September 2, 2011
years ago in 1951 Moe Gherzi made it three in a row at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 25 lap Modified feature on
Wednesday night. Dick Dixon was the Claiming Car winner. Red Bolduc was the
Saturday night Modified winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1956,
Wild Bill Slater in the Baldy Simonds No.11 scored the Wednesday night
Modified win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Don Collins was the
Saturday night winner at the shoreline oval. Charlie Webster was the
Fifty years ago in 1961 Ernie
Gahan was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. At Norwood, Red
Foote beat out Rene Charland to win the Minuteman 400. Ernie Gahan finished
third with Eddie Flemke, fourth. Ted Stack was the Modified winner at
Forty-five years ago in 1966
the Albany Saratoga Speedway ran a 200-lap event with Bill Wimble outlasting
Eddie Flemke for the win. Bill Slater finished third with Robbie Kotary,
fourth. Fonda was still closed for a Fair and at Utica-Rome; their annual
400 was washed out. Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner on the dirt
at Stafford. Bob Potter won a 30 lapper at Waterford. Glynn Shafer made it
two in a row in the Bombers. On Labor Day Waterford ran a 45 lap Modified
Special event that was won by Bill Scrivener. Also on Labor Day, Norwood ran
the Bardhal 400 which were in reality twin 200s. Sharing the winners circle
after they recorded wins were Johnny Thompson and Bugs Stevens.
Forty years ago in 1971, Labor
Day weekend meant big money, extra distance races. The action started at the
Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on Friday night with a 250 lapper for
the Modifieds. Max Berrier, one of the hot dogs from North Carolina, made
one of his infrequent trips north pay off as he stole the show from the
regulars. Fifty-five Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 30 starting
spots. Guy Chartrand, in the Hemi-Cuda of Ed Cloce, was the pole sitter with
Leo Cleary in the Mystic Missile on the outside. Berrier started seventh and
wore the competition down to record the win. Eddie Flemke, in the Art Barry
No.09, finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Andy Romano, Denis
Giroux, Richie Evans, Hop Harrington and Fred DeSarro. Stafford ran a 30
lap, double point event on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, now on home turf,
took the win over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Bob Santos.
At Waterford Bob Potter won a 50 lap Modified event on Saturday and Daring
Dick Caso won a 75 lapper on Labor Day. The action shifted to Utica-Rome on
Sunday night where Richie Evans won the New Yorker 400 over Fred DeSarro,
Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro. Modified history was made on
Monday at Stafford when Gene Bergin in the Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied 2x
broke the track qualifying record and became the first Modified to turn the
half-mile speedway in the 20.00 second bracket. Due to the efforts of
Stafford owner Jack Arute, the Pinto body was made legal for Modified
competition and would be the beginning of the end of pre-war coupes used as
bodies for Modifieds. Bergin cruised to a convincing win over Fred DeSarro,
Max Berrier, Bugs Stevens and Eddie Flemke. Fulton Raceway also ran on
Saturday and Monday. Bob Sweeny won the Saturday 30 lapper over Neil
Trusedale and Sonny Seamon. Monday’s Labor Day 100 saw Geoff Bodine take the
win over Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro and Merv Treichler.
Thirty-five years ago in 1976,
Ed Yerrington, the new promoter at Stafford, was looking for a way to boost
attendance at the Stafford Speedway. He scheduled a mid week open
competition event and named it Modified Madness. To make this event
different, Yerrington allowed all females, accompanied by a male, free
admission. The result was one of the biggest crowds ever seen for a mid-week
event as the attendance was in excess of 10,000, at the Stafford oval.
Richie Evans borrowed a wing off the Super of Nolan Swift and took home the
win. Maynard Troyer finished second with Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens
rounding out the top four. Riverhead ran a 200 lapper on Friday night with
Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Fred Harbach, Wayne Anderson and Jerry
Cook. At Monadnock, Mike Weeden took the feature but it was Punky Caron who
won the track championship. Saturday night saw the running of the annual
Oswego Modified 200. Maynard Troyer took the big win over southern invader
Paul Radford. Roger Treichler finished third. At Islip, Wayne Anderson was
the big winner with Jerry Cook, second. Pete Fiandaca won at Riverside and
it was Dave Dias at Seekonk. Geoff Bodine made it two in a row at Thompson
on Sunday night as once again, Fred DeSarro had to settle for second. John
Rosati, Ray Miller and Jerry Pearl rounded out the top five. Stafford ran
their annual 200 on Monday. Bodine carried his winning ways over from
Thompson to make it two for two. Jim Spencer finished second and was
followed by Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans and Satch Worley.
Thirty years ago in 1981,
Stafford ran the Labor Day weekend 200 on Friday night. Close to 7500 saw
Richie Evans take the win over Reggie Ruggiero, Ray Miller, Corky Cookman
and Bugsy Stevens. Waterford ran a 100 lapper, which saw Bob Potter start on
the outside pole and lead all the way to take the win over Jerry Pearl,
Moose Hewitt and Dave Webber. Geoff Bodine came north to drive the Taylor
No.99 to a convincing win in the Oswego 200. Satch Worley finished second
with Ray Miller, third. Randy LaJoie returned to victory lane in the
Sportsman division at Danbury. Gino Spada was the Modifoed winner. At
Thompson on Sunday night, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Joe Howard and
Corky Cookman. Other weekend winners were Punky Caron at Monadnock, Bugsy
Stevens at Seekonk, George Wagner at Islip, Stan Gregger at Riverside and
Jeff Fuller at Westboro. Doug Hevron won the Oswego Supermodified Classic.
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
the Labor Day weekend started on Wednesday when the NASCAR Modified Tour
visited the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island for a 200 lapper. Tiger Tom
Baldwin took the win over Jim Spencer, Bill Park and Brian Ross. On Friday
night, George Brunnhoelzl Jr was dialed in as he took the top spot at
Stafford. Kenny Bouchard finished second. Waterford ran a 75 lapper on
Saturday night with Rick Donnelly taking the win over Harry Rice and Mark
LaJunesse. George Kent used a bit of cunning to win the Oswego Modified
200.Kent used an early pit stop to his advantage as he was able to pass most
of the competition while they pitted later. For his efforts, he pocketed
$17,535. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Mike McLaughlin and
Jan Leaty. Jerry Marquis won at Riverside while Steve Park and John Blewett
Jr won twin features at Riverhead. Stafford closed out the weekend with
their annual 200 on Labor Day. Proving his Friday night win was no fluke,
George Brunnhoelzl Jr. took the win over Brian Ross, Kenny Bouchard and John
Rosati. Bentley Warren won the Oswego Supermodified Classic and in Winston
Cup action at Darlington, Tim Richmond took both the pole and the win.
Twenty years ago in 1991, Bob
Potter won the SK modified feature at Stafford and wrapped up the track
championship. Steve Chowanski had been a contender but found himself sitting
on the sidelines after he was thrown out of the event after wrecking Bo
Gunning. Waterford ran a 200 lapper on Saturday night with Ted Christopher
taking the win in the Ronnie Berndt No.54.Don Fowler finished second with
Jim Broderick, third. Bob Potter's luck at the shoreline oval continued to
be bad as he wrecked the Ceravolo family modified for the seventh time. Jeff
Fuller took the $20,000 to win Oswego Modified 200 after his brother Rick,
in the Fiore 44 lost an engine while leading with two laps to go. George
Kent finished second and was followed by Steve Park and Richie Gallup. Dick
McCabe won the wreck marred Busch North Series event at Riverside Park.
McCabes average speed for 150 laps was 31mph. Harry Gant was the Winston Cup
winner at Darlington and on a sad note, Winston Cup starter Harold Kinder
Fifteen years ago in 1996, Bob
Potter took the Friday night SK Modified win at Stafford after Ted
Christopher and Jim Broderick wrecked each other on the last lap.
Christopher still wrapped up the SK title despite being suspended from
running the Fall Final. Broderick was fined for rough riding. The
Featherlite Modifieds were also at Stafford for a 150-lap event. Mike
Stefanik took the win over Charlie Pasteryak, Ed Flemke Jr and Bob Gegetskas.
Scott Spaulding scored his third win of the year at Waterford on Saturday
night. Mike Gada finished second with Jim Broderick, third. Riverside ran a
100 lapper with Reggie Ruggiero taking his seventh win of the season and Tom
McCann got his sixth at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Darlington,
Terry Labonte took the win and in Craftsman Truck racing at Nashville it was
former modified competitor Dave Reszendes taking the win. Doug Didero won
the Supermodified classic at Oswego and Brad Leighton was the Busch North
Series winner at Lee.
Ten years ago in 2001, Thompson
ran its final Thursday night event of the summer, which saw Ted Christopher
make it four in a row. Christopher started 12th in the 30-car field and took
the lead on lap 9 of the 30 lap feature. Bert Marvin, Kerry Malone, Scott
Quinn and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. Christopher carried his
winning ways over to Stafford where he won twin 40’s on Friday night. The
Waterford Speedbowl hosted the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour on Saturday
night. Ed Flemke Jr. got shuffled from third to eighth on the start but
drove a heads up race to take the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 123 and
went on to take the win. Christopher finished second with Mike Stefanik
holding on for third. Tom Cravenho and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five.
There were ten yellows for 49 laps. Ed Reed Jr. scored his first ever SK
Modified win in convincing fashion as he beat out Ron Yuhas and Dennis Gada.
Gary Swanander won out over Chris Young at Riverhead. Thompson closed out
the weekend with twin 20’s for the SK Modifieds. Ted Christopher made it six
in a row as he won both of them. Kerry Malone finished second in both and
Bert Marvin finished third, again in both events. In Winston Cup action at
Darlington, Ward Burton, with Tom Baldwin as his crew chief, won the event
over Jeff Gordon. Steve Park suffered severe head injuries the day before
when his car made a sharp left hand turn after his steering wheel came off.
Larry Foyt, who had nowhere to go, broadsided Park. Jeff Burton won the
Darlington Busch Grandnational event.
Five years ago in 2006, The
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed into the eye of Hurricane Ernesto as the
competitors traveled to the Martinsville Speedway on Thursday and Friday.
For the most part much of the storm headed north by late Friday allowing
qualifying to take place. There were 49 Modifieds on hand and when all was
said and done Mike Stefanik took the Busch Pole as he toured the .525 mile
speedway in 18.833 seconds which was to the tune of 100.547 MPH. Todd
Szegedy was second fastest with a speed of 99.974 MPH. Rounding out the top
five were Donnie Lia, Jerry Marquis and Eric Beers. Twenty cars qualified
with the balance of the field to be determined by a 50-lap consolation
event. The top eight redrew for starting positions with Eddie Flemke Jr.
drawing the pole position with Tony Hirschman drawing the second spot.
Stefanik drew the fourth starting spot.
The 50-lap consolation event was slated to start at 7:00p.m. but a
heavy shower drenched the track shortly after 6:00p.m. The consi didn’t get
the green until almost 9:00p.m. Kevin Goodale took the eventual win over Ron
The main event, originally scheduled for 300 laps got the green
flag at around 10:15p.m. Mike Stefanik had the dominant car but in the end,
at 200 laps when the race was called, Jimmy Blewett had the Eddie Partridge
No.12 in the top spot. Blewett and Partridge, who dedicated their win to the
late Charlie Jarzombek, led only 20 laps. With 19 laps to go on lap 182
Blewett was following Stefanik into turn two. Stefanik drifted up slightly,
which opened up a hole on the low side. Blewett went for the spot and in
doing so nudged Stefanik. Ted Christopher, who ended up in second spot was
also part of the controversy as he nudged Zach Sylvester out of the way.
Stefanik and Sylvester finished 14th and 15th respectively. James Civali,
Todd Szegedy and Doug Coby who drives the Curt Chase No.77 based in
Mansfield, rounded out the top five. Coby and his crew were extremely happy
as they recovered from qualifying problems, which forced them to take a
provisional starting spot in the rear of the field. Just missing the top
five but turning in a fine run was rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. who finished sixth.
Matt Hirschman and Kevin Goodale finished seventh and eighth while
southerners Tim Brown and Gene Pack rounded out the top ten. It was close to
1:00am when the checkered flag was displayed. Fifteen of the original 43
starters were running at the end. Early leader Jerry Marquis lost a lap in
the late going and ended up 16th.
Corey Hutchings had a good shot at becoming the 2006 Late Model
Champion at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night until he came unglued on
the 13th lap of his 25 lap feature. Hutchings, who has four victories to his
credit, was battling with RJ Marcotte for fourth spot when contact was made
on the backstretch, which resulted in Hutchings spinning around. Hutchings
felt the contact and resulting spin was intentional. Chief Steward Richard
Brooks also felt it was intentional and ordered Marcotte to restart in the
rear. Marcotte refused to comply forcing Brooks to rule that even if he
continued to race he would no longer be scored. Hutchings evidently didn’t
get the word that the track had reacted to the situation and chose to
retaliate on his own. After a pit stop Hutchings reentered the track and
went after Marcotte, finally cutting him off in turn four. Hutchings then
exited his car and went to Marcotte and started punching him. When all was
said and done both Hutchings and Marcotte found themselves thrown out of the
event and parked in the infield. Hutching is facing possibly a multi race
suspension. Repeat winners were the other stories at Thompson International
Speedway on Thursday night. Tommy Cravenho of Raynham, MA took down his
second win of the season in the Sunoco Modifieds. Fred Astle of N. Westport,
MA scored his second Pro Stock win at the Connecticut oval while TIS
Modified racer Leo Oliviera also of Raynham posted his second. Dave Trudeau
of Mansfield, CT. proved that the third time is a charm with his Late Model
victory. New faces in victory lane included Mike Romano of Pascoag, RI, who
earned a career first in the Mini Stocks and Keith DeSanctis of Monson, MA,
who claimed his first triumph of the season in the Limited Sportsman
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway beat the onslaught of the
remains of Hurricane Ernesto as their September Series of Friday night
racing went off as planned. Eric Berndt drove to his third SK Modified®
feature win of the 2006 season, Scott Foster, Jr. won his first Late Model
feature win of the 2006 season, Brit Andersen won his fourth SK Light
Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Kevin Gambacorta scored his second
Ltd. Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, and Jim Brice was a first
time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
Impending rain from what was Hurricane Ernesto prevailed at the
Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The entire program was postponed
until Saturday, October 7. Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island
and at Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey was also rained out.
Kasey Kahne scored a double at the California Speedway as he won
both the Busch Series event and the Nextel Cup event.
Last year, 2010, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on their late Summer break. Bobby
Santos retook the point lead from Ted Christopher. Santos led by 32 points.
Mike Stefanik, Todd Szegedy and Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Sixth
through tenth were Ryan Preece, Erick Rudolph, Eric Goodale, Eric Beers and
rookie Justin Bonsignore.
With nine races left in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
schedule two time Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Don Lia and SS Green
Light Racing parted ways.
The Thompson International Speedway announced that the National
Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) had imposed an indefinite
suspension from NASCAR competition on four drivers following an incident on
Thursday, August 19, 2010 at the Thompson International Speedway. NASCAR is
the sanctioning body for races at Thompson and NASCAR officials are in
charge of the competition at the speedway. The official penalty notice from
NASCAR cited the drivers for “Actions detrimental to stock car racing.”
Race drivers Fred Michalski of Dayville, CT, Scott and Trevor
Michalski of South Killingly, CT and Scott Jassaume of Danielson, CT all
received the same penalty from NASCAR. In addition, the Speedway informed
these drivers and Ruth Michalski of South Killingly, CT that they were no
longer welcome on the property in and around the race track. This action is
a result of an attack that the above made on Mini Stock driver Rick
Blanchard following the feature held on August 19.
In Thursday night action at the northeast Connecticut oval the
Speedway played host to the Modified Racing Series for the second time in
2010. In the end it was “one of their” own standing in victory lane with
Rowan Pennink scoring his third Modified Racing Series victory. In NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series action, Ted Christopher earned his ninth Sunoco
Modified feature event of the season. Mike O’Sullivan bested a strong field
to post the victory in the Super Late Models.
Wayne Coury, Sr. celebrated with a win in the Late Models. Joe
Arena earned a hard-fought victory in the Limited Sportsman division. John
Studley streaked to consecutive victories in the TIS Modifieds. It was a
night banner night for Mike Gorgieveski who scored his first career victory
in the Mini Stocks.
Ted Christopher ended a long dry spell scored his first victory of
the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature. It was Christopher's
first win at Stafford in over a year and overall his 92nd SK Modified win at
the track he calls home. Woody Pitkat took advantage of a green white
checkered restart to nail down his sixth victory of 2010 in the 30-lap Late
Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his eighth win of 2010 in the
20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dave Yardley won his second feature of
2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande matched
his brother Kyle as a three-time winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl
Teenager Anthony Flannery won the 50-lap Raceceiver Legends National Tour
race, earning a guaranteed starting position to the Legends Cars Nationals
event held at Langley, VA Speedway in October. Tyler Chadwick won his second
consecutive SK Modified® race and third on the season. Bruce Thomas Jr. and
Ken Cassidy Jr. won their third races of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto
Mall Late Model and Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock divisions. Al Stone rounded
out the winners by taking his third consecutive Street Stock win, his fifth
overall on the year. For Thomas, it was his 50th career win
Chadwick recieved a gift while running third in the closing laps
when a heated battle between Doug Coby and Todd Ceravolo boiled over with
Coby spinning in turn one. The pivotal moment of the race came on lap 28.
Ceravolo was penalized to the rear for his involvement, handing the lead to
Following Chadwick at the finish was Keith Rocco followed by Rob
Janovick, Jeff Paul, and Joe Gada. Coby ended up seventh and Ceravolo was
In some sad news, John Small, who manned the announcers booth at
what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl in the mid 50's
to mid 60's passed-away at age 97. One of the most popular announcers in the
early history of the shoreline oval, Small’s booming voice and talented
delivery set the standard for calling the races at the Eastern Connecticut
oval for many of the raceways formative seasons. He was extremely-popular
with fans and competitors alike. In 1952, he began a long career in radio
where he hosted many country music radio shows and was known as Cousin
Johnny. Mr. Small, among many other things, was a past Mayor of the Town of
The Modified Racing Series headed for the Thompson Speedway for
their second visit of the year. Rowan Pennink who has called Thompson
International Speedway home for the last few seasons competing in the NASCAR
All American Series Weekly, claimed the victory in Modified Racing Series
75. Mike Stefanik showed the way in the early going before relinquishing the
lead to Bobby Santos III. Stefanik would retire from the event two laps shy
of halfway. Santos led through lap 56 before giving up the battle to
Pennink. Three laps later, Ted Christopher moved by Santos and into second.
In a repeat of the Sunoco Modified event earlier in the evening, Pennink and
Christopher waged a heated battle for the lead. A late race restart with
less than 15 laps to go gave Christopher his best shot at Pennink’s lead.
After a quick bid, Christopher had to settle back in line in second. The
lead duo stretched their advantage over third running Santos. An incident
involving the previous week’s winner Todd Annarummo brought out the caution
with seven laps remaining. Pennink was up for the challenge on the
single-file restart. Pennink went on to claim his third MRS win of the
season over Christopher, Santos and Eric Goodale. Les Hinckley recovered
from a practice crash to finish fifth.
NASCAR reinstated crew member Randy LaJoie upon his successful
completion of a counseling program following his June 22 suspension for
violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.
Boris Said came back from an early spin and won the Nationwide race
at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday, edging Max Papis by a nose on a
green-white-checkered finish to win the crash-filled event. NASCAR Sprint
Cup competitors enjoyed the 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.
Looking Back Archive
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