The Chrome Horn - Phil Smith's Looking Back A Bit

    Forty years ago in 1969 the newly formed New England Drivers and Owners Club headed by Dick Armstrong called a drivers strike against Stafford, Norwood and Thompson as club members felt they were running for sub-par purses. Stafford did run with a short field with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Ernie Gahan and Don Flynn. Norwood and Thompson cancelled their racing events. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Lou Lazzaro took the top spot over Jerry Cook and Richie Evans. At Fonda on Saturday night, Dave Lape beat out Lazzaro for the win with Andy Romano, third. At Islip, Ron Theil won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Jim Hendrickson. Joe Trudeau was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet Jr took the Grand American win. Racing at Utica-Rome on Sunday rained out.

   Thirty five years ago in 1974 Utica-Rome suffered their third rainout in a row. At Freeport it cleared and Art Tappen beat out Ted Wesnoski and Lew Hennessy. At Islip, Wesnoski again had to settle for second as Gary Winters beat him to the stripe. Wayne Anderson finished third. At Stafford on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens won a close one over Kenny Bouchard and Jerry Dostie. Maynard Troyer was the kingpin in New York State as he went two for two, taking checkers at Lancaster and Fulton. Joe Trudeau was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl.

   Thirty years ago in 1979, Bobby Santos beat out Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary for the win at Stafford on Friday night. Spencer ran a 100 lapper which saw Maynard Troyer dominate over Satch Worley, Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. Worley was driving for Lee Allard. At Shangri-La, Richie Evans won out over George Kent and Jerry Cook and on the Island at Islip, it was Charlie Jarzombek. Waterford, Seekonk, Riverside and Westboro rained out, as did Thompson on Sunday.

   Twenty five years ago in 1984, Ray Miller hit full stride as he won at Stafford in the Mike Greci No.01.Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Richie Evans, third. At Spencer, George Kent beat Jan Leaty and at Shangri-La, Ron Shepherd bested Kent for the win. Rain washed out Islip, Waterford and Riverside. Randy LaJoie scored a Nascar-North win at Sanair in Canada and in Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Richard Petty scored his 199th career win.

   Twenty years ago in 1989, Mike Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bugsy Stevens passed Norman Holden on the last lap to win the Pro-Stock event at Seekonk and at Riverside; Reggie Ruggiero beat out Bob Polverari for the win. Local favorite Larry Lanphear beat out Ted Christopher and Bob Potter at Waterford and at Riverhead it was Chris Young. Sunday action at Monadnock saw Jerry Marquis taking the win over Reggie Ruggerio.

   Fifteen years ago in 1994, Steve Chowanski won the Friday night SK Modified event at Stafford. Mike Paquett finished second with Ted Christopher, third. At Waterford, Mark LaJunesse was leading the early going until he was drilled into the turn two fence. Dennis Gada was the eventual winner and was followed by David Gada, Jim Broderick, Jerry Pearl and Todd Ceravolo. At Riverside, Bob Gegetskas held off Richard Savory for the win and at Riverhead, Bob Park won out over Don Howe. The Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth where Jeff Fuller, in the Sheba No.8, took the 150 lap win over Satch Worley, Wayne Anderson and Reggie Ruggerio. A big wreck after the finish involved Tim Arre, Mike Ewanitsko and Russ Franz. Ricky Craven won the Grand National 200 that was also run at Nazareth. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Jeff Gordon won the Winston Open and Geoff Bodine won the Winston.

   Ten years ago in 1999, Jerry Marquis was the SK-Modified feature winner at Stafford. Lloyd Agor finished second. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada made it three in a row as he took the win over Mike Holdredge and Bert Marvin. At Riverside Park it was Billy Bolton over Rob Summers and Ed Spiers and at Riverhead, Frank Vigliarolo took the win over Ken Matlack, Chris Young and Howie Brode. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth along with the Busch Racing Series and Busch North Series who had a combined event. Tony Hirschman wrecked in practice and after his crew made repairs, came back to take the Busch Pole. Ted Christopher was second fastest. It was all for nothing as the event was rained out. The event was re-scheduled for July 16. After a 5-1/2 hour delay, the Nazareth Busch Series event was run. Matt Kenseth, who had taken the lead on lap 151, was still leading when the event was stopped because of darkness on lap 168. Kenseth was declared the winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second with Tim Fedewa, Dave Blaney and Adam Petty rounding out the top five. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Tony Stewart flew in from Indianapolis and won the Winston Open. Terry Labonte won The Winston. Stewart finished second. Ernie Irvan triggered a big wreck that took out 11 cars.

   Five years ago in 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania, for the final time as the International Speedway Corporation had decided to close the facility. With 44 cars on hand Ted Christopher was clearly the fastest as he toured the one mile oval at 133.963 mph. Second fastest was Todd Szegedy who’s speed was 133.660 mph. John Blewett III qualified third with Kenny Barry, fourth. It was ungodly hot with temperatures in the high 80’s and humidity that would make one feel like they were melting. Todd Szegedy redeemed himself from a disqualification earlier in the year as he won the event. Szegedy took the lead following the first caution of the event and never looked back. Christopher pitted later in the event and spent the race trying to get to the front at the end. His bid fell short as the laps ran out and he had to settle for third. Doing an outstanding job was Kenny Barry who finished second, 0.10 seconds behind the winner. Eddie Flemke finished fourth and continued to maintain the point lead for the 2005 championship. Rounding out the top five was Jerry Marquis.
   Chuck Docherty took his first SK-Modified win in three years at Stafford on Friday night. Dochery, who started on the pole, led the entire 40-lap distance. Mike Holdredge finished second with Brad Hietala, third. Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. Ryan Posocco was the late model winner and Fred Nees Jr. won the DARE Stock event.
   The Waterford Speedbowl and the Thompson Speedway went head to head on Saturday night. Waterford who had their regular Dodge Weekly Racing event and Thompson who ran the Busch North Series event along with their regular divisions both suffered in attendance as they were both plagued with unseasonably cold weather. At Thompson Brad Leighton won the Busch North Series event. Defending series champion Andy Santerre made a late race bid to take the lead on lap 145 but ended up in the grass and ultimately hit the wall in the 150-lap event. Mike Stefanik ended up second, followed by Dave Dion, Dale Quarterly and Ryan Moore. Todd Ceravolo started third and led every lap of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified feature. Because of wrecks and spins it took three restarts to get the event going, finally with a single file start. Jeff Malave finished second, three car lengths behind. Ted Christopher made it back from Nazareth and finished third. Eric Berndt and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five. Dennis Botticello took advantage of a last lap confrontation between Corey Hutchings and Rick Gentes. Fighting for the lead coming off the fourth turn, Hutchings and Gentes made contact and both slid up the track giving Botticello the chance to steal a win, which he did. Rob Janovic took the SK-Modified win at Waterford. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Ted Christopher had entertained trying to make it to Waterford after Thompson but it didn’t happen. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Corey Hutchings made a fast trip down I-395 to Waterford and won the late model feature. Norman Root was the Sportsman winner. Dave Silvia was the Mini-Stock winner and Silas Hiscock Sr. was the Legends winner. Ted Christopher was able to breathe a little easier once he found out that he didn’t have to contend with Chuck Hossfeld at Stafford in SK-Modified competition anymore. Hossfeld had been driving the No.47 Wisk-Clorox SK-Modified. Hossfeld announced last week that he had resigned as the driver in order to concentrate on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series. It sounded like Hossfeld and car owner Bob Garbarino had a father-son talk after his confrontation with Christopher at the recent tour event at Waterford. Hossfeld had also been driving his own car on open Saturday nights at the Lancaster Speedway in western New York. Christopher had to feel like a yo-yo after the weekend. His travels started on Friday when he flew to Nazareth, Pa. To practice his Featherlite Modified. He then flew to the Stafford Speedway in Connecticut for their Friday night Dodge Weekly Racing Series SK-Modified event. Saturday morning it was back in the plane to Nazareth for Modified Tour qualifying. Once completed he flew back to Connecticut where he raced at Thompson. Sunday morning it was back to Nazareth.
   Other weekend winners were Steve Whitt at Wall Township and JR Bertuccio at Riverhead.
   The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was in Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend for the running of the Nextel All Star event. The Busch Racing Series was at the Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania. Matt Kenseth got a little richer as he won the $1 million first place money that the Nextel All Star event paid the winner. It was the longest short race ever seen. At the Busch Series race at Nazareth Martin Truex Jr. waited until the final turn of the final lap to take the lead and ace the win. Bobby Hamilton looked to be the winner until running amuck a lapped car. Hamilton drifted up after slight contact and that’s all she wrote. It was the fourth win for the New Jersey native.

   Last year, 2008, The Thompson Speedway hoped to begin their series of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) racing programs on Thursday night. Mother Nature moved in and forced the cancellation of Thompson International Speedway’s opening Thursday night race program. A consistent rain and drizzle forced the hand of the track’s management to cancel the event shortly before 12 Noon. Opening night for Thompson’s Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) race program will now be held on May 29th.
   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series and the True Value Modified Series ended their “Spring Break”. The Whelen Modifieds made their second stop of the season at Stafford and the True Value Modifieds traveled to the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT.
   The Whelen Modified Tour Series almost got scrubbed as heavy showers caused a nearly 2-1/2 hour delay. The event, scheduled to go off at 9:00pm actually got the green at 11:30. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino, ended a personal four year dry spell as he took the win in the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford. Hossfeld, who was also the Coors Light Pole sitter, started on the pole of the event and led 39 of the first 40 laps of the event before giving way to Bob Grigas III. Grigas and a host of the race front runners pitted on lap 92 under caution which allowed Matt Hirschman to assume the lead. Hossfeld beat Hirschman back to the starting line when the event went back to green on lap 107 and never looked back. Todd Szegedy finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik and Jimmy Blewett. Eric Beers, Ed Flemke Jr., Ryan Preece, James Civali and rookie Erick Rudolph rounded out the top 10. During post-race technical inspection, a probable illegal carburetor part was discovered on the No.19 that was driven by Blewett. The part in question was taken back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluation. Until an official decision was made only the first four positions are official.
   There were 37 Modifieds on hand and nine caution periods for 46 laps. Prior to the race NASCAR honored seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Mike Stefanik as part of the season-long celebration of 60 years of Modified champions.
   In True Value Modified Series action at the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Vermont seasoned veteran Kirk Alexander did it the hard way as he came from the tail end of the starting field to win the event. Alexander methodically moved to the front and in the closing laps took the lead and the win. This was his 3rd win in the series in 4 races, with missing one race totally. Dwight Jarvis had passed Peter Jarvis with 3 laps to go to take the 2nd place finish with Jarvis settling for 3rd. 4th place through 6th were Ed Dachenhausen, Chris Pasteryak and Jack Bateman.
   NASCAR announced a different format for the upcoming Thursday night Whelen Modified Tour Series event at the Thompson Speedway. The New England Dodge Dealers 75 at Thompson, the fourth race on the 2008 schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take on June 19. The event would be the second of four dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2008 that was scheduled to run under the lights. The race would run under a unique format as it would finish upon the completion of 75 green-flag laps as those run under caution will not be counted. This will be the first of four races during 2008 that would run an alternative format. Events at Chemung, Riverhead and Spencer would feature heat races prior to the feature. This race, a 150 lapper, in 2007, carried a posted purse of $86,505 The Stafford Motor Speedway finally got to host their regular Friday night racing program. The 18th Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 150 program at Stafford Motor Speedway saw Ted Christopher victorious, for the 99th time at Stafford, in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, while Chris Matthews and Norm Sears both took down their second consecutive wins in the 20-lap SK Light and 15-lap DARE Stock feature events. Due to a rain storm in the middle of the program, the 30-lap Late Model and 20-lap Limited Late Model feature events were postponed to a later date.
   The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green flag with Wade Mattesen setting the early pace. Mattesen surrendered the lead to Brad Hietala on lap-6 with Ted Christopher also moving past Mattesen for second. On lap-10 both Hietala and Christopher spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out and put Woody Pitkat out front. Pitkat held the lead of the race from that point until lap-37 when Christopher, who had charged his way back through the field after his spin, made a power move to the inside of Pitkat in turn 3 to take the race lead. A late caution set up a green white checkered flag restart, but rain began to fall and the race was red/checkered with 39-laps complete, making Christopher a winner for the first time during the 2008 season. Pitkat was second, with Jeff Malave, Bo Gunning, and Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top-5.
   The Waterford Speedbowl hosted the ISMA Supers along with their regular venue of racing. Chris Perley, of Rowley , MA . put on a stellar performance in winning the 50-lap International SuperModified Association event at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday evening, and in doing so recorded the fastest lap-ever (over 108 mph), in the 57-year history of the facility. Former Speedbowl SK champion Rob Summers set the early pace before being overtaken by Jeff Holbrook on lap twenty-one. Perley rocketed by Holbrook six circuits later, quickly distancing himself from the field. The race was red-flagged on lap thirty-six when Mike Lichty exploded a motor and slammed the wall, taking the cars of Jamie Timmons, Scott Martell and Mike Ordway with him. On the restart, Perley resumed his commanding lead, finishing several lengths ahead of Holbrook and Summers. Following was Ray Graham Jr., Bobby Bond and Dave McKnight Jr. It was the second-consecutive Speedbowl victory for Perley who won the 2007 event.
   Other feature winners were Jeff Pearl (SK Modified), Ron Yuhas Jr. (Late Model), Mark Cooper (Sportsman), and Ben Bargnesi (Mini Stock).
   Former champion Pearl won his first of the season, fending-off a late race charge by Rob Janovic in the 35-lap SK main event. Jay Miller, running perhaps his best race of the season led the early laps before Pearl took over with twenty-seven remaining Janovic slipped by Miller during the late stages. Rounding-out the top-5 were Jeff Paul and Ron Yuhas Jr.
   In 30-lap Late Model feature action it was Ron Yuhas Jr. taking his second of the year over Tim Jordan. Tom Metcalf set the early pace with Jordan taking the point on the sixteenth circuit. With twelve remaining Yuhas pulled aside Jordon, the two staging a torrid side-by-side battle during the latter stages. Yuhas prevailed by a narrow margin in one of the closest Late Model finishes of the year. Ed Reed Jr. took the third spot followed by Vin Esposito, and defending champion Bruce Thomas Jr.
   Mark Cooper became a first-time winner, defeating veteran Jack Aquilina by several car lengths in the 20-lap Sportsman main. Cooper drove to the front during the early stages
After taking the lead early, Ben Bargnesi went on to win the caution-free 20-lap Mini Stock feature in dominating fashion Finishing second was Ken Cassidy Jr. followed by Randy Churchill Jr., Bill Leonard, and Lou Bellisle. It was Bargnesi’s second victory of the season.
Congratulations were in order to Ryan Morgan, 14-years old and a recent graduate of the quarter midget ranks, who dominated the Legends 20-lap feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday evening. In capturing his first-ever win in the division, Morgan quickly distanced himself from the field finishing several lengths in front of Mike Alcaro. Thomas Gray, George Whitney, and Max Zachem completed the top-five. Morgan is the grandson of John “Jack” Morgan, an auto sports writer who covered the exploits of the late Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens in the 70’s and 80’s.
   Donny Lia became the first rookie in five years to win a Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday, using a last-lap pass to take the Ohio 250 at the Mansfield, Ohio Speedway. Lia who won the Whelen Modified Tour title in 2007, got by leader David Starr in the second turn of the 250th lap on the half-mile oval. Lia, Starr and 2006 series champion Todd Bodine ran side-by-side down the backstretch before Lia pulled his Chevrolet ahead to edge Starr by .241 of a second for his first victory in eight starts.
   Kyle Busch drove a Toyota fielded by Braun Racing to victory Saturday night in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, snapping a six-race winning streak Gibbs' cars have had in the series.
   Tony Stewart was handed his second heartbreaking defeat of the season Sunday night when a flat tire late in the Coca-Cola 600 gave Kasey Kahne the victory in NASCAR's longest race. Stewart, who lost the season-opening Daytona 500 when he was passed on the last lap by Ryan Newman, had the tire go flat with three laps to go. He was forced to pit, allowing Kahne to zip past him. He wound up a frustrating 18th and stormed into his hauler without comment. He could be seen inside the truck kicking at cabinets as crew chief Greg Zipadelli was left to answer questions. Kahne, who led just five laps all season coming into Sunday, became the sixth driver, joining Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Darrell Waltrip, to win both the All-Star race and the 600 in this eight days of racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Most of the heavyweights dropped out of contention during an event that started in the late afternoon, ended in the evening and requires both intense mental focus and luck to make it to the finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose winless streak hit 74 races, Johnson, Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch all led laps but had parts failures or tire issues.Greg Biffle was second to Kahne for the second week in a row and Kyle Busch was third despite two battery changes. Jeff Gordon was fourth and was followed by Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Carl Edwards and David Reutimann.
   In a surprise move, Speedway Motorsports Inc. agreed to purchase Kentucky Speedway, opening the door for the northern Kentucky track to perhaps one day host a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. The deal was announced this past Thursday by SMI chairman Bruton Smith could end a lengthy battle between the track's ownership group and NASCAR. The 1.5-mile oval, located in Sparta, Ky., midway between Cincinnati and Louisville, opened in 2000 and hosts several circuits a year, including the Nationwide Series and the Indy Racing League. Kentucky Speedway filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2005 against NASCAR and International Speedway Inc. The lawsuit was dismissed in January. SMI, which operates several other tracks that host Sprint Cup events including the New Hampshire Int. Speedway, could move one of those races to Kentucky Speedway. It was also announced that H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., would retire following the running of this past Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at the North Carolina track Wheeler began working at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1975, was named general manager in 1976 and president in 1980.
   Before the race, Wheeler, 69, received a standing ovation from the drivers. Wheeler, who had spent 33 years at the track, announced his retirement one week previous after track owner Bruton Smith declined to let him move into a part-time role.
   Scott Dixon, who was born in Australia but raised in New Zealand, won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in a day of spins, hot tempers and stout open-wheel racing. Pole-sitter Dixon, 27, gave team owner Chip Ganassi his third Indy 500 victory. Juan Pablo Montoya won for Ganassi in 2000 and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. Panther Racing's Vitor Meira finished second to Dixon, with Marco Andretti placing third. Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner, was fourth. Fan favorite Danica Patrick, who struggled for speed much of the day, collided with Ryan Briscoe as the pair was exiting the pits on lap 171 and was knocked out of the race. She finished 22nd, her worst performance at Indy in four starts. A fuming Patrick searched for Briscoe down pit lane afterward but was ushered away by security and track officials before she reached Briscoe's pit box.

   That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail

This week are several vintage racing photos from Waterford Speedbowl,
courtesy of and

       Charlie Savage                          Dick Watson (far left)                       George Jackson    

Joe Trudeau                                 Newt Palm (left)                                Dick Dunn

All other photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 21, 2009


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