November 4, 2011
years ago in 1961 Wild Bill Slater won the season ending 35 lap
Modified feature at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the
Bomber feature winner.
Forty five years ago in 1966,
Ernie Gahan won the Nascar National Modified Championship. Finishing second
in his first year of NASCAR Modified competition was Carl Bugsy Stevens. Ray
Hendrick finished third. Don MacTavish was the Sportsman Champion. Following
MacTavish in the standings were Wild Bill Slater, Rene Charland, Ralph
Earnhardt, Bill Wimble, Tiny Lund, Joe Thurman, Pete Hamilton and Andre
Manny. David Pearson was the Grand National (Nextel) Cup Champion
Forty years ago in 1971, NASCAR
declared Jerry Cook the National Modified Champion. For the year, Cook
entered 74 sanctioned events. Of those, he recorded four wins and 44 top
tens, including 28 top fives. Cooks win percentage was 5%. Fred DeSarro
finished second. DeSarro entered 66 events and recorded 19 wins and 31 top
tens including 28 top fives. DeSarro's win percentage was 29%.Bugsy Stevens
finished third in points. Stevens entered 58 events and recorded 25 wins and
33 top tens including 25 top fives. Stevens' win percentage was 43%. Richard
Petty was the Grand National (Nextel) Cup Champion.
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
Jerry Cook was still chasing points and was again the Nascar Modified
National Champion. Among the track champions in the northeast were Fred
DeSarro at Stafford and Thompson, Bobby Santos at Westboro, Geoff Bodine in
the Yankee All Star League, George Murray at Seekonk, Bob Potter at
Waterford, Punky Caron at Monadnock and Claremont, Fred Harbach at Islip and
New Egypt, Charlie Jarzombek at Freeport and Riverhead, Richie Evans at
Spencer, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster, Sonney Seamon at Shangri-La, George
Kent at Fulton, Bob Polverari at Riverside, Jim Shampine at Oswego, Will
Cagle on the DIRT Circuit and Jim Hendrickson at Wall Stadium. Cale
Yarborough was the Winston Cup Champion.
Thirty years ago in 1981,
Richie Evans was the Nascar National Modified Champion. Evans also recorded
track championships at Stafford and Thompson in addition to the World Series
title at New Smyrna. Other champions of note included George "Moose" Hewitt
in the Modifieds at Waterford, Harry Rice in the Superstocks, also at
Waterford, Rit Patchen at Danbury, Wayne Anderson at Islip, Jerry Marquis
was the Limited Sportsman Champ at Stafford, Punky Caron at Monadnock, Jeff
Fuller at Westboro, George Kent at Spencer and Shangri-La, Bugsy Stevens at
Seekonk, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, Stash Gregger at Riverside, John
Blewett Jr at New Egypt, Doug Hevron in the Supers at Oswego, Mike Weeden at
Lee and Darrell Waltrip was the Winston Cup Champion. Last but not least,
Ronnie Bouchard was named NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
the following champions were announced. Dale Earnhardt, Winston Cup, Larry
Pearson, Busch Grand National, NASCAR Modified-Jim Spencer, NASCAR Northeast
Region-George Kent. Kent also won the Shangri-La track championship. Wayne
Anderson at New Egypt, Reggie Ruggiero at New Smyrna, Bob Potter at
Waterford plus Perfect Circle-Waterford, Stafford and Thompson combined,
Bentley Warren in the Supers and Brian Ross in the Modifieds at Oswego, Mike
Stefanik at Stafford, Wayne Dion in the SK's at both Stafford and Thompson,
Jan Leaty at Spencer, Ken Troyer at Lancaster, John Rosati-Modified and Tom
Rosati-Pro Stock at Riverside, John Blewett Jr at Riverhead and Tom Mauser
at Wall Stadium.
Twenty years ago in 1991, Dale
Earnhardt was the Winston Cup Champion and Bob Labonte was the Busch Grand
National champ. Ricky Craven was the GN North (Busch North Series) champion
and Mike Stefanik was the Modified Tour Champion. Jerry Marquis was the
NASCAR Northeast Regional champ plus was the track champion at Riverside
Park and Monadnock. Other track champions were Mike Ewanitsko at New Smyrna,
Wayne Anderson at Riverhead, Lee Sherwood at Shangri-La, Mike Christopher in
the SK's at Thompson, Bob Potter in the SK's at Stafford and Ricky Young in
the SK's at Waterford.
Fifteen years ago in 1996, Tony
Hirschman was crowned the Featherlite Modified Champion. Following Hirschman
were Steve Park, Ricky Fuller, Jan Leaty, Mike Stefanik, Tim Connolly, Jerry
Marquis and Ed Flemke Jr. Taking track championships were Tom Baldwin at New
Smyrna, Doug Diderio at Oswego, Ted Christopher at Stafford, Dave Berube at
Riverside, Jim Broderick at Waterford, Chuck Steuer at Riverhead, Siege
Fidenza at Lancaster, Dave Dion in the Busch North Series and Randy Lajoie
made it two in a row in the Busch South Series.
Ten years ago in 1991, the
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series held their awards banquet where Mike
Stefanik and Art Barry were officially crowned series champions. During the
evening, a 19-race schedule for 2002 was announced as well as a general
increase in race purses. NASCAR stated that there was a TV package in the
works. The First Annual Len Boehler Dedication to Modified Racing Award was
presented to Bob Garbarino who has built and owned Modifieds since the
mid-60s. Ted Christopher received the Gatorade Front Runner Award, Ricky
Miller, the Rookie of the Year Award and David Berghman, most improved.
Five years ago in 2006 The
Waterford Speedbowl closed out their racing season with an event they called
Double Down. Dennis Gada, who earlier in the season won his sixth
championship, added to his resume on Saturday by winning both ends of the
Modified segment of the season-ending Double Down Shoot Out. The two 25-lap
victories brought Gadaís SK Modified career win total to 50. Dwayne Dorr,
the 2006 Sportsman champ, set a record with his 11th victory in the first 15
lap Sportsman feature. Dorr, who finished fourth behind second feature
winner Richard Staskowski in the second feature was also the overall winner.
Corey Hutchings, Jeff Miller, Joe Godbout, Ken Cassidy Jr. were also winners
as the concept proved a success. The second feature lined up with lead lap
finishers from the first in reverse order. Jason Palmer passed Chris Bakaj
with eight laps left to win the Legends race and Joey Payne Jr. dominated
the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association race.
In other Speedbowl news, according to a report on Gary Danko's
Speedway Line Report Radio Show Monday night, the Speedbowl would be in
operation for the 2007 season. Reportedly it should be announced within a
week that the Speedbowl is being leased. It's reported that General Manager
Bill Roth will remain at the Speedbowl in his current position. It is
probably a majority of opinions the Speedbowl would not have survived 2006
without the efforts of Bill Roth and now retired PR Director Pete Zanardi.
It remained to be seen, if true, how this would effect foreclosure
proceedings on the property which have been put on hold by the court until
June 2007. It was also rumored that current Speedbowl owner Terry Eames
would not have any further connection with the operation of the track.
In other racing action, the Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, NC
was the site of the North-South Shootout featuring the Hoosier 100 for the
Modifieds along with a 50-lap main event for the SK-Type Modifieds.
Practice and qualifying were the orders of the day on Friday. There
were 36 Modifieds and 31 SK Modifieds on the track for practice. By the time
qualifying began the cars counts changed to 46 Modifieds and 34 SKís. Time
trials showed that Matt Hirschman was the fastest with southerner Burt
Meyers, second fastest. Bob Grigas was third with Brian Pack, fourth.
Rounding out the top five was Bobby Santos III in the Whelen No. 36 that was
formerly driven by Ted Christopher. Christopher was 12th fastest in the Joe
Brady No. 00. Long Islander Tom Rogers was the fastest of the SKís. Wall
Township Speedway regular Tom Farrell was second fastest. Ronnie Silk was
the only New Englander to break the top five. For most of those on hand it
was like being at home in New England as temperatures dropped to the high
20ís once the sun went down.
The cold weather carried over to Saturday but the racers used their
heads for the most part and dealt with it. Tom Rogers won the SK Modified 50
lapper. Bobby Santos III came from 14th spot to finish second. Woody Pitkat,
who started 15th, finished third. Earl Paules and Tom Cravenho rounded out
the top five. Matt Hirschman won the 100 lap Modified Shootout. Ted
Christopher finished second. Eric Beers came from 31st position to finished
third with Earl Paules, fourth. Defending race winner John Blewett III
rounded out the top five. It was a shame that Bobby Santos III never got to
show his stuff in the Whelen 36 as he was collected in a grinding crash on
Hirschman brought the field to green to start the 100 laps of green
flag racing in the Hoosier Modified 100 with Burt Myers and Bobby Grigas
taking chase. Defending race champion John Blewett was already on the move
going three wide on lap three to grab two spots. The potential of a good
night ended for Grigas when he received the black flag for a fluid leak.
Still under race conditions, Chuck Hossfeld was hounding Myers for the
second spot with Blewett in hot pursuit. Blewett marched into third over
Hossfeld on lap 13 and immediately set his sites on Myers. A single lap
later Blewett was second. Christopher was working his way into contention.
The first caution of the event flew on lap 17 for contact between Santos,
Andy Seuss, and Ronnie Silk. Several competitors took advantage of the
yellow to make their mandatory pit stop.
