PHOTO: The New England racing season is officially under way at Waterford Speedbowl. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

It all starts today. The northeastern racing season, yes, but also the big new beginning for Vermont Motorsports Magazine. We picked up our new guys this morning and made great time down I-91 (don’t tell the cops) with plenty of time for the morning pit party.

And a couple of breakfast burritos at McDonald’s, of course.

Anyway, we’re getting ready to go with the Budweiser Blastoff at Waterford Speedbowl on the Connecticut seacoast, the lid-lifter for the Valenti Modified Racing Series.


Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco is pulling triple duty at the Blastoff, running in Waterford’s weekly SK Modified and Late Model divisions as well as the Valenti Modified Racing Series 100.

The Wallingford, Conn., driver got off to a good start by winning the 61-lap SK Modified event after an entertaining game of cat-and-mouse with Rob Janovic.

Rocco jumped to the lead from the opening lap, rebounded from a mid-race scrape with Ron Yuhas, Jr., then worked under Janovic to take the lead after a restart on lap 27. Janovic, of Groton, Conn., gave Rocco a shot in the rear bumper once, but trailed by three car lengths at the finish.

“The key word on the radio from my crew was, ‘Janovic must have grown a set of balls over the winter,’” said Rocco. “I don’t have a mirror in the car so I wasn’t looking in the mirror. I think I felt him. He got to our bumper once when I was waiting for the tires to come back up to temperature. I wasn’t really killing it, I was just trying to get a car length or two and save the car for the end in case we needed it.”

“We started on the pole and finished second. We lost,” said Janovic. “The restarts were killing us. The car just wanted to push up and it took about three laps before the car just settled in and got fast. I thought we were faster than [Rocco], but I tried him on the outside once and just lost ground. I figured I’d put a little pressure on him, but then I thought, hey, second place isn’t bad with a straight car on opening day.”

Rocco won ten times at Waterford in 2010 — and 22 times overall — en route to the Whelen All-American Series title. While most expect him to challenge for the title again or even repeat, he says Sunday was just another win.

“You’ve got to put that behind you. It’s almost gonna be impossible to repeat what we did last year,” said Rocco. “Ted [Christopher] didn’t repeat the year after he won it [in 2001]. It’s one of those things, chances are you’re not going to have a season like you did the year before, especially when you did what we did last year. You just start from scratch, put last year behind us, and start all over again. You start racking up wins and see what happens.”

Tom Abele, Jr., finished third behind Rocco and Janovic, with Nichole Morgillo fourth. Tyler Chadwick finished fifth after a late penalty for contact with Diego Monahan. Joe Perry was sixth followed by Justin Gaydosh, Glenn Pressell, III, Kyle James, and Joe Gada.


Our Ricky St. Clair caught up with Matt Hirschman this morning. Journeyman Modified racer Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., will be at Airborne Speedway with the Race of Champions Tour on June 4.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Airborne,” Hirschman said, noting the wild finish between Les Hinckley and Rowan Pennink at last year’s VMRS event at Airborne. “I’m looking forward to it.”


Make sure to follow along on Twitter today for all the live updates. New guy T.J. Ingerson is the man at the wheel.


Timmy Jordan of Plainfield, Conn., is making his Modified debut this weekend. After five successful seasons running the Waterford Speedbowl Late Model division — and having strong showings against the American-Canadian Tour field both at home and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway — Jordan purchased a new Troyer chassis and will attempt to run the full VMRS schedule in 2011.

“I’m feeling pretty good in the car, but it’s weird to see that right-front tire sticking out,” said Jordan. “I guess I haven’t really pushed it yet, but I raced with a few guys [Saturday in qualifying] and I felt good.”


Steve Masse told us that if he wins the Budweiser Blastoff 100, he’ll stand in victory lane and strike the “championship belt” pose, WWE-style.

Whatcha gonna do, brother, if Steve Masse runs wild on you?


ACT Late Model Tour driver Brad Babb of Windham, Me., made the trip to Waterford for today’s 50-lap Late Model feature. The 2010 ACT Rookie of the Year posted a career-best fifth-place finish in the season finale at Waterford last October and wanted to get a jump start on his season.

Also in the field are Bruce Thomas, Jr., Jeff Smith, Rich Staskowski, Joe Curioso, III, Jason Palmer, and Kyle DeSouza, all names that may be familiar to ACT fans. Bill Bernard is also competing in the car Mark Hayward drove to his first ACT win at Twin State Speedway last summer.