The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 23, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 there was no racing except for Claiming Cars on Wednesday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Tourjee was the winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1956 Dick Beuregard, the guy everyone loved to hate, won the final Saturday night Modified feature of the year at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, a 50 lapper. Lou Tetreault was the non-Ford winner. The Speedbowl would shift to Sunday afternoons for the remainder of the season.

   Fifty years ago in 1961 Bob Hall made it two in a row in dirt action at Stafford. Sam Mazzella was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, Pete Corey continued to be the master on dirt at Stafford as he took the Friday night win. Fred DeSarro driving his home built 327 Chevy Sportsman mount won the Bay State 200 at Norwood Arena. Pete Corey closed out the season at the Fonda Speedway with a win over Jeep Herbert and Lou Lazzaro. The Utica-Rome Speedway also ran their season finale with Kenny Shoemaker taking the win. Lazzaro finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Sonny Seamon and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1971, the Modifieds headed south to Martinsville for the Fall 100 on Saturday. Fred DeSarro finally got one of the wins that he had always wanted as he took a convincing win over Max Berrier and Jerry Cook. Jim Hendrickson recorded his 18th win of the season at Islip on Saturday night. Mousie Kempster finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Cook. DeSarro made an all night ride pay off as he made it to Stafford for a Sunday afternoon double point event, which he won. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Cook. The Fulton Raceway wrapped up their season with a 200 lapper, which was won by Geoff Bodine. Richie Evans finished second with Sonny Seamon, third. Paul Richardson was the Supermodified winner at Thompson. Howie Brown finished second. Donnie Bunnell made it two in a row as he out dueled Seabury Tripler at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude finished third with Joe Trudeau and Ed Yerrington rounding out the top five.

   Thirty-five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds were at Martinsville for a 150 lapper. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Paul Radford and John Bryant. Bob Polverari won a 100 lap Open Competition event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Gada was the Grand American-Late Model winner at the shoreline oval. At Thompson on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard got the best of Bodine as he won the 30-lap contest. Maynard Troyer finished third and was followed by Eddie Flemke, Ray Miller and Fred DeSarro.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, Stafford ran a special event on Saturday night for the recently displaced SNYRA Modifieds from Danbury. Sixty cars were on hand and it was Rit Patchen taking the win over Art Davis and Lou Funk. Shangri-La ran their season ender with Richie Evans taking the win over Doug Hewitt and Dick Clark. Oxford Plains ran a modified special on Sunday and it was Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Reggie Ruggiero and Billy Clarke. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Darrell Waltrip took the win. Saturdays Busch Grandnational event was won by Geoff Bodine

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the Winston Modified Tour was at Shangri-La for a 150 lapper. Jim Spencer took the win over Jan Leaty, Geoff Bodine, Mike Mclaughlin, George Kent and Corky Cookman. Waterford ran on Sunday with Richie Gallup taking the win over Rick Donnelly. Rusty Wallace took the Winston Cup win at Martinsville. Pole sitter Geoff Bodine, finished second.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, the Monadnock Speedway ran on Friday night with Ed Kennedy taking the win over John Zavisa. Saturday night was the original Legends Night at Waterford. Veteran Jerry Pearl took the Modified feature but the night belonged to Ed Moody who won the Legends race over Charlie Webster. Shangri La ran a 150 on Saturday night which saw Jamie Tomaino take the win over John Preston. Also on Saturday night was the Tony Jankowiac Memorial which was won by Doug Hevron. Lancaster ran the US Open on Sunday with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Jeff Fuller, George Kent and Jan Leaty. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Harry Gant made it four in a row.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, despite being bounced out of the feature by the Connecticut DMV for rough riding, Jim Broderick sewed up the Waterford Modified Track Championship with a 15th place finish. During the event, Broderick and Ted Christopher crashed each other with each blaming each other. Christopher was also bounced. David Gada was the eventual winner with Jeff Pearl coming in second and Bob Potter, third. Thompson ran a 300 lapper for the Busch North Series on Sunday. Jeff Fuller took the lead on lap 183 and held it until the rains came and ended the event on lap 213. Mike Stefanik ended up second with Brad Leighton, third. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon took the win with Terry Labonte, second. The following Tuesday, Sept.24, it was announced that the following weeks event at Riverside Park had been cancelled as promoter Ben Dodge had been released from his position after an alleged dispute with the track owner.

   Ten years ago in 2001 Thursday night racing at Thompson was cancelled due to rain. Ted Christopher was declared the NASCAR New England Regional Champion by six points. Christopher, who won 15 of the 18 events run at Thompson was also declared the National Champion and would receive $160,000 from the point fund. Christopher moved on to Stafford on Friday night where he recorded his 59th win at the ½ mile oval. Eric Berndt finished second with Chuck Docherty, Jeff Malave and Darren Menditto rounding out the top five. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada took the win with Eric Berndt again the bridesmaid. Ron Yuhas finished third with Ed Reed Jr. fourth. With the World Trade Center in New York destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Stafford Speedway announced that no coolers or backpacks would be allowed inside the admission gate.

   Five years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Waterford Speedbowl. On and off rain on Saturday plus fog and rain on Sunday forced NASCAR and the Waterford Speedbowl management to announce the cancellation of the event. The Town Fair Tire Finale, including Sunday’s Whelan Modified Tour Volunteer Fire Department 150 was rescheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8.

   The Thompson Speedway was the scene of fever pitch competition despite the fact that temperatures took a dive once the sun went down. Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT was declared the winner in the Sunoco Modified division. Les Rose, Jr. of E. Wareham, MA won the Pro Stock battle but Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA won the war as he clinched the divisional championship. A pair of “Most Popular Drivers” scored victories with Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA taking Late Model honors and Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT claiming the Limited Sportsman feature win. Scott Michalski of S. Killingly, CT was tops in the Mini Stocks and Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds.

   Bert Marvin crossed the line second at the conclusion of the Sunoco Modified feature event but came home with the victory. In post race technical inspection, apparent winner Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ was disqualified for an illegal transmission. Blewett’s car, owned by Eddie Partridge, was using a racing type transmission that is illegal at Thompson but is considered ok at other tracks. Marvin bested a strong field of 26-Modifieds that included two drivers vying for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series regional championship-Jeff Malave and Woody Pitkat. A mere six points separated Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave atop the Sunoco Modified point standings; however, a dismal night for Malave gave Pitkat some breathing room entering the final Thursday night that would feature double features for the division.

   Marvin and Keith Rocco brought the field to green; however, the action was short-lived when on lap one the action was slowed for an incident that resulted in front-end damage on point leader Pitkat’s machine. Pitkat was slammed broadside by another competitor as he entered turn one. He made a remarkable save and was able to keep his car from hitting the wall. Suffering a flat left front tire, Pitkat was able to continue after service from his pit crew, rejoining the field in the 23rd position.

