Unintended Drive: Dennis Perry Unexpectedly Hunting SK Modified Title At Speedbowl

Dennis Perry, with his great-niece Kiley Piercy (Photo: Courtesy Melissa Piercy)

Dennis Perry, with his great-niece Kiley Piercy (Photo: Courtesy Melissa Piercy)

Dennis Perry doesn’t want to think about the SK Modified standings at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

The fact is, Perry was never supposed to have to think about the SK Modified standings at the Speedbowl this year.

But with only a few weeks left in the season, Perry sits squarely in championship contention in the division.

Yes, the driver who didn’t even plan on making an SK Modified start at the Speedbowl this year until July sits just one point out of the division lead with eight features left this year.

Perry, of Pawcatuck, is one point behind Keith Rocco and Joey Gada, who are tied for the lead in the SK Modified division.

The original plan for the year for Perry was to focus his Modified racing efforts on the NorthEast Race Cars & Parts Tri-Track Open Modified while helping his 14-year old son Jacob, who is in his first year in the Mini Stock division at the Speedbowl.

Then the decision was made to go to the first event. A sixth place had him returning for the second event of year, where there was a third place finish. Then the decision was made to run the car on the winnings it was making the track.

“It’s almost been like someone wants us to stay in the points,” Perry said. “We went to go to Monadnock [Speedway on June 11 for the first Tri-Track Series event of the season] and the race rained out.

“I was supposed to go to [Star Speedway July 30 for the third Tri-Track event] and my dad ended up having a knee replacement that didn’t go well and he couldn’t take care of Jacob so I ended up going to the Speedbowl by myself. My whole crew went to Star and I went to the Speedbowl by myself with the SK and it was just going to be me just getting it out there and doing what I could with it. I had no tools, no spare parts or nothing and it ended up raining out. So we made out Ok there. It’s just like every step of the way, every time we think we’re done, something else happens to keep us going.”

Part of the reason Perry doesn’t want to think about his place in the standings is because of what’s missing from his statistics this year. There’s no victory yet.

Perry said winning a championship without a victory would be hard for him to swallow. His cousin Norm Perry, who shares ownership of the car with him, also runs Ashaway Performance Engines. Norm Perry built the motor for the Stan Mertz SK Modified driven by Woody Pitkat at Thompson Speedway which won that track’s championship in 2015 without winning a race.

“Earlier this season, when we were first took over the points lead, I was getting ready to head out for a feature one night and Norm [Perry] said ‘Would you go win this damn race, I don’t want another championship without a win.’ I’ve had some ribbing about that,” Dennis Perry said.

“But we know we’re close. We’re running good so we’re not really starting up front much. There’s a lot of good cars down at the [Speedbowl]. A lot of good guys have won races. There’s so many strong cars down there. If you don’t get the break to start up front it’s tough. If you think about it, Keith Rocco was the only guy who had multiple wins in the division before this week and [Tyler Chadwick] got both his wins from the front row. Nobody’s coming from deep in the pack to get wins this year.”

There have been eight different winners in 12 SK Modified features this year at the Speedbowl

“I’m sure there’s very few that they can say they’re racing on what we’re spending,” Dennis Perry said. “As far as sponsorship on my car, I had one sponsor for $250 and then from there I’ve had a couple of anonymous people that have bought me a tire here or there and that’s been it for the season. Everything else has been 100 percent from Norm and me and what we win each week.”

Dennis Perry did land some much needed support for the duration of the season this week from Rick Nelson of The Racing School, which will be a sponsor on the Perry entry.

“A couple years ago I ran a [Valenti Modified Racing Series] race at Waterford,” Dennis Perry said. “After the race Rick reached out to me and said he wanted to sponsor me for some tires the next race at Thompson. After that season was over we took that body off and we threw it in the corner of the garage. When we were running the MRS race last week I pulled the body out and The Racing School was still on it. I threw it on the car and unfortunately the MRS race was kind of a catastrophe for us. But I reached out to Rick afterward and they’re coming on board to help.”

The Speedbowl will run regularly weekly shows through Sept. 17, then there will be five weeks off until the final points race of the season, the Bemers Big Show at the Speedbowl on Oct. 23.

“I actually said to Norm [Perry] last night, I said ‘If we’re still in a battle when September hits it’s going to suck having to think about it for a whole month.’” Dennis Perry said. “That’s when I’ll start thinking about the points. That last race in September I’ll worry about it. Until that point, it doesn’t bother me at all right now.”

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