The R-Word?: Ed Flemke Jr. Unsure Of Whelen Modified Tour Plans For 2014 Season

Ed Flemke Jr. knows that retirement from competition with NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is coming sooner rather than later for him.

Ed Flemke Jr. (Photo: Kim Tyler/NASCAR)

Ed Flemke Jr. (Photo: Kim Tyler/NASCAR)

At 59 years old he’s not lying to himself that it isn’t on the horizon.

Though the fact is, he’s trying his hardest to fight it off. Unfortunately, age may not be his biggest contender in avoiding retirement, but finances could be.

Flemke, of Southington, said Wednesday that he’s unsure if he’ll be competing, full-time or even part-time, on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2014.

“It all depends on finances,” Flemke said. “I’m just trying to secure enough finances to see what we can do. If it means cutting back we’ll have to cut back. If it means not doing it at all we’re not going to do it at all. I want to and I plan on coming back. The plan is to come back, but I just don’t know if we’re going to put be able to put all the number together. It’s just getting too hard. It would be nice if we saw a little more commitment from [NASCAR], but they can’t do it all for us either. It’s just getting harder to make ends meet.”

Flemke has been a regular on the Modified Tour since 1988 and has raced full-time in the division every year since 1992. The last event he missed was on July 22, 1992 at the now closed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass. He has 17 career victories in 439 starts with 91 top-five finishes. He has finished in the top-10 in th standings 12 times including a career best series runner-up finish in 2004.

Despite having Don King as the listed car owner for his team, Flemke said the financial backing of the program over the last two seasons has essentially come entirely from him. He said he’s struggling greatly with the thought of retirement.

“It’s just sad to me,” Flemke said. “It’s the end of an era. Last year was my 41st year driving. It’s gut wrenching. For 41 years I’ve done something. Now I’m not going to do it? I’ve been trying to past few years to prepare myself mentally to do this, but now it’s a reality somewhat, it’s more likely than unlikely, it hurts. It’s like I’ve got to go to a wake.”

Flemke insisted he won’t go looking for a cheaper alternative to stay in the seat.

“[The Whelen Modified Tour] is still the best tour to be involved with,” Flemke said. “A lot of people say, ‘do [the Valenti Modified Racing Series]’ or do something else. Well this is still where I want to be. If you want to be the best you’ve got to run the [Whelen Modified Tour]. A lot of people think the other one’s are cheaper but just as good, well, they’re not. It’s where I want to be. For me it will be the [Whelen Modified Tour] or nothing at all.”

Flemke said the cost of operating his team for the season in 2012 was about $40,000 after winnings and will be about $70,000 for 2013 with the added expenses of motor issues from last year.

“You can only absorb that for so long,” said Flemke, who had two top-10 finishes in 2013 and finished 18th in the series standings. “I wish I could choose to walk away instead of being forced to walk away.”

The loss of Flemke could mean a 2014 Whelen Modified Tour season without two of the division’s most familiar faces in competition. Seven-time series champion Mike Stefanik parted ways with team owner Chris Our after the 2013 season and as of now has not announced any plans for the upcoming season.

“That’s a big loss,” Flemke said. “When I heard Mike’s deal was falling apart so to speak, all I could of was the song, The Day The Music Died. The Tour is taking another turn, it’s evolving again. I don’t want to say it’s becoming a different monster, it’s just taking on a whole new look.”

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  1. Josh paradis says

    If you do retire Ed thanks for all the memories bud.

  2. Billy Parker says

    Wow! the tour will still be “The” tour, but just wont be the same without the nicest guy in the paddock, steady Eddie jr.

  3. sad news

  4. The “Tour” is losing yet another great driver. NASCAR needs to step up to the plate and make an effort to promote and support the best division they have! Really ashame to this this divsion struggling to stay alive! Love ya Eddie and all you’ve contributed to the series!

  5. I don’t want to short anything here, but I would have thought it more than 40,000 to run the Whelen tour. Tires, towing, fuel and motors I thought would be way more the 40,000. Racing is down all over, I really don’t think it is just this series. People and companies are one the edge or maybe just recovering.

  6. JC,

    That was what was lost after including all winnings. And according to Ed Flemke Jr., that’s just operating costs week to week to race, not purchasing of cars, motors, haulers, etc.

  7. Bobby Calsetta says

    You will be missed !

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