Forty years ago in 1968, Gene Bergin had the
M-6 in top form as he took the victory at Stafford on Friday night. Leo
finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Bobby Santos and Don MacTavish
rounded out the top five. On Saturday afternoon, Martinsville ran their
Fall 100 with Jimmy Hensley taking the win. Saturday night at Norwood,
Leo Cleary took the top spot and at Malta, Richie Evans closed the
trackís season with a 50-lap win over Ron Narducci, Jerry Cook, Dave
Gaul and Lou Lazzaro. Bugsy Stevens closed out the weekend with a win at
Thompson on Sunday.
Thirty five years ago in 1973, the big event of the weekend
was the All-Star 300 at the Islip Speedway on Long Island.
the former Supermodified pilot from Rochester, N.H., took a surprise win
over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Jim Hoffman.
Thirty years ago in 1978, the Pocono Race of Champions ran
on the same weekend as two modified events in Virginia. Richie Evans had
the luxury of two cars, two crews and a plane and was able to run in all
three. Ronnie Bouchard won the Martinsville 150 on Saturday afternoon
over Jerry Cook, Paul Radford, Harry Gant and Brian Ross. Evans finished
eighth. At the Franklin County Speedway on Saturday night, Evans
finished fifth behind Radford, Satch Worley, Cook and Brian Ross. At
Pocono, Geoff Bodine was untouchable as he beat out Doug Hewitt for the
win. Evans lost an engine and finished 30th.
Twenty five years ago in 1983, Stafford ran a 40-lap SK
event on Friday night. Jerry Pearl took the win over Kerry Malone and
Mario Fats Caruso. At Waterford on Saturday night, Donnie Bunnell took
the top spot over Gomer Taylor, Dale Holdredge and Bob Potter. At Wall
Stadium, a young Ray Everham beat out veteran Tony Siscone for top
honors. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer beat out George Kent, Mike McLaughlin
and Richie Evans. Oxford Plains ran a 100 lapper on Sunday and it was
George Summers taking top honors. Kenny Bouchard finished second. In
Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd took the win over Bobby
Twenty years ago in 1988, Mike McLaughlin beat out Jeff
Fuller and Randy Hedger at Shangri-La. Waterford ran twin 75,s for the
Modifieds. John Anderson took the first on with Ted Christopher, second.
Richie Gallup and Anderson finished one-two in the nightcap. Waterford
also ran twin 50,s for Late Models. Phil Rondeau and Ricky Shawn
finished one-two in both events.
Fifteen years ago in 1993, Jim Broderick won a 40 lapper at
Waterford over David Gada and Jerry Pearl. Pearl wrapped up the modified
title. Jay Stewart won the late model feature and Glenn Boss won in the
Strictly Stocks. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ernie Irvan took
the win over Rusty Wallace and Jim Spencer. The Busch North Series and
the Modified Tour series were scheduled for Loudon but were rained out.
Ten years ago in 1998, Mike Stefanik recorded his 12th
modified win of the season as he dominated the Stafford Fall Final 300.
Stefanik took the lead on lap 220 when Rick Fuller pitted and outran Tom
Baldwin to the checker. Mike Ewanitsko finished third and was followed
by Ed Flemke Jr., Carl Pasteryak, Jim Broderick, Mike Christopher and
Tim Connolly. Because of slippery conditions, 1/3 of the event, 100 laps
were run under caution. Chris Jones was the 50 lap SK Modified winner
and was followed by Broderick, Larry Ross and Steve Chowanski.
At Waterford on Saturday night, Todd Ceravolo took the win over
Mike Gada, Tucker Reynolds and Bert Marvin.
In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd extended his
winning streak to 16 straight years as he ran to victory in 100+ degree
heat. Jeff Gordon finished second with Mark Martin, third.
Five years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour
Series took a week off in order to prepare for the final three-race
stretch run which would determine the 2004 series champion. Sophomore
driver Todd Szegedy led the NASCAR Modified Tour Point standings.
Szegedy, who had four wins in 16 starts, led John Blewett III by 84
points. In 16 starts, Blewett had won twice. Chuck Hossfeld, another
sophomore driver, sat in third spot, 89 points behind the leader.
Hossfeld had three wins in 16 starts. Ted Christopher was the fourth and
final contender for the title. Christopher, 198 points behind the leader
is 198 points behind the leader and had two wins to his credit. Rounding
out the top five was former series champion, Jerry Marquis, 247 points
behind the leader. Sixth through tenth were Rick Fuller, Jamie Tomaino,
Ed Flemke Jr. and Donnie Lia.
It had been a long time coming as NASCAR finally relented and
eliminated racing back to the caution for itís top three divisions,
Winston Cup, Busch Racing Series and Craftsman Trucks. It was announced
that all three divisions would carry electronic scoring transponders and
there would be no doubt as to where competitors would line up for
re-starts. There had been a lot of close calls when competitors raced to
the caution and luckily no one had been hurt. Hurricane Isabel didnít
hamper the racing at Thompson on Thursday night. It was cool and a bit
windy but it didnít slow Todd Ceravolo who romped to his third win of
the season. Ceravolo staged a torrid side by side battle with Ted
Christopher during the latter part of the 30-lap feature. Ceravoloís win
propelled him into the second spot in the point standings, 40 points
behind Eric Berndt. Berndt ended up in 15th spot after a bout with the
wall in the closing laps. Berndt had been running sixth before
Following Ceravolo and Christopher were Bo Gunning, Ron Yuhas Jr.
and Bert Marvin. Other Thursday night winners were GeGe Gravel in the
Pro Stocks, Charles Bailey III in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the
Limited Sportsman and Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks. Despite his
miss-fortune, Eric Berndt held a forty-point edge over Todd Ceravolo.
Ceravolo, who had come on strong, led Jeff Malave by a mere two points.
Also in the hunt for the Sunoco SK-type Modified Championship was Bert
Marvin who was behind Malave by four points. Chuck Docherty held a
four-point advantage over David Berghman for Pro Stock honors. Other
point leaders at Thompson were Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and
Michael Veins in the Mini-Stocks. Scott Bronczyk had already sewed up
the Late Model title. The Stafford Speedway issued the following
penalties during the week. Defending SK Modified Champion Bo Gunning was
suspended indefinitely. The reason being actions detrimental to the
sport of auto racing. In other words, the Stafford management saw an
incident between Gunning and Ted Christopher on September 12 and
evidently heard the pre-race threats that were allegedly made. Other
penalties issued were to Frank Wainwright for his unsportsmanlike
driving and the post race contact he had with another car. Wainwright
was fined $250 and was handicapped out of the top 20 for the following
weeks Fall Final. Ronnie Silk received the same fine and penalty for a
similar incident. James Civali was suspended from competing in the Fall
Final for unsportsmanlike conduct while on probation. Civali
intentionally hit another car while the speedway was under a red flag
condition. Late Model Championship contender Jay Stuart let his temper
get the best of him when he hit another competitor following the feature
on September 12. Stuart was fined and was handicapped out of the top 20
for the Fall Final. This had an adverse effect on his championship
Speaking of championships, when NASCAR and Dover Downs
Speedway cancelled their Busch North event because of an impending
hurricane they all but handed Andy Santerre the 2003 series title.
At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Dennis Gada didnít
have the best of nights, as he was involved in a devastating crash on
lap 20. In spite of it all it looked like he had won the NASCAR Weekly
Racing by Dodge New England Regional title, which was worth in the
neighborhood of $45,000. Gadaís rival for the regional title. Meme
DeSantis who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania met a
similar misfortune as he crashed out of his feature event and lost his
spot as the leader of both his track points and regional points. Gada
still maintained the point lead for the Modified title at Waterford even
though he finished 18th and with two more races to go before the track's
season ends he could become the tracks first five-time champion. He was
currently tied with Dick Dunn with four titles each. Ricky Young held
off Rob Janovic to take the win, his first since1996. Young started on
the pole and led 33 of the 35 laps. Rounding out the top five in the
modified feature were Chris Pasteryak, Zack Sylvester and Jeff Pearl.
Other Saturday night winners at Waterford were Wayne Coury in the
Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Sportsman, Glen Colvin in the Mini
Stocks and Corey Williams in the Legends. The Oswego Speedway, a
5/8-mile oval on the shores of Lake Ontario and known as the
Supermodified Capitol of the World, was sold to former speedway
competitor Steve Gioia Jr. and his partner Pat Furlong. The Caruso
Family had run the Oswego Speedway, which has also hosted some high
paying Modified events in years past, for 53 years. Since the closing of
a near-by Miller Brewery and a Nestle Chocolate factory the speedway had
fallen on hard times.
