The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith



April 25, 2014

  Sixty years ago in 1954, Melvin "Red" Foote was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Irwin Fox was the non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959 Leo Cleary was the Modified winner at the Norwood Arena. Jerry Humiston and George Lombardo were the Modified winners at Riverside. Dick Beauregard was the 25 lap Sportsman winner while Charlie Webster won in the non-Fords and Ed Priest made it two in a row in the Bombers at the New London Waterford Speedbowl.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 Wild Bill Slater had become the Master of Competition at the Norwood Arena in the mighty V-8. Slater took the Modified feature win while Bobby Santos was the Hobby Division winner at the Norwood oval. Ed Patnode won at Riverside and "The Flying Finn" Reino Tulonan took the win at Westboro. Ray Delisle scored his third Modified victory of the season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Scrivener was the Bomber winner.

  Forty five years ago in 1969 Bill Slater, one of the greatest drivers to ever turn a wheel in New England retired as a driver and went to work for Mal Barlow as the Race Director and General Manager of the Stafford Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl George “Moose” Hewitt was the Modified winner while Bill Sweet made it two in a row in Daredevil action.

  Forty years ago in 1974, the competition was in New York State. At Shangri-La on Saturday, Maynard Troyer took the top spot over Geoff Bodine, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. At Fulton on Sunday, the roles were reversed as Bodine took the top spot and Troyer played second fiddle. Evans and Cook again followed. Art Moran Sr, who was the head mechanic at Ed Yerrington’s Service Station in Ledyard, CT, was the Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ron Cote made it three in a row in Grand American action.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, the rescheduled Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Speedway took center stage. Maynard Troyer won the 80-lap event over Ronnie Bouchard and Ed Flemke. Tom Druar was the 50-lap non-qualifiers event. Richie Evans and Jerry Cook elected to go south. It paid off for Evans as he won a 150-lap event at Martinsville plus a 100-lap event at Ashboro.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Jim Spencer scored a one-two punch as he won at Riverside on Saturday night and the Spring Sizzler on Sunday. At Riverside, Bob Polverari finished second and was followed by Richie Evans and George Kent. Corky Cookman was the runner up to Spencer at Stafford with Brian Ross, Eddie St. Angelo and Tony Hirschman, following. John Falconi won the 50-lap non-qualifiers event over Tom Baldwin.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Stan Gregor was the Saturday night winner at Riverside. Mike Stefanik won the modified 150 at Martinsville over Reggie Ruggerio and Tony Hirschman. At the Waterford opener, Ronnie Rocco won an 89-lap event but was protested by Ted Christopher. Rocco was disqualified but a day later had his win reinstated when it was found out that the scales were not working properly. As an added note, Seekonk suffered its fifth rainout.

  Twenty years ago, in 1994 Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Jamie Tomaino on lap 97 of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler and went on to win the event over Jan Leaty and Reggie Ruggiero. John Anderson was the SK winner. At Riverside, Marty Radwick scored his first win in seven years and at Riverhead, Chris Young held off Tom McCann for the win. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Rusty Wallace was both the Busch pole winner and the race winner.

  Fifteen years ago in 1999, Waterford and Riverside ran on Saturday night with the Stafford Spring Sizzler on Sunday. Twin events were run at Riverside. Rene' Dupuis became the first modern day woman to win a Modified event as she beat out Dan Avery. Dave Berube was the other mod winner at Riverside. At Waterford, Bill Sharp won the 35 lap modified event. Mike Gada finished second with Bert Marvin, third. Phil Rondeau scored his 98th career late model win.

  At Stafford, Rick Fuller changed tires with two to go and blasted his way to the 200 lap Sizzler win. Chris Kopec finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin, Tony Hirschman and Carl Pasteryak. Second generation driver, David Berghman suffered a broken rib and an injured spleen after a big wreck on the front chute. Twin SK-40s were run as part of Sizzler weekend. Taking wins were Todd Szegedy and Bob Potter. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt took the lead from Dale Jarrett with 13 laps to go and went on to take the win. Terry Labonte was the Busch Grandnational winner.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 33rd Annual Spring Sizzler. A total of 52 Modifieds were on hand looking to qualify for 33 starting spots. Todd Szegedy, who was the Busch Pole sitter at the Thompson, made it two for two, as he was the fastest of the fast. Second fastest was Tour Series part timer Jeff Malave. Reggie Ruggiero was third with Tony Hirschman and John Blewett III rounding out the top five. The top ten re-drew for starting spots with Eddie Flemke Jr. picking the pole and Ted Christopher the outside pole. Szegedy picked eighth and Malave, ninth. Qualifying for a Featherlite Modified Tour Series event had become extremely difficult as only 1.621 mph separated the pole sitter from the 28th and final time trialed spot.

  Saturday at Stafford was extremely busy as the track’s regular divisions were also in competition. The first of two SK Modified features to be run saw Eric Berndt jump out from his outside pole starting position to lead the entire 35-lap distance. Ted Christopher finished second with Mike Holdridge, third. Shawn Monahan won the 21 means 21 feature that actually is a consolation event. Five-time track Champion Bob Potter finished second. Monahan ended up 12th in the first feature and Potter finished 26th. Chuck Hossfeld in his first outing in an SK finished 22nd.

  When Jerry Marquis and car owners Mike and Janice Boehler left Thompson after getting wrecked in the closing stages of the Icebreaker they were totally dejected. They felt they had a good shot to win until an untimely trip into the wall put an end to their day. The Boehlers and Marquis are racers. They put their defeat behind them and rebuilt the legendary Ole Blu for the Stafford Sizzler. Their efforts paid off as they came from a 29th starting position to take the win in the 33rd Annual event. Ironically, a Boehler car won the First Spring Sizzler, run in 1972 with the late Fred DeSarro driving. Tony Hirschman finished second in the 200-lap grind with Ed Flemke Jr., third. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Tom Bolles, Ted Christopher, Ricky Fuller, Tony Ferrante Jr., Zach Sylvester and Jamie Tomaino.

  Marquis took a lot of pressure from Ed Flemke Jr and Tony Hirschman in the closing laps. Pole sitter Ed Flemke Jr led the first ten laps before giving way to Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld led until lap 117 when he pitted under caution when it became apparent that a shower would not shorten the event. Marquis, who started in 29th spot, made a determined run to the front and inherited the lead when Hossfeld pitted. Ole Blu had the necessary handles to run the low groove. Hirschman got real close but couldn’t muster that little extra that would have put him in the lead at the end. Ted Christopher was the Sunday SK-Modified winner and Mike Quintiliano was the late model winner.

  At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Justin Gaydosh had good reason to celebrate his 20th birthday when he scored his first ever-modified feature win. Blocking big time in the closing laps, Gaydosh was able to keep second place finisher Ed Reed Jr. at bay. Chris Pasteryak finished third. Ted Christopher made a quick trip from Stafford but fell victim to ignition problems in the early going. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Corey Hutchings in the Late Models, Norman Root in the Sportsman, Glen Colvin in the Mini-Stocks and Mike Pepe in the Legends Cars.

  The Nextel Cup division along with the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR was in Talladega, Alabama. Martin Truex Jr., a graduate of the Busch North Series, took the Busch Series win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon took the lead in Sundays Aarons 499 Nextel Cup event six laps from the finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running second. Earnhardt was making a run at Gordon with four laps to go when a wreck brought the field under caution. NASCAR rules state there is no more racing to the finish line when the caution is displayed and it was determined that Gordon had three quarters of a car length on Earnhardt at the time of the caution. NASCAR was unable to restart the event and Gordon was declared the winner. When Gordon took his victory lap he was greeted by unruly and unhappy race fans that threw everything from Beer cans to chicken bones on the track.

  The Busch North Series opened their season at the Lee USA Speedway. Andy Santerre took the win over Joey McCarthy, Eddie MacDonald, Ryan Moore and Mike Stefanik. Dave Dion was the Busch Pole sitter. There were only 27 cars on hand for the 150 lap event that saw seven caution periods for 48 laps It appeared that the anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR over the awarding of Nextel Cup dates might be coming to an end. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Texas Motor Speedway would get a second Nextel Cup date as part of the settlement. Other tracks could very well be paying the price as it had been said and written that race dates at Rockingham, North Carolina and at Darlington in South Carolina may go away.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was on a two week break before heading to Stafford Springs Connecticut for the annual Spring Sizzler. In the mean time NASCAR made a ruling that could very well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Hartford Courant reported that competitors, drivers and owners, would be required to attend the season ending banquet in order to receive their point moneys and season ending awards. The vast majority of Whelen Modified Tour Series competitors have been fiercely loyal to NASCAR in the past but that could very well be changing. What really has the competitors riled up is the fact that they signed and agreement to comply with NASCAR’s banquet requirements without even knowing it. That’s what happens when you sign your name to something before you read it. Defending series Champion Ted Christopher said he was not happy with having to go to Charlotte but in the end, he was there. The competitors were, as had happened many times before, hoodwinked by NASCAR. The agreement that the competitors signed stipulated that the competitors must attend the season ending banquet as they had in previous years, never stating that the venue had changed. It was a gutless move on NASCAR’s part to say the least!

  Like the formerly loyal competitors to the Busch North Series before them, NASCAR was slowly but surely putting the screws to the competitors who race on the Whelen Modified Tour. Many of the former Busch North Series competitors now compete in the ACT Series or the PASS series. Slowly but surely the Modified competitors are leaning toward the True Value Modified Series.

  Jason Christley, NASCAR manager of communications for the weekly and touring divisions had all but called the competitors including defending WMT Champion Ted Christopher ignorant and stupid as he referred to those who compete and follow the Modifieds as the “"torch-and-pitchfork mob". Hopefully when some of them show up in Charlotte this fall they would be wearing their Sunday best bib over-alls and carrying pitchforks unless of course NASCAR has a hidden dress code clause that the competitors signed without knowing.

  Rumor had it that NASCAR may hire Jerry Robinson to sit in a dunk tank just in case any Waterford competitors show up in Charlotte this fall!

  After three straight weeks of rainouts the Waterford Speedbowl finally got to open their doors for the 2009 season. Keith Rocco picked up where he left off in 2008 as he won the opener as he nipped Ron Yuhas Jr at the finish line in the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Yuhas, who started on the pole, was the only other leader of the event. Rob Janovic Jr. was third, followed by defending champion Dennis Gada. Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Diego Monahan, Jeff Pearl, Frank Mucciacciaro Jr., Don Fowler, and Justin Gaydosh. Among those who ran into tough luck was Jeffrey Paul who dropped out with engine problems.

  Bruce Thomas Jr picked up his 30th career win at the shoreline oval as he went pole to pole to take the victory. Vin Esposito finished second and Allen Coates was third. Flyin Ryan Morgan of Mystic made his grandfather Jack a happy guy as he scored his first win of the season Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl by winning the twenty lap Legend's feature. Morgan had to survive three caution flags with two laps to go, however, the 15 year old was able to pull away on the restarts to hold off second place finisher, Joe Cipriano and Tony Flanagan who finished third.

  Other winners were Danny Field (Mini Stocks) and Josh Galvin (Street Stocks).

  Ted Christopher and Joe Brady were a little off their game as they settled for a seventh place finish in a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series event at the Lanier Speedway in Braselton, Ga. Andy Seuss took the lead in the 150 lap event on lap 43 from Christopher. George Brunnhoelzl III finished second. L.W. Miller and Burt Myers made contact in Turn 2 on the final lap while racing for third, and Myers went spinning. Miller went on to score his best finish of the year in third, with Brian Loftin and Jason Myers completing the top five. There were only 14 Modifieds in competition. Seuss received $2,000 for his efforts.

  In Nationwide Series racing at the Phoenix Int Speedway Greg Biffle and his Roush Fenway Racing team gambled their way to a record win Friday night. Biffle didn't pit on the last stop, holding onto his lead by staying on the track while almost all the competition ducked in for fresh tires. A bunch of late cautions prevented anyone from catching Biffle, and he held on for the win. He had to hold off Jason Leffler over several late restarts, and again on a final two-lap sprint to the finish. Leffler also chose not to pit on the last stop, a decision that moved him up to second, where he finished behind Biffle. The victory gave team owner Jack Roush 100 wins in the Nationwide Series.

  Brad Keselowski finished third for the third consecutive week. Joey Logano, the previous week's winner at Nashville, was fourth and was followed by Kevin Harvick.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Phoenix Mark Martin took a popular win. At 50 years, three months and nine days, Martin became the third-oldest winner in NASCAR history with the victory. He broke a 97-race winless streak dating back to Kansas in 2005, and solidified what everyone inside NASCAR already knew: The guy is still at the top of his game. Tony Stewart finished second.

  Brad Leighton of Center Harbor, N.H. won the American Candian Tour New Hampshire Governor's Cup 150 at the Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H. The race was the first qualifying event for the ACT Invitational, which will be run Sept. 19, 2009, at NHMS. Leighton got by Joey Polewarczyk, last year's Governor's Cup winner, for the lead on lap 130 and led the rest of the way. Polewarczyk, of Hudson, N.H., held on for second and Scott Payea of Milton, Vt. was third.

  Former Camping World East Series star Sean Caisse bested longtime Sprint Cup Series veteran Ken Schrader to pick up his first ARCA RE/MAX Series victory Sunday in the Carolina 200 at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. Caisse, of Pelham, N.H., spent much of the afternoon in Rockingham chasing Schrader at the front of the field. But with less than three laps remaining Schrader ran out of fuel, opening to the door for Caisse to go to the front in his Venturini Motorsports ride.

  It was the sixth career ARCA start for Caisse, who was the Camping World East Series runner-up in both 2006 and 2007, winning seven events in the division during that span. Schrader led 185 of 200 laps at Rockingham. The only laps Caisse led all day were the final three.
The International Speedway Corporation announced that James C. France, 64, was stepping down from the role of Chief Executive Officer effective June 1, 2009. Mr. France would remain Chairman of the Board of Directors in a non-executive capacity. In addition, the Company's Board of Directors announced the promotions, also effective June 1, 2009, of several executives to positions of new responsibility.

  Business First of Louisville reported that the likelihood that Kentucky Speedway will be awarded a 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup race had become even more remote because an antitrust lawsuit by the track founders against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. now likely won’t be resolved until July at the earliest. The case, which is in U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, is not included in the hearing calendar finalized Monday for a two-week session beginning April 20. Although the court could still add the case to the schedule, that would be rare in a case such as this one. The next two-week hearing session begins June 8 – the Monday prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track.

  NASCAR Chairman Brian France has said that NASCAR will not consider a realignment request for a Sprint Cup date from current owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. until the case is resolved. NASCAR typically begins the sanctioning process in April or May, and France has said that the track is running out of time to begin the realignment process.

  The appeal hearing would center on whether there is enough evidence for a trial, and a decision on whether to affirm or repeal a judge’s January 2008 ruling in favor of NASCAR and ISC likely would come anywhere from three weeks to six months after the hearing. If the Kentucky Speedway founders win the appeal, the case would then be scheduled for trial.

  The founders of Kentucky Speedway, who sold the track to SMI in December, allege that sanctioning body NASCAR and track operator ISC illegally conspire to keep tracks such as Kentucky from obtaining Cup dates. NASCAR, a private company owned by the France family, and the publicly traded ISC, whose majority of voting stock is owned by the France family, deny those claims. SMI is listed as a co-conspirator in the case.

  The Associated Press reported that Brazilian race car driver and "Dancing With The Stars" champ Helio Castroneves was acquitted on April 17 of most charges that he worked with his sister and lawyer to evade more than $2.3 million in U.S. income taxes.

  A federal jury acquitted Castroneves on six counts of tax evasion but hung on one count of conspiracy. When the sentence was read, Castroneves broke into sobs and leaned against his attorneys for support. The jury also acquitted Katiucia Castroneves, 35, who is her 33-year-old brother's business manager, on the tax evasion counts but also hung on the conspiracy. Michigan motorsports attorney Alan Miller, 71, was acquitted on all three counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy. The jury deliberated six days after a six-week trial.

  Last year, 2013, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford Motor Speedway this past weekend for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally an 80 lap open competition race that drew close to 100 cars, now the Sizzler is NASCAR sanctioned, extended to 200 laps and drew 26 cars. The starting field was advertised by NASCAR to be 33 cars.

  In Saturday qualifying Bobby Santos III was the pole sitter as he toured the half mile oval in18.082 seconds which calculated out to be 99.547mph. Todd Szegedy was second fastest with Rowan Pennink, third. Chuck Hossfeldt and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.
Bobby Santos III left little doubt in anyone's mind as he literally cleaned house at Stafford as he led all 200 laps in spite of making a pit stop for tires during a caution period on lap 104. Santos, thanks to a quick pit stop, lined up along side Patrick Emerling who chose not to pit. When the green flag was displayed on lap 107 Santos blew him away two laps later as he re-took the lead. Santos withstood six cautions and restarts to score the dominating win. Justin Bonsignore, who was having fuel starvation problems on the final lap, managed to finish second. Ted Christopher, Stafford's top feature winner, didn't pit when the leaders pitted on lap 104. Instead, he waited until lap 136 before taking on fresh tires. Despite a charge from the rear Christopher fell short and had to settle for third spot in the finish. Ryan Preece and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Jimmy Blewett and Mike Stefanik.

  Thirteen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap. Ten cautions slowed the field. Caution no.1 came on lap 2 when Woody Pitkat lost an engine in the Hillbilly No.79. The second caution flew on lap 46 for Chuck Hossfeldt who had a malfunction in his car's suspension causing him to spin. Ronnie Silk was having handling problems as he spun between turns one and two, bringing out the third caution. Wade Cole spun in turn four on lap 102, bringing out the fourth caution. Patrick Emerling brought out caution no.5 when he spun in turn four on lap 134. Caution no.6 was for Ken Heagy who spun in turn four on lap 142. Caution no.7 on lap 149 ended up in a red flag situation. Ronnie Silk, who was fighting a loose car, over corrected after getting loose on the backstretch. Silk hit the wall and collected the cars of Bryon Chew. Gary McDonald and Richie Pallai. Caution no.8 was for Ed Flemke Jr who spun in turn two and caution no.9 was a result of a wreck triggered when Ted Christopher got loose on lap 184 and collected Todd Szegedy and Richie Pallai. Christopher was able to continue. The tenth and final caution was for Flemke and Pallai who wrecked in turn two.

  In other Spring Sizzler action, Ryan Preece was the SK Modified winner. Todd Owen was second with Doug Coby, third. Dan Avery and Glenn Reen rounded out the top five with Ted Christopher, sixth. Mike Stefanik relieved injured Keith Rocco and finished seventh. JJ Hill went pole to pole to win the Late Model event.

  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Joe Gada made history Saturday night when he became the first third generation driver to win an SK Modified feature at the Connecticut shoreline oval.

  Gada took the lead on lap 6 and cruised to an easy victory in the 35-lap feature. Joe's father, Dennis Gada, is the only driver in track history to win seven championships and his grandfather, Bob Gada, was also a winner in the Modified division. The Gada family has won 11 track championships and more than 120 races at the Speedbowl. Ted Christopher was a distant second and Diego Monahan was third. Keith Rocco and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

  In other Speedbowl action, defending division champion Dillon Moltz won the 30-lap Late Model race, Josh Galvin won the 25-lap Street Stock feature, Ian Brew captured the 25-lap Mini Stock race and Corey Coates won the visiting New England Truck Series feature.
Modified action in the south moved to the Mad House, Bowman Gray Stadium. Tim Brown led every lap of the Hayes Jewelers 200. The victory was the 67th of Brown’s Bowman Gray career, and it follows a 2012 season in which he won eight races and a record ninth stadium title.

  Brown, who last won the season-opening main event in 2010, took the lead from pole-winner Jason Myers on the opening lap and never looked back. Brown withstood 12 double-file restarts, holding off Myers and Danny Bohn, as well as a final single-file restart after a caution that extended the race to 204 laps. Myers finished second and Bohn, the runner-up in last season’s opener, finished third. John Smith was fourth, and Burt Myers, who had won the last two season-openers, finished fifth.

  On a sad note, Waterford Speedbowl Championship car owner Al Gaudreau passed away on Saturday night. Gaudreau's cars, with Dick Dunn driving, scored countless wins and won five consecutive track championships from 1972-1976. Prior to retirement Gaudreau owned Quality Auto Electric in New London.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action Kevin Harvick won Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400 race at Richmond International Raceway by plowing through traffic on a two-lap sprint to the finish. Harvick was chasing down Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead when a caution flag flew with six laps remaining. Harvick and Montoya pitted for fresh tires, handing the lead to Jeff Burton and Jamie McMurray for a green-white-checkered restart. Harvick restarted seventh but flew through the field and quickly blasted by Burton, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, for the lead. Clint Bowyer finished second followed by Joey Logano, Montoya, Burton, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.

  Brad Keselowski won the Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway for his 1st win of the season and the 21st of his Nationwide career.

   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.

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: April 25, 2014

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