The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 20, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 Billy Tibbert was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the Claiming Car winner. The Sportsman had Saturday night off at the Speedbowl and it was just as well as the Claiming Car feature fell victim to rain after 17 laps with Jack Stansell being declared the winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957, Red Foote made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won on Wednesday night. Irwin Fox was the non-Ford winner. Don Collins brought a halt to Foote's win streak as he won the 50 lap Sportsman feature at the shoreline oval on Saturday night. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Ron Narducci was the Modified winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night.

   Forty five years ago in 1967, Fred Harbach scored his first and only win at Stafford on Friday. Dick Watson finished second with Leo Cleary, Fred DeSarro and Bill Slater rounding out the top five. Harbach, one of the top guns from Long Island, raced at Stafford, Norwood and Thompson throughout 1967.Rene Charland was the winner of a 40 lapper at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Bill Wimble finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Jerry Cook and Ernie Gahan rounded out the top five. Charland made it two for two as he won a 100 lapper at Fonda on Saturday night. Wimble and Gahan followed. Bill Scrivener took the Modified win at Waterford. Gene Bergin was the Saturday night winner at Norwood and Dutch Hoag won again at Fulton. Sunday action at Thompson and Utica-Rome rained out

   Forty years ago in 1972, Bugsy Stevens beat out Long Islander Dan MacNamara at Seekonk on Friday night. Many of the big guns were at Malta for a 200 lapper where Eddie Flemke prevailed in the Frank Vigliorlo No.34 (formerly the Bob Judkins 2x) Bob Santos finished second and was followed by Ron Bouchard, Richie Evans, Maynard Forette and Fred DeSarro. Saturday night at Stafford saw Santos score another runner-up with Ronnie Bouchard taking the top spot. Fonda ran a double points event with Ralph Holmes taking the win over Ron Narducci and Andy Romano. Asphalt racer Bernie Miller tried his hand on the dirt and finished 15th. Angie Cerese was the Modified winner at Waterford. At Islip it was Jim Hendrickson over Charlie Jarzombek and George Tet and at Utica-Rome on Sunday night, it rained.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, Thompson ran a mid-week open competition event. Richie Evans took the top spot over Geoff Bodine and Eddie Flemke. At Stafford on Friday night, Bodine held off Bugsy Stevens and Dick Caso. Local favorite Bob Polverari took the top spot at Riverside over Bodine while at Seekonk; Corky Cookman took top honors with Jim Wilkins, Bugsy Stevens and Eddie StAngelo, following. Veteran Joe Tiezzi was the main man at Waterford. Jerry Pearl finished second with Moose Hewitt, Dick Ceravolo and Gene Bergin, following. Richie Evans invaded Islip for a 150 lapper and walked away a winner over Greg Sacks, Wayne Anderson and Fred Harbach. At Westboro, Mike Weeden won out over George Savory and Joe Howard. Thompson closed out the weekend with Fred DeSarro taking the win over Bodine and Bouchard.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Stafford had scheduled Modified Madness for Tuesday but rain prevailed. On Wednesday night, Thompson ran the Thompson 300 outside pole qualifier. George Summers in the Art Barry no.21 took the 40 lap win over Greg Sacks, George Kent and Kenny Bouchard. Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. Kenny Bouchard, in the Ted Marsh No.55 ran a strong second with Bob Polverari, Reggie Ruggiero and Mike McLaughlin rounding out the top five. At Waterford on Saturday night, Don Fowler held off Don LaJoie and Joe Tiezzi. Promoter Dick Williams announced that Randy LaJoie would be in competition in the upcoming Busch North Series event that was coming up at the Speedbowl. Riverside Park ran a 200 lapper that saw Richie Evans in a class by himself as he won the event over George Kent, SJ Evonsion and Bob Polverari. Evans made it two in a row as he won at Thompson on Sunday. George Summers finished second with George Kent, third. Other weekend winners were George Kent at Spencer, Tony Siscone at New Egypt, George Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead, Gomer Taylor at Seekonk, Doug Hewitt at Shangri-La, John Blewett Jr. at Islip and Roger Treichler at Perry. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby Allison took the win. Ron Bouchard finished fourth.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, the weekend was marred by the death of Corky Cookman at the Thompson Speedway on Sunday night. Cookman, a quiet but well liked driver, hit the turn three wall a ton on lap 5 of the 75 lap event and was killed almost instantly. Cookman was transported to a local hospital as the race resumed. Reggie Ruggiero ended up with the win with Jim Spencer, second. In Late Model action, Ricky Shawn made it two in a row and in SK Modified action, Bo Gunning took the win. A few days after the death of Cookman, NASCAR announced that the 390 carburetor with unaltered boosters would be the only one allowed in the division. Bo Gunning was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Richie Gallup finished second. Waterford ran twin features on Saturday night with Ricky Young and Harry Rice taking the wins. Bob Potter finished second to Young with Dickie Doo Ceravolo, Ed Flemke Jr. and Bob Gada following. Following Rice were Dale Holdredge, Gada and John Anderson. Wayne Anderson ruled the roost at Riverhead despite pressure from Don Howe and Tom Baldwin in the closing laps. At Riverside Park, Wade Cole got a surprise win over Mike McLaughlin and Reggie Ruggiero. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond was the pole sitter but the race belonged to Dale Earnhardt Sr.

   Twenty years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for a 150 lap event. Reggie Ruggiero in the Ed Cloce No.69 took the win over Doug Hevron in the Boehler No.3 and Jeff Fuller. Tom Tagg was the SK-Modified winner. At Monadnock, Marty Radwick scored a win over Jerry Marquis and Rusty Ball. Marquis, in the Bobby Judkins 2x, scored his seventh win of the season at Riverside Park on Saturday night. At Waterford and Riverhead, it was a night for the rookies. At Waterford, Scott Poirier scored his first ever win as he held off Mike Christopher and Bob Potter and at Riverhead, John Fortin beat out Tom Tillotson and Mike Ewanitsko.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, it was a big week for Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside Park as he recorded his 90th career win at the amusement park oval when he beat out Dan Avery and Mike Stefanik to win the Wednesday night NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series 150.Ruggiero backed it up with his 91st career victory on Saturday night over Richie Gallup and Ted Riggott. At Stafford on Friday night, Ted Christopher garnered his 46th career victory. Jim Broderick, Bo Gunning and Bob Potter followed. Broderick settled for second again on Saturday night at Waterford as Scott Spaulding took the win. Todd Ceravolo finished third. Spaulding took the lead from Broderick with five laps to go. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Dale Jarrett took the win. In other news, the International Speedway Corporation added Phoenix International Raceway to its war chest of speedways
   Ten years ago in 2002, the scheduled NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour event at Chemung was cancelled. At Thompson on Thursday night the fans came out in droves as the 5/8 mile speedway was almost packed as Bert Marvin won his fourth feature of the season. Bo Gunning finished second followed by Ron Yuhas Jr. and Ted Christopher. The Busch North Series visited Stafford on Friday night. Andy Santerre was leading the 150 lap event with two to go when he found himself planted in the wall after Dale Shaw hit Dale Quarterly who was running second who in turn hit Santerre. Shaw was not penalized for his actions and went on to take the win over Matt Kobyluck and Tracy Gordon. Billy Anderson won the 50 lap SK-Modified feature over Kerry Malone, Ron Silk and Lloyd Agor. Rob Janovic was the Saturday night winner at Waterford but it was one of the Rocco twins who stole the show when he borrowed one of Joey Chitwood’s stunt cars and put on a smoke show for the crowd. JR Bertuccio took his sixth win at Riverhead over Tom Cravenho who was in the Eddie Partridge modified. Peter Daniels made it seven in a row at Claremont and at Wall Township, Tom Farrell took the win. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bill Elliott won out over Kurt Busch and Hank Parker Jr. won the Busch Series event at Pikes Peak in Colorado. On a sad note, Booker T. Washington Jones passed away after a battle with cancer

   Five years ago in 2007, the Waterford Speedbowl, thanks to the non payments of property owner Terry Eames, was scheduled to go up for foreclosure on Saturday, July 28. A sign posted on the property frontage indicated that the sale would take place at high noon. Anyone interested would need a $300,000 bank or certified check to participate. In 2006 the Washington Mutual Bank filed a lawsuit claiming that the track's owner, Terry Eames, had failed to make payments on a $1.7 million loan held by the Seattle-based savings bank. The lawsuit, Washington Mutual vs. 1080 Hartford et al., continued through this year, with several legal motions occurring during April and May. Eames had also failed to pay the town of Waterford more than $185,000 in taxes owed dating back to 2003. Eames was smart as he had shielded himself by an LLC titled 1080 Hartford Road LLC, a reference to its street address. In other words if he did lose the property he could walk away and thumb his nose at those he owes.

   Eames, who bought the race track in 2000 had all but run the facility into the ground when he leased the track to a new company called The New Waterford Speedbowl LLC, which ran the day-to-day operations. Bill Roth served as its general manager and Jerry Robinson was its president. Both Roth and Robinson had made an honest attempt to bring the track back as they had made numerous improvements. They still faced the stigma created by Eames as they had had problems securing any credit for their business venture.

   Eames claimed he was about to sell eight acres in the northwest corner of the property to Harvey Industries, a Massachusetts-based window manufacturer that also distributes other building products.. Eames insisted that he had the necessary finances in place, which would lead one to ask how come he had not made any payments in the previous 18 months.

   The Seekonk Speedway, located just over the Mass. Line on the way to Cape Cod had Open Wheel Wednesday Modified Madness $10,000 to win scheduled for last Wednesday but heavy rain forced a cancellation to September 22.

   The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on their summer break.

   The True Value Modified Racing Series traveled to the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. Kirk Alexander started 15th in the 100-lap feature and took the lead for the eventual win with only five laps remaining. Les Hinkley, who started dead last in the 24 car-starting field, finished second. Dwight Jarvis, Pete Jarvis and Lisbon, Ct’s Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.

   In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the rains prevailed.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Woody Pitkat scored a one-two punch, cleaning house as he won the Coors Light SK Modified 100 and the 30 lap Late Model feature. Alan Provost scored a first career victory in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Sean Foster took down the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Matt Chiarizio scored his first career win in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.In the 100 lap SK Modified feature Pitkat battled back after changing tires with 22 laps to go. Pitkat outdueled Ted Christopher in the closing stages. Willie Hardie took the lead from the pole, and he led the first 34 laps before contact with Keith Rocco sent him spinning from the lead. Rocco was black flagged for rough riding, which handed the lead of the race to Christopher. Pitkat took the lead from Christopher on the restart, and held the lead until lap-52, when Christopher moved back out front. Pitkat slowly began to lose positions as Christopher began to build a large lead over Eric Berndt, who was now running second. A caution with 79 laps complete erased Christopher's large lead and brought Pitkat to pit road for fresh tires. Pitkat then worked his way back through traffic and avoided several wrecks to find himself in third place behind Christopher for a lap-95 restart. Pitkat moved past Christopher on the restart and then drove away to score the win. Christopher finished second, with Frank Ruocco, Kerry Malone, and Curt Brainard rounding out the top-5.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Shawn Monahan passed his brother Diego with 9-laps to go in the 35 lap SK Modified feature. The Monahans then set up a moving wall, which shut out Zach Sylvester and Dennis Gada in the closing laps. Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stocks), and Steven Intravaia (USAC Ford Focus Midgets).

   The Nextel Cup competitors had the weekend off. Reed Sorenson earned his first victory in two years, avoiding the pitfalls of a cautioned-filled Busch Gateway 250 Saturday night in Madison, Ill.

   Sorenson, who hadn't led any part of a race this season, passed David Reutimann on lap 159 moments after the eighth yellow flag was lifted. He survived the ninth and final caution with a strong restart to distance himself from Reutimann, who was third.

   Scott Wimmer earned his first pole position in 136 races and led the first 53 laps before a right flat tire forced him into the pits. He stayed near the front of the pack most of the race and finished second. Jason Leffler and David Ragan rounded out the top five.The cautions were five off the track's record of 14. Of 44 cars that started, 26 finished. The yellow flag was out for 43 of 200 laps. Sorenson, who had the second-fastest qualifying time, led 93 laps. The victory marked his third overall.

   Last year, 2011, The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Saturday, July 16 for the F.W. Webb 100. It appears that the winds of change are beginning to blow as only thirty four cars were on hand for practice and qualifying. Sprint Cup ringer Ryan Newman, who clearly has a distinct advantage because of his Sprint Cup team, was the top qualifier as he was over one mile per hour faster than Ron Silk who was second fastest. Todd Szegedy was third fastest with Bobby Santos and another Cup ringer, Andy Petree, rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman and Ted Christopher. Justin Bonsignore experienced engine trouble and did not take time. He was given the last starting spot in the 34 starting spot field.

   Ryan Newman capitalized on a relatively caution-free race to sail to his fourth straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race Saturday in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the power and technology behind that car he all but stunk up the show as he could out power and pass the competition at will. Newman, who will also won the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.058-mile oval, led a race-high 61 laps. He passed Ron Silk on Lap 84 and won by 1.901 seconds over runner-up Todd Szegedy.

   The race was slowed by just two cautions and featured an 88-lap green-flag run to the checkered flag. Newman led the first 33 laps and drifted back to third under the long run before moving back to the front in the closing stages. Szegedy edged Ron Silk at the finish line for second. Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Points leader Rowan Pennink was sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Yuhas Jr., Ed Flemke Jr. and Woody Pitkat. Ted Christopher was the last car on the lead lap as he finished 11th. The race featured four lead changes among three drivers. Newman led 61 of the 100 laps.

   NASCAR impounded the #7NY car and brought the car down to Concord, NC to NASCAR facilities for testing. NASCAR will announce their official decision this coming Wednesday. It had been strongly hinted that Newmans car is illegal or has illegal parts and there could very well be a disqualification coming in the near future. In the words of NASCAR Media Coordinator Jason Cunningham, "We don't take away wins anymore, if there is a penalty to be assessed it would not affect the finish of the race".

   According to those on hand the race was taped, but who knows when it will be shown!

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race next in the Lighthouse Mission 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Saturday, July 30. Just finalized but not yet announced is a $600 “Mike Ewanitsko Hard Charger Award” to be handed to a WMT driver who does what Ewanitsko did so often in his racing career. The award will be voted on by a group of race fans, headed by Jim Schaefer, who has raised a significant amount of money for this July 30 WMT event. It may not go to the driver who gains the most positions, but rather to the driver who shows Ewanitsko-like abilities with outside passes from the back of the field, even if he does not finish the race. Ewanitsko was forced out of racing by a serious diabetes condition, which makes it unsafe for him to compete regularly.

   In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Woody Pitkat earned his second Sunoco Modified victory this season as he was awarded the win in the special 50-lap feature event. Pitkat took the lead from Danny Cates on lap 28 and appeared to be on his way to victory until the final lap of the race. Contact with Keith Rocco had Pitkat cross the line second, but a penalty issued to Rocco for the contact handed him the win. Rocco drove deep into turn three of the final lap and made contact with Pitkat, who saved his car but lost the lead. Track officials issued a penalty to Rocco, who took the checkers first, and put Pitkat into victory lane. Rocco was awarded fifth place. Rick Fuller was moved up to the runner-up spot. Andrew Charron and Joe Allegro followed.

   In other Thursday night Thunder action Tyler Poulin was the Mini Stock winner, halting Danny Field's win streak. Tom O'Sullivan was the Late Model winner, Derek Ramstron won the non-stop Super Latemodel feature, Shawn Monahan won the Limited Sportsman Feature and Cam McDermott won the Thompson Modified feature.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway avoided a couple of pop-up showers as Keith Keith Rocco picked up his fifth victory of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Ryan Posocco took his first feature win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko recovered from an early race incident to take his third feature win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his third win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his fourth feature victory of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Casagrande's feature victory tied him with Stacey Botticello and Norm Sears as the winningest drivers in DARE Stock history with 10 career feature wins each.

   Ted Christopher made a move to the inside of early leader Glen Reen in turn 3 on lap-23 to take over the race lead. Rocco caught Reen and he moved into second on lap-27 while Christopher continued to hold the lead. With 10 laps to go Christopher had a lead of several car lengths over Rocco, who had an advantage of several car lengths over Reen in third. Rocco closed the distance to Christopher and he made a power move to the inside of Christopher in turn 3 on lap-36 to move into the race lead. Christopher bobbled slightly in turn 1 on lap-38, which allowed Rocco to stretch his lead out by a couple of car lengths. Christopher caught back up to Rocco on the final lap, but Rocco was too strong to be overtaken and he took his fifth win of the 2011 season by a car length. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Reen, Dan Avery, and Woody Pitkat.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it three in a row in SK Modified competition. Bruce Thomas Jr. won his fourth feature in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model s, Ed Puleo rallied late in the Street Stock s to win his fifth race of the year, but in the Mini Stocks it was the first of the year for Nick Pappacoda who wound up taking the checkered flag. Paul French was victorious in the SK Light Modifieds, his second in three events for the division. Patrick Williams won the X-Car feature.

   Following Rocco in the SK Modified feature was Jeff Pearl, Kyle James, Joe Perry and Frank Mucciacciaro.

   The Valenti Modified Racing Series was in action at the Cannan Speedway in New Hampshire. Louie Mechalides was the only purple and yellow car in the field. He drew the pole, led all the laps and won the race. It was ironic that the late Ricky Miller, for whom the race was named, drove a purple and yellow car. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Norm Wrenn, Kirk Alexander and Chris Pasteryak. There were thirty cars on hand.

   The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC hosted twin 25 lap Modified features. Tim Brown won the pole position for the first race with a qualifying lap of 13.298 seconds (67.7 mph) on the quarter-mile track. He held off Burt Myers in a side-by-side battle in the first lap, and again survived pressure from runner-up Myers in the closing laps. Jonathan Brown finished third. In the second Modified race, Jason Myers, went pole to pole to record his first victory of the season. Chris Fleming finished second, after slipping past a sliding Brad Robbins in the eighth lap. Robbins finished third after picking up two spots by bumping and squeezing past Austin Pack and Steven Truell in the opening laps. Burt Myers was eighth in the second race and Tim Brown ninth, maintaining Myers' 28-point lead margin in the standings.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Don Howe came out of retirement to win the Modified feature. Howe hadn't won in 15 years.

   Modified driver Chris Young bought the Bronson Speedway in Florida, which held their first event in late-June. Young is exploring the possibility of hosting a Tour-Type Modified event at the track during Speedweeks next February.

   In some sad news Kenneth J. Gouvin, 83, passed away after a lengthy illness on Thursday, July 7, 2011. During his younger years Kenny raced at the Kingston Fairgrounds in Kingston, RI.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Loudon, Ryan Newman's first victory of the season from the pole and Tony Stewart's second-place finish gave Stewart-Haas Racing its first 1-2 start and finish. Kyle Busch joined an elite list in auto racing history, becoming the third NASCAR driver to win 100 races. Busch's victory in the Nationwide Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway also tied him with Mark Martin for first place in career Nationwide Series victories with 49. Busch has 22 wins in Sprint Cup and 29 in the Trucks Series.

   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

Remembering "Wild Bill" Slater
Click on Photo for Full Sized



Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: July 20, 2012

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