July 29, 2011
years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl got their
Wednesday and Saturday night events in the record book. Johnny Schmitz won
on Wednesday and Dave Humphrey on Saturday. Claiming Car winners were Bob
Foster and Dom DeLaura.
Fifty five years ago in 1956,
Melvin “Red” Foote, who lived in Meridan CT at the time was the Wednesday
night Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In
later years Foote would relocate to the Richmond, VA area and would remain
an active competitor through the 1960’s. Squeeky Rogers was the non-Ford
winner. Rain prevailed on Saturday night at the shoreline oval.
Fifty years ago in 1961 Ernie
Gahan was the winner at the Norwood Arena. Old Bridge, NJ was the Sunday
night stop for many including the Eastern Bandits that were led by Eddie
Flemke. Promoter Bob Streeter posted $3140 for a 100 lap event. Wild Bill
Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8 led a New England sweep of the
top five as he beat out Flemke by less than a wheel. Ernie Gahan finished
third and was followed by Gene Bergin and Elton Hill. Rain washed out the
Wednesday night Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl
shortly after qualifying had been completed which set the stage for double
features on Saturday night. Ted Stack won the held over Modified feature
while Newt Palm was the winner of the regular event. Non-Ford winners were
Bill Staubley and Dave Hill.
Forty-five years ago in 1966
twin 54 lap features were run at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday
night. Pete Hamilton took the first one over Don MacTavish, Rene Charland,
Leo Cleary and Lou Lazzaro. Bill Wimble took the nightcap, as Hamilton had
to settle for second. Elton Hill, Phil Spiak and Hank Stevens rounded out
the top five. Ernie Gahan was the Friday night winner at Stafford while
Billy Schulz took the win at Norwood on Saturday night. Rene Charland took
the top spot on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night. Pete Corey finished
second with Guy Chartrand, third. Dick Dunn was the 30 lap Modified feature
winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Gordon Page was the Bomber winner and
Howard “Jiggs” Beetham who in later years would become a championship
Modified car owner with Bob Potter as his driver, was the Daredevil winner.
Steady Eddie Flemke was the Sunday night winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway.
Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bill Wimble, Kenny Shoemaker
and Frank Mathalia.
Forty years ago in 1971, the
Albany-Saratoga Speedway presented a 100 lapper on Friday night. Lou Lazzaro
was the top gun as he was first under the checker. Eddie Flemke, in the Art
Barry No.09 finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Maynard
Forette and Rene Charland. At the Fulton Raceway Open Competition Modifieds
and Supermodifieds were on tap. Jim Shampine won the Modified 30 lapper over
Dick Clark, Guy Chartrand, Dave Nichols and Ronnie Wallace. Ken Andrews was
the Supermodified winner with Nolan Swift, second. In NESMRA action at the
Thompson Speedway on Friday night Big Don MacClaren took the main event over
Dynamite Ollie Silva and Jim Landry. George Allum took his 14th Late Model
win. Stafford ran a 30 lap Pocono qualifier on Saturday night. Leo Cleary,
in the Garbarino No.4, took the win and the guaranteed spot for the upcoming
August event. Rene Charland, in the Bob Johnson No.17, finished second and
was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Daring Dick Caso. Dick Dunn put the Al
Gaudreau No.3 in victory lane at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night
Angie Cerese finished second with Ronnie Wycoff, third. Ron Cote was the
Sportsman Sedan winner. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, popular Bernie Miller
took the win over Ray Sitterly, Bugsy Stevens and Dave Lape.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
the Yankee All Star league was at Waterford on Wednesday night. Sixty four
cars were on hand for the 100 lapper that saw Bugsy Stevens, in the Bob
Judkins 2x take the win over Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro and Ed Flemke.
Dynamite Ollie Silva won twin features at Monadnock on Friday night.
Riverhead, on Friday and Islip, on Saturday, each ran 150 lap events. At
Riverhead, Charlie Jarzombek was untouchable as he won, going away, over
Fred Harbach, Jerry Cook and Gary Winters. At Islip, New York City policeman
George Wagner took the top spot over Jerry Cook and Jim Tyler. Steady Eddie
Flemke, who had become a modified legend in his own time, put the Bill
Thornton-Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 in victory lane at Stafford on
Saturday night. Fred DeSarro finished second and was followed by Geoff
Bodine. Other Saturday night action saw George Allum the Modified winner at
Waterford and George Murray in victory lane at Seekonk. Westboro rained out.
Geoff Bodine came back from a disqualification the previous week to record
win N0.6 at Thompson on Sunday night. For the second week in a row, Bodine's
engine was protested by runner-up Fred DeSarro. Bodine countered with a
protest of DeSarro's engine. Both engines were torn down and both were
declared legal by the Thompson tech inspection staff. Leo Cleary finished
Thirty years ago in 1981,
Richie Evans scored his 28th of the season and the 301st of his career at
Stafford on Friday night. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Kenny
Bouchard, third. Marty Radwick won a Race of Champions qualifier at
Monadnock and George Kent beat out Greg Sacks for the win at Spencer. Glynn
Shafer won a ROC qualifier at Waterford on Saturday night over Dale
Holdredge. George Kent made it two for the weekend as he bested Richie Evans
and Greg Sacks at Shangri-La. Marty Radwick copied Kent as he carried his
win over to Riverside on Saturday. In other Saturday night action, Joe
Howard won at Westboro, Don Howe at Islip, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, and Roger
Treichler recorded his seventh of the season at Lancaster. Danbury ran twin
Modified features with Billy Layda and Rit Patchen taking the wins. In Busch
Grandnational action at South Boston, Geoff Bodine slugged it out to win
over Tommy Ellis and Bob Pressley. Once the dust had settled,
Bodine headed north to Oswego where he won a 75 lap modified event
over Richie Evans, George Kent and Jerry Cook .In Winston Cup action, Ronnie
Bouchard in the Jack Beebe Race Hill Farms entry scored an upset victory at
Talladega as he passed Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte in a five car draft
coming off the fourth turn. Bouchard, a rookie, started 10th and won by a
mere two feet in a photo finish. It was one of New England’s brightest
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
Jeff Fuller was the Friday night winner at Stafford. George Brunnhoelzl Jr.
finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik and Jamie Tomaino. Rain
washed out Waterford and Riverside. At Seekonk, Gomer Taylor took the win
over Pete Swartz and Ray Lee. Scott Spaulding was the Charger winner. Jim
Spencer went two for two as he scored at Spencer and at Shangri-La. Sunday
action at Thompson rained out.
Twenty years ago in 1991, the
Modified tour invaded Riverside Park on Wednesday for a 150 lapper. Reggie
Ruggiero in the Ed Cloce No.69 dodged the bullet as he won the caution
filled event. Richie Gallup finished second with Mike Stefanik, third.
Stafford rained out on Friday .The skies cleared on Saturday as Reggie
Ruggiero made it two for the week at Riverside. Mike Gada and Ricky Young
finished one-two at Waterford and John Brouwer Jr won his first ever late
model event, also at Waterford. At Riverhead, Brian miller beat out Fred
Vordermeir for top honors.
Fifteen years ago in 1996,
Waterford ran on Thursday night in front of an almost empty grandstand.
Track management did not get the word out that they were racing and nobody
came. Tucker Reynolds Jr. took the win over Mike Gada and Bob Potter. Ted
Christopher scored his 39th career win at Stafford on Friday night. Steve
Park, Jim Broderick, Bo Gunning and Curt Brainard followed. Andy Santarre
won the Busch North Series event Jim Broderick passed Ted Christopher with
seven to go at Waterford on Saturday. Christopher hung on to finish second
with Mark LaJunesse, following. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at the
Holland, NY. Speedway for a 150 lap event. Jerry Marquis, in the Art Barry
No.21 took the win over Mike Stefanik, Steve Park and Ed Flemke Jr. Marquis,
who took the lead from Flemke, led the final 90 laps. Tom Jensen won at
Riverside and Tom McCann won at Riverhead. Oswego hosted the New York State
Championship series on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took the 100 lap win over Mike
Ewanitsko and George Kent. Jeff Gordon took the win in the rain shortened
Winston Cup Talledega 500.The event, which started 3-1/2 hours late, saw a
horrendous accident as Dale Earnhardt Sr. hit the wall and before landing on
his roof was hit hard by Derike Cope and Robert Pressley. Earnhardt, known
for his toughness, walked to the ambulance under his own power, even after
suffering a broken left collarbone and broken sternum. Greg Sacks was the
winner of the Saturday Busch Grandnational event.
Ten years ago in 1991 Thursday
night racing at Thompson, rained out. Friday night at Stafford belonged to
Eric Berndt as he beat out Ed Spiers for the win. Ted Christopher, looking
to run for the track championship, retired with a burned piston, finished a
distant 28th. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Holland,
N.Y. Eddie Flemke Jr. lost a clutch in warm-ups and missed the drivers
meeting. Flemke did make it out for time trials and even after taking the
pole, had to start in the rear because he missed the meeting. Maybe it was a
blessing in disguise as he was able to avoid wrecks and spins that brought
out eight cautions. Flemke avoided the trouble and took the lead from Ted
Christopher on lap 138 and never looked back. Christopher finished second
and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak, Jerry Marquis and Tony Hirschman. At
Waterford, Dennis Gada made it three in a row and his seventh overall as he
passed Jeff Pearl with two to go. Don
Fowler finished third with Jay Miller and Mark LaJunesse rounding out the
top five. At Riverhead, Chris Young beat out John Fortin and Bill Park.
Reggie Ruggerio turned 50 and at Lebanon Valley, Ken Tremont scored his 95th
win at the New York dirt oval. The win was also the 200th career win
overall. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby Labonte passed Dale
Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps to take the win. Jeff Purvis substituted
for Mike Skinner at Gateway International and ran away with the Busch
Grandnational event held there.
Five years ago in 2006 the week
was a busy one for competitors and fans in the southern New England region.
The weekend started off on Wednesday when the True Value Modified Racing
Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The event, Modified Madness,
carried a purse of $31,000 and was sponsored by Viveiros Insurance.
Forty-two competitors from nine states attempted to qualify for the 26-car
event at the 1/3-mile Bay State oval, which drew the largest crowd of the
season at the track, which has been in continuous operation since 1946.
Defending True Value Modified Racing Series champion Kirk Alexander started
on the pole after winning his qualifying heat and led the first 30 laps
while former NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion Ted Christopher
gradually worked his way to second from his sixth place starting spot.
Christopher pulled alongside Alexander and the pair raced wheel to wheel for
several laps before the second of six cautions waved for a minor incident
involving Jack Bateman on lap 34. Christopher, driving the Joe Brady No.00
took the lead on the restart and proceeded to pace the next 49 circuits with
Alexander never less than a car length away. Andy Seuss passed Louie
Mechalides for third three laps before the halfway mark, with Ed Brunnhoelzl
III in fifth, ahead of Bobby Grigas, Rob Summers, Les Hinckley, and local
favorites Vinnie Annarummo and Dick Houlihan. On lap 51, Hinckley got loose
in turn three, resulting in a multi-car pileup that saw John Blewett III
hitting the outside concrete nose-first. After a Brunnhoelzl spin triggered
a lap 77 restart, Alexander hounded Christopher, looking for a way back
around the leader. As the duo entered turn three on lap 83, Alexander put
the bumper to the leader which resulted in Christopher spinning into the
infield grass to bring out the final caution. The True Value Modified Racing
Series officials chose not to penalize Alexander for the contact. Mechalides
and Seuss ran a spirited battle for second during the final sprint to the
checkers, but no one would catch Alexander, who claimed the $10,000 win. “I
know,” the victor acknowledged, as many of the spectators voiced their
displeasure at the outcome. “We were racing very hard out there. I got into
him. I didn’t mean to, and I backed off and tried to let him save it, but he
went around. I don’t like to win a race that way.” Mechalides earned $3,500
for his stellar runner-up effort while Seuss was equal pleased with his
third place finish, worth $2,500. Chuck Hossfeld came from 26th to finish
fourth, ahead of former Seekonk competitor Bobby Grigas, Cement Palace
regular Vinnie Annarummo, and John McKennedy. Chris Pasteryak, Ryan Preece,
and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top ten.
At the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night, Joe Lemay scored his
career first victory as the Sunoco Modifieds went pole to pole. Lemay ran to
the victory nearly a half straightaway ahead of second place finisher Tom
Cravenho Bert Marvin turned his early season bad luck around as he finished
third. Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Pitkat took
over the point lead with his finish. In the Pro Stocks Jeff Zuidema dodged a
bullet in the Pro Stock main event to take down his third win of the season.
After destroying his car the week before, Zuidema’s crew pulled out a potent
back-up car, enabling Zuidema to score the victory. Rick Gentes made it two
straight in the Late Models. Leo Oliviera of Raynham, MA became the third
different winner in three weeks in the TIS Modified division and Shelly
Perry scored her third Mini Stock victory of the season.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Holland Int. Speedway on
Saturday night. There were 30 cars on hand which wasn’t bad considering the
distance competitors had to travel. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Champion Tony Hirschman ended a long dry spell as he scored his first
victory of the season in the Paul Graff Trucking 100. Hirschman, driving the
Kamco Supply Chevrolet, passed Todd Szegedy on lap 34 and led the rest of
the race holding off challenges from Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik
Hirschman started the race in the sixth position. He was in the Top-3 by lap
15, and was second by lap 24. He raced wheel to wheel with Szegedy for a
couple laps before pulling ahead for good. It was the 35th career win for
Hirschman and his second at Holland. He now trails Stefanik by 21 points in
the race fore the series championship. Christopher held off a late race
challenge by Mike Stefanik and finished second. Stefanik, who led the first
10 laps before giving way to Szegedy, was third in the Diversified Metals
Chevrolet. Eddie Flemke, winner of the series last race at Holland, finished
fourth in the Red Line Oil/Ron Bouchard Chevrolet. Jerry Marquis rounded out
the Top-5 in the Reynolds Auto Wrecking Dodge. The race distance was
increased to 117 laps as 27 laps of caution were run but only 10 counted
toward the scheduled race distance of 100 laps.
Second generation driver Matt Hirschman set fast time in qualifying
to record his first Bud Pole Award. Jimmy Blewett was the Featherlite Most
Improved Driver. Marquis collected the Powerade Power Move of the Race
Award. Danny Sammons was the Rookie of the Race.
There were four cautions for 27 laps. Sixth through tenth were Szegedy,
Sammons, Dick Houlihan, Jimmy Blewett and James Civali. The next race for
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Riverhead, N.Y.this coming Saturday on
The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the weather as violent
thunderstorms hammered most of Connecticut on Friday night.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl led from start to finish and survived
a number of restarts as he romped to victory in the 35-lap SK-Modified
feature Saturday. It was his second victory of the season and the 21st
career win for Pearl. Chris Pasteryak finished second with point leader
Dennis Gada edging Rob Janovic for fourth. Point leader Tim Jordan won his
fourth Late Model feature of the season. Other winners included Ronnie
Oldham Jr. in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Ken Cassidy in the 20-lap Mini
Stock event. Mark Bakaj won the INEX 50-lap Legends National Qualifier.
The Nextel Cup stars were off. In Busch Series racing, Carl Edwards
overtook Denny Hamlin with nine laps left Saturday and held on to win the
Busch Silver Celebration 250 at Gateway International Speedway in Madison,
Ill. In other action Howie Brode won the Tom Baldwin 77 at the Riverhead
Raceway on Long Island.
Last year, 2010, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour competitors were back in action after a week off as
they traveled to the high banked, quarter mile, Monadnock Speedway in
Winchester, NH on Saturday, July 17. A somewhat light race purse of $53,631
was up for grabs.
Ted Christopher celebrated the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's return to the
high banks with his 36th career victory. The win moved Christopher, the 2008
Tour champion, into sole possession of third place on the career win list.
It's Christopher's second win of the season, allowing him to move past Tony
Hirschman. The Plainville, Conn., driver now trails only Mike Stefanik (70
wins) and Reggie Ruggiero (44).
Erick Rudolph, who won his first career 21 Means 21 pole award presented by
Coors Light earlier in the day, led the first 95 laps before Christopher
moved to the front. The two battled each other for the lead until
Christopher moved out front for the final time on Lap 152. He held off
Rudolph on a green-white-checkered finish. The scheduled 175-lap race was
extended to 179 laps by a late caution. Christopher led twice for 41 laps,
while Rudolph led twice for 138 laps.
Ron Silk followed Rudolph in third, with Eric Berndt fourth and
points leader Bobby Santos fifth. George Brunnhoelzl III, James Civali, Glen
Reen, Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers completed the top 10.
Christopher started fourth and despite a torrid pace at times
averaged only 42.937mph due to the eight cautions that slowed the pace for
65 laps. Seventeen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap.
Jim Schaeffer, a Riverhead, Long Island elementary school teacher,
did it again as he and a collective group of fellow race fans and sponsors
added an additional $10,500 in prize money to the July 31st Riverhead 200, a
Flash Tour race at Barbara & Jim Cromarty's Riverhead Raceway. The winner of
the 175-lap feature event of the program would now pocket a total of $5,000.
Schaffer indicated that all 28 drivers and owners that qualify for the
Riverhead 200 would earn $300 that he and his fellow sponsors would present
in the pit area prior to the race. Additionally the winner of the race would
earn an extra $2,100 from Schaeffer and his sponsors after already receiving
the $300 to qualify. osted awards for the race for the winner was at $2,600
and with the $2,400 in bonus money the winning team arrives at a $5,000
The Thompson International Speedway presented a 50 lap special for the
Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds as part of their Thursday night Thunder program.
Ted Christopher was up for the task as he beat out Woody Pitkat to record
his sixth win of the season at the northeastern Connecticut oval. A good
field of 20 cars were on hand for the event. The drama of the night started
before the green flag was displayed as NASCAR National point title contender
Keith Rocco called it a night after developing transmission problems.
Pitkat settled for second. Ryan Preece, Tim Sullivan, and Ron Silk completed
the top five. Among the casualties were Rowan Pennink who finished 15th and
Danny Cates who finished 16th.
Larry Gelinas made it two in a row in Super Late Model action while
John Materas recorded his first of the season in Late Model action. Other
winners were Chris “Moose” Douton in the Limited Sportsman, Shane Michalski
in the TIS Modifieds and Scott Jussaume in the Mini Stocks.
Rain was a deciding factor at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night.
Ryan Posocco scored his third victory of the 2010 season in the 30-lap Late
Model feature and Tommy Barrett, Jr. won his second consecutive and fourth
overall race of the 2010 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature.
Rain halted the remainder of the program and as more than half of the event
was completed, there will be no rain checks.
The Modified Racing Series went up country to the state of Maine as
they visited the Oxford Plains Speedway for the Maine-Ly Action Sports 100
on Saturday. With temperatures in the 90's drivers sliced and diced and
changed the lead several times during the event. Andy Seuss was able to use
a lap 85 restart to his advantage as he took the lead that led to the
eventual win over Louie Mechalides. There were 73 green laps of racing
before the first caution flag flew. Joe Doucette had ignition problems that
stopped his car on the backstretch bringing to an end his night of racing.
The Waterford Speedbowl was also the scene of some hot action as
Tyler Chadwick checkered his first SK Modified ® feature of the year,
scoring a popular win in the 35-lap main event. Ed Puleo was back in Victory
Lane for the Street Stocks, his fourth win of the season and second
straight. Ken Cassidy Jr. returned to the winner’s circle in the Norwich
Bulletin Mini Stocks, and Keith Rocco scored his first ever A.B. CDL Driver
Training Center Truck division win in impressive fashion. Glen Thomas Jr.
dominated the X-Car ‘Dash for Cash’ race.
Todd Ceravolo wound up second, however his season of misfortune
continued when, after taking the checkered flag, sparks flew with a lapped
car literally going up and over Ceravolo’s runner-up finishing machine off
turn two on the cool down lap. Jeff Paul finished third to extend his
consistent season. Rob Janovic Jr. and defending champion Ron Yuhas Jr.
rounded out the top five.
The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina fell victim
Ted Christopher was expected to return to Bowman Gray on August 7
for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour makes a stop at the historic
quarter mile. Many southern fans refer to Christopher as the "Medicine Man"
after he retaliated against Junior Miller who had instigated a recent
confrontation. Miller takes pride in wrecking anyone in his way. TC gave him
a lesson and some of his own medicine back after he attempted to take the
northern invader out.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island rain washed out the 77 Lap
Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek Memorial NASCAR Modified event
a week ago. For some reason the rescheduled event was in direct conflict
with the Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was held the same evening at
the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire. In the Baldwin, Evans, Jarzombek
Memorial 77, the No. 7NY visited Riverhead Raceway victory lane once again,
courtesy of Howie Brode, who renumbered his car in honor of Baldwin.
Carl Edwards prevailed in a wild final lap at the Gateway Int.
Speedway, nudging Brad Keselowski out of control on the final straightaway
to take the Nationwide Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday night. Ten cars were
collected in the wreck. Keselowski was on the inside and had appeared to
take the lead before Edwards' car drifted into him. Keselowski spun into the
wall and was struck head-on by Shelby Howard as he slid back to toward the
infield. Edwards said Keselowski wouldn't have been in position to win if he
hadn't bumped Edwards earlier on the final lap. Keselowski finally rolled
across the line in 14th.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series enjoyed a weekend off.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Smith / Looking Back A Bit