The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


November 18, 2011

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Falconi family that was operating the Westboro Speedway tried something different as they promoted a Modified race for mid November with heated grandstands. The Falconi's owned and operated an oil company and closed in the under part of the grandstand and used huge fuel oil powered heaters. Needless to say, the experiment worked, as everyone was toasty warm. Leo Cleary in the Tiger Tom Dunn T-5 led the 50 lap main event from pole to pole. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by George Murray, Mike Murphy, Bob Santos, Pete Fiandaca, Dick Caso and Roland LaPierre Jr.

   Ten years ago in 1991, the Oswego Speedway was put up for sale with a price tag of $3 million. In Winston Cup racing at Atlanta, Jerry Nadeau was in the lead and heading for the win when he ran out of gas with less than a half lap to go. Bobby Labonte took the lead with less than 100 yards to go and went on to record the win. Nadeau coasted across the finish line in fourth spot.

   Five years ago in 2006, the True Value Modified Series, which had become a less expensive alternative to the NASCAR Series, indicated that the Waterford Speedbowl may very well be on their schedule for 2007. The open wheel touring series, which first appeared at the Seekonk Speedway in October of 2004, would compete in four 100 green flag lap events, which would be preceded by a series of qualifying heats.

   At the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, NASCAR recognized several racetracks for their outstanding promotional efforts in 2006. Among the honorees was the Thompson Speedway, which received the Administrative award of excellence.
NASCAR’s Nextel Cup and Busch Series wrapped up their seasons at Homestead, Fla. Matt Kenseth took the Busch Series win. Kevin Harvick already had wrapped up the title. In Nextel Cup action, Greg Biffle took the win and Jimmie Johnson, the title.

   Last year, 2010, NASCAR has announced the 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule which featured 16 races and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule which featured 14 races, highlighted by a new special event at a historic New England track, and the inaugural venture to Canada.

   Begun in 1985, the 27th season of the Whelen Modified Tour would see NASCAR’s oldest division return to traditional venues like Connecticut’s Thompson International Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway a combined eight times in 2011. Stafford would retain the four dates it had carried in in the past while Thompson moved its August race to June and added a special event for September.

   On Sept. 11, Thompson would bring both the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours to its .625-mile oval for a new event that would feature an exciting format. There would be separate 125-lap, points-paying races for each Tour. The top 15 finishers of each race would then line up for a 50-lap non-points “dash for the cash” race.

   The Whelen Modified Tour would also head across the border for the first time in 2011. New to the schedule would be an appearance on Sept. 4 at Delaware (Ontario) Speedway, a half-mile asphalt oval that had held NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events the two previous seasons and is a member track of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

   The 2011 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule would feature 14 races at nine different tracks. Begun in 2005, the seventh season of Whelen Southern Modified Tour competition would run its first event at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on March 13 in the first of six events at the .455-mile oval, which had played host to more all-time Southern Tour events than any other facility. Bowman Gray Stadium, the hotbed of Modified racing in the south, would once again welcome the Whelen Southern Modified Tour on Aug. 6. Like Caraway, Bowman Gray had been a fixture of the Southern Tour’s schedule since its inception.

   Thanks to the efforts of NASCAR, the Speed Channel and the Versus TV network many of the Northern and Southern Whelen Modified Tour Series events were televised. Hopefully that would continue in 2011. Needless to say it didn't as the only races shown were those at Bristol in August and the Sept event at Loudon. NASCAR's most competitive division was again ignored.

   Jon McKennedy was crowned 2010 Modified Racing Series Champion, on Saturday night, November 20, when the New England based touring division, sponsored by Bob Valenti AutoMall.Com, honored its competitors for their accomplishments. McKennedy captured both the driving championship and car owner’s title for the 2010 campaign. The 23 year-old driver joined three-time champion, Kirk Alexander, as the only other driver to win back-to-back championships. Like 2009, McKennedy won four races enroute to the title. The only difference was the purchase of a new Race Works Chassis, a potent car he put in victory lane the first night out at Waterford, Connecticut.

   The top 15 drivers for the 2010 season were recognized at the year end banquet. Runner-up and 2006 Champion, Dwight Jarvis, was honored, as well as, Les Hinckley, Steven Masse, and Ken Barry, who finished in the top five. Sixth through fifteenth were, Rowan Pennink, Todd Annarummo, Max Zachem, Rob Goodenough, Jacob Dore, Joey Jarvis, Jack Bateman, Norm Wrenn, Eddy Spiers, and 2008 champion, Chris Pasteryak.

   In addition to crowning the series champion, the 2010 Koszela Speed “Rookie of the Year” Award will be presented as will the DART Steel Engine Builder Award. SPAFCO Most Improved Driver Award, Tough Luck Driver Award, Crew Member of the Year Award, Sportsmanship Award, and Dedication to Racing Award. Series officials select the special recipients annually.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway honored its track champions at the 41st Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards.

   Headlining the night's festivities, Keith Rocco was be recognized as the 2010 SK Modified® Champion, which is Rocco's second career track championship. Ryan Posocco was honored as the 2010 Late Model track champion, his record fifth career championship in Stafford's Late Model division. Matt Galko became the second consecutive rookie driver to win the SK Light Modified championship. Dan Flannery climbed his way to the top of the mountain and was crowned the 2010 Limited Late Model track champion. Tony Membrino, Jr. was honored as the third consecutive driver to win the DARE Stock championship after winning the season opening Tech-Net Spring Sizzler feature event.

   There were 20 SK Modified features run at the half mile track. Rocco recorded a record 10 wins including four in a row from June 11 to July 2. Other winners were Frank Ruocco (4), Woody Pitkat (3) along with Matt Gallo, Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece who had one win each.

   Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year honors went to Josh Sylvester from the SK Modified® division, Tim Fogg from the Late Model division, Matt Galko from the SK Light division, and Duane Provost from the Limited Late Model division.

   Carl Edwards won the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, setting himself up for a big weekend for Roush-Fenway Racing. Edwards dominated the Nationwide race, leading 153 of the 200 laps while beating runner-up Kevin Harvick by 5.210 seconds.

   Carl Edwards won the Kobalt Tools 500k Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway from the pole for his 1st win of 2010, 1st win in 70 races and 17th win of his career. Ryan Newman finished second followed by Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Jimmy Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray (who was the Lucky Dog twice). Points leader, Denny Hamlin, led the most laps but had to pit for gas late in the race and finished 12th and held on to the points lead by 15 points over four-time champ Johnson.

   There were 13 lead changes among 6 drivers and 5 cautions for 25 yellow flag laps. The attendance was reported at 75,000 down from last year's 90,000. The purse was $4,998,285 down from $5,136,375 in 2009.

   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

Frank Manafort                                                Deke Astle                                           Denny Zimmerman  

Ken Bouchard                                                Newt Palm                                               Steve Evonsion
Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: November 18, 2011

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