The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 27, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Henry Hager and Bill Rafter won features at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in western New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, weekly winners at the New London Waterford Speedbowl were Dick Beauregard on Wednesday and Fred Luchesi on Saturday night in the Sportsman Division. Dee Kelly and Lou Tetreault were the non-Ford winners.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, Don Rounds scored his second win of the year on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Don Collins was the Wednesday night winner and Johnny Thompson was the Saturday night winner in Sportsman action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. In other action at the shore line oval Tom Sutcliff and Rene Charland scored non-Ford wins and Ben Hewitt won Bomber features on both nights. At season's end Thompson and Bill Slater would leave for greener pastures at the Norwood Arena in Mass. The Buffalo Civic Stadium was closed for a thrill show and at the Lancaster Speedway, Doc Hector took the win.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 Lou Lazzaro scored a one-two punch as he won Modified events at the Utica-Rome and Fonda Speedways. Al DeAngelo also went two for two as he won at Islip and at Old Bridge. Bill Wimble got his fourth of the year on the dirt at Stafford. Don Wayman and George Janoski followed. Don Stives took the win at Wall Stadium. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Charlie Webster was the 25 lap Modified winner and Bob Potter made it two in a row in the Bombers.

  It was also on this weekend that AJ Foyt won the last Indy car event that was run on the dirt at the Langhorne Speedway. Langhorne would be paved for the 1965 season.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, Bob Santos, in the Art Barry 09, beat out Smokey Boutwell to win the Friday Modified feature at Stafford. Ernie Gahan was third. Albany Saratoga ran twin features with Lou Lazzaro and Guy Chartrand sharing victory lane. Saturday night at Norwood, Fred DeSarro took a hard fought win over Johnny Thompson and Bugsy Stevens. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x beat out Lazzaro and Jerry Cook and at Islip; Al Hansen took the top spot over Jim Hendrickson. At the Waterford Speedbowl Glynn Shafer, driving for Ron Yuhas Sr, took the Modified win. Big Mike Daignault was the Daredevil winner. After successive rain outs, Utica-Rome got to run and it was Lou Lazzaro making it three in a row. Jerry Cook finished second with Phil Spiak, third.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Friday night racing at Freeport and Utica-Rome rained out. On Saturday, George Wagner won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Tom Baldwin at Islip. At Stafford, Eddie Flemke in the Judkins 2x beat out Jerry Cook and at Lancaster, Maynard Troyer and Merv Treichler finished one-two. Art Moran Sr, who was the chief mechanic at a repair garage owned by Ed Yerrington, took the Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet Jr was the Grand American late model winner.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, the racing weekend started on Thursday at New Egypt where Richie Evans and Jerry Cook finished one-two. Friday night at Stafford, Evans continued his hot streak as he outran Geoff Bodine who had just picked up the ride in the Lee Allard Pinto. Evans made it three for three as he went on to win at Riverside on Saturday. At Seekonk, Bodine won a close one over George Summers and Leo Cleary. Other weekend winners were Greg Sacks at Islip, George Kent at Shangri-La, Mario "Fats" Caruso at Westboro, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville, Roger Treichler at Lancaster and twins at Thompson were won by George Savory and Joe Howard.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Flyin Brian Ross in his home built No.73, was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Polverari finished second with Corky Cookman, third. At Spencer, Richie Evans took the top spot over Jan Leaty and Doug Hewitt. Bob Park got the jump on John Blewett to take the checker at New Egypt. On Saturday, it was Ray Miller over Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead it was Fred Harbach over Tom Baldwin and Don Howe. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Bill Park taking the win over Tom Baldwin.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Stafford rained out on Friday. Twin features were run at Waterford with Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry taking down wins. Dan Avery beat Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Riverhead, Fred Harbach won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry finished one -two at Thompson on Sunday.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, rain washed out Stafford and Waterford. At Riverside, Ed Kennedy beat out Richard Savory and Chris Kopec. The Modified Tour Series was at Riverhead for a 201 lapper. Local favorite Don Howe took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero on lap 160 and went on to take the win. Ruggiero ended up second and was followed by Wayne Anderson, Tony Hirschman and Carl Pasteryak.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Lee Raceway ran an open competition modified event on Friday night. Jamie Tomaino took the lead when leader Ted Christopher blew an engine and went on to take the win. Charlie Pasteryak finished second with Chris Kopec, third. Jerry Marquis got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he won the SK Modified feature over Willie Hardie. At Waterford on Saturday night, Rick Donnelly took the modified win over Dennis Gada and Billy Sharp and at Riverside, ageless veteran Bob Polverari collected his 37th career win. Rene' Dupuis finished second. On the Island at Riverhead, Frank Vigliarolo Jr. took the win. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Jeff Gordon took the win. Steve Park and Ken Schrader had the distinction of rolling over and in Busch Grandnational action at Watkins Glen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the win.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Wall Township Speedway located on the New Jersey shore on Saturday night. Reggie Ruggiero scored his first win in three years in what had to be considered a rough and tumble finish. Forty-three Modifieds were on hand. Doug Coby, who normally competes at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, was the fastest qualifier. The 150-lap event provided tons of excitement when the event was under the green flag. Ten caution periods for 70 laps kept the average speed down to 46.179 mph. It all came down to the final lap. Ken Barry, who had led from lap 123, was exiting turn four and heading for his first win when he found himself spinning into the infield. According to some eyewitness accounts of the incident Ruggiero clearly dumped him! Ruggiero claimed that Barry turned into him in order to block. Barry recovered from his spin and finished eighth last in line on the lead lap. A last lap clip of the race showed that Barry did in fact drift up between turns three and four and was attempting to close the door that Ruggerio was already in. Tom Cravenho, in the Eddie Partridge entry, finished second with local favorite Tim Arre, third. Tony Ferrante and current point leader Eddie Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. Many of the top guns on the Modified tour had their problems. Defending race winner John Blewett III crashed out of the event on lap 59 and ended up in 26th spot. His brother Jimmy, who is one of the local hot dogs, went the same route as he crashed on lap 37 and finished 29th. Tony Hirschman completed only 116 laps and ended up 17th. Ted Christopher also crashed and ended up 23rd after completing only 85 laps. Chuck Hossfeld and Jerry Marquis also had their problems, which kept them out of the top ten. Hossfeld finished 21st and Marquis, 24th. There were four lead changes among four drivers. Donnie Lia started on the pole and led the first lap before being passed by Ruggiero, who started third. Ruggiero led until Lap 97 when Tony Ferrante took the point. Barry, who started as a provisional in 27th spot took the lead on lap 123 and led it until Ruggiero did him in at the end. The Busch North Series was at the Holland International Speedway in New York. Andy Santerre took the win with Mike Olsen, second.

  Thursday night Thunder at Thompson turned into a high-speed rumble that could have resulted in adverse long-term effects. The late models had a special 75-lap to run. It turned out to be a demolition derby. Forty cars started the event. Fifteen cars were knocked out by lap 15 but the worst was yet to come. Scott Bronczyk and Rick Gentes were slugging it out for the lead with ten laps to go. The two made contact in turn one and Gentes came out on the short end of the stick as he crashed into the concrete. Gentes was extremely upset and waited for Bronczyk to circle the track. Gentes went up to Bronczyk to vent and evidently got hung up in the roll cage or safety net. Bronczyk, expecting a knuckle sandwich, stood on the gas to get away. Gentes realized what was happening and held on for dear life as Bronczyk picked up speed going down the backstretch. Bronczyk finally realized what he was about to do and slowed in turn three. Gentes tumbled off the car and luckily escaped injury. Needless to say, both were thrown out for the night. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks later suspended both drivers for two weeks. Marc Palmisano, who was running third at the time, inherited the lead and went on to take the win. John Falconi finished second with Ryan Posocco, third. Attrition was extremely high as 13 of the original 40 starters finished. In comparison, the Sunoco SK Modified feature was tame with the exception of Bo Gunning taking a wild ride after jumping the wheel of Sean Caisse who had spun. Caisse, who showed great promise as a rookie on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series had shown that he needs more seat time before even being competitive in a SK, never mind a Tour Modified. Jeff Malave ended up with the win with Todd Ceravolo, second. Scott Quinn, Shawn Monahan and Buzz Atiano rounded out the top five. Other winners were George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Ernie LaRose in the Limited Sportsman and in twin Mini Stock events, Shane and Scott Michalski were the winners.

  Rain at Stafford on Friday night forced the Arute family to pull the plug on the night’s racing activity. Jeff Pearl won the first of two SK Modified features run at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Pearl was gunning for a second win when he got collected in the second feature when Ronnie Silk and Rob Janovic tangled which ultimately launched Pearl into the infield. Pearl recovered to finish eighth as Dennis Charett took the win over Ed Reed Jr. Allen Coates won the 30-lap Late Model feature. A confrontation between Carl Erickson and Brandon Plemons turned ugly when Plemons deliberately drove into Erickson’s driver’s side door.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14 events, wound up their second "Spring Break" on Saturday, June 27 when the ground pounders traveled to Loudon, NH. There were 39 Modifieds on hand for the New England 100. Doug Coby captured his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award Thursday evening in qualifying. Coby, who was the next-to-last car to go out among the 39 entries, knocked Todd Szegedy off the provisional pole with a fast lap of 30.003 seconds (126.947 mph), just under Szegedy’s time of 30.005 (126.939). Ted Christopher, who entered the day having won the Coors Light Pole Award in each of the first three races of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, ended up third-fastest. Donny Lia (30.039 seconds/126.795 mph) and Rowan Pennink (30.065/126.686) rounded out the top five. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Ryan Newman qualified seventh at 30.160 seconds (126.286 mph). Following Newman in the top 10 were Ryan Preece, Ed Flemke Jr., Kevin Goodale and Bobby Grigas III.

  Donnie Lia took advantage of an accident involving Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy as he inherited the lead and eventual victory of the New England 100. Christopher had driven his heart out after a first lap spin that was precipitated by an oil leak. After losing a lap plus receiving a lucky dog free pass Christopher had placed himself in the lead by lap 90. The final ten laps sore numerous lead changes. Christopher led at the white flag, with Lia, Szegedy and Ron Silk jockeying for position. Lia dove inside of Christopher as he headed into Turn 3. Moments after Lia took the lead, Szegedy swept underneath both to the front of the line. As they came out of the final turn heading to the checkered flag, all four bounced off each other, with Christopher collecting Szegedy into the wall as Lia slipped by to grab the win. What many saw and thought what happened in the final seconds of the event was cleared up by a statement made by Ron Silk following the event. Silk apologized that he had hit the back left rear of Lia which he believes caused Lia to get into Christopher who in turn got into Szegedy. Silk also accused Christopher for his bonsai type tactics that he used to get to the front.

  Ed Flemke Jr. wound up second, followed by Silk and Rowan Pennink. Christopher managed to gather the severely damaged car up enough to get it across the line and salvage a fifth. Doug Coby, Richard Savary, Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, and Glenn Tyler rounded out the top 10.

  There were five caution periods for 28 laps. The 100 lapper produced 16 lead changes among eight drivers.

  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman led 13 laps and swapped the lead back-and-forth with Szegedy in the early going before he spun on lap 64 and exited the race. The other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver in the race, Kasey Kahne, was involved in a Lap 72 accident. Kahne finished 31st and Newman 34th. Estimated Attendance: 37,000. Purse: $166,917.

  In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher made his hasty retreat from Loudon after qualifying well worth his while as he won the Sunoco Modified feature at the northeastern Connecticut oval. Christopher missed the qualifying heats but it didn’t hinder his march to the front in the 30 lap feature. Christopher led only one lap, the last one. Keith Rocco appeared to have victory in sight until he exited turn two, that’s where Christopher made his move. Rocco was unable to make a final run at Christopher and settled for second. The rain ceased and the clouds parted allowing the speedway to host a full night of racing competition. The action included a full card of NASCAR All-American Series racing plus two bonus features. In other action, Mike O’Sullivan earned his first of the season in the Super Late Models while John Materas was the winner in the Late Models. In the Limited Sportsman division it was Paul Palen celebrating in victory lane. John St. Germain took the All Star Race Trucks victory in a photo-finish. R.J. Marcotte scored his first of 2009 in the TIS Modifieds. Tim Taylor and Brad Caddick share Mini Stock honors.

  Rain and heavy thunder and lightning prevailed at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

  Despite a weeks delay because of rain the Waterford Speedbowl celebrated Norwich Night which honored the City of Norwich’s 350th birthday with great racing. Jeffrey Paul picked up his second consecutive SK Modified win, Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to Speedbowl victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while it was veteran competitor Allen Coates taking the checkered in the NEATV Truck Series. Kyle James and Ronnie Oldham Jr. rounded out the night’s winners capturing the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock and Street Stock events respectively. With threatening skies looming overhead during the evening, the full five-division event was completed by 9:15pm.

  Kyle Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano near the end of the Camping World 200 at Loudon, NH and held off the 19-year-old to get the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. Logano, who started from the pole and led 108 of the 200 laps, beat Busch out of the pits by the length of a hood on the final pit stop by the two leaders. But Busch was able to stay with the leader and eventually drive past him with 36 laps left.

  In Nextel Cup racing at Loudon, Joey Logano became the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, winning the rain-shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 19-year-old rookie came back from a crash that put him a lap down earlier in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and won his first Cup race in his 20th start. Logano was among a group of drivers who moved to the front of the field after getting out of sequence on fuel stops. The youngster took the lead when Ryan Newman, trying to stay on track as long as possible with rain threatening, ran out of gas on lap 264 in the event scheduled to go 301 laps. Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon moved into second and was steadily cutting into the lead as Logano, with a nearly empty gas tank, conserved as much fuel as possible. But the rain began falling three laps later. The competitors ran six slow laps under caution before NASCAR put out a red flag in hopes of drying the track. But the rain began falling harder and the race was called after 273 laps.

  Gordon was disappointed with the second-place finish. Kurt Busch, who won a rain-shortened event at Loudon last June, finished third, followed by David Reutimann and Stewart, now part owner of his own team and the series leader by 69 points over Gordon.

  Last year, 2013, The Thompson Speedway Thursday Night Thunder Series fell victim to first mist followed by heavy rain. The speedway management pulled the plug at 10:00am in order to save competitors the hassle of having to leave work early. At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece made it two in a row in SK Modified competition. Preece rallied after a mid race tangle with Rowan Pennink. Preece was sent to the rear for being overly aggressive. Tom Bolles finished second, with Pennink coming back to finish third. Woody Pitkat, and Ted Christopher rounded out the top-5.

  Other Friday night winners at Stafford were Tom Fearn in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Ronnie Williams in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kris Fluckiger in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Richie Pallai, Jr. was the winner of the 15-lap CARQUEST Champions For Charities race.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Saturday night. Riverhead, a tight and fast quarter mile always provides plenty of slam-bang action and this event kept the reputation alive with 92 of the scheduled 200 laps, which was extended to 207 because of the multitude of wrecks, run under caution. Ryan Preece, who inherited the lead on lap 193 when leader Ted Christopher spun his wheels on a restart and was drilled by Eric Goodale. In the resulting spin, Christopher clobbered the speedway pace car which had just pulled into the infield. Preece, who now had three in a row in Modified Tour competition, led the rest of the way outdistancing Goodale to the finish. John Beatty Jr., Shawn Solomito and Mike Stefanik round out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Woody Pitkat, Ken Heagy, Frank Vigliarolo Jr., Bryon Chew and Ed Flemke Jr.

  There were 28 Modifieds on hand. Preece began the race on the front row, overtaking pole winner Ron Silk on Lap 44. A wreck on lap 95, however, knocked the eventual winner out of the top 10, eventually forcing him to pit row for damage. Preece would battle back in the second half, working his way back up to the front row on Lap 183, alongside then race leader Ted Christopher. The two would battle it out over the next 10 laps until Christopher got spun on lap 195, giving Preece the lead for good.

  A few did not have a good night on the Island. Doug Coby never made it to the main event. During time trials he had the misfortune of having his throttle stick which resulted in a hard crash between turns one and two. Without a back-up car and unable to make repairs, Coby was unable to start but was awarded last place points for making an attempt to compete. Justin Bonsignore's night ended after 93 laps as his car suffered broken suspension parts. Don Lia and Eric Berndt finished 15th and 16th as a result of losing laps because of minor accidents. Ted Christopher ended up 18th as he was unable to continue after his confrontation with the pace car. Todd Szegedy ended up 19th as a result of an accident as did Ron Silk who ended up 20th.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers held off brother Jason Myers at the start of the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division and held on the rest of the way. Tony Black, a second-year Modified driver, etched his name on Bowman Gray’s all-time list of feature-race winners with a victory in the second 25-lap race. Myers won the pole position for the first 25-lap Modified race with a lap of 13.358 seconds (67.4 mph) on the quarter-mile track.

  Brother Jason hung on for more than a full lap before Burt Myers, who nearly spun after hitting a patch of dirt on the track, finally cleared him and sailed on to his 55th career victory, which tied him for fourth with Paul Radford on Bowman Gray’s all-time list. Jason Myers finished second, Danny Bohn third, Tim Brown fourth and John Smith fifth.

  At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco continued to be the class of the field as he won his fifth SK Modified feature of the season to highlight a fast-paced night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing at the Connecticut shoreline oval on Saturday. Diego Monahan took the lead on lap 8 and before Rocco and Craig Lutz joined Monahan for a hard charging three-way battle until lap 26, when Rocco used a crossover move out of turn four to take the lead.

  He never trailed again, but had to hold off charges by Monahan and Kyle James to cross the finish line first. James finished second and Lutz wound up third while Rob Janovic Jr. was fourth and Todd Ceravolo placed fifth.

  Other Saturday night winners were Dillon Moltz (Late Models), Brandon Plemons (Street Stocks), Bill Leonard (Mini Stocks), Giovanni Giarratana (Legend Cars) and Ed Ryan (Super X-Cars).

  Brad Keselowski took his final lead on the 156th lap and went on to a rain-shortened victory Friday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

  Matt Kenseth was the winner of the rain postponed Sprint Cup event at Kentucky.

  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 27, 2014

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