The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 22, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 Wes Kingsley was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Everett Harris was the Claiming Car winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957, Red Bolduc, who normally raced at the Norwood Arena, ventured to Connecticut where he won the 25 lap Sportsman feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Bill Slater made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. At Waterford, George Pendergast was the 25 lap Modified feature winner. Lou Caso was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1967, Bugsy Stevens was the Friday night winner at Stafford over Gene Bergin, Bobby Santos, Pete Hamilton and Leo Cleary. It was Stevens’ first win at Stafford. Double features were on tap at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Rene Charland took the opener and was followed by Bill Wimble, Eddie Flemke, Lou Lazzaro and Guy Chartrand. Kenny Shoemaker won the nightcap over Richie Evans, Wimble, Lazzaro and Flemke. Hamilton, who had taken over the Worcester Sand and Gravel No.69 that had formerly been driven by Mario "Fats" Caruso took the Saturday night win at Norwood Arena. At Fonda, it was Rene Charland over Lou Lazzaro and Jack Farquar. Newt Palm made it two in a row at Waterford. At the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night George Pendergast beat out Richie Evans, Pete Corey, Billy Harman and Rene Charland for the win.

   Forty years ago in 1972, rain put a damper on the racing in New York State as Malta, Fonda and Utica-Rome pulled the plug because of the wet stuff. Bugsy Stevens was the Saturday night winner at Stafford over Eddie Flemke, Leo Cleary and Ronnie Bouchard. At Islip, Japanese driver George Tet was the winner at the tight 1/5 mile oval. Cliff Tyler finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third. Waterford's features were washed out after qualifying was completed.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, still going strong was Bugsy Stevens, now in the Koszela 15, as he blasted his way thru the field at Stafford to record a popular win over Geoff Bodine, Ray Miller and Brett Bodine. The rain stayed north and washed out Friday night action at Monadnock. Saturday night at Seekonk, Leo Cleary in the Tom Dunn T-5 Pinto Wagon showed the quick way around the 1/4 mile oval as he took the win over Jim Wilkins, John Rosati and George Murray. Waterford and Westboro were victims of rain but at Riverside it stayed dry long enough for Bob Polverari to record a win over Reggie Ruggiero. All racing for the weekend on Long Island was also wet. At Thompson on Sunday, Fred DeSarro made it four in a row. Geoff Bodine settled for second and was followed by Leo Cleary, Ronnie Bouchard and Ray Miller.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Richie Evans scored his 11th of the season with a 150 lap win at New Egypt on Wednesday night. Tony Siscone finished second with Jerry Cook, third. New Egypt ran again on Friday night with Siscone turning the tables with a win over Evans and John Blewett Jr. Greg Sacks, enjoying his best season ever, recorded his 12th win of the season at Stafford on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens finished second with George Summers, third. Tom Bolles was the SK Modified winner. Dan DeRosier beat out Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari at Riverside and at Thompson, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero each scored victories. Rain washed out Waterford and Islip. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Cale Yarborough took the win.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, Rick Fuller was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Richie Gallup finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. Ricky Shawn was the Late Model winner. Dickie Doo Ceravolo made it two in a row at Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Moose Hewitt and Jerry Pearl for the win. At Riverside, Dan Avery took the win over Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead, Wayne Anderson went pole to pole to take the win over Tom McCann. Out in South Central New York at Shangri-La, Tony Hirschman took the win and in Winston Cup action at Riverside, Tim Richmond took the win.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, rain drenched the northeast, washing out Stafford's Busch North Series event on Friday night and Waterford on Saturday night. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series Modifieds were at Flemington for a 200 lapper which was won by local favorite Doug Hoffman. Jan Leaty finished second with Ed Flemke Jr, Tim Arre and Jeff Fuller rounding out the top five. Mike Ewanitsko ruled the roost at Riverhead and at Riverside, Bruce D'Assandro beat out John Zavisa and Ed Kennedy for the win.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Steve Chowanski started his weekend right with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Bo Gunning finished second with Jim Broderick, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Todd Ceravolo got his fourth win of the season after Jim Broderick was disqualified with an illegal transmission. Don Fowler ended up second with Dennis Gada, third. Mike Stefanik recorded his sixth modified win of the season as he won the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Touring Series 201 lap event at Riverhead. After taking the lead on lap 66, Stefanik survived nine cautions for 42 laps on his way to victory. His average speed was 46.708 mph. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Tim Connelly and Rick Fuller. Ted Riggott got his fourth win at Riverside and in Busch North Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Jerry Marquis took the win over Martin Truex, Tom Bolles, Rick Fuller and Mike Stefanik. Marquis started
sixth and was running third on lap 31 of the 150 lap event when Kelly Moore dumped leader Dale Shaw. Shaw went to the back and Moore pitted for a stop and go. In Winston Cup action at Fontana in California, Jeff Gordon took the checker on fumes as he ran out of gas on the cool down lap.

   Ten years ago in 2002, Bert Marvin made it three in a row in Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson. Marvin started 17th and followed Ted Christopher to the front. He passed Christopher on lap 7 and leader Stu McCarthy on lap18 of the 30-lap feature. McCarthy finished second and was followed by Christopher, Bo Gunning, Tom Bolles and Ron Yuhas Jr. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour traveled to Richmond, Virginia for a 150-lap event. Rookie sensation Todd Szegedy took the win after passing Mike Stefanik on lap 95. Stefanik finished second with Nevin George, Jerry Marquis and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top five. Stafford ran a 100 lapper for the SK-Modifieds. Mike Christopher drove the Mystique Motorsports No.13 for his brother who was at Richmond. Mikey started dead last and ended up taking the win over Jim Williams, Tucker Reynolds and John Lobo. Waterford was the scene of “The Big Wreck” on Saturday night. Jim Civalli got loose coming out of turn four on lap nine and ended up collecting 15 of the 22 starters in a grinding wreck. Among those sustaining race-ending damage were Dennis Gada, Jeff Pearl, Don Fowler and David Gada. Tom Fox survived to take the win over Ron Yuhas Jr., Dennis Charette and Jay Miller. Chris Young won at Riverhead and John Blewett III took Wall Township. Andy Santerre won the Busch North Series 150 at Holland and Greg Biffle won the Busch Grandnational event at Milwaukee. The Winston Cuppers had the weekend off.

   Five years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour got back into action on Thursday night at the Thompson Speedway with the Charter Cable, Internet, Telephone 150. There were 38 Modifieds on hand to qualify for the 35 starting spots. Second-generation driver Richard Savory, driving the Art Barry No. 21 was the Busch Pole sitter. Second fastest was Don Lia in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile. The re-draw for starting spots saw Ryan Preece picking the pole position with James Civali picking the outside pole. Lia ended up winning the rain-shortened event after taking the lead on lap 34. Rain began to fall as the field completed lap 80 of the 150-lap distance. The field circled the 5/8-mile oval under caution for 20 more laps when the event was finally called. Among those who were hoping to restart the event was Ted Christopher who felt that he had something for the leader. Christopher, who was scheduled to start ninth, started scratch after suffering a flat tire just prior to the event. Christopher drove a determined race and was in the process of putting himself into position to challenge the leader when the skies opened up. Christopher was forced to settle for the runner-up spot in the final rundown. Bobby Santos III, driving the Boehler family entry finished third in his best effort to date. Former champions Tony Hirschman and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Pole sitter Civali and Eddie Flemke led the early going as they swapped the lead numerous times in a brilliant exhibition of high speed driving. Civali ended up 7th and Flemke, 19th.

   Woody Pitkat’s debut in the series started with a bang as he hit the wall in final practice. The Roger Hill crew was able to make repairs and Pitkat was afforded a starting spot because of an owner’s provisional. In spite of all his pre-race trouble Pitkat drove to a solid 10th place finish.

   Among those on hand to take in the event and mingle with old friends were NEAR Hall of Fame driving legends Leo Cleary, Billy Harman, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers.

   The True Value Modified Series continued to attract competitors from the Whelen Modified Tour Series including former series champion Mike Stefanik. The True Value Series ran a 100 lap event at the ¼ mile Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Taking the win was local favorite Vinnie Annarummo. Louie Mechalides started 24th on the field and finished second. Stefanik got as high as seventh until spinning out shortly after the halfway mark. Also in the field but finishing out of the top ten was Ted Christopher.

   In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett jumped out at the start of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified 30 lapper and proceeded to go pole to pole to win the event. Tom Cravenho finished second with Keith Rocco, third. Kerry Malone and John Blewett rounded out the top five. In other Whelen All-American Series competition George Bessette was victorious in the Pro Stock division while Larry Barnett took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division. It was a night for repeats as three of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions featured back-to-back winners. Marc Jenison won the the Late Models, Mike Romano, the Mini Stocks and Tim Sullivan, TIS Modifieds.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway, rain prevailed.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl defending SK Modified champion Dennis Gada used the outside groove to pass early leader Jay Miller with four laps remaining in capturing his second feature race of the season. The event marked the 52nd SK Modified victory of the 6-time champions career. Zach Sylvester, driving a car owned by Dick Ceravolo and Miller completed the top-three.

   Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), Randy Cabral (Northeastern Midget Association).

   Other weekend winners were Chris Young at Riverhead, after it was determined that apparent winner Ken Heagy had altered his tires. Ken Woolley won the Sunoco Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour race Saturday night at the Wall Township Speedway.

   In Nextel Cup racing Juan Pablo Montoya used his well-honed road-racing skill to save his tires, stretch his fuel to the limit, and win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Infinion Raceway for his first NASCAR Nextel Cup victory. In Busch Series action at the Milwaukee Mile Denny Hamlin proved you don't necessarily have to be around for the green flag to take the checkered flag. And Aric Almirola sulked away from what will go down in the record books as his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory. After missing the start of the race because his helicopter couldn't find a place to land, Hamlin rallied to take the checkered flag in a wacky AT&T 250 at the Milwaukee Mile. But because Almirola, a substitute driver, started the race in Hamlin's car, NASCAR officially will credit Almirola with the victory, points and prize money. In Victory Lane, Hamlin said it wasn't his decision to kick Almirola out of the car. According to NASCAR officials, it was the first time a relief driver had won a race a Busch series race since Jack Ingram turned his car over to Harry Gant at Darlington Raceway on April 13, 1985.

   Last year, 2011, sometimes bigger is better but in the case of the Sunoco Modifieds at Thompson last Thursday night smaller was the way to go. The Sunoco (SK) Modified field increased to 13 which included Woody Pitkat who took over the ride vacated by Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco who is among the walking wounded. Pitkat and Rocco provided some of the best racing and cleanest competition seen at the northeast oval in quite a while. Pitkat prevailed in the end. On lap 15 of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified feature Rocco took the lead from Danny Cates with Pitkat in tow. From then on, the pair sliced and diced, trading the lead numerous times. Pitkat took the lead for the final time in turn two on lap 27. Rocco, who was wearing an arm brace and in obvious discomfort before the start of the race, settled for the runner-up spot. Cates crossed the finish line in third spot but was later disqualified when officials determined that his car had illegal mufflers. Rick Fuller was elevated to the third finishing position. Todd Ceravolo and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five.

   The Valenti Modified Racing Series made their first of two visits to Thompson. The 26-car field was a strong one. Mike Stefanik ended a long absence from victory lane as he led the 75 lap VMRS event from pole to pole. Stefanik, who had concerns for the condition of his right rear tire ran just fast enough to keep the field at bay. Series point leader Rowan Pennink moved into the second spot with 10 laps to go was never a factor as the former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion just stepped it up a bit. Pennink finished second with Chris Pasteryak, third. Steve Masse and Les Hinckley rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Jon McKennedy, Eric Goodale, Richard Savary, Rob Goodenough and Mike Holdridge.

   In other action at Thompson on Thursday, Danny Field made it five for five as he continues to dominate the Mini-Stock division. Derek Ramstrom scored a commanding win in the Super Late Model main event while Tommy O’Sullivan ran to his first victory of the 2011 season in the Late Models. Shawn Monahan scored his second-straight Limited Sportsman feature event victory and R.J. Marcotte wired the field to score the victory in the TIS Modifieds. The entire race program was over at 9:55pm.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway decided not to suspend Adam Skowyra for his failure to heed both the black flag and the black flag with white cross in his heat race. Skowyra is responsible for triggering a wreck that caused defending National Champion Keith Rocco to suffer a dislocated shoulder. Skowyra was placed on probation for two events in which he participates and had been removed from the handicap system and must start in the rear of the next two events. He got off easy!

   Stafford pulled the plug on Friday night's racing shortly after lunch due to the fact that heavy rain was eminent in the central Connecticut area.
In action at the Waterford Speedbowl double features for the SK Modifieds were the orders for the day. Glenn Pressel III took down his first career win in the held over 35-lap SK Modified® race, while veteran Jeff Pearl picked up his 36th career win in the regularly scheduled feature. In Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model action, multi-time division champion Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to the winner’s circle. Chris Meyer won a highly entertaining and competitive Street Stock feature, Chris Williams won his second Mini Stock feature on the year and Joe Cipriano was the SK Light Modified race winner. Jonathon Avery was the winner in the New England Truck Series feature.

   There were 25 SK Modifieds on hand including Ted Christopher. Christopher finished fourth in the left over event and 23rd in the nite cap. Defending National Champion Keith Rocco had a rough night as he crashed out of the left over event, finishing 17th and recorded a sixth in the regular scheduled event.

   In the Southland at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Dean Ward took the win in a 100 lapper. Joseph "Bobo" Brown finished second. Brian Loftin was third. Burt Myers recovered from an early spin that dropped him to the rear and finished fourth.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Justin Bonsignore took the NASCAR Modified win.

   At the Michigan Raceway, Carl Edwards passed Ricky Stenhouse with less than 10 laps remaining to earn his fourth NASCAR Nationwide victory of the year. Denny Hamlin raced to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory over a year, holding off Matt Kenseth.

   NASCAR announced the 2012 class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The five-person class, which will be officially inducted in a ceremony during the weekend of Jan. 20, 2012 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., consists of: Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood.

   Members of the 55-member NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met in a closed session in Charlotte, N.C., to vote on the induction class of 2012. Richie Evans, perhaps one of the greatest Modified drivers ever was voted in to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Great Hall.”

   The undisputed “king” of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85. In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including a sweep of all four events at Thompson, Conn. Evans ranked No. 1 in the 2003 voting of the NASCAR All-Time Modified Top 10 Drivers, and he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

   Evans also won Modified track championships at 11 tracks in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. He won four championships at Thompson, two at Stafford Motor Speedway and one at the Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass.

   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

Bobby Santos                                                Danny Galullo                                           George Pendergast   

George Tet                                               Ken Canestrari                                             Reggie Ruggiero       

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 22, 2012

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