The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


May 27, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl reopened with a new asphalt surface with a one lane dirt buffer on the outside. Stu Hillbrem was the 25 lap Modified winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1961, Ron Narducci was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Ted Stack made it four in a row when he won a 50 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Stack also won the non-Ford feature, his third in a row. Joe Maynard was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, Pete Hamilton became the first repeat winner of the season at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Dennis Zimmerman finished second with Eddie Flemke, third. Hamilton and Zimmerman were a second-generation version of the fabled Eastern Bandits led by Flemke. Jerry Cook and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. Pete Corey made it two in a row on the dirt at Stafford. Jerry Cook won his first race, a 25 lapper, at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Bill Wimble finished second with Gene Bergin, third. Ed Yerrington, who in later years become the General Manager of the Stafford Motor Speedway won the 30 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Bunnell made it five in a row in Bomber competition and Bill Ramsley was the Daredevil winner. Kenny Shoemaker ruled the roost at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Eddie Flemke finished second with Gaston Demarais, third. Frank Mathalia and Jerry Cook rounded out the top five. Albany Saratoga also ran on Monday with a 100 lapper to celebrate Memorial Day. Eddie Flemke rose to the occasion to take the win with Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8 in second spot. Dennis Zimmerman, Jerry Cook and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1971, racing at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY rained out. Bugsy Stevens went two for two at Stafford as he won the twin 25's.In the opener, Leo Cleary finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Ray Miller. DeSarro rallied to finish second in the nightcap. Ageless veteran Maynard Forette took the Saturday night honors at Fonda over Dave Buanno, Dave Lape, Ron Narducci and Lou Lazzaro. In open competition action at the Fulton Raceway Ronnie Wallace won a 75 lapper over Bryan Osgood, Richie Evans, Don Diffendorf and Bob Sweeny. Donnie Bunnell won the Spring Championship 36 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Nelson Rabideau was the Sportsman Sedan winner. At Islip, Richie Gomes got a popular win and at Thompson it was Bobby Santos and Bugsy Stevens scoring wins. Santos was the runner-up behind Stevens and was followed by DeSarro, Leo Cleary, Rene Charland and Hop Harrington. Harrington was second behind Santos and was followed by Stevens, Dick Caso and Ed Yerrington. Twin features at Utica-Rome were won by Ray Sitterly and Jerry Cook.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, Charlie Jarzombek took the Friday night win at Riverhead. Greg Sacks finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Harbach rebounded to take the win at Islip on Saturday night. Riverside Park saw Bob Polverari take the win over Pete Fiandaca. At the Waterford Speedbowl local favorite Dickie “DOO” Ceravolo was the 35 lap Modified winner. Dick LaFlesh was the Grand American Late Model winner. NASCAR's Superspeedway Modifieds were at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Darrell Waltrip, in a Camaro, won the 300-mile event with Ray Hendrick, second. Geoff Bodine was third and was followed by Merv Treichler, Bobby Allison, Jerry Cook, Clayton Hustead and Joe Thurman. Back in New England, Richie Evans led all 80 laps of the postponed Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Speedway. Track owner Jack Arute had mandated 12-inch tires to cut costs. Evans complied and then some as he used 10-inch Sportsman rubber. Geoff Bodine finished second and was followed by Ray Hendrick and Fred DeSarro. Don LaJoie, driving Bob Johnson No.17 became only the second driver to leave the speedway as he rode over Charlie Jarzombek's wheel in turn three. At Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two for two as he inched out a win over Geoff Bodine, George Summers and Daring Dick Caso.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, the Friday night Modified feature at Stafford went non-stop with Kenny Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Fiore No.44 was second and was followed by John Rosati and Bob Polverari. At the Spencer Speedway, also on Friday, Jerry Cook took the win over Doug Hewitt. At New Egypt, Tom Baldwin took the 100 lap win after Richie Evans tangled with Frankie Schnieder. Tony Siscone finished second with Bob Park, third. George Moose Hewitt was the winner at Waterford on Saturday night while at Riverside; Reggie Ruggiero won out over Ray Miller. At Westboro, seasoned veterans George Summers and Leo Cleary finished one-two. Other Saturday night winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Alan Harbach at Islip, Tom Druar at Lancaster and Tony Siscone at Wall. Billy Greco in the Modifieds and Jay Wilson in the Sportsman were the big winners at Danbury. The big guns headed for Oswego on Sunday for the Port City 150.Maynard Troyer took that win with Kent second and Baldwin, third.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, Bugsy Stevens in the Garbarino No.4 took the Friday night win at Stafford. Jamie Tomaino finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Reggie Ruggiero took the win at Riverside while at Waterford and Seekonk, it rained. Eddie Brunnhoelzl beat out Dan Jivenelli and Don Howe at Riverhead. Oswego ran the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Sunday. Jamie Tomaino led pole to pole as he beat out Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and Jan Leaty for the win. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt took the win. Tim Richmond was the Grandnational winner. It was also this week that Bob Cuneau and Bob Vee sold Chassis Dynamics to John Anderson and Dan Civitello.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, Stafford ran the rained out Sizzler 200 on Friday night. Jeff Fuller took the win over Wayne Anderson, George Brunnhoelzl and Steve Park. Bo Gunning was the SK Modified winner. Saturday night at Waterford, Bob Potter in the Ceravolo family No.31 took the lead when Jamie Marvin spun out with two to go and went on to record his 83rd victory at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada finished second with Donnie Bunnell, third. Reggie Ruggiero got his fourth win of the season at Riverside and Tim Connolly won a 100 lapper at Shangri-La. At the annual Oswego Port City 100,Steve Park in the Curt Chase No.77 took the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second. Other weekend winners were Lenny Fischer at Riverhead, Jerry Marquis at Monadnock and Richie Gallup at Thompson.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for a 150 lap event. Like his late father had done many times, Ed Flemke Jr took the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Jan Leaty. Mike Ewanitsko took the SK Modified 50 over Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor. It was also on this night at Stafford that Eric Berndt went on his roof. Bob Potter annexed his 94th career win at Waterford on Saturday night after Chris Jones and Dave Kutka tangled with 14 laps to go. Brian Schofield beat Tom Jensen at Riverside and it was Tom McCann over Eddie Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead. George Kent won the Richie Evans Memorial at Tioga and Dave Dion won the Busch North Series event at Holland. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Jarrett dominated the last half of the big event as he crossed the finish line 1/3 of a lap ahead of Dale Earnhardt. Mark Martin won the Busch Grandnational Red Dog 300.

   Ten years ago in 2001 Mike Ewanitsko took advantage of Jerry Marquis who was blocked by the lapped car of Dan Avery and went on to win the Featherlite Modified Touring Series event at Stafford on Friday night. Marquis ended up in second spot with Mike Stefanik, third. Forty-one Modifieds were on hand. Willie Hardie scored his third of the season in SK Modified competition. Waterford rained out on Saturday night as JR Bertuccio took the checker at Riverhead. Sunday night at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the top spot over Zach Sylvester and Scott Quinn. Kelly Moore was the Busch North Series winner at Seekonk and in Winston Cup action at Charlotte; Ryan Newman took the pole for the World 600 and Jeff Burton, the win. Jeff Green won the Grandnational 300.Helio Castroneves won the Indy 500.

   Five years ago in 2006 in what turned out to be a big surprise, NASCAR’s Director of Regional Racing Development Don Hawk resigned his position with the sanctioning body. During Hawk’s tenure the Modified division had prospered to the point where they were and still are NASCAR’s top regional touring division. Despite sitting in the front office in Daytona Hawk was always available to give guidance and answer questions. He was held back only by those above him. A spokesperson for NASCAR stated that he wanted to pursue personal options. Larry Mattingly of the Jennerstown Speedway in Pa stated that anyone who works within inner sanctum does not have an easy time of it as he has to try to keep the competitors happy as well as his employer, NASCAR. Mattingly was told that “major” things were in the works but did not elaborate.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway was scheduled to host their second of four Whelen Modified Tour Series events. For the third week in a row the weatherman won as heavy rain dumped on the Stafford area. The Connecticut Classic was rescheduled to Tuesday, July 4.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl the Supermodifieds of ISMA were the guest attraction. Justin Belfiore won the 50-lap contest. Belfiore took the lead after the top three including Waterford regular Rob Summers were eliminated on a lap 17 crash. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. went pole to pole to win the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Chris Pasteryak closed to within a car length at the finish with Tommy Fox third. Other winners were Jay Stuart in the 30-lap Late Model event, Billy Gertsch Jr. in the 20-lap Sportsman haul and Danny Field in the 20-lap Mini Stock race. Dwayne Dorr’s bid for a record-tying sixth straight Sportsman victory was lost in a lap seven crash.

   In other weekend action Mike Leaty won the Richie Evans 100 at Oswego. Matt Hirschman finished second with Eric Beers, third. John Blewett III won at Wall Township and JR. Bertuccio won at Riverhead. Kasey Kahne won the Coke 300 at Charlotte. Defending series champion Tony Stewart broke his shoulder after hitting the wall. Sam Hornish Jr. won the Indy 500.

   Last year, 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on "Spring Break". Selected drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour participated in a test held by Hoosier Tire at Lime Rock Park. In preparation for the Whelen Modified Tour’s inaugural visit to Lime Rock Park on July 3, drivers Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Bobby Santos and Todd Szegedy took part in four 20-minute sessions throughout the afternoon at the Connecticut road course.

   Selected drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Southern Modified Tours participated in a test held by Hoosier Tire on Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. In preparation for the second running of the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 combination race for both Whelen Modified Tours, Whelen Modified Tour veteran Mike Stefanik, along with Southern Tour regulars James Civali and Burt Myers took part in the all-day session.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway returned to racing action with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program on Friday, May 14th. Woody Pitkat picked up his first win of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature that ended up being a war of words between Pitkat and runner-up Ted Christopher. Dillon Moltz got win number two of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano, 15, scored his first career victory in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande was the second first time career winner of the night by taking the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   Racing at the Waterford Speedbowl is a five letter word, ROCCO. Keith Rocco continued his dominance by winning for the fifth time in six event in the 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl Saturday night. Rocco out handled and out drove Ron Yuhas JR on lap 25 and survived three restarts as he continued his domination of the SK Modified division at the shoreline oval. Yuhas held on for a runner-up finish. Tyler Chadwick, Rob Janovic Jr and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.

   Other feature winners were 18-year-old Chris Meyer in the Street Stock event, Ken Cassidy Jr. in the Mini-Stock event, Allen Coates in the truck and Anthony Flannery in the Legends Cars race.

   The Bowman-Gray Stadium, known as the MADHOUSE, in Winston-Salem NC had scheduled twin 25 lap features for their Modified division. Local runner Lee Jeffreys was the fastest in qualifying with a lap of 13.433 seconds (67.0 mph) on the quarter-mile track, and he started from the pole position in the first Modified race as a result. Jeffreys went pole to pole for his 15th career victory. Burt Myers finished second, Jonathan Brown third, Randy Butner fourth and Tim Brown fifth. The night cap event was rained out.

   The NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in Charlotte, NC. In celebration of this event the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran a 100 lap NASCAR Modified event. Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Ron Silk took top honors in the event after waging a heated battle with Tom Rogers. Silk and car owner Eddie Partridge walked off with $3,025. Wayne Anderson, 63, 1994 NASCAR national modified champion suffered a heart attack while competing in the 100 lap race Saturday night at Riverhead, NY Raceway. Anderson was revived by the track crew. He was removed to St. Vincent's hospital where he is said to be in "stable" condition. From Medford, N.Y. Wayne, who had been racing since 1965, is the son of the late legend, Axel Anderson.

   In Sprint Cup action at Dover Kyle Busch swapped the lead with Jimmy Johnson throughout most of the 400-mile race run in front of thousands of empty seats. Busch missed the tripleheader sweep on the one-mile concrete track by just a couple gallons of gas. He was in position to win the Trucks Series race on Friday but ran out of gas at the end. He easily took the checkered flag in Saturday's Nationwide series race as he raced about 800 miles in three days. Jeff Burton was second and Matt Kenseth third. Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann rounded out the top five.

   It looked like O. Bruton Smith, owner of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH was ready to go to battle stations with the New Hampshire Governor along with State and local police. The town of Loudon was looking to be paid $174,500 for police and fire coverage, the same cost as the September 2009 race weekend. Bruton Smith believed adequate coverage could be provided for $75,000. Jerry Gappens, the speedway's executive vice president stated that none of Smith's seven other speedways has to pay for local emergency services. Smith says he will pay for police and fire for June's race at $75,000.

   Even after the governor assembled a committee to deal with New Hampshire Motor Speedway's concerns about the cost of police and fire coverage at the track, the speedway and Loudon police Chief Bob Fiske were about $100,000 apart on the cost of covering next month's NASCAR race weekend.

   The Loudon NASCAR weekend runs from June 23 to June 27. With a little over a month to go there was still plenty of time to resolve the disagreement. When it comes to dealing with state and local authorities Smith is as tough as nails and in most cases gets his way. Smith has the power and the money to plow the Loudon Racetrack under and move it to another state if he has to. The state of New Hampshire and the towns around the speedway needed to realize how much money is generated into the state and local economies before making a final decision. Police officers from Loudon and towns across the state make $43 per hour to work the race weekend.

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

Rene Charland                                           Rebel Harris                                                 Moe Gherzi

Don MacTavish                                              Dick Dunn                                                    Dick Caso

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 27, 2011

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