The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 18, 2011

   Fifty years ago in 1961, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and Joe Weatherly were the winners in the wreck marred 100-mile qualifiers for the Daytona 500 at the Daytona Int. Speedway. Lee Petty received life threatening injuries which all but ended his racing career when he crashed out of the track with Johnny Beauchamp. Marvin Paunch, in a Smokey Yunick built 1960 Pontiac, won the 500 after Roberts lost an engine with 13 laps to go. The spectator count was 51,287 and the winner’s share of the race purse was $21,050.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, Paul Goldsmith and Earl Balmer were the 100 lap qualifying race winners at Daytona. New England’s only entry, Rene Charland, blew an engine and finished 33rd in the second 100.In the 500, Richard Petty became the races' first repeat winner. The 200 lap-500 mile event was halted with two laps to go because of rain. For his efforts, Petty received $28,150 and there were 90,000 spectators on hand.

   Forty years ago in 1971, Pete Hamilton, the defending Daytona 500 winner, took the lead on the last lap from AJ Foyt in the first 125 mile qualifier and went on to record the win. David Pearson won the second 125.Richard Petty secured his third Daytona 500 win after AJ Foyt ran out of gas with 39 laps to go. Buddy Baker, in the Petty Team car that had been driven to victory the previous year by Pete Hamilton, finished second. Hamilton, driving for Cotton Owens, led some of the early going but lost an engine and finished a distant 28th.Northern modified fans held their breath when Maynard Troyer in a Ford owned by Dave Nagle blew an engine and flipped 16 times. Troyer survived the wreck but was hospitalized with serious injuries.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds ran on the road course at Daytona. Despite being out of their element they put on a fairly good show. Taking the 200 mile win was Bobby Allison. Merv Treichler finished second and was followed by Gene Felton, John Bryant, Buzzy Reutaman, Philip Smith, Fred Harbach, Geoff Bodine and George Wagner. Dave Marcis and Darrell Waltrip were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Richard Petty and David Pearson battled wheel to wheel until they wrecked together on the final lap, just before the start finish line. Pearson managed to keep his car running and drove thru the infield to take the checkered flag. The winners share was upped to $46,800. There were 125,000 spectators were on hand.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, after winning on Friday and Sunday on the first weekend at New Smyrna, Richie Evans continued his winning streak to six in a row. Ron Bouchard and George Kent were the only two who could run with Evans. Bouchard turned the tables on Saturday night as he garnered a hard fought win with Evans, second. Brett Bodine became a surprise winner as Evans blew two engines on the final night. Bouchard ended up second with Maynard Troyer and John Blewett Jr following.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, Jamie Tomaino started the week on Monday night at New Smyrna with a win over Mike Casterline, Randy Sweet and George Kent. Tuesday thru Friday night at New Smyrna belonged to Reggie Ruggerio who ran up a four race win streak to win the overall championship. Mike Casterline was the spoiler as he took the victory on the final night. At Daytona, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Dale Earnhardt appeared headed for his first Daytona 500 win when he ran out of gas with three laps to go. Geoff Bodine, running second, inherited the lead and went on to record the win which was worth $192.715.Terry Labonte finished second while Earnhardt faded to 14th.Ronnie Bouchard finished sixth, Doug Hevron finished 15th and Greg Sacks finished 35th after losing a clutch. Because of an in car camera, fans and race officials got a first hand look at how far ones body stretches on impact. Richard Petty hit the backstretch on lap 63.Cameras recorded the fact that Petty’s body stretched to the point where his head almost hit the right side roll bars.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, Tim Arre went pole to pole in Monday night action at New Smyrna. Rick Fuller in the Mario Fiore No.44 finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin. Rookie David Green took the Goody’s 300 pole at Daytona. Tuesday night at New Smyrna, Jeff Fuller beat out Arre and Baldwin for the win. Rick Fuller banged out two in a row on Thursday and Friday at New Smyrna. The final two nights at New Smyrna belonged to Mike Ewanitsko including a pole to pole run in the series ending Richie Evans Memorial 100.Ewanitsko was awarded the series championship for his efforts. At Daytona, Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison won the 125 mile Daytona 500 qualifiers. Earnhardt won the Goodys 300 and was leading the Daytona 500 when he spun with five laps to go. Ernie Irvan was the 500 winner.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Bruce Dell in the Ben Dodge No.36 made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he won on Monday night. Ricky Fuller finished second with Jamie Tomaino and Ted Christopher in tow. Steve Park in the Joe Brady entry went pole to pole to win the Tuesday night modified event at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Mike Ewanitsko. Jamie Tomaino broke into the win column on Wednesday at New Smyrna. Bruce Del finished second and was followed by Baldwin, Park and Christopher.
   At Daytona on Thursday, Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan won the 125-mile qualifiers. Back home in the northeast, Tom Curley in behalf of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) filed suit against Mike Liberty, owner of the Oxford Plains Speedway claiming fraud and breach of contract. Thursday night at New Smyrna saw Ricky Fuller take the win. Tom Baldwin moved into second spot after Bruce Del, who was running second on the final lap, tangled with Ted Christopher and went into the wall. Tomaino came home in third. On Friday, Park again ruled the roost with Tomaino, Fuller, Baldwin and Christopher following. In the Goodys 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Steve Grissom used the draft from the lapped car of Jim Spencer to pass Dale Jarrett with five laps to go. Jarrett finished second with Mark Martin, third.
   The final night at New Smyrna saw Rick Fuller win the Richie Evans Memorial 100.Baldwin finished second with Ewanitsko and Park following. The final tally for the week saw Baldwin take the series championship despite not taking a win. Steve Park and Ricky Fuller each recorded three wins, Bruce Del, two and Jamie Tomaino, one. In the Daytona 500, Dale Jarrett took the lead from Dale Earnhardt with thirteen laps to go and went on to score the win. Earnhardt finished second and was followed by Ken Schrader, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.

   Ten years ago, in 2001, Ted Christopher picked up his third win in the New Smyrna World Series on Thursday night. George Kent finished second with Junior Hanley, third. In 125 action at Daytona, Sterling Marlin passed Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the last lap to win the first one. Jerry Nadeau, who started dead last, also passed Earnhardt and finished second. Mike Skinner won out over Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a photo finish of the second 125.Jeff Burton finished third. Jamie   Tomaino out raced Charlie Pasteryak and Rob Summers to win the Richie Evans 100 on Friday night at New Smyrna.
   At Daytona on Saturday, Randy LaJoie took the win over Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Green. Jamie Tomaino went pole to pole to win the New Smyrna World Series final on Saturday night. Junior Handley finished second with George Kent, third. Ted Christopher finished ninth and sewed up the series title. Speedweeks came to a close on Sunday with the running of the Daytona 500.Little did anyone know, this day would be one of the most devastating in NASCAR history. It all came down to the final corner of the final lap. Michael Waltrip, driving his first race for Dale Earnhardt Inc. was leading the pack with Dale Jr. and Sr. in tow. As Waltrip streaked home for the win, Sterling Marlin took the air off Earnhardt Sr’s spoiler, causing the former champion to break loose and collide with the concrete wall and the car of Ken Schrader. Earnhardt Sr., 49, died instantly of head injuries from the impact.

   Five years ago in 2006, World Series Modified Racing action at the New Smyrna Speedway continued on Monday, February 13. Once the sun went down it was like being at home in New England as the temperatures dipped below freezing in central Florida. Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld started on the front row and ran nose to tail the entire distance of the event. A few minor incidents slowed the event. Kevin Goodale and Robbie Summers spun on lap 7 between turn 3 and 4 in the early going. During lap 10 Chris Pasteryak spun bringing out a caution and on lap 11 Ryan Preece and Buck Catalano bringing out the caution after a tangle in turn three. Following Lia and Hossfeld at the finish were Eric Beers, John Blewett III, Andy Seuss, Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher and Mike Andrews Jr. who had taken over the driving duties for injured Mike Ewanitsko. Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner. Mike Holdridge finished second. Jimmy Blewett dropped out with mechanical problems on lap 10.
   The cold weather coupled with the full moon on Tuesday made for an exciting night of spins, wrecks and strange happenings. Donny Lia made it two in a row and was the only driver to escape unscratched. There were two incidents before one lap was completed. The first incident saw Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher, Kevin Goodale, Danny Sammons and a host of others spun in turn one. The race all got underway again and the cars restarted. As the cars went into turn 1 during the start of lap two, Jimmy Blewett, Jeff Preece, Zach Sylvester, Dave Koroleski, John Blewett III, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale were involved in another incident in turn one. Beers, the Blewetts and Koroleski were towed off the track. As the cars restarted on lap two Hossfeld and Christopher headed for pit road, never to return. Just when it looked like the race would go non-stop Eric Beers came to a stop in turn 1 on lap 10 with smoke coming from the right front of his car. A
tow truck pushed him in, out for the night. Lia continued to lead when, with two laps to go, three cars spun on the front stretch as they were contending for the 6th spot: Dave Sapienza, Earl Paules & Jon McKennedy came to a grinding halt. All cars were damaged and were done for the night. After a green-white-checkered finish Lia took the win and was followed by Chris Pasteryak, Mike Andrews Jr., Andy Seuss, Tim Arre, Jay Wesley Swartout and Dan Sammons. John Jensen won the SK Modified feature over Jimmy Blewett and Billy Anderson.
   Full Moon Modified Racing continued at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. The central Florida temperatures moderated somewhat making life easier on fans and competitors alike. The Modifieds ran their first of two extra distance events. Eric Beers was the top time trialer and started on the pole. John Blewett III started on the outside pole with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Beers led the charge to the green with Blewett III in hot pursuit. The first caution flew on lap two when Rob McMullen, driving the Joe Brady back-up car, spun on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green when, on lap 3, Kevin Goodale spun between turns one and two. Green again and then crash! The Blewett brothers tangled between turns three and four. Collected in the melee was Zach Sylvester who ultimately ended up in the front stretch wall. The Blewetts maintained their spots as the caution was thrown for Sylvester, who was done for the night. Beers and Donny Lia led the restart. The field no sooner got up to speed when Jimmy Blewett & Andy Suess tangled and came close to hitting the front stretch wall. Both cars drove away unscathed and were able to restart the race. Another restart, another tangle. This time it was Dan Sammons, Tim Arre, Chris Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher and Don Lia. Lia got the worst of it and had to be double hooked off the track. Beers continued to lead as the green was dropped once again. Rob Summers & Earl Paules tangled in turn 4, bringing out the fifth caution on Lap 6. Mike Andrews Jr., doing a great pinch hitting job for Mike Ewanitsko, moved into the runner-up spot. The field took the green again and actually ran four laps at speed when Ryan Preese spun on backstretch on lap 9. Green again with Beers still leading followed by Andrews, Blewett III, Hossfeld and Rob Summers. Just when it looked like things would smooth out the seventh caution flew on Lap 19 when Jim Storace was
engulfed in smoke in turn 2. The final and eighth caution flew on lap 31 when Chris Flemming stopped in turn four. The final 19 laps were run without incident with Beers taking the win over Andrews, John Blewett III and Chuck Hossfeld. Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Tom Farrel won the SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Kevin Goodale and Mike Holdredge, following.
