May 9, 2014
Sixty years ago in 1954, Red Foote recorded his second win of the
season as he won the 25 lap Sportsman feature at the New London Waterford
Speedbowl. Tom VanEpps, driving a non-Ford owned and built by Dennis
Thornton, formerly of Martinsville, Va, won the non-Ford feature. VanEpps,
who would lose his live in an off season accident would record a total of 12
wins for the season.
Fifty five years ago in 1959, Wild
Bill Slater, in his first full season in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8
owned by Bob Vitali and Vic Bombaci, took his first of 15 feature wins in
the Sportsman division at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie
Webster was the non-Ford winner and John Arrigoni was the Bomber winner at
the shoreline oval.
Fifty years ago in 1964 Gene Bergin
was the Saturday night winner at the Norwood Arena in Mass. Down on the
Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Charlie Webster
was the 25 lap Modified winner and Ed Gladue was the Bomber winner.
Forty five years ago in 1969, action
in the northeast shifted into high gear. At Stafford on Friday night, Fred
DeSarro in his own No.11 took the opening night win. Eddie Flemke in the
Garutti-Arute No.14 was second. Gene Bergin, in the Garbarino Bros.V-4 was
third with Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler No.3 and Ed Yerrington in the
Freddies TV No.23 rounding out the top five. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway
in Malta, N.Y., Jerry Cook took the win and was followed by Richie Evans and
Lou Lazzaro. Saturday night at Norwood, Johnny Thompson in his Ford powered
No.122 took the victory over DeSarro, Stevens and Jack Malone. At Fonda, Lou
Lazzaro beat out Rene Charland for the win. Daring Dick Caso was the
Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. On Sunday at Thompson, the
Bugman took the main event despite stiff competition from Flemke, DeSarro,
Bergin and Ed Yerrington. At the Utica-Rome Speedway it was again, Cook and
Evans finishing one-two over Lazzaro and Dave Lape. Tioga Motorsports Park
was called the Shangri-La Speedway. Jim Shampine was the winner there.
Forty years ago in 1974, rain-washed
out a scheduled 100 lapper at Utica-Rome on Friday night. Racing at
Shangri-La on Saturday was also cancelled, as it was way to cold for night
racing. Charlie Jarzombek went two for two as he won at both Freeport and
Islip. At Stafford on Friday, Bugsy Stevens held off Don Flynn and Cook for
the win. Sunday was busy in New York State as Oswego and Fulton ran
afternoon and evening programs. At Oswego, Gary Reichart won the 75 lap Port
City event over Maynard Troyer, Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine. At Fulton it
was Bodine over Cook and Evans. Waterford ran an open show on Sunday with
Dynamite Ollie Silva taking the top spot over Bugsy Stevens, Bob Santos and
Thirty five years ago in 1979, a full
plate of Modified racing was on the table. The weekend started on Friday
night at Stafford where Richie Evans took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Ronnie
Bouchard and Brian Ross. On Saturday night, Tom Dunn fired Freddie Schulz
and put Bentley Warren in his T-5. Warren turned the trick and took the win
at Westboro over Joe Howard and John Falconi. At Seekonk, Bugsy Stevens beat
out Ronnie Bouchard, Fred Astle and George Summers. At Waterford, Rick
Donneley took the win over Dick Ceravolo, Roland LaPierre Jr. and Billy
Greco. At Plainville, Ron Wycoff held of Ronnie Rocco for the win and at
Islip, Tom McCann, Wayne Anderson, Greg Sacks and Fred Harbach were the top
four. Shangri-La action saw George Kent over Richie Evans and Dave Nichols.
On Sunday at Thompson, Joe Howard got a well-earned win over SJ Evonsion and
at Monadnock it was Dunk Rudolph over Reggie Ruggiero and John Rosati. The
mods also ran at Montreal in Canada where Evans beat out Satch Worley, Jerry
Cook and Ronnie Bouchard.
Thirty years ago in 1984, the family
of the late Larry Mendolsohn sold the Islip Speedway, which meant the track
would close forever at the end of the 1984 season. The lawsuit between M & H
tires and Hoosier, Stafford and Seekonk was settled in appeals court after
many months of bitter fighting. M & H lost and the door was open for tracks
to implement track tire rules without fear of being sued. Stafford rained
out on Friday night. It cleared on Saturday. Richie Evans won at Riverside
over Stan Gregor and Bob Polverari. George Moose Hewitt took a 30 lapper at
Waterford over Bob Gada and at Islip, Chris Young outran Bill Park for the
win. Down on the Jersey shore at Wall Stadium, Tony Siscone added another
victory. At Thompson on Sunday, Mike Mclaughlin in the Len Boehler No.3 took
the 30-lap win over Richie Evans and Ray Miller. In Winston Cup action at
Talladega, Cale Yarborough was the pole sitter and the winner.
Twenty five years ago in 1989, the
Modified tour was at Stafford for a 100 lapper on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took
the win over Mike Mclaughlin. Ted Christopher beat out Bob Potter for the SK
mod win. In other weekend action, Christopher beat out Moose Hewitt at
Waterford, John Blewett Jr. beat Bill Park at Riverhead and Reggie Ruggiero
ruled over Dan Avery at Riverside Park. It was also the seventh week in a
row that Seekonk rained out.
Twenty years ago, in 1994, rain
washed out Stafford, Waterford and Riverhead. At Riverside, Steve Park in
the Joe Brady No.00 started 16th and went on to win the 50 lap modified
event over Stan Gregor and Reggie Ruggiero. At Seekonk, Eddie St Angelo beat
out Vinnie Annarummo for the Pro Stock main event. The Winston Cup Teams
were off and the Busch cars were at Loudon for the Chevy Dealers 250. Derek
Cope, driving for Red Farmer, won the event after Hermie Sadler ran out of
gas in the closing laps.
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Jeff
Malave beat out Willie Hardie to win the Friday night SK modified event at
Stafford. Waterford and Riverside rained out as the action shifted to Loudon
for the twin BGN-BGNN events. Elton Sawyer was the BGN winner and Brad
Leighton, the Busch North. NASCAR's Winston Cup had an off weekend, as it
was Mothers Day. In other news from the weekend, Steve Bird who led Bace
Motorsports to multiple Championships was released (fired). Steve Hmiel was
named as crew chief for Steve Park and The International Speedway
Corporation and Penske Motorsports announced that they were merging. ISCA
stock shot up and closed out the week at 43-1/8.
Ten years ago in 2004, gas prices
soared near or past the $2.00 per gallon mark. Lloyd Agor won his first
SK-Modified win at Stafford on Friday night but it wasnít pretty. Agor
started on the outside pole of the 40 lap event and proceeded to block or
ride up anyone who attempted to pass, even Ted Christopher who is known to
put the bumper to a competitor when they block his progress. Christopher did
more than his share of the bump and grind but in the end, finished the night
in sixth spot. George Bessette finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third.
Kerry Malone and Shawn Tryon rounded out the top five. After a weeks absence
Eric Berndt returned to the Friday night wars with a heavy heart, still
suffering from the loss of his mom. Berndt managed to survive to finish
seventh. Maybe getting back in that racecar was good therapy. It seemed that
everybody blamed everybody but Bo Gunning for all the wrecks on Friday
night. Gunning and car owner Eddie Partridge felt almost like they had three
wins in a row by not being there. No bent cars, no tire bills and nobody was
mad. Gunning was tossed out of Stafford in 2003. It was not totally his
fault but thatís history now. Gunning was told he could return to Stafford
if he took anger management classes. Gunning chose not to and was backed by
his car owner. Mike Quintiliano made it three in a row in Late Model
competition at Stafford. On Friday night he and Joe Rzeszutek swapped spots
and traded paint right to the final second when Quintiliano won by a
whisker. Aaron Goff was the Dare Stock winner. At the Waterford Speedbowl on
Saturday night rain put a damper on the SK-Modified and Late Model features.
A partial program was completed before the rains came with Dwayne Conant
taking the win in the Sportsman division, Dave Silvia in the Mini Stocks and
Silas Hiscock in the Legends. John III and Jimmie Blewett finished one Ėtwo
at the Wall Township Speedway on Saturday night The Nextel Cup division had
a weekend off in celebration of Motherís Day. The Busch Racing Series was at
the Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. on Saturday night. Martin
Truex Jr. continued to make a name for himself as he led 123 of the 200-lap
distance. Tom Rogers was the winner at Riverhead. Bill Park finished second
with John Fortin, third.
Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first two, of 14 events,
was on ďSpring BreakĒ Ted Christopher, who was two for two after winning the
Ice Breaker at the Thompson Speedway and the Spring Sizzler at the Stafford
Motor Speedway led Todd Szegedy and Ryan Preece by 35 points. Szegedy
finished fifth at Thompson and second at Stafford. Preece was fourth at
Thompson and third at Stafford. Donny Lia was 10 points behind Szegedy and
Preece. Rounding out the top five is Jimmy Blewett, seven points behind Lia.
Sixth through tenth are Mike Stefanik, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Bobby Grigas,
III and Jamie Tomaino.
Despite the fact that the first two events were successful at drawing
very good crowds at both tracks and good car counts the competitors and
those who follow the Modified Tour Series were upset with the goings on,
especially from NASCAR. First off, in a completely gutless move, the
sanctioning body announced through the media and the mail that the season
ending awards banquet would be moving to the Charlotte, NC area and
competitors would be required to attend if they wanted to receive their
point money. NASCAR had made this decision before the Thompson event. Why
didnít they announce it then? A very sneaky move to say the least! The main
object was to avoid confrontations between the competitors and the NASCAR
officials at the race. NASCAR fails to realize that most Whelen Modified
Tour Series drivers, owners and pit crews are not full time racers like
those in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Most of them have full time
jobs. NASCAR says they care about their competitors, in reality thatís a lot
The next sneaky tactic by NASCAR was the announcement by mail after the
running of the Stafford event that the May 22 TSI Harley-Davidson Classic at
Stafford would have a reduced distance of 100 laps instead of the previously
posted 150 laps. They also announced that the purse had been reduced by 20%!
NASCAR and the management of the Stafford Speedway knew this before the
running of the Sizzler but used the mail again in order to avoid
confrontations. Another gutless move!
It was estimated that the recent Spring Sizzler at Stafford drew 8,000
fans. General admission was $35. Run the numbers, thatís $280,000 taken in
at the front gate. A conservative guess would have at least another $20,000
coming through the back gate. In the current economy itís good to see that
Stafford had a good day. Instead of crying poverty they should give some
back to those who put on the show.
NASCAR continued to discourage competitors from running rival series
including the New England based True Value Series and the New York based
Race of Champions Modified Series. Slowly but surely NASCAR was pushing the
Modified competitors away to alternate seriesí and they canít understand
why. Competitors do have another alternative, they can just stay home!
The Friday night racing season opener at the Stafford Motor Speedway was
cancelled last week. It could have been because of the economy or quite
possibly a threat of Swine Flu. Needless to say, it rained on and off most
of the day.
After three straight rainouts the Waterford Speedbowl looked to be on the
upswing. Car counts had been a little light but the spectator count had been
on the rise. Much of the credit had to go to the competitors and loyal fans
who had beat the bushes and got the word out that there is in fact racing,
good racing at the shoreline oval. Track management had not advertised but
it seems that word of mouth has done the job. Front gate attendance at the
shoreline oval took a step backwards Saturday. The SK Modifieds, the big
draw, had the night off. Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to Victory Lane as he won
the Late Model feature in strong fashion. Other winners from the night
included Allen Coates in the NEATS Truck Series, Al Stone III in the Street
Stocks, Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks, and Jason Palmer repeating in the
Legends Cars feature. The stands were almost empty without the SK's. Despite
the fact that the SK's were off, the admission was still $14 for the
grandstand. There were only 12 Late Models, 24 Legend's, (light for that
division), not a bad field of stockers and 4 cylinders and only 7 trucks.
In some sad news it was learned that former Modified driver Billy Schulz
had passed away at the age of 73. Schulz, along with his brother Fred were
competitors at the Norwood Arena for many years.
Kyle Busch passed Carl Edwards on the first lap of a restart with 22 laps
to go and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Friday night at Richmond
International Raceway. Busch, who led four times in the Lipton Tea 250, made
the move that counted in the third and fourth turns on the 229th trip around
the 0.75-mile oval. Edwards led the previous 71 laps, with Busch seemingly
the only other driver with a car to contend.
Tony Stewart was second, followed by Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman and Mark
Martin. Burton and Martin both recovered from earlier accidents - Burton
spun after contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin was involved in an
accident with Martin Truex Jr. - for their strong finishes.
Last year, 2013, the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour Series had been on Spring Break since the running of the
Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 28. Modified Tour racing was slated to
return with the running of an event at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester,
NH on Saturday but an impending forecast for heavy rain forced Speedway
officials and NASCAR to postpone the event until July 27. The next event for
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series would be the 23rd ANNUAL TSI
HARLEY-DAVIDSON 125 PRESENTED BY G-OIL at the Stafford Motor Speedway on
Friday, May 24.
After two events Rowan Pennink and Ryan Preece were tied for the point
lead. One point behind was Mike Stefanik. Rounding out the top five were Ted
Christopher and Justin Bonsignore.
The Stafford Motor Speedway began it's regular Friday night under the
lights for the first time in 2013 with the Xtra Mart Late Model Xtra D
program. Ryan Preece scored his second consecutive victory in the 40-lap SK
Modifiedģ feature, Adam Gray was the winner of the extra distance 35-lap
Late Model feature, Troy Talman was the second consecutive rookie winner in
the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, D.J. Burnham was the winner in the
20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeremy Lavoie drove to victory in the
15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Preece, who had settled into third spot behind Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink
with ten laps to go in the 40 lap feature was handed a gift of the lead on a
restart when Pennink was sent to the rear for dumping Coby. Behind Preece at
the finish was Keith Rocco, Sean Foster, Todd Owen, and Frank Ruocco.
In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, rain prevailed.
Keith Rocco held a 17 point edge on Ted Christopher in the track's SK
Modified standings. Tyler Chadwick sat in the third spot. Long Island
invader Craig Lutz continued to impress as his high finishes placed him in
fourth. Rounding out the top five was Todd Ceravolo. In Late Model
competition at the shoreline oval Dillon Moltz led Keith Rocco by one point.
Jeff Smith was a distant third, 14 points out of the lead.
Rain also washed out racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island and
action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in
Matt Kenseth passed JGR teammate Kyle Busch with 13 laps left Saturday
night to win for the first time at Darlington and third time in 2013. The
latest win came with replacement crew chief Wally Brown, pressed into
service because of the suspension of Jason Ratcliff. Kyle Busch won the
Nationwide Series race at Darlington.
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.
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