The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


April 16, 2010

Fifty years ago in 1960 Wild Bill Slater, driving the famous Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8, was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at what was called then, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Newt Palm was victorious in the Bombers.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Sal Dee became an early season repeat winner as he notched the 35 lap Modified win at Waterford. Bill Scrivner was the Bomber winner.

   Forty years ago in 1970, Martinsville ran their spring 100 lap modified event on Saturday afternoon. To no ones surprise, Ray Hendrick took the win over Jerry Cook, Jimmy Hensley and Fred DeSarro. Stafford ran twin 25's on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, driving the Koszela NO.15 took the opener over Bob Melnick and Ed Yerrington. Yerrington came back to win the nightcap despite a lot of pressure from Bill Greco and Don Flynn. At Fonda, Jerry Pennock and Lou Lazzaro shared victory lane .Don Wayman finished second to Pennock and was followed by Lee Millington and Rene Charland and Bob Langevan. Cook managed to fly back to Fonda where he recorded a sixth. At Thompson on Sunday, Bugsy Stevens and Moose Hewitt shared victory lane as they both won 25 lap events. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Glynn Shafer took the Modified win while Larry Crandall was victorious in the Late Model Daredevils.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, the Modifieds ran at Beltsville on Friday night. Joe Thurman took the win over Geoff Bodine, Billy Hensley and Jerry Cook. Richie Evans ran out of gas and finished 10th.Evans made up for Beltsville on Saturday night as he took the win at Shangri-La. George Kent finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, third. Evans gambled that it would rain at Fulton and he hit it right as he headed for Franklin County in Virginia for a Sunday afternoon event. John Bryant took the top spot over Joe Thurman and Ray Hendrick. Evans had problems and finished 11th. Blast Off í75 at the Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, the only weekend action was at Shangri-La where Jerry Cook took an 80 lap win over Richie Evans and George Kent. A dispute over race purses between competitors and Wall Stadium owners caused track owners to cancel racing indefinitely.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, all eyes were on Riverside Park where Doug Hevron, in the Mario Fiore N0.44, took an 85 lap win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Ted Riggott, third. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Neil Bonnett took the win.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, Stan Gregger was the Saturday night winner at Riverside Park. Tom Bolles finished second and was followed by Dan Avery, Bob Polverari and Steve Park. Stafford ran their Sizzler on Sunday. A glorious day turned to sadness when Tony Jankowiac lost his life in a bad crash. Mike Stefanik was the eventual winner and was followed by Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Brett Bodine scored his first Winston Cup Win

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, Reggie Ruggiero broke Chris Kopec's streak at Riverside as he won the 50 lap main event on Saturday night. Chris Young took the opener at Riverhead over Lenny Fischer and John Fortin. Mike Ewanitsko in the Art Barry No.21 won the 200 lap Spring Sizzler on Sunday by a large margin over Rick Fuller and Mike Stefanik. Reggie Ruggerio led the first 70 laps before going down one lap because of worn tires. Ewanitsko took the lead from Fuller in turn two on lap 178.Dan Avery finished fourth and Satch Worley rounded out the top five. Steve Park won the 80 lap-SK-Mod Feature. Last but not least, DIRT Legend, Barefoot Bob McCreadie scored his 400th career win at Canadaigua Speedway on Sunday night.

   Ten years ago in 2000, it was Easter weekend. Scheduled events at Riverhead, Wall and Waterford were rained out.

   Five years ago in 2005, The Waterford Speedbowl ran under clear but cool skies. Rob Summers made up for the previous weeks disappointment as he won the SK Modified feature. Summers never got to race on opening night as his engine expired during a qualifying heat. Summers started on the pole. Mike Finkeldey had a career high second place finish. Finkeldey now had Rick Ceravolo as his crew chief. Rob Janovic, Jay Miller and Kurt Lenehan rounded out the top five. Carl Eriksson edged Bruce Thomas for the Late Model win and Jim Procaccini was the Sportsman winner. George Whitney took the victory in the Legends Car feature.

   In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, Eric Beers, driver of the Boehler Racing Enterprises No.3 was on the mend at his home in North Hampton, PA after suffering a broken collar bone and hairline fractures of two ribs at the Thompson Ice Breaker. Beers stated that he hoped to be in competition at Stafford the following weekend and would like it to be known that his LaJoie seat and the rugged construction of the Boehler No.3 saved him from what could have been severe injuries. After much thought it was decided by Beers and car owner Mike Boehler to put Todd Szegedy in Ole Blu for the Sizzler.

   Connecticut Speedway Developer Gene Arganese was forced to wait until April 25 to learn what property will be rezoned to establish the resort/recreational development (C-5) zones he needs to build his proposed racetrack and convention center in the town of Plainfield. On April 12 the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to delay a decision on creating the zones on land off Interstate 395 exits 87 and 88 until the Town Planner could define more clearly the properties that could be included in the zones.

   In some sad news it was learned that Leon Drake, known better as Leo Hill, passed away on April 9 at the age of 66. For many years Drakeís garage in North Stonington Ct housed the Modified driven by Johnny Thompson at the Norwood Arena and later at Thompson and Stafford. Drake was a Plumber by trade and was also a welder and steel fabricator as he did numerous repairs and built more than his share of race cars including a replacement V-8 for Bill Slater when he was hurt at Thompson in the late 60ís.

   Greg Biffle won the Nextel Cup event at the Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne was the Busch Series winner. Junior Miller won the Whelen Southern Modified Tour 100 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina,

   Last year, 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was on a two week break before heading to Stafford Springs Connecticut for the annual Spring Sizzler.

   Congratulations to the Arute family as the Stafford Motor Speedway was recently inducted into the Connecticut Business Hall of Fame. Stafford joined Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Alcoa Howmet, Gloria McAdam, president & CEO, Foodshare, and Jim Barnes, president & CEO, OAKLEAF Waste & Recycling in the Connecticut Business Hall of Fame Class of 2008 at a ceremony held on April 3, 2009. Stafford Motor Speedway was presented with an Official Citation from the General Assembly as well as an Official Statement from Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, an Official Citation from Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a congratulatory letter from Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, and a Public Service Award from Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. . The 2009 season would mark the 40th consecutive year that the track has operated under Arute family ownership.

   While it was quiet in the Northeast the Whelen Southern Modified Tour had two events scheduled. The first, at the Ace Speedway in North Carolina was rained out after practice. Ron Silk topped the speed charts in practice at Ace Speedway, but rains right before qualifying have put everything on hold. Ronnie Silk in the No. 79 Hill Enterprises/Coors Light/Sunoco Pontiac put up a fast lap of 14.472 seconds (99.502 mph) around the .400-mile oval. Teenager Erick Rudolph who drove the No. 59 Ed Bennett Properties, Inc. Chevrolet, was second at 14.606 (98.590), just ahead of defending race winner L.W. Miller (No. 36 John Baker Plumbing & Utilities Pontiac) at 14.660 (98.226). Ted Christopher and Burt Myers rounded out the top five in practice.

   On the Saturday night the Southern Modified Tour was at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC. Ted Christopher and car owner Joe Brady made their trip south a worth while effort. Christopher didnít think he had enough car left at the end but he was able to hold off a hard-charging Andy Seuss Saturday in the Caraway Speedway 150 to get his second win of the year in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Christopher's No. 00 Shermís Towing Ė Brady Bunch Chevrolet was able to pass leader George Brunnhoelzl III on lap 106 after Brunnhoelzl spun his tires on the restart after a caution enabling Christopher to get out front in the lead. Christopher was able to keep Seuss' No. 47 Advance AutoParts/Q Racing Oil/Stuart Automotive Dodge behind him to remain perfect at 3-for-3 in Modified Tour races in 2009. The Plainville, Conn., driver won the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour opener at Concord (N.C.) Speedway March 21, and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour opener at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway last week.

   Defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Brian Loftin following in third at Caraway, with Ron Silk and Frank Fleming completing the top five. Brunnhoelzl was racing Christopher for the lead when he spun coming out of Turn 2 on lap 136 to bring out the sixth and final caution flag of the race. Brunnhoelzl finished 11th but retained his points lead by six over Burt Myers. Brunnhoelzl won his second consecutive Coors Light Pole Award during qualifying and started second after the post-qualifying redraw.

   For his efforts, Christopher received $2,000. Sixteen of the original 25 starters completed the 150 lap distance.

   For the past few years NASCAR held their awards banquets for the Whelen Modified Tour Series and the Camping World East (formerly Busch North Series) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. Word came that competitors and fans would be forced to travel to the Charlotte, NC area as NASCAR announced that they would host a special week of activities culminating in the 2009 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) Awards Banquet on Friday, November 13, and the new NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Saturday, November 14. The Whelen All American Series Banquet was previously held in Las Vegas. The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Gala would feature the champions and top drivers from all of NASCARís North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Because of the fact that all the touring divisionís banquets would be grouped together it would be more like the town dump of banquets. Itís just another lame move by NASCAR to save them some money and increase the costs of the fan and competitor.

   For the third week in a row, racing was rained out at the Waterford Speedbowl.

   Connecticut native Joey Logano who had been a big disappointment on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, won his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the Pepsi 300 on Saturday at the Nashville Superspeedway. The 18-year-old Logano and Busch ran in the top two and traded the lead for most of the race, with Logano leading the final 10 laps and finishing 0.487 seconds in front. Brad Keselowski was third, followed by Kelly Bires and series leader Carl Edwards who rounded out the top five.

   Despite the fact that the track promoted pre-race access to the garage, front stretch and driver's meeting, the crowd was thin. The promotion also aggravated many of the competitors as fans brought diecast models by the suitcase for them to sign.

   The Associated Press reported that Jurors began deliberating on Friday, April 10, on tax evasion charges against race car driver Helio Castroneves and two advisers after prosecutors said in closing arguments that the driver enjoyed ample wealth but defrauded the government to get more. Prosecutors allege that Castroneves and the others tried to conceal his control of a Panamanian shell company, called Seven Promotions, and lied to tax lawyers and accountants about his true income. They say documents and witnesses back up claims that Castroneves knowingly dodged millions in U.S. taxes over a five-year period..

Thatís 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 collection of the late Danny Pardi,
courtesy of
SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.

     Mark Ferris                                             Jeff Fuller                                         Tony Hirschman

  George Savory                                      Bobby Vee                                           Bentley Warren

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and VintageModifieds.com

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: April 16, 2010

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