(Courtesy Jerry Kelleher – norwoodarena.com)

May 7, 1970 – Norwood Arena is in a transition period. Modified Division racing has been dropped. The shift this season is to the Late Model Sportsman Division, an experiment that has been quite successful in the South.

Norwood officials arc optimistic as the track heads into its third weekend of activity Saturday night. Attendance has been off slightly compared to last year. But Norwood spokesman Carl Merrill of NASCAR said yesterday the reaction is natural.

“We knew that bringing in a new division held certain risks,” said Merrill. “The Modified Division drivers had built up a good following and their names were well known. But we felt a change was in order.”

The Late Model cars (Track Street Division) are of 1957-’67 vintage, have a coil spring front end, and are limited to 3300 pounds. The Modifieds (1937-66 bodies) had a 2600-pound limit and were two or three seconds faster.

“The big difference as far as we were concerned,” added Merrill, “was in engine cost. The Modified engines are bigger than the Late Model engines and the expense of keeping one on the track is higher. Switching to Late Model racing here is going to give a lot more people the opportunity to drive because of the lower operating cost.

Several of the old reliables will thus be missing from the Norwood scene. But Merrill thinks there will be new ones to take their place. Some drivers like Bob Glass (Revere), George Savary (Westwood). Ken Kutney (Beverly) and Armando Vieira (Medway) have already ditched their Modified buggies for Late Model jobs and stayed at Norwood.

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Modified drivers who want to stay within the bracket can go weekends to Connecticut — Saturday nights to Stafford Springs, Sunday afternoons to Thompson.

As for the drivers just getting their feet wet in the Late Models at Norwood, the track is featuring a Novice Division that is catching on. The field went from 13 to 18 in two weeks, with over 20 expected Saturday. Norfolk’s Paul Roche has won both of them, but he’ll be getting a stiff challenge Saturday from Steve Kourafas. The Randolph native was last year’s division champ.

(The Boston Globe-May 7, 1970) By Marvin Pave Globe Staff