The Chrome Horn - Looking Back with Phil Smith



Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby
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    Sixty years ago this week in 1948, Robert "Red" Byron from Atlanta, Ga. was crowned the first Nascar Modified champion.

   Fifty-five years ago in 1953, Herb Thomas was declared the Winston Cup, then called Grand National, champion. Lee Petty finished second. Joe Weatherly was the NASCAR Modified Champion.

   Fifty years ago in 1958, Lee Petty won his second Winston Cup championship. Buck Baker was second. Budd Olsen was the NASCAR Modified champion and Ned Jarrett won his second NASCAR Sportsman championship.

   Forty-five years ago in 1963, Joe Weatherly won his second Winston Cup championship. Rene Charland won his second of four NASCAR Sportsman championships and Eddie Crouse won the NASCAR Modified championship.

   Forty years ago in 1968, Thompson Speedway ran their season ender. Bugsy Stevens took the win and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Leo Cleary, Bob Santos and Don MacTavish. Stevens sewed up his second of three Nascar Modified championships. David Pearson sewed up his second of three Winston Cup championships as be beat out Bobby Isaac and Richard Petty for the title. Pete Hamilton won Rookie of the Year honors in NASCARís elite division.

   Thirty-five years ago in 1973, Jerry Cook won the season ending modified event at Martinsville. Maynard Troyer finished second and was followed by Ray Hendrick, Denis Giroux and Ronnie Bouchard. Richie Evans finished nineteenth and sewed up his first of many Nascar National Modified Championships. Benny Parsons won the Winston Cup championship and Lenny Pond was the Rookie of the Year. Jack Ingram was the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Champion.

   Thirty years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine scored his 54th victory of the season in the Dick Armstrong No.1 as he won the season ender at Martinsville. George Summers finished second and was followed by Satch Worley, Bobby Santos, Charlie Jarzombek and Ronnie Bouchard. Richie Evans annexed his second driving title. It was also 30 years ago this week that Fred DeSarro passed away after lying in a coma for close to a month after an accident at Thompson. Cale Yarborough made it three in a row Winston Cup Championships. Bobby Allison was second with Darrell Waltrip, third. Ronnie Thomas was the Rookie of the Year and Butch Lindley was the Late Model Sportsman Champion.

   Twenty-five years ago in 1983, George Kent ran out of gas while leading the Martinsville 250 with only ten laps to go and handed the victory to Jamie Tomaino. Tony Hirshman finished second and was followed by Doug Hewitt, Richie Evans and Brett Bodine. Richie Evans, who won 31 of the 68 events he entered, was crowned the 1983 Nascar Modified champion. Rounding out the top five in points were Bob Park, Jim Spencer, Tom Baldwin and Dick Trayner. Trayner's crew chief and chief mechanic was Steve Bird.

   Twenty years ago in 1988, Tom Baldwin won the 250 lapper at Martinsville. Jan Leaty finished second and was followed by Richie Gallup and Jerry Cranmer. Mike McLaughlin was declared the Nascar National Modified Champion.

   Fifteen years ago in 1993, New Hampshire International was forced to cancel the season ending events for both the Modified Tour and the Busch Grand National North Series. Ricky Fuller was declared the Modified National Champion and Dick McCabe was declared the Busch North Series Champion. In Winston Cup action at Phoenix, Mark Martin took the win with Ernie Irvan, second.

   Ten years ago, in 1998, Riverside Park closed out the season with a 100 lap modified event and a 75-lap SK event. Ricky Miller took the lead on lap 71 after Reggie Ruggerio lost a drive shaft. Miller went on to take the win and was followed by Chris Wenzel, Jamie Tomaino and David Berghman. Jim Williams won the SK event. Ted Christopher finished second after attempting to pass on the last lap. Carl Pasteryak won the Lee Octoberfest and in Winston Cup action at Rockingham, Jeff Gordon took the win and sewed up his third championship. On November 2,Joe Lewandowski, the promoter and General Manager of Riverside Park announced that he was leaving his position and was taking a position in the marketing department at Nascar headquarters in Daytona Beach.

   Five years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Modified Tour Series finally got to run their final event on Saturday at the Thompson Speedway. A beautiful fall day saw the 5/8-mile oval draw about a ĺ full house. Todd Szegedy survived a near devastating high speed trip through the infield grass, made a remarkable recovery and came back to finish eighth and wrap up the series title in his sophomore year on the Modified tour series. It was a tough day for Szegedy along with title contenders Chuck Hossfeld and John Blewett III. Hossfeld, who started fourth, ran in the top five most of the day, got caught up in a spin after Jimmy Kuhn wrecked. Hossfeld recovered to finish seventh. In the final standings Hossfeld ended up 32 points behind Szegedy. Tony Hirschman dominated the event to take the win over Ed Flemke Jr., Charlie Pasteryak, Ricky Fuller and Mike Stefanik. John Blewett III, who was also a title contender, was extremely upset with the winner after he moved up the racetrack on the back chute and planted him in the wall. Blewett led the event from laps 47-63 after taking it away from Hirschman who led the first 46. Blewett, who started third, ended up in 27th spot. Tire wear was a factor with the outcome. Hirschman must have had a good set as he went the entire distance on his original set. Just about every one else in the lead pack pitted at least once for tires. Jerry Marquis also led the event. Marquis, who ended up fifth in the final standings, led from lap 64 to 84 before suffering a right rear flat. Despite a 19th place finish Marquis ended his season fifth in the final standings. Ted Christopher finished fifth in the standings after recording a 15th in the event. Sixth through tenth in the World Series were Jamie Tomaino, Hossfeld, Szegedy, Carl Pasteryak and Eric Beers. It was good to see Ed Flemke Jr. and the Roger Hill owned North Carolina based team end the season on a high note. Flemke and the Hills suffered horrible luck most of the season with motor problems and confrontations with Ted Christopher. Coming on strong in the final laps, crew chief David Hill felt that if they had a few more laps they had something for Hirschman but it wasnít meant to be as the second generation driver had to settle for second in the final run down. NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Bob Polverari was forced to turn over his ride to Joe Czarnecki. Polverari, who was in a wheel chair, suffered a broken hip as a result of a go-kart accident. Czarnecki finished 22nd, one lap down. Reggie Ruggiero who was making his second start of the year clearly got the biggest applause during driver introductions. Ruggiero, who started 16th, suffered a motor problem and dropped out on lap 33, ending his day in 31st spot. Donny Lia, who had previously wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors, was also a victim of engine problems as he also dropped out on lap 33, ending his day in 32nd spot. Doug Coby, who finished 12th, was the highest finishing rookie. Prior to the start of the Featherlite Modified finale the championship contending teams of Don Barker, Curt Chase and Bob Garbarino all shook hands with one another plus the fact there was an awesome display of a low fly-over of three F-111ís. Bo Gunning and car owner Eddie Partridge ended their season on a high note as Gunning won a hard fought battle in the Sunoco-SK type Modified feature. Gunning ran wheel to wheel with Kerry Malone during the opening laps. With Gunning finally getting out in front Malone settled into second spot. Malone was hit by George Bessette on a lap ten re-start and retired shortly there after. Todd Ceravolo was making a run for a top spot when Ted Christopher caused him to brush the wall. Ceravolo showed his dis-satisfaction with the former National Champion as he gave him a love tap once he got back up to him. Christopher retaliated and slammed Ceravolo on the backstretch under caution and inflicted enough damage for Ceravolo to have to be towed off. On the final re-start Eric Berndt moved into contention but didnít have quite enough to get by Gunning. Chuck Docherty, Doug Coby and Jim Civali rounded out the top five. Other World Series winners were Chris Perley in the Supers, Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets and Charles Bailey III in the Late Models. The Featherlite NASCAR Modified Tour Series had finally wrapped up another season. In addition to post-season point fund moneys from NASCAR point fund the top 20 shared in $158,000 in contingency awards including $100,000 from series sponsor Featherlite, $10,000 from Hoosier Tires, $8,000 from Edelbrock, $8,000 from JE Pistons, $8,000 from Moroso Products plus $8,000 each from Union 76, Ohlins and Stefís products. The last three awards will be paid contingent upon decal verification and actual product usage. Series champion Todd Szegedy would walk away from the awards ceremony with upwards of $31,600 plus his point money.
   In Winston Cup racing at Atlanta, rain put a damper on the racing after 19 laps causing the race to resume on Monday. Jeff Gordon used precision timing of pit stops to put him in a position for the win. Gordon took the lead on lap 289 of the 325-lap event and went on to out run Tony Stewart to the finish. Jimmie Johnson finished third. Greg Biffle won the Busch Series event.

   Last year, 2007, NASCAR finally got around to updating the Whelen Modified Tour Series point standings. Donnie Lia ended the season in the top spot despite the fact that he dropped out of the season ending World Series at Thompson with a blown engine. Lia had sewed up the title after the Stafford event. In 16 events Lia scored 13 top tens, which included six wins. His season winning total is $83,800. Todd Szegedy ended up in second spot, 180 points behind. Szegedy, in 16 events, scored 11 top tens, which included two wins which brought his season totals to $60,225. Although winless Matt Hirschman used consistency in order to finish up third in the final standings. In 16 events the second-generation racer recorded 11 top tens which included five top fives. Ronnie Silk with one win and Ted Christopher with one win rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali with three wins, Mike Stefanik with one win, Jimmy Blewett with one win, Jamie
Tomaino and Eddie Flemke JR.
   Jimmie Johnson won the wreck marred Nextel Cup event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards, who had not been a factor most of the race, wound up second He was followed by Reed Sorenson, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.
   David Reutimann dominated a crash-filled race and survived a green-white-checker finish at Memphis to win the Sam's Town 250 for his first career Busch Series win. Mike Bliss finished second followed by David Ragan Marcos Ambrose, Jason Leffler, Scott Wimmer, Jamie McMurray, Jason Keller, Brad Keselowski, and Brian Keselowski. Points leader Carl Edwards was caught in a spin on the last lap and finished 25th.

   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 decades.

This week are several vintage racing photos of the late Tony Mordino,
ourtesy of

At the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds                      3 Greats - Left to Right,                                 In the first Bob Judkins 2x         
          Johnny Cambino, Billy Greco & Tony around 1998
           The only one left is Billy Greco who recently turned 80.


The Chrome Horn 'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive


Source: Phil Smith/Courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Posted:  October 24, 2008

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