Thirty years ago in 1984, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter at
Richmond but it was Ricky Rudd coming back from a violent wreck at Daytona
to take the win. In victory lane Rudd showed signs of his violent wreck as
he still had two black eyes. Ronnie Bouchard was the second fastest
qualifier and after running in the lead pack, lost an engine and finished
Twenty years ago in 1994, Ward Burton
won the 200-mile Grandnational event at Rockingham. Bill Elliott, driving
the Junior Johnson No.11 was the Winston Cup winner.
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the cup
cars and Grandnationals headed west to Las Vegas. Mark Martin was the BGN
pole sitter and Dale Jarrett did likewise in the Winston Cup portion. Jim
Spencer took the lead with 25 laps to go and went on to win the
Grandnational event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. A fourth turn wreck
on the last lap saw Randy LaJoie finish the event on his roof. It was also
after the completion of the event that Jeff Fuller was fired and replaced by
Kevin Lepage. Mark Martin took the Winston Cup win over Jeff Burton and
Rusty Wallace. Jarrett lost an engine.
Ten years ago in 2004, the expertsí
spoke in a poll conducted by NASCAR as far as who would win the NASCAR
Featherlite Modified Tour Series title in 2004. Chuck Hossfeld, who was
driving for Mystic, Connecticut car owner Bob Garbarino received the most
votes as being the most likely to take the 2004 series title. Hossfeld
finished second to Todd Szegedy in 2003. John Blewett III who was driving
for Curt Chase, from Willimantic, Ct. was also considered to be a top
contender. Rounding out the top five of those receiving the most votes were
Szegedy, Ted Christopher and Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik was expected to
make announcement pertaining to his plans for the NASCAR Modified Tour
Series but it never came. Rumor had it that he would drive the Bear
Motorsports No.14 or the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 that had been driven by
Chris Kopec. Stefanik was committed to a full schedule on the Busch North
Series and would compete in the Modifieds when his schedule permits. The
Stafford Speedway announced that late model competitor Woody Pitkat had
added his name to the SK-Modified roster for 2004. Pitkat, who had four late
model wins at Stafford in 2003, was also one of the top runners at Thompson.
Jim Broderick, who was hobbling around after hip replacements said he was
all healed and had a very busy schedule planned for 2004. In what may be his
last year, the Brookfield Connecticut driver will be running the full NASCAR
Featherlite Modified Tour Series schedule plus will be a regular in the
SK-Modified ranks at Stafford. Broderick also plans a few special events at
Waterford. Speedway Motorsports announced that they had record revenues and
earnings for the fourth quarter and year ending 2003. Compared to 2002,
total revenues increased 16% or $11.5 million to $84.6 million. Forth
quarter 2003 net income increased 30% or $2.6 million to $11.1 million.
Because of the fact that it was leap year NASCARís NEXTEL Cup and Busch
Racing Series got a weekend off.
Five years ago in 2009, Thompson
Speedway owner Don Hoenig shifted gears again at the northeastern
Connecticut oval. In 2008 the Speedway hosted two Thursday night dates for
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series in addition to his traditional dates.
For 2009 he announced that he was dropping the June event and replacing it
with an open competition non-sanctioned Modified event. After much thought,
Hoenig has decided to drop the idea of an open event and has replaced it
with the True Value Modified Series and his regular Thursday Night Thunder
Series divisions. Founded by Jack Bateman, the True Value Series runs at
just about every track in New England.
Word had it that Donnie Lia would be back in the Mystic Missile for 2009.
Through no fault of his own, Lia lost his full time truck ride due to the
downturn on the economy. Chuck Hossfeld says he would run his own equipment
in the New York area. In addition to the possibility of Hossfeld not being
on the Whelen Modified Tour Series it looked like Matt Hirschman would also
be missing from the line-up as he had not secured a ride as yet.
The Waterford Speedbowl property continued to be a hot topic especially
with a foreclosure looming in the near future. As of 2/24, six days remained
before the shoreline oval was scheduled to be on the block. Years ago when
the Arutes leased the Speedbowl, Ed Yerrington, who was the General Manager
stated that the Speedbowl kept Stafford afloat while the track was
rebuilding their weekly program after tossing out the Modifieds in favor of
the SK Modifieds.
The sounds of the open-wheel Modifieds returned to Orange County Speedway
in North Carolina for the first time in over 15 years and despite cold
weather and snowy conditions the teams in attendance knocked off some very
competitive laps in preparation for the March 6 & 7 Frost Bite Modified
Winter Nationals" at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC.
Temperatures in the low 40ís and blowing snow did little to dampen the
spirits of those on hand for the test and lap times were about a second a
lap quicker than the regular OCS divisions. Ronnie Silk in the Hillbilly
Racing #79 was the quickest of the group with laps in the 13:40 second
range. Jay Foley wasnít far behind in his Foley Machine Chevy with laps in
the 13:60 bracket and Jason Myers in the Tranthem/Moorefield, Myers Racing
Ford turned laps in the 13:80ís. Silk and Foley tested the softer M-20 and
M-30 combination and Myers ran the set-up with the harder M-45 compound on
the right rear. "The OCS track record for the Modifieds was 12:92 when we
ran here lastí, said Gary Myers, owner of the Jason Myers ride. The track is
located on NC Hwy 57 half-way between Hillsborough and Roxboro, NC.
Kyle Busch did something Saturday that no NASCAR driver had done in the
sanctioning bodyís top divisions, won twice in the same day. Busch added a
dominating NASCAR Nationwide Series victory under the lights to a similar
Camping World Truck Series win earlier in the day at Auto Club Speedway in
Fontana, Calif. Busch led 95 of 100 laps in winning the truck race on the
2-mile oval, then was in front for 143 of 150 for his 22nd Nationwide
victory. Kevin Harvick was second and Middletown native Joey Logano, Busch's
Gibbs Racing teammate, was third. Carl Edwards beat Busch out of the pits on
the last stops by the leaders Saturday night, but Busch took the lead on the
restart 16 laps from the end and pulled away. Despite leads of up to 11
seconds at times, it came down to the restart on lap 135 after Edwards beat
Busch out of the pits by the length of his hood.
In Sprint Cup action, Matt Kenseth went the distance this week as he won
the Auto Club 500 on Sunday. Kenseth, who won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 a
week ago to open the Sprint Cup season, had to endure four short rain delays
in the season's second race. But with the help of his pit crew, which
several times got the No. 17 Ford off pit road first, Kenseth became the
first driver since 1997 to win the season's first two points races. The last
driver to start with two victories was Jeff Gordon, who fought furiously to
deny Kenseth but settled for second. Middletown native Joey Logano finished
26th. Gordon, trying to snap the longest winless streak of his career at 42
races, passed Kenseth for the lead on lap 196 but lost the race off pit road
on a caution 12 laps later and couldn't catch Kenseth.
Gordon got almost to Kenseth's rear bumper on lap 232, but Kenseth held
on for his 18th career victory. Kyle Busch, who made NASCAR history by
winning both the truck and Nationwide races on Saturday, came up short of a
weekend sweep, finishing third.
Last year, 2013, the big highlight of
last weekend was the 54th annual Frank Maratta Auto and Race-A-Rama at the
Big E in West Springfield, Ma. Hundreds of custom cars, Motorcycles and Race
Cars were on display. Numerous speedways were represented plus many racing
related vendors. Among the cars on display was the Valenti Modified Racing
Series Championship entry of Art and Kenny Barry of Spearpoint Auto and the
beautiful V-One No. 52 of John and Joe Catania. One of the highlights of the
weekend was the pit crew competition which was won by the Jeff and Keith
Rocco race team.
A hot topic of conversation was the exit of Frank Sgambato Jr from the
Race Management team at the Stafford Speedway and the rumor that Tom Fox
will be taking his place.
Word from Long Island indicated that Ted Christopher would not be a
regular competitor at the Riverhead Raceway this year. Wayne Anderson, a
former five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion announced that
21-year old Timmy Solomito of Islip would drive his famed Eastport Feeds
NASCAR Modified at the ultra-competitive quarter mile oval in 2013. The
Anderson/Solomito pairing would start their quest not only for the NASCAR
Modified championship at Riverhead but also the New York State title in the
Whelen All-American Series on Saturday evening May 4th in Twin 30 main
events. Solomito is the defending opening night winner.
Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice sent word that The Star Speedway
in Epping, NH is very excited to announce a sponsorship donation of $4,400
from Long Island race fan Jim Schaefer that will go directly to the drivers
who compete in the third annual SBM 125 Open Modified event at the
quarter-mile oval on Saturday, June 15.
Each of the 24 drivers who qualify for the race will be handed $100 bills
by Schaefer once they are officially in the star-studded field. This means
that the race will now pay $600 to start and a minimum of $5,125 to win,
even before the thousands of dollars in bonuses are added in.
At the 2012 event, race winner Matt Hirschman pocketed just under $9,000
when including the bonus cash. In fact 22 of the 28 race teams who entered
the SBM 125 last June earned additional monies beyond the purse payout for
In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Kyle Busch led 142 laps at Phoenix
International Raceway on Saturday to end a 24-race Nationwide winless
In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards pulled away on a late restart and
snapped a 70-race winless streak on Sunday, the second long drought he's
ended at Phoenix. Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole and
lead green-flag laps during NASCAR's season opener, sending her popularity
to a new level.
But she couldn't stay with the leaders at Phoenix, ending her day with
one of the hardest hits of her career. It happened with about 100 laps left,
when the right-front tire on Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet went down and
slammed her into the wall.
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.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit