Woody Pitkat Excited To Get Back On Track With Whelen Mod Tour At Myrtle Beach, Cautiously

Woody Pitkat in his Eddie Harvey Racing ride last October at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Woody Pitkat has a couple long days of travel ahead of him later this week, but when the Whelen Modified Tour hits the track Saturday for the Wade Cole Memorial 133 presented by Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair at Myrtle Beach Speedway the Stafford, CT native will be looking at it as a home game of sorts. 

Last year Pitkat closed out the 2019 season running three events for North Carolina based team owner Eddie Harvey. During the offseason the pair made the decision to keep the relationship going and run full-time together in 2020. 

The COVID-19 global pandemic shutdowns have wreaked havoc on the 2020 Whelen Modified Tour schedule. Of the first seven scheduled events, six have been postponed indefinitely and one – at Martsinville Speedway – has been cancelled. NASCAR also was already forced to cancel a July event for the series at Iowa Speedway. 

Since NASCAR announced last Friday that the Whelen Modified Tour would kick off its 2020 season with a special event added to the schedule in Myrtle Beach, S.C. some top level teams with the series have announced they would not participate for various reasons. But Pitkat knew when the race was announced there was no way his team wouldn’t be there. 

“I know you can look at it a million different ways and everybody has different opinions and I understand that, but to me I feel like I’m in a different circumstance,” Pitkat said. “I have a car owner that is three hours from the race track. He’s tickled to death to be able to go to race where he can leave in the morning and go to the race track and then go home at night and be back in his own bed at night. I’m not speaking for him, but he drives up here to Stafford [Speedway], to Thompson [Speedway], 14 or 15 hours to [New Hampshire Motor Speedway], and never bats an eye because he loves to go racing. It’s just the passion of the sport and the hobby and he loves to do it. Now he has an opportunity where he’s at home and we’re going to go. And obviously [Doug Dunleavy] was nice enough to jump on board and help with the race and he’s a huge supporter of us. That’s even more of a reason why we’re going to go and support the race.” 

The Myrtle Beach event – which will be a points-earning race for the series – will take place with a purse greatly reduced from what the series typically runs for. The event will pay $4,000 to win. Every finisher from 10th place back through the final running order will earn $500 per position. No fans will be allowed to attend the event and teams will be limited to eight participants entering the track, including driver and team owner.

Pitkat said he’s disappointed that some teams are choosing not to participate in the event. 

“It’s kind of little bit disappointing,” Pitkat said. “I’m not a car owner. I’ve raced for over 25 years and been around a lot of car owners to know the expenses and stuff. I get the whole deal. But I kind of look at like, I know that it’s a business for [Whelen Modified Tour director Jimmy Wilson] and [NASCAR Touring Series and Managing Director Brandon Thompson]. It’s their job. They’re trying to do whatever they can to get a race. I feel like if we go and we support it  – and we need to support it – that they’re going to remember that they’re going to appreciate that and try to help us down the road. 

“People these days are just negative about everything. Everything you see on social media is all negative. … I don’t know if it’s because of what’s going on in the world. It’s a different world. Everything is different. … Stuff is different and it’s probably going to be different the whole year. But it doesn’t mean that because we’re going to this one race that they’re all going to say ‘Well they hauled 13 hours to race for $4,000 so why would we ever raise the purse.’ We’ve ran for less than that. We ran those flash races. Granted it wasn’t a 14-hour ride, but we still did it.” 

Pitkat said he’ll leave his Massachusetts home early Friday to drive to Myrtle Beach. Pitkat, who’s wife Erica is a nurse, said his travel to South Carolina will include him taking all the same precautions he does at home with his family. 

“I’m going to still do the same things that I’ve been doing up here. I’ve got three young kids that I have to focus on and I want to keep them as safe as possible. Obviously it’s a different situation in Massachusetts, being close to Boston, than it is [in South Carolina]. … The numbers are going down and people just think ‘They should have never closed the country down’ but imagine what it would be like if they never did, if they just left it wide open? 

“It’s a crazy situation but I’m not going to do anything different down there that I wouldn’t be doing right now. I go in stores here and everything in my area you have to wear a mask and I do that. We just have to wear masks so you do it. You take a little more precaution when you wash your hands and you try not to touch your face. Now I have to stay in a hotel at night, which I wouldn’t think would be very bad. Same thing, you just try to be careful. I’ll have sanitizer wipes with me and I’ll be the same way down there that I am up here. If I see people down there that aren’t [wearing a mask] and they want to make fun of me because I am, I don’t care. I’m more worried about my family and my health and my well being than what someone else is doing or what they think of me.” 

Comments

  1. I understand your in a little bit of a different situation than most with your southern owner and your sponsor involved with the race , stay safe and good luck

  2. knuckles mahoney says

    Right on, elect.

  3. I’ve never been a Woody Pitkat fan but I dad gum sure am one now. Not because of he decision but the comments he made to Mr. Courchesne. They’re downright eloquent.. It’s where we are now. Pitkat baring his soul and touching of greater societal issues just because he’s going to participate in a race.
    Yes Mr. Pitkat people are negative. There are always good things to highlight even in hard times and yet the default is simply to rush past them with your eyes closed and bring up the negative. Not just spread your own perpetually misanthropic view of everything but to attack others that aren’t as negative as you.
    I can’t imagine having a better representative putting his circumstance, that of his car owner, NASCAR and his family in better context. A thoughtful, informed guy doing what he thinks is right for him. Armed with knowledge, sanitizer, a mask and prepared to ignore any poor ignorant soul that may find fault with his precautions or decisions.
    How do you not respect that?

  4. Rate it a long shot with the negativity, distance and 70% chance of rain and/or thundershowers.

  5. People are negative for sure Doug. Woody is throwing down some real life. I did however notice Woody throwing some shade towards Burt Myers this week on social media. Kind of surprised me only because I thought his car owner was buds with Myers.

    I also noticed one Mr. Tommy Baldwin talking negativity about RacedayCt yesterday on social media. I was unaware of this feud. Interesting though.

  6. JD,
    In 2011 then Cup Series crew chief Kevin Manion and Cup Series driver Ryan Newman were caught very blatantly cheating after winning a Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I wrote a column at that time essentially describing just how low it was that a Cup Series crew chief would go so far to cheat to take money from grassroots racers. Mr. Baldwin, a very good friend of Mr. Manion, didn’t like that I called Manion a thief for cheating to win one of the biggest paying purses that grassroots had the opportunity to race for. So no, Mr. Baldwin has never been a fan of mine. Mr. Baldwin is one of those types of people today in the sport who thinks journalists should only write all positive stories about the sport to help to artificially prop it up and make it look good. Mr. Baldwin wants the world to think everything in NASCAR is rainbows and unicorns. He doesn’t like that team owners are being openly negative about the issues surrounding the Myrtle Beach event. Notice though that he didn’t call out any of the team owners who are skipping the race for being negative. He called out the reporter for being negative for reporting those teams aren’t going. Typical kill the messenger mentality. Mr. Baldwin is mad that Kevin Stuart, Dave Sapienza and Danny Watts have publicly stated they don’t want to go to Myrtle Beach, but Mr. Baldwin doesn’t have the spine to actually publicly call those individuals out by name so it’s easier for him to instead direct the anger he has for them at the person who reported on the decisions they made. All in all it’s quite an interesting dynamic when you really think about it. Nine years ago Mr. Baldwin was upset because his friend from the Cup Series got called out for taking advantage of grassroots racers. Now Mr. Baldwin is upset because attention is being given to grassroots racers who feel like they’re not being treated fairly. Doesn’t seem like Mr. Baldwin is really all that much about standing up for grassroots racers.

  7. Who cares what Tommy Baldwin has to say? He is living on his father’s name and reputation. What has he achieved? Why did the leave the big leagues? The 7NY Mod has been a huge dud under Tommy Baldwin. Made a big splash at the outset and has been a dud since then. Terrible car preparation. McKennedy deserved so much better.

  8. TB does come across as a rainbow and unicorn guy in all his posts. Which is unusual for a LI guy. I don’t know the man so I can’t comment much more. Makes sense that he holds a grudge for the Manion incident. A lot of people were not happy when all that came to light. Including many tour people. Water under the bridge I suppose.

  9. Tommy Baldwin Jr. Cup History

    10 years

    405 races

    Millions of drivers

    ZERO wins

    2 Top 5

    4 top 10

    ZERO poles

    Best season finish: 30th

    Average start: 34.8

    Average finish: 31.2

    Running at Finish: 278

    Lead Lap Finish: 56

    The 7NY Modified has been a disgrace under Tommy Baldwin Jr.

    Who cares what Tommy Baldwin has to say about anything? That’s like asking Donald Plump for advice on running a casino. When Trump complains about something, you know you hit the target. He complains all the time.

    I remember the day that the Newman car was bagged at Loudon, watching the car get pushed to the NASCAR trailer, escorted by NASCAR officials.

  10. God I don’t know how you do it. If you’re a sports reporter there are a lot of people to cover in different sports and the people holding grudges you don’t have to see so often. Local racing is such a small community you can’t avoid seeing the guys holding grudges all the time. And they tend to be tough, very unforgiving people with long memories.
    Eric Goodale has been unkind as well to RaceDayCt.
    I don’t see how it’s worth the aggravation. Especially when you have to report on their successes objectively when they do well while they’re trashing you.
    Being a reporter and one that writes opinions especially takes an iron spine and really thick skin.

  11. How many Daytona 500 rings you got DaReal?? As usual you are cherry picking stats to make your point. I don’t care if you don’t like the man but saying a guy who won a Daytona 500 is a disgrace is a little much.

  12. Plugs 2020 says

    The attacks, the stats, aimed at Goodale, then something about Trump from dapredictablefella in 3 2 1

  13. JD posted, “How many Daytona 500 rings you got DaReal?? As usual you are cherry picking stats to make your point. I don’t care if you don’t like the man but saying a guy who won a Daytona 500 is a disgrace is a little much.”

    What I posted was the summary from racing reference. Not cherry picked.

    JD, you cherry picked a single event from when Baldwin Jr was Crew Chief for a team he did not own. Crew Chiefs are not respected as authorities in the racing world. They are clearly biased. His performance as Crew Chief for other teams didn’t suck as bad as when he was the owner, I’ll give you that.

    And as much fake flak as SC takes from Zachem, Goodale, Baldwin, etc., it is never rewarded with disingenuous publications in their favor. I mean, Goodale drives the way he drives, and that speaks for itself. I wonder why Zachem could never pick up sponsorship so he could fund a ride, or a well known owner took him on. Maybe their online antics have something to do with that.

  14. Unbiased says

    Cheating or not one of best modified shows I ever saw was tc roughing Newman up early in a Louden race Newman pitting coming through the field and passing tc on final corner of the race don’t remember the year but I remember the race. I do think it is to bad they would cheat but to say the modified field is with out some rule benders or big spenders is a bit laughable. Newman can wheel a car and the 7ny was probably not the highest budget car there. The list of modified greats to be dq’d at one point or another is long, not like he showed up with a $100,000 street stock at a small local track on a Friday night that would be cheating grass root racing. Plus Baldwin has done a lot to support Modified racing, he brings the car North and runs Stafford open shows and Riverhead special events along with some ROC stuff,he appreciates history of the mods and has stated as much.

  15. Ubiased,
    Actually a pretty short list of drivers DQ’ed from Whelen Modified Tour victories since 1986 …
    Ryan Newman – Loudon 2011
    Burt Myers – Martinsville 2008
    Todd Szegedy – Thompson 2004
    Mike Christopher – Waterford 2002
    Jimmy Spencer – Martinsville 1986

    And yes because of the blatant lengths taken in their cheating, Kevin Manion is the only team owner in series history to be suspended for the remainder of the season because of the severity of the infraction involved.

  16. JD, when did Tommy Baldwin win the Daytona 500? Who was the driver?

  17. Rob. P,
    2002 with Ward Burton and Bill Davis Racing.

  18. Shawn, there was also the race TC won, but was caught with the hogged out super-sized carburetor, was allowed to keep the win and fined $500. There are plenty of other discrepancies found in post race tech, with teams being told “don’t do that again or else”. The 51 was using the same engine builder and carburetor machinist, and they were also caught.

    There was also an episode where a TC car had high compression, and they tried to sneak a spacer in for the compression test. They got caught.

    And a season finale race at Thompson… some kid brought a BIG motor, drove away with it.

    The Newman 7 deal was absurd. This went on for years. We were pissed 😤. It was obvious and NASCAR didn’t make an effort. Then that race, it was awesome watching the 7 escorted into tech, isolated, nobody allowed near it, and then the order to pull the push rods. Pressure test. BOOM! 💥 Then watching Chad Little escort the car to the NASCAR trailer to be taken back to the NC NASCAR garage to do the dissection. The advantage that car had for years was disgusting. Our driver always told us he could not hold on to the 7 on the straights. The 7 could drive away at will. It was disgusting. All it took was a simple intake pressure test.

    And that doesn’t include the illegal stuff found in pre-race tech.

    I could go on and on. It’s hard to win as it is, it stings when you have to go up against this 💩.

  19. Unbiased says

    You are correct on Whelen tour races I guess I was talking about Modified racing under a larger umbrella. Many greats have been dq’d in other tours, open shows and in weekly shows.And to correct myself the race I was referencing was 2010 first Louden race Newan was 3 for 3 no dq’s with team that year, following year was year things went South in tech. Either way as a fan it was fun to watch him put on a show. Still seems a stretch to call modern day Whelen tour racing Grass Roots. Millions of dollars are spent to field teams, Manion obviously was caught but there were several other payed crew chiefs in the field. Lets not be naive racers bend the rules it is part of the sport, right or wrong at the end of the day it’s more fun to watch Newman with a questionable car put on a show with tc in, at times a questionable car, swap the lead three times in a lap then watch a field go 100 laps single file hoping for a caution to create some excitement. There is nothing grass roots about Whelen tour racing, you can’t get off work Friday night grab your tour car head to the track and be competitive, doesn’t happen.

  20. do all people leaving mass.and leave for more than 24 hrs have to self isolate upon the return to mass. if so that means all the crews and people going myrtle beach for the race have less than 24 hrs to make the trip?

  21. It’s not about the Newman/ Manion incident, disqualifications or Baldwins record. It’s about an important guy in local racing holding a grudge that never really was about him an insanely long time. It’s about that guy who professes to care about regional racing undermining the single outlet available devoted almost exclusively to promoting the sport in our area. Ignoring pretty much everything RaceDayCt has done to promote modifieds for 8 years and doing a hit piece. A hit piece based on one circumstance that is emotional and extraordinary by any standard and drawing an completely distorted conclusion about RaceDayCt’s accuracy and value as a publication.
    Both Shawn Courchesne and Tommy Baldwin appear to be intelligent proud men and from what I can see at a distance kind of hard asses. That’s not an insult it’s a job requirement. In this case Baldwin is the one doing the needling for the pettiest, short sighted reason while RaceDayCt has actually been promoting the 7NY with stories at races like the Stafford Opens.
    “Bryan Narducci To Run June Open Mod Show At Stafford For Tommy Baldwin Racing”
    It could have read “Bryan Narducci To Run June Open Mod Show At Stafford For that Over Rated A-Hole Tommy Baldwin Racing”.
    Tommy Baldwin should consider letting it go, smoking the peace pipe and doing what is best for the sport and that is not undermining RaceDayCt no matter what he thinks about the publisher.

  22. Unbiased, Newman has been a big, fat, nothing burger since he was caught with the cheated up motor. He didn’t put on the show, the cheated up engine did.

    Lance Armstrong didn’t win a race, the human growth hormones, the performance enhancing drugs, the blood doping did.

  23. Tommy Baldwin needs to shut his yap and see if he can get his car to run competitively. His attempts to divert attention away from his dismal on-track performance isn’t working.

  24. The 7NY won at MB two years ago. The same track they are heading to this weekend.

    TB has 4 Cup wins as a crew chief. DaReal, how many Cup wins do you have?

    Again, I don’t care who you like or dislike but at least use the facts. Dropping a Daytona 500 win from someone’s resume to make your point is a big omission.

    Ironically enough. Manion was crew chief on one of the trucks last night.

  25. Great news, I didn’t know Woody was running full time on the tour this year. Anyone know if Timmy Solomito is running the tour this year. I believe the 16 folded up end of last season if I remember correctly.

    Anyone know if Myrtle Beach race will be broadcasted live on the internet. I went to NBC grassroots and the schedule was updated since the last time I checked in that Seekonk and Wall were now listed as postponed but Jennerstown May 23 was not listed as postponed which obviously has been. There wasn’t an addition for Myrtle Beach this upcoming weekend. I am guessing it was updated before the 5/23 before they officially announce MB. It looks like you can get free access to NBC track pass through May 31st if they do broadcast it. MB is Probably a moot point given the forecast posted below is there a raindate? I am expecting Nascar to cancel/postpone the race within the next couple of days due to the weather forecast.

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=myrtle+beach+weather&form=EDNTHT&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&msnews=1&rec_search=1&plvar=0&refig=1e0f792d1d1749a0b7b8a0a23aacdae4&sp=1&ghc=1&qs=WA&pq=myrtle+beach+weather&sc=8-20&cvid=1e0f792d1d1749a0b7b8a0a23aacdae4&cc=US&setlang=en-US

  26. JD, you don’t know the difference between facts and opinions.

    The 7NY is a HUGE disappointment. It would be reasonable to think that someone that has all that big league experience could run the minor leagues and easily be hugely successful. That clearly is not the case. The 7NY is a huge disappointment.

    TB has 4 Cup wins as CC working for another owner. Not his organization. That 7NY win at Myrtle was good indeed, the car made it to the end. Luckily. Otherwise, it’s not been a factor or contender. Too many car gremlins.

    As owner, the TB operations were notorious and laughable start-and-park cars. Mysterious mechanical failures. Go read the comments on racing-reference. You’ve been hoping I never brought that up.

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Stats from the SEASON the 7NY won Myrtle:

    12 races

    1 win

    2 top 5

    4 top 10

    Avg start: 5.8

    Avg finish: 14.8

    Running at finish: 7 races out of 12

    Lead lap finish: 5 races out of 12

    That’s not impressive at all for a supposedly extremely experienced owner/crew chief whatever.

  27. CSG,
    Timmy Solomito has announced plans to run part-time, though I have no idea what that schedule would entail. As of right now no broadcast details for Myrtle Beach have been announced.

  28. JD, how many wins or championships do you have as owner, crew chief, tire changer, etc.? NWMT and up.

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