The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 3, 2014

  Sixty five years ago Charlie Barry won two features during the week at the Buffalo Civic Center in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, a scheduled 50 lap Sportsman Championship scheduled for the New London Waterford Speedbowl was rained out. The non Fords got to run with Tom Van Epps taking the win.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, the scheduled event at the Stafford Springs Speedway was rained out. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl switched to Sunday afternoons. Don Collins won the 25 lap Sportsman feature while Ted Stack took top honors in the non-Fords and Newt Palm in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble won on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway in the season finale. Wimble was declared the Modified Track Champion. George Janoski was the Sportsman champion and Bobby Santos was the Hobby Division Champion. For the season Wimble recorded 11 wins including six in a row from June 19 to July 24. Area Auto Racing News reported that Frank Wisniewski scored an upset win at Islip and that Jim Hendrickson lost his bid for the track championship after crashing out of the event. Gene Gamache took the track title. Parnelli Jones was the Indy Car winner at the Trenton Fairgrounds and Kenny Shoemaker won at the Victoria Speedway in New York.

  Dick Dunn closed out the season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl with a 75 lap Modified win. Dick Caso was the Bomber winner. Ray Delisle, who drove the Billy Simons Excavator Spl to 5 wins was declared the Modified track champion. Jerry Dostie was awarded Rookie of the Year Honors. Ed Gladue was the Bomber division Champion. The Speedbowl had a perfect season weather wise, no cancellations or rain-outs.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, the NASCAR Modified championship point contenders headed for Martinsville for a Saturday afternoon 100 lap event. Bugsy Stevens was the point leader and furthered his lead with a win over Jerry Cook. Ray Hendrick finished third and was followed by Perk Brown and Lennie Pond. Fred DeSarro finished 12th. DeSarro flew back north to Norwood on Saturday night and finished fourth in a car owned by Leo Hill. Billy Schulz took the win over Ed Flemke and Freddie Schulz. Islip also ran on Saturday night and it was Gary Winters taking the win over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. Stafford ran a 150-lap event on Sunday afternoon, which saw Smokey Boutwell in victory lane. The Bugman finished second and was followed by DeSarro, Ted Stack and Bill Greco. The Waterford Speedbowl ran their season ending event with Don Collins in his famous No. 106 taking the win. Donnie Bunnell was the late model winner.

  Forty years ago in 1974, the Mods were still running on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville. Paul Radford took the win over Satch Worley, Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook. Richie Evans had one of his off days and finished 8th. A 300 lapper was held at Franklin County, which is on the way home that evening, and it was John Bryant taking the win over Evans and Cook. Islip ran on Sunday afternoon with George Wagner taking the win over Jim Hendrickson and Evans. In open competition action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row. Dick Caso finished second with Tony Russo, fourth.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Leo Cleary sewed up the modified track championship at Seekonk in fine style as he won out in the final event of the year. Cleary had replaced the late Fred DeSarro in the mighty No. 3 of Len Boehler. Jerry Cook finished second with John Rosati, third. At Monadnock it was Reggie Ruggiero over Allen Whipple and at Oswego Maynard Troyer took the win and was followed by Richie Evans and Bodine. Jack Johnson won at Syracuse and at Claremont; Whipple made it two for two.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, the Stafford Fall Final was a 200-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero in the Fiore No.44 was the man to beat as held off Tony Hirschman for the win. Bob Potter won the SK portion of the Fall Final.

  Twenty years ago in 1994 at the Stafford Fall Final, Wayne Anderson, driving the Len Boehler No. 3, took advantage of Charlie Pasteryak's flat right front tire on lap 146 of the 150 lap Modified Tour Series event and sprinted to his biggest win. Anderson also took advantage of Reggie Ruggiero's engine trouble and was able to take the point lead for the series title. Jeff Fuller ended up second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Ed Flemke Jr. Pasteryak, after a tire change, came back to finish fifth. Ted Christopher was the 30 lap SK Modified winner as he beat out Mike Paquette and Mike Christopher. Bob Potter finished fourth and became the first four time Track Champion since Bugsy Stevens. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Geoff Bodine lapped the field as he led 335 of the 400 laps run to take the win. Terry Labonte finished second.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the Featherlite Modifieds were at Martinsville for a Saturday afternoon 200 lapper. Rob Summers was the Busch Pole sitter in the Bear Motorsports No.14. Mike Ewanitsko took the lead at the start and paced the field for the first 84 laps. Ed Kennedy led from lap 85 through 107 when Summers took the point. Summers led until lap 133 when Reggie Ruggiero took over the top spot which he held for the remainder of the event. Satch Worley finished second and was followed by Ricky Fuller, Charlie Pasteryak and Kennedy. Ted Christopher was running third in the closing stages until he ran out of gas and ended up 19th. Waterford closed out their season on Sunday with a 100 lapper which saw rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. score his first win. Bert Marvin finished second and was followed by Jeff Pearl, Rick Donnelly, Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon won his first race without the guiding hand of Ray Everham. During the running of the event, Kenny Irwin parked Tony Stewart. Stewart blew his stack and threw his shoe guards at Irwin. NASCAR decided that it wasn't a nice thing to do and fined Stewart $5,000.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was off as competitors were getting ready for the final battle, which would be held on the high banks of the Thompson Speedway on October 17. After 18 events Tony Hirschman of North Hampton, Pa. led Eddie Flemke JR of New Britain. It was guaranteed to be a slugfest as Hirschman held a 30-point lead. Flemke knew he had to go flat out, no holds barred, if he hoped to beat Hirschman and capture his first series title. Flemke hoped to accomplish something his famous father never did, become the Modified Tour Series Champion. The elder Flemke won over 500 races but for the most part was a money racer. Flemke Sr. raced for a living in a time when there was no such thing as a full time racer. Going into the final event, Hirschman was the series top winner with four victories to his credit. Flemke had two. Consistency had been a big part of the game. Hirschman had finished out of the top ten only three times. Flemke had 13 top fives. Jerry Marquis, Ted Christopher and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Another battle going on was for Rookie of the Year honors. Kenny Barry of Griswold, CT and Zach Sylvester of Hebron staged a season long battle for the honor. Both had done quite well as they were in the top ten in points. Barry sat in ninth with an 85-point edge over Sylvester, who was tenth. Sixth through eighth going into Thompson were Rick Fuller, Donnie Lia and Chuck Hossfeld. In the rumor mill was word that Chuck Hossfeld could be moving into the Don Barker No.50 that was to be vacated by Todd Szegedy who was supposed to be moving on to the Busch Series and word on the street was that Mike Stefanik, who was out of the Kopec No.16 at season’s end could be spending a lot of time in Mystic, CT. in 2005. The Busch North Series traveled to the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey on Saturday to wrap up their season. Andy Santerre had already wrapped up the series title. Mother Nature had other ideas as the Jersey shore oval was hit with rain forcing NASCAR and the speedway management to reschedule the event to Saturday night, October 17.

  The Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at Thompson had to be halted because of rain and was continued to Friday night. Prior to the rainout at the driver’s meeting Ben Dodge alluded to the fact that something new was in the works for the speedway in 2005. Further investigation indicated that the Thompson Speedway would host a new class of racecar in the form of a Florida Type-IMSA Modified. The Florida Modifieds, run at New Smyrna, will give Thompson and its competitors a low cost alternative open wheel division. Tentatively the division is said to have a crate or spec type engine and run on tires similar to those used in the Late Model division.

  For Todd Ceravolo it had to be the longest 24 hours he ever spent. Prior to the event the Ledyard CT driver was placed seventh in the starting lineup. Directly in front, in fifth spot was his closest competition for the track championship, Jeff Malave. Ceravolo and his brother Rick had spent the entire week burning the midnight oil after a devastating wreck on September 23. Ceravolo had a plan but it had to be put on hold for 24 hours because of rain. Just the waiting can play head games! Ceravolo started seventh and played a waiting game as he watched Ted Christopher slug it out with Jeff Malave for the lead. Christopher won out in the end despite a last lap inside surge by Malave. Eric Berndt ended up third. Ceravolo finished fourth and clinched the track title, his second. Buzz Artiano finished fifth after a late race spin took Bo Gunning out of contention. At 40, Ceravolo felt its time to step back and more or less retire from the sport. He left his options open as he stated that if the right deal surfaced he might re-emerge. In other action, Charles Bailey III won the Late Model feature over RJ Marcotte. Corey Hutchings finished fifth and sewed up the Late Model title. David Berghman had already iced the Pro Stock title as he finished up the regular season in fine style with a win. Glenn Boss won the Limited Sportsman feature and Scott Michalski took top honors in the Mini Stocks. Jeff Malave made up for his disappointment on Friday night with a win on Saturday in the 50 lap open competition Sunoco Modified event that was run in conjunction with the Pro All Star Series. Malave started sixth and took the lead from Bo Gunning on lap 36. Bert Marvin moved into second spot in the closing stages and after a few aggressive tries, settled for second at the finish. Marvin was later disqualified when he refused inspection of his clutch and flywheel. Gunning, who finished third, was moved into second spot. Rounding out the top five were Ted Christopher, Jim Civalli and Zach Sylvester. Rick Gentes was the Late Model winner and Jimmie Silvia was the Limited Sportsman winner. Scott Mulkern won the PASS 100 after a spirited battle with Ben and Mike Rowe. Ted Christopher gave the event some local spice as he ran in the top five before dropping out with mechanical problems.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway was quiet with the only thing on the schedule remaining was the 2004 awards banquet, which would be held on Friday, November 12. Ted Christopher was the 2004 SK-Modified Champion. Christopher, of Plainville, CT had now tied with Bob Potter with five division championships. Potter, of Occum, CT is retired. Christopher scored eight wins on his way to the title. Todd Owen finished second with defending champion Kerry Malone, third. Rounding out the top five are Frank Ruocco and Woody Pitkat. Ryan Posocco, with seven wins, defended his title beating Mike Quintillano by 64 points. Tom Butler, Craig Collins and Marc Atkinson round out the top five. Kevin Gambacorta is the DARE Stock Champion.

  Rain played havoc at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Michael Pepe was the Legend Car winner and Richard Brooks was the Mini Stock winner before the rains came. The action was rescheduled for Sunday afternoon where Shawn Monahan won his first SK Modified race. Rob Janovic finished second with Ron Yuhas Jr., third. Chris Pasteryak and Ed Reed Jr. rounded out the top five. Dennis Gada kept his title hopes alive as he finished 8th.

  The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama. The Busch Series was off and will resume in Kansas City next weekend. NBC anchor and Coventry, RI resident Allen Bestwick was among the missing as he was in the hospital recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg received while playing hockey. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the high-speed chess game that saw repeated four-wide competition.
The New York Daily News reported that City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had gone on record that he was not a fan of auto racing and was not in favor of the International Speedway Corporation proposed speedway on Staten Island.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. With the exception of a brief practice session on Saturday, the Whelen Modifieds spent the day waiting for the rain to stop. There were 32 Whelen Modifieds on hand for the event that carried an $84,013 purse.

  The entire program was run on Sunday. The sun was bright with very few clouds in the sky. Most important, the grandstands appeared to be full. Donny Lia and Ted Christopher, who have had somewhat of a war with words recently, slugged it out in time trials with Lia coming out on top with Christopher, second fastest. Rich Pallai Jr, who is a regular SK Modified competitor, qualified third in his Modified Tour debut. The top six redrew for starting positions, which placed Eric Berndt on the pole with Pallai on the outside in second spot. Lia drew fourth and Christopher fifth.

  It was Lia’s race to win and Christopher’s to lose. Lia pitted shortly after the 1/3 mark and was able to work his way to the front, taking the lead from James Civali on lap 85 and from there never looked back as he went on to record the win. For Christopher, his day turned sour on lap 17 after he tangled and spun with Doug Coby. From there on, he spent more time in the pits than on the track as he had a final finishing position of 31st which ultimately cost him the point lead . Lia held a 26 point lead over Ryan Preece. Preece finished a strong third behind runner-up Doug Coby. Civali and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennink, Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero and Erick Rudolph.

  Ten cautions for 42 laps slowed the event which kept Lia’s average speed down to 61.971 mph. Seventeen of the original 32 starters finished on the lead lap. Among those who failed to finish were Glen Reen who ran out of gas on lap 147 and pole sitter Eric Berndt who lost an engine on lap 129. Keith Rocco was eliminated in an accident as was Rob Summers, Carl Pasteryak and Christopher. Christopher goes into Thompson 109 points in arrears.

  In regular weekly racing Keith Rocco rebounded from his recent suspension in fine style as he won the 40 lap SK Modified feature. It was his sixth win of the year. Woody Pitkat appeared to have victory in sight until his transmission went south with four laps to go. Todd Owen finished second with Brit Anderson, third. Ted Christopher, who had already sewed up the SK Modified Track Championship, took a hard shot into the wall in the turn four area after tangling with Josh Sylvester, was never a factor. Matt Gallo and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. Christopher ended up in 22nd spot. Frank Ruocco, who had been running second to Christopher in points, did not compete. Woody Pitkat moved into second in the final standings. In other Stafford weekly division action, Andrew Hayes won the 15 lap Dare Stock feature, Chad Baxter the Mini Stocks, Heather DesRochers won in the SK Lights and Shawn Thibeault won the Limited Late Model feature.

  Ben Dodge JR was presented the annual Jack Arute Sr. Award by the Speedway officials. The 2009 recipient, a longtime track announcer, was recognized for his 37 years of dedication to the track.

  At the Waterford Speedbowl heavy, all day, rain washed out all racing. Bruce Thomas, who had won 10 of 17 features at the Speedbowl this year, was the beneficiary of the track calling off the final Saturday event of the season due to rain as he wrapped up the Late Model championship. Keith Rocco had a six-point lead as he chased down his first season title in the SK-Modified division, the closest margin of any division. Ron Yuhas Jr. was in second in the track's premier division. The rainout eliminated Rob Janovic Jr., Jeff Paul and seven-time SK-Modified champion Dennis Gada from title contention. In other division races, Brandon Plemons led the Mini Stock division by eight points over Walt Hovey Jr. In the Street Stock division, Danny Field had an 18-point lead over Kyle James, with Lou Bellisle III in third place.

  The True Value Modified Series headed to the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. The Twin State race was the first of three races to wind up the 2009 season for the True Value Modified Racing Series. A heated point battle between Jon McKennedy, Rob Goodenough, and Rowan Pennink, all but guaranteed a new series champion. McKennedy has already visited victory lane earlier this season at Twin State. Pennink did not compete as he was at Stafford for the Fall Final.

  This year’s race honored the late Ricky Miller along with the late Donnie Ayer and the late Kirby Monteith. Matt Hirschman took the win over Jacob Dore and Kenny Barry. Hirschman was later disqualified when it was discovered that his carburetor was illegal.

  The New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame announced seven inductees for their 2010 induction class. NASCAR Modified car owners Bob Garbarino and Billy Simons along with Vic Miller. Drivers Geoff Bodine, Mike Murphy, George Savory, and Pete Fiandaca, and racing contributor and official Frank Ferrara.

  The dirt had been removed from the 4/10-mile Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. The word on the condition of the asphalt is that it was in good shape. The paved surface would be washed and would be in top form when the True Value Modifieds visit in 2010. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the speedway was a mecca for Modified Racing, drawing the best of New York and New England to do battle. Dick Ceravolo continued to show a slight improvement in his condition. Late last week “Dickie Doo” opened his eyes for the first time in six weeks. Showing a big smile, the popular former Waterford Modified Champion was awake and alert. Because of the fact that he was still on a ventilator he was unable to speak but was able to respond by moving his head, yes or no.

  Joey Logano passed points leader Kyle Busch with three laps left to take the win at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, pulling out his fourth Nationwide victory less than a week after a spectacular crash during a Sprint Cup race one week previous at Dover DE. Tony Stewart took the NASCAR Sprint Cup win, also at Kansas City.

  Last year, 2013, It appeared that the transition from the Thompson Speedway as we knew it to the Club at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park would create a playground primarily for the wealthy. It had already been said that the oval track would host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at least three times in 2014, with events at the Icebreaker, the World Series and an event at some time during the summer.

  In a somewhat related matter, Josh Vanada of Walpole, MA was been named General Manager of the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. His responsibilities would include the renovated 1.7 mile road course that will open along with the historic 5/8ths mile oval track. Vanada had been part of the Thompson Speedway operational staff for five years and served as the Director of Motorsports Operations. His new duties would include oversight of the day-to-day operations of both race tracks.

  Two big season ending events were held in southern New England this past weekend, the D. Anthony Vendetti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway and the Fall Finale at the Waterford Speedbowl.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Seekonk oval for a 100 lapper. The event, which saw Anthony Nocella score his first ever VMRS win, drew 32 cars. Nocella, who started 13th, inherited the lead following an incident between Chris Pasteryak and Tommy Barrett on lap 71. Pasteryak was leading when Barrett made a move on him. Contact was made and Barrett spun with a flat left rear tire. Pasteryak was sent to the rear of the pack for contact with Barrett which officials felt that caused him to spin. Steve Masse ended up in second spot at the finish. Les Hinckley finished third. Rounding out the top five were Rowan Pennink and Dwight Jarvis.

  Todd Annarummo led from the drop of the green until displaced by Pasteryak after a restart on lap 30. Annarummo attempted to retake the lead on lap 32 but ended up in the wall with a trashed car. Annarummo said he missed the shift on the restart and his left rear tire went up over Chris Pasteryak's right front. The car was launched up in the air at a sharp 90 degree angle and he hit the right front very hard into the front stretch wall right near the started stand. Where he hit the car was right on the right front corner and the car was crushed . He was credited with 24th spot at the finish. Barrett ended up 19th and Chris Pasteryak, 14th.

  Fourteen of the original 24 starters finished on the lead lap. The Valenti Modifieds head next to the Lee USA Speedway this coming weekend for another 100 lap modified race. In other Seekonk action a 100 lap Pro Stock event was won by Tom Scully Jr.

  Over 200 race cars turned out for Waterford Speedbowl’s Finale Weekend, the annual close to the racing season at the shoreline oval.

  In Saturday action at Waterford, Glenn Griswold captured the first Whelen All-American Series feature of Finale Weekend when he won the 25-lap SK Light Modified race. Other Saturday night winners were Kenny Johnson (NEMA Lights), Duane Noll (New England Truck Series), Waterford's Dan Butler (Super X-Cars), Dave Gargaro Jr. (X-Cars), Oakdale's Derek Debbis (Bandoleros) and Salem's Corey Hutchings (Outlaw Stocks).

  Keith Rocco would have to wait another week before making history at the Waterford Speedbowl as the Sunday feature race program was suspended on lap 34 of the 50 lap Late Model feature because of heavy mist. Rocco is attempting to make history in the category of season total for victories. He had his 11th victory of the season in the Late Model division Saturday, Sept 28 and has 22 wins overall at the track this year. Don Collins set the track’s record for wins in a season with 23 in 1960. In what turned out to be a long day, At 4:50pm the plug was pulled. Sunday winners included Mini Stock 50 – Ken Cassidy Jr., NEMA Midgets 25 – Winner: Bethany Stoehr and Legend Cars 25 –Dylan Izzo.

  In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action, Seuss won his third straight race, Andy Seuss scored his 15th career tour win at the Southern National Speedway in North Carolina. He previously picked up wins at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., on Sept. 8 and Sept. 28. The first victory broke a winless streak that extended almost a year. He hasn't stopped winning since. George Brunnhoelzl III finished second to extend his lead to 32 points over Kyle Ebersole, who finished fourth, with one race remaining. The season finale is Thursday, Oct. 10 on the quarter-mile on the frontstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Burt Myers was third, followed by Ebersole and rookie Luke Fleming.

  Matt Kenseth picked up his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season Saturday at Kansas Speedway during the Kansas Lottery 300. In Sprint Cup racing at Kansas, Kevin Harvick pulled away from Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon on a late restart to win a wreck-filled race over the recently repaved track,

  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: October 3, 2014

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