The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 1, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 Moe Gherzi, fresh off his Saturday night win at the New London-Waterford annexed a 25 lap Modified win on Wednesday night. The shoreline oval fell victim to rain on Saturday night.

   Fifty-five years ago in 1956, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was preparing for their season opener. The track had been for sale but there were no takers.

   Fifty years ago in 1961 Ernie Gahan made it two in a row on the dirt in Friday night action at the Stafford Speedway as 4000 fans looked on. Ron Narducci finished second with Jim Koehler, third. Bill Slater was a little off his game as he finished fourth. Slater got redemption on Saturday night at Norwood as he beat out Eddie Flemke and Bobby Sprague for the win. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl raced on Friday and Saturday nights. Dick Beauregard, the driver they loved to hate, won on Friday night with Ted Stack taking the win on Saturday night. Ed Moody made it six in a row in Bomber competition as he won on both nights.

   Forty five years ago in 1966 Wild Bill Slater took on the New York gang and walked away the Friday night winner at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Jerry Cook finished second with Gaston Demaris, third. Dennis Zimmerman and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. Ernie Gahan took the win on the dirt at Stafford. Cook stepped it up a bit as he won at Fonda on Saturday night over Ron Narducci and Bill Wimble. Bobby Sprague took a popular win at Norwood on Saturday night. Rain washed out the features at the NewLondon-Waterford Speedbowl after qualifying was completed. The Utica Rome Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Sunday night with former NASCAR Sportsman Champion Rene Charland taking the win. Eddie Flemke finished second with Frank Mathalia, Cook and Wimble rounding out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1971, Friday night action at Malta rained out. Winston Barrows led 29-1/2 laps at Stafford only to be passed by Bugsy Stevens in the last corner of the 30 lapper. Bob Melnick finished third with Hop Harrington, fourth. At Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Dave Lap and at Islip, Ed Brunnhoelzl Sr beat out Bob Park. Jack LeCuyer won the main event at the Riverside Park Speedway. Tom Vining, Charlie Centinaro and Bob Stefanik followed. Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Ed Barton take the win over Jiggs Beetham, Seabury Tripler, Daring Dick Caso and Don Bunnell. Dickie Doo Ceravolo was the Sportsman Sedan winner. Fred DeSarro and Len Boehler made the trip to Utica-Rome on Sunday and came away the winners. Ron Narducci finished second and was followed by Dave Lape and Jerry Cook. Fonda hosted the All Star League on Wednesday, which saw Lou Lazzaro take the win.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, Fred Harbach scored a one-two punch as he won at Riverhead on Friday night and again at Islip on Saturday. At Riverhead, Jim Tyler finished second with Greg Sacks, third. At Islip, Don Howe finished second with Tyler, third. Geoff Bodine took the win at Stafford and at Riverside it was Bob Polverari over Bob Stefanik. Dick Dunn put the Al Gaudreau No.3 in victory lane at Waterford. Sleepy Knapp was the late model Grand American winner. Ronnie Bouchard broke Geoff Bodine's win streak at Thompson on Sunday.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, Mr.Leo Cleary in the Rollie Linblad No.48 took on the best in the business at a special open competition event at Westboro on Wednesday night. It was no cakewalk as Cleary had Ronnie Bouchard breathing down his neck at the finish. Geoff Bodine finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Jeff Fuller and Tom Baldwin. Friday night at Stafford, Richie Evans, fresh off a win at Holland on Wednesday night, romped home the winner over Bob Polverari and Brian Ross. Polverari was later disqualified because of an illegal rear end gear. Other Friday night winners were Punky Caron at Monadnock, John Blewett Jr at New Egypt and George Kent at Spencer. Saturday night, Russell "Butch" Perry scored a popular win at Waterford over Joe Tiezzi and Dick Dunn. Ray Miller took the top spot at Riverside and George Kent made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Shangri-La. Double modified features were on tap at Seekonk.

   Eddie St Angelo and Leo Cleary shared top honors. Tom Baldwin won a 100 lapper at Islip and Roger Treichler made it two in a row at Lancaster. Danbury fell victim to rain. Richie Evans was the winner at Thompson on Sunday night over Corky Cookman, Bob Fuller, Greg Sacks and Carl Pasteryak.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the Modified tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night 100 lap event. Mike McLaughlin started on the outside pole and led all 100 laps to take the win. Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by John Rosati, George Kent and Jeff Fuller. Friday night racing at Stafford and Spencer rained out. Ed Flemke Jr was the SK Modified winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Bob Potter finished second and was followed by Mark La Junesse. Mike McLaughlin made it two for two on the weekend as he put the Sheri Cup No.12 in victory lane at Riverside on Saturday night. Mike Stefanik finished second. Leo Cleary got his fourth win at Seekonk and at New Egypt it was Wayne Anderson over Jerry Cranmer.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a Wednesday night event. Hometown favorite Mike Ewanitsko had victory in sight until his engine expired on the last .Waiting in the wings was Ricky Fuller who went on to take the win. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by George Brunnhoelzl, Dan Jivenelli and Ewanitsko. The Busch North Series was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik took the win. SK Modified action saw Steve Chowanski beat out Bo Gunning and Bob Georgiades. At Waterford on Saturday, David Gada held off veteran Jerry Pearl for the win.Rick Young finished second. Reggie Ruggiero got his fifth at Riverside over Rick Young and Wade Cole. Jamie Tomaino returned to his old haunts at Wall Stadium to take a win while Chris Young won at Riverhead. Ted Christopher was the top dog at Thompson as he had more than enough for Richie Gallup, Bo Gunning and Mike Christopher. Jerry Marquis went north to Monadnock and proceeded to click off another win. Dwight Jarvis finished second with Kirby Monteith, third.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, the modified tour was at the Lee Raceway in New Hampshire. Rick Fuller took the win over Mike Stefanik, Tim Connolly and Jan Leaty. The event drew a good crowd but raceway owner Red MacDonald felt that overall it was a loser and hasn't had the Modified Tour back since then. Lee does run unsanctioned modified events from time to time. At Stafford, John Anderson won out over Bo Gunning and Tony Sylvester. Todd Ceravolo became a surprise winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Eric Berndt was leading the final lap when his transmission imploded, forcing him to slow. Ceravolo went on to take the win and was followed by Don Fowler, Mike Gada, Jim Broderick and David Gada. Fran Principi scored his first ever Modified win at Riverside Park and Quinn Vollegraph won at Riverhead. A Busch North Series event, scheduled for Sunday at Nazareth was rained out and run on Monday. Steve Park took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 85 of the 100-lap event and went on to take the win. Kelly Moore ended up second and was followed by Tom Bolles and Dale Shaw.

   Ten Years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher made it three in a row at Thompson on Thursday night. Curt Brainard finished second. At Stafford on Friday night, Jim Williams in the Donut car took the victory over Lloyd Agor and Chuck Docherty. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Richmond. Tony Hirschman took the lead with 31laps to go and walked off with the lion's share of the $93,168 purse. Mike Ewanitsko finished second with Jan Leaty, Mike Stefanik, Ken Wooley and Ed Flemke JR rounding out the top five. Eric Berndt got his fourth win at Waterford and Bill Park took the top spot at Riverhead

   Five years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway on Thursday where they shared top billing with NASCAR’s Busch East Series (formerly Busch North Series). Forty-four Modifieds were on hand on a humid and sultry night. Jimmy Blewett was the Busch Pole sitter. The re-draw for starting positions saw James Civali pick the pole with Eric Beers picking the outside pole.

   Eric Beers, in the Boehler Racing Ole Blu, took the lead on the start with Ed Flemke moving into second spot. Beers led the first 42 laps until Ronnie Silk spun out in Turn 2 to bring out the first caution. After the restart on lap 45, Eddie Flemke went to the front by passing Beers two laps later on the front-stretch. A multi-car crash in the backstretch brought out the second caution on lap 48 and didn’t restart until lap 56. Among those eliminated was Jerry Marquis who expressed his displeasure of Jamie Tomaino’s patience. Also eliminated were Matt Hirschman and Tony Ferrante Jr. Flemke remained out front until Todd Szegedy passed him while working lap 65. Szegedy’s lead didn’t last long before another crash occurred in the backstretch to bring out the third caution that lasted from lap 66 to lap 74. Reggie Ruggiero lost control and triggered the crash. Eliminated in that crash were Ted Christopher and Chris Pasteryak. Chuck Hossfeld also lost
many laps while his crew made repairs to damage sustained. Szegedy led the final restart and was untouchable from there. Flemke finished a strong second and was followed by Civali, Beers and Tony Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ruggiero, Steve Whitt, Ron Yuhas Jr and Ken Barry. Twenty-one of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.

   Matt Kobyluck won his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season, and took over the series point lead. He took the lead when Sean Caisse suffered drive train failure after leading the first 13 laps. Caisse, the former point leader, was scored 28th and last in the field. Brian Hoar chased Kobyluck to the checkered flag, less than half a second behind, with Charles Lewandoski recording a career-best third place finish. Mike Johnson was fourth, Bryon Chew fifth, and Mike Olsen sixth. Dave Dion, Jamie Aube, Ruben Pardo, and John Salemi completed the top ten.

