The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 5, 2012

   Sixty years ago in 1952 Ray Delisle won the 25 lap Sportsman feature that was run on Sunday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Dean was the Claiming Car feature winner.

   Fifty five years ago in 1957, George Lombardo made it two in a row in Sunday Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier in the Art Tiezzi No. 230, was the non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1962, Rene Charland won the season ending Connecticut State Fair 50 lap Modified event at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain prevailed at Waterford.

   Forty five years ago in 1967, Donald ”Dutch” Hoag became the first four time winner of the Race of Champions, which, at the time was run at the one mile Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Hoag was a winner at Langhorne on both the dirt and asphalt surfaces. Al Tasnady finished second with Don MacTavish, Bill Wimble and Irish Jack Murphy rounding out the top five. Waterford closed out their season with a 30 lapper which was won by Charlie Webster. Newt Palm, with 10 Modified feature wins to his credit in the L&M was declared the Modified Track Champ as the Daredevil Champion.

   Forty years ago in 1972, Geoff Bodine in his Plymouth Valiant bodied modified won the Race of Champions at the Trenton New Jersey Fairgrounds. In addition to the non-conventional body, Bodine's chassis was that of an International Scout which sported independent coil-over shock suspension on all four wheels. The big surprise of the day was the run turned in by Gene Bergin who came from a dead last starting spot to finish second.

   Thirty five years ago in 1977, Maynard Troyer was the big winner at the Pocono Race of Champions. Troyer took the lead from Geoff Bodine in the late stages of the event. Bodine settled for second with Richie Evans, Fred DeSarro and Ronnie Bouchard rounding out the top five. Events that were scheduled at Seekonk, Thompson and Monadnock were rained out.

   Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his season long domination in the modifieds as he won the 100 lap Fall Final at Stafford. Sacks took the lead from Richie Evans on lap 22. George Kent finished second with Bob Polverari, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggerio rounding out the top five. Hector LeClair won the Busch North Series portion of the Fall Final. It was also on the same weekend that Waterford ran a special event for Strictly Stocks, which saw Brian McCarthy, take the win over Tom Fox. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Darrell Waltrip took the win.

   Twenty five years ago, in 1987, the entire Fall Final weekend at Stafford was rained out. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Terry Labonte took the win over Dale Earnhardt. Pole sitter, Bill Elliott, finished third. Doug Hevron won a preliminary SMART Tour event that was run on Saturday.

   Twenty years ago, in 1992, Bob Potter won the final Saturday night SK-Modified feature at Waterford over David Gada and Moose Hewitt. Ted Christopher recovered from a crash and finished eighth and garnered enough points to secure the track championship. Jim Broderick was also a contender for the title but dropped out early with a broken rear end. C.J. Freye took the late model feature after Phil Rondeau lost a timing chain, while leading, with two laps to go. At Riverside Park, Jerry Marquis and the Bobby Judkins No.2x won their twelfth feature of the year at the Massachusetts oval. Rick Fuller settled for second. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for the 150 lap Fall Final. Mike Stefanik had everyone covered as he won, going away. Jeff Fuller finished second with Mike Ewanitsko, Chris Amen and Satch Worley rounding out the top five. Bob Potter made it two for two on the weekend as he won the SK-Modified portion of the Fall Final. With the win, came the track championship. Mike Paquette finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. During the running of the 30-lap feature Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning were eliminated in a wreck. Officials felt that Richie Gallup had caused it and ejected him out of the race. Gallup’s car owner felt the decision was unfair and vowed that his car would never compete at Stafford again.

   Fifteen years ago in 1997, Waterford ran a 100 lapper that was won by Jeff Pearl. Caution laps didn’t count. A total of 27 yellows were thrown and a total of 160 caution laps were run in addition to the 100 green laps .It took two hours and 45 minutes from green to checker. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Dennis Gada, third. Jim Broderick was in Flemington, N.J. during qualifying and was given a promoters option to start the event. After starting in the rear, Broderick worked his way to the front to take the lead on Lap 25.Broderick led until lap 73 when he ran out of gas and had to pit. In Modified Tour action at Flemington, Mike Stefanik scored his ninth win of the season. Stefanik took the lead from Ken Woolly on lap 209 of the 250-lap contest. Wooly finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty and Doug French. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter in event that saw Dale Jarrett take the win. Jim Spencer won the All Pro 300 GN event. The re-paving of the Stafford Speedway was begun and it was announced that Don Hoenig had leased the Thompson Speedway to Brian LaForte and Gordon ”Butch” Davis, both key figures at the Polar Beverage Company. Both stated that they were in it for the long haul and would bring the speedway into the 21st century.

   Ten years ago in 2002 The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their 2002 season with the running of the Fall Finale on Sunday. Dennis Gada did what he had to do as he jumped out front on lap 22 and never looked back as he had a relatively easy time of winning the scheduled 100 lapper and the track’s SK-Modified Championship, his fourth in a row. Gada’s track title tied the record previously held by Dick Dunn who won the championship from 1972 to 1975. Gada drove for Harry Wyatt who, in addition to Gada’s championships, has two others when Jim Broderick drove his car. Dunn, who is now retired from driving, drove for Albert and Margaret Gaudreau. Gada’s closest challenger for the title was Ed Reed Jr. Reed started nine spots behind Gada in the 100 lapper and got as close as third in the closing laps. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second. Tom Fox and Stafford Speedway Track Champion Bo Gunning rounded out the top five. It was perhaps, one of the smoothest extra distance events ever run at the shoreline oval. One of the best displays of driving skills was that of mini-stock competitor Richard Brooks Jr. Brooks got dumped into the front stretch wall in the early going and after pitting and re-starting in the rear, finished a close second behind race winner Brandon Plemons. The late model 100 was rough and tumble and ended when Mark St Hillaire drilled Cory Hutchings on the final lap as they exited turn four. Allen Coates, who had previously won the Dodge Weekly Racing Short Track title finished fifth and wrapped up the track title. Tom Silva won the 50-lap sportsman race and Randy Cabal won the NEMA Midget 25 lapped. Second generation Sportsman driver Keith Rocco showed a lot of potential as he ran with the front-runners during most of the event. Rocco is the son of Modified great Ronnie Rocco. Also impressive was Bob Santos III who came from a dead last starting spot in the NEMA main to be in a position to contend when his motor soured.

   Five years ago in 2007, in Whelen Modified Tour news rumor had it that Ed Cox may retire as the Tour Director. His replacement was rumored to be former Nextel Cup driver Chad Little. Employed by NASCAR, Little was the sanctioning body’s Director of Racing Development in Mexico.

   The Seekonk Speedway closed out their 62nd season with the Annual D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Racing Festival. A vital part of that event was the True Value Modified Series. Conceived and owned by Modified racer Jack Bateman, the series had become an affordable alternative to those who couldn’t afford to travel or compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Behind the scenes it was a known fact that NASCAR officials had asked Modified competitors not to support the series.

   A lot of confusion and indecision had placed a dark cloud over the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series at various times during the 2007 season. Ben Dodge had the experience and the ability to make the True Value Modified Series the top racing division in the northeast. In addition to his promoting skills Dodge is also a former Modified car owner who understands the ins and outs of being a car owner. Although they won’t go public because of possible retaliation from NASCAR many of the prominent drivers and car owners felt the time was right for a change.

   Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, Mass. passed Kirk Alexander of of Swanzey, N.H with just three laps remaining to win the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Festival of Racing True Value Modified Series 100 lap event at Seekonk Speedway. Alexander’s second place finish clinched the 2007 series point championship. It was the third win at Seekonk this season for Annarummo and a hard fought victory. After starting the event in third he was placed to the rear of the field following a lap 2 accident with Andy Seuss. Annarummo methodically worked his way back to the front to take the lead on lap 81. Alexander then retook the lead on lap 86 and held off the challenges of Annarummo for the next 11 laps before the final pass for the win.The 2007 True Value Modified Series Championship is the third for Alexander in the last four years. He also is the series leader in career wins. Les Hinckley, who entered the event 14 points behind Alexander, suffered suspension failure and finished 25th. Alexander’s 56-point margin with one race remaining mathematically eliminated Hinckley who was assured of second place in the standings. Dick Houlihan, Chris Pasteryak and Rob Goodenough rounded out the Top-5 at Seekonk.

   The New England Antique Racers announced their choices for inductees for the Class of 2008 Hall of Fame. Drivers include Dave Alkas, Dave Darveau, Dick Batcholder and the late Howie Brown, car owners Joe Brady and the late Mike Scrivani Sr. along with media members Dr. Dick Berggren and writer Pete Zanardi will be inducted at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT on Sunday, January 27th
The Busch Series had the weekend off. NASCAR announced that Nationwide Insurance would become title sponsor of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, replacing Anheuser-Busch’s Busch brand at the start of the 2008 season. Nationwide Insurance would also become the official auto, home and life insurance provider of NASCAR. In Nextel Cup action at Talladega Jeff Gordon agreed to turn parade laps for much of the race before surging past Jimmie Johnson on the final lap and holding off his teammate to become the career victory leader at restrictor-plate tracks. He parlayed his decision into his 12th career plate win and fifth victory this season, and moved back on top of the points standings. He led Johnson by nine points with six races remaining in the Chase for the championship. Dave Blaney was third in the best finish this year for a Toyota driver. Title contender Denny Hamlin was fourth and was followed by Ryan Newman, who was leading late in his Dodge, and Mears.

   Vic Coffey was unbeatable Sunday afternoon at the New York State Fairgrounds' one-mile track as he scored his second victory in the Rite Aid 200 DIRT modified race. Coffey led the final 46 laps to collect over $50,000 in prize money. Chasing Coffey's Sweeteners Plus modified to the finish was Tim Fuller, the point leader in the chase for the Mr. DIRT national modified championship.

   Last year, 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. Rain and fog greeted fans and competitors on Saturday morning. By mid-morning the precipitation quit and the 30 cars on hand were permitted to practice.

   The Long Island Gang dominated the qualifying session. Justin Bonsignore earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the second year in a row in the CARQUEST Fall Final when he posted the fastest time trial in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour qualifying. Bonsignore posted a fast lap of 18.427 seconds (97.683 mph) to earn his third career Coors Light Pole Award. Taking the outside pole position was fellow Long Islander Donny Lia. Ted Christopher, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Bobby Santos, Ron Silk, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik. All 30 cars on hand made the field including Chuck Hossfeld who did not take time because of a broken engine rocker arm.

   Ben Dodge, Stafford Motor Speedway's host announcer, was the Grand Marshal of Stafford Motor Speedway's 39th annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend. With the 39th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Dodge wrapped up his 41st season as part of the Stafford Motor Speedway announce team. Dodge, who is was the special assistant to Don Hoenig at the Thompson Speedway, gave the command to send the Whelen Modified Tour on its way with the most famous words in motorsports, "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines".

   Bonsignore took the lead at the start with Christopher and Lia hot on his tail. Todd Szegedy, who started 15th was the first casualty as he appeared to have a tire deflating as he faded to the rear of the field by lap 7. Szegedy got a gift on lap 7 as Richie Pallai spun in turn two, bringing out the first caution. Szegedy was able to rejoin the field without losing a lap. Glen Griswold brought out the second caution on lap 18 when he spun in turn two. Evidently there was something about turn two as Szegedy brought out the third caution with a spin on lap 32. On lap 37 the green was displayed. Bonsignore jumped to the lead as Donny Lia passed Ted Christopher bringing Eric Beers along with him. Christopher fell to fourth spot.

   Jamie Tomaino broke the spin cycle that had plagued turn two as he spun in turn four on lap 38, bringing out the fourth caution. Bonsignore continued to lead. The fifth caution flew on lap 46 as Rowan Pennink spun with Matt Hirschman and Bryon Chew in turn four. Matt Hirschman was also collected and suffered a flat right rear tire. The green came out on lap 51 with Bonsignore still on the point. On the race restart Eric Beers did not come up to speed as Ryan Preece made the pass and took over second spot. As the lead pair pulled away from the field the sixth caution came out on lap 56 for Tom Rogers who spun between turns one and two. The green was again displayed on lap 62 with Bonsignore and Preece still running one-two. Mike Stefanik, who was never in contention saw his day end on lap 66 when his engine developed issues. At the half way mark, 75 laps, Bonsignore continued to lead with Preece second and Christopher, third. Szegedy who had numerous problems early on was able to recover and was running ninth. The seventh caution flew for Richie Pallai who spun between turns one and two on lap 77. Under caution the front runners, including Bonsignore, Preece and Christopher pitted. When the green was displayed on lap 82 Erick Rudolph pulled ahead to take the lead and was followed by Glen Reen and Todd Szegedy who didn't pit during the latest caution. More yellow fever on lap 85, this time for Kevin Goodale who spun.

   When the green flag dropped on lap 90, Szegedy went under Glen Reen for second spot as Rudolph continued to lead. The eighth caution was for a multi-car spin on lap 97 that collected Eric Berndt, Santos, Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk. During this caution Chris Kopec and Chuck Hossfeldt retired with motor issues. Also pitting were Christopher, Silk and Bonsignore. Rudolph continued to lead as the field went back to green on lap 105. Szegedy was second with Don Lia, third.

   The caution was displayed for the ninth time on lap 111 when Rowan Pennink got into the back of Matt Hirschman and the two cars spun going into turn four. During the caution Santos parked the Mystic Missile which was experiencing rear end problems. The field went back to green on lap 115 with Rudolph leading Szegedy and Lia. Rowan Pennink, who was running 18th, brought out the 12th caution on lap 119 when he spun in turn two. The field went green again on lap 124. The natives were getting restless! As Rudolph led the restart, Szegedy got sideways which opened the door for Ted Christopher to move into the fourth spot. Christopher turned up the wick as he put the pressure on Beers and on lap 139 got the third spot as Beers got a little sideways. The cautions continued. The 10th yellow flew on lap 142 for Eric Goodale who spun into the outside wall in turn 4. On the race restart Erick Rudolph had Ted Christopher right on his rear bumper as Ryan Preece shot for third. The 11th caution was displayed for Szegedy who saw his day come to an end when he lost a left front wheel. After a short red flag period the field went back to caution for what would be a three lap shootout.

   On the final restart, Christopher took lead as Rudolph got shoved out of line. A NASCAR replay showed that Christopher was under Rudolph entering turn 1, Rudolph turned to block and Christopher held his ground. The two made contact, which slowed Rudolph enough that Christopher was able to clear him easily. A frustrated Rudolph came up behind Ted Christoper's #36 car and gave him a bump in the rear following the conclusion. In victory lane Christopher said that he had fresher tires and that Erick Rudolph did a turn left on him. Ryan Preece finished second and was followed by Lia, Beers and Rudolph. Sixth through tenth were Kevin Goodale, Silk, Hirschman, Doug Coby and Bonsignore.

   In regular weekly racing at Stafford, Eric Berndt won the 40 lap SK Modified feature over Glen Reen and Ted Christopher. Tom Bolles and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece, who had previously wrapped up the SK Modified track championship, finished sixth. Woody Pitkat won the Late Model feature over Mark St Hillaire, Dillon Moltz, and Patrick Townsend. Moltz was later disqualified for failure to submit to tech inspection. Ryan Posocco, who was moved up to fourth in the final rundown, won his sixth Late Model Championship. Woody Pitkat, driver of the No. 88 Late Model, and Ryan Posocco, driver of the No. 48 Late Model and Mark St. Hilaire, driver of the No. 3 Late Model were disqualified for rules infractions.

   In Whelen Southern Modified Tour action south of the Mason-Dixon line Andy Seuss led flag-to-flag to win the Caraway 150 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday night. The victory on the .455-mile paved oval marked the third win this year and 11th career win for the Hampstead, N.H., driver. It was his sixth race win at Caraway. While Seuss gained ground in the championship standings with the win - his teammate, George Brunnhoelzl III, maintained a commanding lead in the points by finishing second. Brunnhoelzl's lead dropped from 150 points to 130 on the night.

   Seuss jumped into the lead past pole-sitter Brunnhoelzl at the drop of the green and then maintained command through two early restarts. He paced the field from there to the finish, with his biggest challenge appearing to be working lapped traffic late in the race. Seuss won by a margin of 2.785 seconds over Brunnhoelzl. Tim Brown took third, with Brian Loftin fourth and Brandon Ward charging forward to take fifth. Thomas Stinson, Jason Myers, Burt Myers, Austin Pack and LW Miller completed the top 10.

   There were only 13 cars on hand for the event. The blistering pace was such as there were only seven cars on the lead lap at the finish. NASCAR has got to realize the fact that the Whelen Southern Modified Tour is in trouble. Poor fields of cars can be blamed on the economy in general but paltry race purses make it almost impossible for race teams to break even. Evidently NASCAR is ashamed of their Modified Series race purses as they are no longer published or made available to the media.

   In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, rain again prevailed. The Speedway will close out the 2011 season on October 16 with the Annual World Series of Speedway Racing. For the third week in a row the speedway management was forced to pull the plug and postpone the final weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event of the season to Thursday, Oct 6.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won his 12th SK Modified feature of the year and sewed up the division championship at the shoreline oval. The Speedbowl, which wrapped up it's Saturday night season, also saw Bruce Thomas Jr. claim his fifth win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models and Ray Christian win his first of the year in the Mini Stocks. Al Stone III made it two in a row in Street Stock action. Stone has seven over all victories for the year.

   In other action, Dave Garbo Jr. won another Legends Cars feature and Dana Dimatteo added the Saturday series championship to his Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday series crown to unofficially sweep the division titles. Ken Morin Jr. won the night’s Bandolero feature and Taylor Martin wrapped up the division’s Saturday series championship.

   In the Modified feature, Rocco spent three laps trailing Glen Pressel before wrestling the lead away with an inside move in turn four on lap-22. Rocco surged into the lead while Jeff Pearl slipped under Pressel to take the second spot. Rob Janovic snatched third away from Pressel as the field raced in tight formation, which resulted with Frank Mucciacciaro spinning in turn three for the final caution on lap-24.

   Rocco outpowered Pearl on the final restart to hold the lead. Pearl lost second to Janovic, then third to Tyler Chadwick who moved to Pearl’s inside. Kyle James was fifth and the top-five singled out for the stretch run to the checkered flag. Janovic and Chadwick stayed in contention behind Rocco but were unable to find racing room for a bid to win.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Kurt Busch stormed into contention for a second Cup championship, holding off fellow Chase drivers Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards to win at Dover International Speedway. Carl Edwards dominated again at Dover International Speedway, winning his seventh race of the season in the Nationwide Series. Ron Hornaday picked up his 50th victory in the Trucks Series with a Saturday night win at Kentucky Speedway.

   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

Dutch Hoag                                                    Elton Hill                                                 Benny Derioser

Dave Alkas                                            Dr. Dick Berggren                                      George Lombardo     

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 5, 2012

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