June 24, 2011
years ago in 1951 the Wednesday night racing at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to rain. New Britain CT native
“Money Bags” Moe Gherzi won the 25 lap Modified main at the shoreline oval
on Saturday night.
Fifty years ago in 1961 Emanuel
Zervakas won the Yankee 500 NASCAR Grand National event at the Norwood
Arena. Ernie Gahan was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Ted
Stack returned to his winning ways at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as
he won his sixth Modified feature of the year. Stack also won the non-Ford
feature while Ed Moody made it four in a row in the Bombers.
Forty five years ago in 1966
Rene Charland was at the top of his game as he won the Friday night feature
at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Frank Mathalia finished second with Pete
Hamilton, third. Dennis Zimmerman and Gene Bergin rounded out the top five.
Pete Corey mastered the dirt at Stafford. At the Fonda Speedway on Saturday
night Jerry Cook took the win over Kenny Shoemaker and Bill Wimble. Charlie
Webster won a 50 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. A young
George “Moose” Hewitt was the Bomber feature winner and Rick Taylor took top
honors in the Daredevils. Ernie Gahan, who was well on his way to becoming
the 1966 NASCAR Modified Champion took the Sunday night win at the
Utica-Rome Speedway. Shoemaker and Charland followed with Mathalia fourth
and Hamilton, fifth.
Forty years ago in 1971, still sore from hitting a light
pole two weeks previously, Fred DeSarro returned to the racing wars with a
vengeance as he went on a tear going four for four. Len Boehler had Ole Blu
tuned to perfection as DeSarro cleaned house at Thompson winning twin 25's
at Thompson on Friday night, a thirty lapper at Stafford on Saturday and an
open competition event at Stafford the following Wednesday. Following
DeSarro in the first event at Thompson was Leo Cleary, Ernie Gahan and Bob
Santos. Santos finished second in the nightcap and was followed by Gahan.
Albany-Saratoga ran a 100 lap double point event, also on Friday. Taking the
win was Steady Eddie Flemke in the Richie Evans 61x. Still on the outs with
NASCAR, Evans and his crew pitted the car in the parking lot. Bugsy Stevens
finished second and was followed by Denis Giroux, Andy Romano and Jerry
Cook. Following DeSarro at Stafford on Saturday night was Rene Charland in
the Bob Johnson No.17.Bugsy Stevens finished third with Ernie Gahan, fourth.
At the Fulton Raceway Bob Sweeney won a 60-lap feature over Don Diffendorf
and Mike Loescher. Lou Lazzaro, well on his way to legend status copped wins
at Fonda on Saturday night and at Utica-Rome on Sunday. The amazing thing is
that he won both events with the same car. Maynard Forette finished second
at Fonda and was followed by Dave Lape and Harry Peek. At Utica-Rome, Dave
Kotary finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Denis Giroux.
Oxford Plains ran an open comp modified event on Sunday. Bugsy Stevens took
the win and was followed by Charland and Homer Drew. Bob Potter won the 36
lap June Championship Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Larry Gada
was the Sportsman Sedan winner. Last but not least it was Charlie Jarzombek
over Fred Harbach at Islip.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
Geoff Bodine, fresh off a Sunday afternoon 150 lap win at Stafford made it
three in a row at Thompson on Sunday night. Bodine, driving for Richard
Armstrong, used a Jack Tant small block Chevy for power. While the Sunday
night small block series at Thompson was intended for the low buck racer,
the intent was lost as Armstrong shelled out the bucks for a professional
motor builder. This was the beginning of the end of the so-called golden
era. To compete with Bodine and Armstrong other teams would have to follow
suit or just be content to follow the leader. Fred DeSarro, driving for Len
Boehler, finished second to Bodine three weeks running. Boehler, a
mechanical genius, built his own engines. Despite Boehler's efforts, DeSarro
couldn't keep up. Many saw this as the beginning of the end of the backyard
racer. At the Stafford 150, Bodine took the lead from DeSarro on lap 14 and
never looked back. SJ Evonsion finished second and was followed by Satch
Worley, Ed Flemke Sr and Richie Evans. It was also on this weekend that
Stafford owner Jack Arute announced that as of July 14 all owners and
drivers would be admitted free. In other weekend action, Fred Harbach won at
New Egypt, Charlie Jarzombek at Riverhead, Fred Sipalla at Islip, John
Anderson at Riverside, Ronnie Bouchard at Westboro and Punky Caron got his
fifth win of the season at Monadnock. At Waterford, it rained.
