Forty years ago in 1969, the Nascar
Modified championship point contenders headed for Martinsville for a
Saturday afternoon 100 lap event. Bugsy Stevens was the point leader and
furthered his lead with a win over Jerry Cook. Ray Hendrick finished third
and was followed by Perk Brown and Lennie Pond. Fred DeSarro finished 12th.
DeSarro flew back north to Norwood on Saturday night and finished fourth in
a car owned by Leo Hill. Billy Schulz took the win over Ed Flemke and
Freddie Schulz. Islip also ran on Saturday night and it was Gary Winters
taking the win over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. Stafford ran a
150-lap event on Sunday afternoon, which saw Smokey Boutwell in victory
lane. The Bugman finished second and was followed by DeSarro, Ted Stack and
Bill Greco. The Waterford Speedbowl ran their season ending event with Don
Collins in his famous No. 106 taking the win. Donnie Bunnell was the late
Thirty five years ago in 1974,
the Mods were still running on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville. Paul
Radford took the win over Satch Worley, Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook. Richie
Evans had one of his off days and finished 8th. A 300 lapper was held at
Franklin County, which is on the way home that evening, and it was John
Bryant taking the win over Evans and Cook. Islip ran on Sunday afternoon
with George Wagner taking the win over Jim Hendrickson and Evans. In open
competition action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row. Dick Caso
finished second with Tony Russo, fourth.
Thirty years ago in 1979,
Cleary sewed up the modified track championship at Seekonk in fine style as
he won out in the final event of the year. Cleary had replaced the late Fred
DeSarro in the mighty No. 3 of Len Boehler. Jerry Cook finished second with
John Rosati, third. At Monadnock it was Reggie Ruggiero over Allen Whipple
and at Oswego Maynard Troyer took the win and was followed by Richie Evans
and Bodine. Jack Johnson won at Syracuse and at Claremont; Whipple made it
two for two.
Twenty years ago in 1989, the
Stafford Fall Final was a 200-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero in the Fiore No.44
was the man to beat as held off Tony Hirschman for the win. Bob Potter won
the SK portion of the Fall Final.
Fifteen years ago in 1994 at
the Stafford Fall Final, Wayne Anderson, driving the Len Boehler No. 3, took
advantage of Charlie Pasteryak's flat right front tire on lap 146 of the 150
lap Modified Tour Series event and sprinted to his biggest win. Anderson
also took advantage of Reggie Ruggiero's engine trouble and was able to take
the point lead for the series title. Jeff Fuller ended up second and was
followed by Rick Fuller and Ed Flemke Jr. Pasteryak, after a tire change,
came back to finish fifth. Ted Christopher was the 30 lap SK Modified winner
as he beat out Mike Paquette and Mike Christopher. Bob Potter finished
fourth and became the first four time Track Champion since Bugsy Stevens. In
Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Geoff Bodine lapped the field as he
led 335 of the 400 laps run to take the win. Terry Labonte finished second.
Ten years ago, in 1999, the
Featherlite Modifieds were at Martinsville for a Saturday afternoon 200
lapper. Rob Summers was the Busch Pole sitter in the Bear Motorsports
No.14.Mike Ewanitsko took the lead at the start and paced the field for the
first 84 laps. Ed Kennedy led from lap 85 through 107 when Summers took the
point. Summers led until lap 133 when Reggie Ruggiero took over the top spot
which he held for the remainder of the event. Satch Worley finished second
and was followed by Ricky Fuller, Charlie Pasteryak and Kennedy. Ted
Christopher was running third in the closing stages until he ran out of gas
and ended up 19th.Waterford closed out their season on Sunday with a 100
lapper which saw rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. score his first win. Bert Marvin
finished second and was followed by Jeff Pearl, Rick Donnelly, Eric Berndt
and Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon won
his first race without the guiding hand of Ray Everham. During the running
of the event, Kenny Irwin parked Tony Stewart. Stewart blew his stack and
threw his shoe guards at Irwin. NASCAR decided that it wasn't a nice thing
to do and fined Stewart $5,000.
Five years ago in 2004, the
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was off as competitors were getting
ready for the final battle, which would be held on the high banks of the
Thompson Speedway on October 17. After 18 events Tony Hirschman of North
Hampton, Pa. led Eddie Flemke JR of New Britain. It was guaranteed to be a
slugfest as Hirschman held a 30-point lead. Flemke knew he had to go flat
out, no holds barred, if he hoped to beat Hirschman and capture his first
series title. Flemke hoped to accomplish something his famous father never
did, become the Modified Tour Series Champion. The elder Flemke won over 500
races but for the most part was a money racer. Flemke Sr. raced for a living
in a time when there was no such thing as a full time racer. Going into the
final event, Hirschman was the series top winner with four victories to his
credit. Flemke had two. Consistency had been a big part of the game.
Hirschman had finished out of the top ten only three times. Flemke had 13
top fives. Jerry Marquis, Ted Christopher and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the
top five. Another battle going on was for Rookie of the Year honors. Kenny
Barry of Griswold, CT and Zach Sylvester of Hebron staged a season long
battle for the honor. Both had done quite well as they were in the top ten
in points. Barry sat in ninth with an 85-point edge over Sylvester, who was
tenth. Sixth through eighth going into Thompson were Rick Fuller, Donnie Lia
and Chuck Hossfeld. In the rumor mill was word that Chuck Hossfeld could be
moving into the Don Barker No.50 that was to be vacated by Todd Szegedy who
was supposed to be moving on to the Busch Series and word on the street was
that Mike Stefanik, who was out of the Kopec No.16 at season’s end could be
spending a lot of time in Mystic, CT. in 2005.
The Busch North Series traveled to the Wall Township Speedway in
New Jersey on Saturday to wrap up their season. Andy Santerre had already
wrapped up the series title. Mother Nature had other ideas as the Jersey
shore oval was hit with rain forcing NASCAR and the speedway management to
reschedule the event to Saturday night, October 17.
The Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at Thompson had to
be halted because of rain and was continued to Friday night. Prior to the
rainout at the driver’s meeting Ben Dodge alluded to the fact that something
new was in the works for the speedway in 2005. Further investigation
indicated that the Thompson Speedway would host a new class of racecar in
the form of a Florida Type-IMSA Modified. The Florida Modifieds, run at New
Smyrna, will give Thompson and its competitors a low cost alternative open
wheel division. Tentatively the division is said to have a crate or spec
type engine and run on tires similar to those used in the Late Model
division. For Todd Ceravolo it had to be the longest 24 hours he ever spent.
Prior to the event the Ledyard CT driver was placed seventh in the starting
lineup. Directly in front, in fifth spot was his closest competition for the
track championship, Jeff Malave. Ceravolo and his brother Rick had spent the
entire week burning the midnight oil after a devastating wreck on September
23. Ceravolo had a plan but it had to be put on hold for 24 hours because of
rain. Just the waiting can play head games! Ceravolo started seventh and
played a waiting game as he watched Ted Christopher slug it out with Jeff
Malave for the lead. Christopher won out in the end despite a last lap
inside surge by Malave. Eric Berndt ended up third. Ceravolo finished fourth
and clinched the track title, his second. Buzz Artiano finished fifth after
a late race spin took Bo Gunning out of contention. At 40, Ceravolo felt its
time to step back and more or less retire from the sport. He left his
options open as he stated that if the right deal surfaced he might
re-emerge. In other action, Charles Bailey III won the Late Model feature
over RJ Marcotte. Corey Hutchings finished fifth and sewed up the Late Model
title. David Berghman had already iced the Pro Stock title as he finished up
the regular season in fine style with a win. Glenn Boss won the Limited
Sportsman feature and Scott Michalski took top honors in the Mini Stocks.
Jeff Malave made up for his disappointment on Friday night with a win on
Saturday in the 50 lap open competition Sunoco Modified event that was run
in conjunction with the Pro All Star Series. Malave started sixth and took
the lead from Bo Gunning on lap 36. Bert Marvin moved into second spot in
the closing stages and after a few aggressive tries, settled for second at
the finish. Marvin was later disqualified when he refused inspection of his
clutch and flywheel. Gunning, who finished third, was moved into second
spot. Rounding out the top five were Ted Christopher, Jim Civali and Zach
Sylvester. Rick Gentes was the Late Model winner and Jimmie Silvia was the
Limited Sportsman winner. Scott Mulkern won the PASS 100 after a spirited
battle with Ben and Mike Rowe. Ted Christopher gave the event some local
spice as he ran in the top five before dropping out with mechanical
The Stafford Motor Speedway was quiet with the only thing on the
schedule remaining was the 2004 awards banquet, which would be held on
Friday, November 12. Ted Christopher was the 2004 SK-Modified Champion.
Christopher, of Plainville, CT had now tied with Bob Potter with five
division championships. Potter, of Occum, CT is retired. Christopher scored
eight wins on his way to the title. Todd Owen finished second with defending
champion Kerry Malone, third. Rounding out the top five are Frank Ruocco and
Woody Pitkat. Ryan Posocco, with seven wins, defended his title beating Mike
Quintillano by 64 points. Tom Butler, Craig Collins and Marc Atkinson round
out the top five. Kevin Gambacorta is the DARE Stock Champion.
Rain played havoc at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night.
Michael Pepe was the Legend Car winner and Richard Brooks was the Mini Stock
winner before the rains came. The action was rescheduled for Sunday
afternoon where Shawn Monahan won his first SK Modified race. Rob Janovic
finished second with Ron Yuhas Jr., third. Chris Pasteryak and Ed Reed Jr.
rounded out the top five. Dennis Gada kept his title hopes alive as he
The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Talledega Speedway in
Alabama. The Busch Series was off and will resume in Kansas City next
weekend. NBC anchor and Coventry, RI resident Allen Bestwick was among the
missing as he was in the hospital recovering from surgery to repair a broken
leg received while playing hockey. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the high-speed
chess game that saw repeated four-wide competition.
The New York Daily News reported that City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
had gone on record that he was not a fan of auto racing and was not in favor
of the International Speedway Corporation proposed speedway on Staten
Last year, 2008 The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series attempted to move into the Stafford Motor
Speedway for the annual Fall Final. With the forecast calling for heavy rain
for Saturday, and Tropical Storm Kyle, which was predicted to intensify into
a hurricane and approach the New England coastline on Sunday, the Stafford
Motor Speedway announced that it has postponed its CARQUEST Fall Final to
the weekend of October 10, 11, and 12.
One of the hot topics of discussion was the disqualification of
Burt Myers from his Martinsville win. NASCAR Tech inspectors discovered that
Myers had illegal gears in his transmission. Belated congratulations to Ryan
Preece, Michael Boehler and the entire Boehler Racing team on their win.
In Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson International Speedway
Jimmy Blewett won the battle in the Sunoco Modifieds but it was Kerry Malone
winning the war. Fred Astle, Jr was the runner-up to George Bessette in Pro
Stock action on Thursday Night to catapult him to the divisional
championship. Jeff Zuidema was crowned as the 2008 Late Model Champion while
Tommy O’Sullivan won the final regular feature event for the division. Chris
“Moose” Douton was tops in a Limited Sportsman feature that found Scott
Sundeen winning the championship. Kurt Vigeant, scored back-to-back
championships in the TIS Modified division. Brian Sullivan was victorious in
the final TIS Modified point race of season. Mike Romano did all he could;
winning the Mini Stock feature; but, it was not enough to overtake Danny
Field who earned the 2008 championship.
Blewett had the right combination of skill and luck to score his
fifth Sunoco Modified victory of the 2008 season. Malone had the winning
combination all year long, earning the Sunoco Modified 2008 track
championship, his first Thompson title since 1993.
After two weeks of near incident free racing, the Sunoco Modifieds
had a rough and tumble 35-lap feature. Before a lap could be completed, Todd
Ceravolo backed into the inside wall on the backstretch. When the race went
green, Josh Sylvester led with Tim Sullivan in tow as the top guns were
dicing it up in traffic. Aggressive driving was the norm with cars sliding
sideways and kicking up dirt. During the fray the likes of Blewett,
Cravenho, and Rocco were swapping positions. Meanwhile championship
contenders Malone and Danny Cates ran quietly deep in the pack. During an
incident on the front stretch, Shawn Monahan got launched over a sliding
Sullivan. Monahan landed, Sullivan kept going, and the green remained on the
speedway. The caution did fly a lap later on the eighth circuit for a large
piece of debris on the front stretch. On the ensuing restart, there was
contact. Front row starters Josh Sylvester and Bert Marvin along with Keith
Rocco, Cravenho and others getting involved. There was heavy damage to
Cravenho and Marvin. Rocco and Cravenho were both able to continue.
When things shook out, Blewett had inherited the lead with Malone
in second. Cates lined up third with Sullivan in fourth. Pitkat rounded out
the top five. Under green, Blewett continued to lead with Cates glued to his
back bumper. Pitkat had the best seat in third. Blewett withstood a pair of
late race cautions to take his fifth win of the season. Cates, who never
relented, capped off a stellar season with a second-place finish. Malone
bested teammate Pitkat to finish third and to win his Sunoco Modified track
championship. Sullivan rebounded nicely to finish fifth.Rounding out the top
ten finishers were Shawn Monahan, Cravenho, Dave LaCroix, Brian McCarthy and
In the final Sunoco Modified point standings Danny Cates finished
second, 20 points behind Malone. Jimmy Blewett finished up in third spot,
two points behind Cates. Tom Cravenho finished in fourth spot with Ceravolo,
fifth. A total of 58 different drivers entered into Sunoco Modified
competition during the season.
At the Waterford Speedbowl it was also quiet, racing wise that is.
Racing was cancelled due to the elements. The shoreline oval plans on
running their Fall Finale this weekend. It was sincerely hoped that track
operator Jerry Robinson could see his way clear to pay competitors who raced
on Sept. 20.
Congratulations went to second-generation driver Keith Rocco who
was crowned Connecticut State Champion for the NASCAR Whelen All-American
Series. Rocco raced at Waterford, Stafford and Thompson during the season.
In 49 events he scored 32 top fives including 11 features. Rocco ran the
majority of his races at the Waterford Speedbowl. Second in the NASCAR state
standings was Woody Pitkat. Pitkat, who divided his time between Stafford
and Thompson entered 29 events and recorded 13 top tens including six wins.
Jimmy Blewett who divided his time between Thompson and Stafford finished
third. Blewett raced in 25 events, recording 12 top tens that included four
wins. Rounding out the top five in state standings were Doug Coby and Dennis
In NASCAR Nationwide action, Denny Hamlin used a fast pit stop to
get the lead and lost it only briefly over the final half of the race,
holding off points leader Clint Bowyer to win the Kansas Lottery 300 on
Saturday in Kansas City, Kan. In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards did
everything he could including purposely bouncing off the concrete wall at
Kansas Speedway, but it wasn't quite enough to beat two-time NASCAR Sprint
Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
Ed Flemke Sr.
. 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.