The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


November 11, 2011

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds ran a special event at Kingsport, Tenn. Geoff Bodine ended his modified season with a win over Paul Radford and John Bryant.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, the Thompson Speedway hosted their annual banquet. Taking top honors were Richie Evans, the Modified Champion, Dave Wandzy, the Street Stock Champ and Ron Cote, the late model champ. Special awards included most Improved in the Modifieds, Corky Cookman, Late models, Fran Colson and Street Stock, Jack Crosby. Rookie honors went to Ed Kennedy in the Modifieds, Rick Armstrong in the Late Models and Rick Fuller in the Street Stocks. Dick Williams, who promoted the speedway during the year, announced that he was not renewing his lease.

   Twenty-five years ago in 1986, Ben Dodge was hired by NASCAR to help out in the promotion and publicity of the Featherlite Modified Tour. Waterford held their annual banquet, which honored Bob Potter as the SK Modified champion and Brian McCarthy as the Super Stock champion. Most improved honors went to Ed Flemke Jr in the SK's and Chuck Zentarski in the Super Stocks. Rookie of the Year honors went to David Gada in the Modifieds and Dave Wheeler in the Superstocks. Promoter Ed Yerrington announced that the 1987 Tri-Track point fund would be in excess of $100,000, which would be, more than was for the Modified or Busch North Series at that time.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, November 10 turned out to be a sad day for New England Auto Racing as D. Anthony Venditti, owner and promoter of the Seekonk Speedway had passed away. Venditti was a visionary and although some of his ideas seemed off the wall sometimes, nine times out of ten he could read the future of auto racing. He had the original idea for what we now know is a Pro Stock. Venditti could be very stubborn but no matter what, he always stuck to his guns. He had the respect of just about every one that knew him.

   Ten years ago in 2001, the Stafford Speedway held their annual banquet and crowned Ted Christopher the SK-Modified Track Champion. Christopher was also the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Regional and National Champion. NASCARís Winston Cup and Grand National divisions were in Homestead, Florida. Joe Nemechek took the GN win. In Winston Cup action, Bill Elliott got the first Dodge win for Ray Everham. Elliott took the lead from teammate Casey Atwood with five laps to go. Michael Waltrip finished second. During the running of the event three of Ricky Ruddís crew plus a NASCAR official were injured on pit road when Ward Burton bounced off the car of Casey Atwood and hit Ruddís car while it was being serviced. In SMART Modified competition at South Boston, Virginia, Gary Meyers took the win over Charlie Pasteryak and Jay Foley. Ed Flemke JR, in the Hill Racing No.79 was the fastest of the field and was leading with 10 laps to go when Frank Fleming drilled him into the wall on a restart. It was also announced on this weekend that NASCAR entered into agreement with Dodge for multi-year sponsorship of the sanctioning bodies Weekly Racing Series.

   Five years ago in 2006, it looked like the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series had gone by the wayside as NASCAR and Whelen Engineering announced a multi-year agreement for Whelen to become the new title sponsor of NASCARís weekly racing program. The series was re-named the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for 2007.

   The leasing of the Waterford Speedbowl continued to a hot topic of conversation. Jerry Robinson, a virtually unknown in racing circles, leased the shoreline oval. Robinson owned the Legends Cars Series. It was hoped that Robinson could breathe new life into the track that had all but run into the ground by property owner Terry Eames. Things got so bad in 2006 at Waterford the track was running unadvertised races as too much money had been owed for too long of a period to area radio stations and newspapers. It was amazing that the track did as well as it did.

   Priorities included re-opening and modernizing the restrooms and repairing sections of grandstand that have been closed for repair. As it turned out, Robinson ended up being one of the worst things that ever happened to the shoreline oval.

   In Whelen Modified Tour Series news Mike Stefanik indicated that he would pursue his tenth championship with Flamingo Motorsports for 2007. Barry Kuhnel who played a key role as his crew chief in years past would be a consultant. Stefanik would be driving a 2007 model Troyer chassis, which was Ford powered. Word was being tossed around about a Whelen Modified Tour Series event in Mansfield, Ohio.
Word came from Lew Boyd that two legends were under the weather and could use a card of cheer. Four time NASCAR Sportsman Champion Rene Charland was recuperating from a recent car crash and. Bill Wimble had developed tongue cancer and would have a rough few weeks with radiation and chemo.

   The Daytona Beach Journal reported that NASCAR President Brian France drove into a parked car and hit a tree with his Lexus. NASCAR issued a statement that he spilled a soft drink which evidently caused him to lose control of the vehicle. Evidently he wasnít drinking Pepsi and evidently his Lexus wasnít shod with Goodyear Tires. Police said the Lexus had $1,500 damage.

   Kevin Harvick led 252 of the 312 circuits and captured the Checker Auto Parts "500" presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway by a quarter of a second today over Johnson. Harvick also won the Busch Series event.

