Fifty years ago in 1959,
Bill France's dream came true as the Daytona Speedway was completed and the
doors were opened for practice and qualifying for the inaugural Daytona 500.
Seventy-five cars were on hand and in time trials, Glenn Fireball Roberts
took the pole with a speed of 140.581 mph in a 1959 Pontiac. Second fastest
was Tim Flock in a 1959 Ford Thunderbird. During the opening week, the track
claimed its first life when Marshall Teague rolled his Indy type car five
times before being ejected onto the racetrack.
Forty five years ago in 1964,
Ford products were clearly outclassed in Daytona 500 qualifing. Fourty six
entries were on hand with Paul Goldsmith taking the pole with a speed of
174.910 mph in a Plymouth. Richard Petty, also in a Plymouth, was second
fastest. The Fords were 15 mph slower.
Forty years ago in 1969, Buddy
Baker set a new qualifying mark as he toured the Daytona oval at 189.901
mph. Bobby Isaac was second fastest.
Thirty five years ago in 1974,
the Modifieds were not part of the World Series at New Smyrna but they did
have a spot on the venue at the Daytona Speedway where they were scheduled
for a 200 mile event on the 4.1 mile infield road course. Among those
entered were Bob Park, Geoff Bodine, Denis Giroux, Bugsy Stevens, Jerry
Cook, Richie Evans and Charlie Jarzombek. Also on the entry list were
Winston Cup drivers Bobby Allison and Tiny Lund and road racers Paul Newman
and Gene Felton.
Thirty years ago in 1979, the
Modifieds were out in full force at New Smyrna. Among those entered were
Richie Evans, Ronnie Bouchard, Satch Worley, Moose Hewitt, George Kent and
Charlie Jarzombek. Evans and Bouchard were also entered for the Daytona 200
Twenty five years ago in 1984
Cale Yarborough became the first to break the 200mph barrier as he took the
pole position at Daytona with a run of 201.848 mph. It was not without
incident as he went on his roof before he completed his second lap. Terry
Labonte was the outside pole sitter. Neil Bonnett was the winner of the 50
lap Busch Clash. Yarborough finished second and was followed by Buddy Baker
and Joe Ruttman. Richie Evans won the first two events at New Smyrna.
Charlie Jarzombek finished second, both nights. The modifieds were long gone
Twenty years ago in 1989, a law
suit between Tim Richmond and Nascar for $20 million was settled out of
court for an undisclosed amount. Ken Schrader had a good weekend as he won
both the Daytona 500 pole and the Busch Clash. Reggie Ruggerio was the
opening night winner at New Smyrna. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was
followed by Tom Baldwin and Mike Ewanitsko. Ewanitsko came back on night
No.2 to take the win over Ruggerio, Tomaino and Tony Jankowiac. Thirty
modifieds were on hand. On Sunday night, Ruggerio made it two out of three
as Tomaino, Baldwin, Dick Trickle and Frank Fleming rounded out the top
Fifteen years ago in 1994,
Bonnett lost his life in a practice crash at Daytona. Loy Allen Jr. became
the first rookie to win the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 190.158mph. Dale
Earnhardt was second fastest. Jeff Gordon won the Busch Clash. Brett Bodine
finished second. Goody's Dash Champion Rodney Orr became the second fatality
of speedweeks after he hit the wall in turn two during practice. Ricky
Fuller was the opening night winner at New Smyrna as he beat out Steve Park,
Tom Baldwin, Jamie Tomaino and Ted Christopher. Richie Gallup won night No.2
and Fuller came back to win on Sunday night. Things were about to get ugly
with many drivers getting over aggressive. Tensions were building and would
boil over later in the week.
Ten years ago in 1999, opening night at New Smyrna saw a full field of
modifieds. The main event started at 12:30am on Saturday morning but the
late hour didn't slow George Kent as he led the 25 lap feature from pole to
pole. Ted Christopher finished second and was followed by Tim Arre, Jamie
Tomaino, Eric Beers and Doug French. On Saturday afternoon, 58 Winston Cup
cars took time at the Daytona Speedway for the Daytona 500 pole. Jeff Gordon
toured the 2-1/2 mile speedway at 195.067mph and took the pole. Second
fastest was rookie, Tony Stewart. Saturday night at New Smyrna, Jamie
Tomaino started on the outside pole and led all 25 laps. For the second
night in a row, Ted Christopher finished second. George Kent finished third
with Eric Beers, fourth. On Sunday at Daytona, Mike Skinner won the Busch
Shoot-out consi. Mark Martin got his first Daytona win after starting 13th
and leading 16 of the 25-lap contest. Ken Schrader finished second. Jeff
Gordon overshot his pit when he stopped and was held for 15 seconds. Gordon
chose not to reenter the event and parked it. Bobby Gerhart won the ARCA 200
with Shauna Robinson, second. The big excitement of the afternoon came when
Joe Cooksie rear-ended and destroyed the pace car. Sunday night at New
Smyrna saw Jamie Tomaino leading almost the entire distance until he broke a
rocker arm and had to give way to Ted Christopher. Tomaino managed to hang
on for second and was followed by Tim Arre.
Five years ago in 2004, the action began at the New Smyrna Speedway in
Florida on Friday night, February 6. The speedway actually opened on
Thursday for competitor parking, tech inspection and a practice session.
There were 28 tour-type Modifieds and six SK-type Modifieds on hand. Among
the quickest in the first session of practice was Donnie Lia, the 2003
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series Rookie of the Year. Despite the fact
that the weather was threatening, Round One of the World Series at New
Smyrna Speedway in Florida made it into the books. Ted Christopher, of
Plainville, CT went pole to pole to win the 25 lap modified opener. The
event, which went green for the first 22 laps, had only one caution, that
for Long Islander JR Bertuccio, who spun. Eric Beers, who had dogged
Christopher from the start, missed a shift on the re-start but managed to
recover and finish second. John Blewett III, who was driving Christopher’s
ride from 2003, finished third. George Kent and Jeff Malave rounded out the
top five. Donnie Lia finished sixth and Bertuccio recovered from his spin to
The temperature at New Smyrna took a dive on Saturday night.
Charlie Pasteryak, didn’t let the chill in the air slow him down as he went
pole to pole to win Round Two of the modified portion of the World Series.
Eric Beers, who finished second to Ted Christopher on Friday night, finished
second again with Christopher third. Donnie Lia turned his program up a
notch as he finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was Kevin Goodale of
Riverhead, NY. Numerous cautions slowed the event, as the full moon syndrome
was evident. Numerous spins were the norm. Among the casualties were John
Blewett III who hit a spinning JR Bertuccio, head on. Blewett’s mount, the
Joe Brady No.00 sustained severe damage and was removed to a local race shop
for repairs. Passing for position has been all but
non-existent so far. The top cars are pretty equal plus the cold
temperatures produce less than ideal racing conditions.
Over in Daytona,
Dale Jarrett came out of no where to win the Busch Shootout. Run on Sunday
afternoons in previous years, the Shootout was moved to prime time on
Saturday night. While the front stretch grandstands looked just about full,
the surrounding area short tracks suffered. The same situation could be seen
in the New England and New York area during the summer months when NEXTEL
racing is done on Saturday night.
At the Daytona International Speedway on
Sunday 46 NEXTEL Cup cars attempted to qualify for the following Sunday’s
Daytona 500. Greg Biffle in a Jack Roush Ford took the pole position with a
speed of 188.387 mph. Second fastest was Elliott Sadler who went 188.355
mph. As a side note, former Waterford Speedbowl modified driver
Bob Gada Jr.
is one of those who work in the Jack Roush motor shop.
On a sad note, 44
old Ray Weaver, supervisor of the track crew at Daytona was struck and
killed on Sunday while out in the middle of the track during a caution
period. He was picking up debris left on the speedway after a Goody’s Dash
race incident. Ray Paprota, a paraplegic who uses hand controls to drive his
car, accidentally hit him.
Sunday night at New Smyrna ended up being another
crash fest and another night of virtually no passing. The upper groove of
the ˝ mile high-banked speedway has not come in like many competitors
expected it would. Donnie Lia went pole to pole to win the 25-lap event over
JR Bertuccio, Eric Beers, George Kent and Ted Christopher. As drivers get
frustrated accidents happen. For the second night in a row John Blewett III
saw his hopes for a decent finish get trashed. After numerous tries to
re-start the event after a lap five caution Blewett found himself in the
fence with his car suffering severe damage. His crew had worked all night
long after a Saturday night crash to get the car back together. Blewett
missed time trials and was forced to start the main event in the rear. It
only took him five laps to get to the top five when bad luck struck again.
The Modifieds had a night off on Monday, February 9, to re-group and would
be back at it on Tuesday. Among the missing were pre-entries Chuck Hossfeld
and Ed Flemke Jr. After three nights Eric Beers led the modified point
standings. Beers, with 330 points, held a four-point lead over defending
series champion Ted Christopher. Donnie Lia was third, eight points behind
with Charlie Pasteryak and George Kent rounding out the top five.
matters, Preston, Connecticut car owner Art Barry announced that he would
field a two-car team on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series for
2004. Barry, who owns and operates Spearpoint Auto in Preston, CT announced
that his son Kenny and 2003 NEMA Rookie of the Year Sean Caisse will
comprise a two car team and run the entire series.
Bob Bahre, owner and
promoter of the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New
Hampshire who was seriously injured in an automobile accident when his SUV
went off the road in Brownfield Maine and struck a tree was listed in stable
condition at the Maine Medical Center in Portland. In addition to bruises
and cuts Bahre, 71, suffered a cracked vertebra.
Last year, 2008, after a long
winter’s wait the 2008 racing season began on Friday night with the 42nd
Annual version of the World Series of auto racing at the New Smyrna
Speedway. It was also the beginning of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
The Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 pole qualifying started their season
at the Daytona International Speedway.
At New Smyrna for the Friday night opener there were 17 SK type Modifieds
and 17 Tour type Modifieds on hand. Jimmy Blewett scored a one-two punch as
he was the top qualifier in both divisions. The only casualty during
qualifying was Long Islander JR Bertuccio hitting the wall and doing
extensive damage to the Connecticut based Bear Motorsports Tour type entry.
In the Tour type Modified 25 lapper Blewett started on the pole and held off
Chuck Hossfeld for the first 18 laps when it appeared that Blewett’s motor
developed a skip and began losing power. Hossfeld, in a move on the low
side, took the lead and never looked back. As Blewett continued to fade Bob
Grigas III moved into the second spot. The top two ran nose to tail the
balance of the event. Ted Christopher, Andy Seuss and Eric Beers rounded out
the top five. Blewett managed to hang on and finish eighth. Immediately
following the Modified feature Blewett’s crew discovered that the fuel pump
In the Friday night SK type Modified feature there was no touching
Jimmy Blewett as romped to a convincing win over Kenny Horton. It was more
of a race for second place as Horton and Josh Sylvester slugged it out for
the runner-up spot. The two ended up getting together with Sylvester coming
up short as he spun out of contention. He was able to rebound as he ended up
11th in the final rundown. David Cranmer finished third and was followed by
Billy Anderson and Glen Griswold.
At the Daytona Int. Speedway on Friday night emotions ran high
after an on track practice wreck which involved Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.
Actually there were two wrecks that seriously damaged four race cars which
resulted in the teams of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kurt
Busch going to back-up cars for the Bud Shootout. The team of 2007 winner
Tony Stewart elected to repair his damaged mount.
The first wreck was triggered by Clint Bowyer, who wrecked the
Dodge of Ryan Newman, also collected the Chevy's of Johnson and Gordon plus
others. While that wreck was much more dramatic on track, the two-car
incident involving Stewart and Busch triggered on-track retaliation from
Busch and landed both combatants in the NASCAR office for a reprimand.
Busch hit Stewart's Toyota three times while both were en route to
the pits following the accident on the backstretch. Once both cars got to
the garage, NASCAR ordered Busch and Stewart to the Sprint Cup office for a
discussion. Neither driver would comment as to what transpired inside the
meeting with NASCAR officials.
Jimmy Blewett went two for two on Saturday night at New Smyrna as
he won both Tour type and SK type Modified events. In Tour type Modified
action Chuck Hossfeld turned the first sub-17 second lap during qualifying.
For comparison purposes the New Smyrna Speedway is a half mile oval as is
the Stafford Motor Speedway. New Smyrna is high banked, Stafford is
semi-banked. Fast time for a Modified at Stafford is in the mid to low 18’s.
Bob Grigas III was the second fastest with Ted Christopher, third. In the
draw for starting positions Blewett, who was fifth fastest, drew the pole.
In SK type qualifying Blewett was the fastest. Kenny Horton and Glen
Griswold rounded out the top three.
Blewett went pole to pole, putting his fuel pump problems behind
him, to take the Tour type 25 lap Modified win. Ted Christopher finished
second after a spirited battle with Charlie Pasteryak. Pasteryak later faded
and finished 14th. Chuck Hossfeld ended up third. Eric Beers and Kevin
Goodale rounded out the top five. There were 18 Tour type Modifieds on hand.
In SK type action Kevin Goodale started on the pole but Blewett was on a
mission as he put him away in short order as he recorded his second feature
win of the night. Blewett’s only pressure came in the early stages of the 20
lapper from Josh Sylvester. Glen Griswold moved into second in the late
stages as Sylvester slipped to third. Billy Anderson and Goodale rounded out
the top five. There were 18 SK type Modifieds on hand.
The Tour type Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds were off on
In Bud Shootout action at the Daytona Intl Speedway Dale Earnhardt
took the win with a dominating run Saturday night in his new Hendrick
Motorsports ride, powering past Tony Stewart with two laps to go and holding
on for his first win against Cup drivers since early 2006.
Fifty three NASCAR Sprint Cup cars lined up last year for Daytona 500 pole
and outside pole position qualifying. When all was said and done defending
series champion Jimmy Johnson was the fastest of the fast as he locked
himself into a front row starting spot for what is known as the Great
American Race. Michael Waltrip who sat on the sidelines and watched last
years event locked up the outside pole starting spot in his Toyota powered
NASCAR announced that former driver Chad Little had been named the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour director. Little had been an official with NASCAR since
2005, most recently as advisor to the NASCAR Mexico Series. Former tour
director Ed Cox would handle special projects with the NASCAR competition
division. NASCAR also announced that Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion
Don Lia had secured a ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for 2008
with TRG Motorsports. Lia will drive the No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado for
Kevin Buckler and TRG Motorsports. Lia was not eligible to drive in the
season-opening Chevy Silverado 250 in Daytona since required rookie testing
at the track had already passed. Mike Bliss would be in the truck at
Daytona. Lia would make his debut for TRG Motorsports at California Speedway
in the San Bernardino 200 on Feb. 23, and was scheduled to run the remainder
of the season. With that being said it looked like Bob Garbarino would
a Whelen Modified Tour Series car owner. Garbarino had previously stated
that his plans for 2008 would be based on those of his driver. Needless to
say, Garbarino changed his mind at the urging of his wife and reunited with
Chuck Hossfeld for the 2008 season.
Colechester CT native Phil Moran was named Car Chief of the No.22
Caterpiller Bill Davis Racing Toyota driven by Dave Blaney on NASCAR’s
Sprint Cup circuit. Moran cut his racing teeth and honed his skills as a
race car mechanic and fabricator as he worked with Spearpoint Auto,
Pasteryak Racing, Jerry Pearl Racing and Todd Szegedy Racing. Moran followed
a long line of New England drivers, mechanics and fabricators who have made
it to NASCAR’s senior circuit. Tom Baldwin JR is the Crew Chief. Baldwin is
a product of the Modified circuit on Long Island.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail email@example.com.