The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


November 14, 2014

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event at Atlanta. On November 9, Jack Arute stated that most of the Stafford “Officials Team” would be running the show at Waterford during the tenure of his lease. Arute also unveiled plans to move the pit “On Gate” to the turn four area.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Greg Sacks was the pole sitter at Atlanta but Mark Martin was the eventual winner in the season ending Winston Cup event. Dale Earnhardt won the series championship. Rusty Wallace lost second spot in points after he ran over debris from a fiery crash that involved Geoff Bodine. Hoosier Tire announced that they were dropping out of Winston Cup and Busch Grand National racing and Martinsville Speedway announced that they were dropping the Busch Grand National series from their schedule for 1995. On November 15, George Korteweg ended his tenure as track operator and promoter at the Waterford Speedbowl as he announced that he had sold his interest in the track to the Waterford Sports Center, owners of the property. Korteweg was responsible for the repaving of the track and new lighting.

  Fifteen years ago in 1999, Ted Christopher was the New Smyrna track champion. Jerry Marquis quietly showed his skills as he won the SK Modified championship at Stafford as well as the Northeast Regional title of the Winston Racing Series. Ricky Miller won the last ever-modified championship at Riverside Park and Frank Vigliarolo won the title at Riverhead. Dennis Gada was the mod champ at Waterford. Jay Stuart was the late model king and Moose Douton was the Strictly Stock champ. Todd Ceravolo took the SK title at Thompson and at Seekonk it was Rick Martin. Tony Hirschman was the Featherlite Modified Tour champion after beginning the year with out a ride. Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series champ and in the Busch South division it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jarrett was the Winston Cup champ and Tony Stewart was awarded Rookie of the Year.

  Ten years ago in 2004, Eric Beers was the Modified Champion at the World Series in New Smyrna. Ted Christopher was the SK Modified Champion at Stafford. Ryan Posocco was the Late Model Champ. At Thompson it was Todd Ceravolo taking the Sunoco SK type Modified Championship. Corey Hutchings was the Late Model Champ and David Berghman was the Pro Stock Champ. Hutchings was also the Late Model Champion at Waterford where Ed Reed Jr. dethroned Dennis Gada for the championship. Keith Rocco was the Sportsman Champion. Tony Hirschman was the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series champion and Andy Santerre was the Busch North Series Champion. Tom Rogers was the Modified Champion at Riverhead and ageless veteran Dave Lape was the Champion at the Fonda Speedway. Kurt Busch was the NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and Martin Truex Jr. was the NASCAR Busch Series champion.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was part of the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala in Concord, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at which Donny Lia and the rest of the touring series champions were honored. The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Gala featured the champions and top drivers from all of NASCAR’s North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

  NASCAR champions Jason Bowles (Camping World Series West), George Brunnhoelzl III (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Donny Lia (Whelen Modified Tour, Philip Morris (Whelen All-American Series), Andrew Ranger (Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1) and Ryan Truex (Camping World Series East) were honored at the end of the week during awards ceremonies at the Concord Convention Center.
In a somewhat related matter, Keith Rocco was released as the driver for Eddie Partridge Racing.

  NASCAR also announced that they were working on final details of televised coverage of a select number of Whelen Modified races with Versus and SPEED.

  Now that the Waterford Speedbowl property owner Terry Eames (1080 Hartford Road LLC) was protected against foreclosure by a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Petition some interesting questions and facts had come to light. A New London Connecticut Attorney who represented a mortgage holder in another matter stated that at least three petitioners are required to force an entity into Chapter 11 rather than the sole petitioner, Rocco Arbitell, in this case. He also alluded to the fact that a petition for Chapter 11may be deemed frivolous if it is clear on the date of filing there was no reasonable likelihood that the debtor intended to reorganize and no reasonable probability that it would eventually emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. The lawyer also added that he felt the intent of the last minute filing was done to frustrate Arbitell’s efforts to exercise his rights and foreclose on the mortgage that he holds. Arbitell had another option. He could petition the court to dismiss the Chapter 11 petition and have it converted into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which would call for the immediate liquidation of all assets that come under 1080 Hartford’s holdings.

  The True Value Modified Racing Series concluded their 2009 season when they crowned Jon McKennedy the 2009 series champion. McKennedy scored four wins in 2009 (Twin State, Seekonk, Oxford Plains and Beech Ridge), paving the way to his first series title. McKennedy held off a late-season charge by veteran driver Rob Goodenough to capture the title by a 15-point margin.

  In some sad news it was announced by Kevin Rice of the Area Auto Racing News that True Value Hardware had decided not to renew their sponsorship for 2010. Series founder Jack Bateman felt confidant that a new title sponsor for the series would be found. The True Value Series had become a legitimate alternative to “Tour Type Modified Racing” for both competitors and promoters. Plans for 2010 were already in motion with a maximum of 18 races to be run included a spring event on April 10 at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY.

  Series officials deemed the 2009 season a big success. Seventh-three racers competed with the TVMRS in 2009. In 15 races, 12 different drivers were victorious.

  Carl Edwards rolled to a dominating win at Phoenix International Speedway that temporarily staved off Kyle Busch's bid to clinch the Nationwide Series title. Busch spun his Toyota eight laps into the race, suffered heavy damage when he hit the wall, and had to battle to a ninth-place finish.

  In Sprint Cup action Jimmie Johnson cruised to a dominating victory Sunday that moved him to the edge of history, winning the fourth race of this Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in what his rivals considered a "statement" showing. His win at Phoenix - Johnson's fourth in the last five races here, and seventh victory of the season, stretched his lead to 108 points over Martin heading into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

  Last year, 2013, Asphalt Modified drivers from the North and South converged on the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina last weekend for the 11th annual John Blewett III Memorial North/South Shootout. Twenty six Modifieds were on hand.

  Matt Hirschman made it five out of 11 as he dominated the event from his pole starting position. Hirschman normally competes in the New York State based Race of Champions Tour. NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour regulars George Brunnhoelzl III was second with Andy Seuss, third. Conspicuous by there absence were competitors of the Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti Modified Racing Series teams.

  Southern competitor Brian Loftin and Valenti Modified Racing regular Tommy Barrett rounded out the top five. Ron Silk and Cole Powell were the only representatives of the northern Modified Tour. Silk finished 10th and Powell, 14th.

  Woody Pitkat had something to shoot for in 2014. His soon to be car owner Buzz Chew, a Long Island Chevy dealer made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Said Pitkat, "Wow! I really do have the best car owner in the world. I was told if I win 4 races on the modified tour next year he will hand me over the keys to a brand new 2014 Chevy corvette ZO6!!! — with Billy the kid Power".

  In other Whelen Modified Tour Series news Todd Szegedy was given the boot from the Mike Smeriglio No.2. Rumor had it that Max Zachem was a prime candidate for the ride.

  The big event this past weekend in New England was the 16th annual NEAR Hall of Fame Induction and Banquet. Drivers Stan Meservey, Brian Ross, Drew Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp along with car owner Ron Berndt were inducted on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Lodge at Manelley’s located at 65 Rye Street in South Windsor, CT.

  Hundreds of victories and dozens of championships comprised this year’s New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class. It brings the membership to well over 115. Inductions are a result of a nomination/selection process that includes voting by a special selection committee and the living members of the Hall.

  Peter Vander Veer, a standout auto racing writer for over 3-decades, received the 2013 Jack Ratta/Charlie Mitchell Award. The award memorializes two outstanding motor sports journalists – Ratta who wrote for the Manchester Union Leader and Mitchell, a sportswriter/editor for many years at the Norwalk (CT) Hour.

  In some sad news former Waterford Speedbowl Champion Walt Dombrowski passed away along with Supermodified driver Jim Winks.

  Kyle Busch picked up his 12th NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season at the Phoenix International Raceway. Kevin Harvick was the Sprint Cup winner. Former Daytona 500 winner and Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

  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 14, 2014

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