The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 19, 2010

Forty-five years ago, in 1965, Rockingham was in its first season. Richard Petty was the pole sitter and Curtis Turner took the win.

 Forty years ago in 1970, at Rockingham, Charlie Glotzback was the pole sitter and Richard Petty took the win.

 Thirty-five years ago in 1975, Buddy Baker was the pole sitter and Cale Yarborough was the race winner at Rockingham.

Thirty years ago in 1980, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter and Cale Yarborough took the win at Rockingham.

Twenty-five years ago in 1985, Terry Labonte was the pole sitter at Rockingham with the late Neil Bonnett taking the win.

Twenty years ago in 1990, Kyle Petty could do no wrong as he won both the pole and the event at Rockingham. Petty absolutely excelled at this track.

Fifteen years ago in 1995, the Busch Racing Series joined the NEXTEL Cup cars for a double header at Rockingham. Chad Little was the pole sitter for the Busch event but it was Johnny Benson taking the win after he passed Ken Schrader with eight laps to go. Jeff Gordon took the NEXTEL Cup event over Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Ten years ago in 2000 at Rockingham, Rusty Wallace was the Busch Pole sitter. Ricky Rudd was on the outside. Bobby Labonte took the win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing second. Mark Martin dominated the Busch event.

Five years ago in 2005, New Smyrna leftovers: Long Island modified driver Kevin Goodale came away from New Smyrna with one of the greatest gifts a driver could ever get, confidence! Prior to the World Series Goodale was just another obscure middle of the pack runner. With a win plus a runner-up finish and a fourth in points Goodale has emerged as a possible top runner once the Whelen Modified Tour begins. Despite winning the Modified championship, his seventh, Ted Christopher went away a little disappointed. In addition to winning four Modified races Christopher won one of the Super Late Model races and was leading the point standings in that division until he was forced to miss the last two events because his team was out of engines. Zach Sylvester went to Florida with a new paint scheme and a somewhat new crew, hoping to get a leg up on the 2005 Whelen Modified Tour season. Sylvester’s best finishes were a third and a couple of fourths. Car owner Tom Sylvester felt confident and believed the week was a learning experience which would give them an advantage once the regular season began. Milford Connecticut’s Chris Jones left New Smyrna with a bloody nose and has vowed never to return. Jones, who was thrown out of Stafford in 2004 because of his antics and over aggression, ran in the SK Modified division at New Smyrna. Jones was leading the point standings and the feature until the final lap on the final night when an explosive situation developed. Jones was obviously blocking second place runner Steve Reed. As they exited turn two Reed made a move under Jones. The pair touched and Jones spun out of the lead. As Reed was slowing down to stop in victory lane Jones walled him in retaliation. It didn’t end there as Jones stormed into the middle of the victory celebration and ended up in a wrestling match with a track official.

   While the New England region was getting pounded by yet another snow storm Developer Gene Arganese's proposal for a zone change to bring a racetrack to Plainfield, CT. was in process. The meeting kept the Planning and Zoning Commission, along with close to 600 residents, at the high school longer than most would have liked. The five-hour hearing ended after midnight when the commission voted to close the public hearing on the proposal. It will discuss the issue March 3. With the public hearing closed, the commission has 65 days to render a decision on Arganese's second attempt at changing zoning regulations to allow a resort/recreational development (C-5) zone which is needed to construct his proposed enclosed racetrack.

   The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) settled their case against the Daytona International Speedway involving the death of track worker Roy Weaver during the 2004 Dash race. He was on the racetrack surface during a caution period to retrieve debris in Turn 2 of the Speedway. In the future track workers would have written guidelines, hands-on training and a definitive chain of command during racing events as part of a settlement agreement which was arrived at. OSHA withdrew its most serious citation against the track, its failure to have a written protocol for workers stepping onto the track. The track will also train its safety teams at least once a year and strengthen radio communication between the control tower and those on the ground tending to accident situations. A speedway spokesman stated that the track has been training its safety crews but does not have written documents on the subject. It was the first track worker death at
the speedway since it opened in 1959. There were 12 additional violations and fines the Speedway did not contest. The Speedway would pay fines which total $4,875 for other minor citations dealt with issues including a security employee without hearing protection and a track worker without a helmet.

   Hello SIRIUS, goodbye Motor Racing Network? NASCAR signed a five-year $107.5 million agreement that would make SIRIUS its official satellite radio partner. SIRIUS will broadcast all Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series events on a specially created 24-hour NASCAR channel beginning in 2007. SIRIUS will hold exclusive rights to radio coverage of NASCAR races and have exclusive trademark and marketing rights.

   NASCAR’s top divisions were on the West Coast. Rookie Kyle Busch, the 19-year-old brother of defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt, was the top qualifier as he took the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.

   Busch became the youngest pole winner in series history. Busch set the track record with a fast lap of 188.245 miles per hour in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers, who qualified second with a lap of 187.740 mph in another Chevy, joined Busch on the front row. Martin, who originally retired from the NASCAR Busch Series after the 2000 season, returned to victory lane by winning Saturday's Stater Bros. 300 at California Speedway. Mark Martin won the Saturday Busch Series race at Fontana. It was his 46th career victory and first since winning at Darlington Raceway on September 2, 2000. Martin held off Kevin Harvick, over the final laps.

   After Saturday's qualifications, Gregg Biffle predicted he would be the leader by the fifth lap. He did that one better by getting his Ford Taurus in front on lap 4 after starting fifth. Although he was later shuffled back, Biffle re-emerged by the time the checkered flag waved. Biffle went under Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch for the lead in the third turn on lap 228 and cruised to the fourth Nextel Cup win of his career. He finished 0.231 seconds ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo took a second away from Busch on the final lap. Jamie McMurray's Dodge Charger was fourth, followed by Carl Edwards' Ford. Biffle overcame a one-lap deficit midway through the race when his car started to develop a loose condition, but his crew made the adjustments to pave the way to victory lane. Johnson scored his second straight second-place finish at California Speedway. The Nextel Cup division enjoys a week off this weekend.

   Steve Park completed his comeback from a serious head injury sustained in 2001, capitalizing when leader Mike Bliss ran out of gas with six laps remaining Friday night for his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race victory. The win at California Speedway was Park's first since taking the checkered flag in a Winston Cup race at Rockingham in February 2001, making him the 10th driver to win races in each of NASCAR's top three professional series.

Last year, 2009 Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig shifted gears again at the northeastern Connecticut oval. In 2008 the Speedway hosted two Thursday night dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series in addition to his traditional dates. For 2009 he announced that he was dropping the June event and replacing it with an open competition non-sanctioned Modified event. After much thought, Hoenig has decided to drop the idea of an open event and has replaced it with the True Value Modified Series and his regular Thursday Night Thunder Series divisions. Founded by Jack Bateman, the True Value Series runs at just about every track in New England.
Word had it that Donnie Lia would be back in the Mystic Missile for 2009. Through no fault of his own, Lia lost his full time truck ride due to the downturn on the economy. Chuck Hossfeld says he would run his own equipment in the New York area. In addition to the possibility of Hossfeld not being on the Whelen Modified Tour Series it looked like Matt Hirschman would also be missing from the line-up as he had not secured a ride as yet.

   The Waterford Speedbowl property continued to be a hot topic especially with a foreclosure looming in the near future. As of 2/24, six days remained before the shoreline oval was scheduled to be on the block. Years ago when the Arutes leased the Speedbowl, Ed Yerrington, who was the General Manager stated that the Speedbowl kept Stafford afloat while the track was rebuilding their weekly program after tossing out the Modifieds in favor of the SK Modifieds.

   The Speedbowl needs to be owned by someone who doesn’t need to make a living from the place. At least until the mortgage is paid off.
Surprise, surprise! In the never ending soap opera or shall we call it the Eames Gong Show, the master of deceit had done it again and dodged another bullet. When Rocco Arbitell got the word that Terry Eames’ lawyer had got an extension to the scheduled foreclosure and had it moved out to July, he was livid. With the foreclosure in July the earliest date for an auction or sale of the property could be in September or October. In the mean time Eames was continuing to try to sell the property to Ted Parker who he reportedly owed $800,000. Speaking of owing money, Eames owed Shawn Monahan $47,000. In lieu of paying, Eames has made the loan into a partial sale as the real estate transactions in Friday’s New London Day indicated that 1080 Hartford Road LLC (Eames) had conveyed property to Monahan for $47,000. In an other tid bit, it was learned that the reason that all those who had applied for season passes or numbers using their Visa and Mastercards had not received anything is because Eames did not possess a machine to do the transactions. Visa and Mastercard do not give machines to businesses or individuals who have bad or no credit.

   The sounds of the open-wheel Modifieds returned to Orange County Speedway in North Carolina for the first time in over 15 years and despite cold weather and snowy conditions the teams in attendance knocked off some very competitive laps in preparation for the March 6 & 7 Frost Bite Modified Winter Nationals” at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC.

   Temperatures in the low 40’s and blowing snow did little to dampen the spirits of those on hand for the test and lap times were about a second a lap quicker than the regular OCS divisions. Ronnie Silk in the Hillbilly Racing #79 was the quickest of the group with laps in the 13:40 second range. Jay Foley wasn’t far behind in his Foley Machine Chevy with laps in the 13:60 bracket and Jason Myers in the Tranthem/Moorefield, Myers Racing Ford turned laps in the 13:80’s. Silk and Foley tested the softer M-20 and M-30 combination and Myers ran the set-up with the harder M-45 compound on the right rear. “The OCS track record for the Modifieds was 12:92 when we ran here last’, said Gary Myers, owner of the Jason Myers ride. The track is located on NC Hwy 57 half-way between Hillsborough and Roxboro, NC.

   Kyle Busch did something Saturday that no NASCAR driver had done in the sanctioning body’s top divisions, won twice in the same day. Busch added a dominating NASCAR Nationwide Series victory under the lights to a similar Camping World Truck Series win earlier in the day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Busch led 95 of 100 laps in winning the truck race on the 2-mile oval, then was in front for 143 of 150 for his 22nd Nationwide victory. Kevin Harvick was second and Middletown native Joey Logano, Busch's Gibbs Racing teammate, was third. Carl Edwards beat Busch out of the pits on the last stops by the leaders Saturday night, but Busch took the lead on the restart 16 laps from the end and pulled away. Despite leads of up to 11 seconds at times, it came down to the restart on lap 135 after Edwards beat Busch out of the pits by the length of his hood.

   In Sprint Cup action, Matt Kenseth went the distance this weekas he won the Auto Club 500 on Sunday. Kenseth, who won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 a week ago to open the Sprint Cup season, had to endure four short rain delays in the season's second race. But with the help of his pit crew, which several times got the No. 17 Ford off pit road first, Kenseth became the first driver since 1997 to win the season's first two points races. The last driver to start with two victories was Jeff Gordon, who fought furiously to deny Kenseth but settled for second. Middletown native Joey Logano finished 26th. Gordon, trying to snap the longest winless streak of his career at 42 races, passed Kenseth for the lead on lap 196 but lost the race off pit road on a caution 12 laps later and couldn't catch Kenseth.

   Gordon got almost to Kenseth's rear bumper on lap 232, but Kenseth held on for his 18th career victory. Kyle Busch, who made NASCAR history by winning both the truck and Nationwide races on Saturday, came up short of a weekend sweep, finishing third.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, R.I.02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail,smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

This week are several vintage racing photos from the Danny Pardi collection,
courtesy of
SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Photos from Billy Harman's Collection


       Wade Cole                                            Dave Gallo                                     Danny Gaudiousi

  W.J. Grez                                           Jack Lecuyer                                         Skip Ziegler

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and VintageModifieds.com

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: February 19, 2010

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