NASCAR suspended Busch Series driver Shane Hmiel indefinitely for
violation of the sanctioning bodyís substance abuse policy. Brian
Vickers won the Busch Racing Series event at Dover. In Winston Cup
action, Ryan Newman battled back after being almost two laps down to win
his seventh of the season.
Last year, 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed
back to Thompson to complete the Modified Mania weekend that was cut
short by rain on September 9. As the weekend approached it appeared that
NASCAR was dragging its feet as far as declaring officially who was the
winner of the recent event at Loudon on September 15. Todd Szegedy had
taken the apparent win when NASCAR decided to take a closer look at his
intake manifold before making an official decision. It took five days to
make a decision as it was announced late on Thursday that the part in
question was declared legal and the win would stand.
Ronnie Silk earned his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
during the running of part two of Modified Mania II. Silk scored a
popular win in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson in front of a
crowded house. In the opening stages of the event current point leader
Donnie Lia and Ron Yuhas, Jr. ran at the head of the field. After making
tracks through the pack, Christopher dogged leader Lia. At lap 55, the
bulk of the field came down to pit road for service. Christopher opted
to stay out on the track to inherit the lead on the restart. Silk had
moved into the third spot with Reggie Ruggiero taking chase. During a
long green flag run, Silkís car continued to get better. He was able to
take the top spot from Christopher one lap shy of the century mark
taking Ruggiero along for the ride. Szegedy had gotten by Lia and
started to make his presence known. On a restart late in the race,
Ruggiero was able to power by Silk to take command of the race.
Silk, never far behind, continued to chase the new leader. On lap
137, Silk got underneath Ruggiero and with sparks flying Silk was the
leader once again on lap 138. A caution on lap 139 shook up the running
order inside the top five. Contact between Christopher and Flemke ended
with Flemke in the outside wall and Christopher on pit road to serve a
one-lap penalty. Silk easily held off the competition on the final
single file restart to score the popular win. Ruggeiro settled for
second ahead of Szegedy. Bobby Santos and James Civali rounded out the
top five. Series point leader Don Lia finished eighth.
In True Value Modified Racing at Thompson Louie Mechalides turned
in a dominating performance to win the 75-lapper for the northern New
England based series. The event, which had been stopped by rain two
weeks previous resumed on lap four with Andy Seuss at the helm with
Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Kuhn taking chase. Seuss held the top spot
through a number of early race cautions. An early incident directly
behind the leader that started when Brian Schofield got out of shape,
caused a chain reaction that collected a number of cars including
championship contenders Kirk Alexander and Les Hinckley along with Rich
Savary and others. Alexander was taken off the track by double hook.The
young driver held off several advances from Mechalides before
relinquishing the lead on lap 15. Seuss saw his great run come to an end
on lap 27 when his racer made hard contact with the outside wall.
Everything was going Mechalides way as Hinckley was making great strides
heading back to the front of the pack. Thompson Speedway regular Tommy
Cravenho made it interesting in the closing laps giving Mechalides all
he could handle. In the end, Mechalides was up to the task taking down
the victory over Cravenho. Jon McKennedy came home third ahead of Jimmy
Kuhn and Hinckley.
In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson
Speedway a season packed with racing excitement at Thompson
International Speedway came down to the final Thursday night with
champions crowned in all six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
divisions. At the nightís end, Woody Pitkat made his first appearance in
Sunoco Modified victory lane. But, it was Keith Rocco who drove his
Bannister Motorsports #6 to a fifth place finish to earn the team their
second championship in three seasons. In Pro Stock action, Mike
OíSullivan, scored his second Thompson Pro Stock championship in
winning-style taking down Thursday nightís feature win. In similar
fashion, Kurt Vigeant capped off his first TIS Modified championship
with a feature win in the regular season finale. John Materas earned his
first career Late Model win in a wild main event that also found Rick
Gentes in for the divisional championship. Larry Barnett scored his
fourth Limited Sportsman feature win while a seventh place finish
allowed a retiring Keith DeSanctis to go out as a champion. Scott
Michalski made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition but it was Mike
Romano who took the championship.
Pitkat saved the best for last; earning his lone feature win in the
finale. After a 2007 season of consistent finishes, Pitkat was in the
running for the track title on the final night. He took the lead just
after halfway and withstood heavy pressure from Kerry Malone to score
the victory; however it was not enough to catch the point leader Rocco.
An opening lap melee that started with contact in the front row ended
with Masse hard into the outside wall in the turn one. Also collected
were championship contenders Rocco and Tommy Cravenho as well as Bert
Marvin. With the race underway, Geoff Gernhard was the early leader with
Josh Steeves coming along for the ride in second. Steeves made a move on
Gernhard to take the lead on lap four with Malone and Pitkat battling
hard for the third spot. A pair of laps later, Pitkat was able to race
ahead of Gernhard to take over the second spot. Malone put the young
driver back to fourth. Meanwhile, Cravenho and Rocco
were making their way back to the front. On lap 10, Cravenho was sixth
and Rocco eighth. Up front, Steeves continued to lead Pitkat. Malone ran
in second a comfortable margin ahead of Gernhard. On lap 13, Cravenho
joined the top five. Rocco mirrored his moves to run in the sixth
position. The #0 of Danny LeJeunesse came to rest on the backstretch on
lap 14 to bring out the second caution. The restart pitted Steeves
against Pitkat for the top spot. Steeves was up for the challenge and
held on to the lead on the race. On lap 16, Pitkat got a run Steeves to
take over the top spot. Steeves bobbled after contact with Pitkat;
opening the door for Malone. Steeves was shuffled back into third.
Cravenho had cleared Gernhard to move into the fourth. Rocco made his
first appearance in the top-five on lap 21. Malone tailed Pitkat lap
after lap while Cravenho was getting racy for third. Despite the efforts
of both Malone and Cravenho they had to settle back in line.
At the checkers, it was Pitkat in for the win over Malone. Steeves
edged out Cravenho by inches to finish third. The newly crowned champion
Rocco rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night
season. Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco, who had wrapped up the
Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Championship the previous evening, won
the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco in the 30-lap Late Model
feature, Joe Allegro, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagan
in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Rob Lawrence in the 15-lap
DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie
leading the first two laps of the race before Lloyd Agor moved out
front. Agor held the lead until lap-6 when Jeff Malave moved out front.
Malave's pass allowed Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher to both move by
Agor, dropping him from the lead to fourth place. Agor would continue to
backslide as Woody Pitkat and Brad Hietala moved into the fourth and
fifth positions. The race ran green to lap-32 before the first caution
came out and erased a sizeable lead for Malave. Malave would hold the
race lead until lap-38 when he drifted up the track just enough in turn
4 to allow Rocco to dive to the bottom and take the lead. The caution
came back out and set up a green white checkered finish. Rocco took the
lead on the restart with Ted Christopher and Malave locked in a side by
side duel for second. That side by side action gave Rocco all the
cushion he needed as he took his fourth feature win of the 2007 season.
Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Malave, and Doug Coby rounding
out the top-5.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford
Speedbowl the shoreline oval wrapped up its 2007 season with the Town
Fair Tire Fall Finale. Dennis Gada won the battle but lost the war as
Rob Janovic finished third and wrapped up the track championship. Don
Fowler finished second with Diego Monahan and Jeff Pearl rounding out
the top five. According to reports the Speedbowl took it on the chin at
the front gate as attendance was way off for this event. The Thompson
Speedway opted to run their rained out Modified Mania on the same date
so as to accommodate an event that was held at the Oswego Speedway in
New York. Because of the fact that Waterford and Thompson are NASCAR
sanctioned and Oswego is not makes it hard to believe why NASCAR would
let this conflict occur between two of their tracks that are less than
60 miles apart and draw from the same fan base. Both tracks shell out
considerable money to the Daytona based organization. Letting a
situation like this occur leads one to believe that NASCAR doesnít care
two cents about its short tracks.
Carl Edwards was the Nextel Cup winner at Dover Downs. Denny Hamlin
was the Busch Series winner. Joey Logano finished second but became the
NASCAR Busch East Seriesí first rookie champion in the Sunoco 150 at
Dover International Speedway Friday afternoon. Sean Caisse took the race
lead from Logano with just eight laps to go, and then withstood a final
charge by Logano to win by a car length.
Thatís 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
This week are
several vintage racing photos of early Modified star Connecticut's
Johnny "The Greek" Georgiadis from the Collection of Danny Pardi, courtesy of
The Chrome Horn
'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive