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

     Forty years ago in 1969, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway ran their season finale with Andy Romano taking the win. Lou Lazzaro finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Jerry Cook, Dick Clark, Ron Narducci and Kenny Shoemaker. At the Norwood Arena on Saturday night, Fred DeSarro took the win over Don McCullogh, Bugsy Stevens, Mike Murphy and Johnny Thompson. Jerry Cook, in search of Nascar points paid a surprise visit and finished 12th in his only appearance at the now closed track. Islip also ran on Saturday with Herbie Hulse taking the win over Mousie Kempster and Jack Reinhard. Waterford switched to Sundays and it was Newt Palm taking the win. Stafford ran a 50 lapper on Sunday with Bobby Santos taking the win over Bill Greco, Cook, Hop Harrington, Bugsy Stevens and Rene Charland. In Winston Cup action at Talladega the drivers went on strike but the event went on as planned and was won by Richard Brickhouse.

   Thirty five years ago in 1974, with the exception of Oswego and Thompson, the main action was on Long Island. Riverhead ran on Friday night with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Fred Harbach and Richie Evans. On Saturday at Freeport, Chargin' Charlie made it two for two as he beat out Dan MacNamara and Gino Spada. At Islip on Sunday, 35 cars started the 300-lap grind on the tough 1/5-mile oval. Lou Lazzaro took the win over Jim Hendrickson, Gary Winters and Cliff Tyler. Rain washed out the final Saturday night at Waterford. Jim Shampine won the Oswego modified 200 over Don Diffendorf and Jim Winks and at Thompson, George Moose Hewitt took the win over Dick Caso and Fats Caruso.

   Thirty years ago in 1979, the annual Race of Champions was held at Pocono Raceway. Promoted by Joe Gerber, the event drew 97 modifieds. Richie Evans led 83 of the 120-lap distance to take the win over Maynard Troyer, Gail Barber, Jim Shampine and Satch Worley. Jack Bateman won at Monadnock while it rained at Westboro and Waterford.

   Twenty five years ago in 1984, Stan Greger won an open competition event at Riverside over John Rosati. Shangri-La ran a 150-lap event, which saw Richie Evans take the win. Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer. Evans made an overnight trip to Maine where he finished second to Mike McLaughlin. Brian Ross finished third at Oxford Plains and was followed by Spencer. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Darrell Waltrip won the 500-lap event by a full lap. Pole sitter Geoff Bodine broke an oil line and finished 30th.

   Twenty years ago in 1989,the mod tour was scheduled to run at Shangri-La on Saturday but was rained out. Lancaster ran an 89 lap open on Sunday which was won by Jan Leaty. Brian Ross finished second with Mike McLaughlin, third.

   Fifteen years ago in 1994, Waterford ran on Saturday night. Bert Marvin took the mod win over Mark LaJunesse and David Gada. Twin late model features were run with Phil Rondeau and Larry Cote taking wins. Riverside ran their final point event of the year. Bobby Gegetsas took the win over Steve Park. Chris Kopec finished third and sewed up the track championship. The modifieds and the Busch Grand National North Series were at Loudon. Jeff Fuller took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero with four laps to go and went on to take the win in the Modified event. Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Steve Park, Wayne Anderson and Bruce Dell. Joe Bessey was the BGNN winner. It was on this weekend that Richie Gallup was relieved of the driving chores of the x6 and it was announced that Mike Stefanik would be the new driver. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt finished one-two.

   Ten years ago, in 1999, Tony Hirschman won the Stafford Fall Final 300 lapper. It was a day of excitement to say the least. Ed Flemke Jr. was the center of attention as he was involved in three separate incidents. First off, he dumped Mike Ewanitsko on lap 115, and then he spun out his business partner, Reggie Ruggiero who was leading. After the second incident he was parked for two laps. The third and final incident came on lap 288 when NASCAR parked him again when he was blocking the leader. Also the center of attention was John Blewett III who became upset after a confrontation with Carl Pasteryak. While the field was under caution, Blewett jumped on Pasteryak’s hood and started ripping wires off the engine. Reggie Ruggiero recovered from his early spin and finished second. Tim Connolly finished third and was followed by Tom Cravenho and Jan Leaty. Mike Christopher was the 50 lap SK-Modified winner. Waterford announced that they had secured a
NASCAR sanction for 2000.In Saturday night action at the shoreline oval, Ed Dachenhausen took the win over Jerry and Jeff Pearl. During the running of the event, Todd Ceravolo suffered severe injuries when he was dumped into the retaining wall, drivers side first, by Rob Janovic. In Winston Cup news, Ray Everham announced that he was leaving Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon to form his own team. Mark Martin was the winner of the Winston Cup event at Dover.

   Five years ago in 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Fall Final. The Modifieds continue to be the big draw for any of NASCAR’s touring divisions as 48 cars were on hand. Ted Christopher was the Busch Pole sitter and as luck should have it, picked the pole starting position. Christopher led the first 10 laps before giving way to Mike Stefanik whom led to lap 23. Christopher took it back after a restart on lap 24. Chuck Hossfeld, who had been rumored to be considering changing rides, put the Mystic Missile out in front on lap 38. Tony Hirschman and Ed Flemke, who had been battling for the series title kept each other in sight and on lap 75 displaced Hossfeld for the lead. With only 20 points separating them going into the event Hirschman knew he had to finish ahead of Flemke if he had any hope of getting the title. Hirschman passed Flemke for the lead on lap 87 and never looked back as he went on to score the win. Flemke glued himself to Hirschman and wasn’t about to give up another spot as he held off Stefanik to finish second. Rounding out the top five were Jerry Marquis and Hossfeld. Hirschman left Stafford leading Flemke by 30 points going into the season finale at Thompson. Jerry Marquis sits in third spot with Christopher fourth and Jamie Tomaino, fifth.
   In Dodge Weekly Racing Thunder at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night Todd Ceravolo was looking to sew up the 2004 Sunoco SK-type Modified title but lady luck had other ideas. During his qualifying heat the Ledyard, Connecticut driver was hit from behind and ended up suffering severe damage to his family owned modified. Mike Finkeldey was gracious enough to loan his car to Ceravolo for the 30-lap feature but lady luck stepped in again, causing electrical problems and an ultimate low finishing spot. Kerry Malone, who was second in points going into the event, suffered a similar fate, as he was involved in an accident, which also resulted in a low finish. Bert Marvin, who has had terrible luck this season, took his second win of 2004. Bo Gunning finished second with Richard Savory, third. Ted Christopher recovered from an early spin and finished fourth. Jeff Malave rounded out the top five and put himself in second spot in the point standings, 20 points behind Ceravolo. Norm Wrenn won the Pro Stock feature. David Berghman, despite a 16th place finish, sewed up the division championship. Glenn Boss won the Limited Sportsman feature but it was Larry Barnett who sewed up his division championship with a third place finish. Rick Gentes was the Late Model winner, Seth Duval won the All-Star Truck feature and Scott Michalski was the Mini Stock winner.
   For once NASCAR Dodge Racing Series at Stafford was tame. Willie Hardie Jr. won the SK Modified portion of the Fall Final. Chuck Docherty finished second with Jeff Malave, third. Malave was later disqualified, as it was determined that his engine had a lightweight flywheel. Ted Christopher who had previously sewed up the track championship, finished seventh. Ryan Posocco was the Late Model winner and also the track champion for his division. Brian Hitchcock was the DARE Stock winner and Larry Barnett won the first-ever Limited Sportsman feature run at the track.
   Eddie Reed Jr. got a little closer to gaining his first SK-Modified championship at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Reed didn’t win, in fact he finished fifth, but his main challenger Dennis Gada was eliminated early enough to give Reed a 40 point cushion going into the final two events at the shoreline oval. Gada had been hoping to set an all time record of six championships in a row but unless a miracle happened, it would be a done deal for Reed. Ronnie Silk started second in the 35-lap feature and led every lap to score his first win of the 2004 season. Don Fowler ended up second with Chris Pasteryak and Rob Janovic following. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Jay Lozyniak in the Sportsman division, Timmy Jordan in the Mini-Stocks and Jeff Paul in the Legends. The tracks Late Models had the night off.
   The Nextel Cup along with the Busch Racing Series and Busch North Series divisions of NASCAR were at the Dover Downs Speedway in Delaware. Dale Quarterly won the MBNA 150 for the Busch North Series event. Andy Santerre finished fifth and sewed up his third series total in a row. Twenty-eight started the event that saw six finish on the lead lap. Mike Stefanik finished fourth and Jerry Marquis experienced overheating problems and finished 18th. Ryan Newman took the Nextel Cup win over Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. Martin Truex and Mike McLaughlin finished one-two in the Busch Series event.
   On again, off again. According to those at NASCAR that oversee the Dodge Weekly Racing Series everything was on the up and up at the Lee USA Speedway when Richard Wolf was declared the winners on September 11 after the first two finishers ahead of him were disqualified. Ted Christopher, who had been in the top spot of the New England Region, was been moved back to the second spot in the standings as Wolf has been designated the Region Champion. The change made for a big cut in pay for Christopher as the Champion would receive $45,000 and the runner-up received $24,000. Christopher, fresh off his dominating win in the Featherlite Modifieds at Loudon was extremely unhappy, not so much with NASCAR but with the Stafford Speedway as he feels that the track gave him “the business” on September 3 when he was put to the rear in the second of two 30 lap events. The incident in question involved Chris Jones who had since been put on indefinite suspension for his actions against Christopher. Christopher feels that if he weren’t put to the rear on September 3 he would have won and would have been in a better position to win the regional title. The Stafford management felt they made the right decision. Jeff Strunk, who competed at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, finished third in the standings with Ledyard Connecticut’s Todd Ceravolo in fourth. Ceravolo, who competed at the Thompson Speedway, would receive $16,000 for his and his family’s efforts. Waterford Connecticut’s Ed Reed JR who competed at the Speedbowl would receive $8200 for his sixth place finish. It’s also official that Corey Hutchings is the New England Region Short Track Champion. Hutchings, who hails from Salem, Connecticut, was the point leader at both the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl and had a combined feature win total of 14. Hutchings would receive $2,500 plus a $1,000 bonus for each track title at season’s end.
   The town hall in Plainfield, CT was the scene of a meeting between the developer of the proposed domed speedway and the town’s Economic Development Commission. The object of the meeting was to change local zoning laws to allow the proposed project to go foreword. The commission did not take action that would have allowed for comprehensive entertainment and amusement facilities, hotels, etc. The application also called for allowing special revenue facilities. Some people in the town believed that the race track proposal was just a smoke screen which would hide the fact that another casino would be coming to the state. The New England Raceway Corporation continued to project that they would host approximately nine events per year including one Nextel Cup event or “Tier One” drag racing, two Busch Series races or two CART events. The NASCAR legal department had notified that there is no agreement in place or any promise made that any NASCAR sanctioned events would be held in Plainfield. The commission would re-convene on October 14. Later in the week, word was let out that the International Speedway Corporation planned to build a ¾ mile oval that will seat 75,000 in Washington State on the West Coast.
   Forbes Magazine listed the 400 wealthiest people in the country. Tied in 215th spot are Bill France JR and his brother Jim who own and control NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation along with O. Bruton Smith who owns Speedway Motorsports. Forbes says they are each worth $1,300 million. Top man on the list is Bill Gates of Microsoft who is worth a cool $4.8 billion.

   Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Martinsville VA for the Made In American Whelen 300 which was be the 13th of 16 races on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule.
   For many years, the northern contingent has had a stranglehold on victory lane while southern competitors played second fiddle. Burt Myers became the first Southern driver to win a Modified tour race in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville since Johnny Bryant in 1985. Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor Myers changed all that as he powered his way to victory at the historic Virginia oval. Of the 43 Modifieds on hand, Myers was fourth fastest in time trials and for the start, redrew the outside pole, starting along side another southerner, Bobby Hutchens. At the start Myers almost saw his day end before it started as he tangled with Hutchens at the initial drop of the green and triggered a massive wreck on the front stretch. Fortunately for him NASCAR declared the start false and mandated a complete restart with Hutchens and Myers back on the front row. Myers led the restart with fastest timetrialer Ryan Preece in tow. By the fifth go-round Preece had the lead. Preece pretty much dominated from then on, at least until lap 270 of the 300 lap event when Myers got by him in traffic. Myers led the final laps to collect the win and the famous Martinsville Speedway Grandfather Clock trophy. Preece finished second and was credited with being the first Northern Whelen Modified. Matt Hirschman finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, Ed Flemke Jr, Rowan Pennink and Brian Loftin.
   Eleven of the original 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Sixteen caution periods for 88 laps slowed the event. Among those were had problems were outside pole sitter George Brunnhoelzl III who lost an engine, Hossfeld wrecked, Mike Stefanik lost a driveshaft, Ronnie Silk wrecked, Jimmy Blewett had his battery short out, Bob Grigas lost a rear end, Wade Cole lost his steering, Ken Heagy had rear end trouble, Andy Seuss wrecked, Billy Pauch wrecked as did Rick Fuller and Glen Reen. Richard Savory had an alternator malfunction and Jake Marosz wrecked.
   The following Tuesday the Hartford Courant reported that NASCAR officials have made the decision to disqualify Myers from his victory in Saturday's event at Martinsville. The decision handed the event victory to 17-year old Ryan Preece who drove Ole Blu, which crossed the finish line second to Myers. NASCAR officials would not comment on the situation. A NASCAR official did confirm that parts were confiscated from Myers' car following Saturday's event and taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center for further inspection.
   In non-NASCAR Modified racing, Tony Hirschman came out of retirement to win the annual Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway in New York state. In True Value Modified Series racing at the All Star Speedway, Jon McKennedy took the win over Chris Pasteryak and Dwight Jarvis.
   Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson International Speedway saw Keith Rocco clean house as he picked up his fifth win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. Rick Gentes resumed his late season mastery of the Late Models and Scott Michalski continued his hot streak in Mini Stock competition. Glenn Boss turned his luck around with a dominating TIS Modified win. Both Jay Macedonio in the Pro Stocks and Ed Puleo in the Limited Sportsman division enjoyed their his first wins of the season.
   Rocco motored by surprise Sunoco Modified championship contender Danny Cates to take the lead near the half way mark of the 30 lap feature. Cates took the early lead with a stout pack of cars battling from second position on back. When thing shuffled out by lap five Cates continued to lead Todd Ceravolo and Rocco. Jimmy Blewett had made tracks to the front and into the fourth position. Tom Cravenho rounded out the top five. At lap 10, Ceravolo had his hands full holding off the advances of Rocco. Rocco dove low into turn four trying to get a run on Ceravolo. Rocco drifted up the track taking Ceravolo with him. Blewett peaked low looking to make it three wide. The veteran thought the better of it and settled back in line in third. Rocco was able to steal the second position from Ceravolo. Rocco was applying heavy pressure to Cates, who had encountered lapped traffic, when the caution flew for a spinning Carl Oberg. Under the caution, Ceravolo relinquished the third spot to head to pit road. He was not able to continue.
   Cates and Rocco went wheel-to-wheel for the first lap of the restart before Cates, relinquished the lead to Rocco. Blewett took chase of Cates but quickly became the hunted. Cravenho made a strong move exiting turn three to get alongside Blewett eventually taking the position away. Both Blewett and Cravenho were able to get by Cates as Rocco was getting away from the field. Blewett and Cravenho were locked in a heat battle for the second position when both slipped up in the corner. Blewett was able to continue. Cravenho was forced to lift falling back to third. Cravenho gathered it up moving back by Cates once again.
   In the closing laps Rocco had checked out on the field to win his fifth victory of the season. Blewett was a distance second followed by Cravenho. Cates settled for the fourth position ahead of Kerry Malone, who quietly came home fifth to extend his point lead. Rounding out the top ten were Bert Marvin, Tim Sullivan, Ricky Shawn, Josh Sylvester and Woody Pitkat. Ceravolo ended up 18th in the final rundown.
   The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night racing series for 2008. Woody Pitkat picked up his fourth win of the 2008 season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Joe Rzeszutek picked up his second win of 2008 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj scored win number 4 of 2008 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand scored his third win of 2008 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Todd LaPorta was a first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock season. Ryan Posocco clinched his fourth Late Model track championship with a third place finish with four more championships to be decided next weekend at the 36th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend.
   In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Woody Pitkat drove to his fourth feature victory of the 2008 season. Corey Hutchings took the early race lead and held the lead until lap-6 when Chris Jones moved to the front. Pitkat moved to second on lap-8 and he took the lead from Jones on a lap-11 restart. Over a long green flag stretch, Pitkat was steadily stretching his advantage over the rest of the field. Several late cautions kept the field tight, with Pitkat holding off Keith Rocco to the checkered flag. Zach Sylvester finished third, Ted Christopher finished fourth, and Jones rounded out the top-5. Heading into next weekend's CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Keith Rocco holds a 14-point lead over Ted Christopher
   At the Waterford Speedbowl, competitors were forced to start off the night on the wrong foot as they were told that they would not be receiving their checks for the previous week’s racing because of the fact that track operator Jerry Robinson was ill and was unable to sign checks. The Jeff Pearl web site reported a direct confrontation with track operator Robinson and one of his employees. “I began the evening approaching official #1 who took the heat and offered that Jerry was in the hospital passing a stone at least on Friday and believed that the reason for no checks”. “The official took my beating graciously and was very empathetic.” Robinson was in fact at the Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jeff Pearl’s wife approached Robinson and very politely asked if the drivers would be getting paid. “He got right in my face (if I had my glasses on I swear there would be spit on them), and was emphatically told "NO!" she said.
   Competitors at the Speedbowl are NASCAR members and its time that the sanctioning body went to bat for them. Its not right what Robinson is doing! NASCAR needs to step in. What Robinson was doing was against everything that NASCAR stands for. Competitors have shelled out their hard earned money to belong to NASCAR and the sanctioning body needs to protect them. Rumors have already been circulating concerning a possible labor type action.
Despite all the discontent the show at the shoreline oval went on. Keith Rocco won the USG Night 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Ed Lamb Jr. (Sportsman), Kyle James (Mini Stock), Jay Palmer (Legends), and Robert Norman (Super-X Cars).
   Starting from the outside-pole, Rocco held-off a determined Ron Yuhas Jr. to the checkers in leading every circuit of the event. Point-leader Dennis Gada gave chase for several circuits before Yuhas bolted into second following a lap-twelve restart. Rounding-out the top-5 was Gada, Jeff Pearl, and Tyler Chadwick.
   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Dover Downs Greg Biffle made it a sparkling 2-for-2 in the Chase for the championship using another late pass with nine laps to go and went on to hold off Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards and bolster his bid for the Sprint Cup title. Kyle Busch made it eight victories this season in the Nationwide Series, leading 157 laps and absolutely dominating to win on Saturday in a green-white-checkered flag finish. Matt Kobyluck and the Mohegan Sun Racing team locked up their first NASCAR Camping World Series East Championship Friday at Dover after posting a third place finish in the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway. Kobyluck, a ten-year veteran of the series, left the event with a 219-point advantage over second place driver Austin Dillon with one race remaining on the schedule.

   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: September 25, 2009


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