Forty years ago in 1969
the scheduled season Saturday night opener at the Norwood Arena was rained
out. The skies cleared the following day as Fred DeSarro took the win at the
Thompson Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl Charlie Webster took the
Modified win and Bill Sweet won his first of four in a row at the shoreline
oval. In Grand National (Cup) racing at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in
North Carolina, Bobby Allison took the win.
Thirty five years ago in 1974
there was plenty of action both in the north and the south. Three nights of
Modified racing in North Carolina saw Richie Evans score a victory at Metrolina on Friday night over Harry Gant, Jerry Cook and Paul Radford.
Radford turned the tables on Saturday night at Hickory as he won a 100
lapper over Gant, John Bryant, Cook and Evans.
Action shifted to Asheboro on
Sunday where Gant was the top gun over Radford, Cook and Evans. In New
England, Thompson began their open competition small block modified series
and it was Fred DeSarro taking the win over Daring Dick Caso, Deke Astle,
Kenny Bouchard and Charlie Savage. Dick Watson was the Modified winner at
Waterford. Ron Cote made it two in a row in Grand American action.
Thirty years ago in 1979, the
Spring Sizzler at Stafford was rained out.
Twenty five years ago in 1984
it rained again, washing the Sizzler out.
Twenty Years ago in 1989 the
cycle of rainy weekends continued.
Fifteen years ago in 1994, the
rain cycle was finally broken. Riverside Park just beat the rain as Dan
Avery took the checkered flag on Saturday night. Brian Miller finished
second and was followed by Stan Greger and Chris Kopec. Loudon scheduled a
double header for the Modifieds and Busch North Series. Qualifying for both
divisions was rained out but it cleared on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero blasted
by a trapped Rick Fuller on the last lap and won the modified portion.
Fuller finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Steve Park and Mike
Ewanitsko. Kelly Moore was the BGNN winner over Mike Stefanik, Stub Fadden
and Tom Bolles. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Terry Labonte
took the win over Rusty Wallace. Jim Spencer was penalized ten laps for
spinning out Ken Schrader.
Ten years ago, in 1999, Rick
Miller made it four in a row at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Rob
Summers finished second and was followed by Dave Berube and Ted Christopher.
On Sunday, Riverside ran their rained out Modified Tour Series event against
Waterford's opener. Ed Flemke Jr. took advantage of Reggie Ruggiero's worn
tires and took the lead on lap 182 and went on to take the win. Bob
Polverari finished second with Tom Cravenho, third. Despite fading, Ruggiero
was able to finish fourth. Ted Christopher finished tenth and made a fast
trip to Waterford. Christopher started ninth and took the lead from Todd
Ceravolo just before the half way mark. Christopher, who lost a power
steering belt in the second half, was able to maintain enough of a lead to
take the win. Ceravolo finished second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Ed
Dachenhausen and Jerry Pearl.
It was a big weekend for the Petty family at Martinsville as Jimmy
Hensley won the Craftsman Truck event on Saturday and John Andretti won the
Winston Cup event on Sunday.
Five years ago in 2004, the
Thompson Speedway opened the 2004 NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series on
Sunday. The event drew 9000 fans. The outcome was a shocker. Defending
series champion Todd Szegedy was the fastest time trialer and the apparent
winner until a post race inspection revealed an illegal rear end gear ratio.
Szegedy was disqualified and placed last in the final rundown. Ted
Christopher, who crossed the finish line behind Szegedy was awarded the win.
This was the third time in the history of the Tour series that began in 1985
that a winner has been disqualified. The 150 lap Icebreaker was one of the
most competitive ever seen. With 47 Modifieds on hand for time trials it was
difficult just to qualify as 21 cars were in the 18-second bracket. Todd
Szegedy was the fastest with Tony Hirschman, second fastest. Szegedy, who
had pitted on lap 71, charged his way to the front and took the lead from
Jerry Marquis on lap 125. Running second, Marquis found himself in the wall
on lap 126 after contact by a spinning Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke had been hit by
Chuck Hossfeld. Flemke recovered, losing only one spot. Ted Christopher, who
also pitted on lap 71, conserved his tires and was able to move into the
second spot with two to go. Flemke got by Hossfeld on the final lap to cross
the finish line behind Christopher. Zach Sylvester, who crossed the finish
line in fifth spot, was moved up to fourth. Tony Hirschman was moved up to
fifth. There were ten cautions for 52 laps. Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher
shared victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds as they each won separate twin
25 lap features. Twin features were also run for the Late Models with Corey
Hutchings and Rick Gentes taking wins. Other weekend winners at Thompson
were Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Andy Publicover in the
Dennis Gada returned to his winning ways Saturday night at the
Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Reed Jr, Tom Fox, Ted Christopher and Dennis
Cherette rounded out the top five. Allen Coates was the Late Model winner
with Dave Zemke taking the top spot in the Sportsman division. Tim Jordan
was the Mini Stock winner and Justin Dougherty won the Legends feature.
In Nextel Cup action at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Jeff
Gordon was the Busch Pole sitter with Jamie McMurray on the outside. Rusty
Wallace ended a long dry spell as he held off Bobby Labonte for the win.
NASCAR announced that Jim Hunter, former Vice President of
Corporate Communications had been given the new title as Vice President of
Corporate Communications / Regional Touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.
Hunter would work with Don Hawk who had been hired as Director of Regional
Racing Development. Chris Boals the Director of Regional Touring/NASCAR
Dodge Weekly Series would remain in his present position. NASCAR
Chairman/CEO Brian France said, “This revamped approach illustrates our
commitment to grassroots racing which is the bedrock in our sports
The American Speed Association, which has been primarily in the
mid-west, had recently hired former NASCAR executives Dennis Huth and Tom
Deery. The ASA had begun branching out and had taken the southern-based
Southern Modified Auto Racing Tour (SMART) under their wing and was making
an attempt to move into the northeast. NASCAR also announced that Brett
Bodine had joined the sanctioning body’s Research and Development team as a
Special Project Engineer at the R & D center in Concord, North Carolina.
Bodine holds a degree as a Mechanical Engineer from the State University of
New York. Bodine evidently had retired as a competitor on the Nextel Cup
circuit. He is also a former Modified competitor in the Northeast. Before
moving south Bodine raced at Stafford and Thompson. It was at Stafford in
1984 that he finished second to Brian Ross in the track’s final point
standings. Bodine is also a former Race of Champions winner.
NASCAR also announced that the local track point funds for weekly
racing series tracks had increased to $3,500 which would be paid out to the
top ten at seasons end. In 2003, $2,000 was distributed to the top five.
Mike Joy, FOX anchorman for Nextel Cup and Busch Series telecasts
spent some time in Washington, DC speaking to Senators and Representatives
about a bill that was making its way through congress that could severely
restrict speedway owners ability to improve their facilities. The IRS
allowed motorsports facilities to fully depreciate capital improvements over
a seven-year span. The IRS then wanted these improvements to be amortized as
real estate improvements, stretching the recapture period to 30 years. Bill
HR-2900, The Motorsports Facilities Fairness Act would preserve the
seven-year benefit. All speedway owners and operators were urged to contact
their congressmen to support this bill.
Last year, 2008, The Waterford
Speedbowl moved into its regular Saturday night schedule. The management
created a new flag for the starter to display. It was called the “Meatball”
flag and it was to be waved at an individual who refuses to comply with the
officials in charge or someone who makes a dumb move or decision. The
“Meatball Flag” should have been shown to the Late Model driver who started
on the pole of the Late Model feature who triggered a wreck that eliminated
the potential winning cars of Larry Goss and Eddie Reed Jr. Starting on the
pole as a rookie makes no sense at all. The individual who made the line-ups
was also deserving of the “Meat Ball”. Bruce Thomas Jr was the eventual
winner and is now two for two in Late Model competition at the shoreline
Defending SK Modified champion Rob Janovic redeemed himself after a
poor showing at the season opener as he scored a convincing win in the 35 SK
Modified feature. Jeff Paul, who also had a poor showing on opening day,
finished second. Tyler Chadwick, Justin Gaydosh and Diego Monahan rounded
out the top five. Opening day Nationals winner Dennis Gada was eliminated
after making contact with Dennis Charette who was the early leader after
pole sitter Frank Mucciacciaro spun out on lap 11. The Gada-Charette
confrontation occurred on lap 18 and also eliminated Jeff Pearl and Jeff
Other feature winners were Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), and, Randy
Churchill Jr. (Mini Stocks). Also making an appearance were the New England
Antique Racers, presenting exhibition events featuring the cars of a past
era. With over twenty restored racers taking to the track, fans were treated
to a view of the true “racing roots” of New England short track history.
The True Value Modified Series opened their 2008 season at the Lee USA
Speedway in New Hampshire on Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were on hand.
Kirk Alexander took the win over David Pinkham, Dale Evonsion, Mike
Holdredge, Jon McKennedy. Ted Christopher Rob Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Ed
Dachenhausen and Chris Pasteryak finished sixth through tenth. Defending
champion Alexander jumped into the lead on lap three and roared to victory
in the” Governors Cup 100” Modified race. The win was Alexander’s 27th
career victory with the touring series. The three-time champion survived a
caution plagued race that was once stopped for an overheating racer that
sprayed water on the racing surface resulting in six cars retired to the pit
area. Sunday’s race was also the first of eight guaranteed starter races for
the Sunoco Modified Mania 400 weekend at Thompson, CT. in September.
The Nationwide Series of NASCAR was in Mexico City while the Sprint
Cup drivers had the weekend off to celebrate Passover with their families.
Kyle Busch won his third consecutive race on NASCAR’s Nationwide Series,
taking the Corona Mexico 200 by less than a second. This latest win was the
27th of his career in NASCAR’s top three series, and first on a road
course.Marcos Ambrose finished a career best second after a hectic day in
which he collided with Boris Said, knocking Said out of the race. Ambrose’s
finish was his first top-10 finish of the year. He had six as a rookie in
2007. Ambrose trailed by 1.139 seconds in his Ford with two laps to go, and
Busch was able to hold on for a 0.737-second win.
Busch led for 22 of 80 laps, second to Scott Pruett’s 36. Busch
passed Pruett on the 72nd lap to take the lead. In a race that included
seven cautions and two red flags, Busch stayed out of trouble in his Toyota
on the 2.518-mile course at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez before making his
decisive move past Pruett. Pruett finished third, followed by Carl Edwards,
who is second in the points standings. He’s nine points behind Clint Bowyer,
who finished sixth on Sunday. The third-place finish was a career best for
the 48-year-old Pruett, a road-course ace making his 10th Nationwide start.
He finished fifth in Mexico City last year.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
with driver Stan Greger
. All other photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
VintageModifieds.com Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.