After Almost 30 Years, Tomaino Racing Hard In Whelen Modifieds MARTINSVILLE, VA (Aug. 15, 2005) - With his 50th birthday rapidly approaching, Jamie Tomaino is one of the elder statesmen of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. And when the sleek,...
After Almost 30 Years, Tomaino Racing Hard In Whelen Modifieds
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Aug. 15, 2005) - With his 50th birthday rapidly approaching, Jamie Tomaino is one of the elder statesmen of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
And when the sleek, powerful Modified rocketships roll onto Martinsville Speedway's tricky oval next month for the Made In America Whelen 300, there will be no one in the field with more Martinsville experience or memories than Tomaino.
"I raced there in the seventies against Bobby Allison and guys like that. The seventies and eighties at Martinsville, man, that was the greatest time in my life," said Tomaino.
Don't think Tomaino is over the hill, though, despite having raced a Modified during four decades. He's still very competitive, with two top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes to his credit this season. But the Howell, NC, resident admits it's hard to hide the fact he's no spring chicken.
The best evidence of age is the entry of a second Jamie Tomaino * Jamie Tomaino Jr., who wasn't even born when his dad made his first trip to Martinville Speedway.
Tomaino Jr. works for Bill Davis Racing on the NEXTEL Cup Series these days, but still occasionally joins his dad in a Modified event.
"He raced up here for four years over at Wall Stadium," the elder Tomaino said of his 25-year-old son. "He still likes to get back in one when he can."
Tomaino's first Martinsville race was almost 30 years ago, in 1976.
"I can still remember my qualifying time from that first Martinsville trip * it was 21.3 seconds. That wasn't anywhere near good enough to get in the race and I had to make the show in a heat race."
"I'll never forget that first trip to Martinsville. I went to the gas pump in the pits for gas. I had $3 in my pocket. I didn't know if I had enough money to pay for the gas for my race car. Then the guy told me it was free * and I was going to give him my last three dollars."
Tomaino has enjoyed a solid career . He was the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion in 1990. In 1986 and 1987 he was voted the tour's most popular driver. He's won several tour events and has never finished out of the top 20 in points.
His lone Martinsville Speedway win, in the 1983 Cardinal 500, remains a career highlight for both good and not-so-good reasons.
"I had been close down there a couple of times. There were about five of us bumper-to-bumper that day and I got the win," recalled Tomaino.
"But the clock (the grandfather clock given to the winner) made me and my car owner split up. Nobody cared about the money * it was the clock everybody wanted the clock. He wanted the clock and I kept the clock and I don't think we ever raced together again after that."
It's been a while, more than a decade, since Tomaino visited victory lane in a tour event. He thinks Martinsville Speedway would be the perfect place to break out of that slump.
"Just because I'm older now and a lot of guys down there are my good friends and I haven't won in a long time, a win would be huge there," said Tomaino.
"There's a place in my heart for Martinsville. Now it's like a big time concert or something when you walk in there. I can't believe it's the same track, but even though the grandstands have grown and the county's grown, it's the same track and I love it."
The Made In America Whelen 300 kicks off Friday, September 2 with the first practice session at 5 p.m. Time trials are scheduled for 8:30 p.m. followed by an autograph session.
Action gets under way on Saturday, September 3 with a one-hour practice session at 3:30 p.m. A 50-lap last-chance race is set for 7 p.m. with the 250-lap feature event scheduled to take the green flag at 8:30 p.m.
The first 20 starting positions in the 250-lapper will be filled by time trials. The next eight slots will be filled according to points' standings. Positions 29 through 43 will go to the top 15 finishers in the last-chance race.
Tickets for the Labor Day weekend Modified event are $20 are on sale and may be purchased by calling Martinsville Speedway at 877.RACE.TIX or visiting Martinsville Speedway's website, www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Anyone purchasing tickets for both the Made In America Whelen 300 and the Bailey's 300 Late Model Stock race on October 9 can purchase both tickets for $30, a $5 discount on each ticket.