When Eddie and Connie Partridge took over ownership of Long Island’s Riverhead Raceway for 2016, the focus would remain on the open-wheel Modifieds as has always been the case. But for one weekend, that will change in an effort to give full-fender fans and drivers their chance to show off, as well as give a series a chance at the spotlight outside of its New England base. This Saturday, the New Hampshire-based Granite State Pro Stock Series sails across Long Island Sound for the first time in order to race 100 laps around the Long Island ¼-mile bullring.
This venture will also pit the full-time Pro Stock touring competitors against some of Riverhead’s biggest stars in the Late Model division, who race most Saturdays in 25-lap sprint races. Among the locals is Chris Turbush, a recent addition to the division in 2016. While he might be new to the division, he is very familiar with the race track.
“I used to run Chargers at Riverhead but they scratched our class (after 2015) so I had no choice but to buy a Late Model or a Modified and I purchased a Late Model. I’ve been following their class (GSPSS) ever since,” Turbush told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “(Series founder) Mike Parks sent me a couple emails about coming up and joining for a couple races. But I live five minutes from Riverhead and that’s where my car is, instead of traveling three hours to their races.”
While Turbush feels that knowing the track is going to be a sure advantage, modifications to the cars in order to meet GSPSS rules and optimum performance may swing things back the way of the Pro Stock regulars.
“If we were the same weight, we would have a little bit of an advantage, but I think we’ll have an advantage because they’ve never been here. We’ll have that, but our cars at Riverhead have to weigh 2,950 pounds and their cars are 2,700. We’re taking a lot of lead out. I won my last race last week and I just unbolted 300 pounds of lead. I don’t know how it’s going to run, plus they run 10 inch tires, Riverhead put us on a 10-inch rim with an eight-inch tire. It’s going to be new for us too.”
Though Riverhead is known for its aggressive nature with its narrow racing line, Turbush expects the long race distance to keep the hard knocks down, at least for a time. The key to victory may be just who makes their car last.
“We usually run nerf bars on the side of our cars and they made us take them off. I think we got six or seven Riverhead guys that are going to run,” he said. “We got a 100 lap race and not the 25 that we run, you don’t have to get there that fast. I think it will be more relaxed for a little bit until the end.”
Between the event’s uniqueness for the Riverhead Late Model teams and the stout lineup driving south, it would be a tremendous triumph for Turbush, who has a big year with four LM wins and a shot at the track championship.
“It would probably be my biggest victory if could pull it out. I’ve won a couple races out of state in the New England Truck Series, I’ve raced in that. This would top them all. I’ve been following DJ Shaw, Cory Casagrande, Barry Gray, the O’Sullivans, and Mike Parks. Those guys are top notch. I’m just hoping to stay with them until the end and have a shot.”
One of the drivers on Turbush’s watch list, DJ Shaw, is equally excited to have an opportunity to go for a Riverhead trophy. Not only has he not been there before, but in today’s racing world, there’s no guarantee of having another shot.
“I’m excited. I don’t know about the odds of it happening again are very good and I might never get the chance to race there ever again,” Shaw told Speed51.com. “We’re definitely going in to win, hopefully we can. It would be pretty cool to have a trophy on the shelf from Riverhead. It’s tough for a New Hampshire-based series to go there, but it seems like they are going to pull off a good car count and make a good show of it.”
Shaw also mirrored much of what had been said by Turbush. He hopes that he can learn the track quick enough to use the automotive advantage come race time.
“We just got to stay out of trouble, I don’t know what to expect out of the regulars from there, they know the place a lot better than us. We’ll just have to wait and see what it brings. A place like that is so unique, their experience might make up for their car. It will help us to have the experience with the car at the lighter weight at a regular thing.”
Be sure to stick with Speed51.com this weekend for race coverage and post-race video highlights.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com