Fifty years ago in 1959,
fifty nine starters took the green for the inaugural Daytona 500. As 41,921
spectators looked on, Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp crossed the finish line
in what appeared to be Beauchamp by a whisker. There was no photo finish
camera but Petty was declared the winner, 61 hours later. Beauchamp was put
back to second spot with Charlie Griffith, third. The event, which went non
stop without a caution, had an average speed of 135.521 mph. For his
efforts, Petty received $19,050.
Forty five years ago in 1964,
Richard Petty led all but sixteen of the 200 lap Daytona 500 and finished
three miles ahead of Jim Pardue. Paul Goldsmith finished third and was
followed by Marvin Paunch and Jim Pascal. Among those in the field were
Ralph Earnhardt who finished 19th, 20 laps down and New England modified and
cut down driver Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell who finished 20th.There were three
cautions for 19 laps. Petty, who averaged 154.334mph collected $33,300 for
his efforts as 69,738 spectators looked on. One hundred-mile qualifying race
winners were Junior Johnson and Bobby Isaac.
Forty years ago in 1969, the
late model sportsman (Busch Grand Nationals) replaced the somewhat modified
cars that ran on Saturday. LeeRoy Yarbrough won the event, which saw New
England Sportsman and Modified great Don MacTavish lose his life in a
violent front stretch crash.
Storm clouds began to move in as race time neared and the race was
to begin 8 minutes ahead of schedule. There was a chill to the air. The 26
year old MacTavish took to the track and ran the two warmup laps as NASCAR
sorted out the last few details. The green flag waved and the race was on.
ER: It took 2 laps for the field to get up to speed. MacTavish was on the
move. It was lap 8 and MacTavish was coming out of the east turn when his
car suddenly turned hard right and head on into the wall. The nose of the
car punched partly through gate # 7, an opening in the otherwise solid
concrete wall protected by a piece of metal guard rail. The car was torn in
half by the impact, fatally injuring MacTavish instantly. Mac's car spun
into the path of the # 27 car of Sam Sommers and was hit head on. There was
little left of the Gene White Comet. The safety workers removed Mac from the
car. No one knows what caused the crash. Although Mac was the 6th driver to
die at Daytona Speedway, he was the first to die in stock car racing
competition at that track Yarbrough came back on Sunday to win the 500 by a
car length over Charlie Glotzbach. Donnie Allison finished third and was
followed by A.J. Foyt. Yarbrough's average speed was 157.950mph with 101,800
looking on. For his efforts he received $38,950.
Thirty five years ago in 1974,
the Modifieds were included at Daytona and raced on the road course. Bobby
Allison and Tiny Lund finished one-two as they clearly outclassed the field.
John Bryant finished third and was followed by Denis Giroux, Geoff Bodine,
Jerry Dostie and road racer, Charlie Blanton.
The Daytona 500 was shortened to 450 laps because of the then,
energy crunch. Even and odd days for getting gas were the norm. Bobby Isaac
and Donnie Allison won the twin 125's which were also shortened to 112.5
miles in length. Richard Petty won his fifth Daytona 500 after Donnie
Allison cut down two tires with eleven laps to go. Cale Yarborough ended up
second with Ramo Stott, third. A record $300,000 was paid by ABC for
broadcast rights and only the second half of the 500 was shown live.
Thirty years ago in 1979,
Richie Evans dominated the modified World Series at New Smyrna as he won
seven of the nine events run. Merv Treichler and Ronnie Bouchard were the
only other drivers to break the stranglehold that Evans had on the
competition. Evans also won a 200 mile modified event at Daytona. Neil
Bonnett finished second and was followed by Harry Gant, Ronnie Bouchard, Joe
Thurman and Bob Riley.
For the first time, the Daytona 500 was shown live, pole to pole,
by CBS. Ken Squire called the action. Richard Petty became a surprise
six-time winner after Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked going for
the lead in the closing laps. As Petty took the checkered flag, Yarborough,
Allison and Bobby Allison were slugging it out on the infield grass in turn
three. When the TV crew realized what was going on they picked up the
physical combat as it unfolded. Darrell Waltrip ended up finishing second
with A.J. Foyt, third.
Twenty five years ago in 1984,
Richie Evans won seven of eight modified events run at New Smyrna. Evans
lost a fuel pump on the night he didn't win. Charlie Jarzombek took the win
At Daytona, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison won the
125's.Yarborough went on to win the 500 over Dale Earnhardt and Darrell
Waltrip. Waltrip won the Goodys 300 the day before.
Twenty years ago in 1989,
Reggie Ruggiero won six of the nine events at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko won
two and Tom Baldwin won the series closing Richie Evans Memorial.
Darrell Waltrip was at the top of his game as he won both the
Goody's 300 and the Daytona 500.
Fifteen years ago in 1994,
Richie Gallup ended up winning four of the eight modified events run at New
Smyrna. Tom Baldwin, although winless used consistency to win the series
championship. Other winners were Ricky Fuller, Bruce D'Assandro and Ted
Christopher who won the series ending Richie Evans memorial.
At Daytona, Bob Newton pulled his Hoosier Tires out of the event in
the interest of safety, as the tires were not wearing properly. Ernie Irvan
and Dale Earnhardt won the 125's.For the fifth straight year; Dale Earnhardt
won the Busch GN Goody's 300 with Dale Jarrett, second. Chad Little the
first GN regular finished third. Among the casualties were Mike Stefanik,
Doug Hevron and Mike McLaughlin who were collected in a lap five wreck. The
500 saw Sterling Marlin score his first Winston Cup win. Ernie Irvan
finished second with Terry Labonte, third.
Ten years ago, in 1989, at New
Smyrna on Monday night, Ted Christopher made it two in a row George Kent in
the Gary Cretty No.26.Kent switched from Hoosier to Goodyear but still
couldn’t catch the Connecticut speedster. JR Bertuccio finished third with
Eric Beers, fourth. At Daytona, Ken Schrader was the Busch Grand National
Series top qualifier as he took the pole for the NAPA 300 with a speed of
189.865mph.Randy Lajoie was the outside pole sitter. Tuesday night at New
Smyrna belonged to Doug French as he jumped out in front and beat Ted
Christopher to the line. Jamie Tomaino finished third. Christopher returned
to winning form on Wednesday at New Smyrna as he won his third event of the
series over Kent, Beers and Tomaino.
At Daytona the big news was that Mike Helton was named as SR. Vice
President and CEO of NASCAR and his duties were to oversee the day to day
operations of NASCAR. Bill France would still maintain ultimate control as
he remained as President of the sanctioning body. At Daytona on Thursday at
the 125's, Bobby Labonte passed Jeff Gordon with 12 laps to go to win the
first event. Dale Earnhardt won the second 125 over Jeremy Mayfield. During
the first lap, Wally Dallenbach took out John Andretti and Jeff Green.
Christopher and Tomaino opened up a lead of a half lap at New Smyrna on
Thursday night. Christopher maintained the point and recorded his fourth
victory. George Kent finished third with Doug French, fourth. On Friday at
Daytona, Speedway Motorsports announced that they had sold the Charlotte
Motor Speedway name to home improvement giant Lowes for $35million. Lowes
had previously been a NASCAR sponsor but was dumped in favor of Home Depot.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the IROC event held at the 2-1/2 mile speedway.
Five years ago in 2004, the
action continued at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Tuesday night,
February 10. The Modifieds had Monday night off.
On Tuesday night, Eric Beers took advantage of Ted Christopher and
Donnie Lia’s misfortune as he took the win in Round 4 of the World Series.
Christopher started on the pole and was looking to be the first repeat
winner when Lia made a move under him, which resulted in both ending up in
the wall. Lia accepted responsibility for the incident. There had been
virtually no passing on the high-banked oval this year as the track had
become worn and the temperatures had not been ideal for racing. Buck
Catalano, who normally races at the Spencer Speedway in upstate New York,
ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. JR Bertuccio and Mike Fitch
rounded out the top five. Lia was able to make repairs after the crash and
ended up seventh behind John Blewett III who was sixth. Chuck Hossfeld, who
was driving for Bob Garbarino on the Modified tour made his first appearance
driving his own car and finished 11th. It was also good to see Bo Gunning
break into the top ten as he finished 8th.
The Modifieds went the 50-lap distance on Wednesday night. Eddie
Flemke Jr. and the Hill Enterprises team joined the field and made the most
of their effort as they took the win. Flemke, who started third, took the
lead on the first lap when John Blewett III drifted up, leaving an opening.
It was clear sailing from then on. Blewett, who was then slugging it out
with Ted Christopher, lost a radiator hose and triggered a wreck, which
ultimately put him out for the night. Christopher applied the pressure to
Flemke to the point where his rear bumper looked like it had been through a
war but the second generation driver never faltered as he romped home for
the win. Christopher settled for second with George Kent, third. Charlie
Pasteryak and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Flemke stated they
never intended to run the whole series, just the last three or four events.
On Thursday night Ted Christopher became the first repeat winner in
modified competition at New Smyrna. Christopher started on the pole and led
the entire 25-lap distance. Buck Catalano finished second with Eric Beers,
third. JR Bertuccio and Mike Fitch rounded out the top five. Things got ugly
during the early going when Ed Flemke Jr. came together with George Kent.
Kent spun out and went after Flemke, eventually planting him into the wall.
Flemke ended up in 19th spot while Kent ended up 9th behind Don Lia, Chuck
Hossfeld and Bo Gunning.
On Friday night it was the Richie Evans Memorial 100. John Blewett
III, who had horrible luck in the series, started dead last in the 27-car
field and survived numerous restarts and a crash to walk away the winner. A
lap nine crash collected eleven cars, including Blewett. Blewett was able to
rejoin the field but others weren’t as fortunate. The accident was triggered
when Charlie Pasteryak and Bo Gunning made contact with Pasteryak getting
the worst of the deal as he hit the outside wall. Once the field restarted
those not involved in the wreck made pit stops with many putting on fresh
rubber. Another late race caution found the same scenario. On the restart,
Ed Flemke was attempting to rundown leader Blewett and George Kent. Flemke
appeared to be the fastest car but as the laps wore down he appeared to be
getting loose. Ted Christopher then put the bumper to him and sent the
Hill’s Enterprises No.79 into the inside wall. Flemke was able to re-fire
his engine and took off after Christopher while he circled the track under
caution. Flemke figured that the track officials should have taken action
against Christopher for his overly aggressive driving and seeing as though
they didn’t, Flemke plowed Christopher in the rear and then exited the track
to the pit area. Once in the pits, Christopher’s crew joined Flemke’s crew
for some tea and crumpets! Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. George Kent
ended up finishing second to Blewett. Rounding out the top five were Eric
Beers, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld. Christopher managed to finish tenth.
The heavy rains that washed out the racing at Daytona on Saturday
also washed out the final night of the World Series at New Smyrna. There
will be no make up. Eric Beers was named the modified champion of the series
as he beat Ted Christopher by 31 points. Donnie Lia ended up third with JR
Bertuccio, fourth and George Kent, fifth. Rounding out the top ten were
Charlie Pasteryak, Buck Catalano, Kevin Goodale, John Bush and Chris Young.
At the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday the twin 125
qualifying races for the Daytona 500 were run with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and
Elliott Sadler scoring the wins. Of the 45 cars that entered the events, 43
of them qualified for the 500. Going home were Kirk Shelmerdine, a former
crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Andy Hillenburg. In comparison to
other years, a 45-car field for the 500 is a light one. The NASCAR Craftsman
Trucks ran under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway last
Friday night. Carl Edwards won it in a Ford. Toyota, in its first showing,
almost stole the show as Travis Kvapil finished second in the once domestic
brand series. Heavy rains descended on the Daytona area on Saturday
afternoon bringing the Busch Series Hershey’s Kisses 300 to a halt. The
event was completed on Monday, February 16 at 11:00 am. An estimated 200,000
were on hand when President George Bush gave the command to start the
engines. The only scary wreck occurred when Michael Waltrip took a mean
tumble on the backstretch. It seemed like ages until Waltrip emerged unhurt.
In a TV interview Waltrip was extremely critical of the track crew, which
left him hanging upside down for quite a while. Waltrip finally convinced
the rescue workers to roll his car back in the upright position and low and
behold he got out without a problem. Unlike last year when the 500 was
stopped because of rain, the event ran the entire posted distance.
It looked like there would be a break in the Anti-trust suit that
had been filed against NASCAR over the awarding of NEXTEL (formerly Winston)
Cup dates. It had been strongly rumored that the International Speedway
Corporation, which is controlled by the France family that also controls
NASCAR, may sell their track in Rockingham, North Carolina to Speedway
Motorsports, which owns the Texas track that has been seeking a second date.
If Speedway Motorsports ended up owning Rockingham they could move their
date to Texas. A similar situation took place when O. Bruton Smith, CEO of
Speedway Motorsports and Bob Bahre, owner of the New Hampshire International
Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire bought the North Wilkesboro Speedway, also
in North Carolina, and moved their dates. One went to Loudon and one went to
Texas. If the deal for Rockingham ever goes through it’s a good bet that the
Anti-trust suit will go away. A few months later it happened!
Last year, 2008, at New Smyrna
it was back to business for the Tour type Modifieds and the SK type
Modifieds on Monday night. The new week brought in some new competition
including the Tom Baldwin Sr Tribute car that would be driven by Sprint Cup
driver Kyle Busch. Other new arrivals included James Civali, Buck Catalano,
Ronnie Silk and Barry Callavini.
In the Tour type Modified 25 lap feature Ryan Preece, who is the
grandson of legendary car owner Bob Judkins, took advantage of the eight-car
qualifying inversion by starting on the Pole Position of the Tour-Type
Modified race and led pole to pole to score his first Tour-Type Modified
victory. Kevin Goodale finished second and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld,
Bobby Grigas and Ted Christopher.
The SK type Modified feature saw a surprise winner in the form of
Eric Goodale. Goodale, who had been running in third spot, took advantage of
a tangle between leaders Kenny Horton and Jimmy Blewett. Both drivers went
into turn four nose to tail with Horton leading Blewett on the final lap.
Blewett attempted to rattle Horton with a blast from his chrome horn. The
blast was a little too much as Horton spun and Blewett hit the wall. Horton
attempted to roll across the track to the finish line as Goodale spun to
avoid being collected in the wreck. Goodale’s car suffered slight damage as
he hit the wall after taking the win. Blewett took full blame for the
incident. Horton managed to finish second with Josh Sylvester, third. Billy
Anderson and Brad Van Houten rounded out the top five. Blewett ended up 11th
in the final rundown.
Heavy rain and a bad forecast forced the New Smyrna Speedway to
cancel Tuesday night’s racing program.
On Wednesday night at New Smyrna Kenny Horton redeemed himself from
earlier misfortunes and defeats as he won the SK Type Modified feature over
Josh Sylvester. It was a great victory for Horton but the night belonged to
Jimmy Blewett who won the 50 lap feature that was run in memory of his late
brother John Blewett III. In the 50 lap John Blewett III Memorial Jimmy
Blewett started on the pole and led every lap to score the win over Ted
Christopher. Christopher recovered from a spin with Chuck Hossfeld on lap 8
and passed Ron Silk for the second spot on a lap 20 restart. At the finish
Silk faded to fourth as Bob Grigas took over the third finishing spot.
Hossfeld rounded out the top five.
Horton stated that he was taking the rest of the week off in order
to spend some quality time with his family. Jimmy Blewett finished third in
the SK type event and was followed by Glen Griswold, Eric Goodale and Billy
Anderson. Nineteen cars started the SK type race and 23 started the Tour
type Modified race.
For the second time within a week Jimmy Blewett scored a clean
sweep at New Smyrna as he won both the Tour type and SK type Modified
features on Thursday night. In the Tour type feature Blewett took the lead
from Chuck Hossfeld on lap four and pulled away from the field, running
uncontested for the rest of the 25 lap distance. Hossfeld finished second
with Ted Christopher, third. Eric Beers and Ryan Preece rounded out the top
five. In the SK type feature Blewett took a lot of heat from Josh Sylvester
but in the end was able to prevail. Sylvester finished second and was
followed by Glen Griswold Brad Van Houten and Butch Perry.
In Thursday action at the Daytona Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr.
won the first 150 mile qualifier for his second victory of Speedweeks, and
Denny Hamlin captured the second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, passing
teammate Tony Stewart on the first overtime lap, giving the manufacturer its
first victory in Sprint Cup racing. Earnhardt’s Thursday's victory came
after he moved to the rear of the starting field after changing an engine.
Reed Sorenson was second in his Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, Ryan Newman third
in his Penske Racing Dodge, Casey Mears fourth in his Hendrick Motorsports
Chevy and Carl Edwards fifth in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Stewart was
second in the second race, Earnhardt's teammate Jeff Gordon third, Kasey
Kahne fourth in his Gillett Evernham Dodge and Mark Martin fifth in
Earnhardt's former Chevy ride at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
At New Smyrna on Friday night it was the Richie Evans Memorial for
the Tour type Modifieds taking center stage. Eric Beers used a lightning
fast pit stop to put him in position to win the prestigious event. A caution
on lap 65 of the 100 lap event shuffled the field with most of the front
runners pitting including then race leader Ted Christopher. Kevin Goodale
elected not to pit and inherited the lead when the field restarted.
Goodale’s strategy almost paid off when, with eight laps left, he spun,
handing the lead to Beers. Beers then held off Jimmy Blewett to take the
win. Goodale recovered to finish 13th. Bob Grigas III finished third and was
followed by Ronnie Silk, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld. Rounding out the
top ten were James Civali, Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher and Rowan Pennick.
There were 19 cars in the field.
In SK type Modified action the field was trimmed to 15 cars. Jimmy
Blewett in his Eddie Partridge owned mount had been the class of the field
and on Friday night made it four out of six in World Series competition.
Josh Sylvester, for the third time, finished second. Glen Griswold, Billy
Anderson and Shelly Perry followed.
Todd Bodine held off a late push from Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson
to win the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman truck race at the Daytona
International Speedway on Friday night and picked up his first victory at
the Florida Super Speedway. The 2006 Craftsman Truck Series champion passed
Erik Darnell coming off pit road with about 13 laps to go, and then stayed
out front the rest of the way to claim the Chevy Silverado 250.
Jimmy Blewett finished out his tour of duty at the New Smyrna
Speedway World Series with dual championships, the Tour type Modifieds and
the SK type Modifieds. For his week under the stars in Florida Blewett
scored 3 Tour type wins and 5 SK type wins. Congratulations are in order for
the New Jersey driver as well as his owners, Eddie Partridge Racing and
Grasso Bros. Racing.
In the final night of racing, Saturday, there were sparse fields of
cars in both divisions. Ten Tour type Modifieds and 13 SK type Modifieds
were on hand. Ted Christopher, who had been shut out of victory lane at New
Smyrna since 2006 somewhat redeemed himself as he took the checkered flag in
the series ending 25 lapper for the Tour Type Modifieds. Jon McKennedy drew
the pole starting position and led the event for the first 17 laps before
being passed by Christopher. Christopher no sooner had gotten by when
McKennedy and Andy Seuss tangled and wrecked hard! Christopher, although
winless up to that point was in contention for the series championship.
Blewett finished a conservative fifth and was able to sew up the title
despite Christopher’s win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by
Chuck Hossfeld and Bob Grigas.
The SK type Modifieds were supposed to go 50 laps but because of a
short field had their distance shortened to 30. Jimmy Blewett started on the
outside pole and before one lap was completed blew away pole sitter Shelly
Perry for the lead and eventual win. Glen Griswold ended up second and was
followed by Eric Goodale, Butch Perry and Jim Zacharrias. Shelly Perry faded
to finish in 11th spot.
Ryan Newman snapped an 81-race winless streak Sunday, using a huge
push from teammate Kurt Busch to give car owner Roger Penske his first
Daytona 500 victory. Penske, the most successful owner in open-wheel history
with 14 wins in the prestigious Indianapolis 500, now has a victory in
NASCAR's showcase event. In a green-white-checker finish Newman pulled away
for his first win since New Hampshire in September 2005, while pre race
favorite Tony Stewart had to settle for third. Kurt Busch finished second
The Hartford Courant reported on Feb 12 that Griswold, CT
commercial developer Gregory Mackin had signed an agreement with Terry Eames
to buy the Waterford Speedbowl property. Evidently the Courant jumped the
gun as property owner Eames stated there had been discussions with several
parties interested in buying the Speedbowl and one of them was associated
with Jerry Robinson. In Eames’ own words, “There has been no agreement
signed with anyone regarding the track changing hands. Nor have any deposits
been taken toward such a sale”.
The property was a go as far as being a race track in 2008 but
beyond that, was still in question.
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.