The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


March 25, 2011

   Forty years ago in 1971, the Modifieds and Busch Grand Nationals shared the twin bill at Martinsville. Ray Hendrick was the 250-lap Grand National Late Model winner. The Modified 250 saw on of the biggest wrecks ever as over a dozen cars piled up in turn four in the closing stages. Sneaking thru and taking a surprise win was popular Bernie Miller from Cannestota, N.Y. Jimmy Hensley finished second. Bobby Santos finished third and was followed by Leo Cleary, Jerry Cook and Mike Loescher. Fred DeSarro was the defending national champion and the outside pole sitter. During the opening laps, he and Ray Hendrick banged wheels and DeSarro parked it for the day with front-end problems. Unknown to him at the time, the Martinsville race was to be his last in the Koszela N0.15 as car owner Sonny Koszela was in the process of securing the services of Bugsy Stevens.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds were quiet.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, quiet again.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, Brett Bodine put the Art Barry No.21 in victory lane at Martinsville. Driving one of the last chassis built by the late Richie Evans, Bodine took the lead on lap 188 of the 200 lap event. Jamie Tomaino who led the most laps finished second despite running on worn out tires. Maynard Troyer finished third and was followed by George Kent and Corky Cookman. Bodine, who was in the process of making the move to Grand National racing in the south was in contention to win the GN 200 and was dumped by Kyle Petty while leading on lap 21.Mike Porter was the eventual winner. Dale Jarrett who was running second on the last lap, ran out of gas, allowing Larry Pearson to slip into second spot at the finish. Fifty-one Modifieds were on hand and seventeen thousand witnessed the event.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, Riverside Park was scheduled to open but freezing rain ruled. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Richmond on Sunday, Mike Stefanik, in his family owned No.15 took the win. Doug Hevron finished second and was followed by George Kent, Tom Bolles, Reggie Ruggiero, Tony Hirschman and Tom Baldwin. Announced attendance was 18,000.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Riverside Park opened with 27 Modifieds and 4795 chilled fans. At race time, the chill factor was below zero but the show went on. Chris Kopec started second and took the lead from Reggie Ruggerio on lap 12 and went on to record the 75 lap win. Doug Meservy finished second and was followed by Ruggerio, Ted Riggott, Richard Savory and Dave Berube. At Darlington in Winston Cup action, Dale Jarrett took the lead with fifteen laps to go only to run out of gas with two to go. Jarrett missed his pit and ended up in the Ernie Irvan pit. He got a splash of gas but was penalized a lap by NASCAR for stopping in the wrong pit. Jeff Gordon took the win with Bob Labonte, second. Penske Motorsports went public on the stock market. After opening at 24, the stock jumped to 31-3/4 the first day.

   Ten years ago in 2001, the Dutch Inn in Martinsville burned and in Daytona a shake-up was taking place as NASCAR vice-President Tom Deery was relieved of his duties and replaced by Jim Hunter. It was also on this weekend that New York driving legend Kenny Shoemaker passed away at the age of 71. Elliott Sadler got a long overdue win for the Wood Brothers at Bristol. Action on the final lap was hot and heavy as Tony Stewart spun while trying to pass Jeff Gordon. Stewart felt that Gordon had done it on purpose and retaliated against Gordon, spinning him out on pit road. NASCAR fined Stewart $10,000 and put him on probation.

   Five years ago in 2006 The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season-opener got the green at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. The weather in central North Carolina was mighty cold but it didn’t stop Ted Christopher as he scored the 250-lap win over Chuck Hossfeld. Christopher drove the Joe Brady No.00 while Hossfeld made his maiden voyage in the Roger Hill No.79. There were 27 NASCAR Modifieds on hand, a record count for Southern Modified Tour events. Christopher took the lead on Lap 20 and never looked back, even though his .219-second margin of victory over Hossfeld was anything but easy for the Plainville, Conn. driver. A late caution allowed Hossfeld to close in on Christopher’s bumper for the Lap 148 restart with two circuits remaining. Southern drivers Burt Myers and Junior Miller finished third and fourth with Jamie Tomaino rounding out the top five. Andy Seuss, a regular on the Northern New England True Value Modified Tour Series and recent Modified Champion at New Smyrna, finished 27th after dropping out on lap 97 with handling problems. There were eight caution flags that slowed the field for 48 laps. In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, Bob Finan, the very capable Public Relations director at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island said that Mike Andrews Jr. would pilot the Ed Whelen #36 NASCAR Modified on the tour while Mike Ewanitsko continued to heal broken bones in his foot. Ewanitsko was injured on opening night at the World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. In non-modified news Finan eluded to the fact that Busch East driver Bryan Chew’s mom was seriously injured in an accident in upstate New York.

   Last year, 2010, while a 'noreaster was dumping over four inches of rain in New England the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series was at the Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, NC. Nineteen Modifieds were on hand for the 150 lap contest. Burt Myers won his 22nd career Coors Light Pole.

   New Hampshire invader Andy Seuss passed Burt Myers on the opening lap and went on to win round two of the southern tour. LW Miller finished second with James Civali, third. Brian Loftin and Zach Brewer rounded out the top five. In the end, Burt Myers faded to sixth. His History Channel Mad House co-stars Tim Brewer and Jason Myers finished seventh and 18th. Brown is now the series point leader.
Seuss pocketed $2000 for his efforts.

   It was reported that the France Family Group, which included 46 entities ranging from members of the NASCAR-ruling France family to companies they operate, own 69.6% of the voting stock at International Speedway Corp., the company revealed in its annual proxy statement. A year ago, the group owned 68.9%. With the majority of the voting stock, the France Family Group controls the decisions of the company. ISC Chairman Jim France controls 44.9% of the voting stock (including his shares of the France Family Group) and his late brother Bill's widow, Betty Jane France, owns 20.7%. NASCAR Chairman Brian France (Jim's nephew), who was listed as controlling only 0.23% of the voting ISC stock last year, now owns 1.3%. Executive compensation also was revealed as part of the proxy statement. Chairman Jim France's compensation package was worth $554,608, compared with $1.08 million last year when he was chairman and chief executive officer. Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy's compensation package was worth $769,780, compared with $719,146 a year ago when she was the company president. The compensation package includes salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on pay set aside for later and the value of stock options and restricted stock granted during the year NASCAR announced the television schedule for its developmental series for 2010 and a partial television schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour on the Speed Channel. The expanded calendar included 21 events on SPEED for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and seven races for the Modifieds. This comprehensive package included airing of every race on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West schedules. Three of the Whelen Modified Tours will air as same-day televised events.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck divisions enjoyed a weekend off.

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

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Bobby Bard                                                George Tet                                                   Jerry Dostie

Johnny Kay                                                John Astle                                                    Pete Corey

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: March 25, 2011

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