Bob Garbarino Pondering Cutting Back From Whelen Modified Tour Team In 2017

Bob Garbarino

Bob Garbarino

The focus for Bob Garbarino right now isn’t finding a new driver for his Mystic Missile NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team for 2017.

Garbarino and Jimmy Blewett parted ways after one season together following the season finale for the series on October 16 at Thompson Speedway.

For Garbarino, before finding a driver, he has to figure out what his team will be doing – if anything – in 2017.

Garbarino said the merger of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour – announced just prior to the season finale in October – has raised some big questions for him, and he’s gotten few answers.

“I don’t know what going forward means this year,” Garbino said. “I don’t know what the schedule is. I think a lot of people are in neutral right now waiting on NASCAR. Competitors, sponsors, everybody. [NASCAR] made an announcement before [the final race of the year] and today nobody knows what that means. That’s where it’s at.”

Garbarino’s Mystic Missile program has been a part of the fabric of Modified racing for decades and he has fielded a Whelen Modified Tour team since the division’s inception in 1985. He has three Whelen Modified Tour championships, two with Donny Lia and one with Bobby Santos III.

Garbarino said the struggle of touring racing divisions in general concerns him.

“It worries me,” Garbarino said. “I think the numbers are going down everywhere. For some reason, with the Whelen Modified Tour, if one car doesn’t show up, it makes headlines. I don’t see any of these tours getting bigger and better. But it’s not owner friendly and if they don’t start there that’s where you start to lose. … There’s plenty of drivers out there, there’s plenty of drivers.”

On Tuesday, Santos told that he was unsure of his plans with the series in 2017. Santos told that the Tinio Motorsports team has driven for since 2012 is not committing to a full-time effort for 2017. Two Tinio Motorsports cars were posted for sale on the LFR Northeast Facebook page on Tuesday. Team manager Lawney Tinio wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Garbarino said the 2017 schedule will dictate his decision making process.

“I need to see the schedule,” Garbarino said. “If the schedule is near what I think it will probably be, I’m probably going to follow Mr. Tinio. … If they want this series to survive they’ve got to quit spending mone and get us off the road. We’ve only got a handful of one-day shows left. … From anybody’s standpoint, that doesn’t make sense. … Most of these races the purses can’t equal the tire bills.

“All I know is if in fact they’re going to try to salvage something of Modified racing down south, then it’s the guys from here that are going to have to make it happen. The guys from down south are a great bunch of guys. I know most of them, I’m friends with most of them. But they won’t go across the street to race. They want it in their backyard. So if they think the Northern tour is going to bolster up what they can’t do with the guys that run down south by sending us down there, I just think it’s going to get lost.

“I don’t want to sound negative, but as car owner, they’ve got to put a car owner’s shoes on and look at the situation. I don’t know that they’re doing that. I think they try to, but I don’t think they really lace them up. They start to put them on, but I don’t think they lace them up.”


  1. Bye bye mod tour. Nascar has finally destroyed it and I kinda believe it’s on purpose. From a sanctioning body position they aren’t breaking the bank with Modifieds. Business has ruined racing. Oh well. I’m going back in the yard to play ball with my boys. The world will continue to turn.

  2. I can not believe how short sighted NASCAR has been the last 10 years. They are ruining Cup racing. Look at stands half full at best. Now they are ruining the Mods. I don’t blame the owners for deserting the Tour or scaling back. One thing to have to run good just to break even, but now more travel costs. What do they expect.

  3. Blame Nascar all you want BUT these teams are shutting down completely. The 8, 9, 44 and maybe the 4 in just the last 24hrs or so. If it was just a Nascar issue they could go to VRMS, ROC, MTS or Tri Track but teams aren’t. They are closing up shop all together. Another trend I see in a lot of these cases is guys wanting to scale back to be with family or just have a normal life. Garbarino is right in that there are way to many multiple day shows. You only need the WMT cars for one day even at the Sizzler and World Series. Plenty of other divisions to fill up Saturday schedule.

    That being said, I don’t think Nascar had a plan when they announced this merger(south shutdown) and now they are paying the price. I think the schedule will very much look like last year but Nascar needs to put the schedule out asap and not let everyone keep thinking they will be racing down south all summer in 2017. They can’t holdoff until December to announce something this important. I don’t see the WMT on any of the southern track schedules that have been announced so it makes me think this southern stuff is just all bunk. Stafford announces their schedule on Thursday. That might have a lot to say about what the 2017 WMT schedule will look like. My money says it will be the 4 standard races there as always.

  4. Andy Boright says

    NASCAR doesn’t have anyone making decisions who know short track racing, and the other modified series are weak and poorly promoted/managed.

    The division is in big, big trouble. Even NH Mark has changed his tune about the WMT being “just fine”.

    Stick a fork in the WMT. The problem is nobody is competent enough to pick up the pieces and do something with it.

  5. With all these teams either shutting down or running part time,Melissa Fifield will be able to say she will have finished in the top 20.

  6. darealgoodfella says

    The 8 and 44 are gone? But they ran the miraculous LFR chassis!!! And here I thought the 2016 season was going to end with a three-way tie for the championship between the 2, 8, and 44.

    I hope Santos finds a ride, he will be missed.

  7. The way this is going Miss Fifield will have a top 15 finish every week.

  8. Santos,Lia and Dowling will land somewhere. Santos is still running USAC. The tour will still be fine but NASCAR has mishandled this merger. They didn’t have a plan and have let rumors run wild by not announcing a schedule or at least an outline of a schedule/points sytem.The only announced southern race is Bristol.Nascar needs to put their chips on the table so people can plan for 2017. The local tracks could ease some of this my offering up their WMT dates. I still don’t think there will be much change.

  9. Dareal, I’m right with you! Santos is so smooth out there, he makes it look easy! Maybe he can reunite with Garbarino for a part-time run. I think NASCAR would be wise to release some concrete info about the tour and payouts ASAP. At the rate things are going, maybe someone can entice Whelen to start sponsoring TTOMS, VMTS, or MTS! At least then the WMT teams would have a place to race!

  10. I think Chase Dowling would be a perfect fit for the Mystic Missile team right now.

  11. I believe Chase Dowling is going to K&N Pro’s

  12. Rich Gourley says

    Where is everyone getting the info on Dowling’s team being shut down. Not that I don’t believe it but can’t find anything in print verifying that.

  13. Check out Chase’s facebook page. I’ll bet next year you’ll see S&S Paving on the rear quarters of The Missile!

  14. Facebook has the Dowling info. It may be on some other media outlets too. Chase may do some K&N with Ted Marsh but that’s only a part time thing, if that. I agree he needs to be in a good piece. He is a top talent on the WMT.

  15. NH Mark,keep drinking the NASCAR kool-aid.You are definitely in denial.18 cars at NHMS will not look so good.

  16. Crazy in NY says

    At the rate things are going, maybe someone can entice Whelen to start sponsoring TTOMS, VMTS, or MTS! At least then the WMT teams would have a place to race
    ????? This comment has me scratching my head. Whelen doesn’t allow the Tour teams to race on other series? The Tour owners pass up the 10k win races in their own backyards . Maybe it’s time
    for them to question their loyalty to an organization that maybe doesn’t deserve it. Some of you
    still cling to this > If it’s NASCAR it’s the best< mentality. Too bad but your missing some great Modified racing if you do.

  17. Why does this not surprise me! How many more will fall under the devine guidance of NASCAR.

  18. Face it. Bottom line is money. These owners can not be expected to keep digging into their pockets, especially now with potential extra travel. It has to make some financial sense. I like the idea of making the “big events” one day affairs. That saves money on hotels, meals…. all adds up.

  19. Crazy in NY… is a WMT car really not allowed to run in non Tour races? The #6 did, but is that just because they were part time?

  20. Ken it also saves money/time away from family for the fans.These whelen teams seem to me to be the best equipment,teams,and drivers.I am not knocking any other tour.Beats me why the owners don’t understand that they are the draw and wherever they go that will still be the case.Don’t know why they put up with nascar and 2 day shows when it can easily be done in one.

  21. There will always be a Nascar Mod tour, no matter how big of a Joke it becomes…..and it has become a big joke…..Not sure if I will see a track in 2017.

  22. Crazy, I may not have explained my thought well enough. My implication was relating to the possibility of Whelen raising the prestige and stature of one of the other existing tours. I think if there is a tour perceived to be the best and top level of modified racing, that’s where many of the WMT teams would go. It seems to me that when some teams get to the “top level” of a particular category, they are reluctant for whatever reason to “drop down” to run an event that doesn’t have the prestige and notoriety of running “the NASCAR tour”. Maybe that’s why more of the WMT owners don’t show at the “money” races. Please keep in mind, my thoughts are a guess at their perceptions of the WMT, and not based on any facts.

  23. A lot of people get upset about WMT teams not running and supporting the open/Tri-Track type races. I think their only reason is because all their focus is running 17 tour races. There’s enough headaches just managing to do that. There’s no reason to get upset with those teams who decide to just stick with their touring schedule. Those open money races have great payouts but there’s a lot of risk and headaches involved too. If they wreck.. $1000 for last place doesn’t make things all better.

  24. One thing……when Mr. Garbarino talks about the southen guys not wanting to travel…he’s right. I dare say he wouldn’t fire up his hauler and drive from one end of Mystic to the other for what the WSMT races paid down here..nor would I blame him.

    There was no grand plan in place when NASCAR made the annoucement..there couldn’t have been. If there was one it would have been plastered on every “racing news” website the day they dropped the southern mods. I really doubt there will be much change at all in the NWMT schedule. I can not see a weekly track down here coming with the funds to do a tour race.

  25. darealgoodfella says

    Of the 26 different drivers that started a NWSMT race, only SEVEN (7) ran the entire season. So maybe some of those 7-ish southern cars MIGHT travel to a northern event. Nah. The NWSMT don’t travel north as it is, they aren’t competitive with the NWMT… why would they travel up north? You’d think a couple would take a shot at Loudon once in a while. And if we get really lucky, and more than a quota of cars, and southern cars are shut out, do you really think they will ever travel back up again?

    NASCAR didn’t have their thinking cap on when they came out with this consolidated north-south deal. I think they were just throwing it out to see if any of it would stick.

    Something like 10 years ago, Mike Stefanik was interviewed and he said something to the effect that the biggest problem facing the Tour was the lack of owners. Listen to Mr. Garbarino. He’s been doing this for a very long time, he has lived the history of this series we all love.

    NASCAR needs to find another way to keep the southern Tour on life support.

    And come out with the schedule already.

  26. Not for nothing but I see the Boehler 3 and engine for sale on racing junk. I hope this is not another casuality of the NWMT. Hopefully just building new equipment and engines.

  27. It’s all about time and money, and engine rules.

    If they realky want the WMT to survive and thrive again, they need to:

    1) make all shows one day events;
    2) limit tire changes per show, from start of practice through checkered flag;
    3) Go to a spec engine that is cost effective. Engine builders may not like it, but that’s the way to go. I don’t care if they just take the SK motors and allow 4 bbl carbs to be swapped with a change in heads – standard / single spec head.

    You want a good WMT show? Make it so the SK owners can run the show that night with reasonable, msnageable cost and time, even for those that need to do a change over – whether it be to their SK backup car OR primary SK (motor swap)

    Keep the price the same, and the fabs will pay to see their locals take on the WMT regulars.

    If you want to still run time trials- im not a fan of it, by the way, – then taje top 5 qualifiers, abd then the rest are set by running two consi / B mains, 20 laps each. Want a last chance qualifier? Ok, run a 10 lap shootout for that.

    Feature should be no more than 100 laps.

    Do that? And u get modified racing closer to its’ roots.

    The VMRS is clise to that model. They put on a great show. Take that, tweak it, and you’ll have 34+ cars a show, no show beloe the mason-dixon line.

  28. apologies for the typos texted it from my phone.

  29. Glen, You must have realky fat finkers.

  30. Nothing will change until you raise the purse from top to bottom. These cars do not deserve to race for the money they get paid. NASCAR is in trouble with a Capitol T. When is the last time you saw full stands for a truck, infinity or cup race?

  31. Nasty woman says

    Dig a hole and bury it already .

  32. darealgoodfella says

    humphry is right, the purse needs to get bigger. But last I looked, I am still not leaving loads of cash in the toilet. It has to come from somewhere else. Need to promote, and NASCAR needs to do this. They are the 1600 pound gorilla in the room. NASCAR and the tracks need to get sponsorship. NASCAR needs to use its marketing influence here.

  33. Nascar had a lot of empty seats even at cup races this year.Nascar isn’t addressing this even in the upper divisions.I don’t think they will lift a finger on the problems our tour is facing.

  34. We all are fans of racing, and, in this case the NASCAR Modifieds. Very few people in modified racing have devoted their entire lives…think about that….their entire life within modifieds, like Bob Garbarino and Art Barry. The money spent and the time utilzed to race just with these two men is increadable. Like all of us, when we don’t feel like we are contributing or being respected, we become frustrated. NASCAR has not listened or provided the purses, television or bonuses that was once part of the Tour between 1989 and 1998. That I find frustrating, and I have little within the Tour in comparison to owners and drivers. It’s all for fun…it is, after all A Sport. But the time, investment and support needed to run a winning team on the Whelan Tour no longer meets the enjoyment to $$$ ratio. And that is coming from men who again..have devoted their entire adult lives to racing modified race cars.
    And to step to another topic; racing in the other ‘Tours’. If the purses and time to race NASCAR’s version are not acceptable how or why would a team go to an event with a purse of lesser strength? A Tour with even less exposure?
    Personally I’m frustrated too. I imagine I’ve been to over 3000 races, with 85 percent being NASCAR Modified events. I would guess there are basically 200 modified teams competing each year from New Hampshire to North Carolina and out to Pennsylvania…still plenty for producing some amazing races. But having 5 ‘modified’ tours is wacky to me. Too to many slices in my opinion….NASCAR may have a nice idea, (combining both North and south) but it will not work when teams need to stay in hotels for 2 or 3 nights, feed and support crew…on and on. If NASCAR and sponsorship partners that are a part of xfinity and ‘Cup’ can work together to bring back live TV and stronger purses for both single and two day formated races…I think it would be a good start to the announced combined Tour for 2017.

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