Rowan Pennink To Take Over BRE Ole Blue Ride On Whelen Modified Tour For 2016

Rowan Pennink celebrates his last Whelen Modified Tour victory Oct. 20, 2013 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Rowan Pennink celebrates his last Whelen Modified Tour victory Oct. 20, 2013 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Rowan Pennink will step away from a family owned ride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in to take over one that serve as the fabric of the series.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., will join Boehler Racing Enterprises on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2016 to drive the team’s legendary No. 3 Ole Blue car.

“We’re very happy about coming together with Rowan,” Boehler Racing Enterprises team owner Mike Boehler said “Rowan has been around since 2007 on the Tour and has won some races and he’s really turned it up and raced a lot the last few years and seemed to get a lot better so we’re really happy to put something together and get a few sponsors on board that want to help out. The guys are excited. It should work out real good for next season.”

Pennink has run full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour for his family owned team since 2007. He has two victories, 27 top-five’s and 58 top-10’s on 124 career starts with the division. He got his first career victory in 2010 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. His last win came in 2013 in the World Series at Thompson Speedway. His best finish in the standings is fourth, which has has done three times (2009, 2011, 2013).

Pennink also won a Valenti Modified Racing Series championship in 2013. He won the SK Modified division championship at Stafford Motor Speedway last season.

Pennink announced after the 2015 season that if he couldn’t find a ride with another team his family owned team would likely cut back to a part-time schedule in 2016.

Boehler said Pennink will be able to bring the spec motors owned by his family team to his operation and put the team on the same level motor-wise with most of the other top competition with the series.

“They have a lot of parts and pieces from having their own team the last few years, so they’re able to help us, especially with motors and stuff,” Boehler said. “I’m hoping this will get a program back up front where it belongs.”

Boehler said the team will return with backing from Cape Cod Copper and Bridgewater-Raynham Overhead Door.


  1. Some good news for a change. Good luck to them. It would be nice to see Ole Blue on top again.

  2. This is great news. Getting a SPEC motor in Ole Blue, as repugnant as that is, along with the driving skills of Pennink, will be fun to watch No. 3 run again.

    Thank you, this is great news for the Mod Tour.

  3. Very nice. Seems like a good fit. Best of luck to them. Now I can sit back and listen to the “tour is falling apart” people eat a little crow. I told you all Rowan only put that story out there last month so something like this could happen. Its what drivers do at the end of the season when they are available. End result, we get a top team with a winning WMT driver ready to do battle in 2016.

  4. This looks like a great combination!

  5. Glad to see Rowan back behind the wheel and the 3 back on the tour. It would also be nice to see the 21 back on the tour.

    Dareal, why is getting a spec motor in the 3 repugnant? Who knows maybe they will get the same carburetor as the 2 and then look out!

  6. Where’s Todd Szededy?

  7. Uh, NH Mark, this news is that two teams combined into one, the Tour still lost a car. This just makes sure that Ole Blue will be full time. The Pennink owned 93 team will not be campaigning. So the Tour still lost a pretty good car in the 93.

    I hear that crow with a lot of garlic isn’t that bad. It becomes more like garlic with a little crow. Hope you like garlic.

  8. The 93 has been part time for several years. Skipping events here and there quietly. The 3 longer than that. Both only a threat on occasion. Now we have a top 8 team, maybe better. Its only December. More teams will be announced in coming months. The 22 and 88 still only teams gone. Maybe the 6. 30 plus cars at Icebreaker all day long.

  9. Make that the 22, 88 and 93 are gone. The 07 is cutting back, running part time. The 6 will provide off season drama. That’s 5 (FIVE) COMPETITIVE teams, at least. Probably more will be announced after the banquet. Some will just not be there in the Spring, no fanfare, no announcements.

    And I’d like to introduce you to the reality of quality versus quantity. The 22, 88, 93 and 6 are QUALITY teams, COMPETITIVE teams. The 01, 36, 37, 18, 26 and several others are known as caution flags. Do you want more QUALITY teams or more caution flags?

    I doubt the 22, 88, 93, 07 and 6 will be replaced with COMPETITIVE teams. We have lost and are losing COMPETITIVE teams. I doubt KNOWLEDGABLE people are going to be buying all those available top quality cars so that equipment will be competitive.

    The union of Ole Blue and Pennink is awesome. Pennink has proven his mettle on the VMRS, SK and NWMT series, he can drive. The 93 needed a really good Crew Chief. The performance of the car was erratic. Had bright spots, but no consistency. If they could have gotten someone like Barry Kuhnel, that would have made a huge improvement. The Ole Blue crew can put out competitive cars. With the SPEC motors from the Pennink organization, Ole Blue will be a major threat. I can’t wait for the IceBreaker!!!!!

  10. race fan asks: “Where’s Todd Szededy?”

    Probably the same place as Colby.

  11. humphry asks: “Dareal, why is getting a spec motor in the 3 repugnant? Who knows maybe they will get the same carburetor as the 2 and then look out!”

    The 3 is one of the remaining original teams. Lenny Boehler was a tinkerer that made things work, he did his own thing. The thought of using a SPEC motor, a manufactured motor that is untouchable and UNMODIFIABLE in a car that is legendary for innovation, has been around forever, unique, and independent is kinda sad. It would be great if the free and independent spirit of modified racing was left to principled rules, and not mandating specific parts and engines.

  12. darealgoodfella, That was good in the old days. Those of us who remember the days of innovation miss those days very much. The fact of the matter now is that in order to succeed and survive in the sport these days, you need to have the latest and greatest. Like it or not.

  13. Good for Rowan.Like I said a couple of weeks ago he is no quitter.I will wait until spring and and see where the tour is instead of making predictions that only serve to show my stupidity.

  14. Bob Npt., let the “latest and greatest” come from the racers, and not be mandated by NASCAR. NASCAR should come up with rules that are not full of things like anything can be approved or disapproved by by NASCAR, and what they say goes. The Tour needs good, clear, concise, unambiguous rules that are enforceable and enforced. After all these decades, that still isn’t happening. NASCAR is SUPPOSED to be making the playing field level, which it destroyed with the SPEC motor. Go figure. The built motors had far more parity amongst themselves than there is now with the so-called SPEC motor. And the SPEC motor was supposed to even things out. Oh well…

    Otherwise, this is great news for Rowan Pennink and Ole Blue.

  15. There is an easy fix here, get rid of the spec motor (since they are getting up there in price compared to when they were introduced) and go to the same engine rule as the VMRS minus the 23 degree steel head and big carb option. Then just work really hard on your set up and you should have a pretty good show.

  16. Joe Lajoie says

    Boy, am I glad there was no social media back in the late 90’s when Stefanik tore the Tour all up. He won 23 of 44 races in a 2 year span and led over 37% of the laps run. Imagine all the carburetor talk that would’ve been thrown around back then!!!

  17. Yes he did Joe. With a home built car, 4 link rear suspension, an “A” frame lower front suspension and a Tony’s 23 degree engine! Matter of fact I believe he won13 races in one season and like 6 in a row same year. I want to say he won the championship in ’97 and ’98 in the X6?

  18. The 22, 88 and 93 combined for 1 points race win in 2015. Just saying… There are other quality teams out there. In terms of the 07, that kid is a budding star. I’m sure you will see him on the WMT in some capacity for years to come. Santos is coming back with the LFR chassis. The 51 is coming off a down year but they are a title contender. Now Ole Blu is loading up for a full assault on tour. Everything will be ok. 2016 should be another exciting season for the WMT.

  19. No word about Talman’s plans? The problem with engines is no one builds one anymore, everyone is against crate engines but isn’t it the same thing when everyone is buying the same thing as everyone else just 4X the $

  20. Hey, NH Mark, really saying, the 22 had driver/crew chief issues and passed on two races, the 93 destroyed their brand new car in practice at the Ice Breaker and had crew chief issues, and the 88, well, just goes to show you don’t have to win a bunch of races to contend for the championship, just be very consistent. The 07, 51 and 44 had a combined 2 wins, and that was the 51 at Riverhead, his home track, so no surprises there.

    There are drivers available… need more owners and competitive cars.

  21. Sounds like Rowan pennink is some kind of supper star driver . Come on what’s he done in the series old blue is old blue ,don’t hold your breath going no where , “bring back the reg”…..

  22. Bob,

    Pennink is a very good driver. He won the VMRS Championship and the SK Modified Championship. SK racing is tough. His Tour car was competitive, and at times very competitive. All the physical parts were there, but you have to do the right things all the time with all those parts. That just never happened consistently.

    Ole Blue is a great team. When Ole Blue has the engine, it is competitive. The Ole Blue Crew knows chassis. Their chassis expertise and the engines that Pennink is bringing to the party will make Ole Blue a favorite.

  23. Andy Boright says

    My take, darealgoodfella has a good feel for where the series is headed and the trouble it’s in, while NH Mark breathes the cloud of questionable substances and is unable (or unwilling) to focus on the big picture.

    Good for Pennink, net lost for the series, a series that is looking at even more loses.

    I’m sure NH Mark is all sunshine & unicorns about the new modified series attempting to be formed in his neck of the woods too.

  24. The tour is like beating a dead horse..each year gets more boring . It would be nice to see old blue in victory lane again .would be a shot in the arm for the mod tour.but rules have to change to make racing more exciting for the fans…..”follow the leader racing has to go “sorry…..race fan for over 54 years….

  25. Bob, I’m curious… what rules would have to change to make the racing exciting?

  26. I’m actually quite the pessimist if you can believe that. I just need tangible evidence to follow your argument. Car counts were up in 2015. That is a fact. The teams leaving accounted for very few of the wins in 2015. That is a fact. A pretty solid schedule is about to be released. That is a soon to be fact. Everything you guys are saying is the same stuff I’ve been reading on discussion boards for the last 15 years. Yet here we are. Just for you guys, Smoke is gonna do some WMT shows after he retires from Cup. There you go, another driver joining the ranks in 2017.

    Bob, have you ever been to a race at Loudon? Some damn exciting modified racing over there. I wouldn’t be against some different formats and race distances from time to time at Stafford and Thompson . Tri-Track has some interesting concepts.

    For the record, I’m against all these other tours outside of the WMT. I think there needs to be more weekly track racing and less tours. The ROC Tour isn’t bad either. Some good racing out there as well.

  27. While I agree with Mark.The problem is weekly racing can’t get it done.When I was a kid growing up on long island we had three tracks,all ran modifier on different multi-million dollar haulers,Guys didn’t even have to miss work.Big contrast to todays racing world.I think the tours actually are the only way we are going to see modifies.Riverhead runs mods some weeks 20 cars some weeks not.Its even expensive without the travel.

  28. NH Mark, you need to learn what facts are, and perhaps do some fact checking.

    Mark says; “Car counts were up in 2015. That is a fact.” Car counts were up due to a bunch of non-competitive Riverhead cars. And 2-3 of these cars are attributable to many of the yellow flags.

    NH Mark says: “The teams leaving accounted for very few of the wins in 2015. That is a fact.” The teams shutting down have more wins, top tens, top fives and wins than the Riverhead cars that boosted the car counts could ever dream of. Face it, those Riverhead cars have NO CHANCE of winning and never came close. Looks like maybe three top tens for all those Riverhead cars.

    NH Mark says: “Everything you guys are saying is the same stuff I’ve been reading on discussion boards for the last 15 years. Yet here we are.” Well, about 15 years ago, we had 21 race schedules, the Thompson 300, and cars sent home because of DNQ (too many cars). Yet here we are with 14-15 race schedules, no Thompson 300, race distances shortened to limit tire consumption, car counts below the max race threshold, and cars like the 01 “qualify” for every race. Car counts of quality, competitive cars is still well below the number of cars allowed to run an event. Been like this for many years.

    NH Mark says: “A pretty solid schedule is about to be released. That is a soon to be fact.” Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Facts are something else. And a schedule is usually released around now, as has been for many, many years. No useful information or secrets there.

    I’d prefer Cup drivers stay away from the Modified Tour. They never added any value, usually wrecked, and rarely legitimately finished well. NH Mark, you probably think the Newman debacle was a huge conspiracy.

  29. Dareal, I’m curious….. have you ever owned a modified race team before? You seem to have all the answers and I have asked you this question twice in previous articles and you have yet to answer it, a simple yes or no will suffice. You seem to have all the 411 on everything and certainly very opinionated so I am again curious to the extent of your expertise and where you obtained it from.

    Mark and Bob you have two different opinions of the tour and I respect both. So here is mine; I remember when the tour would run 20-25 races a year and it took about a $250k bank roll to finance it. In todays economy that schedule is not feasible (since it much more expensive than it was back then and the fans don’t have the money. How about a 50 lap Saturday night shoot out style feature with 15 lap qualifying heats to determine the starting grid. This will stop the riding around, conserving tires, follow the leader racing etc. during the feature. It will also make the teams get it right since there is no real second chance unless you pit on a caution and go to the back. You go down a lap there in no lucky dog, race to get it back. Then drive em like you stole em for 50 green flag laps, no mandatory pit stops. Then maybe 4-5 major races during the season like the Spring Sizzler (200 laps) two races in Louden (100 laps each), Martinsville (200 laps), the Fall Final (200 laps) and the Thompson 300 (some of the best races I ever saw). The season starts with the Sizzler and ends with the Thompson 300.

    Matter of fact the season ending tri track race at Waterford had an interesting concept with the 2-35 lap qualifying events paying 3k each to win and the 65 lap feature paying 5k to win if a track that hosted a race wanted to use that format.

    I used to love when the tour type cars ran Stafford on Fridays and Riverside on Saturdays, again some of the best short track modified races I ever witnessed. And BTW I am not as old as you think!

    I don’t know just throwing it out there and I will probably get crucified for doing it……………..

  30. Changes I would like to see
    1 BIG PAYING TYPE ROC RACE where race winner gets 25000
    a new York fri/sat doubleheader at like HOLLAND/SPENCER

  31. Guys (and Gals), You all have the right ideas. Modified racing under NASCAR has been formated to look like Cup racing with the 2 lap time trials, fastest car up front, etc. The VMRS (like them or not) and the tri track series have the right idea. You run heats with a certain number of cars qualifying, then consi’s for the cars that didn’t make it through the heats. Throw in a non-qualifiers race so that everyone gets a race. Then run a 100 green flag laps only feature. This is Modified racing, not Cup. If you paid any attention to any of the VMRS or tri track results, you would realize that a lot of the top tour teams had to start deep in the field rather than in the 2 front rows. Made for very interesting and exciting races watching them make their way through traffic trying to get to the front, and a lot of different winners. This is the way modified racing used to be before NASCAR started to mandate all of the procedures to mimic Cup racing on the local level. Modifieds are, and always have been, Saturday night racers. To be successful again, NASCAR R needs to let the tour get back to that type of format or Tri Track and VMRS will continue to grow and the tour will continue to fade away. BTW, if you were around in the early years of the Thompson 300, you probably remember that is was a modifieds only event (no support divisions) with at least 90 to 100 modifieds showing up. There were guaranteed starters who won qualifying racers at different Saturday tracks, heats, consi’s (usually at least 2), a non-qualifiers 50 lapper, and the 300 with 50 (yes 50) starters. A far cry from the NASCAR format which eventually ruined it.

  32. does anyone know what chassis the Pennick/Boej
    hler team will be running? I’m pretty sure when Lennie was around they ran their own design. Hard to compete with Troyer/LFR on todays tour.

  33. Good post Bob. I don’t remember 50 starters in the 300 however I do remember 40 starters and probably 70-80 cars in the pit but that was in the mid 70’s and early 80’s and the two big draws were Geoff and Richie. And for those unlucky souls a non qualifier race that paid pretty decent. It was a strategy race with NO LUCKY DOG crap and you had to race your but off to stay on the lead lap so at the end you could contend for the win.

    And you are correct NASCAR has attempted to clone the series into the cup format and ruined the whole thing. Unfortunately it is NASCAR’s toy so they can play with it however they want and none of us can do a darn thing about it!

  34. Excuse me Bob NPT

  35. BTW, my opinion only, but I think a lot of the top WMT teams are afraid to mix it up by having to run heats and maybe having to start mid field. That’s why they don’t show for the big paying tri track races. There. I said it. Chew on that for a while.

  36. Bob npt you are on the money . Like what your saying. Do you remember the mod tour at riverside park, the 300 at Thomson, spencer,magic Shoes ,Steve park , boding,the reg and mighty mike. Watching that was like watching early cup racing…….or before that dessarro ,bugs , flemke, Charlie g, Richie Evans, or even before that slater,bartwell, Berlin, charland,….that’s what I miss………………..

  37. Humphry, I’m completely in favor of 50-100 lap shows. I would love it in fact. As long as the drivers purse isn’t reduced and the teams are allowed a one tire change. I think every race, no matter how short should allow for one tire. One day shows too.

    The Sizzler should be an open comp show with lap money and a really good purse. Let’s put the prestige back in that event. Running it as a WMT race has sort of watered it down in recent years. I’m good with either 80 or 200 laps. I’ll let you kids decide that. The 300 was cool but I’m not sure the teams need or want to invest the $$$ in that type of event. The ROC at Oswego will be 250 laps this September. That might scratch your itch.

    Goodfella, I know I can’t change your viewpoint but … I’m gonna throw some knowledge at ya anyway. I think you sort of acknowledged that my point about car counts was correct. You bashed the Riverhead guys but Tom Rogers won both polls there and ran top 10 in August. Hardly a scrub. Hard to judge June race because he got sent to back for some technical issue before race. I thought the Shawn Solomito kid had a solid year. Especially having raced these tracks for the first time. I wouldn’t call him a field filler. The 51 is stout. The 58 ran top five in points. There has always been some back markers. That will never change.

    The days of 20 plus races are gone. Besides, there are really no open dates given Nascar’s policy not to schedule holiday weekends and trying to limit it to no more than 3 events a month. All the mid week shows don’t help either. Also, the fact that they only run Nascar sanctioned tracks limits them as well. I know the schedule comes out around this time. My point was there will probably be more races in 2016 than there was in 2015. That’s growth. More is better than less. I’m sure you will tell me how more is bad though. LOL

  38. old observer says

    Still running slightly modified versions of the LB chassis. Updated front & rear suspension.
    At least someone was back on the original topic!
    See you at the races.

  39. Camerissa, Ole Blue makes their own chassis. The definition of old school.

    As long as there aren’t enough cars to fill the race quota, discussions of time trials, heats races, etc. is moot. Everybody that shows up is gonna race. Think the 01. But I think owners are afraid of heat races for good reason. Look at the wrecking that happened this year and last during the new Cup qualifying method, where cars took each other out, and they weren’t even racing, just on the track at the same time. We don’t need cars getting wrecked in heat races and eliminated from the big show. We don’t have enough cars as it is.

    NH Mark, I did not in any way acknowledge your perception about car counts as correct. Far from it. There are two groups: cars that are from Riverhead that grew into legit Tour teams (there aren’t many), and Riverhead cars that are still Riverhead cars that don’t have a chance on the Tour (there are many). The 51 is a contender, was very good last year, having some issues this year. But all those other Riverhead cars that have added to the car count such as Bush, MacDonald, Sapienza, Heagy, Rogers and others are far from the jewels of the Tour. At the end of the year, there might be a handful of top tens from that bunch. The Riverhead cars are expected to do well when the Tour visits since the Riverhead cars have thousands of laps more Riverhead experience than the Tour regulars that did not come from Riverhead.

    You think Shawn Solomito had a solid season… ran 14 races, ended up 16th, 240 points behind the leader. That is a solid performance?

    NH Mark says: “The 58 ran top five in points.” When??? It ended up 8th in points.

    You think Tom Rogers is impressive… Well, Coby collected a little over 40 points per race on average. Rogers collected a little over 26 points per race, and he only ran 6 races. Hardly a scrub? C’mon, man.

  40. That’s right, Humphry. 50 starters for the 300 in the early days of it. Two days of nothing of modifieds only. And Bob, I go back to the days when they were still running coups and coaches, so yes, I remember all the stars of those times.

  41. NH Mark, I agree on the shortened races with no reduced purse however, the tire change has to be optional not mandatory. I still want to see the Thompson 300 come back and keep the old Bud 200 at Oswego the same distance. Both of these races to be open shows not ROC or WMT with a big payoff to attract cars, 40 to start the main with a non qualifiers feature.

    Bob NPT, I agree with your comment about the WMT teams are afraid to mix it up by having to run heats and maybe having to start mid field and that’s why they don’t show for the big paying tri track races. Everyone except for the VMRS has forgotten how to race their way into the feature.

  42. Sicklajoie says

    humphry, I think it’s pretty safe to assume dareal will never answer your question, but he sure has answers for everything else!!!

  43. Bob npt do you remember when supermods were called cut downs …. Thomson used put them in with the coupes…fans today in their thirties or four ties don’t remember what real racing was ,when anyone of 25 cars were capable of winning… Never missed a sHow………but being a mod fan today is still a good thing……its in your blood…….

  44. Rogers had 3 top 10s and 2 poles in 7 starts. Not bad in my opinion. The 22 had 4 top tens in 8 starts with Kid Rock. Also not bad. So you tell me, how is the 22 so elite and Rogers isn’t when the numbers and sample size are virtually the same. The 93 had 3 top tens in 13 starts this year. Dowling had 8 top tens and won ROY. There are other teams out there who will rise up, like the 3 car now. Quite the youth movement going on too. The Talman kid, who is without a ride at the moment I believe, had some good runs in the second half of 2015. Emerling did finish top 5. Even if he runs part time in 2015 he still a young talent on the rise. All of these guys could run top three in the 2 or the 6 car. Budget and equipment is a big part of it.
    Goodale did slip to 8th at end but he was up to forth in August. He only finished 29 points out of 5th. Still a solid year. The more I argue my point the more I get pumped for some racing. I’m ready for 2016 already. The 44 is my early pick for the championship by the way.

  45. NH Mark says: “Rogers had 3 top 10s and 2 poles in 7 starts. Not bad in my opinion. The 22 had 4 top tens in 8 starts with Kid Rock. Also not bad. So you tell me, how is the 22 so elite and Rogers isn’t when the numbers and sample size are virtually the same.”

    Well, the 22 is top notch equipment. A great car looking for a great and compatible driver/crew chief combination. Kid Rock tears it up in every series below Tour Mods, but for some reason can’t make an impression in a Tour Mod. You would think he should have had a steady Tour Mod ride years ago, but for whatever reason, it just isn’t happening.

    The 93 was in Crew Chief Hades this season. Pennink does well in other cars but the family car, so figure it out, Captain Obvious.

    And there are many teams that you say “will rise up”. NH Mark, are you shaving yet? Forever, the Tour has been dominated by a handful of teams, until those dominating teams choose to leave. Plenty of other teams show up, wearing the proverbial rose colored glasses, and never “rise up”. I’ve been watching this for a long time. I have been lucky enough to have been to many races with Evans, Jarzombek, Spencer, Leaty, Kent, et al. History, this is the way it works. So when somebody talks about “old school modified racing”, pay close attention.

    NH Mark says: “Budget and equipment is a big part of it.” Yeah, that’s a part of it. Nothing to be ashamed of for not having a huge double stacker hauler. Many of these drivers you mention just can’t land a ride in a top car. The owner pays the bills and has to make the decision. The owner decides if he wants to compete or just run around in circles. An owner isn’t going to put out a car like the 22 and have a hack sit in it, or a non-qualified crew chief making the calls. And most owners have to make do with what the budget allows, and that will then draw commensurate driver and crew chief talent. And then, there are teams that are well funded that just don’t work out. They haven’t been able to buy a championship.

    Take the 01… it’s a new SPAFCO and Hutter power. Give that equipment over to a credible Crew Chief and driver and you have a very good car that will finish on the lead lap every race, as well as a built motor can do nowadays.

    Take TC… how many championships did he lose because he wrecked himself? He’s always been in top equipment.

    Take all the SPEC motor cars… what makes them different from each other? They all use the same parts. Cookie cutter chassis, SPEC motors. They have different drivers and crew chiefs.

    What is the weak link? It will take you out every time. Driver, crew chief, or both?

  46. Slicklajoie, you are correct in your comment that Dareal will never answer my question and you are also correct he has answers for everything else. Lets face it he is a legend in his own mind! Matter of fact he probably consulted with Chad Knaus on how to win Jimmy Johnson’s 6 championships.

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