Forty years ago in
1969, Lou Lazzaro was on a tear up in New York State as he won a
special event at the Monroe County Fairgrounds on Thursday night, Fonda on
Saturday night and Utica-Rome on Sunday. Rain at the Albany-Saratoga
Speedway on Friday night spoiled a clean sweep for the likable driver.
Smokey Boutwell made it two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. Freddie
Schulz finished second. Schulz finished second at Norwood on Saturday night
as Bugsy Stevens ruled the roost. Eddie Flemke, driving the Greg Mills-Dave
Welch 79 finished third with Leo Cleary, fourth. Bob Potter was the Modified
winner at Waterford. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. Islip ran a
100-lap double point event on Saturday. Jim Hendrickson took the win with
Gary Winters, second. Fred DeSarro paid a surprise visit and finished third.
Guy Chartrand won at Airborne and DeSarro got lucky at Thompson. Thompson
ran a 100 lapper and DeSarro was holding a commanding one-lap lead on Jerry
Cook with one to go. With a tire going down, DeSarro slowed enough for Cook
to unlap himself and as he took the checker, Cook was exiting turn four. One
more lap and Cook would have had the win.
Thirty-five years ago in 1974,
Riverhead and Freeport rained out. Geoff Bodine attempted a three for three
sweep in New York State as he won on Friday at Utica-Rome and Saturday at
Shangri-la but fell short at Fulton on Sunday as Richie Evans won the
scheduled 100 lapper. Bugsy Stevens was the Stafford winner with Kenny
Bouchard, second. At Waterford on Saturday night Glynn Shafer took the
Modified win and Don Fowler was victorious in the Grand American late
models. The only racing on Long Island for the weekend was at Islip where
Jim Hendrickson took the win over Gary Winters and George Brunnhoelzl Jr.
Fred DeSarro took the Sunday night win at Thompson over Ronnie Bouchard and
Thirty years ago in 1979, The
Westboro Speedway ran an open competition event on Wednesday, which saw
Ronnie Bouchard take the win over Pete Schwartz, Leo Cleary and Mario "Fats"
Caruso. New Egypt also ran on Wednesday and it was Richie Evans holding off
Bill Park and Tony Siscone. Bouchard backed up his Westboro win with a win
at Stafford on Friday night. Evans made a late race charge but settled for
second. All racing on Saturday night rained out.
Twenty-five years ago in 1984,
Thompson ran on Tuesday night. The event drew only 17 cars with the win
going to Bob Polverari. George Murray finished second. Holland ran twin 50's
on Wednesday night with Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt taking the wins. At
Stafford on Friday, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Kenny Bouchard and
Charlie Jarzombek. Ray Miller took the win at Riverside Park on Saturday
while at Waterford; Bob Potter beat out Mark LaJunesse for the win. Other
weekend winners included Tom Druar at Spencer, Tom Baldwin at Riverhead and
Chris Young at Islip. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Darrell Waltrip won
the non-stop event.
Twenty years ago in 1989, the
Modified Tour Series was at Riverhead on Wednesday for a 201-lap event. Mike
Ewanitsko used his home track advantage to set on the pole and lead all 201
laps on the tough 1/4-mile oval. Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Tony
Hirschman, third. Stafford rained out on Friday. The tour headed for Oswego
for a 100 lapper on Saturday, which saw Mike Stefanik take the win over
Brian Ross, Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. At Waterford, Gary Dyer held
off Don Bunnell and Phil Rondeau for the Modified win. Rondeau, by the way,
recorded his eleventh win of the year in the late model division. At
Riverside it was Stan Greger and in regular Saturday night action at
Riverhead, Rick Holmberg held off Dan Jivenelli for the win. The DIRT cars
of New York State ran a special asphalt race on Sunday at Thompson. It was a
no contest affair as Geoff Bodine took the win. Mike Christopher won in the
Fifteen years ago in 1994, Mike
Christopher beat out Tom Tagg at Thompson on Wednesday night. Stafford
rained out on Friday. At Waterford on Saturday, Chris Jones held off Mark
LaJunesse and Bert Marvin. Dan Avery was victorious at Riverside Park.
Former Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton was a special guest and went out and
won a special event. Mike Ewanitsko continued his dominance at Riverhead as
he won the Charlie Jarzombek 76 lapper. Don Howe finished second. The mods
and Busch North ran a twin bill at Thompson on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero
scored his 35th career Tour win after early leader Jeff Fuller tangled with
his brother Rick, crashing out of the event on the 112th lap. Kelly Moore
was the Busch North series winner. In Winston Cup action at the Brickyard
400.Rick Mast received $50,000 for his Busch Pole effort. Jeff Gordon won
the event, four car lengths ahead of Brett Bodine. A bit of a family feud
erupted when Brett dumped his brother Geoff during the running of the event.
Ten years ago, in 1999, the
No-Bull 100 at Stafford was rained out after 46 laps. Jeff and Jerry Pearl
finished one-two at Waterford on Saturday night. The mod tour was at
Riverhead for 201 laps of thrashing. Tom Cravenho took the lead from Mike
Ewanitsko who had led for 178 laps and went on to record the win. Ewanitsko
finished second with John Blewett III finishing third. Tim Connolly and Tony
Hirschman rounded out the top five. Ted Riggott won out over Rick Miller at
Riverside. In Winston Cup action at the Indianapolis Speedway, Dale Jarrett
took the win over Bobby Labonte.
Five years ago in 2004, The
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long
Island. The night was cool but the action was hot as Donnie Lia won the
200-lap event. Lia took the lead from Riverhead regular Chris Young on lap
49 and survived seven restarts to take the win. Frank Vigliarolo Jr.,
another Riverhead regular finished second while Young faded to finish 19th.
Former Modified Champion Wayne Anderson who now confines his racing to
Riverhead finished fourth. Anderson started 22nd in the 28-car field.
Rounding out the top four was Tour regular Jerry Marquis. The event drew 45
Modifieds. Tony Ferrante Jr. was the fastest of the fast as he took the
Busch Pole. Ferrante drew the fourth starting spot and finished in fifth
position. Jamie Tomaino and John Fortin rounded out those that finished on
the lead lap. Eric Beers, Howie Brode and Tony Hirschman rounded out the top
ten, one lap down. Hirschman now leads the point standings by 9 over Eddie
Flemke Jr. who finished 11th. It was a rough night for many including Tom
Cravenho, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and
Nevin George who got caught up in various wrecks that slowed the action. Out
of the 200 laps run, 59 of them were under caution. Among those who failed
to qualify was John Blewett III. Blewett and car owner Curt Chase became
embroiled in a dispute over a difference of opinion and Blewett left the
speedway before qualifying. Chase did not put another driver in his car as
he loaded up and went home.
The Featherlite Modifieds would take three short days off before
heading for the Stafford Motor Speedway on Wednesday night for the Dodge
Dealers 150. This would be the first ever mid-week visit that the tour had
made to Stafford as previous events there have been run on Friday nights or
on Sundays. It had also been learned that NASCAR had been talking to the
Hart family that owns the New Smyrna and Orlando Speedworld speedways. Jim
Hunter, Chris Boals and Ed Bennett represented the sanctioning body. Among
the items that were discussed was bringing the Featherlite Modified Tour and
the Busch North series to compete in Florida during Speedweeks. It has also
been rumored that the Featherlite Modifieds, which were dumped in favor of
the Craftsman Truck Series, may return to Martinsville. Now that the
International Speedway Corporation owns the Virginia track maybe they
realized that the trucks don’t draw enough to justify their huge purse. Also
in the rumor mill was word that the Modifieds may pay a visit to the Myrtle
Beach Speedway in South Carolina. On Thursday night the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl
went head to head. Thompson presented their regular Thursday night Thunder
program while the Speedbowl presented an event labeled the
Super Series Invitational. The Waterford event drew what the Hartford
Courant said was 8,000 spectators, which was awful hard to believe. Thompson
had a late but rather healthy crowd for their event. Many of those at
Waterford had never been there before and were drawn by the expected live
entertainment. Those at Thompson were there to see the racing.
In Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway the highlight of
the evening was a 75-lap contest for the Pro Stocks. Once a rough and tumble
crashfest, the Thompson Pro Stocks had evolved into a highly competitive
division worth watching. David Berghman took the lead on lap 54 and went on
to record his sixth win of the season. Berghman did a masterful job of using
the high banks to his advantage and conserved his tires so they would last
to the end. Ron Smith, who led the early going, finished second. Norm Wrenn
finished third. The speedway graciously altered their schedule in order to
accommodate Sunoco Modified point leader Ted Christopher who was racing at
Waterford. Needless to say, even with the Sunoco Mods running last,
Christopher didn’t make it. Crewmember Keith Rocco took his car and started
in the rear. Richard Savory led the charge of initial start. On the second
re-start Bert Marvin turned into Bo Gunning causing both to hit the wall at
the exit of turn 2. Todd Ceravolo took the lead on the third re-start but
before he could complete a lap Savory hit Ceravolo causing him to get loose.
Jeff Malave slipped by as Ceravolo gathered it in. Ceravolo pressured Malave
and was able to get his nose under him for the lead on lap 26. Malave ran
second for a lap until doing a bump and run which allowed him to get back
into the lead and take the eventual win. Eric Berndt slipped by for second
at the finish. Ceravolo finished third and in doing so, took the point lead.
Kerry Malone and Adam Norton rounded out the top five. In other action,
Corey Hutchings pitted while leading at Waterford, charged up the road to
Thompson and proceeded to take the win in the Late Model division. Jessie
Gleason was the Limited Sportsman winner and Shane Michalski was the Mini
At Waterford, also on Thursday, Allen Coates reaped the benefits of
a crash between Ted Christopher and Phil Rondeau as he reaped a $10,000
payoff for winning the Funkmaster Flex Invitational. Woody Pitkat finished
second and took home $6,000. Rondeau finished third and received $4,000.
Numerous wrecks precipitated 18 caution periods.
Ted Christopher made it six in a row at Stafford on Friday night.
The current track and regional point leader started 15th and wasted little
time as he took the lead from Frank Ruocco on a restart on lap 29 of the 40
lap feature. Ruocco had nothing for Christopher as he chased him the rest of
the way to the finish. Jim Civale, Shawn Tryon and Chuck Docherty rounded
out the top five. Things got ugly in the Late Model feature. Tom Butler,
Ryan Posocco and Mike Quintiliano were running three wide in the closing
stages when Butler hit the wall. Possoco and Quintialano then went at it and
on the final lap Posocco found himself in the wall. Quintiliano took the
checkered flag but was disqualified to last on the lead lap for rough
riding. Joe Rzeszutek was awarded the win. Eric Grant was the DARE winner.
Ron Yuhas Jr. made it two in a row in SK Modified action at the
Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Yuhas blew away the field as he
finished a considerable distance ahead of Dennis Charette. Don Fowler
finished third with Ed Reed Jr., fourth. Phil Rondeau was the Late Model
winner. Jeff Paul, at 16 years of age, a veteran of the Quarter Midget
ranks, won the Legends feature and Ed Gertsch took his fifth victory of the
year in the Sportsman ranks.
The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were
in Indiana. The Busch Series raced at the Indianapolis Raceway Park and the
Nextel Cup cars were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In Busch Series
competition at the Indianapolis Raceway Park, Kyle Busch took the win over
Johnny Sauter and Jason Lefler. Jeff Gordon left little doubt that he had a
handle on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he won the Brickyard 400 over
Last Year, 2008, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour ended their mid-summer break as they moved to the
Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for the Miller Lite 140 on Saturday. 2. As part of
a season-long celebration of 60 years of Modified champions, 1994 NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour titlist Wayne Anderson was honored.
Jimmy Blewett registered his third career NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour when he took the checkered flag. Blewett was strong throughout the
evening as he led three times for 80 laps, including the final 46. After
qualifying fourth fastest, Blewett took the win in the second of two 25-lap
heat races that preceded the 140-lap main. He was then able to parlay his
qualifying success into running up front in the feature. After staring on
the outside pole, Blewett led the first 10 circuits and swapped the lead
with pole-sitter Bill Park twice in the early going. He would take his third
and final lead of the night on a restart on lap 102. For the second race in
a row, Ronnie Silk finished as the runner-up. With four top-10s in a row,
including a win, Silk has moved up to seventh in the season points standings
after a slow start. Making his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start of
the year after he captured the series title a year ago, Donny Lia finished
third and was followed in the top five by Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece.
The fifth place finish was the best of Preece’s young career. Ken Heagy,
Mike Stefanik, Dan Jivanelli, Glenn Tyler and Eric Beers filled out the top
10. Chuck Hossfeld came home 18th in the race and suffered his first finish
outside the top five this year, but will retain a 44-point lead over
Christopher in the season standings.
As usual, the Riverhead event was slam-bang with lots of wrecks and
extended caution periods. Of the 147 actually run, 95 were under caution.
James Civali was fired on the spot during the event after he spun Rowan
Pennink while under caution. NASCAR also felt it was intentional. Civali was
found to be in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car
racing; hitting another competitor’s car during a caution period) of the
2008 NASCAR rulebook. The violation occurred during the Aug. 2 race. As a
result, Civali was suspended from the next two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
events, suspended from NASCAR until Aug. 15, 2008, and placed on NASCAR
probation until Dec. 31, 2008. It was announced that Woody Pitkat and Doug
Coby would share the driving chores of the vacated King Modified.
The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program got held up
almost two hours because of showers but the track management and competitors
persevered, getting the program in. Woody Pitkat made it two in a row in the
Sunoco Modified division. Danny Fields scored the victory in an
ultra-competitive 50 lap event for the Mini Stocks. Jeff Zuidema and Marc
Palmisano shared Late Model victory lane in the division’s doubleheader.
Mike O’Sullivan in the Pro Stocks; Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman;
and Glenn Boss in the TIS Modifieds; turned their luck around with victories
in their respective divisions.
Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, scored his second straight victory in
the Sunoco Modified division. The feature was slowed almost immediately for
an opening lap incident that involved Paul Supernant. Point leader Kerry
Malone had problems under the caution getting towed to pit road. Bobby
Grigas led the opening three laps before giving way to the charge of Keith
Rocco. Tommy Cravenho ran in the third position. Bert Marvin, Jimmy Blewett,
and Woody Pitkat were making tracks to the front. For the first half of the
race, Rocco had stretched out his lead over Grigas and Cravenho. Rocco’s bid
at a victory ended with an incident that involved a number of cars deeper in
the pack. Grigas was also collected in the melee. On the restart, Cravenho
was the new leader followed by Pitkat, Marvin, and Danny Cates. Pitkat
followed Cravenho for a pair of laps before taking over the top spot. Once
out front, Pitkat was able to distance himself from the pack.
Blewett was involved in a heated battle with Josh Sylvester for the
fifth position. A bobble by Blewett gave Sylvester some breathing room and
allowed Eric Goodale to take a position away. Over the final two laps, Cates
began to apply pressure on Marvin. Pitkat went on unchallenged to the
checkers. Cravenho finished a solid second. Marvin maintained third at the
line over Cates. Josh Sylvester completed the top five.
The Whelen All-American Series NASCAR race event at Stafford Motor
Speedway saw Ted Christopher, who last won on June 13, score his 101st
career win at the Connecticut oval. Christopher won the 40 lap SK Modified
feature. Ryan Posocco picked up his fifth feature win of 2008 in the 30-lap
Late Model feature, Earl Pelletier was a first time career winner in the
20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Rob Dow scored his second feature win of
2008 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande came up a
first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Jimmy Blewett took the
early race lead from the pole position and began to pull away from the
field. Blewett's lead was erased by caution on lap-19. Blewett continued to
lead on the restart with Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat, Doug Coby, and Ted
Christoper behind him. Christopher was the car on the charge, methodically
picking his way through traffic to move into second place behind Blewett on
lap-31. Christopher stalked Blewett until lap-35 when he made his move in
turns 3+4 to come out with the lead. Blewett gave chase to Christopher over
the final laps but was not able to get close enough to make a move as
Christopher took his third feature win of the season. Rounding out the top-5
behind Christopher and Blewett was Rocco, Jeff Malave, and Frank Ruocco.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Ryan Morgan survived a host of restarts
and finished with Jon Porter on his bumper en route to his first-ever
Legends Car victory at the Wacky Wednesday racing program at the shoreline
Keith Rocco continued to make a name for himself as he won his
fifth race of the season on Saturday night at the shoreline oval as he took
the checkered flag in the 35-lap SK Modified featurel. Other feature winners
were Joe Curioso III (Late Model), Walt Hovey Jr. (Sportsman), Phil Evans
(Mini Stock) and Greg Stoehr (Northeastern Midget Association). Rocco passed
defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. with 18 laps remaining. Janovic jumped
out to an early lead and was trailed by Dennis Gada before a third-turn
pileup involving Gada and several other frontrunners scattered the field.
Rocco pressured Janovic for several laps before getting the advantage with
an outside move during the feature's final restart. Jeff Pearl, Doug Coby
and Gada rounded out the top five.
Gary Danko, who had a highly regarded radio show with racing news
had Waterford Speedbowl mortgage holder Rocky Arbitell on his program.
Arbitell stated that the current foreclosure problems at the shoreline oval
were precipitated by the fact that Terry Eames had violated the financial
contract that he had with Arbitell. Arbitell further stated that he has no
connection with current track operator Jerry Robinson. Like Eames, Robinson
did not deserve to be called a promoter as he was rapidly gaining a
reputation as being not friendly with competitors, media or fans. Robinson
had, however, improved the concessions at the shoreline oval.
In NASCAR Nationwise Series racing at rainy Circuit Gilles
Villeneuve in Canada, Ron Fellows splashed his way to victory in the event
that ended 26 laps early because of heavy rain and poor visibility. It was
the first NASCAR points race run on grooved rain tires. Fellows, driving the
No. 5 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports, led the final seven
laps. Marcos Ambrose finished third after leading a race-high 27 laps.
In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards won the Pennsylvania 500 at
Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., gambling with a pit strategy he thought
would cost him the race. Edwards pitted from the lead just before rain
caused a 41-minute red flag and had the driver arguing with crew chief Bob
Osborne over the decision. But the plan worked as the race wound up going to
completion. Edwards stretched his last tank of fuel to earn his fourth
victory of the season. The race started in sunshine and it appeared Mark
Martin, who took the lead from pole-winner Jimmie Johnson at the start and
took control would be the one to beat. But Martin had problems on two pit
stops that put him back into the pack and then dark clouds began moving in,
changing some strategies. Rain began falling on lap 127 of the 200-lap event
and, moments later, Edwards and several other leaders ducked onto pit road.
Nineteen other drivers, led by June Pocono winner Kasey Kahne and Martin,
who led a race-high 55 laps, stayed out to gain track position, waiting to
see if the rain might end the race prematurely. But the racing continued and
Edwards found himself back on top for good when Martin, the last of the
drivers on the alternate strategy, had to finally pit on lap 187. Tony
Stewart was second, almost 4 seconds behind. Johnson was third. Kevin
Harvick, who crashed with Joe Nemechek on the first lap, came back to finish
fourth, just ahead of David Ragan.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI, 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E Mail email@example.com.
This week are several vintage racing
photos of Hall of Famer, the late Dick Eagan
who along with Hully Bunn was the winner of the First Race of Champions in
at Langhorne Speedway courtesy of the SpeedwayLineReport.com &
. 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.