Vern Romanowski and
adjust the injection at Delaware
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
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.
“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.”
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
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
Square, New York 13336
Spring will come on Strong, Vern.
Vern at Lee
in August 2010. (Jim Feeney Photo)
© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181