Racing Through 2020: Q&A With Whelen Modified Tour Series Director Jimmy Wilson

Jimmy Wilson (left) with Doug Coby (right) (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will run its eighth event of the season – the NAPA Auto Parts 150 – Saturday at Stafford Motor Speedway. The event will mark the only visit this year to Stafford for the Whelen Modified Tour. 

Earlier this week it was announced that NASCAR will not add any further events to the Whelen Modified Tour schedule for 2020. The World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway on Oct. 11 will mark the ninth and final event of a tumultuous season for the division. 

The series originally had 17 events scheduled for 2020 before restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 global pandemic decimated those plans. Ultimately, five of the originally scheduled 17 events will be run. 

Events were cancelled at South Boston (Va.) Speedway (March 21), Thompson Speedway (April 5), Stafford Speedway (April 26 and Aug. 7), Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (May 8), Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway (June 6), Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway (June 20, Sept. 19), Wall (N.J.) Stadium (July 11), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 18), Iowa Speedway (July 31) and Oswego (N.Y) Speedway (Sept. 5). 

Of the nine events that will be run four were added to the schedule after restrictions were put in place. A second race was added at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway, two events were added at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. and one event was added at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. 

We talked to Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson Wednesday about the 2020 season and what may lie ahead for the series.

Question: At this point you guys are finished looking to add events to the schedule. Is it a relief to have that unexpected part of the job done? 

Jimmy Wilson: Yes and no. You would have loved to have gotten more events in. But with the challenging times and working around all of the various restrictions and everything that’s different with every state and municipality, as far as dealing with that said of it, yes it’s nice to have it done. Plus, when you’re dealing with the teams and for their planning purposes, the timing was right to get everything finalized so everyone would know what the end game of 2020 would look like. 

Question: When you look back to where things were in March, April, May, to get nine events, is there part of you that looks at getting nine events as a victory? 

Jimmy Wilson: Without a doubt. I think for any form of motorsports to be on track this year, it’s a win for everybody. And I’m very proud of what we’ve done as a company, as NASCAR, being the first major sport to be back in May, and the Whelen Modified Tour to get started in the month of June. Probably the thing I’m most proud of that we were able to achieve with the Whelen Modified Tour was that we were able to run all of our races expect one with fans. 

Question: In a regular year your schedule is probably 75 percent done now for next year. Obviously this isn’t a regular year, and there’s no signs that anything is going to be changing anytime soon. How do you now tackle the monster that is the 2021 schedule? 

Jimmy Wilson: We’ve started down the path of trying to get everything put together. It’s going to take a little bit more time this year to do that because of some of the unknowns that are out there. But we’re just going to take it one step at a time and hope to get that schedule out just as soon as we can. It’s not going to be anything that’s imminent. But we certainly plan to get it out sooner rather than later. 

Question: Above and beyond the original schedule, you ended up adding two events to the schedule this year year at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. and you also added a return trip to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. where there’s a new ownership group since the series had last raced there. Do you think some of the new relationships you’ve built this year will carry over to next year?

Jimmy Wilson: I hope so and I feel like they will. That’s probably one of the biggest plusses this year in a lot of different categories. What this has forced us to do was think outside of the box on a lot of things. With some of the tracks we’ve gone to we’ve been very fortunate to have developed some very good relationships, specifically with Cris Michaud and the folks at White Mountain [Motorsports Park]. 

Question: The original Whelen Modified Tour schedule for 2020 had the series set to make its first trip to Iowa Speedway. With some questions about the future of that track, a lot of people are wondering if that track will be back on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule in 2021. Will you look to schedule that track for next year or is it off the table at this point? 

Jimmy Wilson: It’s too early to say. There’s a lot of things to go into it that we need to take into consideration as far overall what 2021 is going to look like from an event standpoint and where we go in strategically placing our races. Is it on the table? Absolutely, everything is on the table. But as far as saying which it’s going to go, right now it’s too early. 

Question: You were able to get two events scheduled at Thompson Speedway and one event at Stafford Speedway. How big of a relief was it that you were able to get events at those tracks this year? 

Jimmy Wilson: It’s huge for the Modified Tour. Those  two tracks are two of the cornerstones of the Whelen Modified Tour. You’ve got a lot of teams that are based in that area. Running in that area for the teams on the Whelen Modified Tour, I’d equate to our national series’ running at Charlotte [Motor Speedway]. Being able to race in your backyard, and both of the tracks have been with our series for a long time. It just would not have looked right to go through a season and not have those two tracks on the schedule. 

Question: Conversely, how disappointing that the series won’t make it to Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway this year?

Jimmy Wilson: This is the first year that the Whelen Modified Tour since its inception will not make a stop at Riverhead Raceway. It’s very unfortunate. Hopefully we’ll have some semblance of normalcy come 2021. I feel like we will, and we’ll be back there as well. 


  1. Good interview. Seekonk and Oswego have already publicly stated they both intend to bring all their major events back in 2021. My guess is Iowa and South Boston fall off and are replaced by WMMP, Monadnock and Thunder Road. I myself am hoping for two at WMMP again. Wall is the one wild card. I never have a feel for them. After that, I anticipate the schedule looking a lot like the original 2020
    schedule (including Martinsville) which was pretty darn good to begin with.

  2. Personally I don’t think we will be anywhere near “normal” at the start of racing season 2021. For that matter I think 2021 will be mostly like 2020. This makes compiling a schedule very hard, as things seem to change day to day. Hopefully they get to race a full schedule, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  3. There’s a raging storm out there, and it will be like this for a couple years. It’s pretty much impossible to make long term plans. 2021 will be pretty much like 2020, racing will be like a ship looking for any open port in a storm. Racing in 2021 will be an opportunistic season, whatever is safe to open. This changes daily, so it will be a real-time decision.

    The TrumpPandemic coronavirus has already mutated to over 5,000 variants, making it virtually impossible to come up with a sole treatment, such as a vaccine. The common seasonal flu is a different strain every year. The danger with COVID-19 is that it is HIGHLY transmissible, has an extremely high mortality rate and is mutating at a scary high rate.

    As long as we have a President that likes having the coronavirus around because it gives him an excuse to stop shaking hands, we will never get through this.

    Just look at what happened in Maine involving that wedding. Hundreds have been infected, several have died. That is proof that this coronavirus can explode anywhere, anytime.

  4. Imagine that, RobP and DaReal are the first two negative comments. All of the races I attended this year were jammed pack with fans. Hardly noticed any difference to be honest beyond the delayed start.

    The schedule will be northeast based. Except for maybe Martinsville. No need for extended travel (Iowa). Plenty of wiggle room now too. If Thompson can’t go for any reason you move the race to WMMP. Easy change now. You know NH and PA are there if you need to change additional venues. I could see Stafford changing the Sizzler to an Open event for 2021 as things could still be a little unsettled in April. That’s a big WMT purse to pay if there are lingering capacity limits in early spring. If you have cancel a race along the way then you have to cancel a
    race. Stuff happens. You put out a schedule and hope for the best. Hope is a good thing right now.

    All the schedules will be based off what the WMT does. So nothing will happen until that schedule is released. Then TT and then whatever else.

  5. Think back to where we were with that Myrtle deal, the opt outs and backlash. While the din of outrage and pessimism swirled Wilson goes about his business, pulls a few rabbits out his his hat and saves a very interesting if abbreviated season. So where’s the gratitude from the peanut gallery. Swords waving after the Myrle announcement and no at-a-boys now. Nicely done Mr. Wilson!!!!!!………The teams sure have shown their appreciation even if the fans are more fickle.
    One question I would like to ask is what financial compromises did you make this season to allow events to take place. More importantly how will those compromises affect dates going forward if at all. I know that question can’t be asked and if it was would never be answered.
    Also would have liked to get Mr. Wilson’s thoughts on the expanding roll of NBC Sports Gold and what roll it that revenue stream will play in the future. That also would probably not be answered with more then a generic response.
    If a schedule does have events at White Mountain, Thunder Road, Monadnock as well as Seekonk and Riverhead how is the short track change in flavor not a great thing for fans? Then we get back to the cost that next year may go back to normal, capacity limitations, how important streaming revenue is and a bunch of other things fans will never be privy to. That the sites on the schedule will reveal.
    Covid19, the elephant at the scheduling board. I don’t see any reason to have it affect a tentative schedule. In March the virus was like a fan approaching the ticket booth on event day and getting sucker punched. All the principles are more educated, on guard, have contingency plans and ready to make changes as things evolve.
    Is there reason for pessimism about the virus next year. I don’t think so. You can read about the science until you fall asleep but a few things are clear. Fauci, Bill Gates, Scott Gottlieb and hundreds more experts say they are cautiously optimistic. Covid19 is RNA based, mutates constantly like the flu, the vaccine for flu changes all the time so this is nothing new. The virus could mutate to be more dangerous or exactly the opposite. Or stay the same.
    Flu shots. Did you get yours. And to my fellow geezers did you get the turbo charged version.
    Interesting factoid. Only a little over 50% of people get flu shots yet we don’t have a flu pandemic every year. Turns out herd immunity doesn’t necessarily mean getting sick. It means getting a high percentage of people immune by recovering or a vaccine and reducing the plagues opportunities to spread and mutate. It applies to Covid19 as well.
    Near as I can figure with one of the worst infection rates in the world as well as the organization and conviction of a class room of kindergardeners we had pretty good racing this year. In a situation where everyone is more prepared next year with a vaccine or vaccines emerging gradually I would fully expect the virus to be obstacle to be negotiated but not the meat grinder it’s been.
    Wilson is clear. They are moving forward with a schedule. It’s important they do so for other series to schedule around it. Like the TTOMS race at Stafford next year that will become a stable I’m hoping.

  6. With regards to Wall Stadium, wasn’t this going to be their last year? I thought that track was up for sale with no potential race minded “suiters”. Anybody heard anything on that?
    I think next year will have more of the same style as this year. Tentative scheduling, and races dropped here possibly added there, depending on the state mandates as the season progresses. Again, when all is said and done, and hopefully, if and when pandemic Crisis eases in the years to come, there will be A variety short tracks left to run at.

  7. Okay, Captain Obvious (aka: 🌈JD🌈) strikes again.

    Of course the tracks will INTEND to run a full schedule in 2021. The TrumpPandemic will change that to whatever is safe, at the time. Just as it did in 2020.

    Events like the wedding in Maine that has caused an outbreak will be noted and cause much stricter rules on social distancing and masks.

    Social distancing and masks are the most powerful weapons against the TrumpPandemic.

  8. 🌈JD🌈 posted, “The schedule will be northeast based.”

    Like it has forever.


    Captain Obvious strikes again.

    The persistence of the TrumpPandemic will only force much more strict measures on crowd gatherings in the future. This will then determine what tracks can afford to put on an event. The haul will become important. It will be a very local Tour series, very little if any long hauls.

  9. loving this weather says

    Dareal- you are right. I think it’s easy for us to get jazzed up about the future but it’s also important to stay grounded. We don’t know what’s to come but this thing basically spread around the globe like a virus in 2020 and it very well could do the same in ’21. Let’s hope for the best. Nobody wants sports to be played in front of empty bleachers.
    Loving this weather what a great day for a walk! 🎃

  10. Bobf, last I heard that the sale of Wall was just a rumor. Have not heard anything otherwise

  11. Thanks Ken L. I looked on the net, but all I saw were older press releases. Be nice if it were just a rumor. Need to hold in to all tracks the racing community can.

  12. 🌈🦄2020 says

    In CT starting October 8 race tracks will be increased to 50% capacity. In related news, Dafella is horrified. But it’s pretty awesome news for the world series and the last events for Waterford and Stafford. I wouldn’t be too surprised if tickets are available at the gate for the world series. I wonder if Tommy Barrett will be in the open race at Thompson? No matter for Dafella. He’s on lockdown indefinitely.

  13. DaReal this morning: Trump pandemic will only force much more strict measures on crowd gatherings in the future.

    CT governor this evening: INCREASES capacity to 50% on Oct 8th.

    In other news, NHMS Cup weekend is remaining in the month of July. I was hoping for a slightly later date but not going to happen. The official July race date to be announced really soon. I’m not too confident we get another Musket 200. I hope I’m wrong on that one. I love that race.

  14. Hey Captain Obvious (aka 🌈JD🌈), if you are going to quote someone, do it correctly. sheeeshhh.

    Here’s what I wrote, “The persistence of the TrumpPandemic will only force much more strict measures on crowd gatherings in the future.”

    And the context of the discussion and the paragraph that it came from, it should be clear to any human of reasonable intelligence that meant next season, aka: “… gatherings in the future.” That explains why you didn’t understand. Capisce?

    Yeah, states, counties, and municipalities are trying to relax constraints, but crowd size and indoor conditions are still bigly taboo factors. How many fans in pro sports arenas? Lots of empty stadiums.

    The wedding in Maine is clear, conclusive, and irrefutable proof.

  15. October is in the future. Wait, what? No, not that future? Oh, the other future. DaReal future! LOL! I forgot about that future. Maybe you could explain to us when your future begins and ends? LOL.

  16. Capt Mike Qbvious says

    If you read the full CT announcement, race tracks will increase to 50% capacity on October 8 as long as the COVID-19 numbers don’t get worse before then. So it’s not a done deal just yet.

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