The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


May 4, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952, the guy they loved to hate, Dick Beauregard, was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Sandberg, who in later years would become a Modified standout at the shoreline oval, was the Claiming Car winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957 Johnny Sandberg was the 25 Lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Joe Rosenfield was the 10 lap Non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1962 Hank Stevens was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Stevens would become very proficient in the Midgets in later years. Ed Gladue was the 15 lap Bomber feature winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1967, Billy Blum won at Fulton while at Fonda; Rene Charland beat out Maynard Forette and Jeep Herbert for the win. Rain-washed out Utica Rome and Waterford on Sunday.

   Forty years ago in 1972, Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta; N.Y. Bernie Miller finished second and was followed by Guy Chartrand, Lou Lazzaro, Bugsy Stevens, Bobby Santos and Richie Evans. At Fonda on Saturday night, Lou Lazzaro, using the same car that he ran on asphalt the night before, took the win over Kenny Shoemaker and Harry Peek. At the tight 1/5 mile oval at Islip, Charlie Jarzombek took the win over Jim Hendrickson and Wayne Anderson. Stafford ran a 30 lapper on Sunday afternoon with Gene Bergin in the Dick Armstrong No.1 taking the win over rookie Ronnie Bouchard. Leo Cleary finished third and was followed by Fred DeSarro, George Summers, Ray Miller and Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell. Waterford also ran on Sunday with Mike Beebe taking the Modified win. Ron "Boots" Cote was the Sportsman Sedan winner at the shoreline oval. Sunday night racing at Utica-Rome rained out.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, Forty-five Modifieds were on hand at Stafford on Friday night. Ray Miller took the 30 lap win over Eddie Flemke, Jerry Cook, Ron Bouchard, Leo Cleary and Jerry Pearl. Geoff Bodine, who had been cleaning house was an early out due to a wreck. Monadnock was also running on Friday night. Punky Caron ruled the roost as he beat out Pete Fiandaca and Bob Karvonen for the win. Islip and Freeport were battling, running against each other on Saturday night on Long Island. Tom McCann won at Islip over Jim Tyler and Fred Harbach while at Freeport, Lou Hennesy took the win over Gary Winters and Jerry Bartlett. At Waterford, Bill Greco took the win over Rick Donnelly and Gene Bergin. Fred DeSarro made it two in a row in Sunday action at Thompson. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream season in the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 as he took the Friday night main event at Stafford. Reggie Ruggiero tried his best but had to settle for second. Ray Miller, George Summers and Bob Polverari rounded out the top five. Saturday night at Waterford belonged to Bob Potter .Moose Hewitt finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. At Riverside it was Stan Gregger and at Islip, Bob Park took the win. Sacks blew an engine in warm-ups at Thompson and opened the door for George Kent who ended up with the win. A poor crowd was on hand as less than 200 spectator cars were in the parking lot at race time. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bob Polverari and Marty Radwick. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Darrel Waltrip took the win with Terry Labonte, second and Ronnie Bouchard, third.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, Bill Elliott set an all time qualifying record at Talledega when he qualified at 212.809 mph. Elliott dropped a valve and dropped out while running second in the event which was won by Davey Allison. The race was halted on lap 22 when Bobby Allison got airborne on the front chute and tore down the catch fence. Allison escaped unhurt but this action would set in motion a drive by NASCAR, which would require restrictor plates on carburetors at Talledega as well as at Daytona. On the local front, Bob Potter beat out Ed Flemke Jr. at Waterford. Ted Christopher, Larry Lanphear and Ronnie Rocco rounded out the top five. Brian McCarthy was awarded the Late Model win after Phil Rondeau was disqualified because of illegal a-frames. At Riverside, Mike Stefanik took the win over Ted Riggott and Dan Avery and at Riverhead; Wayne Anderson took the top spot. At Shangri-La it was Jim Spencer.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, rain after two heats, washed out the Friday night action at Stafford. On Saturday night at Riverside, the quarter mile oval suffered its fourth rain out in a row. A weather window allowed Waterford to run. Bert Marvin took the win over Jim Broderick, Chris Jones, Harry Rice and Ted Christopher. In Late Model competition, Phil Rondeau debuted a new Thunderbird bodied car and ran away with his feature. Jeff Malave won the Riverhead opener and on Sunday at Loudon before 11,000 fans, Jeff Fuller won the 125 lap modified event over Jan Leaty, Reggie Ruggiero, Doug Hevron and Mike Stefanik. Mike McLaughlin won the 125 lap Busch North Series event also at Loudon. Dave Reszendes finished second with Dick McCabe, third and Jeff Barry, fourth.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick took advantage of Bo Gunning's soft left front as he went on to take the Friday night win at Stafford. Gunning toughed it out to finish second with Steve Chowanski, third. Saturday was a total wash out. On Sunday, Jack Bateman took the win at Monadnock over Dwight Jarvis and Rick Miller and in Busch North Series action at Jennerstown, Tom Bolles went pole to pole to win the 150 lap event over Andy Santarre and Kelly Moore. Mike Ewanitsko and Ted Christopher were fighting for the lead on lap 176 of the Waterford 200 when their bumpers locked which allowed Steve Chowanski to sneak by for the win. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Tucker Reynolds Jr and Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Mark Martin led 69 of the 74 lap distance to take the win.

   Ten years ago in 2002, the Sizzler, which had been rained out, was run with Ted Christopher taking the win. Christopher took the lead in the 200 lapper on lap 173 from Rick Fuller. Fuller hung on for second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, David Berghman and Tom Cravenho. Mike Ewanitsko was without a doubt; the fastest in the field until he lost a driveshaft on lap 159. Ed Flemke Jr. was also a factor until his power steering went away in the closing stages of the event. Bo Gunning, in the Eddie Partridge No.12 was the 40 lap SK - Modified winner. In other action over the weekend Jimmie Blewett won a 50 lapper at Wall Township, Chuck Steuer beat out Bill Park at Riverhead and at Waterford, Dennis Gada and Jeff Pearl finished one-two.

   Five years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Wall Township Speedway at the New Jersey shore for the inaugural “Flash Event” format race. Dubbed “The Thunder at the Shore” by NASCAR, the event was the first of three flash events for 2007. The races with the new format have met with mixed feelings from competitors. Usually time trials determine starting fields, the “Flash Format” eliminates time trials and puts qualifying heats in its place. Twin 50 lap races determined the 50 lap main event.

   Thirty seven Modifieds attempted to qualify for the event that was run in cool, early spring type weather. Among the missing was Tony Hirschman and Bob Santos III who was at the Richmond race.. Hirschman had said earlier in the year that he would not run a full schedule if he was not in the lead group in the point standings. The first 50 lap qualifier was won by Reggie Ruggiero. Seven caution periods slowed the event. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Todd Szegedy, third. Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five.

   John Blewett III won the second 50 lapper. John Blewett III started on the pole of the second 50 lapper. He went on to lead every lap. Six cautions broke up the action. Ted Christopher finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Bob Grigas and Bill Pauch Jr rounded out the top five. Stafford Sizzler winner Donny Lia finished fourteenth. The Blewett Brothers made Modified history as they scored a one-two punch to cop the top two spots in the first ever “Whelen Modified Tour Flash Race”. Jimmy Blewett gave Reggie Ruggerio a gentle nudge of the bumper during a lap one restart as he took the lead and never looked back. John Blewett III finished a close second. Ruggerio, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ruggerio was credited with leading one lap, Jimmy Blewett led the rest, ho-hum.

   NASCAR had good intentions but it looked like the “Flash” ended up being a “Fizzle” NASCAR needs to re-think their way of staging competitive racing rather than putting the top dogs in front. Its ok to do that for long races where pit stops shake up the field but to continue to stage races like this will all but guarantee the demise of the division. If NASCAR wants to run short races they should at least handicap the field by inverting the point standings to create a little excitement.

   Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Ronnie Silk, Todd Szegedy, Jerry Marquis and Billy Pauch Jr.

   It appeared that the northern based True Value Modified Series had NASCAR looking over their shoulder. Although they wouldn't speak publicly, Whelen Modified Tour competitors had “been spoken to” about their participation in these events. Because of “Right to Work” laws NASCAR had to tread softly on this issue but they can still make offending competitors life miserable when they compete in NASCAR events. During the late 60’s and early 70’s NASCAR branded the late Richie Evans as an “Outlaw” because of his participation in non-NASCAR events. They pulled his competitors license and prohibited him from racing in NASCAR sanctioned events. Evans, who raced for a living took his case to court and won the right to compete where ever he wanted to. As we all know, Evans went on to become NASCAR’s greatest Modified competitor and champion. The TVMS ran a rescheduled 100 lap event at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Les Hinkley took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander. Ted Christopher finished seventh.

   “The Bond Auto Parts 100” was a hotly contested battle in front a large crowd that braved cold temperatures and gusty wind chills. The event had been postponed twice by rain. It was the second time Hinckley has won the first race at Monadnock. He did so in 2005. An overflow field of 38 cars from throughout the northeast traveled to the Granite State oval to contest in three 12 lap qualifying races and a new twist added to the TVMRS program, a 20 lap “B” feature to give race teams that did not qualify in heat race action a chance to race for a separate purse and gain entry in the 100 lap main event. Six positions were added to the 26 car field from that race.

   Peter Jarvis and Louie Mechalides, brought the field to green with Jarvis jumping into the top spot and leading the opening five laps until the first caution flag was displayed for a spinning car on the start of lap 6. On the restart, Hinckley, who started in fourth position, took the lead from Jarvis and would hold it until lap 52 giving him the Black Mountain Painting ½ way award, Jarvis, who won his heat race earlier, would stay right behind the race leader and wheel his Wally Albro owned, Cheever Tire Service sponsored, race car to it’s best run on the TVMRS.

   The former Claremont late model champ impressed, and would take the lead back on lap 53 only to turn it back over to Hinckley on the 56th go around. Hinckley would continue to set a hot pace despite several caution flags that slowed the race including a stoppage on the 63rd circuit for second year driver Bryan Shumway, Belchertown, MA., who was involved in a 1st turn skirmish that resulted in a hand injury. When the race resumed Hinckley was the top dog but with the series defending champion and the two time champion in hot pursuit.

   Dwight Jarvis cut a tire at the half way mark and with a fresh right rear tire on his new mount, he started to make his way to the front with Alexander doing the same. The W.Swanzey,NH., driver took the point and lead laps 85 to 87 with Hinckley taking it back for good on lap 88. A lap 99 spin involving Stafford Springs,CT., hot shoe Woody Pitkat brought out the eighth caution period. The TVMRS race procedure is to finish the race under green with a green, white, checkered flag finish, the race ended on lap 101.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night Frank Ruocco, the defending SK Modified track champion started on the pole of the 40 lap main event and led every lap to take the win. Ruocco suffered a blown engine that relegated him to an 18th place finish during the Spring Sizzler weekend. The feature’s starting order was determined by his previous finish. Ruocco's win was not an easy win by any means. Kerry Malone worked his way through traffic to come up to second, and he hounded Ruocco for the final 10 laps, but came just up short at the checkered flag. Todd Owen finished third, with Keith Rocco fourth and Jeff Baral rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher, who apparently had a regular ride for Stafford, finished sixth. Eric Berndt, Curt Brainard, Brad Hietella and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten. Sizzler weekend winner Lloyd Agor finished a distant 23rd.

   In other Stafford action Scott Foster, Jr. won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Robert Thompson the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic took the SK Modified feature win after a heated battle with Dennis Charette. Charette started on the outside pole and was able to withstand the constant pressure applied by Don Fowler. In the closing stages Fowler lost his handling as he spun and collected Jeff Paul. Janovic avoided the tangle and with a green- white- checker situation got the best of Charette. Shawn Monahan finished third and was followed by Diego Monahan and Tyler Chadwick. Other winners included Tim Jordan (Late Model) Bill Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends).

   Tom Ferrel was the Saturday night winner at Wall Township and Dave Brigati was the opening night NASCAR Modified winner at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

   In Nextel Cup action Jimmie Johnson led 105 of the 400 laps at the Richmond Raceway en route to capturing his fourth checkered flag this season and second in NASCAR's next generation car. More notable, though, team owner Rick Hendrick has won seven of eight races, including three in a row and all four contested with the Car of Tomorrow. Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road with about 28 laps to go Friday night and easily went on to his fifth career NASCAR Busch Series victory.

   Last year, 2011, the 40th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler got underway Friday, April 29 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Action continued on Saturday, April 30 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions.

   In Whelen Modified Tour Series qualifying Doug Coby captured the Coors Lite Pole position as he toured the 1/2 mile oval in 17.985sec. Coby was one of four drivers limited to one qualifying lap because their spotters were late to report prior to time trials. Second fastest and taking the outside pole was Todd Szegedy. Defending Tour Series Champion Bobby Santos III was third fastest followed by Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. There were 31 Modifieds on hand for qualifying.

   Bobby Santos rebounded from a blown engine in the season opening Ice Breaker at Thompson with a win in Stafford Speedway's Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.

   Santos, the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, held off points leader Rowan Pennink over the closing laps to claim the victory. Santos opened the season with the Coors Light Pole Award at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway but lasted just 16 laps before engine issues ended his day. It was Santos' third career win at Stafford and first in the track's annual season kickoff, which was running its 40 edition.

   Ron Silk edged Eric Beers for third, while Mike Stefanik finished fifth. Erick Rudolph was sixth. Ted Christopher, three-time defending race winner, finished seventh. Matt Hirschman, Tom Rogers Jr. and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top 10. Pole sitter Doug Coby, finished 29th.

   Starting third, Santos shot into the lead on lap one dragging Eric Beers with him. The first caution flew on Lap 83 when Doug Coby hit the back stretch wall. Ted Christopher led the field when they restarted on lap 90. The second caution waved on Lap 111 when Richie Pallai and Gary McDonald spun in turn two. The field went back to green on Lap 117. Christopher continued to lead with Santos hot on his bumper. Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. The yellow was displayed again on Lap 132 for debris on track. Knowing he couldn't make 200 laps on a tank of fuel, Christopher pitted and handed the lead to Santos.

   The green flag was displayed on lap 138 with Santos in the lead and Pennink, second. Caution again, this time for Wade Cole who spun in turn one and deposited a ton of dirt on the track which caused NASCAR Race Control to stop the cars between turns three and four. The field returned to green on lap 145 with Santos leading followed by Rowan Pennink, James Civali, Matt Hirschman and Erick Rudolph.. They no sooner got going and the yellow flew again, more debris as cars are falling apart. Santos continued to lead. Ryan Preece was closing in on the top five when he slipped a bit. Preece and Jimmy Blewett got together on lap 160 which resulted in Kevin Goodale going over Preeces nerf bar thus bringing out another yellow. With 31 laps to go the green was displayed with Santos on the point over Civali and Pennink. Civali had a problem on lap 174 as he collected Todd Szegedy and Ed Flemke Jr as he hit the backstretch wall.

   Santos continued to lead the field as they took the green on lap 179. Ron Silk moved into the second spot. The caution waved again on lap 183 when Jimmy Blewett went up and over Eric Berndt after Berndt had come down on the New Jersey driver. With the laps winding down the field went back to green on lap on lap 186. Pennink displaced Silk from the second spot. The final laps saw Pennink turn up the heat on Santos but the third generation racer was not to be denied as he streaked home the winner of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler. Following Santos at the finish was Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk, Eric Beers and Mike Stefanik. Erick Rudolph, Ted Christopher, Matt Hirschman, Tom Rogers and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten.

   Twenty of the original 31 starters finished on the lead lap.

   In other Stafford action, Ryan Preece was the SK Modified winner and Woody Pitkat took the Late Models. Pitkat's team was disqualified from the victory after being found in to have been using an unapproved mixing of fuel.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour went back on Spring Break before returning on Friday, May 27 at Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125.

   In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Tyler Chadwick an opening lap wreck to win the SK Modified feature, his seventh career victory at the shoreline oval. On the beginning laps pole sitter Rookie Jeff Gallup triggered a wreck that created a pig pile in turn two which collected cars driven Tucker Reynolds Jr., Rob Janovic Jr., Glen Pressel, along with cars further back in the field including Ron Yuhas Jr. and Keith Rocco. Rocco, Reynolds, Janovic and Pressel were sidelined for the night.. On the restart Frank Mucciacciaro went head to head with Chadwick. Chadwick spent three laps outside Mucciacciaro before he took the lead and slowly pulled away. Shawn Monahan, Tom Abele, Kyle James and Ron Yuhas Jr. completed the top five.

   In other events, Jeff Smith won his first Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race of the season. Special Street Stock and Mini Stock memorial events were won by Norm Root and Ken Cassidy Jr. respectively. Howard Payne won the visiting New England Truck Series feature, Melissa Fifield was a first-time winner in the Allison Legacy Series race. Paul Kusheba won his first career Speedbowl feature in the Legends Cars feature, while Glen Thomas Jr. and Frank Alessio wound up victorious in the X-Car and Super X-Car Saturday Showdown Series races.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday night. Les Hinkley took a well earned win. Constant side-by-side racing often with five to seven car battles took place throughout the race with a couple of three-wide showdowns thrown in for good measure.

   Defending Champion Jon McKennedy and Steve Masse led the 24- car field to green with McKennedy leading the first 11 circuits. Three-time Champion Kirk Alexander, moved into the lead on lap 12 with heavy pursuit from McKennedy, Jim Boniface and Louie Mechalides.
Hinckley, ailing from a stomach bug prior to race time, was running in a solid third on laps 86 through 96. The Connecticut veteran pulled up alongside McKennedy and powered by on lap 97 to second, and then by Mechalides on lap 98. to go on and win the highly competitive race. Mechalides, McKennedy, Alexander, and Goodenough followed the winner across the line. Sixth through tenth were Jarvis, Rowan Pennink, Tim Jordan, Chris Pasteryak and Norm Wrenn. Alexander was disqualified following a post race inspection.

   In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC being one of the walking wounded didn't impede the progress of Bert Myers. Burt Myers' ribs were feeling much better at the fall of the checkered flag in the season opening GMAC Insurance 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium.

   Myers, Bowman Gray's defending Modified champion punctured a lung and broke three ribs in a racing crash little more than two weeks ago, took the lead with 18 laps left and went on to a relatively pain-free victory in front of a full house at the 17,000-seat stadium. It was Myers' 45th win overall in Bowman Gray's featured Modified Division. Myers indicated that fresh tires were key. Myers pitted for fresh right-side tires during a caution with 55 laps left and it paid off in the end result. Brian Loftin, who lost his wife in an auto accident assumed the lead when Myers pitted. In the end he finished third as Jonathan Brown edged him out for second.

   Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead for the first time 44 laps into the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway and dominated the rest of the 250-lap race. Kyle Busch, his team mate, won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

   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

Jean Guy Chartrand                                    Donald 'Hank' Stephens                                           Jerry Glaude

John Sanberg                                         Rene Charland                                          Smokey Boutwell

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 4, 2012

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