The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 11, 2011

   Fifty years ago in 1961, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts was the Daytona 500 pole sitter. Joe Weatherly was second fastest. Roberts' speed was 155.709 mph. Sixty one cars attempted to qualify. Among them was Ernie Gahan in a John Koszela car, Long Island Japanese driver George Tet, Pennsylvania modified great, Joe Kelly and Jim Reed.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, Sixty six cars were on hand for Daytona 500 qualifying. Richard Petty took the pole with a speed of 175.165 mph. Dick Hutcherson was second fastest. The only northern driver in the field was Rene Charland.

   Forty years ago in 1971, the field was down but the speeds were up at Daytona 500 qualifying. With 44 cars on hand, AJ Foyt in the Wood Brothers car took the pole with a speed of 182.744 mph. Bobby Issac was second fastest. Among those in the field was defending Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton, Maynard Troyer and Ken Meisenhelder.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, Ramo Stott was the surprise Daytona 500 pole sitter. Terry Ryan was second fastest.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, the World Series at the New Smyrna got the green flag with fifteen Modifieds in the pit area. Taking the opening night win was Richie Evans. George Kent finished second and was followed by Maynard Troyer, Jr. Hanley, John Blewett Jr, Ronnie Bouchard and Doug Hewitt. The second night of competition saw heavy rain wash out the eveningís activities. Speedweek at Daytona shifted into high gear on Sunday as Darrell Waltrip won the Busch Clash and Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 194.624 mph. Geoff Bodine made his first attempt at Daytona as he was entered in a car owned by Dick Bahre, brother of NHIS owner Bob Bahre. Richie Evans made it two for two at New Smyrna on Sunday night as he won out over Kent, Ronnie Bouchard, Hewitt and Merv Treichler.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986 Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 dusted the field at New Smyrna in opening night action. Jamie Tomaino finished second. Jeff Fuller was the mini-modified winner. Round two on Saturday night saw Ruggiero again in victory lane with Tomaino again the bridesmaid. Kerry Malone finished third with George Kent, fourth. On Sunday at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt was the winner of the Busch Clash and Bill Elliot took the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 205.039 mph. Geoff Bodine was the outside pole sitter with a speed of 204.545 mph. Also on hand for the 500 qualifying were Ronnie Bouchard, Doug Hevron and Greg Sacks. Ruggiero made it three for three at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Tomaino was again, second.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, it was the same car, the 44, but this time it was Rick Fuller at the controls and taking the win on opening night at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Kennedy and Tim Arre. On night number two, Baldwin shifted into high gear and took the win over Ewanitsko, Jeff Fuller and veteran, Andy Romano. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash and Davey Allison was the Daytona 500 pole sitter. Baldwin continued his winning ways as he went two for two at New Smyrna. Jeff Fuller finished second with Arre, third.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Steve Park, driving for Joe Brady was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin, Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller. Saturday night at New Smyrna, Fuller took the win after Christopher spun on the last lap. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Park, Jamie Tomaino and Bruce Del. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt was the fastest of 49 cars on hand and took the Daytona 500 pole position with a speed of 189.510 mph. Ernie Irvan was second fastest. Dale Jarrett won the Busch Clash and Jeff Purvis won the ARCA 200.Bruce Del was the surprise winner at New Smyrna on Sunday night after a big wreck on the start collected Fuller, Ewanitsko, Tomaino and Baldwin. Ted Christopher finished second and Ewanitsko recovered to finish third. It was also on this weekend that Tom Curley in behalf of ACT filed suit against Oxford Plains Speedway owner Mike Liberty charging fraud and breach of contract.

   Ten years ago in 2001 a record number of modified entries were received for the New Smyrna World Series with 36 on hand for opening night. Jim Willis went pole to pole to win the event over Ted Christopher and Jamie Tomaino. Charlie Pasteryak became a first night victim as he crashed hard as a result of a broken suspension part. In Daytona 500 qualifying on Saturday it was an all Dodge front row. Bill Elliott took the pole with a speed of 183.565 mph. Jerry Nadeau was second fastest but was disqualified because of illegal suspension parts. Stacy Compton was moved up to the outside pole spot. Ted Christopher was the winner of night No.2 at New Smyrna. Friday night winner Jim Willis wrecked hard. George Kent finished second with Eric Beers, third. Tony Stewart was the big winner at Daytona on Sunday as he beat out Dale Earnhardt Sr. to win the Busch Clash. Many Winston Cup car sponsors became enraged when FOX blurred out their sponsorís logos when they wouldn't submit to payola. Sunday night at New Smyrna saw Rob Summers put the Bear Motorsports entry in victory lane. Ted Christopher finished second with Junior Hanley, third. Charlie Pasteryak made it back from being wrecked to finish fourth. Monday night at New Smyrna, Summers was leading and hoping to make it two for two when he blew a tire and took a hard shot into the wall. Ted Christopher ended up taking the win and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Kent and Nevin George. It was announced at Daytona that FOX had backed off from blurring out car sponsors after it was reported that NASCAR put pressure on the network to do so. The Tuesday night event at New Smyrna ran only 16 of the 25 scheduled laps when rain and fog moved in. David Berghman, leading at the time the red was displayed, was awarded the win. Charlie Pasteryak ended up second with Eric Beers, third.

   Five years ago in 2006 Speed Weeks in Florida shifted into high gear on Friday night as the Annual World Series at the New Smyrna Beach high banked half-mile Speedway got the green. A good field of Modifieds, 24, was on hand for the opening night 25-lap feature. Upstate New Yorker Chuck Hossfeld, who would be driving the Hills Enterprises No.79 on the Whelen Modified Tour Series, started on the pole and led every lap to take the opening night win. Hossfeld drove a New York based Modified owned by Jerry Graydle Racing. Eric Beers finished second with Kevin Goodale, third. Rounding out the top seven were Rob Summers, John Blewett III, Donnie Lia and Andy Seuss. A devastating wreck midway of the event all but ended the comeback attempt of Mike Ewanitsko. Jimmy Blewett, driving for Eddie Partridge, stated that he exited turn two a little too fast and triggered the wreck that also collected Ted Christopher. Christopher was able to return to competition but was never a factor. It was unfortunate that Ewanitsko was injured but Blewett was to be commended for accepting responsibility. It was later learned that Ewanitsko had suffered five broken bones in one of his feet. Rain washed out Saturday night action at New Smyrna. Sunday night was a scheduled night off. Rain washed out the Bud Shootout on Saturday which had to be run on Sunday afternoon. Bobby Gerhardt won the ARCA 200, which was run in the morning. Erin Crocker started 10th and finished 15th. Fifty-eight cars ran for the Daytona 500 pole. Jeff Burton in the Childress No.31 took the pole with a speed of 189.151 mph. Jeff Gordon was the second fastest. Jimmie Johnson was disqualified as his car had an illegal modification; his crew chief was suspended and ejected from the speedway. Rookie Denny Hamlin was the Bud Shootout winner. Dale Earnhardt JR finished second with Tony Stewart, third.

   Last year, 2010, the official start of the 2010 Modified Racing season was supposed to have begun on Friday, February 5. Severe thunderstorms and threats of a tornado forced the speedway management to pull the plug on opening night activities. Before the rains came Modified and SK track steward Richard Brooks and his staff had over 30 cars go through tech inspection.

   The Florida skies cleared on Saturday, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Opening night at New Smyrna drew 19 tour type Modifieds and 11 sk type Modifieds. Eric Goodale was the fastest tour type Modified qualifier. Second fastest was Matt Hirschman. Rowan Pennink qualified third. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld and Ted Christopher.

   The tour type Modifieds were first up with their 25-lap feature. During hot laps Jim Zacharias spun out on the front stretch and hit the wall. Due to the redraw for the start John Jensen started on the pole with Ted Christopher on the outside. At the drop of the green Christopher jumped out in front and led the entire 25 lap distance in an event that went non-stop. Jensen finished second and was followed by Pennink, Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Hirschman, Eric Goodale, Rob Fuller, JR Bertuccio and Kevin Goodale.

   The SK type Modifieds went 20 laps. Nicole Morgillo, who started second, took the lead at the start. By lap 4, Keith Rocco, who had started 5th, took the lead with Ron Silk, second. Two laps later, Silk passed Rocco for the lead. Almost immediately, Silk was tapped by Rocco, causing the two to spin and in the process collected Morgillo, Jeffrey Gallup and Jimmy Zacharias. Silk and Zacharias were able to drive away while Rocco and Gallup had their cars towed off. David Cranmer took the lead on the restart. Silk restarted in the rear and embarked on a determined run to the front. Silk had worked his way up to third spot when he hit Zacharias who in turn hit the outside wall in the turn two area. As a result, Silk was put to the rear for rough riding. With six laps to go Cranmer led the single file restart. Cranmer led the final four laps to take the win. Silk made a move to pass Cranmer for the lead on the last lap as the cars came into turn four but backed off and settled for second. Dave Salzarulo finished third followed by Chris Jensen and Rob Schultz.

   The tour type Modifieds and the SK types had Sunday night off.

   Eric Beers had finally solidified his driving plans for 2010 as Dave and Laura DeLange of Lockport NY and John "Grandpa" Blewett, Howell NJ were going split the 2010 season as car owners with Beers as the pilot of their NASCAR Modifieds. Beers would drive the Blewett owned Modified for the two events at New Hampshire, the three at Thompson and the one race at Riverhead. He would be in the DeLange Modified at Stafford (4 times), Martinsville, Lime Rock, Monadnock, and Bristol.

   In a somewhat related matter, Jimmy Blewett would be competing during the 2010 season in the famed Dick Barney prepared #14 on the NASCAR Tour.

   One of the hot topics of conversation in the pit area at New Smyrna was a recent 36 page complaint by Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the State of New York that alleged that Suffolk (Long Island) Productions, a for- profit entity that ran telemarketing and fundraising campaigns for a host of charities was allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud by mis-representing who it is and where the money donated would go. According to the complaint over $3 million was collected from 2006 to 2008. The report mentioned Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan as the principal defendant. Cromarty-Hallahan assumed control of the Riverhead Raceway from her parents, Barbara and Jim Cromarty, two years previous. Also listed as a defendant was Riverhead Public Relations Chief Bob Finan.

   Bob Finan addressed the story about the NY State Attorney Generalís investigation of Suffolk Productions. While this company was founded by Jim Cromarty many years ago, it was now owned and run by Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan, and was a separate entity from anything to do with Riverhead Raceway. Bob went on to say this whole thing was just political posturing by someone who is running for governor and it is being litigated down at the time and it should have no effect on the operations of Riverhead Raceway in 2010 or in years to come.

   In Daytona 500 qualifying, Mark Martin won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 191.188mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the outside pole. Kevin Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout. Veteran ARCA Racing Series driver Bobby Gerhart earned a historic sixth Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 Daytona race victory on Saturday evening, using patience and fuel strategy in ARCA's wreck-filled season opener to notch his seventh-career restrictor plate victory while Danica Patrick finished sixth in her stock car debut.!

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: February 11, 2011

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