50 Years:
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Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com


Vern Romanowski and Scott Endres adjust the injection at Delaware
(Ontario, Canada) Speedway. (Jim Feeney Photo)



We’re up here in Newburyport, tucked onto the North Shore of Massachusetts, just south of New Hampshire. And for us, the last few months have been no different than for friends in Illinois, Colorado, or South Dakota. Ol’ Man Winter just would not go away. The words of Garth Brooks played and replayed: “The winds ain’t quit for weeks now, and the drifts are ten feet tall.”

Although most of us have finally been warmed by the early breezes of April, some in racing still seem stung by this winter’s harsh winds. How about Vern Romanowski, way up there in Strong, Maine? What happened to Vern two weeks back was so awful, so unfair, that it calls up the ironic thought that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Vern, an ISMA Supermodified driver and board member, and his crew are about as enthusiastic motorheads as you can find. At the end of the 2010 season, they began welding up a new frame and arranged to buy a freshened motor from the Vic Miller/Chris Perley team.

But they made another commitment as well. At considerable expense and garage time, they completely revamped and fluffed and buffed their previous Belfiore car to gussy it up for the Racin’ Paper Show in Portland, Maine. They wanted to give back to the sport.

They also had a soft spot for the folks at Lee USA (NH) Speedway, their closest track and scene of their best run in 2010. So, on March 25, Vern headed south on Rt. 95 towards the Mall in Rochester, NH, with the #05 Super in a borrowed truck and trailer to support the track at a weekend racing display.

Right near Arundel, famous to ISMA and the rest of the universe as home of Bentley’s (Warren) Saloon, Vern glanced in the mirror and noticed puffs of smoke coming from behind.

He pulled into the breakdown lane and opened the trailer’s swing door. PPHHOOFF!!!!

“It must have started as a small electrical fire,” Vern speculates, “and it must have been oxygen starved. When I opened the door, it had already begun consuming the aluminum sides, but then it really exploded. Within seconds, the whole thing was engulfed.

“I tried so hard to get the car out. I hoped the tie-down straps would melt so I could roll it out, but by the time they did, the fire was so hot I couldn’t get near the car.
The aftermath.  (Romanowski Collection Photo)

“It was a 100% loss. You know, when you hit the wall and destroy a car, you can always recover SOMETHING – a nerf bar, something. Not this time. The seat, hubs, wheels – all melted. All gone. So was the borrowed trailer. And the truck had nearly $4000 damage before I could unhook that.”

Needless to say, for an underfunded team, the incident was devastating. But they grow ‘em tough Down East, and “the Maine-iac,” as they call Romanowski, is not ISMA’s perennial most popular driver for nothing. Vern and his crew reconvened this last weekend and forged a reorganization plan. It’s now back, full-tilt boogie, to bending tubing to house the injected big block. Vern’s enthusiasm powered through our conversation as he speculated on which races they could still take in later this summer.

Meanwhile, the ISMA community – pretty darn warm and enthusiastic itself – has launched a benefit campaign to “GET THE MAINE-IAC BACK ON THE TRACK.” Donations, made out to Vern Romanowski, can be sent to:

PO Box 633
Central Square, New York 13336

Spring will come on Strong, Vern.

Vern at Lee USA, New Hampshire, in August 2010.  (Jim Feeney Photo)

© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

3/23/11 - Thinking of Gene Bergin

3/8/11 - Sprint Car World Record?

2/21/11 - Dinner at Daytona

2/10/11 - The Call Him 1/4ley

1/28/11 - Doc's Beard

1/15/11 - Reconsidering Generalizations

12/31/10 - Powerful Passion

12/19/10 - Tearoff at Yuletide

12/6/10 - Indy in December

11/21/10 - Mutt and the Brutal Ballet

10/29/10 - The Johnny Bensons and Their Supers

10/13/10 - Anatomy of an Accident

9/28/10 - Maybe Marty

9/14/10 - Push Refresh for Speedway Illustrated

8/23/10 - An Ode to Senior Supers

8/6/10 - Adrian and the Deep Water

7/20/10 - Holdout in Yuppieville

7/7/10 - The Wins are Gustin

6/16/10 - Racin' Kid, Racin' Dad

5/28/10 - The Monk and Matty D.

5/15/10 - Bluebird

4/27/10 - Catching Up With Steve Arpin

4/11/10 - The Song of the Fifties

3/22/10 - Davey!

3/8/10 - Restart!

2/21/10 - Miracles of the Rock

2/8/10 - Roger The Remarkable

1/21/10 -  Shane's Sensational '78

12/28/09 - The Flying Finn and The All American Boy

12/12/09 - Hello Wall

11/29/09 - Once More for Ernie

11/15/09 - Ernie's Excellent Chase

11/1/09 - In The Zone

10/19/09 - Rough Week in the Midwest

10/1/09 - Common Starts, Uncommon Comebacks

9/4/09 - South Dakota Chris

8/15/09 - Facial Exposure

7/31/09 - Dying in the Pits

7/9/09 - Barn Rat's Last Race

6/18/09 - Catching Up With Brad Doty

5/20/09 - Big Boys in The Attic  - rare photos of legends

5/6/09 - Back Up In The Attic - more rare photos

4/22/09 - The Son of Hard Luck - accessible racing
experience for the handicapped

4/3/09 - Racin' In The Attic - Gordon Ross photo collection

3/18/09 - About That Mike Spaulding

3/3/09 - Dick Berggren's First Win - (you had to be there!)

2/11/09 - Peter at the Park - Peter Fiandaca at Riverside Park

1/30/09 - Steve - Steve Arpin

1/4/09 - Racer Speak -cool quotations

12/16/08 - Wimble Power, Will Power - Bill Wimble

11/24/08 - Remembering Chuck Amati - by Joyce Standridge

11/11/08 - That Rick Ferkel

10/24/08 - Beyond Bionic - Bentley Warren

10/6/08 - Fifty Second Classic - Skip and Lois Matczak

9/20/08 - Joey's Dad - Tom Logano

9/1/08 - One Night at The Park - the death of Les Ley

8/20/08 - Transitional Technology - early supermodifieds

8/6/08 - Wallace on Wednesdays - dirt trackin’ Kenny

7/19/08 - Star(ter) of the Show - importance of good flaggers

7/7/08 - McUnderdog - Eddie MacDonald

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried - Buzz Rose

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer - the late Al Powell

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues - Bobby Santos III

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey - Carl Edwards and Corey Dripps

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers - West Liberty, Iowa

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See - cockpit vision

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See - flagstand vision

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos - in-car camera midget win

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer

© 2007-11 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181





































































































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