"Summer Sizzler" Bringing Turkey Derby-Like Feel
to Wall Stadium Speedway in August
Wall Stadium Speedway is no stranger to being the focal point for racing in the Northeast. However, that attention is usually reserved for Thanksgiving weekend when teams from numerous states, and other race tracks, gather at the Jersey Shore oval for the annual running of the Turkey Derby. The announcement of the $5,000 to win "Summer Sizzler" has changed all that.
One of the biggest draws of the Turkey Derby every year is the fact it is run on a weekend when no other speedway even remotely close to New Jersey is competing. This allows teams from all over the Northeast to travel to the Jersey Shore to try to pick up a win in this historic event. In fact, the 2013 Derby saw NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Tommy Baldwin bring a team of NASCAR talent which included crew chief "Bono" Manion, and driver Ryan Preece, who just happened to be the reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Champion, and a part-time competitor on the Nationwide Series to the speedway.
While no one is expecting a NASCAR Sprint Cup hauler to drive through the pit gates this weekend, Wall Stadium Speedway management have managed to schedule the "Summer Sizzler" for a weekend when the NWMT is off. As a result the list of rumored drivers who may show up is creating a very Turkey Derby-like buzz among NJ race fans.
The top name circulating around the event seems to be Ted Christopher. This Connecticut driver is a former NWMT champion, and has participated in every major NASCAR series, Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck. His aggressive style has made him a bit of a villain in the eyes of many New England race fans, but he is a threat to pick up the win any time he straps himself into an open-wheel car.
Another interesting potential competitor is Matt Hirschman from Pennsylvania. Hirschman is also a regular on the NWMT, like Christopher, but has spent much of his career racking up wins in big events for the Modifieds like the Race of Champions, Turkey Derby, and many more. However, unlike Christopher, Hirschman's patient style has not only made him a winner at Wall, but also a favorite among both fans, and competitors.
Some of the other prominent names which have been rumored to be considering competing in the "Summer Sizzler" include two other NWMT drivers, Rowan Pennick, and Jamie Tomaino, as well as Valenti Modified Tour regular Les Hinckley.
While it is always exciting to speculate on the drivers who may decide to compete, the real excitement could come from those who have confirmed a trip to the Jersey Shore oval. Heading up that list is a pair of drivers returning to Wall looking for a little redemption.
Zane Zeiner, from Pennsylvania, left Wall Stadium Speedway both disappointed, and bewildered following the Garden State Classic. A controversial call by race officials placed the blame for a late race restart crash which took out the leader at the time, Andrew Krause, on Zeiner. Despite protests from both the driver, and crew, Zeiner was parked for the rest of the night, losing a great shot at picking up another big win at Wall.
An apology from track promoter, Cliff Krause, who is also Andrew's father, over what many felt was a bad call seemed to ease the anger, and frustration, of Zeiner and his crew as not only are they returning to compete in the "Summer Sizzler", but car owner Jeff Willet is also bringing two bicycles to raffle off to two children in the grandstands on Saturday night.
Another driver who is confirmed, will also be returning looking to get one back following the Garden State Classic. Anthony Sesely, is a former two-time Wall Modified Champion, who was the beneficiary of the restart crash which took out Krause, and eliminated Zeiner. Sesely looked to be the winner of the Garden State Classic as he led the field through the closing laps, with his reputation as being hard to pass. However, Downs Ford Wall Modified rookie Trevor Alspach ran him down, and got by to pick up the biggest win of his young career.
Alspach will be looking to add to his amazing rookie season at the "Summer Sizzler" as well, as he is part of a group of Wall Modified winners in 2014 that should all be in contention. Drivers like Chas Okerson, Steven Reed, Jason Hearne, Zack Alspach, and Eric Mauriello, have all visited victory lane this season, and would love to repeat that with $5,000 up for grabs.
There are also several drivers who have run well this season, but just haven't been able to take the checkered flag. Krause, Shawna Ingraham, and Derek Hopkinson, could win on any given Saturday night at Wall, so why not the "Summer Sizzler."
Wall Stadium Speedway has done a great job creating a mid-summer buzz with the "Summer Sizzler." Rarely, is there this much excitement surrounding a Saturday night in August at the Jersey Shore oval. It is all just part of some of the exciting things taking place there over the next few weeks. For more on those developments be sure to check out our Home Page.
Joining the Downs Ford Wall Modifieds on the schedule will be the Factory Stocks, Legends, and the Four-Cylinders, which will also participate in some "stock car bowling." For more information on this event check out the track's website. A link is provided on this RacingAroundJersey.com page.
And as always if you can't make it out to the track, be sure to check back here Sunday for the Top-5 Results for all divisions.