The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 21, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 Don Collins was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

   Fifty five years ago in 1956 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl had a 100 lapper on Sunday afternoon which was won by Don Collins. Leo Cleary, in his first ever appearance at the shoreline oval, was the 15 lap non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1961 saw rain prevail at the Waterford Speedbowl.

   Forty years ago in 1971, The Race of Champions at Langhorne and the Cardinal 500 at Martinsville went head to head because of a previous rain out at Langhorne. Many of the NASCAR Modified contingents at Langhorne withdrew their entries as they were committed to the Martinsville event. Needless to say, both events went off as planned. At Langhorne, it was to be the last ever event to be held at the one mile circle track and it was Roger Treichler taking the win over Jim Shampine. Bob Merz finished third with Graeme Bolia and Lou Lazzaro rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Mike Loescher, Will Cagle, Chuck Boos, Sonny Seamon and Gary Iulg. Among those who chose not to go to Martinsville were Ray Hendrick who finished 32nd, Geoff Bodine who finished 27th and Charlie Jarzombek who finished 26th. Richie Evans, who was under suspension from NASCAR, finished 28th. The Race of Champions, a fall tradition since 1951, would move to the 1-1/2 mile Trenton Fairgrounds Speedway for the 1972 event. At Martinsville, Fred DeSarro took the win over Jimmy Hensley, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Sonny Hutchins was the Late Model Sportsman winner. With the NASCAR Modified season now over, Jerry Cook was declared the division champion. Finishing second in the point standings was Fred DeSarro with Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Dave Lape rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Billy Harman, Dick Fowler, Denis Giroux, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, all was quiet.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, all was quiet.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the World Series was run under blustery conditions. Wes Rosner suffered severe head injuries when his late model hit the first turn wall driver’s side first. Rosner would survive but his racing career would be over. Corky Cookman started on the pole of the 50 lap modified feature and led the entire distance to record the victory. Mike Mclaughlin finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer, Jamie Tomaino, Brian Ross and Tony Jankowiac. Kerry Malone was the SK modified winner and Dick Houlihan was the Mini-Modified winner.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, the season ending World Series was on tap. For the 125 lap Featherlite Modified Tour event, Mike Stefanik took the pole. Stefanik re-drew the outside pole but proved to be no match for Rick Fuller who jumped to an early lead. Fuller held the lead until he pitted on lap 65.By the 100 lap mark, Fuller was back in the lead and went on to take the win. Reggie Ruggiero ended up in second spot and was followed by Stefanik, Tom Baldwin, George Kent, Steve Park and Wayne Anderson. Bob Potter was the SK modified winner as he beat out Tom Tagg for top honors. Other winners were Eddie StAngelo in the Pro Stocks, Bentley Warren in the Supers, Nick Fornoro in the Midgets and Chuck Docherty in the Late Models.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, rain played havoc with the World Series at Thompson. Promoter Don Hoenig pulled the plug and rescheduled for the following week.

   Ten years ago in 2001, the Thompson Speedway closed out the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series with the running of the $65,068 World Series 125. One of the biggest crowds in the history of the speedway were on hand as 550 race cars including 55 Modifieds and 16,000 fans which forced the speedway management to close the parking lots one hour before the noon time start. It was a season end showdown for championship honors between Mike Stefanik and Jerry Marquis. Ted Christopher, in his last ride in the Gary Cretty No.25 took the lead from Stefanik on lap 65 and ran away with the event. Stefanik, with Marquis all over him at the end, finished second and wrapped up the division championship, his fifth, which was the first ever for car owner Art Barry. Charlie Pasteryak finished fourth with Tony Hirschman, fifth. The Sunoco-SK Modifieds provided their usual crashing and banging with a surprise ending. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap, Kerry Malone held a slight lead. Ron Yuhas JR made a gut move to the outside and as the two headed for the stripe Malone attempted to block. Yuhas didn’t lift and the two came together just before the finish line. With Yuhas riding the wall, he and Malone crossed the line together and the race was declared a dead heat. Chuck Docherty ended up third with Ed Flemke JR and Wayne Bellefleur rounding out the top five. At the drivers meeting it was announced that NASCAR would be mandating head and neck restraints for their major divisions and it was only a matter of time when they would be come mandatory at all NASCAR events. In other weekend action, Danny Johnson walked off with $20,000 after winning the DIRT Eastern States 200 at Middletown, N.Y. In Winston Cup action at Talladega Dale Earnhardt JR passed Bobby Labonte on the last lap to take the win. Labonte bumped with Bobby Hamilton who hit the wall and triggered a 16-car wreck. Tony Stewart ended up second.

   Five years ago in 2006, Stafford, Waterford and Thompson were quiet. NASCAR reprimanded Carl Pasteryak and Matt Hirschman, following their actions at the World Series at Thompson, Pasteryak got physical with Rene’ Dupuis and Hirschman got overly vocal with Richard Savory after on-track incidents. Pasteryak, driver of the No. 75 car, was suspended from the next Whelen Modified Tour event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 30. He was penalized for violating section 12-4-A of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book: actions detrimental to stock car racing; involved in an altercation with another competitor on the track; verbal abuse to a NASCAR official and failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official. Hirschman, driver of the No. 59 car, was also penalized for an incident after the race. Hirschman was placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating section 12-4-A: actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official; of the 2006 NASCAR RuleBook.

   Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Irwindale Speedway in California, scoring a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature event while using the new, cost-reducing Grand National "spec" engine under the hood of his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet. Kobyluck, the runner-up in this event in 2004 and 2005, started sixth and took the lead for the final time from fellow Grand National Division, Busch East Series competitor Sean Caisse on a restart with ten laps remaining in the 150-lap race. AutoZone West Series champion Eric Holmes made a run at the win but tangled with Caisse on the final turn, spinning while Caisse held off AutoZone West Series driver Mike David for second. Tracy Gordon of the Busch East Series and Brian Ickler of the AutoZone West Series were fourth and fifth. Kobyluck was one of 11 drivers in the all-star event utilizing the new spec engine technology, which was introduced this season as a cost-saving alternative for NASCAR Grand National Division teams. The spec engine includes a closely-specified set of components to limit costs, while providing competitive performance and durability. The new engines, which are optional, are expected to save teams nearly 50 percent on the cost of their engines.

   The southern version of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season at the Southern National Raceway Park in North Carolina. Junior Miller took the win and his second series championship. Tim Brown finished second. A last minute entry was Chuck Hossfeld in the Roger Hill No.79. Hossfeld started scratch in the 100 lapper and finished fifth.

   Les Hinkley won the True Value Modified Series season ender at the Lee Raceway. Andy Seuss finished second with Jimmy Kuhn, third. Dale Evonsion and Bob Goodenough rounded out the top five. Dwight Jarvis was declared the series champion.

   At the Martinsville Speedway Jimmie Johnson held off Denny Hamlin to win the Nextel Cup Subway 500. The Busch Series had a week off.

   In a somewhat surprise move J&S Motorsports which owns the No. 36 that had been driven by Ted Christopher on the Whelen Modified Tour Series announced that they would part ways with driver Ted Christopher at the end of the 2006 Whelen Modified Tour season. According to car owner, Ed Whelan, this was a mutual agreement. Whelan said, “I wanted to clear the air so that everyone understands that there is no animosity between Ted and I. We’re still friends” Christopher was hired by Whelan to drive for J&S at the third race of this season at Jennerstown in June. Christopher was sixth on the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins list with twenty-six victories that include ten wins in the past two seasons. When asked about his future plans, Whelan responded, “We will run the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule in 2007.” When asked whether he was in negotiation with a driver for 2007, Whelan said, “I’m not planning on talking to anyone before we finish the season.” Before teaming up with Whelen, Christopher drove cars owned by Danbury, CT businessman Jim Galante.

   On a sad note it was learned that Bobby Sprague and George Greco Sr had passed away.

   Last year, 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed for the Thompson Speedway for the World Series of Speedway Racing. Fifteen different divisions of race cars and race trucks were in competition in qualifying races and feature events. The weekend began on a wet note as speedway officials were forced to cancel Fridays practice and qualifying because of wet conditions.

   Under dry but blustery skies Bobby Santos took a big step toward earning his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title as he captured the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying Saturday for the season finale Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. Santos, driving the Garbarino Mystic Missile, turned a fast lap of 18.709 seconds (120.263 mph) in Saturday’s qualifying session to earn his fourth pole of the season. There were 37 Modifieds on hand for the season ending event that carried a posted purse of $85,567. Ted Christopher was second fastest with a lap of 18.846 (119.389). Eric Berndt was third at 18.885 (119.142). Mike Stefanik and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Santos won the redraw for the pole starting position. Berndt drew the outside pole with Christopher drawing third and Stefanik, fourth. Among the surprise entries was recently crowned NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion Burt Myers who qualified 14th.

   Doug Coby almost stole the show but in the end Ted Christopher won the battle and Bobby Santos III won the war. Santos, who spent most of the day dealing with a mis-handling car, came home sixth to put the finishing touches on his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. while Ted Christopher continued his mastery of Thompson International Speedway. Christopher became the first driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to earn three straight victories in the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, the traditional season-ending event For Santos, the Whelen Modified Tour title came in his first full-time season competing in the division. He gave car owner Bob Garbarino his third championship in four years. Garbarino, an owner in the division since 1961, did not win a championship until driver Donny Lia won it in 2007 and 2009.

   Santos entered the event with a 37-point lead over Stefanik, and was able to keep the nine-time NASCAR champion in his sights throughout the race. Stefanik finished fourth behind Christopher, Ryan Preece and Doug Coby. Santos finished 27 points ahead of Stefanik in the final standings, and 78 ahead of Christopher. Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five in points. Silk was also fifth in Sunday’s race and led an event-high 45 laps. Eric Beers finished seventh in Sunday's race, followed by Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink and James Civali. Burt Myers, who wrapped up the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified championship Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finished 14th.

   Outside pole sitter Eric Berndt took the lead at the drop of the green as the Santos mount appeared to have a problem. Berndt, who had a real stout engine took on the role of the rabbit. The first of seven cautions flew on lap 8 when Wade Cole spun into the wall in turn three. The race was red flagged as officials attempted to determine if someone was leaking oil. On the restart, Santos faded to third while Ted Christopher moved in on Berndt's tail. The second caution flew onlap 31 when Renee Dupuis, Gary McDonald and Cole spun between turns three and four. The field restarted on lap34 with Christopher taking the lead in turn two. Christopher led laps 35-37 when Berndt took it back in turn3 on lap 37. Berndt held the lead for a lap before getting loose in turn two on lap 38 when he again gave way to Christopher. While Berndt was trying to regain control Mike Stefanik moved into the second spot. The third caution flew on lap 46 when Glen Tyler spun in turn three. During the caution period Stefanik, Ron Silk, Santos and Todd Szegedy pitted for tires and adjustments.

   The green flew on lap 51 with Christopher leading Berndt and Rowan Pennink. Berndt retook the lead on lap 53. The fourth caution flew on lap 60 when Jimmy Blewett found himself planted in the wall between turns one and two. Christopher took the lead on the restart with Pennink, Eddie Flemke and Doug Coby in tow. By lap 71 Ron Silk had moved into second and was taking aim on Christopher's lead. At the half way mark Christopher continued to lead and was followed by Silk, Stefanik, Pennink, Coby and Ryan Preece. With fresher tires, Silk took the lead in turn three on lap 76. The fifth caution flew on lap 81 when James Civali spun on the front chute. During the caution Christopher along with Preece and Pennink pitted for tires. When the green was displayed on lap 86, Silk continued to lead and was followed by Stefanik and Coby. Coby, who came out of no where appeared to be shot out of a cannon as he took the lead on lap 121 from Silk. By lap 125 Coby had a three second lead but by then Christopher had fought his way to the fron and was closing in for the kill. Coby led until lap 146 when Christopher passed him for the lead and eventual win in turn 4. Two late cautions for spins by Todd Szegedy and Gary McDonald did not effect the outcome of the race.

   In other Sunday action at Thompson, Chris Perley of Rowley, MA, was super as he took home the victory in the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) feature event. Russ Wood of Pelham, NH, was crowned the 2010 ISMA champion. In Northeastern Midget Association action, Randy Cabral of Plymouth, MA won the war winning the feature event but it was Russ Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA winning the 2010 championship. In Thompson regular divisions it was Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, CT, taking down the victory in the Sunoco Modifieds, Rick Fuller of Auburn, MA, in the Super Late Models and Tommy O’Sullivan Late Models.

   Modified Racing Series point leader Jon McKennedy, captured the 100-lap Twin State Fall Challenge feature race at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. The win was McKennedy’s fourth of the season, his eleventh career victory, and his second win at the New Hampshire speedway. McKennedy widened his point lead by 61 points over Dwight Jarvis. McKennedy was followed by Steve Masse, Matt Hirschman, Les Hinckley III, and Joey Jarvis. Sixth through tenth were, Ken Barry, Chris Pasteryak, Jacob Dore, Eddy Spiers, and Dwight Jarvis.

   The sixth season of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour concluded with an inaugural visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the running of the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on Thursday, Oct. 16. The race was contested on the quarter-mile track located along the front stretch of the 1.5-mile speedway located in Concord, N.C. Burt Myers led all but one lap in winning the UNOH Southern Slam 150 and, in the process, bypassed three title contenders to claim the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship. Myers entered the final race fourth in points and trailing first-place James Civali by 41.

   Civali, however, was involved in several racing incidents and finished 16th. One of the wrecks also included second-place Andy Seuss, who wound up 18th. Earlier in the day, Seuss had won the Coors Light Pole Award. With less than 20 to go, third-place L.W. Miller got caught up in a fracas with Civali while running in third. He was able to make it back to finish sixth. That left the door wide open for Myers, who took home the championship by 31 points over Miller (1,609-1,578). Civali finished with 1,575, followed by Seuss with 1,566 and John Smith with 1,555. Earlier in the year, Myers also won his fourth track title in the Modified Division at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina championship.

   Myers qualified seventh but drew the pole when the 10 fastest qualifiers redrew for starting position. The only lap he didn't lead was 137 when Tim Brown nosed ahead on the restart, but Myers quickly moved back into the lead. Brown finished second in the race, while Zach Brewer posted his best finish of the season in third. John Smith was fourth and Daniel Hemric fifth.

   Jamie McMurray's career came full circle at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night, where he returned to Victory Lane eight years after grabbing his first win with the team that gave him a second chance. McMurray passed Kyle Busch on a restart with 21 laps to go and cruised to the Sprint Cup win in his Chevrolet. In the Nationwide Series 300, Brad Keselowski led three times for 46 laps and despite battling Martin Truex, Jr. tooth and nail through the final quarter of the race, led the final 35 laps for his first victory on a 1.5-mile race track and the 11th triumph of his career before one of the smallest Charlotte Motor Speedway Nationwide Series crowds in recent memory.

   The New England Auto Racer’s Hall of Fame announced their “Class of 2011.” Drivers Punky Caron, Dan Meservey, Russ Nutting and Jerry Dolliver, car owners Rich & Ray Garuti, Stanley “Skip” Matczak, Vic Kangas, and Speedway Scene publisher Val Lesieur would be inducted at the 14th annual induction ceremony slated to take place on January 30th at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT

   The Mohegan Sun Casino announced that they would not return as the primary sponsor of former NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Matt Kobyluck for the 2011 racing season. Gambling revenues had been way off this past year. Mohegan Sun as well as Foxwoods had trimmed their work force in recent months.

   It looked like the late Richie Evans and his many fans would have to wait another year as NASCAR announced the second class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. That class consists of: David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, consisting of members of the Nominating Committee along with 31 others representing all facets of the NASCAR industry, met in a closed session in Charlotte, N.C., to vote on the induction class of 2011. The announcement was made in the Great Hall inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

   The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced it will race with E15 fuel in its three national touring series in 2011. Sunoco Green E15 is a 15 percent ethanol blend using American-made ethanol from corn grown by American farmers. NASCAR has tested the new blend excessively and claims race engines make more horsepower. The marine industry has seen the opposite effects of alcohol blended gas. When stored for any period of time alcohol blended gas dissolves deposits in older tanks and fuel lines plus the blended fuel attracts moisture when stored any length of time..

   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

Art Barry/Bill Slater                               Denny Giroux/Billy Harman                       George Greco/Billy Greco  

Bugs Stevens/Len Boehler                                      Don Collins                                   Moe Gherzi/The Garuti Bros.

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 21, 2011

©2011 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.