The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 24, 2014

  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 Dennis Zimmerman.

  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 Taylor, third.

  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 Grandnational winner.

  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 observed.

  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 winds.

  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 dissolved.

  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 runner-up finishes.

  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 standings.

  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   6    8
  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
  9. Woody Pitkat          457  14  0    2    9
10. Ted Christopher     445  14  0    4    6
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    0    2
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    0    2
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

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: October 24, 2014

2007-2014  © GeeLaw Motorsports/RGeePro/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.   Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent