``With the race paying a high purse, the Carquest/Wingate Classic will be a premier event in modified racing,'' Foss said. ``This race now carries one of the largest purses in the country for a 50-lap race.''
It is expected that many of the Northeast's top modified drivers will join Bridgeport's regulars for the midweek event. Jimmy Horton, Billy Pauch and Darrin Schuler have been Bridgeport modified feature winners this year.
Meanwhile, New Egypt put a key piece of its management puzzle into place.
Andy Belmont, promoter of the Plumsted Township, N.J., oval, named John McCaughey as the track's race director.
``This change was necessary in order to establish a chain of command, and I believe in promoting from within,'' Belmont said about the appointment of McCaughey, who began the season as technical inspector.
``We need to have someone who is in charge of all activities between the fences on each and every race night, and John is the perfect choice for that job.''
McCaughey, of Flemington, N.J., has a long history in the sport. His brother Craig was a modified racer in the 1970s and '80s. John operates Performance Management Systems, a racing-related business, in his hometown.
The promotion of McCaughey will allow Belmont to concentrate on overall facility management on race nights.
To date, New Egypt has captured the fancy of the entire local racing community. The track, once a deteriorating, quarter-mile asphalt oval, was purchased during the winter by builder Rick Grosso, who leveled the existing facility, replaced it with a sparkling, state-of-the-art, one-third-mile dirt track, and hired Belmont to take care of day-to-day operations.
A former modified racer who currently competes full time on the ARCA Super Car circuit, Belmont, 40, of Penndel, brought a well-known name and a wealth of race-team promotion background along for the ride.
Under Belmont's guidance, New Egypt has attracted capacity crowds for its opening five events. Drivers, too, have been excited about racing at the oval, especially since a weekly purse of more than $17,500 and a seasonlong point fund of $50,000 are on the line.
This Saturday, the American Racing Drivers Club midget tour will compete at the speedway for the first time, and club business director Mike Roselli is enthused about the opportunity.
``New Egypt is a perfect midget facility,'' he said. ``The place is first class, no ifs, ands or buts about it.''
SCHEDULING CHANGES The weekend rains created many scheduling changes for the upcoming week.
Flemington (N.J.) Speedway will try for a third straight week to open its NASCAR modified season. Twin modified features (one left over from a May 2 rainout) will be scheduled for this week, with late-models, tar-cars, stocks and trucks, and a 100-lap enduro race rounding out the card.
Flemington planned to give the modifieds the week off.
New Egypt will delay its modified twin 20-lap features, initially set for May 9, to May 23. This Saturday, the track will present modifieds, sportsman, street stocks and ARDC midgets.
United Racing Club sprint cars will join the modifieds and sportsman Saturday at Bridgeport. Late-models have the week off.
Regular shows rained out Friday at East Windsor (N.J.) and Little Bridgeport, along with events set for Saturday at Grandview and Airport, have been reset for this week.
Although many area tracks have been bedeviled by rain, Big Diamond Raceway, a three-eighth-mile clay oval nestled in the coal town of Minersville, Pa., has been especially hard hit. The track has canceled four straight races.
``I hope I can remember how to drive my race car,'' joked Bob Ebersole of Hummelstown, Pa., one of Big Diamond's competitors. ``I looked at my car . . . in the garage this week, and it's been in there so long ready to go that the tires are going flat.''