The Chrome Horn - Looking Back with Phil Smith


Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby
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    Forty five years ago in 1963 it rained at the Utica-Rome Speedway.

    Forty years ago in 1968, Jerry Cook took the win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Dave Kotary finished second with Ron Narducci, Dave Lape and Eddie Pieniezek rounding out the top five. At Stafford, Eddie Flemke made it two in a row despite a lot of pressure from Bugsy Stevens, who finished second. Fred DeSarro finished third and was followed by Sal Dee and Lou Toro. Bugsy Stevens made it two in a row at the Norwood Arena on Saturday night. At Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Ed Pieniezek and Dick Clark. Sunday racing at Thompson and Utica-Rome rained out.

    Thirty five years ago in 1973, Modified action began on Friday at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Fred DeSarro took the opening night 100 lapper over Leo Cleary, Bugsy Stevens, Paul Radford and Lou Lazzaro. Ronnie Bouchard made it two in a row at Stafford on Saturday night. Bugsy Stevens headed for Tioga where he won a 100 lapper and at Islip, Jim Hendrickson beat out Tom Baldwin and Charlie Jarzombek for the win. On Sunday, Lee raceway ran a 30-lap event with Bob Santos taking the win over Freddie Schulz and on Sunday night, Richie Evans won a 100-lap event at Utica-Rome. Bernie Miller finished second.

    Thirty years ago in 1978,Geoff Bodine won the Friday night opener at Stafford over Ron Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens. Bouchard made it three in a row at Waterford on Saturday and at Riverside, Richie Evans took a hard-earned victory over Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero. George Savory made it two in a row at Westboro and at Islip; Charlie Jarzombek beat out Bill Park and Tom Baldwin. Events scheduled on Sunday at Thompson and Oswego rained out. At Monadnock, Bouchard took the checker over Bugsy Stevens and Ollie Silva.

    Twenty five Years ago in 1983, Greg Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford. Kenny Bouchard, with a strong run in the Ted Marsh No.55 finished second with Richie Evans, third. At Riverside, Evans took the top spot over Reggie Ruggiero and at Islip, Don Howe took the top spot. Other weekend winners were Jamie Tomaino at Wall and George Kent at Tioga. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Darrell Waltrip took the pole and the win. Ron Bouchard finished ninth and Geoff Bodine finished twentieth.

    Twenty Years ago in 1988 Friday night racing at Stafford rained out. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup got his second win of the year. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggerio picked up his third win with Mike Stefanik, second. Tony Hirschman went two for two at Tioga and at Monadnock, Stefanik and Ruggiero flip-flopped with Stefanik taking the win.

    Fifteen Years ago, in 1993 Mike Paquette won the Friday night Winston Racing Series SK Modified feature at Stafford and was disqualified with an illegal engine. Dennis Gada was awarded the win. Jerry Pearl took the win at Waterford on Saturday after Bert Marvin tangled with Bob Potter and Ted Christopher in the late going. Ronnie Rocco finished second. Chris Young went pole to pole at Riverhead and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero took the victory. At Fonda Speedway in upstate N.Y., Legend Lou Lazzaro got his 110th win at the historic track. In Winston Cup news, Geoff Bodine became a car owner as he purchased Alan Kulwicki's race team.

    Ten years ago, in 1998, Bo Gunning was the 50 lap SK-Modified winner at Stafford. It was no cakewalk as some hot company in the form of Bob Potter, Mike Ewanitsko, Ted Christopher and Eric Berndt followed. Stafford also announced the results of their 50 Greatest Drivers who would be honored during the year. Waterford, Riverside and Riverhead rained out. The Busch North Series and the Busch Grandnationals were at Loudon. Kelly Moore took the BNS victory over Tom Carey and Brad Leighton. Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher were in the hunt during the early going but blistered tires and a pit stop kept them out of the top ten. Buckshot Jones was the Busch Grand National winner. Tony Stewart finished second.

    Five years ago in 2003 Stafford got to beat the rain as they began their regular Friday night racing series. Scott Foster took the SK-Modified 50 lapper over Jeff Baral and Frank Ruocco. The NASCAR Busch North Series ran a 150 lapper with Curtis Truex going pole to pole. Andy Santerre finished second. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series visited the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday. It was a major milestone for Jamie Tomaino as it was his 400th Modified Tour start. Chuck Hossfeld took the Busch Pole and led the first 27 laps before blistering a tire. Waiting in the wings was Rick Fuller who took advantage of Hossfeld’s miss-handling machine. Fuller led from lap 28 to the finish. Ted Christopher finished second with Jerry Marquis, third. Todd Szegedy and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Hossfeld hung on to finish sixth. Because of the fact that previous Mod Tour Series rainouts had shuffled the schedule, Waterford was forced to run their Nationals event on the same weekend. Dennis Gada took the win over Jeff Pearl and Ron Yuhas Jr. During the running of the event Bo Gunning was leading and appeared to have victory in sight when Ted Christopher spun him out. Gunning was so incensed that he went after Christopher and attempted to hit him head on but stopped short before contact was made. Gunning then parked it for the day. Christopher was put to the rear and worked his way back to sixth spot before cutting a tire. Christopher ended up 16th in the final rundown. In other weekend action Dave Michael won at Wall Township and JR Bertuccio made it two in a row at Riverhead. It was also announced on this weekend that Steve Park had been fired out of his Winston Cup ride at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and was replaced by Jeff Green. The Winston Cup Series was off because of Mother’s Day. The Busch Racing Series was at the Gateway Speedway where Scott Riggs took the win.

    Last year, 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was in the middle of their “Spring Break”. Jimmy Blewett, who drives for Long Island car owner Eddie Partridge sat atop the point standings with a 31 point lead over second generation driver Matt Hirschman. In three starts Blewett had three top tens including one win. Hirschman, the son of multi-time Whelen Modified Champion Tony Hirschman also had three top tens but was winless. James Civali, who won the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, sat in third spot, 49 points behind the leader. Todd Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Donny Lia, Jerry Marquis, Ronnie Silk, Mike Stefanik and Billy Pauch Jr. In three events, fifty one different competitors had entered into competition.
    Much had been said, both pro and con concerning the recent “Flash Event” at the Wall Township Speedway. It was NASCAR’s intent to make the Whelen Modified Tour Series more affordable to their weekly tracks and make the events more exciting to the paying fan. In both cases NASCAR needed to take a second look and maybe ask those involved to give their constructive criticism. From this corner it appeared that to keep competitors happy NASCAR needed to pressure promoters to get out and sell their events in order to offset costs which come with special events. To create excitement NASCAR should try to handicap the top 20 based on their last three performances and invert the field. To fill out a 30-35 car starting field NASCAR needed to run a consolation event which would afford some track time to those who need it.
    In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night second generation driver Keith Rocco captured the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Rocco is the son of retired driving great Ronnie Rocco. Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 40-lap SK Modified feature event saw several drivers all take a shot at Keith Rocco, but Rocco was able to fend off all challengers to pick up his first feature win of the 2007 season. Rocco moved to the lead on lap-5, passing early race leader Woody Pitkat. Pitkat would spend the next 30 laps trying to get around Rocco, with several caution periods slowing the action and giving Pitkat multiple opportunities to take the lead back. Pitkat held tough on the outside groove, but was unable to get around Ruocco. The final caution came out with 4 laps to go, setting up a dash to the finish. Rocco again got the drop on the field, with Willie Hardie moving past Pitkat for second. Rocco was able to pull away from Rocco in the closing laps to take the win. Hardie finished second with Pitkat, Kerry Malone, and Jeff Malave rounding out the top-5.
    In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic used a bottom-shot coming out of turn-four to pass leader Doug Coby with eight circuits remaining to capture his second consecutive 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Speedbowl on Saturday evening. Other winners were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Joe Godbout III (Mini Stock), and Norm Wrenn (Pro-4 Modified). Coby faded in the late going and was overtaken by Shawn Monahan who ended up in second spot. Coby, Diego Monahan and Dennis Gada rounded out the top five Sixth through tenth were Jeff Pearl, Kenny Horton, Frank Mucciacciaro, Jeff Paul and Tyler Chadwick.
    The Star Speedway in Epping, NH hosted a special Open Competition Modified race that attracted only 19 cars. Ted Christopher was in the lead with only eight laps remaining when he tangled with Andy Seuss under caution and suffered a flat tire. Rob Summers ended up taking the win over Jon McKennedy, Seuss, Ron Silk and Chris Pasteryak.
    At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Bill Park took the win over Tom Rogers and JR Bertuccio. In the RACE OF CHAMPIONS ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR event at the Oswego Speedway Matt Hirschman went pole to pole to win the 75 lap event. Billy Putney finished second and was followed by Lee Sherwood, Zane Zeiner, Earl Paules, Eric Beers and Rick Zacharias.
    In Nextel Cup action at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina Jeff Gordon overcame an overheating engine with five laps to go to race to his third victory of the season Sunday, winning the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Hendrick Motorsports has won four straight races, eight of the last nine, and remained perfect in the five Car of Tomorrow events. Denny Hamlin, who led a race-high 179 laps, had a chance to win before his crew dropped a pair of lug nuts on a late pit stop. Rain washed out the race Saturday night, making it the first NASCAR race run on Mother's Day since 1986. Jimmie Johnson, last week's winner, finished third for Hendrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth, capping a frenzied week that began when he said he's leaving DEI at the end of the season. Denny Hamlin won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 for the second straight year Friday night, again surviving a wreck-filled Busch Series event at historic Darlington Raceway. Hamlin, a Virginia native, then paid tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, taking a school flag along for his victory lap
    International Speedway Corp., the company that owns and manages NASCAR race tracks, announced that they would partner with the Cordish Co. to build Daytona Live, a mixed-use entertainment destination, across from Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Live will be built on 71 acres that currently are home to Speedplex Office Park. The park houses ISC's and NASCAR's headquarters. The project is expected to cost $250 million.

This week here are several vintage racing photos of 6-time
NASCAR National Modified Champion, Jerry Cook
courtesy of



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The Chrome Horn 'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive


Source: Phil Smith/Courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Posted:  May 9, 2008

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