TV Times: Nice Going, Brian France

TV Times, by Lou ModestinoNice going by Brian France in his ability to pull off another big coup by replacing Nationwide Insurance with Infinity ((Comcast) for NASCAR’s second tier division. Brian was looking for big bucks along with some major promotion to get that series a lot of airtime. The fact that Infinity (Comcast) now owns NBC, NASCAR’s TV partner for the second half of the season makes it all a good fit. We also expect that Infinity (Comcast) will make some major efforts to get Fox Sports 2 on all of their regional cable outlets. Fox Sports 2 has a lot of NASCAR programming. We also hope that MAV-TV will also be part of those additions.

Some other good news for is the fact that 150,000 more fans watched this year’s Sylvania 301 race at New Hampshire over last year. Typically, the bigger audience shares came from the southeast and southwest city markets. However, the NFL season is still in the early stages and as NASCAR goes along with the Chase to the Nextel Cup there will be lots of competition from the NFL’s wall-to-wall coverage on Sunday’s. Ditto for the Saturday night events as NASCAR goes up against the big college games. NFL and the college games popularity are due to the gambling aspect. Such as the football cards and the office/factory pools. Fan attendance is still a major problem, though. The NASCAR tracks still have to wheel-and-deal the tickets sales at big discounts.

Going into Dover the depth of the Penske drivers, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, make them the drivers to beat at Dover. Anything can happen, though, between now and Homestead in mid-November. Lagano seems to have that “silver spoon” monkey off his back, for now.

It was good news for Tony Stewart that he’s out from under possible criminal charges in NY State due to the accident that took another sprint car drivers life. Tony really got a raw deal mostly from the stick-and-ball media. There was also some of that from the anti Stewart race fans who felt he was at fault in that tragic accident. The fact that the indictment was dismissed, quickly, is a solid verdict for him. However, there are indications that the deceased driver’s family may go forward with a “wrongful death civil suit”. But, the case appears to be very weak due to the fact that the deceased driver had a controlled substance in his blood.

The premier of the Norwood Arena Movie played to a full house at the Norwood Theatre in downtown Norwood, MA. The 2 hour and 10 minute film crowd glued to the screen. The audience was comprised of competitors, officials, fans and media. As a result of the sell-out crowd, the film maker, 10th District Studios, have schedule a second showing tomorrow Sunday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. . The principals of that company, Brendan King and Jerry Kelliher, have decided to take their film to the various film IFC festivals around the country. Sometime in the late fall, there are also plans to put the film on DVD and offer it for sale to the public.

Norwood Arena was built in 1948 to host pari-mutual dog racing, but the builders didn’t get the licence from the State Racing Commision. That decision put the Norwood Arena into the mix of midget auto racing. At the time, midget racing was very popular and Norwood Arena was part of a busy seven night per week circuit in southern New England.

It didn’t take long for the midgets to over saturate the demand, and by the early 50’s Norwood Arena quickly followed the lead of other venues by replacing them with stock cars. At the time, NASCAR was starting to become very popular with Late Model automobiles coming right out of show rooms to battle on oval tracks in the southeast. The Norwood venue ran several classes of stock cars during the mid-50’s with reasonable success.

During an economic downturn along with organizational problems, the Norwood Arena Board of Managers brought in NASCAR and Modified cars. From that point, it was all uphill and the quality of racing improved resulting in large crowds sometime exceeding the 10.000 seat capacity. NASCAR even brought in their Late Model Grand Nationals in mid-June of 1960 for a big event dubbed The Yankee 500. At that time, it was the beginning of NASCAR’s climb up the ladder becoming a coast-to-coast circuit with the Grand Nationals. Al the same time, the sanction began to sign up short-tracks all over the country under its banner.

Young Modified and Sportsman drivers from those NASCAR tracks saw opportunities to race in the Grand Nationals. Two such local Modified drivers were the late Don MacTavish of Dover and Newton’s Pete Hamilton. Both headed south to tracks like Daytona International Speedway. MacTavish, however, lost his life in a spectacular crash in a Late Model Sportsman race the day before the 1969 Daytona 500. Hamilton was also recognized for his driving talent and was hired by the Lee Petty team, supported by the then dominant Plymouth brand. Petty operated out of Randelman, N.C. Hamliton was given the opportunity to drive one of two team cars in the Petty stable. The other was driven by the well known Richard Petty, who won over 200 races during his long career.

Pete Hamilton, a rookie driver, was mentored by Richard Petty and went on to win the Daytona 500 in his first try! Obviously the odds to pull off such a feat was a long shot. Still to this day rookies never win those big races especially in their first attempt. The rest is history, and between Daytona and another big track, Talladega Speedway, Hamliton won four races before he retired at an early age due to a neck injury. He went onto build various types of race cars at his race shops in the Atlanta, Georgia area with long time friend and associate Ray Stonkus from the Montello section of Brockton.

Unfortunately, organizational problems and a down turn in attendance hit the Norwood Arena resulting in that track’s closing in 1972 to make way for a big industrial park which stands on that site today.


  1. KenB

    Yeah, nice going! Now that there’s a full-on sponsor for the series, we can spend years and more years watching the Cup millionaires dominate each and every season of a series that should be for younger, more inexperienced, lower-budget teams and drivers. There’s no such thing anymore as the Nationwide, Xfinity, Comcast Series, or whatever it’s going to be called. It’s just a glorified test and ego session for the Cup hogs.

  2. Chuck Abrams

    I am looking forward to some streaming capability of the races. I just hope it is not at a premium price point and is open for access to all to grow the sport.

  3. Lou Modestino

    Chuck, I hope that it won’t be at a premium price, also. I have Comcast(Infinity) as my cable supplier. They also deliver my phone and internet. As a result I’m always getting special deals because I’m a preferred customer. In southeastern MA the competition between Comcast and Fios Verizon is fierce. Both Comcast and Fios are are also in competition with the two dish networks. I have seen business reports that Comcast wants to buy Time Warner which would make Comcast the biggest supplier of cable in the country. I hope that the FTC shoots it down. Thanks for your commenjt.

  4. Lou Modestino

    Ken B, You might be right given the way NASCAR and teams are going. I hope that things in NASCAR will turn around. On the big money, that’s always been the problem with racing. Those that win have the most money and your right that it’s a big ego trip. Thanks for your comment.

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