On the restart Hirschman led Jo. Blewett, Myers, Ted Christopher
and Hossfeld inside the top five. Hirschman and Blewett began to pull away
from third-running Myers. George Brunnhoelzl, Jr., making his first Modified
start of the season, brought out the yellow on lap two for an incident that
also involved Daren Scherer. During the caution period, the leader headed
down pit road, taking southern competitors Brian Loftin and Jason Myers
along for the ride. John Blewett was the new leader when the green flag few
again. B. Myers, Hossfeld, Christopher and now Todd Szegedy occupied the top
five positions. B. Myers tried mounting a challenge on Blewett but had to
settle back in line. This provided the opportunity for Hossfeld to make it a
three-car battle for the top spot. On lap 26, Hossfeld grabbed the second
position from B. Myers. Szegedy and NSS newcomer Les Hinckley teamed up to
work their way to the front. On lap 31 they each gained a position by
passing Christopher. Three laps later they made their way past B. Myers.
Recently crowned Northern Modified Tour Rookie-of-the-Year James Civalli
spun in turn four to bring out the events third caution on lap 36. A host of
front-running cars ducked down pit road including John Blewett, B. Myers,
Christopher, Beers and Brian Pack. Hossfeld inherited the lead on the
restart but looked strong at the head of the pack. Hossfeld held the top
spot over Hinckley, Hirschman, Paulus, and Loftin. A heated battle between
Paulus and Loftin was slowed by a caution for a spinning Anthony Sesely on
lap 36. Back under green, the Paulus-Loftin battle continued with Loftin
coming out on top. Loftin, now fourth, immediately began to pressure
Hirschman for third. Hossfeld began to pull away from Hinckley. The Southern
ace was able to get third from Hirschman; but not for long. On lap 44,
Hirschman rocketed back by through the dogleg. Earlier front-runner, B.
Myers spun in turn four to bring out the caution on lap 46. The caution was
trouble for Szegedy, who headed down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop.
The lap counter hit halfway with Chuck Hossfeld leading. The Hillbilly
Racing team pocketed $500 for leading lap 50 courtesy of DMC Auto Exchange.
Hirschman was back into the second position and looking for more. Paulus sat
in the third spot with a new face of Rick Kluth in fourth. A single lap
later, incidental contact between John Blewett and Lia ended with Lia in the
outside wall. Sesely, Seuss, and Hinckley spun during the incident as well.
B. Myers received heavy damage to his car when Lia tried to drive away from
the scene, collecting Myers. Hossfeld, the only car yet to make the
mandatory stop, headed to pit road for service. Hirschman was the new leader
when racing resumed. Paulus, Kluth, Blewett and Christopher rounded out the
top-five. With Hirschman and Paulus pulling away slightly, the best battle
on the track was for fifth position between Blewett and Beers. Christopher
began to show his muscle as well. On lap 53, Christopher took third from
Kluth and began to reel in the leaders. Kluth fell into the clutches of
Beers. There was a scary moment for Hirschman on lap 70 when Gene Pack and
Ryan Preece spun in the leaders path to bring out the caution. Unfazed,
Hirschman jumped out to a comfortable lead on the restart. Paulus continued
to run in second over Christopher, Blewett and Beers. The action at the back
of the pack was heated with several rows of side-by-side racing. A spin by
Billy Pauch, Jr. brought out the seventh yellow on lap 76. Christopher took
advantage of the restart to make a bid on Paulus while Beers made a run on
Blewett. Neither was able to make the pass stick. On lap 80, Paulus had
reached the back bumper of Hirschman. He, too, had to settle back into line.
The final caution of the event flew on lap 85 for a spin by Hinckley. With a
collective groan from the grandstand area, the Southís favorite son, Junior
Miller was forced down pit road under the caution with an oil leak. The
final 15-laps found Hirschman getting some breathing room as Paulus,
Christopher and Beers went nose to tail. On lap 94, Christopher was able to
muscle his way by Paulus for second. Beers, who lost a cylinder during the
event, was still able to follow through to move his ailing #9 into the third
Hirschman cruised to the victory in the prestigious North-South
Shootout. Hirschman was greeted in victory lane by his legendary father Tony
and his teary eyed mother, Brenda. It was a big win for the young and rising
star. In addition to his $9,000 plus bounty, Hirschman was also presented
with a custom-painted helmet to commemorate his victory and a shotgun-a
fitting trophy for Hirschman who symbolically gunned down the competition.
One of the Whelen Modified Tour Series top crew chiefs and
fabricators packed his bags and headed south. Phil Moran had taken a
position with Bill Davis Racing in North Carolina which fields NASCAR Nextel
Cup and Busch Series cars. Moran had been behind the efforts of Todd Szegedy
and at one time was a fabricator at Spearpoint Auto. Moran also spent
considerable time at the Carl and Charlie Pasteryak racing garage. Tom
Baldwin, Jr. apparently had hired Phil to be in charge of the chassis shop.
Baldwin had also hired Steve Aspinwall from the Mystic Missile team for a
position at Bill Davis racing.
At the Texas Motor Speedway Tony Stewart, a two-time Nextel Cup
champion made it two in a row as he earned his 29th career win. He also won
in September at Kansas by gambling on gas and coasted under the checkered
flag. But Stewart was dominating a week previous at Atlanta, leading 146 of
325 laps, and even stronger this week. Jimmie Johnson finished second. An
unidentified crewman for Scott Riggs' team knocked driver Kevin Harvick, his
wife and a NASCAR official to the ground on pit road Sunday, minutes after
the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It was apparently in retaliation
for an incident late in the race. Harvick was close behind Riggs when the
latter crashed while running third on lap 332 of the 339-race event. It
appeared Harvick's car took the air off the rear deck of Riggs' car and
Riggs was unable to maintain control. Harvick won the preliminary Busch 300
that was run on Saturday.
Last year, 2010, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour schedule for 2011 was starting to come together. The
Stafford Motor Speedway announced that the 2011 Spring Sizzler would be held
on May 1. Their traditional August Friday night date would be August 5 with
a rain date the following day, Saturday, Aug 6. The third and final visit of
the tour would be on Sunday, October 2 for the Fall Final. Lime Rock Park
had also announced that they would be hosting the tour again, on September
17. The Thompson Speedway had previously announced that they would have
three tour dates, to be announced plus the three at Loudon and one at
Riverhead. Other dates in the wind were June 24 at Monadnock, July 16 at
Loudon, August 13 or 14 at Loudon on Indy car weekend, August 24 at Bristol
and September 24 at Loudon.
The Modified Racing Series had just completed its most successful
season to date. The series picked up the slack that competitors experienced
as dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had shrunk in recent
years. The MRS staged 19 events at speedways in New England and New York.
John McKennedy garnered the season championship as he beat out Dwight Jarvis
by 63 points. Les Hinkley finished the year in third spot with Steve Masse
and Ken Barry rounding out the top five. Finishing sixth through tenth are
Rowan Pennink, Todd Annarummo, Max Zachem, Rob Goodenough and Jacob Dore.
All tolled 72 different drivers entered into competition.
The outlook for 2012 was extremely bright as more top drivers were
looking for an alternative venue in which to race. The MRS would be running
at just about every track in New England in 2012. Most tracks would host
The Stafford Motor Speedway announced their 2012 schedule. As
previously mentioned their season would begin on May 1 with the Spring
Sizzler. Friday night weekly racing would start on May 6 and will continue
through September 16. The Modified Racing Series would return for two
events, May 12 and September 9, in 2012. Both MRS events would have the
following day, Saturday, as rain dates. Also on the schedule again was
Extreme Tuesday which would be held on June 28 and would feature the ISMA
Supers, NEMA Midgets and Pro Four Modifieds.
NEAR Hall of Famer Billy Harman entered the hospital for knee replacement
surgery and was on the mend.
In some sad news, Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate
communications, whose career in motorsports spanned portions of six decades
as both a journalist and public relations professional, passed away in
Daytona Beach, Fla., following a 12-month battle with cancer. He was 71.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup stars were at the Talledega Speedway. The
race was marked by 87 lead changes, second most in NASCAR history, and a
multicar accident that sent AJ Allmendinger's car flipping across the track
as the leaders roared toward the white flag. NASCAR threw the caution for
Allmendinger's accident, and nobody had any idea who was out front when the
Sponsorship of Jeff Gordon's car was filled when longtime partner DuPont
announced a three-year extension with the four-time NASCAR champion. DuPont
had been with Gordon since his Cup debut in 1992, but the company was
scaling back its commitment starting in 2011. It would be Gordon's primary
sponsor in 14 races.
It took several minutes of reviews for NASCAR to declare Clint
Bowyer the victor. He jumped the gun with celebratory burnouts, then stuck
his hand out his window for a congratulatory high-five with Kevin Harvick,
who waited in his parked Chevrolet for the NASCAR call.
In truck series racing, Kyle Busch made a last-ditch slide past
Aric Almirola at the finish line, then brushed aside Almirola's suggestion
that he should be stripped of the victory.
With his truck on the verge of spinning out, Busch appeared to put
two wheels below the yellow out-of-bounds line at the bottom of the track
just as he made his wild move to win Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Trucks
series race at Talladega Superspeedway by 0.002 seconds. He wasn't
Thatís 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
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit