John Beatty Jr. Officially Crowned Riverhead Raceway 2023 NASCAR Modified Champion At Awards Celebration

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Championship team owner Mark Mina and with driver John Beatty Jr. Saturday (Photo: Courtey MSM Elite Motorsports)

The banquet room of Giorgio’s Baiting Hollow was full of celebration and good times Friday night as Riverhead Raceway owners Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz honored their 2023 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champions during the sold-out gala. For the first time in his career John Beatty Jr. of Merick led the parade of champion as the NASCAR Modified champion and was celebrated for the 2023 title with car owner Mark S. Mina.

The 2023 Modified championship was the culmination of six years of hard work building and molding a championship team for John Beatty Jr. by team owner Mark S. Mina. The pairing came together during the off-season after the 2017 campaign after John won the INEX Legend Race Car title at Riverhead. While disappointed the MSM Elite Motorsports entry never visited victory lane, Beatty was the model of consistency in 2023 completing all 941-laps of competition. Beatty, aside from running all the laps scored 10 top five and 14 top ten finishes only placing out of the top ten once, an 11th place showing. 

When Beatty strolled center stage, Connie Partridge, Tom Gatz, GM John Elwood and NASCAR officials Mike Cappiello & Randy Murray where there to greet John. Beatty was presented with his Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship plaque, track champion ring, the lion’s share of the 2023-point fund and lastly the Eddie Partridge Driver’s Cup. The Eddie Partridge Driver’s Cup is symbolic of the annual NASCAR Modified championship of Riverhead Raceway named after Partridge.

Following Beatty during the 2023 title chase were JR Bertuccio of Centereach, Chris Young of Calverton, Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills. Bertuccio, Young and Rogers all won single events during the season Slepian, like Beatty went winless. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches won the 2023 Rookie of the Year honors.

For the seventh time in his illustrious career, Jeremy McDermott was honored as the Late Model champion with car owner Rob Pelis earning his sixth title over the past seven years. Pelis and his Eastport Feeds team won the 2017 & 2018 LM championship with Kyle Soper of Manorville before winning four consecutive crowns with McDermott, 2019 through 2021.  McDermott nailed down five wins in 2023. Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches, a three-time winner was runner=up in the title chase followed by Gerald Giordano of Freeport, Chris McGuire of Miller Place and Ed Cheslak of Rocky Point. McGuire scored a single win in ’23 while Jesse St. Clair of Lindenhurst won Rookie of the Year honors.

The Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modified season boiled down to a battle of siblings, not just for the championship but overall wins on the year too. When the dust settled Owen Grennan of Glen Cove was basking in the ought of a second straight championship on the strength of four wins. Younger brother Chase made Owen sweat right up until the final points race on October 15th to determine the championship. Chase would find some solace when he won his fourth race of the year in a non-points event during the Islip 300. Third through fifth were Sean Glennon of Northport, Terry Stiles of Ricky Point and Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead. Ellwood was a three-time winner while Glennon and Stiles one once each. Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia won the 2023 Rookie of the Year award. 

Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford won his third career Figure Eight championship in 2023 on what can only be described as a career season. Hyde wheeling the East End Building Chevy won five of the nine races tying him with Late Model champion McDermott, Legend Race Car standout Joey Braun and 2023 INEX Bandolero Outlaw champion Ben Morabito of Miller Place for most wins (5) overall. Allan Pedersen, a two-time winner in 2023 for the second year in a row was runner-up in the final rankings. Scott Pedersen of Shirley, Gary Fritz of Mastic Beach and Cody Triola of Bay Shore completed the top five. Scott Pedersen and Fritz were single event winners this past year. No drivers met eligibility requirements for Figure Eight Rookie of the Year. 

For the first time in his career Brandon Hubbard of Mastic captured the 2023 Blunderbust championship, surviving a wild down to the last race battle with Jim Laird Jr. of Rocky Point. Hubbard came into that final race with his United Exhaust team with a strategy to win the race and points will take care of themselves. Hubbard indeed won the final feature, his second win of the year netting him the title.  Laird, who lost a transmission during qualifying for the final race, borrowed a car and finished second in the championship having won three races along the way. Bill Wegmann Jr, of Patchogue, Cody Triola of Bay Shore and Bill Wegmann Sr. of North Bellmore completed the top five. Triola won twice, while Wegmann Jr, took one win in ’23. Michael “Irv” Accordino of Shirley won the Rookie of the Year hardware. 

Score Jack Handley Jr. of Medford a three-time Super Pro Truck champion earning the crown for he and truck owner Andre Vega. For Vega it’s his fifth SPT title having won twice with Mark Stewart of Riverhead in 2018 & 2019 before Handley came on board with the Hydro Action Toyota winning the 2020, 2021 and now the 2023 championship. Jack was a four-time winner in ’23. All-time leading winner Lou Maestri of Deer Park was runner-up in 2023, followed by Matt Triola of Bay Shore, Joe Cerabino of Bay Shore and Erin Solomito of Hampton Bays. Triola posted two wins while Maestri won a single event over the summer. Chris Lescenski of Riverhead won the 2023 Rookie of the Year.

“Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches returned to his racing roots in a big way this past season scoring the INEX Legend Race Car championship for the second time in his career (2019). Look no further than a four-race win streak in late May, early June as to the catalyst of a championship season. However, a mid-season, grinding crash tightened things up between Davidowitz and upstart talent Jeff Farruggia Jr. of Riverhead. The tandem went to the final race to determine the championship with Davidowitz in the Freddie & Megan Kraft backed coupe coming out on top. Following him and Farruggia in the final standings were, Joey Braun of Manorville, Jason Castaldo of Shirley and Riely O’Keefe of Manorville. Bruan scored five wins in ’23. while Farruggia and O’Keefe won once. Rising young driver Rodney Dowless Jr. of Dix Hills won the 2023 Rookie of the Year award. 

Dave Antos of Lindenhurst scored his second consecutive Street Stock championship during the 2023 campaign, his fourth overall. Throw in his 2011, 2015 & 2016 Grand Enduro titles to the mix and Dave is a seven-time Riverhead track champion. Antos and his EP Milling & Sweeping team win three races during the ’23 championship run. Brian McCormack of Holbrook, Brian Brown of Calverton, Danny Pizzo of Holbrook and Rhett Fogg of Westhampton were second through fifth. Brown, Pizzo and Fogg won one race each. 

Soft spoken Joe Cooke Jr. of Shirley, like John Beatty Jr in the Modifieds, won his first career Mini Stock championship without a trip to victory lane. Joe, who along with his father make-up the Island Technology team raced steady and finished all the races in route to the championship. Paul Wojcik of Patchogue was runner-up followed by John Harley of Sayville, Jake Innes of Farmingdale and Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge completed the top five. Warren was a three-time winner in ’23, while Wojcik pocketed a single victory.

For 2023 INEX Bandolero Bandits champion Reid Halpin of Wading River, his championship story is one of perseverance and never say quit. After a hard wreck two summers ago at Waterford Speedbowl, Reid’s courageous comeback story ended with a four-win season in 2023 earning the driver of the Florida Connection Venetta Strong racer the championship. Following Halpin were Emmett Grattan of Southold, Mason Goodale of Riverhead, Aria Ligon of Center Moriches and Layla Quilliam of Shirley were second through fifth. Goodale and Ligon each won twice in 2023. 

2022 Bandits champion Ben Morabito didn’t let a mandated step-up to the INEX Bandolero Outlaws get in his way of another championship year. In fact, the Miller Place talent thrived with a five-win season and Outlaw championship in the Benimax Trucking entry. Oh, and by the way, Ben also won the Cook Out Summer Showdown Series Outlaw title at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Phillip Alaimo of Miller Place, Gavin Romano of Riverhead, Cillian Tennant of Riverhead and Will Sipala of Manorville completed the top five. 

The 3rd annual Silas Hiscock Driver of the Year Award was won by Street Stock champion Dave Antos. Randy Murray, chief of inspection at Riverhead and his staff named Pastor Scott Kraniak of the Centereach Bible Church the 2nd annual Joe Hodge Humanitarian Award. Pastor Scott is the track chaplain of Riverhead Raceway. 

Hours before the Awards Celebration, Riverhead Raceway announced the 2024 schedule of events kicking off with a doubleheader weekend May 4th & May 5th. Saturday evening May 4th will be the NASCAR Pack the Track Night opener for the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, followed just hours later by the May Meltdown program Sunday May 5th. 

The complete 2024 schedule of events, 2024 car registration and our all-new On-Line shop are available at Emails reach track management at [email protected], the phone number remains 631-842-RACE. 


  1. Beatty has been on my radar since the race at Riverhead, July 2019 when Bonsignor drove him high on the last lap to steal a win in a NWMT race. I wonder how often Beatty thinks about picking the high side something that turned out to be a mistake trusting the 51 to run him clean.

    “It’s hard to celebrate when you have to win it like that,” Bonsignore said. “But we’re here to win.”
    Sure Justin you must have tossed and turned all night.

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