The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


July 18, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Bill Rafter won the first ever stand alone stock car event at the Buffalo Civic Center in western New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, Moe Gherzi made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. Fred Luchesi ended the streak with a win on Saturday. Tom Van Epps won non-Ford events on both nights.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, George Janoski took the Friday night win at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain washed out the Wednesday night racing at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. The Speedbowl did run on Saturday night with Don Collins taking the win in the Sportsman division. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Ben Hewitt was the Bomber winner. The NASCAR Short Track division paid a visit to the Buffalo Civic Stadium where Jim Reed took the win over Rex White and Lee Petty. At Lancaster, Percy Brown took the win.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble made it five in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Kenny Shoemaker finished second. Eddie Flemke paid a rare visit and finished third. Flemke excelled on the asphalt but he was quick to admit that racing on dirt was not his "thing". The NASCAR Grandnationals (Cup) were at Islip and Bridgehampton on Long Island and at Old Bridge in New Jersey. Billy Wade won at Islip and at Old Bridge while Richard Petty scored at the 2.85 mile road course at Bridgehampton. Fred Harbach was the Modified winner at Islip while Lou Lazzaro took top honors at Fonda and Billy Harman recorded the Modified win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty-five years ago in 1969, the original All-Star League shifted into high gear with a mid-week event at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont and a Friday night event at Malta, NY. Bugsy Stevens won the 100 lapper at Catamount and was followed by Guy Chartrand, Will Cagle and Buzzie Reutimann. At Malta, a young Richie Evans beat out Ed Pieniezak and Fred DeSarro for the win. With the hot dogs at Malta, Ray Miller took advantage of the situation and recorded a Friday night win at Stafford. Sal Dee finished second, with Wild Bill Slater coming home in third spot. Saturday night at Norwood, Barnie Matte held of Walter Scott and at Fonda, Jerry Pennock won a 100-lap event. At Airborne Park, Ed Pieniezak beat out Canadian, Marcell Corrivieu and Ed Flemke. Newt Palm won a 50 lap Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. At Islip it was George Wagner and on Sunday at Utica-Rome, Jerry Cook was victorious over Sonney Seamon and Ed Flemke. Racing at Thompson, rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Charlie Jarzombek won at Riverhead on Wednesday over Fred Harbach and Cliff Tyler. Saturday night at Stafford, Ralph "Hop" Harrington, driving the former Tant/Mitchell coupe driven by Ray Hendrick and now owned by Richard Armstrong, beat out Bugsy Stevens and Ronnie Bouchard for the win. Shangri-La ran twin features, which were both won by Richie Evans. Donnie Bunnell, driving the Pat Doherty No. 73 was the Modified winner at Waterford. Jim Tierny was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Islip, Ted Wesnoske won out over Jarzombek and Harbach and at Lancaster, the Treichler cousins, Merv and Roger finished one-two. Richie Evans capped off the weekend with a win at Fulton on Sunday night over Jerry Cook and Maynard Troyer. In small block modified action at Thompson, Steady Eddie Flemke was the big winner over Jerry Pearl and Dave Humphries and at Monadnock, Bugsy Stevens won a 100 lapper over Bobby Gahan and Gene Bergin.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, the Friday night winner at Stafford was Richie Evans with Geoff Bodine in the Lee Allard No.99 a close second and Ronnie Bouchard, third. Evans backed his Stafford win up with a win at Riverside on Saturday night. At Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard took the victory over Leo Cleary and Eddie St. Angelo. On the Island at Islip, Tom McCann and Wayne Anderson finished one-two. Islip promoter Bob O'Rourke promoted a special Modified event at Trenton on Sunday. It was 90 degrees and very humid. Forty-six Modifieds were on hand but barely over a few hundred spectators. Bodine took the 200-lap win over George Kent. Both had a lap on the field. The event was a financial disaster at the gate and that was the end of O'Rourke's promoting career. Other weekend winners were Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Doug Hewitt at Shangri-La, Jeff Fuller at Westboro, Richie Evans at New Egypt and George Savory at Thompson.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Modified Madness came to Stafford on Tuesday. Ron Bouchard in the Boehler No.3 beat out Richie Evans and Brian Ross for the 50 lap win. At Stafford on Friday night, Marty Radwick scored his first and only win over Corky Cookman and Reggie Ruggiero. Riverhead also ran on Friday with Carl Miller taking the win over Wayne Anderson and Fred Harbach. Evans stayed close to home and was victorious at Spencer over Tom Druar and Jan Leaty. With the exception of a Modified Championship event at Shangri-La on Saturday, all racing rained out. Brian Ross won the Circle of Champions 84 lap event over Richie Evans and Jim Spencer. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bill Elliott won the pole and popular Harry Gant took the win. Ron Bouchard finished seventh and Geoff Bodine ended up 12th.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Jeff Barry won the Friday night SK modified feature at Stafford. Steve Chowanski finished second. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup won out over Ted Christopher and John Jensen. At Riverhead it was Brian Miller over Fred Harbach and at Riverside, Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x held off Reggie Ruggiero. Tony Siscone scored a popular victory as he won the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium. Gil Hearne finished second. Thompson had a Modified tour event scheduled for Sunday but rain washed out the event.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Mike Christopher was the winner at Thompson on Wednesday. Stafford rained out on Friday and on Saturday, Todd Ceravolo scored his first ever Modified win at Waterford. Mark LaJunesse finished second. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans Memorial 76 lapper at Riverhead. Monadnock Speedway announced that they were dropping the Modifieds from their weekly program as the field had dwindled to sixteen cars. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Geoff Bodine scored a major win for Hoosier Tires as he won both the pole and the 500-mile contest.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Jerry Marquis was awarded his fifth victory of the season after apparent winner Ted Christopher was disqualified because of illegal mufflers. New England was in the middle of a 90-degree plus heat wave, which stretched tempers to the limit. At Waterford, Christopher ran amuck again as the lapped car of Harry Rheaume, while leading a 100 lapper took him out. Bert Marvin was the eventual winner with Dennis Gada, second. It was also on Saturday night, July 17 that John F. Kennedy Jr. along with his wife and sister in law were killed in a plane crash near Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. It was a busy weekend for the Featherlite Modified Tour. On Friday, during the day, they ran a make-up event at Nazareth. Spectators were charged only $5.00 to see the event. Ed Flemke Jr. took the win after Chris Kopec mysteriously spun while trying to pass. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. After an all night trip to Holland, N.Y. Kopec got his just do as he took the win, his first on the tour. Hirschman ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. Kopec took the lead with six to go from Pasteryak.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine on Saturday night. Thirty-nine Modifieds were on hand. Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole sitter. Tom Cravenho drew the pole and led the first 19 laps. Ted Christopher was involved in an opening lap skirmish, which all but took him out of contention as he lost numerous laps making repairs. Point leader Eddie Flemke also had his problems early on but was able to stay in the lead lap. Nevin George was the class of the field as he took the lead on lap 20 and never looked back. Despite the fact that there were six cautions for 43 laps George beat Donnie Lia by .70 seconds. Zack Sylvester, a rookie on the tour, did an outstanding job as he came from a 14th starting spot to finish third. Jamie Tomaino and Ricky Fuller rounded out the top five. Preston Connecticut car owner Art Barry must have been shaking his head wondering if he made a mistake by putting Sean Caisse in his car. During one of the early cautions Caisse was attempting to scrub the rubber off his tires when he hit his team car, which resulted in damage to both Barry team cars. Quick repairs got Kenny Barry back in competition without losing a lap and he eventually finished 13th. Sixth through tenth were Jerry Marquis, Rob Summers, Tony Hirschman, Todd Szegedy and Cravenho. Eddie Flemke Jr. continued to lead the race for the championship with 1400 points. Second, with 1342 points was former champion Tony Hirschman. Third was Jerry Marquis with 1307.

  The Busch North Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl also on Saturday night. Mike Johnson led from pole to pole in what had to be considered a yawner. Mike Stefanik finished second with Matt Kobyluck, third. There were 24 cars on hand.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway conducted a bold experiment on Wednesday, July 14 when they presented what was labeled as Extreme Wednesday. Instead of the usual bill of fare of SK Modifieds, Late Models and DARE Stocks the Arute family brought in the ISMA Supermodifieds and NEMA Midgets. Despite threatening weather the event drew a real good crowd, estimated to be in the neighborhood of 6,000, which would leave one to believe that the program will be repeated in 2005. Ted Christopher, the winningest driver at Stafford, played a major role as he competed and provided a lot of excitement in both the Supermodified 80 lapper and the Midget 30 lapper. In the Supermodified event Christopher drove from a seventh place start to the lead by lap five and had it not been for a fuel starvation problem could very well have won. Chris Perley of Rowley Mass took the lead from a slowing Christopher on lap 30 and went on to lap the entire 26-car starting field with the exception of the top four. Mike Ordway finished second with Bentley Warren, Scott Martel and Rick Wentworth rounded out the top five. Christopher, who dropped out on lap 44, finished 19th. In the 30 lap NEMA feature Nokie Fornoro went from pole to pole to take the win. It was Christopher again that provided a lot of excitement as he put his mount in a three wide situation on more than one occasion. Christopher ended up third behind runner-up Mark Buonomo. Mike LaJoie was the Pro-4 modified winner.

  Todd Ceravolo got a little closer to claiming his second Sunoco Modified SK-type championship at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he made it two feature wins in a row. Taking the lead from Eric Berndt after a lap 12 re-start, Ceravolo made a determined run from there and was able to stave off the pressure applied by Berndt in the closing laps. Berndt finished second. Bo Gunning finished third after recovering from a semi-spin earlier in the event. Ted Christopher, who still leads the point standings by 8 over Ceravolo, finished fourth after coming back from a pit stop. Bert Marvin rounded out the top five. Jeff Malave, who was currently third in points, finished sixth. Malave was put to the rear shortly after a lap 12 re-start. David Berghman went two for two in Pro Stock action. Berghman, the son of three-time NASCAR Modified Champion Bugsy Stevens, won the night’s regular feature plus a make-up event from June 17. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks, Jeff Hartwell in the Late Models and Norm Ashline in the Limited Sportsman.

  Up until Friday night, only two competitors, Ted Christopher at Stafford and Todd Ceravolo at Thompson, were able to record back to back wins. Christopher got one up on Ceravolo as he made it three in a row in SK Modified competition at Stafford on Friday night. Starting deep in the field of the 40-lap feature, Christopher dodged the bullets to take the lead from John Sandberg on lap 34. When Sandberg faded Lloyd Agor moved into second spot in the closing moments and attempted to take Christopher out. Agor’s move backfired as he found himself spinning to the infield. Sandberg moved back into second and secured his best finish of the 2004 season. Mike Quintiliano won his fourth Late Model feature of the year and Stacey Botticello secured her first win in the Dare Stocks.

  While the Busch North Series event Waterford on Saturday night lacked excitement the SK Modified feature more than made up for it. Rookie driver Mark Pane started on the pole and was well on his way to his first win when the entire complexion of the 35-lap feature changed. Tom Fox, while running second, used every trick he could think of to get by as Pane blocked his every move. Coming out of the fourth turn on the final lap Fox made one final attempt to make an outside pass. Pane moved up to block but Fox had got his nose in and wasn’t about to lift. The two made contact and lost enough momentum, which allowed Dennis Charette to dive low and take the win. Just as Charette took the win, Pane, who had bounced off of Fox, clipped the right rear of Cherette’s car sending him into a spin and ultimately into the wall, trashing the winning mount. Pane ended up in second spot with Pane, third. Jeff Pearl, Dennis Gada and Ed Reed Jr. rounded out the top six. Corey Hutchings, who trashed a car after suffering tire failure a week ago, took the Late Model feature. Allen Coates finished second. Phil Rondeau crossed the finish line in third spot but was put to the rear by Track Steward Bill Roberts. Roberts made the decision based on the fact that Rondeau was overly aggressive during the event. Mark St. Hillaire ended up with third spot. Ed Gertsch won the 20 lap Sportsman feature and Joe Bavolocco won the Mini-Stock feature.

  The Nextel Cup division and the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR were off for weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr suffered second degree burns to his face and arms when a Corvette he was driving at the Infenion Raceway hit a barrier and burst into flames. NASCAR made it official on Thursday when they announced that starting at the next event in Loudon, all Nextel Cup events would finish at speed under the green flag. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that thousands of fans had been unhappy when races were completed under caution. The showed their dislike by throwing everything from beer cans to chicken bones on the track. Crew chiefs will now have to re-calculate their fuel mileage in order to be prepared for a further than posted race distance. Word had it that NASCAR was close to announcing that they hoped to be racing in the New York Metro area. The sanctioning body had been looking at a site on Staten Island and it appeared that the project would start in the near future. Needless to say it didn't. NASCAR didn't pay the right people off and the project never got off the ground.

  Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on “Summer Break before heading for the Riverhead Raceway on August 1. While the Whelen Modifieds continued to race for paltry purses at some tracks, teams that compete in the DIRT Car series had recently raced in a 100 lap event at the Cayuga County Fair Speedway in New York for a $100,000 purse that paid the winner $20,000. NASCAR rants and raves about the Modifieds and the great shows they put on yet they continued to throw crumbs their way. The recent Modified tour event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was clearly the best show of the weekend. Their racing purse was the least of those in competition. A recent edition of Area Auto Racing News, a highly respected trade paper based in New Jersey, stated that the total purse payout at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was $7,005,549. The Sprint Cup purse consumed the lion’s share at $5,423,189. The Nationwide Series collected $1,197,559. The Camping World Series East purse was $217,884 and at the bottom of the barrel were the Modifieds whose purse totaled $166,917. In comparison to other Modified Tour events the New Hampshire purse was a good one. Based on the level of competition and the quality of the racing something was definitely wrong here. Hopefully those in charge at New Hampshire would correct this!

  In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the Sunoco Modifieds seem to want to self destruct as numerous wrecks continue to plague the division. A lot of it is attributed to rough driving that continues to go unchecked by officials in charge of the racing program. Bump and run, bonsai the leader, knock him out of the way is the norm. If its ok for the NASCAR Cup drivers to do it I guess its ok for the local guys to do it. Hopefully Richard Brooks and Ben Dodge will read the riot act to the competitors and take action if necessary.
Thompson International Speedway implemented the new NASCAR rule where the leader decides if they want to restart on the inside or the outside. With weather moving in the action was hot and heavy. The rains came within minutes of the final checker flag of the evening. The TIS Modifieds did double duty as they ran two features, the Super Late Models had their 50 lap extra distance race. Ted Christopher took down a highly contested win in Sunoco Modified action. Larry Barnett continued his domination in the Limited Sportsman division. Tommy O’Sullivan took down his first Late Model victory of the season as did Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks.

  Kerry Malone led the field to the green flag in Sunoco Modified action. Jimmy Blewett grabbed the lead on lap 1. Malone had heavy pressure from Woody Pitkat who went low and took the spot on lap 3. Pitkat then glued himself to Blewetts’s back bumper. A lap later he went low and took the lead; however, Blewett wasn’t giving up easily. Ted Christopher now joined the fray in fourth and brought Keith Rocco with him. Rocco dove low under Christopher and took over the fourth spot and on the backstretch took over third. The action was slowed by a spin by John Catania.

  On the restart Blewett jumped out to the lead but Josh Sylvester made heavy contact with the wall in between turns 1 and 2. When they went back to green, Blewett went back to the lead but Pitkat went high and took over the top spot bringing Rocco with him. Christopher went high on Blewett and took over third. Rocco took over the top spot after making slight contact with Pitkat. Christopher followed Rocco and grabbed second. Tim Sullivan had made his way up to the fifth spot. Just past halfway Christopher went low and took over the lead for a split second over Rocco who then took the spot back. Christopher inherited the lead when contact between Pitkat and Rocco sent Rocco hard into the wall in turns 1 & 2.

  With the green back in the air, Christopher came across the line first. In almost the same spot where Rocco just hit, Harry Rheaume made hard contact with the wall. TC and Pitkat restarted their battle with the green flag back in the air. Sullivan went low and took the third spot from Rowan Pennink. On lap 21 Pitkat went low and took over the top spot. A spin by Rick D’Abate slowed the field again his machine onto pit road for some attention. Pitkat took the inside for the restart. It was a smart move as he took off with Christopher falling back. Christopher went low and retook the spot. Pitkat wasn’t giving up and battled back. He was looking high and low lap after lap. Pennink made contact with the backstretch wall slowing the field again. At lap 26 it was a single file restart. Christopher again took the lead but again Pitkat wasn’t going to lie down and give up. He looked high in turn 4, low in turn 1 and applied the pressure. Bert Marvin had moved his way up to fourth. After taking the white flag, Pitkat took the lead but he and Christopher made contact between 3 and 4 and TC took down the win. Tim O’Sullivan ended up in second spot and was followed by Bert Marvin, Woody Pitkat, Rick Shawn, Kerry Malone, Jimmy Blewett, Todd Ceravolo, Danny Cates and Wayne Arute.

  Keith Rocco recovered from his wreck at Thompson to record his fourth win of the season at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Tom Butler took down his first feature win at Stafford since 2006 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Earl Pelletier was a first time 2009 winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand took home his fourth victory of the 2009 season in the in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly became the 9th different winner in as many features this season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Wade Mattesen powering to the outside of Joe Allegro, Jr. to take the lead. Allegro settled into second with Matt Gallo, Zach Sylvester, and Richie Pallai, Jr. making up the top-5. Sylvester quickly moved to third, with Tom Bolles taking fourth and Curt Brainard moving into fifth place. Mattesen had things well in hand out front, but the action was slowed for the first time with 18 laps complete for a spin by Willie Hardie on the frontstretch. Ted Christopher and Brad Hietala spun on the restart to bring the caution back out. The lap-19 restart saw Rocco power past Mattesen to take over the race lead. The field completed one lap before Christopher and Allegro went around in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out. Rocco charged to the lead on the restart with Mark Bakaj second, Jeff Malave third, Doug Coby fourth and Frank Ruocco fifth. The field ran in line until lap-26 when Bakaj got loose in turn 4 and touched wheels with Coby, which sent both cars spinning and brought the caution back out.

  After several more caution periods from lap-27 to lap-29, Rocco was still out front, with Malave, Donny Travaglin, Woody Pitkat, and Christopher behind him. The leaders ran in single file until lap-26 when Travaglin made a move to the inside of Malave for second, which allowed Christopher to follow Travaglin past Malave. Christopher and Malave would both get back by Travaglin in the last couple laps, but it was all Rocco at the front as he scored his fourth feature victory of the 2009 season. Christopher finished second, with Malave, Travaglin, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.

  True Value Modified Racing Series point leader Jon McKennedy roared to his third win of the season and his sixth career victory Saturday night, July 18, as he captured the “Maine-ly Sports 100” at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. McKennedy, fast in earlier practice sessions, won his qualifying heat, and started on the pole in the 100 lap event. McKennedy jumped into the lead from his pole starting position and held it until passed by Rob Goodenough on lap 17. Andy Seuss took over the top spot on the 43rd lap and held off the constant challenges of Goodenough, and then McKennedy, until lap 77. McKennedy, using lapped traffic to his advantage, grabbed the top spot from Seuss. McKennedy then set a torrid pace to go on and score the win.

  Dwight Jarvis who started 16th in the field, finished in a respectable runner-up spot, with David, Pinkham, last years race winner, finishing third. Pinkham started last in a 22 car field. Seuss finished fourth, with Eddie Dachenhasuen, making a late race charge finishing fifth. The race, slowed by only two caution flags on laps 16 and 98, was run off in just 28 minutes.

  The racing action at Waterford Speedbowl took on a different look as the regular Saturday night divisions had the night off. The first ever Saturday Wild ‘n Wacky racing event took place at Waterford Speedbowl under sunny and warm conditions. The Legends Car series was in the spotlight, competing in a national qualifier event with the winner earning a guaranteed berth in the Raceceiver Legends Nationals at Georgia’s Lanier Speedway in October. Berlin, CT competitor Jason Palmer continued his domination in the division this year, bouncing back from early race trouble to secure the win. Ledyard’s Charles Beal won his second consecutive Super X-Car race, Willington’s John Bowes dominated the X-Car event, and David Flammia Jr. of Waterbury was the late benefactor in winning the X-Modified race. Tyler Chalue won the Bandolero race.

  The Seekonk Speedway ran their annual Open Modified 100 on Wednesday, July 15. Chris Pasteryak started 8th and after dogging Mike Stefanik for many laps, passed him for the lead and eventual win on lap 85. For his efforts Pasteryak collected $10,000. Jon McKennedy finished second and was followed by Jimmy Kuhn, Stefanik and Matt Hirschman.

  Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series again, cruising to victory in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday. Reed Sorenson finished second and Carl Edwards was third. Mike Bliss and Brad Coleman rounded out the top five. The Nextel Cup division had the week off.

  Last year, 2013, Doug Coby, driving the Wayne Darling-owned Seekonk Grand Prix modified, dominated Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway as he won the 100 lap main event which paid him a cool $10,000 on an extremely hot night which saw temperatures in the mid 90 degree mark. The only other leader of the event was Todd Annarummo. They shared the front row for the start, and Annarummo jumped to the lead with Coby on his bumper. Three lead-changes later, Coby roared home for the the win just ahead of Les Hinckley with Annarummo, Matt Hirschman and Anthony Nocella in pursuit.

  Hinckley had started fifth and worked his way toward the front, holding third from laps 28 through 81. Annarummo took his lead and ran 26 laps at the front with Coby in pursuit. Coby made an early, outside bid on lap 5, but Rob Richardi and Kevin Iannarelli got together in turn one. It was the end of Richardi’s evening as the field relined for the green. They went door to door at the front and Coby bid on the outside for the front, but Annarummo held him off. Lap seven saw another bid on the outside and then Coby dropped under for the pass, only to have the door slammed in his face. Hinckley eased into fifth place on lap fifteen and nabbed onto Tommy Barrett’s bumper. Another lap and Barrett had been deprived of fourth. By lap 18, Annarummo was leading Coby, who was on his bumper, Todd Ceravolo, and Hinckley. Eric Berndt looped out of turn 3 to bring out caution. Annarummo and Coby lined up again with Ceravolo and Hinckley at their backs. At the green, they were wheel-to- wheel, trading the lead down the backstretch and door-to-door as they came to the stripe again. Coby gained the lead out of turn two and by lap 27, he had the front to himself with Annarummo behind him. Hinckley had come around Ceravolo for third. This trio would dominate the front three positions through the end of the feature.

  With 20 laps remaining, top four finishers had been established. Hinckley pursued Coby big time, but was unable to get to the lead. Nocella managed to ease past Ceravolo into fifth. Rounding out the top ten were: Nocella, Jimmy Zacharias, Steve Masse, Ceravolo, Barrett and Jon McKennedy.

  A big part of the evening was the induction of Bugsy Stevens, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers to the Seekonk Speedway Wall of Fame. Their names were placed along side of speedway founder D. Anthony Venditti and his wife, Irene Venditti.

  Matt Gallo stood out as the only first time winner in a sea of repeat winners in Thursday Night Thompson Thunder. Gallo took down the victory in the Sunoco Modified portion of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series card. Repeat winners included Glenn Boss in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds, and Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks. Larry Barnett and Jesse Gleason each won 20-lap Limited Sportsman features.

  Gallo took the lead of the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature event from his outside front row starting position and never looked back. He led every lap en route to his first career Thompson Speedway win. Gallo led the charge at the start of the race with Paul Newcomb and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top three. Gallo was on fire as he pulled away to a commanding half-a-straightaway lead over the rest of the field. The man on the move, however, was Todd Ceravolo who took over the second spot by lap four. Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco also moved up to take over third and fourth respectively.

  Gallo continued to maintain a torrid pace, but Ceravolo was slowly reeling him in. The field strung out single file as Rocco looked for a way around Preece. At lap 15, Rocco dropped to the bottom heading into turn three to shoot by for the third position. Up front, Gallo was out front with only a ten-car length advantage. Rocco began to work over Ceravolo for the second spot. Rocco rode his bumper as he looked for the momentum to get by. Gallo, meanwhile, continued his dominance out front despite the car tightening up on him.

  Gallo’s lead began to shrink, but it didn’t shake Gallo’s confidence as he drove to victory lane for the first time at Thompson Speedway. Ceravolo finished second with Rocco, third. Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five.

  In some distressing news, Racedayct, an internet racing news site, reported that there would be no Ice Breaker in 2014 at Thompson and possibly no weekly short track racing at the northeastern Connecticut oval in 2014 as the track will be under going major reconstruction in order to accommodate sports car racing. Third generation Thompson Speedway general manager Jonathan Hoenig stated that plans are in place to build a new 1.7-mile road course at Thompson Speedway. The road course will incorporate the current .625-mile oval track. Hoenig said the plans are for the road course to be operational by June 2014.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ted Christopher scored his 100th career SK Modified win, an 80 lapper, which was also his second win of the year at the Arute family oval. Christopher was one of five drivers to take home a $300 bonus from Xtra Mart Convenience Stores as Xtra Mart put up a total of $1,500 that was divided evenly among the top-5 finishers. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Adam Gray continued his hot 2013 season with his third win in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jay Goff scored his first win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light feature, D.J. Burnham was victorious for the second time in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande took his first win of the year in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  Christopher kept Doug Coby behind him all the way to the checkered flag to pick up the victory. Eric Berndt finished third, with Danny Cates and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5. Each of the top-5 finishers took home a $300 bonus from Xtra Mart Convenience Stores, who put up a $1,500 bonus for the race.

  The Waterford Speedbowl saw Todd Ceravolo end a long dry spell as all his cards fell into place for him to record the SK Modified win. Ceravolo hinted that his career as a driver may be coming to a close. At 49 years of age the electrical contractor is still highly competitive but is being realistic as time is ticking by. Ceravolo will become a grandfather in the coming months. His son-inlaw, Keith Rocco finished second with Tyler Chadwick, third.

  The Speedbowl beat an early rain shower before returning to NASCAR racing on Saturday evening after a scheduled week off. The track’s INEX racing divisions were vaulted to the spotlight, landing two race winners a spot in a national event for each the Bandolero and Legend Car divisions. Defending Legend Cars champion Paul Kusheba of Monroe won in a photo finish in a great race while Anthony Marvin of Colchester won the Bandolero feature. In addition to Ceravolo picking up his first victory of the year in the SK Modifieds®, two-time Street Stock champion Al Stone won his second race of the year in that division while Ken Cassidy Jr. picked up his fifth Mini Stock victory. Randy Churchill Jr. rounded out the night’s winners, scoring his fourth SK Light Modified race honors.

  The 35-lap feature race for the SK Modified® division saw the return of a familiar name to the winner’s circle at the track. Ceravolo, the 1997 track champion, took his first win since the 2010 season after running a nearly flawless race. He was patient in the opening laps as the running order settled in as Frank Mucciacciaro took the race lead from pole sitter Nichole Morgillo to lead lap-1. Joe Gada held third behind the top two with Ceravolo rounding out the top four cars.

  With Morgillo tailing Mucciacciaro, Ceravolo pulled out of line and made a power move under Joe Gada take third on lap-5. The first caution flag came out a lap later when a three-car battle for eighth position resulted in Adam Gada sliding through the turn four infield kicking up moisture and debris onto the race surface. Following a false restart attempt, Morgillo slid into the turn one wall after a second attempt to restart the race on lap-6.

  Ceravolo lined up outside of Mucciacciaro when the race was able to restart cleanly. He spent two laps on the outside racing hard for the lead before tucking in line behind Mucciacciaro. A lap later, Ceravolo dove inside Mucciacciaro in turn three to lead the way on lap-9. Once clear of Mucciacciaro, Ceravolo pulled away to a large lead as the race ran without further incident the rest of the way.

  Behind Ceravolo action was red hot as Mucciacciaro held back the advances of Tyler Chadwick, who took third from Joe Gada on lap-12. Keith Rocco followed Chadwick to fourth position. They joined Mucciacciaro in a tight three-car battle for second position that endured for several laps. As the trio put on a spirited battle Ceravolo continued to pull further ahead. On lap-23 Chadwick found the momentum to barrel underneath Mucciacciaro in turn three, bringing Rocco with him as they advanced to second and third.

  Out front Ceravolo was untouchable. Rocco pestered Chadwick until he finally made the move to his inside down the front chute on lap-27, taking away second. Over the final eight laps Rocco tried to run down Ceravolo, however the lead was too much. As Ceravolo went on to his 22nd career win at the track, Rocco wound up second and Chadwick third. Mucciacciaro finished in fourth and Craig Lutz took home fifth.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had a week off to re-group from the recent event in Loudon. Many of those who compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series are concerned what will become of their series especially if the Thompson Speedway is under construction for some or all of 2014. Thompson currently hosts four events. To lose four events would be devastating to the series. The Whelen Modified Tour Series is currently made up of 14 events. If Thompson remains closed for the entire 2014 season it could very well spell the end of Modified racing as we know it!

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. With 22 cars on hand, Rowan Pennink started 16th, battled his way to the front to take the lead on lap 76 of the 100 lapper and despite being dogged by Richard Savory, recorded the win. Savory settled for second with Tommy Barrett, third. Max Zachem and Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers, led all the way in the first of two 25-lap races for the Modified Division and registered a season-best sixth victory. Danny Bohn won the second Modified race.

  In Modified action in upstate New York, Matt Hirschman won the 63rd annual Sunoco Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway which sits on the shore of Lake Ontario. Eric Rudolpf finished second with Chuck Hossfeldt, third.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island the careers of three drivers who each enjoyed success at Riverhead Raceway before losing their lives to the sport were honored Saturday in the 77-lap Baldwin, Evans, Jarzombek Memorial modified event.

  Charlie Jarzombek, began his racing career in 1962 and compiled a record 63 wins at Riverhead. A member of the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, Jarzombek won 187 feature events during a 25-year career. He passed away in 1987 when his car hit a retaining wall at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Jarzombek earned the nickname, "Charging Charlie" for his hard-charging and aggressive driving style. Jarzombek was a five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR modified champion, which ties him with Wayne Anderson and Don Howe for the most all-time at the track.

  Tom Baldwin won 11 times at Riverhead and spent 20 seasons (1985-2004) on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He passed away after an accident at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2004.

  Richie Evans, from upstate New York, experienced much success on Long Island tracks. He won 17 races at Islip Speedway and two at Freeport Speedway. The last win of his career came at Riverhead in August 1985, two months before a fatal practice lap crash at Martinsville Speedway.

  A 77 lap feature was run in their honor. Taking the win was Howie Brode. Ron Silk finished second with Tim Solomito, third. Dave Sapienza and Dave Brigati rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece finished sixth.

  Joey Logano held off Sam Hornish Jr. to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, leading a sweep of top two spots for Roger Penske after the owner asked him to drive the No. 22 car on a rare weekend off for the Sprint Cup series. Logano, the lone Sprint Cup regular in the race, earned his second Nationwide win of the year and No. 20 for his career. He also won at Dover in June. Sam Hornish held on for second.

  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: July18, 2014

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