It may be vintage racing now, but Modifieds like these are a big part ofthe track's herita
Success at Wall requires nerves of steel and a truckload of finesse. "Itwas like a little dance," explains Evernham of his driving days. "Youhad to get into a rhythm to where you'd be sliding that Modified up offthat corner with the tail hung out. You almost had to over-correct itand let the tail slide back to the left by the starter's net, or you'dclip the fence. Then you'd swing it back out to the right. So it waskind of a strange line you had to run to be fast."
Walk through the pits at the speedway today and you'll find just aboutevery type of race car: Street Stocks, Bombers, Legends Cars, Trucks,and, of course, the Modifieds. Family, friends, and the driversthemselves are working on the race cars. Joyce is in the credentialbooth at the pit entrance, a spot she has occupied for the past sevenyears. Jim Smith has his cameras ready to shoot all the action. FlagmanFloyd Goff climbs into the flag stand. The smell of fuel and exhaust iseverywhere as the sun begins to set.
A Modified Sportsman crate engine class has been launched at WallStadium.
Leaning against a big red toolbox is John Blewett III. The 32-year-oldis no stranger to Wall. His family's salvage business is only fiveminutes away, and they have been coming to the track every Saturdaynight since 1971. Wall would not be Wall without a Blewett on thestarting grid.
This season, as he has in years past, Blewett will run the entire16-race NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. That series will take him to eighttracks from Virginia to New Hampshire and points in between. When heisn't traveling he will be at Wall, running the Saturday night races infront of 1,000 people, most of whom he knows.
"I could walk over there [to the grandstands] now and recognize or namejust about every face in the place," says Blewett. "I've seen them sinceI was a kid." Blewett finished second to his brother Jimmy in Wall'sopening Modified feature on May 7.
"There's a ton of second- and third-generation guys here, whether it'sModifieds, Street Stocks, or whatever," he says. "There are a lot ofpeople who have been here a long time."
Although they have their roots in the South, Legends provide entry-levelracing at the Jers
That is what Wall is like, a family of competitors and a family of fans.Conversely, there was a time when Wall had a rougher side. "When I camehere as a kid, if you wore the wrong T-shirt or the wrong jacket and satin the wrong section, well . . ." says Blewett, adding a smile foremphasis. "That's just the way it went. You made sure you didn't comearound the corner from the men's room at the wrong time."
That was then, and this is now. The pits are paved. The bathrooms,concession areas, and grandstands are all upgraded, the result of amillion-dollar investment by the new track owners four years ago. Formerracers Fred Archer, Joseph Sanzari, Tim Shinn, and the Creamer familyformed a partnership, bought Wall from the Nicol family in 2002, andimmediately began the improvements. They have big plans but, as manyshort tracks in the Northeast today can attest, things have been tough,leading to rampant speculation about the track's future.
"It's no secret that the partnership is entertaining developmentopportunities," says track operator Jack Terhune.
The reason is pure economics. Wall's core fan base numbers about 1,200to 1,300, and Terhune says he needs to consistently put 1,500 to 2,000people in the stands to make it work.