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Mike Keeler

Mike Keeler

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The 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association feature at Thompson Speedway on July 2 will be the Marvin Rifchin Race and the winner will take home the Marvin Rifchin Trophy.

Rifchin, owner of M&H Tire, died on June 3 at age 94.

He was an integral part of NEMA from its inception in 1953.

"The number of people he touched directly, the influence he had on our club, is immense," said Bruce Beane of Norton, a long-time NEMA competitor and official.

Many in the racing community attended Rifchin's funeral at the Sharon Memorial Park.

"We want to thank Thompson (Speedway) promoter Don Hoenig for his participation in honoring Marvin," said NEMA president Mike Scrivani Jr.

of Brockton.

"Marvin's generosity not only with his product, but with his time and expertise, has made NEMA a better organization." Scrivani pointed out the M&H logo was part of NEMA's image for many years.

He said plans are for the Rifchin Trophy race to become a yearly event.

Although his auto racing association started with open cockpit cars, Rifchin's influence stretched over the entire spectrum of the sport.

His association with Don Garlits is part of drag racing folklore.

He played a key role in Modified racing's glory days of the 1960s and '70s.

Rifchin's influence is evidenced by his membership in several halls of fame, including NEMA's.

He is also in the National Hot Rod Association, New England Auto Racers and Specialty Equipment Manufactures Association halls of fame.

Rifchin was involved with his father, Harry, in the recapping business.

M&H (the H stands for Harry) was one of the first companies to make tires specifically for race cars.

Over some five decades his influence grew to enormous proportions.

Wrenn wins at Thompson: Norm Wrenn of New Hampshire brought home the checkers in the Super Late Model race on Thursday Night at Thompson International Speedway.

Larry Barnett won the Limited Sportsman feature just days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery.Ten laps into the 50-Lap Late Model race, the rain started and the race program was brought to a halt.

The race will be rescheduled and will begin at lap 10 in the order in which they were when the rains came.

The Sunoco Modifieds, TIS Modifieds and Mini Stock races were also rescheduled.

Coolbeth behind the wheel: Kenny Coolbeth, of Morris, Conn., one of the AMA's top riders in flat track motorcycle racing, had a recent invite to test a four-wheel sprint car racer at a Capital Region Sprint Car Assn.

meet at the Orange County Speedway in Middletown, N.Y.

He enjoyed the opportunity to give it a try.

But, don't expect Coolbeth to abandon the bikes for a racecar.

He is sponsored by Bettencourt Honda Suzuki of West Bridgewater.

His next event will be today in Lima, Ohio.

He's 19th overall in the Grand National Hot Shoe standings going into today.

Midgets made for Keeler: Mike Keeler refuses to pick a favorite.

The Danbury, Conn., racer has driven everything from Quarter Midgets to Dirt Modifieds.

He cannot deny, however, statistically he fits best in a Midget.

Since joining John Seaman's TSR No.

63 team in July of 2008, Keeler has posted seven top-10 finishes in eight Northeastern Midget Association starts.

He'll take a second place in NEMA's 2009 opener at Monadnock into next Friday night's, event at Lee USA Speedway.

"I'm definitely fond of Lee," said Keeler, who has driven a True Value Modified and Super modified as well as a Midget there.

Being one of the fastest cars at Monadnock — "I finally felt comfortable there'' — was a major boost.

Adam Cantor and John Zych Jr., who have gotten off to impressive starts, will join veterans Nokie Fornoro and Russ Stoehr of Bridgewater and Greg Stoehr of Lakeville as contenders to dethrone champion Randy Cabral of Plymouth and Tim Bertrand.

NASCAR Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman, in a second Bertrand car, will be the Lee headliner.

"A victory is definitely in our future," predicted Keeler.

Although he "expects to make all the NEMA events," Keeler said the team "does not talk about points.

Jon wants us to have a good time, but that starts with good finishes.

Getting a lot of points in not a bad thing." Keeler will also campaign a pair of ISMA Super-Modifieds this year.

He's looking forward to dates at Stafford Speedway (July 7), Waterford Speedbowl (Aug.

15) and Thompson Speedway (Oct.

18) when NEMA and ISMA are both on the agenda.

"I love twitchy race cars, and the Midgets are twitchy," Keeler said.

"I love the movement.

You can kind of throw a Midget around.

I absolutely love going through traffic in a Midget." Driving his own car, he won at Waterford in 2006.

In his third race with TSR, he was second there last August.

Keeler's first NEMA podium finish was a second at Star Speedway in 2005.

Modifieds on center stage: The True Value Modified Racing Series is attracting a mixture of strong young driving talent and experienced veteran competitors.

The series will take center stage this week at the biggest track on its 2009 schedule, New Hampshire Motor Speedway.The series includes seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik, who will be joined by the current WMT titleholder, Ted Christopher.

Other WMT competitors such as Charlie Pasteryak, defending True Value champ Chris Pasteryak, Doug Coby and Rowin Pennink will face True Value regulars such as Kirk Alexander, Jon McKennedy, Dwight Jarvis and many more.

Also competing will be Thompson veteran Todd Owen, Jimmy Kuhn, Jr.

of West Bridgewater, and Marshfield's Bob Grigas III.

McKennedy maves his move: Last Saturday night at Seekonk Speedway, a frequent stop for the TVMRS, Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford worked hard to get to the front, chasing after race leader Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea for 26 laps.

When the checkered flag fell after 36 minutes, McKennedy captured the Connecticut Laborers Union 100, a True Value Modified Racing Series event.

McKennedy started 18th in a 24-car field.

Once in front, McKennedy cruised to his second consecutive win, first place in the point standings and his fifth TVMRS career victory.

Grigas jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag and led the first 26 circuits, chased by Pennink, then Richard Savary of Canton, and then Annarummo, a three-time series winner.

Annarummo, competing in his first race of the season with the TVMRS, took the top spot on lap 27 and held onto it until lap 85, when McKennedy, after several attempts, moved by.

Annarummo was strong until lap 69, when his power steering unit failed.

He amazingly was able to hold on to the lead for 16 laps.

Grigas, Les Hinckley of Connecticut, and McKennedy all chased the many-time Seekonk champion for the lead.

For the second consecutive week, veteran driver and 2006 champion Dwight Jarvis of Vermont was a factor.

Starting 19th, Jarvis worked his way to the front, settling into second place on lap 91.

He finished 0.347 seconds behind the race winner.

Jimmy Kuhn of West Bridgewater, also making his first start, ran a strong race and finished third after passing Annarummo with two laps remaining.

Annarummo settled for fourth, while Dave Berghman was fifth.

Also finishing in the top 10 were Grigas, Ed Dachenhausen, Chris Pasteryak and Steve Masse of Bellingham.

Even though Savary was fast in the earlier practice session, his car seemed to fade in the main event after starting up front he finished 22nd.

Some 18 cars finished on the lead lap, with 22 of the 24 original starters finishing the race.

The time of the race was 36:27.963, with the fastest in-race lap recorded by Annarummo at 12.172.

Earlier in the day McKennedy, during practice, turned an 11.9 second lap.

Heat races were won by Annarummo, McKennedy and Hinckley, while Jarvis copped the consolation race.

In the support events, Chris DeMoura of North Dighton won the Street Stock feature while Raynham's Mark Henshaw had to settle for the runner-up spot; Tony Oliviera of Taunton was next while Elmer Wing III of Lakeville cracked the top five.

Not doing as well was Paul Newcomb of Plymouth, who ended the night in 18th.

Rick Martin of Westport won another Sport Truck main event, while East Taunton's Jeriah Rodrick came in 12th.

Rhode Island's Ryan Vanasse took the checkered flag first in the Late Models.

Randy Burr of Middleboro was ninth while Jake Vanada cracked the top 10.

Rain halts competition: Waterford Speedbowl completed three feature events before the rain came, halting the remainder of the June 13 race program just 28 laps into the Nutmeg State 100, an ACT Late Model Tour event.Jason Palmer won his ninth consecutive Legends Car event, Al Stone III checkered the Street Stock feature, and Danny Field was the winner of the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race.

The scheduled 35-lap SK Modified feature event and remainder of the Nutmeg State 100 were postponed.

The completion of the ACT Tour race was rescheduled for tonight.

Event tickets from June 13 will be honored as rain checks for tonight or any remaining 2009 event of equal or lesser value.

The qualified 35-lap SK Modified race will be made up at a future date to be announced.

Museum a great take: You may not think that there's very much motorsports interest in Brookline.

A visit, though, to the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation was revealing.

We were surprised to find a Michael Schumacher F1 Ferrari in the front reception hall, along with a FIM Factory Works Ducati.

Another display room had a '76 Penske PC-6 Indy Car that was driven by Tom Sneva and Mario Andretti.

Also on display was a 1950 Indian Roadmaster Chief motorcycle, a '64 Pontiac GTO, a 1917 Model T Ford, a 1912 Caddy Touring Car, a '31 Buick 90 Roadmaster, and assorted other vehicles that were pre- and post-1900 era automobiles in the garage area and cellar of the Larz Anderson mansion.

Just about every Sunday there's a car show on the sprawling estate grounds.

Tomorrow is German Car Day (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) Heroes honored: In recognition of its Extra Mile Heroes Contest, LENOX Industrial Tools is teaming up with New Hampshire Gov.

John Lynch and the state to honor the everyday heroes of New Hampshire.

LENOX Industrial Tools and Lynch have invited members of the state and local police, fire departments, and the National Guard, along with up to four members of their respective families, to attend the largest sporting event in New England, the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on June 28 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

A limited number of free grandstand tickets, made available from a section of seating speedway officials earmarked for a charitable partnership, are being offered on a first-come basis to the respective departments.

The donation was made as an extension of the LENOX Extra Mile Heroes program, which began with last year's LENOX Industrial Tools 301, adding an extra lap to recognize those who go the extra mile in their community.

"Our police, our firefighters and our National Guard soldiers sacrifice so we can be safe and they ask for little in return.

I want to thank New Hampshire Motor Speedway and LENOX Industrial Tools for their generosity and their commitment to the men and women who work hard every day for our safety," Lynch said.

"New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Sprint Cup races are very important to New Hampshire's economy and its people, and this is a great way to show our appreciation to the dedicated men and women of law enforcement, the fire service, the National Guard and their families." Said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway: "It's great to partner with LENOX to step up and recognize people who go the extra mile everyday to protect and serve.

We appreciate the cooperation of Gov.

Lynch and the state in working to make this a reality." The schedule: Here's what's going on in southern New England this weekend: Tonight's stockcar action returns to Seekonk Speedway with a 75-lap feature for the Pro Stocks.

Earlier today, Silver City has quarter midget action in Meriden, Conn.

For the bikers, the Capeway Rovers in Middleboro will host the NCSC/NEMX MotoX events starting at 9 a.m.

Whip City in Westfield hosts Mini Sprint action on the quarter-mile dirt oval tonight at 6.

IOn Sunday, the Capeway Rovers return with ATV and MotoX events also at 9 a.m.

Little T in Thompson offers more quarter-midget racing starting at noon, while in Shelton, Conn., there's kart racing on the dirt.

Information for this column came from various referenced sources, press releases, notes and other sources.



http://www.patriotledger.com/sports/x151292795/TRACK-TALK-Marvin-Rifchin-to-be-memorialized-in-race
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