The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 26, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 Wednesday night racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl rained out. On Saturday night at the shoreline oval Moe Gherzi made it two in a row in Modified competition. Dick Dombrowski was the claiming car winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1956 Charlie Webster was the Wednesday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the Saturday night winner. The non-Ford division was on strike.

   Fifty years ago in 1961 twin 25 lap features were run on the dirt at Stafford Springs. Recording victories were Ted Stack and Ernie Gahan. Bill Slater was declared the winner at Norwood after Rene Charland was penalized for rough riding and placed last after a last lap incident. Charland with Slater on the outside, came off the fourth turn, side by side on the final lap. Charland attempted to move Slater up but the Connecticut driver held fast as the two made contact, sliding under the checkered flag. Gene Bergin ended up second with Leo Cleary, third. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Dick Beuragard went two for two as he won on both Wednesday and Saturday. Ed Moody went two for two as he won on both nights in the Bombers.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, Kenny Shoemaker took the Friday night win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Hamilton, third. Frank Mahalia and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. The Fonda Speedway was closed for the town’s annual fair. Fred "Fuzzy" Baer scored the biggest win of his career as he won a 75 lap Championship Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. In other action at the shoreline oval, Glynn Shafer was winner in the Bopmbers and Lou Caso in the Daredevils. Bill Wimble was the Sunday night winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Charland was second with Flemke, third. Bernie Miller and Lou Lazzaro rounded out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1971, Bugsy Stevens made a rare appearance at the Waterford Speedbowl ansd walked off with the top money as he won a 75 lap open competition event. Stevens in the Sonny Koszela Woodchopper started off the weekend with a win on Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. Dave Lape finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Denis Giroux and Bernie Miller. Howie Brown was the NESMRA Supermodified winner at Thompson. Islip ran a 200 lap Championship event on Saturday night. Thirty cars started the 200 lap grind on the 1/5 mile oval and when the checker fell it was invader Fred DeSarro taking the win over Islip kingpin Jim Hendrickson. Charlie Jarzombek finished third with Bugsy Stevens and Al DeAngelo rounding out the top five. Moose Hewitt, driving the Freddy’s TV No.23 took the win at Stafford on Saturday night over Hop Harrington, Bobby Santos and Winston Barrows. Jiggs Beetham held off Bob Potter to take the win at Waterford. Angie Cerese finished third. Dave Lape, at that time in the top five in national points, took the win at Fonda on Saturday night. Jack Johnson finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Trenton ran a big modified event on Sunday. Geoff Bodine with his outlaw Plymouth Valiant bodied modified took the win. Ronnie Bouchard, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 got to show his stuff as he finished a strong second. Richie Evans finished third and was followed by Mike Loescher, Jerry Cook, Jim Shampine, Chuck Boos, Cliff Tyler and Ray Miller. It rained at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night but not at Fulton where Bob Hudson took the win over Ronnie Wallace.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star league finished up their season at Thompson on Wednesday night. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Fred DeSarro and Kenny Bouchard. John Blewett JR took the top spot at New Egypt on Thursday night. Fred Harbach finished second with Tom McCann, third. Fred DeSarro wrapped up the track championship at Stafford in convincing style as he took the Saturday night win over Ray Miller and Geoff Bodine. Reggie Ruggiero won at Riverside Park .Bob Polverari finished second and wrapped up the track championship. At Westboro, Joe Howard took the win and Bob Santos wrapped up the track championship. Joe Tiezzi won a 50 lapper at Waterford.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, Westboro ran an 81 lapper on Wednesday night with the Bouchard brothers, Ronnie and Kenny, finishing one-two. Friday night at Stafford saw the Modifieds go non-stop with Greg Sacks taking the win over Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Richie Evans. Ronnie Bouchard went "up country" to Monadnock on Friday where he out dueled Punky Caron for the win. Moose Hewitt was the big winner at Waterford on Saturday night as in addition to the feature win, wrapped up the track championship. At Seekonk, Leo Cleary took the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Mike Murphy. It was not a good night for George Summers who left the track in a lot of pain after hitting the wall during the main event. Islip ran a 200 lapper with Richie Evans taking the win over John Blewett Jr and Bill Park. Bill Griffin won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Shangri-La over Jerry Cook and George Kent and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero beat out Stan Gregger and Ray Miller. Ruggiero finished out the weekend in fine style as he took the Sunday night win at Thompson over Joe Howard and Mike Stefanik. At Danbury, Fred Drumm made it two in a row in the Sportsman division while Denis Pierce annexed the Modified win. Geoff Bodine had himself a good weekend in the southland as he won extra distance Busch Grandnational events at South Boston and Langley Field.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, Friday night at Stafford saw Mike McLaughlin take the top spot over Bugsy Stevens and Mike Stefanik. At Spencer, it was Jan Leaty taking the top spot. Bob Potter got a little closer to a championship for the Ceravolo family at Waterford as he took the top spot at Waterford on Saturday night. Rick Donnelly finished second with Bob Gada Jr, third. John Rosati was the winner of the Riverside 200 with Mike Stefanik and Bob Polverari in tow. Leo Cleary closed in on the track championship at Seekonk as he recorded his seventh win of the season at the cement palace. At Wall it was Tony Siscone over Jim Hendrickson. Thompson ran a 100 lapper on Sunday. Jim Spencer passed pole sitter Mike McLaughlin on the last lap to take the win. McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. In Winston Cup action at Bristol on Saturday night, Geoff Bodine was the Busch Pole sitter and Darrell Waltrip took the win.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, Thompson announced on Friday that weekend events were cancelled because of wind damage from Hurricane Bob. Stafford escaped damage and ran on Friday night with Bo Gunning taking the win over Bob Potter and Steve Chowanski. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau in the Rich Sylvestri No.8 took the Modified win over Chris Jones and Bert Marvin. CJ Freye was the late model winner. Jerry Marquis in the Bobby Judkins 2x wrapped up his sixth track championship at Riverside Park with a win over Reggie Ruggiero and Dan Avery. Chris Young was the winner at Riverhead. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Loudon. Doug Hevron, driving Ole Blu for Len Boehler, took the lead from Jeff Fuller on the last lap and went on to take the win. Fuller finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Tom Baldwin, Reggie Ruggiero and Tim Connolly. One of the top finishers had to get out on bail after taking a poke at a State Cop the night before!

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Steve Park had one of the most important days of his racing life as he won pole positions at Watkins Glen for both the Featherlite Modified Tour and the Craftsman Truck Series. It was a few days later that Park got the infamous call from the man, himself; Dale Earnhardt Sr. Eric Berndt was the Waterford winner on Saturday night as he beat out Jeff Pearl, David Gada and Jerry Pearl. The Busch North Series visited Riverside Park. Bob Dragon took the win over Dave Dion and Mike Stefanik. Dave Berube was the Modified winner. Riverhead ran a 90 lap memorial event in honor of past champion Fred Harbach. Tim Contarino took the win over Chuck Steuer. Butch Miceka, a long time supporter of Modified racing on Long Island and Contarino's uncle, passed away at the track after suffering a heart attack. In Featherlite Modified Tour action at Watkins Glen, Ted Christopher was well on his way to a win when a wheel broke causing him to spin and crash. The event was telecast live and fans got to see Christopher take a tumble off the fence after he had lost his balance. Mike Stefanik took the lead when Christopher dropped out on lap 35 of the 42 lap event. Jerry Marquis finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Reggie Ruggerio. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the win. Jeff Fuller won his first Busch Grandnational event, beating out Glenn Jarrett.

   Ten years ago in 2001, Ted Christopher just beat the rain as he won his 10th feature of the year at Thompson on Thursday night. Kerry Malone finished second with Bert Marvin, Josh Steeves and Bill Anderson rounding out the top five. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik drew the pole and led the first 65 laps before pitting. Stefanik was hooked up and sliced his way to the front to re-take the lead from Tom Baldwin on lap 96. From there on, he never looked back as he clicked off the laps to take the win over Mike Ewanitsko, Jerry Marquis, Charlie Pasteryak, David Berghman and Baldwin. Jeff Malave was the SK-Modified winner. At Waterford, Eric Berndt recorded his fifth win at the shoreline oval. Jay Miller finished second with Ed Dachenhausen, John Brouwer and Harry Rheaume rounding out the top five. Riverhead Raceway, on Long Island, celebrated its 50th anniversary and 25th year under the Cromarty Family. Bill France and Jerry Cook represented NASCAR. John Fortin started 17th and fought his way to the front to take the win. J.R.Bertuccio finished second with Lenny Fischer, third. Matt Kobyluck qualified fourth in a Busch North Series event at Nazareth, went the distance without pitting and recorded his first win. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Tony Stewart took the win over Kevin Harvick. In the preliminary Busch Grandnational event, Harvick came from two laps down to take the win. Harvick moved his team mate Jeff Green out of the lead with eleven laps to go.

   Five years ago in 2006, The Whelen Modified Tour Series had the week off as they prepared for their trip to Martinsville. Current point leader Mike Stefanik led the point standings. In ten starts, Stefanik had recorded nine top tens including one win. Sitting in second spot was series money leader Ted Christopher. With three wins in ten starts Christopher trailed Stefanik by 71 points. Defending series champion Tony Hirschman was 113 points behind the leader. In ten starts Hirschman had seven top tens including one win. Rounding out the top five were Ed Flemke JR and James Civali.

   Woody Pitkat scored his third win of the year at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he took the top spot in the Sunoco Modified feature. Pitkat held off Todd Ceravolo, Tom Cravenho and Jeff Malave. Numerous wrecks and spins slowed the progress of the event. In the end only 10 of the original 27 starters were still running. Pitkats win put him in a tie for the track championship and NASCAR Regional standings with Malave. Paul Charette rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco was clearly the fastest in the early going. Although he ended up ninth the second-generation driver pretty much had his night turn sour after he lost it on a restart and was ping-ponged by much of the field. Jimmy Blewett, the previous weeks winner, was also collected in the Rocco crash.

   Norm Wrenn who has had more than his share of bad luck won the Pro Stock feature. Corey Hutchings rebounded from a bad week to score the Late Model triumph. Danny Cates scored his third win of the season in the Limited Sportsman division, Tim Sullivan of scored his second in the TIS Modifieds, and Ron Rixham claimed win number one on the season in the Mini Stocks.

   The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway came very close to declaring another rainout on Friday as close to two inches of rain dumped on central Connecticut around noon. The Arute family remained patient and the skies cleared for another night of racing. Willie Hardie took his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Ryan Posocco took his second feature win of the season in the Late Model feature, and Andrew Durand was a winner for the third time this season in the Limited Late Model feature. There were two first time winners as Matt Gallo took the SK Light feature and Barry Fluckiger was the DARE Stock feature winner.

   In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Willie Hardie picked up his first feature win of the 2006 season with a strong drive. Hardie took the lead from polesitter Lloyd Agor on a lap-3 restart, and he then had to hold off multiple strong challenges from Frank Ruocco on several restarts to take the win. Ruocco finished second, with Agor, Todd Owen, and Chris Jones rounding out the top-5. In the chase for the SK Modified championship, Ruocco took over the points lead from Jeff Malave, who blew a transmission on the opening lap. Malave finished dead last in the 24 car starting field.

   Chris Pasteryak redeemed himself of a previous miscue at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night as he won the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Pasteryak, a second-generation driver, was in contention to win at the shoreline oval the previous week when he missed a shift on a restart. He more than made up for it on Saturday night. Pasteryak held off Rob Summers over the final 16 laps to take the victory. In doing so, he moved himself into second in the point race. Summers worked him over but to no avail as he tried high and low before settling for second. Point leader Dennis Gada finished second with Jeffrey Paul and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five.

   Mark Bakaj set a track record with his sixth straight Legends victory. Bakaj rode the Legends feature win into the record book, equaling the six straight Saturday night victories of Ed Bunnell, the latter doing it in 1966 in the Bomber division. Other winners were Tim Jordan in the regularly scheduled Late Model 30 lapper; Glenn Colvin in the continuation of the Aug. 19th Late Model feature; Joe Bertholet in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Dave Sylvia in the Mini Stock 20 lapper.

   Last year, 2010, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made their second annual trip to Bristol, TN. The UNOH Perfect Storm 150 carried a very generous purse of $110,491. Thirty eight NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 36 starting spots up for grabs. Justin Bonsignore took the Coors Lite Pole as he toured the high banked half mile oval in 14.835 seconds which equated to 129.343mph. Just a tick off was Todd Szegedy at 14.839 sec. Bobby Santos, Ryan Newman and James Civali rounded out the top five.

   Szegedy jumped out to an early lead as over 5,000 looked on. Speed picked two of the best, Mike Joy and Dick Berggren, to call the race. Burt Myers, who qualified 25th with a skipping engine, changed sparkplugs and was put to the rear. Ted Christopher took the lead on the 26th lap and pretty much controlled the race until the half way break on lap 77. Before the race resumed it was stated that the crowd watching was in excess of 10,000.

   Ryan Newman held off a late charge from seven-time tour champion Mike Stefanik over the closing laps to secure his second win of the season. Newman came out of nowhere as he literally blew away James Civali and Ted Christopher in one swoop in traffic on Lap 128, and chased down Stefanik three laps later. Stefanik pulled alongside Newman twice in the final five laps but was unable to complete the pass. Bobby Santos and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Christopher was the victim of engine trouble on lap 140 and dropped out, finishing in 26th spot. Sixth through tenth were Rookie Justin Bonsignore followed by Dale Quarterley, Eric Goodale, Ryan Preece and Erick Rudolph.

   Newman received $10,400 for his efforts. Stefaniks payday totaled $4,800. Bobby Santos has retaken the series point lead with a 32 point cushion over Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik, Todd Szegedy and Ron Silk round out the top five.

   The Thompson International Speedway hosted their Thursday night Thunder Series under clear blue skies. Woody Pitkat dodged a bullet in the opening laps of the Sunoco Modified feature event and then looked like he was shot out of a cannon to score a dominating win. Larry Barnett reached a milestone as he recorded his 50th Limited Sportsman feature win at Thompson in dominating fashion. Derek Randstrum scored his sixth Super Late Model feature win of the season while Rick Gentes scored his fifth in Late Model action.

   In other action, John Studley finally got his career first victory in the TIS Modifieds. Dwayne Dorr made it two straight in Mini Stock competition. In the visiting New England Trucks Series, Andy Linderman proved why he is the point leader with his impressive victory at Thompson on Thursday night.

   Car counts continue to be a problem. There were 22 Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks along with 15 Sunoco Modifieds and Late Models, 10 Super Late Models and Thompson Modifieds and only 6 Trucks.

   Rick Blanchard and Fred Michalski, who compete in the Mini-Stock class, were involved in an early incident on the track that continued into the pit area. Track management is expected to make a ruling concerning the parties involved in the physical confrontation that resulted. Thompson’s operations manager, Russ Dowd, said Friday that no official decision had been made, but track officials will meet to review the situation and determine what, if any, disciplinary actions will be taken.

   The Late Model division took center stage at Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night with the 3rd Annual Late Model 100, the second extra distance event of the 2010 season. Joining the Late Model 100 was Stafford's SK Modifieds®, SK Light Modifieds, DARE Stocks, and twin 20-lap Limited Late Model feature events. J.J. Hill was the big winner of the evening, taking his first career victory in the 100-lap extra distance classic. Newly crowned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion Keith Rocco took his 9th feature victory of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Tommy Barrett, Jr. took his 7th win of the 2010 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand and Rob Dow were the winners of the 20-lap Limited Late Model features, and Kyle Casagrande became the first three-time winner of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl competitors from across New England and New York tool on the 1/3 mile oval for the Nutmeg State 100 ACT Late Model Tour. In addition four divisions of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series were in action.

   Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, New Hampshire won an exciting ACT Tour race, beating out Brian Hoar over an exciting final five laps. Tyler Chadwick won his second SK Modified® race of the year surviving multiple restarts on his way to victory. Al Stone III of New Haven came out on top of a wild conclusion to the Street Stock race, and Keith Rocco of Wallingford took the checkered flag in an equally exciting finish in the A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck event. Preston’s Greg Moran Sr. won his first Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race of the year to round out the night’s racing.

   The Modified Racing Series headed for the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Following a recent event at the Waterford Speedbowl when Ted Christopher and car owner Joe Brady were disqualified a dark cloud followed the series as their were hints of bias in the decision. The question of Christopher and Brady being illegal is a moot point as the question continued to be why wasn't race winner Steve Masse's engine checked, especially after he all but ran away with the event. Ditto for Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink and Jon McKennedy who made up the top five before the disqualification.

   Brady told Lou Modestino of the Brockton Enterprise that he would file a suit against the Modified Racing Series as he contended that he, along with his driver Ted Christopher were discriminated against as they were singled out.

   Todd Annarummo passed race leader Jon McKennedy, E. Chelmsford, MA., on lap 28, and went on to win the 100 lap Modified Racing Series, sponsored by feature race at Seekonk Speedway. Annarummo ran a strong race from the start and set a torrid pace throughout the 100-lap contest.

   It was Annarummo’s first win with the series. He became the 11th different winner in 13 races in 2010. Polesitter Ken Barry dueled with McKennedy in the early stages of the event until McKennedy claimed the top spot. The defending champion led from lap 12 through 28. Les Hinckley III chased Annarummo to the checkered flag finishing 0.159 seconds behind the winner. Dwight Jarvis finished third, followed by McKennedy and Jimmy Kuhn Jr. Sixth-tenth was Rob Goodenough, Chris Pasteryak, Barry, Joey Jarvis and Jacob Dore.

   The race featured six different lead changes among four drivers. There were 28 race teams entered the event, 24 cars started the race with 16 drivers finishing on the lead lap.

   The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina finished up their season with Burt Myers capturing his fourth Bowman Gray Stadium championship. Myers, who needed to finish 15th or better to sew up the title, did what he had to do to finish up with a ninth-place finish.

   Brian Loftin, who won the season-ending Carolina Farm Credit 150, kept the pressure on Myers in the season-point chase for most of the race. Loftin, who capped his first full season at Bowman Gray with his second victory of the year, bumped his way past Tim Brown in the final turn of the final lap to win the 150-lap main race. Loftin used a "bump and run" to move Brown out of the way. Brown, who was the fastest qualifier for the seventh time in 14 attempts this season, lost the lead to Loftin early in the race but regained it by squeezing past Jonathan Brown with seven laps to go.

   In some good news it looked like MADHOUSE wouldy be returning for season #2 as the program's executive producer sent camera crews to the North Carolina track for Saturday;s season ending event.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Timmy Solomito, 18, of Islip scored his second NASCAR Modified victory in three weeks. He did it with a wild last lap finish with season long rival Chris Young in a 35-lap contest.

   The International Speedway Corp. announced that Chief Operating Officer Roger VanDerSnick, has left the company as part of a restructuring effort that will include layoffs and other cost cuts. ISC said it is restructuring operations because the economic recovery it expected earlier this year "has not materialized." It expects the moves to cut operating costs by $20 million to $30 million starting in 2011.

   Kyle Busch fended off strong challenges from David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray to win Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and complete his unprecedented sweep of three NASCAR national touring events at the same track in the same week..

   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
Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Moose Hewitt                                     Johnny 'King' Cambino                                         Leo Cleary  

Don Spazano                                                  Pete Corey                                            Reggie Ruggerio

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: August 26, 2011

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