May 2, 2014
Sixty years ago in 1954 the New London Waterford Speedbowl ran
it's first extra distance event of the season and Moe Gherzi was up for the
occasion as he put the Garutti Brothers Special in victory lane for the 50
lapper. Gherzi would earn the nickname "Money Bags" after he went on to
record a total of 14 wins for the season at the shoreline oval. Irwin Fox
made it two in a row as he won the non-Ford feature.
Fifty five years ago in 1959, Melvin
"Red" Foote was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford
Speedbowl. Also in competition at the shoreline oval was Billy Greco who
took top honors in the non-Fords and Dick Dunn who won in the Bombers.
Fifty years ago in 1964 racing trade
paper Area Auto Racing News reported that Gene Bergin won the Modified
feature at Old Bridge Stadium in New Jersey. Billy Harman, driving the
famous L&M won the Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Bill Scrivener made it two in a row in Bomber action.
Forty five years ago in 1969, the
Norwood Arena began what was to be its last season of being the Saturday
night stop for the NASCAR Modifieds. Jack Malone, Kerry's dad took the win
over Eddie Flemke, Bobby Santos, Johnny Thompson, George Savory and Don
McCullah. Martinsville ran their spring 100 lap modified event and it was
Mr. Modified, Ray Hendrick, taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Jimmy
Hensley, Jerry Cook and Lenny Pond. Fonda also opened their NASCAR modified
season with Lou Lazzaro taking the win over Rene Charland, Ron Narducci and
Jerry Cook. Richard Petty was the Grandnational (Cup) winner at Martinsville
and Bugsy Stevens was the Sunday afternoon winner at the Thompson Speedway.
Forty years ago in 1974, Richie Evans
took the 150 lap Martinsville win over Harry Gant, Cook, Bob Santos and
Brian Ross. Evans went to Ashboro, N.C. on Saturday night where he finished
second to Paul Radford. Jerry Cook finished third and was followed by Ray
Hendrick and Brian Ross. Ted Wesnoski went two for two as he won Saturday
night at Islip and on Sunday at Freeport. Shangri-La opened on Saturday with
Geoff Bodine beating out Maynard Troyer and Dave Nichols. At Fulton on
Sunday Troyer held off Cook and Sonny Seamon for the win. Bodine and Evans
rounded out the top five.
Thirty five years ago in 1979, Richie
Evans went two for two in the Southland as he won a 100lap modified event at
Franklin County in Virginia on Saturday and a 200 lap event at Bowman-Grey
in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sunday. In the northeast, Waterford rained out but
events at Westboro and Monadnock were run. Ronnie Bouchard won a 50-lap
event at Westboro over Joe Howard, Deke Astle and Freddie Schulz. Bobby
Fuller was the late model winner. At Monadnock, Brian Ross in the Mystic
Missile won a 100 lapper over Allen Whipple, Jack Bateman and Eddie Flemke
Thirty years ago in 1984, the
Modifieds ran a 200 lapper at Martinsville and it was Mike McLaughlin taking
the win over Tony Hirschman, Charlie Jarzombek and Richie Evans. Wayne
Anderson took the opening night win at Islip over Bob Park and Fred Harbach
and at Shangri-La it rained. Reggie Ruggiero won one at Riverside over Ray
Miller and Bob Polverari. Barbara and Jim Cromarty purchased the Riverhead
Raceway from the Hawkins family. Waterford opened on Sunday with Rick
Donnelly winning out over Dickie Doo Ceravolo and Marty Radwick. In Winston
Cup action at Martinsville, Geoff Bodine realized a life long dream as he
won his first Winston Cup event. New England rival, Ronnie Bouchard,
Twenty five years ago in 1989,Jim
Spencer won at Shangri-La over Jan Leaty. Seekonk suffered their sixth rain
out and Riverhead also got washed out. Reggie Ruggiero won a mod tour at
Jennerstown on Sunday and at Waterford, Bob Potter won the opener in the
Ceravolo car. Monadnock also ran with Jerry Marquis taking the win over
Twenty years ago in 1994, Tom Jensen
scored his first ever win, that coming at Riverside Park on Saturday night.
Doug Meservey finished second. At Riverhead, Don Howe scored his 23rd career
win at the Long Island oval. Bill Park was second. Sunday was a wet and
dreary day. Thompson's IceBreaker and Waterford’s opener were scheduled to
go head to head. Thompson cancelled their show but Waterford tried to give
it a go. Their scheduled 94 lapper was held up for five hours before getting
the green. Ted Christopher lapped the entire field with the exception of
Dennis Gada who finished second. Jerry Pearl finished third and was followed
by Scott Spaulding and Bert Marvin. It was also Todd Ceravolos' modified
debut. His efforts ended when a water hose blew and he ended his day in the
turn three fence. John Steiner was the late model winner. In Winston Cup
action at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt took the win over Ernie Irvan and
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Jerry
Marquis won the Friday night opener at Stafford over Mike Christopher and
Frank Wainwrite and Larry Ross. At Waterford on Saturday, Dennis Gada went
pole to pole to take the win over Billy Sharp and Mark LaJunesse. The Busch
North Series invaded Riverside with Tom Carey winning out over Brad Leighton
and Tracy Gordon. Fifty-two of the 150-lap distance was run under caution
which kept the average speed down to 36.0627 mph. At Riverhead it was Al
Amarillo. Auto Racing suffered a black eye at Charlotte when suspension
parts flew off a wrecked IRL car and went into the grandstand, killing three
spectators and injuring 12. In Winston Cup action at Fontana, California it
was a run-a-way for Jeff Gordon. Matt Kenseth was the BGN winner.
Ten years ago in 2004, the Stafford
Motor Speedway began their regular Dodge Weekly Racing Series on Friday
night. Jeff Malave went pole to pole to win the opening night 40 lap
feature. Chuck Hossfeld, in his third time out in an SK-Modified finished
second. Hossfeld applied a lot of pressure to Malave in the closing laps but
in the end settled for second. Jeff Baral finished third. Rounding out the
top five were defending champion Kerry Malone and Chris Jones. Among the
missing was Eric Berndt who lost his mom on the previous Friday. Mike
Quintiliano made it two for two in Late Model competition, taking the lead
with two to go. Andrew Durand was the DARE Stock feature winner. Ted
Christopher, who has scored wins at Stafford and at Thompson already, added
the Waterford Speedbowl to his 2004 win list on Saturday night. Christopher,
who started 11th in the SK-Modified feature, took the lead when Doug Coby
spun while leading with 15 laps to go. Christopher admittedly gave him a
love tap, which helped him along. Actually Christopher hit Coby before he
spun and in reality intimidated Coby to enter the turn a little too hot
which caused him to lose control. Ronnie Silk finished second and was
followed by Ron Yuhas Jr., Dennis Gada and Tom Fox. The Late Model feature
went non-stop with Mark St Hilaire taking the win over Corey Hutchings. Ed
Gertsch Jr. was the Limited Sportsman winner and Jeff Miller was the
Mini-Stock winner. The NEMA Midgets paid a visit to the shoreline oval with
Ben Seitz taking the win. In Nextel Cup action at the California Speedway
Jeff Gordon made it two in a row. There was no shower of beer cans or
chicken bones this week as Gordon’s win was clear-cut. He had the best car.
Bobby Labonte may have had something for Gordon at the end but an empty fuel
tank forced him to slow on the final lap. Jimmie Johnson finished second.
The California event was a test of man and machine as the race was run in
100-degree heat. Greg Biffle was the Busch Racing Series winner on Saturday.
Tony Stewart finished second.
Five years ago in 2009, The
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour stopped at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the
annual Spring Sizzler. The weekend had picture perfect weather with
temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s. A near full house of fans were
on hand for the event.
Ted Christopher made it two-for-two in 2009 as he earned his second NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award of the season Saturday
afternoon. Christopher, turned a fast lap of 18.150 seconds (99.174 mph) in
the No. 36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet Saturday for his 20th career Coors
Light Pole Award, and his third at Stafford . The reigning NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour champion and defending winner of the Spring Sizzler also
captured the pole for the season opener at Thompson ( Conn. ) International
Speedway, and wound up in Victory Lane the following day. Mike Stefanik was
the second-fastest qualifier as he toured the Stafford oval in 18.368
seconds (99.997 mph). Ryan Preece, Eric Berndt and Donny Lia rounded out the
top five fastest cars in time trials. The top 10 qualifiers redrew following
time trials. Preece and Stefanik ended up starting on the front row for
Sunday’s 200-lap feature followed in the second row by Christopher and
Berndt. There were 33 cars on hand.
Ted Christopher, the dominant car for the first half of Sunday’s 200-lap
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race, survived a cut tire and an accident in the
second 100 to earn his second trip in a row to Victory Lane in the Tech-Net
Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Christopher, of Plainville, Conn., piloted the No. 36 Al-Lee Installations
Chevrolet from mid-pack with 70 laps to go to earn his 33rd career NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour victory. The Coors Light Pole Award winner on Saturday,
Christopher led 82 of the first 100 laps and appeared early to be the
dominant car for the second week in a row. While under caution, Christopher
had to come to pit road on Lap 121 with a cut tire and surrendered the lead
on to Mike Stefanik. After rejoining the field, seven laps later he was
skidding through the grass on the backstretch after getting caught up in an
accident and a second-consecutive victory seemed unlikely.
All that didn’t deter the defending series champion from returning to
Victory Lane, however, as he quickly moved up through the field and finally
got by Todd Szegedy on Lap 182. The result was his fourth NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour Spring Sizzler win and his ninth career tour triumph at the
Connecticut half mile. Szegedy finished as the runner-up and led
three-different times for 33 laps in the race. Ryan Preece posted a
third-place finish while Stefanik and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top
five. Sixth through tenth were Donny Lia, Woody Pitkat, Ron Silk, Jimmy
Blewett and Ed Flemke Jr.
In other weekend action at Stafford, the 38th Annual Tech-Net Spring
Sizzler presented by CARQUEST kicked off the 2009 SK Modified® and Late
Model seasons with Richie Pallai, Jr. taking the 40-lap SK Modified® feature
and Dillon Moltz taking the 30-lap Late Model feature.
Keith Rocco made it two in a row in SK Modified action at the Waterford
Speedbowl on Saturday night. The 35-lap SK event began with Jeffrey Paul
leading the first ten laps from his pole starting position. The action
immediately heated up behind Paul as Corey Hutchings, Tyler Chadwick, Rob
Janovic Jr., and Keith Rocco were jockeying for track position. Rocco, who
came from the ninth starting spot, worked his M&M Motorsports #57 SK Mod in
the low groove in the opening laps, and then moved to the ‘Bowl’s very
capable outside groove. He moved outside Janovic for fourth on lap 6, then
outside Chadwick for third a lap later. Still in the high line, he pressured
Hutchings for second before completing the pass just 2 laps later. He
immediately went to work on the leader Paul, again using the high groove to
gain the lead on lap 10. Hutchings and Chadwick followed Rocco around Paul,
and the lead pack began to open up some space under green flag conditions.
At halfway, Rocco continued to lead Hutchings, Chadwick and Janovic. Jeff
Pearl was making forward progress, moving into the top five by lap 19. The
event’s first caution waved with 10 laps remaining for a spin by Wayne
Arute. Rocco would get the jump on three ensuing restarts after more single
car spins from the rear of the field. With just three laps remaining,
contact in the lead pack sent cars scattering with Jeff Pearl and Dennis
Gada taking direct hits, while Justin Gaydosh and Ron Yuhas Jr. also
received damage. Only Yuhas was able to continue after a visit to the pits.
Rocco resumed control on the restart and went on to the victory by a car
length over Chadwick. Janovic, Shawn Solomito - making just his second
career Speedbowl start, and Wendell Dailey completed the top-five.
Hutchings, who ran second nearly the entire event, saw his strong run end in
the turn 4 wall on the last lap as a victim of a cut tire.
Other winners from Saturday night action included Tim Jordan in the Late
Models and Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Street Stocks, while Chris Williams took
the checkered in the Mini Stocks and Jason Palmer in Legends Cars action.
The True Value Modified Racing Series opened their season at the
lightning fast ¼ mile Monadnock Speedway on Saturday night. It was one of
the wildest nights in recent memory as the TVMS kicked off it’s sixth season
in front of a large crowd. When the dust settled after nine caution periods,
Rob Goodenough, Swanzey, NH; notched his second career win capturing the
“Bond Auto Parts 100 Spring Dash” for open-wheel modified race cars.
Goodenough started fifth in a 24 car field and was in the hunt for the lead
throughout the race. Cross town rival Kirk Alexander took the top spot at
the drop of the green flag and fought off all that was thrown at him from
Peter Jarvis, Ascutney, VT; Ed Dachenhausen, Danbury CT; and Goodenough.
Through eight caution periods, Alexander set a torrid pace until lap 90 when
while trying to pass a slower car, the three-time champion made contact with
a safety barrier knocking himself out of the race and wiping out a chance at
an unprecedented 15th career win at his “home” track..
When the race resumed, Goodenough paced the field to the finish with 2006
series champion Dwight Jarvis chasing him to the checkered flag finishing a
half car length behind the winner. Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, MA;
Dachenhausen, Sean Bodreau, Claremont, NH; Rowan Pennink, Huntington Valley,
PA; Mike Douglas, Auburn, NH; Joe Doucette, Framingham, MA; Jack Bateman,
Canaan, N H; and Bill Park, Long Island, NY rounded out the top ten.
Qualifying heat races were won by P. Jarvis, Alexander, and Dachenhausen,
with Pennink winning the 15 lap consolation race.
In some sad news, Gordon Reinig, retired Buffalo, NY fireman and
Lancaster (NY) Speedway photographer (1967-1974) passed away Monday night
(April 20) in Buffalo. He was responsible for the photos used in the book
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Carl Edwards' battered car soared 15-feet
off the ground, scraping along the safety fence, then bouncing back onto the
track in flames. Wreckage from the last-lap accident spewed into the stands,
sending two fans to the hospital in the aftermath of yet another "Big One"
at Talladega. It was a frightening finish to another crash-marred restrictor
plate race, which won't be remembered for unheralded Brad Keselowski's
last-lap pass for his first Sprint Cup Series victory. Instead, the lasting
images will be Edwards airborne, his upside-down car coming eerily close to
flying into the grandstands. The frontstretch safety fence bowed upon
impact, but held, and seven fans were injured from the flying debris. An
eighth seated in that section of the grandstands was treated for an
undisclosed medical condition. Edwards, who climbed from the fiery wreckage
and crossed the finish line on foot, was thankful it wasn't worse. Dr. Bobby
Lewis, Talladega's onsite physician, said two people in the crowd were
airlifted from the track to avoid the heavy traffic. One woman had a
possible broken jaw, and none of the injuries were considered
The dangerous but dramatic restrictor-plate racing came under fire after
Edwards' attempt to block Keselowski's winning pass triggered the last of
several frightening accidents at one of the sport's most exciting tracks.
Keselowski pushed Edwards past Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the
lead on the final lap, and the 25-year-old Earnhardt protege peeked around
Edwards as they closed on the finish line. Edwards ducked low to block the
pass, but Keselowski was too close and couldn't avoid contact that sent
Edwards into a spin up the track and into Newman's path. Edwards' car flew
over the top of Newman's hood, then shot into the frontstretch fence. There
were three bad wrecks
In Nationwide Series racing at Talladega, David Ragan won the Aaron's 312
for his first career NASCAR win in 196 races: 85 in Nationwide, 82 in Sprint
Cup and 29 in truck. He made the pass for the lead coming to the start
finish line after Ryan Newman & Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made contact coming
through the tri-oval on a green-white-checker finish. Newman held on to
second, while Joey Logano snuck into third place at the finish and Tony
Raines finished fourth Earnhardt, Jr. fell to 5th place at the checkered
As he was about to be sentenced for federal income tax fraud, those in
the courtroom stood up for Larry McClure [owner of the #4 Chevy in Sprint
Cup Series, three Daytona 500 wins]. Supporters of the motorsports icon
filled the courtroom, which was too small to hold them. Family members,
friends, giants of the stock car racing world – around 50 people– spilled
into the hallway, stood on benches and stood shoulder to shoulder in
solidarity with McClure and his family. Junior Johnson, the fabled
moonshiner - turned - dirt track racer and NASCAR team owner, turned out.
Joy Stata, a Florida native, was there to support the man who put her
hometown of Bartow on the racing map. Jeff Byrd, president of Bristol Motor
Speedway, stood outside, having arrived too late to get a seat.
Inside the courtroom of Judge James P. Jones, McClure made his last
public statement. “I’d like to apologize to you, the court,” he told Jones,
chief judge for the Western District of Virginia. “To the opposing counsel,
to my family, my God. His will be done, whatever you decide.” Jones’
decision ushered in a stunned silence, punctuated by sniffles: McClure would
serve 18 months in prison, the low end of the sentencing range. For
McClure’s supporters, it was a crushing end to a three-year criminal
investigation that had taken a toll on him personally and financially.
McClure pleaded guilty in January to five counts of filing a false income
tax return, obstructing the federal investigation and lying to Internal
Revenue Service investigators.
In addition to the prison time, McClure was fined $40,000, ordered to
reimburse the IRS $25,000 for its investigation, and to pay nearly $60,000
in restitution to Eastman-Kodak for filing a false invoice. He was also
ordered to re-file his personal income tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004.
During those years, McClure admitted to accepting $269,000 in cash payments
from a friend in exchange for services provided by Morgan-McClure
Motorsports, of which McClure is a part owner. He did not report the income
to the corporation or on his personal tax returns, and owed the government
just over $100,000
Last year, 2013, in Saturday night
action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco, who suffered a broken left
wrist during a heat race on April 27, won the 35-lap SK Modified feature at
the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Other winners in the weekly
Saturday night NASCAR Whelen All-American series were Cam McDermott in the
SK Light Modified race, Garrett Denton in the Mini Stock feature - his third
win in five races - Dylan Izzo in the Legends Cars and Chris Meyers in a
special 50-lap Street Stock feature.
In the SK Modified feature, Rocco took the lead on lap-12 from Jeff
Gallup and survived numerous restarts. On lap 23, an incident collected over
half of the field in a pileup in turn one. Once the race resumed, Rocco had
to hold off serious bid from Craig Lutz. The two made contact and swapped
the lead twice over the final five laps, but Rocco held off Lutz to earn a
trip to victory lane. Todd Ceravolo finished third. Diego Monahan and Tyler
Chadwick rounded out the top five.
The 35-lap race took more than an hour because of a red flag with 12 laps
to go. Lutz and Diego Monahan made came together at the front of the field
and set off a chain-reaction that collected 12 cars behind them.
A touching opening ceremony kicked off the night. Steve Barrett of
Preston was surprised with a brand new Street Stock racecar in a heartfelt
presentation by several members of the racing community. Barrett, a member
of the US Army National Guard’s 1109th TASMG unit based in Groton,CT had
just returned from ten months active duty overseas. During his deployment a
group around the track organized a cause, “Racers for a Soldier”, taking
donations to help build Barrett the car presented on Saturday. The effort
was spearheaded by Jeff Winsor of Moosup. Barrett destroyed his racecar
beyond repair in early 2012 prior to his deployment. He has competed at the
track for the past several seasons.
The Riverhead Raceway, the last remaining speedway on Long Island, opened
for the season last Saturday night. The NASCAR Modifieds ran twin 30 lap
features. The Modifieds took to the track next for their twin 30-lap
features. Timmy Solomito set fast time during time trails posting a fast lap
of 11.761 seconds. The Modifieds did a re-draw of the top eight and Solomito
re-drew seventh. His brother, and defending track champion Shawn Solomito
won the draw and started the race on the pole Solomito was able to hold off
John Beatty for the victory in the first 30 laps. The second 30-lap race
started the same way the previous race finished, but this time all restarts
were single-file. The first caution came out 17 laps in when McGuire spun
out in turn one. Solomito restarted with Beatty right behind him, followed
by Dave Brigati, Eric Goodale, and Timmy Solomito. Three laps after the
restart Ryan Preece got by Timmy Solomito for fifth place. One lap later
Timmy Solomito was in the wall. Tom Rogers Jr. dove underneath Solomito
entering turn one. Solomito hopped the right-front tire of Rogers and both
went up and into the outside wall. Rogers was able to drive back to the
pits, but Solomito was taken off by a Brigandi Brothers Tow Vehicle. On the
next restart, Shawn Solomito held onto the lead and maintained it all the
way to the finish, keeping the Solomito Opening Night Win Streak. He led all
60 laps over the course of both 30-lap races. Going into the final lap,
exiting turn two, John Beatty’s No. 14 lost power on the back straight
causing everyone behind him to scatter in order to avoid him. Resulting in a
top five which include: Shawn Solomito, Dave Brigati, Eric Goodale, Ryan
Preece and Howie Brode.
In open wheeled Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the
Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers found the right
combination and won the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified
Division. Randy Butner picked up a victory in the second.
Dirt track Modified racer Kenny Tremont recorded his 300th career win
when he won the main event at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY.
On a sad note it was reported by Pete Zanardi that Jerry Wheeler had
passed away. Wheeler was the first to use a Chevy V-8 for power in a
In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Regan Smith finally got his victory
at Talladega Superspeedway. With the field crashing in the tri-oval on the
white flag lap of NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312, NASCAR was forced to
wave the caution flag just before the leaders got to the start-finish line.
With the field frozen at the time of the caution flag, it was determined
that Smith was the race leader at the time of the caution.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Front Row Motorsports teammates David Ragan
and David Gilliland teamed up on the final lap of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 to
pull off a massive upset at Talladega Superspeedway. Ragan, using a massive
push from Gilliland down the backstretch on the final lap, dove below Carl
Edwards entering turn three to take the lead. Ragan stayed side-by-side with
Edwards until he got out of turn four until Gilliland gave him one final
push to the front.
Once clear of Edwards Ragan quickly went high to break the momentum of
the No. 99 Ford before returning to the low side to pick up his teammate
Gilliland once again. By then the battle was for second as Ragan crossed the
finish line .213 of a second ahead of Gilliland to score his second NASCAR
Sprint Cup victory and the first for team owner Bob Jenkins.
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.
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