The Northeastern Midget Association’s 59th season is complete. It was a very competitive campaign – eight winners including three first-timers and championship battles that went right to the final checkered. In the final reckoning, Randy Cabral and owner Tim Bertrand won the championships despite a five-win season by Russ Stoehr and the Dumo’s Desire team. Only 25 points separated them.
The traditional plethora of hardware will be distributed at the Awards Banquet Saturday, Nov. 19 at White’s of Westport in Westport, MA.
Cabral, who was on the podium in nine of 13 races this summer, claims a crash in the 2010 Boston Louie had a lot to do with the 2011 crown. “I crashed out of that 2010 championship,” says Cabral, calling “impatience” the culprit in a last place finish. “It definitely had an impact on my driving this year.”
The Bertrand team won at the World Series but Stoehr’s third was more than enough to claim the 2010 title. This summer, Stoehr won at the season-ending World Series with Cabral clinching with a second in a classic duel.
If impatience was the culprit last year, a broken panhard bar is the nominee this year. That’s what led to Stoehr’s 17th at the Boston Louie. The race before, it was a broken throttle spring. The leader going into the Louie, Stoehr actually left in third place behind Cabral, who finished second and brother Russ.
Through the “Louie” Russ Stoehr had seven top threes in 10 races including a win at Lee in the 26b. He crashed the car at Waterford on Sept. 24. He did get a ride in Jim Miller’s 3m in the final two races and wound up third in driver standings, 93 points behind the leader. Miller’s helping others is legendary.
In addition to the Cabral and the Stoehr brothers, Jeff Abold, Keith Botelho, Mike Horn, Todd Bertrand and Anthony Nocella were winners, the latter three first timers. All of the first-timers had Cabral, who had six seconds overall, on their bumper.
“I’ve never been up on the wheel for so many laps for so long. There was not a second to relax,” Cabral says of the battle with teammate Bertrand, younger brother to car owner Tim, at Waterford.
Cabral also reports that his dad Glen scolded him for not helping Todd enough. “We were too concerned about ourselves,” he explains, pledging to correct the situation in 2012.
All three first timers had historical tinges.
Horn (Thompson) put himself and dad Jeff on the father/son win list, joining the Coys (Johnny Sr. along with Johnny Jr. and Joey), the Evans’ (John and Ronnie), the Harts (Bob and Rick) and the Manns (Johnny and Billy).
Bertrand (Waterford) along with Tim join Bob and Lou Cicconi, Joey and Johnny Jr. Coy, Drew and Nokie Fornoro and Bobby and Mike Seymour on the brothers win list.
Bertrand and Nocella (Seekonk) become the first NEMA Lites products to win in the full Midgets.
Russ Stoehr moved past Nokie Fornoro into third place on the all-time win list. He now has 48. Champion Randy Cabral’s two wins brings him to 31, two behind fifth place Billy Eldridge.
It was the 12th straight year Cabral has won, a statistic second only to Dave Humphrey’s 16.
Greg Stoehr’s win at Lee gives him 10 on the all-time list, putting him in a tie for 27th.
Thunder Road marked only the third time Russ and Greg Stoehr have finished one-two. They did it at Thompson back in 1993 and at Waterford in 2010.
Paul Scally’s dedication to NEMA is astonishing. Despite some mechanical woes and that horrific crash at Thunder Road, Scally made every race. The three title contenders also started every feature.
Historian Nick Teto discovered 2011 was the ninth time a driver won both the opener and the closer. Bill Eldridge did it in 1954, Dick Brown in 1961, Johnny Mann in 1972, Armond Holley in 1976 and again in 1977, Dave Humphrey in 1985, Ben Seitz in 2005, Joey Payne Jr. in 2006 and Russ Stoehr in 2011.
Teto also discovered the podium (Randy Cabral, Greg Stoehr, Todd Bertrand) was the same for the Twin State and Waterford results. That hadn’t happened in back-to-back events since 2003 when Drew Fornoro, Adam Cantor and Randy Cabral did it at Thompson and Star.
Jeff Abold became the first to win three straight Boston Louie races, riding a Seymour Enterprises wave that reached nine wins at Seekonk since 2008 when Nocella won the DAV.
Russ Stoehr’s two wins at Waterford brings his total there to seven, five of them coming since he returned to action with the Dumo’s Desire team three years ago. Before that, he had won only twice at the ‘Bowl.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR