The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 21, 2013

   Sixty years ago in 1953, Joe McNulty was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Don Collins won at the shoreline oval on Saturday night. Tom VanEpps took top honors in the non-Ford division on both nights.

   Fifty five years ago in 1958 rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. On Saturday night at the CT shoreline oval Dick Beauregard took the Modified win and Hank Stevens took the top spot in the non-Fords.

   Fifty years ago in 1963 Pete Corey and Kenny Shoemaker scored wins on the dirt at Stafford. Ken Meahl won a 60 lap NASCAR Sportsman feature at the Utica- Rome Speedway. Cam Gagliardi finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Ed Ortiz and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five. Ted Stack was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Scrivener was the Bomber winner. Steady Eddie Flemke, on his way home after a southern swing with the famed Eastern Bandits capped off his weekend with a 200 lap win at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey on Sunday. Wall Stadium, on the Jersey shore, saw Don Stives take the win.

   Forty five years ago in 1968, rain washed out racing at Stafford and Malta on Friday night. Rain also washed out Fonda on Saturday night. The sky cleared at Norwood where Mr. Leo Cleary took the win. Joe Krukowski won at Islip and Don Flynn won at Riverside Park. It was also clear at Waterford where Don Collins scored a 50 lap win. Rick Taylor was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Thompson cancelled the races on Sunday. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper with Andy Romano taking the win over Jerry. Cook, Richie Evans, Dave Kotary and Ron Narducci. Sam Reakes won at Fulton. Don Diffendorf won at the Spencer Speedway.

   Forty years ago in 1973, Fred DeSarro started the weekend off with a win at Malta on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens finished second with Richie Evans, third. Stevens stayed up in New York State for a 100 lapper at Tioga on Saturday, which he won. Evans finished second with Jerry Cook, third. At Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard beat out Eddie Flemke for the win. Lou Austin finished third with Don Flynn, fourth. Gary Winters was the winner at Islip. Dick Dunn, in the Al Gaudreau No.3, won his second Modified feature of the year at Waterford. Ron Cote was the late model Grand American winner.

   Thirty five years ago in 1978, Monadnock ran on Wednesday with a 100 lap Yankee All Star League event. Geoff Bodine took the win over Jack Bateman, Punky Caron and Bugsy Stevens. Bodine went on to win four out of five for the weekend as he also took victories at Riverside, Oswego and at Utica-Rome. Maynard Troyer was the only spoiler as he beat the Big Red machine in a 100 lapper at Stafford on Friday night. Other weekend winners were Wayne Anderson at New Egypt, Fred DeSarro at Seekonk, Moose Hewitt at Waterford, Greg Sacks at Islip and Tom Baldwin at Riverhead.

   Thirty five years ago in 1983, Thompson ran a 40 lapper on Wednesday which saw George Kent take the win over George Summers and Bugsy Stevens. Friday at Stafford saw Stan Gregger put the Ben Dodge No.36 in victory lane as he beat Mike Stefanik and Ray Miller. Dale Holdredge was the winner at Waterford on Saturday. Richie Evans won 100 lappers at Spencer and Riverside. Tom Baldwin won at Riverhead and Bill Park won at Islip.

   Twenty five years ago in 1988, the Waterford Speedbowl ran a 100-lap open competition event on Wednesday, which paid $4,000 to win. John Anderson took the win over Tom Bolles, Jamie Tomaino and Richie Gallup. Anderson backed up his win with others at Stafford on Friday and again at Waterford again on Saturday. Reggie Ruggerio was a double winner as he won at Monadnock and at Riverside. Wayne Anderson won a Richie Evans memorial event at Riverhead and Bob Potter scored at Thompson on Sunday.

   Twenty years ago in 1993, Bob Potter scored his 17th career win at Stafford on Friday over Mike Christopher and Bo Gunning. Potter backed it up with his 90th career win at Waterford on Saturday night. Chris Jones finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. The NASCAR modified tour series visited Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Hometown favorite, Steve Park sat on the pole and went on to win the caution filled event. There were twelve yellows for 68 laps which kept Park’s average speed at 32.459 mph. Reggie Ruggerio finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Ed Flemke jr. Ed Kennedy was the winner at Riverside Park. In Winston Cup action at Watkins Glen, Bill Elliot took the win over Terry Labonte.

   Fifteen years ago in 1998, Rob Summers scored his first ever-modified victory as he won a 75 lapper at Riverside Park on Tuesday. Dave Berube led the event until the two to go mark was reached when Chris Kopec who was down one lap intentionally blocked him. It was a payback for an incident on the 59th lap when Berube and Kopec tangled with the end result being Kopec spinning out and losing a lap. Berube recovered and finished second. Dan Avery, Bob Polverari and Rick Miller rounded out the top five. Lloyd Agor was the Friday night SK-Modified winner at Stafford as he won out over Curt Brainard, Ted Christopher and Jamie Asklar. Tension was high and tempers were short at Stafford. Jim Broderick along with car owners Angie and Tony Cerese were suspended for one week for fighting and Bo Gunning was put on probation for shoving an official. Dennis Gada beat out Eric Berndt and Don Fowler at Waterford and Al Ermarino went pole to pole at Riverhead. Saturday night at Riverside saw Ted Riggot in victory lane and at Thompson on Sunday Mike Christopher was victorious over Bert Marvin and Richie Gallup. The Featherlite Modifieds were at Loudon as a second division to the IRL. A sparse crowd of 20,000 was on hand as Tony Stewart won the IRL event. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Jan Leaty on lap 81 of the 125 lap modified event. In taking the win, Stefanik went over the one million-dollar in earnings mark. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Leaty, Tony Hirschman, John Blewett III and Tom Connolly. In Winston Cup action at Sears Point, Jeff Gordon took the win and in Busch Grandnational action at Watkins Glen, road racer Ron Fellows took the win.

   Ten years ago in 2003, Brad Leighton took the lead on lap 43 in the BGNN 150 at Stafford when Dave Dion spun in oil and went on to take the win, his fourth of the year. Jeff Taylor finished second with Dion, third. Stafford's SK Modified event rained out. Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Eric Berndt taking the win over Jeff Pearl and Tucker Reynolds. Riverhead went to Frank Vigliaro Jr. In 100degree heat, Bert Marvin went pole to pole at Thompson. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Tom Fox, third. At Riverside, Rob Summers won a 125 lapper over Ted Riggott and Bob Polverari. In Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Casey Atwood hit Jeff Green on the final lap and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Glenn Allen. In Winston Cup action under the lights at Daytona, Dale Jarrett took the lead on lap 146 of the 160 lap distance and took the win over Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.

   Five years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night with a new format that consisted of a 75 green flag lap event. Ronnie Silk ended a long dry spell for himself and car owner Roger Hill as he beat out Ted Christopher for the win. Silk, who previously won at Thompson on September 23, 2007, took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 53 and never looked back while en route to his first win of the season. Bobby Grigas III and Kevin Goodale ran wheel to wheel for the first 21 laps when they tangled in turn four. Goodale spun to the infield and was able to restart at the rear. Grigas ran with Ed Flemke Jr on his bumper until lap 27 when Flemke tapped and spun him in turn four. NASCAR felt the hit was intentional and put Flemke to the rear. Flemke agreed and went willingly. Ted Christopher inherited the lead with Silk in second spot when the field restarted. Christopher survived numerous restarts as the night wore on and the night got cooler. Christopher’s luck ran out following the 12th caution. The yellow flag period dragged for too long resulting in Christopher’s tires cooling off and losing traction. The resulting restart saw Silk rocket from his outside row starting spot and taking the lead upon entering turn one. Christopher managed to hang onto second spot and was followed at the finish by Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Tony Ferrante Jr. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Matt Hirschman, Bobby Santos, Kevin Goodale and Ryan Preece.

   Earlier in the evening Grigas nabbed his first career Coors Light Pole Award. The second-year driver turned in a time of 18.751 seconds (119.994). He ended up 21st, one lap down. There were 38 Modifieds on hand. A year ago the Modifieds were 10 stronger. The competition was top shelf but competitors were not happy with the format. Despite the fact that the purse for the event was reduced admission prices remained unchanged. Pit area population was down as was the grandstand.

   Among those spotted at Thompson were driving legends Carl Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary, George Savory and Billy Harman. Despite being crippled up by racing related back injuries the Bugman still has his sense of humor and quick wit. Cleary, the eldest of the group is in the best of health and shape as is Harman who is now an accomplished golfer. Savory is the youngest of the bunch and enjoying his retirement by bankrolling his son’s racing efforts.

   Like their big brothers at Thompson the True Value Modified Series at Waterford turned into a wreck fest. The 100-lap event took a little more than 2 hours to complete. A long delay resulted when extensive repairs had to be made to the tracks Armco barrier. Twelve of the 25 cars that started the event were running at the finish. Les Hinkley was the winner. Former Speedbowl regulars Chris Pasteryak and Mike Holdridge, Kirk Alexander, and Vin Annarummo rounded out the top-5. Holdridge was the early leader before being passed by Les Hinckley, Ted Christopher, and Pasteryak. Christopher was later issued the black flag for a smoking motor and retired from the event. Coming out on-top in several restarts, Hinckley repeatedly resisted the charges of Dwight Jarvis, the latter retiring after contacting the wall on lap-70, the victim of a flat right-front. With Pasteryak and Holdridge in-tow, Hinckley lengthened his lead in the final stages of the event, winning by a comfortable margin.

   The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program ran under the features only format. Todd Ceravolo took top honors in a tremendous Sunoco Modified war. Sixteen-year-old Derek Ramstrom scored his second straight win in the Pro Stock division. Tim Sullivan followed suit with consecutive wins in the TIS Modifieds. Jeff Zuidema continued his domination of the Late Model division with his third win of the short season. Mike Romano, in Mini Stocks and Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman division also scored victories during Charter Communications’ presentation of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway ushered in the summer season with fireworks in the air and on the track with the 8th annual Summer Blast-Off Presented by Town Fair Tire NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. The big winners of the evening were Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis in the Limited Late Model feature, and Scott Roy in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Keith Rocco out duel Ted Christopher to pick up his first feature win of the 2008 season. Doug Coby took the lead at the green and held the lead until he spun on lap-7, which gave the lead to Woody Pitkat. Pitkat held the race lead until lap-19 when Rocco outpowered Pitkat on a restart. Rocco stayed out front until lap-25 when Ted Christopher moved to the front. Christopher held the lead until contact from Jeff Malave sent him spinning on lap-28. Malave was black flagged, which put Rocco back out front. Christopher charged his way back through the pack, but couldn't find a way around Rocco. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Jimmy Blewett, Tom Bolles, and Curt Brainard.

   Todd Ceravolo captured his second feature of the weekend when he won the 35 lap SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. An early wreck collected Rob Janovic Jr., Ron Yuhas Jr., and Jeff Pearl. Only Janovic was unable to continue. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. assumed the lead briefly before yielding to Ceravolo. Within 5-laps, the yellow flew again for an incident involving Ted Christopher, Don Fowler, and Glenn Pressel III. On the restart Ceravolo resumed the point, pressed by Keith Rocco and Doug Coby. With 23-laps remaining, Coby and Rocco tangled, the latter sent to the rear for rough-riding. Rebounding after an early spin, Dennis Gada eventually passed Shawn Monahan for second. Jeff Paul and Rocco completed the top-5. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Phil Evans (Mini Stock). The Speedbowl enjoyed one of the biggest crowds they have had in quite a while.
Carl Edwards was desperate to get back into victory lane in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he wasn't about to let Clint Bowyer stand in his way at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. Edwards shoved his fellow Sprint Cup series standout sideways with 25 laps to go, then held off Middletown native Joey Logano for his first Nationwide victory of the season after dominating the series last year. But Edwards decided not to do his trademark backflip in victory lane, choosing a subdued celebration because of the death earlier in the day of drag racer Scott Kalitta and the fact that he didn't win the way he intended to. Logano finished second.

   Kyle Busch snapped the slump that plagued him as he won the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., for his first Sprint Cup victory on a road course. Busch, who had a poor qualifying run and started 30th, steadily moved through the field and grabbed the lead from defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya on an early restart. It was Busch's series-best fifth win of the season, and 11th overall spanning all three of NASCAR's top series. It also was his second road course victory of the season, following a Nationwide win in Mexico City in April. David Gilliland finished a career-best second, followed by Jeff Gordon.

   Last year, 2012 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Waterford Speedbowl. The event, the first since 2006, drew 24 cars and a packed house of fans. Doug Coby, the Racing Realtor, remained hot as a pistol as he took the win. Coby led 119 laps in the No. 52 Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Furnace & Duct Supply Chevrolet to his third victory in five races to start the 2012 season. It is his fifth career victory overall, and first in Whelen Modified Tour events at Waterford.

   Justin Bonsignore crossed the line second with Ryan Preece in third. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Donny Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennink, Eric Beers, Keith Rocco, polesitter Ted Christopher and Jon McKennedy.

   There were three lead changes among three drivers. Christopher led from the opening green to lap 43. Coby took over on lap 44 and led the rest of the way except for lap 146 when Preece led momentarily.

   Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw racing in heat that was close to the 100 degree mark. Ted Christopher is also close to the 100 feature win mark at the Big T as he scored his 95th career win. Christopher, who won his first victory at the Stafford Motor Speedway in 1986, has 96 SK Modified wins at the Arute family owned oval as well as 33 Modified wins at Waterford. Christopher's win was his second of the year at the northeastern Connecticut oval.

   Other feature winners included Tommy O’Sullivan in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds and John Lewinski-Loh in the Thompson Modifieds. Jim Banfield in the Super Late Models and Jesse Gleason in the Limited Sportsman scored their first season wins and Chad Baxter was victorious in the Mini Stocks.

   In the Sunoco (SK) Modified feature as the green dropped John Catania and Kerry Malone went into turn one double-file with Malone getting the lead coming out of turn two. Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece moved into second and third with Preece all over Christopher’s bumper for the second position. Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco made it a five-car bumper-to-bumper train up front.

   On lap nine, Christopher shot to the bottom and took over the lead with Preece in tow. Malone squeezed into third, but was quickly passed by Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco. The frontrunners approached lapped traffic at lap 13, but continued in a tight formation without a hiccup. On lap 22, Pitkat broke free of the trio to make a bid on Preece, but lost momentum and turned his focus to Rocco, who threatened his third place position. Pitkat regained himself as Christopher continued to lead Preece less than a car length in front of him. Christopher never faltered and drove straight to the checkered flag. Preece settled for second with Pitkat, third. Rocco and Malone rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Speedway fell victim to rain and high wind that hammered central Connecticut on Friday afternoon. The Valenti Modified Series race that was also scheduled will be rescheduled to Friday, September 14th.

   In regular weekly racing at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic Jr. scored his first win of the season in the track's SK Modified feature, while Greg Moran Jr. picked up a first career victory in the Street Stock division and Sean Caron was back in the winner's circle in the Mini Stock division for the first time since 2010. Bruce Thomas Jr. took the Late Model division race, the only repeat winner.

   Janovic was the third leader in the 35-lap Modified feature, taking over from Kyle James following a lap-16 caution flag. Janovic raced the outside lane like a veteran, taking command down the backstretch to lead lap 17 just before the race's halfway point. Over the second half of the race Janovic had to hold off Jeff Pearl on two additional restarts, the final coming on lap 33 to set up a final sprint to the finish. Janovic held and went on to the checkered flag, his first of the year. Pearl, James, Tom Abele Jr. and Diego Monahan rounded out the top-five finishers.

   In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina twin 25 lap Modified features were the order of the night. Tim Brown went pole to pole to win the opening event while John Smith was victorious in the second event.

   Tom Rogers Jr. became the first NASCAR Modified repeat winner of the 2012 Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway as he won the Rapid Recovery night 35-lap feature.

   In Sprint Cup action, Clint Bowyer raced to his first victory on a road course, and first with Michael Waltrip Racing, by holding off Kurt Busch at Sonoma in California. Bowyer dominated Sunday's race by leading 70 of the 112 laps.

   The NASCAR Nationwide Series ran at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Nelson Piquet Jr took the win.

   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
Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Rod Andrews                                               Geoff Bodine                                              Dick Watson

Ken Meahl                                             Kenny Shoemaker                                         Todd Van Epps          

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 21, 2013

©2013 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.