The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 16, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 Tommy Fenley was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford Springs. Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. He carried his win streak to Saturday night when he won again. Also recording wins on Saturday night was Hank Stevens in the non-Fords and Eddie Moody in the Bombers. Freddie Schultz was the big winner at the Norwood Arena.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 the ever popular Pete Corey took the Friday night win at Stafford Springs. Joe Trudeau scored a popular win at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Bill Scrivner was the Bomber feature winner. A new speedway in the northeast made its debut. Joe Lesik built a 4/10 asphalt oval in Malta, NY. He tried for a NASCAR sanction but was denied. He aligned his track with the United Stock Car Club of Harvey Tattersall for the first year of racing. The speedway, which in coming years would see the best of New York state and New England do battle, opened on July 16. Billy Greco took the opener and was followed by Don Flynn, Ed Patnode and Jerry Humiston. Rain washed out the racing at Fonda on Saturday night. At the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night hometown favorite Jerry Cook took the 30 lap win over Tom Kotary and Rene Charland.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the All Star League visited Lebanon Valley on Wednesday where Buzzie Reutaman won the 100 lap main event over Will Cagle and Bob Rossell. Friday night at Malta Joe Thomas took the win over Eddie Flemke and Dick Nephew. Flemke drove a car owned by Richie Evans who at that time was under suspension from NASCAR because he had raced in non sanctioned events. On Saturday night at Stafford, Fred DeSarro went two for two as he won both of the twin 25's. At Plattsburg, Brian Ross brought his own car and won the main event over Gene Mangino and Joe Thomas. Twin 25 action at Fonda saw Lou Lazzaro and Lee Millington in the top spots. Dick Dunn, who was destined to become a multi-time track champion won the Modified feature at Waterford. Larry Crandall was the Late Model Daredevil winner. On Sunday, DeSarro was headed for a two-fer when Leo Cleary stepped in to take the nightcap. Utica-Rome closed out the weekend on Sunday night where Wild Bill Henry took the win over Dick Fowler and Ray Sitterly.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, the Yankee All Star league visited Waterford on Wednesday with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win. Freeport Speedway on Long Island was having financial problems and announced that they were closing down. Ironically, the last show rained out and was not rescheduled. In other Long Island action, Charlie Jarzombek went two for two as he won on Saturday night at Islip and again on Sunday at Westhampton. Saturday night at Stafford saw Geoff Bodine beating out Brian Ross, Bugsy Stevens and John Rosati. Shangri-La ran double features with Sonney Seamon and George Kent taking top honors and at Lancaster; Maynard Troyer took the main event. Dick Dunn, in the Al and Peg Gaudreau No.3 won the 100 lap Mid Season Championship at Waterford. Bob Gada Sr was the Grand American Late Model winner. Sunday night racing at Fulton was cancelled because of rain.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Modified Madness came to Stafford on Tuesday. Supermodifieds were also on the program with a separate feature. Richie Evans, complete with a wing won the modified portion over Ronnie Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens. Bentley Warren and Bob Stelter finished one-two as they turned laps consistently in 18.40-sec. Thursday night at Monadnock; Punky Caron made it two in a row. John Rosati and Ron Bouchard followed but had nothing for the Goshen, N.H. Police Chief. Friday night at Stafford Ronnie Bouchard returned to the winners circle as he beat out Bugsy Stevens and Corky Cookman. At Spencer it was George Kent over Jerry Cook, Doug Hewitt and Lou Lazzaro. Saturday night action saw Bugsy Stevens over Ronnie Bouchard and Bob Fuller at Westboro. At Waterford, Bob Potter added to his feature win total as he won a 100 lapper over Rick Donnelly, Dickie Doo Ceravolo and Bill Greco. Ron Sly Fox was the Superstock winner and Joe Mullen won his first Grand American-Late Model finish. Gil Hearne won the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium over Jim Hoffman. Other weekend winners included Richie Evans at Riverside and Thompson, Jerry Cook at Shangri-La and Tom McCann at Islip.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the modified tour visited Stafford on Tuesday for a 50 lapper. Richie Evans took the win over Reggie Ruggerio and Charlie Jarzombek. The only thing that stopped Evans from a grand slam for the weekend was rain at Spencer on Friday night as he also won at Shangri-La on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday. Stafford ran on Friday night and it was Ruggerio at the stripe over Jarzombek. Richie Gallup beat out Harry Rice at Waterford on Saturday and at Riverside, Kenny Bouchard beat old pro Bob Polverari. Jim Spencer made a rare appearance at Wall Stadium on Saturday and walked of with the 200 lap Garden State Classic. Keith Williams was the Thompson SK modified winner. In Winston Cup news, Bobby Allison, unhappy with his DiGard team bought out his contract and was immediately replaced by Greg Sacks who had recently won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in a DiGard R & D car crew chiefed by Gary Nelson.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, rain washed out just about everything except events at Waterford and Riverside. At Waterford, George Greco, nephew of auto racing legend Bill Greco, won his first ever SK modified feature. Jim Broderick finished second. At Riverside, Bob Polverari took the win over Reggie Ruggerio and Eddie Spires. The racing world was shocked and saddened when it was learned that veteran car owner Richard Armstrong was operated on to remove a cancerous tumor.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, the modified tour visited Riverside Park on Wednesday. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Dan Avery with three to go to win the slam-bang 150 lapper. Avery finished second with Mike Ewanitsko, third. Waterford ran a mid-week special on Wednesday with Jim Broderick all but unbeatable over Bert Marvin, Todd Ceravolo and Jerry Pearl. Friday night at Stafford, Lloyd Agor held off Ted Christopher and John Anderson for the SK mod win. Blast Off 95, which had been rained out in April, was finally run at Waterford on Saturday night. John Anderson passed Todd Ceravolo with 12 laps to go and walked off with the top money. Jim Broderick ended up third. Dan Avery won out over Reggie Ruggerio at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Ed Brunnhoelzl over Don Howe. In Winston Cup action, Sterling Marlin won at Talledega which was the scene of an end over end by Ken Schrader who had made contact with Jeff Gordon. The Busch North Series ran at Monadnock. Dave Dion took the lead from Kelly Moore with 63 laps to go and won that event.

   Ten years ago in 2000, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway for a Thursday night, 150-lap event. Jerry Marquis, in the Mario Fiore No. 44 took the lead from Tom Cravenho on lap127 and went on to score the win. Ted Christopher, in the Brady Bunch No. 00 finished second with Reggie Ruggerio, third. Ricky Fuller and John Blewett III rounded out the top five. Bert Marvin won the 30-lap Sunoco SK-type modified feature. Todd Ceravolo finished second. Jim Williams scored his first ever SK Modified win on Friday night at Stafford. Brad Hietella finished second. Tucker Reynolds won a 100 lapper at Waterford on Saturday night. Dennis Gada and Ed Reed Jr followed. Chuck Steuer was the winner at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Rusty Wallace took the 500-mile win after Jerremy Mayfield blew a tire on the last lap. In Busch Series racing at Pikes Peak, Jeff Green took the win over David Green and Andy Santerre.

   Five years ago in 2005 the True Value Modified Series along with the Seekonk Speedway and Viveiros Insurance of Southeastern Mass. embarked on a bold experiment on Wednesday with the presentation of “Modified Madness” which featured a 100 lap main event paying $10,000 to win. Now in its second year of existence the True Value Modified Series was born in New Hampshire as a result of the Claremont Speedway doing away with the Modifieds for 2004. The TVMS has become a less expensive alternative to the NASCAR sanctioned Whelan Modified Tour. A good mix of Mod Tour and TVMS cars were on hand as the field totaled 27. When the dust finally settled it was Modified Tour regular Donnie Lia taking the win and the top prize. Lia passed Ted Christopher in the final moments. Open Wheeled Modified Racing on a short track is a contact sport. The Viveirous 100 was just that. Eric Beers started on the outside pole and was able to wrestle the lead from Mike Christopher on lap 2. Beers led the event until lap 78 when he unavoidably crashed into a lapped car. Kirk Alexander, who was running second at the time, crashed into Beers. Both pitted for repairs and were able to rejoin the fray. With 22 laps to go Beers was able to battle his way to the front and at the finish ended up third behind Lia and Christopher. Rounding out the top five at the finish was Eric Berndt. Alexander ended his night in 19th spot.

   Defending Sunoco Modified champion Todd Ceravolo got his first win of the season at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Ceravolo started sixth and ended up beating his former mount, being driven by Tom Cravenho, to the finish line. Bert Marvin finished third with Richard Savory, fourth. Bo Gunning made a strong return as he finished fifth. Other winners were Corey Hutchings in the Late Models, Jeff Zuidema in the Pro Stocks, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman, Rick Blanchard in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the Thompson Modifieds.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine on Saturday night. Jerry Marquis ended a long dry spell as he secured his first victory for car owner Bob Garbarino. Marquis, who went non-stop in the 150-lap event, took the lead on lap 8 from Nevin George. George later dropped out with transmission problems on lap 114. Tony Hirschman finished second with Eric Beers in the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family, third. Steve Whitt and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Twenty-eight cars made the trip to Maine.
It was announced at the drivers meeting in Beech Ridge that the Seekonk Speedway would not honor the long standing gentlemen’s agreement of allowing teams to pre-sign up to 10 crew members at a discounted rate of $25.00 per driver. Ed Cox (NASCAR tour director) was called on Thursday by the Seekonk management to let the teams know it would be $40.00 per person. This did not go over well with the teams. There was a petition signed by all drivers/owners at Beech Ridge and handed to NASCAR, if the sign-in is not honored (10 crew @ $25.00) there would be no race. Evidently the Seekonk management was not happy with the support they got for their recent Mid-Week open event.

   At Stafford on Friday night it looked as though the Coors Light SK Modified 100 would go off without a hitch but the rain gods had other ideas as the event was soaked after only 34 laps were completed. The 100 lapper would be completed on Friday, July 29, with Don Lia leading the pack. Willie Hardie will start second with Jeff Malave, third. Ed Ricard was the Late Model winner with Michael Bennett taking the limited late model feature. On Sunday night the Stafford Speedway finished up the 100 lap Late Model ASB 100 that was rained on at the beginning of the month. Scott Foster JR. won the event 16 years after his father won the same race. Keith Rocco scored his first ever SK Modified win.

   The Waterford Speedbowl hosted the Busch North Series on Saturday night. Despite the efforts of NASCAR to make for better racing Matt Kobyluck led all 150 laps to take the green. In four of five Busch North Series events in 2005 there has not been one lead change except when Ryan Moore led at Waterford for two different laps. Had it not been for Mike Stefanik pitting for tires at the recent Loudon event it would have been five for five with no passing. It is not the fault of the Busch North Series teams that the events have been yawners. NASCAR mandated a new tire for this year and since then it’s been a down hill slide. The Busch North Series race teams are hard working, highly competitive individuals and deserve better than this. Jeff Pearl went pole to pole to win the SK Modified feature at the shoreline oval.

   Kurt Busch won the Nextel Cup event at Pocono and David Green was the Busch Series winner at Pikes Peak.

   Last year, 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on “Summer Break before heading for the Riverhead Raceway on August 1. While the Whelen Modifieds continued to race for paltry purses at some tracks, teams that compete in the DIRTCar series had recently raced in a 100 lap event at the Cayuga County Fair Speedway in New York for a $100,000 purse that paid the winner $20,000. NASCAR rants and raves about the Modifieds and the great shows they put on yet they continued to throw crumbs their way. The recent Modified tour event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was clearly the best show of the weekend. Their racing purse was the least of those in competition. A recent edition of Area Auto Racing News, a highly respected trade paper based in New Jersey, stated that the total purse payout at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was $7,005,549. The Sprint Cup purse consumed the lion’s share at $5,423,189. The Nationwide Series collected $1,197,559.

   The Camping World Series East purse was $217,884 and at the bottom of the barrel were the Modifieds whose purse totaled $166,917. In comparison to other Modified Tour events the New Hampshire purse was a good one. Based on the level of competition and the quality of the racing something was definitely wrong here. Hopefully those in charge at New Hampshire would correct this!

   In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the Sunoco Modifieds seem to want to self destruct as numerous wrecks continue to plague the division. A lot of it is attributed to rough driving that continues to go unchecked by officials in charge of the racing program. Bump and run, bonsai the leader, knock him out of the way is the norm. If its ok for the NASCAR Cup drivers to do it I guess its ok for the local guys to do it. Hopefully Richard Brooks and Ben Dodge will read the riot act to the competitors and take action if necessary.

   Thompson International Speedway implemented the new NASCAR rule where the leader decides if they want to restart on the inside or the outside. With weather moving in the action was hot and heavy. The rains came within minutes of the final checker flag of the evening. The TIS Modifieds did double duty as they ran two features, the Super Late Models had their 50 lap extra distance race. Ted Christopher took down a highly contested win in Sunoco Modified action. Larry Barnett continued his domination in the Limited Sportsman division. Tommy O’Sullivan took down his first Late Model victory of the season as did Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks.

   Kerry Malone led the field to the green flag in Sunoco Modified action. Jimmy Blewett grabbed the lead on lap 1. Malone had heavy pressure from Woody Pitkat who went low and took the spot on lap 3. Pitkat then glued himself to Blewetts’s back bumper. A lap later he went low and took the lead; however, Blewett wasn’t giving up easily. Ted Christopher now joined the fray in fourth and brought Keith Rocco with him. Rocco dove low under Christopher and took over the fourth spot and on the backstretch took over third. The action was slowed by a spin by John Catania.

   On the restart Blewett jumped out to the lead but Josh Sylvester made heavy contact with the wall in between turns 1 and 2. When they went back to green, Blewett went back to the lead but Pitkat went high and took over the top spot bringing Rocco with him. Christopher went high on Blewett and took over third. Rocco took over the top spot after making slight contact with Pitkat. Christopher followed Rocco and grabbed second. Tim Sullivan had made his way up to the fifth spot. Just past halfway Christopher went low and took over the lead for a split second over Rocco who then took the spot back. Christopher inherited the lead when contact between Pitkat and Rocco sent Rocco hard into the wall in turns 1 & 2.

   With the green back in the air, Christopher came across the line first. In almost the same spot where Rocco just hit, Harry Rheaume made hard contact with the wall. TC and Pitkat restarted their battle with the green flag back in the air. Sullivan went low and took the third spot from Rowan Pennink. On lap 21 Pitkat went low and took over the top spot. A spin by Rick D’Abate slowed the field again his machine onto pit road for some attention. Pitkat took the inside for the restart. It was a smart move as he took off with Christopher falling back. Christopher went low and retook the spot. Pitkat wasn’t giving up and battled back. He was looking high and low lap after lap. Pennink made contact with the backstretch wall slowing the field again. At lap 26 it was a single file restart. Christopher again took the lead but again Pitkat wasn’t going to lie down and give up. He looked high in turn 4, low in turn 1 and applied the pressure. Bert Marvin had moved his way up to fourth. After taking the white flag, Pitkat took the lead but he and Christopher made contact between 3 and 4 and TC took down the win. Tim O’Sullivan ended up in second spot and was followed by Bert Marvin, Woody Pitkat, Rick Shawn, Kerry Malone, Jimmy Blewett, Todd Ceravolo, Danny Cates and Wayne Arute.

   Keith Rocco recovered from his wreck at Thompson to record his fourth win of the season at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Tom Butler took down his first feature win at Stafford since 2006 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Earl Pelletier was a first time 2009 winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand took home his fourth victory of the 2009 season in the in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly became the 9th different winner in as many features this season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Wade Mattesen powering to the outside of Joe Allegro, Jr. to take the lead. Allegro settled into second with Matt Gallo, Zach Sylvester, and Richie Pallai, Jr. making up the top-5. Sylvester quickly moved to third, with Tom Bolles taking fourth and Curt Brainard moving into fifth place. Mattesen had things well in hand out front, but the action was slowed for the first time with 18 laps complete for a spin by Willie Hardie on the frontstretch. Ted Christopher and Brad Hietala spun on the restart to bring the caution back out. The lap-19 restart saw Rocco power past Mattesen to take over the race lead. The field completed one lap before Christopher and Allegro went around in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out. Rocco charged to the lead on the restart with Mark Bakaj second, Jeff Malave third, Doug Coby fourth and Frank Ruocco fifth. The field ran in line until lap-26 when Bakaj got loose in turn 4 and
touched wheels with Coby, which sent both cars spinning and brought the caution back out.

   After several more caution periods from lap-27 to lap-29, Rocco was still out front, with Malave, Donny Travaglin, Woody Pitkat, and Christopher behind him. The leaders ran in single file until lap-26 when Travaglin made a move to the inside of Malave for second, which allowed Christopher to follow Travaglin past Malave. Christopher and Malave would both get back by Travaglin in the last couple laps, but it was all Rocco at the front as he scored his fourth feature victory of the 2009 season. Christopher finished second, with Malave, Travaglin, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.

   True Value Modified Racing Series point leader Jon McKennedy roared to his third win of the season and his sixth career victory Saturday night, July 18, as he captured the “Maine-ly Sports 100” at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. McKennedy, fast in earlier practice sessions, won his qualifying heat, and started on the pole in the 100 lap event. McKennedy jumped into the lead from his pole starting position and held it until passed by Rob Goodenough on lap 17. Andy Seuss took over the top spot on the 43rd lap and held off the constant challenges of Goodenough, and then McKennedy, until lap 77. McKennedy, using lapped traffic to his advantage, grabbed the top spot from Seuss. McKennedy then set a torrid pace to go on and score the win.

   Dwight Jarvis who started 16th in the field, finished in a respectable runner-up spot, with David, Pinkham, last years race winner, finishing third. Pinkham started last in a 22 car field. Seuss finished fourth, with Eddie Dachenhasuen, making a late race charge finishing fifth. The race, slowed by only two caution flags on laps 16 and 98, was run off in just 28 minutes.

   The racing action at Waterford Speedbowl took on a different look as the regular Saturday night divisions had the night off. The first ever Saturday Wild ‘n Wacky racing event took place at Waterford Speedbowl under sunny and warm conditions. The Legends Car series was in the spotlight, competing in a national qualifier event with the winner earning a guaranteed berth in the Raceceiver Legends Nationals at Georgia’s Lanier Speedway in October. Berlin, CT competitor Jason Palmer continued his domination in the division this year, bouncing back from early race trouble to secure the win. Ledyard’s Charles Beal won his second consecutive Super X-Car race, Willington’s John Bowes dominated the X-Car event, and David Flammia Jr. of Waterbury was the late benefactor in winning the X-Modified race. Tyler Chalue won the Bandolero race.

   The Seekonk Speedway ran their annual Open Modified 100 on Wednesday, July 15. Chris Pasteryak started 8th and after dogging Mike Stefanik for many laps, passed him for the lead and eventual win on lap 85. For his efforts Pasteryak collected $10,000. Jon McKennedy finished second and was followed by Jimmy Kuhn, Stefanik and Matt Hirschman.

   Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series again, cruising to victory in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday. Reed Sorenson finished second and Carl Edwards was third. Mike Bliss and Brad Coleman rounded out the top five. The Nextel Cup division had the week off.

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 &


     Leo Cleary                                                Billy Greco                                               Gene Bergin    

    Bill Wimble                                         Buzzie Reutimann                                             Ed Ortiz      

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


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

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