The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

March 27, 2015

  Fifty years ago in 1965 the fabulous Sal Dee in the Flying 70 won the opening day 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. A youthful Bob Potter won the Bomber 15 lapper.

  Forty five years ago in 1970 the Waterford Speedbowl’s opening day event was rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1975, a 200 lap modified event at Hickory; N.C. was cancelled after the promoter received only 16 entries. The modifieds have never been scheduled there since. Fulton was scheduled to open for the season but ended up being cancelled because of snow.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, the season opening Ice Breaker at Thompson was rained out and was rescheduled for the following week which was Easter.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, the IceBreaker at Thompson went off without a hitch. Richie Evans took the 75 lap win over Jeff Fuller, Brian Ross and Jamie Tomaino.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, Riverside's second night of racing was rained out. At Thompson on Sunday, the rain quit and the Ice Breaker was run. Tony Hirschman took the win over Jamie Tomaino, George Kent and Jeff Fuller. The SK portion of the IceBreaker was won by Lloyd Agor.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, it was 18 degrees when the feature went off at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Chris Kopeck made it two in a row as he held off Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Ed Spiers finished third. At the Thompson IceBreaker on Sunday, Tom Cravenho became the youngest ever driver to win a Featherlite Modified Tour event. Cravenho, driving for Mario Fiore, pitted early (lap48) in the 125 lap event and took the lead after the leaders pitted on lap 71.Tony Hirschman also pitted early and ended up second. Rick Fuller finished third with Charlie Pasteryak and Steve Park rounding out the top five. John Anderson won the SK event after Ted Christopher ran out of gas on the last lap. Other IceBreaker winners were CJ Freye in the Late Models and Glenn Boss in the Strictly Stocks.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000 Wall Stadium was running and Tim Arre took the win over John Blewett III and Tom Mauser. At the Texas Motor Speedway, Mark Martin took the Grandnational win and Dale Earnhardt Jr dominated the Winston Cup division to score his first win.

  Ten years ago in 2005, with the advent of the Southern Modified Tour coming under the NASCAR blanket the NASCAR Modified season actually started on March 26 at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, North Carolina. Ted Christopher, driving the Roger and Sandra Hill No.79 took the win. Christopher, who took the role of the Hired Gun, was the fourth leader of the event. Jay Foley, a southerner, led the opening green until being overtaken by Long Islander JR. Bertuccio on lap 26. Bertuccio led until lap 37 when he was passed by another southerner, Jay Hedgecock. Hedgecock was hoping to annex a win but fell victim to engine problems after completing lap 65. Christopher, who was running second at the time, inherited the lead and never looked back as he romped to take the victory. Foley ended up second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Junior Miller and Frank Fleming rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for 27 laps.

  Hill’s Enterprises, in a surprise announcement, released Eddie Flemke JR as their driver. Flemke has been the team’s driver since 1998 and recorded 13 wins. Car owners Roger and Sandra Hill stated that the driver change does not affect the team's plans for this season, as they will once again run the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule and compete for the championship. They will also compete in select Southern Modified Tour events when the schedule allows. A deal was struck with Mike Christopher on Saturday afternoon

  Tony Hirschman announced that he would defend his title. At the end of the 2004 season Hirschman hinted that he would be backing off a bit so as to assist his son Matt who drives Modifieds in New York State. Just six months after announcing its title sponsorship of the legendary NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Whelen Engineering expanded its involvement with NASCAR’s open-wheeled racing division. Whelen, an emergency signal and lighting manufacturer based in Chester, Conn., signed a multi-year agreement to become title sponsor of the all-new NASCAR Southern Modified Tour, now known as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

  The Plainfield Connecticut Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application that would allow dozens of large-scale projects, including a domed stadium for auto racing. In a 4-1 vote, the commission approved the application by New England Raceway LLC and Connecticut Yankee Greyhound Racing Inc. Developer Eugene Arganese said he would submit plans to build a 140,000-seat domed auto racetrack after the commission acted on a second application that would incorporate 1,153 acres of residential and commercial property in the new C5 Resort/Recreational Development District. The commission postponed deciding on whether to amend the town's zoning map in the area near Exits 87 and 88 off of Interstate 395 until its April 12 meeting. The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey broke the story that two developers who want to build roughly 250 homes to replace the Wall Township Speedway are under contract to purchase the 55-year-old raceway. Town officials said it would be highly unlikely that the project is approved.

  Rookie Reed Sorenson raced to his first NASCAR Busch Series victory beating Kenny Wallace by a whopping 14.417 seconds in the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. The Nextel Cup Series was off as it was Easter weekend.

  Five years ago in 2010, while a 'noreaster was dumping over four inches of rain in New England the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series was at the Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, NC. Nineteen Modifieds were on hand for the 150 lap contest. Burt Myers won his 22nd career Coors Light Pole.

  New Hampshire invader Andy Seuss passed Burt Myers on the opening lap and went on to win round two of the southern tour. LW Miller finished second with James Civali, third. Brian Loftin and Zach Brewer rounded out the top five. In the end, Burt Myers faded to sixth. His History Channel Mad House co-stars Tim Brewer and Jason Myers finished seventh and 18th. Brown is now the series point leader. Seuss pocketed $2000 for his efforts.

  It was reported that the France Family Group, which included 46 entities ranging from members of the NASCAR-ruling France family to companies they operate, own 69.6% of the voting stock at International Speedway Corp., the company revealed in its annual proxy statement. A year ago, in 2009, the group owned 68.9%. With the majority of the voting stock, the France Family Group controls the decisions of the company. ISC Chairman Jim France controls 44.9% of the voting stock (including his shares of the France Family Group) and his late brother Bill's widow, Betty Jane France, owns 20.7%. NASCAR Chairman Brian France (Jim's nephew), who was listed as controlling only 0.23% of the voting ISC stock last year, now owns 1.3%. Executive compensation also was revealed as part of the proxy statement. Chairman Jim France's compensation package was worth $554,608, compared with $1.08 million last year when he was chairman and chief executive officer. Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy's compensation package was worth $769,780, compared with $719,146 a year ago when she was the company president. The compensation package includes salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on pay set aside for later and the value of stock options and restricted stock granted during the year.

  NASCAR announced the television schedule for its developmental series for 2010 and a partial television schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour on the Speed Channel. The expanded calendar included 21 events on SPEED for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and seven races for the Modifieds. This comprehensive package included airing of every race on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West schedules. Three of the Whelen Modified Tours will air as same-day televised events.

  NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck divisions enjoyed a weekend off.

  Last year, 2014, Based on high interest in the Valenti Modified Racing Series for 2014, series director Scott Tapley requested a mandatory tire sign-in to ensure enough tires for the Waterford opener. The rule showed 33 race teams had filed for tires. Among those entered were reigning series champion Rowan Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, PA, and defending "Blastoff" winner Steve Masse, of Bellingham. MA plus local favorite, two-time Speedbowl winner Chris Pasteryak, of Lisbon, CT, Richard Savary, of Canton, MA, Max Zachem and Berlin, CT’s, Keith Rocco, Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT., Mike Holdridge, of Madison, CT, and Dave Etheridge, of Portland, CT., are part of the opening day roster.

  In addition, Todd Szegedy, of Ridgefield, CT., will debut in Kevin Stuarts # 85 and a Long Island invasion finds Justin Bonsignore, of Islip, NY, driving Art Barry’s #21 car, and Shawn Solomito, of Islip, looking to nail down the opening day win. Eric Goodale, and Brad VanHouten of Wading River, have also entered.

  The powers that be at the Waterford Speedbowl had done some scrambling in order to make the speedbowl open on schedule. Back in January a Judge set an October 18 foreclosure auction date for the Connecticut shoreline oval. The ruling gave track owner Terry Eames some extra time to find funding to continue as owner of the track or find a buyer. The judge also ruled that the track management complies with state and town officials who have mandated that the grandstands be repaired. A re-construction project of the under pinnings of the grandstands was begun last year and was not completed leaving large sections uninhabitable and covered over with tarps and danger tape. The extreme hard winter has all but halted any work that had been planned. In the last two weeks much progress has been made and it looked as if the Waterford Speedbowl will open on the weekend as planned.

  Down in the southland, 2014 could be a record-setting year for veteran Modified racer Tim Brown. With just two more wins, the Cana, Virginia native would assume the title of the all-time wins list leader at historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Brown has been winning at "The Stadium" for more than a decade. He's won seven NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races and has finished in the top five in more than half of the races he has competed in.

  Instead of chasing more NASCAR Tour wins this season, Brown's Tour car owners Tom and Connie Lythgoe had made the decision to compete in the upstart KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series in 2014. It’s a matter of dollars and cents. The KOMA races pay $2900 to win while the Southern Mod Tour events pay $2,000.

  The first KOMA Modified event run at the Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina drew 16 Modifieds and a near full house of fans. Jason Myers defeated brother Burt to claim the first ever KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series pole. Tim Brown qualified third.

  Tim Brown took the win over Jason Myers, Burt Myers, Josh Nichols and Jimmy Zacharias. Burt Myers was running second at the lap 94 mark when he pitted. There were 20 lead changes and some confusion at the finish. It had been said that a pit stop was mandatory. Renee Dupuis was the only northerner in the field. Her night ended on lap 46 when she crashed hard into the wall.

  Race director Randy Myers stated that there was a mandatory pit stop during the race. He made sure this was relayed to teams through race officials at multiple points throughout the race as he felt it was properly mentioned but not stressed during the drivers' meeting. It was stated that the mandatory pit stop could come at any point during the race. If the caution had come out, teams could have stopped then too. In a sense tonight's confusion was caused by a lack of cautions after lap 50. The pit stop COULD include a tire swap if it came before lap 100. If the stop came after 100, the stop and go was the only allowed action. As such, Myers maintains Tim Brown as the rightful winner, having done a stop and go on lap 112. Myers understands some particular teams are unhappy about this interpretation and says he accepts responsibility for the issue at hand.

  Kyle Larson, who began his racing career on dirt tracks in California, survived an intense battle with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veterans Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the closing laps of Saturday’s 300 to earn his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. He backed it up with a runner-up finish behind Kyle Bush in the Sunday Sprint Cup event.

  Congratulations went to Mike Joy who was voted upon and named as the Best NASCAR Announcer by the Sporting News. Joy, who was an accomplished sports-car racer, spent 14 years (1977-1990) at Motor Racing Network and had spent 30 years as part of the NASCAR broadcasts at CBS, TNT and Fox. He has been the play-by-play announcer with Fox since the network began televising NASCAR races in 2001. Before his days at Motor Racing Joy was the announcer at the Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, MA, the announcer and Public Relations at the Stafford Motor Speedway and the announcer at the Thompson Speedway. Mike Joy is one of the nicest guys along with being one of the humblest. Mike always gives credit to those around him and embraces the team he is on and above all has never forgotten where he came from.

  The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park announced that Spencer, MA based Victory Lane Radio will embark on a first-of-its-kind program which will allow fans to listen to live lap-by-lap coverage, from the drop of the first green flag to the waving of the last checker flag, free of charge.

  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

Source: Phil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: March 27, 2015

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