   A new face entered victory lane on Thursday night at New Smyrna. Mike Andrews Jr., who took over for the injured Mike Ewanitsko, started on the pole of the 25 lap feature and went on to lead every lap to record his first win in the Sunshine State. The first caution of the night came during the opening moments when Jo Wesley Swartout, Tim Arre, Luke Flemming and Tony Hanbury tangled in turn one. Arre and Flemming had to be towed from the scene. Donny Lia pitted to have officials check for a possible fluid leak. The field restarted with Andrews still on the point. The second caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester slowed on the front stretch. The ensuing restart saw a major pile-up on the front stretch that collected seven cars and blocked the track. The event was red flagged. Among those involved were Chuck Hossfeld, Lia, Arre and Chris Pasteryak. Lia was not able to restart. It proved to be a major setback as he was leading the point standings going into the event. The race restarted single file. By lap 15 Andrews continued to lead with Rob Summers moving into second spot and John Blewett III, third. Jimmy Blewett was running fourth but spun two laps later when he looped it in turn two. Once the field restarted they ran non-stop from there. At the finish it was Andrews taking the win followed by Summers, Blewett III, Andy Suess and Tony Hanbury. Lia ended up in 19th spot. Eric Beers, who blew the left rear tire in the fourth turn during first lap of time trials, finished 8th and was tied for the point lead going into the Richie Evans 100 last Friday night. His car sustained damage on the right front and he was forced to start the feature in last spot. In another development Ted Christopher, who had been driving the Bear Motorsports No.14 with little or no success, parted ways with car owner Bill Callicio and signed on to drive the Joe Brady back-up Modified for the final two events at New Smyrna. Mike Holdredge held off Jimmy Blewett to win the SK Modified feature.
   The Richie Evans 100, which was run on Friday night, ended up being a true test of stamina and nerves. In the end it was Jimmy Blewett in victory lane with the Eddie Partridge TS Haulers entry. Ted Christopher, in the Joe Brady back-up mount finished second after making a late race pit stop for fresh tires. Christopher made a determined charge to the front but got only as far as second. Rob Summers ended up being a victim of Christopher’s aggressiveness as he was knocked out of second spot in the closing laps. Summers expressed his displeasure with a post race slam to the rear of Christopher’s car.
   It was rumored that the Bear Motorsports No.14 was headed home but as the field was called to post the former Christopher mount appeared with Billy Anderson behind the wheel and starting scratch. Christopher, who won the Super Late Model feature earlier in the evening, started on the pole with Mike Andrews on the outside. Christopher took the green and led the first three laps. Jimmy Blewett, who started fourth, wasted little time as he passed Kevin Goodale and Andrews for the second spot on lap 3. One lap later, Blewett put the Partridge owned; Brad LaFountaine wrenched No.12 in the lead. The first caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester in the Hills Enterprises No. 79 came to a halt after spinning on the backstretch. Eric Beers, who had high hopes for a good finish was forced to drop out with an ailing engine. On the restart, someone booted the 36 of Andrews and triggered a wreck that collected 13 cars in turn one. Among those collected were Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld who both sustained race ending chassis damage. After a long red flag period the field restarted single file with Jimmy Blewett leading followed by Christopher, John Blewett III, Jim Storace and Billy Anderson. John Blewett III’s night came to an end on lap 47 when he stopped in turn 3, bringing out the caution and ultimately went behind the wall due to rear end problems. At the half way mark it was Jimmy Blewett in the lead followed by Christopher, Summers and Jim Storace. With 20 laps to go Christopher’s tires began to fade as he gave way to Summers. A caution on lap 88 for debris gave Christopher the opportunity to pit for fresh rubber and set the stage for an exciting finish. Jimmy Blewett withstood the intense pressure put out by Christopher as he continually gave him the bumper but to no avail as Blewett never wavered as he streaked under the checkered flag for the win. In a last minute move Kevin Goodale moved into third spot while Summers was trying to collect himself after his incident with Christopher. Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Billy Anderson, Ryan Preece, Jon McKennedy, Mike Andrews Jr. and Jim Storace rounded out the top ten. To cap off the night Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified feature.
   The final night of racing, Saturday, saw a slim field of Modifieds as many felt they had had enough plus they were not in contention for the point title. Jimmy Blewett started on the pole and led the charge to the green. John Blewett III and Ted Christopher followed. Blewett III and Christopher, in team cars, were eliminated on lap 5 when a slow car triggered the crash. Both cars had to be towed from the scene and were out for the night. Jimmy Blewett led until the final moments when he was passed by Kevin Goodale who took the closing night win. Blewett finished second and was followed by Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Seuss who captured the Modified division series championship. Mike Holdridge won the SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett finished ninth and wrapped up the division title.
   Elliott Sadler and Jeff Gordon won the 160 mile qualifiers which were a total bore to watch. Mark Martin won the truck race and Matt Kenseth, the IROC event. Tony Stewart won the Busch 300 and Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500.

   Last year, 2010, Tour type Modified and SK type Modified racing at the New Smyrna World Series continued on Monday night. In Tour type competition Ronnie Silk got the best of Ted Christopher on lap 14 and went on to take the 25 lap win. Christopher finished second and was followed by John Jensen, Kevin Goodale and Rob Fuller. Keith Rocco was the 20 lap SK type feature winner.
   The second rain out of the series occurred on Tuesday night. It was announced that Don Lia informed Bob Garbarino that he would not defend his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series title as he had secured a ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
   On Wednesday night at New Smyrna temperatures were in the low 30’s but emotions and tempers were high. Ted Christopher won the tour type John Blewett III Memorial 50 lapper. Christopher took the lead from Chuck Hossfeld on lap 8 and in the end, held off Ron Silk for the win. Silk was later disqualified in a post race inspection when officials discovered an illegal cam shaft in his “Spec Engine”. Chuck Hossfeld was moved up into second spot. Silks night had only begun as the SK type event would turn ugly. He ended up with the win but it wasn’t pretty as he and Keith Rocco had a race-long conflict that ended with physical violence between two teams. Rocco and Silk tangled in the late stages of the event with Rocco incurring getting the most damage. As tow trucks hooked up the Rocco car he picked up a 2x4 and threw it at Silk, hitting his car just above the window. Rocco’s crew made repairs in time for the restart. Rocco restarted in fourth spot after being waved by cars that were in the rear. On the restart Silk’s engine blubbered as Rocco shot into the lead. The action reached a fever pitch on the white flag lap. With Silk and Rocco on the backstretch, Silk rode him up to the point where he hit the wall. Silk took the checker and pitted after a cool-down lap. Rocco followed him to victory lane where the name-calling turned into a physical confrontation. Track security was forced to Mace some of those including Rocco in order to bring the crowd under control. The end result was that Rocco was escorted off the track and was told that he was done for the week.
   Silk returned on Thursday night and came away a double winner as he won both SK type and Mod Tour type events. Silk was unable to get a replacement engine or camshaft. Instead, his crew added 100# to the cars weight. In the tour type feature Silk passed Chuck Hossfeld on lap 9 and ran pretty much uncontested the rest of the 25 lap distance. Hossfeld finished second followed by James Civale and Eric Goodale. Ted Christopher finished 14th after wrecking. Silk went pole to pole in the SK type event.
   Friday night’s Richie Evans Memorial 100 was rained out and rescheduled to Saturday night.
   The skies were clear and the weather was cold for the Richie Evans Memorial on Saturday night. Matt Hirschman took the lead from James Civali on lap 89 to win the 100 lap contest. Ron Silk, who had been running one of the new spec engines had his crew do an engine change and finished third. Rowan Pennick and Kyle Ebersol rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher finished 14th and wrapped up the series championship by10 points over John Jensen. The SK types did not run. Ron Silk was declared the series champion.
   At the Daytona Int. Speedway, Jimmie Johnson won the 1st Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, beating Kevin Harvick by about an inch. Kasey Kahne won the 2nd Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway, beating Tony Stewart by a couple of inches.
   Jamie McMurray held off a hard charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap of the 2nd green-white-checker try to win the 52nd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The race ran an extra 8 laps, for 208 laps and 520 miles. The win was McMurray's 4th of his career and 2nd at Daytona. The race took just over 6 hours to run as there were two lengthy red flag for holes in the turn two area that needed repair. Greg Biffle, who led going in to the 1st green-white-checker, finished 3rd, followed by Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann.
Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Series race at Daytona.

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 18, 2011

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