The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 15, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Ronnie Kling was the winner at the Buffalo Civic Center in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, Joe McNulty was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault continued his win streak as he made it three in a row in non-Ford action at the shoreline oval. Double features were run on Saturday night at Waterford with Moe Gherzi and Dom DeLaura taking Sportsman wins and John Chiangi and George LaChapelle taking wins in the non-Fords.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, Japanese driver George Tet halted George Janoski's win streak at Stafford Springs Speedway as he won the Friday night Modified feature on the dirt at the Connecticut oval. On the asphalt at the New London Waterford Speedbowl Bill Slater was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner and Don Collins was the Saturday night Sportsman winner. Dick Beauregard and Tom Sutcliff were the non-Ford winners.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Kenny Shoemaker ruled the roost as he won on the dirt at Stafford Springs on Friday night over Gene Bergin and Irv Taylor. Wild Bill Slater was the big winner at Norwood on Saturday night. Other weekend winners were Bob Rossell at Old Bridge, Irv Taylor at Fonda, Al Hansen at Islip and Ernie Gahan at Victoria. Sal Dee (Delucia) won his first ever Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, Eddie Flemke was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Don Flynn finished second and was followed by Sal Dee, Leo Cleary in the Koszela 15 and Ray Miller. Albany-Saratoga ran twin events and Lou Lazzaro was unstoppable as he won both. The first event saw Dick Clark finish second with Rene Charland, Bobby Santos and Jerry Cook following. In the nightcap, Andy Romano finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens. Flemke made it two for two as he won at Norwood on Saturday. Fred DeSarro finished second with Freddie Schulz, third. Rain washed out the Fonda 200 as Cliff Tyler was winning at Islip and Guy Chartrand was winning at Airborne Park. Newt Palm was the Modified winner at Waterford. Lazzaro made it three for three as he won at Utica-Rome on Sunday and at Thompson on Sunday Bugsy Stevens showed the way. Noted car owner Mario Fiore scored his first ever win as the late Gary Colturi put his Late Model in victory lane at Westboro.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Riverhead ran a 100 lapper on Wednesday, which saw Joe Krukowski, take an upset over Charlie Jarzombek and Junior Ambrose. Freeport ran a 200 on Friday night, which saw Geoff Bodine take the win on the flat 1/4-mile oval. Richie Evans finished second with Bugs Stevens and Maynard Troyer following. Saturday night action at Islip, Waterford and Stafford rained out. At Shangri-La, Mike Loescher took the win with Don Diffendorf finishing second. Merv and Roger Treichler finished one-two at Lancaster, also on Saturday. In Sunday action, Maynard Troyer beat out Richie Evans at Fulton and at Thompson, Fred DeSarro and Eddie Flemke finished one-two.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Geoff Bodine was leading the closing laps of a 100 lapper at Stafford when he missed a shift on a restart which allowed Richie Evans to sneak in to take the win. Bodine managed to finish second and was followed across the stripe by Bugsy Stevens and Ronnie Bouchard. It was a good weekend for Evans as he also scored wins at New Egypt, Holland and Shangri-La. A bad storm washed out all events in New England on Saturday and Sunday. Other weekend winners were Doug Hewitt at Spencer, Dwight Jarvis at Claremont and Roger Treichler at Lancaster.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Thompson ran a 100 lap modified event on Wednesday. Richie Evans pitted on lap 48 and blasted his way to the front to take the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 68 and never looked back. Spencer faded and was overtaken by Reggie Ruggiero and Brett Bodine. Wayne Dion was the SK modified winner. Bob Polverari was in the spotlight at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Jeff Fuller for the win. Riverhead ran an 84-lap national championship event also on Friday. Island favorite Don Howe took the win over Tom Baldwin, Spencer and Evans. The action switched to Islip on Saturday night where John Blewett Jr. won a 200-lap event over Spencer and Bob Park. Other weekend winners were Gomer Taylor at Waterford, Billy Griffin at Spencer and Tony Siscone at New Egypt.

  Twenty five ago in 1989, the only action in the northeast was at Thompson where Reggie Ruggiero won a 100 lapper over Doug Hevron, George Kent and Mike Stefanik. Rain washed out all weekend racing. The racing world was saddened with the announcement that Tim Richmond died as a result of aids at the age of 34 on August 13.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Stafford ran twin events with Bo Gunning and Frank Wainwright taking the wins. Gunning was taken to the hospital during the running of the second event after a bad crash with Richie Gallup. Racing at Waterford was cancelled after 11 laps were completed when Ted Christopher hit the fence, after riding over a wheel, getting airborne and almost taking out the starters stand. Reggie Ruggiero won at Riverside and it was John Fortin over Chuck Stuer at Riverhead. A Mod Tour event scheduled for Thompson on Sunday was rained out. Mark Martin cleaned house in Michigan as he won both BGN and Winston Cup events there.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Thompson ran a 100 lapper for the SK's on Thursday night. Bert Marvin took the win after early leader Scott Quinn ran into a lapped car. Kerry Malone finished second with Jamie Asklar, third. At Stafford on Friday night, Willie Hardie took the win over Lloyd Agor and at Waterford it rained. John Fortin won at Riverhead and at Watkins Glenn, Ted Christopher passed Tony Hirschman to take the win. Hirschman finished second with Tim Connolly, third. Bryan Wall was the Busch North winner

  Ten years ago in 2004, a scheduled Wednesday night Featherlite Modified Tour Series event at the Stafford Speedway drew 47 Modifieds but had the misfortune of getting rained out. In a somewhat childish move the Stafford management informed its announcing team that they were not to mention that Bob Garbarino was the owner of the Mystic Missile that was driven at the time by Chuck Hossfeld. The Stafford management was upset over the fact that Garbarino had forced Hossfeld to give up his Friday night SK Modified ride as he was acquiring too many bad habits by running an SK at Stafford.

  At the Thompson Speedway Bo Gunning, in the Eddie Partridge entry, took the Thursday night Thunder Sunoco Modified win. Kerry Malone finished second with Bert Marvin, third. Ted Christopher had a rough night as he wrecked two cars.

  Stafford’s regular Friday night program rained out.

  Eddie Reed Jr took the Saturday night SK Modified win over Ron Yuhas Jr, Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada. Sal Accardi was the winner at the Riverhead Raceway.

  The NASCAR Cup division was at the Watkins Glen Speedway. Tony Stewart, suffering with stomach flu, took the win but was unable to go to victory lane as he had a personal accident within his drivers suit.

  On a sad note, NEAR Hall of Fame member Dynamite Ollie Silva passed away at the age of 75. Silva, who won over 500 features, was a headliner for the New England Supermodified Racing Association (NESMRA) for years. A pedal to the metal racer, Silva had his racing career cut short after he hit a tree on the backstretch at the Monadnock Speedway in 1978.

  Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the New England Dodge Dealers presentation of the Budweiser 150. A generous purse of $84,168 was posted for the event. Day long misty conditions and a forecast of heavy rain for the evening forced NASCAR officials and the Thompson Speedway management to postpone the event to Thursday night, September 3.

  In Friday night action at Stafford, Ted Christopher was the winner in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco was the winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Brit Andersen was the winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Kevin Gambacorta won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Barry Fluckinger was the winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  At the Waterford Speedbowl, the 2nd annual Wings 'n Wheels event was run in front of a packed house of fans on a hot summer night. Scoring victories were Tyler Chadwick in the SK Modifieds, Lou Cicconi in the ultra fast ISMA SuperModifieds, Rowan Pennink in the True Value Modifieds and Russ Stoehr in the NEMA Midgets. It was a long night as racing at the shoreline oval concluded at 12:20am on Sunday morning.

  The SK Modified feature turned into a rolling demolition derby with many of the top contenders being knocked out of the event. Justin Gaydosh and Tom Abele Jr. shared the front row of the 25 lap event. Gaydosh moved out to the lead but the first of eight cautions waved on lap four when Dennis Charette spun out of the back half of the top five after contact entering turn one, collecting Josh Sylvester who was making his first Speedbowl appearance. Sylvester was done for the night. Eventual winner Chadwick, actually spun in turn one to bring out the second caution early in the event. He benefited by a series of multi-car incidents at the front of the field in the first ten laps, improving his position back to within striking distance.

  The first of the key incidents occurred when Corey Hutchings challenged Gaydosh in the outside groove. The pair raced a little too hard for the lead, causing Hutchings to spin across the front stretch. He clipped Rob Janovic Jr which blocked the track. The wreck also collected point leader Keith Rocco and 2007 division Rookie of the Year Glenn Pressel III. The Janovic, Hutchings, and Pressel machines received extensive damage and retired from the event. Dennis Gada and Yuhas were the new front row when racing resumed. But before a lap could be completed Gada lost a left rear tire, sending him spinning into turn three wall. The field finally got some competitive racing in when the action resumed. Yuhas pulled out to the lead with Chadwick becoming a serious factor. He moved to second around the outside of Jeff Pearl on lap 12. Jeff Paul followed Chadwick into third. Chadwick was all over the leader by lap 16. Further back, Rocco was looking to re-enter the top five after his earlier incident on the back bumper of Charette. Rocco found his way past on lap 19 after looking in both the high and low grooves.

  Chadwick made a daring inside maneuver entering turn one on lap 25 to pull alongside Yuhas. He completed the pass to claim sole possession of lead as the field hit the stripe the next time around. Chadwick had to master one final restart to go on to his first win of the season, coming after taking a week off to regroup. Yuhas, Paul, Pearl, and Rocco completed the top-five.

  Rowan Pennink took advantage of Mike Stefanik’s soured engine and went on to record his first victory in the True Value Modified Series. Stefanik looked strong through the latter stages when signs of smoke started to show from his #66 machine. Pennink capitalized when the motor began to falter, Stefanik pulling low off turn four with seven laps remaining. Pennink went on to his first series win and is the eighth different winner in as many True Value Modified events held at the ‘Bowl. Chris Pasteryak came back from a mid-race pit stop to claim second and Kenny Horton scored his best effort in the series finishing third. Stefanik ended up in 15th spot. Rob Goodenough and Jacob Dore rounded out the top five.

  Young driving sensation Ryan Morgan of Mystic, CT raced for the first time at Seekonk Speedway driving a "Allison Legacy" car. These cars are third scale NASCAR Sprint Cup cars running a sealed Mazda engine capable of speeds reaching 125-130 MPH. Morgan started the 25 lap feature event last, in sixteenth position, at the drop of the green he moved forward and was in fifth spot by lap thirteen when he was hit in the rear by another car, after a quick trip to the pits for repairs, he restarted in the rear again. As the raced progressed, Morgan worked to the front again and with three laps remaining was in second position, however, because of the earlier damage that shifted the rear more than four inches, he was not able to hold the car in the low part of the race track and settled for fourth at the stripe.

  With Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch fighting it out on the final lap, Ron Keselowski swooped in to grab the lead in the final turn and hold on to the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. Vickers finished second and Busch third, and they exchanged some heated words on pit road afterward.

  After a surprising gamble on gas by his crew chief Ryan Pemberton, Vickers drove conservatively to conserve fuel on Sunday. Then he pounced when race leader Jimmie Johnson's tank ran dry, taking the lead with two laps to go and holding on to win Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway

  Last year, 2013, Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway finally broke the three week string of rain-outs. Bobby Santos held off Donny Lia to take the checkered flag in the Whelen Modified Tour Series Budweiser 150. Other winners at Thompson on Thursday night were Woody Pitkat who led the NASCAR Whelen All American Series action with a come-from-behind win in the Sunoco Modified division. Glenn Boss, Cam McDermott, Joe Baxter, and Bill McNeil also won their division feature events

  In the Modified Tour event, Santos took the lead on the start of the Bud 150 and commanded the field until caution slowed the pace at lap 25 for a backstretch accident involving Bryon Chew and Rick Fuller. Santos continued his dominance on the restart and led by half-a-straightaway until caution came out again at lap 109. The entire field came down pit road during the caution period. Santos stalled his machine when trying to exit his pit stall allowing Todd Szegedy to beat him out and take over the lead. Santos was relegated to sixth for the restart. Szegedy’s time out front didn’t last as he went high in turn two and brushed the wall on the restart paving the way for Justin Bonsignore to lead the field. On the restart, Santos rocketed right back to the lead before caution slowed the pace again. Bonsignore got the lead back for the restart and held off Santos until lap 134 when Santos got by in the middle of turn three and four. A caution set up a lap 141 restart with Santos leading the field into turn one. Donny Lia and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top-three. Caution flew at lap 148 and set up a green-white-checker finish, but a front stretch accident quickly saw a halt to the race. Pennink got hit from behind and flipped front to back until he was back on his tires. The driver was able to walk away from the accident. The race resumed at lap 157 with Santos in the lead, and despite Donny Lia’s challenges, Santos went on to win his second of the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

  Eric Goodale finished third, followed by Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat. Current point leader Ryan Preece got stung again as he spun on the final lap and ended up 13th. Preece was running 6th. Ron Silk, Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino, Todd Szegedy and Ron Yuhas Jr. rounded out the top 10.

  Rowan Pennink was also denied a top finish when he was hit from behind while running third on lap 152, causing him to roll end over end. Pennink ended up 18th.

  In Sunoco Modified action, an early-race accident didn’t derail Woody Pitkat from victory. Pitkat came from the rear of the field after a lap one accident to inherit the lead at lap 24. Pitkat held off Dennis Perry on a late-race restart en route to the checkered flag and the point lead. On the start, Paul Newcomb headed into turn one as the leader, but a tangle between Pitkat and John Catania brought the race under caution before the first lap was complete. Dennis Perry hung with Newcomb on the restart and grabbed the lead coming out of turn two. Ryan Preece made his presence known by taking over the second position using the bottom groove. Preece then drove underneath Perry on lap three and battled side-by-side with him for a full circuit before settling in out front coming out of turn two.

  A caution at lap six tightened the field up, but it was not stopping Preece, who jumped right back out front. Todd Ceravolo maneuvered his machine into second followed by the hard-charging Keith Rocco, who was filling Ceravolo’s rear-view mirror. On lap 10, Ceravolo got high in turn two enabling Rocco to move into second and set his sights on Preece, who was leading by a comfortable ten car length advantage.
Further back in the field, Pitkat was proving to be a factor as he maneuvered around Ceravolo for the fourth spot. Up front, Rocco had reeled in Preece by lap 16 and was attached to his rear bumper as he looked for a way around. Preece, however, was not shaken by the pressure and continued to hold him off.

  The race took a dramatic turn of events on lap 24 when the leaders came around turn one only to have a lapped car in the middle of the track. Preece didn’t have enough time to react and he had nowhere to go but into the wall. Rocco was collected as well and the duo both had significant damage.

  Pitkat inherited the lead for the restart with Perry on the outside groove. Pitkat held off his challenges and drove to the front heading into turn two. Kerry Malone settled in third. Rocco, involved in the accident, was up to eighth and on the move. Meanwhile, Pitkat put some distance over the rest of the field, and despite the battles behind him, drove on to the checkered flag.

  Nick Boivin ended up fourth with Matt Gallo, rounding out the top five. Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo, Jay Sundeen, Rick Shawnand John Catania comprised the remaining top ten.

  A big change in the landscape of the Thompson Speedway was taking place as contractors were literally moving mountains as they reconfigured the speedway property for the new road course which was is expected to be up and running by 2014. Jonathan Hoenig attended the NWMT driver’s meeting and made a statement. He stated that despite rumors Thompson is committed to being an oval track. The Hoenig family would still like to have three 2014 NWMT races. The construction started at the track early so that hopefully the facility will be ready for IceBreaker 2014 weekend which had been originally scrubbed. In a somewhat cautioned statement Hoenig alluded that the track expects to run a limited oval track racing schedule in 2014.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece scored his division leading 7th win of the 2013 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray extended his streak of consecutive podium finishes to 12 with his fifth win of the season in the Double Distance 60-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling took down his fifth win in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, David Arute claimed his third win in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande scored his second win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Preece made a move by Rowan Pennink to take over second place on lap-15 and he pulled alongside Woody Pitkat for the lead on lap-16. Pitkat was hanging tough in the outside groove and he wasn’t about to give up the lead easily but Preece took the lead on lap-17. Eric Berndt was able to get around Danny Cates and move into the fourth position before the caution came out with 19 laps complete as Tommy Membrino, Jr. spun and collected the car of Ted Christopher.

  Preece took the lead on the restart with Pitkat right behind him. Pennink and Berndt were side by side for third with Owen and Cates right behind the side-by-side duo. Pennink cleared Berndt on lap-21 and the top-6 cars were now single file with Preece beginning to stretch out his lead over Pitkat. Membrino and Dave Salzarulo spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 26 laps complete.

  Pitkat hung with Preece for a lap before settling back into line behind him in second. Berndt was third, with Pennink and Owen making up the top-5. Right behind Owen was Cates, Cipriano, Foster, Curt Brainard, and Matt Galko. The top-5 shuffled on lap-31 as Pennink got out of shape and fell back several spots to eighth, moving Owen into fourth and Cates into fifth as Preece, Pitkat, and Berndt continued to run in the top-3 spots. Preece slowly pulled away from Pennink and he cruised to his seventh win of the 2013 season. Pitkat finished second, with Berndt, Owen, and Cates rounding out the top-5.

  Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Keith Rocco make it two in a row, seven for the year, in a photo finish over Tyler Chadwick in the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Chadwick, who led from the start, took advantage of a solid restart following a lap 32 caution to hold the top spot. He held off Rocco through lap 33, but as they came off the fourth corner prior to the start of the final lap, Rocco tucked in behind Chadwick and gave a bump to his rear bumper as the cars entered turn one. That allowed Rocco to dive under Chadwick who drifted up the track just enough to leave the opening. The two ran side-by-side to the checkered flag and photo finish.

  Rocco's win was his 51st career win in a SK Modified at the shoreline oval. Rocco had a busy night as he also finished second in the Late Model race and third in the truck feature.

  In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races Saturday night, Jason Palmer won his first Late Model race of the season, Corey Hutchings won the Street Stock feature and took over the division point lead, Ian Brew won in the Mini Stock division, Giovanni Giarratana won the Legend Cars race and Duane Noll too checkered in the New England Truck Series.

  Rounding out the top five in the SK Modified feature was Craig Lutz, Rob Janovic and Frank Mucciacciaro Jr.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night, 32 cars strong, for a 100 lapper. Home track favorite Todd Annarummo took the win over Steve Masse, Richard Savary, Tommy Barrett and Louie Mechalides. Annarummo started fourth and took the lead on lap 32.

  Max Zachem, Rowan Pennink, Todd Patnode, Chris Pasteryak, and Norm Wrenn, finished sixth through tenth.

  Despite eight caution flags, the race was completed in 51 minutes with 15 of the original 24 starters finishing on the lead lap. For the second consecutive race, 32 race teams entered the event.

  Tires used by series points leader Tommy Barrett Jr. along with tires from Steve Masse and Richard Savary were confiscated on suspicion of treatment by detection from the measuring meter used.

  Barrett, was declared disqualified on Monday by the Valenti Modified Racing Series from aturday’s event at Seekonk Speedway for using illegally tampered tires during the event. Also disqualified from the event for the same tire issue were Steve Masse and Richard Savary.
All three drivers were removed from the Seekonk results and none were credited any points or purse for the race. Lou Mechalides was moved to second place in the Seekonk results and Max Zachem

  Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC rain made it two in a row at the historic speedway. The final race date of the season is scheduled next Saturday night. In the event of another rainout, the season finale will be moved to Aug. 31, the lone rain date available. Bowman Gray hosts football games during the fall months.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Dave Brigati and Ron Silk scored 30 lap Modified victories.

  Bill Park was inducted onto the Wall of Fame at Riverhead Raceway. Bill won 32 features as a driver at Riverhead along with four NASCAR Modified track championships. Wayne Anderson and late Joe Biondolillo Jr were also inducted onto the Wall of Fame at Riverhead. Wayne won 32 features as a driver to go along with his five NASCAR Modified track championships. Biondolillo was a six time Riverhead Raceway champion with 53 career wins in 13 seasons.

  Nearly 18 years of motorsports tradition ended on Saturday morning, Aug 17, when at 6:00 Eastern Time Fox pulled the plug on SPEED in the United States and started its new ESPN competitor, Fox Sports 1.

  After a sad elegy from Mike Joy tracing the history of what started in 1995 as Speedvision, Curt Menefee appeared to welcome viewers to Fox Sports 1 before the network's first program, an on-tape college football preview, was aired. While much of the SPEED programming will appear on either Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2 (which had no real introduction or transition other than a Fuel TV bug turning into a Fox Sports 2 one) it's still a very sad day for racing fans.

  AJ Allmendinger was the winner at the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Joey Logano was the Sprint Cup Series winner at Michigan.

  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 15, 2014

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