April 12, 2013
years ago in 1953, rain washed out Sunday racing action at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Fifty years ago in 1963, Wild
Bill Slater won the Easter Sunday Opening Day 25 lap Modified feature at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber feature
Forty years ago, in 1973, rain
washed out the racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Thirty five years ago, in 1978,
the Spring Sizzler at Stafford drew 111 Modifieds. Maynard Troyer scored the
win and led a top three sweep of New York drivers. Richie Evans finished
second with Geoff Bodine, third. Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro rounded out
the top five. Kenny Bouchard led the early going until being passed by Geoff
Bodine on lap 8. Bodine led until lap 44 when Troyer brought the crowd of
13,000 to their feet as he took the lead John Rosati won the non-qualifiers
event over Eddie St Angelo, Jim Tyler and Jerry Bartlet.
Thirty years ago, in 1983, Gil
Hearne won his 69th career victory at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Tony
Hirschman finished second with Jerry Cranmer, third. In Winston Cup action
at Darlington, Harry Gant took the lead after Darrell Waltrip was forced to
back off because of ignition problems. Geoff Bodine finished ninth after
leading most of the laps run.
Twenty five years ago, in 1988,
Reggie Ruggerio took the 50 lap win at Riverside on Saturday night. Jerry
Marquis finished second with Bruce D’Assandro, third. Al Hill was the
modified winner at North Wilkesboro. The Winston Modifieds (Featherlites)
were at Thompson for the Ice Breaker. Mike Ewanitsko took the win in the 75
lapper after Tom Baldwin was parked by George Kent with two laps to go in
the 75 lap contest. Mike McLaughlin finished second with Doug Hevron, third.
Rounding out the top five were Kerry Malone and Jeff Fuller. Baldwin ended
his day in tenth spot and was ultimately fined $200 for fighting with Kent
after the event was completed. It was also opening day at Seekonk where
Johnny Tripp took the win over Bugsy Stevens.
Twenty years ago in 1993, it
was all quiet for the Easter weekend with the exception of the Busch
Grandnationals who were at Hickory for a Saturday afternoon event which saw
Steve Grissom take the win over Ricky Craven and Joe Nemechek. It was also
on this weekend that NASCAR announced that they had entered into an
agreement to run a 400 mile event at the Indianapolis, Speedway.
Fifteen years ago in 1998,
Richie Gallup won the Saturday night 50 lapper at Riverside Park over Ted
Riggott, Rob Summers, Eddie Spiers and Dan Avery. The Winston Cup was off
for the Easter weekend. The Busch Grandnationals ran at Hickory, N.C. where
Ed Berrier took the win.
Ten years ago in 2003, rain
threatened to put a damper on the IceBreaker for the second week in a row
but as it turned out the sun came out on Sunday and the entire two-day event
was run in one day. With 43 Modifieds on hand, Zach Sylvester took the pole.
Tony Hirschman drew the pole for the start and led the first four laps of
the 150-lap contest. John Blewett III led from lap 5 until lap 35 when he
gave way to Nevin George. George led from lap 36 until lap 60 as Chuck
Hossfeld turned up the wick and powered his way into the lead. Hossfeld and
George swapped the lead until lap 99 when Hossfeld took it for good and led
the rest of the way to the checker. Blewett ended up second and was followed
by Charlie Pasteryak, Mike Stefanik and Sylvester. Twin SK-Modified events
were run with Jeff Malave and Eric Berndt taking the wins. In Busch Racing
Series racing at Nashville David Green took the win over John Sauter and
Ashton Lewiss. In Winston Cup action at
Martinsville, pole sitter Jeff Gordon gave Bobby Labonte the bumper, with 36
laps to go, to take the lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took second spot.
Five years ago in 2008, Dennis
Gada, gunning for his seventh SK Modified Championship at the Waterford
Speedbowl was the master of the re-start as he won the $5,000-to-win
Waterford SK Modified “150”, the centerpiece of the 10-division Modified
Nationals which including extra-distance events for the Speedbowl’s Late
Model, Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions. The Northeastern Midget
Association, Pro4 Modifieds, AllStar Race Trucks, Allison Legacy Cars and
NEMA Lites were also on tap. A huge field of SK Modifieds, 34, were on hand
for the event that began the 58th consecutive season of auto racing at the
shoreline oval. In Saturday time trials Gada was fourth fastest behind Doug
Coby, Kenny Horton and Matt Hirschman. Based on a draw among the top
qualifiers Coby started on the pole with Horton, outside. Hirschman started
third. Gada started eighth.
At the drop of the green Coby jumped out into the lead. His time on
the point was short as Gada bolted into the top spot on lap eight and
survived numerous re-starts to take the win, his 58th. The top prize of
$5,000 was well earned. Kenny Horton ran second for most of the event until
19 laps to go when his tires gave out, forcing him to spin. Coby moved into
second spot but lost it to Frank Ruocco on a lap 148 restart. Ruocco ended
up second with Coby, third. Jimmy Blewett, who pitted for tires on lap 51
was the odds on favorite to make a run for the win but his efforts fell
short as he had to settle for fourth spot at the checker. Jeff Pearl rounded
out the top five.
In other weekend racing action at the shoreline oval, it was
defending champion Bruce Thomas picking up right where he left off in 2007,
winning the 50-lap Late Model feature. Thomas passed early leader Ron Yuhas
Jr. with 29-laps remaining and seemed to be cruising to an easy victory
until SK Modified regular Keith Rocco closed. His first time-ever behind the
wheel of a Late Model, Rocco dogged Thomas to the finish, executing a
last-ditch effort at the stripe to overtake the winner. Rounding-out the
top-5 was Ron Yuhas Jr., Marc Curtis, and Ed Reed Jr. Al Stone III held off
defending Sportsman champion Dwayne Dorr for the win in the 30-lap Sportsman
feature. A close finish, Dorr was right on the winner’s bumper during the
final circuits. Dave Trudeau, Chris Douton, and Joe Curioso completed the
Defending champion Ken Cassidy Jr. led the majority of the 30-lap
Mini Stock feature, only to be passed by Randy Churchill with three circuits
remaining. A restart closed the field for the final time on lap
twenty-seven. Churchill nipped Cassidy at the finish by less than a fender.
Chris Williams finished a close third followed by Phil Evans and Lou
Bellisle. In the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association feature, Randy
Cabral got out in the lead early and cruised to a commanding victory over
Joey Payne, Greg Stoehr, Adam Cantor, and, Erica Santos.
In some other news, Ron Mentus who pens a column in the auto racing
trade paper Area Auto Racing News, reported that Jerry Robinson and his
Waterford Speedbowl partners were nearing completion of financial and legal
details to purchase the track and once and for all get it out of the hands
of Terry Eames. Mentus alluded to the fact that the deadline to close the
deal was April 26. He stated that Robinson felt confident that no further
snags would develop. This move would put racing at the shoreline oval on
solid ground. Robinson also told Mentus that the track had purchased 6,000
aluminum grandstand seats which hopefully would be erected in time for the
2009 season. The announcement was just another lie and false promise that
The season opening Nationals, which was not advertised in any of
the local papers within a 25 mile radius, drew less than half a grandstand
of fans. What a shame as the racing was great.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Jimmie Johnson gave Hendrick
Motorsports its first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the year, winning a fuel
gamble at Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Ariz. As leader after
leader dived for the pits to take on gas in the waning laps, Johnson's No.
48 Chevrolet stayed on the track and the two-time reigning Cup champion made
it to the finish, beating Clint Bowyer, another fuel gambler, by 7.002
seconds. Mark Martin, 49, a part-time driver in the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No.
8, battled at the front with its former driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., for much
of the 312-lap race on the mile oval. It appeared Martin had his first win
since 2005 locked up after he passed Earnhardt on lap 272 and began to pull
away, building leads of more than a second. With the end in sight, Martin
was called into the pits on lap 301, giving up the top spot to Johnson.
Denny Hamlin, who did pit, finished third, followed by Carl Edwards, Martin,
Jeff Burton and Earnhardt.
FOX and NASCAR postponed the start of the race for 15 minutes
waiting for the Red Sox – Yankees baseball game to end, only to have fans
miss both the final out of the game and the first lap of the race. That’s
like two errors on one play.
NASCAR announced that they won't change their drug stance: The call
for regular random drug testing by some of NASCAR's biggest stars apparently
will not change the organization's current policy of testing only for
"reasonable suspicion.” .But NASCAR president Mike Helton said the reaction
by drivers to the ESPN The Magazine report that former truck and Nationwide
driver Aaron Fike used heroin the same day he drove in some races was
positive and showed drivers were policing themselves.
Kyle Busch won the Nationwide race: Kyle Busch beat Carl Edwards
out of the pits on their final stop, then held off the defending NASCAR
Nationwide Series champion for his second straight victory in Phoenix. Denny
Hamlin finished third. Series leader Clint Bowyer, who fell from fifth to
13th when he was penalized late in the race for speeding on pit road, was
Last year, 2012, the Valenti
Modified Racing Series traveled up-country to the high-banked Monadnock
Speedway in Winchester, NH. Jon McKennedy, driving the Art Barry No.2, made
it two wins in a row as he won the Bond Auto Parts Spring Dash 100, at
Granite State oval. McKennedy started 18th in the 24-car starting field.
McKennedy slowly worked his way through traffic, used good tire management,
a McKennedy trademark, passed race leader Les Hinckley on lap 78 to go on to
victory. The win was McKennedy’s 14th career VMRS victory.
Norm Wrenn topped his career best third place finish with a solid second.
Early race leader Hinckley fought power steering issues and finished third,
Dwight Jarvis was fourth, and Jim Boniface rounded out the top five. Sixth
through tenth were Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Joey Jarvis, Max Zachem, and
Six caution flags for minor incidents slowed the race which was
completed in 48 minutes. There were 29 Modifieds on hand.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour made another stop at the
Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. George Brunnhoelzl III withstood three
attempts at a green-white-checkered finish and hung on to win the Parking
Lot Maintenance Headquarters 150.
Brunnhoelzl, the two-time Tour champion out of West Babylon, N.Y.,
dominated the day. He posted the fastest time in practice and set a new
track record in qualifying before going out and leading a race-high 140 laps
en route to his second victory of the season. It was his seventh career win
at Caraway, but more importantly it was his 13th career Tour win which
places him in a tie atop the all-time list with L.W. Miller.
In that final restart, Brunnhoelzl held off Miller and a
hard-charging Jason Myers at the line. Rookies Kyle Ebersole and Michael
Speeney crossed the line in fourth and fifth, respectively. Daniel Hemric,
Thomas Stinson, Bryan Dauzat, Frank Fleming and Burt Myers rounded out the
top-10 finishers on the evening.
Burt Myers was running third heading into the last restart, but was
penalized for aggressive driving and was scored as the last car on the lead
lap. The race was slowed due to caution 11 times for 45 laps and the race
lead changed hands just two times between two drivers.
In the point standings, Brunnhoelzl opened up a six-point lead on
Miller with rookie Danny Bohn sitting in third, 26 points in back of the
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour goes into an extended
Spring Break and would be back in action next on July 6 for the Firecracker
150 at Caraway Speedway. In the mean time the Modifieds would be racing at
Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Ernie Saxton reported in the Area
Auto Racing News that the race promoters at Bowman-Gray recently signed a
lease with Stadium owners, the Winston-Salem NC City Council for the City of
Winston-Salem, which would expire in August, 2031. The contract stated that
$4,260 would be paid to the city per race night. Saturday night racing
events at Bowman-Gray draw consistently 10,000 fans who pay $10.00 each.
A huge rain storm was bearing down on New England but the Waterford
Speedbowl was able to dodge the bullet and get their entire racing program
in the books. The outside groove was the hot setup as more than one race
leader went that route to record their respective wins.
Tyler Chadwick went up top to take a popular victory in the NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature. Other NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series feature winners included Bruce Thomas Jr. taking the win
in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Ray Downing Jr., who was
impressive in taking the Street Stock race and Ian Brew who bested a highly
competitive Mini Stock field for his first win of the year. In INEX racing,
Matt Pappa won the 20-lap Legends Cars race and Joey Ternullo took over
halfway through the 20-lap Bandolero feature to come out on top.
Diego Monahan took second easily, while Jeff Pearl worked over Kyle
James over the final laps but could not muster a challenge for third. Pearl
finished fourth, holding back a final charge by Morgillo to his outside.
Abele got by Morgillo’s inside on the final lap to finish fifth.
An honest mistake was made during the Ice Breaker weekend at Thompson. The
NASCAR press release stated that Ryan Preece had broken the track record,
previously set by Bobby Santos in the Mystic Missile. Preece’s qualifying
time was 18.387, but Bobby Santos’ lap in the previous year’s Icebreaker was
In some sad news, Donna M. Harman, 68, of Niantic, CT and Port
Orange, Fla., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at Florida
Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., after a courageous
battle with cancer. Her husband of 28 years, NEAR Hall of Fame member Billy
Harman, was by her side throughout every stage of her illness.
In Billy's own words, "In addition to being my wife she was my best
friend". Donna wrote most of the bios and stats that got Billy inducted into
the NEAR Hall of Fame.
Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. in a battle of Toyotas to
post his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season Sunday at
Kansas Speedway. While Truex dominated the STP 400, leading 173 of the 267
laps of the 1.5-mile superspeedway, Hamlin grabbed the lead late and held
off two last-ditch runs by Truex, taking the checkered flag .7 seconds ahead
of Truex. The Nationwide Series had the weekend off. James Buescher was the
Truck Series race winner at the Kansas Speedway.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail:
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