The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 11, 2010

 Fifty years ago in 1960 Bill Slater returned to victory lane at the Stafford Springs Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl Don Collins ran his streak to five in a row as he won both Modified and non-Ford events at the shoreline oval. Walt Perkins was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Ernie Gahan broke the strangle hold the NY drivers held at Stafford as he won the Friday night Modified feature. Bob Steadman won his first and only feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner. Bill Wimble won at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night and at Utica-Rome on Sunday, Eddie Flemke made it two in a row as he won a 30 lapper over Don Moon and Billy Harman.

   Forty years ago in 1970, Bugsy Stevens beat out Fred DeSarro on Friday night at Malta. In twin 25 action at Stafford on Saturday night, Ed Yerrington beat out neighbor Moose Hewitt and Eddie Flemke for the win. DeSarro scored a victory in the second 25 lapper. Bernie Miller finished second. At Fonda, Jerry Pennock and Lou Lazzaro shared victory lane and at Plattsburg, Gene Mangino won out over Dick Fowler and Andy Romano. Walt Dombrowski scored his fourth win at Waterford behind the wheel of the L&M. Bob Gada Sr was the Late Model Daredevil winner. At Thompson on Sunday, Stevens and DeSarro shared the twin 25 lap glory and at Utica-Rome, also on Sunday, Lou Lazzaro won out over Jerry Cook, and Dave Lape.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, the New England Drivers and Owners Club(NEDOC)sat down with Bill France and Bill Gazzaway of NASCAR and Thompson Speedway promoter Don Hoenig in Warwick,R.I. with hopes of settling a drivers strike at Thompson over pit admissions. After a lengthy discussion, Hoenig agreed to give two pit passes per car and charge three mechanics a maximum of $5.00 per show. In Friday night action at Stafford, Bugsy Stevens took the win over Richie Evans, Ray Miller and Corky Cookman. Evans picked up a win at Riverside on Saturday night over Reggie Ruggiero and backed it up with a win at Thompson over Ronnie Bouchard and George Kent on Sunday. Bouchard had won the previous night at Westboro. George Kent and Maynard Troyer each shared victory lane at Spencer on Friday. On Saturday night, Kent won at Shangri-La and Troyer at Lancaster. Monadnock tried a Thursday night modified special which turned into a total flop as only 20 cars and 500 spectators showed for the event. Ronnie and Kenny Bouchard finished one-two there. Other weekend winners were Rick Donnelly in a 100 lapper at Waterford over Bob Potter and Jerry Pearl at Waterford, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Gary Cretty at Riverhead and Wayne Anderson at New Egypt.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, Chargin Charlie Jarzombek held off George Brunnhoelzl to win the Friday night feature at Stafford. Charlie Savage won the SK feature. Saturday night at Waterford, Mark LaJunesse won out over Bob Gada Sr. Art Moran Jr was the Super Stock winner. Reggie Ruggiero beat out John Rosati at Riverside Park and at Thompson Lloyd Agor was the Sunday night winner over Wayne Dion and George Savory. Maynard Troyer beat out Doug Hewitt at Spencer and Richie Evans got the best of George Kent at Shangri-La.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, Jeff Barry was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Potter was second with Tom Bolles, third. At Riverside Park on Saturday night a bad fire erupted on lap 5 of the modified feature. Eddie D'Hondt was trapped in his car until Wade Cole and Brad Hietella pulled him from his car and more than likely saved his life. Flames close to 40 feet high were seen at the height of the fire. Because of a previous weeks rainout, double features were run at Waterford. Gary Dyer won the left over event over Dennis Gada. Ted Christopher won the regular nights feature over Bob Potter. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Holland, N.Y. where Tony Hirschman beat out Reggie Ruggiero and George Brunnhoelzl for the win. At the 76 lap open at Lancaster on Sunday, Mike McLaughlin took the lead on lap 73 from Reggie Ruggiero when he broke a panhard bar. Following McLaughlin at the finish were Jan Leaty, Rick Fuller, Tony Hirschman and
Doug Hevron.. Other weekend winners were Chip Graves at Shangri-La and Wayne Anderson over Don Howe at Riverhead.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, Steve Chowanski was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Ted Christopher finished second with Jim Broderick, third. Broderick went to Waterford on Saturday night where he beat Mike and David Gada for top honors. At Riverside it was Doug Meservy and at Riverhead it was Chuck Stuer. On Sunday it was the best of both worlds as the Busch North Series and the Featherlite Modified Tour ran twin 125's at Thompson. Andy Santarre won the Busch North event over Dave Dion and Tom Bolles. The Modified event saw Ed Flemke Jr take the win over Tony Hirschman, Steve Park, Rick Fuller and Tim Connolly. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bobby Labonte took the win over Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace.

   Ten years ago in 2000 Thursday night racing at Thompson rained out. Lee Raceway, once part of the NASCAR Featherlite Tour, decided to run the Modifieds in an unsanctioned event. Thirty two cars showed for the 100 lapper which was won by Chris Kopec. Charlie Pasteryak finished third and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Jim Willis and Rob Summers. Willie Hardie Jr took the win at Stafford on Friday night. A big controversy developed when Ted Christopher was throw out by Race Director Frank Sgambato Jr for un sportsman like conduct and abusing officials. Sgambato had Christopher black flagged because of a piece of metal hanging off his car. In days following the incident, Christopher swore up and down that he would never race at Stafford again. By the end of the following week, Mark Arute, promoter and general manager of the nutmeg oval had reviewed tapes of the incident and determined that Sgambato had made a bad call. Arute apologized to Christopher and when the next Friday rolled around, Christopher was back in the Stafford line-up. Waterford rained out on Saturday. Tracy Gordon made it three in a row in Busch North Series competition as he won the Jennerstown 150.Chris Young won at Riverhead and in Busch Grandnational action at Myrtle Beach, SC, Jeff Green made it three in a row .In Winston Cup action at Pocono, rain forced NASCAR to hold the event on Monday. Jeremy Mayfield, running second on the final lap coming off the fourth turn gave Dale Earnhardt some of the medicine that he had doled out many times to others. Mayfield gave him a nudge, just enough to break his stride and drove past to take the win. For someone who had done this many times to others, Earnhardt didn't take it very well as he was quite irate during a post race interview.

   Five years ago in 2005 The Thompson Speedway got most of their Thursday night Thunder program in before the skies opened up. Second generation Sunoco Modified driver Richard Savory started on the pole and led 23 of the scheduled 30 laps when the rains came. Never seriously challenged, Savory scored his first ever win. Bo Gunning finished second with Tom Cravenho, third. Ted Christopher and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. Other Thursday night winners were Mike O’Sullivan in the Pro Stocks, Keith DeSantis in the Limited Sportsman and Roger Larson in the Thompson Mods. The Mini-Stocks amd Late Models will run their features at a later date. Thursday night Thunder continues this week with the Late Models going the 50 lap distance.

   The Busch North Series finally got to start their season at Stafford on Friday night. With 35 cars on hand and no rain in sight Matt Kobyluck put his name in the record books as the winner. After starting on the pole Kobyluck ran 150 laps non-stop without a pit stop to pick up the victory. Ryan Moore was an early threat but fell by the wayside with mechanical problems. Andy Santerre attempted a late race challenge but his efforts fell short as he had to settle for second. Jerry Marquis finished third with Ted Christopher, fourth. Mike Johnson rounded out the top five. Lloyd Agor recorded his second SK Modified win of the year as he held off Don Lia in the closing laps. Eric Berndt finished third with Todd Owen, fourth. Mike Quintilliano took the 30 lap Late Model feature with Andrew Durand taking the Limited Late Model feature. Charlie Newman was the DARE Stock winner.

   The Waterford Speedbowl finally got to run their rained out Nationals program, at least most of it. Tom Fox won the 150 lap SK Modified portion. Chris Pasteryak put the pressure on over the last third of the event and in the end fell short by less than a car length. Dennis Cherette finished third, a half a lap back. Ron Yuhas Jr and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. The Mini Stock feature took on a finish that resembled an Abbot and Costello comedy routine. “Who’s on First, What’s on Second and I don’t know is on third”. Ken Cassidy Jr was the apparent winner and was about to be interviewed in victory lane when it was discovered that there was a mis-communication between the starter and assistant starter as to weather the race was complete or not. Needless to say the event was two laps short and had to be completed. The outcome was the same as Cassidy took the win, again. Len Beebe was the Legends winner. The 50-lap Late Model feature and
the Sportsman 30 lap feature were rained out and will be rescheduled for a later date.

   Eugene Arganese, who was proposing a multimillion dollar domed auto racetrack at the Plainfield Greyhound Park in Connecticut, had applied for the necessary state gaming license to continue gambling activity on the site. Carl Edwards shot past Martin Truex JR with two laps to go to win the Busch Series event at the Kentucky Speedway. Greg Biffle scored his fifth Nextel Cup win at the Michigan Speedway. In Formula 1 racing at the Indianapolis Speedway fourteen of the 26 cars entered ended up getting parked prior to the start over concerns of unsafe Michilin Tires.

   Last year, 2009, The Bristol Motor Speedway hosted another Modified Test session on Monday, June 8th. The session wasn't without a few dramatic moments, but nothing major transpired. Teams got adjusted to the super-fast high banks and got their cars more comfortable as the day went on. Ryan Preece, cut a right rear tire and spun off of turn-four. The young driver made a nice save and kept it off the wall. Also keeping it off the wall after a spin was Woody Pitkat who went on a long slide down nearly the entire length of the backstretch. Mike Stefanik was also a slider but suffered no damage. Chris Pasteryak wasn’t quite so lucky as he suffered slight rear body damage when he slid into the wall. Among the fastest was Jimmy Blewett in the Eddie Partridge TS Haulers entry.

   Among the missing were Ted Christopher, Don Lia and LW Miller. Miller is currently on the mend from a serious accident that occurred in his race shop. Miller had a spring loaded shock absorber explode as he was removing it from his car that had been wrecked at the recent Franklin County event. According to reports Miller receive a glancing blow from the shock spring that shot up 18 feet, hitting and denting the roof of his race shop. The facial impact loosened up eight teeth. He ended up losing two after having dental and plastic surgery. Had it been a direct hit, Miller could have suffered devastating or even fatal injuries.

   In other news, word has it that the American Speed Association expects to be included in the 2010 schedule of the Richmond Int. Speedway.

   In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Norm Wrenn brought home the checkers in the Super Late Model race. Leadfoot Larry Barnett made it two in a row as he won the Limited Sportsman feature just days after undergoing arthroscopy surgery. Ten laps into the 50-Lap Late Model race, Mother Nature took over, the rain started and the race program was brought to a halt.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of an epic battle for supremacy between Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher. The duo put on a duel for the ages in the extra distance 100 lap SK Modified event, with Rocco coming out as the winner for the second time this year. Ryan Posocco took his second victory of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Brit Andersen won his second race of 2009 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Kevin Gambacorta took his second consecutive victory of the year in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders picked up his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   The 36th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100 took the green with Brad Hietala, Tom Bolles, and Richie Pallai, Jr. at the front of the field. Hietala and Bolles ran side by side for several laps before Hietala got clear to the lead. Pallai made a power move by Bolles on a lap-5 restart and they dueled for the race lead. A caution with 26 laps complete slowed the action and set up a restart. On the restart, Hietala and Pallai made contact, sending Pallai towards the wall where he collected Bolles and brought the caution back out. This put Matt Gallo and Jeff Malave on the front row with Matt Gallo and Doug Coby behind them. Rocco quickly took the race lead from Gallo, but Pallai hit head on into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution back out one lap after the restart.

   Rocco held the lead on the restart, with Ted Christopher, who was involved in an early race spin with Woody Pitkat on lap-4, moving into second. Coby held third, with Gallo and Eric Berndt making up the top-5. Rocco held the lead until lap-38, when Christopher moved to the front. Coby continued to run in third place, with Berndt and Malave making up the remainder of the top-5.

   With the exception of a caution period with 52 laps complete for a spin by Woody Pitkat, the top-5 cars ran in line until lap-65, which is when the race turned into a great duel between Christopher and Rocco. On lap-65 Rocco moved by Christopher to take the lead only to have Christopher go with a crossover move to get back to the front. But the caution came out before lap-66 could be completed, which put Rocco on the point for the restart.

   From lap-66 to lap-80, Christopher and Rocco exchanged the race lead five times with spectacular, breathtaking passing. On lap-80, Rocco moved by Christopher for the lead, but Christopher again used the crossover move to his advantage to retake the lead. Christopher was able to stay out front until lap-85, when Rocco went back by. Rocco pulled Christopher by several car lengths and he maintained that lead over the final 15 laps to take his second feature victory of the 2009 season. Christopher finished second, with Coby, Malave, and Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top-5.

   The Waterford Speedbowl completed three feature events before the rain came, halting the remainder of the race program just 28 laps into the Nutmeg State 100 lap ACT Late Model Tour event. Jason Palmer won his ninth consecutive Legends Car event, Al Stone III checkered the Street Stock feature and Danny Field was the winner of the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race. The scheduled 35-lap SK Modified feature event and remainder of the Nutmeg State 100 were postponed.

   The True Value Modified Series beat the impending rain on Saturday night at the Seekonk Speedway. The 100 lapper, which drew 28 Modifieds, saw Jon McKennedy come from an 18th starting spot to take the lead from Vinnie Annarummo on lap 85 and go on to score the win. Dwight Jarvis, who started 19th, finished second with former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Jimmy Kuhn, third. Annarummo and David Berghman rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Bob Grigass, Ed Dachenhausen, Todd Annarummo, Chris Pasteryak and Steve Masse.

   The True Value Modified Series invades the Thompson International Speedway this coming Thursday, June 18th for the Town Fair Tire 75-lap race.

   In some sad news George Kent's brother and J.R.'s uncle Ron passed away on June 8 from cancer. He was crew chief on many of George's Modified victories with many remembering the Plaza Mobil sponsorship on the rides when it was a yellow #26 Modified.

   The Associated Press reported that General Motors was planning to cut back on its support of NASCAR teams in all of the sanctioning body's professional series. Chevy spokesman Terry Rhadigan says GM, which is reorganizing through bankruptcy, is discussing what he described as incremental cutbacks in support. He said cuts will be made soon and that the discussions are "indeed NASCAR-wide." Rhadigan would not say if one series would be affected more than others, nor would he say the size of the cuts or how much GM spends on NASCAR. The automaker, through its Chevy brand, provides cash and other support to teams including engines and parts.

   In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Joey Logano was flawless after the restart, passing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch with 10 laps to go and holding on to win the Meijer 300 at the Kentucky Speedway for the second consecutive year. In Sprint Cup racing at Michigan, Mark Martin saved just enough gas to hang on for his third victory of the season and the 38th of his Cup career.

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

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

This week are several vintage racing photos
courtesy of &


Charlie Jarzombek                                          Bugs Stevens                                            Bill Harman     

     John Rosati                                               Bill Slater                                             Bentley Warren

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 11, 2010

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