May 6, 2011
years ago in 1951, The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran it’s
third and final race on their crushed stone surface. Taking the win was NEAR
Hall of Fame inductee Don Rounds. Because of extremely dusty conditions it
was determined to cover the 1/3 mile oval with asphalt.
Fifty years ago in 1961 rain
interrupted the opening night program at the Norwood Arena in Norwood, MA.
It was announced that Carl Merrill would hold the position of NASCAR Chief
Steward. Merrill would hold that position until the track closed in the fall
of 1972. Ted Stack made it two in a row in Modified competition at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl. Stack also won a 25 lap Bomber feature. Eddie
Moody won the Bomber feature.
Forty five years ago in 1966,
Friday night racing at the Albany Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY was
cancelled because of rain. Bill Wimble took the 25 lapper at Fonda on
Saturday night over Lou Lazzaro and Pete Corey. Gene Bergin made the long
haul from his home in Manchester, Ct to Utica – Rome where he won the Sunday
night 30 lap feature. Lou Toro finished second with Jerry Cook, Dave Kotary
and Don MacTavish. Rain washed out the features on Saturday night at the
Waterford Speedbowl after qualifying had been completed. The remaining
program was carried over to Sunday where Bob Potter recorded his first
feature win of the year. Eddie Bunnell made it two in a row in the Bombers
while Robbie Robertson was the Daredevil winner.
Forty years ago in 1971, the
Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY was supposed to open on Friday night
but heavy rain changed all of that. The Stafford Motor Speedway began their
Saturday night season with twin 25's the regular format. Leo Cleary in the
Mystic Missile won the first 25-lap feature over Hop Harrington, Fred
DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens. The second 25-lap feature saw Stevens beat out
Bobby Santos and Cleary for the win. On Long Island at Islip, Cliff Tyler
was the winner with Bob Park, Al DeAngelo and Gary Winters following. At the
Waterford Speedbowl, Seabury Tripler, in what had to be the first Pinto
bodied Modified, took the win at the shoreline oval. Dick Dunn finished
second with Joe Trudeau, third. Bill Sweet broke Big Mike Daignault’s
stranglehold on the Sportsman Sedan division. On Sunday at Thompson it was
twin 25's.Bugsy Stevens took the first one over Bob Santos, Fred DeSarro,
Leo Cleary and Ray Miller. Hop Harrington in the former Tant/Mitchell coupe,
now owned by Dick Armstrong took down the nightcap. Stevens finished second
with DeSarro, third. Sunday night racing at Utica-Rome rained out.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
Stafford began their regular Saturday night season on a somber note as
speedway owner Jack Arute announced that the track could possibly close in
three weeks if the crowds didn't pick up. Needless to say, a good crowd plus
52 Modifieds were on hand. Bugsy Stevens took the win and was followed by
John Rosati, Dale Holdredge, and Fred DeSarro. It was also on this night at
Stafford that the winning team of Ronnie Bouchard and car owner Bob Johnson
came to an end. At the Islip Speedway on Long Island, Fred Harbach took the
win over Greg Sacks. The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain for the
second week in a row. On Sunday, Wayne Anderson took the win at New Egypt
and at Thompson, Geoff Bodine, in the Armstrong No.1, took the win over
George Summers, Bugsy Stevens and John Rosati.
Thirty years ago in 1981, Ray
Miller took advantage of Richie Evans' misfortune as he won the Friday night
opener at Stafford. Evans had the lead with nine laps to go when his
transmission went sour, causing him to slow. Miller, in hot pursuit, took
the lead and the eventual win. Bugsy Stevens finished second with John
Rosati, third. Evans ended up sixth. Twin 40's were on tap at Thompson on
Sunday. Richie Evans and Charlie Jarzombek each shared in the glory as the
both won. During the running of the second event, Evans and Mike Stefanik
tangled with the end result being that Stefanik ended up on his roof. Jerry
Cook was the winner at Shangri-La on Saturday and at Islip it was Fred
Harbach over Don Howe and Wayne Anderson. In Modified action at Danbury Rit
Patchen unseated Bob Riley to take a 50 lap win. Randy LaJoie returned to
victory lane as he scored the Sportsman win.
Twenty-five years ago in 1986,
Stafford began their Friday night season with bone chilling temperatures.
Jeff Fuller in the Jack Neusner 2x took the win. Reggie Ruggiero in the Mike
Greci No.11finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third. Mike Stefanik and
George Brunnhoelzl rounded out the top five. Bo Gunning was the SK Modified
winner. Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford after coming from an
18th starting spot. At Riverside it was Mike McLaughlin over Ted Riggott and
Mike Stefanik and at Riverhead, Don Howe bested Bob Park, Tom Baldwin and
Bill Park. Racing at the Shangri-La Speedway (Tioga) was snowed out. The
NASCAR Modifieds were at New Egypt for a 150 lapper. Wayne Anderson took the
win with Jamie Tomaino, second. Bob Park finished third. In Winston Cup
action at Talladega, the entire 42 car field qualified at over 200 mph. Bill
Elliott was the pole sitter with speed of 212.229 mph. Bobby Allison took
the win after Elliott lost a
transmission with 14 laps to go.
Twenty years ago in 1991, the
Friday night racing at Stafford was rained out. At Waterford on Saturday
night, Mark LaJunnesse was awarded the win when a post race inspection
revealed that Bob Potter’s engine contained illegal piston rods. Joe Tiezzi
ended up second with Don Bunnell, third. Kevin Debbis was the late model
winner. A newcomer by the name of Tim Connolly took the win at Shangri-la.
Andy Romano finished second. At Riverside it was Jerry Marquis over Dan
Avery and Rick Fuller and at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH,
Dwight Jarvis held off Bruce Del for the win. It rained at Talladega on
Sunday and the event was run on Monday. Harry Gant took the win. Kyle Petty
suffered a broken leg after being involved in a 17-car wreck triggered by
Fifteen years ago in 1996, rain
wiped out racing at Stafford, Waterford and Riverside. It stayed dry at
Riverhead where Don Howe took the win over Mike Ewanitsko, Bill Park and Tom
Tillotson. The Busch North Series was at Jennerstown, Pa. Andy Santarre took
the 150 lap win over Dave Dion, Robbie Crouch, Dale Shaw and Mike Stefanik.
In Winston Cup action at Sears Point, Rusty Wallace passed Jeff Gordon with
five laps to go and took the win. NASCAR found Wallace’s' car to be 1/4 inch
too low and levied a fine of $25,000.In other news, the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway filed suit against CART because they were calling their cars Indy
Ten years ago in 2001 Ted
Christopher started his weekend off with a 50 lap win on Friday night at
Stafford. Chuck Docherty finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Curt
Brainard and Larry Ross rounded out the top five. Willie Hardie JR who won
SK Modified events at the Spring Sizzler suffered a broken collarbone as a
result of a wreck. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford
Speedbowl. Reggie Ruggiero took the lead from Rob Summers on lap74 of the
200-lap contest and went on to take the win. Summers who had led from lap 1,
faded to fourth at the finish. Mike Stefanik finished second with Ted
Christopher, third. John Fortin rounded out the top five. Eleven cautions
for 62 laps slowed the event. Dennis Gada won the regularly scheduled 35 lap
SK-Modified feature over Eddie Reed JR and Ron Yuhas JR. The previously
rained out Waterford Nationals 150 was also run. Eric Berndt led all 150
laps to collect the $5,000 first prize plus $3079 in lap money. Ed Reed JR
finished second with Ed Dachanhausen, third. Bert Marvin and Mark LaJunesse
rounded out the top five. Marvin made a swift trip to Thompson later in the
day to win a 30-lap SK Modified event that was run in conjunction with the
Hooters Cup Late Models. In other weekend action JR Bertuccio went pole to
pole at Riverhead and Kenny Tremont got his 90th win at Lebanon Valley. In
Winston Cup action at Richmond, Tony Stewart took the win. Jimmie Spencer
was the Busch Grandnational winner. On a sad note, Smokey Yunick died at the
age of 77.
Five years ago in 2006, the
Stafford Motor Speedway began their regular Friday night schedule. In the
40-lap SK Modified feature, Jeff Baral, took the lead from Kurt Lenahan on
lap-4, and from there he held off the charge of Willie Hardie to take the
checkered flag. The race went green from lap-5 to 40, and Baral and Hardie
slowly pulled away from the field to wage a two-car battle for the win. Ted
Christopher finished third, with Eric Berndt and Frank Ruocco rounding out
the top-5. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Woody Pitkat and Ryan Posocco
took turns swapping the lead over the final two laps of the race with Pitkat
emerging as the winner. A late caution set up a three-lap sprint to the
finish. Pitkat was the leader on the initial restart, but as the white flag
was displayed to the field, Posocco made a charge into the lead in turns
1+2. Pitkat moved back to the inside of Posocco in turns 3+4, and as they
headed towards the checkered flag, the cars touched slightly, which loosened
Posocco up enough to give Pitkat enough of a margin to take the checkered
flag first. Todd Owen, Jim Peterson, and Wayne Coury, Jr. rounded out the
top-5. Other Friday night winners were Duke Place in the SK Lights, Andrew
Durand in the Limited Late Models and Stacey Botticello in the DARE Stocks.
At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Rob Janovic Jr. beat
back a late challenge from Tommy Fox and went on to capture the 35-lap
SK-Modified feature, the fourth winner in as many starts. Janovic took over
with 28 laps remaining and then survived a couple restarts, the last with
eight remaining. Fox took up the challenge following a restart with 18 laps
remaining. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished third and was followed by Diego Monahan
and John Brouwer Jr. In the Late Model division a bit of road rage handed
Jay Stewart a victory. Stuart took command on a lap 13 restart and then
romped to victory. The road rage occured when Jay Lozyniak and Mark St.
Hilaire, battling for the lead spun, tangled in the front stretch. St
Hillaire was so incensed that he deliberately drove his car into that of
Lozyniaks. On the green, Stuart got away from Bruce Thomas Jr. and had a
seven-car length lead inside of four laps. Thomas got second back from Duane
Noll in the final laps. It is expected that track officials will impose a
penalty on St. Hillaire. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval
were Dwayne Dorr making it four in a row in the Sportsman division, Jeff
Civardi in the Mini Stocks and Chris Bakaj in the Legends.
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island opened for the season on
Saturday night. Veteran Chris Young held off 59 year old and the previous
years track champion Bill Park in the 35 lap Modified feature. Great runs by
JR Bertuccio as he was passing guys on the outside and also third generation
driver Eddie Brunnhoelzl III who finished 6th and also did some outstanding
side by side racing.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series was in the middle of a three week
break before resuming on Memorial Day weekend at Stafford. After two events
Mike Stefanik who won the season opener at the Thompson Speedway and
finished fourth in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford led the point standings
with a 30-point edge over Ted Christopher. Christopher had a fourth at
Thompson and a sixth at Stafford. Rookie James Civali sat in third spot.
Civali had a sixth at Thompson and a seventh at Stafford and was 44 points
out of the lead. Doug Coby who won the Sizzler and finished 16th at Thompson
after being collected in a wreck, sat in fourth spot. Rounding out the top
five was defending series champion Tony Hirschman. A fifth at Thompson and a
ninth at Stafford had the former title holder 47 points in arrears. Sixth
through tenth were Reggie Ruggiero, Chuck Hossfeld, Donnie Lia,, Eric Beers
and Dick Houlihan.
The Waterford Speedbowl announced that they had added a second
Whelen Modified Tour Series date to their schedule. In addition to their
previously announced date of Saturday, July 22, the shoreline oval would run
the Whelen Modifieds on Sunday, September 24 in conjunction with the already
scheduled Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. The addition brought the series total
events to 17.
Two New York state speedways were in the process of changing hands.
Long Island racer John White purchased the Spencer Speedway in Williamson,
NY and the Chemung Speedrome in Chemung, NY.
In True Value Modified Series action Windsor Locks, CT, racer Les
Hinckley started outside front row Saturday night, shot into the lead at the
drop of the green flag and led 92 of the scheduled 100 laps of the Chappy’s
Concessions 100 presented by Northeast Waste Services and Bly Machine at the
Canaan Fair Motorsports Complex, Canaan, NH, on a night that saw thirty
seven modified racers from throughout the northeast travel to the ‘Upper
Valley” of New Hampshire, a fifty minute late start because of rain, several
persistent showers, six caution flags, a race shortened by track curfew, and
high winds that created wind chills in the upper 30’s. Because of the rain
delays the 100 lap race went green at 10:56pm; four minutes shy of a town
ordinance that prohibits a race from starting beyond 11:00pm. Hinckley set a
fast pace early on, was chased by rookie Bobby Grigas III, Marshfield, Ma,
in his strongest run yet, holding down the number two spot until lap 34 when
a support bar broke forcing the young driver to the sidelines. Danbury, Ct.,
hot shoe Ed Dachenhausen moved to the runner-up spot and chased the race
leader to the finish while Ascutney, VT, veteran Dwight Jarvis, a two time
winner at Canaan in 2004 turned in another solid run and finished third.
Chris Wenzel, Holyoke, Ma, ran a strong race to finish fourth while Gary
Casella, Saugus, Ma, rounded out the top five.
In Nextel Cup action at Richmond Dale Earnhardt JR took the win
over Denny Hamlin. Kevin Harvick won the companion Busch Series event.
Last year, 2010 The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series descended upon the Stafford Motor Speedway for
the annual Spring Sizzler. The main event, 200 laps/100 miles carried a race
purse of $88,142. Thirty six Modifieds took time for the 33 available
starting spots. Bobby Santos III continued the momentum from the Thompson
Ice Breaker as he set a new track record with the Bob Garbarino Mystic
Missile. Santos toured the 1/2 mile oval in 17.965 seconds (100.195 mph)
which surpassed Matt Hirschman’s three-year-old record of 18.009 (99.950).
Second fastest was Rowan Pennick with a time of 18.009. Third through fifth
were Erick Rudolph, George Brunnhoelzl, III and Ron Silk. Rounding out the
top ten fastest were Ted Christopher, Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino, Eric
Berndt and Doug Coby. The top ten re-drew for starting spots. It was Santos
again as he pulled the pill with the number one on it. Coby pulled the No. 2
As forecasted, rain moved into the Connecticut area in the wee
hours of Sunday morning causing NASCAR and the Stafford management to
postpone the Sizzler to Saturday, May 1, with a rain date of Sunday, May 2.
The weekend at Stafford wasn't a total loss. Three feature events
for Stafford's support divisions were run on Saturday. Ted Cain went home a
first time winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Kevin Gambacorta
outlasted defending track champion Andrew Durand to take the first Limited
Late Model victory of the season, and Tony Membrino, Jr. wired the field to
take the checkered flag in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.
The Waterford Speedbowl beat the weather as the completed their
entire racing program on Saturday night. Keith Rocco continues to rule the
roost as he now has three out of four victories in the SK Modified division
at the shoreline oval. Norm Sears was a first time winner in the Street
Stocks and Chris Williams won for the first time in nearly a year in the
Mini Stocks. Howard Payne was the victor in the Trucks and it was Anthony
Flannery taking the win for the Legends Cars.
The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC had hoped to begin
their 62nd season but like Connecticut on Sunday, it rained in North
Carolina on Saturday night. Light rain began about an hour before race time
in what was shaping up to be a packed house at the 17,000-seat stadium,
judging from the number of early-arriving fans and overflowing parking lots.
The Madhouse television series, which aired on the History Channel during
the off season, created huge interest in the racing at the North Carolina
oval. Qualifying for the season opening Tucson 200 was held on Friday night.
Defending Track Champion Tim Brown was the top qualifier. Second fastest was
Lee Jeffreys with Burt Myers, third.
Rain hampered the NASCAR weekend in Talladega canceling qualifying
for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series and the Saturday Nationwide
Series event which was eventually run on Sunday. Kevin Harvick used a
last-second pass of Jamie McMurray to snap a 115-race winless streak in the
Sprint Cup event and Brad Keselowski was the Nationwide Series winner.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
This week are several vintage racing photos
SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's
Click on Photo for Full Sized
All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit