Modified Racing Series Celebrates 2019 Champion At Annual Banquet

(Press Release from the Modified Racing Series)

Mike Willis Jr. (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Modified Racing Series closed out its season Sunday afternoon as the 2019 Series Champion, Mike Willis Jr, of Grantham, NH, was lauded for his accomplishment on winning his first ever series title.

The Thompson Speedway Clubhouse played host to this year’s banquet.

Team Willis as they are known, headed by Mike Willis Sr, crew chief Dennis Harty, and spotter Brandon Wilkinson, were consistent all season and were at or near the top of the point standings throughout the campaign.

Willis Jr, the 2014 Rookie of the Year, was a contender for the title a year ago.

He notched his first MRS win at hometown track Claremont Speedway back in June.

Maurice Enterprises and Spirit of Alaska provided sponsorship for the Willis team.

Long-time car owner Gary Casella was lauded for winning the 2019 Car- Owner title. With driver Ronnie Williams and crew chief Steve “Mully” Mullens, the Roscoe Racing team found victory lane on three occasions including New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The top-15 drivers and car owners were recognized and thanked for their support.

Sunoco Racing Fuel and Hoosier Racing Tires Jackets were presented to Willis.

Each year specialty awards are presented. This year recipients included:

Above & Beyond: Daryl Poprosky

Dedication: Chris Bolton

Mechanic of the Year: Steve Mullens

Most Improved: Dylan Rock

Rookie of the Year: Brian Robie

Sportsmanship: George Sherman

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  1. They announced there is no schedule yet other than the previous announced Star and Beech Ridge events. I got to imagine they are struggling to find races.

  2. Congrats to Mike Willis Jr and team for the 2019 Drivers championship, and to Gary Cassella and team for the Car owners championship. Hope 2020 proves to be a great year for all the competitors.

  3. I would hope the two Thompson events are still on the radar along with 2-3 events at Lee and the Firecracker 100 at Monadnock. That plus Beech Ridge and Star would be 9-10 events. In lieu of Waterford maybe they could get one or two back at Seekonk. The previous MRS events I saw there had good racing.

  4. Lee,Monadnock and Clearmont are not going with MRS in 2020. Seekonk is doubtful, Jack really is counting on Thompson and Waterford for 5 dates. Maybe White Mtn or Thunder Rd gets a date but its slim pickings and could end up only 5-6 race schedule.

  5. We need to see Willis vs. Gallup start to finish next year. That was the rivalry of the series this year, were it not for Gallup’s broken wrist. And what can you say about Gary Cassella and Roscoe Racing? I’ve seen their cars win with at least 5, maybe 6 different drivers! Pennick, Marquis, Dowling, Owen, & Williams. I’ve seen Swanson drive to a 2nd, but I don’t recall if he won with it also. Congrats to the 25 & 83 teams! And better luck to the 4 next year!

  6. Excepting the NWMT for obvious reasons what is a touring series anyway. It’s a business identity, checkbook, seed money, a relatively small group of organizers, a ton of promotion and if you’re lucky a series sponsor. The teams that populate it are independent contractors and are only part of the tour to the extent the organizers are good pied pipers.
    The MRS top 11 are from NH, MA,NH, MA,MA,MA,MA,NH,NH,MA,NH. The Ice Breaker and World Series are New England,s racing Woodstock. The MRS has to be there. Otherwise who needs Stafford. The identity is Northern New England and that’s a good thing. If they can’t line up Lee, Claremont of Monadnock that would be a shame.
    I thought they were dead. They’re far from that. If they can re brand themselves using the geographical center of gravity of the top teams that populate the series and promote that then more power too them.

  7. I wouldn’t think they are going back to Monadnock for more than one show as they have gone with the Tri track Series for 2 races. Claremont and Lee is partially owned or owned by the same owner as Monadnock. Claremont is being leased out by the owner of the granite states Pro Stocks and they cancelled a late season scheduled MRS race last season. So MRS is probably not the direction they want to go. Lee would be a major loss for MRS as I believe they had 3 shows there last year. I know they lost one to weather in July and they made no attempt to reschedule it. So I am guessing the MRS series is not a profitable endeavor for the tracks like they used to be. You could see it coming, the car count has been down from seasons past. There really isn’t any big name drivers racing with the series now. They also lost their title sponsor too, which makes sense as Valenti is a car dealership in CT and the series is not racing in the area much.

    I was really surprised by the Beech ridge announcement as I didn’t think they did well car count wise up there. It is good to see them back at Star though that race being late in the season, that may be cancelled. Aside from 1 or 2 at Thompson I don’t see much else materializing. The northern tracks of Thunder road and White MTN might sign up for a race each as they were interested in Mods last season with the short lived Bull Ring Bash series. Maybe Oxford. Maybe a show at Waterford if they get open though with 4 or 5 American Mod shows already inked there is not a lot of room for a rival series.. I think if MRS can survive 2020 their might be some positives for 2021. Who knows how the Tri Track Mod Series will be with their recent shakeup, The American Mod series AKA Waterford Mod Series may have some clarity as to what they are going to be. I am just not sure if they can weather the storm and make it through 2020, They have to be disappointed with being left out of NHMS Pass show. LEE and Thompson are big for the series. Whats going on with Thompson’s schedule? Don’t they usually announce late Nov early Dec. I guess we still have a couple of weeks before we should be concerned.

  8. I think as there are now more open shows with higher purses, some teams are chasing the $$ rather than the MRS championship. I’m sure it also allows for a more flexible schedule for some; not as big of a deal if you miss a race for some reason. I think it also allows for more variety of entrants that may choose to go to only some of the open shows as their schedule/budget allows. Don’t get me wrong, I think any race team that wins a championship is worthy and deserving. I’m sure it is a tremendous undertaking for any race team to chase after one. Despite the MRS not having the car counts they have in the recent past, the majority of the races I saw this year had some good racing. That may have been the strategy involving the triple at Beech Ridge; a little more $$ incentive to entice more entrants. I hope it works!

  9. To add to CSG’s observations I got into the weeds a bit on the MRS last year.
    Top 11 and races they attended as follows. Willis10, the 25 for 7, Rock 9, Brian Robie 7, Sontag 10, Nocella 5, Gallop 6, Bolton 8, Lashua 10, Derick Robie 5, Shaw 6.
    Not stellar attendance but it might not be fair to say teams didn’t care about the points situation and it ended up a low paying open series.
    Average car count for 10 events was 20 on the nose. T-21, Lee-18, Mon-18, Clar-11, NHMS-22, Mon-18, Beech- 18, Staf-23, Lee-26, T-25. 18 cars is fine on smaller tracks although I don’t know what the deal was at Claremont.
    Predictably at Stafford, Thompson and NHMS the MRS points leaders had a rougher go of it on the larger tracks with the exception of the 25.
    I don’t see why if it ends up being a Northern New England series with the points leaders populated by Northern teams racing on shortish Northern tracks it can’t be a draw based on that alone. Does it have to have big name invaders to make it something it isn’t which is an open series. At least not up to now.
    The Stafford race was a money maker but barely in my view and low energy with the guys in the front mostly Stafford regulars. Hows that serve Stafford or the MRS. Thus the move to a forth Open for Stafford..
    Be something. A Northern touring series, an Open series or something else new no one has done yet. Have an identity.

  10. I agree it makes no sense for Stafford to have MRS as they get a better race with their open series shows. I am thinking it doesn’t cost as much too. I just think MRS may be done with all these tracks abandoning them. Tracks have to do what makes sense for them and from what I have seen it makes less sense to bring in MRS as can be seen by the lack of schedule.

    I have seen a lot of good MRS races over the years and would hate to see them go. Unfortunately all of the good MRS races I have seen were years ago. There isn’t much in the way of name drivers following MRS. Back in the day you could count on a show with 6 or 7 cars capable of winning. Now I think you are down to 2 or 3. I liked watching savery, the 25, Jarvis, Hinckley, woody, Pastryak. Seus, and barret on the series. Aside from the 25 I don’t think any of these guys race with the series and the 25 is part time. There just isn’t much name recognition for me on that series. I did some 3 hour trips for MRS shows back in the day to places like Oxford TRoad Albany Saratoga. I wouldn’t travel very far for an MRS race these days.

    I hate to see what has come of the series. Honestly I have no idea how they fix it. I know there have been a lot of controversial calls and or decisions which has caused people to leave the series. Now that there are other viable alternatives drivers have choices and don’t have to put up with MRS decision makers. MRS has certainly fallen out of favor with both tracks and competitors. I am not sure how you repair those relationships.

  11. CSG, only way to fix it is to throw money at it, better purse and sweeten the pot for the tracks to get the dates. MRS had its run and with only 4 dates I dont think its reasonable to even attempt 2020.

  12. Beech Ridge in the hay day of the MRS had the lowest car counts of the season. Now you are throwing 3 races at this track trying to save your series? It is not going to happen. If Jack just allowed a few people to play in his sand box this series could be flourishing.

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