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

     Forty years ago in 1969, the original All-Star League shifted into high gear with a mid-week event at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont and a Friday night event at Malta, NY. Bugsy Stevens won the 100 lapper at Catamount and was followed by Guy Chartrand, Will Cagle and Buzzie Reutimann. At Malta, a young Richie Evans beat out Ed Pieniezak and Fred DeSarro for the win. With the hot dogs at Malta, Ray Miller took advantage of the situation and recorded a Friday night win at Stafford. Sal Dee finished second, with Wild Bill Slater coming home in third spot. Saturday night at Norwood, Barnie Matte held of Walter Scott and at Fonda, Jerry Pennock won a 100-lap event. At Airborne Park, Ed Pieniezak beat out Canadian, Marcell Corrivieu and Ed Flemke. Newt Palm won a 50 lap Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. At Islip it was George Wagner and on Sunday at Utica-Rome, Jerry Cook was victorious over Sonny Seamon and Ed Flemke. Racing at Thompson, rained out.

   Thirty five years ago in 1974, Charlie Jarzombek won at Riverhead on Wednesday over Fred Harbach and Cliff Tyler. Saturday night at Stafford, Ralph "Hop" Harrington, driving the former Tant/Mitchell coupe driven by Ray Hendrick and now owned by Richard Armstrong, beat out Bugsy Stevens and Ronnie Bouchard for the win. Shangri-La ran twin features, which were both won by Richie Evans. Donnie Bunnell, driving the Pat Doherty No. 73 was the Modified winner at Waterford. Jim Tierny was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Islip, Ted Wesnofske won out over Jarzombek and Harbach and at Lancaster, the Treichler cousins, Merv and Roger finished one-two. Richie Evans capped off the weekend with a win at Fulton on Sunday night over Jerry Cook and Maynard Troyer. In small block modified action at Thompson, Steady Eddie Flemke was the big winner over Jerry Pearl and Dave Humphries and at Monadnock, Bugsy Stevens won a 100 lapper over Bobby Gahan and Gene Bergin.

   Thirty years ago in 1979, the Friday night winner at Stafford was Richie Evans with Geoff Bodine in the Lee Allard No.99 a close second and Ronnie Bouchard, third. Evans backed his Stafford win up with a win at Riverside on Saturday night. At Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard took the victory over Leo Cleary and Eddie StAngelo. On the Island at Islip, Tom McCann and Wayne Anderson finished one-two. Islip promoter Bob O'Rourke promoted a special Modified event at Trenton on Sunday. It was 90 degrees and very humid. Forty-six Modifieds were on hand but barely over a few hundred spectators. Bodine took the 200-lap win over George Kent. Both had a lap on the field. The event was a financial disaster at the gate and that was the end of O'Rourke's promoting career. Other weekend winners were Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Doug Hewitt at Shangri-La, Jeff Fuller at Westboro, Richie Evans at New Egypt and George Savory at Thompson.

   Twenty five years ago in 1984, Modified Madness came to Stafford on Tuesday. Ron Bouchard in the Boehler No.3 beat out Richie Evans and Brian Ross for the 50 lap win. At Stafford on Friday night, Marty Radwick scored his first and only win over Corky Cookman and Reggie Ruggiero. Riverhead also ran on Friday with Carl Miller taking the win over Wayne Anderson and Fred Harbach. Evans stayed close to home and was victorious at Spencer over Tom Druar and Jan Leaty. With the exception of a Modified Championship event at Shangri-La on Saturday, all racing rained out. Brian Ross won the Circle of Champions 84 lap event over Richie Evans and Jim Spencer. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bill Elliott won the pole and popular Harry Gant took the win. Ron Bouchard finished seventh and Geoff Bodine ended up 12th.

   Twenty years ago in 1989, Jeff Barry won the Friday night SK modified feature at Stafford. Steve Chowanski finished second. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup won out over Ted Christopher and John Jensen. At Riverhead it was Brian Miller over Fred Harbach and at Riverside, Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x held off Reggie Ruggiero. Tony Siscone scored a popular victory as he won the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium. Gil Hearne finished second. Thompson had a Modified tour event scheduled for Sunday but rain washed out the event.

   Fifteen years ago in 1994, Mike Christopher was the winner at Thompson on Wednesday. Stafford rained out on Friday and on Saturday, Todd Ceravolo scored his first ever Modified win at Waterford. Mark LaJunesse finished second. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans Memorial 76 lapper at Riverhead. Monadnock Speedway announced that they were dropping the Modifieds from their weekly program as the field had dwindled to sixteen cars. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Geoff Bodine scored a major win for Hoosier Tires as he won both the pole and the 500-mile contest.

   Ten years ago, in 1999, Jerry Marquis was awarded his fifth victory of the season after apparent winner Ted Christopher was disqualified because of illegal mufflers. New England was in the middle of a 90-degree plus heat wave, which stretched tempers to the limit. At Waterford, Christopher ran amuck again as the lapped car of Harry Rheaume, while leading a 100 lapper took him out. Bert Marvin was the eventual winner with Dennis Gada, second. It was also on Saturday night, July 17 that John F. Kennedy Jr. along with his wife and sister in law were killed in a plane crash near Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. It was a busy weekend for the Featherlite Modified Tour. On Friday, during the day, they ran a make-up event at Nazareth. Spectators were charged only $5.00 to see the event. Ed Flemke Jr. took the win after Chris Kopec mysteriously spun while trying to pass. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. After an all night trip to Holland, N.Y. Kopec got his just do as he took the win, his first on the tour. Hirschman ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. Kopec took the lead with six to go from Pasteryak.

   Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine on Saturday night. Thirty-nine Modifieds were on hand. Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole sitter. Tom Cravenho drew the pole and led the first 19 laps. Ted Christopher was involved in an opening lap skirmish, which all but took him out of contention as he lost numerous laps making repairs. Point leader Eddie Flemke also had his problems early on but was able to stay in the lead lap. Nevin George was the class of the field as he took the lead on lap 20 and never looked back. Despite the fact that there were six cautions for 43 laps George beat Donnie Lia by .70 seconds. Zack Sylvester, a rookie on the tour, did an outstanding job as he came from a 14th starting spot to finish third. Jamie Tomaino and Ricky Fuller rounded out the top five. Preston Connecticut car owner Art Barry must have been shaking his head wondering if he made a mistake by putting Sean Caisse in his car. During one of the early cautions Caisse was attempting to scrub the rubber off his tires when he hit his team car, which resulted in damage to both Barry team cars. Quick repairs got Kenny Barry back in competition without losing a lap and he eventually finished 13th. Sixth through tenth were Jerry Marquis, Rob Summers, Tony Hirschman, Todd Szegedy and Cravenho. Eddie Flemke Jr. continued to lead the race for the championship with 1400 points. Second, with 1342 points was former champion Tony Hirschman. Third was Jerry Marquis with 1307.
   The Busch North Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl also on Saturday night. Mike Johnson led from pole to pole in what had to be considered a yawner. Mike Stefanik finished second with Matt Kobyluck, third. There were 24 cars on hand.
   The Stafford Motor Speedway conducted a bold experiment on Wednesday, July 14 when they presented what was labeled as Extreme Wednesday. Instead of the usual bill of fare of SK Modifieds, Late Models and DARE Stocks the Arute family brought in the ISMA Supermodifieds and NEMA Midgets. Despite threatening weather the event drew a real good crowd, estimated to be in the neighborhood of 6,000, which would leave one to believe that the program will be repeated in 2005. Ted Christopher, the winning-est driver at Stafford, played a major role as he competed and provided a lot of excitement in both the Supermodified 80 lapper and the Midget 30 lapper. In the Supermodified event Christopher drove from a seventh place start to the lead by lap five and had it not been for a fuel starvation problem could very well have won. Chris Perley of Rowley Mass took the lead from a slowing Christopher on lap 30 and went on to lap the entire 26-car starting field with the exception of the top four. Mike Ordway finished second with Bentley Warren, Scott Martel and Rick Wentworth rounded out the top five. Christopher, who dropped out on lap 44, finished 19th. In the 30 lap NEMA feature Nokie Fornoro went from pole to pole to take the win. It was Christopher again that provided a lot of excitement as he put his mount in a three wide situation on more than one occasion. Christopher ended up third behind runner-up Mark Buonomo. Mike LaJoie was the Pro-4 modified winner.
   Todd Ceravolo got a little closer to claiming his second Sunoco Modified SK-type championship at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he made it two feature wins in a row. Taking the lead from Eric Berndt after a lap 12 re-start, Ceravolo made a determined run from there and was able to stave off the pressure applied by Berndt in the closing laps. Berndt finished second. Bo Gunning finished third after recovering from a semi-spin earlier in the event. Ted Christopher, who still leads the point standings by 8 over Ceravolo, finished fourth after coming back from a pit stop. Bert Marvin rounded out the top five. Jeff Malave, who was currently third in points, finished sixth. Malave was put to the rear shortly after a lap 12 re-start. David Berghman went two for two in Pro Stock action. Berghman, the son of three-time NASCAR Modified Champion Bugsy Stevens, won the night’s regular feature plus a make-up event from June 17. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks, Jeff Hartwell in the Late Models and Norm Ashline in the Limited Sportsman.
   Up until Friday night, only two competitors, Ted Christopher at Stafford and Todd Ceravolo at Thompson, were able to record back to back wins. Christopher got one up on Ceravolo as he made it three in a row in SK Modified competition at Stafford on Friday night. Starting deep in the field of the 40-lap feature, Christopher dodged the bullets to take the lead from John Sandberg on lap 34. When Sandberg faded Lloyd Agor moved into second spot in the closing moments and attempted to take Christopher out. Agor’s move backfired as he found himself spinning to the infield. Sandberg moved back into second and secured his best finish of the 2004 season. Mike Quintiliano won his fourth Late Model feature of the year and Stacey Botticello secured her first win in the Dare Stocks.
   While the Busch North Series event Waterford on Saturday night lacked excitement the SK Modified feature more than made up for it. Rookie driver Mark Pane started on the pole and was well on his way to his first win when the entire complexion of the 35-lap feature changed. Tom Fox, while running second, used every trick he could think of to get by as Pane blocked his every move. Coming out of the fourth turn on the final lap Fox made one final attempt to make an outside pass. Pane moved up to block but Fox had got his nose in and wasn’t about to lift. The two made contact and lost enough momentum, which allowed Dennis Charette to dive low and take the win. Just as Charette took the win, Pane, who had bounced off of Fox, clipped the right rear of Cherette’s car sending him into a spin and ultimately into the wall, trashing the winning mount. Pane ended up in second spot with Pane, third. Jeff Pearl, Dennis Gada and Ed Reed Jr. rounded out the top six.
   Corey Hutchings, who trashed a car after suffering tire failure a week ago, took the Late Model feature. Allen Coates finished second. Phil Rondeau crossed the finish line in third spot but was put to the rear by Track Steward Bill Roberts. Roberts made the decision based on the fact that Rondeau was overly aggressive during the event. Mark St. Hillaire ended up with third spot. Ed Gertsch won the 20 lap Sportsman feature and Joe Bavolocco won the Mini-Stock feature.
   The Nextel Cup division and the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR were off for weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr suffered second degree burns to his face and arms when a Corvette he was driving at the Infineon Raceway hit a barrier and burst into flames. NASCAR made it official on Thursday when they announced that starting at the next event in Loudon, all Nextel Cup events would finish at speed under the green flag. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that thousands of fans had been unhappy when races were completed under caution. The showed their dislike by throwing everything from beer cans to chicken bones on the track. Crew chiefs will now have to re-calculate their fuel mileage in order to be prepared for a further than posted race distance. Word had it that NASCAR was close to announcing that they hoped to be racing in the New York Metro area. The sanctioning body had been looking at a site on Staten Island and it appeared that the project would start in the near future.

   Last year, 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour moved to the Spencer Speedway in Williamson, N.Y. for its sixth race of the 2008 season. Matt Hirschman reached Victory Lane for the first time in his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career after he led 79 laps and won the Mason Farms 100. Hirschman, who won the second of two 25-lap heat races earlier in the evening, led four times throughout the 100-lap main and was the car to beat all night. After Mike Stefanik had moved through the field and took the lead on lap 89, the veteran was caught up in an accident coming out of Turn 3 and Hirschman took back a lead that he would never relinquish. Hirschman’s first victory came in his 45th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start. Ronnie Silk was the runner-up to Hirschman in the race which marked his third top 10 finish in a row. Chuck Hossfeld, who won the first heat race, came home third, and has yet to finish outside the top five in six races this year. Jimmy Blewett followed Hossfeld across the finish line while Stefanik wound up fifth. They were followed in the top 10 by Glen Reen, Todd Szegedy, Wade Cole, Danny Sammons and Bobby Grigas III. The finish was the best of Reen’s rookie season. Hirschman received a paltry $3,700 for his efforts.
   Earlier in the evening Williamson native Jan Leaty captured the Coors Light Pole Award following group qualifying, but suffered a crash on the first lap of the main and could not continue. From many reports it appeared that it was the scene of a lot of follow the leader racing. Nine caution periods kept the competition to a minimum. With six races in the books.
   The True Value Modifieds were at the Lee USA Speedway last Friday night. Ed Dachenhausen took the win over Les Hinkley, Mike Holdredge, David Pinkham and Joe Doucette. A sparse field of 20 Modifieds were on hand.
   The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program took a night off as the speedway prepared for The Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy, which featured the NASCAR Camping World East series, the Pro All Star (PASS) Pro Stocks, and Thompson’s Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions. Trevor Bayne of Knoxville, TN, had never seen Thompson Speedway before Saturday night when he left he was a winner at the country’s oldest paved racetrack. Conversely, veteran Rick Martin of Westport, MA, a long-time campaigner at the Speedway took top honors in the visit by the Pro All Star Series. In regular weekly competition it was Pete Yetman of Peru, MA, scoring a commanding victory in the Late Models; Joe Arena of Bristol, CT, earning a career first in the Limited Sportsman division; and Danny Fields of Deep River, CT taking his second Mini Stock feature win of the season. Following a review of race procedures PASS officials announced that they had stripped Rick Martin of his victory in Saturday's event at Thompson. Martin took the checkered flag as the winner of the event but PASS officials announced Monday that second place finisher Ben Rowe of Turner, Me. has been declared the winner and Martin was dropped to second place in the running order. Officials made the decision to penalize Martin for jumping the final restart of the event.
   The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the 5th annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday program plus their regular Friday night program last week. Chris Perley scored his third ISMA Supermodified feature victory at Stafford in five years by winning the 50-lap feature, Bobby Santos, III was the winner of the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature, and Norm Wrenn was the winner of the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event.
   On Friday night, it was Whelen Event Night at Stafford. Kenny Horton was victorious in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Ryan Posocco drove to his second consecutive Late Model feature victory, Chris Bakaj scored his first career victory in the SK Light Modified feature, Sean Foster returned to victory lane in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood scored the victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.
   In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, it was Kenny Horton outdueling Doug Coby, Keith Rocco, and Zach Sylvester in a fast and furious finish. Chris Jones led the first lap before Horton moved to the front on lap-2. Rocco and Coby got by Horton at the half-way point of the race, which set off a series of lead changes and jockeying for position at the front of the field. Coby and Rocco contested the lead with Horton getting by Rocco for second place on lap-26. Rocco would move back by Horton for second and he took the lead from Coby on lap-32. Rocco's pass for the lead allowed Horton to follow Rocco past Coby for second place. Horton moved to the inside of Rocco in turn 2 and contact from Coby shot him into Rocco's car with Rocco going around. The race stayed under green as Horton took the lead with Coby and Sylvester behind him. Horton was able to hold Coby off to the checkered flag to record his first win of the 2008 season. Coby finished second with Sylvester, Pitkat, and Bolles rounding out the top-5. Rocco, after being knocked off the pace, finished 20th and lost his Stafford point lead. Ted Christopher finished sixth and now has taken an unofficial four-point lead in the track’s SK Modified standings.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other Feature winners were Vin Esposito (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), and Jason Palmer (Legends).
   Pole-sitter Wendell Dailey led the charge in the 35-lap SK Modified feature before nearly spinning and allowing Ed Reed Jr. and Keith Rocco to pass. Chaos ensued with twenty-three laps remaining when after a restart second-place Reed violently slammed the turn-4 wall in a multi-car crash that involved several other frontrunners including Doug Coby, Tyler Chadwick, and Ron Yuhas Jr. No injuries resulted from the red-flag incident, though the Reed mount was severely damaged. Rocco again assumed the lead after battling with Jeff Paul, later fighting-back the charges of both defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. and Jeff Pearl to score his third victory of 2008.
   Kyle Busch added another Nationwide Series victory winning the Dollar General 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Busch took the lead on the 95th lap, held it until a pit stop on the 149th and then regained it five laps later for the remainder of the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile track. Busch, the Sprint Cup points leader with six victories, won his fifth Nationwide race of the season. Denny Hamlin, who started 41st, was second. Brad Keselowski was third. The events that take place normally on Thursday evenings at Thompson, Friday at Stafford and Saturday at Waterford fall under the umbrella of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.
   When Jimmie Johnson passed Kyle Busch for the lead with 16 laps remaining, Busch went on the team's radio and declared, "Race over." But that's not how it turned out in the 400 in Joliet, Ill. Not this year. Johnson was pulling away and sailing toward his second Sprint Cup win of the season until a late-race caution for David Gilliland's blown engine set up a two-lap race to the checkered flag. That opened the door for Busch, and the 23-year-old plowed through it after the restart for his seventh win.

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


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: July 17, 2009


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