The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 29, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 Don Collins was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ed McAvoy was the Claiming Car winner. Saturday night Sportsman action at the Speedbowl saw Al Riley take the Sportsman main event while Johnny Sandberg won his fifth of the year in the Claiming Car ranks.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957, the New London-Waterford shifted to its summer schedule of running on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Red Foote was the 25 lap Sportsman winner on Wednesday night and Moneybags Moe Gherzi was the 50 lap Sportsman winner on Saturday night. Squeaky Rogers was the non-Ford winner on Saturday night.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Bill Slater continued his winning ways on the dirt at Stafford as he made it three in a row. At Waterford, Dick Beauregard won his first of five Modified features in a row. Ed Moody was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1967, Eddie Flemke won a 50 lapper at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Stafford had a 100 lapper scheduled but was forced to cancel due to rain. Following Flemke were Pete Hamilton, Bernie Miller, Elton Hill and Lou Lazzaro. Leo Cleary was the Saturday night feature winner at the Norwood Arena. At Fonda, Pete Corey took the win over Bill Wimble and Lazzaro. Thompson and Utica-Rome fell victim to rain. The All Star League, the brainchild of Larry Mendelsohn and Lou Figari made its debut at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Fred Harbach took the 100 lap main event over Bill Wimble, Pete Corey, Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan, Kenny Shoemaker and Eddie Flemke. Charlie Webster won on Saturday at Waterford while Newt Palm won a 50 lap special event on July 4.

   Forty years ago in 1972, the Fourth of July weekend started on a wet note as Friday night racing at Malta rained out. Saturday night at Stafford saw Canadian Denis Giroux take a popular win over Bugsy Stevens and Tom Sutcliff. At Islip, Fred Harbach out-dueled Missippi Curtiss and Charlie Jarzombek and at Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Irv Taylor and Don Wayman. Waterford ran double features because of rain the previous week. Don Bunnell won the leftover Modified feature while Dick Dunn took the regularly scheduled event. Seekonk ran a 100 lap open show on Sunday with Fred DeSarro taking the win over Ed Flemke, Bobby Sprague, Johnny Tripp and Bugsy Stevens. Utica-Rome also ran a 100 lapper with Richie Evans taking the top spot over Sonny Seamon, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Stafford had a 150 lapper scheduled for Monday but tossed in the towel because of showers. The All Star League visited Fonda on Tuesday for a 100 lap contest
which was won by Buzzie Reutimann over Jerry Cook, Lou Lazzaro and Ron Narducci.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, Stafford started the Fourth of July weekend with a 100 lapper that drew 56 Modifieds and over 9000 spectators. Geoff Bodine took the hotly contested feature over Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller, John Rosati and Brett Bodine. Monadnock also ran on Friday night with a 50 lapper. Pete Fiandaca took the win over Bob Karvonen. On Long Island at Riverhead, Charlie Jarzombek won out over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. Saturday night was also a busy one. At Seekonk over 15,000 were on hand to cheer Bugsy Stevens as he took the victory in the Fred Fusco No.1. George Summers finished second with Eddie StAngelo, George Murray and Ray Lee rounding out the top five. Joe Howard beat out Mike Murphy at Westboro and in a 100 lapper at Waterford, Bill Greco won out over Mark Geer, George Allum, Joe Tiezzi, Mark LaJunesse and Dick Ceravolo. Geoff Bodine carried his winning ways over to Riverside Park on Saturday night with a victory over Bob Polverari and Ron Wycoff. Islip and Freeport were still butting heads and fighting for cars and fans. Greg Sacks took the win at Islip over Fred Harbach and Wayne Anderson. At Freeport, Charlie Jarzombek took the win over George Brunnhoelzl Jr. Ronnie Bouchard was the king pin at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Westboro ran an 82 lap open competition event on Wednesday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Gomer Taylor and Reggie Ruggiero. Greg Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford as he beat out Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero for his 13th win of the season. Bugsy Stevens, driving the Mystic Missile, had his season come to an early end as he suffered fractured lower vertebras after taking a hard shot into the turn one concrete as a result of a cut tire. It was also a not so good night for Daring Dick Caso who was given a three week suspension for making a banzai move that ended up wiping out the cars of Brett Bodine, Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller and Mike Hornat. Doug French took the Friday night win at New Egypt and Wayne Anderson took top honors at Riverhead. Waterford suffered a rain out on Saturday but at Seekonk it stayed dry as Mr. Leo Cleary put Joe Brady's 00 in victory lane. Gomer Taylor finished second with Eddie StAngelo, fourth. Marty Radwick won a 100 lapper at Riverside Park and John Blewett Jr. won a 100 lapper at Islip. At Shangri-La it was Jerry Cook over Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt. Sunday night at Thompson saw Reggie Ruggiero take the top spot over George Kent, Richie Evans and Bob Polverari.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, the NASCAR Modified Tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Jim Spencer took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Mike Stefanik and Corky Cookman. Rain washed out Friday night at Stafford and Saturday night at Waterford. At Riverside Park, Stan Gregger took the win over Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Bruce Del. At Riverhead, Tom McCann won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. The Mod Tour headed for Jennerstown, Pa on Sunday where Jan Leaty pulled off the win over Jim Spencer, Jeff Fuller, Mike McLaughlin and Mike Stefanik.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Touring Series was at Riverhead on Wednesday for a 201 lap event. Mike Stefanik started on the pole and led the entire distance to take the win. Ed Brunnhoelzl finished second. Rick Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero and Steve Park rounded out the top five. Friday night at Stafford saw Ted Christopher win out over John Sneade and Mike Christopher. MikeEwanitsko made it three in a row at Riverhead on Saturday night.Racing at Waterford was delayed two hours because of rain. The Strictly Stocks started their main event and got seven laps in the books before the Connecticut DMV shut them down because of the midnight curfew. Jerry Marquis was the big winner at Riverside and Dave Dion won the Oxford 250 for the third time and pocketed $37,150 for his efforts.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he put his Dodge powered SK modified in victory lane over Bo Gunning and Bob Potter. The Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen. Tim Connolly took the lead with six laps to go and went on to record the victory over Rick Fuller and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik juggled his schedule between Watkins Glen and the Busch Grandnational event at Nazareth. Stefanik practiced at Nazareth in the morning, flew to Watkins Glen and started the Modified event in the Brady 00, jumped out at the first caution, flew back to Nazareth for qualifying. Tucker Reynolds scored at Waterford after Todd Ceravolo pitted while leading with a leaky radiator. Don Fowler finished second. Jim Broderick was parked for the night after an altercation with Jeff Pearl and Ricky Young was suspended for two events because of a rough riding incident. Tim Contarino won at Riverhead and it was Richie Gallup at Riverside. Bob Dragon passed Jerry Marquis with five laps to go to take the Busch North Series event at Nazareth. Marquis finished second with Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Andy Santarre rounding out the top five.

   Ten years ago in 2002 the weeks race schedule brought back fond memories of years ago when there was racing five days out of seven. There was something for everyone to say the least. The best of both worlds, The Busch North Series and the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour, were in Southern New England. Stafford started it off on Wednesday night with the twice-rained out Connecticut Classic 150 for the Featherlite Modifieds. Ted Christopher used his home track advantage to the fullest as he led the event from pole to pole. Some would say it was boring but if one were aware of the background drama their opinion would change. Christopher’s secret was the fact that his car was set up to the precision of a Swiss watch by crew chief Barry Kuhnel. In fact, the car was so perfect; Christopher went the 150-lap distance on the same tires in which he started. The show behind him was the one to watch as Ed Flemke Jr. came from the rear twice to finish second. The event was also a true test of human stamina and equipment durability as temperatures were in the mid 90’s and the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife. There were fourteen cars on the lead lap at the finish. Rick Fuller toughed it out to finish third with Jerry Marquis and Chris Kopec rounding out the top five. Twenty-nine of the original thirty-one qualifiers were on hand. FredVordermeir, who missed the cut in time trials pinch hitted for injured Tony Hirschman. Vordermeir did a good job as he finished in eighth spot. Jeff Fuller qualified the No. 17, which had been driven by Mike Ewanitsko before he got hurt. Fuller and car were no-shows. In the SK-Modifieds, Bo Gunning scored his second victory of the year. Mike Stefanik started the event as the point leader but an eleventh place finish, plus Marquis’ fourth, moved him back to second spot as Marquis moved into the lead. On to Thompson, on Thursday night, Jeff Malave found himself sitting in the catbird seat after Ted Christopher tapped Bo Gunning. Gunning and Christopher passed Malave for the lead on the 13th lap. On the next go-round, Christopher tapped Gunning who in turn spun and hit the wall a ton. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks felt that Christopher was rough riding and black-flagged him to the rear. It was the second incident of the night involving the defending national champion. Bert Marvin, who had been riding a streak of three in a row, got wrecked on the second lap after Christopher brake checked him. Christopher, who has been doing some verbal jousting with Marvin, denied his accusation. With Gunning and Marvin out of it Malave had a somewhat easy time of it as he took the win over Ron Yuhas Jr. and Kerry Malone. Christopher rebounded to finish fourth with Tom Bolles, fifth. A total of 29 cars took the green. On Friday night, it was back to Stafford for the SK-Modifieds or off to Lee Raceway for the Modified open. At Stafford, Ted Christopher scored his 62nd career win at Jack Arute’s place. Like Malave at Thompson, Christopher got the win over another’s miss-fortune. With seven laps to go in the 50-lap feature, Ron Silk was running second and took a header into the fence after going over the roof of Doug Coby. Once the mess was cleared, Christopher drove to victory without incident. Don Travaglin finished second with Jeff Baral, third. At Lee, Ed Flemke Jr. went pole to pole to take the 100-lap win. Charlie and Carl Pasteryak followed with Kirk Alexander, fourth. At Waterford on Saturday night, Jeff Pearl got redemption after a bone jarring wreck a week ago that all but destroyed his car. Pearl led all but one lap to record his first victory since July 8, 2000. Pearl and his dad, Jerry, along with his crew cut the wrecked car up from behind the seat and replaced the entire rear structure of the car plus running gear and sheetmetal.

   Dennis Gada finished second with Rob Janovic, Ed Reed Jr. and Don Fowler rounding out the top five. The Busch North Series made its annual stop at the shoreline oval with Kelly Moore taking the win. Finishing out the weekend on Sunday was a Race of Champions Tour event at the all new Adirondack Speedway in upstate New York. The ROC event drew 33 modifieds including Ted Christopher. Christopher started second and led laps 71 thru 133 until getting taken out by George Kent Sr. Kent was parked for his actions and took a fit on the track. Eric Beers took the lead after the demise of Christopher and led Jim Willis and Rick Zacharias across the stripe at the finish.

   Five years ago in 2007 The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made it’s first of two visits to the New Hampshire International Speedway. Speedway owner and promoter Bob Bahre posted $164, 095 for the 100 lap-105.8 mile event. There were 40 Modifieds on hand for qualifying which took place on Thursday.

   With the exception of John Blewett III having mechanical problems and having to take a provisional starting spot, qualifying went smooth. Ted Christopher took the Busch Pole with a speed of 126.812mph. Second fastest was Donnie Lia with a speed of 126.795 mph. Jimmy Blewett, Matt Hirschman and Eddie Flemke Jr rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tony Hirschman, Charlie Pasteryak, Bob Grigas III, Ronnie Silk and Glen Tyler.

   Donnie Lia, who signed on with longtime NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owner Bob Garbarino just prior to the start of the season, picked up his fourth win in six races with a victory in the New England 100 at New Hampshire International Speedway last Saturday. For Garbarino, who has been a Modified car owner since the mid 1960s, its been a dream season. Never in over 40 years has he had a year like this. Lia and Co. made the strategic choice not to pit for tires or fuel, while other of the top contenders like Ted Christopher did at various stages and had to work their way back to the front.

   “If we pitted today, I don’t know if we could have got through like Teddy did,” said Lia, who had five career wins in 79 career starts entering 2007. “We made our decision and stuck with it. And it was apparently the right one.” The race was abbreviated to 85 laps due to time constraints. It was slowed eight times for 38 laps, with the last caution setting up a six-lap dash for the finish between Lia, Christopher and Eddie Flemke. Lia briefly lost the lead to Flemke but used a push from Christopher to get back by and then held on as Christopher and Flemke battled for second. Christopher, who has four Modified Tour wins at NHIS, held on for the runner-up finish. Matt Hirschman and Todd Szegedy were fourth and fifth respectively. Ronnie Silk, Bobby Santos III, Ron Yuhas Jr., Charlie Pasteryak and John Blewett IIII rounded out the top 10.

   Eight cautions for 38 laps kept Lia’s average speed at 67.140mph. Among those who failed to finish were Joe Hartmann who lost an engine on lap 2, Bob Grigas, Kenny Bouchard, Rick Fuller and Glen Tyler were eliminated in a lap 34 accident. James Civali lost a driveshaft on lap 35. Eric Beers and Mike Christopher lost engines while Jake Marosz and Rob Summers dropped out with suspension problems. Alex Hoag and Jimmy Blewett wrecked on lap 73.

   Lia held the points lead over Szegedy by 61 and Hirschman by 63. Jimmy Blewett and James Civali round out the top five.

   On a sad note, Whelen Modified Tour Series crew chief Greg Narducci sustained serious head injuries when he fell off a moving golf cart on Thursday night. He suffered several injuries to his facial area including possible fractures to the temple, cheekbone and area behind the eye socket. Swelling of the brain occurred with possible clots behind the front area of the skull. He was Med Flighted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in NH. Greg was touch and go for a while, but is now on his way to recovery.

   In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway, Heavy rains caused the management to cancel its Thursday Night Thompson Thunder race program. The entire northeast was hit by heavy downpours and storms forcing management’s hand after nearly two hours of work to dry the track.

   In Busch East series action at Loudon on Friday the racing was absolutely brutal. Connecticut’s Joey Logano won for the 3rd time in 6 series starts in the 125-mile event that was slowed by 10 caution periods and 2 red flags. It took two hours to finish the event. Logano held off 8-time New Hampshire International Speedway winner Brad Leighton and Tim Schendel over several late-race restarts. Twenty-four of the 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Cautions: 10 for 64 of the 126 laps completed.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Zach Sylvester ended a seven year dry spell at the nutmeg oval. In addition to Sylvester who won the the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagna,the Limited Late Model feature and Dean Casagrande, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   The 40-lap SK Modified feature, run under a full moon, saw several attempts at getting it started with both front row starters being put back a row, which put Sylvester up front for the start, and he took the early lead. Sylvester held the lead through multiple caution periods, but would lose the lead to Willie Hardie on a lap-21 restart. Sylvester got back around Hardie on lap-23 and would hold the lead through several more restart situations until the final caution came out with 3 laps to go. Sylvester powered his way to the lead, but had Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher all over his back bumper. Sylvester held strong and took the checkered flag ahead of Pitkat. Keith Rocco made a last lap charge into third place, with Christopher and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic Jr. notched his third win of the season on Saturday night as he won the 35-lap SK Modified feature on “Military Appreciation Night At The Speedbowl”. Janovic passed early leader Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. with 13 laps to go and was able to hold off Dennis Gada in the closing laps. Mucciacciaro set the early pace, grabbing the top spot from pole-sitter Jeff Paul with a daring move shortly after the initial green. Paired off with the eventual winner on several restarts, he maintained the lead until Janovic moved to the outside groove. An early wreck on the backstretch triggered by Don Fowler claimed several cars, including point-leader Shawn Monahan. The victory moved Janovic within six points of current leader Shawn Monahan in the battle for the championship. Mucciacciaro, Brandon Hansen and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.

   Other feature winners at the shoreline oval were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Jim Procaccini (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), and, Chris Bakaj (Legends).

   Tom Rogers won the Cromarty Cup 50 at Riverhead and Steven Reed was the Modified winner at the Wall Township Speedway.

   In Nextel Cup action at Loudon Denny Hamlin took the win. Kevin Harvick held off a late challenge by Carl Edwards to grab his second NASCAR Busch Series victory of the season Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway.

   Last year, 2011, the Whelen Modified Tour ended it's Spring Break when the boys of summer went "up country" to the Monadnock Speedway for the Monadnock 200 at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. The event had originally been scheduled for Saturday but a pending bad forecast pushed the date back a day.

   Todd Szegedy showed everyone why he is still someone to watch on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Szegedy, the 2003 tour champion, started from the pole and led every lap to win the Monadnock 200 Sunday for his 15th career tour win and first since August of last year. With his win Szegedy became the fourth different winner in as many races this season on the tour and it was his first top-five finish of the season. Szegedy held off Justin Bosingnore who followed in second while Matt Hirschman was third. Ron Silk was fourth and James Civali completed the top five. Defending race winner Ted Christopher finished sixth with Mike Stefanik seventh and Ron Yuhas Jr. eighth. Erick Rudolph and point leader Rowan Pennink completed the top 10.

   The race was slowed six times for cautions which kept Szegedy's average speed down to 48.491 mph. All yellows were for spin-outs. Bryon Chew spun on lap 2, Wade Cole on lap 38, Andy Seuss on lap 48, Ed Flemke Jr on lap 85, Doug Coby on lap 106 and Richie Pallai on lap 154. There were 28 cars on hand. Sixteen of the original 28 starters finished on the lead lap. According to reports the event drew a respectable amount of fans.

    Defending series champion Bobby Santos had somewhat of a lackluster day. After starting thirteenth, Santos worked his way to ninth by lap 100 only to have his tires give up as he faded to 15th by lap 130 and was lapped by lap 153. Saved by the Lucky Dog provision Santos managed to salvage a 15th for the day.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway attempted to run the Inaugural Lincoln Tech Modified Racing Series event but to no avail as rains brought the racing action to a halt after 32 laps had been completed. The SK Modifieds were also victims of the wet stuff. Both events will be run on Friday, June 29. Keith Rocco was leading when the event was stopped.

   The big story of the night was the fact that Ted Christopher was not allowed to compete in the Modified Racing Series event because the engine in the Joe Brady #00 was deemed illegal. The Hartford Courant reported that Series motor inspector Bob Carrita said car owner Joe Brady tried to "blatantly bend the rules". Evidently "someone" installed material in a cylinder that would give a faulty reading when compression tests were conducted.

   Before the rains came Stafford support classes got their features in. Picking up feature wins were Keith Rocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Shawn Thibeault in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In action at the Waterford Speedbowl Defending track and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco returned to Victory Lane, picking up the checkered flag in the night’s SK Modified® feature. Jason Palmer picked up a career first win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. The two Street Stock feature races were swept by defending champion Al Stone III. Glenn Colvin won the Mini Stock race. Other winners on the night included Paul Luggelle and Dana Dimatteo in their respective NEMA Lite and Legends Cars features.

   Rocco led the SK Modified® field to the green flag in their 35-lap feature looking to end a string of finishes outside the top-five, including two 17th place finishes. Nichole Morgillo, Kyle James, Jeff Pearl and Tyler Chadwick raced to the top-five positions behind Rocco in the opening laps. James was the first to pull out of line, challenging Morgillo’s outside on lap-3. After three laps of pursuit, James moved into the position for good in turn three. Pearl followed suit and was in third when the field completed lap-7. James quickly chased down the lead Rocco briefly gained over the field and looked ready to mount a challenge. Pearl ran alone in third while Rob Janovic Jr. and Chadwick made up the top-five as the race moved past halfway continuing under green flag conditions. The first caution finally slowed the torrid pace on lap-21 when Diego Monahan cut a left front tire and stopped on the track in turn three. Rocco got a great jump over James on the restart. Pearl filled the gap to James’ inside and the pair spent five-laps battling for the spot before Pearl finally pulled ahead. Rocco was slowly able to stretch his advantage over Pearl as the race wore on. The interruption on lap-21 proved to be the only one in a cleanly competed event. Rocco checked out to the win by several lengths over Pearl at the checkered flag. He wired the field for his fifth win on the year and cut into Pearl’s point lead. James held off Janovic to take third position with Chadwick finishing in fifth.

   In the Southland at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Lee Jeffreys and Burt Myers won twin 25 lap Modified features.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Wayne Anderson took the NASCAR Modified feature win.

   In Nationwide Series racing, Justin Allgaier was coasting to the finish and a near-certain victory - then he ran out of gas. In the end, NASCAR officials ruled Reed Sorenson won a chaotic, disputed overtime finish in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Road America.

   In Sprint Cup action, Kurt Busch's impressive turnaround continued with a dominating run at Infineon Raceway, where he earned his first career road course victory and his first win of the season.

   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.

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 29, 2012

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