ago in 1960 George Janoski, a local favorite, was the Friday
night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Dick Watson was the 25 lap Modified
winner at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ray Moran was the
non-Ford winner and Dick Dunn took the win in the Bombers
Forty five years ago in 1965
the Stafford Springs Speedway was quiet. Newt Palm won the 30 lap September
Championship at the Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso won in the Bombers
and Bill Scrivner was the Late Model Daredevil winner. The Albany-Saratoga
Speedway wound up their inaugural season with a 100 lapper which was won by
Dick Dixon. Don Collins finished second followed by Frank Mathalia and Don
Flynn. Billy Greco was crowned the track’s first Modified Champion. Lou
Lazzaro was the winner at Fonda and at Norwood Mario “Fats” Caruso was the
Modified winner while Johnny Thompson was the Sportsman winner. At the
Utica-Rome Speedway Richie Evans scored his first career Modified win over
Sonny Seamon and Bernie Miller.
Forty years ago in 1970, Jerry
Cook was desperately trying to make up some lost ground on the national
point ladder as he went to Martinsville where he won the Fall 100 over John
Bryant and Melvin Puddin Swisher. Conspicuous by his absence was Ray
Hendrick who went north to Oswego where he took a big win. Stafford ran
their final event of the year, which saw Bugsy Stevens take the win over Ray
Miller, Fred DeSarro who also wrapped up the 1970 NASCAR Modified
Championship, Moose Hewitt and Bernie Miller. Ed Yerrington finished eighth
and wrapped up the Stafford track championship. Sunday racing at Thompson
and Waterford rained out.
Thirty-five years ago in 1975,
Richie Evans went two for three as he won at Fulton on Friday night over
Sonney Seamon, Geoff Bodine and Fred DeSarro. On Sunday, Evans traveled to
Islip where he led from pole to pole to win the All-Star 300.Charlie
Jarzombek finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Maynard
Troyer. In between all of that was the Oswego Modified 200 which saw Maynard
Troyer take the win which was worth in excess of $15,000.Bodine finished
second and was followed by Evans, Roger Treichler and Greme Bolia. Dick Dunn
put a lid on the season at Waterford with a 100 lap win in the Al Gaudreau
Thirty years ago in 1980, it
was Race of Champions weekend at Pocono. Close to 100 cars were on hand and
when all was said and done, Richie Evans took the win over Geoff Bodine,
Ronnie Bouchard, Greg Sacks and Bugsy Stevens. Evans passed Bouchard for the
lead on lap 286 of the 300-lap event. The night before Pocono, Evans flew to
Riverside where he won a 50 lapper over Bob Polverari. While Evans was in
the north, Bodine was in the south where he won a 300-lap Late Model
Sportsman (Busch Grandnational) event at South Boston. In Winston Cup action
at North Wilkesboro, Bobby Allison took the win.
Twenty-five years ago in 1985,
Stan Gregger was the Saturday night winner at Riverside while at Waterford;
Dickie Doo Ceravolo scored a win for the hometown crowd. Ceravolo beat out
Bob Potter and Mark LaJunesse for the win. Art Moran Jr. was the Super Stock
winner. The NASCAR modifieds were busy. They ran a 150 lapper at Shangri-La
on Saturday night where George Kent took the win over Jan Leaty and Richie
Evans. After an all night ride to Maine, they did it all over at Oxford
Plains where Evans took the win over Brian Ross and Doug Hevron. In Winston
Cup action at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt took the win.
Twenty years ago in 1990, Bill
Zacharis won a 150 lapper at Shangri-La and sewed up the track championship.
Andy Romano finished second with Lee Sherwood, third. At Lancaster, Doug
Hevron won the season ending 200 over Mike McLaughlin and Siege Fidenza.
Waterford ran a 200 lapper on Sunday, which saw Bob Potter take the win.
David Gada finished second and sewed up the track championship.
Fifteen years ago in 1995, Jim
Broderick won the Race of Champions qualifier at Waterford as he out ran
Tucker Reynolds Jr., Scott Spaulding and Mike Gada. The NASCAR Featherlite
Modifieds were at Loudon. Steve Park took the win as a mad scramble occurred
behind him. Satch Worley attempted to go under Mike Stefanik on the last lap
when they touched and triggered a pileup. Jan Leaty, who was running eighth,
moved into second spot at the finish. Ed Kennedy finished third and was
followed by Tom Cravenho and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko. Joe Bessey was
the Busch North Series winner over Robbie Crouch and Jeff Barry and Steve
Kinser won his 400th main event in World of Outlaws competition. In Winston
Cup action at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt took the win.
Ten years ago, in 1990, it was
Winston Cup weekend at Loudon. Included were 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
Santarre 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 took the weekend off before the beginning
its final three race stretch drive which would see the Fall Final at
Stafford on October 2, the rescheduled twin bill Busch North-Whelen Modified
event at the Thompson Speedway on Saturday, October 8 and the season ending
World Series at the Thompson Speedway on October 16. Ted Christopher, who
was riding a three win in a row streak, began the stretch drive with a 31
point lead over Tony Hirschman. Both had done extremely well at both
Thompson and Stafford. Jerry Marquis, 143 points back, and Chuck Hossfeld,
157 points back, had an outside shot. Despite having a poor finish at the
season opener at Thompson when he wrecked and got injured, plus missing the
Spring Sizzler, Eric Beers had clawed his way into fifth spot, 225 points in
arrears. Beers’ determination plus the bullet proof reliability of Mike
Boehler’s Ole Blu has put Beers in contention.
Don Lia, Doug Coby, Rick Fuller, Zack Sylvester and Mike Christopher rounded
out the top ten. With 15 events in the record book a total of 78 different
drivers had entered into Whelen Modified Tour Series competition.
Kerry Malone finally got the monkey off his back as he took the win
in the Sunoco Modified division at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night.
Bert Marvin put the pressure on during the closing moments of the 30 lap
feature but Malone never wavered. Keith Rocco turned in another strong run
as he finished third ahead of Jimmy Blewett and Jeff Malave. Marc Palmisano
took the Late Model feature and Mike O’Sullivan took top honors in the Pro
Stocks. Larry Barnett won his sixth of the year in the Limited Sportsman and
Chad Gaudiosi was the Thompson Modified winner. Randy Jurcik took the Mini
Although the nights were getting cooler the action at the Waterford
Speedbowl continued to be hot and heavy. Ron Yuhas jr. had more than his
share of the bump and grind at the shoreline oval. In spite of it all he
remained in the point race and last week moved into the lead by a scant four
points over Rob Summers as he on the feature for the SK Modifieds. Ron Silk
finished second with Dennis Gada, third. Rob Summers who previously led the
points finished fourth with Tommy Fox rounding out the top five. Other
Saturday night winners at Waterford were Allen Coates took his eighth win in
the Late Models, Dan Darnstaedt in the Sportsman, Ken Cassidy in the
Mini-Stocks and Curtis D’Addario in the X-Cars. Speaking of the X-Cars, the
Speedbowl ran a mechanics race on Wednesday night that was won by former
Modified Champion Dickie Doo Ceravolo.
Ryan Newman tied a NASCAR Busch Series record by winning in his
fourth consecutive start of the season, a dominant performance in a
wreck-filled race Saturday at Dover International Speedway. Newman was far
ahead of the cars involved in two multicar accidents in the opening laps.
The Dover 200 was a rout, with Newman leading all but seven laps, setting a
record on The Monster Mile. Darrell Waltrip led 167 laps in 1985. Jimmie
Johnson won Sunday's MBNA RacePoints 400 at Dover International Speedway,
holding onto his lead during a two-lap overtime period despite heavy
pressure on his back bumper from Busch, his teammate at Hendrick
Last year, 2009, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for
the New Hampshire 100, which carried a purse of $166,917. Forty Modifieds
were on hand for qualifying.
The Penthouse, the Firehouse and the Jailhouse all had their
separate stories at Loudon. In the Penthouse was Ryan Preece who earned the
21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light with a lap of 127.692mph.
Also in the penthouse was car owner Eddie Partridge who watched with
pleasure as his two drivers, Ronnie Silk and Keith Rocco qualified their
cars in second and third place. It was Rocco’s first time at the New
Hampshire mile. Rounding out the top five was Eric Beers and Doug Coby.
Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Glen Reen, Erick Rudolph, Bobby
Grigas III and Mike Stefanik. Current points leader Ted Christopher
In the Firehouse was Donny Lia, the June New Hampshire winner.
Lia’s car, the Mystic Missile, caught fire during practice and suffered
severe damage that prompted to an emergency run back to the Mystic River
Marina where an all night session was put in to make the necessary repairs.
According to car owner Bob Garbarino a loose fuel line was the culprit.
Unable to qualify, Lia was forced to take a provisional, which would place
him in 34th starting spot in the 40 car-starting grid.
In the Jailhouse was part time Whelen Modified Tour Series driver
Frank M. Ruocco, The Hartford Courant reported that Ruocco, who is also a
weekly competitor at the Stafford Motor Speedway, was charged in a federal
indictment on Wednesday, September 16, with obstruction of justice for
trying to hide records of a scheme to illegally double the cost of removing
contaminated soil from a New York construction site. Ruocco, Jr; his
company, Earth Technology; and employee Boris A. Tomicic, 37, of West
Hartford, also were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and
money laundering for billing the unidentified New York developer at inflated
rates. Tomicic was not accused of obstruction.
Ruocco, who is 96 points behind Ted Christopher in the SK Modified
point standings, was out on bail and finished sixth at Stafford on Friday
Ron Silk passed Reggie Ruggiero on the backstretch of the last lap
and held on through Turns 3 and 4 to earn the victory in the New Hampshire
100. Silk, swapped the lead with Ruggiero three times and ran
bumper-to-bumper in the last 10 laps, with Silk surviving the battle.
Ruggiero settled for a fourth-place finish after getting shuffled three
spots on the last lap. Donny Lia crossed the line second followed by pole
winner Ryan Preece and Mike Stefanik finished fifth. Lia entered the race
third in points but his car caught fire during practice on Thursday and he
was not able to qualify. After starting at the rear on Saturday with a
provisional, Lia was involved in an early accident and went down three laps.
He was the “Lucky Dog” beneficiary during three subsequent cautions, and
rocketed toward the front for a runner-up finish. Keith Rocco, who was
making his first start at New Hampshire finished 33rd after dropping out
with mechanical problems.
The race featured 17 lead changes among eight drivers, and was
slowed by 11 cautions. It was Silk’s fourth career NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour win and his first at New Hampshire. According to NASCAR, The New
Hampshire Modified race on SPEED did a 0.5 TV rating. The show aired
Saturday, September 19th, 1:00-2:31pm, total households- 349,000; total
In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher made
a mad dash from Loudon, NH, after qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour event to win his sixth Sunoco Modified feature event of the season at
Thompson and his second in a row. Christopher edged out fellow Modified Tour
competitors Rowan Pennink, Keith Rocco, and Woody Pitkat to take down the
victory. Mike O’Sullivan scored his third Super Late Model victory of the
season to bring the chase to the championship to single digits. Cam
McDermott had a good point night as he scored his second win of the season
in TIS Modified competition. Rick Gentes returned to his winning ways in the
Late Models while Sean Monahan scored the victory in the Limited Sportsman
division. Steve Michalski earned his second Mini Stock victory of the
Christopher drove by pole sitter Dave LaCroix in the first turn of
the first lap and never looked back. At the finish, Christopher took down
the win over Pennink. Rocco had to settle for third over Pitkat and Bert
Marvin. With the finish, Rocco gained two points over his nearest
competition, Pitkat. Rocco has a four-point advantage over Pitkat going into
the final point race.
The sparks flew between Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher at Stafford
on Friday night. Keith Rocco took his fifth victory of the season in the
40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz took his fifth win of the season in
the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. took down his second win
of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Norm Sears took down
win number two of 2009 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, and
Stephanie Berardi scored her first career win in the 15-lap DARE Stock
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with two caution
periods in the first two laps of the event. On the lap-3 restart, Keith
Rocco moved by Matt Gallo to take the race lead. Richie Pallai, Jr. was
third, Ted Christopher was fourth, and Todd Owen was in fifth. Christopher
quickly moved into second behind Rocco, with Gallo, Pallai, and Woody Pitkat
making up the top-5. Rocco held the lead until lap-10 when Christopher moved
by. The next lap saw the caution come out for a spin by Sean Foster that
collected several cars including Gallo, Joe Allegro, Jr., Kirk Zervas, and
Christopher continued to lead back under green with Rocco, Curt
Brainard, Pallai, and Chris Matthews making up the top-5. The top-5 ran in
line for three laps before Pallai moved into third and Pitkat moved into
fifth on lap-15. Christopher would continue to hold the lead until lap-20
when Rocco went back by to retake the lead. Rocco's lead was short lived as
Christopher was able to move back by Rocco on lap-23 to take the lead back.
The caution came out with 24 laps complete for a spin by Christopher Jones
and slowed the action at the front of the pack. Christopher took the lead on
the restart, but Rocco would move back out front several laps later on
Rocco's move for the lead opened the door for Pitkat to also get by
Christopher, dropping him back to third place. But Christopher took the spot
back from Pitkat on the next lap and set his sights on getting the lead back
from Rocco. Christopher got the lead on lap-35 and looked like he had a car
to hold off Rocco for the win. On the final lap, contact between Rocco and
Christopher, a bump and run, moved Christopher up the hill in turn 3, which
gave Rocco enough room to take the lead and the race victory coming off turn
4. After the checkered flag, Christopher slammed Rocco in turn 1, sending
Rocco around and himself into the turn 1 wall. Pitkat finished third behind
Rocco and Christopher, with Pallai and Owen rounding out the top-5.
Christopher, who was the point leader and Rocco were suspended for one race
because of their actions.
The weather was cool but the action was hot at the Waterford
Speedbowl as the track hosted Cystic Fibrosis Night and completed its NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series race program with a first time winner and great
battles in all the divisions taking center stage. Dennis Gada returned to
victory lane in the SK Modifieds and Dennis Botticello ended a lengthy
hiatus to Speedbowl Victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models.
Walt Hovey Jr. won his fourth Street Stock event of the year, Allen Coates
checkered his seventh NEATV Truck Series race, and Ian Brew won his first
ever Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race.
After the pre-race Cystic Fibrosis festivities, seven-time
Speedbowl champion Dennis Gada of Salem used his pole starting spot to move
to the SK Modified race lead when the green flag came out. Jeff Pearl moved
to second with Rob Janovic Jr. in third. Tyler Chadwick moved inside Jeffrey
Paul for fourth on lap six. Contact in turn one of lap 15 left Glenn
Pressell III slowing to bring out the first caution flag.
On the restart Gada jumped out over Pearl. Janovic moved in to
challenge Pearl for second on the inside. Out of turn two on lap 16, Pearl
and Janovic got crossed up triggering a chain reaction behind. Pearl and
Janovic were able to continue through, however several cars made contact
behind drawing the second caution when they stacked up into turn three. Gada
again got out front over Pearl on the restart. Pearl began to look for a way
around Gada. Janovic raced third and Chadwick in fourth. Keith Rocco was a
man on the move, pressuring Tom Abele Jr. for fifth after starting from last
after a qualifying race wreck. Ron Yuhas Jr., contending for the
championship with Rocco, sat in seventh. Rocco made the move inside Abele on
lap 23, advancing his way to the top five.
Up front Gada opened up a one car length lead over Pearl when Joey
Gada spun in turn two with seven laps remaining. The restart was more of the
same. Gada, Pearl and Janovic occupied the top three spots. Rocco moved up
past Chadwick and immediately set his sights on Janovic, racing outside for
third when caution came out with three laps remaining for Jeff Gallup and
Rich Hammann who came together. Gada survived the final restart to go
on to his second win of the year. The win is his 64th career at the
shoreline oval. Pearl took second and Janovic held off the challenges of
Rocco for third. Chadwick completed the top five. Rocco was able to sustain
his points lead over Yuhas with his finish.
Dick Ceravolo continued to show a slight improvement in his
condition. A slight infection continued to put reconstructive surgery on
hold. He continued to be in an induced coma, now in its fifth week.
The Charlotte Business Journal reported that Bruton Smith’s
Speedway Motorsports Inc. filed suit against the city of Concord and
Cabarrus County in North Carolina claiming they have failed to follow
through on incentive agreements related to improvements at Lowe’s Motor
Speedway and a nearby drag strip.
In Sprint Cup racing at New Hampshire International Mark Martin
took the win over Juan Pablo Montoya.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly,
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail, email@example.com.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
week are several vintage racing photos
Shaney Photo Shaney Photo
Mike Adaskaveg Photo
Phil Hoyt Photo
John Grady Photo
All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Looking Back Archive