April 19, 2013
years ago in 1953, it rained again at Waterford.
Fifty five years ago in 1958,
Ted Stack won the season opening 25 lap Modified event at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl. Arnie Harris was the non-Ford winner. Rene
Charland was the Modified winner at the Plainville Stadium.
Fifty years ago in 1963, the
Utica-Rome Speedway opened for the season. Tom Kotary won the 25-lap NASCAR
Sportsman feature. Robbie Kotary finished second with Jim Luke, third. Rene
Charland and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five. At the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl, everybody's friend, George Pendergast, was the
25-lap Modified winner.
Forty five years ago in 1968
there was no Spring Sizzler as most of the extra distance-added purse events
were run in the fall after Labor Day. Ray Hendrick won a 100 lap modified
event at Martinsville on Saturday afternoon. Norwood Arena in Massachusetts
opened for the season with Eddie Flemke taking the win. Henri "Red" Barbeau
won the season opener at Seekonk. At Fonda, Eddie Pieniezak took the win on
the dirt over Jerry Cook and Ron Narducci. Flemke made it two for two on the
weekend as he won the Sunday afternoon event at Thompson. Also running on
Sunday was Fulton where Don Diffendorf took the win. Ed Yerrington, who in
later years would become the General Manager of the Stafford Springs Motor
Speedway, won the 30 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl. Bill Sweet was the Late Model Daredevil winner.
Forty years ago in 1973, Ed
Flemke got even for a disappointment suffered 12 months prior when he turned
the tables on Fred DeSarro to win Sizzler II. DeSarro, who had won the
original Sizzler when Flemke's water pump broke, finished second and was
followed by Maynard Troyer, Paul Radford, Guy Chartrand and Richie Evans. At
the Waterford Speedbowl it was George Allum taking the Modified feature win.
Thirty years ago in 1983 Greg
Sacks was unbeatable as he scored a hard fought win over Reggie Ruggerio,
Brett Bodine and Brian Ross. Jim Spencer won the non-qualifiers race and
finished seventh in the 80 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford
Twenty five years ago in 1988,
The modified series was not included in the Sizzler. The SK's took center
stage with Ted Christopher taking the 80-lap win over Bib Potter, Bo Gunning
and Tom Tagg. Phil Rondeau was the late model winner. The racing was good
but the crowd that followed the Modifieds stayed away in droves.
Twenty years ago, in 1993, the
Sizzler had been expanded from 80 to 200 laps for the NASCAR Modified
Series. Reggie Ruggerio took the lead on lap 153 and held off Doug Hevron
and Tom Baldwin for the win. Mike Christopher was the SK modified winner
over his brother Ted. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Ernie Irvan took
the win over Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt. Rusty Wallace had been ahead
of Earnhardt but unfortunately got tapped by the man in black and went end
over end in a wreck.
Fifteen years ago in 1998, the
Featherlite Modified Tour was in Martinsville for a 200 lap event that
served as a preliminary to their spring Winston Cup event. Mike Ewanitsko,
in the Art Barry No.21, came from a 24th starting spot to take a hard fought
win over Mike Stefanik and Tim Connolly. Stefanik led the event from the
start to lap 167. Ewanitsko and Stefanik ran wheel to wheel for many laps.
Reggie Ruggiero and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. The Waterford
Speedbowl had a 200 lap event scheduled for Sunday until rain intervened.
Rain also washed out the Winston Cup event at Martinsville. NASCAR has a
“Next clear day policy” which dictated that the event would run on Monday.
Bobby Hamilton was the pole sitter and led 378 of the 500 laps to take the
win. John Andretti was running second with six laps to go when he ran out of
gas. Ted Musgrave, running third at the time, finished second.
Ten years ago in 2003 Ted
Christopher and Ed Flemke JR got real personal as the two made repeated
contact for most of the last 50 laps of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler at
Stafford. With four laps to go it got ugly and the end result saw Flemke
planted in the wall on the backstretch. Christopher continued on to take the
win. Todd Szegedy ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. Chuck Hossfeld
and Ken Woolley rounded out the top five. Christopher also won the twin
SK-Modified events that were run in conjunction with the Sizzler. The entire
program was run on Sunday after rain-washed out Saturday qualifying. There
were 40 Modifieds on hand. The Busch North Series showed with 27 cars for
their series opener at Lee Raceway. Andy Santerre led pole to pole to win
the 150-lap event. Kelly Moore finished second. In Winston Cup action at
Fontana, California, Kurt Busch passed Jamie McMurray with 12 laps to go and
went on to take the win. Pole sitter Steve Park wrecked on the first lap.
Matt Kenseth won the companion Busch Series event. Racing at Wall Township,
Riverhead and at the Waterford Speedbowl was rained out.
Five years ago in 2008, The
Waterford Speedbowl moved into its regular Saturday night schedule. The
management created a new flag for the starter to display. It was called the
“Meatball” flag and it was to be waved at an individual who refuses to
comply with the officials in charge or someone who makes a dumb move or
decision. The “Meatball Flag” should have been shown to the Late Model
driver who started on the pole of the Late Model feature who triggered a
wreck that eliminated the potential winning cars of Larry Goss and Eddie
Reed Jr. Starting on the pole as a rookie makes no sense at all. The
individual who made the line-ups was also deserving of the “Meat Ball”.
Bruce Thomas Jr was the eventual winner and is now two for two in Late Model
competition at the shoreline oval.
Defending SK Modified champion Rob Janovic redeemed himself after a
poor showing at the season opener as he scored a convincing win in the 35 SK
Modified feature. Jeff Paul, who also had a poor showing on opening day,
finished second. Tyler Chadwick, Justin Gaydosh and Diego Monahan rounded
out the top five. Opening day Nationals winner Dennis Gada was eliminated
after making contact with Dennis Charette who was the early leader after
pole sitter Frank Mucciacciaro spun out on lap 11. The Gada-Charette
confrontation occurred on lap 18 and also eliminated Jeff Pearl and Jeff
Other feature winners were Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), and, Randy
Churchill Jr. (Mini Stocks). Also making an appearance were the New England
Antique Racers, presenting exhibition events featuring the cars of a past
era. With over twenty restored racers taking to the track, fans were treated
to a view of the true “racing roots” of New England short track history.
The True Value Modified Series opened their 2008 season at the Lee
USA Speedway in New Hampshire on Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were on
hand. Kirk Alexander took the win over David Pinkham, Dale Evonsion, Mike
Holdridge, Jon McKennedy. Ted Christopher Rob Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Ed
Dachenhausen and Chris Pasteryak finished sixth through tenth.
Defending champion Alexander jumped into the lead on lap three and
roared to victory in the” Governors Cup 100” Modified race. The win was
Alexander’s 27th career victory with the touring series. The three-time
champion survived a caution plagued race that was once stopped for an
overheating racer that sprayed water on the racing surface resulting in six
cars retired to the pit area. Sunday’s race was also the first of eight
guaranteed starter races for the Sunoco Modified Mania 400 weekend at
Thompson, CT. in September.
The Nationwide Series of NASCAR was in Mexico City while the Sprint
Cup drivers had the weekend off to celebrate Passover with their families.
Kyle Busch won his third consecutive race on NASCAR’s Nationwide Series,
taking the Corona Mexico 200 by less than a second. This latest win was the
27th of his career in NASCAR’s top three series, and first on a road course.
Marcos Ambrose finished a career best second after a hectic day in which he
collided with Boris Said, knocking Said out of the race. Ambrose’s finish
was his first top-10 finish of the year. He had six as a rookie in 2007.
Ambrose trailed by 1.139 seconds in his Ford with two laps to go, and Busch
was able to hold on for a 0.737-second win.
Last year, 2012, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the
annual Spring Sizzler. There were 34 cars on hand for Modified time trials
on Saturday. Ryan Preece earned his second Coors Light Pole Award in as many
attempts this season when he took the top qualifying spot. Preece blistered
the half-mile with a record lap of 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Corey
LaJoie, a full-time NASCAR Kids and Nephews (K&N Pro Series East) driver
that made his Whelen Modified Tour debut was second-fastest with a
qualifying lap of 17.936 (100.357). Rounding out the top five were Eric
Berndt, Mike Stefanik and Justin Bonsignore. Donny Lia, Doug Coby, Ron Silk,
Keith Rocco and Jimmy Blewett brought home the rest of the top 10
The track's SK Modified division enjoyed an extremely high car
count that necessitated the running of four qualifying heats. The high car
count didn't phase Ted Christopher as he went out and scored his 95th career
win in the division at Stafford. Christopher took the lead from Ryan Preece
on lap 11. Preece pressured Christopher until the final moments when he gave
way to Eric Berndt who ended up in second at the checkered flag. Preece
finished third with Danny Cates and Chris Jones rounding out the top five.
Sixth through tenth were Curt Brainard, Michael Gervais, Glen Reen, Woody
Pitkat, Matt Galo and John Jensen. Pre-race favorite Keith Rocco suffered
mechanical issues and fell out early finishing in 30th spot. Rocco got a
little redemption as he won the Late Model feature.
Doug Coby sailed to his third career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
victory in the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler. The Milford, Conn., driver
led the final 89 laps of the 200-lap event en route to the victory over a
pair of drivers who are well accustom to success on the historic half-mile .
Pole sitter Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco finished second and third
respectively. Preece was the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK
Modified Division champion at Stafford and Rocco was the 2008 and 2010 track
champ. Rounding out the top five were Ron Silk and Jimmy Blewett. Justin
Bonsignore was sixth, followed by Ron Yuhas Jr., Woody Pitkat, Mike Stefanik
and Bryon Chew.
There were three lead changes among three drivers. Preece led from
the drop of the green until lap 98. Preece had roughly a quarter lap lead on
Doug Coby when the caution came out for a spin by Rowan Pennink. Eric Berndt
assumed the lead when most of the top ten pitted. Berndt led through lap 109
when he was passed by Preece and Coby. Two laps later Coby surged into the
lead and never looked back. With the victory, Coby secured a locked-in
starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach during 2013
Speedweeks on a temporary short track at Daytona (Fla.) International
Six cautions slowed the field which kept Coby's average speed at
92.260 MPH. Caution No.1 came on lap 21 when Gary McDonald spun in turn two.
John Jensen spun in turn four on lap 33 bringing out the second caution. The
third caution was for Rowan Pennink who spun in turn two into the grass area
on Lap 95. McDonald brought out the 4th caution as his engine expired on lap
123. Caution No.5 came on Lap 150 as car Donny Lia spun into the grass on
the infield of the front stretch. The final caution of the day came on lap
160 for a spin that involved Richie Pallai. Fifteen of the original 28
starters finished on the lead lap. Among those who failed to finish were
Corey LaJoie and Ted Christopher. LaJoie retired with suspension damage
after making contact with another car. Christopher had a loose spark plug
wire and ultimately retired from competition on lap 187 with a severe
At the Waterford Speedbowl, defending track champion Keith Rocco
earned his third win of the season as he took the 35-lap SK Modified feature
at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Rocco started eighth in but moved into
second place following a restart on lap 4 and flew past Frank Mucciacciaro
on lap 6. Never looking back, he held off Jeff Pearl following a pair of
mid-race restarts and then Rob Janovic Jr. over the final 10 laps. Janovic
ended up in the runner-up spot at the finish while Pearl finished third, Tom
Abele and Mucciacciaro rounded out the top five.
In Late Model competition Dillon Moltz won his second race by capturing the
30-lap Late Model feature, Ken Cassidy won the 25-lap Mini Stock feature for
his fourth victory of the year and Walt Hovey took the checkered flag in the
25-lap Street Stock feature. Other winners were Scott Limkemann (20-lap
X-Cars feature) and Duane Noll (25-lap New England Truck Series feature).
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour went into an extended
Spring Break and would not be back in action next until 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.
Burt Myers won the season opener at Bowman-Gray for the second straight
year, on the heels of winning a second straight season championship. The
race, a 200 lapper for the featured Modified Division, had a few interesting
twists for a near-capacity crowd at the 17,000-seat stadium. Myers unseated
Jeffreys, who was seeking his first season-opening victory since 2005, for
the final time in the 161st lap. Myers tagged Jeffreys from behind coming
out of the fourth turn, and that sent Jeffreys spinning to an eighth-place
Myers lost the lead once more, when he was passed on the outside,
by brother Jason Myers. But Burt Myers made the final pass, from the
outside, and took the lead for good with 21 laps left. Transplanted New
Jersey racer Danny Bohn ended up second with Tim Brown, third.
Speedy pit work put Kyle Busch in the lead with 13 laps remaining and from
there Busch took care of business, winning his fourth straight spring NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond Int’l Raceway in Saturday night’s Capital
City 400. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished second despite fighting brake problems.
Tony Stewart, who led 112 laps of the three-quarter-mile oval, came
home third in the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet after losing the lead in the
pits. In Richmond Nationwide Series racing Kurt Busch pulled away from Kevin
Harvick and went into cruise control. There were less than 30 laps to go,
and Busch thought he had the fastest car. Then Denny Hamlin "came out of
nowhere and he had to hold him off in a stirring side-by-side, last-lap duel
to win the Nationwide Series race at Richmond in a car owned by his younger
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
Ed Flemke Jr
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit