Mr. Consistent Todd Patnode Makes His Own Fire Work With Valenti Mod Series At Monadonock

Todd Patnode celebrates victory in the Valenti Modified Racing Series Firecracker 100 Saturday at Monadnock Speedway (Photo: Chip Cormie)

By Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH for their second time this year on July 7th. As the race season continues to click off, the series is approaching its mid-year of 2018 competition.

Russ Hersey won his heat and started on the pole. He went forward to dominate the first 63 laps of the “Fire Cracker 100” race at Monadnock Speedway. Half-way into the feature race, his spotters started to tell him to pick up his pace – strong cars from the back of the field were now charging forward.

Todd Patnode on the other hand was fast in practice but did not qualify well. He began the race deep in the field. With his racing experience and his car’s speed, he had the right mixture to be in contention for the win. He brought his race up a notch as the laps clicked pass the half-way mark and used his home track advantage to make his way through the field. He passed Hersey for the lead on lap 64.

“I have to thank my crew because without them this would not be possible. They put in all the work and I get the fun part of this whole deal.” Stated Patnode from victory lane.

“It was a pretty good race.” Patnode said as he reflected on the night. “We did not qualify well. We were stuck back in our heat race and just could not go anywhere. So we had to start from the back and make our way through.”

He started twenty first in a twenty-five car field. After qualifying eight in his heat race. The momentum of the race slowed as cautions started.

“I really did not want to see any more cautions,” Patnode said. “It was fun coming up from the back. Starting that far back, I told the crew that I did not want to go anywhere for the first half. It was a good race. I was just riding the car until my spotter told me Russ was coming so I picked it up before Russ lapped us. We had a good drive up off. Once again though the lapped traffic did not move after they were flagged. Besides that, all the guys ran against us well. I tried not to push it in the early laps because as the car warmed up I figured it would come to us.”

During practice Anthony Nocella’s #92 engine started to skip. He pulled his car in and his crew went to work. Nocella came out and ran a few practice laps with the track’s Sportsman Modified to shake out the car. He missed his heat race and started the “Firecracker 100” last.

“I have to thank my guys for not giving up early on. We did not get any laps on the track all day. We had to pull the transmission, clutch, carburetor… and the motor just would not run. It seemed like everything that we touched was messed up.” Confessed Nocella. “We were able to get all that fixed and threw some notes at it from the last race and hope that it would be good.”

Nocella ran a consistent pace until it was time to start his charge forward. He was running fifth when the half-way flags were displayed.

“I want to thank my guys. They worked hard and earned this one today. They made it happen!” Said Nocella. “I want to thank them for not giving up. We were definitely good.”

The hard work of the #92 team paid off with their securing a runner up second place finish.

“It was a pretty fast paced race in the beginning but some yellows slowed it down,” stated Nocella post-race. “It was a fun race coming from the back. The fans had a good race to watch as drivers like Todd and I made it from the back forward. There was definitely some passing in the field and good racing. I had a pretty good car at the end but Todd was better. We definitely were not going to catch him unless it was on a restart. The track is an awesome place to race. I want to thank the track and the series for putting on the show for us.”

Russ Hersey had a fast consistent car through practice and qualifying. The #88 team’s efforts earned them the pole and the right to set the pace.

“Starting on the pole in one of these things is kind of a curse in these things because When you start on the Pole you trying to set a pace and at the same time save” Exclaimed Hersey. “You really don’t know how it will go. You do not want to overheat the right rear tire.”

Taking the green flag, Hersey jumped forward to the first position and took command of the field.

“I thought that I had set a pace that was slow enough to conserve the right rear tire. It is really difficult when you are out front and do not have a rabbit to chase. This whole series and its races are all based on the right rear tire lasting. ” Hersey said. “I was making big circles and arcs trying not to jerk the car around. But I may have gone a little too hard. The right rear started to slide.” After Patnode had passed Hersey, he ran close to Patnodes rear bumper until the car went from under him. “When Todd got to me he had a much better car and I could not stay with him. I had used up some of the rear tire with Woody. Todd and I have run a lot together over the years and once I saw him take off, I knew he had the car to beat.”

Hersey had built on his experience at Monadnock coming into the race. By race end though, he realize the setup was just a little short. “It made it 80 laps before it started to give up a little bit. The engine has a lot of steam, we just will have to tweak it a little bit to make it last for all 100.” So Hersey and the #88 team will take their new notes and improve on them for the future.

Brian Robie had a great race coming in fourth and Woody Pitkat celebrated his birthday with fifth. Donnie Lashua was sixth, followed by Les Hinckley, Kirk Alexander, Jocob Perry and Sam Rameau for the top ten.

VMRS team packed up their haulers as the fireworks lite the sky over Monadnock. They will now prepare their cars for close racing at the 3/8 mile of Lee USA Speedway on Friday, July 13th.


  1. The valenti race at lee USA speedway is July 13 in conflict with the stafford motor speedway open modified show same day.

  2. The article above appears to have the original Lee VMRS date, not the new July 13 date. As pointed out in another post on this site, Stafford scheduled its Open 80 for July 13, before Lee switched its date. So, Lee is responsible for the July 13 date conflict, not Stafford.

  3. Rafter,
    Correct, and good catch. Fixed. Yes, the VMRS changed their date after an early season rain out. Long before the VMRS rescheduled, Stafford had already scheduled the the Bud Light Open 80 for July 13. The VMRS chose to run up against Stafford with a rescheduled event.

  4. Rafter you know nothing!!!

  5. Henry Lecomte says

    Congratulations to Todd&Anthony, but my shoutout goes to Russ Hersey and the Warren Mordent racing team for a strong 3rd place sure would be nice to win however I know Mr.Billy is looking down and smiling on his Son’s ability to put out a strong car Everytime they send the #88 out. Way2go Mordent racing keep it up Guy’s.

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