The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 29, 2011

   Sixty 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 third.

   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 racing moments!

   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 August 5.

   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 payday.

  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 to rain.

   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.


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: July 29, 2011

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