   The Thompson Speedway ran their Double Trouble program last Thursday night despite the threat of showers. Jeff Malave muscled his way to a convincing win in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malave took the lead as he entered turn one on lap six and held off repeated challenges from Tom Cravenho who ended up settling for second. Woody Pitkat was extremely strong as he traded spots with Cravenho on numerous occasions but in the end settled for third. Jimmy Blewett and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Jeff Zuidema won the 30-lap Pro Stock feature. Dave Trudeau held off Salem's Corey Hutchings to win the 25-lap Late Model feature. Eddie Puleo of Branford, CT made it two-for-two taking down his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. The win; however, was not an easy one as Keith DeSanctis gave it all he had in the closing laps. DeSanctis got alongside Puleo briefly but had to settle for second. Rick Blanchard took down his second straight Mini Stock victory. Ron Rixham had enjoyed an early lead but in the late stages of the 15-lap Mini Stock feature the former divisional champ began to feel the pressure. After a short battle, Rixham relinquished his lead to Scott Michalksi. The lead quickly changed hands again with Blanchard taking over control of the event. Michalski took his place in second while Shelly Perry, true to form, came on strong in the waning laps to claim third. Rixham had faded to fourth at the checkers ahead of Andy Publicover. Roger Larson, Jr.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway took advantage of the dry weather as they ran the 12th annual American Sleeve Bearing Late Model 100 on Friday night. Ryan Posocco was the big winner of the 100-lapper, recovering from an early race spin to drive back through the field under a prolonged green flag run. Todd Owen was the winner of the SK Modified® feature, while there were two first-time winners in the SK Lights and DARE Stocks. Richie Pallai, Jr. captured his first career win in the SK Light feature, while Lori-Jo Rzeszutek scored her first career victory in the DARE Stock feature. The Limited Late Model feature was tentatively rescheduled to next Tuesday, July 4th due to time constraints. In the 100-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Posocco ran down the leaders under a long green flag run, and then inherited the lead when race leader Scott Foster, Jr. broke a transmission on lap-88. Ed Ricard led the first 40-laps of the race with Tom Fearn taking the lead from Ricard. Fearn held the lead until lap-59 when Foster moved to the front. Posocco had spun on lap-16 after contact with Brad Boissonneault, and he had moved back into the top-5 at this stage of the race under green flag conditions. Foster held the lead until his transmission gave out on lap-88, which handed the lead to Posocco. Posocco pulled away from second place on two subsequent restarts to take his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season. Jim Peterson took second, with Mark Lewis third, Tom Butler fourth, and Todd Owen fifth. In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Todd Owen charged past Curt Brainard on the outside groove on lap-9 and then he held off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco over the final 10-laps to take his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season. Willie Hardie finished third, with Jeff Baral and Kenny Horton rounding out the top-5.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl Tom Fox all but cleaned house as he won the Pepsi-300 100 lap SK Modified event. Fox wore out Rob Summers and then held off Dennis Gada as he recorded his first win of the year. Summers faded to third spot in the closing laps. The 100-lap Late Model segment went to Allen Coates, making his season debut. Joe Godbout III won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature while Dwayne Dorr ruled the 50-lap Sportsman haul.

   NASCAR announced that they had lowered the age to 16 to those who intend to compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series and Busch East. The Modifieds were part of a rain shortened practice session at the New Hampshire International Speedway last week. Thirteen Whelen Modified Tour teams showed up for the NHIS Open Test session. Among those were seven rookies including Danny Sammons, Glenn Tyler, Anthony Sesely, James Civali, Kenny Horton, Matt Hirschman and Jon McKennedy. Veterans that appeared for the test session were Rob Summers, Todd Szegedy, Zach Sylvester, Donny Lia, Nevin George and Todd Bodine. Because of the fact that rain cut short the session the Bahres refunded each team’s $500 payment plus provided free food for the competitors.

   Tony Stewart won the Pepsi 400 Nextel Cup event at Daytona. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Busch Series winner.

Last year, 2010, The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series resumed on a somewhat cool but exciting night. Ted Christopher won his third feature victory of the 2010 season at Thompson in exciting fashion. Mike O’Sullivan won a thriller in the Super Late Models. Brother Tommy O’Sullivan, took a commanding victory in the Late Models. Larry Barnett scored his first win of the season in Limited Sportsman action. Brian Sullivan returned to the TIS Modified division and returned to his winning ways while Steve Michalski wired the field to score the victory in the Mini Stocks.

   The Modified Racing Series was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the Town Fair Tire 75. A strong field of Modifieds led by Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Les Hinkley were on hand. Hinkley took the eventual win after Stefanik and Pennink tangled. Contact between then-leader Stefanik and Pennink on lap 56 sent the leader Stefanik spinning. Pennink was given the consolation flag for his involvement. Hinckley, who was running third, inherited the lead for the ensuing restart. Over the final 19 laps, Hinckley was able to get some distance over a heated battle between Christopher and Jon McKennedy. It was Hinkley’s third win of the season. Steve Masse finished fourth with Eric Goodale rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Dwight Jarvis, Richard Savory,
   Stefanik and Geoff Gernhard. Pennink, the last car on the lead lap, finished 17th.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway Keith Rocco picked up his second consecutive and fifth overall win of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett got his first win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his second victory of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dave Yardley, III scored his first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood took his second win of 2010 in 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Rocco started 15th. Rounding out the top-5 following Rocco, Eric Berndt, and Chris Jones was Todd Owen and Jeff Baral.

   The Waterford Speedbowl continued to be dominated by Keith Rocco. Rocco took the lead early in the race then ruled in several restarts to claim his sixth SK Modified® win of the year. Walt Hovey Jr. dominated the Street Stock race to collect his first win of the season, extending his lead in the championship points. Danny Field won his first Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race of the year in dominating fashion, while Allen Coates won the A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck race and etched his name further into the Speedbowl record books. Nicholas Sowa won the Bandolero race. Over $10,000 was raised for the Lupus Foundation of America when the event had concluded.

   Rocco now had 14 wins as his season total. In addition to his six wins at Waterford and his five wins at Stafford the then current NASCAR National Points contender had two wins at Thompson and one win at New Smyrna. The New Smyrna win does not count toward the NASCAR title.

   The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC was the scene of a 100 lapper for the NASCAR Modifieds last Saturday night. Jason Myers, who is considered an underdog, took the lead from Lee Jeffreys on lap 15 and survived five restarts before recording the win. Tim Brown, with extreme overheating problems, finished second and Chris Fleming was third. John Smith and Jeffreys rounded out the top five. Point leader Burt Myers started 24th and finished sixth.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island a 50 lapper for the Modifieds provided some post race fireworks. Tom Rogers JR took the win. Shortly after taking the checker Rogers parked his car between turns three and four. He removed his driving suit and shoes and threw them over the fence where track officials were located. It had been rumored that he carried a traction control device in his suit or in his shoes.
Justin Bonsignore, who has been making a name for himself on the Whelen Modified Tour Series finished second with Chuck Steuer, third. Wayne Anderson, who is still recovering from a recent heart attack imported Jimmy Blewett for the night. Blewett finished fourth.

   Bruton Smith, owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway told WMUR TV in New Hampshire he will consider moving next year's summer race if Loudon's police chief doesn't cut the cost for providing safety details. The NHMS owner said that if he can't reach a compromise with the town on security costs, he may move next June's race from New Hampshire [like to maybe...Kentucky Speedway. NHMS was asking Loudon to reduce its price tag for June's upcoming race from $170,000 to $65,000. "No, we're not prepared to do that," said Loudon Selectman Roger Maxfield. "The answer is no, we won't." Maxfield said he thinks $170,000 to cover an influx of 100,000 people is reasonable, as is Fiske's hourly rate. "He's also in control of 80 full-time officers, so that's a large detail," Maxfield said. NHMS has suggested cutting 38 police officers from its camp grounds and replacing them with private security guards supported by a few officers. Fiske said that plan isn't in the best interest of public safety. "The crime is consistent with a city of that size," he said. Maxfield insinuated that those who go to Loudon for the races are a violent lot. "We have alleged rapes and assaults, let alone the DWIs." He said in a statement to the TV station.

   Raymond Parks, owner of NASCAR’s first championship winning car and an integral part of the series’ formation, died. He was 96. Parks was the last living member of the group of men who created NASCAR in 1947 during a meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla. He fielded the car that Red Byron drove to the inaugural Cup Series championship in 1949, NASCAR’s first season of competition.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Sonoma, CA, Marcos Ambrose had his first career Sprint Cup Series victory in sight when a late caution threw a roadblock into his path. Ambrose stalled his engine while trying to conserve gas late in Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway, where his car came to a stop while leading with six laps remaining. He restarted and tried to re-claim his position at the front of the field, but NASCAR ordered him back to seventh place and Jimmie Johnson inherited the lead. Johnson then cruised to his first career road course win, while Ambrose had to settle for a disappointing sixth-place finish. Robby Gordon finished second.

   Edwards swooped past Jacques Villeneuve on a restart with nine laps to go, then ran away from the field to win the NASCAR Nationwide series race at Road America on Saturday.

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

Dick Beauregard                                             Bob Pickel                                                 Jeep Herbert   

Moe Gherzi                                                     Bill Slater                                                 Win Barrows

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: July 1, 2011

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