The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


March 26, 2010

Forty five years ago in 1965 the fabulous Sal Dee in the Flying 70 won the opening day 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. A youthful Bob Potter won the Bomber 15 lapper.

   Forty years ago in 1970 the Waterford Speedbowl’s opening day event was rained out.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, a 200 lap modified event at Hickory; N.C. was cancelled after the promoter received only 16 entries. The modifieds have never been scheduled there since. Fulton was scheduled to open for the season but ended up being cancelled because of snow.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, the season opening Ice Breaker at Thompson was rained out and was rescheduled for the following week which was Easter.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the IceBreaker at Thompson went off without a hitch. Richie Evans took the 75 lap win over Jeff Fuller, Brian Ross and Jamie Tomaino.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, Riverside's second night of racing was rained out. At Thompson on Sunday, the rain quit and the Ice Breaker was run. Tony Hirschman took the win over Jamie Tomaino, George Kent and Jeff Fuller. The SK portion of the IceBreaker was won by Lloyd Agor.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, it was 18 degrees when the feature went off at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Chris Kopeck made it two in a row as he held off Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Ed Spiers finished third. At the Thompson IceBreaker on Sunday, Tom Cravenho became the youngest ever driver to win a Featherlite Modified Tour event. Cravenho, driving for Mario Fiore, pitted early (lap48) in the 125 lap event and took the lead after the leaders pitted on lap 71.Tony Hirshman also pitted early and ended up second. Rick Fuller finished third with Charlie Pasteryak and Steve Park rounding out the top five. John Anderson won the SK event after Ted Christopher ran out of gas on the last lap. Other IceBreaker winners were CJ Freye in the Late Models and Glenn Boss in the Strictly Stocks.

   Ten years ago in 2000 Wall Stadium was running and Tim Arre took the win over John Blewett III and Tom Mauser. At the Texas Motor Speedway, Mark Martin took the Grandnational win and Dale Earnhardt Jr dominated the Winston Cup division to score his first win.

   Five years ago in 2005, with the advent of the Southern Modified Tour coming under the NASCAR blanket the NASCAR Modified season actually started on March 26 at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, North Carolina. Ted Christopher, driving the Roger and Sandra Hill No.79 took the win. Christopher, who took the role of the Hired Gun, was the fourth leader of the event. Jay Foley, a southerner, led the opening green until being overtaken by Long Islander JR. Bertuccio on lap 26. Bertuccio led until lap 37 when he was passed by another southerner, Jay Hedgecock. Hedgecock was hoping to annex a win but fell victim to engine problems after completing lap 65. Christopher, who was running second at the time, inherited the lead and never looked back as he romped to take the victory. Foley ended up second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Junior Miller and Frank Fleming rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for 27 laps.

   Hill’s Enterprises, in a surprise announcement, released Eddie Flemke JR as their driver. Flemke has been the team’s driver since 1998 and recorded 13 wins. Car owners Roger and Sandra Hill stated that the driver change does not affect the team's plans for this season, as they will once again run the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule and compete for the championship. They will also compete in select Southern Modified Tour events when the schedule allows. A deal was struck with Mike Christopher on Saturday afternoon Tony Hirschman announced that he would defend his title. At the end of the 2004 season Hirschman hinted that he would be backing off a bit so as to assist his son Matt who drives Modifieds in New York State. Just six months after announcing its title sponsorship of the legendary NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Whelen Engineering expanded its involvement with NASCAR’s open-wheeled racing division. Whelen, an emergency signal and lighting manufacturer based in Chester, Conn., signed a multi-year agreement to become title sponsor of the all-new NASCAR Southern Modified Tour, now known as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

   The Plainfield Connecticut Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application that would allow dozens of large-scale projects, including a domed stadium for auto racing. In a 4-1 vote, the commission approved the application by New England Raceway LLC and Connecticut Yankee Greyhound Racing Inc. Developer Eugene Arganese said he would submit plans to build a 140,000-seat domed auto racetrack after the commission acted on a second application that would incorporate 1,153 acres of residential and commercial property in the new C5 Resort/Recreational Development District. The commission postponed deciding on whether to amend the town's zoning map in the area near Exits 87 and 88 off of Interstate 395 until its April 12 meeting. The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey broke the story that two developers who want to build roughly 250 homes to replace the Wall Township Speedway are under contract to purchase the 55-year-old raceway. Town officials said it would be highly unlikely that the project is approved.

   Rookie Reed Sorenson raced to his first NASCAR Busch Series victory beating Kenny Wallace by a whopping 14.417 seconds in the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. The Nextel Cup Series was off as it was Easter weekend.

   Last year, 2009, In the never ending soap opera at the Waterford Speedbowl there was some good news and some stability for the shoreline oval. Track owner Terry Eames announced on Thursday, March 19 that its affiliation with NASCAR will continue in 2009. The Speedbowl’s SK Modified®, Late Model, Street Stock, and Mini Stock divisions would all participate in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and be eligible to earn NASCAR points.

   In regards to money being owed to competitors from the 2008 season, Jason Christley who works in the public relations department at NASCAR told the Hartford Courant that NASCAR did guarantee the NASCAR point fund to the Waterford Speedbowl. That guarantee stands regardless of things that might occur like the track closing or the promoter failing to meet obligations. In reality, that money came from Whelen Engineering which sponsors the Weekly Racing Series. Evidently NASCAR had changed its way of thinking as far as protecting drivers from unscrupulous promoters and track operators. In other words, even though a racer has a NASCAR license and races at a NASCAR sanctioned track there is no guarantee that he will be paid unless NASCAR has a sponsor who will supply the money. Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR to protect drivers from shady promoters and track operators who ran off with purse money without paying drivers. He must be rolling over in his grave!

   Ted Christopher made the trip down south to the Concord Speedway worth his while. Christopher, driving for Joe Brady, passed Burt Myers on the opening lap and led wire-to-wire to win the Capital Bank 150 in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season opener. It was his third career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race and the first Tour event held at the half-mile, tri-oval. Rowan Pennink followed in second. George Brunnhoelzl III came through the field to finish third after starting last because of engine problems. Myers, who won his series record 18th Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, finished fourth and Erick Rudolph completed the top five.

   Among the Whelen Modified Tour cars and competitors on hand for shakedown runs at the Thompson Speedway were Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Chris Pasteryak, Rob Summers, Carl Pasteryak, Richard Savory, a new Ole Blu with Ryan Preece, Jimmy Blewett and Glen Reen. There were quite a few SK types too. Participants included Tom Cravenho, Bert Marvin, Tim Sullivan, Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo, Ricky Shawn, Woody Pitkat, Kerry Malone and Josh Sylvester. Sylvester hit the wall a ton and did a lot of damage to his mount.
Congratulations went out to Keith Rocco who was recognized by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell at the state capitol in Hartford. In winning the Connecticut State Championship Rocco had 11 wins, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s racing at three Connecticut short tracks: Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson International Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl.

   In Sprint Cup racing, Kyle Busch was furious when his pit crew cost him a win at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he angrily ditched his car on the race track and walked to his motor home. The following day, he drove to Victory Lane, averaging 92.139 mph. Busch bounced back from one of his many Bristol heartbreaks with a win Sunday, leading 378 of 503 laps for his second Sprint Cup Series victory of the season. Teammate Denny Hamlin was second, 0.391 of a second back, and Jimmie Johnson third.

   Kevin Harvick proved just how strong his organization is Saturday by winning the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in his own race car. Harvick led 44 laps in his Kevin Harvick Inc.-owned Chevrolet, his first victory in a car fielded by the race team he built with his wife. Carl Edwards finished second and Clint Bowyer was 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.

  Dick Traynor                                             Harry Rice                                       John Anderson

  Dick Jackson                                          Brian Ross                                          Frank Moulton

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and VintageModifieds.com

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: March 26, 2010

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