Catamount Stadium Could Lose Its Historic NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Milestone 

Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt (Photo:

It’s a small piece of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour historical trivia that has stood the test of time for just over 38 years. 

In 1985 NASCAR launched what ultimately became the Whelen Modified Tour. The 1985 schedule for the division included 29 events, most at historic hotbeds for Modified racing on the east coast. 

One event though seemed oddly out of place. 

On Sunday Aug. 11, 1985 the NASCAR Modified Tour visited Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt. The one-third mile oval had been open since 1965 and was a place known for full-bodied racing, which dominated the northern New England short track racing scene. The track hosted Modifieds weekly from 1965-1968 and then ran Modified events sporadically through the 1970’s. But to this day, that 1985 NASCAR Modified Tour event at Catamount still holds an infamous milestone spot in the history of the series. 

The Catamount event was the 17th race of the 1985 season for the newly formed NASCAR Modified Tour. Over the first 16 races that season the series averaged 25 cars per event. The Catamount event attracted 16 entries. It remains to this day as the smallest field ever for a NASCAR Modified Tour event over the 717 events the series has run since the division’s first event on March 31, 1985 at Thompson Speedway. 

“Catamount had never hosted an event of that type, a big Modified event,” longtime team owner, track promoter and announcer Ben Dodge said. “The interest in Catamount was always about full-fendered cars. There was not really much interest there for open wheeled Modified cars. Going into that event the buzz was that the fans in the Catamount area weren’t really interested in seeing Modified racing. The facility itself had never hosted a big Modified race like that and there wasn’t a lot of hype or interest in what was taking place there. … The only interest that was there was for guys chasing points on the tour. It wasn’t really a place that a lot of guys wanted to go to.” 

Jimmy Spencer led all 100 laps to win the 1985 event at Catamount. John Rosati was second and Brian Ross third. Jamie Tomaino finished sixth in the event. 

“That was the first year of the Tour and you still had all sorts of tracks running real Modifieds weekly,” Tomaino said. “Most people didn’t want to run the Tour. They were calling us the Pointer Sisters for running on the Tour. I chose to go [to Catamount] because I wanted to run every event. When that tour started in 1985 I just wanted to get the hell out of Wall Stadium. I wanted to travel. I was lucky enough to have [support] behind me to do that. Once I decided to run the Tour full-time that was all I did. But the reason there wasn’t a lot of cars was because there was still real Modifieds being raced weekly at tracks on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s all over the place.” 

Tom Bolles finished 10th in the 1985 event at Catamount. 

“That was so long ago,” Bolles said. “The way I remember I went there was because I saw pictures of my car there. I don’t remember that track at all or going there. What I remember is that part of New England was all about full bodied racing. I don’t remember there was a lot of interest in having a Modified race there.” 

The NASCAR Modified Tour never went back to Catamount Stadium after that 1985 event. The track closed after its 1987 season.

Over the history of the Whelen Modified Tour the series has run only two events with less than 19 cars in the starting field. Catamount had 16 cars in 1985 and on Sept. 4, 2011 the series ran at Delaware Speedway in Delaware, Ontario, Canada in an event that saw only 18 cars in the field. Over the history of the series there have only been eight events run with less than 20 cars in the starting field. 

The Whelen Modified Tour travels to Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Saturday. Last year the series made its third visit to the track for an event that attracted 19 cars. This week’s event currently has 15 cars on the entry list. Should no other cars be added to the entry list before Saturday, the Langley event will replace Catamount as the smallest field ever in the history of the series. 

A number of factors have played into the Whelen Modified Tour reaching this historic point this season. A number of teams that had been running full-time in recent years have cut back to part-time efforts. The team fielding a car for 2022 series driver’s champion Jon McKennedy folded after six events this season. The 2022 series owners championship winner Tommy Baldwin Jr. announced earlier this week he was suspending operations of his Whelen Modified Tour team with driver Doug Coby because he was diagnosed with cancer. And Matt Hirschman, who had been expected to be in the field at Langley, sustained a broken left arm in the most recent Whelen Modified Tour event on Aug. 16 at Thompson Speedway. 

But the concern for what could be for Langley has been there since NASCAR announced a 19-race schedule for the 2023 Whelen Modified Tour season last October.

“The Modified Tour schedule this year, right from the day they released the schedule, the buzz was that there were too many events and some of the events were too far away,” Dodge said. “Now we’re at the point where we’re seeing the reality of what people talked about when the schedule was released.” 

Bolles, who still fields an SK Modified at Stafford Speedway, sees the economy as the biggest destriment to those trying to run the Whelen Modified Tour full-time.

“The money must not be there for a lot of those Modified Tour teams,” Bolles said. “The economy since COVID, every part and piece has gone up. In our little racing world at Stafford Speedway, everything has gone up 30 or 40 percent on parts and pieces to keep these race cars competitive. The Arute family has really done a great job at Stafford in helping to keep costs down for guys who are racing there. But the cost of racing has gone up for everybody, from Street Stocks to Modifieds and it puts a strain on everybody. I think something like that, with the travel involved to a place like [Langley], I think it’s just caught up with people that they can’t go.”


  1. Rafter fan says

    We’re there 2 events (one with 19 cars and one with 20 cars) at Holland Speedway on 8/1/85?

  2. Rafter Fan,
    Yes, Twin 50 laps features. 20 cars in the first event, 19 in the second event.

  3. If anyone would know what the buzz is in modified racing it would be Dodge. As far as publicly referring to the NWMT schedule being problematic he was the first I heard mentioning it last December. In his diplomatic way of course but in Dodge speak forceful.
    This thing about the economy and/or inflation being blamed for car count challenges seems a little too convenient in my view. Bolles sighting increased costs is the common refrain. I’m thinking wages go up at the same time and business’s like Bolles Motor’s in some cases get pricing power. Including the screw you charge dealers were tacking on in addition to inflated prices when car supplies were real low. Not picking on Bolles but it is a fact as we accepted inflation many companies took advantage increasing profit margins at the same time. Then there are the Stafford car counts that don’t reflect some mass migration away from car ownership based on current economic conditions.
    Below a few numbers you can compare. Races and average car count refer only to the NWMT. Table may come out messy after Word Press moderates but you can figure it out.

    ………..Races……Average Cars…….Inflation……Unemployment
    (a) 7 months 2023

    Draw your own conclusions.
    I suppose you would expect higher car counts in recent history then last century with fewer events. On the other hand the competition in tour modified events is brutal now whereas in 85&90 the Tour competition coming from local tracks running modifieds weekly like Riverside.
    I’m seeing no correlation between car counts, inflation and the unemployment rate that you can point to and say there, that’s the reason for whatever. Considering inflation for June and July is running at around 3% with unemployment still historically low the inflation/economy reference will continue to lose it’s steam as the months click off.
    For me it is what it is that being NASCAR’s management of their tour. It’s archaic for any number of reasons. Their own policies hurt their events as well as the tour modified landscape of events as well.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing