The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


May 25, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl began its summer schedule which saw two nights of racing, Wednesday and Saturday at the shoreline oval. Fred Luchesi was the 25 lap Sportsman winner on Wednesday night while Don Collins won the 25 lap Sportsman feature on Saturday night. Following successful racing careers both drivers were inducted into the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame. John Sandberg and Charlie Webster were the Claiming Car winners.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957 Don Collins made it three in a row and four for the season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier was the non-Ford winner. A special 100 lapper was run on Thursday (Memorial Day) which was won by Wild Bill Slater. Desrosier was again the non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Hank Stevens made it two in a row at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Gladue was the Bomber winner. Ron Narducci was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway.

   Forty five years ago in 1967 Don MacTavish took the top spot at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. It was an all New England top five as Pete Hamilton finished second and Tommy Borget finished third. Billy Harman and Gene Bergin rounded out the top five, At the Fonda Speedway Irv Taylor beat out Lou Lazzaro and Dave Lape and at the Utica-Rome Speedway Bill Wimble outlasted Bruce Dostal for the win. Dick Clark, Dave Lape and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. Bill Scrivener was the winner of a special Memorial Day 50 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jiggs Beetham was the Daredevil winner. The Albany Saratoga Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day. MacTavish made it two in a row at the Malta oval. Pete Hamilton again finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Guy Chartrand and Ernie Gahan rounded out the top five.

   Forty years ago in 1972, Eddie Flemke, in the Vigliorolo No.34, which was the original Bob Judkins Pinto, started off the weekend on the right foot as he won the Friday night feature at Malta, N.Y. and the Saturday night feature at Stafford. Bugsy Stevens finished second on both nights. At Islip on Saturday night, Gary Winters mastered the 1/5 mile oval as he took the main event over Cliff Tyler and Jack Reinhardt. At Fonda it was Dave Lape over Lou Lazzaro. Dick Dunn won a 36 lap Modified feature at Waterford. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Ed Pieniezak won out over Al Clark. Stafford ran their 100 lap Memorial Day Classic on Monday. Fred DeSarro took the win over Ed Flemke, Ronnie Bouchard, Denis Giroux and George Summers.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, Fred DeSarro was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Ron Bouchard finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Brian Ross and Ed Flemke rounding out the top five. Allen Whipple was the winner at Monadnock and at Riverhead it was Charlie Jarzombek over Fred Harbach. Saturday night was busy. At Waterford it was Bill Greco taking a 100 lap win over Don Bunnell, at Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard and Freddie Schulz finished one-two and at Westboro, Mike Murphy, Mike Weeden and Gomer Taylor were the top three. Pete Fiandaca beat out Bob Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Charlotte a Super-Speedway Modified event was run with Harry Gant taking the win over Jerry Makara, Jerry Cook and Lennie Pond. Sunday night at Thompson, Ronnie Bouchard mastered the 5/8 mile oval. Fred DeSarro finished second with Ray Miller, third.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Ray Miller took the Friday night win with Reggie Ruggiero, second and Ronnie Bouchard, third. Everything else in New England for the weekend was rained out. At New Egypt Richie Evans won a 100 lapper over Wayne Anderson and Tony Siscone. Evans carried over his winning ways to Shangri-La where he beat out George Kent and Jerry Cook. At Islip John Blewett Jr took the nights feature over Don Howe and Fred Harbach.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, the Modified Tour Series was at Stafford on Friday night for a 100 lapper. Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 was the class of the field as he took the victory over Jeff Fuller, Kenny Bouchard, Brian Ross and Corky Cookman. Richie Gallup was the SK-Modified winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter recorded his 74th career win at the shoreline oval. Dick Ceravolo finished second with Bob Gada, third. At Riverhead it was Tom McCann over Don Howe and at Seekonk and Riverside, it rained. Don Pratt won at Shangri-La on Saturday and on Sunday for the Port City Classic at Oswego, Tony Hirschman won the 100 lap event over Jan Leaty, Jamie Tomaino and Wayne Edwards. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Kyle Petty took the win. Harry Gant was the Busch Grandnational winner.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, the modified Tour Series was at Stafford for a 150 lapper. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Ed Cloce No.69 took the win with Jeff Fuller, second. Jamie Tomaino, Wayne Anderson and Ed Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. Ricky Young was the big winner at Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Mark Lajunesse and Ted Christopher for the win. Jerry Marquis got his fifth of the year in the Judkins 2x at Riverside and it was Carl Miller over Dan Jivenelli at Riverhead. Jan Leaty won the Port City Classic at Oswego. Jim Rudolf, Reggie Ruggiero and Chris Amen followed. In Sunday night SK-Modified action at Thompson, Richie Gallup in the Ceravolo No.31 took the win over Bo Gunning and Tom Tagg.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Mike Stefanik recorded his 38th Featherlite Modified Tour Series win as he beat out Tony Hirschman, Reggie Ruggerio and Rick Fuller in a 150 lap event at Stafford. Ken Barry was the SK winner. Tucker Reynolds took the Saturday night win at Waterford Jeff Pearl led the early going until getting bumped out of the way by Reynolds with 15 laps to go. At Waterford it was announced that long time driver and race official Ed "Spinner" Smith had passed away at the age of 82. Chris Kopec won at Riverside and Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead. George Kent won the Richie Evans Memorial at Shangri-La and Dave Dion won the Busch North Series event at Holland. Mike Stefanik finished second. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt Sr. announced the Steve Park would drive in five Winston Cup races in 1998.Jeff Gordon won the rain delayed World 600 at Charlotte.

   Ten years ago in 2002, heavy rain and high winds wiped out the scheduled NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series event at Stafford. Eddie Reed Jr. beat Dennis Gada by a bumper to make it two in a row at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox finished third. JR Bertuccio made it three in a row at Riverhead as he beat out Howie Brode and Wayne Anderson. At Wall Township on Saturday night, Jimmie Blewett took the win over Marc Rogers and Tim Arre. The Race of Champions Championship Trail was at Wall Township on Sunday for a 100 lapper. Doug Wolcott went pole to pole to take the event over George Kent Sr, Jamie Tomaino and John Blewett III. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Jimmie Johnson took the win with Bill Elliott, second.

   Five years ago in 2007, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night, for the 17th annual Connecticut Classic 150. Donnie Lia, in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile made it two in a row at the Arute family owned facility. There were 42 Modifieds on hand for the 150 lap contest. Lia started sixth and took the lead on lap 113 from Eric Beers. James Civali, who started on the pole finished second. Eddie Flemke Jr finished third with Zach Sylvester and Todd Szegedy rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher started third and was the top lap leader as he led 84 circuits. His night came to an end after he wrecked with Frank Ruocco in the third turn on lap 91. Christopher blamed Mike Stefanik for the incident. Reggie Ruggerio and John Blewett III were eliminated in a big wreck on lap 104. Defending champion and Busch Pole Sitter Tony Hirschman continues to have bad luck as he was eliminated on lap 114. Likewise for Chuck Hossfeld who lost a wheel on lap 31.

   Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Jamie Tomaino, Dick Houlihan, Richard Savory and Eric Beers. Civali led the opening laps before he was passed by Ted Christopher on lap2. Christopher appeared to have the field covered up until the time he pitted on lap 86. Jimmy Blewett led laps 87 through 90 before giving way to Eric Beers who led laps 91 to 109. Lia led lap 110 before giving it back to Beers for three laps. Lia took the lead for the final time on lap 113. Six caution periods for 36 laps kept Lia’s speed at 58.568 mph.

   Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway began with a large field of cars, 129, including 28 Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds. Bert Marvin started on the outside pole of the Sunoco Modified feature and went on to lead every lap to record the feature win. Tom Cravenho finished a distant second with Buddy Charette, third. Kerry Malone and Woody Pitkat followed. Sixth through tenth were John Blewett, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo and Josh Steeves. The only drama for the Modifieds came after the second qualifying heat when Jimmy Blewett was disqualified from his heat win when his car failed to make weight. Blewett started the feature in last spot.

   Other opening night winners were Tom O’Sullivan, who won his first-ever Late Model feature, Jeff Zuidema who won the Pro Stock feature. The Limited Sportsman winner was Jess Gleason, Mini Stock winner, Mike Romano and TIS Mod winner was Tim Sullivan.While the fields of Modifieds, Late Models and Limited Sportsman were extremely healthy the Pro Stocks were dying a slow death as only 16 were on hand.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Bo Gunning ended a long dry spell as he annexed the 40 lap SK Modified victory. Jim Peterson won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Michael Nadeau the Limited Late Model feature, and Steve Berardi the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Gunning started the event from the outside pole, but he had to work hard for the victory. Curt Brainard, searching for his first win since the 2000 season, hounded Gunning lap after lap, and nearly made several moves to the inside of Gunning for the lead. A late caution slowed the field and set up a four lap dash to the finish. Ted Christopher moved past Brainard into second on the restart, but Gunning was too strong for Christopher to overtake. Brainard came home third, with Todd Owen and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Kenny Horton scored his first career win at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada, who is in the process of trying to annex a record setting seventh track championship finished second. Dennis Charette, who survived a trademark “Waterford Big One” finished third. A grinding crash on lap two damaged the cars of Shelly Perry, Wendell Dailey and Shawn Monahan. Monahan returned to finish sixth. Rounding out the top five following Charette were Don Fowler and Tyler Chadwick. Officials felt that Rob Janovic triggered the crash as they sent him to the rear. Janovic ended up eighth in the final tally. Tim Jordan made it three in a row in Late Model competition as he won a classic battle with Allen Coates. This division, once considered the best second division in New England is down to eleven cars and could use a shot in the arm. The ISMA Supermodifieds made a special appearance with Chris Perley taking the win over Nokie Fornoro and Rob Summers. Other Saturday night winners were Bill Gertsch in the Sportsman division and Phil Evans in the Mini-Stocks.

   Other weekend winners were Pete Brittain over Jan Leaty and Tony Hirschman at the Richie Evans Memorial at Oswego, Kirk Akexander in the True Value Modified Series at Monadnock and twin events at Wall Township went to Jimmy Blewett and Justin Gumley.

   Kasey Kahne raced to his first victory of the season, pulling away on a late restart to win the Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Casey Mears shored up his job security by stretching his fuel to the finish line on Sunday night to win the Coca-Cola 600, his first Nextel Cup victory. Mears, struggling through his first season at elite Hendrick Motorsports, ran strong all night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but only took the lead when others ducked onto pit road for a splash of gas. Mears and his team gambled and pushed their Chevrolet to the finish, running out of gas moments after he took his first checkered flag. It was Hendrick's fifth straight win and the ninth in the past 10 Nextel Cup races, but came from the unlikeliest driver. J.J. Yeley finished second for the first top-five finish of his career. Kyle Petty was third, his first top five in 10 years. Reed Sorenson was fourth, and Brian Vickers was fifth in the highest finish so far for Toyota. Tony Stewart, who seemed to have the win after Jimmie Johnson gave it away in the pits, wound up sixth after figuring he was two laps short on fuel and had to make a late stop.

   Dario Franchitti finally got the news he had been waiting for Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The rain is eight blocks away," he heard over his radio. Franchitti had stayed on the track during a late caution, anticipating another round of thunderstorms - and the gamble paid off. The Scotsman, who is probably best known as actress Ashley Judd's husband, won the Indianapolis 500, arguably the world's biggest race, when it was halted by rain 34 laps from its scheduled end. Scott Dixon finished second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway while two-time winner Helio Castroneves battled back from an early mishap on pit lane to finish third.

   It was announced that the Motor Racing Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Speedway Corp., will move to Cabarrus County, NC and will be creating 50 jobs and investing $2.15 million over the next three years. The company, which provides NASCAR radio coverage and programming, is moving from Daytona Beach, Fla. The average weekly wage of the jobs will be $1,045 plus benefits, which is higher than the Cabarrus County average weekly wage of $594, not including benefits.

   Last year, 2011 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on Spring Break.

   The Thompson Speedway fell victim to rain on Thursday night.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway avoided the rain on Friday night as did Ted Christopher who drove to his second SK Modified win in a row. Christopher now had 94 SK Modified wins at Stafford.

   Woody Pitkat picked up his first win of 2011 in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Pitkat had recorded a previous win but was disqualified when it was discovered that illegal fuel was in his tank. Tommy Barrett, Jr. was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for the second consecutive week, Shawn Thibeault won his first race of the year in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his second feature victory of the year in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   Twenty three cars started the SK Modified feature which was slowed by two cautions.

   In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it two in a row as he rose above early race problems before rallying over the final laps to take the victory. Anthony Flannery was a first time winner in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, Al Stone returned to the winner's circle in the Street Stocks, Glenn Colvin was the Mini Stock feature winner and Paul French won the debut event for the SK Light Modifieds. Ken Downing III was the Super X-Car winner.

   Rocco, who had spun out after being tapped by Ron Yuhas Jr on lap 14 while running second, had advanced to third when a lap-32 restart set the stage for Rocco’s late race charge. Jeff Pearl got the jump on Ron Yuhas Jr but it was Rocco who made a bonsai move down low in turn one as he seized the opportunity to race to Pearl’s inside into turn one with a bold move. He cleared Pearl exiting turn two and was able to hold on over the final two laps to take his second consecutive win and fourth overall on the season. Pearl, Yuhas, Tyler Chadwick and Reynolds completed the top-five finishers.

Twenty one cars, including the SK Lite of Paul French, started the SK Modified feature.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, two of the brightest young NASCAR Modified stars waged a classic battle in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 100 with Timmy Solomito of holding off a hard charging Justin Bonsignore in a battle that race fans will be talking about for years to come. The victory, Solomito's second in three races in 2011, was worth $3,550 which included a $1,000 winner's bonus as well as a $500 first Riverhead Raceway driver across the line from ardent race fan, Jim Schaefer.

   In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, John Smith, who is employed by Richard Childress Racing as a front-suspension specialist on the NASCAR Sprint Cup car driven by Clint Bowyer, got his eighth career victory on the flat quarter mile speedway in a 100 lap event.

   Smith drew the pole position and withstood five double-file restarts, holding off Lee Jeffreys and Dean Ward, both of whom were sidelined with mechanical trouble and finally endured a late challenge by Brian Loftin. Loftin, who worked his way up from the 17th starting position, finished second. Michael Clifton was third, Burt Myers fourth, Jason Myers fifth and Jonathan Brown sixth.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Charlotte Carl Edwards won the annual All Star Race that was deemed a yawner until the checkered flag was dropped. Edwards did a show-off slide through the infield, hit a man-hole cover and destroyed the nose of his car. In Nationwide action, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. held off Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to win Sunday's NASCAR Nationwide series race in Iowa, becoming the first series regular to pick up a victory in 2011. Stenhouse took the lead from Edwards 233 laps into the 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway and held off the only Cup regulars in the field for his first career Nationwide win.

   The second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, champions all, captured over 50 victories and a dozen championships in NASCAR’s premier series. The five inductees, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee Petty, made up the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., which was officially inducted on May 23.

   Alex Tagliani broke up the monopoly in the top-heavy IndyCar series and became the first Canadian to earn the pole for the Indianapolis 500. On a day each of the series' three top teams - Andretti Autopsort, Target Chip Ganassi and Team Penske - made big mistakes, it was a 37-year-old Canadian who got it right twice with a four-lap average of 227.472 mph on the day's final run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway..

   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

Fred Luchesi                                                  Bill Wimble                                               Benny Deroiser

Bob Bruno                                               Don MacTavish                                               Ed Flemke

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 25, 2012

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