February 15, 2013
five years ago in 1958 it was the final event to be run on the
old beach-road course in Daytona Beach. Bill France Sr. had a vision for a
vast super speedway and it would become a reality one-year later when the
2-1/2 mile high banked Daytona International Speedway would be completed and
run its first event. On the beach it was Paul Goldsmith taking the poll
position for the 49 car-starting field. Goldsmith toured the 4.1 mile
circuit at 140.570 mph. Jim Thompson was second fastest with Cotton Owens,
Eddie Pagen and Lee Petty making up the top five.
Fifty years ago in 1963, Marvin
Panch, the driver of the famous Wood Brothers No.21 was testing a prototype
Maserati when he lost control and flipped. The car caught fire and had it
not been for the efforts of a group of spectators that included Ernie Gahan,
Eddie Flemke and southern driver Dwane “Tiny” Lund Panch would have burned
up in the fire. The group pulled him from the inferno and saved his life.
From his hospital bed Panch requested that the Wood Brothers put Lund in his
place to drive in the up-coming Daytona 500. The were 62 cars on hand for
time trials and coming out on top was Glen “Fireball” Roberts who took the
pole with a speed of 160.943 mph. Fred Lorenzen was second fastest.
Forty five years ago in 1968,
Cale Yarborough was the pole sitter for the Daytona 500 with a speed of
189.222 mph. Richard Petty was second fastest. Rounding out the top five
were LeeRoy Yarbrough, David Pearson and Tiny Lund. During the
pre-qualifying inspection process a Chevrolet Chevelle entered by Smokey
Yunick came under extreme close scrutiny. Inspectors had a list of ten items
for Yunick to fix before his car would be allowed to qualify. After removing
the gas tank Yunick got so mad that he jumped in the car and drove off
saying, “you may as well make it eleven”. Yunick drove the car, without a
gas tank, off the speedway grounds and never returned.
Forty years ago in 1973, Buddy
Baker was the top qualifier for the Daytona 500 with a speed of 185.622 mph.
Pete Hamilton, a former competitor in New England and New York who is now an
inductee in the NEAR Hall of Fame, took the outside pole. Hamilton is also a
former Daytona 500 winner as he won the NASCAR Classic in 1970 driving a
Petty Team car. Cale Yarborough, CoCo Marlin and Gordon Johncock rounded out
the top five.
Thirty five years ago in 1978,
the New Smyrna World Series took the green on Friday night for a scheduled
ten night series. Richie Evans took the opening night 25 lapper over Geoff
Bodine, George Kent, Jerry Cook and Charlie Jarzombek. Twenty-four Modifieds
were on hand for the opener. Evans made it two for two as he repeated on
Saturday night. Bodine was again second with Jarzombek, third. Bobby Allison
and Ronnie Bouchard rounded out the top five. Bodine finally broke into the
winners circle on Sunday night after Evans dropped out with engine problems.
Jarzombek finished second with Kent, Bouchard and Fred DeSarro rounding out
the top five. Evans regained his winning form on Monday night as he beat out
Jarzombek for the top spot in the 25-lap feature. George Kent finished third
with Bouchard and Bodine rounding out the top five. Bodine bounced back to
take the Tuesday night feature. Evans slipped to third as Bouchard put the
Bob Judkins 2x in the second spot. Jarzombek finished fourth and Bugsy
Stevens broke into the top five.
Thirty years ago in 1983, Greg
Sacks; fresh off his dream season where he won just about everything in site
on the northeast Modified circuit, was the opening night winner at New
Smyrna. Kenny Bouchard led the opening laps with George Kent taking over on
lap 2. Kent led until lap 17 when he lost an engine. Richie Evans finished
second with Reggie Ruggerio, Jamie Tomaino and Rick Fuller rounding out the
top five. Saturday night racing was canceled because of rain. The rain
carried over to Sunday and forced the Daytona Speedway to re-schedule
Daytona 500 qualifying to Monday. Because of wet conditions the Sunday night
event got a late start. Richie Evans took the win over George Kent and
Sacks. Tomaino finished fourth with Bouchard rounding out the top five. Cale
Yarborough set a new record at Daytona on Monday when he toured the 2-1/2
mile oval at 200.503 MPH. Yarborough was even faster on his second lap when
he flipped in turn four. The record stood but the pole position was denied
because of the fact that he failed to complete the second lap. Ricky Rudd
was the eventual pole sitter with a speed of 198.864 MPH. Geoff Bodine was
second fastest with a speed of 197.920 MPH. Neil Bonnett won the Busch
Clash. Evans made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he took the win on Monday
night. George Kent ended up second after Reggie Ruggerio lost a tire on the
last lap. Doug Hewitt finished third with Jamie Tomaino and Tony Hirshman
rounding out the top five. Greg Sacks broke out a new car after he wrecked
his primary entry and finished sixth in the final run-down. The Ernie
Wilsberg crew repaired their old car as Sacks went out and won the Tuesday
night feature by a bumper over Reggie Ruggerio and Richie Evans. Doug Hewitt
and Mike Mclaughlin rounded out the top five.
Twenty five years ago in 1988,
opening night for the World Series at New Smyrna rained out. Tom Baldwin was
the Saturday night winner. Bobby Fuller finished second. Jim Spencer, Reggie
Ruggerio and their crews were thrown out and disqualified after a brawl. Ken
Schrader was the Daytona 500 pole sitter but the big story was the fact that
Tim Richmond was suspended because of the fact that he tested True Positive
in a NASCAR mandated drug test. Little did anyone at the time know but
Richmond was suffering from AIDS, which would eventually claim his life.
Davey Allison was the outside pole qualifier for the Daytona 500 with a
speed of 193.311 MPH. Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash over Davey and
Bobby Allison. Baldwin and Fuller finished one-two again on Sunday night at
New Smyrna. After two disappointing nights Reggie Ruggerio put the Mario
Fiore No.44 in victory lane. Baldwin settled for second with Tony Jankowiac,
third. Ruggerio made it two in a row as he took the victory on Tuesday
night. Bruce D'Assandro in a Fiore back up, finished second.
Twenty years ago in 1993, Steve
Park, in the Joe Brady No.00 was the opening night winner at New Smyrna.
Bruce Del finished second and was followed by Ed Kennedy, Richie Gallup and
George Savory. Mike Ewanitsko led the early going until getting hit by Tom
Baldwin. The resulting tangle also collected Rick Fuller. Rain prevailed at
New Smyrna on Saturday night. On Sunday at the Daytona Speedway 47 cars
attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500. Kyle Petty took the pole with a
speed of 189.426 MPH. Dale Jarrett was second fastest. Dale Earnhardt won
both halves of the Busch Clash. Ricky Fuller avoided a nine-car wreck to
take down the win on Sunday night at New Smyrna. Bob Park made his presence
known as he finished second. Steve Park finished third. Tuesday night saw
rain wash out another night of racing.
Fifteen years ago in 1998 rain
washed out opening night at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko served notice of his
title intentions as he took the win on Saturday over Jamie Tomaino, Ted
Christopher, Eric Beers and George Bock. In Daytona 500 qualifying 55 cars
were on hand. Bob Labonte took the pole with a speed of 192.415 MPH. Brother
Terry was second fastest at 192.917. Ted Christopher put the Bear
Motorsports entry in victory lane on Sunday night. Doug French finished
second with Tim Arre, third. Christopher made it two in a row as he went
pole to pole on Monday night. Jamie Tomaino finished second with Mike
Ewanitsko, third. Christopher continued his winning streak on Tuesday as he
again went pole to pole to take another win. Ewanitsko finished second with
Jan Leaty, third.
Ten years ago in 2003, it was
learned that John Falconi Jr. had passed away in January as a result of
cancer. A pre-speedweeks announcement stated that Winston Cup driver Rick
Mast had retired because of carbon monoxide poisoning. Another hot item was
the fact that Brett Bodine’s soon to be ex-wife Diane was arrested and
extradited to Georgia to face charges of making harassing phone calls to a
Hooters girl she alleged was having an affair with her husband.
On a sad note, the returning space shuttle blew up over Texas with
all people aboard killed.
The New Smyrna World Series opened with 23 cars on hand. Ted
Christopher and Ed Flemke Jr. were the class of the field as they finished
one-two, a half lap ahead of third place finisher Rob Summers. Doug Meservy
and Donnie Lia rounded out the top five. The Busch Clash at Daytona and the
World Series went head to head on Saturday night. At New Smyrna, Christopher
made it two in a row despite taking a rock through his radiator in the
closing laps. George Kent finished second with Tim Arre third. Mike Finch
and Flemke rounded out the top five. In the Busch Clash at Daytona, Dale
Earnhardt Jr. came from first to last to take the win over Jeff Gordon.
Gordon had other things on his mind as his estranged wife served summonses
to various car owners for their financial records.
The big news in NASCAR land was the fact that RJ Reynolds indicated that
they were thinking about ending their Winston sponsorship of NASCAR’s
premier division. Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday afternoon and round three
of the World Series at New Smyrna on Sunday night was rained out. Daytona
500 qualifying was re-scheduled to Monday. Jeff Green took the pole with
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the outside pole. The Modifieds had Monday night off.
Five years ago in 2008, after a
long winter’s wait the 2008 racing season began on Friday night with the
42nd Annual version of the World Series of auto racing at the New Smyrna
Speedway. It was also the beginning of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
The Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 pole qualifying started their season
at the Daytona International Speedway.
At New Smyrna for the Friday night opener there were 17 SK type
Modifieds and 17 Tour type Modifieds on hand. Jimmy Blewett scored a one-two
punch as he was the top qualifier in both divisions. The only casualty
during qualifying was Long Islander JR Bertuccio hitting the wall and doing
extensive damage to the Connecticut based Bear Motorsports Tour type entry.
In the Tour type Modified 25 lapper Blewett started on the pole and
held off Chuck Hossfeld for the first 18 laps when it appeared that
Blewett’s motor developed a skip and began losing power. Hossfeld, in a move
on the low side, took the lead and never looked back. As Blewett continued
to fade Bob Grigas III moved into the second spot. The top two ran nose to
tail the balance of the event. Ted Christopher, Andy Seuss and Eric Beers
rounded out the top five. Blewett managed to hang on and finish eighth.
Immediately following the Modified feature Blewett’s crew discovered that
the fuel pump had malfunctioned.
In the Friday night SK type Modified feature there was no touching
Jimmy Blewett as romped to a convincing win over Kenny Horton. It was more
of a race for second place as Horton and Josh Sylvester slugged it out for
the runner-up spot. The two ended up getting together with Sylvester coming
up short as he spun out of contention. He was able to rebound as he ended up
11th in the final rundown. David Cranmer finished third and was followed by
Billy Anderson and Glen Griswold.
At the Daytona Int. Speedway on Friday night emotions ran high
after an on track practice wreck which involved Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.
Actually there were two wrecks that seriously damaged four race cars which
resulted in the teams of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kurt
Busch going to back-up cars for the Bud Shootout. The team of 2007 winner
Tony Stewart elected to repair his damaged mount.
The first wreck was triggered by Clint Bowyer, who wrecked the
Dodge of Ryan Newman, also collected the Chevys of Johnson and Gordon plus
others. While that wreck was much more dramatic on track, the two-car
incident involving Stewart and Busch triggered on-track retaliation from
Busch and landed both combatants in the NASCAR office for a reprimand.
Busch hit Stewart's Toyota three times while both were en route to
the pits following the accident on the backstretch. Once both cars got to
the garage, NASCAR ordered Busch and Stewart to the Sprint Cup office for a
discussion. Neither driver would comment as to what transpired inside the
meeting with NASCAR officials.
Jimmy Blewett went two for two on Saturday night at New Smyrna as
he won both Tour type and SK type Modified events. In Tour type Modified
action Chuck Hossfeld turned the first sub-17 second lap during qualifying.
For comparison purposes the New Smyrna Speedway is a half mile oval as is
the Stafford Motor Speedway. New Smyrna is high banked, Stafford is
semi-banked. Fast time for a Modified at Stafford is in the mid to low 18’s.
Bob Grigas III was the second fastest with Ted Christopher, third. In the
draw for starting positions Blewett, who was fifth fastest, drew the pole.
In SK type qualifying Blewett was the fastest. Kenny Horton and Glen
Griswold rounded out the top three.
Blewett went pole to pole, putting his fuel pump problems behind him, to
take the Tour type 25 lap Modified win. Ted Christopher finished second
after a spirited battle with Charlie Pasteryak. Pasteryak later faded and
finished 14th. Chuck Hossfeld ended up third. Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale
rounded out the top five. There were 18 Tour type Modifieds on hand. In SK
type action Kevin Goodale started on the pole but Blewett was on a mission
as he put him away in short order as he recorded his second feature win of
the night. Blewett’s only pressure came in the early stages of the 20 lapper
from Josh Sylvester. Glen Griswold moved into second in the late stages as
Sylvester slipped to third. Billy Anderson and Goodale rounded out the top
five. There were 18 SK type Modifieds on hand.
The Tour type Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds were off on
In Bud Shootout action at the Daytona Int Speedway Dale Earnhardt
took the win with a dominating run Saturday night in his new Hendrick
Motorsports ride, powering past Tony Stewart with two laps to go and holding
on for his first win against Cup drivers since early 2006.
Fifty three NASCAR Sprint Cup cars lined up last Sunday for Daytona 500 pole
and outside pole position qualifying. When all was said and done defending
series champion Jimmy Johnson was the fastest of the fast as he locked
himself into a front row starting spot for what is known as the Great
American Race. Michael Waltrip who sat on the sidelines and watched last
years event locked up the outside pole starting spot in his Toyota powered
NASCAR announced that former driver Chad Little had been named the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director. Little had been an official with
NASCAR since 2005, most recently as advisor to the NASCAR Mexico Series.
Former tour director Ed Cox would handle special projects with the NASCAR
competition division. NASCAR also announced that Whelen Modified Tour Series
Champion Don Lia had secured a ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for
2008 with TRG Motorsports. Lia would drive the No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado
for Kevin Buckler and TRG Motorsports. Lia was not eligible to drive in the
season-opening Chevy Silverado 250 in Daytona since required rookie testing
at the track had already passed. Mike Bliss would be in the truck at
Daytona. Lia would make his debut for TRG Motorsports at California Speedway
in the San Bernardino 200 on Feb. 23, and was scheduled to run the remainder
of the season. With that being said it looked like Bob Garbarino would
retire as a Whelen Modified Tour Series car owner. Garbarino had previously
stated that his plans for 2008 would be based on those of his driver.
Needless to say, Garbarino changed his mind at the urging of his wife and
reunited with Chuck Hossfeld for the 2008 season.
Colechester CT native Phil Moran was named Car Chief of the No.22
Caterpiller Bill Davis Racing Toyota driven by Dave Blaney on NASCAR’s
Sprint Cup circuit. Moran cut his racing teeth and honed his skills as a
race car mechanic and fabricator as he worked with Spearpoint Auto,
Pasteryak Racing, Jerry Pearl Racing and Todd Szegedy Racing. Moran followed
a long line of New England drivers, mechanics and fabricators who have made
it to NASCAR’s senior circuit. Tom Baldwin JR is the Crew Chief. Baldwin is
a product of the Modified circuit on Long Island.
Last year, 2012, The 46th
annual New Smyrna World Series of Short track Racing was scheduled to begin
on Friday night. With 13 Tour type Modifieds and four SK type Modifieds
ready to go rain moved into the area, forcing speedway officials to cancel
the opening night’s racing.
The skies cleared on Saturday allowing the World Series to go on as
planned. The Modifieds and SK’s were combined for their 25 lap feature.
Seventeen cars went to post. Chuck Hossfeldt led the charge to the green
with Daniel Hemric in tow. On lap 8 Ryan Preece hit the wall a ton,
inflicting severe right side damage to his family owned mount. Preece blamed
Ted Christopher whom he said hit his left front with his right rear.
Speedway officials felt that Preece just washed up the track on his own.
Hemric took the lead on the restart and held it until the next restart which
occurred on lap 17 when James Zacharias spun. On the restart, Christopher
took the lead and proceeded to lead the remaining circuits as he recorded
his first win of the series. Patrick Emerling finished second and was
followed by Hossfeldt, Eric Goodale and Hemric. Don Cranmer was the highest
finishing SK type Modified.
Sunday night was an off night for the Modifieds.
Big News for NASCAR’s touring and weekly divisions came out at the
Daytona Speedway when NASCAR announced that the Daytona International
Speedway will host the inaugural “UNOH Battle At The Beach”. It was also
announced that a temporary flat 4/10-mile oval would be built on the
backstretch of the Daytona International Speedway. As a comparison, the
Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY is a 4/10 mile oval but is banked.
NASCAR announced that the events will be run on Monday and Tuesday
nights, Feb. 18-19, 2013. The two-days of racing will be headlined by three
non-points special events: the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified
tours, and the Late Model division of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Both nights of race action will air live on the SPEED channel.
Kevin Rice of Area Auto Racing News and The Lowell Sun wrote that
the base purse for both events would be the same, paying $20,000 to each
race winner before any bonuses are added. It is a purse that, from early
indications will to be large enough to entice Modified teams from the
northeast to make the trek south. Tentative but unofficial plans include a
field size of up to 30 cars to race on a four-tenths mile oval on the
backstretch of the 2.5-mile oval. Practice and qualifying on Monday will set
the fields for feature events on Tuesday.
Event entitlement sponsor, the University of Northwestern Ohio, has
been heavily involved with NASCAR’s grassroots racing programs. The school,
which offers a degree in High Performance Motorsports, owns
NASCAR-sanctioned Limaland Motorsports Park and is the sponsor of several
NASCAR touring races.
Congratulations were in order for Keith Rocco who was named as
driver for the famous “Ole Blu” owned by the Boehler family. The Mighty No.
3, originated by the late Len Boehler in the early 60’s has carried some of
NASCAR Modified’s Greatest drivers to victory. This will mark the 55th
consecutive year that Ole Blu has rolled out of the backyard garage in East
During the 2011 season Rocco surpassed 100 feature wins in his
career while winning his third Connecticut State Championship successively.
Pushing the asphalt “win-bar” higher than any racer since Richie Evans or
Geoff Bodine, the Wallingford, Connecticut frontrunner drove to his sixth
Track Championship after winning more races (32) than any single driver in
the United States.
Two Rhode Island legislators took on the greed of big oil. State
Rep. Samuel Azzinaro, a Democrat, and Sen. Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere,
a Republican, wanted the General Assembly to pass legislation that would
prohibit retailers of essential commodities, like home heating oil,
gasoline, food, water and ice, from charging "unconscionably high prices."
Azzinaro's bill, No. H-7409, would prohibit price gouging during
statewide emergencies and "market emergencies," or supply shortages.
Unconscionably high prices are defined as those that are grossly higher than
the average price of similar commodities sold in a local trade area. Under
the bill, violations of the law could result in a fine of up to $1,000 with
a maximum penalty of $25,000 per 24-hour period, along with the forfeiture
of any profits earned.
The bill was introduced on Feb. 8, and has been referred to the
House Committee on Corporations.
At the end of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season Kyle Busch could do
nothing right. In the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Busch
could do nothing wrong. He wrecked twice but used driving skill to keep the
car from hitting anything and was able to continue in the race. By being
able to avoid disaster Busch placed himself in position settle the race with
three-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.
Heading to the finish line Busch was able to perfectly time the old
“Slingshot Pass” to drive ahead of Stewart and win the race by 0.013 seconds
— the closest finish in Budweiser Shootout history.
In Daytona 500 qualifying, Carl Edwards won the pole and Greg
Biffle was second fastest during Sunday’s single-lap qualification session.
Edwards was the fifth driver to make a qualification attempt and the early
draw was beneficial because of better track conditions. He ran a fast lap of
194.738 miles per hour in his Ford Fusion. Roush Fenway teammate Biffle went
out soon thereafter and put down a fast lap of 194.087 mph. Biffle claims
that gusty wind conditions hampered his qualification attempt.
Forty nine cars attempted to qualify.
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
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit