The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 13, 2015

  Fifty years ago in 1965
Goodyear introduced their new Lifeguard Inner Tire for cars in competition at the Daytona International Speedway. The inner tire was designed to eliminate the loss of control when the outer tire loses air because of a puncture or from being worn out. Among those who were missing at Daytona was Richard Petty who decided to try Drag Racing because the Chrysler Corp pulled out of racing because NASCAR would not allow the Hemi engine to compete.

   Forty years ago in 1975, the Modifieds were not part of the New Smyrna World Series. They were, however, a part of Speedweeks as they were scheduled to race on the road course of the Daytona Speedway.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Geoff Bodine led a full field of 39 entries to win the opening night event at New Smyrna. Maynard Troyer was a pre race favorite but blew his Hutter big block power plant. Gary Balough finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Doug Hewitt, Merv Treichler and Jerry Cook. Night no.2 saw Evans take the top spot with Bodice, second. George Kent finished third and was followed by Leo Cleary and Brett Bodine. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt led a multi car draft that overhauled Darrell Waltrip on the last lap of the Busch Clash. Evans made it two in a row at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Bodine and Balough wrecked as George Kent went on to finish second. Junior Handley finished third.

 Thirty years ago in 1985,opening night at New Smyrna had to be cancelled because of a brown out. Saturday at Daytona, Bill Elliott blistered the 2-1/2 mile oval as he took the 500 pole with a speed of 205.114mph.Terry Labonte started 11th in the 12 car Busch Clash and beat Darrell Waltrip by less than a second. All was well at New Smyrna on Saturday night as Jim Spencer took the win over Doug Hewitt. On Sunday night at New Smyrna, Reggie Ruggiero was not to be denied as he out ran Charlie Jarzombek to the win. Tomaino finished third and was followed by Hewitt, Spencer, Evans and Dick Trickle.

 Twenty five years ago in 1990, Reggie Ruggiero, in the Mario Fiore No.44 was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Tony Jankowiac finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Night No.2 at New Smyrna rained out. At the Daytona Speedway on Saturday, Ken Schrader took the Daytona 500 pole and also was the winner of the Busch Clash. Dale Earnhardt took the outside pole for the 500 and Greg Sacks finished second in the clash. Sunday night at New Smyrna, Tom Baldwin had it all together as he romped to victory Tomaino finished second with Jankowiac finished third.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Tiger Tom Baldwin was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Bruce Dell and Tom Cravenho. Baldwin made it two in a row as he won again on Saturday night. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Ewanitsko, Bob Park and Eric Beers. At Daytona on Sunday, 51 Winston Cup Cars attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 pole. Dale Jarrett took the top spot with a speed of 193.494 mph. Dale Earnhardt was the outside pole sitter. Brett Bodine and car owner Junior Johnson was barred from qualifying after NASCAR discovered an illegal intake manifold. In addition, Johnson was fined $45,000.It was also announced that Randy Lajoie and Bill Davis were fined $35,000 when it was discovered they had a hydraulic device that raised and lowered rear deck of their car. Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash. At New Smyrna on Sunday night, Ted Christopher broke Baldwin’s streak. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Tim Connolly and Wayne Anderson.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000, thirty-six Modifieds showed up for opening night at New Smyrna. Ted Christopher started eighth and despite getting drilled by Jim Willis on the start, took the opening night win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak and Jim Willis. Night number two saw Beers take the win over Pasteryak, Christopher and Tomaino. Sunday at Daytona saw the team cars of Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd take the front row starting spots for the Daytona 500.Jarrett also won the Bud Shootout consi and the Bud Shootout. Christopher took the lead from Pasteryak on lap 7 of the 25-lap feature and went on to score his second series win at New Smyrna on Sunday night Pasteryak finished second with Tomaino, third. It was also made public that Don Hoenig filed an eviction notice against Butch Davis and Brian LaForte in attempt to regain control of the Thompson Speedway.

  Ten years ago in 2005, Speedweeks in Florida shifted into high gear. The 39th Annual New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Speedway Racing got the green on Friday night, for nine consecutive nights on the high banked ½ mile asphalt track. Tour type and SK-type Modifieds from the Northeast were in competition along with Super Late Models, Late Models, Florida Modifieds, Mini-Stocks and Strictly Stocks.

  Opening night at New Smyrna greeted fans and competitors with chilly conditions with temperatures in the mid 40s. Thirty three Modifieds, including seventeen SK types were on hand. Separate features, 25 laps for the Modifieds and 15 laps for the SKs. Pole sitter Tim Arre jumped out to an early lead as he led the first nine laps. The field had just completed three laps when Long Islander Glenn Tyler spun out. On the restart, Ted Christopher who had started 8th, spun out and pitted for a chassis adjustment. Christopher rejoined the field without losing a lap. Don Lia, who started seventh, took the lead from Arre on lap 10. Shortly after that Charlie Pasteryak hit the wall. Lia withstood five restarts before running out of gas on the 19th lap. Adding insult to injury Lia suffered a flat tire during a pit stop for fuel. Christopher inherited the lead and went on to record the win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Arre, Kevin Goodale and JR. Swansbrough. Chris Jones won the SK Modified feature over Mike Holdridge. Christopher also finished third in the Super Late Model feature.

  Night No.2 at New Smyrna saw 22 Modifieds and 13 SKs on hand. Charlie Pasteryak got patched up and made the field for the Modified feature but others who got banged up on opening night weren’t as fortunate. Chuck Hossfeld started third and took the win after passing pole sitter Curtis Truex Jr. Truex faded in the late going and ended up finishing in 7th spot. Eric Beers recorded another runner-up finish with Ted Christopher, third. Kevin Goodale and Charlie Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Don Lia, who had high hopes of dominating the series continued to have problems as he was the victim of a spin-out and ended up in 12th spot. Mike Holdridge took the SK Modified win. Friday night’s winner Chris Jones finished 10th. In the Super Late models, Ted Christopher recorded a fifth.

  Jimmie Johnson won the Busch Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night by 0.199 seconds, averaging 181.399 miles an hour. The victory was worth $212,945, Ryan Newman, who finished second, picked up $112,445. Jeff Gordon was third in a Chevrolet followed by Tony Stewart's Chevrolet and Greg Biffle's Ford Taurus. Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Bush was sixth in a Chevrolet with fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh. Earnhardt had ignition and handling problems. A crowd estimated at 85,000 watched the race in chilly conditions at Daytona. There were five lead changes among six drivers. Greg Biffle led the most laps in the race, one time for 44 laps. Johnson led the final 16.

  Five years ago in 2010, , the official start of the 2010 Modified Racing season was supposed to have begun on Friday. Severe thunderstorms and threats of a tornado forced the speedway management to pull the plug on opening night activities. Before the rains came Modified and SK track steward Richard Brooks and his staff had over 30 cars go through tech inspection.

  The Florida skies cleared on Saturday, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Opening night at New Smyrna drew 19 tour type Modifieds and 11 sk type Modifieds. Eric Goodale was the fastest tour type Modified qualifier. Second fastest was Matt Hirschman. Rowan Pennink qualified third. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld and Ted Christopher.

  The tour type Modifieds were first up with their 25-lap feature. During hot laps Jim Zacharias spun out on the front stretch and hit the wall. Due to the redraw for the start John Jensen started on the pole with Ted Christopher on the outside. At the drop of the green Christopher jumped out in front and led the entire 25 lap distance in an event that went non-stop. Jensen finished second and was followed by Pennink, Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Hirschman, Eric Goodale, Rob Fuller, JR Bertuccio and Kevin Goodale.

  The SK type Modifieds went 20 laps. Nicole Morgillo, who started second, took the lead at the start. By lap 4, Keith Rocco, who had started 5th, took the lead with Ron Silk, second. Two laps later, Silk passed Rocco for the lead. Almost immediately, Silk was tapped by Rocco, causing the two to spin and in the process collected Morgillo, Jeffrey Gallup and Jimmy Zacharias. Silk and Zacharias were able to drive away while Rocco and Gallup had their cars towed off. David Cranmer took the lead on the restart. Silk restarted in the rear and embarked on a determined run to the front. Silk had worked his way up to third spot when he hit Zacharias who in turn hit the outside wall in the turn two area. As a result, Silk was put to the rear for rough riding. With six laps to go Cranmer led the single file restart. Cranmer led the final four laps to take the win. Silk made a move to pass Cranmer for the lead on the last lap as the cars came into turn four but backed off and settled for second. Dave Salzarulo finished third followed by Chris Jensen and Rob Schultz.

  The tour type Modifieds and the SK types had Sunday night off.

  Eric Beers had finally solidified his driving plans for 2010 as Dave and Laura DeLange of Lockport NY and John "Grandpa" Blewett, Howell NJ were going split the 2010 season as car owners with Beers as the pilot of their NASCAR Modifieds. Beers would drive the Blewett owned Modified for the two events at New Hampshire, the three at Thompson and the one race at Riverhead. He would be in the DeLange Modified at Stafford (4 times), Martinsville, Lime Rock, Monadnock, and Bristol.

  In a somewhat related matter, Jimmy Blewett would be competing during the 2010 season in the famed Dick Barney prepared #14 on the NASCAR Tour.

  One of the hot topics of conversation in the pit area at New Smyrna was a recent 36 page complaint by Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the State of New York that alleged that Suffolk (Long Island) Productions, a for- profit entity that ran telemarketing and fundraising campaigns for a host of charities was allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud by mis-representing who it is and where the money donated would go. According to the complaint over $3million was collected from 2006 to 2008.

  The report mentioned Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan as the principal defendant. Cromarty-Hallahan assumed control of the Riverhead Raceway from her parents, Barbara and Jim Cromarty, two years previous. Also listed as a defendant was Riverhead Public Relations Chief Bob Finan.

  Bob Finan addressed the story about the NY State Attorney General’s investigation of Suffolk Productions. While this company was founded by Jim Cromarty many years ago, it was now owned and run by Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan, and was a separate entity from anything to do with Riverhead Raceway. Bob went on to say this whole thing was just political posturing by someone who is running for governor and it is being litigated down at the time and it should have no effect on the operations of Riverhead Raceway in 2010 or in years to come.

  In Daytona 500 qualifying, Mark Martin won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 191.188mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the outside pole. Kevin Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout. Veteran ARCA Racing Series driver Bobby Gerhart earned a historic sixth Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 Daytona race victory on Saturday evening, using patience and fuel strategy in ARCA's wreck-filled season opener to notch his seventh-career restrictor plate victory while Danica Patrick finished sixth in her stock car debut.

  Last year, 2014, The central Florida flat lands came alive with the sound of ground pounding Modifieds this past Friday night as the Annual World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway took the green. Opening night saw 12 tour type Modifieds on hand. Tommy Barrett in his first time out put the Robert Our entry in the top spot after turning the half-mile in 17.18 seconds. Ron Silk was second fastest. Matt Hirschman's time was disqualified as his ride height did not meet track specs. Silk was the opening night winner over Jimmy Zacharias, Chuck Hossfeld, Ryan Preece and Eric Goodale. Silk started third in the 14 car field and took the lead from Jimmy Zacharias on lap 23 and ended up winning with a ten car lead. The debut of Barrett in the Our 22 lasted six laps when he was black flagged as his car was emitting sparks. Barrett ended up 12th in the final run down.

 Racing at Daytona got off to a rough start. Cool weather, a poor crowd, a high rate of attrition and a burnt up pace car were major factors.

  Denny Hamlin made a bold move by nearly driving under the yellow line on the backstretch with one and a half laps left and went on to win Saturday night’s crash-filled Sprint Unlimited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Hamlin’s Toyota finished ahead of Brad Keselowski’s Ford. Kyle Busch, who spun out in the final segment but was able to continue in the race, finished third to give Joe Gibbs Racing two cars in the top three. Joey Logano’s Ford was fourth followed by Kevin Harvick’s Chevrolet.

  That was the end result of a crash-filled event that had far too few cars running at the finish with eight of the 18 starters making it to the finish.

  The blue Chevrolet SS pace car being used by NASCAR to pace the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway caught on fire while leading the 10 remaining competitors under caution, with 54 laps in the book.

  Pace car driver and former NASCAR competitor Brett Bodine was driving at the normal speed of about 75 mph, when he suddenly dove to the apron and accelerated, apparently aware that the car was on fire, as he tried to get the SS to a fire truck. But the cockpit filled with smoke, and Bodine stopped on the apron just past turn two, and he and an unidentified NASCAR official riding in the passenger seat jumped out. Flames were visible from the car's trunk. Crews quickly extinguished the flames and the car was towed to the garage on a rollback truck.

  Austin Dillon, driving the historic No. 3 car in its return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for the first time since 2001, won the Coors Light Pole for the 56th running of the Daytona 500. Dillon, the grandson of car owner Richard Childress toured the high banked speedway at 196.019mph. Taking the outside pole position was Martin Truex jr at 195.852mph. Forty nine cars attempted to qualify.

  The Modified field increased to 15 on Saturday night but the end result mirrored Friday night as Ron Silk and the Eddie Partridge entry cleaned house again. Ryan Preece finished second with Matt Hirschman, third. Chuck Hossfeld and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Tommy Barrett was again the top time trialer. Starting third, Barrett faded and in the end finished seventh.

  Sunday night saw another 15 car Modified field. Ron Silk unseated Tommy Barrett as the top banana in qualifying. Silk toured the half mile oval in 17.133 seconds. Barrett was second fastest with a 17.154 sec lap. NASCAR’s K&N series was also on the venue. Eric Goodale came out on top. Ron Silk finished second but was disqualified for making an unauthorized tire change. Matt Hirschman was moved up to the runner-up spot. Andy Seuss was awarded third. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece and Spencer Davis.

  Modified action shifted to the Daytona International Speedway on Monday where 30 teams checked in for inspection for the second annual Battle at the Beach.

  On a sad note, long time Chief Starter at many tracks, Earl Grant passed away. He worked as a truck driver for the Teamsters out of local #56 in Fall River, MA for over thirty years, retiring in 1988. Mr. Grant was very active during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with the Northeast Midget Racing Association as a flagman throughout New England and Canada, especially at the Stafford, Thompson, Westboro and Seekonk Speedways. Earl was the recipient of the D. Anthony Vendetti Memorial Award for his dedication to the sport of auto racing.

  That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

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: February 13, 2015

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