The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


March 18, 2011

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, Ray Hendrick had a lap on the field at Martinsville when he crashed and handed the victory in the Dogwood 500 to Jerry Cook. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Charlie Glazier, Harry Gant, Melvin Chilton, Jerry Dostie, Chuck Ciprich and Wayne Anderson.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, Martinsville was the scene of one of the wildest finishes ever seen in a modified event. Arch rivals Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine banged wheels and bumpers for most of the 250-lap event. A restart, with three laps to go, set the stage for one of the most spectacular Modified race finishes ever seen. With Bodine leading, Evans was on a mission and pulled out all the stops. After taking the white flag, Evans wailed Bodine in the rear hard enough to get him squirrelly and was able to take the lead going down the backstretch. Coming out of turn four, Bodine attempted to retake the lead when the two tangled coming down for the checker. Bodine crashed into the wall as Evans took the checkered flag in mid air. Bodine managed to finish second with John Blewett Jr, third. Blewett’s day was not without incident. During a caution on lap 234 Jamie Tomaino pulled along side Blewett to express his displeasure over a previous incident. Much to Tomaino's surprise, Blewett turned right and planted Tomaino in the wall. Following Evans, Bodine and Blewett at the finish were Jerry Cook, Maynard Troyer and Roger Treichler. Bodine was the Late Model (BGN) winner over Sam Ard.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the season got its start in Rougemont, N.C. Charlie Jarzombek in the Wilsburg No.5 took the win over Satch Worley in the Speedy Thomas No.07. Carl Pasteryak finished third and was followed by Corky Cookman, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, there was no modified action as Martinsville ran on March 9.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, the action was at Atlanta. Terry Labonte was the Busch Grand National winner and in Winston Cup action, Dale Earnhardt beat Labonte by a half a straightaway.

   Ten years ago in 2001 the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker was cancelled due to the fact that four inches of ice and snow covered the speedway. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Steve Park dominated until lap 279 when Dale Jarrett took the lead after a pit stop. Park ended up second. Jeff Green was the Busch Grand National winner.

   Five years ago in 2006 In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series news, car-owners Dennis Charette and Chris Drouin announced that they would field the # 03 Chevrolet on the Whelen Modified Tour in the 2006 season. Charette, a Waterford Speedbowl regular and six-time winner, would pilot the car in a 10-race schedule. Embroidery Works of Berlin, CT will serve as primary sponsor. It looked like the recently married Reggie Ruggiero would again run a limited schedule. His first race for 2006 would be the 35th annual Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

   The Nextel Cup cars were in Las Vegas where Jimmy Johnson took the win. Kasey Kahne was the Busch Series winner.

   Last year, 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series held their season opening event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway ¼ mile flat track on Friday night. Twenty three Modifieds were on hand for what was supposed to be the first of ten taped delayed televised events.

   Third generation Corey LaJoie, in a car owned by Roger and Sandra Hill, drove like a veteran in his first career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour start. Using lapped traffic to get by Tim Brown, the 18-year-old driver then held off a furious challenge from Brown over the closing laps to capture the Atlanta 150. The race was the first for the Tour held on the track's flat, quarter-mile front stretch oval. The setup is similar to Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Brown is an eight-time champion in the track's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified division.

   He battled back from an early mistake that put him in the back of the field. While battling for the fifth-place position on the backstretch of the tight oval, LaJoie wound up driving into the infield. He was able to keep his momentum, cutting through the grass, and re-enter the track in Turn 4. But the miscue put him near the back of the running order. He slowly picked his way back through, moving past Fleming for the No. 2 spot with 30 to go.

   LaJoie used lapped traffic to take the lead from Brown on Lap 131. Brown took the top spot back with eight to go with a move inside going into Turn 2, but LaJoie again took advantage of lapped traffic a lap later to reclaim the lead. Over the final five laps, Brown was all over LaJoie's bumper but was unable to rattle the rookie. Brown bumped Lajoie coming out of turn 4 and dove inside to try to make a pass. He got halfway up Lajoie's door as they ran wheel to wheel across the line.

   Frank Fleming finished third, followed by David Brigati and Brandon Hire. James Civali, Jason Myers, Zach Brewer, John Smith and Buddy Emory rounded out the top 10. Pre-race favorite Burt Myers finished 17th, six laps down. Andy Seuss was the only northerner in the field. He finished 12th, one lap down.

   Congratulations were in order to Stafford Motor Speedway Late Model competitor Dillon Moltz who was selected to be part of the Richard Petty developmental driver program. The program will select a total of 12 drivers from across the United States to compete in a combine where the winner will receive a one-off race deal to drive an ARCA car in the ARCA Pocono 200 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 5th.
NASCAR announced that its Modified touring divisions would now award bonus points for its races, starting last weekend with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In order to reward drivers for running up front and to provide a further incentive to race for the lead, NASCAR instituted lap-leader bonus points for the first time to the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours.

   Five bonus points will be awarded to each driver and car owner whose car officially leads a lap during a race and five additional bonus points will be awarded to the driver and car owner leading the most official laps in an event. This will bring the maximum number of points a driver can earn in a race to 190, with 180 awarded for first place.

   The Waterford Speedbowl management announced that work on a construction project to upgrade the track’s retaining wall has begun. The Speedbowl was one of ten facilities selected in 2010 to receive funds through NASCAR’s Capital Improvement Grant program. The grant, coupled with a matching investment from the Speedbowl, would allow for installation of concrete walls lining the front and back chutes of the track. It replaces the armco barrier retaining wall currently in place in those areas. This is the first major change to the wall structure since the armco was installed prior to the start of the 1988 season. That replaced an antiquated wooden beam wall system.

   In some sad news, it was the announced that the Adirondack International Speedway regrets there would not be competition at the track during the 2010 season. The speedway is located in New Bremen, NY which is near Watertown. The speedway was built in 2000. The closure was based on financial difficulties arising from unresolved property tax issues, operational losses, health department requirements, and other pressures facing the local racing industry.

   In other sad news items National Speed-Sport News scribe Gary London sent along word that retired Islip (Long Island) Speedway driver Artie Tappen passed away and Pete Zanardi sent word that Gene Angelillo, a 14-time Northeastern Midget Association owners champion, died after a short illness at l. Angelillo, 74, also had an ARDC championship on a 30-year plus resume that included over 112 victories, 107 of them in NEMA.

   Kurt Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second year in a row, beating Matt Kenseth to the line by nearly half a second in the Kobalt Tools 500. Juan Pablo Montoya was third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard.

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

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Leo Cleary                                                Danny Gallulo                                              Ed Patnode

Billy Harman                                            Don MacTavish                                                  Sal Dee

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: March 18, 2011

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