PHOTO: A standing room only crowd participate in the wave off lap prior to the 150 lap Tour Type Modified Racing, in which local Jimmy Blewett won. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM Photo)

If there is one, late season event to circle on your calendar next year as must-see event, the Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium is it. What better things do you have to do the Friday after Thanksgiving? Go shopping? That’s child’s play.

In all seriousness, the Turkey Derby brings everything that draws race fans to the track: excitement and that last lap drama of who is going to win. One can tell early on upon setting foot onto the facility that the fans are passionate about their racing, the Turkey Derby, and Wall Stadium.

But who makes the last minute call to go to the Turkey Derby? This kid, right here. Thursday morning, ten o’clock, I decide what better thing to do on a Friday and Saturday than go racing? I find someone dumb enough or unwilling to say no to go with me, my dad, and we head out at five o’clock sharp from Woodsville, N.H. At least I was smart enough to pre-plan around the New York City portion of I-95.

Let’s just say we made great time, with two stops along the way, one for nourishment for us, and then for the car (if you saw a silver Ford Escort fly by you on the interstate, that was me, and I apologize). Oh, and the Saw Mill Parkway feels like a rollercoaster for cars and it could all go bad around the next corner.

We pull in at 11, only six hours after we left (told you we made great time), get signed in, and immediately go see what the track looks like. All I can say is wow. No wonder why Wayne Helliwell calls it his favorite track. It’s a paperclip with really steep turns. And the sense of speed is incredible. The three-quarter (TQ) midgets were turning lap times in the 11.6 second range, which averages out to over 100mph for average lap speed. Helliwell put on a show, and you can tell that two barrel carburetor hurt him off of the corners and just couldn’t get enough drive off to get under the leader.

Wall’s Sportsman Modified class is interesting, as most of them are full-tubular Modified chassis, running with “602” Chevrolet Crate motors with four barrel carburetors. Those specs are not uncommon as they are similar rules that are featured in the Sportsman Modified classes at Twin State Speedway and Monadnock Speedway. However, at Wall, they run on an eight inch slick tire, much like the ACT Late Models run on. That is, relatively, a lot of power running in a sophisticated race car with not much grip. And they, in my opinion, put on one heck of a good show.

The DIRT Modifieds were fun to watch on both days, although Stewart Friesen kind of stunk up the show. But watching them hang the right rear tire out, much like they do on the dirt, seeing the smoke rolling off was entertaining. But Saturday was the show everyone was waiting for.

It was a standing room only crowd on Saturday and for good reason — 25 Tour Type Modifieds and 29 SK Modifieds going 250 total laps for $8,500 in winner’s money.

I thought Valenti Modified Racing Series 2011 runner-up Les Hinckley had the best car in the 150 lap Tour Mod race. He got stuck behind Jimmy Blewett and his ill handling race car early, but was reeling in Doug Coby quickly after getting around Blewett. Matt Hirschman inherited the lead by not pitting after the cycle of pit stops and Coby retiring.

Hirschman looks good enough to stay out in front on the tricky bullring, where it’s hard to pass. Hinckley and Pennink were on his bumper and may have had better cars, but not enough to make a move cleanly. Hinckley spun Hirschman on the restart entering turn one, although it didn’t look overly intentional. However, the next attempted spin job looked highly intentional.

One can tell quickly fans either love Jimmy Blewett or hate Jimmy Blewett. Much like the Busch brothers of NASCAR, everyone has a strong opinion. He has the nickname ‘Showtime’ for a reason. Blewett attempted to dump/bump-and-run on leader Rowan Pennink. Pennink saved his car from spinning and miraculously kept the lead, but the caution flag came out for no apparent reason really upset the crowd who dislike Blewett.

It was something that I had noted all weekend long that the flagman was quick to the draw with the caution flag, and it really hurt Rowan Pennink there. Pennink would have been able to gap himself enough from Blewett as Blewett was attempting to collect his car as well. And then, after race control preached in the drivers meeting that the ‘leader restarts the race,’ Blewett appeared to jump the last restart.

Unfortunately, the SK Modified race was brutal. I can’t put it any nicer than that. Almost two hours, four red flags, and only 12 of the original 29 starters finished. The tenth place finisher, Keith Rocco, was eight laps down. However, the end was good as Hirschman recovered from a spin to nearly beat Blewett.

All in all, I still say it is an event that fans must circle on their calendar and attempt to go to if they can. It’s more racing late in the season and one final hurrah before the snow really flies. It was 60+ degrees for both days, and anytime I can be at a race track is fine by me.

Now if only I had preplanned the trip home. I’ve paid less money to see more, George Washington Bridge.