The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


November 7, 2014

  Forty-five years ago in 1969, Martinsville finally got to run the annual Cardinal 500.Ray Hendrick in the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11 picked up his 31st win of the season. Bugsy Stevens finished second and put himself in the NASCAR record book as the first three time NASCAR National Modified Champion. Perk Brown finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook, Leo Cleary, Billy Hensley, Richie Evans, Bernie Miller, Don Diffendorf and Don Miller. The final Modified standings showed Stevens the champion. Rounding out the top ten were Cook, Bobby Santos, Jimmy Hensley, Fred DeSarro, Billy Hensley, Don Miller, Lou Lazzaro and Ray Hendrick.

  Forty years ago in 1974, the 1975 season began on Nov 10,1974.The Modifieds ran at the then paved Metrolina Fairgrounds Speedway in North Carolina. Harry Gant in the William Mason No.45 took the win over Jerry Cook, John Bryant and Bugsy Stevens.

  Thirty-five years ago in 1979, Shangri-La closed out their season with George Kent, driving the Cal Smalles No.41 taking the win. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. Waterford closed out their season with a 100-lap open competition event, which saw John Rosati take the win after losing a lap in the early going because of a flat tire. Rosati made up his lap and passed Rick Donnelly for the lead and eventual win with ten laps to go. Donnelly finished second and was followed by Dick Dunn, Ronnie Rocco, Bob Potter and Dickie Doo Ceravolo.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, there was no racing but the Arute family had announced that they had entered into a lease with Harvey Tattersall for the Waterford Speedbowl for 1985. Racing at Waterford would be under the NASCAR banner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, with a new grandstand in place, Thompson got to run the World Series. Doug Hevron won the 75 lap modified portion. Mike McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero. Bob Potter was the SK type winner.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Barefoot Bob McCreadie annexed his 46th win of the DIRT season as he won the Eastern States 200 at Middletown, N.Y.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Speedway Motorsports announced that third quarter earnings were $6million less than expected. The stock market had a negative impact as 3.2 million shares were traded in one day, which caused the stock to drop from 45-15/16 to 28-1/2.

  Ten years ago in 2004, a good number of the northeastern modified teams headed south to Concord, North Carolina for the 2nd Annual North vs. South Shootout. Forty-five modified teams were on hand. The top five in time trials were John Blewett III, Eric Beers, Nevin George, Fred Query and Ed Flemke Jr. Qualifying heat winners were Donnie Lia, Ron Silk and Jerry Marquis. Consolation winners were Reggie Ruggiero and Jim Willis. The northern modified contingent led by Donnie Lia took nine of the top ten finishing spots in the 100 lap Shoot-out. Eric Beers took the lead at the start. Southern competitor Jay Foley triggered a massive wreck on lap two that eliminated ten cars including Reggie Ruggiero and Jim Broderick. Caution laps didn’t count as Beers led the restart on lap three. John Blewett III powered by and led from lap 4 to 53. A caution for debris was thrown on lap 53 with just about all lead lap cars making a mandatory pit stop. Jerry Marquis elected to short pit while just about everyone else took on right side tires. Marquis led the pack out of the pit area and once the green dropped, Marquis kept the legendary Ole Blu in the lead. The lack of new tires bit him as Lia took the lead on lap 86 and led the final 14 laps to victory. With less than ten laps to go Marquis spun from his fourth position and ended up 11th. Eric Beers ended up finishing in second spot with Nevin George, third. Bob Santos III turned in another fine run as he finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was the 2003 winner John Blewett III. Eddie Flemke Jr. finished sixth with Doug Coby in the Mansfield CT based entry, seventh. Rounding out the top ten were Ron Silk, Freddie Query and Lisbon Connecticut paving contractor Charlie Pasteryak. Marquis slipped to 11th in the final rundown. Pre race favorite Ted Christopher had a top five car until sidelined with broken rear end gears on lap 82.

  Sad news came from Michael Boehler, President of Boehler Racing. Jimmy Fournier, Chief Mechanic and Tire Changer for Boehler Racing passed away on Monday, November 1. Jimmy was a trusted and loyal member of Boehler Racing since the early 1970’s. Lenny now has his main man with him!

  Joyce and Dick Ceravolo of Groton, Ct, owners of the Team 31 SK Modified, hosted a victory party in recognition of their Sunoco Modified Track Championship at the Thompson Speedway in 2004. Guests of honor included driver Todd Ceravolo, crew chief Rick Ceravolo and their pit crew along with their wives and friends. Started by Dick Ceravolo in 1969, Team 31 had been responsible for six track championships, three at Waterford and three at Thompson.

  The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were in Phoenix, Arizona. Jamie McMurray was the Busch Series winner and Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled out the win in the Nextel Cup
George Bush defeated John Kerry for the President of our country.

