Forty years ago, in 1969,
the NASCAR Modifieds started their season with the Dogwood 500 at
Martinsville. The hot tire was the Firestone Indy-Supersport Steamroller,
which was fifteen inches wide. Ray Hendrick, driving the legendary Tant/Mitchell
No. 11, established himself as the one to beat as he took the pole for the
500-lap event. Defending Modified Champion Carl Bugsy Stevens in the mighty
No.3 of Len Boehler was second fastest. At the drop of the green, the two
ran wheel to wheel in a contest to see who was to be supreme. Their race
ended on lap 19 when the two came together on the front stretch and crashed
into the wall. Fred DeSarro, who was in his own car at the time, assumed the
lead on lap 20 and all but dominated the field. DeSarro's hope for a win
came to a halt on lap 492 when his battery shorted out and he coasted to the
pit. Jerry Cook, who was running second, a lap down, assumed the lead and
went on to record his first major victory.
Cale Yarborough was the Grand National winner at Atlanta.
Thirty five years ago in 1974
it was Carl Bugsy Stevens in the Sonny Koszela Woodchopper Special taking
the win in the Dogwood 500 at Martinsville. Richie Evans finished second and
was followed by Ronnie Bouchard, Jerry Cook, Eddie Flemke Sr and Bob Santos.
Twenty five years ago, in 1984,
the Modifieds were no longer a part of the March racing at Martinsville as
car counts and fans had declined. Their event had been moved to April where
they served as a preliminary event to the Winston Cup event.
Twenty years ago in 1989,
the Modifieds were back in Martinsville. With forty-one cars on hand, Mike
Stefanik took the pole with Tony Hirschman, outside. Rob Moroso was the
Grand National pole sitter. Hirschman took the lead at the start and held
the point until lap 19 when Mike Ewanitsko took command. Ewanitsko never
looked back as he went on to win the 200-lap event. Mike McLaughlin finished
second and was followed by Stefanik, Rick Fuller, Jan Leaty and Doug Hevron.
Reggie Ruggiero, driving for Mario Fiore was one of the pre race favorites
but had his engine confiscated when it was deemed illegal by NASCAR.
Ruggiero used a back-up engine and ended up finishing 17th, seven laps down.
Tommy Ellis was the Grand National winner.
Fifteen years ago, in 1994, the
cup cars and Grandnationals were in Atlanta. Loy Allen took the Winston Cup
pole with Geoff Bodine on the outside. Shawna Robinson became the first
woman to take a pole position as she took the top spot in Grand National
qualifying. Harry Gant took the GN win after Mark Martinís car quit with 40
laps to go. Randy LaJoie was running second until he lost a cylinder in the
closing laps and allowed Larry Pearson to sneak into second spot at the
Ten years ago, in 1999, Dave
Blaney took the pole for the Busch Series event at Atlanta. There were 12
Winston Cup drivers in the field which meant that 12 Busch Series regulars
went home. Mike Skinner led 92 of the 195 lap distance and took the win over
Blaney and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Skinner was disqualified after a post race
inspection revealed his engine had unapproved cylinder head modifications
and the win was awarded to Blaney. Skinner appealed the disqualification the
following Wednesday and was awarded the win without any money. Jeff Gordon
took the Winston Cup win over Bobby Labonte. It was Gordonís 44th career win
on NASCARís senior circuit.
Five years ago in 2004, it
appeared that NASCAR had not raised the minimum purse requirements for the
Featherlite Modified Tour Series events, as the IceBreaker payout for 2004
was the same as 2003, which was $73,675 with $4800 to win. It was early in
2003 when NASCAR sent CEO George Pyne to calm the waters at Thompson when
there was a hint of general revolt among the Modified competitors. Pyne told
competitors that he would look into improving purse structures for the
division. Evidently good old George was still looking as nothing had
changed! NASCAR did announce that the Auto Meter Corporation would be
sponsoring the Rookie of the Year awards for their touring series. The
Modified Rookie of the Year would receive a $3,000 bonus plus a package of
Auto Meter products. NASCAR also announced the addition of five more
contingency sponsors for the Featherlite Modified Tour Series. CV Products,
Holley, MAC Tools and Mechanix Wear had added over $43,000 in post season
awards bringing the total season contingency awards to over $107,000. The
2004 19-race tour had a purse payout of $940,000.
Chuck Hossfeld, who finished second in the NASCAR Featherlite
Modified Tour Series standings in 2003, had indicated that he would be in
competition on a weekly basis at Stafford in 2004 driving for a team
sponsored by Wisk and Clorox. Hossfeld joined Doug Coby, Ted Christopher, Ed
Flemke Jr. and Jim Broderick who would also be at Stafford on a weekly
Chad Allum, formerly of Norwich, Connecticut and living in
Mooresville, North Carolina set the fastest time at the Hickory Motor
Speedway during United Sprint Car Series practice. Allumís dad, George, won
quite a few races at the Waterford Speedbowl during the 1970ís and was a
fabricator at Art Barryís Spear Point Auto in Preston.
In Nextel Cup action at Atlanta Dale Earnhardt Jr. got back on
track to take the win over Jeremy Mayfield. Rookie Kasey Kahne finished
Last year, 2008, the big news
was the announcement of the end of racing at the Wall Township Speedway in
New Jersey. Timothy H. Shinn, Managing Member For The four partners that own
the Jersey shore facility made the official announcement. According to Shinn
the partners did everything in their power the past six years since 2002, to
provide top quality short-track racing and keep the doors to the Speedway
open. ďWe have made numerous attempts to create a scenario which would
enable us to continue with the Speedway operation, all to no availĒ, he
said. Unless someone comes along to buy the facility the 1/3 mile oval that
was fashioned after the famed Lonsdale Sports Arena in Rhode Island will
fade away to oblivion. The speedway has provided continuous auto racing for
Jeff Burton took the Sprint Cup win at Bristol after Kevin Harvick
wrecked Tony Stewart with 2 to go. Harvick bumped Stewart, sending both cars
sliding and opened a hole for Burton to squeeze through and go on to
victory. Stewart, who finished 14th, was livid on his radio after the
accident but had calmed down by the time he climbed from his car and took
partial responsibility for the contact. Harvick finished 2nd and Clint
Bowyer finished 3rd. Dale Jarrett finished 37th in the final start in a
points race of his 24-year career. Also at Bristol, Clint Bowyer grabbed the
win in the Sharpie Mini 300 when rain moved back into the track just past
the halfway mark and the race was called after 171 laps. The race started 2
hours late because of showers at the track earlier in the day. Kasey Kahne,
who battled Bowyer hard for the lead prior to the rain, finished second.
Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail email@example.com.