The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 20, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Henry Hager won a 20 lap feature for stock cars at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in western New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954 Moe Gherzi picked up the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Red Foote took the Saturday night event. Tom Van Epps made it four in a row in non-Ford action on Wednesday night at the shoreline oval but gave way to Arnie Harris on Saturday night.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, rain washed out the action on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain also washed out the Wednesday racing at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. It cleared by Saturday allowing Bill Slater to take the victory in the 25 lap Sportsman feature. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Ben Hewitt was the Bomber feature winner. Bill Rafter made it two in a row at the Buffalo Civic Stadium. Midgets ran at Lancaster with Buddy Martin taking the win.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 saw a full weekend of racing without rain. Feature winners included Elton Hilldreth at Old Bridge in New Jersey and Joe Kelly who won twin features at the Wall Stadium, also in New Jersey. Bill Wimble took his third win of the year over George Janoski and Pete Corey on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. In the great state of New York, Rene Charland took the win at Fonda and on the Island at Islip a power failure forced a cancellation. Ray Moran was the 30 lap June Modified championship winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Potter, who was bareley out of his teens, was the Bomber winner at the shoreline oval.

  Forty five years ago in 1969 rain washed out Friday night action at Stafford and at Albany-Saratoga. Saturday night at Norwood, Johnny Thompson in his Ford powered No.122 dusted the field. Bugsy Stevens finished second. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro continued his hot streak to five in a row as he beat out Jerry Pennock and Ken Shoemaker for the win. Guy Chartrand made it three in a row for Ed Cloce's Hemi-Cuda at Airborne and at Islip, Island favorite Jim Hendrickson beat out Fred Harbach and Gary Winters. Bob Potter made it two in a row as he took the Modified win at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. At Thompson on Sunday, Fred DeSarro held off Eddie Flemke and Bugsy Stevens for the win. Utica-Rome rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Ted Wesnoske mastered the tight Freeport oval as he won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. At Utica-Rome, Richie Evans won a 100 lapper over Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook. At Monadnock, Bob Santos won with John Rosati, second. Ron Bouchard was involved in an early crash and finished third, only to be disqualified because work was done on his car. Bouchard brushed the first turn wall which somehow moved the firewall enough to make the throttle hang up. Car owner Bob Johnson climbed in the car with Bouchard and kicked the firewall out enough so the throttle rod would clear. Bill Brown, who owned Monadnock at the time had a rule that stated that no work could be done on the cars once the race started and told Bouchard and Johnson after the race that they had run for nothing. Needless to say, Johnson became ballistic but to no avail as the disqualification stood. Saturday night at Stafford, Bouchard was on a tear and he blistered the field to take the win. Hop Harrington finished second and was followed by Bugs Stevens and Jerry Cook. Shangri-La and Lancaster rained out but at Islip, Charlie Siebert was the winner. Don Bunnell was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ron Cote was the Grand American late model winner. The finish at Fulton on Sunday was the same as that at Utica on Friday as Evans made it two for two on the weekend.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Richie Evans was the top gun in Friday night action at Stafford. Bob Vee finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary. At New Egypt it was Wayne Anderson over Greg Sacks and at Spencer, George Kent beat out Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. On Saturday, Jerry Cook got a rare win over Richie Evans at Riverside and at Seekonk, George Savory was the modified winner. Tom Baldwin beat his idol, Charlie Jarzombek to the checker at Islip. Other weekend winners were Roland LaPierre Jr. at Westboro, Mike Beebe at Waterford, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster and Lou Lazzaro got his 97th career win at Fonda. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Buddy Baker ran flat out to beat Donnie Allison for the win

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Bugsy Stevens, in the Mystic Missile, took the top spot at Stafford on Friday night. Jeff Fuller finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third. At Riverside it was Stan Gregger taking the top spot and at Waterford a 100 lapper and a regular program were run. Bob Potter won the 100 lapper over Don Bunnell and Tom Fox. Fox, driving his family owned modified won the regular 30 lapper over Bunnell and Potter. Spencer Speedway ran on Friday and Sunday. Richie Evans won a 100 lapper on Friday night over George Kent and Doug Hewitt. Twin 75's were run on Sunday. Jim Spencer won the first event and finished second in the second event. He was later found to be running an illegal carburetor and was disqualified. Evans was awarded on win and Jan Leaty the other. Other weekend winners were Spencer at Shangri-La, Tom McCann at Riverhead, Don Howe at Islip, John Blewett Jr. at New Egypt and Punky Caron at Claremont. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott was both the pole sitter and the winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Teddy and Mikey Christopher finished one-two at Stafford on Friday night. At Thompson on Sunday it was Mikey followed by Teddy. Waterford rained out but not before Phil Rondeau would win another late model feature. Brian Schofield with a 340 ci powerplant won at Riverside over Tom Bolles while at Riverhead, it rained. At Shangri-La, Chris Amen beat out Jan Leaty and George Kent.

  Twenty years ago, in 1994, Mike Christopher took the Friday night win at Stafford over John Anderson and Bob Potter. At Waterford on Saturday, Jim Broderick went pole to pole and held off Jerry Pearl and Bob Potter for the win. Todd Ceravolo received a broken thumb after being involved in an early race accident. At Riverside, Steve Park recorded his second win and at Riverhead it was Don Howe recording his second win of the season. A dark cloud hung over Wall Stadium as starter Dave Innes was struck and killed at the Jersey shoreline track. The Modified Tour Series was at Thompson on Sunday for a 125-lap event. Rick Fuller in the Chase 77 pitted on lap 46 and took the lead from brother Jeff on lap 77 and went on to take the win. Jeff Fuller didn't pit and quickly faded to the point that he got lapped on lap 109. Reggie Ruggerio finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino and Wayne Anderson. Richie Gallup in the Ceravolo No.31 won the 30-lap SK event. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Rusty Wallace made it three in a row.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, in one of the saddest days of racing in New England, officials of Premier Parks that owns Riverside Park Speedway informed competitors, fans and race officials that racing would come to an end at the historical speedway at the end of the 1999 season. At Stafford on Friday night, Mike Christopher took the win over Jerry Marquis and Todd Szegedy. At Waterford on Saturday night, Ted Christopher took the top spot over Bert Marvin and Jeff Pearl. In the late models, Phil Rondeau recorded his 100th late model victory. Rondeau also has two modified wins. Twin 150's for Busch North and Featherlite Modifieds. Tony Hirschman cleaned house with the all but unbeatable Cretty modified. Hirschman took the lead from John Blewett III on lap 112.Tim Connolly finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko and Charlie Pasteryak. Tracy Gordon was the Busch North winner with Martin Truex and Brad Leighton rounding out the top three. In twin 35's at Riverside, Tom Jensen and Rick Miller were the winners and at Riverhead it was JR Bertuccio over Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. Ted Christopher closed out the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday night. Shaun Buffinton finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby Labonte took the win.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series had a well-deserved week off. After seven events Eddie Flemke JR and the Roger Hill owned No.79 led the point standings. Flemke, who won the Modified Tour event at the Waterford Speedbowl on May 15 had six top five finishes and led Tony Hirschman by 27 points. Hirschman had two wins, Stafford Speedway on May 28 and Lake Erie Speedway on June 12, including five top-fives. Jerry Marquis who drove the legendary Ole Blu owned by Janice and Michael Boehler was the top money winner in the series with $27,240 in winnings. Marquis, who had two wins to his credit, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 25 and the Riverhead 200 on June 5, was 49 points out of the lead. Had it not been for a wreck at Thompson, which placed him in the 29th finishing position, Marquis would have been close if not in front of the point standings. Ted Christopher who benefited from Marquis’ misfortune at Thompson, sat in fourth spot, 95 points down from the leader. Defending series champion Todd Szegedy who won at Nazareth on May 23 rounded out the top five. Szegedy, who was disqualified after he apparently won at Thompson on April 18, was 189 points out of the lead. Sixth through tenth were Rick Fuller, Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, John Blewett III and Tom Bolles. Even without the help of Television exposure, with exception of the events at Stafford, the division is the highest drawing of competitors in all of NASCAR. With the exception of the event at Lake Erie, which drew 33 cars, all Featherlite Modified Tour Series events had drawn between 40-50 cars.

  The Busch North Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night. Veteran Kelly Moore went non-stop without a tire change to record his 26th Series win. Moore jumped out from his outside pole starting spot and led all but one of the 150 laps run. Point leader Andy Santerre led lap 35 but Moore took it back as he was on a mission. Santerre ended up in second spot with Matt Kobyluck, third. Kobyluck also went non-stop. Mike Olsen and Dale Quarterly rounded out the top five. Local favorites Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik finished 12th and 13th Twenty-five cars were on hand.

  Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher got lucky at Thompson on Thursday night. Berndt got lucky when Bo Gunning tangled with Kerry Malone on lap 24 of the 30-lap feature. Gunning and Malone went to the rear as the rain began to fall. Berndt, who was running third, inherited the lead and the eventual win as the rain intensified and the event was called official. Had they restarted Ted Christopher would not have finished, as his right rear tire was almost flat when the red and checkered flag was displayed. Todd Ceravolo, who had just got his motor back from the repair shop after breaking a camshaft, finished third. Harry Rheaume and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five. Sean Caisse, who has had his problems qualifying for Featherlite Modified Tour Series events, finished sixth. The Thompson Late Models, Pro Stocks, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will get to run their events at a later date. The speedway management announced that rain checks would be issued to those who held grandstand tickets. The rain checks are good for this week's event only.

  Jim Civali became the second repeat winner in SK Modified action at Stafford Friday night. Civali took a lot of heat from Steve Chowanski over the final two laps of the 40-lap feature but managed to hold on for the win. Chowanski settled for second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Jeff Baral and Kerry Malone. Craig Collins was the Late Model winner and Dan King took the win in the Dare Stocks. Eddie Reed Jr. became the first repeat SK Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Dennis Cherette was the early leader until Dennis Gada put the bumper to him on lap 16 of the 35-lap feature. Gada, who stated that he made a mistake and accidentally hit Cherertte, was sent to the rear as officials felt he was rough riding. Ron Yuhas Jr. ended up second Ted Christopher, Ronnie Silk and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five. Roger Brown was the winner of the American-Canadian Tour 100 over second-generation driver Brentt Dragon. Dragon is the son of NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Harmon "Beaver" Dragon. Jay Stuart was the Late Model winner and Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.

  Despite the fact that Gene Arganase was told by NASCAR that there were no Nextel Cup dates available he continually said he was confident that the Nextel Cup cars would come to his proposed domed speedway in Plainfield, Connecticut. Speaking of NASCAR, it had been let out that ABC/ESPN was targeting a takeover of the NBC/TNT half of the Television package, which would expire in 2006. ESPN laid the groundwork of how four-hour recasts were to be covered. It also looked like yellow flag finishes of Busch Series and Nextel Cup events may become a thing of the past in the not so distant future. The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. Jeff Gordon was the Busch Pole Sitter and Ryan Newnan was the winner. Kasey Kahne again finished second. Kyle Busch was the winner of the Busch Series event at Sparta, Kentucky on Saturday night.

  Five years ago in 2009 Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway was cancelled due to heavy rain.

  Keith Rocco made it two in a row in SK Modified competition at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Rocco, who is a top contender for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Championship continued to take no prisoners. Dillon Moltz, who made the choice to miss his High School graduation, took his third win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Heather DesRochers wired the field in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for her first career victory, Andrew Durand picked up his third victory of the 2009 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders picked up his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature a week after his twin brother won his first career DARE Stock feature.

  The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Dave Salzarulo holding down the lead from the pole position. Todd Owen was all over the back of Salzarulo for the lead, but he couldn't muster up enough momentum to make a pass. The duel between Salzarulo and Owen allowed Frank Ruocco to close in on the front two.

  A caution with 14 laps complete slowed the action and set up a restart. Ruocco moved by both Owen and Salzarulo on the restart to take over the race lead. Keith Rocco moved from fifth to second behind Ruocco, dropping Owen to third and Salzarulo to fourth. Rocco went to the outside of Ruocco on lap-21 and he made a pass for the lead in the outside groove on lap-22. Mark Bakaj was on the move after the restart, moving by Salzarulo for fourth on lap-23 and he took third place from Owen on lap-29. At the front of the field, Rocco was stretching his lead out over Ruocco lap by lap. Rocco led the final 29 laps of the race to pick up his second consecutive and third overall SK Modified® feature victory of the 2009 season. Ruocco finished second, with Bakaj, Owen, and Salzarulo rounding out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Tom Bolles, Ted Christopher, Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, and Jeff Malave.

  The Waterford Speedbowl, in a wise move, cancelled Saturday’s racing due to the fact that the National Weather Service predicted monsoon like conditions for the entire Connecticut area.

  In NASCAR Nationwide Series action, Carl Edwards and fellow Cup commuter Kyle Busch both took a brief break from their Sprint Cup duties in California to fly more than 2,000 miles and race in Milwaukee on Saturday. Edwards took the lead from Busch with 44 laps to go and wasn't significantly challenged the rest of the way. Busch finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski. In Sprint Cup action, Kasey Kahne figured a spot in the Chase for the championship was an unrealistic goal just two months ago. He wasn't running well, Richard Petty Motorsports was behind in its development, and the competition was steadily pulling away. Then came a strong five-race stretch, punctuated a win at Infineon Raceway. It came at a road course, of all places, and snapped Kahne's 37-race winless streak. His win brought team co-owner Richard Petty to Victory Lane for the first time in over a decade. The last time a Petty-owned car won a race was John Andretti's 1999 victory at Martinsville. Tony Stewart, an accomplished road racer, finished second and was followed by Marcos Ambrose, who blew a motor in Saturday's practice that forced him to start at the back of the field and forfeit his third-place qualifying position. Jimmie Johnson was fourth and was followed by Denny Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya.

  Last year, 2013, The Thompson Speedway was extremely busy and enjoyed it's best Thursday night crowd. Double features highlighted NASCAR Whelen All American Series action in the Sunoco Modified and Lite Modified divisions. Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone each garnered a win in the Sunoco Modified division while Cam McDermott swept the Lite Modified. Other winners included Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman division, Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks, and Ben Lavangie in the Vintage Modified feature.

  In the first Sunoco Modified feature, Rocco started fourth and took the lead from Kerry Malone after a lap 19 restart. As Rocco picked up his third win of the season Woody Pitkat moved into second and Malone faded to third. Ryan Preece and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Among those in the 17 car Sunoco Modified field was Tommy Barrett who drove the Richie Gallup No. 50. Barrett never got the chance to show his stuff as the Gallup car developed valve train problems and failed to finish.

  The second Sunoco Modified 25 lapper provided close competition and a surprise finish in the end. On the start, Rocco who took the green in 8th spot, was collected in a three car spin on the back chute on the first lap. Rocco's car was double hooked off the speedway with severe front end damage. Tom Abele, Jr, who led the start also led the restart. By lap four, Ryan Preece had moved into the lead with Woody Pitkat in hot pursuit. Todd Ceravolo was also in the mix. A caution on lap 14 set the stage for the fireworks that were about to explode. Shortly after the restart, on lap 20, Preece and Pitkat, who were running side by side, came together in turn two. Preece, who was on the outside, fit the wall. Track officials felt that Pitkat did it intentionally and parked him for the night. Pitkat later said that it was his fault but it was not his intent to stuff Preece in the wall. Malone inherited the lead on the restart. Matt Gallo and Todd Ceravolo were on his bumper. As Malone was racing down the backstretch on the final lap a mass tangle ensued between Gallo and Paul Newcomb. Ceravolo, who had slipped to fourth, lifted to avoid the unfolding wreck. Dennis Perry, who had been running fifth made a brilliant move with some heads-up driving, came through the tangle and found himself in second place at the finish. Ceravolo recovered to finish third with Tom Abele, fourth. Joey Parker rounded out the top five.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ted Christopher won by inches over Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat. It was a bitter-sweet victory as Christopher had lost his dad after a courageous battle with cancer. It was also his 99th career SK Modified win at Stafford. Christopher, who admitted to blocking in the closing moments, took the lead on lap 35 of the 40 lap feature.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of three visits during the 2013 season to Stafford for the Inaugural VMRS 80. Tommy Barrett, Jr. took the checkered flag to become the very first repeat Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford Motor Speedway. Barrett took the lead following a restart on lap 59.

  Barrett led Steve Masse to the checkered flag to become the first two-time Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford. Dave Etheridge finished third, with Eric Goodale and Richard Savary rounding out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Dan Meservey, Jr., Eddy Spiers, Woody Pitkat, Norm Wrenn and Louie Mechalides.

  There were 33 Modifieds on hand for the MRS event. The 10th anniversary MRS season continues this coming Friday night, June 28, at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH. with the running of the "Laticrete Port City 100."

  Other Friday night winners at Stafford were Adam Gray in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Jesse Hinze in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and 14-year old rookie Ryan Fearn in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series invaded the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ryan Preece beat Doug Coby in a green-white-checkered finished to win the Mr. Rooter 161 at the shoreline oval. Preece followed Doug Coby for most of the race and Coby appeared to be in control until a final caution flag on lap-158 set up the thrilling finish. Coby chose the outside lane for the final restart with Preece lining up to his inside in second position.

  Coby did not restart as smoothly as he had all race long and watched Preece drive by his inside. Coby tried to rally over the final lap, but could not get back alongside Preece through the final turns. Coby settled for second and was followed by Don Lia, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos III.

  The event, which drew 27 cars, saw Todd Szegedy take the pole position during qualifying after he toured the 1/3 mile oval in 13.833 seconds (97.593mph). Szegedy led from the start to lap 101 when Coby got him in heavy traffic. Nine cautions slowed the event. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Bryon Chew.

  The weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature winners were: Waterford's Rob Janovic Jr. (SK Modified), Keith Rocco (Late Model), Norm Root Jr. (Street Stock) and Bill Leonard (Mini Stock).

  In the SK Modified feature, Janovic took the lead from Joe Gada after a restart on lap 24. Ed Puleo finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Gada faded to fourth. Craig Lutz rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco recovered after being involved in an early wreck with Shawn Monahan to finish 8th. Tyler Chadwick and Ted Christopher finished sixth and seventh.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Tim Brown shot to the front at the start of Saturday night’s first 25-lap Modified race and never looked back. Brown went on to his 68th career victory. In the second 25-lap Modified race, Michael Clifton was declared the winner after leader Joseph Brown was black-flagged by officials when his car was identified for leaking fluid and he refused to pit.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr. became the first repeat winner in the NASCAR Modifieds at the eastern Long Island oval when he topped the Rapid Recovery Towing night 35-lap feature Saturday night. For Rogers, a six time winner in 2012 it was his 22nd career win which tied him for 13th on the all-time win list with Joe Krukowski and Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. finally took the win at Sonoma Raceway, ending a 218-race winless streak with a victory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Truex drove to victory in dominating fashion, leading a race-high 51 laps and cruising to an 8.133-second victory over five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon.

  A.J. Allmendinger sat on the pole and then muscled his way to victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Johnsonville Sausages 200 at Road America, surviving a chaos filled race to score his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. he was suspended by NASCAR for failing a random drug test in 2012, most believed his racing career was all but over.

  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: June 20, 2014

2007-2014  © GeeLaw Motorsports/RGeePro/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.   Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent