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The 2010 campaign marked the 26th for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which was established in 1985. The first race was held at Thompson International Speedway on March 31, 1985 and the 26th season concluded with the 112th event in Tour history at that same historic track in Northeast Connecticut with the coronation of Bobby Santos as champion.
The modern-day NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was set up a regional touring format for the popular style of race cars that were the feature attraction at many race tracks throughout the Northeast. In the past, drivers were required to race three or four nights per week at numerous individual race tracks holding championship events in order to garner points towards a national championship. A touring series, patterned after the popular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, would formalize the procedure used to determine a NASCAR Modified champion. A total of 29 championship events were held the first year. Since then the tour has maintained a schedule of between 14 and 27 races each season.
|RECORD BOOK (1985-2010)|
|ALL-TIME TOP 10 MODIFIED DRIVERS|
|YEAR-BY-YEAR TOP 10|
|MOST POPULAR DRIVER|
|SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR|
|ALL-TIME RACE RESULTS|
Richie Evans, named the Greatest Modified Driver in NASCAR history in 2003, was the series’ first race winner and champion. Winston came on board as the first series sponsor of the division and it was known as the Winston Modified Tour. Jimmy Spencer became the first multiple champion, winning titles in 1986 and 1987. Mike McLaughlin won his only championship in 1988. Mike Stefanik won the first of his record seven championships in 1989. Jamie Tomaino earned his only championship in 1990.
The year 1990 was significant as the series raced for the first time on a superspeedway at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. Stefanik added a second championship trophy to his collection in 1991. Jeff Fuller and Rick Fuller closed out the Winston era by winning championships in 1992 and 1993.
Wayne Anderson won the first championship under the Featherlite sponsorship in 1994 driving for Len Boehler. Tony Hirschman replaced Anderson in Boehler’s car and won the series in 1995, the first of his five championships. The 1996 season brought the Tour to a road course for the first as Watkins Glen was added to the schedule.
Hirschman and Stefanik would combine to win nine more championships over the next 11 seasons. Hirschman won in 1996, 1999, 2004 and 2005. Stefanik took top honors in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2006.
Jerry Marquis won a classic points battle with Reggie Ruggiero in 2000 and Todd Szegedy won the 2003 title in his sophomore season. Hirschman’s title in 2004 closed out the Featherlite era. He joined Stefanik as the only driver to win a championship for three different car owners.
NASCAR’s oldest division welcomed a new sponsor in 2005; Whelen Engineering of Chester, Conn. Donny Lia in 2007 and 2009, and Ted Christopher in 2008, have earned their first series championships under the Whelen banner.
The Tour has produced drivers and crew members who have climbed up the ladder to the three NASCAR national series among them Spencer, McLaughlin, Jeff Fuller and Steve Park as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs Greg Zipadelli and Tommy Baldwin Jr.
The Whelen Modified Tour has raced at 37 different speedways in 13 states from Maine to North Carolina in its first 26 seasons. In 2007 the Whelen Modified Tour made its first appearance in the Midwest as it held a race in Mansfield, Ohio and it visited venerable Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the first time in 2009. Thompson, which has played host to the most events, and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway have sanctioned at least one series race in each of the first 26 seasons. The 2011 season will feature the first international event with a trip to Delaware, Ont.
Modifieds are NASCAR’s oldest division of racecars. The Whelen Modified Tour is one of four NASCAR-sanctioned regional touring series across the U.S., along with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the K&N Pro Series, East and West.