  Five years ago in 2009, many race teams from New York, New England and New Jersey traveled south to Concord, NC for the annual North-South Shootout. Car counts included 42 Tour type Modifieds and 23 SK type Modifieds. Practice and qualifying took place on Friday. Taking the pole position with the fastest time for the SK types was Ryan Preece. Matt Hirschman was second fastest. Rounding out the top five were Ron Silk, Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. In the Tour type Modifieds Chuck Hossfeld took the top spot over Hirschman, Preece, Burt Myers and Josh Nichols. Among the casualties was Keith Rocco who had the misfortune of crashing quite hard in the dogleg area of the track. Rocco stated that a tire came off the rim, which caused him to lose control. Eddie Partridge and his crew rolled out a back-up Modified that Rocco qualified 26th fastest. Other notables who were in the field included Ted Christopher who qualified the Joe Brady No. 00 in 19th spot and George Kent who qualified 39th. The top five in both divisions were locked in with the remaining forced to run heats and consolations. SK type heat winners were Steven Reed and Ted Christopher. Among those who had problems was Woody Pitkat who hit a ton on the front chute during the second heat. Tour type heat winners were James Civali, Eric Beers and Les Hinckley.

  The action was hot and heavy on Saturday with consi’s, non-qualifiers and main events. Two Tour type consis were run with the top two transferring to the feature. Earl Paules won the first one with Jamie Tomaino, second. Doug Coby won the second one with Keith Rocco, second. Danny Bohn was the tour type Modified non-qualifier winner.

  Matt Hirschman won the 50 lap SK type Modified race over Doug Coby, Ted Christopher, Steven Reed and Ron Silk. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennink, Rick Kluth, Keith Rocco, Ron Yuhas, Jr and Shaun Carrig. Ryan Preece, who had led since a lap 34 restart, spun on lap 43 while fighting to hold off Hirschman. Preece ended up 13th at the finish.

  Burt Myers won the 125 lap North-South Shootout which had to be classified as a wreck fest. Myers, who started fourth, took the lead after Matt Hirschman blew a tire while in the lead on lap 7. Hirschman’s blown tire was the apparent result of contact with Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld led the opening green and was moved up to the loose stuff by Hirschman. Hossfeld suffered enough damage to put him out for the day. He was credited with the 30th finishing position. The race, which took close to 1-3/4 hours to run, was slowed by nine caution periods and two red flag periods. Rowan Pennink continued his string of fine performances as he finished second. Doug Coby spun on lap 70 and came back to finish third. Hirschman ended up fourth. Rounding out the top five with one of his best runs in quite a while was Jamie Tomaino. Sixth through tenth were George Brunnhoelzl, III, Eric Goodale, Jimmy Zacharias, Pete Brittain and Anthony Sesely. Among the non-finishers was Ted Christopher. Christopher finished 25th after a confrontation with JR Bertuccio. As the pair were facing nose-to-nose Bertuccio signaled the former National Champion with his middle finger. Christopher gave him a wave as he drove to the pits.

  Word came from Florida that the Daytona International Speedway and the New Smyrna Speedway will alter their schedules so as not to conflict with Super Bowl XLIV. The Daytona Int. Speedway announced that their annual Daytona 500 qualifying session, usually held the Sunday before the 500 will be moved up a day to Saturday, Feb 6. The Daytona 500 will be run on Sunday, Feb 14. The New Smyrna Speedway which will host the 44th annual World Series of Asphalt Racing from Feb 5 through Feb 13 will alter its starting time on Feb7 to 4:00pm and will host a giant Super Bowl Party for race fans and competitors later in the evening.

  In New England on Friday, November 6 was the US Marshall’s Public Auction of seized race cars, parts, engines, trailers and tractors that were part of the Mystique Motorsports Race Team that was owned by Jim Gallante who was convicted of Federal charges. The cars were built by Barry Kuhnell and driven by Ted Christopher. According to Jerry Pearl the sale drew a goodly amount of interested buyers including Mike Christopher who was acting in behalf of his brother Ted who was at the North-South Shootout. Pearl stated that Christopher bought three SK Modified cars and a Mod Tour type chassis. He also stated that Mike Smeriglio and Sly Szaban each bought Tour type cars.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action Kurt Busch won at the Texas Motor Speedway after he passed brother Kyle with 2 1/2 laps to go. The younger Busch's quest to become the first driver to win all three of NASCAR's national series on the same weekend ended when his No. 18 Toyota ran out of fuel. Kyle Busch, who had already won the Nationwide and Camping World Truck races at Texas, had led 232 laps Sunday until he suddenly slowed on the backstretch on lap 332 of 334. Kurt Busch's 20th career victory came with an average speed of 147.137 mph and by a nearly 26-second margin over second-place Denny Hamlin. Matt Kenseth was third. Jimmie Johnson had hoped to clinch the series title but ended up in 38th spot. Coming out of Turn 2 on the third lap, Sam Hornish got loose after being tapped by David Reutimann. Hornish made contact with Johnson, who scraped the outside wall. It looked as if Johnson might save his car before he was hit again by Hornish, then slammed into the inside wall. Jeff Gordon, another Hendrick driver who is third in points, finished 13th after avoiding serious problems of his own. He cut his points deficit to Johnson from 192 to 112, though he lost ground on Mark Martin.

  Based on scans from television cameras there were numerous empty seats at the Texas Speedway.

  Last year, 2013, With the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in the history books the facts and rumors were beginning to fly concerning the 2014 season. Series champion Ryan Preece had made it known that he would like to advance up the NASCAR ladder. If he does, it would open the door for someone at Flamingo Motorsports. Preece, in addition to taking the championship was the series top winner with four victories. Doug Coby, who was the defending champion, fell short of defending his title through no fault of his own when he was a victim of a stuck throttle at Riverhead which resulted in a destroyed car and a missed race. With two wins to his credit, Coby finished the season in second spot, 32 points behind Preece. Coby, at the top of his game, finds himself between a rock and a hard place as car owner Wayne Darling has made it known that he will not run a full schedule in 2014. Darling told Area Auto Racing News editor Lenny Sammons that the main problem is getting people to work on the car. Donny Lia and Rowan Pennink seem to be pretty secure with their rides while Mike Stefanik's future remains up in the air pending on a sit-down with his team in the near future. If he were to retire he could walk away with his head high as he had nothing to prove as he has done it all. Todd Szegedy, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore are secure with their rides as Woody Pitkat is out there looking as car owner David Hill had previously stated that unless ample sponsorship comes along his team will no longer be able to participate. Pitkat didn't remain without a full time ride for long as he was selected to replace Bryon Chew who retired from driving the Buzz Chew entry. The Long Island based Modified Tour team plans on running the entire schedule in 2014.

  Two major personnel changes were announced by Thompson Speedway General Manager, Josh Vanada. Both appointments are effective immediately. The first announced by Vanada is the promotion of Race Director, Jeff Zuidema, to the position of Director of Competition. This post had been held by Vanada but was recently vacated when he was named the track’s General Manager. Zuidema, a four-time Thompson champion and winner of some 52 races at the track, will have the responsibility of oversight of on-track competition and the inspection process.

  The second personnel announcement from Vanada concerned a replacement for the position previously held by Zuidema. “I am pleased to announce that Scott Tapley will join our team and will fill the position of Race Director,” said the GM. Tapley, a UNOH graduate, served as a spotter for the 2008 NASCAR K & N Pro Series East Champion, Matt Kobyluck. He served as Assistant Race Director at the Waterford Speedbowl from 2009 to 2010 and Race Director at the Speedbowl for 2011 and 2012. He then joined the Valenti Modified Racing Series and has just completed his first year as Series Director.

  Despite rumors that suggested the races would be cancelled or moved to another NASCAR-affiliated short track, reported the “Battle at the Beach” would return to Daytona International Speedway in 2014 as part of Speedweeks. Debuting in 2013, the Battle was a way to generate some excitement at the track during the normally dormant Monday and Tuesday after the Daytona 500 qualifying weekend. NASCAR set up a temporary course on the back straight using part of the track and part of the apron, outlined by stacked tires and pylons that delineated a roughly .4-mile oval that required drivers to nearly stop for the turns, making for a lot of crashes and caution-flag laps.

  Though it hasn't been announced, the format is expected to be the same as in 2013, when three non-points races featured the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours, and the Late Model division of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Top finishers in the regular season in those divisions earned spots in the Battle, with remaining slots filled by time trials and heat races. The University of Northwest Ohio sponsored the races, and is expected to return.

  The races were not without controversy or complaints: Kyle Larson won the late model race after unceremoniously dumping leader C.E. Falk III, drawing more boos than cheers from the fans. Former NASCAR Cup racer Steve Park used a similar tactic on Mike Stefanik to win the modified race. Cameron Haley won the K&N race, with some controversial shoving behind him. But if the event is to have any sort of credibility, NASCAR needs to make sure the drivers know that simply spinning the leader on the last lap will result in consequences other than a visit to the winner's circle.

  Brad Keselowski raced to his sixth Nationwide victory in his last eight starts, leading 106 of 200 laps at Texas to give Roger Penske's No. 22 car the lead in the owners' standings. For the drivers' title, Sam Hornish Jr. overcame being a lap down early in the race to finish third and cut his deficit behind Austin Dillon from eight points to six with two races left in the season.

  Jimmie Johnson firmly established himself as the man to beat for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on Sunday, scoring a dominant victory in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson led a race-high 255 laps during the 334-lap event and was rarely challenged en route to his sixth victory of the 2013 season. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished 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: November 7, 2014

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