The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


October 31, 2014

  Forty-five years ago in 1969, Thompson ran a 500 lap Modified event. Bugsy Stevens all but sewed up his third consecutive NASCAR National Modified Championship as he took the win. A virtually unknown Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Billy Hensley, Fred DeSarro, Bob Santos and Lou Lazzaro. In the Southland, Ray Hendrick won both ends of a twin bill for modifieds and late model sportsman at the Beltsville Speedway in Maryland.

  Forty years ago in 1974, it was off to Martinsville for the annual twin 250's for the Modifieds and Late Models. As he had done all year, Ronnie Bouchard dominated the Modified 250 and capped off a very successful season. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Merv Treichler and Bugsy Stevens. Jerry Cook finished fifth and sewed up the 1974 NASCAR modified championship by scant 77 points over Evans. In the final point run down, Geoff Bodine finished third and was followed by Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek and Bouchard. Ray Hendrick won the late model 250 with Reds Cagle, second.

  Thirty-five years ago in 1979, Jerry Cook scored his seventh win of the season as he held off Richie Evans to win the annual Fall 250 at Martinsville. Evans hammered on Cook for the final six laps but to no avail and had to settle for second spot. Ronnie Bouchard, in an Evans team car, finished third with Maynard Troyer and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five. Morgan Shepherd won the Late Model 250 over Joe Thurman.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Tony Siscone scored an emotional victory at Martinsville as he won the Fall 250 over Ron Bouchard, Jamie Tomaino and Bob Polverari. Siscone, who had been badly burned in an accident with Ray Everham, dedicated his win to the late Eddie Flemke. Siscone took the lead after Richie Evans lost an engine on lap 228.The final standings for 1984 showed Evans the champion with Jim Spencer, George Kent, Corky Cookman and Brian Ross rounding out the top five.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Jeff Fuller was the 200 lap modified winner at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Doug Hevron and George Kent following. L.D. Ottinger won the late model portion.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Tony Siscone won the rained out Race of Champions at Flemington and announced his retirement from racing in victory lane. Ed Flemke Jr. finished second. Kenny Bernstein went 314 mph at Pomona, California. In Winston Cup action at Phoenix, Terry LaBonte took the win.

  Fifteen years ago in 1999, Jeff Green was the Busch Grandnational winner at Memphis. The Venditti family announced that the Seekonk Speedway would operate under a NASCAR sanction for the 2000 season. Also on this weekend it was announced that five members of the over the wall crew, The Rainbow Warriors of the Jeff Gordon crew, had been hired away by Robert Yates.

  Ten years ago in 2004, The NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series held their awards banquet in Nashville, Tenn. Drivers and crews from all over the country converged on the music city for what had to be the richest season ending payoff in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series history. Representing the New England region was Champion Richard Wolf who was the titleholder from the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire. Greg Pursley, who raced at the Irwindale Speedway in California, was crowned the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Champion. Pursley, won 13 races on his way to the title. Among those taking part in the awards ceremony was Todd Ceravolo who finished fourth in the New England Region. Ceravolo, who is also the 2004 Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Track Champion said he was impressed by the gala affair that saw over $1.6 million paid out to short track racers from coast to coast.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway has announced that they had named former Late Model Champion Chuck Zantarski of West Haven as the Assistant Race Director under Race Director Frank Sgambato JR. Zantarski would have a driver’s view of the racing which should lead to better policing of the racing in general. A former racer can understand what racers do and why they do it.

  The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the Atlanta International Raceway in Georgia. In what has to be the greatest rebound in auto racing history Jimmie Johnson scored an emotional win over Mark Martin in the Nextel Cup event. For Johnson it was his third in a row. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson entered the race with a heavy heart as the organization he races for suffered a multi tragedy just a week prior when Hendrick family members and employees perished in a plane crash near Martinsville Virginia. Carl Edwards finished third. It was a rough day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished a distant 33rd after a late race bout with the wall. Earnhardt was attempting to pass Edwards and miss calculated when he went to get back in line. Matt Kenseth won the Aarons 312 Busch Grand National event.

  Nextel Cup star Jimmy Spencer found himself in hot water recently when Cornelius, North Carolina police arrested him. Spencer was charged with interfering with police who were trying to serve a warrant on his son, Jonathan, who was accused of pouring paint on two cars on October 6. Spencer was also charged with disorderly conduct. Evidently Morgan-McClure Motorsports didn’t appreciate the fact that their driver had been arrested as they released him and hired Mike Wallace to drive their car at Atlanta last weekend. Wallace did not qualify for the Atlanta event.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had come to an end for another season. The final point standings for 2009 confirmed Donny Lia as the series champion. Lia entered the entire 13-race season and amassed 2002 points. Lia won four events for a season total winnings of $71,774. Ryan Preece, 16 points back, finished second. Preece also ran 13 events, winning two and collecting $51,721. Defending series champion Ted Christopher ended up in third spot in the final standings with 1931 points to his credit. Christopher won three times and had a season total of $67,249. Rowan Pennink finished fourth with 1867 points. Although winless, Pennink ran consistently up front, recording 11 top ten finishes and a season total of $35,277. Rounding out the top five was Todd Szegedy with 1823 points. Szegedy also had goose eggs in the win column but his consistent finishes banked him $37,384. Sixth through tenth for 2009 are. Chris Pasteryak, Mike. Stefanik, Eric Beers, Woody Pitkat and Eddie Flemke Jr.

  After the completion of its regular season as a clay track in September, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY was converted to an asphalt track, using blacktop that had been lying under clay since 1977. Two race events were run on the asphalt in October. It was announced that Malta would be repaved and reconfigured. Devil's Bowl Speedway would be also be paved. The True Value Modified Racing Series had already indicated that they will be racing in an event there in 2010.

  The True Value Modified Racing Series announced their Champion and final point standings for 2009. Jon McKennedy, with 487 points was the series champion. Rob Goodenough with 474 points finished second. Third was Stephen Masse. Rowan Pennink and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Jack Bateman, Les Hinckley III, Dwight Jarvis, Mike Douglas Jr. and Michael Holdridge.
The scheduled second annual foreclosure proceedings of the property in which the Waterford Speedbowl is located was cut a day short as Terry Eames and his “LLC” group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The New London Day reported that the scheduled foreclosure auction scheduled for Saturday, October 31 had been cancelled. What it means is that Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli would be still holding the bag and would not receive the money they loaned Eames when they bailed him out in July of 2007. Eames owed in excess of $800,000. Eames said that racing will continue in 2010 at the shoreline oval.

  Arbitell hinted to the Hartford Courant that he was thinking of “dropping a dime” on Eames to the IRS. If that is true, the IRS is an organization not to fool with or lie to! They collect money, property and put people in jail.

  Since putting a wheel under George Korteweg to get control of the track Eames had literally run the place into the ground. Shawn Monahan is another victim. Eames took him “In” and almost totally bilked him until he took the advice of his lawyer and cut his loses.

  Dover Motorsports, Inc. announced that it was ceasing all operations at Memphis Motorsports Park and that it would not be promoting any events in Memphis in 2010. As previously announced, the Memphis facility had been under an agreement of sale to Gulf Coast Entertainment but Gulf Coast was unable to secure financing. NASCAR has approved the realignment of their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events from Memphis Motorsports Park to the Nashville and Gateway facilities.”

  In Sprint Cup action the Associated Press reported that NASCAR demanded drivers be on their best behavior at Talladega Superspeedway, where a ban on bump-drafting sanitized what's usually one of the most spectacular races of the season. In the end, chaos reigned, just like always. After 450 miles of what resembled a slow Sunday drive, the action picked up and the outcome was much of what everyone has come to expect out of Talladega: An unlikely winner, two spectacular crashes and an army of drivers frustrated about the unpredictability of restrictor-plate racing. In response, the 43-car field spent much of Sunday in a single-file parade lap that almost looked to be a conscious thumbing of the nose at NASCAR. Ryan Newman's harrowing crash with five laps to go left him upside down in the grass, and NASCAR needed a stoppage of almost 13 minutes to cut him from the car. Outspoken in the wake of Edwards' April crash, he was none too pleased to have spent almost 15 minutes trapped inside his car. His crash set up two-lap sprint to the finish, and that was halted when championship contender Mark Martin went flipping across the track in his own spectacular crash. The race ended under caution, with Jamie McMurray in Victory Lane.

  Last year, 2013, Friday, November 1 marked the 35th anniversary of the passing away of the great Fred DeSarro. Fred, a dedicated family man, an intense racer and a good friend to many was warming up at the Thompson Speedway three weeks previous when something went wrong as he was going down the backstretch and sailed over the third turn banking. Knocked unconscious from severe head injuries, the 1970 NASCAR National Modified Champion never woke up and died on November 1 at the Rhode Island Hospital. In addition to his family and close friends, those most affected by his passing were Carl Bugsy Stevens and Kenny Bouchard who were on the scene when the accident occurred. Fred is gone but he will live in our hearts forever!

  NASCAR 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 has released the final point standings for 2013. NASCAR’s touring series champions will be recognized at the traditional NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards on Saturday, Dec. 14 in Charlotte.
  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 31, 2014

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