The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


May 11, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957 Don Collins was the 50 lap April Championship winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

   Fifty years ago in 1962 Dick Beauregard recorded his third Modified feature win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Caso was the Bomber feature winner. The Stafford Speedway began their dirt season with hometown favorite George Janoski taking the win.

   Forty five years ago in 1967 the Albany Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY opened for the season. A New England invasion captured four of the top five spots. Mario “Fats” Caruso took the win with Eddie Flemke and Gene Bergin following. Kenny Shoemaker finished fourth with George Pendergast rounding out the top five. Bill Wimble was the big winner at Fonda on Saturday night. Ernie Gahan and Pete Corey followed. Fulton’s main event went to Jim Shampine. For the second week in a row the Utica – Rome Speedway fell victim to rain. The skies in southeastern Connecticut remained clear as Charlie Webster captured the final Sunday afternoon Spring Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

   Forty years ago in 1972, Eddie Flemke in the Bobby Judkins 2x mastered the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Richie Evans finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Flemke carried his winning ways over to Stafford as he made it two for two as he beat out Ray Miller, DeSarro, Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens for the win. At Islip, Gentleman Jim Hendrickson ruled the roost in the Tony Ferrente x3. Charlie Jarzombek finished second and was followed by Frank Curtis and George Tet. Harry Peek took the win at Fonda. At the Waterford Speedbowl Daring Dick Caso took the 36 lap Modified feature win. Jerry Lilliquist was the Sportsman Sedan winner.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, forty-four Modifieds were in the Stafford pit area on Friday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Geoff Bodine, Dick Caso, Eddie Flemke and Leo Cleary. Brian Ross in the Mystic Missile finished fourth but was disqualified after a post race weigh in determined that he was 33 pounds light. Sonny Koszela broke out a new Woodchopper Special for Bugsy Stevens but spun engine bearings put him out for the night. Wayne Anderson won two features at New Egypt on Friday night and one at Islip on Saturday night.

   Anderson became only the second modified driver to ever win three features within a twenty four hour period. Waterford was running under the United Stock Car banner. Dick Dunn in the Peg and Albert Gaudreau No.3 took the win over Bill Greco, Rick Donnelly, Dick Ceravolo and Mark Geer. United president Harvey Tattersall announced that he was dropping the gear rule that had been in place plus was eliminating the 340 bonus. Based on the announcement, Dunn, Bob Potter and Gene Bergin stated that their days of racing at Waterford were over and quit the track. Bob Polverari took the win at Riverside over Pete Fiandaca and at Westboro, George Savory took the win over Mike Weeden and Freddie Schulz. Fred DeSarro made it three in a row at Thompson on Sunday night and at the Port City 150 at Oswego, Richie Evans took the win over Jim Shampine, Maynard Troyer and George Kent.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks in the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 remained the combination to beat as he won the 30 lap feature at Stafford on Friday night. Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Ray Miller, George Summers and Bob Polverari rounding out the top five. Saturday night at Waterford saw Bob Potter beat out cross town rival Moose Hewitt for the win. Jerry Pearl finished third. At Seekonk, Brian Ross, who had lost an engine at Stafford, took the win over Gomer Taylor and George Savory. At Riverside Park it was Stan Greger over Bob Polverari and Ray Miller. Bob Park had the hot set-up at Islip as he bested John Blewett Jr, Wayne Anderson and Don Howe. Less than 200 cars were in the parking lot at Thompson on Sunday but it didn't slow George Kent as he took down the win over Jerry Cook, Bob Polverari and Marty Radwick. Pre-race favorite Greg Sacks packed it in early after losing an engine. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Tenn, Darrell Waltrip took the 400-lap win over Terry Labonte and Ronnie Bouchard.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, Steve Chowanski took the Friday night win at Stafford. Bob Potter was the king-pin at Waterford and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero chalked up another win for Mario Fiore as he beat out Tom Bolles and Bruce Del for the win. Bill Park was the top gun at Riverhead and he was followed by Fred Harbach and Wayne Anderson. George Kent got the best of Jim Spencer at Shangri-La and at Lancaster it was Tom Druar taking the top spot.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, Riverside Park ran on Thursday night with Rick Fuller taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero in the Bob Polverari No.711 finished second with Stan Greger, third. Stafford rained out on Friday. At Waterford, on Saturday night, Lloyd Agor was leading on the final lap when he was hit by Jerry Pearl who had gotten hit by Moose Hewitt. Agor bobbled and Pearl got by for the win. Agor hung on to finish second with Dennis Gada, third. Hewitt, who spun, ended up fourteenth. Double features were on tap at Riverside and Jerry Marquis and the Bobby Judkins 2x were up to the task as they won both of them. At Shangri-La, promoter Dale Campfield was evicted after a disagreement with the speedway property owner and in Modified Tour action at Nazareth, Jeff Fuller took the 150 lap win over Wayne Anderson, Rick Fuller, John Preston and Tom Baldwin. Todd Bodine won the Busch Grandnational event that was also run at Nazareth.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Rick Martin made it two in a row at Thompson on Wednesday night. On Friday night at Stafford, Bo Gunning recorded his 20th career win at the nutmeg oval as he beat out Steve Chowanski, Bill Anderson and Bob Potter for top honors. Waterford rained out on Saturday. Riverside avoided the wet stuff and ran a 75 lap event that saw Reggie Ruggiero score his 88th career win at the Agawam oval .Bill Park won at Riverhead over John Fortin and in Busch North Series action at Loudon on Sunday, Dave Dion went pole to pole to win the 100 lap event which was held up three hours because of rain. Brad Leighton, Jerry Marquis, Jeff Barry and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher was running within the top ten before losing a dry sump belt. The NASCAR Winston Cup event at Talladega went non-stop with Mark Martin taking the win at a race record average 188.354 mph. Dale Earnhardt Sr. finished second.

   Ten years ago in 2002, Jeff Malave was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Ted Christopher finished second with Ron Silk, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Waterford on Saturday night for a 150-lap event. Forty-one cars were on hand. David Berghman took the lead from Todd Szegedy with eight laps to go to score a popular victory. Szegedy finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik, Rob Summers and Ricky Fuller. Mike Ewanitsko suffered season ending back injuries after a hard crash into the first turn Armco barrier. In other Waterford action, Dennis Gada was the SK Modified winner over Rob Janovic and Tom Fox. Ed Densieski was the winner at Riverhead and it was Tim Arre on top at Wall Township. The Busch North Series and the Busch Grandnationals were at Loudon.

   Brad Leighton won by inches over Andy Santerre. Kelly Moore finished second with Dale Shaw and Matt Kobyluck rounding out the top five.

   Bobby Hamilton Jr. was the Busch Grandnational winner over Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague. In other news, Jerry Nadeau was released from Hendrick Motorsports as the Winston Cup teams enjoyed a week off to celebrate Mother’s Day and Jack Johnson got his 138th win at the Fonda Speedway.

   Five years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was in the middle of their “Spring Break”. Jimmy Blewett, who drove for Long Island car owner Eddie Partridge sat atop the point standings with a 31 point lead over second generation driver Matt Hirschman. In three starts Blewett had three top tens including one win. Hirschman, the son of multi-time Whelen Modified Champion Tony Hirschman also had three top tens but was winless. James Civali, who won the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, sat in third spot, 49 points behind the leader. Todd Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Donny Lia, Jerry Marquis, Ronnie Silk, Mike Stefanik and Billy Pauch Jr. In three events, fifty one different competitors had entered into competition.

   Much had been said, both pro and con concerning the recent “Flash Event” at the Wall Township Speedway. It was NASCAR’s intent to make the Whelen Modified Tour Series more affordable to their weekly tracks and make the events more exciting to the paying fan. In both cases NASCAR needed to take a second look and maybe ask those involved to give their constructive criticism. From this corner it appeared that to keep competitors happy NASCAR needed to pressure promoters to get out and sell their events in order to offset costs which come with special events. To create excitement NASCAR should try to handicap the top 20 based on their last three performances and invert the field. To fill out a 30-35 car starting field NASCAR needed to run a consolation event which would afford some track time to those who need it.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night second generation driver Keith Rocco captured the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Rocco is the son of retired driving great Ronnie Rocco. Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 40-lap SK Modified feature event saw several drivers all take a shot at Keith Rocco, but Rocco was able to fend off all challengers to pick up his first feature win of the 2007 season. Rocco moved to the lead on lap-5, passing early race leader Woody Pitkat. Pitkat would spend the next 30 laps trying to get around Rocco, with several caution periods slowing the action and giving Pitkat multiple opportunities to take the lead back. Pitkat held tough on the outside groove, but was unable to get around Ruocco. The final caution came out with 4 laps to go, setting up a dash to the finish. Rocco again got the drop on the field, with Willie Hardie moving past Pitkat for second. Rocco was able to pull away from Rocco in the closing laps to take the win. Hardie finished second with Pitkat, Kerry Malone, and Jeff Malave rounding out the top-5.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic used a bottom-shot coming out of turn-four to pass leader Doug Coby with eight circuits remaining to capture his second consecutive 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Speedbowl on Saturday evening. Other winners were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Joe Godbout III (Mini Stock), and Norm Wrenn (Pro-4 Modified). Coby faded in the late going and was overtaken by Shawn Monahan who ended up in second spot. Coby, Diego Monahan and Dennis Gada rounded out the top five Sixth through tenth were Jeff Pearl, Kenny Horton, Frank Mucciacciaro, Jeff Paul and Tyler Chadwick.

   The Star Speedway in Epping, NH hosted a special Open Competition Modified race that attracted only 19 cars. Ted Christopher was in the lead with only eight laps remaining when he tangled with Andy Seuss under caution and suffered a flat tire. Rob Summers ended up taking the win over Jon McKennedy, Seuss, Ron Silk and Chris Pasteryak.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Bill Park took the win over Tom Rogers and JR Bertuccio.

   In the RACE OF CHAMPIONS ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR event at the Oswego Speedway Matt Hirschman went pole to pole to win the 75 lap event. Billy Putney finished second and was followed by Lee Sherwood, Zane Zeiner, Earl Paules, Eric Beers and Rick Zacharias.

   In Nextel Cup action at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina Jeff Gordon overcame an overheating engine with five laps to go to race to his third victory of the season Sunday, winning the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Hendrick Motorsports has won four straight races, eight of the last nine, and remained perfect in the five Car of Tomorrow events. Denny Hamlin, who led a race-high 179 laps, had a chance to win before his crew dropped a pair of lug nuts on a late pit stop. Rain washed out the race Saturday night, making it the first NASCAR race run on Mother's Day since 1986. Jimmie Johnson, last week's winner, finished third for Hendrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth, capping a frenzied week that began when he said he's leaving DEI at the end of the season. Denny Hamlin won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 for the second straight year Friday night, again surviving a wreck-filled Busch Series event at historic Darlington Raceway.

   Hamlin, a Virginia native, then paid tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, taking a school flag along for his victory lap International Speedway Corp., the company that owns and manages NASCAR race tracks, will partner with the Cordish Co. to build Daytona Live, a mixed-use entertainment destination, across from Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Live will be built on 71 acres that currently are home to Speedplex Office Park. The park houses ISC's and NASCAR's headquarters. The project is expected to cost $250 million

   Last year, 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour went back on Spring Break before returning on Friday, May 27 at Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Rowan Pennink remained atop the point standings with a 20 point edge on Mike Stefanik. Eric Beers held down the third spot with Ted Christopher and Matt Hirschman rounding out the top five.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway kicked off its Friday Night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule with 5 divisions of racing on Friday night, May 6th. Keith Rocco picked up where he left off at the end of 2010 as he scored his first Stafford win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event. Rocco, who won two at Waterford in early season action, has a total of three wins for the year. Adam Gray took down his first career victory in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko was declared the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature after race winner Zach Aszklar's car did not meet the minimum ride height requirement, Norm Sears returned to victory lane after a year away from Stafford Speedway in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood drove to victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Jeff Pearl broke the ice for 2011 as he won his 35th career victory. Bruce Thomas Jr. captured his 45th win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, taking the evening’s 30-lap event. Ed Puleo overcame an intense battle in a special 50-lap Street Stock race, his second victory of the season while Chris Williams was the winner of the 25-lap Mini Stock feature. Ryan Bigelow was the winner in the visiting NEMA Lite Series 25-lap race.

   In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC eight-time champion Tim Brown got his 55th career victory in the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division and it was Danny Bohn who was a surprise winner in the second race, in just his third career start. Originally from New Jersey, Bohn works for Ray Evernham and also races dirt cars. He started on the pole and led every lap. Brown also went pole to pole. Jonathan Brown finished second to Bohn while Burt and Jason Myers followed Brown.

   In Sprint Cup action at Darlington, Regan Smith moved in front on a caution nine laps from the end and survived a green-white-checkered finish to win the Southern 500 for his first Sprint Cup victory Saturday night at Darlington, S.C. Smith held off Carl Edwards over the final two laps in a race that turned ugly late when Kyle Busch tangled with Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer to set up the overtime finish. Harvick and Busch stared down each other from their cars as they entered the garage before a standoff that looked like it might erupt further. It finally ended when Busch bumped Harvick’s car several times to make space to drive off. Brad Keselowski finished third, pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.

   Kyle Busch moved past Elliott Sadler 23 laps from the end and stayed in front of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to win the Royal Purple 200 on Friday night, his fifth Nationwide victory this season and 48th overall, one behind Mark Martin's series record..

   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

Bill Slater                                        Al Gaudreau & Dick Dunn                                    Don Collins  

Mario 'Fats' Caruso                                         George Janowski                                                Denny Giroux

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 11, 2012

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