The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 22, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Charlie Barry won out over Jack White at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954 the New London Waterford Speedbowl suffered it's only fatality. Jack Griffin, a close friend of George Summers died from injuries sustained after his car flipped 10 times on the front stretch of the shoreline oval. Griffin was pronounced dead on arrival at the Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, Ct. Sparky Belmont, who normally raced at the Plainville Stadium, made a surprise visit to Waterford on Wednesday and took the victory in the Sportsman main event. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner. Harold "Curley" LeMay was the Sportsman winner at the shoreline oval on Saturday night with Big Bob Cahoon taking top honors in the non-Fords.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, Don Rounds, racing out of Warwick, RI took the Friday night win on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Wild Bill Slater went two for two at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won 25 lap Sportsman features on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Charlie Webster and Ray DeLisle were the non-Ford winners an Newt Palm was a double winner in the Bombers at the Connecticut shoreline oval.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 New Jersey driver Joe Kelly won the Trenton 200 on the one mile Trenton NJ State Fairgrounds Speedway. Ray Hendrick was second with Perk Brown, third. Bobby Allison and Irv Taylor rounded out the top five. Among those in the field was Rene Charland who finished 18th, Mario "Fats" Caruso who finished 26th, Bill Slater who finished 28th and Eddie Flemke who finished 37th. Kelly also won the previous night as he went pole to pole to win the Garden State 100 at the Wall Stadium. Wally Dallenbach finished second with Eddie Flemke, third. On a sad note, dirt tracker Jackie McLaughlin lost his life in an accident at the Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Gene Bergin scored his second win of the season on the dirt at Stafford Springs and Al DeAngelo won at Islip. Following Bergin at Stafford was George Janoski and Bill Wimble. Billy Harman won his third Modified feature of the year, a 75 lapper, at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Scrivener was the Bomber winner at the Conn. shoreline oval.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, the All Star League visited Islip on Wednesday for a 100-lap event. Taking the win was home track favorite Fred Harbach. Gary Winters finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Jack Reinhard, Artie Tappen and Will Cagle. Albany Saratoga ran a 100-lap double point event on Friday, which saw Eddie Flemke clean house. Guy Chartrand finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Bernie Miller. Stafford was closed. Saturday night at Norwood, Johnny Thompson with his small block Ford took the win over Freddie Schulz, Fred DeSarro and Marty Bezema. Fonda ran their rained out 200 and at the checker it was Lou Lazzaro who prevailed. Kenny Shoemaker finished second and was followed by Ron Narducci and Rene Charland. Airborne Park in Plattsburg ran a 100-lap double point event and it was invader, Bugsy Stevens taking the win. At Islip Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach shared the spotlight as they each won separate events. Hometown favorite Charlie Webster was the Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Big Mike Daignault was the Daredevil winner. At Thompson on Sunday night it was Eddie Flemke over Stevens and Moose Hewitt and at Utica-Rome Jerry Pennock beat out Dave Lape for the win.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Don Howe got the best of Charlie Jarzombek at Riverhead on Wednesday. Frank Curtis finished third with Junior Ambrose, fourth. On that same night, the master, Eddie Flemke, gave a young driver named Reggie Ruggiero a lesson as he won a 100 lap open event at Plainville Stadium. Jim Cash finished third with Bobby Bard, fourth. Friday night at Freeport, Jarzombek played second fiddle again as he finished second behind Dan MacNamara. Donnie Bunnell was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. A 200 lapper scheduled at Islip on Saturday rained out. Bugsy Stevens was king of the hill at Stafford despite the efforts of Eddie Flemke and Ronnie Bouchard. In New York State action, Dick Clark won at Utica-Rome, Merv Treichler won at Lancaster, Geoff Bodine won at Shangri-La and Richie Evans won at Fulton. In Sunday night action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row and at Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard was the victor.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Bill Brown sold Monadnock Speedway to Bill Davis and at Danbury, starter Ted Abbot was struck and killed while flagging a race at the historic oval. Stafford ran twin 25's on Tuesday and drew 75 modifieds. Geoff Bodine won the first 25 and was followed by Ron Bouchard, Jerry Cook and Bugsy Stevens. Cook won the nightcap with Bodine following and Leo Cleary in third spot. At New Egypt on Wednesday night, John Blewett Jr. took the win over Jerry Cook and Richie Evans. At Stafford on Friday, Ronnie Bouchard scored a popular win over Evans and Kenny Bouchard. Seekonk ran a 50 lapper on Saturday, which saw Geoff Bodine take the win over Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens. After two successive rain outs, Waterford got their show in and it was Rick Donnelly taking the win over Moose Hewitt and Dick Ceravolo. At Shangri-La, Richie Evans got his 44th win of the season. Jerry Cook finished second with George Kent, third. At Lancaster it was Maynard Troyer over Roger Treichler and at Thompson on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard beat John Rosati. Also on Sunday, Brian Ross secured twin wins at Monadnock.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Waterford ran a special 82-lap open competition event and it was local favorite Bob Potter beating out Kenny Bouchard for the win. At Stafford on Friday night, Brian Ross took a popular win over Bugsy Stevens and Charlie Jarzombek. New Egypt ran a 200 National Championship event that saw George Kent beat the heat and the competition. Bob Park finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Spencer also ran on Friday and it was now Winston Cup crew chief Doug Hewitt taking the win. In Saturday night action it was Brett Bodine taking a 200 lap win over Reggie Ruggiero and Richie Evans at Riverside. Ruggiero drove a car owned by Mike Grecci who was the crew chief for Andy Santarre. At Waterford it was Bob Gada Jr. over Bob Potter and at Islip it was Al Hansen in victory lane. Tony Hirschman beat out Gil Hearne for a win at Wall Stadium and at Thompson on Sunday, Art Davis was the winner. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Geoff Bodine took the pole but ended up 22nd with a broken rear. Terry LaBonte took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Tom Tagg was the Friday night SK modified winner at Stafford. At Monadnock they were still running Modifieds and Reggie Ruggiero took the win. Waterford rained out on Saturday but on Sunday it cleared as Thompson hosted the Modifieds. Mike Stefanik won out over Reggie Ruggiero and Doug Hevron. Ruggiero won the companion SK event.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Thompson’s Wednesday show rained out. In Friday night action at Stafford, Bob Potter held off Mike Paquette. Rick Fuller was the winner of the Pro Stock 100.Saturday night at Waterford, Scott Spaulding got his first ever Modified win as he beat out Mike Gada and Jerry Pearl. Riverhead ran a Race of Champions qualifier, which was won by Tom McCann, and at Riverside, Dan Avery took the win. The Modified Tour Series was at Loudon. The scheduled 100-lap event was called after 23 laps due to rain. Steve Park was awarded the win with Reggie Ruggiero second and Ed Flemke Jr., third. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Ernie Irvan was severely injured after a cut tire forced him to crash at high speed into the wall. After a long recovery period, Irvan survived to race and win again.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Willie Hardie won the postponed NO-Bull 100 at Stafford. Jerry Marquis finished second. Ted Christopher won the regular Friday night SK 50 lapper. Earlier in the day, Christopher qualified on the outside pole for a Grandnational event at Michigan but had his time disallowed because of illegal shocks. Mike Gada went pole to pole at Waterford on Saturday night to win out over Ron Yuhas Jr. Riverside and Riverhead rained out. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Grandnational and Bob Labonte was the Winston Cup winner at Michigan. Last but not least, Kenny Tremont got his 13th win of the year at Lebanon Valley as he charged from third to first on the last lap.

  Ten years ago in 2004, with heavy hearts the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour headed back to Stafford on Wednesday after Tom Baldwin had been laid to rest. Services were held at the Lucia and Orlando Funeral Home in Patchogue on Long Island. National Speed Sport correspondent Gary London reported that thousands came to the wake and funeral of the popular Long Island driver. After only three days off the tour returned to Thompson on Sunday to continue the event that was halted due to the Tom Baldwin accident. The infield light poles in turns one and three had been moved outside the track. The concrete blocks that protected them were also gone.

  At Stafford, a fitting tribute was presented in honor of Tom Baldwin. Video clips of his highlights in Stafford events were shown and on the parade laps of the main event seventh place starting spot was left open in his honor. Forty-six modifieds were on hand for the Dodge Dealers 150. Donnie Lia was the Busch pole sitter. Nevin George drew the pole starting position and John Blewett III drew the outside pole. Lia drew seventh. Nevin George took the lead at the start and led through lap 54. John Blewett III took the lead on a re-start but his position at the point lasted only one lap as George took it back on lap 56. Todd Szegedy, who didn’t pit for tires, took the lead on lap 81 when George developed problems and ended up dropping out with a bad clutch. Szegedy led the remaining laps and crossed the finish line 1.14 seconds ahead of current series point leader Tony Hirschman. Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Tom Bolles, who lives in nearby Ellington, finished a respectable sixth, just ahead of leading Rookie candidate Ken Barry. Barry’s teammate Sean Caisse resigned his ride prior to the event and is looking to pursue a racing career elsewhere. Rounding out the top ten were Donnie Lia, Chuck Hossfeld and Doug Coby. Hossfelds car owner, Bob Garbarino, stated that he was extremely hurt by recent action taken by Stafford owner Jack Arute. When Hossfeld quit his Friday night SK Modified ride Arute became enraged as he felt that Garbarino had cost him one of his top weekly drivers. Arute instructed his announcing team not to mention Garbarino’s name or his business, The Mystic River Marina. Garbarino had supported the speedway since it was initially paved in 1967. Ted Christopher and Reggie Ruggiero, two of the pre-race favorites, failed to finish. Ruggiero, who started 18th, dropped out with suspension problems after completing 45 laps. Christopher, who started 22nd, lasted until lap 52 when he broke an axle. Tony Hirschman stretched his point lead to 55 over Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke finished on the lead lap in 13th spot. Flemke was running in third spot on the final lap when he spun as a result of a tire going flat. Jerry Marquis, who finished a distant 23rd after completing only 91 laps because of an early tangle with Ruggiero and Christopher, lost a little ground but still maintained third spot. Christopher and Lia rounded out the top five.

  The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour returned to Thompson on Sunday to complete the Bud Racing 150 that had been halted when Tom Baldwin had his unfortunate accident. Not returning to re-start the event were Bobby Santos III, Sean Caisse, Ronnie Silk and Ken Wooley. Caisse, who was the Busch Pole sitter, had announced that he had quit the Art Barry No.21. Prior to the start of the event speedway announcer Russ Dowd paid an emotional tribute to the fallen Baldwin, one that left more than one with damp eyes. Ted Christopher, who was leading when the event was stopped on August 19 when the field took the green on lap 14. Shortly after Donnie Lia took the lead on lap 41, John Blewett III developed overheating problems with his Sheba No.8 and parked it on lap 44. Blewett, by the way, had won the Garden State Classic at the Wall Township Speedway on Saturday night. At just about the same time Tom Cravenho parked the Eddie Partridge No. 12 when it developed an oil leak. Lia led the field until he pitted on lap 81and handed the lead to Kenny Bouchard as the field completed the fourth of six caution periods. Bouchard's lead lasted one lap as a determined Tony Hirschman bolted into the lead on lap 83. Doug Coby posed a potential threat but couldn’t compete with the former series champion who went on to take the eventual win. Coby and Eddie Flemke Jr. slugged it out for second spot until five laps remained and he ran out of gas, stopped and brought out the sixth and final caution. With a green-white-checkered finish Hirschman out powered Flemke for the win. Jimmy Kuhn finished a career best third with Ted Christopher fourth and Rick Fuller, fifth. Rounding out the top twelve on the lead lap were Dave Etheridge, Jerry Marquis, Eric Beers, Jeff Malave, Jamie Tomaino, Charlie Pasteryak and Renee Dupuis. Hirschman now leads Flemke by 65 points. Roy Smith won the Pro Stock event that had also been postponed from August 19.

  In Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won one for the Tiger. Malone, who was a close friend of Tom Baldwin, won the 75 lap Sunoco Modified event and in victory lane dedicated his win to the fallen competitor. Jeff Malave ended up in second spot with Todd Ceravolo, third. Bo Gunning and Kelly McDougal rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher was a late contender until being spun out by Adam Norton. Norton was put to the rear for his actions. Christopher recovered to finish seventh while Norton played it cool to finish ninth. Jeff Zuidema was the Pro Stock winner. Point leader David Berghman was collected in a wreck while running third and finished out of the top 10. Other Thursday night winners were Dennis Botticello in the Late Models, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Todd Henshaw in the Mini Stocks.

  Twin 40 lap SK Modified features were on the racing card at Stafford Friday night. Steve Chowanski went pole to pole to win the opening feature while Chris Jones won the nightcap after finishing second to Chowanski in the first event. Chuck Docherty finished second in the opening event and was followed by Ted Christopher and Todd Owen. Christopher finished second to Jones who withstood some horrendous pressure. Woody Pitkat finished third with Frank Ruocco and Todd Owen rounding out the top five. Ryan Posocco, who had won the Late Model event at Stafford on Wednesday, came back to make it two for two in Late Model Competition. Vince Gambacorta finished second in the DARE Stock event and was awarded the win after apparent winner Scott Hitchcock was disqualified.

  Jeff Pearl won his third SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Pearl had to hold of an overheating Dennis Gada. Tom Fox finished third. Carl Errickson won the Late Model feature and Richard Brooks; son of Thompson Speedway Chief Steward Dick Brooks, won the Mini-Stock feature. Other winners were John Mainetti in the X-modifieds and James Trenary in the Legends Cars.
John Blewett III won the 100 lap Garden State Classic at the Wall Township Speedway.
The Nextel Cup Cars and the Busch Racing Series were in Bristol; Tenn. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored a clean sweep as he won both events at the ultra-fast half-mile speedway.

  Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Bristol, TN for a Wednesday night event. The posted race purse of $91,575 drew 42 Whelen Modifieds including 27 from the North. Late afternoon rain forced NASCAR to cancel time trials forcing the field to go to post based on points. Ted Christopher led the field to the starting green with Southern Modified point leader George Brunnhoelzl, III on the outside. Christopher led the first 107 laps as Brunnhoelzl faded. Donny Lia started seventh and by lap 100 had placed the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile firmly in second spot. Seven laps later Christopher faltered and Lia scooted into the lead. Lia lost the lead to Christopher when he jumped a restart on lap 138 and was told by NASCAR to let Christopher by. Three laps later Lia was back in the lead and preceded to open up a fairly good lead which he maintained to the 150 lap mark and the checkered flag. Christopher held on for second and was followed by Ryan Preece who brought the mighty No. 3, Ole Blu, of the Boehler family home in third spot. That particular version of the legendary Modified was actually built by the late Len Boehler in 1996! George Brunnhoelzl III and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink, Ed Flemke Jr., Burt Myers and Erick Rudolph.

  The racing was nothing short of being fantastic. A big plus was the fact that Mike Joy and Dick Berggren called the race for the Speed Channel.

  In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson the aggressive driving in the Sunoco Modifieds continued. Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco slugged it out to the end. Lots of leaning along with bump and run. Neither hit the wall so there was no foul. Christopher used retaliatory moves to score his fourth win of the season. Derek Ramstrom won a wild one in the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes scored the victory in the Late Models. Larry Barnett padded his point lead with his fifth Limited Sportman victory of the season. Another point leader, Brian Sullivan was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Rick Blanchard was declared the Mini Stock winner.

  Tim Sullivan led the field to green but he would not lead the opening lap. Rowan Pennink took over the top spot and began to motor out to an advantage over Danny Cates. A bobble by Sullivan nearly collected Keith Rocco, who was forced out of the groove. Woody Pitkat had worked his way into the third position. The outside groove was the fast way around as Christopher had moved into the third spot with Rocco in tow. On lap 9, Christopher was able to dive inside Cates for second. Rocco, once again, followed TC through and into third. Christopher caught Pennink while Rocco caught the bumper of Christopher. The top three ran nose-to-tail.

  At halfway, Rocco was able to slide below Christopher when he bobbled exiting turn four on lap 15. The caution flew on lap 16 for an incident on the backstretch involving Andy Gaspar and Wayne Arute. Leader Pennink opted to use the outside groove on the restart but it was Rocco in the low groove gaining the advantage. Christopher was able to get around Pennink as well. The action was slowed for a spin by Harry Rheaume. Rocco was up to the challenge on the restart but an incident further back in the pack brought out the caution once again. A spin by Bert Marvin collected Tim Sullivan and Todd Ceravolo. Sullivan’s car sustained significant damage. On the restart, Rocco was up to the challenge once again. After a short battle with Pennink, Christopher remained in the second position. Christopher dove beneath Rocco in turn one. They went wheel to wheel through turn two. Christopher got the edge on the backstretch but Rocco did the slingshot move exiting four. They crossed the stripe even. In turn one, Rocco was the leader once again. Pennink ran in the third spot with heavy pressure from Pitkat. Cates ran alone in the fifth position.

  With two laps to go, Christopher got along side Rocco. The duo streaked under the white flag with Rocco ahead by inches. Rocco maintained a slight advantage on the back stretch. Coming out of four Rocco tried holding Christopher low. Christopher retaliated riding high out of four. Rocco drifted up in the marbles making way for Christopher to take the checkers. Pennink came through for second. Pitkat was able to grab third spot at the checkers. Rocco had to settle for fourth ahead of Cates. There were 16 Sunoco Modifieds on hand.
Heavy rain plus warnings of possible tornados forced the Stafford Motor Speedway event to cancel Friday nights racing.

  The Waterford Speedbowl completed a fast paced NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program on a hot Saturday bolstered by two green-to-checkered flag races. Threats of storms generated by Hurricane Bill failed to put a damper on the night’s racing. Corey Hutchings captured an exciting SK Modified race in down to the wire fashion, Vin Esposito returned to the winner’s circle in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, points leaders Ronnie Oldham Jr. and Jason Palmer won the Street Stock and Legends Car events and Nick Pappacoda was a first time feature event winner in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stocks.

  The SK Modifieds rebounded from the previous week’s caution-marred feature to put on a classic 35-lap shootout. Corey Hutchings prevailed in a close contest over last week’s winner Tyler Chadwick. The pair raced the final several laps side-by-side. Joe Perry on the pole with Hutchings on the outside pole brought the field to green and the pair ran the initial laps alongside one another before Hutchings edged ahead into sole possession of the lead on lap four.

  The action up front was singling out with Hutchings moving out over Perry. Justin Gaydosh was in third holding back the challenges of Jeff Pearl and Chadwick as the event stayed green through halfway. The top points contenders were mired back outside the top ten having difficulty moving through the competitive field.

  Gaydosh got loose in turn two on lap 19, allowing Chadwick to duck under Pearl and take over the fourth spot after the two had battled for several laps. Pearl and Rob Janovic Jr. moved past Gaydosh on lap 23 when his #94 car began to lose some handling. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Keith Rocco had finally made some progress, moving into sixth and eighth respectively when the first caution finally waved on lap 24 for Joe Gada and Tom Abele who suffered separate incidents on different parts of the track.

  Chadwick edged Perry on the restart, moving in to pressure Hutchings. He pulled outside looking for a repeat trip to victory lane. Janovic also moved past Perry into third. Yuhas finally emerged in the top five, moving past Pearl as the field raced to lap 30. Caution waved on that circuit for Jeffrey Gallup.

  Chadwick was alongside Hutchings for the final restart. The two stayed glued together over the final five laps to the finish, with Hutchings able to prevail by .031 seconds over Chadwick. Janovic finished third, Yuhas got up to fourth, and Perry put in his best effort in the open-wheel SK’s running with the leaders all night for fifth. Jeff Pearl finished sixth and was followed by Rocco, Dennis Gada, Josh Sylvester and Jef Paul.

  In a sad note, former track Modified champion Dick Ceravolo, a longtime competitor and car owner at the Speedbowl, suffered serious injuries in an accident at his home on Friday afternoon. Known to many as Dickie Doo, Ceravolo was attempting to jumpstart a farm tractor that had accidentally been left in gear. The tractor bolted and pinned him between his truck and the tractor while his wife Joyce watched in horror. Ceravolo was transported to the Yale-New Haven Hospitol where he is presently on life support. Among his injuries was a crushed chest plus back and head injuries. At 70 years of age, the former driver is in excellent physical shape, which will work to his advantage in what could be a long recovery.

  Ceravolo won eight career Modified features from 1976-1987 at the Waterford Speedbowl. He was the 1988 SK Modified division champion at track despite not winning a feature during the season. Ceravolo surprised many when he announced his retirement at the season ending banquet after his championship year. He was the car owner champion the following year after hiring Bob Potter as his driver. In recent years he has been a fixture at the Thompson Speedway where he fields a Sunoco Modified that is driven by his youngest son, Todd. His oldest son, Rick, is the crew chief of the Ceravolo family effort.

  In True Value Modified Series racing at the Seekonk Speedway Chris Pasteryak took the 100 lap win over Les Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, Mike Holdridge and Steve Masse. On the third turn of the final lap Pennink made a move to pass Hinckley and got him sideways. Hinckley did a fantastic save the car and made it across the finish line in second. Pennink settled in for third as he backed off the gas to avoid causing a wreck.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing there were no last-lap fireworks Saturday night as Kyle Busch and Mark Martin staged a side-by-side charge to the checkered flag. Busch emerged the winner. It snapped his 13-race Sprint Cup Series winless streak while Martin settled for second. David Ragan held off teammate Carl Edwards on a two-lap sprint to the finish Friday night to win the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards settled for second.

  The World Racing Group, Inc. announced on August 14 that it has completed its previously announced going private transaction. World Racing sanctions and promotes dirt track auto racing. Based in Concord, N.C. they own and operate the three highest profile national touring series for dirt track racing in the United States which include The World of Outlaws® Sprint Car Series, The World of Outlaws Late Model Series (SM) and The Super DIRTcar Series™. Under the terms of the transaction, the Company conducted a 1-for-101 reverse stock split whereby each 101 shares of the Company's common stock was converted into one share of common stock. Holders of less than 101 shares of common stock prior to the reverse stock split will receive a cash out price of $0.10 per share. The result of the reverse stock split was a reduction in the number of the Company's stockholders of record to fewer than 300. As a result, the Company would immediately cease to be a public reporting company.

  Last year, 2013, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series visited the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Mike Stefanik went from the outhouse at the season opening Battle at the Beach to the penthouse at Bristol after he won the Titan Roof 150 and went on to collect his second win of the season in the annual combination event with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The victory also extended his Whelen Modified Tour career record for wins to 74. Donnie Lia, on the other hand went from the penthouse at Bristol to the outhouse.
Back in February Stefanik had victory on sight when he was turned by Steve Park who was punted by Eric Goodale. Lia, who was the pole sitter, led the first 91 laps only to get punted and turned by Justin Bonsignore on a restart. In all fairness to Bonsignore, he was punted from behind by Stefanik when Lia was slow on the draw for the restart. Lia's mount, the Mystic Missile, suffered a broken panhard bar in the rear suspension. Bonsignore was able to restart and recovered to finish 8th in the event that was shortened to 135 laps from 150 because of time constraints. Lia ended up 30th. Park, who drove a team car to Todd Szegedy, failed to qualify.

  After Lia spun, Ryan Preece inherited the lead which he held until he was passed on lap 102 by Szegedy. Szegedy had the misfortune of having his handling fade a bit as he got loose on lap 124 which opened the door for Stefanik. Stefanik led the final 11 laps and streaked under the checkered flag 0.092 second ahead of Szegedy. Ron Yuhas Jr, in a super spectacular run, recorded a career high third place finish after coming from a 16th place start. Preece and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

  Sixth through tenth were Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale, Justin Bonsignore, Burt Myers and Jimmy Zacharias.

  Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway finally got a break from the weather. After four previous attempts, the Valenti Modified Racing Series got their 75-lap feature in at with Richard Savary taking down the win. Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) winners in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action included Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modified division, Damon Tinio in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds, Jesse Gleason in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman, and Chad Baxter in the Monster Mini Stocks. Zachery Sylvester won the New England Truck Series feature and Brian Jenink won in the Outlaw Modified division.

  Second generation racer Richard Savary has raced a lot at Thompson Speedway. But, he has never won until now. Using a late-race restart, Savary used a take-no-prisoners approach to take the lead and eventual win in the 75-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature.

  Chris Pasteryak led the field to green as Rowan Pennink quickly moved his way up to second with Louie Mechalides settling into third. The field strung out single file and approached the tail end of the field by lap 15. At the same time, Pasteryak and Pennink started to pull away from the rest of the field. At lap 20, Ted Christopher, who was fourth, decided it was time to go. He passed Mechalides for third and set his sights on closing up the distance on Pennink. Up front, Christopher could not reel in the torrid pace of the leaders as Pasteryak and Pennink remained a half-a-straightaway ahead. On lap 42, Christopher lost the third position to Savary as he, too, would try to close up the gap. Savary didn’t have to work too hard, however, as caution flew and tightened the field up for a restart. Pasteryak and Pennink were dead even into turn one and made slight contact in turn two before Pasteryak settled in out front. On lap 48, Pennink took the lead out of turn two, but a caution would put Pasteryak back out front for the restart. Pasteryak didn’t waste time getting to the front when the green dropped, but Pennink wasn’t about to settle. Coming out of turn four, Pennink dropped to the bottom and got a run on Pasteryak on the front stretch before taking the lead in turn one of lap 49. Caution set up another double-file restart at lap 51. Pennink got the front as Keith Rocco and Savary took over second and third respectively. Rocco settled in on Pennink’s bumper with Savary close behind him. On lap 60, Rocco dropped to the bottom to look for a way around Pennink, but settled back in line. Pennink, Rocco and Savary pulled away from the rest of the field and showed no signs of slowing. On lap 67, Savary made his move and dropped to the bottom groove to take over second. On lap 69, Savary made his move again and this time, took over the lead before caution came out. The green flew with only six laps to go and Pennink was the first one to turn one, but it was Savary out front in turn two. The duo would have to do it all over again after a car hit the wall in turn two and brought out the caution before the lap was complete. Pennink again led the field into one, but this time, stayed out there through turn two. Savary closed in on Pennink and dropped to the bottom for a challenge on lap 72. Coming out of turn two, Savary took the lead and pulled ahead to a three-car length advantage. Savary was on fire and continued to pull away from Pennink as he drove to the victory.

  Jon McKennedy, Tommy Barrett and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. There were 22 cars on hand. Rounding out the top ten were; Dan Meservey, Jr, Chris Pasteryak, Max Zachem, Jeff Malave, and Louie Mechalides. The race was completed in 50:44 with 13 of the 21 starters on the lead lap at the finish.

  Keith Rocco added win number five to his season record after taking the lead from Todd Ceravolo in turn two on lap 17 of the Sunoco Modified feature. John Catania took the early lead in turns one and two, but Ceravolo got alongside him going into turn three and four to take the lead on lap two. Kerry Malone and Rocco followed his line and took over second and third respectively before the trio pulled away to a comfortable lead. By lap five, Ceravolo, Malone and Rocco were bumper to bumper. Going into turn one on lap seven, Malone dropped to the bottom to challenge, but couldn’t complete the pass and fell back into line before caution slowed their pace. On the restart, Malone rocketed to the lead from the bottom groove with Ceravolo holding onto second ahead of Rocco. Woody Pitkat was making his presence known in Rocco’s rear view mirror before caution flew again. When the green dropped, Ceravolo fought back and went side-by-side with Malone for a full circuit before reclaiming the lead. Rocco also got by Malone and attached himself to Ceravolo’s bumper. The top four cars were running nose-to-tail by lap 12, and Rocco wanted a way around. On lap 17, Rocco looked high and then he looked low as they went into turn one. Ceravolo suddenly went high in turn two allowing Rocco to drive by for the lead. Malone and Preece took over second and third. Rocco was solid, however, and Malone, though less than a car length behind, could not muster a bid strong enough to knock Rocco from the point.
Following Rocco at the checker was Preece, Pitkat, Matt Gallo, Ceravolo, Nick Boivin and Dennis Perry.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece scored his division leading 8th and second consecutive win of the 2013 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn took down his fourth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling took down his sixth and second consecutive win of the 2013 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Hayes came home a first time winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande scored his second consecutive and third overall win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  In the SK Modified feature Ted Christopher was able to hold Preece off until lap-26 when Preece made his move to take over the lead with a pass in turn 3. Christopher was looking to the inside of Preece but Preece was able to hold Christopher off to the checkered flag to pick up his 8th win of the 2013 season. Christopher finished second, with Eric Berndt, Keith Rocco, and Dan Avery rounding out the top-5.

  Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Late Model Madness take over Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl, the highlight of a five division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program. The Bob Valenti Auto Mall sponsored Late Model division took center stage with a special 50-lap race, dominated by Keith Rocco. In other races, Tyler Chadwick was back in Victory Lane for the fourth time on the year following the SK Modified® feature, Chris Meyer took his second Street Stock win and Garrett Denton ended a slump with his fourth victory in the Mini Stocks. In INEX racing, Giovanni Giarratana made it two in a row in the Legend Cars.

  Chadwick was served redemption in the SK Modified feature after a win slipped away on the final lap the previous week in a photo finish with Keith Rocco. He fought his way to the front in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature this time around, climbing through the top-five to become a contender over the second half of the race.

  As Chadwick tried to pull away from Todd Ceravolo, Rocco closed in on the leaders. Chadwick led the final restart against Ceravolo with just two laps remaining. He again got the jump back into the lead, leaving Ceravolo in the grips of Rocco. Rocco was able to stay inside Ceravolo and ultimately take the spot racing to the white flag. Out in front, Chadwick closed out the win, his fourth of the year. Rocco could not make a final run to contend for the win and finished second. Ceravolo ended the race third, with Kyle James fourth and Tom Abele fifth.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series went up country to the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday night and performed in front of a full house. Todd Patnoad recorded his first ever win in the popular traveling Modified Racing Series. Patnode, became the second driver in two days to win their first series race. Richard Savary, scored his first 48 hours previous at Thompson, CT.

  At the drop of the green in the 100 lap contest Max Zachem took the lead from his outside pole starting position. Peter Jarvis shot by for the lead on lap 44. Zachem reclaimed the lead four laps later and held the top position until passed this time by Dwight Jarvis on lap 79. Jarvis lasted until lap 84 when Patnoad took the lead.

  Patnode, owner of Swanzey Oil, sponsored the race to honor his friend Victor Johnson. Johnson, a local racer and occasional VMRS competitor died two years ago in a house fire. John McKennedy finished second with Dwight Jarvis, third. Zachem finished fourth after leading most of the race with point leader Rowan Pennink, rounding out the top five. Russ Hersey, Todd Owen, Chris Pasteryak, Dana Smith, and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top ten. There were 26 cars on hand.

  Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Tim Brown won the battle as he led all 150 laps in the Modified season finale to record his 70th win but it was Burt Myers who won the war as he wrapped up the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Series Track Championship.

  Brown celebrated a victory in the season-ending Carolina Farm Credit 150. Myers celebrated his sixth season title. Brown’s path to get there seemed a bit easier. After scorching the quarter-mile track with the year’s fastest qualifying lap, he led all the way in the 150-lap main event.
Myers needed to finish in the top seven to secure the title, and he survived a few precarious moments to hang on for a good-enough, sixth-place finish. Following Brown in the season ending 150 lapper was Lee Jeffreys, Jonathan Brown, Jason Myers and John Smith.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers Jr. scored his third win of the season as he held off Ryan Preece. Jason Agugliaro finished third.

  The Seekonk Speedway announced a new Race Director will rule the roost at the Massachusetts oval. With a handful of weeks left in the 2013 racing season, and an eye on 2014, Seekonk Speedway will welcome Frank Sgambato Jr to the role of Race Director. Frank comes to Seekonk after spending several years in the same role at Stafford Speedway, and returns to the speedway where his father spent many years as the chief starter. Frank will take over the role vacated by Mike Chapman, who retired several weeks ago. He took over as Race Director on Saturday, August 24.

  Matt Kenseth was the NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at Bristol. Kyle Busch's Nationwide Series win on Friday night was his 60th Nationwide series win of his career, and 120th spanning NASCAR's three national series. It was also his 15th of the season.

  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 22, 2014

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