October 19, 2012
years ago in 1952 Don Collins broke Ray Delisle's strangle hold
on victory lane at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Mike Dooley was the
Claiming Car feature winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1957
the New London-Waterford Speedbowl closed out the season with a 50 lap
Sportsman feature which was won by Red Foote. Benny Desrosier was the
non-Ford winner. Don Collins, who won 11 features was declared the Sportsman
Track Champion. Ted Stack was the non-Ford Champion.
Forty years ago, in 1972, the
Modified season came to a close at Martinsville where Bobby Santos put the
Art Barry No.09 in victory lane. Mike Loescher finished third and was
followed by Eddie Flemke, Bernie Miller and Melvin ”Puddin” Swisher.
Rounding out the top ten were Hank Thomas, Bugsy Stevens, Ray Hendrick, Leo
Cleary and RE Brim. Sixty-one modifieds were on hand.
Thirty five years ago, in 1977,
Thompson’s World Series fell victim to rain. The only modified action was in
the Southland at the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina. Jerry Cook took the
win over Paul Radford.
Thirty years ago, in 1982, Greg
Sacks and the invincible Ernie Wilsburg No.5 continued their domination of
the modified division as they cleaned house at the World Series at Thompson;
George Kent finished second with Kenny Bouchard in third spot. Rounding out
the top five were Reggie Ruggiero and George Summers. New Egypt, which was
asphalt at the time also, ran with Jerry Cranmer taking the win over Wayne
Anderson, John Blewett JR, Jerry Cook and Lenny Boyd. In Winston Cup action
at Martinsville, Darrell Waltrip took the win over Ricky Rudd.
Twenty five years ago, in 1987,
Reggie Ruggiero won the 50 lap modified portion of the Thompson World
Series. Ruggiero was with some hot company as he had Jimmy Spencer on his
bumper for most of the way. Ruggerio started sixth and took the lead from
Mike Stefanik on lap 11. Spencer started tenth and bulled his way to the
front. Moving into second on a lap 16 restart, Spencer used every trick in
the book to no avail as Ruggerio was on top of his game and wasn’t about to
be denied. Jamie Tomaino had a strong run going in third spot by the half
way mark but a slowly leaking tire was his un-doing. Tomaino’s miss-fortune
opened the door for Mike Mclaughlin, who moved into third. Mike Stefanik and
George Kent were running fourth and fifth in the late stages but they too,
ran into problems. Stefanik pitted with a flat with ten to go and Kent spun
out. Jeff Fuller, who was driving for Art Barry, moved into fourth spot and
remained there to the finish. Ricky
Fuller rounded out the top five. Tom Baldwin finished sixth and was followed
by Don Howe, Carl Pasteryak, George Kent and Doug Hevron. Bob Potter won the
35 lap SK Modified portion. Ted Christopher finished second and wrapped up
the Tri-Track championship. Jerry Pearl finished third.
Twenty years ago, in 1992, the
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was in Martinsville for a 200-lap
event. Jan Leaty was the pole sitter but in the end it was Mike Stefanik
taking the win over Wayne Anderson. Jeff Fuller finished third and wrapped
up the series championship. Doug Hevron and Mike Ewanitsko rounded out the
top five. Also, on the same day, was the Octoberfest at Lee Raceway where
Ted and Mike Christopher finished one-two.
Fifteen years ago, in 1997,
Waterford ran its final event on Saturday night. Jim Broderick took the lead
on lap 26 of the 35-lap event and went on to record his fifth win of the
year. Todd Ceravolo finished second and sewed up the track championship.
Tucker Reynolds was third with Jeff Pearl, fourth. Ted Christopher scored an
impressive win in BGNN action at Lime Rock. After starting tenth,
Christopher took the lead for the final time with two laps to go. Kim Baker
finished second with Dennis Doyle, third. Mike Stefanik finished ninth and
became the first driver to ever win the Busch North and Modified
championships in the same year. It was a very hectic weekend In addition to
the Busch North Series event at Lime Rock the Featherlite Modified Tour
Series was at the Thompson Speedway for the World Series. The 125 lap main
event was full of excitement and the crowd of over 10,000 got their money’s
worth. Mike Ewanitsko, driving the Sheba Racing No.8, dove under Rick Fuller
with two laps to go in an attempt to take the lead. Fuller tried to pinch
him off but instead ended up spinning out after making contact. Tony
Hirschman ended up in second spot with Tim Connolly, Jamie Tomaino and Ed
Flemke JR rounding out the top five. Fuller, driving the Art Barry No.21
recovered to finish seventh. Ed Flemke JR was the winner of the SK-Modified
feature over Mike Christopher, Ted Christopher and Scott Quinn. In Busch
Grand National action at Fontana, California, Steve Park was the pole sitter
with Bob Labonte on the outside. Labonte had the race won until he ran out
of gas with less than ten laps to go and handed the win to Todd Bodine. Park
Ten years ago in 2002, The
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Martinsville. Forty seven Modifieds
were on hand to qualify for the forty starting spots. Ken Woolley Jr. took
the Busch Pole with Ricky Fuller, Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Ted
Christopher rounding out the top five. L.W. Miller took the win. The racing
was far from mundane. Fuller jumped out to take the lead on the start. Fred
Vordermeir was the first casualty as he hit the wall on lap 15 after
suffering a cut tire. Jerry Marquis, who is a contender for the tour series
championship, suffered a major setback on lap 28 when his engine soured,
forcing him to park it for the day. Also having engine problems which put
them out were Eric Beers, Tom Baldwin and Tim Arre. Fuller led until lap 76
when Woolley mustered the required steam and took the point. Woolley led
until lap 94 when fellow New Jersey competitor and former series champion
Jamie Tomaino took his turn in the lead. Tomaino,
having one of his best runs in quite a while, led until lap 150 when L.W.
Miller took command. Miller never looked back and went on to take his first
ever Modified Tour Series win. Once Miller took the lead the rest of the
field turned up the wick and that’s when the action started. Todd Szegedy
and Chuck Hossfeld got into a side-swiping duel when Szegedy dove under
Hossfeld in turns three and four on lap 165.Szegedy drifted up as he came
out of four and pinched Hossfeld into the wall. Hossfeld came off the wall
and moved down on Szegedy who in turn dumped him into the wall, then spun
himself and triggered a big wreck that took out David Berghman, Tony
Hirschman and ultimately Ed Flemke Jr. A red flag was required to remove the
wrecked cars that blocked the track. The next big incident of the day
occurred on lap 190 when Ricky Fuller drilled Ted Christopher and spun him
out. Christopher, far from being a happy camper was able to recover and
ninth. Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Jamie
Tomaino, John Blewett III, Robbie Summers and Charlie Pasteryak.
Shortly after the completion of the event Christopher met with tour
officials in the NASCAR trailer. Evidently he didn’t like what they had to
say and what they did or didn’t see. Christopher left the trailer in a huff,
slamming the door so hard it almost came off the hinges. The tape of the
incident was available. Pictures don’t lie and NASCAR should have taken some
action on this issue.
The Busch North Series couldn’t get a break as rain washed out the
season finale at Lime Rock again.
Wall Stadium ran a Race of Champions Tour event on Sunday. Jimmie
Blewett took the win. Ken Woolley Jr. and John Blewett III made it back from
Martinsville and ended up second and third. George Kent, who previously
sewed up the 2002 ROC title crossed the finish line in third spot but was
disqualified after a post race inspection revealed that he had tires that
had been chemically altered.
Five years ago in 2007, when
NEAR announced their choices for induction into the Hall of Fame, class of
2008, two unique individuals appeared on the list. Pete Zanardi and Dr. Dick
Berggren are two New England natives who have dedicated their lives and
careers to auto racing. Zanardi, a retired sports writer was one of the
first to cover weekly racing and give recognition to competitors in the
print media. He wrote about many in national publications and he mentored
many including yours truly. He was responsible for setting up the original
public relations department when Jack Arute bought the Stafford Speedway.
His biggest accomplishment could very well be the effort he put in to save
the Waterford Speedbowl from extinction. Berggren began his career as a race
driver at Stafford. He also took a lot of pictures and after a short driving
career the camera won out. During his early years his photos were published
in the now defunct Cavalcade of Auto
Racing that was owned by Jim Moffat. The photos led to printed stories. He
received a doctorates degree which should have led to a teaching career but
auto racing won out as Berggren expanded his racing and eventually became
the editor of the now defunct Stock Car Racing Magazine. Along the way he
teamed up with racing buddies Bruce Cohen and Lew Boyd and conceived the
original Spring Sizzler at Stafford. He also became a broadcaster as a pit
reporter of televised NASCAR Busch Series and Nextel Cup Racing, a labor of
love he continues to do. He also fulfilled a life long dream of owning his
own magazine, Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated which is distributed
nationally each month. Most of all, despite all the fame and notoriety both
Zanardi and Berggren have been loyal to their roots in auto racing in New
The wheels were still turning at some tracks. Matt Hirschman won a
special event staged at the All Star Speedway in Epping, NH. It was also the
weekend for the annual Octoberfest at the Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. Andy
Seuss won the True Value Modified Series event there after Kirk Alexander
suffered a flat tire while leading with three laps to go. Mike Douglas ended
up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Down in the south land Bad
Boy James Civali drove the Hills Enterprises No.79 to a convincing win at
the Franklin County Speedway in Callaway, VA.
It was announced that Modified stock cars would return to Vermont
in 2008, as the True Value Modified Racing Series would make its debut at
Barre’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl during the 46th Annual Mekkelsen RV
Memorial Day Classic, Sunday, May 25. TVMRS founder and competitor Jack
Bateman of Canaan, NH tested his car at the high-banked ¼-mile oval and made
the agreement with Thunder Road Promoter Tom Curley to bring the touring
series to “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” for a 100-lap event as part of a
doubleheader with the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Thunder Road Late Models.
The last official Modified race at Thunder Road was in June 1965, won by
former National Champion Dick Nephew of Mooers Forks, NY. Canadian legend
Jean-Paul Cabana won the Memorial Day Classic in 1965 at the wheel of a
Modified car, as well.
The France family, which owns the International Speedway
Corporation and Pennsylvania International Raceway, Inc. (PIR), an indirect
wholly-owned subsidiary, terminated its agreement with NZSW, LLC for the
sale of 158 acres on which Nazareth Speedway is located. The land was to be
sold to NZSW, LLC for approximately $19 million. PIR intends to retain the
approximately $2 million in non-refundable deposits as the agreement was
terminated in accordance with its terms as a result of a default by NZSW,
LLC. Nazareth Speedway suspended major motorsports event operations after
the completion of the track's 2004 events and its results of operations are
presented as discontinued operations in the Registrant's consolidated
financial statements. The property continued to be marketed and a sale was
expected to occur in fiscal 2008. Needless to say, it didn't.
In Nextel Cup action Jimmie Johnson made the pass he didn't allow
Jeff Gordon to make in the spring, sneaking inside Jeff Gordon with 44 laps
to go and held on to win at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia for his
series-high seventh victory of the year. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates
who have dominated the Nextel Cup series all season did it again in the
Subway 500 at the tricky track where their superiority is most apparent, and
Johnson got some unexpected late help from Ryan Newman to tighten the Chase.
Newman challenged Gordon for second with nine laps to go, getting
increasingly more physical, and finally passed him on the inside on the
494th circuit as Johnson opened a lead of nearly 2 seconds. He then had to
withstand a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish, with Gordon lurking third
and ready to take advantage if the leaders faltered. They didn't, and
Johnson held on through one lap before the race-record 21st caution came
out. Johnson gained in the Chase with four races left, cutting Gordon's lead
to 53 points.
Last year, 2011, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series wrapped up their 2011 season at the Thompson
Speedway. Ron Silk came into the event with a 59 point lead over Todd
Szegedy. Thirty four cars made up the car count. The seat in the Flamingo
Motorsports No.16 was still warm after the exit of Mike Stefanik when Ryan
Preece strapped in. Preece wasted little time as he adjusted to his new ride
in short order as he garnered the pole position for the season ending World
Series 150. Preece toured the 5/8 mile oval on 18.634 seconds. Second
fastest was Doug Coby who had a time of 18.655 seconds. Stefanik drove the
car he normally drives in Modified Racing Series events and qualified17th at
18.901 seconds. Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Santos rounded out
the top five. Point leader Ron Silk qualified 8th fastest. The only casualty
was Matt Hirschman who slammed the wall during qualifying. Hirschman was
allowed to take a provisional spot.
The World Series drew a total of 273 cars including 34 Whelen Tour
Modifieds, 16 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds, 28 Supers, 22 Super Late Models
and 25 Midgets.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series provided some intense drama during
the running of the event which didn't see the championship finalized until
the final moments of the event. The drama began on lap 52 when Silk and Tony
Ferrante Jr spun and crashed into the first turn wall after hitting some oil
that leaked out of the car of Timmy Solomito. While Ferrante suffered the
most damage and had to be double hooked to the infield Silk was able to
drive away with quite a bit of damage to his left front suspension. Once in
his pit box the Eddie Partridge led crew went to work to repair the damage
only to have to stop as the field went under a red flag while the oil was
cleaned up that was spilled. After a short period the field went back under
caution and work resumed on the Silk machine. When Silk finally re-entered
the competition on lap 62 he was 10 laps down to the leader, Szegedy and it
was thought that all was lost as far as the championship was concerned.
Needless to say, Silk and the Partridge team kept digging and
because of numerous cautions were awarded free passes under the rules which
got them within three laps in arrears of Szegedy. Szegedy still had the
title in hand until lap 148 when he got collected when Ken Heagy and Woody
Pitkat tangled between turns three and four and collected Szegedy, shearing
off his right front wheel which was the deciding factor. Silk finished 16th
four laps down with 2,443 points with a 76 point cushion over Szegedy, who
finished 25th. Both competitors were deserving of the title but it just
wasn't in the cards for Szegedy, the 2003 champion, to win it.
Congratulations to Silk along with his car owners, Eddie and Connie
Partridge and their entire race team. Silk and the No. 6 T.S.
Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet team will be honored as part of the
NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, N.C.
Glen Reen scored somewhat of an upset as he took the win in a wild
event that saw a season-high 16 cautions and the maximum three
green-white-checker events attempts for his first career victory. Reen took
the lead on lap 142 from Justin Bonsignore and watched in his mirror as his
competition was eliminated. Pole sitter Ryan Preece, who had recently taken
over the seat of the Flamingo Motorsports entry that was formerly driven by
Mike Stefanik, was on cruise control for the first 36 laps, was eliminated
in a wreck on lap 145 when he broke a tie rod. Stefanik, who finished ninth
in a new tour ride, was running fourth on lap 155 when he went for an
opening on the backstretch and triggered a wreck that eliminated Justin
Bonsignore and Ted Christopher who were running second and third. Stefanik
said, "the 51 moved up and I filled up the hole between him and
Christopher". "Once I got in there", he added, "they didn't give me any
room". Doug Coby and Daniel Hemric who were running second and third behind
Reen on a lap 160 restart got together shortly after taking the green.
Hemric, from Kanapolis, NC, was driving the Roger Hill No.79 and found
himself in the turn one wall and Coby spun. NASCAR Control felt that Coby
was overaggressive and placed him one lap down. It was later clarified that
NASCAR did not penalize him for overaggression as he was the one who was
taken out by the 79 on that late restart. "I was penalized for passing cars
under caution to attempt to get my second place spot back", he said. Brian
Vance, the Tour Race Director, afterwards acknowledged that the one lap
penalty was more a result of his frustration with all of the drivers for how
the race was ending, and acknowledged that it may in fact have been
inconsistent with other calls he made that day with regards to other drivers
who were incorrectly lined up on the racetrack. On the final restart for a
green-white-checker finish Reen
watched in amazement as Tom Rogers and Bobby Santos went at it as they
almost wrecked. In a gut move, going into turn three on the final lap,
Santos sunk the Mystic Missile in deep and took over the second spot behind
Reen. Rogers, who had gotten roughed up a bit by Santos, finished fifth.
Matt Hirschman brought Ole Blu home in third while Chuck Hossfeld finished
fourth. Sixth through tenth were Keith Rocco, Reic Beers, Patrick Emerling,
Stefanik and Eric Goodale.
In other World Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Chris Perley
turned in a dominating performance in the International Super Modifed
Association (ISMA) 50-lapper to score the victory. Russ Stoehr scored top
honors in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) ranks. In NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series action, Ryan Preece outlasted the field in a
rough-and-tumble Sunoco Modified feature. Derek Ramstrom scored his sixth
Super Late Model race to cap off the 2011 season at Thompson and Corey
Hutchings survived numerous restarts in the Late Model main event to score
Following a full day of practice and qualifying at Thompson on
Saturday, ten (10) feature events were run. In Thompson regular weekly
divisions it was Scott Sundeen scoring the victory in the Limited Sportsman
division; Cam McDermott in the TIS Modifieds; and Chad Baxter in the Mini
Stocks. Scoring Outlaw division victories were Rick Gentes (Late Models),
Mike O’Sullivan (Street Stocks) and Richard Fournier (Mini Stocks). Frank
Cardile capitalized in the Sunoco Lite Main event to score the victory.
Jason Lafayette opened up the World Series feature festivities with a
victory in the N.E. Trucks Series. Andy Lindeman led green-to-checker to win
the companion Truck Series Shootout. Dan Meservey, Jr. earned the victory in
the Harry Kourafas Memorial event for the Pro-Four Modifieds.
Down in the south land, Tim Brown ended his year-long NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour winless streak with a victory he called one of his
biggest of his career. The Cana, Va., veteran scored his seventh career win
Thursday night in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on the quarter-mile on the
front stretch at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was Brown's first trip to
Victory Lane since Sept. 4, 2010 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.
Brown took the lead from George Brunnhoelzl on a Lap 123 restart
and led the rest of the way.
Brunnhoelzl, the points leader, finished second on a day in which
he won the Coors Light Pole Award and led a race-high 124 laps. Brunnhoelzl
will take a 150-point lead over Andy Seuss, who finished fourth, into the
season finale on Oct. 22 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. Defending
race winner Burt Myers finished third and his brother, Jason, was fifth.
There were 18 cars that went to post in the 150 lap event.
After a short reincarnation as an asphalt track, it was announced
that the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY would go back to being a dirt
track as it would be run by Lebanon Valley promoter Howard Commander. He had
secured a leasing deal with the Richards family while they continued to
pursue the sale of the track.
On a sad note, veteran driver Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis
500 for the second time in 2011, died from injuries suffered Sunday when his
car was entangled in a horrific, 15-car wreck early in the IndyCar series'
season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Englishman was 33.
Matt Kenseth won the Sprint Cup event held at the Charlotte Motor
Speedway. Carl Edwards was the Nationwide Series winner.
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
Melvin 'Red' Foote
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit