THOMPSON, Conn. — Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will come to virtual life three times during the winter months, as a new iRacing series will give drivers and fans a chance to prepare for the 2021 season. In a series promoted by Souza Media, full-time Modified, Late Model & Super Late Model drivers from across New England will compete in three different races — including the virtual historic Thompson 300 — with one-race in January, another in February and a final in March.
The series will help preview the real-life season at Thompson for 2021 — which is slated to begin with the annual Icebreaker weekend from April 9-11, and hold six oval events, promoted by the American Canadian Tour and Pro All Star Series. All three iRacing events will take place on Saturday’s — January 23, February 20 and March 20 — and will all begin with the drop of the green flag at 2PM. The feature races will air live, in full, on Extreme Sim TV, via Facebook and YouTube. Qualifying heat races, consolation races and a B-Main will be conducted prior to the broadcast start.
The three iRacing events will include an opener with iRacing’s SK Modified, previewing the Sunoco Modified season at Thompson, on January 23, for a 100-lap event. The second will put some of New England’s best Late Model stars together in ACT-style Late Models for their own 100-lapper on February 20. The final will help promote and preview the return of the historic Thompson 300, as Tour-Type Modifieds are used for a virtual 300-lapper on March 20. In real-life, officials are bringing back the Thompson 300 as part of the Sunoco World Series of Racing at Thompson in October of 2021.
“This iRacing series will give drivers and fans of Thompson Speedway a chance to come together during the cold winter months for some virtual racing,” Kyle Souza, owner of Souza Media, said. “We’re looking forward to watching the Thompson 300 in real-life, but we think this virtual experience will showcase some of what it will take to win the real-life event and get fans energized for the October 2021 race.”
- A maximum of 29 drivers will start each race, in order to keep the car count reasonable on a tight, banked track, and produce green flag racing. Out of the 29 competitors, 28 drivers will qualify through the heats, consi’s and B-Main sessions, while one provisional is available for a most recent Thompson track champion or Modified, Late Model or Super Late Model champion, if needed. If no champions fail to qualify, the provisional may be used for a promoters option. Qualifying will begin at 10 AM on each of the race days, while there will also be multiple practice sessions prior to race day.
In order to be eligible for the events, drivers must fit one of the requirements put in place by officials. Race officials have the final determination on eligibility and may elect to refund participants who register but don’t fit qualifications. For all three events, drivers must be:
A current or past full-time weekly competitor in Late Models, Super Late Models or Modifieds
A current or past touring series competitor in Late Models, Super Late Models or Modifieds
Immediate crew member of one of the above drivers — defined as either a car owner, crew chief or spotter.
*If all spots are not filled for the event five days prior to event start, fans of Thompson Speedway, Modifieds, Super Late Models or Late Models will be able to register to fill the spots*
The first 60 entered drivers will be registered for the event. Anyone who registers past that 60 number will be placed on a waitlist. Registration fees are $15 per event, or $45 for the entire series. Registration can be completed at kylesouza.com/thompson-
A payout is guaranteed for the top-five at the end of each race, with a minimum of $50 to win the feature. The virtual Thompson 300 will pay at least $125 to win. Sponsorship opportunities for the series are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsorships will include full race deals and contingency awards.
VIRTUAL THOMPSON iRACING SERIES SCHEDULE:
January 23 — SK Modified — 100 laps
February 20 — Late Models — 100 laps
March 20 — Tour-Type Modified — 300 laps
Source: SOUZA MEDIA
The year 2020 is still not over, but Tour-type Modified fans already have reason to smile in 2021, as the entry list for the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing is already packed with talent. With 19 drivers entered so far for the five nights in February at New Smyrna Speedway, the anticipation in the Northeast is high heading into Florida Speedweeks.
Three-time New Smyrna World Series Tour-type champion Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT is expected to do a part-time schedule in the No. 6 while the ‘Mighty Modifieds’ are in town from February 8 to 12, as he begins his third NASCAR Cup Series season with JTG-Daugherty Racing just up I-95 at Daytona International Speedway.
As for those going for the championship, two-time and defending New Smyrna champion Matt Hirschman is entered in the No. 60, while 2014 Tour-type & two-time World Series SK Modified champion Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT. is slated to make his return to New Smyrna for the first time since 2018, driving in the No. 16 Modified he fielded on multiple occasions in 2020.
Rounding the list of former champions is another two-time champion, Chuck Hossfeld, who is also returning to New Smyrna after a year away. Hossfeld will field the No. 2 for Gershow Motorsports; the family team also has both J.R. and Joe Bertuccio also on the provisional entry list.
The Catalano family is once again expected to be heading south in full force this coming February. Tommy Catalano is entered in the PSR No. 17 for the second-straight year. Meanwhile, the family operation has Timmy, Tyler, and Amy Catalano all entered for the week as well.
The ‘Long Island Gang’ is so far represented by two of its toughest customers, both also from the racing town of Riverhead. Former Turkey Derby winner Dave Sapienza is heading back, looking to put his No. 36 in New Smyrna victory lane for the first time. Meanwhile, Eric Goodale will look to add to his win total, and take the No. 58 to its first World Series championship.
While Preece and Silk currently form the veteran arm of Connecticut entrants, it’s Ronnie Williams who heads up the list of young guns in the No. 50, with the former Tri-Track Open Modified Series and Stafford Speedway SK Modified champion expected to make his first start at New Smyrna since 2018.
Entered for their New Smyrna debuts, 2018 Stafford SK Light champ Marcello Rufrano caught the attention of the Modified world with his first Tour-type win at Stafford in 2020. Stafford SK race winning driver and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winning crew chief Stephen Kopcik will make his first appearance as a driver in the No. 179, previously attending New Smyrna as a crew member.
Veteran Upstate New York short tracker Chris Finocchario is entered to make his World Series debut in his No. 8 Modified.
New Jersey’s Eddie McCarthy is heading back with his No. 20 after using the 2020 World Series as learning experience for the future.
Brian Robie of New Hampshire is heading back to New Smyrna with redemption on his mind, after destroying his engine early in the week in 2020. Robie and the No. 25 camp are looking for their first World Series race win after sweeping Modified track titles at Claremont Motorsports Park, Monadnock Speedway and Hudson International Speedway back home in 2020.
Perhaps most excited is the lone southern driver entered thus far, Florida’s own Jeremy Gerstner. The former Southern Modified Racing Series champion is eager to pit his new No. 55 Modified against the competition over the five nights of action.
The 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing will run for nine straight nights once again 2021, February 5 through 13. The David Rogers Super Late Models, Florida Modifieds, and Pro Late Models will each run for seven of the nine nights.
The Tour-type Modifieds will begin their first of five-straight nights on Monday, February 8 with a 50-lap feature alongside the season opener for the ARCA Menards Series East. Following at 35-lap sprint race on Tuesday, the John Blewett III Memorial 76 takes center stage on Wednesday, February 10. Another 35-lap feature is on for Thursday, with the Tour Mod schedule wrapping on Friday, February 12 with the Richie Evans Memorial 100.
The World Series itself concludes on Saturday, February 13 with the Orange Blossom 100 for Super Late Models headlining the ninth night.
Stay with Speed51 for more news as Speedweeks 2021 draws ever closer.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51