three American Stock Car Racing Association championships already earned. After finishing fifth to Dyer in 1950, Campbell kept the Modified national title in New Jersey as he racked up 33 feature wins in 1951. The superb effort lifted Campbell to a 436-point margin of victory over Bill Pfister, also of New Jersey.
Campbell’s career also included 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and three wins in the NASCAR Speedway division, which no longer exists. Like his predecessor, Dyer, Campbell’s life would also be tragically cut short in a race car. Campbell died while practicing for a sprint car race in Salem, Ind., in 1954.
For the third year in a row, a New Jersey driver was able to win the NASCAR Modified title in 1952. Frankie Schneider, who still calls Lambertville home, was in attendance to be honored earlier this year at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway for his championship efforts.
Six years would pass after Schneider’s title before the NASCAR Modified crown would return to New Jersey, but Olsen ended the drought in 1958. After finishing fifth in points the year before, Olsen drove to a 400-point margin of victory ahead of Al Tasnady, another resident of New Jersey.
The present day NASCAR Whelen Modified drivers will get back behind the wheel after three weeks off when they return to the asphalt at Riverhead on Saturday, Aug. 2. For ticket information, please visit Riverhead’s official Web site riverheadraceway.com.
Sources: Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR