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Carl Zeh to be inducted into Riverhead Wall of Fame Saturday night

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Carl Zeh's presence in the crowd during the 2013 Charger Championship at Riverhead Raceway was enough of a prize, said grandson Eric, the winner that night.

Eric, 27, of Selden, also took the title in 2014, but his first remains his favorite, partly because it was the only one his grandfather got to see.

Carl Zeh, of Water Mill, died in March 2014 at age 77. A respected NASCAR modified car owner, he totaled numerous wins and championships with drivers Jim Malone Sr. and Don Howe at Riverhead and Islip Speedway.

Zeh will be posthumously inducted into the Riverhead Wall of Fame Saturday night. He rounds out the 2015 class with drivers Mike Ewanitsko, 45, of West Hempstead and Robin Vollmoeller, 59, who grew up in Riverhead.

"I think it's really cool, it's an honor for our family," Eric said. "I wish he was around to enjoy it with us, but it's a great feeling knowing that a lot of people liked him for who he was and how supportive he was of people."

Eric, who leads the Charger division with 490 points, will compete in the 30-lap Blunderbusts race Saturday night. He said it's special to race on a day honoring Zeh, whose financial support allowed him to start racing go-karts in 2003.

Vollmoeller, who began racing in 1972, said his father and Zeh built the first good engine he used in his car.

The driver has 47 career wins and is No. 3 on the all-time Charger win list with 30. Vollmoeller also has 16 wins in late models. He stopped competing last year, but hasn't officially retired.

"It means everything to me because I grew up at that racetrack," Vollmoeller said of his induction. "My whole life's based around that. It sounds kind of serious for a racetrack, but it's true."

Ewanitsko echoed the passion, saying he often fights the urge to get back behind the wheel of a race car. From 1986-2000, he had 28 wins on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, 11 of them at Riverhead.

"It's a rush to get in that race car, step on the gas and feel 600 horsepower throw you back on the seat," Ewanitsko said, adding that preparation and luck were his two biggest assets during his career.

Now a family man, working at Mutual Engraving and Printing Co. in West Hempstead, Ewanitsko said he "went from life at 100 miles per hour to life at 55."

But his racing days and the Riverhead track are never far from his thoughts.

"I feel honored," Ewanitsko said. "It's always been a real good track for me. Overall, when I look back, I'm happy with what I've done."

NASCAR Modified Standings

1. Tom Rogers Jr, Riverhead, 280

2. Vinny Biondolillo, Farmingville, 248

3. Kyle Soper, Manorville, 246

4. Howie Brode, East Islip, 245

5. John Fortin, Holtsville, 239

Saturday night

Wall of Fame Night, Old-Timers Night, Modifieds (Time Trials), 30-Lap Late Models, 30-Lap Blunderbusts (Time Trials), 30-Lap Super Pro Trucks (Time Trials), 8 Cylinder Enduro (no Figure 8's, Chargers or Legends).


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