The Chrome Horn - Looking Back with Phil Smith



Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby
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    Forty years ago in 1968, Freddie Schulz was the Saturday night winner at the Norwood Arena. At the Albany – Saratoga Speedway, Sonny Seamon made a rare appearance and walked off with the win. Pete Corey finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Dave Gaul and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. No one knew it at the time but it would be the last time fans would get to see MacTavish in action at the Malta oval as he would lose his life in a violent accident in Daytona in February of 1969. Thompson ran a 200-lap event on Sunday with Bugsy Stevens taking the win.

   Thirty-five years ago in 1973, Lancaster Speedway ran their season ending 200.Maynard Troyer took the win over Bugsy Stevens. Shangri La ran the same day and held some of the NASCAR drivers including Richie Evans who took the win over Geoff Bodine and Eddie Pieniezak. Devils Bowl, in West Haven Vt. was paved at the time and hosted the NASCAR modifieds on Sunday afternoon. The Bug cleaned house, as Evans had to settle for second. Leo Cleary finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook and Ronnie Bouchard.

   Thirty years ago in 1978, the modifieds ran at Seekonk on Saturday night after a fast run from Thompson where many were there for 300 qualifying. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over George Summers, Bob Santos and Red Barbeau. North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina ran a modified special, which was won by Ray Hendrick. Geoff Bodine continued his winning ways as he won the Thompson 300 over Santos and Bugsy Stevens.

   Twenty five years ago in 1983, Waterford ran on Saturday night with Glynn Shafer taking the win with Ted Christopher, second. The annual Race of Champions at Pocono drew 98 modifieds. Jim Spencer took the win over Jamie Tomaino and Carl Pasteryak.

   Twenty years ago in 1988, the battle for supremacy at Pocono came down to a last lap battle between Reggie Ruggerio and Satch Worley. As the pair roared off turn four, Worley made a move to the outside to go for the win but Ruggerio blocked and Worley rode the wall and had to settle for second. Finishing third again was Carl Pasteryak.

   Fifteen years ago in 1993, Apple Valley (Spencer) Speedway ran a special 50 lap event for the modifieds. Jan Leaty took the win over Jim Rudolph and Lee Sherwood and a 200 lapper scheduled for Waterford rained out for the second time. At Dover Downs, the Grand National 200 got a late start because of rain but it was well worth it as Todd Bodine took the win. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Rusty Wallace made up two laps to take the win. Numerous wrecks caused by blown right front tires and broken brake rotors marred the race. The Busch North Series ran at Lee Raceway and it was veteran Stub Fadden taking the win over Curtis Markham, Dick McCabe and Tom Bolles.

   Ten years ago in 1998, the Race of Champions had been sold and moved to Oswego but the once prestigious event had lost a lot of its luster because of financial problems of the events previous Needless to say the event drew 49 modifieds, the majority from New York and few from the Modified Tour Series. Ted Christopher took the lead from John Blewett III on lap 24 of the 200-lap event and led to the 125-lap mark when his ignition box shorted out. From there on, Siege Fidanza led the way and went on to take the win. Tim Mangus finished second with Ryan Holland, third. At Waterford on Saturday night it took 67 minutes to run 35 laps. Mike Gada survived seven wrecks and went on to take the lead with 11 laps to go and went on to take the win. Ed Dachenhausen finished second with Bert Marvin, third. Phil Rondeau scored his 97th win at the shoreline oval as he won the late model event. Mike Stefanik finished 10th in a BGNN event at Beech Ridge and sewed up the1999 title. Tracy Gordon won the 150-lap event over Dave Dion. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Mark Martin cleaned house as he led 380 of the scheduled 400 laps. Jeff Gordon finished second. Elton Sawyer won the Dover Grand National event.

   Five years ago in 2003, Matty Adante went pole to pole in Thursday night Thunder Sunoco Modified competition at Thompson. It was his first win. The action was hot and heavy behind him. Todd Ceravolo, who had been on a hot streak was eliminated while running second in the closing stages of the event when he was hit by Ron Yuhas Jr. while trying to weave his way through lapped traffic. Ceravolo’s night ended against the front stretch wall. Yuhas, who had previously tangled with Bert Marvin, went on to finish second. Eric Berndt finished third and was followed by Ted Christopher and Bob Santos III. Other Thursday night winners were Chuck Docherty in the Pro Stocks, Scott Bronczyk in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Limited Sportsman and Roger Larsen in the Mini Stocks. The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at Loudon on Friday for a 100-lap event that was run in conjunction with the Winston Cup weekend. Thirty-nine Modifieds took time for the event that carried a purse of$148,275, a $9450 increase over the 2002 September race. Tony Hirshman took the pole position with a speed of 127.649 mph. Second fastest was John Blewett III with a speed of 127.474 mph. Rounding out the top five were Nevin George, Chuck Hossfeld and Mike Stefanik. John Blewett III all but dominated the event as he cleaned house. After starting on the outside pole, Blewett made a determined run as he led on five different occasions. Driving for Curt Chase, Blewett took the lead for the final time on lap 69 when he passed Ted Christopher for the lead. Christopher was a factor but lacked that little extra to nail down the win. Christopher settled for second and was followed at the finish by Ken Wooley, Mike Stefanik and Chuck Hossfeld. Pole sitter Tony Hirshman led the first four laps. Mike Stefanik, who started fifth, made a determined charge as he took the lead on lap four. Stefanik led until lap eight when he gave way to Blewett. By lap ten the leaders were in lapped traffic and Stefanik was able to sneak by and retake the lead. Blewett glued himself to Stefanik’s bumper and re-took the lead on lap 16. The first of four cautions flew on lap 23 when Mike Molleur spun in turn four. On the re-start it was Blewett in command. Hirshman made a run at the high flying No. 77 and moved into the lead on lap 28 but lost it as fast as he got it as one lap later Blewett was on the point again. The second caution of the event flew on lap 41 when Dave Berube spun in turn two. The field went back to green on lap 46 for one lap as caution No. 3 flew for Nevin George who came to a stop in turn two after a spin. The field re-started on lap fifty. Hirschman made another stab at the lead and was able to head the pack on lap 53. His lead was short lived as Blewett powered by one lap later. The fourth and final caution came on lap 59 when Renee Dupuis came to a halt in turn four. The final restart came on lap 63 with Blewett leading. Ted Christopher was doing some bump drafting and got by Blewett to lead lap 68 but from then on it was Blewett on cruise control to take the win by 1.42 seconds. Blewett went non-stop and was having second thoughts about the amount of fuel he had but cautions made the difference and a pit stop was avoided. At Stafford on Friday night, Chris Jones took his second SK Modified feature of the year. Eric Berndt made several attempts to lead the event but in the end it was Jones taking the win. Rounding out the top five were Ronnie Silk, Emil Downie and Willie Hardie. At Waterford on Saturday night John Brouwer Jr. and Pete Pavone each won twin 25 lap events. It was the first win for Pavone who has been racing since 1985. Dennis Gada was hoping to solidify his lead in the NASCAR Regional point chase but wrecks in both features all but put him out of contention. Diego Monahan made it two in a row in Late Model action. Saturday night racing at Wall Township and at Riverhead was rained out. Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series winner at Loudon and in Winston Cup action at the New Hampshire mile Jimmie Johnson took the win. The big news of the weekend came from NASCAR when it was announced that Brian France had replaced his father, Bill Jr. as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of NASCAR.

   Last year 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for their second of two visits for 2007. Forty NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 100-mile event that carried a $164,095 purse. Former series champion Todd Szegedy took the Busch pole as he toured the semi-banked oval in 29.725 seconds to the tune of 128.135 MPH. Second fastest and taking the outside pole position was Ron Yuhas JR. Yuhas’ speed was 128.018 MPH. Series point leader Don Lia was third with Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was JJ Yeley who drove a car that was assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc in North Carolina and painted up to resemble the Modified driven by the late Tom Baldwin. As usual the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds got shuffled to the back of the bus as their event was rescheduled for late Saturday as well as being shortened 25 laps from the original 100. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy took the win in a somewhat clouded situation. NASCAR has some issues with Szegedy’s engine and has sent it to NASCAR’s R&D center in Concord, NC. In the meantime, the finish was pending. .Ronnie Silk finished second with series point leader Donny Lia, third. Bobby Santos III and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Tony Hirschman, Andy Seuss, Mike Stefanik and Bob Grigas III. The event, which was originally scheduled to go off in the early afternoon didn’t get the green flag until 5:30pm. After a couple of early wrecks that thinned the field a bit the balance of the event was classic Loudon with numerous lead swapping and bump drafting the norm. During the final laps the top four were litterly under a blanket. It was announced that 31,000 fans were on hand to witness the event. Fifteen of the original 39 starters finished on the lead lap. The event, which took just under 45 minutes to run, produced four caution periods for 32 laps. Among those who failed to finish were Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke who had major power plant malfunctions. Outside pole sitter Ron Yuhas Jr along with Matt Hirschman, Richard Savory, Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero were eliminated in a wreck after James Civali dumped Yuhas out of second spot. There were actually 8 lead changes between two drivers, Szegedy and Silk. Szegedy took the lead for the final time on lap 68.
   In NASCAR Busch East action at Loudon on Friday Joey Logano took the win in the 125-lap feature and unofficially clinched the championship at New Hampshire. Mark McFarland saw his excellent run go up in smoke after contact with Sean Caisse which landed McFarland in the wall. Matt Kobyluck, who had made it up to 6th after an early spin, got collected in an accident that also involved Kelly Moore and Scott Lynch. Kobyluck alluded to the fact that Moore intentionally wrecked him. Following Logano and Caisse were Rogelio Lopez, Peyton Sellers, Jamie Hayes, Jerry Marquis, Brad Leighton, Ryan Moore, James Buescher, and Eddie McDonald.
   In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won the Sunoco Modified main event. Mike O’Sullivan padded his point lead with a Pro Stock feature victory while Keith DeSanctis by virtue of his Limited Sportsman victory, moved into the point lead in the division. Tommy O’Sullivan added to the celebration by winning in the Late Model division. Unofficially O’Sullivan teammate Tim Sullivan bested the TIS Modified field helping his championship hopes. Scott Michalski earned his first win of the 2007 season in the Mini Stocks.
Malone saw it all en route to his third Sunoco Modified win of the season. He nearly spun, took the lead, and his car was suspected of leaking fluid. But in the end, Malone was dry all the way to the checkered flag. For the second week in a row the points were shaken up atop the Sunoco Modified point standings. With his runner-up finish, Keith Rocco took over the points lead by 14 points over a tie for second between Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat. After a pair of attempts at a start, pole sitter Steve Masse showed the way through lap two before relinquishing the top spot to Woody Pitkat. The first caution flew almost immediately for a spin by Eric Goodale. Back under green, it was a three-car breakaway at the head of the pack with Pitkat holding the top spot over Malone and Rocco
   The Stafford Motor Speedway continued their Friday night Fall Series which leads up to the season ending Fall Final . Chris Matthews secured the 2007 SK Light championship in grand style by winning the SK Light feature for his fifth feature win of the 2007 season. Frank Ruocco took the SK Modified feature win for his third feature win of the season, Michael Bennett was a first time winner in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno was a first-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood was a first-time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night a 20 plus year friendship between Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada became strained to say the least. From the mid point of the SK Modified feature to the finish Gada and Janovic ran wheel to wheel when they were not nose to tail. Gada worked harder than he has ever had to do as Janovic’s driving pattern resembled that of a windshield wiper. Gada, who is gunning for a record seven SK Modified championships, never gave up as finally took the lead with four laps remaining. The Speedbowl wraps up their season this coming weekend with the Town Fair Tire finale. Janovic will go into the event with a 14-point lead over Gada. Todd Ceravolo, Mike Finkeldey and. Matt Gallo rounded out the top five. Tim Jordan, the 2006 Late Model champion won his first race since May and fifth overall, holding off Bruce Thomas Jr., who clinched the division title last week. Jordan has not run a
full schedule at Waterford this year, racing instead a few times in Seekonk and Oxford on the ACT tour. Phil Evans won his sixth Mini Stock feature of the year, making him the all-time winningest active driver in the division. Jack Aquilina won the Sportsman feature while Dwayne Dorr wrapped up his second straight title with his seventh-place finish.
   In Nextel Cup action at Loudon, Clint Boyer raced to the first victory of his Cup career by embarrassing the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he started from the pole and led 222 of 300 laps while beating Jeff Gordon to the finish line by more than 6 seconds.

   That’s it for this week from 40 Clark Street, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail

   Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications for over 3 decades.

This week are several vintage racing photos courtesy of

     Tony Dadio                               Jimmy Broderick                              John Anderson     

    Joe Bubbico                                  Billy Knight                                Reggie Ruggiero

The Chrome Horn 'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive


Source: Phil Smith/Courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Posted:  September 12, 2008

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