The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 4, 2014

  Sixty years ago in 1954 Johnny Thompson, who in later years be one of the top guns at the Norwood Arena, was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Money Bags Moe Gherzi was up to the task on Saturday as he won the 50 lap July 4th Sportsman event in the Garutti Bros. No.14. Tom Van Epps and John Chiangi were the non-Ford winners.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, George Janoski was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Bill Slater in the V-8 went two for two as he scored Sportsman division wins at the New London Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and Saturday. Charlie Webster and Rene Charland were non Ford winners while Ben Hewitt and Walt Dombrowski were Bomber winners. Bill Torrisi took the win at the Buffalo Civic Stadium. The following day Jeno Begolo won a 50 lapper at Lancaster.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 it was announced that NASCAR Grandnational (Cup) driver Glenn "Fireball" Roberts had passed away after being badly burned at the Charlotte Motor Speedway back in May. New Jersey driver Tommie Elliott had a near perfect weekend as he went three for four as he scored feature wins at Fort Dix on Thursday, Vineland on Friday and at Wall Stadium on Saturday. Joe Kelly was the spoiler as he won at Old Bridge on Sunday while Elliott finished fifth. Al DeAngelo won at Islip and Bill Wimble got his fourth at Fonda after Lou Lazzaro was disqualified for rough riding. Wimble also made it three in a row, five for the year on the dirt at Stafford Springs. George Janoski and Rene Charland followed. Ray Moran was the winner of a 50 lap Fourth of July Special Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, the Fourth of July weekend started of on Friday at Stafford and at Malta. Stafford ran a 100 lapper which saw southern invader Ray Hendrick make an appearance. Bugsy Stevens was the kingpin and made it known that he was not about to play second fiddle to the man they called Mr. Modified. Stevens took the event with Hendrick, second. Fred DeSarro finished third with Bobby Santos, fourth. Dave Kotary was the winner at Malta with Guy Chartrand, second. Saturday night at Norwood, Billy Schulz beat out Johnny Thompson and Roland LaPierre Sr. for the win. At Islip, Fred Harbach was the winner with Booker T. Washington Jones finishing second. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker made it two in a row and at Airborne Park; Guy Chartrand made it four in a row. Glynn Shafer made it two in a row at the Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 50-lap holiday special. Larry Crandall was the Daredevil winner. At Thompson, on Sunday, it was Bugsy Stevens holding off DeSarro for the win.

  Forty years ago in 1974 the holiday weekend started on Wednesday, July 3 when Stafford ran a 150 lapper. Jerry Cook took the win over Geoff Bodine, Brian Ross and Richie Evans. Cook backed his Stafford win with a 100-lap win at Utica-Rome on Friday night. Evans finished second with Bernie Miller, third. Freeport was also scheduled to run on Friday but was rained out. In action on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens won at Stafford. Ronnie Bouchard was the runner-up. At Islip, Jim Hendrickson in the Ferrante x3 beat out Gary Winters and Charlie Jarzombek. Glynn Shafer won the scheduled 30 lap Modified event at Waterford. Ron Cote was the Grand American late model winner.

  Fulton ran twin events on Sunday with Evans and Bodine each taking victories. In other weekend action, Gene Bergin beat out Fred DeSarro at Star Speedway on Thursday. DeSarro beat Deke Astle at Seekonk on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday, won out over Angie Cerese and Tony Russo. Paul Radford won a 100 lapped at Oswego plus scored victories at Metrolina and Hickory in North Carolina.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, the Fourth of July weekend started on Wednesday at Westboro with an open competition 50 lapper. The event drew 33 cars. On the start, nine cars were wrecked including pre race favorites George Summers and Bugsy Stevens. Geoff Bodine who was trying to make a name for himself in the Southland came north and took a ride with Lee Allard. Bodine won the 50 lapper and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Fats Caruso and Jerry Cook. On Thursday night the action switched to Holland. Maynard Troyer blew while leading and opened the door for Richie Evans to step in and take the win. Cook finished second with George Kent, third. On Friday night, Stafford presented the annual Ferrara 100. Bodine and Satch Worley driving Allard team cars finished one-three with Ronnie Bouchard being the spoiler, finishing second. Cook was fourth. On Saturday the racers got a break as all racing in New England and New York State rained out.

  On Sunday the Modifieds ran at Oswego and at Thompson. At Oswego it was a repeat of Stafford as Bodine and Worley were again one-three. This time Richie Evans was the spoiler. Roger Treichler was fourth. In small block action at Thompson, George Savory took the win over Leo Cleary and Ron Bouchard who borrowed the ride of Fats Caruso after his own suffered engine problems
  Thirty years ago in 1984, Spencer Speedway had an event scheduled for July 4th but it was rained out. Friday night at Stafford belonged to Reggie Ruggiero as he beat out Mike McLaughlin and Kenny Bouchard for the win. Riverside and Waterford rained out on Saturday but Riverhead was able to get their show in with Wayne Anderson holding off Tom Baldwin for the win. Shangri-La ran double features with Jim Spencer scoring a one-two punch, winning both. Racing at Thompson on Sunday also rained out.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, the Modified tour series visited Riverhead on Wednesday. Reggie Ruggiero went pole to pole to win the 151-lap event over Dan Jivenelli, Mike McLaughlin and Steve Park. Park had been running second at the 125-lap mark when he tangled with Mike Ewanitsko. Rounding out the top five was Wayne Anderson. At Stafford on Friday, Mike Christopher took the 35 lap SK Modified win over Bob Potter. Waterford ran a 50 lapper with David Gada taking the win. Riverside set an all time attendance record as the track reported 9264 spectators on hand. Bob Polverari won the Modified event over John Zavisa. The Mod tour series headed for Oswego on Sunday. Tony Hirschman held off Mike McLaughlin who finished second with Ruggiero, third. In other weekend action, Jeff Malave won at Riverhead; Randy Hedger at Shangri-La and Tony Jankowyak won a Race of Champions qualifier at Pulaski, VA.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Stafford started the holiday weekend off with a 100 lapper, which was won by John Anderson. On Saturday night at Waterford, Phil Rondeau scored one of his two modified wins as he beat out Mark LaJunesse, Bob Potter, John Anderson and Todd Ceravolo. Jerry Young was the late model winner. At Riverside Park, Reggie Ruggiero all but owned the place as he crossed the finish line ahead of Tom Cravenho and Dan Avery. At Riverhead it was Bill Park over Eddie Brunnhoelzl. On Sunday, July 3, Ed Flemke Jr. scored his first ever-Modified tour win as he won a 102-lap contest at Tioga. Wayne Anderson finished second with Chris Aman, third. On Monday, July 4, Lancaster ran a 150 lapper. New England invader Rick Fuller took top honors over Jim Rudolph and Jan Leaty. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Jim Spencer did the bump and grind with Ernie Irvan over the final laps and raced home the winner, by inches.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Brad Leighton took the lead on lap 43 in the Busch Grandnational North 150 at Stafford after Dave Dion spun in oil. It was Leighton’s fourth win of the year. Jeff Taylor finished second with Dion, third. Stafford's SK Modified event rained out. Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Eric Berndt taking the win over Jeff Pearl and Tucker Reynolds. Riverhead went to Frank Vigliaro Jr. In 100-degree heat, Bert Marvin went pole to pole at Thompson. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Tom Tagg, third. At Riverside, Rob Summers won a 125 lapper over Ted Riggott and Bob Polverari. In Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Casey Atwood hit Jeff Green on the final lap and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Glenn Allen. In Winston Cup action under the lights at Daytona, Dale Jarrett took the lead on lap 146 of the 160-lap distance and took the win over Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.

  Ten years ago in 2004, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was on their mid season break. The next event would be at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. With eight of the 19 scheduled events already in the record books Eddie Flemke Jr. sat atop the point standings with a 70-point lead over former series champion Tony Hirschman. Flemke, who won at Waterford on May 15, had finished in the top five on seven occasions. Flemke and his Roger Hill owned race team had a game plan to run hard and run safe in 2004 and if their first half performance was any indication, they could very well be sitting at the head table at season’s end. Hirschman, who won at Stafford on May 28 and at Lake Erie on June 12, had a total of five top fives. Jerry Marquis, who won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 25 and at Riverhead on June 5, sat in third spot despite being the division’s top money winner. Marquis was 113 points out of the lead and including his wins, has 5 top fives. Ted Christopher, who won the season opening IceBreaker at Thompson, was 156 points out of the lead in fourth spot. Christopher’s win came at the expense of Todd Szegedy who was disqualified when officials determined he had an illegal rear end gear. Ricky Fuller, all though winless, rounded out the top five. Fuller had one top five in eight starts and is 238 points behind the leader. Sixth through tenth in the standings were Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, Tony Ferrante Jr., Tom Bolles and Tom Cravenho. Kenny Barry was the leading rookie and sat in 11th spot. Other Modified Tour Series winners at the mid-season mark are Todd Szegedy at Nazareth on May 23 and Reggie Ruggiero at Wall Township on June 26. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series had been one of the strongest in NASCAR as events consistently draw between 40-50 cars per event.

  The Busch North Series was also off for the weekend. Car counts could have been better but the dedication of those in competition was very high.

  Cool heads on a hot night prevailed at Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Bert Marvin who has had more than his share of bad luck in 2004 finally got a break and recorded his first win of the season as he took the top spot in the Sunoco Modified SK type event. Marvin jumped into the lead on lap two and never looked back. Pole sitter Adam Norton spent a lot of time looking in his mirror as he bounced off or cut off just about everyone who attempted to pass. The mirror driving didn't work as he ended up 12th at the finish. Kerry Malone finished second but had nothing for Marvin. Bo Gunning, Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. David Berghman became a three-time winner in the Pro Stock division while Ryan Posocco got his first in Late Model action. Other winners were Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, Roger Larson in the Mini Stocks and Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets.

  Ted Christopher beat out defending SK Modified champion Kerry Malone at Stafford on Friday night. The modifieds played second fiddle to the Late Models who were showcased in a 100 lapper that went to Tom Butler. Rounding out the top five in the SK Modified feature were Chuck Docherty, Woody Pitkat and Jeff Baral.

  Ted Christopher carried his winning ways from Stafford over to Waterford on Saturday night as he made it two out of three for the weekend. Christopher led the 100-lap feature from lap 30. Tom Fox finished second but had nothing for Christopher. Keith Rocco, who is on Christopher’s crew, made it two in a row in Sportsman competition. Phil Rondeau waited until the final lap of the Late Model feature to steal the glory from Allen Coates as he won the exciting Late Model feature. It was announced that Late Model driver Brandon Plemons had been suspended from racing at any NASCAR track for the remainder of 2004. Plemons, who was also fined $250, deliberately smashed his car into the driver’s door of Carl Erickson on June 26.

  The Nextel Cup division and the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR were at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Mike Wallace was the surprise winner of the Busch Series event as he went from fifth to first in the final lap. If Jason Lefler hadn’t been so intent on mirror driving and spinning out his competition he might have won. The Pepsi 400 got a two hour late start because of monsoon type rain in central Florida. Jeff Gordon was the eventual winner. Two spectators were slightly injured from lightning earlier in the day. It had been learned that former modified ace Greg Sacks has entered the upcoming Nextel Cup event at Chicagoland. Sacks would drive a former Ray Everham car now owned by himself, James Wilsburg and Ed Raabs. Wilsburg is a former crew chief for Sacks when he drove Modifieds.

  Five years ago in 2009, In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway rain prevailed.

  Ted Christopher returned to familiar ground at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Christopher drove to his second victory of the 2009 season and his third overall win in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Jim Peterson took down his first win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Brit Andersen scored his third win of the 2009 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande 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 Waterford Speedbowl celebrated the nation’s birthday in grand fashion, hosting the 12th annual Pepsi 300 on a beautiful summer evening. The Speedbowl’s leaders in the four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions each performed up to their lofty status. Keith Rocco checkered the SK Modified race, Bruce Thomas Jr. won in the Late Models, and Danny Field was the Mini Stock winner. Ronnie Oldham finished in second in the Street Stocks, while it was Walt Hovey taking down the event win.

  The True Value Modified Series visited the ultra fast ¼ mile high banked Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Kirk Alexander started the race on the outside pole and did what he does best; he drove his car hard right to the front to capture the lead. He then held on to the number one position for 100 laps to dominate and win the TVMRS race. Les Hinckley was Mr. Consistent during the night of competition running at a steady pace to come across the start finish lien in second. Running in the top ten in points for the TVMRS, young Rowan Pennink has continued his competitive run with the series finishing the night with a podium finish. Dwight Jarvis and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top five.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action in Daytona, Kyle Busch passed Tony Stewart right before the final lap to take the lead, but Stewart chased him down and calculated his next move. Stewart closed in on Busch's bumper, and slight contact sent Busch drifting up the track. Busch slid back down to maintain his lead, then tried to slide in front of Stewart to block Stewart's next move. The cars were too close together and Stewart hooked Busch's right corner to send Busch sailing into the wall.

  The contact triggered a multiple crash behind them, but Stewart sailed through for his second points win of the season. The two-time series champion was leading the points in his first season as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, which he overhauled from a backmarker team into a title contender after 10 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing. It was a horrendous wreck for Busch, who climbed from his car apparently unscathed but had to be forced by four NASCAR officials into a waiting safety vehicle. He finished 14th and refused to comment after the race. Jimmie Johnson was second, and Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate, finished third. Carl Edwards was fourth, and Kurt Busch fifth.

  Clint Bowyer won the Nationwide Series race at Daytona, holding off Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards in a green-white-checkered finish.

  Last year, 2013, The Thompson Speedway was quiet.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece, for the second consecutive week and fifth overall of the 2013 season, took the win in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Mark St. Hilaire won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling racked up his division leading third win in the Xtra Mart Xtra D 25-lap SK Light Modified feature, Albert Saunders was a first time winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and his twin brother Cliff Saunders was the big winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  In the SK Modified 40 lapper it appeared that Keith Rocco would unseat Ryan Preece as top dog but it wasn't meant to be. Rocco went from third to the lead on the first lap and was holding his own. It all came to an end on lap 13. Ryan Preece had moved by Todd Owen to take over the second spot. Somehow Owen got back by Preece and made contact with Rocco as they exited turn four. Rocco spun out of the lead and Owens car was inflicted with severe damage to the right front of his car. Once the dust settled Preece had inherited the lead.

  In the end, Preece picked up his second consecutive victory and his fifth of the 2013 season. Woody Pitkat came home in second, with Eric Berndt, Danny Cates, and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher had been running third on lap 24 when he dropped out with mechanical issues. He was credited with an 18th place finish in the 20 car starting field. Rocco rallied from his spin to finish 11th.

  From Stafford Preece headed for the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island where he continued his winning ways.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH with 30 cars strong, a huge crowd and 90 degree plus heat. Dwight Jarvis, a 40 year veteran of the open wheeled Modified wars took the lead from Chris Pasteryak on a lap 87 restart and went to win the 10th annual Valenti Modified Racing Series ‘Firecracker 100’. The win was Jarvis first of the season, his fifth series victory at Monadnock, and his seventh career win under the VMRS banner. He also becomes the fifth different winner in five races to date.

  Jarvis made a late drive through the pack he beat Pasteryak for the lead when the Connecticut driver spun his tires on a late restart. Pasteryak, who in the end settled for second, had led the race a total of 66-laps. Defending series champion Jon McKennedy finished third in the Art Barry owned car after starting 15th. Rowan Pennink and Richard Savary rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth place finishers were, Norm Wrenn, Dale Holdridge, Max Zachem, Tommy Barrett, and Jim Boniface. There were nine caution flags, mostly for minor spins.

  With temperatures in the high 90's action at the Waterford was a a fever pitch. The popular shoreline oval hosted the Overdrive Radio 300, its mid-season championship event for its six core racing divisions. Winning extra-distance NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races on the night included Tyler Chadwick who scored a memorable victory in the night’s big 100-lap SK Modified® race. Keith Rocco picked up his fifth win of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division while Corey Hutchings and Ken Cassidy Jr. each won for the fourth time of the year in the Street Stocks and Mini Stocks, respectively. Glenn Griswold was a first-ever winner at the Speedbowl in the SK Light Modified division and Dylan Izzo scored his third INEX Legend Cars win of 2013. Chadwick beat back one of the division’s best-ever to claim the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature. Keith Rocco moved in over the final charge to the checkered flag to stage a great finish with Chadwick that had fans on the edge of their seats. Kyle James hung on to third over Ted Christopher, who was fourth. Rob Janovic rounded out the top-five. The win was Chadwick’s third on the year and second consecutive in the extra-distance SK 100 event. Chadwick also picked up the "Rough & Tumble" driver of the race award for his hard earned victory. Twenty two Modifieds went to post for the event.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had a week off to prepare before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Town Fair Tire 100. The event would be shown live by the Speed Channel beginning at 1:00pm.

  Ryan Preece, who had won three of the five events run this season, leads the point standings by 32 points over Rowan Pennink. Three points behind Pennink was Mike Stefanik. Justin Bonsignore and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ron Silk, Don Lia, Ted Christopher, Eric Goodale and Bobby Santos.

  It's become somewhat of a joke as shortly after the recent Riverhead Raceway event that Ted Christopher has hit just about everything there is to hit except the lottery. Christopher hopes to hit the lottery in New Hampshire when he gets redemption with a win. Christopher was in contention to take the win at New Hampshire last fall when he was hit and turned into the wall in the closing moments by Don Lia.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC the lights were out as the southern Modifieds were at the Caraway Speedway. George Brunnhoelzl III went wire-to-wire on Saturday to score a record 20th career win. Brunnhoelzl's biggest threat came late in the race when Andy Seuss challenged for the lead. He pushed Brunnhoelzl through Turn 4 on Lap 135, but spun while going for the lead a lap later, bringing out the fifth caution of the night. Seuss made a fierce charge back to the front after the restart, taking third at the finish behind Kyle Ebersole. They were followed by Brian Loftin and Gary Putnam, with his first career top-five finish. Sixth through 10th were Burt Myers, Luke Fleming, Danny Bohn, J.R. Bertuccio and Mike Norman.

  Jimmie Johnson, after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup 400, became the first driver in 31 years to sweep Daytona International Speedway, accomplishing the feat with a dominating run Saturday night for his fourth win of the season. The Daytona 500 winner was the first driver since Bobby Allison in 1982, and the fifth overall, to win both races in a season at Daytona.

  Matt Kenseth pulled away from traffic on the final restart of Friday night's Nationwide Series race at Daytona, cruising to a comfortable win.

  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: July 4, 2014

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