The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 14, 2012

   Sixty years ago Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Sandberg was the Claiming Car winner. A 50 lap September Championship was held at the bowl on Saturday night with Mike Ward taking the win. Sandberg made it two in a row in Claiming Car action.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957, Don Collins made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack made it two in a row in the non-Fords.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Ernie Gahan made it three in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. George Pendergast was the Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Joe Savard was the Bomber feature winner.

   Forty five years ago, in 1967, Gene Bergin made it two in a row at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Jerry Wheeler and Rene Charland. The USAC Sprinters were also on hand for the Joe Csiki Memorial. Former Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, who would go on to become a Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis, won the event. Gene Bergin finished second with Earl Halaquist, third. Zimmerman and Bergin would also be inducted to the New England Antique Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Norwood Arena ran their annual Bay State 200, which was won by another Hall of Famer, Ralph "Hop” Harrington. The Albany Saratoga Speedway wrapped up their season with a 50 lapper, which was won by Dave Kotary. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Rene Charland, Bill Wimble and Eddie Flemke. Bill Wimble was named as the Modified Champion. George Pendergast was the Sportsman Champion. Charlie Webster was the winner at Waterford.

   Forty years ago in 1972, the only modified action was in Connecticut and the state of New York. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night, which was won by Charlie Jarzombek. Ted Wesnoski finished second. Outsiders didn’t fare too well. Bugsy Stevens finished 10th and Jerry Cook finished 19th. Waterford ran on Sunday with Daring Dick Caso taking the win.

   Thirty five years ago, in 1977, it was Thompson 300 weekend. Stafford was scheduled to run on Friday night but fell victim to rain. Saturday night at Seekonk wasn’t much better as it was very foggy at the cement palace. John Rosati took the win over Eddie St Angelo. The Thompson 300 was run under threatening skies. George Summers won the non-qualifiers 50 lapper and after starting dead last in the 50 car starting field, almost walked off with the top prize. Bugsy Stevens was leading when the field went to caution at around the 170-lap mark. Stevens gambled on having a re-start and felt he had the equipment to march to the front. Summers was also running around in the rain and in the lead when he pitted. Enter Eddie Flemke. Fresh off his 200 at Stafford win, Flemke played a waiting game and gambled that the red flag would indicate the end of the race. Needless to say, Flemke was right as the race was called official at 182 laps. A dripping wet Flemke
had pulled off the two biggest wins in New England, The 200 at Stafford and the Thompson 300. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook and Geoff Bodine following.

   Thirty years ago in 1992, the Race of Champions at Pocono was the big show for the Modifieds. Twenty three thousand fans and over 100 Modifieds were on hand for what was then, the most prestigious race to win. Greg Sacks and the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 had all but dominated just about every major event run during the season. The Race of Champions wasn’t any different. Starting fifth in the 45 car field, Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 13 and held the point thru lap 100 when he pitted for fuel and tires. Restarting in the rear, the Long Island hot shoe made a determined march to the front and re-took the lead from Spencer on lap 160. From there on it was a Sunday drive to the finish at 250 laps. Spencer blew his engine after being passed by Richie Evans on lap 221. Evans was no match for the highflying Sacks and had to settle for second. Ray Miller finished third with Greme Bolia, fourth. George Summers rounded out the top five, one lap down.

   Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street Stock championship. Jan Leaty finished second, Mike Scroger was third and Mike Lovetere was fourth. Also in the field was Rick Fuller who got in thru the consolation. Fuller came from 27th to the lead in six laps. Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro award during pre-race activities. Shortly after accepting the award, Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving after the conclusion of the event.

   Waterford had a Saturday night event scheduled but threw in the towel because of rain. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Darrell Waltrip took the 500 mile win over Kyle Petty. In the preliminary Busch North event, Randy Lajoie qualified a Bob Johnson car on the outside pole and led over half the race before blowing a tire and hitting the wall.

   Twenty five years ago in 1987, the Race of Champions was still going strong at Pocono. Now a NASCAR sanctioned event, one hundred eight Modifieds were on hand. George Brunnhoelzl took the win over Doug Hevron, George Kent, Wayne Edwards and Roger Treichler. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett JR. on lap 185 of the 250 lap event. Carl Erickson won the 40 lap National Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship.

   In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.

   Fifteen Years ago, in 1997, the re-born Race of Champions was run at Oswego. With the exception of Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty, Tim Arre and Ted Christopher, the event drew mostly local drivers from Lancaster and Tioga. Hirschman, driving a Leaty team car, won the 200 lap event. Leaty finished second and was followed by Arre. At one time, the ROC was 'THE" modified event but since falling on hard times a few years previous when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the event. Saturday night action at Waterford rained out. At Dover Downs, Buckshot Jones spun while leading with 14 laps to go and handed the Grand National victory to Joe Bessey. Randy LaJoie finished second. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Kyle Petty had the field covered until he was forced to pit for fuel with 20 laps to go. Mark Martin took the win with Dale Earnhardt coming home in second spot.

   Ten years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Loudon for what had to be one of the best events ever. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino, went non-stop and used a brilliant three wide pass to take the lead and the eventual win. For Hossfeld and Garbarino, 2002 almost didn’t happen. Garbarino was contemplating retiring from racing and Hossfeld was looking for a competitive ride on the western New York circuit. Less than a week before the season began the pair hooked up. Hossfeld ended up racing at tracks he never saw before but adapted with the precision of the professional that he is. Although not considered a rookie, Hossfeld had less time on Tour Series tracks than Todd Szegedy has. NASCAR determined because of the fact that Hossfeld was a competitor in the Craftsman Truck Series. Hossfeld's win was no cakewalk. Ted Christopher and Ed Flemke JR were the class of the field but late race problems for both kept them out of victory lane. Flemke was the top lap leader but a slowly deflating tire was his undoing with less than ten laps to go. Christopher tried one of his famous bottom shots but got bit, as his worn tires weren’t up to the task. Mike Stefanik, who came all the way from a 27th starting spot, finished second. In comparison to Christopher and Flemke, Stefanik’s run was a cautious one and in the end, it paid off. John Blewett III finished a strong third and Christopher recovered from his daring move to finish fourth. Rounding out the top five was Tony Hirschman. Despite his nearly flat tire, Flemke toughed it out to finish fifteenth. Geoff Bodine, who qualified on the outside pole, never mustered the necessary steam to run up front and finished 24th, the last car on the lead lap.

   The series point standings showed Eddie Flemke still leading by a slim margin of five points over Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik, who had all but conceded a repeat title until his Thompson 300 win, sat third, seventeen points behind Flemke. By virtue of his Loudon win, Chuck Hossfeld had moved to within 48 points of the leader. Fifth thru tenth were Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Nevin George, John Blewett III and Jamie Tomaino. David Berghman had hoped to break into the top ten after qualifying sixth fastest but a broken transmission sidelined him after 86 laps which placed him 30th at the finish.

   The regular weekly racing in Southern New England saw Twin events run at Thompson on Thursday. The first event, left over from August 22, was looking to be Matty Adante’s first win until the last lap when he made contact with Stu McCarthy. McCarthy took the checker but was put to the tail of the lead lap as officials felt that he deliberately put Adante around. Eric Berndt, who has had a somewhat hard luck season, was awarded the win. Ron Yuhas JR was moved up to second spot followed by Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher, who recovered from an early spin with Bo Gunning. Bert Marvin scored his sixth win of the season as he captured the nightcap. Ted Christopher now has enough points to secure the 2002 Sunoco-SK Modified track championship.

   Stafford wrapped up its Friday night racing as Doug Coby took his third SK-Modified feature of the year at the Nutmeg oval. Bo Gunning finished second and wrapped up the 2002 SK-Modified Track Championship.

   At Waterford, on Saturday night, Rob Janovic got his third win of the year in the Modifieds but the big story was the fact that Allen Coates, by virtue of his late model win, clinched the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series by Dodge Short Track Regional title as well as the track late model championship. The modified championship at the shoreline oval was still up in the air as Dennis Gada, who finished fifth held a slim 34 point lead over Ed Reed JR, who finished second, behind Janovic.

   Five years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for their second of two visits for 2007. Forty NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 100-mile event that carried a $164,095 purse. Former series champion Todd Szegedy took the Busch pole as he toured the semi-banked oval in 29.725 seconds to the tune of 128.135 MPH. Second fastest and taking the outside pole position was Ron Yuhas JR. Yuhas’ speed was 128.018 MPH. Series point leader Don Lia was third with Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was JJ Yeley who drove a car that was assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc in North Carolina and painted up to resemble the Modified driven by the late Tom Baldwin.

   As usual the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds got shuffled to the back of the bus as their event was rescheduled for late Saturday as well as being shortened 25 laps from the original 100. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy took the win in a somewhat clouded situation. NASCAR has some issues with Szegedy’s engine and has sent it to NASCAR’s R&D center in Concord, NC. In the meantime, the finish was pending. .Ronnie Silk finished second with series point leader Donny Lia, third. Bobby Santos III and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Tony Hirschman, Andy Seuss, Mike Stefanik and Bob Grigas III.

   The event, which was originally scheduled to go off in the early afternoon didn’t get the green flag until 5:30pm. After a couple of early wrecks that thinned the field a bit the balance of the event was classic Loudon with numerous lead swapping and bump drafting the norm. During the final laps the top four were litterly under a blanket. It was announced that 31,000 fans were on hand to witness the event. Fifteen of the original 39 starters finished on the lead lap. The event, which took just under 45 minutes to run, produced four caution periods for 32 laps. Among those who failed to finish were Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke who had major power plant malfunctions. Outside pole sitter Ron Yuhas Jr along with Matt Hirschman, Richard Savory, Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero were eliminated in a wreck after James Civali dumped Yuhas out of second spot. There were actually 8 lead changes between two drivers, Szegedy and Silk. Szegedy took the lead
for the final time on lap 68.

   In NASCAR Busch East action at Loudon on Friday Joey Logano took the win in the 125-lap feature and unofficially clinched the championship at New Hampshire. Mark McFarland saw his excellent run go up in smoke after contact with Sean Caisse which landed McFarland in the wall. Matt Kobyluck, who had made it up to 6th after an early spin, got collected in an accident that also involved Kelly Moore and Scott Lynch. Kobyluck alluded to the fact that Moore intentionally wrecked him. Following Logano and Caisse were Rogelio Lopez, Peyton Sellers, Jamie Hayes, Jerry Marquis, Brad Leighton, Ryan Moore, James Buescher, and Eddie McDonald.

   In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won the Sunoco Modified main event. Mike O’Sullivan padded his point lead with a Pro Stock feature victory while Keith DeSanctis by virtue of his Limited Sportsman victory, moved into the point lead in the division. Tommy O’Sullivan added to the celebration by winning in the Late Model division. Unofficially O’Sullivan teammate Tim Sullivan bested the TIS Modified field helping his championship hopes. Scott Michalski earned his first win of the 2007 season in the Mini Stocks.

   Malone saw it all en route to his third Sunoco Modified win of the season. He nearly spun, took the lead, and his car was suspected of leaking fluid. But in the end, Malone was dry all the way to the checkered flag. For the second week in a row the points were shaken up atop the Sunoco Modified point standings. With his runner-up finish, Keith Rocco took over the points lead by 14 points over a tie for second between Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat. After a pair of attempts at a start, pole sitter Steve Masse showed the way through lap two before relinquishing the top spot to Woody Pitkat. The first caution flew almost immediately for a spin by Eric Goodale. Back under green, it was a three-car breakaway at the head of the pack with Pitkat holding the top spot over Malone and Rocco.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway continued their Friday night Fall Series which would lead up to the season ending Fall Final . Chris Matthews secured the 2007 SK Light championship in grand style by winning the SK Light feature for his fifth feature win of the 2007 season. Frank Ruocco took the SK Modified feature win for his third feature win of the season, Michael Bennett was a first time winner in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno was a first-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood was a first-time winner in the DARE Stock feature.

   In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night a 20 plus year friendship between Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada became strained to say the least. From the mid point of the SK Modified feature to the finish Gada and Janovic ran wheel to wheel when they were not nose to tail. Gada worked harder than he has ever had to do as Janovic’s driving pattern resembled that of a windshield wiper. Gada, who is gunning for a record seven SK Modified championships, never gave up as finally took the lead with four laps remaining. The Speedbowl wraps up their season this coming weekend with the Town Fair Tire finale. Janovic will go into the event with a 14-point lead over Gada. Todd Ceravolo, Mike Finkeldey and. Matt Gallo rounded out the top five.

   Tim Jordan, the 2006 Late Model champion won his first race since May and fifth overall, holding off Bruce Thomas Jr., who clinched the division title last week. Jordan has not run a full schedule at Waterford this year, racing instead a few times in Seekonk and Oxford on the ACT tour. Phil Evans won his sixth Mini Stock feature of the year, making him the all-time winningest active driver in the division. Jack Aquilina won the Sportsman feature while Dwayne Dorr wrapped up his second straight title with his seventh-place finish.

   In Nextel Cup action at Loudon, Clint Boyer raced to the first victory of his Cup career by embarrassing the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he started from the pole and led 222 of 300 laps while beating Jeff Gordon to the finish line by more than 6 seconds.

   Last year, 2011 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour came together at the Thompson Speedway for the UNOH North–South Showdown . The cars of the both Tours took to the track on Saturday for a full-day of practice and qualifying. The ‘21 Means 21’ Pole Award presented by Coors Light in the Northern Whelen Modified Tour went to Ryan Preece. Andy Seuss was tops on the speed charts for the Southern contingent. Two of the Whelen All-American Series divisions competed in feature event activity with Rick Gentes taking down the victory in the Late Models and Danny Fields scoring his 11th win in the Mini Stocks.

   The Northern WMT event drew 25 Modifieds while the Southern WMT event drew 23 cars. During qualifying Keith Rocco escaped injury when a wheel hub apparently broke which caused him to crash with heavy impact. Doug Coby, Erick Rudolph, and Eric Goodale made up the remainder of the top-five in Northern qualifying. In Southern qualifying, Steve Masse, Burt Myers, Donny Lia, and L.W. Miller completed the top-five.

   Doug Coby, Erick Rudolph, Eric Goodale and Ronnie Silk made up the remainder of the top-five in Northern qualifying. In Southern qualifying, Steve Masse, Burt Myers, Donny Lia, and L.W. Miller completed the top-five.

   Justin Bonsignore who was in contention for the Riverhead Raceway weekly Modified Championship raced at the Long Island track on Saturday night, avoiding practice and qualifying at Thompson which put him in scratch starting position for the Sunday NASCAR Touring Series event. Zach Sylvester qualified his car.

   In a somewhat surprise, Stephen Park and Jeff Fuller entered the NASCAR Southern Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was also held at Thompson.

   Steve Masse watched the biggest win of his career get away as George Brunnhoelzl III was awarded the win in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event. NASCAR officials ruled that he jumped a restart on lap 123 and then ignored the consultation flag. Masse started second and had lead after passing Donny Lia on lap48 of the 125 lap event. Be as it may, it could have been an error in judgment on the part of his spotter as it is most likely the one who told him to go on the restart. No matter what, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Brunnhoelzl was booed in victory lane which didn't seem fair. Masse was placed 14th in the final finish. Burt Myers ended up in the runner-up spot with Tim Brown, third. Andy Seuss and Steve Park rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Frank Fleming, Tim Solomito, Donny Lia, Thomas Stinson and Austin Pack.

   The 125 lapper for the Northern Modified Tour was a little more saner. Doug Coby got a long overdue victory as he cruised to the win over James Civali and Ryan Preece. According to reports, NASCAR did not allow changing of tires during the event. Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tom Rogers, Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore.
Doug Coby, with an eight car lead over the rest of the field, won the 50 lap UNOH Showdown. Ted Christopher took the second spot. For Coby, it was the icing on the cake as he accumulated $20,000 with the lap money that he earned leading the race. Coby stated in Victory Lane that this is the same car that he won the $10,000 with recently at the Seekonk Speedway. James Civali finished third with George Brunnhoelzl III and Eric Goodale rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Bobby Santos, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Justin Bonsignore and Ed Flemke Jr.

   In regular NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, Keith Rocco, who started racing at the Street division at the Waterford Speedbowl in 2003, scored his 100th career win in Sunoco Modified competition. The defending National Champion has 24 wins in 49 starts in 2011 but in reality is shoveling poop against the tide as far as the 2011 series title goes. His main competition is Philip Morris who races in the mid-Atlantic states. Morris has 20 wins in 28 starts and needs only to win this coming weekend in order to sew up the title. It's too bad but because of the fact that most of Rocco's wins have come from starting in the back and many of the events had less than full fields of cars the defending champion may be forced to pay the price of losing through no fault of his own.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway continued its Friday night racing series as Ryan Preece scored his fifth win of the 2011 season in a thrilling finish with Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Woody Pitkat scored his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano scored his sixth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery picked up his first win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Josh Wood scored his fifth win of 2011 with a last lap pass in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   Preece and Rocco were side by side for the lead on the final restart with Preece holding the lead by a nose at he passed under the white flag. Rocco made one last ditch effort on the final turn for the lead and the win, but he came up just short as Preece won his fifth feature of the season. Rounding out the top-5 behind Preece and Rocco was Dan Avery, Ted Christopher, and Kurt Lenahan.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl victories went to Tyler Chadwick who won his third SK Modified® race of the season. Rich Staskowski won his third Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature on the year, while it was Josh Galvin in the winner’s circle for the fourth time in the Street Stocks. Chris Williams also earned his fourth win this year in the Mini Stocks. Dave Garbo Jr. continued his stellar Legends Cars season by taking the Legends Cars 50-lap race, earning him a guaranteed starting spot in the Legends Cars Nationals October 27-29 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Joey Ternullo won the night’s Bandolero feature.

   The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to action at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Chris Pasteryak was the big winner of the night, taking the lead on lap-2 and leading the rest of the way to pick up his first victory at Stafford Motor Speedway and his family's first modified victory at Stafford. Pasteryak had a few nervous moments in the closing laps when the action was slowed with 77 laps complete for a spin by Tom Bolles in turn 4, setting up a three lap dash to the finish. Pasteryak took the lead on the restart and he led Rowan Pennink around for the final 3 laps to take the victory. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pasteryak and Pennink was Doug Coby, Matt Hirschman, and Keith Rocco.
There were 25 cars on hand for the event. Pennink came from a 24th starting position. He was black-flagged from his heat when his car was leaking gas from the filler. Ted Christopher finished sixth and also had to come from the back because of an electrical malfunction during his qualifying heat.

   At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, the 2011 NASCAR Modified title fight came down to the final race on Saturday night, Justin Bonsignore and John Fortin raced in the final 35-lapper of the year for the crown. John Beatty took advantage of a third-place start to win the Modified feature while Justin Bonsignore held off John Fortin for his first Modified track championship. Bonsignore started his career racing karts at Riverhead when he was only 8 years old and to be Track Champ has been a long time dream.

   Kevin Harvick was the NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at Richmond. Kyle Busch took the lead from Carl Edwards during pit stops with just over 30 laps to go and won his eighth NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

   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

Denny Zimmerman                                     Charlie Jarzombek                                   George Pendergast

Gene Bergin                                            Dick Beauregard                                           Ronnie Wyckoff      

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 14, 2012

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