October 12, 2012
years ago, in 1952, the Race of Champions was in its second year
of existence on the one-mile circular Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Jim Delaney scored his first of three ROC victories. Hully Bunn who had won
the previous year finished a distant 39th. Also in the field and finishing
58th was Ralph Moody, then from Taunton, Mass. Ray Delisle made it two in a
row in Sunday action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl
Fifty five years ago, in 1957,
Chevrolet was enjoying its first year with the 327 small block V-8. With
fuel injection heads plus a four-barrel carburetor and duel exhaust, the 327
put out more horsepower per pound of engine weight than any engine that
would be built for many years to come. Glenn Guthrie was the winner of the
Langhorne Race of Champions. In Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl Don Collins took the 25 lap win. Mike Banning was the non-Ford
Fifty years ago in 1962,
Frankie Schenieder took the big one at Langhorne. Ted Stack won the season
ending Modified 75 lapper at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Caso
was the Bomber feature winner. With 14 wins on the season to his credit,
Dick Beauregard was declared the Modified Track Champion. He retired from
racing on the spot. Ed Moody was declared the Bomber division champion.
Thirty five years ago, in 1977,
rain washed out all racing.
Thirty years ago, in 1982,
triple features for the Super Stocks at Waterford were the only action in
Southern New England. Bob Gada, Al Szulczyzk and Brian McCarthy were the
winners. It was also a big day for New Yorker Merv Treichler as he won the
DIRT Syracuse 200.
Twenty five years ago, in 1987,
rain prevailed all over the East Coast.
Twenty years ago, in 1992, the
Waterford Speedbowl took center stage with a wide open competition event
that saw Ted Christopher, running nitrous oxide in the North End Auto Parts
No.54, lead from pole to pole to take down the win in the 50 lap event. Mark
LaJunesse finished second with Lloyd Agor, Mike Gada, Mike Christopher and
Richie Gallup rounding out the top six. It was also announced that the New
Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N. H. would have a sanction for
a Winston Cup event in 1993.
Fifteen years ago, in 1997,
Waterford ran twin features for the mods on Saturday night. Tucker Reynolds
JR went two for two in his attempt to close in on point leader Todd
Ceravolo. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Terry Labonte took the lead
with two laps to go from Ken Schrader and went on to take the win. It wasn't
a good day for Jeff Gordon as he triggered a 20-car wreck after getting a
flat tire. At the Thompson World Series, Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from
Rick Fuller on lap 123 of the 125 lap modified tour event. Fuller had
attempted to block but instead ended up spinning out. Tony Hirshman ended up
second and was followed by Tim Connolly and Jamie Tomaino. Ed Flemke JR won
the companion SK type modified event. For many years, the Race of Champions
was run on Columbus Day weekend. Last but not least, it was 42 years ago in
1965 that Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket-V/8, won the
Ten years ago in 2002, the
Busch North Series season ender at Lime Rock and the D. Anthony Venditti
Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway were rained out.
Five years ago in 2007, the
Annual World Series at the Thompson Speedway closed out the 2007 season for
many in New England. Forty-two NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for time
trials. Part time Tour competitor Tony Ferrante provided a pleasant surprise
when he set the fastest time and captured the Busch pole. Ferrante's time of
120.656 mph around the .625-mile oval beat out Tony Hirschman Jr. by .025
seconds. Don Lia, Billy Pauch Jr and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top
five. Qualifying went smooth except for the fact that Jamie Tomaino slammed
the first turn wall after completing his second qualifying lap. Tomaino’s
time wasn’t good enough to make the starting field but he was eligible for a
provisional spot, which he took.
Lenny Boehler and Bob “Frito Bandito” Santos, both deceased and
NEAR Hall of Fame inductees, had to be smiling last Sunday as Bobby Santos
III drove the Boehler Racing Ole Blu to victory in the NASCAR Modified
portion of the World Series. Based on the re-draw after time trials Santos
started second in the 150-lap event. Santos, who was in the hunt the entire
race, grabbed the lead on a restart on lap 131 and went on to victory over
Reggie Ruggiero, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Ronnie Silk. Sixth
through tenth were Kevin Goodale, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman
and Renee Dupuis. Series champion Don Lia finished 28th. After dropping out
with reported ignition problems. James Civali, who completed all 150 laps
was disqualified by NASCAR and placed last for rough riding. A last-lap,
fourth-turn crash involving Ed Flemke Jr., Billy Pauch Jr., and Doug Coby
changed the complexion of the race behind Christopher. James Civali, who had
contact with Flemke, initiating the crash, was parked and put to the rear of
the field. Civali was later reprimanded in the NASCAR trailer. Richard
Savory, son of George Savory and the driver of the Art Barry No.21 was
awarded the series Rookie of the Year award.
The Thompson regular weekly divisions finished off the 2007 season
in grand-style with Larry Barnett (Ltd. Sportsman), Mike Romano (Mini
Stocks), and Leo Adams (TIS Modifieds) scoring victories. Rick Gentes of
Woonsocket, RI, continued his stronghold on the Outlaw Late Model laurels
during the World Series. In other Outlaw action, Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor
won a barnburner in the Strictlys and visiting Randy Churchill, Jr. of
Niantic bested the Outlaw Mini Stocks. The Touring Series competitors
established a pattern on Saturday night as both Seth Duvall of Ashford in
the All-Star Truck Series and Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, in the Pro-Four
Modifieds rode feature wins to 2007 championships.
The 34th Annual World Series ended a bittersweet racing season at
Thompson International Speedway. In addition to Bobby Santos III those
adding their names to the Thompson history books were Chris Perley of
Rowley, MA, in the International Supermodified Association (ISMA); and Randy
Cabral of Plymouth, MA, in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA). Also
garnering World Series glory was Jimmy Blewett of Howelll, NJ, in the Sunoco
Modifieds, Jeff Connors of Ellington in Pro Stocks, and a surprise winner in
the Late Models Ron Levesque, Jr. of Tiverton, RI. Ben Seitz had a run for
the ages when the young driver from Pocassett, MA, scored an unprecedented
fourth Northeastern Midget Association driving championship.
Jimmy Blewett made a triumphant return to the victory lane at
Thompson. Blewett was greeted by a number of his fellow competitors and a
standing ovation when he exited his Eddie Partridge owned TS Haulers #12 in
victory lane. Blewett took over the lead before the completion of the first
lap and never looked back. In the early going, Blewett and second-running
Malone drove away from the rest of the pack. Blewett withstood a pair of
late race restarts and persistent challenges from Malone to score the
victory. Josh Steeves came home with an impressive third place finish over
Bert Marvin and a returning Ted Christopher. Sixth through tenth were Tom
Cravenho, Bo Gunning, Bobby Santos III, Danny Cates and Todd Ceravolo.
Dick Houlihan made his final career start at Xtra/Mart World Series
at Thompson. Houlihan, who began his racing career in 1972 at the now closed
Lakeville Speedway (MA), had raced at tracks all around New England, the
east coast, as far west as Indiana and even in Canada. Throughout his career
he has driven for many car owners including Danny Fournier, Jim McCloud, Sam
Medeiros, Frank Procopio, Bill Ambrosio, Dan Andruck, John McKenna, Lenny
Ellis, Greg Paquin and Wayne Darling. Along the way Dick won over 150
Features and 9 championships including 3 NASCAR Weekly Series titles, one at
Thompson in 1996 and back to back titles at Seekonk in 2002 and 2003. He was
also voted the Most Popular Driver at Seekonk in 2001 and 2002.
NASCAR released the final standings for the Weekly Racing Series
for 2007. Four of the top ten in the final standings raced at the Thompson
and Stafford Motor Speedways including runner-up Woody Pitkat who lost out
to Steve Carlson by a mere six points. Carlson races at the LaCrosse
Speedway in the Mid-West. Philip Morris who raced at the Motor Mile Speedway
in Virginia, finished in third spot with Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher
rounding out the top five. Kerry Malone, who raced at both Thompson and
Stafford finished tenth in the final rundown.
Longtime motorsports executive Dennis Huth, through his company Racing Speed
Associates, reached an agreement to fully acquire all rights to the American
In Busch Racing Series action at the Lowes Motor Speedway, Jeff
Burton took the win in the Dollar General 300. Burton led the final 61 laps
of the race. It was Burton's fourth win of the 2007 season. In Nextel Cup
racing, Jeff Gordon staked his claim to the Nextel Cup title, winning his
second straight race to widen his lead in the Chase for the championship
standings. The four-time series champion led Kyle Busch on a restart with
five laps to go at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but as he tried to hold off his
teammate, Ryan Newman slid by both Hendrick Motorsports cars to grab the
lead. Newman seemed to be headed to an easy win, but inexplicably spun while
running by himself to bring out the caution. Gordon inherited the lead, but
had a fuel issue that had him stressed about a pickup problem when the race
resumed for a two-lap overtime finish. But Gordon's Chevrolet was flawless
on the final start, and he pulled away from Clint Bowyer and Busch for his
win at the suburban Charlotte track since 1999.
Last year, 2011, in NASCAR
weekly racing action at Thompson, the regular season finally was wrapped up
with championships settled in all racing divisions. Earning championships
for the 2011 season were Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modifieds, Larry Gelinas
Super Late Models and Tommy O’Sullivan in the Late Models. Chris “Moose”
Douton was crowned the Limited Sportsman champ for 2011; Cam McDermott
reigned in the TIS Modifieds; and Danny Field, Deep River, CT, earned
top-honors in the Mini Stock division.
For Rocco, it was a matter of survival as Ryan Preece was breathing
down his neck going into the final event. If Preece were to win, Rocco
needed to finish 12th or better to become champ. Rocco started fifth in the
30 lap feature. Preece started seventh. Rocco took the lead in turn four on
lap two from Rick Fuller. By lap seven, Preece had the lead and Rocco was
fading fast, almost to the point where he almost got the black flag for not
running at a competitive speed. In the end, Rocco finished 12th, four laps
down. Preece did his best but in the end he fell short by six points in his
quest for the title. Preece had taken the lead from Rocco on lap seven and
was headed for the win until Woody Pitkat got him in traffic in the fourth
turn of the final lap. Pitkat took the win, his fourth in the car since
taking the seat vacated by Ted Christopher. Preece beat out Danny Cates for
the runner-up spot. Todd Ceravolo, in a team car to Preece, finished fourth.
Rounding out the top five was Ricky Shawn.
Other winners were Derek Ramstrom (Super Late Models), Marc
Palmisano (Late Models), Larry Barnett (Limited Sportsman) and Travis Jurcik,
(Mini Stocks) scoring feature victories.
A bit of excitement developed during the running of the Limited
Sportsman feature. On the opening laps Joe Coates and Jason Chicolas tangled
on the backstretch going into turn three. Coats lost his temper and
commenced to proceed to continually ram the Chicolas machine. Both
competitors were parked for the night. Coats parked his car on the infield
pit road and as Chicolas drove by on his way to the pit area Coats threw his
helmet at him. Speedway officials attempted to calm the situation but Coats
would have nothing of that as he gave the officials the single finger
salute, then from atop pit wall, proceeded to drop his pants and Moon the
officials and the crowd. The Speedway management and NASCAR Suspended Coats
At the Waterford Speedbowl the two day Fall Finale wrapped up the
2011 racing season. Over 200 cars brought some serious revenue to the
shoreline oval on Saturday. Keith Rocco added another victory to his yearly
total as he took the fin in the 50 lap SK Modified portion of the Finale.
Rocco, who now has 27 victories to his credit took the lead on lap 10 after
starting in the 12th position. Rocco also won the Late Model 50 lapper at
the shoreline oval. Rocco passed Bruce Thomas Jr. with six laps remaining
and led the rest of the way to win the 50-lap Late Model feature. In the
Modified event, Tyler Chadwick was second and Rob Janovic Jr, third.
Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece and Nicole Morgillo.
A bit of controversy erupted before the start of racing at the
Speedbowl on Sunday. Race Director Scott Tapley threw out Todd Ceravolo
after he was allegedly threatened with physical violence. To back up a bit,
Ceravolo missed the pit party and was told he would have to start in the
rear instead of starting 15th. When told this, Ceravolo tried to explain
that he had been home sick with the flu and had just got out of bed before
noon. Tapley's response to Ceravolo's explanation was, "Too Bad". With this
sarcasam, Ceravolo became rightfully irate, especially when a double
standard existed. Bubby Brouwer also missed the pit party but he was allowed
to start on the pole of the event in which he competed and also the track
treated Ceravolo unfairly when they black flagged him for not having a
transponder in a practice session but looked the other way when one of their
top regular runners ran all day without a transponder. Ceravolo stated that
Tapley never had a drivers meeting on Saturday and never announced that
there would be a penalty if one missed the pit party. It just seems that
every time a non-regular shows up to race at Waterford, officials go out of
their way to make their lives miserable.
Other Sunday winners at the Speedbowl were Al Stone in the Street
Stocks and Glenn Colvin in the Mini Stocks. Paul French won the 25-lap
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature and Dave Garbo
Jr. won the day’s 25-lap Legends Cars feature.
Race winners on Saturday included Shawn Thibeault who recorded his first
career Speedbowl victory in the Outlaw Stock feature, John Kelly who scored
his first career win in the Northeast Mini Stock Tour race and Andy
Lindemann who nailed the win in the New England Truck Series feature.
Rounding out the winners were Emily Packard in the Allison Legacy North
Racing Series, Frank Alessio in the Super X-Cars, Brad Voglesong in X-Car
action and Cory Dimatteo in the Bandoleros race.
In Modified Racing Series action at the D. Anthony Venditti Classic
at the Seekonk Speedway Mike Holdridge started 22nd in a 29 car field, took
the lead on lap 65, and went on to win the Valenti Modified Racing Series,
100-lap, “DAV Fall Classic” race. The win was the second of the season for
the second-generation driver. Holdridge also becomes the eighth different
driver to win the eighth annual event.
Pole-sitter Russ Hersey, led the field to green and the first
six-laps until passed by veteran Kenny Barry. Barry quickly became the class
of the field leading laps 7 through 64 holding off the challenges of Les
Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, and Holdridge. When Holdridge took the top spot,
Barry chased the winner to the finish, Jon McKennedyfinished third, Jimmy
Kuhn, fourth, and Dwight Jarvis, fifth. Sixth through tenth were: Max
Zachem, Hinckley, Chris Pasteryak, Timmy Jordan and Joe Doucette.
In Super Dirt action at the Syracuse NY Fairgrounds, Canadian
Stewart Friesen made it back-to-back wins in the SEF 200 on Sunday and in
the process denied Billy Decker’s bid to become the first driver to sweep
the modified races at Super DIRT Week. Decker had won five out of five
events heading into Sunday’s feature but had to settle for second after
giving Friesen all he could handle late in the 200-mile race.
The victory was worth $50,000, but not in the end. After a long post-race
inspection, Friesen’s team was fined $25,000 for having an illegal fuel
system. He retained the victory. Ted Christopher had attempted to qualify
for the event but fell short after being involved in a qualifying heat
In Sprint Cup action at Kansas City Jimmie Johnson led 197 laps in
one of the most dominant performances the track has ever seen. The victory
was the 55th for Johnson, moving him into a tie with Rusty Wallace for the
eighth on the career list, and the 199th for team owner Rick Hendrick. Brad
Keselowski dominated the Nationwide Series race at Kansas City as he led all
but 27 laps on his way to victory.
The Concord (NH) Monitor reported that The New Hampshire Motor
Speedway is vowing to appeal a jury verdict that ordered it to pay almost $1
million to the sports radio network that used to broadcast its major NASCAR
events. At the heart of the lawsuit, whose trial lasted five days in
Merrimack County NH Superior Court last week, is who had the right to
broadcast NASCAR events at the Loudon-based speedway.
The report, which was printed in the Monitor on Oct 4 stated that in Sept.
2000, the speedway, under the management of then-President Gary Bahre,
entered into a perpetual contract agreement that gave Motor Racing Network
Inc., a Florida-based company, exclusive rights to broadcast all NASCAR
events, including time trials, practice runs and races.
In exchange, the track received 25 percent of all the gross
advertising revenue Motor Racing Network received from the broadcasts and
rebroadcasts of NASCAR events at the speedway. The parties were each
required to give three years notice to terminate the contract.
But in January 2008, shortly after former owner Bob Bahre agreed to sell the
track, his son Gary Bahre sent a letter to Motor Racing Network saying his
company wished to end the contract immediately, calling the three-year
termination notice "unconscionable."
After Motor Racing Network refused, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
sued, claiming the contract was void and unenforceable because it was
"illusory, lacks mutuality of obligation, and is not supported by
consideration," according to the suit. Motor Racing Network, which paid
about $750,000 to the speedway over the eight year relationship,
countersued, saying the breach of contract would cause, among other things,
damage to the network's reputation.
Over the three years of legal maneuvering, a judge found the
agreement to be unenforceable. However, the court allowed Motor Radio
Network to take their case to a jury and argue that the speedway had broken
underlying promises made to them - promises which the network reasonably
believed would be honored and therefore made business decisions around, said
David Cole, one of several attorneys representing the network.
The Monitor stated that on Friday, Oct 7, 12 jurors agreed and
awarded the network $993,724 - the amount of money the network said it would
have made had it been allowed to broadcast seven races over three more
years. While the speedway does not have to pay attorney fees, it does have
to pay for costs such as depositions. Once those are added in, the judgment
is likely to exceed $1 million. Once Motor Racing Network was out,
Performance Radio Network, which is owned by the speedway's parent company,
Speedway Motorsports, began broadcasting the track's NASCAR events. It was a
move Cole said showed the speedway broke the contract purely for financial
gain, not because Motor Racing Network had done its job poorly.
Motor Racing Network, which claims to be the largest independent
sports radio network in the country with almost 650 stations, is owned by
International Speedway Corp., a Florida-based company that owns a dozen
racetracks around the country.
Molly A.K. Connors was the reporter of record that covered the
proceedings for the Monitor.
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
Johnny 'King' Cambino
Nathan 'Smokey' Boutwell
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit