Forty years ago in 1969Ed Yerrington Sr won the season opening 30 lap Modified feature at the
Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Mazzella was the 20 lap Daredevil winner.
Thirty five years ago in 1974
Don Bunnell won the season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl. Rick Elnicki
was the Grand American winner.
Thirty years ago this week in 1979,
Thompson opened for the season. Ronnie Bouchard won the small block Modified
feature over John Rosati and Dunk Rudolph. Rudolph was subsequently
disqualified when it was found that his car's engine had illegal heads.
Bobby Fuller was the late model winner. The speedway sported a new look as
the Connecticut DMV mandated that the Speedway eliminate all light poles
from the infield. Track owner Don Hoenig had purchased high intensity
lighting that had been used at the Lincoln Downs Horse Track in Rhode
Island. In other news, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event at Bristol
as a rookie and Geoff Bodine was fired from the Jack Beebe Winston Cup Car.
Twenty five years ago in 1984,
it was night No.2 at Riverside Park. Stan Greger wasted little time and took
down the win. Jim Spencer finished second and was followed by Ray Miller,
Richie Evans and Corky Cookman.
Twenty years ago in 1989,
Reggie Ruggiero was the top dog at Riverside in the Mario Fiore No.44. There
were only 21 cars on hand but they were all good ones. Stan Greger finished
second and was followed by Dan Avery, Brad Hietala and John Zavisa.
Fifteen years ago, in 1994, the
roles were reversed at Riverside as Greger took the win with Ruggiero,
second. Avery finished third and was followed by Eddie Spiers, Wade Cole and
Tom Jensen. In SMART action at Caraway in North Carolina, Tim Arre won a 150
lap event over Frank Flemming, and in Hickory, N.C. Ricky Craven took the
lead with 32 laps to go and went on to win the Sundrop 300 over Randy
Ten years ago, in 1999, David
Green won the Busch Series 320 at Nashville. Casey Atwood finished second.
Sterling Marlin provided the only competition but his day ended after his
car spun and was wrecked by a wrecker in the pit area.
Five years ago in 2004, in a
joint announcement from NASCAR and the Thompson Speedway last Thursday; the
Thompson Speedway Icebreaker was postponed until April 17-18. The early
cancellation was made in order to prevent fans and competitors from making a
needless trip. The Thompson Connecticut area was pounded by over two inches
of rain and with more forecast for the weekend, it was a wise move to pull
the plug on the event.
The Waterford Speedbowl also fell victim to rain as Saturday
night’s races were canceled.
In Nextel Cup action at the Texas Speedway Elliott Sadler won by
inches over Kasey Kahne. Jeff Gordon recorded his best finish in quite a
while as he finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth. In Busch
Racing Series action in Texas, Matt Kenseth took the win over Kyle Busch.
The Caruso family sold the Oswego Speedway to Steve Gioia and Pat
Furlong. In operation since 1951, Oswego is considered the next best thing
to going to Indianapolis.
Last year, 2008, the Thompson
Speedway officially opened the 2008 racing season in the northeast and began
the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. In what was supposed to be a
fun filled and competitive weekend ended in tragedy and ultimately a wet
note. A racing accident claimed the life of race driver Shane Hammond of
Halifax, MA. The accident occurred on the fourth lap of a scheduled 25-lap
Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) feature event race. Hammond was
traveling down the backstretch of the 5/8 mile oval when he cart wheeled
over the third turn wall and hit an advertisement sign. The 27 year old
Hammond was transported to the Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, CT where he
was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
For a good part of the day it was misting and threatening rain.
Eddie Flemke Jr brought back fond remembrances of his father’s Thompson 300
win in 1978 as he elected not to pit when the leaders did and it paid off
handsomely, $7,920, to the second generation driver. Flemke, who started
eighth, was running third and he inherited the lead on lap 71 when leader
Todd Szegedy and second-place Reggie Ruggiero pitted. Flemke led until lap
92 when the race was finally red flagged because of extremely heavy mist
that coated the track and made it unsafe. It was also the first win for Gary
Teto, Flemke’s car owner.
A similar situation occurred years ago, 1978, and involved Flemke’s
father and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens was clearly the fastest car during the
running of the Thompson 300. When rain began falling Stevens was instructed
to pit and handed the lead to Flemke. Flemke gambled that the rain would
prevail and that it did!
Chuck Hossfeld, in Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile finished second
and was followed by Bob Grigas, Long Islander Joe Hartmann and rookie Tom
Abele. Sixth through tenth were James Civali who was the Coors Light Pole
sitter and clearly the fastest on the track, Todd Szegedy, Reggie Ruggiero,
Rowan Pennink and Ted Christopher. There were five caution periods for 53
laps. NASCAR Tour director Chad Little needed to get a better grip on this
situation as it took way too long to get restart lineups correct. There were
39 Tour Modifieds on hand and despite the cold weather close to 8,000 fans
turned out for the season opener.
Prior to the race, former champions Frankie Schneider (1952) and
Donny Lia (2007), and the late Richie Evans (nine-time champion) were
honored by NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
In other weekend racing at Thompson Bert Marvin was the Sunoco
Modified (SK type) winner on Saturday night in the first of two events
scheduled for the weekend. The Sunday event was rained out and will be
rescheduled at a later date. Jimmy Blewett finished second and was followed
by Doug Coby, Danny Cates and Josh Sylvester. Jeff Zuidema was the Late
Model winner, Mike O’Sullivan was the Pro Stock winner, Jessie Gleason, the
Limited Sportsman winner, Glenn Boss was victorious in the Thompson
Modifieds and Danny Fields was the Mini Stock winner. The NEMA Midget
feature was halted after the lap 4 accident and was not resumed. Erica
Santos was the leader at that time.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing Carl Edwards ran away with the Samsung
500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for his series-best third win of the
season, holding off Jimmie Johnson on a two-lap overtime sprint to the
finish in Fort Worth. Kyle Busch, winner of the Nationwide Series race
Saturday, was strong early but had nothing for Edwards in the end and faded
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.