August 19, 2011
years ago in 1951 Steady Eddie Flemke Sr, who would become a
Modified Legend in his own time, was the Wednesday night winner at what was
then called the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Moneybags Moe Gherzi, who
drove the Garutti Brothers No. 14 was the Saturday night winner at the
Fifty five years ago in 1956
Don Collins was a double winner as he annexed victories at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and on Saturday. Non-Ford winners at
the bowl were Arnie Harris and Charlie Webster.
Fifty years ago in 1961, Ernie
Gahan was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. He backed it up
with by winning the mid-season championship at Norwood on Saturday night
over Red Foote, Bill Slater, Leo Cleary and Joe McNulty. It was also in this
night that young Dick Berggren won the Novice division consolation. Joe
McNulty of Gales Ferry, CT became the fourth different driver from New
England to win a feature at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey. McNulty,
who just beat out Bill Slater, Red Foote, Ernie Gahan and Dennis Zimmerman,
took the lead in the 25 lap event on lap one from Ron Narducci. At the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl Newt Palm was the Wednesday night winner and Dick
Beuregard took top honors on Saturday night.
Forty five years ago in 1966,
Bill Wimble went two for two as he won the Friday night 30 lapper at the
Albany- Saratoga Speedway and followed it up with a 111 lap win at Fonda on
Saturday night. Don MacTavish finished second on Friday night and was
followed by Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton and Elton Hill. Pete Corey made it
three in a row on the dirt at Stafford. Lee Millington finished second at
Fonda with Charland, third. Don Collins was still at the top of his game as
he won the 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude
was the Bomber winner and Howard "Jiggs" Beetham, who in later years would
team up as a car owner with Bob Potter, was the Daredevil winner. The annual
North-South battle at what was then a one mile speedway in Trenton, NJ was
on tap for Sunday. The event started 60 cars and was won by Ray Hendrick
driving the Tant/Mitchell No.11. Fellow Virginian Bill Dennis finished
second with Runt Harris, third. Jerry Dostie and Mario “Fats” Caruso rounded
out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Al Tasnady, Jim Hays, Pete
Hamilton, Tiny Lund and Bugsy Stevens. Sunday night racing at the Utica-Rome
Speedway rained out.
Forty years ago in 1971,
Fred DeSarro and the Ole Blu of Len Boehler were on a tear as they did some
serious traveling and some serious winning. The All Star League ran a 100
lapper at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt. DeSarro took the win over Lou
Lazzaro, Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Andy Romano. All Star League regular,
Ron Narducci took a wild end over end off turn three. Narducci sustained
back injuries and his car was demolished. The All Star League moved to
Stafford on Thursday where it was DeSarro again. Gene Bergin finished second
and was followed by Hop Harrington and Leo Cleary. DeSarro continued his
streak at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway where he took on the best of New York
and New England. Running on a rail, DeSarro made it three for three. Bugsy
Stevens finished second and was followed by Dick Clark and Guy Chartrand.
Don MacClaren made it five in a row in NESMRA competition at Thompson on
Friday night. Gene Bergin, in the all-new Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied No. 2x
that had just been declared legal by NASCAR, was the spoiler as he had the
car to beat at Stafford on Saturday night. DeSarro had to settle for second
with Hop Harrington, Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Santos rounding out the top
five. Don Steiner won at Waterford over Jerry Glaude and Terry Peabody. In
other Saturday night action, Lou Lazzaro took the double point win at Fonda
over Maynard Forette and Jerry Cook. DeSarro made it four out of five as he
won the Utica-Rome 100 on Sunday night. The Bugman finished second and was
followed by Lazzaro and Cook. Richie Evans was the Modified winner at the
Fulton Raceway. Merv Treichler finished second. Ken Andrews made it two in a
row in Supermodified action at Fulton. Nolan Swift finished second. Also on
Sunday, Gene Bergin, in the Judkins Pinto, won a 100 lap open at Oxford
Plains. Rene Charland finished second with Bobby Turner, third.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
the Yankee All Star League was at Waterford where Fred DeSarro took the win.
Richie Evans won a 100-lap Trenton qualifier at New Egypt. Wayne Anderson
finished second. Friday night at Riverhead saw Charlie Jarzombek make it
three in a row at the Long Island east end speedway. Wayne Anderson finished
second with Fred Harbach, third. At Monadnock, Punky Caron was again, the
top dog. On Saturday night at Stafford, Geoff Bodine made it two in a row.
DeSarro finished second and was followed by Flemke and Brian Ross. Other
Saturday winners were Tom McCann at Islip, Mike Beebe at Waterford, Roland
LaPierre at Westboro and Ed Hoyle at Seekonk. Ronnie Bouchard streaked home
the winner at Thompson on Sunday as Geoff Bodine got a little on-track
education from Ed Flemke. With both cars out because of a wreck and DeSarro
in the pits with a blown engine. Bob Santos ended up second and was followed
by Gene Bergin, Moose Hewitt and Keith Williams.
Thirty years ago in 1981,
Modified Madness, an open competition event, was run at Stafford on Tuesday
night. Fifty-seven Modifieds and almost 7000 spectators were on hand to
watch as Ronnie Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 beat the best in the
business in this 50 lap contest. Richie Evans finished second and was
followed by Corky Cookman and Jerry Cook. Back at Stafford on Friday, Brian
Ross put the Mystic Missile in the top spot. Evans followed along with
Reggie Ruggiero and Corky Cookman. Other Friday night winners were Doug
Hewitt at Spencer, John Blewett Jr. and Punky Caron won his 46th at
Monadnock. Joe Howard won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Westboro and it was
Eddie StAngelo taking the top spot at Seekonk. Joe Tiezzi beat out Moose
Hewitt at Waterford and at Riverside, Stan Gregger and Ray Miller each
scored wins. Double features were also on tap at Islip where Charlie
Jarzombek and Wayne Anderson each scored wins. Fred Drumm took the Sportsman
main at Danbury while Rit Patchen was the Modified winner.
Twenty-five years ago in 1986,
Reggie Ruggiero, driving for Mike Greci, won the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at
Stafford on Friday night. Jamie Tomaino finished second with Mike Stefanik,
third. Waterford ran twin features with Bob Potter and Bob Gada jr taking
the checkers. Kenny Bouchard beat out Stan Gregger at Riverside and at
Riverhead; John Blewett jr took a 200 lap win over Mike Ewanitsko. Sunday
racing at Thompson rained out.
Twenty years ago in 1991,
Waterford ran a Wednesday night program with Ted Christopher in the North
End Auto Parts No.54 taking the win. At Stafford on Friday night, Mike
Christopher got a well-deserved win over Tom Tagg and Bob Potter. Seasoned
veteran Moose Hewitt took the regular Saturday night win at Waterford and at
Riverside Park; Reggie Ruggiero scored his seventh of the year over Rick
Fuller. On the Island at Riverhead, Ed Brunnhoelzl won out over Tom Baldwin
and Wayne Anderson. Thompson ran twin features on Sunday night which saw
Richie Gallup and Mike Christopher. It was also on this weekend that Race of
Champions promoter Joe Gerber announced that the ROC would be moving from
Pocono Raceway to the Flemington Speedway after that year’s event. Little
did many know that it was the beginning of the end of the historic event,
the way it was! In Winston Cup action, Dale Jarrett, driving for the Wood
Brothers scored his first Winston Cup win in a photo finish over Davey
Allison at Michigan. On Monday, August 19, Hurricane Bob moved thru New
England and did considerable damage to the main grandstand at the Thompson
Fifteen years ago in 1996, Todd
Ceravolo took a Thursday night win at Waterford when Don Fowler spun with
two laps to go. Jim Broderick finished second with Tucker Reynolds Jr,
third. Bo Gunning beat out Ted Christopher at Stafford on Friday night but
the big news was that the Arute Family announced that the season ending Fall
Final would be telecast by ESPN-2. Dennis Gada went pole to pole at
Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Scott Spaulding, Don Fowler and
Jeff Pearl. Fowler was later disqualified. Tom McCann won at Riverhead and
Reggie Ruggiero got his sixth win at Riverside. At Fonda, Jack Johnson took
the win over Dave Lape and wrapped up his eleventh track championship. The
Featherlite Modifieds shared the billing with the IRL at Loudon and had
their event cut from 75 laps to 61 laps because of a scheduled TV start time
for the IRL event. Tony Hirschman took the lead from Jan Leaty and scored a
big win for car owner Len Boehler. Leaty finished second and was followed by
Rick Fuller, Steve Park and Jerry Marquis. The Loudon event drew 24,000,
many of those being Modified fans. The speedway management knew this and
announced that the IRL would not be back. In Winston Cup action at Michigan,
Dale Jarrett passed Mark Martin with two to go to take the win. Jeff Purvis
was the Busch Grandnational winner. In Busch North Series action at the Star
Speedway, Jerry Marquis took the win.
Ten years ago in 2001 the
Thompson Speedway ran their annual Thursday night NASCAR Featherlite
Modified Tour Series event. With over $65,000 on the line, a full pit of 40
Modifieds and over 8,000 spectators was on hand. John Blewett III seemed to
have things under control as he took the lead on lap 101 and was headed for
victory when Tom Cravenho went in too hard and got Blewett wiggly enough to
allow Tony Hirschman to duck under and go on for the win. Blewett recovered
to finish second. Ricky Miller, Rick Fuller and Chris Kopec rounded out the
top five. Cravenho ended up 13th. In SK-Modified action at Thompson, Ted
Christopher continued his domination of the division as he recorded his
ninth win. Bert Marvin finished second with Kerry Malone, third. Christopher
carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he won a 40
lapper over Frank Wainwrite and Lloyd Agor. Ronnie Silk scored an upset at
Waterford as he beat out Dennis Gada for a 100-lap win and at Riverhead,
Eddie Brunnhoelzl JR picked up his 21st career win at the Long Island oval.
In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Sterling Marlin got the win in a Chrysler
product. It was the first win for the auto giant since 1979. The long
awaited NASCAR report on the death of Dale Earnhardt finally went public.
NASCAR’s determination was that the broken seat belt was a factor as well as
the angle of the collision and the force of impact with the turn four wall
at the Daytona Speedway. Bill Simpson of Simpson Safety Products stated that
the reason the belt broke was due to the fact that they were not properly
Five years ago in 2006, the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson International Speedway on
Thursday night for the New England Dodge Dealers/Budweiser 150. Ted
Christopher, who started 20th ended up an unpopular winner as he was given
the Bronx Cheer in victory lane. Christopher, who along with John Blewett
III staged a torrid side by side duel for the lead from lap 131 to lap 140.
Christopher had just exited turn two when he made contact with Blewett,
sending him into the wall. Christopher said he didn’t mean for it to happen,
Blewett and the almost capacity crowd felt different as they voiced their
disapproval. NASCAR Tour director Ed Cox felt it was a racing accident and
took no action. Blewett actually chased Christopher on foot to no avail. Had
he caught him would have made for a different scenario. A few years back at
Stafford, Blewett went after Carl Pasteryak and actually jumped aboard his
car and began ripping at wires until the car shut off. Once the wrecked car
of Blewett was removed Christopher ran the final three laps uncontested.
Tony Hirschman, who was the Busch Pole sitter, ended up second with Zach
Sylvester, third. Tom Bolles and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five.
Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ed Flemke, Ron Yuhas, Don Lia and
There were 38 cars on hand. Among those who didn’t make the 33 car
starting field was Reggie Ruggiero who was the victim of motor trouble as
his crankshaft broke during practice. Alex Hoag also had motor trouble while
Kevin Goodale hit the wall. Eric Berndt and Jake Marosz failed to make it on
time. Pole sitter Hirschman led the opening laps which turned into a high
speed freight train. Hirschman led for 45 laps before giving way to Mike
Stefanik. A caution period on lap 30 saw John Blewett III pitting for a
tire. Stefanik led until lap 82 when he pitted during a caution that came
out when James Civali rode over Eric Beers’ wheel. Beers expressed his
displeasure of Civali’s driving while Blewett pitted again for two more
tires. A quick stop enabled Blewett to get a good spot for the restart as he
was able to tale the lead from Steve Whitt on lap 98. From then until the
Blewett wreck the racing was at a fever pitch.
In regular weekly racing action Glen Boss took the win in the TIS
Modifieds, Shelly Perry won her fifth Mini Stock feature, Jeff Zuidema took
the Late Model main and Mike O’Sullivan won a squeaker in the Pro Stock
feature. Larry Barnet was the Limited Sportsman winner and Jimmy Blewett
gave a pay back body slam to Keith Rocco as he took the Sunoco Modified
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway started their week on Tuesday
night. Billed as CARQUEST Presents the Big One, drivers had a chance to make
history with the largest Northeastern payout ever offered with the Valvoline
$50,000 challenge. If a driver could win both the 30-lap Midget race and
then start last and win the 100 lap PRA Big Car Series race, then that
driver would leave Stafford Speedway with a $50,000 bonus provided by
Valvoline, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and Stafford Motor Speedway. Bobby Santos,
III first won the 30-lap midget feature event, and then went out and won the
100-lap PRA Big Car Series race after starting shotgun on the field to leave
Stafford $50,000 richer. Santos, a third generation racer is home grown from
Stafford Speedway returned to action on Friday night with five
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature divisions all in action. In the 40-lap SK
Modified feature, Woody Pitkat collected his second SK Modified feature win
of the 2006 season by holding off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco.
Lloyd Agor led the first lap with Kurt Lenahan taking the lead on lap-2.
Lenahan held the lead until lap-5 when Pitkat moved out front. Ruocco took
second from Lenahan on lap-7, and he spent the next 33 laps glued to Pitkat'
s bumper, looking for a weak point to use to his advantage and overtake
Pitkat for the race lead. But that weak point was never exhibited to Ruocco
as Pitkat was able to fend him off for the victory. Chris Jones finished
third, with Jeff Malave, and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. Jim
Peterson continued his winning ways with his second consecutive Late Model
feature win, Glen Reen was a first time winner in the SK Light Modified
feature while Mike Sweeney was also a first time winner in the Limited Late
Model feature, and Jeff Hubbell was the DARE Stock feature winner, his first
feature win of the 2006 season.
The NASCAR Busch East, formerly Busch North Series, was at the
Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Matt Kobyluck treated the home folks
with a victory after a paint swapping deal that saw Sean Caisse brush the
wall. Bryan Chew ended up in second spot in a race that finished up in the
rain. Earlier in the evening Jeff Pearl beat Chris Pasteryak on a
green-white-checkered restart and held on to capture his third Waterford
Speedbowl 35-lap SK-Modified feature of the season. Pasteryak, who stated he
missed a shift fell to third as Shawn Monahan slipped into the second spot.
Tommy Fox and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Jeff Miller won the
20-lap Mini Stock race. Rain ended the Late Model feature after nine laps.
At the Michigan Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to push
his way past Carl Edwards on a restart with two laps to go en route to
winning Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series CARFAX 250. The incident created a
firestorm of controversy that included Edwards pulling in front of
Earnhardt's pit area for a heated verbal exchange with Earnhardt's crew.
Edwards then pulled back onto the track to ram into the side of Earnhardt's
Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the cool-down lap. In Nextel Cup action, Matt
Kenseth easily kept four-time NASCAR champion Gordon at bay in the final
laps of the GFS Marketplace 400 by conscientiously taking care of his tires
after his final pit stop.
Last year, 2010 the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night
for the running of the Budweiser 150. Ted Christopher literally cleaned
house as he totally dominated the 150 after winning the track's regular
Modified feature. The big story of the night should have been Christopher's
outstanding drive but that was overshadowed by the story in the Hartford
Current that stated that speedway owner Don Hoenig would have to move his
August Thursday night date to another week because the Whelen Modified Tour
Series was going to be included in the 2011 schedule at the New Hampshire
Speedway in Loudon. The IZOD IndyCar Series would return to Loudon after a
13-year absence on August 14 of 2011. It didn't sound like a big deal but it
really was because of the fact that the Thompson Speedway had supported the
NASCAR Modified Tour series since its inception in 1985. NASCAR, who's only
loyalty is to the dollar, could care less about Hoenig's loyalty. Those who
are employed by "The Company", as NASCAR is called by its employees, will
tell you off the record that the organization is run like a mafia. Its there
way or else! It would be interesting to see what would NASCAR's reaction be
if Hoenig dropped the entire tour from his schedule in 2011.
A somewhat slim field of 29 Modifieds were on hand for the event
that carried a purse of $83,764. Christopher was the Busch Pole sitter as he
toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.624seconds. Second fastest was Rowan Pennink.
The redraw saw Justin Bonsignore on the pole for the start with Christopher,
outside. At the drop of the green, in a hail of fireworks, Christopher had
the lead by the time the field exited turn two. Setting a blistering pace,
Christopher led the field from the start and only relinquished the lead
twice during the Budweiser King of Beers 150 as he went on to record his
37th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. Bobby Santos took the lead
after Christopher pitted for three tires under caution on Lap 95, however,
it only took Christopher 10 laps to get back in front after the restart on
Lap 101. Santos finished the race in third place.
Christopher was clearly the class of the field building leads by as
much as four seconds before losing his advantage after the fourth and final
caution flag of the race flew on Lap 149 after Erick Rudolph’s problems set
up the final sprint to the finish. Ronnie Silk, who moved into the second
spot in the closing moments, ended up in second spot with Santos, third.
Following Santos across the line was Rowan Pennink and Mike Stefanik who
rounded out the top five. Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, Eric
Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.
It was Christopher’s 10th Whelen Modified Tour win at Thompson, and
his fourth in the Tour’s last six races at the .625-mile oval. The
Plainville, Conn., driver led 141 of the 156 laps. With the win, Christopher
took the championship points lead from Santos, who had led through the first
nine races. Christopher’s three wins and six top-fives have forged a
14-point lead over Santos with Mike Stefanik in third, 85 points back.
The Thompson International Speedway also ran its regular six
divisions. In addition to his Whelen Modified Tour Series victory
Christopher scored a thrilling victory in the Sunoco Modified feature.
Fellow Whelen Modified Tour double-duty driver Mike Stefanik turned in a
dominating performance to earn the Super Late Model victory. In other NASCAR
Whelen All-America Series action, Mark Oliveira was victorious in an
eventful Late Model feature. Scott Sundeen took down his first Limited
Sportsman win of the 2010 season. R.J. Marcotte continued to roll in the TIS
Modifieds. Dwayne Dorr posted his second Mini Stock win.
Christopher and Woody Pitkat slugged it out until the final lap
when Christopher was able to forge ahead for the lead and ultimate victory,
his 77th at the Northeastern Connecticut oval.
Double SK Modified features at the Stafford Motor Speedway helped
Keith Rocco get a little closer to his dream of becoming the NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series National Champion. The championship is based on a
driver's best 18 finishes. Rocco's win was the 17th that counted toward the
title. Frank Ruocco and Keith Rocco were the winners of the twin 40-lap SK
Modified® feature events, Corey Hutchings won the 30-lap Late Model feature,
Matt Galko won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault won the
20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes was the winner of the
15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Ruocco led the field around to the white flag and he held off both
Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece to take the victory, his fourth win of the 2010
season. Rocco finished 7th in the first race. In the second 40 lapper, Rocco
rode behind Ted Christopher until the final lap of the race when he made a
move to the inside of Christopher in turn 1. The two cars ran wheel to wheel
down the backstretch and when they hit turn 3, Rocco surged ahead of
Christopher and came off turn 4 with the race lead and his 8th victory of
the 2010 season. Christopher finished second, with Preece, Todd Owen, and
Zach Sylvester rounding out the top-5.
In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl
Keith Rocco lived out his dream as he became the NASCAR Whelen All-American
Series National Champion as a result of his convincing win. Rocco started
from the No. 12 position and had moved into the fourth position by lap 11.
He took over the second spot by lap 26, then tracked down race leader Tom
Abele, where he finally passed him down low on the backstretch of lap 29 to
take the lead.
The second generation racer survived one final restart to win the
race as Kyle James snuck past Abele to finish second. Abele wound up third,
Rob Janovic fourth and Tyler Chadwick fifth.
In other Speedbowl action, Chris Deritis of Philadelphia, PA won
the 25-lap NEMA Midget race and Rowley, MA native Chris Perley took the
checkered flag in a 50-lap race for the visiting IMSA Supermodifieds. In the
100-lap Modified Racing Series event, Stephen Masse of Bellingham, MA
dominated to take his third career win and first in the Series at Waterford.
Ted Christopher finished second and was followed by Doug Coby,. Rowan
Pennink and Jon McKennedy, Christopher told the Hartford Currant on Sunday
that he had been disqualified.
The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina ran twin
25's for their Modifieds. Recording wins were Tim Brown and Brad Robbins.
Burt Myers recorded a 7th and a 6th.
John Beatty Jr recorded his first ever Modified win at the
Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Carfax 400 at Michigan
International Speedway. Brad Keselowski managed to make it through pit stops
despite mechanical problems, then grabbed the lead on a restart with eight
laps to go and pulled away to win the NASCAR Nationwide race. .
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.
This week are several vintage racing photos
SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's
Click on Photo for Full Sized
Moe Gherzi, Richie & Ray Garuti
Eddie Flemke Sr.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit