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

     Forty years ago in 1969, Bob Santos, in the Art Barry 09, beat out Smokey Boutwell to win the Friday Modified feature at Stafford. Ernie Gahan was third. Albany Saratoga ran twin features with Lou Lazzaro and Guy Chartrand sharing victory lane. Saturday night at Norwood, Fred DeSarro took a hard fought win over Johnny Thompson and Bugsy Stevens. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x beat out Lazzaro and Jerry Cook and at Islip; Al Hansen took the top spot over Jim Hendrickson. At the Waterford Speedbowl Glynn Shafer, driving for Ron Yuhas Sr, took the Modified win. Big Mike Daignault was the Daredevil winner. After successive rain outs, Utica-Rome got to run and it was Lou Lazzaro making it three in a row. Jerry Cook finished second with Phil Spiak, third.

   Thirty five years ago in 1974, Friday night racing at Freeport and Utica-Rome rained out. On Saturday, George Wagner won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Tom Baldwin at Islip. At Stafford, Eddie Flemke in the Judkins 2x beat out Jerry Cook and at Lancaster, Maynard Troyer and Merv Treichler finished one-two. Art Moran Sr, who was the chief mechanic at a repair garage owned by Ed Yerrington, took the Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet Jr was the Grand American late model winner.

   Thirty years ago in 1979, the racing weekend started on Thursday at New Egypt where Richie Evans and Jerry Cook finished one-two. Friday night at Stafford, Evans continued his hot streak as he outran Geoff Bodine who had just picked up the ride in the Lee Allard Pinto. Evans made it three for three as he went on to win at Riverside on Saturday. At Seekonk, Bodine won a close one over George Summers and Leo Cleary. Other weekend winners were Greg Sacks at Islip, George Kent at Shangri-La, Mario "Fats" Caruso at Westboro, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville, Roger Treichler at Lancaster and twins at Thompson were won by George Savory and Joe Howard.

   Twenty five years ago in 1984, Flyin' Brian Ross in his home built No.73, was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Polverari finished second with Corky Cookman, third. At Spencer, Richie Evans took the top spot over Jan Leaty and Doug Hewitt. Bob Park got the jump on John Blewett to take the checker at New Egypt. On Saturday, it was Ray Miller over Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead it was Fred Harbach over Tom Baldwin and Don Howe. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Bill Park taking the win over Tom Baldwin.

   Twenty years ago in 1989, Stafford rained out on Friday. Twin features were run at Waterford with Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry taking down wins. Dan Avery beat Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Riverhead, Fred Harbach won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry finished one -two at Thompson on Sunday.

   Fifteen years ago in 1994, rain washed out Stafford and Waterford. At Riverside, Ed Kennedy beat out Richard Savory and Chris Kopec. The Modified Tour Series was at Riverhead for a 201 lapper. Local favorite Don Howe took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero on lap 160 and went on to take the win. Ruggiero ended up second and was followed by Wayne Anderson, Tony Hirschman and Carl Pasteryak.

   Ten years ago, in 1999, Lee Raceway ran an open competition modified event on Friday night. Jamie Tomaino took the lead when leader Ted Christopher blew an engine and went on to take the win. Charlie Pasteryak finished second with Chris Kopec, third. Jerry Marquis got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he won the SK Modified feature over Willie Hardie. At Waterford on Saturday night, Rick Donnelly took the modified win over Dennis Gada and Billy Sharp and at Riverside, ageless veteran Bob Polverari collected his 37th career win. Rene' Dupuis finished second. On the Island at Riverhead, Frank Vigliarolo Jr. took the win. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Jeff Gordon took the win. Steve Park and Ken Schrader had the distinction of rolling over and in Busch Grand National action at Watkins Glen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the win.

   Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Wall Township Speedway located on the New Jersey shore on Saturday night. Reggie Ruggiero scored his first win in three years in what had to be considered a rough and tumble finish. Forty-three Modifieds were on hand. Doug Coby, who normally competes at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, was the fastest qualifier. The 150-lap event provided tons of excitement when the event was under the green flag. Ten caution periods for 70 laps kept the average speed down to 46.179 mph. It all came down to the final lap. Ken Barry, who had led from lap 123, was exiting turn four and heading for his first win when he found himself spinning into the infield. According to some eyewitness accounts of the incident Ruggiero clearly dumped him! Ruggiero claimed that Barry turned into him in order to block. Barry recovered from his spin and finished eighth last in line on the lead lap. A last lap clip of the race showed that Barry did in fact drift up between turns three and four and was attempting to close the door that Ruggerio was already in. Tom Cravenho, in the Eddie Partridge entry, finished second with local favorite Tim Arre, third. Tony Ferrante and current point leader Eddie Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. Many of the top guns on the Modified tour had their problems. Defending race winner John Blewett III crashed out of the event on lap 59 and ended up in 26th spot. His brother Jimmy, who is one of the local hot dogs, went the same route as he crashed on lap 37 and finished 29th. Tony Hirschman completed only 116 laps and ended up 17th. Ted Christopher also crashed and ended up 23rd after completing only 85 laps. Chuck Hossfeld and Jerry Marquis also had their problems, which kept them out of the top ten. Hossfeld finished 21st and Marquis, 24th. There were four lead changes among four drivers. Donnie Lia started on the pole and led the first lap before being passed by Ruggiero, who started third. Ruggiero led until Lap 97 when Tony Ferrante took the point. Barry, who started as a provisional in 27th spot took the lead on lap 123 and led it until Ruggiero did him in at the end. The Busch North Series was at the Holland International Speedway in New York. Andy Santerre took the win with Mike Olsen, second.
   Thursday night Thunder at Thompson turned into a high-speed rumble that could have resulted in adverse long-term effects. The late models had a special 75-lap to run. It turned out to be a demolition derby. Forty cars started the event. Fifteen cars were knocked out by lap 15 but the worst was yet to come. Scott Bronczyk and Rick Gentes were slugging it out for the lead with ten laps to go. The two made contact in turn one and Gentes came out on the short end of the stick as he crashed into the concrete. Gentes was extremely upset and waited for Bronczyk to circle the track. Gentes went up to Bronczyk to vent and evidently got hung up in the roll cage or safety net. Bronczyk, expecting a knuckle sandwich, stood on the gas to get away. Gentes realized what was happening and held on for dear life as Bronczyk picked up speed going down the backstretch. Bronczyk finally realized what he was about to do and slowed in turn three. Gentes tumbled off the car and luckily escaped injury. Needless to say, both were thrown out for the night. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks later suspended both drivers for two weeks. Marc Palmisano, who was running third at the time, inherited the lead and went on to take the win. John Falconi finished second with Ryan Posocco, third. Attrition was extremely high as 13 of the original 40 starters finished. In comparison, the Sunoco SK Modified feature was tame with the exception of Bo Gunning taking a wild ride after jumping the wheel of Sean Caisse who had spun. Caisse, who showed great promise as a rookie on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series has shown that he needs more seat time before even being competitive in a SK, never mind a Tour Modified. Jeff Malave ended up with the win with Todd Ceravolo, second. Scott Quinn, Shawn Monahan and Buzz Atiano rounded out the top five. Other winners were George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Ernie LaRose in the Limited Sportsman and in twin Mini Stock events, Shane and Scott Michalski were the winners.
   Rain at Stafford on Friday night forced the Arute family to pull the plug on the night’s racing activity. Jeff Pearl won the first of two SK Modified features run at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Pearl was gunning for a second win when he got collected in the second feature when Ronnie Silk and Rob Janovic tangled which ultimately launched Pearl into the infield. Pearl recovered to finish eighth as Dennis Charett took the win over Ed Reed Jr. Allen Coates won the 30-lap Late Model feature. A confrontation between Carl Erickson and Brandon Plemons turned ugly when Plemons deliberately drove into Erickson’s driver’s side door.

   Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night with a new format that consisted of a 75 green flag lap event. Ronnie Silk ended a long dry spell for himself and car owner Roger Hill as he beat out Ted Christopher for the win. Silk, who previously won at Thompson on September 23, 2007, took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 53 and never looked back while en route to his first win of the season. Bobby Grigas III and Kevin Goodale ran wheel to wheel for the first 21 laps when they tangled in turn four. Goodale spun to the infield and was able to restart at the rear. Grigas ran with Ed Flemke Jr on his bumper until lap 27 when Flemke tapped and spun him in turn four. NASCAR felt the hit was intentional and put Flemke to the rear. Flemke agreed and went willingly. Ted Christopher inherited the lead with Silk in second spot when the field restarted. Christopher survived numerous restarts as the night wore on and the night got cooler. Christopher’s luck ran out following the 12th caution. The yellow flag period dragged for too long resulting in Christopher’s tires cooling off and losing traction. The resulting restart saw Silk rocket from his outside row starting spot and taking the lead upon entering turn one. Christopher managed to hang onto second spot and was followed at the finish by Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Tony Ferrante Jr. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Matt Hirschman, Bobby Santos, Kevin Goodale and Ryan Preece.
   Earlier in the evening Grigas nabbed his first career Coors Light Pole Award. The second-year driver turned in a time of 18.751 seconds (119.994). He ended up 21st, one lap down. There were 38 Modifieds on hand. A year ago the Modifieds were 10 stronger. The competition was top shelf but competitors were not happy with the format. Despite the fact that the purse for the event was reduced admission prices remained unchanged. Pit area population was down as was the grandstand.
   Among those spotted at Thompson were driving legends Carl Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary, George Savory and Billy Harman. Despite being crippled up by racing related back injuries the Bugman still has his sense of humor and quick wit. Cleary, the eldest of the group is in the best of health and shape as is Harman who is now an accomplished golfer. Savory is the youngest of the bunch and enjoying his retirement by bankrolling his son’s racing efforts.
   Like their big brothers at Thompson the True Value Modified Series at Waterford turned into a wreck fest. The 100-lap event took a little more than 2 hours to complete. A long delay resulted when extensive repairs had to be made to the tracks Armco barrier. Twelve of the 25 cars that started the event were running at the finish. Les Hinkley was the winner. Former Speedbowl regulars Chris Pasteryak and Mike Holdridge, Kirk Alexander, and Vinny Annarummo rounded out the top-5. Holdridge was the early leader before being passed by Les Hinckley, Ted Christopher, and Pasteryak. Christopher was later issued the black flag for a smoking motor and retired from the event. Coming out on-top in several restarts, Hinckley repeatedly resisted the charges of Dwight Jarvis, the latter retiring after contacting the wall on lap-70, the victim of a flat right-front. With Pasteryak and Holdridge in-tow, Hinckley lengthened his lead in the final stages of the event, winning by a comfortable margin.
   The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program ran under the features only format. Todd Ceravolo of Gales Ferry, CT, took top honors in a tremendous Sunoco Modified war. Sixteen-year-old Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, scored his second straight win in the Pro Stock division. Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor followed suit with consecutive wins in the TIS Modifieds. Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA, continued his domination of the Late Model division with his third win of the short season. Mike Romano of Glendale, RI, in Mini Stocks and Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA, in the Limited Sportsman division also scored victories during Charter Communications’ presentation of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
   The Stafford Motor Speedway ushered in the summer season with fireworks in the air and on the track with the 8th annual Summer Blast-Off Presented by Town Fair Tire NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. The big winners of the evening were Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis in the Limited Late Model feature, and Scott Roy in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
   The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Keith Rocco out duel Ted Christopher to pick up his first feature win of the 2008 season. Doug Coby took the lead at the green and held the lead until he spun on lap-7, which gave the lead to Woody Pitkat. Pitkat held the race lead until lap-19 when Rocco outpowered Pitkat on a restart. Rocco stayed out front until lap-25 when Ted Christopher moved to the front. Christopher held the lead until contact from Jeff Malave sent him spinning on lap-28. Malave was black flagged, which put Rocco back out front. Christopher charged his way back through the pack, but couldn't find a way around Rocco. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Jimmy Blewett, Tom Bolles, and Curt Brainard.
   Todd Ceravolo captured his second feature of the weekend when he won the 35 lap SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. An early wreck collected Rob Janovic Jr., Ron Yuhas Jr., and Jeff Pearl. Only Janovic was unable to continue. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. assumed the lead briefly before yielding to Ceravolo. Within 5-laps, the yellow flew again for an incident involving Ted Christopher, Don Fowler, and Glenn Pressel III. On the restart Ceravolo resumed the point, pressed by Keith Rocco and Doug Coby. With 23-laps remaining, Coby and Rocco tangled, the latter sent to the rear for rough-riding. Rebounding after an early spin, Dennis Gada eventually passed Shawn Monahan for second. Jeff Paul and Rocco completed the top-5. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Phil Evans (Mini Stock). The Speedbowl enjoyed one of the biggest crowds they have had in quite a while.
   Carl Edwards was desperate to get back into victory lane in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he wasn't about to let Clint Bowyer stand in his way at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. Edwards shoved his fellow Sprint Cup series standout sideways with 25 laps to go, then held off Middletown native Joey Logano for his first Nationwide victory of the season after dominating the series last year. But Edwards decided not to do his trademark backflip in victory lane, choosing a subdued celebration because of the death earlier in the day of drag racer Scott Kalitta and the fact that he didn't win the way he intended to. Logano finished second.
   Kyle Busch snapped the slump that plagued him as he won the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., for his first Sprint Cup victory on a road course. Busch, who had a poor qualifying run and started 30th, steadily moved through the field and grabbed the lead from defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya on an early restart. It was Busch's series-best fifth win of the season, and 11th overall spanning all three of NASCAR's top series. It also was his second road course victory of the season, following a Nationwide win in Mexico City in April. David Gilliland finished a career-best second, followed by Jeff Gordon.

   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 of the
United Stock Car Racing Club's Grand American Division
from the files of the and

   Dick Dixon                                     Billy Greco                                      Billy Greco

  Buddy Krebs                                   Ed Patnode                                    Buddy Krebs

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: June 26, 2009


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