The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 20, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 the rains descended on the Stafford Springs Speedway turning the track into a mud bog. Dick Beauregard recorded 25 lap Modified wins at the Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Ted Stack and Ed Moody followed suit as they recorded wins in the non-Ford and Bomber divisions respectively.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble made it four in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway on Friday night. Dick Dunn took the checkers at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Charlie Savage, who would become the first SK Modified Champion when the division was formed at Stafford, was the Bomber feature winner. Steady Eddie Flemke won the first ever extra distance Modified event, a 100 lapper, at the Albany Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. Frank Mathalia finished second and was followed by Billy Harman and Elton Hill. Kenny Shoemaker made it two in a row at the Fonda Speedway as he won a 100 lapper. At Utica – Rome rain prevailed for the third time of the season.

   Forty years ago in 1970 Friday night racing at Malta rained out. In twin 25 lap action at Stafford on Saturday night, Mr. Leo Cleary put the Garbarino Bros.4 in Victory lane as did Eddie Flemke in the Garutti Bros.14. At Fonda, Harry Peek and Eddie Pieniezak did the trick and at Plattsburg, Dick Nephew took the win. Walt Dombrowski put the L&M in victory lane at Waterford. Larry Crandall did the trick in the Waterford Daredevils. The annual Trenton 200 was on tap on Sunday and when the checker dropped, Ray Hendrick took the win over Max Berrier, Sal Dee, Paul Radford and Bugsy Stevens.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Allen Harbach took the Wednesday night win at New Egypt. Fred Harbach finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Friday at Stafford, Richie Evans beat out Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens. Saturday night at Westboro, John Rosati in the Tuck Hoffman 73 did the deed as he won out over Ronnie Bouchard and Cleary. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Bobby Judkins 2x ruled at Riverside. Ronnie Rocco and Mike Stefanik followed. At Thompson on Sunday, Jerry Cook won the 40 lap Thompson 300 qualifier. Brian Ross finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Other weekend winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Tom McCann at Islip, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, Don LaJoie at Danbury, Larry Record at Star and Kenny Busch at Monadnock and Geoff Bodine won a Late Model Sportsman event at South Boston

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the modified tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Ray Miller in the Simons No.9 took the win over Jamie Tomaino and Bugsy Stevens. Waterford was one of the few tracks that Richie Evans didn't master as the best he could do was sixth. Friday night at Stafford, Jamie Tomaino scored as he out ran Doug Hevron and Charlie Jarzombek for the win. Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at New Egypt and it was Richie Evans over Doug Hewitt at Spencer. Larry Ross pulled an upset at Waterford as he beat Bob Potter and Joe Tiezzi for the win and at Riverside, Mike Stefanik won the annual 200.Tim Contarino won at Riverhead and at Shangri-La it was Randy Hedger over Jim Spencer. In Sunday SK-Mod action at Thompson, Wayne Dion beat out Keith Williams. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt was the winner.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, the Modified Tour was at Thompson on Wednesday for a 150 lapper. Mike Mclaughlin took the win over Reggie Ruggiero. Stafford rained out on Friday and Waterford never completed their program because of curfew. The mod tour was at Riverside on Saturday. Richie Gallup took the win over Jeff Fuller. Lenny Fischer won at Riverhead. Five years ago in 1995,the modified tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Steve Park took the lead from Ricky Fuller on lap 77 of the 150-lap event and went on to record the win. Fuller ended up second with Mike Stefanik, third. Stefanik had the field covered but was held by officials on pit road after he made an illegal pass on the track. Satch Worley and Reggie Ruggiero rounded out the top five. The SK 50 lapper was won by Bo Gunning with Jim Broderick, second. Veteran Jerry Pearl took the victory at Waterford on Saturday night. Eric Berndt finished second. Jim Broderick had the misfortune of breaking his wrist after being involved in an early race wreck. Tom Fox was the Late Model winner. At Riverside, Ed Spires took the modified win and Mike Stefanik held off Kelly Moore as he won the Busch North event at the amusement park oval. At Riverhead, Chuck Stuer got his fourth of the year. Tempers were hot at Bristol Tenn. where Dale Earnhardt dumped Terry Labonte into the wall on the final lap. Labonte managed to win the event but he wasn't too happy with Mr. Goodwrench. Earlier in the event, Earnhardt had dumped Rusty Wallace. Steve Grissom was the BGN winner. During the weekend it was announced that sprint car driver Doug Wolfgang had been awarded $1.2million for burn injuries incurred at the Lakeside Speedway.

   Ten years ago in 2000 the Featherlite Modifieds were at Stafford for a 150 on Friday night. Ted Christopher had the dominant car until his engine sputtered with three laps to go. Waiting in the wings was John Blewett III who took the lead and the win. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Craven, Reggie Ruggiero, Rob Summers and Tim Connolly. The SK's ran twin 50's with Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor taking the wins. Saturday night at Waterford saw Tucker Reynolds Jr. in victory lane as he beat out Dennis Gada and Ed Dachenhausen for the win. Ted Christopher took on the New Yorkers in the Lancaster Open. Christopher took the win only to be disqualified as track officials stated that his carburetor was illegal. At Riverhead it was Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. and in Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the pole and the win. Kevin Harvick did likewise in the companion Busch Grandnational event. Scott Quinn got a hard fought win at Thompson on Sunday night. Curt Brainard finished second with Bert Marvin, third. In Busch North Series action, also at Thompson, Tracy Gordon took the win.

   Last year, 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Bristol, TN for a Wednesday night event. The posted race purse of $91,575 drew 42 Whelen Modifieds including 27 from the North. Late afternoon rain forced NASCAR to cancel time trials forcing the field to go to post based on points. Ted Christopher led the field to the starting green with Southern Modified point leader George Brunnhoelzl III on the outside. Christopher led the first 107 laps as Brunnhoelzl faded. Donny Lia started seventh and by lap 100 had placed the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile firmly in second spot. Seven laps later Christopher faltered and Lia scooted into the lead. Lia lost the lead to Christopher when he jumped a restart on lap 138 and was told by NASCAR to let Christopher by. Three laps later Lia was back in the lead and preceded to open up a fairly good lead which he maintained to the 150 lap mark and the checkered flag. Christopher held on for second and was followed by Ryan Preece who brought the mighty No. 3, Ole Blu, of the Boehler family home in third spot. That particular version of the legendary Modified was actually built by the late Len Boehler in 1996! George Brunnhoelzl III and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink, Ed Flemke Jr., Burt Myers and Erick Rudolph. The racing was nothing short of being fantastic. A big plus was the fact that Mike Joy and Dick Berggren called the race for the Speed Channel.

   In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson the aggressive driving in the Sunoco Modifieds continued. Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco slugged it out to the end. Lots of leaning along with bump and run. Neither hit the wall so there was no foul. Christopher used retaliatory moves to score his fourth win of the season. Derek Ramstrom won a wild one in the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes scored the victory in the Late Models. Larry Barnett padded his point lead with his fifth Limited Sportman victory of the season. Another point leader, Brian Sullivan was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Rick Blanchard was declared the Mini Stock winner.

   Tim Sullivan led the field to green but he would not lead the opening lap. Rowan Pennink took over the top spot and began to motor out to an advantage over Danny Cates. A bobble by Sullivan nearly collected Keith Rocco, who was forced out of the groove. Woody Pitkat had worked his way into the third position. The outside groove was the fast way around as Christopher had moved into the third spot with Rocco in tow. On lap 9, Christopher was able to dive inside Cates for second. Rocco, once again, followed TC through and into third. Christopher caught Pennink while Rocco caught the bumper of Christopher. The top three ran nose-to-tail.

   At halfway, Rocco was able to slide below Christopher when he bobbled exiting turn four on lap 15. The caution flew on lap 16 for an incident on the backstretch involving Andy Gaspar and Wayne Arute. Leader Pennink opted to use the outside groove on the restart but it was Rocco in the low groove gaining the advantage. Christopher was able to get around Pennink as well. The action was slowed for a spin by Harry Rheaume. Rocco was up to the challenge on the restart but an incident further back in the pack brought out the caution once again. A spin by Bert Marvin collected Tim Sullivan and Todd Ceravolo. Sullivan’s car sustained significant damage. On the restart, Rocco was up to the challenge once again. After a short battle with Pennink, Christopher remained in the second position. Christopher dove beneath Rocco in turn one. They went wheel to wheel through turn two. Christopher got the edge on the backstretch but Rocco did the slingshot move exiting
four. They crossed the stripe even. In turn one, Rocco was the leader once again. Pennink ran in the third spot with heavy pressure from Pitkat. Cates ran alone in the fifth position.

   With two laps to go, Christopher got along side Rocco. The duo streaked under the white flag with Rocco ahead by inches. Rtocco maintained a slight advantage on the back stretch. Coming out of four Rocco tried holding Christopher low. Christopher retaliated riding high out of four. Rocco drifted up in the marbles making way for Christopher to take the checkers. Pennink came through for second. Pitkat was able to grab third spot at the checkers. Rocco had to settle for fourth ahead of Cates. There were 16 Sunoco Modifieds on hand.

   Heavy rain plus warnings of possible tornados forced the Stafford Motor Speedway event to cancel Friday nights racing.

   The Waterford Speedbowl completed a fast paced NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program on a hot Saturday bolstered by two green-to-checkered flag races. Threats of storms generated by Hurricane Bill failed to put a damper on the night’s racing. Corey Hutchings captured an exciting SK Modified race in down to the wire fashion, Vin Esposito returned to the winner’s circle in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, points leaders Ronnie Oldham Jr. and Jason Palmer won the Street Stock and Legends Car events and Nick Pappacoda was a first time feature event winner in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stocks.

   The SK Modifieds rebounded from the previous week’s caution-marred feature to put on a classic 35-lap shootout. Corey Hutchings prevailed in a close contest over last week’s winner Tyler Chadwick. The pair raced the final several laps side-by-side. Joe Perry on the pole with Hutchings on the outside pole brought the field to green and the pair ran the initial laps alongside one another before Hutchings edged ahead into sole possession of the lead on lap four.

   The action up front was singling out with Hutchings moving out over Perry. Justin Gaydosh was in third holding back the challenges of Jeff Pearl and Chadwick as the event stayed green through halfway. The top points contenders were mired back outside the top ten having difficulty moving through the competitive field.

   Gaydosh got loose in turn two on lap 19, allowing Chadwick to duck under Pearl and take over the fourth spot after the two had battled for several laps. Pearl and Rob Janovic Jr. moved past Gaydosh on lap 23 when his #94 car began to lose some handling. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Keith Rocco had finally made some progress, moving into sixth and eighth respectively when the first caution finally waved on lap 24 for Joe Gada and Tom Abele who suffered separate incidents on different parts of the track.

   Chadwick edged Perry on the restart, moving in to pressure Hutchings. He pulled outside looking for a repeat trip to victory lane. Janovic also moved past Perry into third. Yuhas finally emerged in the top five, moving past Pearl as the field raced to lap 30. Caution waved on that circuit for Jeffrey Gallup.

   Chadwick was alongside Hutchings for the final restart. The two stayed glued together over the final five laps to the finish, with Hutchings able to prevail by .031 seconds over Chadwick. Janovic finished third, Yuhas got up to fourth, and Perry put in his best effort in the open-wheel SK’s running with the leaders all night for fifth. Jeff Pearl finished sixth and was followed by Rocco, Dennis Gada, Josh Sylvester and Jef Paul.

   In a sad note, former track Modified champion Dick Ceravolo, a longtime competitor and car owner at the Speedbowl, suffered serious injuries in an accident at his home on Friday afternoon. Known to many as Dickie Doo, Ceravolo was attempting to jumpstart a farm tractor that had accidentally been left in gear. The tractor bolted and pinned him between his truck and the tractor while his wife Joyce watched in horror. Ceravolo was transported to the Yale-New Haven Hospital where he is presently on life support. Among his injuries is a crushed chest plus back and head injuries. At 70 years of age, the former driver is in excellent physical shape, which will work to his advantage in what could be a long recovery.

   Ceravolo won eight career Modified features from 1976-1987 at the Waterford Speedbowl. He was the 1988 SK Modified division champion at track despite not winning a feature during the season. Ceravolo surprised many when he announced his retirement at the season ending banquet after his championship year. He was the car owner champion the following year after hiring Bob Potter as his driver. In recent years he has been a fixture at the Thompson Speedway where he fields a Sunoco Modified that is driven by his youngest son, Todd. His oldest son, Rick, is the crew chief of the Ceravolo family effort.

   Cards of cheer can be sent to Dick Ceravolo, 1348 Baldwin Hill Rd, Gales Ferry, CT 06335.

   In True Value Modified Series racing at the Seekonk Speedway Chris Pasteryak took the 100 lap win over Les Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, Mike Holdridge and Steve Masse. On the third turn of the final lap Pennink made a move to pass Hinckley and got him sideways. Hinckley did a fantastic save the car and made it across the finish line in second. Pennink settled in for third as he backed off the gas to avoid causing a wreck.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing there were no last-lap fireworks Saturday night as Kyle Busch and Mark Martin staged a side-by-side charge to the checkered flag. Busch emerged the winner. It snapped his 13-race Sprint Cup Series winless streak while Martin settled for second. David Ragan held off teammate Carl Edwards on a two-lap sprint to the finish Friday night to win the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards settled for second.

   The World Racing Group, Inc. announced on August 14 that it has completed its previously announced going private transaction. World Racing sanctions and promotes dirt track auto racing. Based in Concord, N.C. they own and operate the three highest profile national touring series for dirt track racing in the United States which include The World of Outlaws® Sprint Car Series, The World of Outlaws Late Model Series(SM) and The Super DIRTcar Series™. Under the terms of the transaction, the Company conducted a 1-for-101 reverse stock split whereby each 101 shares of the Company's common stock was converted into one share of common stock. Holders of less than 101 shares of common stock prior to the reverse stock split will receive a cash out price of $0.10 per share. The result of the reverse stock split was a reduction in the number of the Company's stockholders of record to fewer than 300. As a result, the Company will immediately cease to be a public reporting company.

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 & Dave Dyke's Racing


       Dick Ceravolo                                      George Pendergast                                George Summers    


         Pete Fiandaca                                         Stan Greger                                          Smokey Boutwell     

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: August 20, 2010

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