The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 11, 2013

    Sixty years ago in 1953 Ray DeLisle won the season ending 100 lap Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Delisle was forced to share the winning prize money with Red Foote whom he had dumped in order to take the lead. Bud Matter was the non-Ford feature winner. Ted Swaim was the winner of the third annual Race of Champions at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania.

   Fifty five years ago in 1958, at the Race of Champions in Langhorne, Pa., Jim Delaney took the win and Dutch Hoag finished second. Langhorne was a one-mile dirt circle dirt track.
Red Foote won the 25 lap Sunday afternoon Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner.

   Fifty years ago in 1963, Dutch Hoag took the win in the 100 mile Race of Champions at the Langhorne Speedway. Budd Olsen finished second and was followed by Wally Dallenbach, Ralph Smith, Neil Haight, Lou Lazzaro and Kenny Shoemaker.
George Pendergast made it two in a row at te New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the season ending 25 lap Modified feature at the shoreline oval. Dick Caso was the Bomber winner.

   Forty five years ago in 1968, Dutch Hoag won the Race of Champions at Langhorne Pa. It was his fifth win at the historic oval that went from dirt to asphalt in 1965. Following Hoag at the finish was Bobby Gearhart, Chuck Boos, Bugsy Stevens and Gene Bergin. Sixth through tenth were Don McTavish, Sammy Beavers, Bill Strosahl, Al Tasnady and Roger Treichler. The event was not NASCAR sanctioned. NASCAR sanctioned the Albany-Saratoga Speedway and a 100-lap double point event was run to keep the NASCAR drivers from going to Langhorne. Eddie Flemke took the win over Bob Bruno, Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan and Ron Narducci. Thompson also ran and it was Lou Austin taking the win.

   A Sunday afternoon modified event scheduled by the Lee Raceway in New Hampshire was rained out.

   Don Collins was the Sunday afternoon Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Wayne Smith was the Daredevil winner.

   Forty years ago in 1973, the Northeast racing season had ended and race teams were getting ready for their annual trip to Martinsville.

   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 was another off weekend.

   Twenty five years ago in 1988,the modified tour was at Rougemont, N.C. Ricky Fuller took the win over Tom Baldwin, Jamie Tomaino, Jeff Fuller, Mike Stefanik, Brian Ross and Mike Ewanitsko. It was at this event that Rod Spaulding was involved in an accident that saw him receive severe head injuries. It was also announced that the Arute Family had sold the Stafford Speedway to Dan Avery for $2.5million. Avery withdrew the offer a week later.

   Twenty years ago in 1993, the Race of Champions was held at Flemington, N.J. Billy Pauch, driving the Mario Fiore No.44 started 43rd and avoided numerous wrecks and took the win in the 200 lap event. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by Tony Siscone, Mike Ewanitsko, Reggie Ruggerio and Steve Park. In the Triple A-sk type feature, Ted Christopher came back after being involved in a 20 car wreck, then took the lead from Tom Tagg with10 laps to go and went on to score the win. Taggs distributor broke. Eric Beers finished second. In the National Parts Peddler Street Stock event, Tom Fox, who crossed the finish line second was awarded the win after apparent winner Shannon Connor was disqualified.

   At Rockingham, N.C., Mark Martin won the Grand National event. Jim Spencer and a crew member were suspended for the rest of the year for fighting with Joe Besseys crew. In Winston Cup action, Rusty Wallace took the win.

   Fifteen years ago, in 1998, Flemington ran a mod tour 250 which was won by Ed Flemke Jr. who took the lead from Mike Stefanik with three laps to go. Stefanik hung on for second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Reggie Ruggiero, Tony Hirschman, Jamie Tomaino and Tim Connolly.

   Ten years ago in 2003 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway with a field of 49 modifieds on hand. Because of steady rain, the previous week that showed no sign of letting up, the event was postponed to this Saturday afternoon. All qualifying took place a week ago with Tony Hirschman taking the pole with a run around the 5/8 mile oval to the tune of 120.501 mph. Doug Coby was second fastest with series point leader Todd Szegedy, third. Hirschman was also the lucky guy on the draw for starting positions as he pulled the pole starting spot. Jimmy Kuhn pulled second spot with John Blewett III pulling third. Chuck Hossfeld and Szegedy rounded out the first five starting positions. Sixth through tenth starters are Doug Coby, Eddie Flemke Jr., Jerry Marquis, Carl Pasteryak and Tony Ferrante Jr.

   Once the World Series was postponed it was a mass charge to leave the speedway grounds. A major traffic jam developed when the hitch on Jamie Tomainoís tow rig broke and it was nothing but gridlock until the road was opened up. A huge field of 64 SK Modifies were on hand at Because of the large field a ďBĒ feature was run for non-qualifiers, which was won by Tom Cravenho. Other Saturday winners were Richard Savory in the Pro Four Modifieds, Chuck Docherty in the Pro Stocks, Rick Gentes in the Outlaw Late Models, Shawn Monahan won his seventh Limited Sportsman feature, Jim Silvia in the Outlaw Strictly Stocks, Joe Godbout in the Mini Stock feature and Mike Veins in the Outlaw Mini Stocks.

   In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon started on the pole and led 311 of 500 laps to take the win. It was Gordonís 63rd win. Jimmie Johnson finished second. Bobby Hamilton Jr. won the Busch Series Samís Town 300 at the Memphis Speedway.

   Five years ago in 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Stafford Motor Speedway to make up the rained out Fall Final. Just prior to the weekend it was learned that Speedway announcer Deane Mercier had passed away.

   Mike Stefanik led a banner field of Modifieds as he captured the Coors Lite Pole award as he turned in the fast time in qualifying for the CARQUEST Fall Final. Stefanik toured the Stafford oval in18.158 seconds (99.130mph). It was the first pole for Stefanik since 2006 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In the process he tied Tony Hirschman for the seriesí all-time lead with 41 career poles, and extended his own record for poles at Stafford to 15. Eric Beers was the second-fastest qualifier at 18.168 seconds (99.075 mph) and started in the third row following the redraw. Rob Summers was third fastest at 18.316 seconds (98.275 mph). Series points leader Ted Christopher who seventh in time trials when he was clocked at 18.355 seconds (98.066 mph). After the redraw Christopher started alongside Stefanik in the front row on Sunday. Californian Brian Ickler was the pole sitter for the companion NASCAR Camping World Series East event. Mike Olsen, Kevin Swindell, Ted Christopher and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Series champion Matt Kobyluck was sixth fastest.

   Stefanik capped off a dominating weekend by reaching Victory Lane in the CARQUEST Fall Final for the eighth time in his illustrious career. Stefanik used the front row starting position to his advantage as he led 129 of the 150 laps in what was Staffordís last race of the year. The win was Stefanik's eighth in the Fall Final, Stafford 's traditional season-ending race. It was also his 20th all-time win at track and the 69th in his career overall. All three totals are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour records.

   Matt Hirschman came home second to Stefanik. With the runner-up finish, Hirschman trailed series leader Ted Christopher by just 35 points with one race remaining on the schedule. Christopher finished sixth. Chuck Hossfeld was third, while Todd Szegedy and Eric Beers rounded out the top five finishers. The rest of the top 10 consisted of Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Anthony Sesely, Glenn Tyler and Kevin Goodale. It was the best finish of the season for Sesely and Tyler.

   There were five caution flags for 27 laps. For the most part the race was wreck free with only a few minor spins. Ted Christopher held a 35 point lead over Matt Hirschman going into the final event. Todd Szegedy sat in third, over 143 points out of the lead. Chuck Hossfeld was fourth with Stefanik rounding out the top five. Prior to the race NASCAR legend Bobby Allison was honored for his 1964 and 1965 NASCAR Modified division titles as part of the celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions.

   Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Keith Rocco who won the war in the SK Modifieds. Rocco finished second to Pitkat and beat out Ted Christopher for his first Stafford Track Championship. Peyton Sellers won the slam-bang NASCAR Camping World Series East event. In lat Model action, Ryan Posocco took the lead from Scott Cook on lap 11 and led the rest of the way to win the 30-lap Late Model feature. It was the seventh victory in 17 starts this year for Posocco, the division's all-time winningest driver. Posocco had already sewed up the Stafford Late Model title.

   In True Value Modified Series action at the Seekonk Speedway last weekend twenty six Modifieds were on hand for the annual D.Anthony Venditti Memorial event. Three qualifying heats were run with Chris Pasteryak, Kevin Iannarelli and Todd Annarummo taking the wins. Chris Pasteryak went pole to pole to win the 100 lap contest. Todd Annarummo finished second and was followed by Dwight Jarvis, Les Hinckley and Mike Holdridge. Prior to the start of the event Kirby Monteith, who died this past week was honored by his fellow drivers. They had a moment of silence and the front row at the start had an open spot for him.

   Jeff Burton used three gas-only pit stops to pull off a Sprint Cup victory in Concord, N.C., that catapulted him into championship contention. Burton culminated savvy pit strategy on a final stop, going into the pits with the lead and taking fuel only to make sure he was still out front on the restart with 34 laps to go at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Jimmy Johnson staged a brief battle for the lead, but Burton held steady to snap a 25-race winless streak. Kasey Kahne, who swept the May races at the track, finished second and was followed by Kurt Busch. Kyle Busch returned to his familiar spot in the Nationwide Series on Friday night, cruising to a win in the soggy, wreck-filled Dollar General 300. The victory was the ninth for the 23-year-old Busch in NASCAR's second-tier series. He has won eight Cup races and three more in the Craftsman Truck Series. The busy Busch's 70th race of the season followed a familiar script for Joe Gibbs Racing, whose teams had won 18 of the 31 Nationwide races. Busch started 16th, but his superior No. 18 Toyota was on display early. He quickly moved to the front and led 137 of the 200 laps. Busch pulled away from Jeff Burton on a restart with three laps to go, despite taking just two tires on his final pit stop. Burton held on to finish second and Brian Vickers was third. Point leader Clint Bowyer finished fourth and Carl Edwards was fifth.

   Last year, 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pulled into the Thompson Speedway to finish up their season and crown a Champion. The event drew 32 Modifieds. Eric Berndt earned the second Coors Light Pole Award of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career on Saturday in advance of the season finale Sunoco-Town Fair Tire World Series on Sunday. Berndt toured the .625-mile, high-banked oval in 18.607 seconds (120.922 mph) for his first pole since 2009. Bobby Santos III posted the second-fastest qualifying lap at 18.624 (120.812). Ron Silk was third fastest with Ryan Preece, fourth and Justin Bonsignore, fifth. Rounding out the top ten was Mike Stefanik, Eric Beers, Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby and Andy Seuss.

   The speedway beat back the threat of rain and now the 2012 season is history. The World Series of Auto Racing victory lane hosted Bobby Santos as Whelen Modified Tour winner, Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modifieds, Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets, Rob Summers in ISMA Super Modifieds, and Larry Gelinas in the Super Late Models.

   Santos held off a determined Todd Szegedy to win the Sunoco Race Fuels Ė Town Fair Tire 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race and collect his second consecutive win this season and 8th career victory. Doug Coby finished sixth and won his first Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Santos started the 150-lap race from the outside pole and took the lead from Todd Szegedy on lap 130 when he dove to the bottom groove in turn three. Santos held off Ryan Preece on a late-race restart to take the checkers.

   Preece, who finished the race in second, led the most laps at 56 and finished the series point battle in second place. Szegedy finished the race in third. Rounding out the tp five were Mike Stefanik and Eric Beers. Sixth thru tenth was Coby, Tommy Barrett, Patrick Emerling, Keith Rocco and Pitkat. Nineteen cars finished on the lead lap. Rocco wrapped up the 2012 Rookie of the Year award.

   Woody Pitkat used a lap 11 restart to take the lead from Ted Christopher and drive to a victory in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature. Richie Gallup led the opening lap of the Sunoco Modified feature, but caution called for a complete restart. Gallup led again when the green dropped, but Ted Christopher soon maneuvered by him and drove his No. 13 machine to the point. Michael Gervais and Ryan Preece made up the top-three when everything sorted itself out.

   Caution slowed their pace at lap nine, but it didnít slow Christopher down, who darted back to the front on the restart. Pitkat used the inside groove to get by Gervais for second before a car hit the back straightaway wall and set the field up for another restart. Pitkat and Christopher went into turn one dead even, but Pitkat emerged the leader coming out of turn two. Preece and Ceravolo got around Christopher for second and third, but Ceravolo fell off the pace entering the first turn of lap 16. Caution flew at lap 18 with Pitkat, Preece, Christopher, and Gervais making up the first two rows for the restart.

   Pitkat took command at the drop of the green with Preece on his bumper. Pitkat had to do it all over again after a caution on lap 19, but it didnít slow him down. Preece, however, got shuffled back to the fourth position with Christopher and Danny Cates taking over second and third. Pitkat and Christopher quickly pulled away from the rest of the field with Pitkat keeping a car length ahead. A half a second behind them, Preece and Cates battled door-to-door for the third position with Preece having the advantage by a nose. On lap 29, Preece secured the spot while Pitkat continued to lead up front. Pitkat took the checkers a car length ahead of Christopher. Ryan Preece finished third with Danny Cates and Michael Gervais rounding out the top five.

   Before the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hopefully returns to Thompson International Speedway next spring for the Icebreaker there are other fish to fry as there are two major events on the offseason schedule. The 28th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion will be crowned as part of the NASCAR Night of Champions Awards banquet, which will include ceremonies for the seven NASCAR touring series on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach will then take place Feb. 18-19 on a temporary .4-mile oval on the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway as part of 2013 Speedweeks.
By virtue of wins through the Whelen Modified Tourís first 13 events, Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, Donny Lia, Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos, Ron Silk and Mike Stefanik have locked-in starting positions for the 150-lap exhibition Whelen Modified-Whelen Southern Modified Tour combination race on Feb. 19.

   The Valenti Modified Racing Series shared the Thompson Speedway with their big brothers and had their own feature on Saturday night. The New England based series was 36 cars strong. Rowan Pennink picked up his third victory of the season in the Valenti Modified Racing Series after taking the lead at lap 40. Justin Bonsignore led from the pole before caution slowed the race for the first time at lap two. On the restart, Bonsignore drove back out front with Todd Owen right on his bumper. On lap four, Owen shot around to the lead with Bonsignore and Christopher in tow. Owen drove straight to the front when racing resumed after a caution on lap 11 with Chris Pasteryak getting underneath Bonsignore for second. Pasteryak attached himself to Owenís bumper, and heading into turn one on lap 17, shot to the bottom and drove to the lead. Pasteryak put some distance over the rest of the field once out front while Christopher took over second. Louie Mechalides took that spot from Christopher when the Plainville, Conn. native pulled his ailing machine onto pit road at lap 34. Mechalides set his sights on Pasteryak, who was maneuvering through lapped traffic nearly a second in front of him. Caution flew at lap 40 with many cars electing to go down pit road, but Pasteryak was not one of them. Rowan Pennink joined Pasteryak on the front row for the restart, and took over the lead when the green flag dropped. On the next circuit, Brad VonHouten and Leo Oliviera made contact. Olivieraís car climbed the outside retaining wall and traveled over 100 feet on that wall before coming to a stop in the middle of turns one and two. The race went under red flag conditions as safety and track personnel attended to Oliviera, who escaped unharmed, and his car. On the restart, Pennink jumped to the lead with Pasteryak and Richard Savary in tow. Lap 50 brought out the caution once again, and on the restart, Pennink drove straight to the front as Pasteryak held off a challenge for second. Jon McKennedy and Steve Masse rounded out the top-four. McKennedy used the bottom to get by Pasteryak on lap 54 while Masse followed his line on the following circuit. Pennink held off McKennedy through two more restarts, but it was getting harder for him to shake McKennedy, who was glued to his rear bumper as they hit five laps to go. Caution flew with two laps to go setting up a green-white-checkered finish, but even that was not enough to shake Pennink, who drove to the victory.

   Jon McKennedy finished second followed by Steve Masse and Richard Savory. Louie Mechalides rounded out the top five. Sixth thru 10th were Chris Pasteryak, Max Zachem, Todd Owen, Charlie Pasteryak and Norm Wrenn.

   Penninkís victory in the Valenti Modified Racing Series 75-lapper highlighted an action packed night at Thompson that offered 11 features of racing. John Studley, John Lowinski-Loh, Tommy OíSullivan, Jesse Gleason, Eric Bourgeois, Glen Thomas, Jr., Chris Correll, and Dave Richardi all visited victory lane on World Series weekend. There was a total of 337 cars signed into the pits for the three day event. The car count increased by 61 over last years total which was 276.

   Down in the Southland George Brunnhoelzl III clinched his third NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship just by taking the green flag Thursday night in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And then he closed out the season in style as he went out and led every lap en route to his sixth win of the season. It marked the 17th career win for the West Babylon, N.Y., driver and his first on the quarter-mile oval on the frontstretch at Charlotte. Brunnhoelzl also became the first driver to win three NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified titles, breaking a tie he held with Junior Miller (2005-06).

   The event, which drew 20 cars, had some northern flavor as Ryan Preece finished in the runner-up spot and Ted Christopher in the Hillbilly 79 finished seventh. Burt Myers finished third with Danny Bohn and Andy Seuss rounding out the top five.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Clint Bowyer picked up his first win in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship winning a fuel-mileage race that ended in disaster for points leader Brad Keselowski. Keselowski dominated the Bank of America 500 but ran out of fuel with 58 laps remaining to blow his chance at the victory. Denny Hamlin finished second and is third in the Chase, 15 points back, and Johnson finished third. The race was the first since 1979 without an Earnhardt, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out with a concussion. His replacement driver, Regan Smith, had engine failure early in the race.

   In Nationwide Series racing at Charlotte, Joey Logano raced to his eighth victory of the year passing Brad Keselowski with eight laps to go after taking on two tires and a splash of gas. Logano led 62 laps en route to his 17th career victory and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler. Kyle Busch finished fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.

   Area Auto Racing News reported last week that the Speed Channel could be no more in 2013. FOX Sports will be re-naming the channel and will use it to showcase more ball and stick sports with just a minimal amount of racing related programming.

   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
Courtesy of &

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Charlie Jarzombek                                   Bugs Stevens                                                Bill Harman

    John Rosati                                                  Bill Slater                                              Bentley Warren

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 11, 2013

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