May 25, 2012
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,
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
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
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
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
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
SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's
Click on Photo for Full Sized
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit