2016 NEMA NEWS
NEMA MIDGETS CHAMPIONS:
John Zych Jr. & Sr.
Although they were after a
third Northeastern Midget Association championship, John Zych Jr.
and his car-owner/father John, were "defenders" for the first time
in 2016. They were successful, the Mendon, MA team adding
championship hardware to that collected in 2013 and 2015.
didn't end the way Zych would have liked. A Pro-Four accident kept
Randy Cabral out of the NEMA feature in the season finale at
Waterford. Cabral had a slim point lead going into the race.
"Obviously, it was unfortunate for Randy and [car owner] Tim
Bertrand," Zych says. "You don't ever want to see that happen. You
would prefer to battle it out on the race track."
high school and college athletes, the father-son duo had eight
top-five finishes including three wins in 2016. John bested Cabral
by 55 points and John Sr. finished 11 in front of Bertrand.
Cabral/Bertrand also won three times.
Zych and his father
went into the campaign with defending the title the objective. "You
are on top and you don't want anybody to take it away," he said in a
pre-season story. "You want to prove something by maintaining the
spot." He now adds, "going into the last race with the championship
a possibility is the mark of a successful season." That has happened
in three of the last four seasons for the Zychs, 2014 being the
exception when business commitments resulted in some missed races.
Consistency, he maintains, is the major ingredient in a
championship and he credits his father with not having a dnf over
the last two seasons.
Over the past five seasons the No. 9
team has won 12 features starting with the season-opener at
Waterford Speedbowl in 2012. It all started with a couple seasons at
Whip City. He was the 2005 750cc Rookie of the Year and scored his
first win in 2006. Then came five years of "paying their NEMA dues"
in a car bought from the Stoehr family. "Paying your dues is
important," Zych says. "People spend a lot of money and expect to
win right away. That doesn't happen a lot. It takes time to get the
set ups just right."
It was the purchase of a '99 Drinan
chassis from Bertrand that turned things around. Zych points out the
car came "with an extensive notebook" that has been a major factor
in the success. It is ironic, perhaps, because the
Zych-Cabral/Bertrand rivalry has become the face of NEMA.
While he doesn't like the word "rivalry" (he prefers "friendly
racing") he understands why some see it that way. "Randy is a great
racer, one of the best ever, with a great car owner," Zych says. "We
finish close to each other frequently. Randy and Tim have a lot of
titles (the last in 2014) and a lot of wins. The championships we
have won, if we had not won them, they would have." Seventeen of
Cabral's 49 NEMA wins have come in the last five years.
Zych, however, is not convinced that the spotlight should be totally
on Cabral and himself. NEMA, in fact, had five other winners - Seth
Carlson, Jim Chambers, Doug Coby, Avery Stoehr and Todd Bertrand -
in 2016 and others like Bethany Stoehr, Dan Cugini and Ryan Bigelow
are not strangers to Victory Circle.
"We were fast
everywhere we went and that includes some new records," Zych points
out. Among the new standards, is his 13.040 lap at Maine's Wiscasset
Speedway. He expects that to continue in 2017.
executive for the Hershey Company, John, 33, and wife Elizabeth have
two daughters, Brooklyn and Anna.
2016 Driver Points: 1. John Zych Jr. 1754; 2. Randy
Cabral 1699; 3. Avery Stoehr 1649; 4. Seth Carlson 1635; 5. Jim
Chambers 1563; 6. Paul Scally 1380; 7. Todd Bertrand 1279; 8.
Bethany Stoehr 976; 9. Dan Cugini 815; 10. Alan Chambers 730.
2016 Owner Points: 1. #9
John Zych Sr. 1754; 2. #47 Tim Bertrand 1743; 3. #15a Russ Stoehr
1646; 4. #71 Gene Feigel 1635; 5. #21 Mike Chambers 1563; 6. #30
Paul Scally 1380; 7. #74 Tim Bertrand 1181; 8. #39 Todd Bertrand
1099; 9. # 5a Greg Stoehr 976; 10. #51 Dan Cugini 815.
NEMA LITES CHAMPION:
|Jim Chambers had four wins
en route to the 2016 Northeastern Midget Association Lites
championship. It was the first one, way back on May 21 at
Star Speedway that was the most important. The second event
of the year, it came a month after Chambers was involved in
a crash at Thompson Speedway.
"A major win," says the
Atkinson, NH resident. "There was a month to think about the
crash, first wondering if the car could be rebuilt and then
watching the check book empty as the rebuilding continued.
Then the win at one of the places I think of as my home
track. Now you are back in it, not thinking about the crash
anymore. It was definitely a confidence booster."
rest of the way Chambers was out of the top five only once.
He capped off the season with a victory in the season finale
at Waterford, winning both the driver and owner titles. The
other checkereds: another win at Star and the prestigious
Boston Louie at Seekonk.
Echoing the well-used
"championships are won in the garage," Chambers credits his
crew, especially his father Mike, for the consistency. "We
had four cars in the garage," he adds.
by trade, Chambers, 29, like brother, Alan, did double-duty
this season, competing in NEMA and the Lites. In his fourth
full season in NEMA he was fifth in points with a win at
Monadnock. He won at Groveton 2015 en route to a fourth
place in the final standings.
On nights when NEMA and
the Lites run together, Chambers puts down about 100 laps,
which, he declares "is tough on the arms." He usually winds
up with a "helmet full of sweat" but the resulting "seat
time" is worth it."
He says Randy Cabral, who had
driven both divisions since 2008, was the motivation. "You
go into the second feature, your adrenalin is already under
control," he says. "You are already in the zone. It really
helped this season, our best one yet."
power of the NEMA cars excites him, he appreciates the Lites
as "a fun division for a driver. Because of the rules,
everybody has the same power. There are bigger car counts
which means more passing and there are different people. You
are always learning."
Chambers is no stranger to
crashes. He has some five years to think about a crash in a
PASS event at Star late in the 2008 season. He and Alan had
impressive statistics as quarter midget racers and spent
some time with the 350 Supermodifieds before joining PASS in
Following the crash, he didn't get in a race
car again until the final two Lites events of 2012. He
finished fifth and second in a car usually driven by Alan
who had won in it earlier. He was back fulltime in 2013. The
double duty started in 2015 when he made 11 Lites starts.
There is no reason to slow down although there will
be one less car in the garage next season - three Beast
chassis. In addition to Chambers' Esslinger-powered NEMA and
Focus-powered Lites machine, they'll be Alan's car which has
a MOPAR motor.
Points: 1. Jim Chambers 2122; 2. P.J. Stergois
2005; 3. Dan Cugini 1825; 4. Anthony Payne 1708; 5. Randy
Cabral 1626; 6. Paul Scally 1430; 7. Jim Cataldo 1377; 8.
Ben Mikitarian 1377; 9. Megan Cugini 1268; Ryan Locke 1238.
Owner Points: 1.
#12 Jim Chambers 2108; 2. #21 Mike Scrivani Jr. 1842; 3. #51
Dan Cugini 1825; 4. #35 Glen Cabral 1680; 5. #30 Paul Scally
1430; 6. #9 John Mikitarian 1372; 7. #38 Ken Locke 1360; 8.
#11Bill Stergois 1337; 9. #41 Glen Cugini 1269; 10. #2 Jim
NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday, November 13 at
Maneeley's Banquet Hall in South Windsor, CT, Nokie Fornoro
was inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame by Mike Scrivani.
Nokie also received the plaque for the NEMA Hall of Fame
Award from a few years back.
Hall Tabs Trio of Veterans
Fred Meeker winner of 1st NEMA
|The New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame's veterans' committee covered a half century in
selecting the Stanley Brothers, John Burgess and
Fred Meeker. All deceased,
they will be inducted at the NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet
Sunday, Nov. 13 at Maneeley's Banquet Hall in South Windsor,
Maine natives Francis and Freelan Stanley not
only produced one of the country's most famous automobiles,
the Stanley Steamer, they built some of its first race cars.
Boston-bred and educated, Burgess' prowess as a builder,
businessman and promoter sent New England off in a new
direction in the 1930s. Norwalk, CT's
Meeker was an accomplished Midget driver in the post-World
II era, twice winning national NASCAR championships.
They join broadcaster Jack Arute and championship
drivers Ken Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Nokie Fornoro, the late
George "Moose" Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, Randy LaJoie and Jerry
Marquis in the NEAR's Class of 2016.
information and order forms are on the NEAR website
Burgess moved from driving in
Outlaw, AAA and IMCA action in the 1920s to building and
marketing race cars and parts in the 1930s. He promoted
races as well and is credited with being a key to bringing
the Midgets to central New England. Trained as a naval
architect, he was a noted racing artist as well.
1955 and '56 NASCAR titles capped off Meeker's career which
started at drivers' schools at Candlelight Stadium
(Bridgeport, CT) and West Springfield, MA after World War
II. He was a definite force in the
busy Midget wars driving for Fred Kernan. Among his laurels,
he won the first-ever Northeastern Midget Association race
Francis and Freelan Stanley's
"Stanley Rocket" set the racing world ablaze more than a
century ago - 1906 to exact - when he hit 127.66 mph on the
Ormond Beach, FL sand. It was the highpoint of their brief
but accomplished venture taking on all comers in automotive
competition. The cars were built in Newton, MA.
Still to be announced is the winner of the Mitchell/Ratta
|Nokie Fornoro NEAR
Hall of Famer
|Nick "Nokie" Fornoro Jr., the
1981 champion and the holder of fifth place on the
Northeastern Midget Association's all-time win list, is one
of eight elected to the New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame. Fornoro, who won 45 NEMA sanctioned features, will
join his father Nick and brother Drew in the NEAR Hall.
Arute and drivers Ken Bouchard, Ricky Craven, the late
George "Moose" Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, Randy LaJoie and Jerry
Marquis join Fornoro in the NEAR Hall's Class of 2016. They
will be inducted on Sunday, Nov. 13 at Maneeley's Banquet
Hall in South Windsor, CT.
and order forms will be on the NEAR website (www.near1.org).
Fornoro won the last
Midget race he drove at Thompson Speedway's World Series in
2009 in the Jaret #4. It was his 110th Midget victory, a
startling statistic rivaled only by his 11 championships
including six in ARDC. The win total includes his first NEMA
checkered driving for Mike Scrivani Sr. at Hudson Speedway
in 1980 and two Night Before The 500 wins with Jim Reider at
Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Born in Danbury, CT,
Fornoro shares NEMA's consecutive win record, grabbing six
in a row during the championship year when he and Scrivani
won ten of 21 races. Fellow Hall of Fame Joe Csiki also had
six straight NEMA wins.
proficient on dirt and asphalt, was a winner in TQ Midgets,
Mini-Modifieds, Supermodifieds and Sprint Cars. Another
startling stat - he has won on 57 different tracks including
a dozen in NEMA.
NEAR's Class of '16
includes hundreds of wins and dozens
of championships including two Busch titles for LaJoie and a
national Modified crown for Marquis. Craven and Bouchard
were both Winston Cups Rookies of the year, Craven wining on
the Busch and truck circuits as well. Jarvis and Hewitt, 23
titles between them, were short track masters.
Others in the NEAR Hall with NEMA connections
are Gene Angelillo, Chuck Arnold, Burt Brooks, Ray Brown,
Joe Csiki, Bill Eldridge, Frank Ferrara, Drew Fornoro, Dave
Humphrey, Johnny Kay, Wen Kelly, Rollie Lindblad, John
McCarthy, George Monsen, Al Pillion, Billy Randall, Marvin
Rifchin, Mike Scrivani Sr., Louie Seymour, Hank Stevens, Ed
Stone and Bentley Warren.
Mario Joseph Barreira
Father of Linda Cleveland, NEMA scorer and car owner.
Arrangements at Tighe Hamilton Funeral Home
Wake on Sunday 10/2 - 5 to 8
NEMA President Stoehr
|Second term NEMA President
Russ Stoehr is looking forward to 2016, and for good reason.
NEMA came off a very strong finish to the season, with
exceptional car counts at the New-London Waterford Speedbowl
and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. One of New England's
mainstay touring series, the Northeastern Midget Association
boasts of a fifteen race docket for 2016.
52 cars registered between the Lites and NEMA, more than we
have had in many years," said President, Stoehr. "I am super
excited to have been able to forge 4 strong relationships
with tracks that clearly are on the upswing - Thompson will
host the midgets at all 4 tour events this year, Waterford
will have midget races on 5 dates and we will be back at
Star 3 times. Wiscassett also will host the midgets twice
the fans there are among the most receptive we have had the
pleasure of racing before all season. All the facilities
have different challenges for drivers and crews," he went on
NEMA started the year with its Lites
competitors showcasing their hard work over the winter at
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park's ICEBREAKER. Danny
Cugini took down an impressive victory over PJ Stergios and
last year's champion Anthony Payne.
The club will
host its annual Test & Tune and Rookie Orientation at the
New-London Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday, May 1, and then
open its NEMA competition schedule at Bob & Bobby Webber's
Star Speedway on May 21st followed by the inaugural Allan
Cantor Memorial the following weekend at Riverhead Raceway.
It will be NEMA's first race at Riverhead in many years.
The schedule then moves on to the New-London Waterford
Speedbowl, followed by Wiscasset Speedway and Monadnock
Speedway on June 4, June 11, and June 18 - for the Iron Mike
Scrivani Memorial. The club then returns to action June 24th
at Claremont Speedway, followed by the prestigious Boston
Louie Memorial presented by MAV TV on June 29th.
9th, Star Speedway will play host to the annual Marvin
Rifchin Memorial trophy race, and July concludes with NEMA's
return to the revised Speedway 51 in Groveton, NH on July
30. August is packed with action, with a return to the
New-London Waterford Speedbowl for Wings & Wheels on August
6th, followed by Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on
NEMA will remember charter family Gene
& Marilyn Angelillo on August 20th at Star Speedway for the
Angelillo Memorial, and concludes with races at Wiscasset,
The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park World Series of
Racing and the New-London Waterford Speedbowl's Shane
NEMA has also been busy in the off
season with planning, ensuring they will put on the best
possible show for promoters. "We are once again putting
strong emphasis on speeding up the show. The push offs for
NEMA have been greatly improved as well as the 4 abreast to
'2 and go' is a big hit with fans and promoters. Also, the
prerace meet and greets as well as fan of the week will be
back. I feel fortunate to have a great race day staff great
people with a strong love for midget racing," he said.
As far as his own racing goes, it is unlikely to see the
elder Stoehr on the track this season. "As far as my own
driving goes with the passing of Carl Kibbe, my intentions
are to work with Avery. I've been on the fence for a bit and
now the time is right to step away from driving. I've been
fortunate to have a bunch of wins, championships and most
importantly memories," he concluded.
There is no
doubt that NEMA is on the upswing, and President Stoehr has
a lot to look forward to.
NEMA's 1000th Race - Star Speedway - 8/23/14
CARLSON - CABRAL - ZYCH
|The Northeastern Midget
Association will open the season at Star Speedway on May 21.
It will be the 1018th point-paying race in the club's
Passing unheralded was the club's
1,000th race at Star Speedway on August 23, 2014. Randy
Cabral was the winner, besting John Zych Jr. and Seth
New England's oldest and most enduring
touring division, NEMA was formed in the late spring of 1953
at the Thompson clubhouse. Fred Meeker was the first NEMA
winner at Seekonk Speedway on May 30, 1953. New England Auto
Racing Hall of Famer Bill Eldridge won the next afternoon at
The NEMA Lites open at Thompson Speedway's
Icebreaker on April 9. There have been 106 races for a
division that started with an exhibition run at New
London-Waterford in 2008. The 100th Lites race was won by
Danny Cugini at Lee on July 17 of last year.
victories last year, Randy Cabral is now tied with Nokie
Fornoro in fourth place on NEMA's all-time win list with 47.
He has 16 seasons with a least one victory tying him with
Bobby Seymour on that list. They have come consecutively,
equaling a NEMA standard set by National Midget Hall of
Famer Dave Humphrey. Most of Cabral's wins have come in Tim
Bertrand's No. 47 but it all started when an upstart Cabral
captured the 2000 Boston Louie in a family car.
Speedway, with 103 races going back to 1968, is the leader
among tracks hosting NEMA events. Randy Cabral tops active
NEMA competitors with four Star wins including three of the
last four. John Zych Jr. has also won at Star.
is clearly one of the most competitive open cockpit
divisions in the country. Over the past six years, there
have been 23 different NEMA winners and in all but one of
those seasons, at least one "first-timer" appeared. Over
that span John Zych Jr., Todd Bertrand, Avery Stoehr and
Seth Carlson have become top contenders. Danny Cugini and
Jim Chambers were first time winners in 2015. Bertrand,
Stoehr and Cugini are all products of the NEMA Lites. The
Lites have had 20-different winners in the past three
seasons, champion Anthony Payne and Megan Cugini among the
2015 first timers. Designed with competiveness in the
forefront nine years ago, the Lites are a true success
Nominations are now being accepted for the
New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. The nomination form
and procedure are available on the New England Antique
Racers' website - www.near1.org. Please disregard the posted
Those with NEMA connections already
enshrined are Gene Angelillo, Chuck Arnold, Burt Brooks, Ray
Brown,Joe Csiki, Bill Eldridge, Frank Ferrara, Drew Fornoro,
Dave Humphrey, Johnny Kay, Wen Kelly, Rollie Lindblad, John
McCarthy, George Monsen, Al Pillion, Billy Randall, Marvin
Rifchin, Mike Scrivani Sr., Louie Seymour, Hank Stevens, Ed
Stone and Bentley Warren.
|ANTHONY PAYNE - 2015
NEMA LITES DRIVER CHAMPION
Anthony Payne Set For Next Step
|There was the first
victory, then the first championship and now the first
defense of that championship. It's impressive stuff for a
race driver who will turn 17 in April.
begins the defense of his Northeastern Midget Association
Lites title at Thompson Speedway's Icebreaker April 9. Back
in the Scrivani No. 21 for the third season, the Fairlawn,
NJ High student is ready for the 18-race schedule that will
run into October.
Another title, especially in a
Scrivani car, will fit nicely into Payne's plans. It's about
"living up to family names" says the son of 2003 NEMA
champion Joey Payne. He is "very proud" of being part of the
heralded Scrivani Midget story. Many legendary drivers -
Nokie Fornoro, Dave Humphrey, Jeff Gordon - have sat in
While being a second generation
athlete is a challenge - "everybody knows who you are and
ask a lot of questions"- Payne has handled it well. He
expects a full midget ride will come soon.
win at Evans Mills, NY was key. "I felt more confident after
that win," he says, "confident that I could win a
championship. I won against adults in real race cars. And to
win in a Scrivani car was really special. The No. 21 had not
been in victory lane for a while."
A veteran of
eight years in Quarter Midgets, Payne had nine top-fives in
15 starts a year ago including a second win at Waterford. He
finished 41 points in front of Randy Cabral.
a NEMA title means mastering a wide variety of tracks - from
the 5/8ths Thompson to the quarter miles. Payne loves that
challenge but admits he had a head start in achieving it.
"My dad was with me a lot last season," he explains. "He has
pretty much raced on every track in the northeast. He had a
lot of pointers, especially showing me the line at each
track." Joey Payne has 21 NEMA victories, the last coming a
year ago at Monadnock in Tim Bertrand's No. 74.
Still, if it hadn't been his father, it would have been
someone else. "You have a problem, you have people willing
to help," Payne continues. "You are running a little high or
a little low or you're not getting off quick enough,
somebody is willing to talk to you. NEMA has a real family
Being noticed is how he got the ride.
Coming around with his dad a few years back, he was helping
out in pits, working with several operations including the
Ed Breault team. Long-time NEMA supporter and Scrivani
confidant Mike Jarret noticed and brokered the ride in the
Payne gave notice with things to come with a
second at Waterford in 2014.
The NEMA Lites, usually
a second to a second-and-a- half off the full midgets, are
about to start their ninth season. It all started with an
exhibition run at Waterford on April 12, 2008.
|JOHN ZYCH JR. - 2015
NEMA MIDGETS CHAMPION
Zych Set to
Defend NEMA Championship
|John Zych Jr. has been a
Northeastern Midget Association champion twice but he will
be a defending champion for the first time in 2016.
