05/06/14 11:00am
05/06/2014 11:00 AM
Teenage race car driver Vincent Biondolillo posed with kids at Stotzy Park last Friday during Riverhead Little League's Opening Day. (Credit: Barbarallen Koch)

Teenage race car driver Vincent Biondolillo posed with kids at Stotzy Park last Friday during Riverhead Little League’s Opening Day. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Baseball and race cars. The two worlds collided last Friday when teenage race car driver Vincent Biondolillo stopped by Riverhead Little League’s Opening Day to pose for pictures with kids in front of his No. 06 race car.  (more…)

05/05/14 1:41pm
05/05/2014 1:41 PM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY

The 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series got underway Saturday evening at Riverhead Raceway as 2012 NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito of Islip swept both ends of the Twin 30 feature events. Over the past four opening nights, either Shawn or his younger brother Timmy has won a feature at the quarter-mile track. (more…)

09/23/13 1:38pm
09/23/2013 1:38 PM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY ROUNDUP

Jason Agugliaro of Islip scored his first career NASCAR Modified feature event win, a 50-lap affair at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday. He reclaimed the lead with 12 laps left in a wild contest. Agugliaro had to ward off a last-lap, last-turn challenge by the 2013 NASCAR Modified champion, Howie Brode of East Islip.

Exiting a turn, Agugliaro pinched Brode up against the wall, slowing his challenger enough to grab the victory.

“I know Howie is upset right now,” Agugliaro said. “I told my team I’d do whatever it would take to get a win before the season ended and I was able to keep that promise.”

Dave Brigati of Calverton made a late-race pass on Brode to claim second place. Brode placed third. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead was fourth and Timmy Solomito of Islip fifth.

In other races:

Kevin Metzger of Massapequa, a two-time champion, scored his second Late Model win of the year, taking a 25-lap main event after a thrilling battle with Shawn Patrick. After the first lap, Metzger led the rest of the way. Patrick of Brightwaters had to settle for second and third went to defending champion Mike Bologna of Melville. With a fourth-place finish, Jeremy McDermott clinched the championship. McDermott has won back-to-back championships in two separate classes. Last year he won the Charger title.

After winning the 2012 Figure Eight title, veteran Mike Mujsce of East Quogue has endured a hangover season in 2013, but that changed Saturday when he won a 15-lap feature for his first win of the year. Roger Maynor was able to race his way for second. Maynor was hoping to put enough cars between him and fellow title contenders Ken Hyde Jr. and Arne Pedersen for his ninth championship. Then Pedersen’s title hopes went south on Lap 11, with a flat tire forcing him to pit. All the championship implications didn’t matter to Mujsce, who stormed off to the win. Maynor of Bay Shore was second and Hyde of Medford not only placed third but also clinched the championship at just 21 years of age.

Eric Zeh of Selden knew that there was only one way he could avoid all the possible tie-breakers for the 2013 Charger championship with four-time champion Chris Turbush of Riverhead, and that formula was a simple one: Win the race.

Zeh knew that winning his fourth race of the year would be the way to go, and that is just what he did. Trailing Turbush by a mere 2 points going into the race, Zeh wasted little time making his way to the front. He passed rookie Rich Wilson on Lap 2 for the lead. Meanwhile, Turbush was having a rough go of it as he was sent to the rear of the field for rough riding early in the race and later had to pit with a flat tire. That was music to the ears of Zeh, but by no means was he having an easy time up front. Ray Minieri was all over him for the lead in a heated battle. In the end, Zeh, the grandson of former NASCAR Modified car owner Carl Zeh, wrapped up his championship season with a win. Minieri of Bay Shore was second. C. J. Lehmann of Shirley rebounded nicely from an early-race spin to claim third.

Without question, the wildest championship battle belonged to the Blunderbust class. Bill Wegmann Jr. of Patchogue captured his first win of the year after having come close on numerous occasions earlier in the season. Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park, who entered the race 8 points behind the points leader, Tommy Walkowiak, grabbed second place and the championship as well. Walkowiak was disqualified from the race. Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow was third across the finish line.

The Super Pro Truck 20-lap feature went non-stop, with the defending champion, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, taking full advantage of a rare pole starting position to not only lead all the way to the checkered flag but pulling away from the field in the process. Turbush’s season was full of blown engines and other mechanical breakdowns, but he still won his third race of the year. Dave Koenig of Freeport was the runner-up. Frank Dumicich Jr. of East Quogue was third. With that finish, Dumicich became the 2013 Super Pro Truck champion for the first time in his career. His father, Frank Sr., is a past champion in the class.

Timmy Solomito of Islip, on the strength of a last-lap pass, scored the Legend Race Car victory. Solomito won the race win by less than a car length over second-place Kevin Nowak of Medford. A 16-year-old driver, Brendon Bock of Franklin Square, clinched the 2013 Legend Race Car championship with his third-place finish.

09/16/13 1:49pm
09/16/2013 1:49 PM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY ROUNDUP

Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., scored his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory of the year Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway after he executed an inside pass of Timmy Solomito with 23 laps remaining in the Green Earth Technologies 200. The win was Preece’s third straight WMT triumph at the track, tying him with Mike Ewanitsko as the only two drivers to score the Riverhead hat trick by winning three WMT races in a row.

Preece crossed under the checker flag not only as the race winner but also increasing his WMT championship lead over the defending champion, Doug Coby, to 46 points with three races remaining.

“I just love Riverhead,” Preece said. “I knew around Lap 100, if I just stayed on Timmy [Solomito] I would find an opening sooner or later.”

Referring to his third straight win, Preece said, “Three in a row and to have my name mentioned with the great Mike Ewanitsko is just awesome.”

Justin Bonsignore was second and upbeat about his race. “If you told me on Wednesday that we’d run up front all night long and finish second, I would have told you I’ll take it,” he said.

Solomito of Islip was third. “Just a great day for us, won the pole and then led 177 laps,” he said. “I just didn’t have enough to hold off Ryan, but third is fine with me.”

Woody Pitkat of Stafford, Conn., was fourth, with Howie Brode of East Islip steering his way to a fifth-place finish. Eric Goodale of Riverhead, Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, Penn., Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn., Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Conn., and Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park completed the top 10.

In other races:

Two 30-lap features were presented, with Jimmy White Jr. of Southampton being declared the Blunderbust winner some five hours after the completion of the race. High school senior Kyle Soper of Manorville drove to the Legend Race Car victory by a few car lengths.

In a postrace inspection that lasted until well after midnight, it was deemed that Jack Handley Jr., who had seemingly nailed down the victory, had unapproved work done to his heads and he was disqualified from the race. That handed the victory over to White, the second time this year his team won a race in this manner. Championship contender Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park finished second. Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge recovering from a spin to claim third.

In the Legend Race Car event, Soper enjoyed his second win of the campaign. Brad Van Houten of Wading River took second, and Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches came in third.

09/09/13 11:21am
09/09/2013 11:21 AM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY ROUNDUP

Timmy Solomito came to Riverhead Raceway on Saturday afternoon as a driver on a mission. When the NASCAR Modified Twin 30s were completed, the Islip driver could proclaim mission accomplished.

Solomito dominated, drawing the pole position and leading all 60 laps of the two feature events.

The first 30-lap contest saw Solomito top David Roys of Coram at the finish while Howie Brode of East Islip crossed the line third, earning his Peter Clark Motorsports team the 2013 NASCAR Modified championship. Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., and Justin Bonsignore of West Islip completed the top five.

Solomito took first again in the nightcap. Bonsignore was second, Dave Sapienza of Riverhead placed third, Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue came in fourth and Ryan Preece took fifth.

Asked if the two victories would give him momentum going into this week’s 200 WMT race at Riverhead Raceway, Solomito quickly shot back, “I certainly hope so.”

In other races:

Ken Hyde of Medford celebrated his 21st birthday with his second consecutive Figure Eight feature event win and in the process finds himself as the new championship points leader going into the final points race on Sept. 21. Defending champion Mike Mujsce appeared headed for his first win of the season when, with just over two laps to go, his car spun out on its own. Hyde took the unexpected birthday gift to the finish line. John Vullo of Farmingville was second. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue returned from a Florida vacation just in time to finish third.

Hyde leads Arne Pedersen and Roger Maynor by 6 points heading into the final race.

It is safe to say the scheduled 20-lap Charger race wasn’t very pretty at times, but it also can be said that the caution-flag-filled race also provided some of the best side-by-side racing of the night. In the end, it was C. J. Lehmann of Shirley notching his second win of 2013. Jayson White of Hicksville drove a heads-up race to cross the line second. Ray Minieri of Bay Shore was third.

Going into the final point-paying race on Sept. 21, Chris Turbush leads Eric Zeh by 2 points.

It was hard to imagine that the all-time leading Blunderbust feature event winner, Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge, had not won since early in the 2012 season, but that was the case before Saturday when he posted his 52nd career victory. He finished ahead of the second-place Tom Puccia of Shirley and the third-place Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow.

A wild last-lap tangle saw Ron Langdon collide with championship contender Tom Pickerell off a turn. NASCAR officials disqualified Langdon from the race.

Fifteen-year-old Riverhead driver Mark Stewart continued his winning ways in the Super Pro Truck ranks, winning a 20-lap main event for his fourth win of the season. Dave Koenig of Freeport finished second. The points leader, Frank Dumicich Jr. of East Quogue, was third. Dumicich takes a 10-point lead over Mike Albasini of Flushing into the final points race Sept. 21.

Two tested tough 8-Cylinder Enduro veterans, Ed Brown Jr. of Mastic Beach and Dominick Ranieri of East Northport, waged a fierce battle during  a 75-lap feature event before Brown won. Ranieri was second, and third went to Don Carasiti of St. James.

08/26/13 12:24pm
08/26/2013 12:24 PM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY ROUNDUP

Tom Rogers Jr. returned to the race track, and he returned in a big way.

In his first start since serving a five week suspension, the Patchogue driver made a triumphant return to the NASCAR Modified ranks at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, winning a 35-lap Whelen All-American Series feature event. It was Rogers’ third victory of the season, ninth in the past two seasons and 23rd overall for his career.

Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., was second in the race a standing room only crowd. Jason Agugliaro of Islip placed third. The division’s points leader, Howie Brode of East Islip, was fourth and Dave Brigati of Calverton claimed fifth.

“We were really good early on, but then I abused the right rear a bit and the car fell off but I guess so did Ryan’s,” Rogers said. “We had a good battle early. He’s fun to race with.”

With three Riverhead Raceway point-paying races left in the season, Brode holds a comfortable 86-point cushion over Timmy Solomito of Islip, 382 to 296. Preece is third with 287 points.

In other races:

Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford posted his first Figure Eight win of the year in a 15-lap feature event. Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach was second, and his brother, Scott Pedersen of Shirley, was third.

Chris Turbush of Riverhead scored his 35th career win in a 20-lap Charger main event. It was his third win of the season. Eric Zeh of Selden, who is locked in a tight battle with Turbush for the championship, made some late-race moves to finish second in the race. Chad Churilla of Hauppauge was third.

It had taken Legend Race Car talent Vinny Delaney a few years to win his first career main event. Now the Holtsville resident can lay claim to two feature event wins in one month. He took the lead on the first turn and never relinquished it during the 20-lap event, securing his second win of the year. Brendon Bock of Franklin Square was second, in front of third-place Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches.

Michael Rommeney of Maspeth took the win over his father-in-law, Dennis Scott of Bay Shore, in a hard-hitting School Bus Demolition Derby.

A fireworks display pleased the crowd as part of an “I Love America Night” celebration that included patriotic music and a candle-lighting ceremony.

08/19/13 12:28pm
08/19/2013 12:28 PM

RIVERHEAD RACEWAY ROUNDUP

Riverhead Raceway provided 194 laps of feature event racing during a fast-paced Wall of Champions night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program Saturday evening. Dave Brigati of Calverton scored the win in the opener of the Twin 30s for the NASCAR Modifieds, and Ron Silk of Norwalk, Conn., took the nightcap. Prior to those races, Wayne Anderson of Yaphank, Bill Park of Manorville and the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. of Holtsville were inducted onto the track’s Wall of Champions.

Brigati posted his second win of the year. He finished ahead of runner-up Timmy Solomito of Islip. Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., drove from eighth to finish third. Silk and Howie Brode of East Islip completed the top five.

In the second 30-lap main event, Silk was able to avoid a collision involving two other cars, and drove into the race lead with David Roys quickly moving into the second spot. As the race continued, Silk was able to keep a comfortable cushion between him and Roy.

In the 50-lap Late Model feature, the all-time leading winner in the class, Roger Oxee, recorded his 64th career win. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was second, and Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters made a great recovery from an early spin to rally for third.

Former Figure Eight champion Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach spent the last two weeks installing a new front clip on his Dodge after a crash two weeks ago in a Charger race. He made all that hard work pay off for him and his team with a victory, his second of 2013. It was his 11th career win since 2010. Scott Pedersen of Shirley was second. Roger Maynor of Bay Shore claimed third.

Jack Handley Jr. of Medford posted his fourth Blunderbust win of the season after executing a pass for the lead with five laps remaining in a non-stop, 20-lap contest. Bill Wegmann Jr. of Patchogue had to settle for second. Jimmy White Jr. placed third.

It had been just over three years since the patriarch of the Dumicich racing family, Frank Sr., had won a Super Pro Truck main event, but that all changed when he scored his 17th career win in the class Saturday. It was his first win since June 12, 2010. Mike Albasini of Flushing was second. Lou Maestri of Deer Park rallied late in the race for third.

Timmy Solomito of Islip triumphed in INEX National Qualifier for the Legend Race Car, which was shortened from 30 laps to 29 because of a time limit. The race was slowed by numerous caution flags. The final caution waved on Lap 29 when Johnnie Gloor IV lost an engine, dropping oil on the track going into a turn. Several cars slid in the oil slick and into the wall, ending the race one lap earlier than scheduled.

It was Solomito’s second win of the season. Kyle Soper of Manorville was second. The division’s points leader, Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead, took third.

08/14/13 8:00am
08/14/2013 8:00 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, three generations of family race car drivers: Mark Stewart. Roger Turbush, Chris Turbush and Dan Turbush.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, three generations of family race car drivers: Mark Stewart, Roger Turbush, Chris Turbush and Dan Turbush.

It’s ironic that one of the hottest new drivers at Riverhead Raceway this season doesn’t possess a driver’s license. At 15 years of age, Mark Stewart isn’t even old enough for a learner’s permit.

It would be against the law for Stewart to get behind the wheel on a public street, but it’s fine with NASCAR for him to race in Riverhead Raceway’s Super Pro Trucks division, reaching speeds as fast as 65 to 70 miles per hour on the quarter-mile oval. And Stewart isn’t only racing — he’s winning.

Seven races into his budding auto racing career, Stewart already has two back-to-back wins under his belt.

“I was ecstatic,” Stewart, who will soon begin his freshman year at Riverhead High School, said. “It was so surprising, you know.”

Then again, maybe not too surprising considering his pedigree. Stewart comes from a family with a rich tradition in racing. He represents the fourth generation of a famed Riverhead Raceway racing family, the Turbushes. He is the grandson of Dan Turbush, whose late father, Charley Turbush, won 37 races and a title at Riverhead Raceway in jalopies. Dan Turbush himself first raced at the raceway in 1967. Although he last raced two years ago, he said his racing days are not over yet. “I think I’m one of the last dinosaurs,” he said.

Two of Stewart’s uncles and Dan Turbush’s sons, Chris and Roger Turbush, are both current drivers at the track. Chris Turbush competes in Chargers and Roger Turbush in Super Pro Trucks alongside his nephew. Roger Turbush is the defending Super Pro Trucks champion.

Dan Turbush (55) and Chris Turbush (34) rank first and second on the raceway’s all-time Chargers win list. In terms of championships, Dan has claimed six and Chris has four.

“Obviously, it’s in my blood to race, and I really love to do it,” Stewart said. “It’s really fun.”

Stewart had raced go-karts for seven years and had success, too, winning a regional championship. Then Chris Turbush encouraged him to give driving his truck a try last year, which he did during a couple of practice runs.

This year Stewart was deemed ready to make the jump, and there he was in his uncle’s No. 8 truck, a hybrid with a Ford body and a Chevy front end on it. “We’re low budget here,” said Chris Turbush.

Of course, there was a modification for the newest member of the Turbush Racing team. In order to see over the steering wheel, Stewart sits on an old fire suit.

Stewart’s first two races this season were unremarkable. He got into wrecks that were not his fault, said Chris Turbush.

“He went right into the wall the second week,” Dan Turbush said. “He got hit, he didn’t make the corrections, and went straight into the wall.”

In order to pick up points, Stewart started but did not complete the next two races with borrowed trucks. Then, after spending all day repairing the motor to No. 8, Stewart went out and won his first complete race.

“I was crying,” Chris Turbush said. “I was ecstatic. It was just a joy.”

The following week, Stewart started fourth on the outside before pulling away from one of the better drivers, Frank Dumicich Jr., the points leader. That led to his second win in a row.

In Saturday’s race, which Roger Turbush won, Stewart finished seventh. He currently sits eighth in the standings.

Stewart has the qualities that make a good race-car driver, said Chris Turbush. “He’s got instincts and a great racing mind. He’s good. He’s just as good as us right now. He’s got it in him. He’s a Turbush.”

Stewart, who races for Angela’s House, a charitable organization that assists families caring for medically frail children, said it was scary at first when he first started racing, but he has quickly become accustomed to it. He has learned a lot, like how exhausting race-car driving can be, and how much behind-the-scenes work is involved.

“I just watched the videos, saw the mistakes I [made], see where I can get better at,” he said. “I really learned when to get on the gas, when to lift, how much break to use, where the better line is.”

Stewart said he is also helped by the radio communication he keeps with Chris Turbush during races. “My Uncle Chris, he’s amazing on the radio,” Stewart said. “He just keeps me calm. He keeps me in the race. He just guides me through it.”

Given what he has experienced on the race track, Stewart, who will turn 16 on Dec. 27, should not be nervous when the time comes for his road test for a driver’s license. That should be a piece of cake for him, but then again …

“He might fail,” Chris Turbush said. “He might be going too fast.”

bliepa@timesreview.com