October 18, 2013
Sixty five years ago this week in
1948, Robert "Red" Byron from Atlanta, Ga. was crowned the first
NASCAR Modified champion.
Sixty years ago in 1953, Herb
Thomas was declared the Winston Cup, then called Grandnational, champion.
Lee Petty finished second. Joe Weatherly was the NASCAR Modified Champion.
Fifty five years ago in 1958,
Lee Petty won his second Winston Cup championship. Buck Baker was second.
Budd Olsen was the NASCAR Modified champion and Ned Jarrett won his second
NASCAR Sportsman championship. Wild Bill Slater closed out the season at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl with a 25 lap win. Joe McNulty was the
Fifty years ago in 1963, Joe
Weatherly won his second Winston Cup championship. Rene Charland won his
second of four NASCAR Sportsman championships and Eddie Crouse won the
NASCAR Modified championship.
Forty five years ago in 1968,
Thompson Speedway ran their season ender. Bugsy Stevens took the win and was
followed by Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Leo Cleary, Bob Santos and Don
MacTavish. Stevens sewed up his second of three NASCAR Modified
championships. Bob Potter was the Sunday afternoon Modified winner at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet was the Daredevil winner. David
Pearson sewed up his second of three Winston Cup championships as be beat
out Bobby Issac and Richard Petty for the title. Pete Hamilton won Rookie of
the Year honors in NASCAR’s elite division.
Forty years ago in 1973, Jerry
Cook won the season ending modified event at Martinsville. Maynard Troyer
finished second and was followed by Ray Hendrick, Denis Giroux and Ronnie
Bouchard. Richie Evans finished nineteenth and sewed up his first of many
NASCAR National Modified Championships. Benny Parsons won the Winston Cup
championship and Lenny Pond was the Rookie of the Year. Jack Ingram was the
NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Champion.
Thirty five years ago in 1978,
The modifieds ran a special event at Kingsport, Tenn. Ronnie Bouchard,
driving the Bobby Judkins No.2x took the win over Richie Evans, Jerry Cook
and Harry Gant. Gant drove the famous William Mason No.45.The only action in
New England was at Waterford where Bugsy Stevens in the Brady Bunch No.41
won a 100 lap open competition event which drew 60 modifieds. Dick Dunn in
the Albert Gaudreau No.3 finished second and was followed by Eddie Flemke
and Bruce "Gomer" Taylor.
Thirty years ago in 1983,
George Kent ran out of gas while leading the Martinsville 250 with only ten
laps to go and handed the victory to Jamie Tomaino. Tony Hirschman finished
second and was followed by Doug Hewitt, Richie Evans and Brett Bodine.
Richie Evans, who won 31 of the 68 events he entered, was crowned the 1983
NASCAR Modified champion. Rounding out the top five in points were Bob Park,
Jim Spencer, Tom Baldwin and Dick Trayner. Trayners crew chief and chief
mechanic was Steve Bird.
Twenty five years ago in 1988,
Tom Baldwin won the 250 lapper at Martinsville. Jan Leaty finished second
and was followed by Richie Gallup and Jerry Cranmer. Mike McLaughlin was
declared the NASCAR National Modified Champion.
Twenty years ago in 1993, New
Hampshire International was forced to cancel the season ending events for
both the Modified Tour and the Busch Grand National North Series. Ricky
Fuller was declared the Modified National Champion and Dick McCabe was
declared the Busch North Series Champion. In Winston Cup action at Phoenix,
Mark Martin took the win with Ernie Irvan, second.
Fifteen years ago, in 1998,
Riverside Park closed out the season with a 100 lap modified event and a
75-lap SK event. Ricky Miller took the lead on lap 71 after Reggie Ruggerio
lost a drive shaft. Miller went on to take the win and was followed by Chris
Wenzel, Jamie Tomaino and David Berghman. Jim Williams won the SK event. Ted
Christopher finished second after attempting to pass on the last lap. Carl
Pasteryak won the Lee Oktoberfest and in Winston Cup action at Rockingham,
Jeff Gordon took the win and sewed up his third championship. On November
2,Joe Lewandowski, the promoter and General Manager of Riverside Park
announced that he was leaving his position and was taking a position in the
marketing department at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach.
Ten years ago in 2003, The
NASCAR Modified Tour Series finally got to run their final event on Saturday
at the Thompson Speedway. A beautiful fall day saw the 5/8-mile oval draw
about a ¾ full house. Todd Szegedy survived a near devastating high speed
trip through the infield grass, made a remarkable recovery and came back to
finish eighth and wrap up the series title in his sophomore year on the
Modified tour series. It was a tough day for Szegedy along with title
contenders Chuck Hossfeld and John Blewett III. Hossfeld, who started
fourth, ran in the top five most of the day, got caught up in a spin after
Jimmy Kuhn wrecked. Hossfeld recovered to finish seventh. In the final
standings Hossfeld ended up 32 points behind Szegedy. Tony Hirschman
dominated the event to take the win over Ed Flemke Jr., Charlie Pasteryak,
Ricky Fuller and Mike Stefanik. John Blewett III, who was also a title
contender, was extremely upset with the winner after he moved up the
racetrack on the back chute and planted him in the wall. Blewett led the
event from laps 47-63 after taking it away from Hirschman who led the first
46. Blewett, who started third, ended up in 27th spot. Tire wear was a
factor with the outcome. Hirschman must have had a good set as he went the
entire distance on his original set. Just about every one else in the lead
pack pitted at least once for tires. Jerry Marquis also led the event.
Marquis, who ended up fifth in the final standings, led from lap 64 to 84
before suffering a right rear flat. Despite a 19th place finish Marquis
ended his season fifth in the final standings. Ted Christopher finished
fifth in the standings after recording a 15th in the event. Sixth through
tenth in the World Series were Jamie Tomaino, Hossfeld, Szegedy, Carl
Pasteryak and Eric Beers. It was good to see Ed Flemke Jr. and the Roger
Hill owned North Carolina based team end the season on a high note. Flemke
and the Hills suffered horrible luck most of the season with motor problems
and confrontations with Ted Christopher. Coming on strong in the final laps,
crew chief David Hill felt that if they had a few more laps they had
something for Hirschman but it wasn’t meant to be as the second generation
driver had to settle for second in the final run down.
NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Bob Polverari was forced to turn over
his ride to Joe Czarnecki. Polverari, who was in a wheel chair, suffered a
broken hip as a result of a go-kart accident. Czarnecki finished 22nd, one
lap down. Reggie Ruggiero who was making his second start of the year
clearly got the biggest applause during driver introductions. Ruggiero, who
started 16th, suffered a motor problem and dropped out on lap 33, ending his
day in 31st spot. Donny Lia, who had previously wrapped up Rookie of the
Year honors, was also a victim of engine problems as he also dropped out on
lap 33, ending his day in 32nd spot. Doug Coby, who finished 12th, was the
highest finishing rookie. Prior to the start of the Featherlite Modified
finale the championship contending teams of Don Barker, Curt Chase and Bob
Garbarino all shook hands with one another plus the fact there was an
awesome display of a low fly-over of three F-111’s.
Bo Gunning and car owner Eddie Partridge ended their season on a
high note as Gunning won a hard fought battle in the Sunoco-SK type Modified
feature. Gunning ran wheel to wheel with Kerry Malone during the opening
laps. With Gunning finally getting out in front Malone settled into second
spot. Malone was hit by George Bessette on a lap ten re-start and retired
shortly there after. Todd Ceravolo was making a run for a top spot when Ted
Christopher caused him to brush the wall. Ceravolo showed his dis-satisfaction
with the former National Champion as he gave him a love tap once he got back
up to him. Christopher retaliated and slammed Ceravolo on the backstretch
under caution and inflicted enough damage for Ceravolo to have to be towed
off. On the final re-start Eric Berndt moved into contention but didn’t have
quite enough to get by Gunning. Chuck Docherty, Doug Coby and Jim Civali
rounded out the top five.
Other World Series winners were Chris Perley in the Supers, Randy
Cabral in the NEMA Midgets and Charles Bailey III in the Late Models.
The Featherlite NASCAR Modified Tour Series had finally wrapped up another
season. In addition to post-season point fund moneys from NASCAR point fund
the top 20 shared in $158,000 in contingency awards including $100,000 from
series sponsor Featherlite, $10,000 from Hoosier Tires, $8,000 from
Edelbrock, $8,000 from JE Pistons, $8,000 from Moroso Products plus $8,000
each from Union 76, Ohlins and Stef’s products. The last three awards will
be paid contingent upon decal verification and actual product usage. Series
champion Todd Szegedy would walk away from the awards ceremony with upwards
of $31,600 plus his point money.
In Winston Cup racing at Atlanta, rain put a damper on the racing
after 19 laps causing the race to resume on Monday. Jeff Gordon used
precision timing of pit stops to put him in a position for the win. Gordon
took the lead on lap 289 of the 325-lap event and went on to out run Tony
Stewart to the finish. Jimmie Johnson finished third. Greg Biffle won the
Busch Series event.
Five years ago in 2008, the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series wound its way to the Thompson Speedway as
the division finished out their 2008 season at the annul World Series.
Forty-one Modifieds were on hand for time trials, which were held on
Saturday. Taking the pole was Eric Beers who also broke the track record
with a fast time of 18.429. Second fastest was young sensation Ryan Preece
in the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family. Third was championship contender
Matt Hirschman with Jimmy Blewett and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top
five. In the re-draw for the feature start Blewett drew the pole with Mike
Stefanik drawing the outside pole. Preece drew third, Hossfeld, fourth and
Ted Christopher, fifth. Beers drew sixth. Among those in the field was
Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified Champion Keith Rocco who placed the Joe
Brady No.00 solidly in the field in 14th spot. Among those who didn’t
qualify were Reggie Ruggiero and Billy Pauch Jr. Among those who had
problems and had to rely on provisional starting spots were Todd Szegedy, Ed
Flemke Jr, Danny Sammonds and Jamie Tomaino.
Ted Christopher went into Sunday’s World Series with a different
mindset than normal. Known as a hard charger, go for broke driver he was
forced to take a conservative route. With Matt Hirschman breathing down his
neck in the point standings the Plainville CT driver didn’t want a wreck
ruining his chances. For the first half of the 150 lapper Hirschman and
Christopher ran ninth and tenth. Both appeared to be waiting for the other
to have problems. By the 100-lap mark the championship contenders were
running fifth and sixth. On lap 120, while running third, Hirschman began to
slow. Two laps later he was behind the pit wall with engine problems. Once
Christopher got the word from Crew Chief Brad Lafountain Christopher put the
hammer down and went after the victory. Christopher passed Ron Silk for the
lead on lap 134 and was never headed after that. Chuck Hossfeld ended up in
second spot and was followed by Silk, Doug Coby and Eric Rudolph. There were
11 cautions for 49 laps and six lead changes among 5 drivers. Hirschman, who
re-entered the event 21 laps down on lap 143 ended up in 25th spot. In
addition to Hirschman the other hard luck story belonged to Ryan Preece.
Preece was running fourth on lap 80 when his right front tire went flat.
Preece pitted under green and lost a lap. The determined youngster made a
determined bid as he ended up 14th, on the lead lap.
Shortly after the checkered flag dropped Matt Hirschman congratulated the
new champ. What he didn’t know was that one of his car owners, Ed Bennett,
was waiting in the pits to tell him he was fired from his car. Hirschman had
split his driving time between Bennett’s mount and that of Wayne Darling.
Hirschman, who had won at Chemung and had finished second at Stafford in
Bennett’s car, was driving Darling’s car at Thompson.
Thompson World Series feature activity kicked off on Saturday
evening with eight (8) events. Corey Hutchings scored the victory in the
Outlaw Late Models; Howard Payne came out of retirement to win in the All
Star Race Trucks. Scott Michalski was up to his old tricks winning in the
Mini Stocks. Scott Foster bested his brother to take top honors in the
Outlaw Strictly Stock. Norm Wrenn, topped the Pro-Four Modifieds and Chris
“Moose” Douton won in the Limited Sportsman division.
During pre-race activities on Sunday NASCAR continued their 60
years of racing recognition with 1955 Champion Bill Widenhouse from NC, 1970
Champion Fred DeSarro and 1967 thru 1969 Champion Carl 'Bugsy' Stevens
Keith Rocco put a cap on what was considered a break-out season as
he won the the NASCAR 30-lap Whelen All-American Series SK (SUNOCO) Modified
feature. Rocco, a second generation racer, won the season ending SK Modified
event at the Waterford Speedbowl and finished second in Stafford’s season
ender to wrap up the SK Modified championship there. Rocco was the 2007
champion at Thompson. Bert Marvin served up a spirited battle to finish
second. Josh Sylvester finished third with Eric Goodale and Brian McCarthy
rounding out the top five. Kerry Malone, who had previously wrapped up the
track title, finished 19th in the high attrition event.
In other World Series events run on Sunday Chris Perley continued
to be the dominant force in the International Supermodified Association
taking down a strong victory at the World Series. Randy Cabral worked his
magic taking his third straight Northeastern Midget Association feature
victory. Derek Ramstrom turned in a dominating performance in the Pro
Stocks; and Rick Gentes was victorious in the Late Models to conclude the
race season at Thompson.
Congratulations went out to two-time NASCAR Featherlite Modified
champion car owner Art Barry of Preston who was part of the New England Auto
Racing Hall of Fame Class of 2009. Among his many accomplishments were
back-to-back NASCAR Whelen National Modified championships (2001-02 with
driver Mike Stefanik) top the resume of Barry, 73. In 56 years of
competition, Barry, who started racing at the Waterford Speedbowl, has won
on 26 tracks from Maine to the Carolinas. His major wins included two
Thompson 300 wins, two Stafford Springs Motor Speedway Spring Sizzler wins,
two wins at Martinsville, VA and two at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the
National Open at Lancaster. Barry’s SPAFCO race chassis brand is one of the
top of chassis in Modified racing. In addition to Stefanik his many drivers
included Jerry Dostie, Bobby Santos, Leo Cleary, Bob Potter, Jeff Fuller
plus his son, Kenny. In the beginning Barry was a typical back yard racer as
he fabricated his own chassis and built his own motors. In 1970 Barry’s
racing career and working career almost came to an end when he suffered two
crushed legs while directing a backing fire truck at the Preston City Fire
house. Sheer determination and a lot of help from his friends helped Barry
resume a normal life and a return to racing.
Barry joined fellow Nutmegger John Fitch, a one-time International
road racer and founder of Lime Rock Park. The list also included drivers
Bobby Dragon and Paul Richardson, promoters Bob Bahre, Jim McConnell and Tom
Curley and car owner/ builder Rollie Lindblad.
Jimmie Johnson led 339 laps as he dominated the NASCAR Sprint Cup
event at Martinsville Speedway, and the two-time defending Sprint Cup
champion padded his lead in his bid for a record-tying third straight
championship with four races remaining. Only Cale Yarborough, from 1976-78,
had won three straight championships in stock car racing's premier series,
and Johnson is looking more and more as if he'll be the second. Johnson's
sixth victory of the year extended his points lead from 69 to 149, and while
his closest challengers vowed that the Chase race isn't over, the plaudits
keep coming, too. Dale Earnhardt Jr was second, followed by Carl Edwards and
Jeff Gordon, giving Hendrick three of the top four spots. Denny Hamlin was
fifth and Casey Mears, the fourth Hendrick driver, was sixth.
Last year, 2012, The Valenti
Modified Racing Series closed out their season last weekend at the Lee USA
Speedway in New Hampshire as part of their Oktoberfest. The event drew 31
Capping off a run from the rear twice, Tommy Barrett took no
prisoners in the season ending 100 lapper. Barrett, who was supposed to
start fourth, was forced to start in the rear as he pitted before the start.
Barrett pitted again on lap 46 before his final charge to the front which
paid off on lap 86 when he took the lead on lap 86 from Jon McKennedy. By
the time Barrett streaked under the checkered flag McKennedy had faded to
fourth but had garnered enough points to secure the 2012 Championship for
himself and car owner Art Barry. Les Hinckley finished second with Rowan
Pennink, third. Andy Seuss finished fifth. Chris Pasteryak led the early
going until he pitted on lap 46. Louie Mechalides inherited the lead until
giving way to McKennedy on lap 78. Sixth thru tenth were Norm Wrenn, Dwight
Jarvis, Joe Doucette, Mechalides and Max Zachem.
Congratulations went out to Keith Rocco who had been named the 2012
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award winner in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Rocco, from Wallingford, Conn., recorded five top-10 finishes in eight
starts during the season. He posted an average finish of 13th with a best
result of third place in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford (Conn.) Motor
Speedway on April 29. Rocco missed six events, nearly half of the 14-race
schedule, due to an injury suffered in practice for a NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series race at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in July.
He ranked ninth in the overall points standings after six races prior to the
The 27-year-old was able to compete in the season’s final two
Whelen Modified Tour races to secure Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. In
his eight total starts he also captured Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors on
five occasions. Seven of his eight appearances came in the Boehler Racing
Enterprises No. 3 “Ole Blue” Chevrolet. In spite of the injury, Rocco was
also able to finish as the national runner-up in Whelen All-American Series
competition for the third time in the last four seasons. The one year Rocco
wasn’t the runner-up, 2010, he captured the national title. Rocco will be
recognized for his Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award at the NASCAR Night of
Champions Awards on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention
Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
It looked like the NASCAR Whelen drivers and owners will have to
dig a little deeper next year in order to modify their seats to satisfy the
new rules. The projected cost will run between $500 and $1500.
After competing in 575 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races over 27
seasons, Geoff Bodine called it a career. Bodine, who hasn’t run full-time
since 1999, had run part-time since his injury in the then NASCAR Craftsman
Truck Series Daytona opener in 2000. Although he had a sponsor willing to
back him for the 2012 season if an opportunity arose to run with a team in
any of NASCAR’s three series, no deal panned out for the veteran. Bodine,
63, ran select races in 2011 for Tommy Baldwin Racing. In his four starts in
2011, Bodine finished with a best of 30th at the season finale
Homestead-Miami Speedway. At that time, Bodine didn’t feel that would be his
last start in NASCAR, but he now is saying he will retire from the sport due
to a number of factors.
“If you race long enough in racing, you will hit your head,” said
Bodine, who has suffered from concussions in racing, “I’ve been in that
position several times. I’ve seemed to bounce back from them with very
little side effects. [People] might say ‘well, you’re okay,’ but the problem
with that is I don’t know what might happen tomorrow when I wake up. I pray
every night that I do wake up and I do know who I am. All of my concussions
could have some effect on my life.”
Bodine’s accomplishments on the track include 18 career Cup wins
with one Daytona 500 victory in 1986, 190 career top-10 finishes, an IROC
championship in 1987, a career best 3rd in points in 1990, and being named
one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He was also very proficient in
his days behind a NASCAR Modified. His best year was 1978 when he drove the
Richard Armstrong No.1 to 55 wins. His on-track performance and career stats
speak for themselves and may be able to position him as a viable candidate
as a future NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee.
Pro All Stars Series promoter Tom Mayberry purchased Maine’s Oxford
Plains Speedway. Mayberry, a former racer, has found a great deal of success
as Owner and President of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS). PASS was founded
in 2001 and had since grown to be the nation’s premier sanctioning body for
asphalt short track racing. PASS currently sanctions a variety of stock car
divisions throughout North America.
Hot on the heels of the news that the Speed Channel was going out
of existence was the news that with two full seasons left on their current
television contract, NASCAR and FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG) announced an
extensive new eight-year, multi-platform media rights agreement that ensures
FSMG’s broadcast of NASCAR racing through 2022. Under terms of the new
agreement, FSMG also significantly increases its digital rights to include
“TV Everywhere” live race streaming of its portion of the season for the
first time ever beginning in 2013.
Wells Fargo estimates International Speedway could receive an incremental
$830M of gross revenue from the new eight year contract between FOX Sports
Media Group and Nascar.
In an unrelated matter, Speedway Motorsports declared a quarterly
cash dividend on October 18 of 15 cents per share of common stock. The
quarterly dividend will be payable on December 10, 2012, to shareholders of
record at the close of business on November 16, 2012.
In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing at the Kansas Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse
grabbed the lead when leader Kyle Busch ran out of fuel exiting the fourth
turn during a green-white-checkered finish and held off Austin Dillon to
take his sixth victory of the season and eighth of his career, driving for
Roush Fenway Racing.
Stenhouse had contact with Joey Logano early in the race and ended
up losing two laps in the process. But he battled back all day and was in
the right place to snag victory from the jaws of defeat.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Matt Kenseth’s Ford was the fastest
car left running Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. On a day where crashes
were common and right-front tires couldn’t seem to stay together, Kenseth
maneuvered his way to the front during the Hollywood Casino 400 to score his
third Sprint Cup victory of the year.
Kenseth ended up leading a race-high 77 laps and finished
.495-second ahead of second-place Martin Truex, Jr. The victory was the 24th
of Kenseth’s career in 468 series starts.
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 from the collection of the late
Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com &
Click on Photo for Full Sized
Lou Funk Jr
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit