September 21, 2012
years ago, in 1967, rain washed out all racing in New England.
The only action was at the Utica-Rome Speedway where a 150-lap season finale
was held. Don MacTavish took the win over Jerry Cook, Bill Wimble, Sonny
Seamon and Kenny Shoemaker. Wimble was crowned the Modified Track Champion
and Bernie Miller was the Sportsman champion. In Winston Cup action at
Martinsville, Richard Petty won the 500-lap event by four laps over Dick
Forty years ago, in 1972, the
modifieds headed to Martinsville for a 100 lapper. Local favorite Paul
Radford took the win over Denis Giroux, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Bugsy
Stevens. Stevens’ hopes of a fourth national title were going away as Cook
held an 890-point lead. Jim Shampine took the season ending Oswego
Modified-Sportsman 200.Eddie Flemke finished second with Mike Loescher,
Roger Treichler and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five.
Thirty-five years ago in 1977,
a full plate of racing was to be had both in the northeast and in the south.
Stafford ran an open competition 30 lapper on Friday night with Ronnie
Bouchard being declared the winner after the event was stopped after 19 laps
because of rain. Bugsy Stevens ended up in second with John Rosati, third.
Seekonk’s 100 lap open and Islip’s All Star 300 also fell victim to rain as
well as the Sunday Small Block Modified event at Thompson. In the Southland,
Donald ”Satch” Worley won the fall 150 at Martinsville on Saturday
afternoon. Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Wayne Anderson
rounded out the top 5. The modifieds headed up the road on Saturday night to
the Franklin County Speedway where Geoff Bodine took the win over Paul
Radford, Worley, Troyer and Cook.
Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg
Sacks continued his dream year of almost total domination of the modifieds
as he won the annual Race of Champions at the Pocono International Speedway.
Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 160 of the 250-lap event. Richie
Evans moved past Spencer on lap 169 and dogged Sacks to the finish. Spencer
held is own in third spot until he lost an engine on lap 221. Ray Miller
ended up third with Graeme Bolia fourth and George Summers rounding out the
top five. During pre-race activities, driver and car builder Maynard Troyer
was presented the Fred DeSarro Memorial Award. Shortly after the
presentation Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving at the
conclusion of the event. Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street
Stock Championship event. Jan Leaty finished second. Waterford’s Mike
Lovetere finished fourth. Among those in the street stock event was Ricky
Fuller. Although he didn’t finish in the top five in the main, Fuller was
the big show in the consi as he came from a 27th starting spot to take the
lead in six laps on the tricky ¾ mile oval. In Winston Cup action at Dover,
Darrell Waltrip took the 500-mile win over Kyle Petty.
Twenty-five years ago in 1987,
George Brunnhoelzl Jr. made his mark in the record books as he won the Race
of Champions at Pocono. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett Jr. on
lap 185 and never looked back for the remainder of the 250-lap event. Doug
Hevron finished second and was followed by George Kent, Wayne Edwards, Roger
Treichler and Ron Shepherd. Peter ”Buzzie” Erickson was the winner of the
companion Street Stock event. Two Hundred Forty eight cars, including 108
modifieds were entered into competition. In Winston Cup action at Dover,
Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.
Twenty years ago in 1992, the
entire East Coast was covered with rain.
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 ago when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to
ignore the event now. 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 off .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. NASCAR’s Jim Hunter said, “The
short tracks and the regional tours are the backbone of NASCAR. NASCAR”s
Chris Boals said that the sanctioning body was developing a strategic plan
to boost these series. Boals said that just about everything was now in
place and an announcement should be coming from NASCAR in the not too
distant future. Evidently part of the plan was the announcement made that
The National NWRS Champion, Peter Daniels, will be invited to the NYC
Banquet. Also, all of the Regional Touring Series Champions (including the
FMS and the BNS) will be a part of the banquet. This was announced in the
Drivers Meeting at New Hampshire.
The regular weekly racing in Southern New England was slowly but
surely coming to a halt. Thompsom ran their final Thursday night Thunder
series, which turned into a slugfest between Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher.
Gunning had taken the lead from Christopher on lap 14 and was holding the
former National Champion at bay until the final lap. Christopher made a move
to the bottom and the two came together. Gunning went on to take the win as
Christopher gathered it back up to finish second. Christopher claims the
move was deliberate, Gunning, on the other hand said, “That’s racing”. Tom
Fox finished third. Stafford was idle on Friday night. Tom Fox got a
definite gift at Waterford on Saturday night. Dennis Charette had led a good
part of the event with Fox on the outside. With 12 laps to go, Fox got a
little wiggly in turn four and the next thing you know, both were in the
fence. Both were able to drive away. Charette pitted and Fox took a position
at the head of the field. Fox definitely lost foreword motion and should
have re-started in the rear. It is common practice that when one causes the
caution, which he did, and when one loses foreword motion, which he did, the
car in question goes to the rear. Ed Reed Jr. finished second and closed the
gap to 28 points behind Dennis Gada who is looking to win the championship.
Gada had his problems and had to pit with a broken tie rod but made a
remarkable recovery as he came from the back to nip Ron Yuhas Jr. at the
finish line and record a fourth place finish. Mark Lajunesse finished third
as he too, received a gift from officials. During the closing laps Ron Silk
was attempting to pass Lajunesse on the outside in turn two when Silk felt
that Lajunesse rode him up and he hit the wall. With obvious right side
damage, Silk managed to make the next re-start and dumped Lajunesse into the
infield as a pay back. Silk was black flagged and bounced for the night and
Lajunesse was given his spot back.
Five years ago in 2007, the
2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed back to Thompson to complete the
Modified Mania weekend that was cut short by rain on September 9. As the
weekend approached it appeared that NASCAR was dragging its feet as far as
declaring officially who was the winner of the recent event at Loudon on
September 15. Todd Szegedy had taken the apparent win when NASCAR decided to
take a closer look at his intake manifold before making an official
decision. It took five days to make a decision as it was announced late on
Thursday that the part in question was declared legal and the win would
Ronnie Silk earned his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
during the running of part two of Modified Mania II. Silk scored a popular
win in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson in front of a crowded house.
In the opening stages of the event current point leader Donnie Lia and Ron
Yuhas, Jr. ran at the head of the field. After making tracks through the
pack, Christopher dogged leader Lia. At lap 55, the bulk of the field came
down to pit road for service. Christopher opted to stay out on the track to
inherit the lead on the restart. Silk had moved into the third spot with
Reggie Ruggiero taking chase. During a long green flag run, Silk’s car
continued to get better. He was able to take the top spot from Christopher
one lap shy of the century mark taking Ruggiero along for the ride. Szegedy
had gotten by Lia and started to make his presence known. On a restart late
in the race, Ruggiero was able to power by Silk to take command of the race.
Silk,never far behind, continued to chase the new leader. On lap 137, Silk
got underneath Ruggiero and with sparks flying Silk was the leader once
again on lap 138. A caution on lap 139 shook up the running order inside the
top five. Contact between Christopher and Flemke ended with Flemke in the
outside wall and Christopher on pit road to serve a one-lap penalty. Silk
easily held off the competition on the final single file restart to score
the popular win. Ruggiero settled for second ahead of Szegedy. Bobby Santos
and James Civali rounded out the top five. Series point leader Don Lia
In True Value Modified Racing at Thompson Louie Mechalides turned
in a dominating performance to win the 75-lapper for the northern New
England based series. The event, which had been stopped by rain two weeks
previous resumed on lap four with Andy Seuss at the helm with Chris
Pasteryak and Jimmy Kuhn taking chase. Seuss held the top spot through a
number of early race cautions. An early incident directly behind the leader
that started when Brian Schofield got out of shape, caused a chain reaction
that collected a number of cars including championship contenders Kirk
Alexander and Les Hinckley along with Rich Savary and others. Alexander was
taken off the track by double hook.The young driver held off several
advances from Mechalides before relinquishing the lead on lap 15. Seuss saw
his great run come to an end on lap 27 when his racer made hard contact with
the outside wall. Everything was going Mechalides way as Hinckley was making
great strides heading back to the front of the pack. Thompson Speedway
regular Tommy Cravenho made it interesting in the closing laps giving
Mechalides all he could handle. In the end, Mechalides was up to the task
taking down the victory over Cravenho. Jon McKennedy came home third ahead
of Jimmy Kuhn and Hinckley.
In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson
Speedway a season packed with racing excitement at Thompson International
Speedway came down to the final Thursday night with champions crowned in all
six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. At the night’s end, Woody
Pitkat made his first appearance in Sunoco Modified victory lane. But, it
was Keith Rocco who drove his Bannister Motorsports #6 to a fifth place
finish to earn the team their second championship in three seasons. In Pro
Stock action, Mike O’Sullivan, scored his second Thompson Pro Stock
championship in winning-style taking down Thursday night’s feature win. In
similar fashion, Kurt Vigeant capped off his first TIS Modified championship
with a feature win in the regular season finale. John Materas earned his
first career Late Model win in a wild main event that also found Rick Gentes
in for the divisional championship. Larry Barnett scored his fourth Limited
Sportsman feature win while a seventh place finish allowed a retiring Keith
DeSanctis to go out as a champion. Scott Michalski made it two in a row in
Mini Stock competition but it was Mike Romano who took the championship.
Pitkat saved the best for last; earning his lone feature win in the
finale. After a 2007 season of consistent finishes, Pitkat was in the
running for the track title on the final night. He took the lead just after
halfway and withstood heavy pressure from Kerry Malone to score the victory;
however it was not enough to catch the point leader Rocco. An opening lap
melee that started with contact in the front row ended with Masse hard into
the outside wall in the turn one. Also collected were championship
contenders Rocco and Tommy Cravenho as well as Bert Marvin.
With the race underway, Geoff Gernhard was the early leader with
Josh Steeves coming along for the ride in second. Steeves made a move on
Gernhard to take the lead on lap four with Malone and Pitkat battling hard
for the third spot. A pair of laps later, Pitkat was able to race ahead of
Gernhard to take over the second spot. Malone put the young driver back to
fourth. Meanwhile, Cravenho and Rocco were making their way back to the
front. On lap 10, Cravenho was sixth and Rocco eighth. Up front, Steeves
continued to lead Pitkat. Malone ran in second a comfortable margin ahead of
Gernhard. On lap 13, Cravenho joined the top five. Rocco mirrored his moves
to run in the sixth position. The #0 of Danny LeJeunesse came to rest on the
backstretch on lap 14 to bring out the second caution. The restart pitted
Steeves against Pitkat for the top spot. Steeves was up for the challenge
and held on to the lead on the race. On lap 16, Pitkat got a run Steeves to
take over the top spot. Steeves bobbled after contact with Pitkat; opening
the door for Malone. Steeves was shuffled back into third. Cravenho had
cleared Gernhard to move into the fourth. Rocco made his first appearance in
the top-five on lap 21. Malone tailed Pitkat lap after lap while Cravenho
was getting racy for third. Despite the efforts of both Malone and Cravenho
they had to settle back in line.
At the checkers, it was Pitkat in for the win over Malone. Steeves
edged out Cravenho by inches to finish third. The newly crowned champion
Rocco rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night
season. Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco, who had wrapped up the
Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Championship the previous evening, won the
40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature,
Joe Allegro, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagan in the 20-lap
Limited Late Model feature, and Rob Lawrence in the 15-lap DARE Stock
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie
leading the first two laps of the race before Lloyd Agor moved out front.
Agor held the lead until lap-6 when Jeff Malave moved out front. Malave's
pass allowed Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher to both move by Agor, dropping
him from the lead to fourth place. Agor would continue to backslide as Woody
Pitkat and Brad Hietala moved into the fourth and fifth positions. The race
ran green to lap-32 before the first caution came out and erased a sizeable
lead for Malave. Malave would hold the race lead until lap-38 when he
drifted up the track just enough in turn 4 to allow Rocco to dive to the
bottom and take the lead. The caution came back out and set up a green white
checkered finish. Rocco took the lead on the restart with Ted Christopher
and Malave locked in a side by side duel for second. That side by side
action gave Rocco all the cushion he needed as he took his fourth feature
win of the
2007 season. Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Malave, and Doug Coby
rounding out the top-5.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford
Speedbowl the shoreline oval wrapped up its 2007 season with the Town Fair
Tire Fall Finale. Dennis Gada won the battle but lost the war as Rob Janovic
finished third and wrapped up the track championship. Don Fowler finished
second with Diego Monahan and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five.
According to reports the Speedbowl took it on the chin at the front gate as
attendance was way off for this event. The Thompson Speedway opted to run
their rained out Modified Mania on the same date so as to accommodate an
event that was held at the Oswego Speedway in New York. Because of the fact
that Waterford and Thompson are NASCAR sanctioned and Oswego is not makes it
hard to believe why NASCAR would let this conflict occur between two of
their tracks that are less than 60 miles apart and draw from the same fan
base. Both tracks shell out considerable money to the Daytona based
organization. Letting a situation like this occur leads one to believe that
NASCAR doesn’t care two cents about its short tracks.
Carl Edwards was the Nextel Cup winner at Dover Downs. Denny Hamlin
was the Busch Series winner. Joey Logano finished second but became the
NASCAR Busch East Series’ first rookie champion in the Sunoco 150 at Dover
International Speedway Friday afternoon. Sean Caisse took the race lead from
Logano with just eight laps to go, and then withstood a final charge by
Logano to win by a car length.
Last year, 2011 the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour made its annual stop on the road course at Lime Rock
Park in Connecticut last weekend. It was no surprise that a slim field of 21
Modifieds were on hand for qualifying. Todd Szegedy was the top qualifier as
he toured the facility at 100.182 mph. Ron Silk was second fastest. Erick
Rudolph, Justin Bonsignore and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.
Todd Szegedy battled back after losing the lead during on a pit
stop and then making an off-track excursion to win the NASCAR Whelen
Modified 66/99 presented by Town Fair Tire at Lime Rock Park on Saturday.
Szegedy, who had experience at LRP in other racing series prior to his
NASCAR career, dominated the early action. He started from the pole in his
No. 2 Wisk Detergent/A&J Romano Construction Ford and opened up a lead of
more than two seconds early. However, he fell to fourth following a pit stop
during a caution on Lap 44. He later went off course, but quickly recovered
and set out after the leaders. After moving up to second on Lap 60, Szegedy
took the lead from Mike Stefanik a lap later and then pulled away from the
field to win by a margin of 1.796 seconds.
Stefanik finished second followed by Justin Bonsignore, Richie
Pallai, and Ted Christopher. Rowan Pennink, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers, Kevin
Goodale and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top 10.
Previous race winner Doug Coby looked poised to go back-to-back but
wrecked while in the lead on Lap 55 and finished 18th.
The race featured seven lead changes among five drivers. Szegedy led a
race-high 49 circuits. Fourteen of the original starters were on the lead
lap at the finish. Szegedy's win propelled him into the points lead as the
series now moves to Loudon for the first of three events left on the 2011
schedule. Previous point leader Ron Silk finished 15th, one lap down.
In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson on Thursday night the
weatherman prevailed as the speedway cancelled due to impending rain.
The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night season.
Woody Pitkat picked up his second win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK
Modified® feature event and Ryan Preece clinched the 2011 SK Modified® track
champion with a 4th place finish, Woody Pitakt picked up his second
consecutive and fifth overall win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late
Model feature, Kyle Spencer picked up his second win of the 2011 season with
a green white checkered pass for the lead in the 20-lap SK Light Modified
feature, George Nocera, Jr. picked up his fifth win of the 2011 season in
the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders picked up his
second win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Keith Rocco, who had been in contention for the NASCAR National
Championship saw his hopes vanish on lap 23 of the 40 lap event when he spun
after he was tapped by Todd Owen. Owen was sent to the rear but it was all
over for Rocco despite the fact that he rallied to finish third behind
Pitkat and Glen Reen. Preece and Eric Berndt rounded out the top five.
At the Waterford Speedbowl emotions ran high as the night rolled
on, especially in the SK Modified division. Tom Abele reaped the benefit of
the win as front running contenders Keith Rocco and Todd Ceravolo tangled
while fighting for the lead. Ceravolo, on Rocco's bumper went low into turn
one on lap 22. The instant video replay indicated that Rocco was in the
second lane and Ceravolo was in the bottom lane when contact incurred. It
did not appear to be deliberate as both had their respective lines when they
drifted into each other. In other words it was just good hard racing. Rocco
spun into the first turn wall and suffered severe race ending damage.
Ceravolo, who later apologized for being over-aggressive, was sent to the
Abele and Nicole Morgillo were back on the front row for the
restart, with Mark Bakaj and Long Islander Shawn Solomito in row 2. Abele
would pull out front into turn one with Bakaj moving to second inside
Morgillo. The final 13 laps were run through the checkered flag with Abele
and Bakaj finishing one-two. Morgillo finished third and Solomito and Jeff
Pearl rounded out the top five. Ceravolo rallied to finish eleventh while
Rocco was credited with 14th in the final rundown.
Others earning victories on the night included Jeff Smith who
leapfrogged into the championship points lead by virtue of a win in the Bob
Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Chris Meyer visited the winner’s
circle in the Street Stocks while Phil Evans took the win in the Mini
Stocks. Completing the feature winners on the night were Dave Garbo Jr. in
the Legends Cars and Curt D’Addario in the X-Cars.
On a sad note, former Waterford Speedbowl driver Richard (Dick)
Beauregard, 85, of Hesperia, Calif. passed away on September 7, 2011. He was
born on January 2, 1926. in Norwich Ct. He was a plastering contractor in
Norwich, CT and later an insulator at the Long Beach Navel Shipyard in
Calif. He was a popular race car driver at the Waterford Speedbowl . He was
a two time champion in 1952,& 1962.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
This week are several vintage racing photos
SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's
Click on Photo for Full Sized
Jim Shampine Johnny
Prentice 'Corky' Cookman Dick Beauregard
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit