It is sure to be a special event Saturday September 17th at Riverhead Raceway when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into town for their 70th start at the historic quarter mile facility.
By Bob Finan
To remember and celebrate the career of the late Eddie Partridge, a two time WMT championship car owner Jimmy Wilson of NASCAR in conjunction with Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz of Riverhead Raceway announced the race distance will increase from the usual 200 laps to 256 circuits. Plus with track GM John Ellwood, Wilson also disclosed an infield pit road will be set up so fans can watch the two tire change that will be allowed for the 256 as well other adjustments.
John Ellwood elaborated, “Eddie Partridge was our leader here, a visionary who loved the longer distance races with live pit stops. Prior to his passing he & I talked about doing something like this, now thanks to Jimmy Wilson and NASCAR, Connie and Tom we have put it all together. It will be exciting and yes safe”. Ellwood has moved truckloads of cement barriers moved to the track infield and designed a pit road that will be safe for the 5 race team members per team that will pit the cars. A month ago reigning WMT champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville and his Ken Massa Motorsports team tested the infield pits and when asked recently if he felt it would work, Justin wasted no time in giving it his sign of approval, “it is going to work our fine, it will be great for the fans to see up close and personal what these teams do. In the past 69 WMT starts at Riverhead a hot pit was set up in the track’s usual pit parking area.
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As for the 2022 WMT championship chase the Eddie Partridge 256 could very well prove to be a wild card race among the drivers chasing the title. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma will carry a slim 10-point lead over Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct., in the drivers standings entering competition. Both drivers have yet to win a WMT event at Riverhead but hope to change that trend Saturday. The driver on the move during the second half of the WMT season is Bonsignore, a 8-time WMT winner at his home track who now is just 17 points back of McKennedy, while hometown favorite Eric Goodale of Riverhead is still in the hunt 27 markers out of the lead. Bellport native Tommy Baldwin and his TBR team sit atop the WMT owners standings with a 32-point cushion over Tim Lepine, McKennedy’s team owner.
Other top ten WMT drivers hoping for Riverhead success in the Eddie Partridge 256 are, Kyle Bonsignore of Bay Shore, Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa., Tommy Catalano of Ontario, NY, Craig Lutz of Miller Place, Doug Coby of Milford, Ct and JB Fortin of Holtsville. Of the fifth through tenth place drivers listed only one has won previously at Riverhead as Coby is a three time winner at the demanding quarter mile.
Last time the WMT stopped on Long Island defending track champion Kyle Soper of Manorville scored one for the home team becoming the first Riverhead regular to win a WMT since 1995.Soper hopes to back up his June triumph with a Eddie Partridge 256 victory but other Riverhead regualrs may have something to say about it. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills, who is chasing Soper for the 2022 track title has been strong in recent WMT runs and could pull off a win. John Beatty Jr of Merrick scored a top ten in June and hopes to be in the mix as does Timmy Solomito of Islip who has raced part time both on the WMT and at Riverhead in ’22. Matt Brode of East Islip, Eddie Brunnhoelzl III, Chris Young of Calverton, Roger Turbush of Riverhead and Chris Turbush of Wading River all raced the June WMT race and are expected to enter the Eddie Partridge 256.
Four Riverhead Raceway Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series divisions will compliment the race card as the Crate Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks are set for competition. Grandstands will pent at 3:00 pm, WMT final practice will run from 3:15 pm through 4:15 pm with qualifying set for 6:00 pm. The Eddie Partridge 256 is set to commence at 8:00 pm.
Campers are welcome at Riverhead Raceway utilizing the rear parking lot that run adjacent to the back of the pit area. There is no fee for camping, there are no hook-ups. Further details can be viewed at http://www.riverheadraceway.com, e-mails reach us at email@example.com and the phone number is 631-842-RACE.