The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 25, 2013

    Forty five years ago in 1968, Ray Hendrick won the first ever 500-lap race for the modifieds at Martinsville. Thompson also ran with Fred DeSarro taking the win. Don Collins won the season ending 100 lapper at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Rick Taylor was the Daredevil winner.

   Thirty five years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine scored his 54th victory of the season in the Dick Armstrong No.1 as he won the season ender at Martinsville. George Summers finished second and was followed by Satch Worley, Bobby Santos, Charlie Jarzombek and Ronnie Bouchard. Richie Evans annexed his second driving title. It was also 25 years ago this week that Fred DeSarro passed away after lying in a coma for close to a month after an accident at Thompson. Cale Yarborough made it three in a row Winston Cup Championships. Bobby Allison was second with Darrell Waltrip, third. Ronnie Thomas was the Rookie of the Year and Butch Lindley was the Late Model Sportsman Champion.

   Twenty five years ago in 1988, the only action was twin 100s at Waterford for modifieds and SK type modifieds. Mike McLaughlin won the modified portion and Ted Christopher was the SK mod winner. Following Christopher were Tom Jensen, John Anderson and Jim Broderick.

   Twenty years ago in 1993, Steve Grissom sewed up the Busch Grand National title at Hickory, N.C. Hermie Sadler was named BGN Rookie of the Year.

   Fifteen years ago, in 1998, Jeff Gordon won the Winston Cup event at Atlanta after waiting through a 6-1/2 hour rain delay. On a sad note, Dick Moroso passed away after a battle with cancer.

   Ten years ago in 2003, The Stafford Motor Speedway held its annual competitors meetings. The DARE Stocks met on Monday, the Late Models met on Wednesday, November 5 and the SK Modifieds met on Friday. New rules for 2004 were discussed. Conspicuous by his absence was long time employee Dan Pardi, who had been released from his position at Stafford. Pardi had been in the rules and competition end of things and had been a loyal employee for over 20 years. In Winston Cup action at Phoenix Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the win over Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman. In Busch Series action at Phoenix Bobby Hamilton Jr. scored his fourth win of the season.

   Five years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series closed out another successful season. Car counts were down a bit but overall the competition was great. When the final checker dropped at Thompson, Ted Christopher led the championship standings by 127 points over Matt Hirschman. Hirschman, who lost his ride in the Bennett mount, was one of the first to congratulate the new champion. Todd Szegedy finished the year in third spot with Chuck Hossfeld and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top five. Rounding out the top ten in the final standings are Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Rowan Pennink, Jimmy Blewett and Ryan Preece. Next on the agenda is the annual Banquet of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Casino in December.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl competitors were still wondering if and or when they would be paid for the Fall Finale. Word had it that track operator Jerry Robinson would not renew his lease of the shoreline oval, which meant that the purse would never be paid. NASCAR, which competitors at Waterford were forced to join needed to go after the non-paying promoter and take legal action if necessary in order to protect their paying members. In the end, NASCAR did nothing!

   In True Value Modified Series action at the Twin State Speedway Matt Hirschman, who had won 12 times in three of four Modified racing series won the Ricky Miller Memorial 100. Hirschman started 16th. Lisbon Connecticutís Chris Pasteryak came from last starting spot to finish seventh and sewed up the series championship. In the 100 lapper, Dwight Jarvis finished second and was followed by Kirk Alexander, Jon McKennedy and Bob Goodenough.

   In All Star Modified action at Epping, NH on Saturday night a paltry field of only 15 Modifieds were on hand. According to reports Ronnie Silk led about 2/3 of the 100 lapper before being passed by Mike Stefanik for the lead and eventual win. Silk hung on for second with Matt Hirschman, third. Kyle Ebersole and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Among those who didnít finish was Ted Christopher who ended up 11th.

   In Nationwide Series action, Carl Edwards held off David Reutimann to win the Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 on Saturday at the Memphis Motorsports Park, keeping alive his hopes for a second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series title. Edwards, who missed qualifying because of practice for Sunday's Sprint Cup Race in Atlanta, started 34th in his No. 60 Ford but made an early stop for fresh tires and gained ground quickly. He took the lead from Mike Bliss on lap 69, and never trailed after that. Reutimann kept his Toyota on Edwards' rear bumper for the final two laps, but couldn't overtake him for the lead.

   In Sprint Cup action at Atlanta Motor Speedway Carl Edwards passed Denny Hamlin on a late restart, then held on to win Sunday to keep his championship hopes alive. But his seventh win of the season barely dented Jimmie Johnson's points lead. Johnson had a rough start to the race, earning a rare pit-road penalty that dropped him a lap off the pace, but stormed back to finish second with an impressive final sprint through the field.

   Last year, 2012, The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their season and championships were decided in both the SK Modified and Street Stock events. Jeff Rocco, twin brother to Keith Rocco, took his first career victory in the 50-lap SK Modified race while Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard secured his first ever Speedbowl title in the division. Walt Hovey left no doubt in the Street Stocks, winning both the race and the track championship. Also winning races Saturday were Bruce Thomas Jr in the Late Models and Ken Cassidy Jr. in the Mini Stocks.
Rocco was the man to beat once he made his way into the race lead. Craig Lutz started in the pole position and led through a lap 3 restart. Lutz gave way to Kyle James while Rocco moved into second position. Another caution on lap 5 enabled Rocco to line up alongside James for the ensuing restart. Rocco powered past James when racing resumed, leading lap 6. Rocco survived four more restarts the rest of the way.

   Todd Ceravolo finished out the year on a high note, finished second to Rocco in the SK Modified race while Shawn Monahan came from the rear to finish third. Jeff Rocco is the twin brother of two-time track champion Keith Rocco. Chadwick began the event with a 21-point lead over Jeff Pearl. He finished the race ninth, running a cautious race to stay out of trouble and claim the crown.

   Thomas led throughout the Late Model race, with Jeff Smith finishing second and Dillon Moltz the champion in the division, finishing third.

   Hovey rose to the lead on lap 24 in the Street Stocks race then survived multiple caution flags over the remainder of the race. Corey Hutchings was second and Chris Meyer came in third. Cassidy resumed the final 28 laps of the Mini Stock race from a lead he held back on October 7th when rain halted the race. Ray Christian III of Norwich was second and Jeff Cembruch finished third. Cassidy's victory was his 12th of the year in the division, good for the all-time single season record in division wins.

   On a sad note Auto Racing lost a true friend with the passing of Charlie Mitchell. Charlie was well known and highly respected by his peers for his writing in the Norwalk (CT) Hour. Charlie was the dean of New England racing writers. The respect he had from competitors, from promoters, from fans and, especially from other media members, remains unparalleled. Having Charlie in the press box signified that it was indeed an event worthy of coverage. He brought the skills he used covering other sports to auto racing. He was one of a tiny group that was instrumental in making our sport part of the general media scene. In that regard, he was a revolutionary figure in New England auto racing history.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Martinsville Speedway, Jimmie Johnson started from the pole and dominated the race, leading 191 of the 500 laps en route to his seventh victory at the historic .526-mile asphalt oval. However, the victory didnít come easy.

   Jeff Gordon was attempting to work his way around Johnson when the caution flag waved on lap 474 when Kevin Harvickís engine expired. All of the lead-lap cars pitted under caution except championship leader Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Johnson restarted third behind Keselowski and Earnhardt and quickly drove his way around both drivers, retaking the lead on lap 485. On lap 491 the final caution flag of the day waved when Carl Edwards and Earnhardt spun in turn two, giving second-place Kyle Busch one final shot at Johnson.
The field returned to green-flag racing with five laps left and Johnson quickly pulled into the lead with Busch in hot pursuit. Busch gave it everything he could, but Johnson was able to hold on for the victory.

   The Nationwide Series was off for the weekend.

   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 & Dave Dyke's Racing

Click on Photo for Full Sized

   Dick Ceravolo                                        George Pendergast                                George Summers

    Pete Fiandaca                                             Stan Greger                                        Smokey Boutwell

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 25, 2013

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