A packed house at Bobby Webber’s Star Speedway greeted a full field of NEMA and NEMA lites this past Saturday, with over 32 cars on hand, one of the club’s best car counts of the year. Paul Scally continued his hot streak, taking the NEMA race in convincing style, and Avery Stoehr avoided attrition in an unusually rough NEMA lites feature.
The race celebrated the great Butch Walsh. A former NEMA champion and multi time NEMA President, Walsh’s very last ride in a NEMA midget came at the end of the 1986 season at Thompson’s World Series of Auto Racing. He hopped into the Nogueira Sesco Badger #98 and won the feature in demanding fashion in one of the toughest field of cars the club hadn’t seen in years. For the 1987 season, he was hired as the promoter for Riverside Speedway in Groveton, NH, providing NEMA with race dates that following year. He would continue racing into the late eighties and nineties but on two wheels, racing flat track motorcycles on dirt and ice, in addition to vintage road racing for which he was crowned champion one year in the mid nineties.
In the NEMA heat races, Paul Scally took down heat 1 over Randy Cabral and Matt Merry won heat 2 over Mike Horn. The Lites had 3 heats, with Dylan Coutu taking down his first heat race win over Chris Vose. Paul Scally won heat 2 over Michael Pernesiglio. Tiani Kibbe took down heat 3 over Jake Trainor.
The NEMA lites feature contended with a number of cautions, and a very scary red flag situation when Joey Bailey in the Scrivani #21 went off the front stretch and into the woods with a hung throttle. Bailey was uninjured. Points leader Jake Trainor went off on the flat bed, after contact with another car earlier in the race damaged his car, and Trainor ended up in the fence when a part failed. Kyle Valeri was also taken off on the hook after contact with Randy Cabral, who was later disqualified for exiting his vehicle on the race track. While all of this was happening, Avery Stoehr was finding his way through the field in the Jackie Parker #10, and once in command Stoehr never looked back. It looked as if Eric Bacon would take the O’Brien family to their best finish in 40 years, but he began to run out of fuel, and ended up fourth. Drew Eldridge finished second in his best ever NEMA Lite run, followed by Dylan Coutu, for his first ever podium. Bacon was fourth followed by Chris Vose, Kevin Merryfield, Tiana Kibbe, Brayden Egan, Avery Stoehr, and Jake Trainor.
In the NEMA feature, Paul Scally leaped out into the lead in the center of turn four at the drop of the green. Once in command, Scally began setting a torrid pace, in the 11.9 second range. Behind him, Mike Horn was defending second place, and looked to be having one of his best runs of the season. Randy Cabral, who started deep in the field, would catch Horn and pass him on lap eleven, but had nothing for Scally out front.
As the laps wound down, Scally would do a masterful job in traffic, not losing an inch to Cabral, as he would go on to take down his second NEMA victory of the season. Cabral finished second to capitalize on his points lead, and Horn would finish third. Avery Stoehr was fourth followed by Jake Trainor, Alan Chambers, Sammy Swindell, John Zych, Modified ace Ronnie Williams, and Matt O’Brien.