This coming Friday and Saturday, the Modified racers of the Northeast will make their annual post-Thanksgiving visit to Wall Stadium Speedway on the Jersey Shore for the 43rd running of the Turkey Derby. The high-banked one-third mile oval has gained the reputation for being a test of both driver and machine, with Turkey Derby weekend being the most difficult of all.
But even before the races have gone green, the track claimed its first Derby casualty this past Saturday when 2016 Wall Stadium track champion Steven Reed hit the turn three Armco barrier head on with his Tour-type Modified in the closing minutes of an open practice. Despite a wrecked racecar, which brought down the outside wall, Reed was unscathed and has since been working to put his 2009 Troyer chassis back together.
“Yeah I’m alright. They put this stuff on the track that’s supposed to take rubber, I don’t know if it was slick or whatever happened, the car got loose and I buzzed the tire down the straightaway and turned one way,” Reed told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I don’t know, chased it into that stuff or out of that stuff but it just hooked and went the other way and stuck her square in the fence.”
Reed is hoping that they can get the Tour Mod back to where it was before the incident, because he feels that he will be able to compete for victory on Saturday.
“I hope so, we were third fastest on the board for the day and we didn’t put sticker tires on all day. Not that the tires we ran on were junk, but they weren’t brand new,” he explained. “But, we got the clip on Sunday and painted before we quit. Just got to slap it back together, go through the parts as we put them on, fix the bent stuff and put the good stuff back on.”
The two main events of Turkey Derby weekend are a 150-lap feature for Tour Modifieds and a 100-lap show combining Wall’s Modified division with SK Modifieds from other Northeast tracks. Reed plans to compete in both events like he has every year, which despite the risk of trouble, makes the open practices a valuable asset.
“What’s nice about those two weeks of practice is that you can take the Wall car to one and the Tour car to the other. Everything’s ready to go, we got a plan, and then this way we do more swapping tires around in the practices and the time trials than anything else.”
It has been a decade since Reed tasted victory on Turkey Derby weekend in the Wall/SK feature and is still looking for the first Tour-type win. But, he has enough experience of how to go about it.
“We won the Wall Modified race back in 2006 and the last ten years we’ve been competitive in both races and we’ve finished anywhere from knocking the wheels off the cars to top three, top five. The Turkey Derby is its own separate entity, both races are the same, you want to get in to position for the last 25 laps and anything can happen after that.”
As for who he thinks he’ll have to watch for, other than his fellow Wall regulars, he feels it will ultimately come down to who has the most experience not just with the track, but the race.
“The Tour guys it’s kind of a level playing field, they don’t run those cars there all the time. I feel like the guys who do run here like Jimmy Blewett, Anthony Sesely, and Eric Mauriello and guys who have run a lot of Turkey Derby’s like Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, and Matt Hirschman wind up being the guys to beat.”
Be sure to follow Speed51.com this Friday and Saturday for Trackside Now coverage of the 43rd Turkey Derby from Wall Stadium.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com