Fifty five years ago in 1959 the New London Waterford Speedbowl
closed out the season with a 50 lap Sportsman feature that was won by Bill
Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8. It was Slater's 15th feature
win of the season as he wrapped up the Sportsman division track championship
at the shoreline oval. Ted Stack was the non-Ford feature winner and Newt
Palm did likewise in the Bombers. Charlie Webster was declared the non-Ford
Champion and Newt Palm, the Bomber Champion.
Fifty years ago in 1964 the NASCAR
Modifieds ran a 200 lapper on the 4/10 mile dirt speedway at Langley Field
in Virginia. Ted Hairfield took the win over Earl Moss, Bobby McGinnis and
Forty-five years ago in 1969, triple
25's closed out the season at Thompson. Taking the wins were Smokey
Boutwell, Bill Greco and Eddie Flemke. The overall winner was Boutwell.
Flemke ended up second and was followed by Freddie Schulz, Red O'Keef,
Greco, Ernie Gahan, George Pendergast and Sal Dee. The NASCAR Modifieds were
at North Wilkesboro where Max Berrier took the win over Ray Hendrick, Perk
Brown, Jimmie Hensley, Billy Hensley and Jerry Cook. Fred DeSarro finished a
distant 28th after an early race crash that saw him break a steering box.
Forty years ago in 1974, Riverhead
ran their season finale with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Geoff
Bodine and Kevin Keilor. Thompson ran open competition big and small block
events. Ronnie Bouchard won both events, driving the Manchester Sand and
Gravel No.10 in the small block event and the Bob Johnson No.17 in the big
block event. In the small block event, Tony Russo finished second and was
followed by Fats Caruso and Mike Weeden. In the big block event, Bugsy
Stevens finished second with Weeden, third.
Thirty five years ago in 1979, the
Fall Final at Stafford was run on a chilly Friday night after being rained
out on its original date. Richie Evans took the win and was followed by
Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Geoff Bodine. On Sunday, Evans and Cook
finished one-two at Kingsport; Tenn. Westboro closed out their season on
Sunday with Roland LaPierre Jr. taking the win with Joe Howard and Gomer
Thirty years ago in 1984, the only
action in the northeast was at Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Tony Siscone took
the final Saturday night modified event over Lenny Boyd. At Rockingham,
N.C., Geoff Bodine had quite a weekend as he was the Busch Grandnational
winner and Winston Cup pole sitter. Bill Elliott won the Winston Cup event.
Twenty five years ago in 1989, all
was quiet with the exception of the reconstruction of the grandstand that
fell at Thompson.
Twenty years ago in 1994, the Race of
Champions was on tap at Flemington but heavy rain wreaked havoc with both
the competition and the crowd. The only event run was the triple A-SK type
event. Conditions were wet to say the least as 14 cautions slowed the event.
Steve Park was the eventual winner and was followed by Ted Christopher,
Kevin Collins, Ken Wooley and Richie Gallup. The actual Race of Champions
was rained out and rescheduled for Oct.30. Lee Speedway got their
Oktoberfest in on Sunday and it was David Berghman picking up his first win.
At Rockingham, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event and sewed up his
seventh title, which tied Richard Petty’s record. Mark Martin was the
Fifteen years ago in 1999, Lee
Raceway ran their Oktoberfest with Rob Summers taking the Modified win over
Charlie Pasteryak. In Winston Cup action at Rockingham, Jeff and Ward Burton
finished one-two. Mark Martin was the Grandnational winner. It was also the
week that the Seekonk Speedway was awarded a NASCAR sanction for their
weekly racing series in 2000.
Ten years ago in 2004, NASCAR
released The NASCAR Featherlite Modified final point standings for 2004.
Tony Hirschman, of North Hampton, Pa. was now officially the series
champion. Hirschman, who had four wins in 19 starts beat Eddie Flemke JR. by
104 points. Flemke, of Southington, Ct. had two wins in 19 starts. Jerry
Marquis, of Broadbrook, Ct finished third, 281 points behind the champion.
Marquis also had two wins in 19 starts. Ted Christopher of Plainville, Ct.
finished fourth despite being the top money winner with three wins in 19
starts. Christopher earned $55,615 but his lack of consistency kept him 403
points behind the leader at season’s end. Rounding out the top five was Rick
Fuller of Auburn, Mass. Fuller, 443 points behind the leader went winless in
19 starts. Sixth through tenth in the final standings were Jamie Tomaino,
Chuck Hossfeld, Donnie Lia, Kenny Barry and Zach Sylvester. Barry, of
Griswold, Ct. was crowned Rookie of the Year.
The Featherlite Modified Tour Series continued to be one of the strongest
NASCAR Touring divisions. During 2004 87 different drivers attempted to
qualify for events. Twelve drivers competed in all events. Car counts were
high as consistently 40 to 50 cars were at each event. NASCAR Modified Tour
Series director Ed Cox said that talks were in progress for races at
Martinsville, Va., Jennerstown, Pa and at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It
was also stated that the mods would not be going to the Lake Erie Speedway
in Pa. in 2005.
It looked like the Busch North Series would not be returning to the
Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts for the 2005 season. NASCAR had doubled
the purse requirements for the division for their short track events.
Seekonk, which would be celebrating their 60th anniversary season, would
host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series on July 30. The had also booked
the NEMA Boston Louie Midget event for August 27 and the True Value Northern
New England Modifieds for two visits, May 28 and August 20. Busch North
Series Director Lee Roy said that sanctioning agreements being made up for
2005 would address the rainout problems incurred during 2004. An event at
the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine was rained out as well as a scheduled
event at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey.
When the Thompson Speedway broke the news that they were planning to
start up a new division of racecars similar to the Florida/IMSA Modifieds
the rumor mill shifted into high gear with stories about the demise of the
Pro Stock division. The speedway management put all that to rest as they
announced that the Pro Stocks at Thompson were there to stay. In the
beginning the Pro Stocks were a slam-bang rolling demolition derby. In the
last couple of years the division has evolved into a first class racing
program with good competition with the minimum amount of wrecks and spins.
Speaking of rumors, rumor had it that the management of the New England
Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire had expressed interest in buying the
near-by-Star Speedway, a ¼ mile oval. If the deal didn’t fly the dragway
owners were thinking of building their own oval.
The NASCAR Busch Series was in Nashville Tenn. on Saturday. Martin Truex
Jr., a graduate of the weekly ranks at the Wall Township Speedway and the
Busch North Series, beat out Gregg Biffle in a green-white-checker finish
for his sixth victory of the year. Todd Szegedy, who drove the No.50
Featherlite Modified, finished 15th. In Nextel Cup action at Martinsville,
Va. Jimmie Johnson out ran Jamie McMurray for the win. Ryan Newman survived
a late race confrontation with teammate Rusty Wallace to finish third. On a
sad note, it was announced that a plane carrying members of the Hendrick
Racing organization had crashed in the Bull Mountain area of Stuart, Va.
Said to be on board were Ricky Hendrick, son of Rick Hendrick, John
Hendrick, brother of Rick Hendrick and engine builder Randy Dorton. Virginia
State Police dispatched a helicopter to the area and no survivors were
On an additional sad note, Dick Watson, a NEAR Hall of Fame inductee lost
a long battle with cancer and passed away. It was also learned that Ricky
Miller, the last Riverside Park Track champion had passed away.
Boundless Motorsports Racing Inc announced that they had officially
changed their company name to DIRT Motorsports Inc. The company owns various
dirt track racing series including the DIRT Modified Series, the World of
Outlaws Sprint Series, and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Among the
numerous television broadcasts that the company produces is the popular
“Rush Hour on Dirt” which features the ground pounding Big Block Modifieds.
Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series finally completed its 2009 season with the
running of the 150 lap World Series. The series championship was Donny Lia’s
to lose. After a spirited race long battle with Ryan Preece and Ted
Christopher Lia settled into the fourth finishing position in the closing
laps as he wrapped up the title. Christopher took the lead for the final
time after a restart on lap 132 and held off Preece to take the win. Doug
Coby moved into third with less than five laps to go. Rowan Pennink rounded
out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Chris Pasteryak, Erick Rudolph,
Kevin Goodale, Ron Silk and Woody Pitkat. Christopher led twice for 93 laps,
while Lia led twice for 57 laps.
There were eight caution periods for 47 laps. The car counts was ample
but still down from previous years as only 29 Modifieds were on hand for the
event that carried a race purse of $85,971.
The Thompson Speedway did their best in less than ideal racing
conditions, thanks to the New England weather. In an effort to be proactive
with a less than stellar forecast, Speedway Management decided to run
feature events for the ARTS Truck Series, the SK Lights, TIS Modifieds, and
Mini Stocks on Friday as the forecast for Saturday was for rain and high
After post race technical inspection, John St. Germain of West Sand Lake,
NY, was scored as the winner of the ARTS Trucks. Brit Anderson of Branford,
CT, scored the victory in the SK Lights Modifieds. TIS Modified champion
Brian Sullivan of S. Windsor, CT, put an exclamation point on his 2009
season with a victory at the World Series. Randy Churchill of Niantic, CT,
continued his prowess in the Mini Stocks with a win. Ryan Morgan of Mystic
made his driving debut in the TIS Modifieds.
On a sad note, Saturday marked the 24th anniversary of the death of the
great Richie Evans.
In the Sunoco (SK type) Modified feature at Thompson Ronnie Silk slugged
it out with Ted Christopher to win the caution-marred event. Christopher,
who led the early going, managed to finish second, after rebounding from a
spin. Bert Marvin, who was waiting for Silk and Christopher to tangle,
finished third. Tim Sullivan finished fourth. Among the missing was Keith
Rocco who was at Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Rocco’s Thompson ride, the
Bannister No. 6 had been sold and the race team has reportedly been
In other feature events run as part of the World Series at Thompson Mike
O'Sullivan won the 30-lap Super Late Model feature. Over Norm Wrenn. The
2009 division champion, Derek Ramstrom finished third. Tom O’Sullivan won
the Late Model feature over Woody Pitkat and Corey Hutchings. Rob Richardi
Jr. won the Pro Four Modified feature. Rick Gentes was the Outlaw Late Model
feature winner. In an exciting finish, Chris Perley latterly blew away Dave
Shullick Jr. on the final lap to win the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified feature.
Nokie Fornoro won the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature. Fornoro, a 34 year
veteran, implied that it could be his last race as he is seriously
contemplating retirement. Beth Adams was the Outlaw Mini Stock feature
winner. Last but not least, Larry Barnett won the Limited Sportsman feature.
The True Value Modified Racing Series wound up their 2009 season at the
Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire. Kenny Barry took the win over Dwight
Jarvis, Louie Mechalides, Jim Kuhn and Jack Bateman. Jon McKennedy won the
series title. Barry took over the lead on lap 66 and was never headed.
Wall Stadium in New Jersey was also running with the Tom Commerford
Memorial. Originally set for Saturday, the event featuring twin 66 lap
features was run on Sunday. Jimmy Blewett won the opener but was sidelined
in the second one after wrecking. Anthony Sessley won the night cap. Keith
Rocco recorded two third place finishes. Matt Hirschman recorded two
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin
passed Jimmie Johnson and led the last 138 laps to take the win. Brad
Keselowski was the Nationwide Series winner at Memphis.
Last year, 2013, NASCAR has released
the final point standings in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. Lee
Pulliam who races in the Late Model division at the South Boston Speedway in
Virginia is the racing series National Champion. Keith Rocco, who races at
Thompson, Stafford and at Waterford finished third. It was the fifth
consecutive year that the 28 year old engine builder finished in the top
three. In fact he has finished no worse than fourth in the last seven years.
Overall, Rocco won 30 feature events in 2013 including 16 in the SK
Modifieds, two in the Valenti Modified Series and 12 in the Late Model
division at Waterford. Coming with those victories were the Connecticut
State Championship, SK Modified Championships at Waterford and at Thompson
plus the Late Model Championship at Waterford. Following Rocco in the
Connecticut State Championship was Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, Ted
Christopher and Todd Ceravolo. Preece also finished fifth in New York State
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series closed out the 2013 season at the
Thompson Speedway. Overall racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was
second to none. There were a total of 50 different drivers in competition.
NASCAR released the final point standings for 2013.
Points - Races - Wins - T/5 - T/10
1. Ryan Preece 549
14 4 10 10
2. Doug Coby
517 14 2 6 10
3. Donny Lia
496 14 1 7 8
4. Rowan Pennink 487 14 1
5. Mike Stefanik 480
14 2 3 8
6. Todd Szegedy 477 14
1 3 7
7. Ron Silk
466 14 0 4 10
8. Justin Bonsignore 464 14 1 5
9. Woody Pitkat 457
14 0 2 9
10. Ted Christopher 445 14 0
11. Eric Goodale 435
14 0 2 7
12. Ron Yuhas, Jr. 424 14
0 1 4
13. Bobby Santos 421 12
2 7 8
14. Jamie Tomaino 397 14 0
15. Ken Heagy
368 14 0 0 1
16. Cole Powell * 368
14 0 0 1
17. Bryon Chew
367 14 0 1 3
18. Ed Flemke, Jr. 365 14 0
19. Eric Berndt
345 13 0 0 2
20. Wade Cole
338 14 0 0 0
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at the Martinsville Speedway, Jeff Gordon
took the lead from Matt Kenseth, who led the most laps in the Goody’s
Headache Powder Relief 500, with 21 laps remaining and drove away to a
.596-second victory for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the
season. It was Gordon’s first victory of the season and the 88th of his
career. Gordon’s eighth victory was at Martinsville was the 21st for
Hendrick Motorsports at the .526-mile oval.
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
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