The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 29, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Bob Cameron was the 20 lap feature winner at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954 Sparky Belmont made it two in a row in Wednesday night Sportsman action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Cahoon was the non-Ford winner. Saturday night at the shoreline oval saw Johnny Thompson take the top spot in the Sportsman division.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, George Janoski was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Bill Slater made it three in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 25 lap Sportsman feature on Wednesday night. Slater finished a close second to Don Collins on Saturday night. After a post race protest by Slater it was determined that the event was checkered one lap short but the finish held. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner on both nights while Newt Palm made it three in a row as he won the Bomber feature on Wednesday night but could not back it up on Saturday night as Bill Strong won the Bomber feature.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Pete Corey was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Kenny Shoemaker and Bill Wimble rounded out the top three. Jim Hendrickson won at Islip and Don Stives at Wall Stadium. Charlie Webster was the winner of a 60 lap Modified MadCap event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Krashen was the Bomber winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Jerry Pearl was the Friday night winner at Stafford as he drove the S&S Racers No.33 to a convincing win, beating out Steve Chowanski. Bob Potter all but locked up the track championship at Waterford on Saturday when he took the win at the shoreline oval. The mod tour series was at Riverside where Mike Stefanik won out over Tom Baldwin. At Riverhead, Carl Miller held off Tom Tillotson and at Thompson on Sunday, Ted Christopher was the winner.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Thompson ran on Wednesday with Ted Christopher taking the win over Tom Tagg. The Mod Tour was at Stafford on Friday. Jeff Fuller took the lead at the 3/4 mark of the 150 lapper to win out over Reggie Ruggiero. Carl Pasteryak started on the pole and with a very impressive run, finished third. Jan Leaty and Tom Baldwin rounded out the top five. Mike Christopher was the SK Modified winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau inherited the lead after Jim Broderick and Todd Ceravolo tangled while fighting for the lead. Mike Gada finished second with Mark LaJunesse, third. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggiero over Steve Park and at Riverhead it was Bob Park beating out Don Howe. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Geoff Bodine dominated the 500 lap contest until suffering water pump failure just 45 laps from the finish. Rusty Wallace was the eventual winner with Mark Martin, second. Kenny Wallace won the companion Busch Grand National event and the big news was that Ernie Irvan who had suffered life-threatening injuries at Michigan improved to the point where he was taken off the critical list.

  Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was scheduled to travel to the Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome on Saturday, August 29. With a bad weather forecast at hand the event was called off.

  In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Woody Pitkat scored his second win of the season in the Sunoco Modifieds. Mike O’Sullivan also took down his second win of the season in the Super Late Models. John Materas swept the action in twin features for the Late Model division. Shawn Monahan scored his first Limited Sportsman feature event of the year in dominating fashion. Brian Tagg, was tops in the TIS Modifieds while Steve Michalski was the winner in the Mini Stocks.

  Woody Pitkat took over the lead on lap five and withstood a number of late race cautions to score his second Sunoco Modified feature event of the 2009 season. There were 17 Sunoco Modifieds on hand. Among the missing was Todd Ceravolo who, would sit out a few races until his father shows signs of recovery from a recent accident. As of last Sunday night, Aug 30, the popular car owner and former Waterford Speedbowl Champion is, in his wife’s words, “holding his own”. Surgery to reset broken bones had been scheduled for late last week but was put on hold as a minor complication developed. Ceravolo, 70, suffered serious injuries on Aug 21while attempting to jumpstart a farm tractor.
The Stafford Motor Speedway suffered another rainout on Friday because of persistent rain showers. The rains carried over to Saturday forcing the Waterford Speedbowl to pull the plug on their racing program.

  In True Value Modified Series racing at the Thompson Speedway the third time was certainly a charm for Andy Seuss who scored the victory in the third attempt to get the True Value Modified Series event in the books at the Thompson International Speedway. The event was postponed on two different occasions earlier in the season. Seuss scored his first True Value Modified Series (TVMRS) victory of the season in a drama-filled 75-lapper. Seuss took the lead late in the event and held back serious challenges from Steve Massey and Rowan Pennink to score the victory. Richard Savary had a strong run to finish second. Todd Owen joined the duo on the podium. Ted Christopher, who started scratch on the field, finished fourth. Chris Pasteryak completed the top five.

  NASCAR’s Sprint Cup division had the weekend off as the Nationwide Series cars headed to Canada. Carl Edwards won the race after making a surprise pass of Marcos Ambrose on the final turn of the race. It was another lost opportunity at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for Ambrose, who has had a chance to win all three Nationwide races conducted on the street circuit since NASCAR began racing here in 2007.
Ambrose led 60 laps over the 14-turn, 2.7-mile course - including 31 in a row before the rain moved in for the second straight year. Still, the hard-charging Tasmanian figured to be a lock since he grew up racing in the rain. But after overcoming restart after restart in the crash-filled event, Ambrose slipped up at the wrong time. Edwards won a two-lap sprint to the finish on a track that was both wet and dry in spots from a light rain, making up more than a second on the final lap. Edwards began to close fast on Ambrose entering turn 10, a right-handed hairpin, and that gave Edwards renewed hope. Seconds later, Ambrose slid sideways after hitting the rumble strips in turn 14. Edwards slipped past and outraced him down the final straightaway.

  NASCAR Canadian Tire Series star Andrew Ranger was third. Former Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve finished fourth on the track named for his father, and Brad Keselowski was fifth. Busch went from fourth to 10th on the final two laps.

  Last year, 2013, NASCAR announced the No. 16 team that competes in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with driver Ryan Preece was penalized as a result of rules violations committed Aug. 21 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The No. 16 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20D-10.5A (Only a one-piece magnetic steel drive shaft with a minimum outside diameter of two (2) inches and a minimum thickness of 0.090 inch will be permitted: Drive shaft did not meet the minimum thickness.) of the 2013 NASCAR rule book. The violation was discovered during post-race inspection.

  Stanley “Sly” Szaban, crew chief of the No. 16 car, was fined $500, suspended from NASCAR until the fine was paid and placed on NASCAR probation until Oct. 30. Owner Eric Sanderson was penalized with the loss of six NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship car owner points, while Preece penalized with the loss of six championship driver points.

  Mike Stefanik had hinted that this may be his last year. Stefanik told Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice that he is thinking of retiring at season's end. Stefanik has had a long and successful career as a race car driver and has recorded championships in NASCAR's Modified division and NASCAR's Busch North Series which is now the K & N Series. Stefanik has represented racing quite well during his tenure and has nothing to prove or be ashamed of.

  It looked like the 2014 Thompson Speedway IceBreaker may be back on the schedule. Speedway owner Don Hoenig says he expected to have all paving complete for the new Sports Car course ahead of schedule. Hoenig also hinted that weekly racing would continue at the northeastern Connecticut oval.

  A lot of digging and earth moving was going on at Thompson plus the erection of new pit structures was on going.

  New England lost one of its great Short Tracks. Dick Berggren reported on Aug 26 that the Sale of Canaan Fair Speedway (NH) was final and there will be no racing in 2014 and beyond. The covered grandstands will be torn down as well. Canaan is a wonderful place consisting of two tracks (one dirt, one asphalt). So, this is a double loss. This will have a huge impact on the New England racing community as it is a region that has been depleted enough already.

  Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway went off as scheduled despite threatening weather, Keith Rocco, Rick Gentes, Cam McDermott, Steve Kenneway, and Eric Bourgeois earned division titles. NASCAR Whelen All American Series winners included Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modified division, Tom Carey, Jr. in the Late Models, Glenn Griswold in the Lite Modifieds, Scott Sundeen in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division, and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. Toby Wells took down the victory in the North East Mini Stock 20-lap feature.

  The Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds put on a brilliant display of driving, especially Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco, in their 30 lap feature. Woody Pitkat, who eventually would dominate, took the lead at lap 12 and held off a determined Keith Rocco to take down the victory in the final Sunoco Modified division point race. Rocco’s second place finish earned him the 2013 division title.

  Paul Newcomb and Ryan Preece were in a tight side-by-side battle for the lead when caution came out on the first lap for a spun car off of turn four. Newcomb assumed the top spot for the restart with Preece challenging on the bottom and Nick Boivin challenging up top. Newcomb maintained the lead, but Preece was able to get a run on the bottom groove to take over the lead on lap two. Preece pulled away as Rocco looked for a way around Newcomb. Sparks began to fly from Newcomb’s machine on lap five and officials reacted with a black flag for the 71 machine. Rocco patiently waited for him to pull in before setting his sights on Preece, who now held a full second lead over the rest of the field.

  The race took a dramatic turn on lap nine when Preece spun in turn three and hit the outside retaining wall. Rocco inherited the lead with Woody Pitkat on the outside for the restart. Rocco drove to the front with Pitkat on his bumper. On lap 11, Pitkat went down to the inside into turn one and came out of turn two the new leader. Pitkat held on to the lead despite the pressure from Rocco on his bumper, but would have to hold off the point leader through another restart.

  Rocco had a nose length advantage on the outside heading into turn one, but Pitkat came on strong in the corner and came out of turn two in the lead. Caution put a quick halt to the battle as the field lined up for yet another restart. Pitkat shot to the front at the drop of the green with Rocco and Malone close behind. The top-five, Pitkat, Rocco, Malone, Matt Gallo and Dennis Perry, ran nose-to-tail over the next several laps, but ultimately, Pitkat, Rocco and Malone were able to pull away in a class all their own. Rocco stuck like glue to the back of Pitkat’s machine, and made a last-lap look on the bottom groove, but Pitkat was too strong and took the win. Rocco settled for second with Malone, third. Gallo and Dennis Perry rounded out the top five.

  Among those spectating were George and Peg Summers. George Summers drove Modifieds for years and had recently been added to the Wall of Fame at the Seekonk Speedway.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Woody Pitkat carried over his winning ways from Thompson as he picked up his first win of the season with a thrilling last lap pass in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray picked up his sixth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Ronnie Williams scored his third win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette took down his third win of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. scored his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  In the SK Modified 40 lapper with five laps to go a slugfest developed between Pitkat, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink who was leading at the time. Coby nearly made a three wide move to the inside of Pennink and Pitkat but he fell back into linen in third behind Pennink and Pitkat. Ryan Preece was fourth and Todd Owen was fifth. Pitkat was still all over the back bumper of Pennink but he couldn’t get close enough to make a pass. Pennink held the lead as they took the white flag. Pennink still had the lead going into turn 3 but Pitkat made a power move to the inside of Pennink to take over the lead and he led Pennink back to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the season and the first win for his car owner Steve Greer. Coby finished third behind Pitkat and Pennink with Preece and Owen rounding out the top-5.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the nutmeg oval and provided lots of fireworks for those on hand. Steve Masse took the win while Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco provided the fireworks. Rocco and Christopher started side by side and battled for the lead until lap 52 when the pot boiled over.

  Christopher and Rocco resumed their side by side fight for the lead on a restart. Christopher touched wheels with Rocco and Rocco spun to bring the caution out. Christopher was immediately black flagged to the rear of the field for the contact with Rocco. This put Ryan Preece and Masse on the front row with Norm Wrenn and Zane Zeiner on the second row.

  In a wise decision, Masse decided to restart from the outside of the front row and he took the lead back under green. Preece was second with Wrenn, Zeiner, and Eric Goodale lined up behind him. Once Masse was out in front he began to pull away from Preece in second. Preece had his hands full with Wrenn, who was applying pressure to Preece’s bumper for second. Preece was able to hold off Wrenn’s challenges while Masse was still inching his way away from Preece. The car of David Bitondo came to a stop on the backstretch to bring the caution out with 72 laps complete.

  Masse took the lead back under green with Preece, Wrenn, and Barry lined up behind them. Dave Etheridge made a move around Zeiner to move into fifth place but Masse was already beginning to stretch his lead out over Preece just as he had done on the previous green flag run. Masse pulled away from Preece and took the checkered flag ahead of Preece, Wrenn, Kenny Barry, and Etheridge. Sixth through 10th were
Zane Zeiner, Richard Savary, Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher.

  There were 36 cars on hand. In some good news for the series it has been said that the Valenti Modified Racing Series has a very good chance of having their events on the world wide web in 2014. If this comes to be it will be a big shot in the arm for series sponsor, the Valenti Auto Group in Mystic Ct and the individual sponsors of race teams.

  Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Keith Rocco, who played second fiddle to Woody Pitkat at Thompson on Thursday night got his just do on Saturday night as he won the Budweiser Nationals 150 and a reward of $5,000 at the shoreline oval. A quick paced and action packed racing program was the order of the night as the track played host to its ‘Thunder on the Sound’ event.

  In total, seven drivers notched victories on the evening. Joining Rocco in the winner’s circle included a first-time winner as Jay, ME competitor David Farrington Jr. picked up an impressive victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. Corey Hutchings won another Street Stock race while Ray Christian III and Glenn Griswold each picked up their second wins of the season in the Mini Stock and SK Light Modified divisions, respectively. In INEX racing Paul Kusheba won an exciting Legend Cars event and Andrew Morin won his first ever race in the Bandoleros.

  Rocco took the lead on lap-83 bringing Pitkat with him around the outside of the track into second. Tyler Chadwick was on the attack, clawing into third around Tom Abele on lap-85 with his sights set on the top two. Chadwick tried to work over Pitkat for several laps to no avail, riding third until a caution on lap-99.

  As Rocco got away from Pitkat on the restart, Rob Janovic survived a wild ride from fifth place off the apron into turn one, gathering his car up to keep the race green. Chadwick found an opening under Pitkat to snatch second and pick up pursuit of Rocco. The two pulled ahead with Chadwick stalking Rocco over a stretch that brought the race to lap-120. Several times Chadwick tried to get a wheel outside of Rocco but could never quite muster the momentum to pull alongside. After Chadwick finally settled in line behind, Rocco turned it up a notch with the laps closing down, pulling away from Chadwick as the race moved to its final stretch.

  With Rocco streaking towards closing out an impressive win with a near straightaway advantage, Pitkat was back on Chadwick trying to pick up second in the closing laps. When it appeared the race may continue to the checkered flag, Matt Galko saw a solid effort run sour as he went up in smoke on lap-147, stopping at the top of the track in turn two to bring out a caution. That triggered two more late incidents that forced Rocco into restarting smoothly to seal the win.

  With smooth and concise driving, Rocco nailed each one, the first versus Chadwick and the final against Pitkat, who was able to reclaim second on lap-148 from a fading Chadwick. Pitkat had nothing left for Rocco and finished in second. Chadwick took third and Abele ran up front all night to take a hard earned fourth. Janovic recovered to take home fifth. With the win, Rocco becomes the third driver to take back-to-back wins in the prestigious event.

  Sixth through tenth were Todd Ceravolo, Craig Lutz, Joe Gada, Ron Yuhas Jr., and Ted Christopher.

  Down in the south land the Whelen Southern Modified Tour visited the Langley Speedway in Virginia. Kyle Ebersole came from behind to capture his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour win. Ebersole of Hummelstown, Pa., took the lead late and then held off a hard charge from three-time tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III to win the Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150. The win came in just his 19th career tour start for the driver of the No. 5 Ebersole Excavating Ford, who had started seventh on the grid.

  Andy Seuss, who shattered the previous track record in winning the pole during qualifying earlier in the day, led the first half of the race - with Brunnhoelzl running in his wake. Brunnhoelzl gained the top spot just before the midway break, but later lost the lead to Tim Brown. Ebersole got by Brown coming out of Turn 4 with a strong move to the outside on Lap 137. Ebersole, who finished sixth last year in his only previous start at Langley, faced a fierce challenge from Brunnhoelzl in the closing laps, but held on for the win.

  John Smith and Danny Bohn followed Tim Brown past the finish line to round out the top five. Completing the top 10 were Patrick Emerling, Burt Myers, Jason Myers, Thomas Stinson and Gary Putnam.

  The Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150 was the eighth event on a 12-race tour schedule.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Timmy Solomito and Howie Brode shared victory lane in twin 35 lap NASCAR Modified events.
Kevin Harvick was able to hold off a furious charge from Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch was able to survive multiple late-race restarts and drive away to victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 to lock up a position in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. It was his fourth victory of the season. Joey Logano led the most laps but ended up 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: August 29, 2014

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