The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 24, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 Ernie Gahan closed out the season at the Stafford Springs Speedway with a win on the dirt. Don Collins scored a one Ė two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl as he scored wins in the Modifieds and non- Fords. Ed Moody won in the Bombers.

   Forty-five years ago in 1965, Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket No. V-8 won the first ever-open wheel Modified race at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. Bob Bahre, who purchased the speedway in 1964, tore down the original wooden grandstand and erected a new steel high rise grandstand that would hold 15,000. New York driving legend Pete Corey scored his fourth win on the dirt at Stafford on Friday night. Dick Watson registered a 50-lap win at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner and Bob Lee was the Late Model Daredevil winner.

   Forty years ago in 1970, the Modifieds were at the monster mile, Dover Downs for twin 100s for Late Model Modifieds and the All Star League Modifieds. Ray Hendrick in the Tant/Mitchell Camaro cleaned house as he won both events. Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler 3 recorded two seconds. Charlie Jarzombek walked away from a mean wreck during the All Star event. Driving his offset coupe, the popular Long Island driver got launched into the turn two fence and almost went out of the high-banked speedway. Also running that day was Thompson where Bob Santos took the 30-lap win over Hop Harrington, Ed Yerrington and Moose Hewitt. Waterford was also on the Sunday schedule. Seabury Tripler took the Modified win.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, the Thompson 300 and the Martinsville 150 ran on this weekend. With the exception of Jerry Cook, Bob Park and George Kent who went to Martinsville, just about everyone else was at Thompson. Satch Worley beat out Cook for the win at Martinsville. Thompson was open competition and it was Geoff Bodine taking the win over Bob Santos, Moose Hewitt and Donny Ayer.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans won the 100-lap final at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Bob Polverari finished second with Ray Miller, third. Evans made it two for two as he won the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday. Brett Bodine finished second with John Rosati, third.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, Charlie Jarzombek wrapped up the 1985 Stafford Speedway title as he won the Fall Final 100.George Brunnhoelzl Jr. finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and George Kent. Jerry Pearl wrapped up the SK modified championship. Riverside Park closed out their season on Saturday night with Jeff Fuller taking the win. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Harry Gant took the win with Geoff Bodine, second.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, Ray Hendrick, known as Mr. Modified passed away from cancer at the age of 61.Hendrick won just about every major event on the East Coast. It was also on this weekend that young Rob Moroso died from injuries received in an accident while on his way home from North Wilkesboro. The Fall Final ran 125 laps and it was Mike Stefanik taking the win over Jeff Fuller, Satch Worley and Jamie Tomaino. Bo Gunning won the SK modified portion.

    Fifteen years ago in 1995, Eric Berndt, 16, led from pole to pole at Waterford and became the youngest ever to win a modified race at the shoreline oval. Reggie Ruggiero won his fifth of the year at Riverside on Saturday night and at the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday, Mike Stefanik won the 150 lap main event. Stefanik passed Steve Park with five to go on his way to the checkered flag. Jamie Tomaino finished third with Ed Flemke Jr., fourth. Ted Christopher won the SK 50 lapper. Bob Potter finished seventh and became the track's first 5 time modified champion. In a non-racing matter, OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder charges. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Mark Martin took the win over Rusty Wallace. Ernie Irvan returned after suffering severe injuries. Irvan finished sixth.

    Ten years ago in 2000, John Brouwer Jr. got his first ever-modified win as he put the Whittle No.49 in victory lane at Waterford. Dennis Gada finished second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Stafford hosted the Fall Final 300, which carried a purse of $94,211 and drew 51 modifieds. Jerry Marquis took the lead from Mike Ewanitsko on lap 245 and led the final 55 laps for the win. John Blewett III finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller. Eric Berndt won the 50 lap SK Modified event and Chris Wenzel won the Mod Tour non-qualifiers event. On and off rain all weekend kept the Stafford crowd down. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Tony Stewart took the win. Matt Kenseth was the Busch Grand National winner.

    Five years ago in 2005 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series made its final stop of the year at Stafford for the annual Fall Final. There were 43 Modifieds on hand for the 150 lapper that carried a purse of $80,328. Taking the top spot in time trials was Donny Lia who turned the half-mile oval in 18.469 seconds. Second fastest was Tony Hirschman who was a tick slower at 18.524 seconds. The top six redrew for starting positions. Carl Pasteryak, who was sixth fastest, drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett, who was fourth fastest, drew the outside pole. Hirschman drew third, Jamie Tomaino, fourth, Lia, fifth and Ted Christopher, sixth. Among those who didnít qualify were Tom Bolles and Mike Ewanitsko.

   Tony Hirschman got a little closer to Ted Christopherís point lead as he won the Fall Final 150. Hirschman passed outside pole sitter and early race leader Jimmy Blewett on lap 17 and went non-stop to record the win. Blewett ended up 13th. Busch Pole sitter Donny Lia provided some late race excitement when his left front spindle broke on the final lap. Lia maintained control and finished second on three wheels. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Pole sitter Carl Pasteryak finished 15th, one lap down. Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino, John Blewett III and Reggie Ruggiero.

   The Thompson Speedway closed out their regular season on a wet note as showers put a damper on the final Thursday night Thunder program. Jeff Malave, with 18 top tens including three wins was the 2005 Sunoco Modified Champion. Malave survived a season long battle with Bert Marvin as he won the title by 90 points. Marvin had 17 top tens including two wins. Defending champion Todd Ceravolo rebounded after a slow start to finish third, 78 points behind Marvin. Ceravolo had 15 top tens including three wins. Kerry Malone had an absolute horrible season but somehow managed to finish fourth in the final standings. Malone also scored three wins but had only 14 top tens. Rounding out the top five was Tom Cravenho with 11 top fives including 1 feature win.

    The Waterford Speedbowl ran one of their quickest programs ever as the final checkered flag dropped around 9:00p.m. on Saturday night. Kurt Lenahan went pole to pole to record his first win in two years. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot after Jay Miller faded in the latter stages of the event. Tom Fox finished third. Jeffrey Paul, who is rumored to be moving up in 2006, recorded his seventh victory in the Legends Cars. Other winners were Wayne Coury in the Late Models, Bill Gertsch in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini Stocks.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway also wrapped up its regular season with the Fall Final. Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified portion.

   In some sad news, Rick "Sleepy" Knapp, 53, of North Windham, Ct died Saturday Sept. 24, 2005 at Windham Hospital. He was an auto body technician by trade having worked in several places in the Windham/Chaplin area. At the time of his death, he was employed at Chris's Automotive in Chaplin. Rick began his racing career at the Waterford Speed Bowl at the age of 15. He drove is car, Sweet 16, in the Late Model division at the Waterford Speed Bowl, Stafford Speedway and Thompson Speedway until the early 1980ís when he began driving in the modified division. Rick held 3 track championships at Thompson.

   Dale Jarrett used a three-wide pass to challenge Tony Stewart for the lead on the final lap of a three-lap overtime shootout, then passed Stewart on the backstretch in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talledega for his first victory since 2003 at the now-defunct North Carolina Speedway. Stewart finished second, Matt Kenseth was third and Ryan Newman fourth. It was also on this weekend that Matt Kobyluck won the Busch North Series event at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. NASCAR announced that the No. 74 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series team, including the driver, car owner and crew chief, had been assessed multiple penalties, following several incidents which took place after the Oct. 1 race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. Driver Ryan Moore was fined $1,000 and penalized 25 driver championship points. Moore violated section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; hitting another competitorís car after the completion of the race Ė twice. Moore has been suspended from the next Busch North Series event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 31, 2005. Moore was also placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Car owner Richard Moore was penalized 25 car owner championship points, for the violations by his teamís driver. Crew chief James Lorfano was fined $250 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Lorfano was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; use of inappropriate language. Driver Kelly Moore was also fined $500 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Kelly Moore was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; use of inappropriate language.

   The International Speedway Corporation announced on Friday, Sept.30,that Rocky Mountain Speedway Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of ISC, had entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Pikes Peak International Raceway ("Pikes Peak"). Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ISC planned to petition NASCAR to realign the facility's NASCAR Busch Series event to Martinsville Speedway for 2006. The transaction was expected to close within a week, and was expected to have minimal impact on the Company's future earnings. The purchase price was fully supported by the appraised value of Pikes Peak's tangible assets, including land and certain fixed assets ISC intends to relocate to other facilities in its portfolio. These assets include grandstand seating and other structures that can be utilized for future speedway expansion projects. ISC will honor all of Pikes Peak's currently scheduled community uses and rentals through October 31, 2005. After that date, ISC expects to close the facility and begin to market the approximate 1,200-acre parcel for sale, with the requirement that the property not be used for motor sports-related events.Pikes Peak International, which includes a 1 mile oval, was completed in 1997 at a cost of $35 million. The facility, which also includes a 1.315 mile road course, had permanent seating for 42,787.

   Forbes Magazine released its list of the 400 richest people in the USA. Among those on the list were Jim France and Bill France JR. who are tied in 198th spot with assets of $1.6 billion each. Also on the list is O. Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports who is 207th on the list with $1.5 billion. At the top of the list is Microsoftís Bill Gates with $51 billion.

   Last year, 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Martinsville Virginia for the Made In America Whelen 300. The 200-lap event carried a race purse of $131,427. Among those who got an early start for their trip south was Ted Christopher who found himself suspended by the Stafford Motor Speedway for his on track actions on September 18. Keith Rocco was also suspended from Stafford but remained behind in order to compete at Waterford on Saturday night. Ronnie Silk subbed for Rocco in the Eddie Partridge No. 12.

   With the exception of a limited practice session on Saturday morning the rains washed all activity at Martinsville for the day. Forty-three Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 43 starting spots. Ron Silk and Donny Lia were the top qualifiers. Following the re-draw, Southern Modified Tour competitor Brian Loftin was placed in the pole position. Rowan Pennick drew the outside pole starting spot. Rounding out the top five starters were Burt Myers, Silk and Lia.

   In a little over an hour and a half Mike Stefanik was able to take the win in the Made in America Whelen 300 at Martinsville. Stefanik, who managed to avoid multiple wrecks during the running of the event, took the lead from Todd Szegedy with 19 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. Szegedy finished second with Ryan Preece, third. Ronnie Silk and Burt Myers rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Kevin Goodale, George Brunnhoelzl, III, Donny Lia, Eric Goodale and Jamie Tomaino. Burt Myers was the highest finishing Southern driver which meant that he will get credit for the win in the southern tour as the event was a North-South combination event.

   For Ted Christopher it was a long day as he spent most of the race going in and out of the pit area with engine problems. Finishing 30th in the final rundown, the defending series champion lost considerable ground to Lia. His finish, combined with Liaís eight-place effort, closed Lia to within just one point of the championship lead with two races remaining in the season. Wrecks and mechanical problems took their toll. Of the 43 starters less than 12 were competitive at the end. Brian Loftin led the opening three laps but ended up in 29th spot after his brakes failed. Rowan Pennink led from lap 4 through 80. Pennink, who was quite fast, ended up in 16th spot, 15 laps down as a result of being shoved into the wall on lap 186. Chris Pasteryak, who led from lap 81 to lap 165 was collected in the same wreck and ended up in 15th spot. There were 10 cautions for 60 laps. Stefanikís average speed was 68.091 mph. For his efforts he collected $9,534.

   In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, the speedway closed out their weekly racing series with a better than average crowd thanks to the folks that officiate at the Stafford Motor Speedway. After the on-track confrontations between Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco plus their suspensions from competition the fans came out to see if there would be a showdown at high speed on the high banks at Thompson. There was an ongoing war of words but there was no crunching of metal between the two. Instead it ended up being a plain good night of racing. Christopher took his third straight victory but it was Rocco taking the Sunoco Modified Track Championship crown. Jim Banfield won his career first Super Late Model feature event while teenager Derek Ramstrom earned his first Thompson track championship. Rick Gentes made it two in a row in Late Model competition. John Materas had a joy ride on Thursday night as he clinched the championship the week before. Tom Tagg scored his fifth win of the season in the TIS Modifieds as Tim Sullivan earned the title in the division by a scant eight points. Shawn Monahan scored his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. After an eventful night, Larry Barnett recovered from an early race incident to become a multi-time Limited Sportsman champion. Randy Churchill scored his third win of the season in the Mini Stocks. Scott Michalski had a banner year to win the divisionís title.

   With Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco under suspension the Friday night season was anti-climatic without the trackís main attractions in competition. Both Christopher and Rocco had their twin brothers pinch hitting for them but it wasnít the same. Doug Coby took his first victory of the season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Tom Fearn took his second win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, David Webb took down his second win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis took down his first victory of 2009 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, and Don Wood scored his second win of 2009 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   Ted Christopher clinched the 2009 SK Modified track championship, his record seventh championship at Stafford Motor Speedway. Frank Ruocco, who was under federal indictment for 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 and had been charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, finished in 18th spot. Ruocco dropped to third in the point standings as Woody Pitkat moved into the second spot.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl Ron Yuhas Jr. won his third SK-Modified feature of the season cutting into division leader Keith Rocco's points lead. Tyler Chadwick finished second, followed by Rocco, who leads the points race by six with just two events left. Tim Jordan won his second Late Model feature. Danny Field (Mini Stocks), Walt Hovey Jr. (Street Stocks) and Jason Palmer (Legends) also earned victories.

   Jimmie Johnson was the NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at Dover International. Clint Boyer was the Nationwide Series winner.

Thatís 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


                   Don Rounds                                             Stan Greger                                              Chick Stockwell               


Pete Fiandaca                                            Ed Flemke Jr                                              Bob Vivari  

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 24, 2010

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