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
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
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
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
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
Despite rumors that suggested the races would be cancelled or moved to
another NASCAR-affiliated short track, autoweek.com 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
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.
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