The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith



May 23, 2014

  Sixty years ago in 1954 at the New London Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval management shifted to a two nights a week scheduler running on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Dick Beauregard, the guy they loved to hate was the Sportsman winner on Wednesday and Moe Gherzi was the winner on Saturday. Irwin Fox and Charlie Schreiber were the non-Ford winners.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959 Pete Corey was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Scotland Connecticut native Don Collins was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Rene Charland, who became a regular at the shoreline oval won the non-Ford feature while John Arigoni was the Bomber feature winner. At the Buffalo Civic Stadium in upstate western New York, Bill Rafter took the win over Jim Lerkins.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Rene Charland was the Friday night winner in racing on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Bill Wimble finished second with George Janoski, third, The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran a 30 lap Modified May championship which saw Ted Stack taking the win. Bill Staubley was the winner in the Bombers.

  Forty five years ago in 1969 the newly formed New England Drivers and Owners Club headed by Dick Armstrong called a drivers strike against Stafford, Norwood and Thompson as club members felt they were running for sub-par purses. Stafford did run with a short field with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Ernie Gahan and Don Flynn. Norwood and Thompson cancelled their racing events. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Lou Lazzaro took the top spot over Jerry Cook and Richie Evans. At Fonda on Saturday night, Dave Lape beat out Lazzaro for the win with Andy Romano, third. At Islip, Ron Thiel won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Jim Hendrickson. Joe Trudeau was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet Jr took the Grand American win. Racing at Utica-Rome on Sunday rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1974 Utica-Rome suffered their third rainout in a row. At Freeport it cleared and Art Tappen beat out Ted Wesnofski and Lew Hennessy. At Islip, Wesnofski again had to settle for second as Gary Winters beat him to the stripe. Wayne Anderson finished third. At Stafford on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens won a close one over Kenny Bouchard and Jerry Dostie. Maynard Troyer was the kingpin in New York State as he went two for two, taking checkers at Lancaster and Fulton. Joe Trudeau was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Bobby Santos beat out Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary for the win at Stafford on Friday night. Spencer ran a 100 lapper which saw Maynard Troyer dominate over Satch Worley, Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. Worley was driving for Lee Allard. At Shangri-La, Richie Evans won out over George Kent and Jerry Cook and on the Island at Islip, it was Charlie Jarzombek. Waterford, Seekonk, Riverside and Westboro rained out, as did Thompson on Sunday.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Ray Miller hit full stride as he won at Stafford in the Mike Greci No.01.Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Richie Evans, third. At Spencer, George Kent beat Jan Leaty and at Shangri-La, Ron Shepherd bested Kent for the win. Rain washed out Islip, Waterford and Riverside. Randy LaJoie scored a NASCAR-North win at Sannair in Canada and in Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Richard Petty scored his 199th career win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Mike Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bugsy Stevens passed Norman Holden on the last lap to win the Pro-Stock event at Seekonk and at Riverside; Reggie Ruggiero beat out Bob Polverari for the win. Local favorite Larry Lanphear beat out Ted Christopher and Bob Potter at Waterford and at Riverhead it was Chris Young. Sunday action at Monadnock saw Jerry Marquis taking the win over Reggie Ruggiero.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Steve Chowanski won the Friday night SK Modified event at Stafford. Mike Paquett finished second with Ted Christopher, third. At Waterford, Mark LaJunesse was leading the early going until he was drilled into the turn two fence. Dennis Gada was the eventual winner and was followed by David Gada, Jim Broderick, Jerry Pearl and Todd Ceravolo. At Riverside, Bob Gegetskas held off Richard Savory for the win and at Riverhead, Bob Park won out over Don Howe. The Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth where Jeff Fuller, in the Sheba No.8, took the 150 lap win over Satch Worley, Wayne Anderson and Reggie Ruggiero. A big wreck after the finish involved Tim Arre, Mike Ewanitsko and Russ Franz. Ricky Craven won the Grand National 200 that was also run at Nazareth. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Jeff Gordon won the Winston Open and Geoff Bodine won the Winston.

  Fifteen years ago in 1999, Jerry Marquis was the SK-Modified feature winner at Stafford. Lloyd Agor finished second. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada made it three in a row as he took the win over Mike Holdridge and Bert Marvin. At Riverside Park it was Billy Bolton over Rob Summers and Ed Spiers and at Riverhead, Frank Vigliorolo took the win over Ken Matlach, Chris Young and Howie Brode. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth along with the Busch Racing Series and Busch North Series who had a combined event. Tony Hirschman wrecked in practice and after his crew made repairs, came back to take the Busch Pole. Ted Christopher was second fastest. It was all for nothing as the event was rained out. The event was re-scheduled for July 16. After a 5-1/2 hour delay, the Nazareth Busch Series event was run. Matt Kenseth, who had taken the lead on lap 151, was still leading when the event was stopped because of darkness on lap 168. Kenseth was declared the winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second with Tim Fedewa, Dave Blaney and Adam Petty rounding out the top five. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Tony Stewart flew in from Indianapolis and won the Winston Open. Terry Labonte won The Winston. Stewart finished second. Ernie Irvan triggered a big wreck that took out 11 cars.

  Ten years ago in 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania, for the final time as the International Speedway Corporation had decided to close the facility. With 44 cars on hand Ted Christopher was clearly the fastest as he toured the one mile oval at 133.963 mph. Second fastest was Todd Szegedy whoís speed was 133.660 mph. John Blewett III qualified third with Kenny Barry, fourth. It was ungodly hot with temperatures in the high 80ís and humidity that would make one feel like they were melting. Todd Szegedy redeemed himself from a disqualification earlier in the year as he won the event. Szegedy took the lead following the first caution of the event and never looked back. Christopher pitted later in the event and spent the race trying to get to the front at the end. His bid fell short as the laps ran out and he had to settle for third. Doing an outstanding job was Kenny Barry who finished second, 0.10 seconds behind the winner. Eddie Flemke finished fourth and continued to maintain the point lead for the 2005 championship. Rounding out the top five was Jerry Marquis. Chuck Docherty took his first SK-Modified win in three years at Stafford on Friday night. Dochery, who started on the pole, led the entire 40-lap distance. Mike Holdridge finished second with Brad Hietala, third. Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. Ryan Posocco was the late model winner and Fred Nees Jr. won the DARE Stock event.

  The Waterford Speedbowl and the Thompson Speedway went head to head on Saturday night. Waterford who had their regular Dodge Weekly Racing event and Thompson who ran the Busch North Series event along with their regular divisions both suffered in attendance as they were both plagued with unseasonably cold weather. At Thompson Brad Leighton won the Busch North Series event. Defending series champion Andy Santerre made a late race bid to take the lead on lap 145 but ended up in the grass and ultimately hit the wall in the 150-lap event. Mike Stefanik ended up second, followed by Dave Dion, Dale Quarterly and Ryan Moore. Todd Ceravolo started third and led every lap of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified feature. Because of wrecks and spins it took three restarts to get the event going, finally with a single file start. Jeff Malave finished second, three car lengths behind. Ted Christopher made it back from Nazareth and finished third. Eric Berndt and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five. Dennis Botticello took advantage of a last lap confrontation between Corey Hutchings and Rick Gentes. Fighting for the lead coming off the fourth turn, Hutchings and Gentes made contact and both slid up the track giving Botticello the chance to steal a win, which he did. Rob Janovic took the SK-Modified win at Waterford. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Ted Christopher had entertained trying to make it to Waterford after Thompson but it didnít happen. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Corey Hutchings made a fast trip down I-395 to Waterford and won the late model feature. Norman Root was the Sportsman winner. Dave Silvia was the Mini-Stock winner and Silas Hiscock Sr. was the Legends winner. Ted Christopher was able to breathe a little easier once he found out that he didnít have to contend with Chuck Hossfeld at Stafford in SK-Modified competition anymore. Hossfeld had been driving the No.47 Wisk-Clorox SK-Modified. Hossfeld announced last week that he had resigned as the driver in order to concentrate on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series. It sounded like Hossfeld and car owner Bob Garbarino had a father-son talk after his confrontation with Christopher at the recent tour event at Waterford. Hossfeld had also been driving his own car on open Saturday nights at the Lancaster Speedway in western New York. Christopher had to feel like a yo-yo after the weekend. His travels started on Friday when he flew to Nazareth, Pa. To practice his Featherlite Modified. He then flew to the Stafford Speedway in Connecticut for their Friday night Dodge Weekly Racing Series SK-Modified event. Saturday morning it was back in the plane to Nazareth for Modified Tour qualifying. Once completed he flew back to Connecticut where he raced at Thompson. Sunday morning it was back to Nazareth. Other weekend winners were Steve Whitt at Wall Township and JR Bertuccio at Riverhead.

  The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was in Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend for the running of the Nextel All Star event. The Busch Racing Series was at the Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania. Matt Kenseth got a little richer as he won the $1 million first place money that the Nextel All Star event paid the winner. It was the longest short race ever seen. At the Busch Series race at Nazareth Martin Truex Jr. waited until the final turn of the final lap to take the lead and ace the win. Bobby Hamilton looked to be the winner until running amuck a lapped car. Hamilton drifted up after slight contact and thatís all she wrote. It was the fourth win for the New Jersey native.

  Five years ago in 2009, the Stafford Motor Speedway returned to racing action. Taking down feature victories were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified feature and Ryan Posocco in the Late Model feature. Tony Santangelo scored his second consecutive SK Light Modified feature win, while Shawn Thibeault took his first career Limited Late Model feature victory. With two DARE Stock feature events on the card, Robert Thompson and Todd LaPorta drove to CARQUEST Victory Lane.

  The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green flag with the action at the front of the pack fast and furious. Keith Rocco moved to the lead on lap-2 after riding side by side with Curt Brainard for the first lap. Frank Ruocco made a bid for the lead on lap-3, taking the lead from Rocco in turn 3 only to have Rocco pull the crossover move and retake the lead coming out of the fourth turn. Rocco held the lead until lap-12 when Ted Christopher made a move to the inside of Rocco in turn 4. Christopher and Rocco ran nose to tail until lap-23 when Rocco made a bottom shot move on Christopher in turn 1 to retake the lead. Rocco began to stretch his lead out over Christopher, but his lead was erased when the caution came out with 37 laps complete for a spin by Nichole Morgillo. On the restart, Christopher was judged to have jumped the restart and was penalized one lap. That put Woody Pitkat alongside Rocco for the restart. After several more caution periods, it was down to a green white checkered finish. Pitkat hung tough on the outside of Rocco, but he came up a half car length short at the checkered flag. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Pitkat was Ruocco, Jeff Malave, and Curt Brainard. Christopher, who parked his car after being penalized, ended up 15th. The defending Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion felt that the call by race director Frank Sgambato was unfair. Christopher told the Hartford Current that he will not be back at Stafford except for Whelen Modified Tour Series events.

  The Waterford Speedbowl was forced to cancel their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program and Little League Night festivities due to inclement weather. A persistent fog, mist, and drizzle intensified as the practice rounds were underway and continued into the evening.

  Congratulations went out to nationally recognized public relations, motorsports marketing and promotions specialist Ernie Saxton who had been named recipient of the 2009 Leonard J. Sammons Jr. Memorial Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to auto racing. Saxton would be honored when the 18th annual Northeast Modified Hall of Fame driver inductions and special award ceremonies take place Sunday, May 24 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in New York State.

  General Motors and Chrysler announced that they were eliminating close to 2,000 dealerships.

  Tony Stewart passed Matt Kenseth with two laps to go in a thrilling final 10-lap shootout to win for the first time in 11 All-Star event starts at the Lowes Motor Speedway. It was the first victory since he left Joe Gibbs Racing after two championships and 10 successful seasons, to become co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. Matt Kenseth was second, followed by Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.

  After a follow-the-leader parade for most of the first three segments, the action picked up at the drop of the flag of the final shootout. Kyle Busch used a three-wide pass to dart from fourth to first, aggressive driving that slowed the cars behind him. Denny Hamlin ran into the back of Jimmie Johnson, sending Johnson into a spin that he masterfully saved from a race-ending accident. A caution period set up another restart, and this time Jeff Gordon raced to the front. Newman decided to enter the action with a three-wide move to the outside, and Gordon and Kyle Busch touched at least once before all three cars collided. It sent Gordon into a spin through the grass then back up across the track, where he crashed into the outside wall to end his race.

  Kenseth eventually moved to the front, but he and Busch knew Stewart was coming quickly. Stewart was third on the final restart with five laps to go, and made several charges for the lead before finally getting past Kenseth with two laps remaining. The late-race action moved the attention back to the track after a week spent discussing Jeremy Mayfield's indefinite suspension for failing a random drug test. Despite his ban from the track, Mayfield was on track property early Saturday night, complete with camera crew in tow, as he watched J.J. Yeley drive the Mayfield Motorsports entry to a 22nd-place finish in the preliminary race. Mayfield spoke with reporters who found him in the infield, insisting his positive test was not because of illegal drug use. Instead, he said it was the combination of a prescription drug, which he would not identify, and Claritin-D, which he said he used to combat allergies at Richmond that were "really, really bad." Mayfield said he has hired legal representation and has undergone drug tests since his suspension. He declined to reveal those results.

  Last year, 2013 The Memorial Day weekend began on a wet note as the Stafford Motor Speedway management and NASCAR have postponed the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series 23rd ANNUAL TSI HARLEY-DAVIDSON 125 due to a forecast for inclement weather. The event has been pushed back two weeks and is now slated to be run at the historic half mile on Friday, June 7.

  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, rain prevailed. Riverhead Raceway on Long Island also fell victim to rain.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC the Myers brothers battled it out in the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division. Jason Myers held off older brother Burt and celebrated his first victory of the season. In the second race, John Smith held off fellow Mount Airy driver Chris Fleming for his first victory of the season.

  NASCAR honored a pair of its most famous and successful families with inductions into the Hall of Fame. Past champion Dale Jarrett joined father Ned in the hall and master mechanic Maurice "Chief" Petty became the fourth member of one of NASCAR's most royal families to be selected for enshrinement. Maurice joins older brother, "King" Richard Petty; their father, championship driver Lee Petty; and cousin Dale Inman, Richard's longtime crew chief in the hall.

  Tim Flock, a two-time premier series champion, also was selected along with Jack Ingram, who drove to success on what became NASCAR's Nationwide Series; and Fireball Roberts, the flashy showman from the 1950s who raced to 33 victories before his death in 1964.
In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing at Charlotte, Kyle Busch dominated as he raced to his sixth Nationwide Series victory of the season and record seventh career win at the 1.5-mile track. He also was Truck Series winner at the track the previous week, his fifth victory in that circuit at Charlotte.

  Tony Kanaan drove past Ryan Hunter-Reay on a restart Sunday with three laps to go, then coasted across the finish line under yellow to win the Indianapolis 500 when defending race winner Dario Franchitti crashed far back in the field.

  Kevin Harvick took the lead from Kasey Kahne during a restart with 11 laps left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and pulled away to his second victory in NASCARís longest race. Kasey Kahne appeared to have the race under control when the caution flag waved with 16 laps left for a large piece of debris on the front stretch. Kahne opted not to pit during the caution period, but Harvick and all the other lead lap cars did. Harvick got off pit road first, allowing him to restart second along Kahne.

  The field returned to racing with 11 laps left and Harvick went right to work. Working the low line below Kahne, Harvick was able to take the lead at the exit of turn two. Once out front Harvick slowly pulled away, eventually beating Kahne to the checkers by 1.490 seconds. Kurt Busch, who was forced to change batteries in his car late in the race, recovered to finish third. Polesitter Denny Hamlin was fourth and Joey Logano fifth.

  Sundayís Coca-Cola 600 was filled with chaos and strange happenings. The race was slowed by 12 caution flags and two red flags. One of those red flags came when a nylon cable from an overhead television camera snapped and fell onto the track on lap 121. The cable caused damage to several race cars, including severe damage to then race leader Kyle Buschís Toyota, as well as 10 race fans. Seven race fans were treated and released at the track while three were transported to a local hospital for observation.

   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

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 23, 2014

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