Thirty years ago in 1979,
a late winter snowstorm cancelled a scheduled modified event at the Franklin
County Speedway in Callaway, VA. The event was not rescheduled. Despite the
success of the 1978 season at the Waterford Speedbowl under the Dick
Williams' Coastal Racing League, Harvey Tattersall Jr did not renew their
lease and once again took over the day-to-day operations of the Speedbowl
under his United Stock Car Championship banner. Race Director Bill Slater &
Chief Starter Dick Brooks left with Williams.
Twenty five years ago, in 1984,
Eddie Flemke, a modified legend in his own time, passed away. Flemke had put
in a long day plowing snow and had come home to rest. When he failed to come
into his house his wife went to check on him, as he had not exited his
vehicle. Mrs. Flemke sadly discovered that he husband had suffered a heart
attack and had passed away at the age of 53. During his career Flemke won
over 600 features and played a vital part in the development of the racing
careers of Pete Hamilton, Richie Evans and Ronnie Bouchard. Flemke was one
of the great thinkers of the sport. He would study his competition and then
figure out what their weaknesses were and beat them. He was also an
accomplished racecar designer and fabricator. Two days later, Riverside Park
opened for the season with Richie Evans taking the win and promptly
dedicated it to his deceased friend and mentor. Eddie Flemke was one of the
greatest drivers of all time. At Riverside, Marty Radwick finished second
and George Kent was third.
In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Ricky Rudd was the pole sitter.
Darrell Waltrip took the win. Ronnie Bouchard qualified 13th and finished
Twenty years ago in 1989, the
Riverside Park season opener was a test of man and machine as only six cars
were left running at the finish of the 100 lap grind. Taking the win was
John Zavisa, who started on the pole. Pre race favorite Reggie Ruggiero
wrecked during warm-ups and was unable to start the feature.
Fifteen years ago in 1994,
Chris Kopec benefited from Reggie Ruggiero's misfortune and went on to win
the season opener at Riverside Park in front of a packed house. Ruggiero had
been leading until his brakes went away in the late stages of the event.
Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Dan Avery
In Busch Grand National action at Darlington, Mark Martin started
on the pole and won the no contest event over Larry Pearson and Randy
In Winston Cup action, Bill Elliott was the pole sitter but the day
belonged to Dale Earnhardt.
Ten years ago, in 1999, the
Featherlite Modified Tour Series started on a wet note as the season opener
at Riverside Park rained out. Qualifying was done on Saturday. Bob Polverari
was the Busch Pole sitter and David Berghman was second fastest. The rained
out event was rescheduled for April 18, which would put it head to head with
Five years ago in 2004 after
many months of waiting the Northeast-racing season finally began under less
than ideal weather conditions at the Waterford Speedbowl. Thirty-one SK
Modifieds were on hand at the shoreline oval on Saturday for qualifying.
Outsiders Ronnie Silk and Doug Coby were the top time trialers. Silk toured
the 1/3-mile oval in 14.482 seconds and Coby turned a lap in 14.503 seconds.
James Civali was the top regular with a time of 14.598 seconds. Defending
track champion Dennis Gada was 11th fastest with a time of 14.796 seconds.
In what had to be one of the most wreck strewn events ever seen, James
Civali turned a pre race misfortune into a victory as he won the 150 lap
SK-Modified portion of the Waterford Nationals. As the cars circled the
1/3-mile oval in a warm-up prior to the start of the event it was discovered
that his scoring transponder wasnít working. Civali stopped at the pit gate
where his pit crew got it operating. Speedway officials treated the incident
as if he had pitted and forced him to start at the rear of the 31
car-starting field. Upset at the time, starting at the rear proved to be an
omen as most of the wrecks and spins involved those who started at or near
the front. Civali managed to avoid trouble and took the lead on the 57th lap
and went on to hold off Ted Christopher for the win. Christopher, who was
considered one of the pre-race favorites, made numerous pit stops, as he was
involved in many of the 11 caution periods that consumed 66 laps.
Christopher moved into second spot with 11 laps to go but couldnít muster
the needed steam to make the pass for the win. Pole sitter Ron Silk got
collected in the first caution on lap three and suffered sufficient damage
to keep him out of contention. The blustery cold weather was a definite
factor, as the hard compound track tires could not generate enough heat to
provide the needed traction. The wrecks and spins got so bad that single
file restarts were mandated shortly after the half way mark of the event.
With the exception of Civali and third place finisher Jay Miller the entire
field showed scars of battle. Defending division champion Dennis Gada and
previous years runner-up Ed Reed Jr. were taken out of contention because of
wrecks as were Rick Young, Tom Fox and Jeff Pearl. Rob Janovic finished
fourth with Chris Pasteryak, fifth. Dennis Gada finished sixth, one lap
down. Corey Hutchins won the Late Model 50 lapper in an all but no contest
event. Mark St. Hillaire finished second with Jay Stuart, third. Second
generation driver Keith Rocco was the Limited Sportsman winner and Tim
Jordan won in the MiniStocks.
NASCAR announced that they had a new weapon to use to detect
cheaters, especially those who use tire softeners. The Irwindale Speedway in
California engaged the use of a retired bomb-sniffing dog to detect tires
that have been altered with chemicals. It seems that when the animal is
walked up and down pit road it will stop and sit next to tires that have
been treated. Tire soaking has taken place at all levels of racing, in fact
it got so bad in the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series a year ago that
NASCAR mandated that all competitors buy their tires on the day of the race.
It had also been announced that the NASCAR TV ratings took a dive after
recent boring events at Las Vegas and Atlanta. FOXís season ratings after
three Nextel Cup events have fallen 9%.
In Nextel Cup action at Bristol, Tennessee, Ryan Newman captured
his third Busch Pole of the year on Friday. The Busch Racing Series ran on
Saturday with New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. getting his first ever
Busch Series win. Truex is a former competitor in the Busch North Series and
a former weekly competitor at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. Kurt
Busch gambled when he chose not to pit for fresh tires late in the Bristol
500 and beat a frustrated Rusty Wallace to the finish line. It was Buschís
third victory in a row at the ultra fast high-banked half-mile oval.
It appeared that the anti-trust suit filed by Speedway Motorsports
stockholders Francis Ferko and Rusty Vaughn against NASCAR may be headed for
an out of court settlement. It had been strongly rumored that the
International Speedway Corporation, which is owned by the France family that
also owns NASCAR, would sell speedways in Darlington, South Carolina and
Rockingham, North Carolina to Speedway Motorsports who in turn could move
two of the three Nextel Cup dates that go with those speedways to Texas and
Las Vegas. The remaining date would alternate between Darlington and
Rockingham. In a non-related matter, the International Speedway Corporation
and its subsidiary, Southeastern Hay and Nursery bought 168 acres of land
for $5.5 million.
On a sad note, Nolan Swift, eight time Oswego Speedway track
champion, died at the age of 81. Swift was considered the father of the
Last year, 2008, the Thompson
Speedway held their second of two practice sessions on Saturday in somewhat
blustery conditions. According to Howie Hodge the following Whelen Modified
Tour Series drivers were on hand to shakedown their cars: 0 - Danny Sammons,
3 - Ryan Preece, 10 - Ed Flemke, 11 - Anthony Sesely, 17 - Glen Reen, 21 -
Richard Savory, 28 - James Civali, 32 - Tom Abele. Jr., 46 - Eric Beers, 58
- Kevin Goodale, 90 - Renee Dupuis, 93 - Rowan Pennink and 99 - Jamie
Kenny Barry, pinch hitting for Todd Ceravolo, got in some decent
runs in the Dick Ceravolo owned Sunoco Modified. The Ceravolo's suffered
engine problems the week previous and had installed a new power plant.
Denny Hamlin overtook Jeff Burton on the 427th lap and went on to
win the Goody's 500 Nextel Cup event at the Martinsville Speedway in
Virginia. For 389 laps, the race looked like it would be another victory for
Hendrick Motorsports at the track it has dominated, winning eight of the
previous 10 races. Hendrick drivers led 371 laps, but Hamlin and fellow
Virginia native Jeff Burton made decisions under the next-to-last caution
that allowed them to move up front. And Hamlin ruined Burton's decision to
stay out while the rest of the leaders pitted. Jeff Gordon rallied to finish
second, followed by Burton, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Johnson had won
three straight at Martinsville heading into the race.
Dennis Setzer assumed the lead when Kyle Busch had to brake to
avoid a crash in front of him Saturday, then held on through numerous
restarts to win the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville
Speedway. The victory was the first for Dodge since the late Bobby Hamilton
won at Mansfield in 2005, and the truck Setzer won in is co-owned by
Hamilton's widow, Lori. Don Lia scored his first top ten as he finished
Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail email@example.com.