Over the course of the last two months many followers of the Valenti Modified Racing Series have questioned on social media whether the leadership in place, headed by series promoter Jack Bateman, is the right group and whether the series is on stable ground.
There’s been an ample supply of reasons behind the concerns. The departure of race director Scott Tapley is one. Replacing Tapley on a try-out basis with a 19-year-old in Jordan Harnish is another. And the way the series handled what took place with Kevin Stuart, owner for Todd Szegedy, at the Waterford Speedbowl (CT) is just one more to add to the list.
“I don’t think Jack is doing his job,” said legendary owner Art Barry whose driver, Justin Bonsignore, currently leads the VMRS points standings. “I think if he would let his officials do their job it would be good.”
Barry said that he feels Bateman has rulebooks for different people and he said that is the biggest problem with the series as is.
“He doesn’t have the same rules for everybody that runs up there,” Barry said. “He just doesn’t live with what the rule book says.”
Former VMRS champion Chris Pasteryak spoke with Speed51.com on Monday and said that he hasn’t seen any indication of a separate rule book depending on who you are.
“A lot of times I just want to go and race my car,” said Pasteryak. “I try not to pay too much attention to that because if you get bogged down in that then you kind of forget why you’re there.”
The rule book is something that has been called into question recently after what happened on August, 9th at Waterford. After a massive crash took out a bunch of cars required a red flag to clear the blocked frontstretch a few teams went to work in the pits to repair their crashed race cars. Kevin Stuart took issue with that and the incident that followed led to his suspension for three races. Stuart now says he has no plans to return to the series this season.
Bateman clarified the rule concerning the red flag procedures this past Saturday in the driver’s meeting at Seekonk Speedway (MA). He said that any car towed or pushed to the pits under red flag can immediately being work on their car.
Pasteryak pointed out that according to the rule book Bateman has the ability to interpret the rules as he sees fit.
“And he’s been fairly consistent with that as he’s moved ahead,” said Pasteryak.
Barry’s son, Kenny, is the crew chief for Bonsignore and he asked a question at Saturday’s meeting about a similar issue that took place earlier in the season.
“Kenny is the crew chief on the car and he was trying to do what was right but they just don’t want to listen to you,” said Barry. “They tell you to go back in your pit and behave yourself.”
Driver Steve Masse believes that the series could head back in the right direction if a few changes are made.
“Just like a race car it starts with a good team,” said Masse. “You need good officials behind you.”
Masse was one of the drivers disqualified last year in the “Tiregate Scandal” following an event at Seekonk, but he said that he has not observed any bias by the series.
“Every time we go over the scales I get weighed and I weigh what I’m supposed to weigh,” said Masse. “Of course with Tiregate last year I still don’t have a decision on exactly what happened or why they even thought we were doing something to the tires. It still kind of blows my mind to this day.”
He did point out that Tiregate is part of the reason why he’s only running a partial schedule this year.
“I had my deal with NASCAR once,” said Masse. “I got black-flagged when I was leading a Southern Tour race a couple years ago. I felt like I was wronged by NASCAR and went back to MRS and then felt like I was wronged again. I just kind of lost all hope for points racing.”
Barry did say that even though the series has faults he feels as though it can be pointed back in the right direction.
“I like the series,” said Barry. “The series is good, but it’s been getting mixed up here in the last two months.”
When Bateman was asked by Speed51.com about whether the series is on stable ground he said, “The only concern or comment I have concerns social media and all the lies and misconceptions that are out there. It’s just garbage.”
Pasteryak’s only suggestion to improve the series was for Bateman to try to bring on more officials.
“They are kind of short on people,” said Pasteryak. “But for the people they have and the positions they have them in as they learn and continue to get better and comfortable with it then maybe they can hire one or two people to take the burden off of Jack.”
He said that he’s observed nothing that has made him question his continued participation with the series.
“I like running a Modified,” said Pasteryak. “I like the format they have. I like the tracks they go to. Right now for me it’s still the best option. I’m still going to be there at Monadnock. I’m still going to run the races this year as long as they’ll have me.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com