Providence, RI — The sound of racing engines will finally be heard in the state of Rhode Island will soon be heard as the small, but powerful Three-Quarter Midget Cars will take to Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on March 6-7.
The two-day event, which will include Senior Champ Kart racing both nights, has received much hype and attention throughout the state and entire northeast corridor.
“I don’t want to miss an event of this caliber,” said defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ted Christopher. “This is a first time for a motorsports event in 50 years in the state of Rhode Island, and I want to be a part of it.”
The Rhode Island Auditorium hosted the last sanctioned race in the Ocean State on April 18, 1959. The race was won by Jerry Wall of Wallenburg, N.J. Wall’s victory came at the final race of a three-event series at RIA. Other winners were Joe Lacy and Tony Bonadies.
Below are a few story lines to watch as the TQ Midgets take to the floor of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center:
HOMESTATE HERO: Rhode Island fans can cheer for their own as Mike Stefanik, 50, of Coventry, R.I., will compete indoors for the first time in his career. Stefanik was named the second greatest NASCAR Modified driver of all-time in 2003. He has nine overall NASCAR-sanctioned championships (seven Modified and two Busch North).
THREE STATE WINNER?: Ted Christopher is the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and he’s already off to a top season. If Christopher can win in Providence, it’ll mark the third different state he’s won a race in this year. In January, Christopher won the Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget race at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. In early February, Christopher won four Tour-Type Modified races at New Smyrna Speedway in Samsula, Fla.
SEVEN STATES AND CANADA: Highways south of Providence will be busy leading up to the event. Pennsylvania has the highest driver representation with 16 drivers, while New Jersey is second with 10. Others include New York (six), Delaware (three), Massachusetts (three), Connecticut (one) and Rhode Island (one). Canada has three drivers entered for the TQ event.
BREAKING THE TIE: The Dunkin’ Donuts Center could give Lou Cicconi Jr. or Joey Payne indoor bragging rights. From 19 selected indoor venues in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, the two are tied with six wins. Cicconi of Aston, Pa., won his last regional event on Jan. 21, 2006, in Atlantic City, N.J., while Payne of Fairlawn, N.J., last won on Jan. 13, 2007, in AC.
DIRT CHAMPION: Mike Iles of Medford, N.J. doesn’t shy away from competing on pavement indoors, but one would understand if he would. See, Iles is a weekly dirt Modified driver and he won last year’s track title at Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Thanksgiving is eight months away and that’s a good thing for some Providence entries. It will give them time to solve any problems that arise from the indoor race. The entry list features three relatives including Ian and Alison Cumens (brother and sister), James Michael and Stewart Friesen (cousins) and the father/son combination of Jeff Heotzler and Jeff Heotzler Jr.
BUSY DRIVER: Ryan Smith, 21, of Kunkletown, Pa., is multi-tasking this season. Smith will compete in the TQ Midget class in Providence, just as he did in January at Atlantic City. But Smith will get busy when the outdoor season begins as he is scheduled to drive a winged 270cc Micro Sprint, wingless 600 cc Micro Sprint, ARDC Midget and USAC Silver Crown Series this year.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Frenchtown, N.J.’s Billy Pauch Jr. is following in his father’s footsteps. Literally. Pauch will drive the No. 8 Ingalls Racing entry in Providence. He is the son of the legendary Billy Pauch, who coincidentally won a preliminary feature in Atlantic City in January.
HOLIDAY CHEER: The Holiday season is a distant memory, but it’s not for a few DDC entries. Paul Lotier Jr. of Lebanon, Pa., won the TQ Midget portion of the Turkey Derby XXV at Wall (N.J.) Speedway, while Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass., won the USAC Midget Turkey Night Grand Prix at Toyota (Calif.) Speedway. Also, Lou Cicconi Jr. topped NASCAR star Tony Stewart in a Midget Car race in Fort Wayne, Ind., three days after Christmas.
BONUS MONEY: Extra cash always makes drivers race harder. The Behrent’s Bonus $500 award is available to any driver who can win both TQ Midget feature races. The award is courtesy of Behrent’s Performance Warehouse. Also, Dr. William Lowe will provide money to the driver who posts the fast time in time trial qualifying.
Tickets can be purchased at the Dunkin’ Donuts Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or online at: www.ticketmaster.com.
Friday tickets are $20 (front row for adults and children), $15 (adult seats) and $10 (children age 12 and under). Saturday tickets are $25 (front row for adults and children), $20 (adults) and $10 (children age 12 and under).
Show information is available at Len Sammons Productions by calling 609-888-3618 or online: www.aarn.com.
Sources: Gerry Reigle/Providence Indoor Race PR