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
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
the Sportsman 30 lap feature were rained out and will be rescheduled for a
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
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,
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail,email@example.com.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
week are several vintage racing photos
All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Looking Back Archive