October 4, 2013
Sixty years ago in 1953,
Dave Roghoff won the 100 lap Fall Championship at the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl. Charlie Schreiber was the non-Ford winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1958
Wild Bill Slater won the 25 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford race winner and Turk Hewitt was
the master in the Bombers.
Fifty years ago in 1963
everybody's friend George Pendergast was the 50 lap Modified race winner at
the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. During his racing career George would
wear many hats including that of STP representative, Thompson Speedway
promoter and Advertising Manager for Speedway Scene, a regional Racing Trade
paper. Pendergast was quite a character, to say the least. Dick Caso was the
Bomber division winner at the Speedbowl.
Forty five years ago in 1968
Bob Potter won the 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Wayne
Smith was the Daredevil winner.
Forty years ago in 1973, it was
all quiet with no racing.
Thirty five Years ago in 1978,Thompson
ran a 50 lapper which was won by Ray Miller. Kenny Bouchard finished second
and was followed by George Summers, Bobby Clarke, Dick Dunn and Freddie
Schulz. At Hickory, N.C., Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Jerry
Cook and Wayne Anderson.
Thirty years ago in 1983, the
Thompson World Series modified event was a 40-lap affair. George Summers, in
the Art Barry No.21 led the entire distance and took the win over Bob
Polverari, Richie Evans and Brian Ross. In victory lane Summers announced
that he had taken his last ride and was hanging up his helmet, thus ending a
brilliant and successful career that saw hundreds of wins and many track
championships in New England. Charlie Savage was the SK winner with Mario
"Fats" Caruso, second. Doug Hevron was the Supermodified winner.
Twenty five years ago in 1988,
it was all-quiet as no races were scheduled.
Twenty years ago in 1993, the
only show in town was the Busch Grand National North Series at Lime Rock and
Ken Schrader was the winner.
Fifteen years ago, in 1998,
Mike Stefanik sewed up the Modified Tour Series Championship when he won the
Thompson World Series. Stefanik also became the first driver in the 50-year
history of NASCAR to win back-to-back championships in two separate
divisions. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Chris Kopec, Mike
Ewanitsko and Tim Connolly. Connolly led the first 47 laps of the 125-lap
event before Chris Kopec punted him. Ted Christopher won the 30-lap SK event
over Jim Broderick, Bert Marvin, Scott Quinn and Todd Ceravolo. The Busch
North Series finished out their season at Lime Rock. In true championship
style, Stefanik won that one too. In Winston Cup action at Daytona Beach,
Jeff Gordon won the forest fire delayed event and in Busch Grandnational
action at Gateway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the win after late race leader
Buckshot Jones broke an oil line.
Ten years ago in 2003, The
NASCAR Modified Tour Series was supposed to be at the Seekonk Speedway on
Sunday but Mother Nature had different ideas as showers fell on the track
just about all day. Because of the fact that Sunday was the last day listed
on the permit that the Speedway has with the town the entire D. Anthony
Venditti Memorial program has been canceled. This was the second event that
the NASCAR Modified Tour Series has lost in 2003. A June event at Riverhead
on Long Island was also canceled after rain-washed out the intended date.
The Stafford Speedway held their first annual Invitational on Saturday. The
event drew a fair crowd but considering all the football and baseball, it
wasn’t as bad as it could have been. With the exception of the winner, Doug
Meservey, Stafford regulars took the first six spots as Waterford Speedbowl
regular Rick Young finished seventh. Following Meservey was Ted Christopher,
George Bessette, Bob Santos III and John Sandberg. Attrition was high as
only eleven of the 25 starters were running at the finish including five
cars on the lead lap. Woody Pitkat was the Late Model winner and Mike Como
was the DARE Stock winner. Alan Johnson won the DIRT Eckered 200 at
Syracuse. Johnson started sixth and took the lead on lap 173 after a pit
stop on lap 94. Ken Tremont finished second with Frank Cozze, third. Johnson
walked out of Syracuse with $50,000 plus $30,000 in contingency awards. Sam
Sessions won the PASS Big Dawg Pro Stock event at Wiscasset Speedway in
Maine and walked away with $100,000. Twin features were run at Wall Township
with Ken Woolley and Kevin Flockart taking the wins. The annual Lancaster
Open was also run on this weekend. Zane Zeiner took the win over Siege
Fidenza. Attrition was high as only 12 of the original 33 starters finished.
The Winston Cup and Busch Racing Series were at Charlotte. The Busch Series
event was scheduled for Friday night but fell victim to rain and was run on
Saturday afternoon. Greg Biffle took the win after leading the final 38
laps. Michael Waltrip finished second. The Winston Cup event was run on
Saturday night. Tony Stewart passed Ryan Newman with 15 laps to go and went
on to take the win. Newman finished second and was followed by Jimmie
Johnson, Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon.
Five years ago in 2008, The
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ventured to the Chemung Speedway in
western New York. The 3/8 mile track, originally built by the Bodine family
drew a sparse field of only 25 cars. The Chemung event with a somewhat
reduced purse consisted of time trials, two 25-lap heats and a 120 lap
feature that ended up finishing under caution. Matt Hirschman, who was the
fastest on the clock, won his qualifying heat and after starting on the pole
led wire to wire to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the
season. Hirschman entered the event 89 points behind Ted Christopher in the
championship chase. With Christopher’s seventh place finish, Hirschman
narrowed the gap to just 55 points with only the Stafford Fall Final and
Thompson World Series weekends remaining.
Todd Szegedy dogged Hirschman for most of the event but settled for
a runner-up finish and held up his spot in third in the season standings.
Mike Stefanik finished third. Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Erick Rudolph,
Christopher, Bobby Grigas III, Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounded out
the top 10 finishers.
At the Waterford Speedbowl it was good news and bad news. The good
news was that competitors received their checks that had been held back. The
bad news was that they were told not to cash them until Monday. One
competitor thought he would pull a fast one and attempted to cash his check
at the bank where the check was issued. He was told there were insufficient
funds in the account to cover the check.
The shoreline oval ran their season ending Fall Finale, a two day
event, last weekend On Saturday three SK Modified qualifying heats were run.
Taking the wins were Shawn Monahan, Dennis Gada and Jeff Paul. In other
Saturday action Jason Palmer won the 25-lap Legends Town Fair Tire Finale
feature while it was Shaun Buffington scoring the 2008 Saturday Night
Legends championship. Other feature winners were Norm Wrenn (Pro-4
Modifieds), Todd Bertrand (NEMA Lites), Glenn Boss (N.E Sport Modifieds),
Corey Hutchings (Outlaw Stocks), David Flammia Jr. (X-Modified), Steve
Barrett (Super-X Cars), Buddy Strede (X-Cars), Kathy Civardi (Women On
Wheels Super-X), and Stephanie Bennett (Women On Wheels X-Car).
Sunday dawned in typical Waterford fashion. It was raining cats and
dogs. Shortly before noon a strange thing happened, the rain stopped and the
sun came out. It was too late; the cards of the fans had been dealt.
Apparently many of them had made other plans as the vintage grandstand at
the shoreline oval was all but empty when racing finally started. Because of
the adverse weather the scheduled pit party was cancelled. The actual racing
started about two hours late with Ken Cassidy coming from a dead last start
to win the Mini Stock event. Randy Cabral won the NEMA Midget event and
Brandon Plemmonds won the 50 lap Sportsman event. Things were looking up,
the SK Modifieds were on the track for a tire heating session when the red
flag was displayed bringing everything to a screeching halt. Evidently a bad
accident on nearby Route 85 deemed it necessary for the Speedbowl’s
ambulance to leave. Per state law, once the ambulance leaves the property
all racing stops. After a little over a half hour an ambulance appeared and
racing resumed. The 100 lap Modified event was a typical Waterford slam-bang
event with survival of the fittest the order of the day. Diego Monahan led a
large portion of the race untilbe dislodged by Keith Rocco and Rob Janovic.
Both had a war of their own when on a late race restart Rocco didn’t go
which resulted in Tyler Chadwick and Monahan hitting the front stretch wall.
To make matters worse, at ten after nine, the fog started rolling in. At
9:20pm fans and competitors breathed a sigh of relief when the checkered
flag was dropped on the event. Keith Rocco took the win and was followed by
Rob Janovic, Ron Yuhas JR and Dennis Gada. For Gada it was monumental as he
was now in a league of his own as he is the only seven time champion in
In True Value Modified Series action at the Lee USA Speedway Jon
Mckennedy took the win over Jimmy Kuhn, Les Hinkley, Ed Dachenhausen and
In Sprint Cup action, Tony Stewart ended his winless season at
Talladega Superspeedway when NASCAR ruled Regan Smith's last-lap pass was
illegal. Smith was in second and trailed Stewart for the final three laps
around Talladega. The rookie made one desperate attempt for his first career
victory by ducking inside the two-time champion to attempt a pass. Stewart
blocked him, and Smith went below the yellow out-of-bounds line. After he
beat Stewart to the finish, NASCAR reviewed the move, a driver is allowed to
pass if officials believe he was forced under the line, and declared it
illegal. The ruling gave Stewart his first win of the season and snapped a
43-race winless streak dating to Watkins Glen last year. It also was his
first career Cup win at Talladega, which has taunted him for 10 years as he
finished second a maddening six times. Paul Menard was a career-high second
and was followed by rookie David Ragan and Chase drivers Jeff Burton and
Clint Bowyer. Smith was dropped all the way to 18th. The race had a
NASCAR-record 31 lead changes.
Last year, 2012, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour enjoyed a weekend off as competitors prepare for the
season ending World Series of Speedway Racing at the Thompson Speedway.
With one race remaining Doug Coby held a 17-point lead over Ryan
Preece and 18 over defending tour champion Ronnie Silk. Donny Lia and Justin
Bonsignore rounded out the top five but had been mathematically eliminated
from championship contention.
The big event for the weekend was the annual D. Anthony Venditti
Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, MA. Venditti, along with his
wife Irene built the quarter mile with their bare hands. The speedway has
been operated continuously by the Venditti family since opening day in 1946.
The highlight of the weekend was the Valenti Modified Racing Series
100. The event drew 33 Modifieds. Rowan Pennink started on the pole and led
the entire race receiving pressure early on from Geoff Gernhard, Steven
Masse, Todd Annarummo and again from Masse on laps 50-53 when the fifth
caution flag was displayed then followed by a red flag when the skies opened
to end the event. With 53 laps completed the race by rule was officially
completed. Pennink’s win, his sixth VMRS victory, is his first Seekonk
victory, his second victory this season, and he clipped 20 points off Jon
McKennedy’s point lead as the two battle it out for the series championship
with two races remaining. Pennink entered the day 57-points behind
McKennedy. The points now show McKennedy with 530 and Pennink with 493.
The rains ended what was shaping up to be another classic finish at
the famed oval. Masse and Annarummo were strong with a hard charging Les
Hinckley who started 13th and running fourth at lap 53, methodically working
his way to the front. Rounding out the top five was Geoff Gernhard. Sixth
through tenth were Mark Bakaj, Max Zachem, Norm Wrenn, Tim Jordan and Jon
In other Seekonk action Derek Ramstrom captured the 50 lap Pro Stock
In weekend action at the Waterford Speedbowl Mother Nature
interfered with WaterfordSpeedbowl’s Finale Weekend on Sunday afternoon
after just two of the scheduled six races were completed. The visiting
Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) and INEX Legend Cars races were
finished before the rain began to fall. Scoring the two race victories were
Russ Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA in the 25-lap NEMA feature and Dave Garbo Jr.
of Stonington in the Legend Cars.
The scheduled 50-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini Stock
feature was halted after 22 laps due to wet weather. The remainder of that
race, along with the rest of the scheduled races, were postponed until
Saturday, October 27. Sunday’s event was rain-checked by management, meaning
ticket stubs and wristbands from Finale Weekend will be honored on October
27. The October 27 date will include racing by the NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series SK Modifieds, Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street
Stocks and the remaining 28-laps of the Mini Stock feature. There were 29 SK
Modifieds on hand.
The Speedbowl Management's cash drawer at the pit gate was bulging
as over 200 race cars jammed Waterford Speedbowl’s pit area on Saturday for
its Finale Weekend of racing. Qualifying racing for thirteen divisions along
with eight main events took place over the day, with six more races being
set for Sunday at the track.
Taking NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories Saturday were
Corey Hutchings in the Street Stocks and David Webb in the SK Light
Modifieds. Duane Noll won an entertaining Outlaw Stock feature, Dylan
Duhaime was the winner of the NEMA Lite series feature and Ivoryton racer
Mark Panaroni won the visiting Northeast Mini Stock Tour race. Rounding out
feature winners included Eric Finkbein Jr. in the Super X-Cars, Scott
Limkemann in the X-Cars and Rene Morgillo in the Bandoleros. Keith Rocco
passed Dylan Duhaime with three laps to go to win the 25-lap NEMA Lites
feature but was disqualified after NEMA officials stated the wing on his
Midget was not approved.
Brett Hearn, the all-time victor in Super DIRT Week’s granddaddy
race collected his sixth title in the Big Block Modified VP Small Engine
Fuels 200 on Sunday in a rain-shortened affair at the New York State
Fairgrounds in Syracuse. After starting third, the Sussex, N.J., driver took
the lead on the sixth lap from pole-sitter Billy Decker and never trailed
again. His biggest challenge was hedging a bet that he wouldn’t run out of
gas before the race was called off because of a storm approaching slowly
from the west.
Running 113 laps on his only tank of fuel, he won the gamble, he
estimated, with about 10 laps to spare. The victory was worth $50,000.
Placing second was Waterloo’s Matt Sheppard, followed by Baldwinsville’s
Jimmy Phelps. Justin Haers, of Phelps, and Pat Ward, of Genoa, rounded out
the top five.
None of them pitted during the race, opting to follow Hearn’s lead.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Tony Stewart tried to block his way to
victory at Talladega Superspeedway. The strategy backfired badly. Stewart
triggered one of the biggest wrecks ever seen in NASCAR racing. The "big
one" came on the last lap, when Stewart's attempt to hold on for the win
ended with his car sailing through the field and triggering a 25-car
accident. Matt Kenseth won the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 under
caution, and everyone else was left wondering what happened to cause so much
damage. Stewart took full responsibility for causing the accident. He had
charged to the lead on the first lap of a two-lap sprint to the finish but
got too far ahead of the pack to keep any drafting partners.
Matt Kenseth was charging on the outside, and Michael Waltrip was
leading a line of traffic on the inside. Stewart was blocking all over the
track, and said he mistakenly chopped across the front of Waltrip's car,
triggering the accident. Jeff Gordon was scored in second place, and Kyle
Busch in third.
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 Sr
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit