LEE — Familiarity bred success on Friday night at Lee USA Speedway, as homegrown drivers Mike Ordway Jr., who grew up in Fremont, and Dan Bowes, who lives in Epping, came home and stole the show in the International Supermodified Association’s Ollie Silva Memorial Mid-Summer Classic.
Ordway won the prestigious 75-lap race, while Bowes placed third, moving into first place in the ISMA standings with the strong finish.
“It’s big to come home to Lee and win,” said Ordway Jr. “I won the championship here back in 2005. Coming back, after about two laps in practice, it was like I never left.”
Ordway started the race from the pole and promptly stormed away from the rest of the field. A lap 22 caution brought eventual runner-up Mark Sammut to his rear bumper for a restart, but Ordway was up to the task.
“It’s easy to come home again, but it’s also hard in some ways,” Ordway Jr. said. “You have all your friends and family here and they expect you to run well. Thankfully it worked out tonight.”
Ordway, and Bowes, who finished third, are longtime friends, and each of them has won championships at Lee USA Speedway in the small block Supermodifieds. Bowes said coming home and standing on the podium together was really special.
“Mike and I are really good friends,” Bowes said. “We drive to some races together. It’s great to see Mike win this. He’s had horrible luck this year, so to pull it all together tonight, is nice to see for him.”
The ISMA series races throughout the Northeast, with several races in New York, Ohio and Ontario, Canada, but they only come to New England five times during the season, and two of those races are the Ollie Silva Memorial at Lee USA Speedwa and the Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Star Classic at Star Speedway, which will be held September 7-8.
Bowes said he took a lot of pride in the fact that he and Ordway Jr. were able to hold home court on Friday night.
“It definitely got to us a little bit last year when a guy who had never been here before came in and stole the show,” Bowes said of 2017 race winner Michael Muldoon. “That left us a little salty. This is a tricky place to race, so you don’t expect that. So to come in here and have local guys place up front — and Mark Sammut, who has been doing this for so long, he knows his way around here — is nice.”
Both drivers said the success that they have had competing in ISMA is a testament to the small block Supermodified division at Lee, where they have each won championships.
“That shows that the small block division is a good breeding ground for ISMA,” said Bowes. “Hopefully we will see some of these guys (who are currently in the small block Supermodified division) move up soon.”
“Racing in the weekly (divisions) prepares you for races like tonight,” Ordway Jr. said. “Any of these (current) drivers are more than capable of racing at this level. They are very good. We are very fortunate to have the opportunities we have. I wouldn’t mind coming back here to race every week, but we are lucky to have the opportunities that we have, and I’m going to take advantage of that for as long as I can.”
Ordway took advantage of an up front starting spot and a very fast race car on Friday night. He pulled away from the field after taking the green flag and quickly formed a gap between himself and reigning race winner Muldoon. A caution flag for a spin by Danny Lane brought the field back together, but Sammut, who had made his way around Muldoon at that point, could not mount a challenge for Ordway, who pulled away once again.
Bowes was lingering in seventh position on the restart, but he quickly moved up to fourth over the next dozen laps. Bowes appeared to run out of steam at that point, racing behind Kyle Edwards for several laps. Edwards and Bowes came into the night tied for the points lead in the ISMA standings, so when Bowes started to charge again over the last 10 laps of the race, he got around Edwards and secured the points lead heading into Saturday’s race in Waterford, Conn.
“I’m sure it’s not a very big lead,” Bowes said. “It’s hard to gain much on him when you only finish one spot ahead of him. My car was loose all night though, and we were battling it. So, considering that, I’m happy with coming up from thirteenth (starting position) to third.”
Bowes and Ordway weren’t the only familiar faces to have strong runs on Friday. Jon McKennedy, who cut his teeth at Lee and Star, came home fifth, while Chris Perley of Rowley, Mass. placed sixth. Ben Seitz, Otto Sitterly, Tyler Thompson and Timmy Jedrezejek.
In the undercards on the night Mike Spurling of Rochester won the small block supermodified race over Jeff Battle and Leslie Keyser, Alby Ovitt won the Street Stock race. Brothers Brandon (Ironman) and Tyler Mailhot (Pure Stocks) each took home wins as well.
The racing wasn’t the only action on track, as New England racing legend Bentley Warren led 302 motorcycles onto the track during intermission, to conclude his charity ride for Kyle Petty’s Victory Junction Camp. Warren, and race Grand Marshall Russ Conway were each honored prior to the race, as well.