   Marvin led Rocco and a charging Jimmy Blewett on the restart. Blewett drove by Rocco and into the second position. Malave passed Buddy Charette for fourth and a single lap later took third from Rocco. Ricky Shawn led the second group of cars that included Tommy Cravenho and Todd Ceravolo. By lap 10, Pitkat was solidly into the top-ten. Pitkat passed Charette on lap 11. Meanwhile, Shawn had fallen to the challenges of Cravenho and Ceravolo. Rocco had slipped by to the fifth position. The leader, Marvin, hit heavy lapped traffic by the halfway marker. Malave began to pressure Blewett for the second spot. Exiting turn four of lap 18, Malave was second. Blewett tried in vain to catch Malave but got out of shape, in the process falling into the clutches of Cravenho. Pitkat was pressuring Rocco for seventh when the caution flew on lap 21 for a spin by Charette. The restart pitted Marvin and Malave followed by Blewett and Cravenho in row two. Marvin got a great restart to retain his spot at the head of the pack. Blewett gave Malave a run but had to settle in for third. Contact between Cravenho and Ceravolo from third and fourth sent cars scattering. Pitkat managed to maneuver his way through the mess. Ceravolo and Dan LaJeunesse sustained heavy damage. Evidently LaJeunesse doesn’t see past his hood and his spotter wasn’t paying attention. LaJunesse was running wide open when he hit Ceravolo on the driver’s side. The impact broke the car’s rear end and sheared off the left front suspension assembly. The top-five for the restart were Marvin, Malave, Blewett, Pitkat and Rocco. Again it was Marvin getting the edge. Contact between Malave and Blewett sent Malave into the marbles and losing two spots, one to Blewett and rival Pitkat. Blewett drove by Marvin for the lead on lap 23. The caution flew on lap 25 for a spin by Pitkat. Malave was sent to the tail for his involvement in the incident. Blewett led the charge to the restart flag with Marvin in tow. Keith Rocco drilled Ricky Shawn who was in third spot and subsequently sent Shawn spinning. Both Malave and Pitkat were involved in the incident. Malave headed to pit road with heavy right front damage. Pitkat was able to continue. Malave was out for the night. Blewett sailed out to the lead on the restart with five laps remaining. Marvin had his hands full with Rocco while Charette had to contend with Pitkat. Over the final laps, Blewett stretch his lead apparently coming home with his third win of the season. Marvin was able to turn his dismal luck around with a runner-up finish turned feature victory. Rocco was credited with a second-place finish over Charette, Pitkat, and Brian Tagg inside the top-five. Pitkat was named Sunoco Modified “Most Popular Driver”.

   The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night Dodge Racing Series with all division championships not decided. Frank Ruocco maintained his SK Modified points lead with his first feature win of the 2006 season, Mark Lewis picked up his first career win in the Late Model feature, but it will be a two-man race for the championship as Woody Pitkat and Jim Peterson are tied for the points lead. Brit Andersen was the winner of the SK Light feature, which propelled him into a 4-way tie with Chris Matthews, Richie Pallai, Jr., and Shelly Perry for the points lead heading into the CARQUEST Fall Final. Andrew Durand was the winner of the Limited Late Model feature event, but Kevin Gambacorta will head into the CARQUEST Fall Final with a 10-point lead over George Nocera, Jr. Jeff Jolly collected his second DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season, but Norm Sears' third place finish gives him a 50-point lead, meaning that he only has to start the DARE Stock feature during CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend to become the track champion.

   In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, SK Modified® points leader Frank Ruocco, of Cheshire, chose the best time to pick up his first feature victory of the 2006 season. Ruocco quickly worked his way into second place, and then bided his time behind Chris Jones before taking the lead for the first time on lap-22. Ruocco had to contend with a hard charging Willie Hardie in the closing laps, but Ruocco was able to hold Hardie off to the checkered flag. Hardie finished second, with Woody Pitkat, Jones, and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5. Ruocco held an 18-point lead over Willie Hardie, 586-568. Both Eric Berndt and Todd Owen were 50 points behind. All other drivers were eliminated from championship contention.

   In other weekend racing John Blewett III sewed up the track title at the Wall Township Speedway and David Darling sewed up the Pro Stock title at Seekonk.

   Clint Bowyer won the Busch Series event at Dover Downs while Jeff Burton won the Nextel Cup event.

   Last year, 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Loudon, NH for the F.W. Webb 100 which carried a race purse of $166,513. Thirty five Modifieds were on hand for practice and qualifying. NASCAR Sprint Cup competitor Ryan Newman won the Coors Light Pole Award with a speed of 129.300 mph. Second fastest and taking the outside pole was Todd Szegedy who went 127.816mph. Third through fifth were Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos JR and Ed Flemke Jr. Rounding out the top ten were Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Goodale, Erick Rudolph and defending race winner Ron Silk.

   Ryan Newman didn't do the Whelen Modified Tour Series any favors as he won the FW Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For the most part Newman had the field covered as it looked they regular tour runners were racing for second place. Jimmy Blewett, who triggered a big wreck on lap 37 that eliminated Ted Christopher, Ed Flemke Jr and Jamie Tomaino, provided some last lap drama as he made an unsuccessful run at Newman. Blewett ended up second. It was a big day point wise for Mike Stefanik. Stefanik finished third and closed to within two points of series leader Bobby Santos III. Stefanik was in the hunt all day but had nothing for Newman. Doug Coby made a remarkable run as he came from starting dead last to finish fourth. Coby also had a shot at Newman on the final restart but fell short. Rounding out the top five was Ron Silk. Sixth through tenth were Dale Quarterly, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Goodale, Joe Hartmann and Rookie sensation Richie Pallai Jr.

   There were 16 changes involving 6 drivers which made for much excitement on the track they call the magic mile. There were seven cautions for 28 laps. The first yellow was displayed on lap seven when Glen Reen and Rowan Pennink spun and crashed in turn two. Pennink was all done for the day after the incident. The second caution flew on lap 28 when James Civali spun the Roger Hill No. 79 in turn four. Civali had handling issues all day as he finished in 17th spot. The third caution was for Rob Summers and Andy Seuss who wrecked on the front stretch. The fourth caution was one of the biggest wrecks of the day which was triggered when Jimmy Blewett got into Ed Flemke Jr in turn four. Blewett drove away while Mike and Ted Christopher along with Kevin Goodale , Richard Savory and Justin Bonsignore were eliminated. Flemke continued on for 20 more laps before calling it a day in 26th spot. The fifth caution was displayed on lap 66 when Jake Marosz spun in turn two. George Brunnhoelzl III and Rene' Dupuis spin on lap 92 brought out the sixth caution and the seventh and final caution was brought out when Ryan Preece and Bobby Santos made contact between turns three and four which resulted in both taking a hard shot into the wall which eliminated them as well as Glen Reen. Santos was credited with 19th spot in the final rundown. Preece ended up 20th and Reen, 21st.

   Thursday night Thunder Racing at the Thompson Speedway was cancelled due to a forecast of heavy rain and high winds for northeast Connecticut. Mother Nature handed NASCAR Whelen All-American division championships to Sunoco Modified driver, Ted Christopher and Mini Stock driver, Chuck Rogers. Both Christopher and Rogers had built up enough track points to clinch their crowns before the final points race on September 26th.

   The Stafford Speedway was back in action with its final Friday night program. Ryan Preece outdueled Woody Pitkat to score his first career SK Modified® feature victory in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ryan Posocco scored his fourth win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his 10th win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr., won his second consecutive feature of 2010 in spectacular fashion by crossing the start/finish line sideways in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly scored his third win of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl defending division champion Ron Yuhas Jr. took the lead on the 18th lap and was able to keep it on four separate restarts to take the checkered flag in Saturday's 35-lap SK-Modified feature. Yuhas was pressured by some of the division's top drivers, including national champion and current division leader Keith Rocco, Rob Janovic Jr., Todd Ceravolo and Tyler Chadwick, but was able to pull out the win, holding off a late charge by Rocco, who finished second. Tucker Reynolds Jr. was third, followed by Joe Perry and Jeff Pearl.

   Other winners on Saturday were Bill Leonard (Mini Stocks), Anthony Flannery (Legends) and Corey Coates (A.B. CDL Trucks).

   Clint Bowyer won the Sprint Cup race at Loudon. His car failed a follow-up inspection and he was penalized 150 points. Bowyer led a race-high 177 laps, lost the lead to Tony Stewart, but stretched his final tank of gas 92 laps to win the race when Stewart ran out of fuel right before the final lap. The victory snapped an 88-race winless streak for Bowyer.

   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


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 23, 2011

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