By KYLE SOUZA
EPPING, NH – The annual Star Classic weekend is right around the corner.
For the 55th time in history, Star Speedway will host Classic weekend from September 18-20, with three days of action set to include a mix of open-wheel and fender racing at the Epping, New Hampshire oval. Friday will include all fender divisions, Saturday will include all open- wheel divisions, and Sunday will include a mix of both. It’s a race fan in New England’s dream weekend.
But there is no doubt the headliner of the prestigious events will take place on Saturday night, September 19, with the return of the ISMA Supermodifieds to Star for some fast-paced action.
With COVID-19 changing the ISMA schedule due to travel restrictions with the Canadian border, and the cancellation of the race scheduled at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, this race has become the final of the season for the Supermodified touring division. More importantly, it is also the only chance that race fans in the Northeast region will have to see the division before the calendar switches to 2021.
The race has become one of the most important on both the ISMA and Star schedules every year, and in a season where COVID has affected competition for both, it’s fitting that the two will once again work together. The ISMA feature is the crown jewel of Star Classic weekend and the race everyone wants to win.
This year, the ISMA race is again the Bobby Webber Sr. Memorial 125 lapper. In 2018, Webber Sr. passed away after a long battle with an illness, and since then, the race has been named in his honor because of his passion and drive to see racing succeed at the place he operated.
“ISMA at the Star Classic means tradition for all of us,” Bobby Webber Jr., current owner and operator of Star Speedway, said. “It’s a tradition that dates back to the first Star Classic in 1966, and one we plan to continue for many years. Supermodifieds were my dad’s first love in racing, and the reason behind our purchase of Star. We will still celebrate the love of Supers yearly with the Bob Webber Sr. Memorial 125.”
In the two previous ISMA races titled the Bobby Webber Sr. Memorial 125, Jon McKennedy and Jeff Abold went to Victory Lane.
McKennedy dominated the race in 2018, while Abold earned his first ISMA win after starting at the bottom of the top-10 and blazing through the field to the lead before halfway. McKennedy, who finished third last year, was emotional in Victory Lane after winning in 2018 because of his personal relationship with Webber Sr.
“Anytime you can win a Star Classic it’s great… big Bob was definitely riding with us tonight,” McKennedy said in 2018. “Big Bob let me race here at a young age. He took me under his wing and was always awesome. I was very said when he passed away. It’s just great to win here… he was riding with me and it made for an awesome race.”
A strong field of ISMA competitors is expected, and they won’t be the only open-wheel winged division that will compete on Star Classic Saturday. Star Speedway’s own 350 Supers return to the track for their own memorial race, the Randy Witkum Memorial 60. The race honors Witkum, who lost his life in a Supermodified crash in 1999 and was a former Star Speedway track champion. Last year, it was his brother, Eddie Witkum Jr., who earned the checkered flag, leading all 60 laps.
The 350 Supers recently went to battle in the Jim Belfiore Memorial race on August 10, when Jeffrey Battle scored the victory, besting more than 24 competitors. The division continues to produce some impressive action race fans to watch and a large car count is expected for Classic weekend.
The NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites will also compete on Saturday night with memorial races of their own, the Jim O’Brien Memorial. O’Brien was a car owner, engine building, fabricator and NEMA officer who was in the sphere for more than 40 years. Last year, John Zync Jr. would win the NEMA Midget feature, while Randy Cabral would score in the NEMA Lites. Both NEMA races are scheduled for 50 laps.
Star Classic weekend begins on Friday, September 18, headlined by the Granite State Pro Stock Series Vynorius 100. This race has also become one of the best of the weekend, with last year’s event going down to the final lap before the winner was decided. Ray Christain III and Joey Doiron took the white flag battling hard for the top spot, but it was Christian who would come out on top. Friday’s racing will also include the Classic Lites, 6 Shooters and Pure Stocks, and will begin with the first green flag at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, ISMA headlines the show with the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites O’Brien Memorials, and the Randy Witkum Memorial 60 for the 350 Supers. Racing on Saturday night will begin at 4 p.m.
On Sunday, the Modified Racing Series returns to Star for the first time this season with a 100- lap feature, while the Late Models and the final round of the MLM Fast 40 also wraps the weekend. Sunday’s racing will take the green at 1 p.m. and is presented by Hedges Excavating.
Tickets for all three days of the Star Classic are available through eventbrite.com. Star Speedway continues to run at 50% capacity due to restrictions from the state of New Hampshire due to COVID-19.