Thirty years ago in 1978, the NASCAR Modifieds had an
early season event at Hickory, North Carolina. Geoff Bodine took the win
over Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Wayne Anderson, Gary Cretty, Joe Thurman
and Fred Harbach.
Ten years ago in 1998, Jim Spencer took the
lead with 25 laps to go and went on to win the Busch Grand National 300
at Las Vegas. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. Randy Lajoie provided
some excitement on the last lap when he flipped. Mark Martin was the
Winston Cup winner.
Five years ago in 2003 the NASCAR Winston Cup
and Busch Series racing teams headed for Las Vegas. Because of
intermittent rain qualifying for both events were run at night. Many of
the teams arrived late after they were stuck in an ice storm in Texas.
Terry Labonte was the Winston Cup Busch Pole sitter. Matt Kenseth took
the lead after a pit stop on lap 237 and held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for
the win. Michael Waltrip finished third. In last lap action, Jimmie
Johnson and Sterling Marlin wrecked while fighting for eighth spot. Joe
Nemachek won the Busch Series race over Kevin Harvick.
Last year, 2007 All eyes were on the first
annual Speedway Expo at the Better Living Center at the Big “E” in West
Springfield, Mass. The show, which replaced RaceaRama featured just
about every speedway and series in the northeast along with many top
NASCAR stars and personalities. Based on numerous reports Speedway Expo
was a rousing success. It was gratifying to see that a large contingent
of drivers that were on hand representing the NASCAR Busch East and
Whelen Modified Tour Series.
Saturday saw a large turnout of fans for autograph sessions
from some of their favorite drivers including eighteen competitors from
the NASCAR Busch East Series and Whelen Modified ranks. NASCAR Nextel
Cup drivers Clint Bowyer and Kenny Wallace proved popular with the fans
seeking their autographs. The dunk tank, which featured NEMA's Mike
Scrivani along with officials from Seekonk and Twin State Speedways, was
an enjoyable festivity as folks tried their luck for a good cause.
Among those on the prowl was former Connecticut SK Modified
Champion Jim Broderick who says his son Jimmy will be in a SK at
Waterford in 2007. It also appeared that Mario Fiore and his mighty
No.44 would reappear in the form of a True Value Modified. Fiore
indicated that he could field a competitive Modified on the True Value
circuit for considerably less than it costs to run the NASCAR Whelan
Modified Tour Series. Speedways and racing series from every New England
state as well as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were
represented. Cars and trucks representing just about any form of
motorized competition were on hand.
The highlight of Sunday afternoon was the inaugural Speedy
Awards, which were voted on by the fans to recognize drivers, the media,
promoters and tracks for their efforts. The winners were: BREAK-OUT
RACER OF THE YEAR WINNER: MATT HIRSCHMAN, LONG HAUL AWARD WINNER:
BENTLEY WARREN, BEST WEEKLY RACER WINNER: WOODY PITKAT, BEST NORTHEAST
TOURING RACER WINNER: CHRIS PERLEY, BEST WEEKLY SHOW WINNER: BEECH RIDGE
SPEEDWAY, BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN AN EVENT WINNER: LARRY BARNETT,
BEST INDIVIDUAL PROMOTION WINNER: TD BANKNORTH 250 OXFORD PLAINS
SPEEDWAY, BEST SERIES OR TRACK COVERAGE WINNER: NICHOLAS TETO, RACE FAN
OF THE YEAR WINNER: TOM ‘SID’ DiMAGGIO. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARD
Winner: Bill Channell, SOLID LIFTER winner : This non-racer (not a
driver, car owner, or crew member) award recognizes lifelong support of
a spouse who has played a tremendous role in their spouse’s and family’s
racing career. They have supported the decision to be financially
involved, understood time away from chores and sometimes family, and
then takes a backseat during victory lane photos, interviews, and
team-oriented decisions and they have done so for years, in some cases
decades. WINNER: LOIS MATCZAK.
It looked like the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts was
working hard to keep admission prices at a reasonable level as they had
secured major sponsorship for their True Value Modified Series events.
The Speedway announced that AAA of Southern New England had signed on as
the title sponsor for the True Value Modified Racing Series 100-lap
event on Saturday night, June 23 and Airgas Inc., the largest U.S.
distributor of industrial, specialty and medical gases, process
chemicals, welding, safety and related products, has joined forces with
the speedway to present the True Value Modified Racing Series 100 on
Saturday night, August 18.
Down on the shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl the new
management team of Bill Roth and Jerry Robinson had begun their upgrade
program at the Route 85 oval. Roth and Robinson, under the corporate
name, The New Waterford Speedbowl, LLC, officially signed their lease
Jan. 1, about a month and a half later than they would've liked to,
taking over the day-to-day operations at the track from property owner
Terry Eames. Roth and Robinson would have a long row to hoe as Eames had
let the historic oval slip into a stage of disrepair
The New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) announced the
addition of the New Hampshire 75 for the United States Auto Club (USAC)
Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering on Saturday, September
15. The New Hampshire 75 will be part of an already action packed NASCAR
SYLVANIA 300 event weekend. Saturday’s schedule would also feature the
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200 and the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour New Hampshire 100.
Juan Pablo Montoya spun teammate Scott Pruett to take the
lead with eight laps left, then held off Denny Hamlin to win the Telcel-Motorola
200 for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.
Montoya, the Colombian star who jumped from Formula One to NASCAR late
last season, recovered from a bad pit stop to aggressively move from
19th to first, taking the lead when he sent Pruett's car spinning on the
The Nextel Cup cars had the weekend off.
This week here are several
vintage racing photos from the old West Haven, CT. Speedway
Ralph "Zippy" Zullo
Photos from the collection of Billy
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'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive