The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 24, 2012

   Forty five years ago in 1967, the Thursday qualifiers were 100 miles. Lee Roy Yarbrough passed AJ Foyt with five laps to go to win the first of two qualifiers run. Fred Lorenzen, NASCAR's Golden Boy at the time, drafted his way to win the second event and became the first to go the 100-mile distance without stopping for fuel. Lorenzen actually ran out on the last lap and coasted across the finish line. In the 500, Mario Andretti, after starting 12th, led a one-two sweep for Holman and Moody as they won the big race. Lorenzen finished second.

   Forty years ago in 1972, Dave Marcis and Bobby Allison won the 125's at Daytona. The Permatex 300 for the Late Model Sportsman (Grandnational) was won by Bill Dennis. Grant Adcox finished second. Joe Thurman, Dave Marcis and Jerry Cook rounded out the top five. Also in the 300 and making a good showing was Fred DeSarro who finished 14th in Len Boehlers Chevelle, Rene Charland, 15th, Maynard Forette, 18th and Lou Lazzaro, 21st. AJ Foyt, driving for the Wood Brothers, won the 500. Charlie Glotzbach finished second, one lap down. Jim Vandiver, Benny Parsons and James Hylton rounded out the top five.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, the Modifieds ran on the infield road course at Daytona. The 200-mile event took its toll on transmissions and suspensions as only four, Harry Gant, Bay Darnell, Jim Peterson and Jerry Cook finished in the lead lap. Mid week rainouts cut New Smyrna short, as they were able to run on Saturday and Sunday nights, only. Jim Bickerstaff was the Saturday night winner with Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine and Merv Treichler following. Evans took the Sunday night finale over Bodine. Evans was the overall point leader and was crowned the series champion. Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough won the 125-mile qualifiers. Yarborough won the 500 beating out Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his domination of the World Series at New Smyrna as he won two of the last three events of the series to take the championship. On Wednesday night, Doug Hewitt finished second with George Kent, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five. It rained on Thursday night but on Friday it was the same story with Sacks again the winner. Cook finished second and was followed by Maynard Troyer and Gail Barber. The final night of competition saw Evans get the edge with Sacks having to settle for second. Troyer, Kent and Dick Trickle rounded out the top five. Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 won two of the last four events of the World Series at New Smyrna and wrapped up the series title. Jamie Tomaino won on Wednesday night. Ruggiero, Tony Jankowiac and Jerry Marquis followed. Ruggiero won a 50 lapper on Thursday night over Tomaino, Tom Baldwin and Dick Trickle. Prior to Friday nights event it was announced that popular car owner Gene DeWitt had passed away. DeWitt was Richie Evans' sponsor and mentor during his championship years. Ruggerio took the Friday night main over Jim Spencer, Tomaino and Baldwin. The final night of competition saw Spencer taking the win over Ruggerio, Jankowiac and Baldwin. Geoff Bodine won the Daytona Grandnational 300. Darrell Waltrip finished second with Larry Pearson, third. Kenny Bouchard finished 25th, Merv Treichler finished 37th and Ronnie Bouchard finished 40th. In the Daytona 500, Bill Elliott took the win
after Geoff Bodine ran out of gas with three laps to go.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, Ricky Fuller, in the Fiore No.44 went pole to pole to take the win at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Tom Baldwin finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Fuller did it again on Thursday night in spite of thick fog. Tomaino finished second with Steve Park, Baldwin and Danny Watts rounding out the top five. Baldwin won on Friday night after Fuller wrecked bad. Richie Gallup finished second with Park, third. Fuller came back on Saturday night to win the Richie Evans 100. Baldwin finished second. Steve Park finished fourth and sewed up the series title. Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the Goodys 300 at Daytona on Saturday. Ernie Irvan finished second with Ward Burton, third. Ricky Craven finished 13th and Jeff Barry finished 14th, both on the lead lap. Davey Allison won the Daytona 500 over Morgan Shepherd and Geoff Bodine.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Ted Christopher took a hard fought win over Tony Stewart at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Ricky Fuller finished third with Tom Baldwin, fourth. Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Sr won the 125's at Daytona on Thursday Fuller, in the Joe Brady No.00 took the win on Thursday night. Baldwin finished second with Stewart and Tomaino. On Friday it was announced that Joe Lewandowski had been hired as the new promoter-race director at Riverside Park. Baldwin took the top spot on Friday night at New Smyrna. Stewart finished second with Fuller, Christopher and Doug French rounding out the top five. Randy LaJoie took the lead from Dick Trickle on lap 95 of the 120 lap BGN 300 at Daytona and went on to win the event. Todd Bodine ended up second with Michael Waltrip, third. Ted Christopher won the series ending Richie Evans 100 at New Smyrna. Rick Fuller finished second with Ton Baldwin finishing third and sewing up the series title. Jeff Gordon won the Daytona 500 but the main story was the stamina of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. During the running of the event, Earnhardt flipped on the backstretch. After getting out and surveying the damage, Earnhardt climbed back in and started it up and drove it to the pits for repairs. Needless to say, he finished 31st which is not bad considering.

   Ten years ago in 2002 because of the Sunday night rainout and a scheduled night off on Monday for the Modifieds at New Smyrna double features were run. Eric Beers won the left over event over Nevin George, Rob Summers, Charlie Pasteryak and David Berghman. Charlie Pasteryak won the nightcap as he won a hard fought battle with Ted Christopher. Summers finished third with Jamie Tomaino and David Berghman rounding out the top five. Nevin George and John Blewett III tangled on the track and the action spilled over into the infield where drivers and crews went at it. The end result was a one-night suspension for both. Wednesday night at New Smyrna saw Eric Beers pick up his second win of the series as he beat out George Kent Sr. for the win. JR Bertuccio finished third and was followed by Rob Summers and Nevin George. Among the casualties was Charlie Pasteryak who lost an engine. The Daytona Winston Cup 125’s, usually the best events
of Speedweek were ho-hum affairs with Jeff Gordon and Michael Waltrip taking the wins. At New Smyrna on Thursday night David Berghman powered his way to a convincing win over Eric Beers, Rob Summers, Nevin George and George Kent Sr. Rob Summers took the lead with three laps to go in the Richie Evans 100 on Friday night. Charlie Pasteryak, with a fresh engine, finished second with Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino and Jerry Marquis rounding out the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr, in the Richard Childress No.3 won the Busch Grandnational 300.

   George Kent Sr. won the series finale at New Smyrna on Saturday night Ted Christopher finished second with Eric Beers, John Blewett III and David Berghman rounding out the top five. Rob Summers finished seventh and wrapped up the series title. Ward Burton and crew chief Tom Baldwin Jr. won the Daytona 500. Burton took the lead on a restart with four laps to go. Sterling Marlin had been leading but was put to the rear after he exited his car while the field was under a red flag to pull some sheet metal away from a tire. Elliott Sadler finished second and Geoff Bodine, who started 35th, finished third. Two days later, on February 19, a bobsled designed by Bodine and Bob Cuneau won the Gold Medal in the women’s competition at the Winter Olympics. The bobsleds also won the bronze and silver medals in the men’s competition.

   Five years ago in 2007, racing in Florida at the New Smyrna Speedway for the Tour type Modifieds and SK type Modifieds continued on Monday night. The Tour type Modifieds numbered 26 and the SK types, 10. Zach Sylvester was the top time trailer as he toured the half-mile oval in 16.695 seconds. Jimmy Blewett was second fastest. John Blewett III started fourth and wasted little time as he took the lead from Zach Sylvester in turn three of the first lap. From there on it was hammer down for Blewett as he kept his Brady Bunch mount out in front and went on to take the win. Sylvester finished second. Ted Christopher continued to be a non finisher as he was involved in a wreck with Joey Logano. Logano was running fourth in the latter stages until getting together with Andy Seuss. Both drivers kept their cars straight, but lost several positions. Jimmy Blewett and Eric Beers got together while running for fourth. Blewett appeared to have a problem, catching Beers off guard. The two locked bumpers, putting both to the back of the pack. Logano then got together with Ted Christopher as the two were battling four fourth position. TC slammed into the wall, while Logano kept going. Seuss then got together with Donny Lia while racing in the top-10, with Seuss getting into the front stretch wall and falling out of the event. Earl Paules ended up third with Don Lia and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top five. Jimmy Blewett made it three in a row in the SK type Modified feature.

   John Blewett III became the first repeat winner in World Series Tour type Modified racing on Tuesday night. While those left behind in the northeast were bracing themselves for a winter storm heavy rain pounded the New Smyrna area. By race time the rain stopped and racing went on as planned. Bob Grigas started on the pole with John Blewett III on the outside. Prior to the start of the race Ted Christopher and Jim Storace spun in turn 2. Grigas took the lead on the restart with Blewett, Eric Beers and Zach Sylvester in tow. Blewett went under Grigas on lap 8. Evidently Blewett took the air off Grigas’ spoiler as he spun. In the resulting pig pile Don Lia suffered right front wheel and suspension damage after he was hit by Sylvester who had no where to go. Two more minor cautions slowed the event. At the finish it was Blewett III followed by Beers, Sylvester, Earl Paules and Jon McKennedy. Twenty-three cars took the green flag in the Tour-Type Modified
feature, but two of the competitors that had competed well in previous nights were absent from the starting lineup. Joey Logano, driving Gary Cretty’s #26 entry, was a no-show Tuesday, as was James Civali in the second Joe Brady car. Jimmy Blewett made it four in a row in SK type Modified action.

   The Tour type Modifieds went the 50 lap distance on Wednesday night. Jimmy Blewett became the fourth different winner as he took advantage of his brother’s mis-fortune when John pitted with a broken spindle. Eric Beers ended up second with Joey Logano, third. Ted Christopher managed to stay out of trouble and finished fourth. Earl Paules rounded out the top five. Twenty-five cars took the green with Don Lia and John Blewett III leading the charge. Shelly and Butch Perry brought out early cautions in separate incidents. Jimmy Blewett moved into second spot and glued himself to Lia’s bumper. Blewett made the race-winning move on lap 14 and that’s all she wrote! Earl Paules broke Jimmy Blewett’s stranglehold in the SK type Modifieds as he took the win after leading the entire event. Blewett was forced to start in the rear after it was discovered that his car had an illegal carburetor spacer plate.

   Heavy rain moved into the New Smyrna area on Thursday night just as the Modifieds were having their hot laps in preparation for their feature. In Modified tour type qualifying Jimmy Blewett set fast time just one night after winning his first Tour-Type feature of Speedweeks 2007. Wednesday’s second-place finisher Eric Beers was second quick in qualifying. Blewett then set fast time in the SK Modified feature, which was also rained out.

   Jimmy Blewett came into the Richie Evans 100 with both guns blazing and picked up where he left off on Wednesday night as he dusted the field and took the win. Blewett started on the outside pole and wasted little time as he took the lead from Eric Beers on lap 3 with a slingshot move. Ted Christopher ended up second when he passed Beers with eight laps to go. Beers faded to fourth in the end as Don Lia passed him on the final lap. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top five. Among tose who failed to finish were John Blewett III who wrecked with Bob Holmes, Chuck Hossfeld who lost an engine and Andy Seuss who ended up in the wall.

   Twenty-five Tour type Modifieds went to post. The Grand Marshals for the event were Tara and Richie Evans Jr, children of the late champion. In addition to the Richie Evans Memorial 100 Jimmy Blewett continued his winning ways as he won the final event of the series on Saturday night. Starting on the pole, Blewett led every lap. Don Lia moved into second spot on lap 18 but had nothing for Blewett at the end. John Blewett III finished third with Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher was up to second by lap 15 but dropped out shortly after and ended up 16th. Eric Beers wrapped up the series championship. In SK type Modified racing it was Kevin Goodale holding off Jimmy Blewett and Earl Paules through numerous lead swaps in the closing laps of the 40-lap SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett won the the SK type Modified Championship.

   Eric Beers used consistency to earn the Tour type Modified Championship. Beers beat out Jimmy Blewett by 15 points for the title. John Blewett III ended up third with Don Lia and Zach Sylvester rounding out the top five. Defending champion Andy Seuss finished out of the top ten.

   At the Daytona Speedway, Michael Waltrip's new Toyota team took the hardest hit yet in what had mushroomed into NASCAR's toughest push against cheating during Daytona 500 week in at least 31 years. Waltrip's crew chief and vice president of competition were ejected from Daytona International Speedway and suspended indefinitely from NASCAR competition. Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and crew chief David Hyder fined $100,000. The team's vice president, Bobby Kennedy, was suspended because he was held ultimately responsible. It was an enormous embarrassment to Toyota in its first Nextel Cup outing. But NASCAR competition vice president Robin Pemberton said "this is a team issue. This has nothing to do with a manufacturer." An illegal substance - which a source told The Associated Press was a property contained in jet fuel - was found in an intake manifold of Waltrip's car during inspection Sunday. In an unrelated matter, four crew chiefs were suspended and fined for various infractions. Three were from the Ray Evernham Dodge team which includes drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs, and one was from Matt Kenseth's Roush Racing team.

   The Thursday 150 mile qualifiers were won by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. A post race inspection showed that Gordon’s car was too low. The win wasn’t taken away but his car was placed 42nd in the Daytona 500 starting field. Kevin Harvick scored a one-two punch as he won both the Busch Series 300 and the Daytona 500. Harvicks 500 win was by inches over Mark Martin.

   Congratulations went out to Mr and Mrs Mike Boehler on the birth of their new baby, Kate Anna Boehler who was born on Feb. 15. The newest member of Boehler Racing weighed in at 6 lb. 11 oz. 21 inches long.

   With the proposed speedway in the metro New York City area a dead issue the International Speedway Corp. began exploring the possibility of building a national-level motorsports racetrack in Adams County near Denver International Airport. The company said it was considering pursuing a public-private partnership to develop the speedway. The speedway could seat approximately 75,000 people and have a "considerable economic impact to the region," International Speedway officials said in a statement.

   Last year, 2011 Racing for the Modifieds and SK Modifieds resumed on Monday night at the New Smyrna Speedway. The car count for the SK Modifieds remained at seven as the Modifieds picked up Burt and Jason Myers along with Kevin Flockhart. Chuck Hossfeld to the lead at the start and led the entire 25 lap distance holding off Ted Christopher for the win. Earl Paules finished third with Burt Myers, fourth. Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner and Brian Hoar was the ACT Late Model winner.

   Tuesday night at New Smyrna saw the Modified field swell to 17 while the SKs remained at seven. Joining the field was James Civali, George Brunnhoelzl III and Ryan Preece. Chuck Hossfeld jumped out to the lead position at the start and despite trading the No.1 spot with Ted Christopher on numerous occasions was able to score the win. Ronnie Silk ended up second with Christopher finishing after a late race tangle. George Brunnhoelzl III finished fourth with Burt Myers, fifth. Ryan Preece was in the field but was disqualified because his team neglected to register the car. The SK Modifieds went 20 laps with Ronnie Silk taking the win.

   Wednesday night at New Smyrna saw the running of the annual John Blewett III Memorial 50 lapper. The 16 Modifieds on hand didn’t disappoint as this event turned out to be the most competitive of the series so far. Among the new faces in the field was Justin Bonsignore who was driving the Hillbilly team car to James Civali. Burt Myers started on the pole of the 50 lapper and quickly jumped out to an early lead with Civali in tow. The first caution of the night came on lap four with liquid on the track, the culprit. Myers led the restart with Civali and Ted Christopher in hot pursuit. Christopher turned the wick up and on lap 12 passed Civali for second. On lap 15 Christopher got the best of Myers as he took the lead. The caution flew on lap 22 as the Eddie Partridge entry of Ronnie Silk caught on fire. Silk returned for the restart which saw Myers retake the lead from Christopher. Christopher fought back as he retook the lead on lap 34. The caution flew on lap 42 when Silk hit the wall in turn four. At just about the same time Christopher gave up the lead as he pitted the Joe Brady #00 with transmission trouble. On the restart Burt Myers led but his quest for glory was short lived as Civali elbowed his way inside to move Bowman Grey Champion up and out of the groove. Myers slipped to fifth. Civali didn’t last on the point as Earl Paules took the lead with Chuck Hossfeld in tow with three laps to go. Meanwhile Christopher returned without losing a lap and was making a determined march to the front. As Paules took the win with Hossfeld second Christopher made a bonsai move on Civali as they exited turn four. Civali spun and collected Bonsignore, his teammate. Christopher escaped as he finished third. Bonsignore, going backward, finished fourth. Jason Myers rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Patrick Emerling, George Brunnhoelzl III, Burt Myers, Jim Zacharias and Civali. Ronnie Silk won the SK 15 lapper.

   The Modifieds went back to the 25 lap format on Thursday night. Sixteen Modifieds went to post. Pole sitter Ted Christopher jumped out at the drop of the green to take the lead over Chuck Hossfeld and James Civali. Civali created some excitement on lap six when he got Christopher squirrelly after a love tap. Civali took the lead but TC took it back one lap later. The only other action in the event came on lap 22 when Earl Paules, who was running fifth, spun. At the finish it was Christopher taking the win over Civali, Hossfeld, Burt Myers and Paules. Sixth through ninth were Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Jason Myers and Ryan Preece. The SK Modified field continued at six with Ron Silk taking the 15 lap win.

   Friday night saw the running of the annual Richie Evans 100. The Modified field continued to total 14. Patrick Emerling started on the pole with Ted Christopher in the outside pole slot. Emerling took the lead at the start with Ron Silk second and Christopher slipping to third. On lap four Silk slipped by Emerling and Christopher slipped by them both. On lap 10 Silk returned the favor as he retook the top spot only to give it back to Christopher one lap later. Once back into the lead TC was all business. By lap 50 he had a full straight a way lead. The caution flew on lap 60 when James Civali and his teammate Justin Bonsignore spun. Christopher led the restart but Silk had got a second wind and by lap 65 took the lead. Both swapped the lead before Silk settled into the top spot. On lap82 Bonsignore slowed and brought out the caution. Silk led the restart with Christopher blowing the chrome horn. While the two front runners were trying to regain control James Civali, who was running third, took the lead. A slow leak in one of Civali’s tires went undetected following a spin by another competitor on lap 89. On the restart slipped up the track and crashed with Silk. Christopher inherited the lead and following the restart went on to take the win. Earl Paules finished second and was followed by Emerling, Bonsignore and George Brunnhoelzl III. Rounding out the top ten was Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Burt Myers, Jason Myers and Silk. Civali finished 11th.

   Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner. The New Smyrna Speedway enjoyed a near capacity crowd for this event.

   With the Richie Evans Memorial in the record books many of the Modified Tour teams called it quits and headed home.

   For Saturday nights finale a lean field of nine cars were on hand. Ted Christopher lined up on the pole with Burt Myers on the outside. At the drop of the green of the series ending 25 lapper Christopher jumped out in front with Myers in tow. The caution flew on lap 6 for Patrick Emerling who spun. Christopher led the restart as Chuck Hossfeld dove under Myers to take the second spot. Hossfeldt had his No. 22 hooked up as he closed on Christopher’s bumper. Christopher’s handling was off as Hossfeld made a bottom shot under TC on lap 10 to take over the lead. The upstate New Yorker never looked back as he sprinted home the winner on the final night of competition. Burt Myers finished second with Christopher, third. His third place finish earned him enough points to beat out Hossfeld for the series title by 6 points. Earl Paules finished fourth in the feature with Emerling, fifth. Jason Myers finished sixth.

   In action at the Daytona Int Speedway, Kurt Busch felt certain he cemented himself the favorite to win the Daytona 500 after winning Thursday's first 150-mile qualifying race, backing up the previous weekend's victory in the exhibition Budweiser Shootout. Jeff Burton, the winner of the second qualifying race, respectfully disagreed.

   Dick Berggren sent word that Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Bobby Santos III had a HUGE crash in Daytona on Thursday while practicing for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. A pitman arm broke as he was coming off turn four and he hammered the inside wall driver’s side. “With the old style cars and seats, it was unsurvivable, but, this is today and he was unhurt” stated Berggren. He added, “He walked out of the garage without a limp even, complaining of a sore ankle. Hit so hard, they shut the track down for around an hour while they completely replaced an entire section of the steel wall where he hit and bent it.” Santos did race in the Nationwide Race in Daytona 2 days following a practice crash. Santos raced Aric Almirola's backup car out of the JR Motorsports(Dale Earnhardt Jr’s) stable.
Santos ran as high as tenth in the Nationwide Series race and in the end finished 23rd.

   A smaller restrictor-plate was used in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel at Daytona in an attempt to lower the horsepower and keep the cars from running over 200 miles per hour in the draft. On Sunday, NASCAR lowered the tolerance in the air inlet on the front grille and a pressure relief valve on the radiators to force the cars to unlock from a two-car draft in order to keep the engine temperatures down.

   The new size for the restrictor plate is 57/64ths of an inch — a reduction of 1/64th. That’s a decrease of 12-horsepower and in turn will lower the rpm (revolutions per minute) after some teams reported running more than 9,000 rpm in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Int’l Speedway Saturday night. Two-car packs ran speeds exceeding 206 mph in the race.

   Tony Stewart continued his domination of the Nationwide Series season opener, overcoming a late pit stop to fix a flat tire to catch Clint Bowyer at the finish line. It was his fourth consecutive win in the opener for NASCAR's second-tier series and sixth in the past seven seasons.
Trevor Bayne, in just his second Sprint Cup Series start, pulled off a stunning victory in his first Daytona 500 on Sunday, becoming the youngest winner in the 53 years of the Great American Race. Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the biggest race of his career, took the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane for the first time since 2001. The victory for NASCAR pioneers Leonard and Glen Wood ended a 10-year-losing streak, and came the week of the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
It had everyone almost certain Sunday’s win would go to Earnhardt Jr., the prodigal son, who shied away from the suggestion that the stars were lined up for a spectacular tribute to his father.

   On Lap 29, Michael Waltrip, pushing David Reutimann, got misaligned and spun Reutimann, triggering a wreck that took out literally one-third of the field. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and feel-good story Brian Keselowski were among those collected in the wreck. Waltrip had spun out Kyle Busch earlier in the race in almost exactly the same way. But in that incident, Busch didn't hit anyone, and was able to get back in the mix with little lost but some sheet metal. Reutimann and the huge pack around him weren't quite so lucky.

   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

Greg Sacks                                      Greg Sacks & Ray Miller                                       Ray Miller

Buddy Krebbs                                           Denny Zimmerman                                      Eddie Flemke Sr

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: February 24, 2012

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