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

     Forty years ago in 1969, the All Star League was in full swing. Starting on Wednesday night at the Norwood Arena, Bugsy Stevens used his home track advantage to take on the best in the east and dusted the field as he won the 100 lapper. Freddie Schulz finished second and was followed by Eddie Flemke, Leo Cleary, Fred DeSarro, Johnny Thompson and Jack Malone. The top seven were all Norwood Arena regulars. The league moved to Stafford on Friday night and Stevens continued his winning ways. Flemke came home in second spot and was followed by Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell. Boutwell was driving the famous No.28 co-owned by the Garutti Brothers and Jack Arute.
   At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Ed Pieniezak was the winner over Bernie Miller and Maynard Forette. Back at Norwood for their regular Saturday night program, Johnny Thompson in his Ford powered No.122 was the victor. Jack Malone finished second and was followed by DeSarro and Stevens. At the Waterford Speedbowl Daring Dick Caso took the top spot in the 36 lap Modified feature. Fonda and Airborne rained out. On Sunday at Thompson, Boutwell ruled the roost. DeSarro finished second with Stevens and Bob Santos following.

   Thirty five years ago in 1974, Geoff Bodine in his own No.99 dominated the upstate New York circuit as he went three for three as he took wins at Utica-Rome on Friday, Shangri-La on Saturday and Fulton on Sunday. On Long Island, Charlie Jarzombek equaled Bodine's fete as he also went three for three as he took wins at Freeport on Friday, Islip on Saturday and Riverhead on Sunday. At Stafford, Bugsy Stevens won a Trenton qualifier. Ronnie Bouchard finished second and was awarded the spot. Stevens also won on Friday at Malta. Donnie Bunnell made it two in a row in Modified action at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ron Cote was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Monadnock, Dynamite Ollie Silva was the winner.

   Thirty years ago in 1979, Stafford presented Modified Madness on Tuesday. Richie Evans and Maynard Troyer finished one-two in the 50-lap open comp event that drew 28 modifieds. Ronnie Bouchard made a run to the front but was hampered with a slipping clutch and was held to a third place finish. Rounding out the top five were Jerry Cook and Bugsy Stevens. Bouchard redeemed himself on Friday as he returned to Stafford and beat the pants off of Evans who had to settle for second. Bouchard continued his hot streak and went on to win at Seekonk on Saturday and again at Thompson on Sunday. Evans traveled to Islip on Saturday where he won a 150 lapper. A trip to Monadnock produced a DNF. Brian Ross was the Monadnock winner over Jerry Cook and Reggie Ruggiero. Other weekend winners included George Kent at Spencer and Shangri-La, Ruggiero at Riverside and Peter Schwartz at Westboro. Bob Potter won a 200 lapper at Waterford over Dick Ceravolo and it was also on this weekend that Tom Rosati, at 19 years of age, won the Oxford 250.

   Twenty five years ago in 1984, Monadnock and New Egypt ran special events on Wednesday. Reggie Ruggiero won a 100 lapper at Monadnock while Jim Spencer beat out Richie Evans at New Egypt. The action switched to Star Speedway on Thursday where Evans took the top spot over Mike McLaughlin. Stafford rained out on Friday but at Spencer, Tom Druar won a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier. Saturday action saw Dale Holdredge score a popular win at Waterford and at Riverside, Ruggiero was the top dog. Other weekend winners were Tony Siscone winning the Garden State 200 at Wall, Charlie Jarzombek taking a 75 lapper at Oswego and in Winston Cup action at Talladega it was Dale Earnhardt.

   Twenty years ago in 1989, the Modified Tour Series was at Stafford for a 125-lap event. Mike Stefanik took the win over Mike McLaughlin and Tom Bolles. Riverhead ran a Race of Champions qualifier on Saturday with invader, George Kent taking the win over McLaughlin. Sunday at Thompson, Jeff Barry was the SK modified winner.

   Fifteen years ago in 1994, the Modified Tour Series was at Riverside Park for a Wednesday event. Mario Fiore was without a driver and joined forces with Jerry Marquis for a one shot deal. Needless to say, the mighty No.44 found the fastest way around and Marquis won the show. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by Steve Park, Richie Gallup and Ed Kennedy. Thompson ran SK's the same night with John Sneade taking the win over Frank Cardile. John Anderson won the Friday night SK modified feature at Stafford with Steve Chowonski, second. Bob Potter, driving with a broken wrist, finished third. Saturday night action at Waterford, Riverside and Riverhead rained out. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Jim Spencer took the win over Bill Elliott.

   Ten Years ago, in 1999, the Modified Tour was at Thompson on Thursday night. Tim Connolly started sixth, pitted for right side tires on lap 64 and took the lead which resulted in an eventual win on lap 90.Charlie Pasteryak finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Rick Fuller and Chris Kopec. A packed house was on hand at Stafford on Friday night for the running of BGNN 150, which was won by Dennis Demers. Curt Brainard was the SK modified winner. Tucker Reynolds ruled the roost at Waterford despite the efforts of Dennis Gada and at Riverhead; Dan Jivanelli beat back the advances of Howie Brode. It was a good night for Ed Spiers as he took down the win at Riverside. Brad Hietalla finished second

   Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon on Friday. The purse for this event was $151,203. Ted Christopher found himself at the top of the 47 car heap as he took the Busch Pole with a speed of 128.537 mph. John Blewett III was second fastest with a speed of 128.363 mph. Part time tour competitor Jan Leaty was third with rookie Kenny Barry, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Don Lia. Defending race winner Chuck Hossfeld qualified a distant 19th, a little over two miles per hour slower than the pole sitter did. Heavy rain on Friday afternoon forced NASCAR to reschedule the event to Saturday afternoon following the Busch Series and Busch North Series events.
   The Saturday weather held and the Modified Siemens 100 was run. Since the advent of Stock Car racing in the late 1940’s there have been fathers and sons, fathers and grandsons and brothers and sisters racing against each other but last Saturday at Loudon identical twin brothers, Ted and Mike Christopher, in almost identical cars finished one-two in what had to be one of the greatest NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series event ever run. The Christopher’s drove Modifieds owned by Jim Galante. The Christopher’s moved into the top spots on lap 65 and outran a determined Mike Stefanik to the finish at lap 108.
   The history-making event saw Ted Christopher jump out to take the lead at the start followed by John Blewett III and Jan Leaty. Reggie Ruggiero became the first casualty as he lost an engine on lap 6. The first of nine caution flags was waved on lap 10 when Wade Cole incurred a flat left front tire. Kenny Barry had moved into the third spot as Jan Leaty began to fade the victim of a slipping clutch. The caution period lasted until lap 18 before going back green. Barry took the lead away from Christopher but his time on the point was short lived as he lost control and spun on lap 19, bringing out the second caution. Blewett took the lead on the restart on lap 25 but could only hold off Christopher for one lap as the former New England Regional champion powered his way back into the lead. Christopher along with Blewett and Donnie Lia opened up a 15-car length lead under the green flag period that lasted until lap 35 when Lia got to lead one lap until Christopher took it back. The third caution flew on lap 37. Christopher and a good portion of the field pitted for tires. Lia and Blewett chose to stay on the track and led the restart on lap 42. Two laps later a mass tangle unfolded and collected among others, Richie Gallup, Ed Flemke, Charlie Pasteryak, Ted Christopher and Tom Baldwin. All except Baldwin and Gallup were able to restart on lap 51 with Todd Szegedy taking the lead. Lia took it back on lap 52 with Szegedy, Doug Coby and Tony Hirschman in tow. Gregg Shivers pounded the front stretch wall on lap 55 bringing out the fifth caution. Lia pitted on lap 57, giving the lead back to Szegedy. Szegedy led the restart on lap 62 with Coby running second and Hirschman, third. Mike Christopher, who started 17th in the 42-car field, broke into the top five with his brother Ted on his bumper. The Christopher brothers made a determined bid of high speed bump drafting as they raced their way into the lead on lap 64. The sixth caution flew on lap 65 when Coby came to a halt after losing an engine. Just before the caution the Christopher’s traded spots which put Ted in the lead. On the lap 72 restart Szegedy was third followed by Blewett, Hirschman, Eric Beers and Zack Sylvester. The action slowed on lap 79 when Ronnie Silk lost an engine on the backstretch, bringing out the seventh caution. The field went green on lap 82. By lap 85 Blewett had gotten by Szegedy but had nothing for the high flying Christophers. Debris on the track brought the eighth caution on lap 86. The green came back out on lap 90 with Mike Stefanik mustering a challenge to the leaders. Unsuccessful, Stefanik got shuffled out of the front pack. Blewett and Szegedy got together and wrecked on lap 99, bringing out the ninth and final caution which set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish. The final green flew on lap 106. The Christophers were not to be denied as they streaked one-two under the checkered flag. Stefanik finished third and was followed by Hirschman, Lia, Sylvester, Flemke, Rick Fuller, Ken Barry and Charlie Pasteryak. For their efforts, the Christophers pocketed $18,300 combined. Eddie Flemke continued as the Series point leader with a 42-point edge on Tony Hirschman. Jerry Marquis, Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five.
   The Busch North Series was also at Loudon. Thirty-five cars were on hand with Mike Olsen taking the pole position with a speed of 124.674 mph. Dale Quarterly took the win as 43,000 spectators looked on.
   In Wednesday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway hundreds of fans stood in line in close to 90-degree heat to get their autographs from Nextel Cup stars Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Kahne later took part in a match-exhibition race with Eric Berndt, Bo Gunning, Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo. In actual Sunoco-SK type modified competition Kerry Malone scored his second win of the season in a fast paced event that went non-stop from pole to checker. Malone started fourth and took the lead from Richard Savory on lap 2. The racing was intense as Bert Marvin glued himself to Malone’s bumper for almost the entire distance. Marvin tried on numerous occasions to make a pass but Malone had the power to hold him off. With seven laps to go Marvin made a bonsai move which almost cost him the runner-up spot but managed to gather it in so as to maintain his position. Ted Christopher, who started seventh, had nothing for the front runners and finished third. Jeff Malave and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. In Pro Stock competition the old adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree came true as all one had to do was watch David Berghman in action. Berghman grew up in the shadow of his famous dad, 3-time NASCAR Modified Champion Carl “Bugsy” Stevens. Now retired, Stevens sits proud as a peacock watching his son perform as he did in years gone by. Berghman came from a tenth starting spot to fourth in four laps and by lap eight was glued to leader Chuck Docherty. Berghman, who operates DB Racecar Fabrication, had his tires fade as Norm Wrenn moved into the second spot. Docherty, who drives for Rollie Linblad, was headed for the win until being accidentally struck and spun by Wrenn as they came off the fourth turn and headed for the checkered flag. Wrenn took the win with Berghman second. Docherty, who eventually hit the infield wall, finished third as he spun out of control. Wrenn apologized in victory lane as he was booed loudly by the near-capacity crowd. In other action, Charles Bailey III reaped the reward of winning the Late Model feature when Larry Barnett had the miss-fortune of having his transmission implode while he was in the lead. Scott Sundeen won the Limited Sportsman feature and Randy Jurcik was victorious in Mini-Stock action. Thompson switches back to Thursday night this week.
   Heavy rain at Stafford forced the Arute Family to pull the plug on the nights racing. Ted Christopher with six wins in 12 starts led the point standings with a 54-point edge over defending SK-Modified champion Kerry Malone. Christopher also leads the New England Region of the Dodge Weekly Racing Series. Although winless, Malone has six top five’s in 13 starts and has a four point lead over Willie Hardie. Todd Owen and James Civali round out the top five.
   The SK-Modifieds were scheduled for a night off at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday. Defending five-time champion Dennis Gada, with one win in 15 starts held a slim two point lead over Ed Reed Jr. Reed, with two wins, leads Chris Pasteryak by 42 points. Tom Fox and Ron Yuhas Jr. rounded out the top five. A scheduled program at the shoreline oval was rained out.
   The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH. Kurt Busch outran Jeff Gordon to take the Nextel Cup event and Matt Kenseth cruised to a win in the Saturday Busch Racing Series event.
   The New York Times reported that the International Speedway Corporation had offered to pay $100 million for land on Staten Island in New York City where they hoped to build an 80,000 seat-3/4 mile speedway. The land in question was a former oil tank farm owned by GATX. If, in fact, this proposed speedway gets built it will all but put the proposed speedway in Plainfield, Connecticut on the “Never Happened” list.

   Last year, 2008, the Seekonk Speedway, located on the gateway to Cape Cod in Massachusetts was the scene of a special 100 lap Mid-week Modified Special. Matt Hirschman, fresh off his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Series win just 4 days prior, showed the kind of groove he has gotten into, as he drove under the checkered flag $10,000 richer. Dick Houlihan finished second, while Chuck Hossfeld was third. Kirk Alexander and Jon McKennedy rounded out the top 5. Rob Summers, Kenny Bouchard, Ted Christopher, Bobby Grigas and Eric Beers rounded out the top ten.
   When the 24 car field rolled out for the 4th Annual Viveiros Insurance Modified Madness, it was Matt Hirschman and Bobby Grigas III sitting on the front row. In a race that saw only 3 cautions, it wasn’t enough to slow Matt from putting his name in the record books as the fourth driver to pick up the $10,000 grand prize. When the green flag dropped, Matt took command, and let the rest of the field fight for second. And fight they did. Grigas held on for second for several laps, until the Viveiros Insurance sponsored Chevy of Dick Houlihan jumped into second by lap 10. Ryan Preece had worked himself into third by that point, and was putting pressure on Houlihan. The first caution came out on lap 14, when Eric Beers spun in turn 2. John Fortin’s machine broke, and needed assistance as well. Dave Berghman had moved into fourth, with Grigas fifth. Chuck Hossfeld, Ed Dachenhausen, Ted Christopher, Rob Summers, and Jimmy Blewett made out the top ten. After a false restart, the field was back underway. Hirschman continued to set the pace but behind him, positions were up for grabs. Ryan Preece used an inside move on Houlihan and put the Boehler 3 into second, and began to pressure the leader. By lap 25, Berghman was running third, with Houlihan and Hossfeld the top five. One driver on the move was defending True Value Modified Champion Kirk Alexander was passing cars wholesale style. Between laps 25 and 30, he moved up 6 positions on the outside, and wasn’t done yet. He passed Grigas, but had almost a full straightaway of distance ahead to Hossfeld. At the halfway point, the top six remained unchanged, while Ed Dachenhausen, McKennedy, Les Hinckley, and Grigas rounded out the top ten. The gap between Hossfeld and Alexander had shrunk to a couple of car lengths at this point, and by lap 55, there was a new fourth place runner. Hirschman was started to close in on the tail end of the field, and the drivers behind him knew then had to start making a move. About this time, Berghman started to flex some muscle, and he looked to the outside of Preece, trying to pick up second. As the leaders ran through heavy lapped traffic, they were jockeying for position, trying to use the lapped cars as picks. Lap 67 saw the second yellow of the event when Carl Pasteryak spun just in front of the leaders. Everyone was able to make it through unscathed. As the field completed lap 70, Dave Berghman and Ryan Preece made contact, sending Preece around. Berghman was sent to the rear for the contact.
   Hirschman continued his win streak with a decisive victory at the Oswego Speedway in Upstate New York on Saturday night.
   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continues on their mid-summer break before moving to the Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for the next date on the schedule. The Miller Lite 140 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 2. Chuck Hossfeld continues to lead the point standings with 1020, Ted Christopher is second with 925, Todd Szegedy is third with 896, Matt Hirschman, fourth with 823, Eric Beers, fifth with 797, Mike Stefanik, sixth with 789, Ed Flemke, Jr. seventh with 777, Rowan Pennink eighth with 766, Ronnie Silk, ninth with 751 and Ryan Preece, tenth with 692.
Many of the Modifieds that normally follow the tour rolled out for the 77 lap Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek Memorial race at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island last Saturday night. . On the pole was Bill Park, who set fast time at 11.580 during time trials, and to his outside was Chuck Steuer, whose 11.609 in time trails was also impressive. The field was paced by sponsor Axel Anderson Inc. tow trucks and a repair van, and the JJ White Concrete #1 coupe of Charlie Jarzombek, with it’s left side drive train, right side driver configuration, a great innovation in it’s time, designed by Charlie and his brother, Rick Jarzombek. Jimmy Blewett took the coveted win over Bill Park, Jason Bonsignore, Rowan Pennink and Howie Brode rounding out the top 5.
   The True Value Modifieds were at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine on Saturday night. David Pinkham took the 100 lap win over Jean-Paul Cyr, Dwight Jarvis, Jon McKennedy and Les Hinckley. Seventeen cars were on hand.
The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program resumed with Fred Astle, Jr. and car owner Rollie Lindblad standing in victory lane after the night’s 50-lapper for the Pro Stock division. A host of drivers scored their second wins of the season including Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modified division. Other repeat winners included Marc Palmisano in the Late Models; Jay Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman division; Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds, and Tim Taylor in the Mini Stocks.
   The Sunoco Modified main event started with a bang. Contact between pole sitter Josh Steeves and Tommy Cravenho sent Steeves spinning in front of the field. A number of good cars were collected including point leader Kerry Malone, Keith Rocco, Jimmy Blewett, Josh Sylvester, Bobby Grigas III, Shelly Perry, and several others. A number of other cars sustained damage but were able to continue. Todd Ceravolo headed down pit road for service to his machine as well. The only contender not able to rejoin the field for the restart was Rocco, who suffered right front suspension damage.
   When racing went green, Cravenho led a pair of laps before relinquishing the position to Woody Pitkat, who made an impressive move on the outside to take over the lead. Cravenho immediately had his hands full with Bert Marvin. Things settled down with Cates running in fourth and Blewett, who had reappeared, in the top-five. Ten-laps in, the best battle on the track was the three-car battle for sixth position with Eric Goodale, and rookies Josh Sylvester and Tim Sullivan. The youngsters got a bit of a lesson from veterans Kerry Malone and Todd Ceravolo as they worked their way into the seventh spot behind Goodale.
   The second caution flew when Anthony Burr made hard contact with the outside wall. Under the caution both Ceravolo and Blewett headed down pit road for service once again. On the restart, Pitkat retook his place at the head of the field. Marvin worked over Cravenho to take over the second position. A lap shy of halfway, Malone was able to skate past Goodale to enter the top-five for the first time during the night. Rocco had rejoined the field a number of laps down. While making a bid for the fifth spot, Goodale spun on lap 16 to bring out the caution. The top-three remained Pitkat, Marvin, and Cravenho on the restart. Under green, Malone resumed his bid at a strong finish taking over the fourth spot from Cates. Ceravolo looked racy once again as well as he worked on Sylvester. The front three had stretched out their advantage on the green flag run. With five to go Pitkat enjoyed a comfortable lead over Marvin and Cravenho. Malone could not seem to erase the distance to the trio. Sylvester made a short-lived bid on Cates for fifth.
At the checkers, it was all Pitkat. Marvin crossed the stripe in second ahead of Cravenho. Malone extended his point lead with his fourth-place finish while Cates continues to be quietly consistent with another top-five finish.
   The Whelen All-American Series NASCAR race event at Stafford Motor Speedway saw Woody Pitkat victorious in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Ryan Posocco drove to his third consecutive Late Model feature victory, Chris Matthews scored his sixth victory of the 2008 season in the SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis scored his third victory of the 2008 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and John Kasper drove to his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.
   In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, it was Woody Pitkat taking down his second feature win of the 2008 season. Glenn Griswold took the early lead ahead of Jimmy Blewett and Chris Jones. Zach Sylvester and Woody Pitkat both moved past Jones as did Ted Christopher. Griswold was still the race leader when the caution came out with 13 laps complete. On the restart, there was a major pileup of cars in turn 1. Griswold and Blewett continued their duel for the lead on the restart, but on lap-14 Griswold got loose and spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out. Pitkat took the lead from Blewett on the restart and began to pull away from the field. Christopher moved into second with Keith Rocco behind him in third place. The race ran green to the checkered flag with Pitkat continuing to stretch his advantage over Christopher and Rocco. Pitkat took the checkered flag a full straightaway ahead of Christopher and Rocco in a dominating drive. Frank Ruocco came home fourth, with Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other feature winners were Allen Coates (American Race Trucks), Mark Cooper (Sportsman), Jeff Mehlenbacher (Mini Stock), Rob Corey (Super-X Car), and Curt D`Addario (X-Car).
   Veteran Don Fowler led the charge in the 35-lap SK Modified feature, and stayed there until a series of late-race restarts bunched the field. Jousting with both Jeff Pearl and Keith Rocco, his lead evaporated on lap twenty-three when Rocco bolted into the top spot, followed closely by Pearl. It was Rocco’s second-consecutive and fourth victory of the season. Pearl, Ron Yuhas Jr., Fowler, and defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. followed. Rocco, a second-generation racer, dedicated his win to the late Jay Miller.
   A familiar face entered victory lane in the American Race Truck Garry Hufton Memorial 100, as it was former Speedbowl Late Model and Sportsman champion Allen Coates prevailing. Starting from deep in the pack, Coates took the lead from teammate Scott Gregory on lap sixty-four. Battling with current ARTS point-leader Andy Lindenman for several circuits during the final stages, Coates stole the lead for keeps with only a handful of laps remaining. It marked the first-time that Coates had ever competed in the division. Following Lindeman was Doug Dunleavy, Chris Correll, and Tony Naglieri.
   In some shocking news it was learned that Jay Miller, a regular in the SK Modified division at the Waterford Speedbowl, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 16. Miller was a third generation racer and the son of New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame member Ray Miller. It’s a tough thing to deal with when a parent loses a child and anyone who has been there understands the grief and sorrow. Miller, who just recently garnered his first win, was 35.
   In NASCAR Nationwide Series action Carl Edwards passed Jason Leffler with 49 laps remaining Saturday night and cruised to victory at the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, marking his second win at Gateway in three years in front of a nearly hometown crowd. Joey Logano, 18 and in just his fifth race, finished second after starting fourth. He led twice, for 42 laps. Jason Keller was third. Edwards won his second race on the Nationwide circuit in 21 starts. Landon Cassill, who finished sixth, started a five-car accident that brought out a red flag with 84 laps left. He sent Scott Wimmer into the wall with a tap to the back bumper, causing a chain reaction that knocked out Wimmer, Mike Bliss, last-year's winner Reed Sorenson and Steve Wallace. NEXTEL Cup Series drivers enjoyed a weekend off.

   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 wreck photos from the files of and

Danny Gaudiosi                              Johnny Lane                                   Zippy Zullo     


  Ed Flemke Sr.                              Wild Bill Brown                              Dave Germano   

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 24, 2009


©2009 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.