The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 23, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 Tommy Fenley, one of the all time greats that raced at the Kingston Fairgrounds in Southern Rhode Island made it three in a row at Stafford Springs on Friday night. Ted Stack was the Wednesday night Modified winner at what was then called the New London – Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner and Newt Palm was the Bomber winner. Don Collins was the Saturday night Modified winner at the shoreline oval. Stack was the non-Ford winner and Palm repeated in the Bombers.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble kept the locals at bay as he took the Modified feature at Stafford on Friday night. Don Collins was the Modified winner at Waterford. Bill Scrivner made it two in a row in the Bombers. . Dick Dixon was the 25 lap Modified feature win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Bill Gurney was second with Lou Carangelo, third. Lou Lazzaro won a 100 lapper at the Fonda Speedway while Nathan “Smokey” Boutwell was cleaning house at Norwood. Jerry Cook made it two in a row at Utica-Rome as he beat out Tom and Dave Kotary for the win.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the All Star League invaded the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Tuesday for a 100-lap event. Although on the outs with NASCAR, Richie Evans was allowed to run at this NASCAR sanctioned track, as the league events were open competition. Evans used his entry to good advantage as he won the 100 lapper over Maynard Troyer, Mike Loescher, Lou Lazzaro and Fred DeSarro. Regular Friday night racing at the Malta, NY speed plant was rained out. In twin 25-lap action at Stafford on Saturday night, Fred DeSarro scored a one-two punch as he won both events. In the first event, Moose Hewitt finished second with Ed Yerrington, third. The nightcap saw Ernie Gahan in the runner-up spot over Bernie Miller, Yerrington and Bob Santos. Fonda legend, Ken Shoemaker was the winner at the track of champions on Saturday night while at Plattsburg it was Denis Giroux over Dick Fowler and Ron Narducci. Dick Watson took the Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet was the Late Model Daredevil winner. DeSarro continued his win streak as he won twin 25's at Thompson on Sunday. Santos finished second in both events. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night it was Lou Lazzaro over Dave Lape and Ron Fazio.

   Thirty-five years ago in 1975, Brian Ross beat the heat with a popular win at Stafford over Ronnie Bouchard. Islip ran a double point event with Don Howe taking the win over George Wagner and Jerry Cook. Richie Evans chose not to go and instead went to Shangri-la where he won out over George Kent and Dick Finnerty. Bob Potter won the 35 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet was the Grand American Late Model winner. It rained at Fulton but not at Lancaster where Roger Treichler was victorious over Maynard Troyer. Westhampton cancelled because of the heat and at Capitol City it was Maynard Troyer over Jerry Cook.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Thompson had an open competition event scheduled for Wednesday night but it was rained out. Ronnie Bouchard and Richie Evans ruled the modified roost as they each won just about everything in New England. Bouchard won Thursday night at Monadnock, Friday night at Stafford, Saturday night at Westboro and the first of two events at Thompson on Sunday. Evans, who finished third at Stafford behind Brian Ross, won at Riverside on Saturday night and won the nightcap at Thompson. Maynard Troyer was also a double winner on the weekend as he won at Spencer and at Lancaster. Other weekend winners included Fred Harbach at New Egypt, George Kent at Shangri-la, Charlie Jarzombek at Islip, Allen Whipple at Clairmont and Lou Funk at Danbury. At Waterford, the modifieds went on strike over tires. Monadnock announced that they were shutting down until August 10th and a planned auction to sell the land that the Westboro Speedway was located on was

   Twenty-five years ago in 1985, the Circle of Champions (Modified Tour) visited New Egypt on Wednesday. Richie Evans took the win over George Kent and Tony Hirschman. Evans repeated on Friday night at Spencer where he won a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier. Like at New Egypt, Kent and Hirschman followed. Friday night racing at Stafford rained out. Saturday night at Waterford, Rick Donnelly won over Dale Holdredge and at Riverside Park; Reggie Ruggiero won a 100 lapper that was in addition to a Race of Champions qualifier was a Thompson 300 qualifier. George Kent was victorious at Shangri-La after Evans crashed and at Riverhead it was Eddie Brunnhoelzl over Tom Baldwin. Other weekend winners were Tony Siscone at Wall, Tom Druar at Lancaster and Kerry Malone at Thompson. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Bill Elliot was the pole sitter and Cale Yarborough took the win.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, the modified tour made a mid week stop at Riverside. Reggie Ruggiero cleaned house as he started 19th and at the checker at 150 laps had lapped all but the top three. Pole sitter Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Mike McLaughlin and Mike Ewanitsko. Tom Tagg won his first ever feature at Stafford on Friday night and at Waterford on Saturday, Ted Christopher took the win and in the late models, Jay Stewart got his fifth of the season. Ruggiero continued his win streak to Monadnock where he made it four in a row and went on to Riverside where he made it three for three for the week. Bo Gunning took the checker at Thompson but was disqualified with an illegal carburetor. Bob Potter was awarded the win. In other weekend action, Siege Fidenza won the Tom Druar Memorial at Lancaster and Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, John Anderson topped Ted Christopher at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford on Saturday, the late Scott Spaulding beat out Mike Gada and Jerry Pearl. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Holland, NY speedway for a 150 lapper. Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Steve Park on lap 132 and led the remaining circuits to record the win. Park finished second and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr., Jamie Tomaino, Jan Leaty and Satch Worley. Other Saturday night action saw Dan Avery in victory lane at Riverside Park and Chuck Steuer in the top spot at Riverhead. The best event of the weekend was an open competition event at Oswego on Sunday which drew 50 modifieds and was the scene of a hard fought victory by Tim Connolly who at that time was driving the Bobby Fuller No.17.Ricky Fuller finished second with Tom Cravenho, third.

   Ten years ago, in 2000, racing at Thompson on Thursday night was washed out. Rookie Mike Johnson went pole to pole to win the Busch North Series 150 at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher blew an engine while running second on lap 88.It wasn't a total loss as Christopher recorded his 46th career victory in SK modified competition. Zack Sylvester finished second. Dennis Gada beat out Ronnie Silk at Waterford on Saturday and George Kent was the winner of the Race of Champions Trail event at Holland.

   Five years ago in 2005 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Nevin George was one of 25 drivers in competition in the latest version of the Jack Roush Racing Gong Show. The Gong Show consisted of a 13 part series that would begin in the fall on the Discovery Channel. The winner would be awarded a fully sponsored ride in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Among the other contestants was Jason Boyd who drove the Florida Modified owned by Bobby Judkins. David Berghman was designated to drive the Ralph Solhem No. 0 when George was unavailable.

   The late Len Boehler began fielding Modifieds at the Seekonk Speedway some forty years ago. It was only fitting that Eric Beers, who was presently driving for Boehler Racing was able to garner his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series win on Saturday night at the track where it all began. Currently owned and managed by Janice and Michael Boehler and based in East Freetown, Mass, Boehler Racing has been responsible for numerous NASCAR Tour and track championships during its tenure. At the track known as the cement palace, Beers started sixth and ended up taking the lead for the eventual win on lap 31. John Blewett III, pinch-hitting for Mike Stefanik, drove another legendary car, the No.00 of Joe Brady, to a solid runner-up finish. Brady, who began his career in the late 1960’s at the Norwood Arena, is also responsible for numerous wins and track championships. Jerry Marquis started 16 and finished third. His car owner, Bob Garbarino, has also been in the Modified Racing business since the mid 60’s. Garbarino got his start at the Waterford Speedbowl. The top three car owners at Seekonk had collectively over 120 years of racing under their belts. Modified Tour point leader Ted Christopher led the first 30 laps before giving way to Beers. Christopher faded in the late going as he finished 17th on the lead lap at the finish. Christopher continues to lead Tony Hirschman by 60 points as the tour headed next to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. There were 31 Modifieds on hand.

   Todd Ceravolo and his family were on vacation in Michigan. He cut it short to be at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. His trip back to Connecticut paid off as he made it two in a row in Sunoco SK type Modified competition. The second-generation racer started sixth on the 19 car-starting field and by lap 11 had taken the lead and was long gone. Ceravolo’s dad, Dick, is a former Modified Champion at the Waterford Speedbowl. Richard Savory, another second-generation racer and the son of George Savory, finished second. Jeff Malave finished third with Bert Marvin and Bo Gunning rounding out the top five. Larry Barnett, who is almost a neighbor of Ceravolo, won the 40 lap Limited Sportsman feature that went non-stop. Other winners at Thompson were Dennis Perry in the Late Models, Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. During the driver’s meeting at the recent event at Beech Ridge it was stated that the Seekonk Speedway would not honor the agreement of allowing teams to pre-sign up to 10 crew members at a discounted rate of $25.00 per driver. Ed Cox (tour director) was called on the Thursday prior to the Beech Ridge event 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. It stated if the sign-in was not honored (10 crew @ $25.00) there would be no race. By Monday, July 25, the dispute was resolved as the Seekonk promoter agreed to honor the 10 per car at $25.

   It was a long night at Stafford on Friday as the remaining laps of the Coors Light 100 were run plus the regular weekly program. Willie Hardie ended a string of bad luck as he took the win. Hardie took the lead early on from Don Lia. Lia faded in the closing moments and ended up sixth at the finish. Chuck Docherty finished second. Bo Gunning didn’t lose his feel for the half mile oval as he brought the Eddie Partridge owned mount home in third spot. Woody Pitkat won the regularly scheduled 40 lapper. Chuck Docherty recorded another runner-up finish with Hardie coming home third. Todd Owen finished fourth with Gunning, fifth. The big story of the night was that Ted Christopher lost the point lead after crashing out of both events. Ryan Posocco was the Late Model winner and Fran Siana was the DARE Stock winner.

   The Waterford Speedbowl was the scene of a lot of excitement on Saturday night as Late Model division point leader Allen Coates was tossed out of the opening event after he intentionally tried to take out the leader, Bruce Thomas. For his actions Coates was disqualified with no points or money. The opening Late Model event had been held over since a rain out on June 18. Coates was allowed to race in the night’s regular Late Model event but could only manage a third behind Dennis Botticello. Shawn Monahan was the SK Modified winner. Dennis Gada finished second with Rob Summers, third. Other Waterford winners were Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks, Chris Bakaj in the Legends and Ron Oldham in the Sportsman.

   In Busch North action at the Adirondack Speedway Matt Kobyluck made it two in a row as he passed Ryan Moore with eight laps to go and held off Andy Santerre to take the win. The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was off. In Busch Racing Series action Reed Sorenson beat Mike Wallace at Gateway International.

   Last year, 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on “Summer Break before heading for the Riverhead Raceway. Ted Christopher continued to lead the point standings with a 17-point cushion over Todd Szegedy. Thirty-nine points behind Szegedy was Don Lia. Mike Stefanik and Ryan Preece who rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk, Jimmy Blewett, Woody Pitkat and Ed Flemke, Jr.

   It was hinted that The Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY could be returning to its roots as an asphalt speedway if local officials have their way. The Malta oval was a mecca for NASCAR Modified racing from 1966 to 1974. The best in the business from New York and New England would converge every Friday night for some of the best competition ever seen. Originally built as an asphalt speedway, the speedway became a dirt track in the late 70’s.

   The Thompson Speedway management took the bull by the horns as they created the position of “Competition Director” and hired Mike Chapman to fill that position. His job would be that of a cop as he would be making judgment calls during the running of the weekly events at the northeast Connecticut oval. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks would remain in his position and would focus more on the technical end of the racing programs. In recent weeks Brooks had preached and threatened competitors for weeks, especially to those in the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds. The deliberate wrecking and rough riding continued with no action taken. It would be Chapman’s job to step on those who deliberately wreck or spin other competitors.

   As rain began to fall Chapman held his first drivers meeting and laid down the law and announced that he wasn’t there to make friends. Chapman stated that he would not tolerate the beating and banging that has become the norm, especially in the Modifieds. One who deliberately takes out the leader goes to the back or to the pits. One who drives like a windshield wiper goes to the back and one who deliberately crashes into another competitor will be dealt with. Chapman talks the talk, hopefully he will walk the walk!

   In other news from Thompson, the speedway had become a part of a great new service titled “”. sends notifications of cancellations or delays to mobile phones, pagers, blackberries or e-mails. The service was free for member tracks or users.
Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway was rained out as over four inches of rain fell on Thursday night into Friday morning.

   The 6th Annual CARQUEST SK 150 was on tap at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Frank Ruocco came up the big winner, as he led the final 130-laps to score his first SK Modified feature victory of the 2009 season. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Dillon Moltz took down his fourth win of the 2009 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Brit Andersen took his fourth win of the 2009 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Norm Sears took his first career Limited Late Model feature win in 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders became the first repeat DARE Stock feature winner of the 2009 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Unofficial SK Modified third place finisher Tom Bolles' car was found to exceed the maximum left side weight percentage allowed and he was penalized from his finishing position of third place to the last place finishing position of 27th place.

   The racing action at Waterford Speedbowl took on a different look as the Saturday divisions were schedule to race on both Wednesday and Saturday. Corey Hutchings grabbed his first open-wheel win at the ‘Bowl, holding off the competition in a fiercely competitive SK Modified event. Bruce Thomas Jr. prevailed late to win the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model event, while it was Walt Hovey Jr taking the Street Stock win. Defending Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock champion Ken Cassidy Jr. returned to Victory Lane, as did Ryan Morgan in Legends Car action.

   With the win, Hutchings had now captured victories in three of the Speedbowl's four NASCAR divisions. He was a past Street Stock and Late Model track champion.

   The regular divisions returned on Saturday night and it was high tide at the shoreline oval. The four inches of rain that fell on the Thompson also put the Speedbowl under water. The infield was finally drained and the racing went on as planned. Because of delays qualifying heat events were eliminated.

   There two first time winners this season reaching victory lane as Jeff Pearl won the SK Modified race while Adam Cantor took his first NEMA Midget event of the year. Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to victory lane in the Late Models, and Ed Puleo and Kyle James repeated in the Street Stock and Mini Stock races.

   Thomas, the two-time defending Late Model division champion, wracked up his ninth victory in 12 events this year. Tim Jordan, who dogged Thomas until the final lap crashed into the turn three wall. A video indicated that Jordan over drove and lost control. After viewing the video Jordan was quoted on the Jeff website as saying “I hit the wall by misjudging. Just wanted to let the racing community know that. I screwed up.”

   In Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson cashed in on the most expensive speeding ticket in NASCAR history, grabbing an improbable third victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a penalty to Juan Pablo Montoya blew the race wide open. In a performance that mirrored his dominating Indianapolis 500 victory nine years ago, Montoya was in cruise control as he led 116 laps and built a 5-second lead over the competition. Then NASCAR flagged him for speeding on a routine pit stop with 35 laps remaining, and the driver became unglued.

   The penalty took him out of contention and relegated him to an 11th-place finish. Montoya, who had moved as high as sixth in the Sprint Cup standings as he ran out front, instead lost a spot and is now 10th in the race for the Chase for the championship. The difference in his paycheck was severe: Johnson earned $448,001 for the victory, while Montoya's share of the purse was knocked down to $224,048. Mark Martin finished second with Tony Stewart, third.

   In Nationwide Series racing at the O’Reilley Raceway Park, Carl Edwards started 42nd out of 43 drivers because he spent the day at Brickyard 400 qualifying and got into the Saturday night race on owner points took the win. He moved up 15 spots by the end of the fourth lap, and took the lead for good in lap 179.Kyle Busch, who started 41st and qualified because of owner points, finished second.

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 &


     Bryan Osgood                                        John Anderson                                          Dick Jackson    

    John Anderson                                         Mark Berndt                                             Dick Dickson     

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: July 23, 2010

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