March 7, 2014
Thirty years ago in 1984, the Winston Cup visited Rockingham.
Harry Gant was the pole sitter. Bobby Allison took the win. Ronnie Bouchard
qualified 12th and finished 21st after losing an engine. Geoff Bodine had a
better day. He qualified 13th and finished sixth.
Twenty five years ago, in 1989, Rusty
Wallace was the Rockingham winner.
Twenty years ago, in 1994, the Winston Cup and Grandnational divisions were
in Richmond. In Grandnational action, David Green was the pole sitter. Joe
Nemachek took the win over Kenny Wallace and Hermie Sadler. Randy LaJoie
suffered his third wreck in a row as he got collected in oil dumped by Mike
Wallace and ended up in the wall.
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the
International Speedway Corporation teamed up with developer Donald Trump to
explore possibilities of building a speedway in the New York city metro
Ten years ago in 2004, It was
announced that former NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series Champion Mike
Stefanik would be driving the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 when his schedule
permits. Stefanik was committed to a full schedule on the Busch North
Series. Robbie Summers would be the driver of choice when Stefanik is
unavailable. Chris Kopec, who had driven the Flamingo Motorsports entry for
the previous sixteen years, was injured at Thompson in 2003 during the
running of the season ending World Series. He had not recovered completely
from his injuries and felt that it was in the best interest of his family
and business that he not race in 2004. It has also been learned that Tom
Cravenho of Raynham, Mass. would be driving for Long Island car owner Eddie
Partridge on the Modified Tour Series. Bo Gunning would continue to drive
the Partridge SK-Modified at Thompson and at a few selected events at
Waterford. Dick Houlihan, one of the top dogs at Seekonk, was announced to
be driving a former Joe Brady car on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour
Series for 2004.
Connecticut developer Gene Arganese, who hoped to build a speedway in
North Stonington, Connecticut, had offered to pay the town $4.5 million for
a public safety complex the town intended to build on Route 2. He had also
offered $30,000 in scholarships to North Stonington public school students.
First Selectman Nicholas Mullane said the $4.5 million offer sounded like a
bribe. Arganese also ran into a stone wall with the school department when
they rejected his offer because it would violate the Board of Educationís
policy on advertising. Despite not having the approval of local officials
and not having a commitment from NASCAR, a web site was opened for the
proposed North Stonington, Connecticut Speedway. The proposed track would be
called the New England Raceway and in addition to promoting auto racing,
hoped to stage concerts, trade shows expositions and swap meets. The
speedway began soliciting monetary memberships that range from $1500 to
$10,000 which would give patrons pre-show ticketing and seating
arrangements, VIP parking, celebrity cocktail privileges and put in a pool
for backstage and pit access. The latest twist seemed to indicate that if
Arganese did get to build the speedway it would be domed which would make it
a year round facility. North Stonington is a farming town and the big
attraction there every summer is their annual fair.
In Nextel Cup action at Las Vegas Matt Kenseth made it two in a row. Pole
sitter Kasey Kahne finished second. Kevin Harvick, who was in the top five
until the final moments when he ran out of gas, giving the win to Kenseth.
Five years ago in 2009, The mighty
Modifieds of NASCAR completed their tire test and shakedown runs at the
Bristol Motor Speedway in preparation for the August 19 combination
North-South 150 lapper. LW Miller and Brian Loftin from the southern tour
joined Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk for the
historic day. Using restrictor plates used at Loudon in the morning session,
four other drivers also tested Bristol on Tuesday. NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour veterans Ted Christopher, Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk turned laps as
well as Brian Loftin from the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
To start the day, all six cars employed the same restrictor plate that is
used annually at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tourís two events at New
Hampshire Motor Speedway. In the cool morning session, Szegedy paced the
field with a fast lap of 15.022 seconds (127.733 mph). The afternoon session
proved to be significantly faster for all involved as the temperature
warmed. As of mid-afternoon, Miller topped the charts at 14.742 seconds
(130.159 mph.), well under the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track
qualifying record of 14.908 seconds (128.709) set by Ryan Newman in 2003. In
fact, Christopher (14.805), Silk (14.818), Szegedy (14.869) and Hirschman
(14.894) had all exceeded Newmanís mark. According to Ted Christopher the
Modifieds are extremely fast due to the fact that it is wide open throttle
all the way around. One of the main issues that competitors will have to
deal with is frame height and shock travel. It is Christopherís opinion that
it will be a better race if restrictor plates are not used as there will be
better throttle response when exiting the turns. Two things are for sure as
he alluded to the fact that competitors will have to be on their game and
they will have to be mentally focused. The 150-lap combination Modified race
at Bristol is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Aug. 19.
After much speculation it was official, Donnie Lia was back in the Bob
Garbarino Mystic Missile for the full season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour Series. It had also been released that Woody Pitkat would be the full
time driver of the Don King No.28 on the tour. Doug Coby, who shared the
ride with Pitkat in 2008 would drive the mount formerly driven by Jimmy
Blewett. Blewett would be driving exclusively for Long Island car owner
Eddie Partridge in 2009.
Speedway Expo took center stage in New England over the weekend. The
brainchild of Speedway Illustrated Editor Dick Berggren opened on Friday and
ran through Sunday at the Eastern States Exposition Grounds in West
Among the highlights was the Riverside Park Speedway reunion held on
Friday night. The track was torn down ten years previous to make way for a
roller coaster. Among those who were on hand for the gathering were former
track and amusement park owner Edward Carroll and former announcer, now
anchor for FOX Sprint Cup telecasts Mike Joy. Former Riverside Park drivers
included were Bob Polverari, Moon Burgess, George Lombardo, Mike Stefanik,
Reggie Ruggiero, Steve Park, Renee Dupuis, Billy Grecco, Dan Avery, Ted
Chalmers, Bobby Seymour and Ted Christopher.
In addition EXPO was loaded with displays from tracks, racing divisions,
sanctioning bodies, vendors and collectible sellers.
The highlight of the weekend was the awarding of the Speedy Awards to
those who have gone above and beyond for the sport of auto racing.
Congratulations to Richie Grodski and the gang at the web site Chrome Horn
for the award for Best Series or Track Coverage, 2009 Speedy Award. This
award is given to the publication, broadcast or web medium that provides
outstanding coverage of auto racing.
Among the other Speedy Awards were Best Weekly Racer, Dennis Gada,
Breakout Racer, Keith Rocco, Best individual Performance of a driver was
Chuck Hossfeld, Best Individual Promotion was Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium
in New Jersey and the Long Haul Award went to Ted Christopher.
The Waterford Speedbowl will be under the sanction of NASCAR in 2009.
Property owner and track operator Terry Eames made the announcement at the
NASCAR gave their local weekly competitors a shot in the arm. New rewards
and recognition were made available to first-time Whelen All-American Series
featured division license holders for 2009. A new Rookie of the Year Award
program would determine top rookie performers in each state and province.
From those winners, a North American Rookie of the Year would be named. To
be eligible to compete for the award, drivers must be a first-time NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series featured division license holder. This award will
be made to a competitor in the SK Modified division at the Stafford Motor
Speedway and a competitor in the Sunoco Modified division at the Thompson
Speedway. If, in fact the Waterford Speedbowl secured a sanction,
competitors in the SK Modified division there would also be eligible.
In some sad news, H. Lewis Compton, 80, who was known as the "Mouth of the
South" for announcing every race at Martinsville Speedway for 44 years, died
last Friday at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville. Since 1962 he had been
known as "The Mouth of the South," a moniker bestowed upon him by Elmo
Langley, one of NASCARís early drivers, car owner and longtime pace car
driver. Compton announced every race at Martinsville Speedway from 1955
until 1999, worked in radio for 52 years until he retired from WHEE Radio
and was a licensed auctioneer for 36 years.
Greg Biffle recovered after running out of gas to win the Nationwide
Sam's Town 300 in Las Vegas. Carl Edwards was second.
Kyle Busch scored the biggest win of his career by driving from the back
of the field to win the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his hometown
track. Busch took the lead with 57 laps to go, then lost it during a late
round of pit stops. Busch was third on a restart with 22 laps to go, and
then chased down Jeff Burton and leader Clint Bowyer to move out front
Middletown native Joey Logano, who like Busch is with Joe Gibbs Racing,
finished 13th and had the lead on lap 53, the first time he has held the
lead in his brief Sprint Cup career.
Busch beat Kurt Busch for the pole on Friday to put brothers on the front
row for the first time since 2000. But an engine change in his Toyota meant
he had to drop to the back of the field at the start of the race, and Busch
had to power his way through the field over 285 laps. Busch held off Burton
and Bowyer on a restart with eight laps left and then another, after Jimmie
Johnson was involved in a crash , with three to go. Carl Edwards blew an
engine during the final two laps, the third Roush Fenway Racing motor to
fail during the race, handing fourth to David Reutimann. Matt Kenseth,
trying to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win the first three
races of the season, had engine problems six laps into the race and was
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves went on trial in
Miami federal court on charges he used shell corporations and offshore
accounts to evade paying taxes on millions in income. Prosecutors claim
Castroneves, 33, his sister and business manager Katiucia "Kati" Castroneves,
35, and Michigan attorney Alan Miller, 71, conspired to hide more than $5
million from the Internal Revenue Service between 1999 and 2004. Castroneves
was also charged with failing to report some additional income and
improperly deducting $687,000 as business expenses to reduce his taxes. If
convicted, the three could face more than five years in prison.
Last year, 2013, In some good news it
has been learned that NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship car owner
Curt Chase of Mansfield Center, Ct will join driver Ron Yuhas, Jr. and the
Mike Murphy owned KLM Motorsports as the teamís crew chief for the 2013
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season . Chase, along with his son Eric, bring
years of experience and valuable knowledge to the already solid team.
Bob Finan, Public Relations Chief at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island
reported that Bob Raissman the Media scribe for the NY Daily News says Fox
hosted a big NYC Gala to introduce their 24-hour sports network, Fox Sports
1 or FS1. The network will reside where the SPEED channel currently resides,
not good news for the racing community. The change takes place in August,
just in time for the new NFL season.
Sam Hornish Jr. snapped his winless streak in dominant fashion at the
Nationwide Series The Samís Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday,
surviving two late race cautions to hold off Las Vegas native Kyle Busch. In
Sprint Cup racing Matt Kenseth won on his 41st birthday in just his third
start for his new team, barely holding off Kasey Kahne at Las Vegas Motor
Speedway for his 25th career victory.
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