The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 8, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Bill Rafter was the 20 lap winner at the Buffalo Civic Center in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault won a special 50 lapper for the non-Fords. Twin 50's for the Sportsman and non-Fords were run at the shoreline oval on Saturday night. Tetreault went two for two on the week as he walked off with the 50 lap non-Ford win and Moe Gherzi took the top spot in the Sportsman event.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959 George Janoski made it five in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran a 50 lap New England Sweepstakes Sportsman event which carried a $10,000 purse, huge for the time. Because of a rain delay Bill Slater actually took the win a week later but it was well worth the wait as he pocketed $2,000 for his efforts. Tom Sutcliff was the non-Ford winner. Fred Brink was the winner at the Lancaster Speedway in western New York.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 Gene Bergin, one of the chosen few to win on the dirt and asphalt surfaces at the Stafford Speedway took the Friday night win over Pete Corey and George Janoski on the dirt at the nutmeg oval. Bill Wimble was the Saturday night winner at the Fonda Speedway. Irv Taylor won at the Victoria Speedway. Elton Hildreth was the Sunday night winner at Old Bridge in New Jersey and Mike Rubino won at Islip on Long Island. Don Collins was the 75 lap Modified winner and Bill Staubley was the Bomber winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, Lou Lazzaro was on a tear up in New York State as he won a special event at the Monroe County Fairgrounds on Thursday night, Fonda on Saturday night and Utica-Rome on Sunday. Rain at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night spoiled a clean sweep for the likable driver. Smokey Boutwell made it two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. Freddie Schulz finished second. Schulz finished second at Norwood on Saturday night as Bugsy Stevens ruled the roost. Eddie Flemke, driving the Greg Mills-Dave Welch 79 finished third with Leo Cleary, fourth. Bob Potter was the Modified winner at Waterford. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. Islip ran a 100-lap double point event on Saturday. Jim Hendrickson took the win with Gary Winters, second. Fred DeSarro paid a surprise visit and finished third. Guy Chartrand won at Airborne and DeSarro got lucky at Thompson. Thompson ran a 100 lapper and DeSarro was holding a commanding one-lap lead on Jerry Cook with one to go. With a tire going down, DeSarro slowed enough for Cook to unlap himself and as he took the checker, Cook was exiting turn four. One more lap and Cook would have had the win.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Riverhead and Freeport rained out. Geoff Bodine attempted a three for three sweep in New York State as he won on Friday at Utica-Rome and Saturday at Shangri-la but fell short at Fulton on Sunday as Richie Evans won the scheduled 100 lapper. Bugsy Stevens was the Stafford winner with Kenny Bouchard, second. At Waterford on Saturday night Glynn Shafer took the Modified win and Don Fowler was victorious in the Grand American late models. The only racing on Long Island for the weekend was at Islip where Jim Hendrickson took the win over Gary Winters and George Brunnhoelzl Jr. Fred DeSarro took the Sunday night win at Thompson over Ronnie Bouchard and Eddie Flemke.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, The Westboro Speedway ran an open competition event on Wednesday, which saw Ronnie Bouchard take the win over Pete Schwartz, Leo Cleary and Mario "Fats" Caruso. New Egypt also ran on Wednesday and it was Richie Evans holding off Bill Park and Tony Siscone. Bouchard backed up his Westboro win with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Evans made a late race charge but settled for second. All racing on Saturday night rained out.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Thompson ran on Tuesday night. The event drew only 17 cars with the win going to Bob Polverari. George Murray finished second. Holland ran twin 50's on Wednesday night with Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt taking the wins. At Stafford on Friday, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Kenny Bouchard and Charlie Jarzombek. Ray Miller took the win at Riverside Park on Saturday while at Waterford; Bob Potter beat out Mark LaJunesse for the win. Other weekend winners included Tom Druar at Spencer, Tom Baldwin at Riverhead and Chris Young at Islip. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Darrell Waltrip won the non-stop event.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, the Modified Tour Series was at Riverhead on Wednesday for a 201-lap event. Mike Ewanitsko used his home track advantage to set on the pole and lead all 201 laps on the tough 1/4-mile oval. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Tony Hirschman, third. Stafford rained out on Friday. The tour headed for Oswego for a 100 lapper on Saturday, which saw Mike Stefanik take the win over Brian Ross, Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. At Waterford, Gary Dyer held off Don Bunnell and Phil Rondeau for the Modified win. Rondeau, by the way, recorded his eleventh win of the year in the late model division. At Riverside it was Stan Greger and in regular Saturday night action at Riverhead, Rick Holmberg held off Dan Jivanelli for the win. The DIRT cars of New York State ran a special asphalt race on Sunday at Thompson. It was a no contest affair as Geoff Bodine took the win. Mike Christopher won in the SK's.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Mike Christopher beat out Tom Tagg at Thompson on Wednesday night. Stafford rained out on Friday. At Waterford on Saturday, Chris Jones held off Mark LaJunesse and Bert Marvin. Dan Avery was victorious at Riverside Park. Former Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton was a special guest and went out and won a special event. Mike Ewanitsko continued his dominance at Riverhead as he won the Charlie Jarzombek 76 lapper. Don Howe finished second. The mods and Busch North ran a twin bill at Thompson on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero scored his 35th career Tour win after early leader Jeff Fuller tangled with his brother Rick, crashing out of the event on the 112th lap. Kelly Moore was the Busch North series winner. In Winston Cup action at the Brickyard 400.Rick Mast received $50,000 for his Busch Pole effort. Jeff Gordon won the event, four car lengths ahead of Brett Bodine. A bit of a family feud erupted when Brett dumped his brother Geoff during the running of the event.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the No-Bull 100 at Stafford was rained out after 46 laps. Jeff and Jerry Pearl finished one-two at Waterford on Saturday night. The mod tour was at Riverhead for 201 laps of thrashing. Tom Cravenho took the lead from Mike Ewanitsko who had led for 178 laps and went on to record the win. Ewanitsko finished second with John Blewett III finishing third. Tim Connolly and Tony Hirschman rounded out the top five. Ted Riggot won out over Rick Miller at Riverside. In Winston Cup action at the Indianapolis Speedway, Dale Jarrett took the win over Bobby Labonte.

  Ten years ago in 2004, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. The night was cool but the action was hot as Donnie Lia won the 200-lap event. Lia took the lead from Riverhead regular Chris Young on lap 49 and survived seven restarts to take the win. Frank Vigliarolo Jr., another Riverhead regular finished second while Young faded to finish 19th. Former Modified Champion Wayne Anderson who now confines his racing to Riverhead finished fourth. Anderson started 22nd in the 28-car field. Rounding out the top four was Tour regular Jerry Marquis. The event drew 45 Modifieds. Tony Ferrante Jr. was the fastest of the fast as he took the Busch Pole. Ferrante drew the fourth starting spot and finished in fifth position. Jamie Tomaino and John Fortin rounded out those that finished on the lead lap. Eric Beers, Howie Brode and Tony Hirschman rounded out the top ten, one lap down. Hirschman now leads the point standings by 9 over Eddie Flemke Jr. who finished 11th. It was a rough night for many including Tom Cravenho, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Nevin George who got caught up in various wrecks that slowed the action. Out of the 200 laps run, 59 of them were under caution. Among those who failed to qualify was John Blewett III. Blewett and car owner Curt Chase became embroiled in a dispute over a difference of opinion and Blewett left the speedway before qualifying. Chase did not put another driver in his car as he loaded up and went home.

  The Featherlite Modifieds would take three short days off before heading for the Stafford Motor Speedway on Wednesday night for the Dodge Dealers 150. This would be the first ever mid-week visit that the tour had made to Stafford as previous events there have been run on Friday nights or on Sundays. It had also been learned that NASCAR had been talking to the Hart family that owns the New Smyrna and Orlando Speedworld speedways. Jim Hunter, Chris Boals and Ed Bennett represented the sanctioning body. Among the items that were discussed was bringing the Featherlite Modified Tour and the Busch North series to compete in Florida during Speedweeks. It had also been rumored that the Featherlite Modifieds, which were dumped in favor of the Craftsman Truck Series, may return to Martinsville. Now that the International Speedway Corporation owns the Virginia track maybe they realized that the trucks don’t draw enough to justify their huge purse. Also in the rumor mill was word that the Modifieds may pay a visit to the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. In the end, the rumors were just that, rumors.

  On Thursday night the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl went head to head. Thompson presented their regular Thursday night Thunder program while the Speedbowl presented an event labeled the Funkmaster Flex Super Series Invitational. The Waterford event drew what the Hartford Courant said was 8,000 spectators, which was awful hard to believe. Thompson had a late but rather healthy crowd for their event. Many of those at Waterford had never been there before and were drawn by the expected live entertainment. Those at Thompson were there to see the racing.

  In Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway the highlight of the evening was a 75-lap contest for the Pro Stocks. Once a rough and tumble crashfest, the Thompson Pro Stocks had evolved into a highly competitive division worth watching. David Berghman took the lead on lap 54 and went on to record his sixth win of the season. Berghman did a masterful job of using the high banks to his advantage and conserved his tires so they would last to the end. Ron Smith, who led the early going, finished second. Norm Wrenn finished third. The speedway graciously altered their schedule in order to accommodate Sunoco Modified point leader Ted Christopher who was racing at Waterford. Needless to say, even with the Sunoco Mods running last, Christopher didn’t make it. Crewmember Keith Rocco took his car and started in the rear. Richard Savory led the charge of initial start. On the second re-start Bert Marvin turned into Bo Gunning causing both to hit the wall at the exit of turn 2. Todd Ceravolo took the lead on the third re-start but before he could complete a lap Savory hit Ceravolo causing him to get loose. Jeff Malave slipped by as Ceravolo gathered it in. Ceravolo pressured Malave and was able to get his nose under him for the lead on lap 26. Malave ran second for a lap until doing a bump and run which allowed him to get back into the lead and take the eventual win. Eric Berndt slipped by for second at the finish. Ceravolo finished third and in doing so, took the point lead. Kerry Malone and Adam Norton rounded out the top five. In other action, Corey Hutchings pitted while leading at Waterford, charged up the road to Thompson and proceeded to take the win in the Late Model division. Jessie Gleason was the Limited Sportsman winner and Shane Michalski was the Mini Stock winner.

  At Waterford, also on Thursday, Allen Coates reaped the benefits of a crash between Ted Christopher and Phil Rondeau as he reaped a $10,000 payoff for winning the Funkmaster Flex Invitational. Woody Pitkat finished second and took home $6,000. Rondeau finished third and received $4,000. Numerous wrecks precipitated 18 caution periods.

  Ted Christopher made it six in a row at Stafford on Friday night. The current track and regional point leader started 15th and wasted little time as he took the lead from Frank Ruocco on a restart on lap 29 of the 40 lap feature. Ruocco had nothing for Christopher as he chased him the rest of the way to the finish. Jim Civali, Shawn Tryon and Chuck Docherty rounded out the top five. Things got ugly in the Late Model feature. Tom Butler, Ryan Posocco and Mike Quintiliano were running three wide in the closing stages when Butler hit the wall. Possoco and Quintialano then went at it and on the final lap Posocco found himself in the wall. Quintiliano took the checkered flag but was disqualified to last on the lead lap for rough riding. Joe Rzeszutek was awarded the win. Eric Grant was the DARE winner.

  Ron Yuhas Jr. made it two in a row in SK Modified action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Yuhas blew away the field as he finished a considerable distance ahead of Dennis Charette. Don Fowler finished third with Ed Reed Jr., fourth. Phil Rondeau was the Late Model winner. Jeff Paul, at 16 years of age, a veteran of the Quarter Midget ranks, won the Legends feature and Ed Gertsch took his fifth victory of the year in the Sportsman ranks.

  The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were in Indiana. The Busch Series raced at the Indianapolis Raceway Park and the Nextel Cup cars were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In Busch Series competition at the Indianapolis Raceway Park, Kyle Busch took the win over Johnny Sauter and Jason Lefler. Jeff Gordon left little doubt that he had a handle on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he won the Brickyard 400 over Dale Jarrett.

  Five years ago in 2009, the legend of car owner, the late Len Boehler and his famous ‘Ole Blu No.3 continued to live on as Ryan Preece scored his second Whelen Modified Tour Series in six days. Preece, who is the grandson of another legend, Bobby Judkins won the Town Fair Tire 150 at Stafford on Friday night.

  Preece took the lead on lap 104 from Ted Christopher and held off the defending champion to record his third overall win. Preece, who started fourth, moved into second spot by lap seven. The top two never pitted and it was a matter of Preece wearing the defending champion down.

  According to reports a near capacity house witnessed the event. There were 32 cars on hand for the available 31 starting spots. In a generous move the Stafford management agreed to allow all cars to start the event.

  Chris Pasteryak, who continues to make a name for himself, finished third, which tied his best career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour effort, previously also set at Stafford . Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. Erick Rudolph, Donny Lia, Jimmy Blewett, Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top 10 finishers. The Coors Light Pole Award winner, Eric Berndt, finished 16th. It was a relatively clean and fast race, which produced only five short caution periods for 25 laps.

  Christopher regained the season points lead with his runner-up effort. He led Szegedy by 14 points after seven events.

  In tour related news it had been announced that James Civali had been hired by Hillbilly Racing to drive a team car to Ronnie Silk. Civali will be in competition at Bristol, Loudon, Martinsville, and the North South Shootout.

  In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Frank Ruocco took down his second consecutive SK Modified feature win, Jim Peterson took his second Late Model feature win of the 2009 season, David Webb was a first time career winner in the SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery came up a first time career winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Victoria Bergenty was also a first time career winner in the DARE Stock feature.

  In Thursday night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo each scored victories in the twin 50-lap Sunoco (Sk-type) Modified features. George Bessette broke into victory lane for his first of the season in the Super Late Models. Tommy O’Sullivan was the Late Model winner while Scott Sundeen earned his second of the season in the Limited Sportsman division. Brian Sullivan took down his fourth TIS Modified win of the season and Tim Taylor took the Mini Stock win, his sixth of the season.

  Ted Christopher, who was feeling the effects of the flu, won the first 50 lapper for the Modifieds. Todd Ceravolo finished 16th in the opener as he dropped out with an overheating engine. A blown head gasket was suspected. After some discussion the decision was made to install a new radiator plus pour some “stop-leak” into the engine block. It was a gamble but it worked as Ceravolo was able to out-distance Christopher to take the win in the second 50 lapper.

  At the Waterford Speedbowl, Vermont native Brian Hoar scored his second consecutive ACT Late Model Tour win Saturday in the Nutmeg State 100, while it was Keith Rocco winning his fifth SK Modified event of the Speedbowl season. Walt Hovey Jr. won his third Street Stock race of the year, and Bill Leonard captured his second Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock event. Jason Palmer was the winner in the Legends Car race.

  The True Value Modified Series went “up country” to Maine. Jon McKennedy outlasted a very competitive field Saturday night as he capturing the 100 lap True Value Modified Racing Series event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, ME. The race, in front of a big crowd, featured five different leaders.

  On lap 88, McKennedy took the lead passing Pinkham. McKennedy then opened up a comfortable margin over Pinkham and cruised to the victory. Jarvis was third followed by Carl Pasteryak, and Jack Bateman rounding out the top five.

  NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams traveled to Watkins Glen, NY. Marcos Ambrose won the Zippo 200 for his second Nationwide Series win. Kyle Busch finished second, his 10th race in a row where he finished first or second. There were 6 cautions for 20 laps and 7 lead changes among 7 leaders.

  Tony Stewart won the rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International on a steamy Monday, muscling an ill-handling car in the early going and then holding off Australian Marcos Ambrose over the final 21 laps for his Cup-record fifth victory at the famed road course.

  Last Year, 2013, Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway was cancelled for the third week in a row due to rain.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the rain prevailed as over an inch of the wet stuff fell on the speedway area as well as all of New England.

  Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Keith Rocco score his 50th career SK Modified win. Rocco made a two-fer as he came back later in the evening to win the

  Keith Rocco won his 50th career SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl early Saturday night, but he wasn't finished. Valenti Modified Racing Series 100-lap feature before a large crowd that gathered as part of the Speedbowl's annual Wings & Wheels event.
Other winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Jon McKennedy in the 50-lap International Supermodified Association feature, Todd Bertrand in the NEMA Midgets, Scott Bigelow in the NEMA Lite feature and Corey Barry in the SK Modified Light race.

  Rocco's win in the 35-lap SK Modified race, was his sixth of the season at Waterford. Rocco also has wins at Thompson and at Stafford for an overall season total of 17.

  In the SK Modified feature Rocco made a methodical move to the front, moving into fourth place on lap 10 and passing Craig Lutz and Rob Janovic following a restart a lap later to move into second behind Ed Puleo. Puleo was able to hold Rocco off until a lap 18 restart, when Rocco took the lead for good, although he had to survive one last restart with two laps remaining to hold off Kyle James. Puleo finished third. Ted Christopher and Frank Mucciacciaro rounded out the top five. Dennis Gada is the all-time SK Modified® division win leader with 62.

  In the Valenti Modified Racing Series 100 at the Speedbowl Rocco scored his second career victory in front of a home track crowd. The division’s 100-lap feature saw Rocco rally to the front early in the going, taking command on the outside of Chris Pasteryak on lap-9. Rocco led easily over a long stretch of racing that took the event through a caution on lap-89 when Todd Owen’s car spewed fluid around the track. Following a lengthy delay for the cleanup, Rocco hung tough and survived four additional caution periods over the final nine laps which took its toll on the field behind him. Rocco handled every restart and subsequent challenger to take his first series win at the Speedbowl, marking the seventh different division he has won in at the track, tops all-time in the track’s 63-year history. Series point leader Rowan Pennink, who started 17th, finished in second and Pasteryak ended up third. Tommy Barrett and veteran racer Dwight Jarvis avoided the late trouble to finish fourth and fifth. Sixth through tenth were Steve Masse, Woody Pitkat, Richard Savary, Rob Goodenough, and Louie Mechalides.

  Eight caution flags slowed the race including an opening lap crash that saw Ted Christopher get booted into the turn four wall. There were 32 Modifieds on hand for the event.

  Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC rain washed out all racing activity.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Ryan Preece scored his third win of the season as he beat out Jason Agugliaro and Dave Sapienza for the win. Preece started fifth and led the final seven laps to score his NASCAR Whelen All American Series win.

  Brad Keselowski led 49 laps in the Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen and finally notched his first career road course victory. Kyle Busch was the Sprint Cup winner.

  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: August 8, 2014

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