Fifty years ago, in 1960, Wild Bill Slater, driving the
Connecticut Valley Rocket, V-8, won a 100 mile modified event at the Trenton
Fairgrounds in New Jersey. The night before, Slater made it six wins in a
row at the Norwood Arena as 8000 spectators looked on. Slater took the lead
on the last lap from Mario “Fats” Caruso. Wally Silva finished third. Ernie
Gahan was the winner on the dirt at Stafford. Don Collins won three Modified
features in one day at the Waterford Speedbowl as the shoreline oval
presented triple Modified features. Newt Palm was the Bomber winner.
Forty five years ago in 1965
New Yorker Bill Wimble won his first of eight season wins at Stafford on
Friday night. Dick Dunn won a 50 lap Modified event at the Waterford
Speedbowl. Eddie Bunnell was the Bomber winner. Freddie Schultz took the
Modified win at Norwood. Lou Lazzaro was the winner at the Fonda Speedway
and Steady Eddie Flemke won a 100 lapper at the Utica-Rome Speedway over
Rene Charland and Elton Hill.
Forty years ago in 1970,
Eddie Pieniezak was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway
in Malta, NY. Jerry Cook finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Stafford
rained out on Saturday. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x and
Don Wayman each won 25 lap events and at Plattsburg, Dick Fowler took the
win. Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Charlie
Webster took the 30 lap Modified feature. Johnny Delong won the Late Model
Daredevil feature. In twin 25's at Thompson on Sunday, Eddie Flemke and Bob
Santos shared victory lane and at Utica-Rome, local favorite Dave Kotary
beat out Jerry Cook for the win.
Thirty five years ago in 1975,
In Friday night action at Freeport, Art Tappen took the win over Charlie
Jarzombek. At Utica-Rome, Sonney Seamon bested Lou Lazzaro and Dick Fowler.
Jerry Pearl was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Fowler
made it two in a row in Late Model Daredevil action. At Stafford on Saturday
night, 53 Modifieds and 5000+ spectators were on hand as Leo Cleary beat
Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens. The event went non stop after three
restarts. At Islip, Jarzombek turned the tables on Tappen as he took the top
spot and at Lancaster, Maynard Troyer went two for two. George Kent was the
top dog at Shangri-La and at Fulton on Sunday it was Richie Evans over Jerry
Cook. Sunday night racing at Thompson had to be postponed when the lights
went out and couldn't be restored. Shortly there after Speedway owner Don
Hoenig procured a diesel generator to make his own electricity.
Thirty years ago in 1980,
the New England Drivers and Owners Club (NEDOC) met with Don Hoenig for six
hours to discuss problems and requests pertaining to pit fees. NEDOC wanted
Hoenig to give owners, drivers and mechanics a break on their pit fees.
Nothing was settled and a strike was called. In response to NEDOC's action,
Hoenig announced that the Thompson Speedway would be closed indefinitely. At
Stafford on Friday night, Ronnie Bouchard was the Modified winner as he beat
out Satch Worley and Jerry Cook. At Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard took the win
over Bob Karvonen and Ernie Hastings. Rain washed out action at Westboro,
Spencer, Waterford and Lancaster.Richie Evans headed south to Winston Salem,
NC where he scored a 200 lap win over Don Smith and Ralph Brinkley. It was
the first time a northerner won at the North Carolina bull ring since Eddie
Flemke Sr won back to back New Years Day Tobacco Bowl Classics in the early
60’s. At Islip it was Don Howe over Wayne Anderson and at New Egypt, Fred
and Alan Harbach finished one-two.
Twenty five years ago in 1985,
Reggie Ruggiero ruled the roost at Stafford on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens
finished second with Bobby Fuller, third. Kenny Bouchard made it three in a
row at Waterford on Saturday. Richie Gallup was second with Bob Potter,
third. At Riverside Park it was Marty Radwick over Dan Avery and at
Riverhead, on Long Island it rained. John Blewett Jr won at New Egypt over
Bob Park and Tony Siscone and at Spencer, Tom Druar took the checker. Jim
Spencer outran George Kent at Shangri-La and at Oswego on Sunday, Richie
Evans and Brian Ross finished one-two. In Winston Cup action at Pocono
Raceway, Bill Elliott was both pole sitter and winner.
Twenty years ago in 1990,
Rain washed out just about everything except Riverhead and Monadnock. Steve
Park took the win at Riverhead over Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr and Don Howe. At
Monadnock a NASCAR Modified championship event was run. Jamie Tomaino took
the win over George Kent and Bruce Del.
Fifteen years ago in 1995,
Steve Park was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Curt
Brainard finished second with Bob Potter, third. In dirt track action at
Malta, N.Y. Brett Hearne recorded his 400th career win. At Waterford on
Saturday night, Jerry Pearl took the win after early leader Bert Marvin
broke a crankshaft. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Jeff Pearl, third. At
Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero scored yet another win and at Riverhead, Quinn
Vollegraph scored his first win. It was also on this weekend that agless
veteran Pete Fiandaca scored his 300th career win, that coming in Sunday
night action at Hudson, Speedway. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Terry
Labonte had a win handed to him when Jeff Gordon missed a shift in a late
restart and broke a rocker arm shaft. Last but not least, Kelly Moore won a
Busch Grand National North event at Beech Ridge in Maine.
Ten years ago in 2000,
Ted Christopher made it two in a row at Stafford as he won a 100 lapper
there on Friday night. Christopher, who led the final 50 laps, was followed
by Jim Williams, Todd Szegedy and Eric Berndt. The Featherlite Modified Tour
was at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. The event drew 48
cars and was won by Jerry Marquis who took the lead from Rick Fuller on lap
158. Fuller ended up in second spot and was trailed by Tim Connolly, Howie
Brode, Ted Christopher and John Blewett III. Early in the evening Blewett
had just missed out in trying to qualify and was headed back to New Jersey
when Rob Summers had his time disallowed because of having two different
ignition boxes. Blewett carried a beeper and recieved the message to return
to the track as he was traveling down the Long Island Expressway. At
Waterford, Dennis Gada recorded his third win of the season. Ed Reed jr
finished second and was followed by Bob Potter and Tucker Reynolds. The
World of Outlaws ran on the dirt at Bristol with 50,000 spectators on hand.
Tracy Gordon won the Busch North Series event at Beech Ridge and on a sad
note, Larry Nuber, the original co-anchor of the ESPN Midget and Winston Cup
broadcasts, passed away.
Five years ago in 2005
year The Whelen Modified Tour joined hands with the Busch North Series for
twin 100 lap events at the Thompson Speedway on Sunday. With intense
humidity and temperatures in the 90’s most of the day the twin bill turned
into a test of man and machine. When it was all said and done the weatherman
won another one as torrential rain hit the speedway causing yet another rain
out. There were 41 Modifieds and 34 Busch North Series Late Models in the
pits when the races were called.
Frank Ruocco staged a spirited battle with Jeff Malave in the
closing moments of the 40 lap SK-Modified feature at Stafford on Friday
night. Ruocco won out in the end as he recorded his first victory of 2005.
Malave ended up second with Doug Coby, third. Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor
rounded out the top five. The SK Modified field continued to hover around
the 21 car count. This was good and bad. The good was that everyone that
showed up went home with a paycheck. The bad was the qualifying heats which
are no more than glorified practice sessions. Joe Rzeszutek took advantage
of a confrontation that escalated between Tom Fearn and Mike Quintiliano as
he won the Late Model feature. Fearn and Quintiliano were battling one-two
until contact and a spin after a late restart took both out of contention.
Tom Butler finished second. Michael Bennett won the 20 lap Limited Late
Model feature and Stacy Botticello was the DARE Stock winner.
The Waterford Speedbowl had Rob Janovic taking the win in the SK
Modified feature after taking the lead from Frank Mucciacco with two laps to
go in the 35 lap feature. Mucciacco faded to third after being passed by Ron
Silk on the final lap. Jay Miller and Tom Fox rounded out the top five. Joe
Curioso is a security officer at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. by day and a
racer by night. On Saturday night he garnered his first win in the
Speedbowl’s tough Sportsman division. Bruce Thomas was the 30-lap Late Model
feature winner and Nick Pappacoda took the win in the Mini-Stocks.
Jeffrey Paul continued to showcase his ability as a racer in
Wednesday night's (June 9) Wild n' Wacky action at the Waterford Speedbowl.
The 17-year old captured both the 20-lap Legends and the 15-lap X-Modified
features. Paul didn't lead the Legends' race until lap 18 and then held off
Jason Palmer. He edged Bill Leonard and Dean Christensen, in the X-Modified
event. Paul was looking to make it two in a row in the Legends on Saturday
night when he became involved in a violent wreck that all but destroyed his
mount. George Whitney ended up taking the win.
Carl Edwards won the Nextel Cup event at the Pocono Int, Raceway
and Clint Bowyer won the rain delayed Sportsman event at Nashville. On a sad
note, Patrick Evans passed away at the age of 47 after a long bout with
Last year, 2009 the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14
events, had gone back on “Spring Break” until June 27 when the ground
pounders would travel to Loudon, NH. Evidently NASCAR had chosen to ignore
competitor’s requests for a “Town Hall” type of meeting where they could air
their concerns and complaints.
Defending WMT Champion Ted Christopher had himself a busy schedule.
Starting off at Thompson on Thursday night where he finished sixth, he had
planned on running at Stafford until the rain prevailed. To round out the
weekend Christopher traveled to the Franklin County Speedway, which is
located in the Moonshine Capitol of the world, Callaway, VA. The Virginia
event, which drew only 14 cars, was won by Brian King. Burt Myers was second
with Danny Bohn, third. Christopher and Ron Silk drove team cars for Roger
Hill’s Hillbilly Racing and finished eighth and ninth respectively.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Danny
Cates of Chaplin, CT, was the big winner as he scored his first-ever Sunoco
Modified feature event win. Derek Ramstrom of was tops in the Super Late
Models while Rick Gentes celebrated his birthday with a Late Model victory.
Leo Oliveira earned the TIS Modified feature win in a photo-finish. Leadfoot
Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT, took down the Limited Sportsman feature win on
Thompson Night at the races. Tim Taylor made it two straight in Mini Stocks.
Cates took advantage when a situation erupted between Keith Rocco
and Todd Ceravolo when they were fighting for the lead in the closing
moments and ultimately crashed. Both drivers escaped unhurt but their cars
sustained thousands of dollars in damages. Setting the stage for the
confrontation, Ceravolo took the lead from Kerry Malone on a lap 18 restart.
By lap 22 Rocco had moved into second spot. On lap 25 of the 30 lap contest
Rocco drilled into the side of Ceravolo’s car, almost pushing him into the
concrete wall between turns one and two. Ceravolo lost a couple of spots as
he managed to regain control of his family owned mount. By lap 27 Ceravolo
had worked his way back into second spot. As the pair entered the third turn
Ceravolo dove in low. Rocco attempted to block and the two made contact with
the end result showing Rocco taking a hard shot into the wall along with
In the beginning, Kerry Malone drove by pole-sitter Ted Christopher
to lead lap one. Josh Sylvester ran in third ahead of Woody Pitkat and
Ceravolo. The cars got strung out immediately throughout the pack. The first
car to step out of line was Pitkat looking for position on Sylvester. Keith
Rocco was a bit more successful taking the ninth position from Jimmy
Blewett. Ceravolo was making his way toward the front taking the fourth spot
from Pitkat. A lap later, he took the third spot from Sylvester. Rocco was
mired behind a double-file battle between Bert Marvin and Cates.
On lap 10, Marvin was able to free himself of Cates. Rocco followed
through. Up front, Malone had worked his way out to a half straightaway
advantage over a brewing battle between Christopher and Ceravolo. Ceravolo
was able to take over the second position on lap 14. Rocco made a bonsai
move exiting turn three to shove Marvin out of the groove. Rocco gained the
edge and the position. He made quick work of Sylvester making his first
appearance in the top five. Jimmy Blewett was off the pace with a faulty
ignition on lap 18, coming to a stop in turn one, to bring out the event’s
first caution. On the restart, Pitkat got out of shape nearly making contact
with the backstretch wall. He fell back as far as ninth. Rocco got a run on
Christopher to take over the third position. A spin by Blewett brought out
another caution on lap 22.
On the restart, Ceravolo got the jump leaving Malone to defend his position
against Rocco and Cates. Contact between Pitkat and Christopher on lap 23
resulted in a melee on the front stretch. Cars also involved included
Malone, who had slipped back to fourth, Sylvester, Marvin, Dave LaCroix,
Ricky Shawn, John Catania, Brett LeBlanc, and Carl Oberg.
Rocco was able to muscle the lead away from Ceravolo on the
restart. Cates moved into the second position following Rocco. Ceravolo
gathered it back in to make a run at Rocco. The two made contact on several
occasions. The final blow resulted in the two making hard contact with the
outside wall in turn four. Cates emerged to take the caution as the new
leader. On the restart, Danny Cates could taste his first career victory
rocketing to the lead. He sailed under the checkers to take down the coveted
win.Despite an eventful night for both Pitkat and Blewett, they were able to
come home second and third respectively. Malone also salvaged a good finish
in fourth ahead of Rowan Pennink.
The racing at Thompson so far had been nothing short of being
exciting and spectacular!
The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain for the second week
in a row.
The Waterford Speedbowl managed to get their racing program in the
record books despite the threatening coastal fog that was creeping in.
Jeffrey Paul earned his first 2009 win by passing pole-sitter Don Fowler
with 9 laps to go on a restart in the SK Modified main event. Paul survived
some incredibly rough driving by Don Fowler. Fowler has a reputation of
being a blocker. Rob Janovic, Keith Rocco, Tom Abele and Tyler Chadwick
completed the top 5. Other wins on Saturday night went to Vin Esposito in
the 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late-Model Stock Car feature; Ed Puleo in
the 20-lap Street Stock feature, and to Jay Palmer in the 20-lap Legends
After winning his heat race, in a new car, young driving sensation
Flyin Ryan Morgan started the 20 lap feature event in sixth position. On lap
four, Ryan took the lead and looked like he was in a position to win his
second feature event of the season until Jason Palmer, the winner of all
feature events he completed this season, made a pass for the lead with five
to go. Ryan's car developed a push near the end of the race and crossed the
finish line a close second, not what the team wanted, but not bad for being
the first time on the track with a new race car.
The RVM race team is scheduled to compete the next two Saturday nights, 6-13
and 6-20 at the Speedbowl.
The True Value Modified Series traveled to the Twin State Speedway
in Claremont, NH. for the running of the “Granite State Harley- Davidson
100.” Jon McKennedy became the fourth different winner in four races,
winning the True Value Modified Racing Series sanctioned event. It was
McKennedy’s first win this season and his third career TVMRS victory. Rowan
Pennink, from his pole starting position, took the lead at the drop of the
green flag and held it until lap 19 when three-time series champion Kirk
Alexander snuck by. Pennink regained the lead three laps later, lost it to
defending champion Chris Pasteryak, regained it again on lap 27, before
turning it over to Alexander on lap 29, at which point the series all time
winning driver took control until the mid-way mark.
Dwight Jarvis, who started 24th on the field, worked his way to the
front to contest for the lead. Jarvis and Alexander tossed the lead back and
forth between laps 51 and 70. McKennedy, who started third in the lineup,
faded to fifth in the early going and then methodically made his way to the
front by mid-race. The part time ISMA supermodified driver moved to fourth
on lap 46, third on lap 53, and then the lead as he passed both Jarvis and
Alexander on lap 71. Jarvis took the lead back for one circuit on lap 87
only to turn it over to the race winner a lap later.
Jarvis finished a strong second, Alexander third, Eddie
Dachenhausen, fourth, and Steve Masse, fifth. Pasteryak, Les Hinckley, Ron
Goodenough, Sean Bodreau, and Mike Holdridge, rounded out the top ten. 18 of
the original 24 starters finished the event. Nine caution flags for minor
spins slowed the race that took 52 minutes 59 seconds to complete. The top
15 drivers finished on the lead lap. 26 teams entered the event.
Kyle Busch raced to his fourth Nationwide Series victory of the
year and ninth overall NASCAR win of the season, easily holding off Brad
Keselowski and Carl Edwards in the Federated Auto Parts 300 at the Nashville
Superspeedway in Tennessee.
Tony Stewart used every trick available to stretch out his fuel
during the final laps Sunday at Pocono Raceway, and came from the rear of
the field in his backup car to win his first Cup points race with his new
team. Stewart made his last pit stop with 41 laps to go and figured he could
drive the rest of the way without another break. He took the lead in the No.
14 Chevrolet with 37 laps remaining and roared to a 6-second lead over Carl
Edwards that gave him a crucial buffer down the stretch. Edwards pushed
Stewart and whittled the lead down to about 2 seconds with inside 10 laps
remaining, and the two-time Cup champion was unsure of how much gas he had
left in the tank. Edwards was second, followed by David Reutimann and
Gordon. Stewart's SHR teammate Ryan Newman was fifth.
Lou Modestino reported that Sunday’s fourth annual Norwood Arena
Reunion saw a huge gathering of the competitors, officials and fans who
frequented the famed Massachusetts quarter-mile oval every Saturday night
during the spring, summer and fall. The event was held again at Bezema
Buick, Pontiac, GMC on the Auto Mile located on Route 1 in Norwood. Norwood
ran its last event in 1972. Among those on hand were Bill Slater, John
Grady, Val LeSeur, Lew Boyd, Bruce Cohen, Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Deke
Marvin Rifchin, owner of the former M&H Tire Company in Watertown,
MA, passed away on Tuesday, June 2, at the age of 94. Rifchin started in
racing after WWII as the owner of midgets. Later on he got involved in stock
cars. His cars raced at many area tracks, including Thompson and Waterford.
He won championships at Seekonk and Stafford. The last raced car he owned
was the #7 pinto bodied modified, driven by Ron Bouchard in the years before
Bouchard moved south to become the 1981 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. M&H
shod Modifieds, Supermodifieds and Midgets won just about everywhere. During
the 1970's, he was at the top of his game as was Dick Dunn, driving Al & Peg
Gaudreau's #3 to four straight Modified titles at the Waterford Speedbowl.
Rifchin took on Firestone and Goodyear, beating them both. Rifchin was also
a man of his own convictions. When the New England Drivers and Owners Club
attempted to institute a track tire at Stafford, Seekonk and Thompson
Rifchin felt that he was being put out of business and filed an anti-trust
suit against the club and the tracks as well as Hoosier Tire. He eventually
lost the suit in the appeal process. Following his defeat he focused on the
Midgets where he spent most of his time until his passing. Rifchin was a
tough businessman but he was also a friend to many racers as he helped
thousands with tires and money in order to keep them racing. RIP!
In other sad news, Frank E. Anyzeski, of Ashaway,RI the beloved
husband of Ann (Palmer) Anyzeski for 46 years, died on Friday, June 5, 2009
at R.I. Hospital in Providence, at the age of 67. Frank, also known as
Frankie Edwards, was a former All American Six Cylinder Champion at the
Stafford Motor Speedway. He was the half brother of the late Leo “Ace” Hill
of North Stonington, CT.
BusinessWeek Magazine reported less than a week after NASCAR called
a mandatory state-of-the-circuit meeting for all Sprint cup drivers and team
owners to discuss the dire economy, General Motors filed for the largest
industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history. While the U.S. government will pump
an estimated $50 billion into the failed company, ensuring at least its
short-term survival, there was no word as to what the bankruptcy might mean
for GM's motorsports sponsorship programs, putting their estimated $125
million annual NASCAR investment into question.
NASCAR has likely been hurt more than any other sport as a result
of the current economic climate. Attendance is down because of the high cost
of traveling to races, while TV ratings are off due to a perceived lack of
exciting ones. Every telecast on FOX has seen a drop in ratings from the
respective 2008 broadcast, with total ratings on the network down 13% from
last year. And only an estimated 100,000 people attended the NASCAR Sprint
Cup Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway, well off the
approximate 140,000 in years past..
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly,
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
week are several vintage racing photos from Norwood Arena,
courtesy of Don Thomas of
NorwoodArena.com, Norwood Arena is having there annual reunion on
Sunday June 6th. at Bezema Buick-GMC at 402 Providence Hwy. (US Rt. 1) in
All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Looking Back Archive