April 1, 2011
years ago in 1971, Thompson opened their season with Modifieds
and Supers running together. Bobby Santos in the Joe Brady No.41 took the
50-lap win. Lou Austin finished second. Howie Brown, in a Supermodified,
finished third. The Supers were very unreliable as most failed to finish.
Rene Charland finished fourth and was followed by Bob Karvonen, Ernie Gahan
and Billy Schulz. Jerry Glaude won the open competition opener at the
Waterford Speedbowl. George Summers finished second and was followed by Joe
Trudeau and Walt Dombrowski.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
it was all-quiet.
Thirty years ago in 1981, The
Thompson Speedway opened the season with Dick Williams as the promoter,
under warm 70-degree skies. With over 12,000 fans on hand, Richie Evans
followed up his Martinsville win with another win. George Kent finished
second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Kenny Bouchard. Because of the
huge crowd, Williams added $3,000 to the race purse and paid every
non-qualifier $50.00. Jeff Fuller was the late model winner and was followed
by Ron Cote and Pete Fiandaca. In the south at the Winston Cup event at
Bristol, Ronnie Bouchard qualified third behind Darrell Waltrip and Dale
Earnhardt. Bouchard ran in the top five until losing an engine at the half
way mark. In Busch Grand National action, Geoff Bodine went two for two as
he won at Langley Field on Saturday and at South Boston, on Sunday. Both
were 200 lap events.
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
Riverside Park opened for the season. Mike Stefanik took the 100-lap win as
10,280 race hungry fans looked on. Stan Gregger finished second with Bob
Twenty years ago in 1991,
Riverside began their season with a 100 lapper that went non-stop with
Reggie Ruggiero taking the win. Charlie Pasteryak finished second and was
followed by Jerry Marquis, Stan Gregger and Rick Fuller.
Fifteen years ago in 1996,
Chris Kopec made it two for two at Riverside as he beat out Dave Berube and
Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Thompson saw the Modified Tour on hand for a
125-lap event. Steve Park took the win after coming back from a pit stop for
tires on lap 59. Park took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 98.Jerry
Marquis finished second and was followed by Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and
Bruce Del. Todd Ceravolo went pole to pole to win the 35 lapper for the
SK's. On a sad note, Fred DeSarro Sr. passed away after suffering congestive
Ten years ago in 2001, the
Featherlite Modifieds were off. Kevin Harvick led 114 laps of the Texas
Grand National 200 to take the win. Dale Earnhardt Jr was the Winston Cup
pole sitter but it was Dale Jarrett and Steve Park who finished one-two.
Five years ago in 2006, The
Waterford Speedbowl opened for the season with The Nationals. The two-day
event hosted feature events for SK Modifieds (150 laps), Late Models (50
laps), Sportsman (30 laps), Mini-Stocks (30 laps), and NEMA Midgets (25
laps) plus Allison Legacy and American Race Trucks. All features were run on
Sunday. “Don’t believe what you read in the papers” is what track owner
Terry Eames alluded to at a drivers meeting on Saturday. He said the entire
2006 season would be run as scheduled. The Nationals, a big event that
should have bolstered the Speedbowl’s checkbook, was disappointing at the
box office, but a resounding success on the track. Good fields of cars and
good racing didn’t disappoint those who came. Too bad the grandstands were
less than half full. Lack of advertising was key. The race fans knew the
Speedbowl was opening for the season but much of the general public didn’t.
Frank Ruocco made a guest appearance at the Speedbowl, as did Jimmy Blewett
and Ken Horton. They stole the SK Modified show from the regulars. Blewett
started on the pole and led the event until he got loose and passed by
Ruocco with about 12 laps to go. Blewett went non-stop without a tire change
while Ruocco pitted for a fresh set shortly after the half way mark. Ruocco
took the top spot while Blewett ended up fourth. Kenny Horton came from dead
last to finish second while Chris Pasteryak was the top finishing Speedbowl
regular in third spot. Dennis Gada rounded out the top five. Other winners
were Joey Payne in the NEMA Midgets, Mark Esposito in the Legends, Dave
Silvia in the Mini Stocks, Tayla Orleans in the Allison Legacy Cars, Corey
Hutchings in the Late Models, Jason Heroux in the Pro Fours, Seth Duval in
the Trucks and Dwayne Door in the Sportsman.
The proposed domed speedway in Plainfield Ct. had been out of the
news in recent months. Now came word that the First Selectman, Kevin
Cunningham, had asked the town planning commission to repeal the
controversial zoning regulations that would have allowed a domed speedway to
be built in a new commercial district near the existing greyhound track.
Cunningham had allies in the Planning and Zoning Commission, which could
work in his favor. If Cunningham ended up being successful and the zoning
regulations were repealed, the roughly 820 acres that were designated as the
Resort/Recreational Development District, known as the C5 District would
revert back to their previous zoning designations, the possibility of
building a domed speedway in Plainfield would be dead. It had been almost a
year since the C5 District regulations were approved and the district was
established in the southeastern section of the town. During this time town
officials waited for an application to build a multimillion-dollar domed
speedway, which would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and
attract NASCAR-caliber events to the area. In the mean time, Eugene Arganese,
and his New England Raceway LLC, had not submitted an application despite
saying several times that one was in the works.
Last year, 2010, The only short
track Modified racing the second annual Frostbite Winter Nationals at the
Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC. A sparse field of only 15 Modifieds
were on hand for the 125 lap event. Matt Hirschman was the top qualifier.
Burt Myers was second fastest. The draw for starting positions saw Burt
Myers draw the pole and Brian King the outside pole. Drawing starting
positions three through five were Jason Myers, Hirschman and James Civali.
King got the best of Burt Myers and went on to take the win. Myers tried his
best but in the end had to settle for the second spot. Finishing third was
Ted Christopher driving the Joe Brady #00. Zach Brewer finished fourth with
Josh Nichols, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Jason Myers, James Civali,
Jimmy Zacharias, Scott Rigney and Gary Young. Among those eliminated in the
early going were Hirschman and George Brunnhoelzl III who finished 14th and
It was learned that Burt Myers, one of the stars of the History
Channel reality series "Mad House" has made his intentions known that he
will head north to race in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series opener,
IceBreaker 2010 at the Thompson Speedway. Myers has never run at Thompson
but has competed against many of the top runners of the series at
The Hartford Courant has stated that Bobby Santos III had been
hired by Bob Garbarino to drive the Mystic Missile on the Whelen Modified
Tour Series this year. Its a great opportunity for the third generation
driver who has won in just about every division he has ever raced in
including the Modified Tour. Driving the Mighty No. 3 of Mike and Janice
Boehler, Santos won the season ending World Series at Thompson in 2007.
Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Whelen Modified Tours
Series would visit the road course at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut came
word that dogs, the four legged variety, would not be allowed on the
property. Evidently track management got sick and tired of picking up the
land mines that had been left behind!
In some sad news, Richard "Moon" Burgess passed-away on Wednesday,
March 17 after suffering a serious stroke earlier in the month. Burgess
started his career in the midgets during the 1940’s, switching to stock cars
later in the decade. He competed with success at virtually every track in
the region including Thompson, Waterford, Plainville, Riverside Park,
Kingston, Candlelight Stadium, Cherry Park, West Haven, and others. Burgess
experienced his greatest degree of success while behind the controls of the
potent “Flying Eagle” #1 coupe. He retired from the sport in 1953 after a
relatively brief but spectacular career in which he won over 200 races
including 63 feature events.
Justin Allgaier passed Brad Keselowski on a restart with 27 laps
remaining in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Bristol, then held him off
over the closing laps to give Penske Racing its first 1-2 finish in the
Nationwide Series. It was Dodge's first win at Bristol since August 2007.
In Sprint Cup action at Bristol, Jimmie Johnson finally knocked
Bristol off his to-do list, plowing from sixth to first in just three laps
to grab his first career victory at the revered Tennessee track.
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
Smith / Looking Back A Bit