May 31, 2013
years ago in 1953, Freddy Luchesi made it three in a row in
Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the
Wednesday night feature. Bud Matter was the non-Ford winner. Red Foote broke
the Luchesi streak as he won a 50 lap Sportsman feature on Saturday night.
Ted Dean was the non-Ford winner.
Fifty-five years ago in 1958,
Dick Beauregard, the guy they loved to hate, won the 25 lap Modified event
on Thursday night. Hank Stevens was the non-Ford winner. Red Foote was the
Saturday night Modified winner and Beauregard was the non-Ford winner.
Fifty years ago in 1963, Steady
Eddie Flemke Sr. won the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman feature at the Utica-Rome
Speedway. Bill Wimble finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Lee
Millington and Bob Zeiglar rounded out the top five. Ernie Gahan made it
three in a row on the dirt at Stafford. At the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl Ted Stack was the Thursday night 50 lap Modified feature winner.
Maine transplant Jerry Dostie was the Bomber feature winner. Don Bachand was
the 25 lap Modified feature winner on Saturday night at the shoreline oval.
Bachand drove what was to be a long line of Modifieds that were called the
Mystic Missile that were owned and built by Bob Garbarino at the Mystic
River Marina. Dick Caso was the Saturday night Bomber winner.
Forty five years ago in 1968,
Bob Bruno was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Robbie Kotary finished second and was followed by Hop Harrington, Ed
Pieniezek and Dave Kotary. At Stafford, Eddie Flemke got the best of Bugsy
Stevens in traffic and came out the winner. Stevens finished second and was
followed by Leo Cleary, Dick Watson and Tommy Borget. Fred DeSarro, driving
his own 327 Chevy powered Sportsman took down the Saturday night feature at
Norwood. Ronnie Mayer took the win at Riverside Park and on the dirt at
Fonda, Eddie Pieniezek took the win over Lou Lazzaro and Don Wayman. Dick
Dunn was the 30 lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Caso was
the Late Model Daredevil winner. Thompson was idle on Sunday. At the
Utica-Rome Speedway Bernie Miller scored a popular win over Jerry Cook,
Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro and Eddie Flemke.
Forty years ago in 1973 the
Friday night races at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. rained
out. Stafford Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night. Young sensation
Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Richie Evans, Bugsy Stevens and Eddie
Flemke. Bouchard backed up his Stafford win with a win in the Parodi Cigar
Modified 150 at Pocono on Sunday. Jerry Cook finished second. Other Saturday
night winners were Mike Loescher at Tioga, George Allum at Waterford and
Artie Tappen at Islip. On Sunday evening, Utica-Rome ran twin features with
Eddie Pieniezak and Richie Evans taking the wins. At Lee Raceway, Lou Austin
won a close one over Ernie Gahan and Jim Landry.
Thirty five years ago in 1978,
Geoff Bodine made it five in a row at Stafford plus went three for three on
the weekend as he also won at Riverside on Saturday and at Monadnock on
Sunday. Because of previous rainouts, Waterford and Seekonk ran twin
features. At Waterford, Dick Dunn and Moose Hewitt took the checkers and at
Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers sat in victory lane. Fred
DeSarro made it two in a row at Thompson on Sunday over Bouchard and Leo
Cleary. Other weekend winners were Maynard Troyer, who won at Lancaster and
Fulton, Tim Mislin at Spencer, George Kent at Tioga and Richie Evans at
Thirty years ago in 1983,
Reggie Ruggerio was the top banana at Stafford as he beat out Bob Polverari
and Kenny Bouchard for the win. Tom Bolles was the SK modified winner. Rain
washed out Waterford and Seekonk. Brian Ross won at Riverside and the first
of two features at Thompson. Richie Evans was the other Thompson winner.
Other weekend winners were Doug Hewitt at Spencer, Evans at Tioga and John
Blewett at Islip. In Winston Cup action at Riverside in California, Ricky
Rudd was the winner.
Twenty five years ago in 1988,
rain washed out Stafford but at Monadnock it stayed clear and Reggie
Ruggerio put another notch in his gun as he won the modified main event.
Jerry Marquis finished second with Punky Caron, third. On Saturday night at
Waterford, Don Fowler was the winner with Dennis Gada second. Ruggerio
carried his winning ways over to Riverside on Saturday where he beat out
Mike Stefanik and Stan Gregger for the win. At Riverhead it was Tom Baldwin
holding off Wayne Anderson and Don Howe. Randy Hedger won at Tioga and Jamie
Tomaino won at Wall Stadium.
Twenty years ago in 1993, At
Stafford on Friday night, Mike Christopher was given back his spot after
getting spun by Bo Gunning on the last lap and went on to take the win.
Gunning was put to the rear but came back in one lap to finish fourth behind
Christopher, Dennis Gada and Frank Cardile. Jerry Marquis won at Monadnock.
In Busch Grandnational North action at Watkins Glen, Bob Dragon took the win
over Dick McCabe, Curtis Markham, Dave Reszendes and Ted Christopher. In
Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Dale Earnhardt took the win and in
Grandnational action Todd Bodine took the win. It was also announced that
Randy LaJoie had secured the ride in the Moroso car. Riverside Park,
Riverhead and the Thompson Speedway rained out.
Fifteen years ago in 1998, Ted
Christopher failed to qualify for a Busch Grandnational event at Richmond
and made a hasty flight to Stafford where he finished third behind brother
Mike and Bo Gunning. Christopher made up for it on Saturday as he won the SK
Type event at Thompson over Ed Flemke Jr. and Bert Marvin. Twin features
were run at Waterford on Saturday. Bert Marvin arrived from Thompson in time
to win the first one with Rick Donnelly and Jon Bunnell following. The
Pearls, Jerry and Jeff ran one-two in the nightcap with Donnelly coming home
third. At Riverside, Eddie Spiers held off Rob Summers and Billy Bolton. In
BGN action at Richmond, Jeff Burton took the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. The
Winston Cup event was a slam bang-exciting event. Rusty Wallace gave Jeff
Gordon an attitude adjustment on lap 372 when he returned a bumping favor
and turned Gordon into the wall. Terry Labonte took the win after bumping
Dale Jarrett out of the way with two laps to go.
Ten years ago in 2003, the
weekend started on a wet note as all-day rain on Thursday forced the
Thompson Speedway management to cancel opening night for Thursday night
Thunder. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series had a scheduled 200-lap
event at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island rained out. At that time there
is no rain date. The Busch North Series was slated to run at the Beech Ridge
Speedway in Maine suffered the same fate. This event would run the following
Saturday night. Mike Stefanik had hopes of racing at the Lake Erie Speedway
in the Art Barry modified but because of his commitment to the Busch North
Series, his plans changed and he was at Beech Ridge. For the third week in a
row rain-washed out racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. At the Stafford
Speedway on Friday night, Eric Berndt started on the outside pole and ended
up leading 97 of the 100 laps scheduled SK Modified feature. Ted Christopher
presented the only challenge and at one point, Lap 63 to 66, had the lead.
Christopher faded in the closing laps as he experienced engine trouble. He
ended up 27th in the final rundown. Chris Jones finished second with Frank
Ruocco, third. Defending track champion Bo Gunning who had been a victim of
some early season bad luck, finished fourth and Jim Williams rounded out the
top five. In addition to wreaking havoc in New England, the never-ending
rain hampered other parts of the country. Among the tracks that had been
dumped on is the South Boston Speedway in Virginia that had lost six out of
nine events scheduled so far.
Five years ago in 2008, After a
one week delay because of rain the Thompson Speedway began their series of
Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) racing programs. Under warm, sunny
skies, 132 cars including 25 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds were on hand. As
they are noted for, the Thompson management ran true to form as the entire
program was run in an efficient manner with fans in their cars and on the
way home by 9:30pm. Despite soaring fuel prices the Thursday night crowd was
fairly good. The new Musco Lighting System was very impressive making for a
daylight type atmosphere.
In the Sunoco Modifieds, Woody Pitkat wasted little time as he
jumped from his third starting position in the 30-lap feature and took the
lead shortly after completing the opening lap. Pitkat had a lot of heat on
his rear bumper from Keith Rocco but held fast as he took the opening night
win. Rocco settled for second and was followed by Kerry Malone, Bert Marvin
and Bob Grigas III. Tommy Cravenho. Josh Sylvester, Todd Ceravolo, Harry
Rheaume and Josh Steeves, rounded out the top ten. Among the missing was
Jimmy Blewett who is on the sidelines with a broken wrist
For the second year in a row, Larry Barnett took the win in the
Limited Sportsman divisionís marquee 50-lapper. Veteran Fred Astle, Jr
cleaned house in the Pro Stocks while Jeff Zuidema made it two in a row in
Late Model action. Rick Blanchard was the Mini Stock winner with R.J.
Marcotte taking the victory in the TIS Modifieds.
The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of an epic battle for SK
Modified supremacy between Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning. Christopher, who
was hoping to annex his 100th career win was forced to settle for second as
Gunning won his 47th feature at the Connecticut oval. Richie Pallai, Jr. led
the first lap before giving way to Eric Berndt, who held the lead until
lap-7 when Todd Owen took over the top spot. Owen held the lead until lap-16
when he and Berndt made contact on a restart that saw both cars spin, which
handed the race lead over to Gunning. Once the race went back to green after
several lap-16 restart situations, Gunning and Kenny Horton began to pull
away from the field. Christopher, who had earlier been black flagged for
rough riding, was back into the top-5 and was running the top-2 cars down
lap by lap. Christopher took second from Horton on lap-30 and set his sights
on Gunning for the final 10-laps. Several times Christopher nearly had a
pass made, but couldn't complete a pass. The two cars made contact in turn 2
on lap-37, but heady driving by both competitors kept the action going.
Christopher reeled Gunning in for one last try at victory, but Gunning was
too strong to be overtaken. Horton finished third behind Gunning and
Christopher, with Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5. Ryan
Posocco extended his record for career Late Model victories with his 29th
career feature win in the Late Model feature event, Mark Bakaj took down his
first career victory in the SK Light Modified feature, Rob Dow was the
winner of the first of two Limited Late Model feature events, while Andrew
Durand took the victory in the regularly scheduled Limited Late Model
feature event, and Dan Flannery took down the DARE Stock feature event
The Waterford Speedbowl ended up a victim of thunderstorms that
hammered southeastern Connecticut late Saturday evening. Defending champion
Bruce Thomas Jr. won the rain-shortened Late Model main event. Other feature
winners were Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Kevin Iannarelli (Pro-4
Modifieds). Starting from the pole, Thomas drove into the lead immediately
and was never seriously challenged. Behind him, the trio of Ed Reed Jr., Tim
Jordan, and Ron Yuhas Jr. battled, with Reed claiming the runner-up spot.
The event was red-checkered at lap-19 due to severe weather conditions
entering the area. Completing the top-5 was Jordan, Yuhas, and Joe Curioso
III. Thomasí win put him in the point lead by a mere four points.
In the Mini Stock 20-lap feature, pole sitter Chris Williams led
until passed by Phil Evans with twelve laps remaining. Ken Cassidy Jr.
slipped by Evans on a restart at the halfway point, going on to win by
several lengths. Randy Churchill, Williams, and Mark Panaroni completed the
top-5. The first win of 2008 for the defending champion, the event was a
qualifier for the Four Cylinder Nationals to be held at Maine ís Beech Ridge
Motor Speedway on June 27.
Taking the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature was Kevin Iannarelli of
Maynard , Mass. Starting mid-pack he quickly worked his way to the front,
winning by a wide margin. Following was 2008 Bud Nationals winner Norm
Wrenn, Bob Richard Jr., Brian Vincent, and George Sherman. Sixth through
tenth were Cory Cleary, Phil Laujier,. Tyler Andersen,. Dan Merservey and
Robin Berghman, Berghman is the wife of chassis builder and Modified driver
David Berghman as well as the daughter-in-law of three time NASCAR National
Modified Champion and Mrs Carl Bugsy Stevens. Cory Cleary is the grandson of
Modified great Leo Cleary. Daniel Bisignano notched the Legends Young Lions
The True Value Modified Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Series were enjoying their second Spring Break of the season.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at the Dover Downs Speedway Kyle Busch
led the way again, dominating the second half of the 400-mile race Sunday at
the Deleware and charging to his Sprint Cup series-best fourth win of the
season and 10th overall. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle were second and third
in the Best Buy 400. Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.
Denny Hamlin made it nine victories for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide
Series, leading all but 69 laps to win Saturday night at Dover Rookie Joey
Logano, from Middletown, CT, finished sixth in his NASCAR national-level
debut, running near the front of the 200-mile race with veterans such as
Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and JGR teammate Hamlin. The 18-year-old Logano
drove the No. 20 Toyota that entered leading the Nationwide Series in owner
points and has won six races in 14 starts this season with Kyle Busch,
Hamlin and Tony Stewart behind the wheel. Edwards, who started on the pole,
was second. David Stremme was third and David Reutimann fourth.
It was also announced that Marcus Smith, son of billionaire track
owner Bruton Smith, was selected as Humpy Wheeler's successor at Lowe's
Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Last year, 2012,Thursday night
Thunder began at the Thompson Speedway. Ted Christopher- Sunoco Modifieds,
Tommy OíSullivan-Late Models, and Jay Sundeen-Thompson Modifieds, dominated
their divisions in Thompson International Speedwayís Thursday Night Thunder
by leading every lap of their features to claim the first TNTT victory of
the season. Ed Puleo-Limited Sportsman and Jim Helger-Mini Stocks were also
Ted Christopher held off a hard-charging Keith Rocco in the 30-lap
SK Modified feature. John Catania and Shawn Thibeault brought the field back
to green after an accident that collected Woody Pitkat and Andrew Charron
stopped the action before the first lap was complete. Thibeault claimed the
lead on the outside on the restart after running-side-by-side almost the
entire first circuit, but it was Ted Christopher who officially led the lap
after a turn four bid. Ryan Preece was coming up quick and moved into the
second spot coming off turn two of lap three and used the inside lane to get
alongside Christopher on lap four. Keith Rocco and Todd Ceravolo got in line
behind Christopher and relegated Preece to the fourth spot. The four cars
ran bumper to bumper until lap 10 when Preece took the outside groove to
challenge Ceravolo for third. Preece fell back into line by lap 11 as Rocco
looked for a way around Christopher. The action remained tight at the
halfway mark with Christopher, Rocco, Ceravolo, and Preece still hooked at
the bumpers. Rocco looked high and low for a way around Christopher, but the
13 machine held steady. The four cars began to lap the field by the 25th
circuit as they set a torrid pace that could not be matched. At lap 28 Rocco
slammed Christopher in turn one and almost lost control of his mount,
Ceravolo shook things up by going low under Rocco for a battle that allowed
Christopher to get some breathing room and take the checkered flag
unchallenged. Ryan Preece did a sneaky on Ceravolo and stole the third spot
at the finish. Ceravolo, and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. John
Catania finished sixth with Dennis Perry, seventh. Perry drove one of the
fleet of cars owned by Butch Perry and did a masterful job of running with
the top dogs.
Christopher drove a car that hadn't run at Thompson in eight years.
It was probably one of the cars built by Barry Kuhnel for Christopher when
he raced for Jim Galante. Despite the fact that Christopher would end up
second at Riverhead on Saturday night he said his racing at the Long Island
Speedway has not been enjoyable. Too much slam-bang, bump and run plus too
many delays in the racing program in general. As far as his victory at
Thompson was concerned, Christopher commented "You got to know who you are
racing with". Obviously alluding to the fact of the hard slam by Rocco in
the closing moments.
The tale of the tape showed 17 Sunoco Modifieds including three SK
Lites, 26 Limited Sportsman, 24 Mini Stocks, 7 Thompson Modifieds and 7 Late
Models. The SK Lites ran with the Sunoco Modifieds and were paid $300-$200
and $100 respectively plus their finishing position. Ben Dodge stated that
the format was similar to the "340" bonus program that ran in conjunction
with the Modifieds at Riverside Park years ago. Back in action after a year
off is Kerry Malone, one of the original SK Modified competitors when the
division was started. Also it was good to see Ryan Morgan back in action
after a devastating wreck earlier in the year in a Late Model at the
Waterford Speedbowl. The Ledyard High School senior finished fourth in the
Thompson Modifieds and has not lost his touch or desire to compete. The
wrecked Late Model has been completely rebuilt and is expected to return to
Waterford in the not so distant future.
The final checkered flag at Thompson on Thursday was dropped at
Regular Friday night racing at Stafford saw Ryan Preece score his
first SK Modifiedģ feature victory of the season, Keith Rocco picked up his
second Late Model feature win, Dylan Kopec picked up his second consecutive
and fourth SK Light feature win, D.J. Burnham picked up his second
consecutive Limited Late Model feature victory, and Kyle Casagrande won his
second consecutive and third DARE Stock feature event of the 2012 season.
At the Waterford Speedbowl rain prevailed for the second week in a
In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, the Modifieds
were scheduled to run on Friday night but fell victim to rain. The NASCAR
Kids and Nephews (K&N) Development series played to a full house of fans on
Saturday night. Third-generation racer Corey LaJoie captured his
much-anticipated first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in the NASCAR Hall
of Fame 150 at historic track.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Shawn Solomito took the win with
Ted Christopher, second.
Supermodified racing fan favorite Chris Perley officially announced
his retirement as he approached the start of what would have been his 25th
year in racing, and 20th with the winged supermodifieds. Perley retired from
competition as the all-time ISMA victories leader with 69 wins to go along
with six ISMA titles.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway
marked the end of an era for Dr. Dick Berggren, who celebrated his 70th
birthday on May 27. After 12 years patrolling pit road for NASCAR on FOX,
Berggren filed his final report at Dover, the same track where he made his
NASCAR broadcasting debut in 1981 alongside his current NASCAR on FOX
colleague, Mike Joy.
Berggren took a hobby and turned it into a career, something we
should all be proud of. The most important thing, despite being a national
sports reporter Berggren never forgot where he came from.
Joey Logano took advantage of a pair of lapped cars to catch and
pass Ryan Truex to win Saturdayís NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-hour Energy 200
at Dover Intíl Speedway.
NASCAR has suspended 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt
Busch until June 13 after Busch threatened a reporter at Dover Intíl
Jimmie Johnson continued his dominance at Dover Intíl Speedway,
leading 289 laps en route to victory in the FedEx 400. It was Johnsonís
seventh victory at Dover, moving him into a tie with Bobby Allison and
Richard Petty for the most victories ever at the one-mile concrete oval. It
was his 57th career Sprint Cup victory and second of the season.
In some sad news, Former driver and car owner Cotton Owens passed
away age 88 only weeks after being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Owens would officially enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame when the enshrinement
ceremonies happen on Friday, February 8, 2013. Owens was more than
successful behind the wheel, winning nine times in NASCAR's premier series
competition, including the 1957 Daytona Beach road course which marked
Pontiac's first NASCAR victory. He nearly won the 1959 championship,
finishing second to NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Lee Petty. Concurrently
Owens raced NASCAR modified stock cars and won the 1953-54 championships as
an owner, Owens stood out as one of the greats of NASCAR's early eras. His
eye for talent was unmatched. He hired Junior Johnson in 1962, the same
season in which he began a future championship relationship with another
NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, David Pearson.
Thatís 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