The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 25, 2010

 Fifty years ago in 1960 rain was the big winner at the Stafford Springs Speedway. The Waterford Speedbowl began their summer schedule which consisted of race dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Joe McNulty won the opening night Wednesday Modified feature. Red Foote, who in later years would make a name for himself in Virginia was the non-Ford winner. Dick Dunn was the Bomber feature winner. Don Collins won double features on Saturday night at the Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the Bomber feature winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 it rained again at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dick Watson won the 50 lap June Championship for the Modifieds. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber feature winner. Kenny Shoemaker recorded his fourth feature win of the season at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Holly Wildler won at Riverside Park and on Sunday at Utica-Rome it was Jerry Cook over Eddie Flemke and Don Moon.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the long holiday weekend started on Wednesday with an All Star League at Lancaster where Maynard Troyer and Roger Treichler finished one-two to beat out the best in the business at the time, Ray Hendrick. The following night, the league moved to Oswego where Troyer made it two for two with Hendrick finishing second. Geoff Bodine finished third with Richie Evans finishing fourth followed by Roger Treichler and Bill Greco. Rain washed out weekend events at Malta, Stafford, Fonda and Plattsburg. The rain at Stafford was the final nail in the coffin as it was announced that the track was almost bankrupt and would be shut down. Bill Slater was the race director at the time and was devastated. Rather than sit idle, Slater contacted Connecticut Construction Company owner Jack Arute and somehow convinced him to lease the track and keep it going. Arute agreed and the rest is history but he was left holding the bag with a few thousand rain checks. Seabury Tripler was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. George Allum was the Late Model Daredevil winner. The skies cleared on Sunday for the twin 25's at Thompson. Ray Hendrick remained in the north and won the opening event over Leo Cleary and Lou Austin. Cleary won the nightcap over Fred DeSarro and Hendrick. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Lou Lazzaro beat out Jerry Cook and Robbie Kotary.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, Stafford began the Fourth of July weekend on Thursday night with a 150-lap event. Satch Worley in the Clarences' Steak House No.26 paid a visit and walked off with the top money. Bugsy Stevens finished second with Eddie Flemke Sr, third. Stafford ran again on Saturday night with Ray Miller taking the win over Geoff Bodine and the Bugman. The Stafford management announced that the speedway would be running small block modifieds beginning on Sunday, July 20 in addition to their regular NASCAR modified program on Saturday. At Islip, Fred Harbach took the win over Gary Winters and at Shangri-La, Richie Evans won twin 50's. Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford after winning the 35 lap Modified feature. Big Mike Daignault was the Late Model Daredevil winner. On Sunday, Maynard Troyer outran George Kent. At Thompson, Don Hoenig on hearing that Stafford was going to be running against him raised the modified purse to pay $600 to win instead of the $500 that had previously been paid. Leo Cleary won the 30-lap feature at Thompson over Freddie Schulz.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, the weekend started on Wednesday with events at Westboro and New Egypt. At Westboro, Bugsy Stevens in the Brady Bunch No.00 took the top spot and at New Egypt, John Blewett Jr held off Tony Siscone for the win. Monadnock ran on Thursday with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over John Rosati and Punky Caron. Holland also ran on Thursday with George Kent taking the win. Stafford ran on Friday night with Richie Evans taking the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Ray Miller. Spencer also ran on Friday with Kent continuing his win streak. Just about everything on Saturday with the exception of Islip rained out. Islip ran a 100 lapper with Tom McCann taking the win over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. A Race of Champions qualifier was run at Trenton on Sunday. New England competitors boycotted the event because of the then considered high pit fee of $15.00 and $25.00 entry fee. Needless to say the event was run without them. The event ran 81 of the 134 laps that had been scheduled when the rains came. Geoff Bodine who was leading when the event was stopped was declared the winner. Richie Evans ended up second and was followed by John Blewett Jr., Bob Riley, George Kent and Charlie Jarzombek. Thompson was also scheduled to run on Sunday but was also rained out.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the modified tour was at New Egypt on Wednesday. Jim Spencer took the win over George Kent and Brian Ross. Rain washed out Stafford on Friday night but at Spencer, Richie Evans took the win over Jan Leaty and George Kent. Rain also washed out Waterford, Riverside and Thompson. Randy Hedger scored a popular win at Shangri La over George Kent and Bill Park won the Race of Champions qualifier at Riverhead. Closing out the weekend was a special event at Oswego where Richie Evans was boss as beat out Mike McLaughlin, Jim Spencer, Brian Ross, and Charlie Jarzombek.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, the Featherlite Modified Tour stopped at Riverhead Raceway on Wednesday night. Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin scored a Long Island sweep as they finished one-two in the 151-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero finished third with pole sitter Bob Park finishing fourth. Stafford rained out on Friday and Phil Rondeau got his first modified win at Waterford on Saturday night. Stan Gregger won at Riverside where it was announced that Ben Dodge had decided against leaving after tendering his resignation. The mods invaded Oswego where Tony Hirschman beat out Jan Leaty and John Preston.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, Steve Chowanski won a 100 lap SK Modified event at Stafford. Steve Park finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. The Featherlite Modifieds were at Beech Ridge in Maine on Saturday. Steve Park in the Banzul No.8 went pole to pole to win the 100-lap event with Mike Stefanik in tow. Satch Worley, Ed Flemke Jr and Jan Leaty rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher borrowed his brother Mikey's car and won at Waterford with it on Saturday night. Bert Marvin finished second with Jim Broderick, Todd Ceravolo and Jerry Pearl rounding out the top five. It rained at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Don Howe over Ed Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action, Jeff Gordon won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

   Ten years ago in 2000 the weekend started on Thursday night Thompson where Ted Christopher took the SK modified win over Todd Ceravolo and Darrell Tiezzi. Christopher carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he won the Busch North Series-150.Christopher started 20th and had broke into the top 10 by lap 30.In taking the win, Christopher went the entire 150 lap distance non-stop. Curt Brainard won the crash fest SK-50.Kerry Malone finished second. Ron Yuhas beat out veteran Mark LaJunesse at Waterford and Howie Brode got the best of Wayne Anderson at Riverhead. Ralph Nason, at the age of 60,won the Oxford Plains 250 for the third time. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Jeff Burton took the win over Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

   Five years ago in 2005 The Fourth of July weekend got its start at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Ted Christopher, who had been winless in two previous tries, got it all together to take his first win of the year in the Sunoco Modifieds. Christopher dodged an opening lap tangle to take an early lead and the eventual win. For the season which has seen him run in 42 different events the Thompson victory was his 13th win overall for 2005. Bert Marvin turned in a strong showing to finish second with Kerry Malone, third. Bo Gunning finished fourth with Todd Ceravolo, fifth. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Ben Seitz in the NEMA Midgets, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Chris McGee in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman, Terry Boudreau in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the TIS Modifieds.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain on Friday night. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made up their rained out Haynes 150 from Memorial Day weekend on Sunday night. Ted Christopher took the win after taking the lead with three laps to go. Doug Coby in the Curt Chase No.77 dominated almost the entire event only to lose it due to worn tires. Coby ended up third behind Chuck Hossfeld. Jamie Tomaino and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ronnie Silk was the SK Modified winner while Carla Boticello won in the DARE Stocks and Mike Quintiliano won the Late Model feature.

   In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Ron Yuhas survived an early race accident and came back to record his second SK Modified victory of the 2005 season. In what turned into a marathon session of close to 90 minutes for the 35 lap feature, Yuhas’ crew did some thrashing and was able to make the necessary repairs to get him back in action. Yuhas made a bold outside move with two laps to go to take the lead from Ted Christopher. It was Christopher’s race to lose and had it not been for a right rear tire going flat the outcome would have been different. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Jay Miller originally finished third but was disqualified when his car failed to meet ride height requirements. Diego Monahan ended up fourth with Christopher, fifth. Allen Coates made it two in a row in the Late Models and Vinnie Esposito was declared the winner of the Legends feature after Len Beebe was disqualified. Al
Stone was the Sportsman winner and Bill Leonard won in the Mini Stocks.

   While rumors of doom and gloom continued to circulate concerning the demise of the Waterford Speedbowl and the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island word came of an impending project that could have resulted in increased racing activity on Long Island. Top Gun Sports and Entertainment was proposing multi-venue motorsport and entertainment facility in Yaphank which is in Suffolk County. The complex which would include a ¾ mile oval with a 3/8 or ¼ mile oval inside would also include a drag strip is adjacent to the Grucci fireworks plant, the Firematic training facility and the County prison farm. In a somewhat related announcement one of the Waterford Speedbowl owners, Terry Eames told the New London Day that there had been no decision made by a proposed developer on an option to buy the Speedbowl property.

   Tony Stewart made it two in a row in Nextel Cup competition as he won the rain delayed Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

   Last year, 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14 events, wound up their second “Spring Break” on Saturday, June 27 when the ground pounders traveled to Loudon, NH. There were 39 Modifieds on hand for the New England 100. Doug Coby captured his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award Thursday evening in qualifying. Coby, who was the next-to-last car to go out among the 39 entries, knocked Todd Szegedy off the provisional pole with a fast lap of 30.003 seconds (126.947 mph), just under Szegedy’s time of 30.005 (126.939). Ted Christopher, who entered the day having won the Coors Light Pole Award in each of the first three races of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, ended up third-fastest. Donny Lia (30.039 seconds/126.795 mph) and Rowan Pennink (30.065/126.686) rounded out the top five. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Ryan Newman qualified seventh at 30.160 seconds (126.286 mph). Following Newman in the top 10 were Ryan Preece, Ed Flemke Jr., Kevin Goodale and Bobby Grigas III.

   Donnie Lia took advantage of an accident involving Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy as he inherited the lead and eventual victory of the New England 100. Christopher had driven his heart out after a first lap spin that was precipitated by an oil leak. After losing a lap plus receiving a lucky dog free pass Christopher had placed himself in the lead by lap 90. The final ten laps sore numerous lead changes. Christopher led at the white flag, with Lia, Szegedy and Ron Silk jockeying for position. Lia dove inside of Christopher as he headed into Turn 3. Moments after Lia took the lead, Szegedy swept underneath both to the front of the line. As they came out of the final turn heading to the checkered flag, all four bounced off each other, with Christopher collecting Szegedy into the wall as Lia slipped by to grab the win. What many saw and thought what happened in the final seconds of the event was cleared up by a statement made by Ron Silk following the
event. Silk apologized that he had hit the back left rear of Lia which he believes caused Lia to get into Christopher who in turn got into Szegedy. Silk also accused Christopher for his bonsai type tactics that he used to get to the front.

   Ed Flemke Jr. wound up second, followed by Silk and Rowan Pennink. Christopher managed to gather the severely damaged car up enough to get it across the line and salvage a fifth. Doug Coby, Richard Savary, Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, and Glenn Tyler rounded out the top 10.
There were five caution periods for 28 laps. The 100 lapper produced 16 lead changes among eight drivers.

   NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman led 13 laps and swapped the lead back-and-forth with Szegedy in the early going before he spun on lap 64 and exited the race. The other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver in the race, Kasey Kahne, was involved in a Lap 72 accident. Kahne finished 31st and Newman 34th. Estimated Attendance: 37,000. Purse: $166,917.

   In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher made his hasty retreat from Loudon after qualifying well worth his while as he won the Sunoco Modified feature at the northeastern Connecticut oval. Christopher missed the qualifying heats but it didn’t hinder his march to the front in the 30 lap feature. Christopher led only one lap, the last one. Keith Rocco appeared to have victory in sight until he exited turn two, that’s where Christopher made his move. Rocco was unable to make a final run at Christopher and settled for second. The rain ceased and the clouds parted allowing the speedway to host a full night of racing competition. The action included a full card of NASCAR All-American Series racing plus two bonus features. In other action, Mike O’Sullivan earned his first of the season in the Super Late Models while John Materas was the winner in the Late Models. In the Limited Sportsman division it was Paul Palen celebrating in victory lane. John St. Germain took the All Star Race Trucks victory in a photo-finish. R.J. Marcotte scored his first of 2009 in the TIS Modifieds. Tim Taylor and Brad Caddick share Mini Stock honors.

   Rain and heavy thunder and lightning prevailed at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

   Despite a weeks delay because of rain the Waterford Speedbowl celebrated Norwich Night which honored the City of Norwich’s 350th birthday with great racing. Jeffrey Paul picked up his second consecutive SK Modified win, Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to Speedbowl victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while it was veteran competitor Allen Coates taking the checkered in the NEATV Truck Series. Kyle James and Ronnie Oldham Jr. rounded out the night’s winners capturing the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock and Street Stock events respectively. With threatening skies looming overhead during the evening, the full five-division event was completed by 9:15pm.

   Kyle Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano near the end of the Camping World 200 at Loudon, NH and held off the 19-year-old to get the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. Logano, who started from the pole and led 108 of the 200 laps, beat Busch out of the pits by the length of a hood on the final pit stop by the two leaders. But Busch was able to stay with the leader and eventually drive past him with 36 laps left.

   In Nextel Cup racing at Loudon, Joey Logano became the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, winning the rain-shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 19-year-old rookie came back from a crash that put him a lap down earlier in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and won his first Cup race in his 20th start. Logano was among a group of drivers who moved to the front of the field after getting out of sequence on fuel stops. The youngster took the lead when Ryan Newman, trying to stay on track as long as possible with rain threatening, ran out of gas on lap 264 in the event scheduled to go 301 laps. Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon moved into second and was steadily cutting into the lead as Logano, with a nearly empty gas tank, conserved as much fuel as possible. But the rain began falling three laps later. The competitors ran six slow laps under caution before NASCAR put out a red flag in hopes of drying the track. But the rain began falling harder and the race was called after 273 laps.

   Gordon was disappointed with the second-place finish. Kurt Busch, who won a rain-shortened event at Loudon last June, finished third, followed by David Reutimann and Stewart, now part owner of his own team and the series leader by 69 points over Gordon.

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 &


      Red Foote                                               Don Collins                                                Leo Cleary    

 Satch Worley                                           Bugs Stevens                                             Stan Greger

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 25, 2010

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