Thirty years ago in 1981, a
huge crowd of 7100 fans was on hand to watch George Summers take the Friday
night modified feature at Stafford. Following Summers at the line were Ray
Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Brian Ross. Richie Evans, who won at Holland on
Wednesday night, blew an engine. Rain blanketed the east coast on Saturday
washing just about everything out. Maynard Troyer won at Spencer, Allen
Whipple at Monadnock, Billy Griffin at Shangri-La and Roger Treichler at
Lancaster. At Thompson on Sunday, Evans lost his second engine of the
weekend. Kenny Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 took the win over Reggie
Ruggiero and George Summers. It was father-son night at Danbury as Don
LaJoie won a 50 lap Modified feature and Randy LaJoie was the Sportsman
winner. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Darrell Waltrip took the pole and
Bobby Allison, the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished tenth.
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
New Egypt ran a circle of Champions (Mod Tour)150 at New Egypt on Wednesday
night. George Kent came away the surprise winner after Jeff Fuller crashed
with a lap car while coming down for the checker in the lead. Jim Spencer
finished second with Mike McLaughlin, third. George Brunnhoelzl jr took the
Friday night win at Stafford. Reggie Ruggiero was running second on the
final lap when he tangled with Gilda Berti and crashed. Bugsy Stevens ended
up in second spot with Brian Ross, third. Richie Gallup was declared the SK
Modified winner after the top three finishers, Bo Gunning, Ted Christopher
and John Anderson were disqualified after a post race inspection determined
that their carburetors were illegal. Rick Donnelly won twin features at
Waterford and Mike Stefanik took top honors at Riverside. Other weekend
winners were Don Pratt at Spencer, Dan Jivenelli at Riverhead and Tony
Hirschman at Shangri-La.
Twenty years ago in 1991, Mike
Christopher beat out Bob Potter and Bob Georgiades in SK action at Stafford
on Friday night. Rain washed out Waterford but at Riverside and Riverhead it
stayed dry. Charlie Pasteryak won out over Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and
at Riverhead; Dan Jivenelli was followed across the stripe by Wayne
Anderson. The Modified Tour was at Oxford Plains on Sunday. Jeff Fuller in
the Sheba No.8 took the win over Doug Hevron and Mike Stefanik .In SK
Modified action at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the win over Richie Gallup
and Mike Christopher.
Fifteen years ago in 1996, Mike
Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Steve Park finished
second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning. At
Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter scored his 95th career win at the
shoreline oval. Potter,who had been racing since 1964,started in 11th spot
and took the lead with 26 laps to go in the 35 lap feature. Potters win
broke the all time record previously held by Don Collins. The Featherlite
Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a 200 lap event. Because of a late race
caution, the event went 207 laps with Rick Fuller taking the win over Mike
Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Chuck Steuer. Eleven cautions for 54 laps
slowed the average speed of the event to 45.39 mph. Richie Gallup was the
winner at Riverside Park. The Busch North Series was at Thompson on Sunday.
Robbie Crouch led the 150 lap event until lap 81 when he went too hot into
turn three, spun and took out Rick Fuller and Andy Santarre who were third
and fourth. Jerry Marquis took the lead at that point and went on to take
the win. Mike Stefanik finished second with Brad Leighton, third. In Winston
Cup action at Michigan, Rusty Wallace took the win and in Busch
Grandnational series action at Myrtle Beach, David Green took the win. Dale
Earnhardt Jr made his debut and finished 14th, down one.
Ten years ago in 2001 Ted
Christopher recorded his third win at Thompson on Thursday night and made it
two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. At Thompson, Kerry Malone finished
second with Bill Anderson, third. At Stafford, Christopher was chased by
Eric Brendt and Lloyd Agor. In Busch North Series action at Stafford, Kelly
Moore took the win over Brad Leighton and Dennis Doyle. The NASCAR
Featherlite Modified Tour was at Seekonk under threatening skies but it
didn't seem to bother Chris Kopec who took the win after taking the lead on
lap 44 of the 150 lap event. Mike Stefanik had led from lap 15 to lap 43,
pitted with handling problems and was never able to re-gain the lead.
Charlie Pasteryak finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Mike
Ewanitsko and John Blewett III. Based on a forecast of rainy weather, the
Waterford management decided to pull the plug on the night’s races. Needless
to say it never rained and many unhappy fans were on hand to express their
opinions! At Riverhead, Wayne Anderson got his first win in ten years as he
took the checker over Don Lia. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, Tony Stewart
took the win.
Five years ago in 2006, the
Thompson Speedway managed to beat the weather as they put round two of
Thursday night Thunder in the history books. Jimmy Blewett put the Eddie
Partridge No. 12 at the top of the heap as he took the win in the Sunoco
(SK) Modified division. Bert Marvin showed a lot of strength and actually
led during the mid portion of the event before he was sidelined with a
broken wheel hub. Marvin indicated that the broken hub was a result of
Blewett driving into him. Jeff Malave finished second with Tom Cravenho,
third. Opening night winner Keith Rocco was taken out after a grinding crash
with Ted Christopher. Christopher was driving for John Jensen. Todd Ceravolo
also had a good run going until rubbing wheels with Tom Cravenho forced him
to have a tire go down in the late stages. Ceravolo ended up 10th. For the
second week in a row the defending champ Malave finished second ahead of
Cravenho. Woody Pitkat finished fourth over Buddy Charette. Corey Hutchings
won a close one over Steve Landry in the Late Models, which went the 50-lap
distance. Other winners were Jeff Zuidema in the Pro Stocks, Scott Sundeen
in the Limited Sportsman, Rick Blanchard in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen
in the Thompson Modifieds.
The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain again. Because of
an extremely wet spring only four events, including the Spring Sizzler had
been run. Eric Berndt, with four top tens including one win sat in the SK
Modified point lead. Berndt held a four-point lead over Woody Pitkat.
Although winless Pitkat also had four top tens. Jeff Malave sat in a distant
third spot, some 26 points behind Pitkat. Todd Owen and Bo Gunning rounded
out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Jeff Baral, Lloyd Agor, Chris
Jones, Frank Ruocco and Kenny Horton. Woody Pitkat, with three Late Model
victories led the division. Jim Peterson and Ryan Posocco make up the top
three. Bill Davis, with one win, was the Limited Late Model point leader and
Shelly Perry was the SK Light point leader.
At the Waterford Speedbowl the rain gods continued their wrath as
an all day monsoon all but swamped the Speedbowl grounds. Dennis Gada had
gone seven for seven in top 10 finishes. Despite the fact that victory lane
had eluded him he sat in the lead of the SK Modified point standings. Gada
held a 12 point lead over Chris Pasteryak Veteran Tommy Fox sat in third
spot, 10 points behind Pasteryak. Rounding out the top five were the Monahan
brothers, Diego and Shawn. Sixth through tenth were Jeffrey Paul, John
Brouwer Jr., Rob Janovic, Rob Summers and Jeff Pearl. In the Late Model
division, Jay Stuart with two wins held a 28 point edge over Tim Jordan.
Danny Field, with four wins led David Silvia in the Mini Stock division by
30 points. In the Sportsman division, Dwane Dorr had six wins and held a
commanding 50 point lead over Bill Gertch. Mark Bakaj was the Legends
It was announced that Whelen Modified Tour Series points leader Ted
Christopher would be driving for the Al-Lee Installations team for balance
of the 2006 season. Ed Whelan would field 2 cars for the balance of the
year. Ted Christopher would run all the remaining races. Mike Andrews would
drive a limited schedule consisting of the remaining short track races to
gain experience at the tour level.
Saturday night at the Holland International Speedway Bryon Chew
scored his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series victory
after six years of trying. Chew led only three laps of the Fuccillo Auto
Park HUGE 150. Dueling side-by-side with leader Mike Johnson on a restart at
lap 145, the Long Island driver finally claimed the lead for good on the
white flag lap, winning by 0.221 seconds. Mike Olsen edged Tracy Gordon for
third and closed to within 22 points of leader Sean Caisse, who placed
In Nextel Cup action at Sonoma, CA Jeff Gordon ended a dry spell as
he took his first win since October 2005 at Martinsville. Ryan Newman
finished second with Terry Labonte, third. Paul Menard was the Busch Series
winner at Milwaukee.
Last year, 2010, The Thompson
International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series was cancelled because
of rain and tornado warnings in the northeastern Connecticut area.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was idle as teams made preparations
for the first of two trips to Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos who had won an a
record setting three out of four races led Mike Stefanik by 89 points.
Although winless, Stefanik had been the model of consistency with four top
fives. Todd Szegedy sits third, six points behind Stefanik. Ted Christopher
the only other winner on the tour is 49 points out of third spot and 95
points in arrears of Santos. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece.
Rookie Justin Bonsignore along with Jimmy Blewett, rookie Richie Pallai,
Jr., Erick Rudolph and Ron Silk made up the top ten. Forty six different
drivers had entered into tour competition so far.
The Modified Racing Series was scheduled to appear at the Seekonk
Speedway on Saturday June, 12. Rain forced cancellation with no rain date.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the
Stafford Motor Speedway the 37th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100 was on
tap. Keith Rocco defended his 100-lap victory from one year ago and scored
his fourth win of the 2010 season, Ryan Posocco picked up his first win of
the 2010 season and the 40th win of his Late Model career at Stafford in the
30-lap Late Model feature, Frank Cardile scored his second victory of 2010
in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery scored his third win
of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande picked
up his second win of 2010 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.
The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC avoided the rain that
played havoc in the northeast. Lee Jeffreys started the first of twin 25's
race in second place behind pole-sitter Terry Gaither, but quickly took the
lead to pick up his second win of the season and 16th of his career.
Jeffreys survived two late cautions and a hard-charging Gaither, and then
drew No. 10 for the inverted-start second race. He was able to battle his
way to the runner-up spot but couldn't muster a charge to pass leader and
eventual winner Jonathan Brown. Burt Myers qualified 19th out of 20 cars in
the first race and finished 14th. Myers finished fourth in the second 25
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it remained dry as
four-time Modified champion Bill Park out dueled three-time and defending
Modified champion John Fortin for the Modified feature win. Park took home
his 31st career victory landing him in a five way tie for third on the
track's all-time win list. Park is now tied with Wayne Anderson, Chris
Young, Jack Reinhard and Tommy Washburn in career wins.
Denny Hamlin, his No. 11 Toyota becoming a distant spec on the horizon to
the rest of the field late in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the
Michigan International Speedway, heard the caution call come over the radio
and tried not to roll his eyes. He knows nobody wants to watch a driver lead
by 10 seconds, as he was doing at the time. It makes for bad TV. And even
though Hamlin didn't see any debris on the track when the yellow flag flew,
he didn't exactly panic when his massive advantage was wiped out.
"I understand this is show business," Hamlin said. Hamlin easily
pulled away from Kasey Kahne on the restart with 14 laps remaining and
rolled to his fifth victory of the season, dominating the 400-mile race.
Joey Logano became the first Nationwide Series driver to win three
consecutive races at the same track when starting from the pole as he held
off Carl Edwards to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday
Les Richter, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Los Angeles
Rams who became a top NASCAR executive after retiring from the NFL, died. He
His second career started as president of Riverside International
Raceway in 1961. He joined NASCAR in 1983 and grew into an adviser to
then-chairman Bill France Jr. Richter was named NASCAR's executive vice
president of competition in 1986, and the senior vice president of
operations in 1992.
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
Moe Gherzi Ray
All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit