The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 17, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 the Wednesday racing card at the Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain. The Speedbowl did run on Saturday night with Don Romeo taking the win.

   Fifty years ago in 1961 Curtis Turner and Bruton Smith resigned their positions at the Charlotte Motor Speedway after a board of directors meeting. Wild Bill Slater put the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8 in victory lane at the Norwood Arena. George Pendergast was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Moody made it three in a row in the Bombers and Ted Stack won in the non-Fords also at the shoreline Connecticut oval.

   Forty five years ago in 1966 Don MacTavish took the Friday night win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Jerry Cook finished second with Dick Dixon, third. Eddie Flemke and Pete Hamilton rounded out the top five. Racing on the dirt at the Stafford Speedway was rained out. Pete Corey made it two in a row at Fonda on Saturday night. Newt Palm, who would become one of the all-time greats at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl won the 30 lap Modified feature there on Saturday night. Glynn Shafer was the winner in the Bombers and Bob Clear was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Jerry Cook finished out the weekend with a win over Eddie Flemke at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Irv Taylor, Ernie Gahan and Kenny Shoemaker rounded out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1971, Bugsy Stevens went two for two as he won the twin 25's at Thompson on Friday night. Dynamite Ollie Silva finished second in the first event and was followed by Ernie Gahan and Daring Dick Caso. Following Stevens in the nightcap was Gahan, Silva and Bob Santos who was subbing for Fred DeSarro who was injured the previous week when he hit an infield light pole. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, also on Friday, Lou Lazzaro took the win over Guy Chartrand and Denis Giroux. Stafford ran a 30 lapper on Saturday night. Stevens made it three for three on the weekend as he beat out Billy Harman and Bob Vee. In other Saturday night action, Eddie Brunnhoelzl won at Islip and Don Wayman won at Fonda. At the Waterford Speedbowl Jerry Glaude won out over Bob Tetreault, Walt Dombrowski and Dick Watson. Big Mike Daignault was the Sportsman Sedan winner. At the Fulton Raceway, Richie Evans made it two in a row. Lou Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. Bernie Miller finished second with Dick Clark, third. The Waterford Speedbowl ran a mid-week open competition event on Wednesday. The 150 lap event drew forty cars and a full house. Bugsy Stevens took the win over Ron Wycoff, Jerry Glaude, Bobby Santos and Don Bunnell.

   Thirty-five years ago in 1976, Wayne Anderson was the Thursday night winner at New Egypt. Fred Harbach finished second. On Friday night, Riverhead ran a 100 lap double point event and it was Greg Sacks, in his family owned modified, taking the win. Charlie Jarzombek finished second and was followed by Jim Tyler and Jerry Cook. Rain washed out Saturday night racing at Stafford and Islip but somehow, Riverside got their show in as Bob Polverari took the win over Johnny Lobo and Pete Fiandaca. Waterford also beat the rain as Dickie “Doo” Ceravolo scored his second Modified win of the year. Keith Eves was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Thompson on Sunday, Geoff Bodine made it two in a row as he again beat Fred DeSarro, Bob Santos and Ed Flemke. In other weekend action, Ronnie Bouchard won the Yankee 100 at Monadnock and Bugsy Stevens won at Westboro.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, On Friday night, Stafford rained out. At Spencer, George Kent took the win over Maynard Troyer and Doug Hewitt. Alan and Fred Harbach finished one-two at New Egypt. Saturday night was a busy one. Rodney Tulba beat out Jerry Pearl and Bob Potter at Waterford and at Westboro, Ronnie Bouchard was the kingpin as he out dueled veteran George Savory for the win. George Wagner kept Alan Harbach at bay at Islip and at Seekonk it was George Summers over Kenny Bouchard and John Rosati. At Riverside it was Richie Evans over Marty Radwick. Geoff Bodine won the South Boston 200 Late Model Sportsman event over Sonny Hutchins. The Danbury Racearena fell victim to rain. The Modified Tour was at Thompson on Sunday. Richie Evans pitted on lap 10 with a flat tire but was able to come back and take the lead and eventual win. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Kenny Bouchard, third. In Winston Cup action at Riverside, Cal, Darrell Waltrip took the win.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the Modified tour was at Star Speedway for a Wednesday night event which saw John Blewett Jr take the win over Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero. Friday night at Stafford saw Dave Reszendes take a well earned win as he held off Reggie Ruggiero and Jeff Fuller. Ted Christopher was the SK Modified winner. Spencer ran a 100 lapper that drew only 18 cars. Jim Spencer took the win over George Kent and Jan Leaty. New Egypt also ran on Friday night and they too, had a light field. Jerry Solomito took the win. Riverside ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Stan Gregger taking the win over Bob Polverari and John Rosati. Jim Spencer made it two for two on the weekend as he beat out Don Pratt for the win at Shangri-La on Saturday night. At Waterford it was Rick Donnelly over Bob Potter and at Riverhead it was Mike Ewanitsko over Tom Baldwin

   Twenty years ago in 1991, Bob Potter became a surprised winner at Stafford after leaders Mike Christopher and Bo Gunning took each other out on the last lap. Tom Tagg finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. A major fiasco occurred at Flemington on Saturday night during the closing moments of the Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour. Reggie Ruggiero was leading the final lap when the yellow flag was waved and the yellow light came on. Figuring the event would restart and go green-white-checker, Ruggiero lifted. George Kent, who was running fourth at the time, stood on the gas, passing Ruggiero and as he came under the starters stand, was given the checkered flag and the win. Ruggiero came across in second spot and was extremely upset after the event was over. Jan Leaty finished third and was followed by Mike Stefanik and Steve Park. At Waterford, Ted Christopher got his third win of the year and at Riverhead, Wayne Anderson was the top dog. At Riverside, Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x won out over Dan Avery. Marquis also finished second to Kirby Monteith at Monadnock on Sunday. Sunday night SK action at Thompson rained out.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Ted Christopher recorded his 38th career victory at Stafford on Friday night. Steve Park finished second with Curt Brainard, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Scott Spaulding took the lead from Eric Berndt with nine laps to go and went on to record a popular win. Berndt finished second and was followed by Don Fowler and David Gada. Matt Kobyluck was the late model winner. Richie Gallup beat out Ted Riggott at Riverside and it was Don Howe at Riverhead. Jay Miller got his first Pro Stock win at Stafford and Rick Martin made it four out of six at Seekonk. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Jeff Gordon took the pole and the win.

   Ten years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher was the Thursday night winner at Thompson over Josh Steeves and Kerry Malone. Christopher took the lead on lap 12 of the 30 lap feature and won by a full straight. Christopher followed up his Thompson win with a win at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Lloyd Agor and Willie Hardie for the top spot. John Brouwer Jr held off Ed Reed Jr at Waterford with Ron Yuhas Jr, third. Mike Curtiss scored his first ever win at Riverhead and at Lancaster, Siege Fidenza won the Bud 100 at Lancaster after drawing the pole and leading all the way. Rob Summers in the Bear Motorsports No.14 was an early contender but faded to seventh at the checker. Kevin Harvick won the BGN Outback 300 at Kentucky and in Winston Cup action at Pocono; Ricky Rudd took the win over Jeff Gordon.

   Five years ago in 2006 the Thompson Speedway grandstands can normally hold close to 16,000 fans when filled to capacity. On Thursday night they looked to be about half full. Not bad considering it was a mid week event. The speedway management team headed by Ben Dodge and Russ Dowd prided themselves in running a fast, efficient race program. The final checkered flag of the night was waved at 9:20pm. Taking victories were Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modifieds, George “Mad Dog” Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Ed Puleo in the Limited Sportsman, Shelly Perry in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds. Rocco, a second-generation racer, staged a knock down, drag out, door-to-door battle with Jimmy Blewett and Jeff Malave. As close as they ran, they never touched which is a true testimate of their abilities. In the end Malave settled for second over Blewett, Bert Marvin and Tom Cravenho. There were 165 cars, including 27 Sunoco Modifieds on hand.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted a double header on Friday night, which included the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series and the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Touring Series. When one mentions the “Big One” in racing circles most people think of the high-speed multi-car wrecks that occur in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup events. The Stafford Speedway had their own version during the running of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. A mid race bump and grind took out the front-runners. Eric Berndt was in the right place at the right time as he managed to drive through the carnage to take the lead and the ultimate win. Jeff Malave finished second, with Todd Owen third. Woody Pitkat was on a mission after an earlier spin and he charged through the field in the closing laps to come home fourth. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top-5. Berndt’s victory, combined with Pitkat’s fourth place finish, makes Berndt the new SK Modified points leader heading into this coming Friday night’s action. John Blewett III, who took over the driving chores of the Eddie Partridge No. 12 finished 26th. Ted Christopher, who was on hand to drive a Busch East car did not have a ride for the SK Modified feature.

   In Late Model feature action, Jim Peterson ended Woody Pitkat’s three-race winning streak with his 21st career Late Model victory. Chris Matthews was the winner of the SK Light Modified feature to become the first repeat feature winner in that division, Charlie Newman scored his first career victory in the Limited Late Model feature event, and David Gambacorta came away the winner of the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event Sean Caisse won his second straight NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season. Caisse came out the winner after a fierce duel with Matt Kobyluck in the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway. The pair, who started on the front row, were the only race leaders, swapping the lead among themselves eight times. Caisse took the lead for the final time after Kobyluck got wiggly in speedy-dry on a restart with 12 laps to go. Mike Olsen, who shadowed the leaders for much of the race, was third for the second week in a row. Dave Dion, making his 2006 debut, charged into contention in the closing laps to grab fourth, while southern visitor Jody Lavender made up for a late-race disappointment on home turf in South Carolina a week ago by completing the top five. Charles Lewandoski, Ryan Seaman, Joey McCarthy, Jeff Anton, and Bryon Chew were sixth through tenth. It represented a best career finish for both Lavender and Lewandoski. Stafford favorite Ted Christopher was a prime contender until an accident, which also involved John Salemi sent him to the pits after 122 laps. A few laps later, a strong run by Mike Johnson ended in a turn one accident. Brian Hoar, runner-up in the season opener, never took the green flag due to last-minute engine trouble. Ten caution periods resulted in 63 laps being run under the yellow flag. Attrition was high, with only 18 cars running at the finish, of whom a dozen were on the lead lap.

   The Stafford Speedway suspended Jimmy Blewett for the remainder of the 2006 season. During the running of the SK Modified feature of June 9 Frank Ruocco drove Blewett up high coming out of turn four. Blewett appeared to retaliate and tagged Ruocco, sending him into the wall. Blewett said he got loose and it wasn’t intentional. The Stafford management felt that it was intentional. Needless to say, it looked like John Blewett III would be in the Eddie Partridge No.12 at least at Stafford for the rest of the year. After viewing a video of the incident one could see that Blewett was being over aggressive. A couple of weeks off rather than a full season would have been more appropriate for the first offense.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl. Danny Field won the 20-lap Mini Stock and Jim Procaccini won the 20-lap Sportsman feature. Robert Gingras III won the True Value Modified Racing Series event. The race, scheduled for 100 laps, was stopped after 53 laps because of track and state curfew rules. The SK Modified and Late Model features were postponed because of a rain delay of over 2 hrs. Grigas III won his first race ever on the TVM tour. He led every lap from the pole. Jimmy Dolan was 2nd and Dale Evonsion 3rd. Jeff Pearl was the highest finishing Speedbowl regular as he finished fifth.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at Jennerstown, PA on Saturday night. After being silent for 48 days NASCAR’s oldest division didn’t disappoint as Eddie Flemke Jr. led from the start to almost the end when Ted Christopher in the Ed Whelan No.36 stole his thunder. With two laps of the 100-lap distance remaining Christopher and Tony Hirschman slipped by as Flemke faded to third. Eric Beers and Don Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Jerry Marquis, Chuck Hossfeld, Todd Szegedy, Doug Coby and Jon McKennedy. Unofficially Christopher now leads the series standings with a 30 point margin over Mike Stefanik. Stefanik finished the race in 11th. Hirschman was the Bud Pole Winner, setting fast time in qualifying. Flemke earned the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award. Steve Whitt was the recipient of the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award. Jon McKennedy was the rookie of the race. There were 35 Modifieds on hand.

   Other weekend winners were Kasey Kahne in the rain shortened Michigan 400, David Gilliland in a Busch Series event at Kentucky Speedway, JR. Bertuccio at Riverhead and Steven Reed over John Blewett III at Wall Township.

   Last year, 2010, the Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series was postponed due to rain showers and high humidity that made it just about impossible to dry the track. During the drivers meeting Ben Dodge alluded to the fact that may be changes in the wind at Thompson if the car counts don't improve. There were nine Thompson Modifieds, sixteen Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds, ten Late Models, seventeen tour type Modifieds, nineteen Limited Sportsman and twenty four Mini-Modifieds. Dodge stated that the speedway is open for suggestions. If one were to read between the lines he may have been hinting that Thompson may go with an abbreviated schedule. Despite low car counts the racing at Thompson in all divisions has been very good. All things considered the crowds haven't been that bad. Once school gets out they will get better!

   Before the rains came qualifying heat races were held for all NASCAR All American Series divisions along with the Tour-Type Modifieds. Richard Savary and Mike Stefanik earned an extra $100 for their victories in the 10-lap heat races for the Tour-Type Modifieds. The lack of support by Modified Tour car owners was quite evident as many were committed to leaving for Martinsville on Friday morning.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Martinsville, VA for the Made In America Whelen 200. There were 37 Modifieds on hand. The decision was made to allow all to start the race. The Virginia weather was stifling hot as temps hovered around the 90 degree mark and humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife. Mike Stefanik was the top qualifier. Stefanik toured the half mile oval in 19.053 seconds. Second fastest was Todd Szegedy with a 19.128. Third through fifth were Ron Silk, George Brunnhoelzl III and Bobby Santos. The re-draw for starting positions saw Stefanik draw ninth. Frank Flemming, the highest qualifying southern Modified drew the pole starting position. Flemming was seventh fastest. Ted Christopher, who was tenth fastest, drew the outside pole.

   Bobby Santos' dream season continued Sunday at Martinsville Speedway as he captured the checkered flag in the Made In America Whelen 200. Santos, driving the Mystic River Marina Mystic Missile, pulled away from the field on a green-white-checkered finish to claim his third win in four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races to start the 2010 season. It was ungodly hot which had an adverse effect on the crowd which numbered less than 1000 spectators. Ticket price was not a factor as they were a modest $25 for adults. Rookie Justin Bonsignore had a career-best second-place finish, followed by Todd Szegedy. Mike Stefanik, the defending race winner, settled for fourth. Stefanik, lined up on the outside of the front row on the final restart but was shuffled back on the final two laps. MadHouse Modified man Burt Myers finished fifth. James Civali, Eric Beers, Woody Pitkat, Richie Pallai Jr. and Wade Cole rounded out the top 10. Thirteen cars finished on the lead
lap. There were 18 cautions for 119 laps.

   Ron Silk appeared to have a car to challenge Santos. However, he pulled out of the lead under caution on Lap 174 and ran out of gas on pit lane. He finished 15th, six laps down. Ryan Preece finished 16th after a MSD Box went bad. Ted Christopher led twice in the early going only to lose many laps as his crew was forced to fix an oil leak. He finished a distant 18th. Chris Pasteryak, Eddie Flemke Jr and Eric Goodale were eliminated in an accident. Chuck Hossfeld lost a transmission and finished 25th. Jimmy Blewett finished 30th after an accident and Rowan Pennink (I spelled it right) lost an engine and finished 32nd.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway it was a history making night. Three weeks after Joey Cipriano became the youngest driver to ever win a feature race at Stafford, Tommy Barrett, Jr. lowered that record by winning the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for his first career win. There were two other first time winners at Stafford as Matt Gallo scored his first career SK Modified® victory in the 40-lap feature, and Josh Wood was a first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Woody Pitkat continued his white hot start to the 2010 season with his second consecutive and third overall win of the year in the 30-lap Late Model feature, and Kevin Gambacorta nailed down his second win of the year in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature.

   The Waterford Speedbowl saw Mark Bakaj earn his first career SK Modified® win, looking impressive in route to victory. Ed Puleo returned to Street Stock victory lane for his second win of the season. Ian Brew won his first Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race of the year in dominating fashion, while Allen Coates won another A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck race. Anthony Flannery continued his early season mastery of the Legends Cars division, picking up another win.

   The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC had another slam-bang night of racing with a northern flavor. Defending track Modified champion Tim Brown won the first of two 25-lap Modified races as he led all the way to his second victory of the season and his 52nd career win at the North Carolina oval. His night went south in the second 25 lapper as a confrontation with James Civali negated him to a 20th place finish. Brown, running sixth in the second race, was clipped and spun by Civali. He dropped to the rear of the field, in 20th place, and then rode Civali into the fence a few laps later. Civali said he gained 18,000 fans for spinning out Brown at the Madhouse. Brian Loftin was the eventual winner. Chris Fleming finished second with John Smith, third.

   MadHouse star Burt Myers who had qualified earlier in the day at Martinsville was able to maintain his points lead as he finished 10th in the first race and fourth in the second race. It was also a tough night for Zach Brewer, who was sidelined in the second race after an opening-lap crash with Ryan Preece, and Jonathan Brown. Junior Miller was never a factor as he finished 12th and 6th.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Donny Lia not only made his return to Riverhead Raceway, but found the way to victory lane in the No. 15 of Wayne Anderson. Anderson is on the mend after suffering a heart attack.

   Denny Hamlin was the Sprint Cup winner at the Pocono International Raceway. Brad Keselowski raced to his third NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the year and ninth overall, easily holding off rival Carl Edwards on Saturday night at Nashville Superspeedway.

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

'Dickie Doo' Ceravolo                                      Ernie Gahan                                           George Pendergast   

Jerry Glaude                                                  Pete Corey                                                Ronnie Wyckoff

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 17, 2011

©2011 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.