The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 1, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 George Pendergast scored a 50 lap win at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ray Moran won in the non-Fords and Ed Moody in the Bombers.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Don Collins won a 50 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner. Johnny Thompson was the winner at the Norwood Arena.

   Forty years ago in 1970, cousin’s Merv and Roger Treichler finished one-two in the Race of Champions at Langhorne. Finishing third was an outlaw driver from Rome, N.Y. by the name of Richie Evans. Dick Watson won the season ending 36 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Gada SR was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Walt Dombrowski was crowned the Modified Champion at the Speedbowl. Ron Cote was the Late Model Daredevil Champion.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, the Race of Champions moved to Trenton in 1972 and it was still the race to win. Ray Hendrick, driving a Dick Armstrong owned Mustang took the win over Merv Treichler, Bugsy Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek and Richie Evans.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, the Race of Champions was no longer a Columbus Day classic as its date was changed to September and the race itself was moved again, this time to Pocono. On this weekend, Oswego ran a season ending 30 lapper. Richie Evans took the win over Brett Bodine, Greg Sacks, Maynard Troyer and Doug Hewitt. The big event of the weekend was the DIRT 200 at Syracuse, which drew 154 cars and was broadcast by ESPN. Gary Balough, driving a car, which was a cross between a sprinter and a Supermodified with side panels and a roof off a Lincoln Continental, made the event a no contest affair. Balough, who was booed in victory lane, received$26,507 for his efforts. Balough's win prompted DIRT officials to change the race rules, which in the future would allow only conventional dirt type modifieds to participate. Finishing second was Buzzie Reutiman with Frank Cozze, third. Geoff Bodine made a rare dirt track appearance and didn't disappoint his fans as he came home in fourth spot. Westboro ran a 50 lapper on Sunday, which drew 39 modifieds. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over John Rosati, Joe Howard, Leo Cleary and Corky Cookman.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, the only action was an SK Modified event at Thompson which saw Wayne Dion take the win in front of a sparse crowd.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, it was all quiet.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, Jerry Pearl won the season ending Modified event at Waterford. Pearl passed Todd Ceravolo with three laps to go when Ceravolo blistered a tire. Ceravolo hung on for second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Chris Jones, Tucker Reynolds Jr. and George Moose Hewitt.

   Ten years ago, in 2000, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero took the win after a controversial confrontation with Ted Christopher with eight laps to go in the 200-lap event. Christopher had taken the lead on lap 158 from Tom Baldwin and was looking to put the Gary Cretty mount in victory lane when it all came to an end on lap 192.Ruggiero dove under Christopher in turn one. The two made contact and Christopher spun and hit the wall. Jerry Marquis ended up in second spot and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Rick Fuller. Mike Ewanitsko was involved in a bad crash on lap 78.Ewanitsko had slowed to avoid a spinning car and was just about stopped when southern competitor Junior Miller came flying in full bore, rode over a wheel and all but went through the rear window of the Ewanitsko mount. The Art Barry No.21 was destroyed but the cage and bracing did its job allowing Ewanitsko to walk away from the crash. Waterford ran their
season ending 100 lapper with Ron Yuhas Jr. taking the win over Tucker Reynolds and Dennis Gada. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Tony Stewart took both the win and the pole.

   Five years ago in 2005, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series was supposed to be at the Thompson Speedway on Saturday for the Twin 100's that was rescheduled from June 12. Heavy rains moved into Connecticut during early afternoon on Friday and along with a forecast of rain all day Saturday, postponed the event to Sunday. By mid day on Saturday it became a moot point as over four inches of rain dumped on the Thompson area and the forecast was extended to have continuing rain through mid week. The decision was made to postpone the entire program to Saturday, October 29. Prior to all this taking place the Waterford Speedbowl also had to postpone their season ending Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. The Speedbowl selected the same weekend with their main events to be run on Sunday, October 30. In the interest of being fair to competitors and after consulting with NASCAR the Waterford Speedbowl changed its rain date to October 22-23. It’s not so much that it would create conflicts for competitors but it did create a conflict for the paying fan as there were only so many entertainment dollars to be spent by families per week. One of the tracks would have taken it on the chin.

   The winds of change were beginning to blow for 2006. Word had it that the Don Barker-Bob Cuneau No.50 Whelan Modified team would be disbanded at season's end. One of Chuck Hossfeld's Lancaster Speedway cronies let it slip as he alluded to the fact that a Modified had been bought from Sege Fidanza for him to drive at the western New York Lancaster Speedway for the 2006 season.

   It had also been heard that Kirk Alexander, one of the top guns of the northern New England based True Value Modified Series, had been approached by two Whelen Modified Series teams who were interested in securing his services as a driver in 2006. It had also been said that the True Value Modified Tour Series competitors had voted to look into racing at Thompson in 2006. The TVMS raced at Seekonk in 2005 and was expected back in 2006. Speaking of Seekonk, Whelen Modified Tour competitors were glad to hear that a fully operational scoreboard and lap counter was now in place and was operational at the Massachusetts oval.

   A devastating fire struck the Troyer Engineering and Race Car Fabrication facility in Rochester, NY late Friday, October 7. A power surge in an electrical riser outside of the building sent sparks into the second floor of the building. Materials in the storage area ignited, spreading the fire throughout the facility ultimately engulfing the majority of the building. The whole left half of the shop was gone along with much of the inventory. All that was left were the outside walls. The office area and the bays were gone with the roof either burned out or collapsed plus smoke and water damage to the remainder of the shop. Troyer Engineering designed and fabricated asphalt and dirt track chassis. Company founder Maynard Troyer had begun searching for a temporary location so that chassis building would continue on schedule. A remote office had already been set up with computers and telephones.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway had completed another year of racing. The next order of business would be the annual banquet and awards dinner which would be held on Friday, November 11 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. In the tracks SK Modified division Lloyd Agor wrapped up his first ever track title by 30 points over Todd Owen. Agor had 14 top ten finishes including two wins in 21 starts. Owen also had two wins in 21 starts. Willie Hardie Jr, with one win, finished third. Ted Christopher and Frank Ruocco, each with three wins finished fourth and fifth. Sixth through tenth are Jeff Baral with two wins, Keith Rocco with one win, Woody Pitkat with two wins followed by Chuck Docherty and Jeff Malave who were winless. Ryan Posocco, with two wins, won the Late Model Championship by 46 points over Tom Butler. Butler had four wins but failed to display the consistency required to be the champion. Jim Peterson, Ed Ricard and Scott Foster
rounded out the top five.

   For the second time in 34 years, Super DIRT Week's premier event - the Eckerd modified championship - was postponed indefinitely by inclement weather, probably until next year. The 200-lap race, which began under caution because of wet and slick track conditions, was halted by rain after 52 laps. After race teams and a dwindling group of fans waited through four hours of on-and-off drizzle, DIRT Motorsports officials pulled the plug on their richest race of the season. The announcement, DIRT's first postponement of the 200-lap race since the 1977 event was pushed back to the following spring, was met with anger and frustration by many race teams.

   In Nextel Cup action, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle led a team sweep of the top three spots and another Roush driver, Matt Kenseth, finished fifth. But the last laugh might belong to Tony Stewart, who finished fourth to extend his Chase lead from four points to 75. It was Stewart's 15th top-10 finish in 16 races and, more important, his third in the first four events of the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. Biffle elected not to nudge Casey Kahne out of contention during their side-by-side duel in the Busch Racing Series event on Saturday, as Kahne edged ahead yards from the finish for the victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

   Last year, 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. With the exception of a brief practice session on Saturday, the Whelen Modifieds spent the day waiting for the rain to stop. There were 32 Whelen Modifieds on hand for the event that carried an $84,013 purse.

   The entire program was run on Sunday. The sun was bright with very few clouds in the sky. Most important, the grandstands appeared to be full. Donny Lia and Ted Christopher, who have had somewhat of a war with words recently, slugged it out in time trials with Lia coming out on top with Christopher, second fastest. Rich Pallai Jr, who is a regular SK Modified competitor, qualified third in his Modified Tour debut. The top six redrew for starting positions, which placed Eric Berndt on the pole with Pallai on the outside in second spot. Lia drew fourth and Christopher fifth.

   It was Lia’s race to win and Christopher’s to lose. Lia pitted shortly after the 1/3 mark and was able to work his way to the front, taking the lead from James Civali on lap 85 and from there never looked back as he went on to record the win. For Christopher, his day turned sour on lap 17 after he tangled and spun with Doug Coby. From there on, he spent more time in the pits than on the track as he had a final finishing position of 31st which ultimately cost him the point lead . Lia held a 26 point lead over Ryan Preece. Preece finished a strong third behind runner-up Doug Coby. Civali and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennick, Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero and Erick Rudolph.

   Ten cautions for 42 laps slowed the event which kept Lia’s average speed down to 61.971 mph. Seventeen of the original 32 starters finished on the lead lap. Among those who failed to finish were Glen Reen who ran out of gas on lap 147 and pole sitter Eric Berndt who lost an engine on lap 129. Keith Rocco was eliminated in an accident as was Rob Summers, Carl Pasteryak and Christopher. Christopher goes into Thompson 109 points in arrears.

   In regular weekly racing Keith Rocco rebounded from his recent suspension in fine style as he won the 40 lap SK Modified feature. It was his sixth win of the year. Woody Pitkat appeared to have victory in sight until his transmission went south with four laps to go. Todd Owen finished second with Brit Anderson, third. Ted Christopher, who had already sewed up the SK Modified Track Championship, took a hard shot into the wall in the turn four area after tangling with Josh Sylvester, was never a factor. Matt Gallo and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. Christopher ended up in 22nd spot. Frank Ruocco, who had been running second to Christopher in points, did not compete. Woody Pitkat moved into second in the final standings. In other Stafford weekly division action, Andrew Hayes won the 15 lap Dare Stock feature, Chad Baxter the Mini Stocks, Heather DesRochers won in the SK Lights and Shawn Thibeault won the Limited Late Model feature.
Ben Dodge JR was presented the annual Jack Arute Sr. Award by the Speedway officials. The 2009 recipient, a longtime track announcer, was recognized for his 37 years of dedication to the track.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl heavy, all day, rain washed out all racing. Bruce Thomas, who had won 10 of 17 features at the Speedbowl this year, was the beneficiary of the track calling off the final Saturday event of the season due to rain as he wrapped up the Late Model championship. Keith Rocco hada six-point lead as he chased down his first season title in the SK-Modified division, the closest margin of any division. Ron Yuhas Jr. was in second in the track's premier division. The rainout eliminated Rob Janovic Jr., Jeff Paul and seven-time SK-Modified champion Dennis Gada from title contention. In other division races, Brandon Plemons led the Mini Stock division by eight points over Walt Hovey Jr. In the Street Stock division, Danny Field had an 18-point lead over Kyle James, with Lou Bellisle III in third place.

   The True Value Modified Series headed to the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. The Twin State race was the first of three races to wind up the 2009 season for the True Value Modified Racing Series. A heated point battle between Jon McKennedy, Rob Goodenough, and Rowan Pennink, all but guaranteed a new series champion. McKennedy has already visited victory lane earlier this season at Twin State. Pennick did not compete as he was at Stafford for the Fall Final.

   This year’s race honored the late Ricky Miller along with the late Donnie Ayer and the late Kirby Monteith. Matt Hirschman took the win over Jacob Dore and Kenny Barry. Hirschman was later disqualified when it was discovered that his carburetor was illegal.

   The New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame announced seven inductees for their 2010 induction class. NASCAR Modified car owners Bob Garbarino and Billy Simons along with Vic Miller. Drivers Geoff Bodine, Mike Murphy, George Savory, and Pete Fiandaca, and racing contributor and official Frank Ferrara.

   The dirt had been removed from the 4/10-mile Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. The word on the condition of the asphalt is that it was in good shape. The paved surface would be washed and would be in top form when the True Value Modifieds visit in 2010. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the speedway was a mecca for Modified Racing, drawing the best of New York and New England to do battle.

   Dick Ceravolo continued to show a slight improvement in his condition. Late last week “Dickie Doo” opened his eyes for the first time in six weeks. Showing a big smile, the popular former Waterford Modified Champion was awake and alert. Because of the fact that he was still on a ventilator he was unable to speak but was able to respond by moving his head, yes or no.

   Joey Logano passed points leader Kyle Busch with three laps left to take the win at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, pulling out his fourth Nationwide victory less than a week after a spectacular crash during a Sprint Cup race one week previous at Dover DE. Tony Stewart took the NASCAR Sprint Cup win, also at Kansas City.

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


            Johnny Cambino                                         Tony Mordino                                           Ed Flemke Sr               


George Pendergast                                 Jocko Maggiacamo                                       Buddy Krebs     

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 1, 2010

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