The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 10, 2010

     Fifty years ago in 1960 Ron Narducci scored his second win of the year on the dirt at Stafford. Wild Bill Slater who had left the Waterford Speedbowl for greener pastures at the Norwood Arena returned to his old haunts on Wednesday night and won the Modified feature at the shoreline oval. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner and Ed Moody prevailed in the Bombers. Don Collins resumed his winning ways on Saturday night.

   Forty-five years ago in 1965 there was no racing on the dirt at Stafford. Charlie Webster was the 30 lap Modified winner at Waterford. Eddie Bunnell was the winner in the Bombers. Rene Charland was the winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway over Tom Kotary and Jerry Cook.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the Thompson Speedway ran their first and only 500 lap modified event. Forty-two cars started and after a long grind, Bugsy Steven’s was first across the stripe. Bernie Miller finished second and was followed by Ed Yerrington, Fred DeSarro, Jimmy Griffin, Johnny Thompson and Bob Karvonen. Other weekend action saw Stevens take the win at Stafford over Yerrington, Jerry Cook and Leo Cleary and at Utica-Rome where Ray Sitterly took the win over Lou Lazzaro, Dave Lape and Cook who flew in from Thompson. Dick Watson made it two in a row in Modified action at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Blanchette was the Late Model Daredevil winner.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, Ed Brunnhoelzl took the win at Islip over Jerry Cook, Fred Harbach and Greg Sacks. The modifieds ran at Watkins Glen where Merv Treichler took the win over Cook, Maynard Troyer and Bob Vee. At Thompson, Leo Cleary took the open comp win over Ronnie Bouchard and Freddie Schulz. Rain prevailed at the Waterford Speedbowl.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Ronnie Bouchard in the Dick Armstrong No.1 took the victory in the annual Thompson 300 which saw 50 cars take the green. Bugsy Steven’s finished second and was followed by George Summers, Jerry Cook, Richie Evans and Kenny Bouchard. Jerry Pearl won the 50-lap non-qualifiers event. Marty Radwick took the win at Riverside and it was George Kent over Jerry Cook at Shangri-La. Doug French was the winner at Wall Stadium. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Darrell Waltrip took the win over Harry Gant.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the Modifieds traveled to Pocono for the annual Race of Champions which drew 108 cars. Brett Bodine in the Sheri-Cup No.12 took the lead from Richie Evans on lap 187 and went on to take the win. Satch Worley finished second and was followed by Jeff Fuller, Jamie Tomaino, Jan Leaty and Evans. In other weekend action, Mike Gada took the win at Waterford over Ted Christopher and at Riverside; Ray Miller took the win over Stan Greger.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, the Race of Champions was still at Pocono and it was Mike Stefanik taking the top spot over Rick Fuller, Jan Leaty and George Brunnhoelzl. For his efforts, Stefanik received $18,950, which is a far cry from most of today’s Modified Tour payouts. Stafford regular Wade Gagner started 17th and won the 40-lap late model National Parts Peddler event. Gagner inherited the lead on lap 23 when Mike Lovetere blew his engine.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, the ROC had all but died .In local action at Waterford, Todd Ceravolo beat out Ricky Young and Mike Gada to take the Saturday night win. At Riverside, Brian Schofield held off Reggie Ruggiero to take the win and at Riverhead it was Tom McCann over Ed Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action at Dover, the 500 took over six hours to run because of rain delays. Jeff Gordon dominated and took the win over Bobby Hamilton. Johnny Rumley was the Grand National winner.

   Ten years ago, in 2000, it was Winston Cup weekend at Loudon Included was the modifieds who again put on the best show of the weekend. Mike Ewanitsko took the 100 lap win with six laps to go when Ted Christopher's motor went to skipping and losing power. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by John Blewett III, Rick Fuller and Dan Avery. Christopher sputtered home in sixth spot. Andy Santerre won the Busch North Series event and in Winston Cup action, Jeff Burton led all 300 laps in one of the most boring Winston Cup events ever run as NASCAR really blew it when they mandated restrictor plates in hopes of making the race safer in the wake of two deaths those of Kenny Irwin and Adam Petty. Rob Janovic won at Waterford on Saturday night. Ron Silk finished second with Tom Fox, third. During the evenings events it was announced that track operator Terry Eames had purchased the property where the Speedbowl was located for $1.85 million. It was also this week that Wally Saleeba passed away. Wally had been a close friend and confidant of D. Anthony Venditti for many years.

   Five years ago in 2005, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway for the Annual Thompson 300. With the announcement that the 300 would return to its original format came applause from fans and competitors alike. Thirty-seven Modifieds were on hand for time trials on Saturday. Tony Hirschman, who trailed Ted Christopher by 21 points going into the event, earned his seventh Bud Pole of the year. Hirschman was in a class by himself as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.962 seconds for a speed of 118.658 mph. Second fastest was Zach Sylvester who went 118.141 mph. Donnie Lia, Mike Stefanik and John Blewett III rounded out the top five. Hirschman drew eighth on the draw for starting positions while Carl Pasteryak drew the pole.

   Ted Christopher maintained his lead in the Whelen Modified Tour Series standings as he added the Thompson 300 to his war chest of wins. Christopher, who now had six wins on the series for the year, took the lead with 26 laps to go. Tony Hirschman, who was the odds-on favorite to take the win, finished second. Ed Flemke Jr. turned in a strong run to finish third. Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. With five laps to go the event took a twist that changed the top five. Donnie Lia exhibited a little road rage as he planted Doug Coby into the front chute wall. Coby, who had taken second spot after running Lia up the track a bit. Instead of an almost positive second place finish Coby ended up 19th. NASCAR felt that Lia’s actions were deliberate and parked him with five to go which resulted in a 20th place finish.

   The Sunoco Modifieds and the Late Models ran double features. Ronnie Silk won the Saturday night Sunoco Modified 25 lapper over Tom Cravenho, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco and Jeff Malave. Woody Pitkat was the Late Model winner. Sunday’s action saw Jeff Malave rebound to take the win in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malave started fifth. Second generation driver Keith Rocco finished an impressive second with Tom Cravenho, third. Richard Savory and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. Charles Bailey III took the Sunday Late Model event and Ron Smith won the Pro Stock finish.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway wrapped up its regular season on Friday night. Lloyd Agor went into the night’s SK Modified feature with a 24 point lead over Todd Owen. He was hoping to wrap up his first Stafford championship. Lady luck had other ideas as Agor ended up 14th and Owen ended up third behind Jeff Baral and Ted Christopher. Owen closed to within 2 points of Agor. The track title would be settled at the Car Quest Fall Final. Jeff Baral staged a spirited battle with Ted Christopher right up to the final lap of the 40-lap feature. Baral had led from lap 12. Early leader Keith Rocco fell victim to mechanical problems. Willie Hardie and Chuck Docherty rounded out the top five. Other Friday night winners were Tom Butler in the Late Models and John Hurley in the DARE Stocks.

   Shawn Monahan scored his second victory of the season at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Monahan started on the pole and led the entire distance. Rob Summers finished second and in doing so, took over the point lead. Going into the event Ron Yuhas Jr held a 22 point lead. A devastating crash in the early going put Yuhas behind the eight ball as his car was severely damaged and his night ended with a 19th place finish. Dennis Gada finished third. Other winners at the shoreline oval on Saturday night were Norm Root in the Sportsman division, Larry Goss in the Late Models, Dave Silvia in the Mini Stocks and George Whitney in the Legends Cars.

   Last year, 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was making final preparations before heading to the New Hampshire International Speedway. Ted Christopher continued to lead the point standings with 1432. Todd Szegedy with 1398, sat in the second spot. Thirty eight points behind Szegedy was Donny Lia with 1360. Ryan Preece and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Eric Beers, Woody Pitkat, Ed Flemke, Jr., Chris Pasteryak and Mike Stefanik.

   Racing web site Speed 51 announced that because of good ratings and a lot of hype surrounding the TV coverage of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut at the Bristol Motor Speedway in August, the Tour would return to the TV screen again. SPEED would air the always-exciting race at the Magic Mile (September 19th) on a slightly tape-delayed basis. The race was scheduled to get the green at 12:50pm and the airing of the event would begin at 1:30pm. Mike Joy, Dick Berggren and Bob Dillner would call the Mod Tour action at NHMS for SPEED.
NASCAR and Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome announced that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the track, that was rained out on its originally scheduled date of Aug. 29, would not be made up. Not too many tears were shed as the event carried a somewhat “short purse”.

   In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the Sunoco Modified win in an event that went non-stop without a caution. Keith Rocco, who was hoping to gain some ground in his quest for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series title found himself mired in traffic and could do no better than third. Christopher made it look easy as he earned his fifth Sunoco Modified feature win of the season. Rick Fuller of Auburn scored a much-anticipated victory in the Super Late Model division. Tommy O’Sullivan made it two-in-a-row in Late Model action. Jesse Gleason scored his first win of the season in the Limited Sportsman division. Brian Sullivan scored his sixth TIS Modified feature event win of the season. In the Mini Stocks, Randy Churchill took the victory.

   The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series title fight came to an end last weekend. Keith Rocco, who raced at Thompson, Waterford and Stafford trailed southerner Philip Morris going into the final weekend of the national contest. Rocco needed to win at least one, with a second and third in the other two tracks to tie Morris provided all three events have the maximum 23-car fields. Points are less if the fields of cars are short. Keith Rocco is employed at Petit Racing Engines. As he looked out the window on Friday he saw his dreams of becoming a NASCAR National Champion get washed down the drain as showers pelted the entire state of Connecticut which forced the Stafford Motor Speedway to rain-out their Friday night racing program The champion would be announced by NASCAR on Sept. 16.

   Waterford Speedbowl’s Saturday night racing program fell victim to rain. A stubborn low pressure system that sat off Long Island for two days forced Riverhead Raceway promoters Barbara & Jim Cromarty to cancel the final NASCAR Whelen All American Series show of the year. With the rainout John Fortin sewed-up the 2009 NASCAR Modified title, the third of his career.

   Carl Edwards grabbed the lead from Kevin Harvick on pit road with 24 laps to go Friday night and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond. The victory finished off a remarkable race for Edwards, who had to start at the back of the field after his team made adjustments to his Ford after the field was impounded.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Denny Hamlin scored a victory at his home track, Richmond International Raceway, on Saturday night to take a burst of momentum into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch, his teammate, was shut out of the title hunt because his fifth-place finish wasn't enough to get him into the 12-driver field.

   It looked like the International Speedway Corporation was branching out to include legalized gambling in its holdings. ISC announced that Penn National Gaming, Inc. (Nasdaq: PENN ) had entered into an agreement with The Cordish Company to acquire Cordish's 50 percent interest in Kansas Entertainment, LLC ("KJV") and their role as managing member. Cordish has elected to sell its interest in KJV to Penn in order to focus on its other projects. KJV is seeking the consent of the Kansas Lottery Commission and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County for the transfer. Upon securing consents from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and the Kansas Lottery Commission to proceed as a managing member of KJV, Penn National Gaming intends to withdraw the application of its subsidiary, Penn Hollywood Kansas, to be considered as a Lottery Gaming Facility Manager of a venue at an alternate site. ISC and Penn are currently finalizing certain operating and economic terms of their partnership and intend to provide additional disclosure about financial and project terms once they are completed.

   Both ISC and Penn acknowledge Cordish's role in advancing the project to its current state of readiness including its vision for integrating a casino entertainment destination facility with a world-class motorsports speedway to bring tremendous benefits to the host community, customers, other constituents and the developers.

   In a prepared statement that was released by ISC, Lesa France Kennedy, ISC Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are extremely pleased to be joining forces with Penn National to develop a premier Hollywood-themed casino and entertainment destination facility at Kansas Speedway. Adding Penn and its extremely solid financial position should substantiate our ability to deliver a world-class casino for the state of Kansas. We both are absolutely committed to providing additional economic benefit to the taxpayers of Kansas."

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


Pete Corey with Jimmy Bosco                             Eddie DelMolino                                     Pete Hamilton               
John Grady Photo                                           John Grady Photo                                       John Grady Photo


Lou Tabone                                            Ron Narducci                                              Jerry Pearl
  John Grady Photo                                         John Grady Photo                                              Shaney Photo     

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 10, 2010

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