   Last year, 2010, The eighth annual 109 U-Pull It John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took center stage this past weekend in Concord, NC. Thursday's practice sessions were rained out which made for a hectic Friday schedule. The excitement began to build early Friday as the pit area was crammed with 31 Tour Type Modifieds, 18 SK type Modifieds, 27 Super Late Models along with 25 USA (Thompson type) Modifieds and some scattered Vintage Modifieds. As the day wore on a cold front descended on the speedway driving temperatures down to between 25 and 30 degrees.

   Time trials were held for the SK and Tour types. In the SKs Ronnie Silk in the Eddie Partridge entry took the top spot over Ryan Preece and Ron Yuhas Jr. Chuck Hossfeld was the Tour type top qualifier over Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman. SK type qualifying heats were won by Keith Rocco and Steve Reed. Shortly after the completion of the SK type heats rain decended upon the speedway forcing officials to cancel remaining qualifying. The decision was made to start all Tour type cars straight up from time when the action was scheduled to resume on Saturday.

   Despite a shivering chill in the air the Shootout made it into the history books. Matt Hirschman and Keith Rocco survived a wreck filled day to win the modified and SK portions of the annual North-South Shootout. Hirschman picked up his third victory in the prestigious event, putting an end to the two-year domination of Burt Myers, who spun twice early in the 125-lap modified feature which took him out of contention. Hirschman started third and ran in the top five most of the event. He was running second behind leader James Civali on lap 89 when contact between he, Civali and third-place Ryan Preece sent all three spinning, giving fourth-place Ted Christopher the lead.

   Christopher didnít hold the lead long as he was dumped two restarts later by Rowan Pennink entering turn one, causing a tangle that eventually included seven cars. Pennink was sent to the rear of the field for causing the crash. George Brunnhoelzl III inherited the lead, but Hirschman had recovered from his spin on lap 89 and was up to fourth for the restart. By lap 105 Hirschman was up to second and eight laps later he took the lead for good, passing Brunnhoelzl in lapped traffic. He survived one final restart with four laps left to earn the victory.

   Polesitter Chuck Hossfeld finished second, followed by Brunnhoelzl, Eric Beers and Ron Silk. The modified race featured 11 caution flags and two red flags. One of the red flag stops was to allow the track crew to repair water barrels on pit road.

   Tommy Farrell finished sixth and was followed by Pennink, Les Hinkley, Jason Myers and Eric Goodale. Justin Bonsignore finished 14th after being one of the race leaders who had problems. His was a dead battery. Jimmy Blewett finished 15th and Burt Myers was 19th. James Civali finished 20th with Ryan Preece and Christopher following.

   With eight laps remaining in the 50 lap SK type race Keith Rocco was sitting in seventh spot. A lot can change in the closing moments of any race and this 50 lapper was no different. Earl Paules led the restart and after just one lap Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat and Tom Farrell spun. Christopher suffered suspension damage and was towed off. Paules led the final restart which was single file. Almost immediately the field bunched up and went three wide. With three to go Ryan Preece went into the lead only to lose it to Rocco in the final moments. Preece ended up second with Silk, third. Paules and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Tom Barrett, Tom Farrell and Woody Pitkat.

   A real scary wreck took place on lap 41 when New Jersey racer Steven Reed got up on the backstretch wall, riding it for quite a way before crashing back on to the track. Reed hit a lightpole plus ripped down a portion of the catch fence. The car's chassis did its job as Reed emerged unhurt. In a track PA interview, Reed stated he lost a right-front tire going through the dogleg causing his car to hit the wall and get airborne.

   Tim McCreadie passed Matt Sheppard late in Saturday night's Big-Block DIRT Modified portion of the Lowes Foods World Finals at Charlotte and went on to win the feature. Sheppard's runner-up finish was enough to lock up the 2010 Mr. DIRTCar championship though for the first time in his career.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Denny Hamlin completed a Texas two-step, winning at the track for the second time this year and taking over the points lead from four-time defending season champion Jimmy Johnson. Hamlin took the lead with 29 laps to go and then overcame a push from Matt Kenseth on the final restart with three laps left, holding on for his series-best eighth victory this season. Matt Kenseth finished second with Mark Martin, third. Joey Logano was fourth. Kyle Busch was penalized three laps Sunday - the first for speeding on pit road and two more for flashing an obscene gesture through his windshield at the NASCAR official who signaled the infraction while standing in front of Busch's car.

   Brad Keselowski clinched the Nationwide season title by finishing third in Texas on Saturday, giving owner Roger Penske his first championship in one of NASCAR's national series. Keselowski, who had to finish only 21st or better to wrap up the driver's championship with two races left, crossed the line behind winner Carl Edwards and runner-up Kyle Busch to earn his 24th top-five result of the season.

   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
Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Steve Danish                                               Doug Garrison                                          Pete Fiandaca  

Gary Colturi                                                Hank Stevens                                              Ron Narducci
Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: November 11, 2011

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