Leading the way into this weekend’s famed Atlantic City Gambler’s Classic will be none other than ISMA supermodified young lion Mike Lichty. Lichty, after a win at Providence, RI in the Leonard J. Sammon’s Jr. Indoor Winter Series, now leads the points coming into Atlantic City’s TQ event. A point system was set up in honor of the late founder and publisher of Area Auto Racing News who passed away in 1991.
Lichty is about to embark on a new career challenge running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series.
“I tested at Chicagoland two years ago and put in 350 laps at Motor Mile with Dennis Setzer’s help,” said Lichty about his budding plans. Loudon, Martinsville Iowa and O’Reilly Motorsports Park are definitely on Lichty’s schedule at present with more events, perhaps totaling as many as a dozen, hopefully to follow. The Truck he will compete with is part of Setzer’s organization.
Short term, Mike is ready for another run at the Gamblers Classic this weekend. He was third in both races indoors here last year and might have won the Classic were it not for a penalty during the race. And he won one of the December Providence, RI indoor races, his first in a TQ.
The yellow number 1 Lichty will race again this weekend is a ten year old car with races under its wheel dating back to the Niagara Falls, NY Series. It’s owned by Larry Turnbull of upstate New York and Larry’s brother Colin is a past winner in the car at Niagara Falls.
As for the TQ Midget experience, Mike likes running the cars. “This will be my fifth race at Atlantic City and I have qualified for all of the A-Mains,” he says.
Technique is everything with indoor TQ racing, Mike says. “There is a certain amount of luck in it of course, but getting to the inside is important. It’s hard to get a run off the corner on the outside unless the inside guy has made a mistake.”
Supermodified veterans Lou Cicconi and Joey Payne, both from the area, are indeed no strangers to the Atlantic City event with both being past winners at the New Jersey indoor event. Cicconi is fourth in the Winter Indoor Racing series points.
Cicconi has a couple big reasons to be excited about the Alantic City Indoor Race coming up on Jan. 21-22 at Boardwalk Hall. For starters, Cicconi will chase the checkered flag in the 40-lap “Gambler’s Classic” finale for TQ Midgets/600cc Micro-Sprints on Sat., Jan. 22, behind the wheel of a car that he knows like the back of his hand.
In addition, Cicconi also plans to field a TQ Midget for Chris Perley, a resident of Rowley, Mass., who won the 2004 International Supermodified Association points championship.
“I’m excited about the Atlantic City show,” said Cicconi, who races against Perley on the ISMA winged Supermodified circuit. “I think Chris and I should make a pretty good team.”
Cicconi, 40, of Aston, Pa., was arguably the star of the last two installments of the A.C. Indoor Race. In 2003 his thrilling charge from the rear of the field in the feature was ended by an unfortunate tangle, and in Œ04 he set a track record and won a preliminary feature before engine problems sidelined him for Saturday’s finale.
New Jersey’s Joey Payne won the Boardwalk Hall TQ event in 2004 and 2007 with Cicconi sharing the weekend in 2004, winning again in 2006 and 2008. Joining the fray is also Indy 500 and supermodified great Davey Hamilton. Hamilton is a late AC entrant as he thought previous commitments would keep him away.
Hamilton, hailing from Idaho, has run the gamut in racing but the nine-time Indy 50 starter was a novice at his first indoor race. He was quoted as saying, “I didn’t know what to expect when I first got in a TQ midget. I couldn’t believe what it was like out there on the track. Everything happens so fast.”
Log onto www.aarn for information for the Jan. 29-30 Friday and Saturday Indoor Racing events. A keepsake Atlantic City program compiled by PDI and Flemington, NJ’s Steve Barrick, is on sale at the venue with many stories, photos and statistics.
Sources: ISMA PR