"We didn't run a full season after the 2013 championship and
we knew that going in," explains Zych, part of one of NEMA's
many father-son operations. "We missed a race early in the
year and that did it so we were not disappointed in not
They head into this 16-race season, which
begins May 21 at Star Speedway, with another mindset. "This
is different," Zych says. "The first championship was kind
of a surprise, kind of surreal. The second sort of
solidifies we are not flashes in the pan."
son have been at it since 2007 but it was the purchase of a
'99 Drinan chassis that turned fortunes around; that has
produced two championships and nine features including two
last year. The first win was at Waterford in 2012. Five came
Defending a title is another step. "You are
on top and you don't want anybody to take it away,"
continues Zych, a former high and college basketball player.
"You want to prove something by maintaining the spot." He is
quick to point out, however, it is not an easy goal in a
club that had nine winners in 2015.
There is one
major change for 2016. An executive with the Hershey
Company, Zych is now "office based" meaning more time first
for the family (wife Elizabeth and daughters Brooklyn and
Anna) and for the car.
Some things will not change.
"Preparation will continue to be our strong point," Zych
says, pointing out the No. 9 had no DNFs in 2015. "That is a
rarity, especially in Midget racing and it is a credit to my
father. He spends a lot of time on the car."
opposition will be the five-time champion Randy Cabral-Tim
Bertrand team Zych has dethroned twice. "I really appreciate
what they've done," Zych says. "Maybe because we run so
close and frequently finish near each other people see a
great rivalry. I don't feel that way. I enjoy racing against
Bertrand has been a major help in Zych's
gaining the status they now have in NEMA. He and Cabral are
among NEMA's all-time great owner/driver combos.
There's more than Cabral/Bertrand. Zych points to Cabral's
teammate Todd Bertrand, Seth Carlson and youngster Avery
Stoehr, all winners in 2016, as definite championship
They'll battle into October, the season
ending at Waterford. Sixteen races is "about the right
number" says Zych.
The variety of tracks NEMA
visits, from the lightning-quick Thompson to the traditional
bullrings including 2016 addition Riverhead, LI, remains a
challenge for the "always learning" Zych. He believes being
able to master them all is the mark of an accomplished
driver. He, of course, has done that including winning on
tracks on his first visit.
Now, it's about defending
from the whole NEMA family to
VanSlyke on the loss of his wife
Jeanne d'Arc Langevin
February 15, 2016
Mother of Lu Jarrett, NEMA sponsor, long-time
active member, and racecday secretary.
Fournier & Fournier Funeral Home
in Woonsocket, RI.
|Carl Kibbe was a fixture
in the NEMA pits for over two decades, taking his first
owner's championship in 1980. His partnership with the
legendary Dave Humphrey at the wheel of the iconic Lindblad
Badger produced many wins, and the Kibbe cockpit was
occupied by some other great NEMA wheelmen, including Doug
Cleveland, Paul Stoehr, and Jim Lowery, Jr. But it was Joey
Coy who brought Carl three championships and further
cemented the Kibbe team's reputation as the one to beat in
the late 80's and early 90's.
When NEMA banned the
Badger at the end of 1989 it wasn't easy for the family
team. But Carl didn't let the banning of his championship
car stop him. He and the family reinvested and won two more
titles with Coy.
Carl always wore his heart on his
sleeve; you knew exactly where you stood with him. He'd show
emotion at winning a NEMA award just as easily as arguing
for a rule change during a NEMA meeting. But in the end, he
was always Carl, a stand up guy who'd help anyone.
wasn't easy for Carl to give up owning a race car, but
reinvesting in new equipment at the end of the championship
runs of the 90's was getting harder to justify. Thankfully,
that didn't stop him from showing up at NEMA races and
working on race cars. He was a happy guy with a wrench in
As NEMA gears up for next season there
won't be a soul in the pits who won't miss Carl's good
humor, talent, and unabashed support for NEMA midget racing.
Make no mistake, we lost one of the nice guys today. Our
community is a little poorer without Carl, but no doubt he's
bench racing with Gene Angelillo, Boston Louie Seymour, and
Iron Mike Scrivani. He's taken his place among the NEMA
Condolences to: Carl Kibbe, 68 Ben Brown Rd., Hope,