The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 30, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 Tommy Fenley made it four in a row in Friday night competition on the dirt at Stafford Springs. Rain washed out the Wednesday and Saturday night racing programs at the Waterford Speedbowl.

   Forty-five years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble made it three in a row at the Stafford Springs Speedway as the New Yorkers continued to dominate the competition at the Connecticut oval. Sal Dee, who had been shutout of the winner’s circle at the Waterford Speedbowl since winning on opening day, took the 30 lap Modified win at the shoreline oval. In United Modified action at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Billy Greco won his second feature of the year. Elton Hill finished second with Ed Patnoad, third and Dick Dixon, fourth. Bob Bruno won at the Fonda Speedway and at the Utica – Rome Speedway Jerry Cook won an unprecedented three in a row as he raced to the top spot in a 150 lapper at the central New York oval.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the All Star League traveled to New Jersey for two mid week events. On Tuesday at Wall Stadium, local runner Don Stives took the win over Maynard Troyer. On the dirt at Flemington on Wednesday it was Dick Havens over Joe Kelly, Will Cage, Bob Roses and Lou Laser. Friday night at Malta, Lou Laser again showed his versatility as he won with the same car he had driven on dirt during the week. Bernie Miller finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. In twin 25 action at Stafford on Saturday night, Jerry Dostie in the Bob Johnson No.17 won the first event over Billy Harman, Sal Dee and Moose Hewitt. Hewitt won the nightcap over Freddie Schulz, Dostie, Dee and Harman. Plattsburg ran an added points event but when the checkers fell it was local favorite Guy Chartrand in the Ed Cloce Hemi-Cuda taking the win. Lou Lazzaro finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Denis Giroux. Bob Potter won a 30 lap Modified feature at Waterford. Bill Sweet made it two in a row in Late Model Daredevil action. At Fonda it was Jerry Pennock Sr and in Sunday twin 25 action at Thompson it was Leo Cleary and Lou Austin taking the wins. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper on Sunday night and it was Eddie Flemke in the Richie Evans team car taking the win. DeSarro finished second with Robbie Kotary, third.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, Flyin Brian Ross in the Mystic Missile made it two in a row at Stafford as he beat out Geoff Bodine to win the Ferrara 100. Kenny Bouchard finished third with Eddie Flemke and John Rosati rounding out the top five. Dick Dunn was the 35 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Twin 50's were run at Shangri-La with Richie Evans and George Kent taking top honors. On the Island, Fred Harbach beat out Wayne Anderson and Charlie Jarzombek to take the win at Islip and at Westhampton on Sunday, Jarzombek won out over Jerry Cook and Don Howe. In New York State, Maynard Troyer went two for two as he won at both Lancaster and at Fulton.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans was on a tear and had it not been for Geoff Bodine, the popular champion would have gone five for five on the weekend. Evans' weekend started at New Egypt on Wednesday where he won a 150 lap event over Wayne Anderson and John Blewett Jr. At Holland, NY on Thursday he won a Race of Champions qualifier over George Kent and Jerry Cook. From there it was off to Stafford where won again. Bob Polverari, John Rosati and Mike Stefanik followed. At Riverside Park on Saturday night he made it four in a row at the tight 1/4-mile oval. From Riverside it was off to Oswego. Geoff Bodine who had won at Shangri-La on Saturday night was the spoiler as he beat out Evans. Doug Hewitt finished second with Greg Sacks, fourth. Other weekend winners were George Savory at Westboro, John Rosati at Thompson, Jim Hendrickson at Wall and rain at Waterford, Riverhead and Lancaster.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, Holland ran twin 50's on Thursday night with Richie Evans and Jeff Fuller sharing the spotlight. Kenny Bouchard took the top spot at Stafford and at Waterford, veterans Jerry Pearl and Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished one-two. At Oswego on Sunday, George Brunnhoelzl was the top gun over Evans and Brian Ross. Other weekend winners were Jerry Cranmer at New Egypt and Wall, Tony Jankowiac at Spencer, Don Pratt at Shangri-La, Dan Avery at Riverside and Wayne Dion at Thompson.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, the Modified Tour traveled to Riverhead on Wednesday where Reggie Ruggiero broke the strong hold of the locals as he won the event. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Bob Park. Stafford was closed because of a monster truck event. At Monadnock, Dunk Rudolph took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Jerry Marquis. Stan Gregger beat out Jerry Marquis at Riverside. Eddie Brunnhoelzl won the Charlie Jarzombek memorial at Riverhead and Jan Leaty won a 75 lapper at Shangri-La.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995 rain washed out Stafford, Waterford, Riverside and the Mod Tour-Busch North double header at Thompson. Riverhead got a break and ran the 76 lap Charlie Jarzombek Memorial, which was won by Don Howe. Bill Park finished second with Lenny Fischer, third. In Winston Cup action, the Brickyard 400 started four hours late because of rain. Dale Earnhardt took the win. Jason Keller won the Busch Grandnational event at Indianaposis Raceway Park after Johnny Benson spun in oil.

   Ten years ago in 2000 Stafford Speedway ran twin 40's on Friday night. Ted Christopher went two for two as he all but cleaned house. Lloyd Agor was the runner-up in the first event and Jeff Malave was the runner-up in the nightcap. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a 200 lapper on Saturday night. Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Frank Vigliarolo on lap 20 and never looked back. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Chuck Steuer and John Blewett III. At Waterford, Ron Yuhas Jr. scored his third win over Dennis Gada and Tucker Reynolds Jr. In Winston Cup action, Bob Labonte took the lead with 15 laps to go and went on to victory in the Brickyard 400.Ron Hornaday was the Busch Grandnational winner at Indianapolis Raceway Park. On a sad note, New York State dirt track driving legend Pete Corey passed away at the age of 70.

   Five years ago in 2005 Denise Barry Dion passed away suddenly on Wednesday, August 3. Denise was the sister and spotter of Modified driver Ken Barry (21), daughter to car owner Art and Deborah Barry and wife to Wayne Dion, Pro Stock driver. Denise, 45, was swimming when she began experiencing sudden abdominal pain and was then rushed to the hospital, put on life support, and by early evening, had passed away. George "Mad Dog" Bessette, a frequent winner at the Thompson Speedway broke his back in a last lap accident at Oxford Plains Speedway while trying to qualify for the recent Oxford 250. He was out of a qualifying position when the driver behind pushed him into the wall. He was not paralyzed but was in a lot of pain. Bessette was diagnosed with having broken his first vertebrae.

   Jeff Malave padded his Sunoco Modified point lead at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Malave received a gift when the top three, Kerry Malone, Bo Gunning and Richard Savory tangled with eight laps to go. Bert Marvin ended up second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Ricky Shawn and Kenny Bouchard rounded out the top five. Second generation driver Fred Astle, driving the Rollie Linblad No. 48 went pole to pole to win the Pro Stock feature. Other Thursday night winners were Glenn Boss who took his fifth win of the year in the Limited Sportsman, Dennis Botticello in the Late Models, Randy Jurcik in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the Thompson Modifieds.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night. Donnie Lia emerged as the next leader of the Long Island gang as he continued to turn in impressive finishes. At Riverhead he started on the pole and paced himself behind early leader John Fortin who led the first 39 laps. A faulty transmission ended Fortin’s night. Lia was waiting in the wings and took command of the situation and never looked back as he led the balance of the 200-lap event to record the win. Tony Hirschman came from 8th spot to finish second with Jerry Marqius, third. Rounding out the top five were Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers. Chris Kopec elected to step aside from his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ride because of medical problems. Mike Stefanik moved from the Brady Bunch No.00 to the vacated No. 16. John Blewett III had taken over the Brady car.

   Eric Berndt ended a long dry spell at Stafford on Friday night as every lap of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Jeff Baral finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Donnie Lia and Mike Holdredge rounded out the top five. Tom Butler was the Late Model winner. The Waterford Speedbowl saw Dennis Charette lead every lap of the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Rob Janovic, third. Dennis Botticello was the Late Model winner with Tim Fogg taking top honors in the Sportsman. Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.
Tony Stewart won the Nextel Cup Brickyard 400 and Martin Truex JR won the Busch Series event at Indianapolis

   Last year, 2009 It was damned if you do and damned if you don’t sometimes in racing. On Thursday night at the Thompson Speedway Drivers Meeting Mike Chapman, the new Competition Director (Traffic Cop), again addressed the drivers telling them that rough driving, taking out the leader, would not be tolerated. Keith Rocco, who has been at the center of some of the more aggressive driving asked Chapman if it was ok to “move” a competitor out of the way as long as you didn’t force him to crash. Chapman’s answer was, “Test Me and you will find out”. During the running of the first of the two 30 lap Sunoco (SK type) Modified found himself crashed into the concrete wall between turns one and two after coming in contact with Ted Christopher. From his vantage point in the officials tower Chapman made the call to put Christopher to the rear for what looked like a deliberate move. In all honesty that’s the way it looked! After listening to a conversation between a driver, who was behind the pair, with his crew chief, it was said that Rocco had over corrected after bouncing off of Christopher’s nerf bar and had crashed himself into the wall. With six laps left Christopher came back to finish seventh. Woody Pitkat ended up taking the win over Danny Cates, Jimmy Blewett and Todd Ceravolo. Rocco ended up in 15th spot. Chapman’s second call of the night was to put Super Late Model competitor Rick Fuller to the rear for “Playing Games” on numerous restarts. Fuller was not happy but that’s the way the mop flops sometime!

   Kerry Malone won the second 30 lap Sunoco Modified event that went off without incident. Malone started on the outside pole and led wire to wire. Ted Christopher finished second. Keith Rocco finished third after his crew thrashed to replace his entire right front suspension that had been severely damaged. Woody Pitkat had the misfortune of having his engine blow.

   All in all, it was a great night of racing that was completely over by 9:15pm. A very strong crowd was on hand. It was announced that Bob Duval from NASCAR was on hand. If he was there he made like the invisible man!..

   Other Thursday night Thunder winners at Thompson were Tim Taylor in the Mini Stocks Norm Wrenn in the Super Late Models, John Materas in the Late Models, Chris “Mouse” Douton in the Limited Sportsman and Brian Tagg in the TIS Modifieds.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their “Summer Break as they converged on the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night, August 1. Ryan Preece, driving the Mighty No.3 of the Boehler family went pole to pole to win the 150 lap event. Preece, who was also the Coors Light Pole sitter had the car that no one could catch. Ted Christopher was an early threat. His efforts came to an end on lap 83 when he sustained suspension damage after hitting the wall. His 20th place finish cost him the series point lead which is now held by Todd Szegedy who finished 8th. Because of the fact that the Riverhead event had a sub-standard purse, $54,035, there were only 15 Whelen Tour Modified regulars on hand. Riverhead regular Dave Brigati finished in the second spot with Howie Brode, third. Justin Bonsignore finished fourth with Glen Reen rounding out the top five.

   Had it not been for the fact that the Riverhead regulars and a few of the True Value competitors made up the field the car count would have been light. Many of those who previously supported the tour decided to stay home rather than be guaranteed to lose money. In many cases NASCAR and the tracks brag about their race purses. There was no mention of the total purse until after the event was run. Like in Christopher’s case, many of the tour regulars on hand had less than good days. Mike Stefanik finished 19th with a broken radiator while Donnie Lia finished 23rd and Ron Silk finished 27th with blown engines.

   Lou Modestino reports that the New Hampshire Motor Speedway appears to be a choice of the Indy Racing League to get one of those events in 2010, according to the Union Leader of Manchester, N.H. It’s all due to the fact that the Milwaukee Mile is in financial trouble and owes the IRL a significant sum of money, which is unpaid for an event held there just after this year’s Indy 500. The Union Leader also reported that NHMS would like the IRL date to fall between the first NASCAR Nextel Cup date of July 3 and the second Cup date of Sept. 12 of 2010. The Milwaukee Mile also owes a considerable sum to NASCAR which recently sanctioned a Nationwide Series event.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl, Rob Janovic Jr. and Ernie Bertrand were first time winners this season in the SK Modified and Late Model divisions respectively, while it was Al Stone III winning his fourth Street Stock event, Allen Coates continuing his unbeaten streak in the Trucks, and Curt D’addario Sr. winning the X-Car race. The Modified, Late Model, and Street Stock point battles were all shaken up following the completion of their feature events.Rob Janovic Jr. and Tyler Chadwick brought the SK Modified field to green, with Waterford native Janovic moving out front on lap one. Ledyard’s Chadwick tucked in behind Janovic and stayed on the leader’s bumper. Salem drivers Corey Hutchings and Dennis Gada joined Ledyard’s Jeff Paul and points leader Keith Rocco in a tight pack dicing for position behind the top two. Rocco, moved to fourth on lap five then moved inside Hutchings for third by time the field completed lap nine. Up front Janovic wasn’t able to shake free from Chadwick. The pair raced together several car lengths in front of Rocco who was moving in after taking over the third spot. Paul was holding off Gada for fourth further back.

   The field continued racing under green through halfway. Rocco had reached the leaders, beginning to pressure Chadwick for second on lap 20. The event’s first caution waved on lap 21 for Norwich’s Tom Abele who spun off turn four. On the restart Janovic held the advantage by the time the field reached turn one. Rocco was able to move into second past Chadwick and started to pressure Janovic for the top spot. Rocco’s top points competitor, Ron Yuhas Jr. of Groton, emerged into the top five with 12 laps remaining. He immediately made an inside move on Paul for fourth. Glenn Griswold of Vernon spun off the front stretch as Rocco darted inside Janovic with seven laps remaining. The move would have given Rocco the lead, however caution waved for the Griswold machine stranded on the apron of turn one.

   The ensuing restart was pivotal in the outcome of the event and points battle. Janovic again took over by turn one on the restart, while Rocco looked to build momentum in the outside lane. Chadwick was intent on challenging the leaders from third. Contact into turn three resulted in Rocco spinning around and the cars of Rocco, Chadwick and Hutchings pummeling the turn three wall. Rocco and Chadwick were both done for the night, while Hutchings was able to resume from the rear after heading to the pits. From there, Janovic prevailed on the final restart over Yuhas to go on to his first victory in over a year. Yuhas finished second and was able to close the points gap to within four points of Rocco. Past champions Janovic and Gada were also able to close within striking distance. Paul, Gada, and Pearl rounded out the top five finishers in the race.

   Making his SK Modified debut was Jeffrey Gallup. Gallup is the son of Richie Gallup who was a terror in the SK Modified ranks years ago.
The inaugural Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway came down to a two-man battle between points leader Kyle Busch and top series regular Brad Keselowski. Keselowski passed Busch with eight laps left and held on to win for his fourth career NNS win.

   In Nextel Cup action, Denny Hamlin dominated the triangle Pocono Raceway track like few others have, taking the checkered flag on Monday to snap a 50-race winless streak and win there for the third time in eight career starts. The race had been delayed a day because of rain. Clint Bowyer was third. Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth for his best finish in a Cup car, and Kasey Kahne was fifth.

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 &


     Steve Evonsion                                        Ed Patnode                                          Johnny Cambino    


     Dennis Giroux                                         Marty Radwick                                            Bob Tausher     

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: July 30, 2010

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