The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

April 3, 2015

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Joe Trudeau won the 25 lap Sunday afternoon Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Scrivner was the Bomber feature winner.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, the Waterford Speedbowl had their scheduled opener rained out for the second week in a row. It stayed dry long enough for Fulton to get their opener in. Guy Chartrand in the Ed Cloce Hemi-Cuda took the win over Lou Lazzaro. At South Boston in Virginia, Ray Hendrick won a 400 lap modified event. Billy Hensley finished second and was followed by Jimmy Hensley, Melvin Chilton and Satch Worley.

  Forty years ago in 1975, the only event scheduled was the Fulton opener, which ended up getting snowed out for the second week in a row. The Ontario Speedway Operating Company in California headed by Parnelli Jones and Tony Hulman turned over the keys to the speedway on March 31 after having two non-profit seasons. The City of Ontario, which owns the speedway, took over the day to day operation of the track. This was the beginning of the end for the west coast racing facility.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Thompson ran the IceBreaker on Easter Sunday after being rained out the week before. John Rosati took the modified win over Bugsy Stevens, Bentley Warren and Roland LaPierre Jr. Jeff Fuller was the Late Model winner.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, Chargin Charlie Jarzombek won the rained out Cardinal 200 at Martinsville. Doug Hevron finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer, Brett Bodine and Jamie Tomaino. Brett Bodine won the Sportsman 200.At Riverside on Saturday night; Kenny Bouchard took the win over Ray Miller and John Rosati.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, Jerry Marquis was the Saturday night winner at Riverside Park. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was in Richmond, Va. Ricky Fuller, driving the Chase 77 took the win which carried a prize of $17,800.Mike McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty and Jamie Tomaino.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, three inches of snow fell on Riverside Park causing officials to cancel the event. At New Hampshire International the Featherlite Modifieds and the Busch North Series were the main attractions. Mike Stefanik scored a convincing win in the BGNN portion. Stub Fadden finished second and was followed by Brian Ross, Kelly Moore and Jerry Marquis. In the modified portion, Mike Ewanitsko started 8th and took the lead from Charlie Pasteryak on lap 92 of the 125 lap event and went on to take the win. Satch Worley in the Garbarino No.4 finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Ed Kennedy and Jan Leaty. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Dale Earnhardt took the win over Jeff Gordon.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000, Lee Petty passed away at the age of 86 and Jeff Fuller was fired from his Winston Cup ride. In Grandnational action at Nashville, Randy LaJoie ended a long dry spell as he took the win. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Rusty Wallace dominated the event until blowing a tire in the late stages and losing two laps which allowed Mark Martin to take the win.

  Ten years ago in 2005, The Waterford Speedbowl was scheduled to host the opening event in New England on Saturday and Sunday. The main event of the weekend was to be the Waterford Nationals-150 lap SK-Modified event. The Speedbowl had posted a $20,000 purse with $5,000 going to the winner. The forecast of torrential downpours, up to four inches of rain, forced the Speedbowl management to postpone the weekend’s Budweiser Modified Nationals. The event, which included the lucrative SK-150, was been re-scheduled for May 21-22. In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, Eddie Flemke didn’t stay without a ride for long as it was announced that he would be driving the Teto No.10 that was formerly driven by Tony Papale. Flemke’s former mount, the Hillbilly Racing No.79 took on a new color scheme highlighted by florescent orange with white trim. Long Island racer JR Bertuccio was expected to run at least the first three Whelen Modified Tour events in the Bear Motorsports No. 14. Bertuccio competes weekly in a family owned Modified at the Riverhead Raceway. Reports state that 2003 Whelen Modified Tour Champion Todd Szegedy had relocated to Mooresville, North Carolina and was working for Robert Yates Racing in the Shock Absorber department. Szegedy is hoping to secure a Busch Series or ARCA ride.

  Several Modified Tour teams took advantage of Thursday’s practice session at the Thompson Speedway. Chuck Hossfeld and Mike Stefanik were shaking down their new rides along with Chris Kopec, Renee Dupuis, Ted Christopher, Howie Brode, Don Lia, Charlie Pasteryak, Kevin Goodale and Ricky Fuller. According to NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks there were a total of 87 cars on hand.

  The Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series event that was scheduled for the Ace Speedway in Elkin, NC on Saturday night was rained out. The Southern Modifieds ran a non-sanctioned 125-lap event at the Friendship Speedway, also in North Carolina, on Sunday. Ted Christopher in the Hills Enterprises Hillbilly Racing No.79 took the win. Christopher drove his Hillbilly Racing Modified to the win in the 125 lap feature for the Modifieds. Christopher snatched the win from L. W. Miller when Millers modified was caught up in a mid race accident involving several cars. Miller's car was clipped by another spinning car after the caution flew. Rear end damage ended Miller's day after leading the first 87 laps. Miller had pretty much had his way until that point with some pressure from Donnie Lia, another invader from the Northeast. Caution periods kept the race close and after each restart, Miller has to fend off the challenges of first Lia then Christopher. After Miller's early exit, Christopher led a pack that included Jay Foley, Earl Baker, Burt and Jason Myers and FMS “rookie” challenger, Zach Brewer. Foley had a couple of chances at the number 9 of Christopher but after a few laps “Teddy” would manage to pull away. Foley had his hands full near the end of the race with Burt Myers until lap 113 when Myers got a run on the inside of Foley but contact between the two cars sent Myers into the inside wall and out of the race. Foley hung on to finish second with Jason Myers third, Brewer fourth and Baker fifth. A scoring recheck after the event moved Bob Park to 5 th followed by Bobby Hinkle, Baker, D. J. Krentz, Kevin Powell and Lia who was penalized for passing on the wrong side on a restart. Caution flew eleven times for 57 laps. The 125 lapper took 1 hour, nine minutes and 31 seconds to complete. L. W. Miller led laps 1 through 87 and the winner led 88 through 128. Foley was the winner of the “Bud Pole Award” for the Modifieds. Seven cars finished on the lead lap. Twenty-six Modifieds took the green flag.

  Kevin Harvick scored double victories at Bristol as he won the Busch Series and Nextel Cup events.

  Five years ago in 2010, The only short track Modified racing the second annual Frostbite Winter Nationals at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC. A sparse field of only 15 Modifieds were on hand for the 125 lap event. Matt Hirschman was the top qualifier. Burt Myers was second fastest. The draw for starting positions saw Burt Myers draw the pole and Brian King the outside pole. Drawing starting positions three through five were Jason Myers, Hirschman and James Civali. King got the best of Burt Myers and went on to take the win. Myers tried his best but in the end had to settle for the second spot. Finishing third was Ted Christopher driving the Joe Brady #00. Zach Brewer finished fourth with Josh Nichols, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Jason Myers, James Civali, Jimmy Zacharias, Scott Rigney and Gary Young. Among those eliminated in the early going were Hirschman and George Brunnhoelzl III who finished 14th and 15th respectively.

  It was learned that Burt Myers, one of the stars of the History Channel reality series "Mad House" has made his intentions known that he will head north to race in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series opener, IceBreaker 2010 at the Thompson Speedway. Myers has never run at Thompson but has competed against many of the top runners of the series at Martinsville.

  The Hartford Courant has stated that Bobby Santos III had been hired by Bob Garbarino to drive the Mystic Missile on the Whelen Modified Tour Series this year. Its a great opportunity for the third generation driver who has won in just about every division he has ever raced in including the Modified Tour. Driving the Mighty No. 3 of Mike and Janice Boehler, Santos won the season ending World Series at Thompson in 2007.
Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Whelen Modified Tours Series would visit the road course at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut came word that dogs, the four legged variety, would not be allowed on the property. Evidently track management got sick and tired of picking up the land mines that had been left behind!

  In some sad news, Richard "Moon" Burgess passed-away on Wednesday, March 17 after suffering a serious stroke earlier in the month. Burgess started his career in the midgets during the 1940’s, switching to stock cars later in the decade. He competed with success at virtually every track in the region including Thompson, Waterford, Plainville, Riverside Park, Kingston, Candlelight Stadium, Cherry Park, West Haven, and others. Burgess experienced his greatest degree of success while behind the controls of the potent “Flying Eagle” #1 coupe. He retired from the sport in 1953 after a relatively brief but spectacular career in which he won over 200 races including 63 feature events.

  Justin Allgaier passed Brad Keselowski on a restart with 27 laps remaining in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Bristol, then held him off over the closing laps to give Penske Racing its first 1-2 finish in the Nationwide Series. It was Dodge's first win at Bristol since August 2007.

  In Sprint Cup action at Bristol, Jimmie Johnson finally knocked Bristol off his to-do list, plowing from sixth to first in just three laps to grab his first career victory at the revered Tennessee track.

  Last year, 2014, Budweiser Blastoff Weekend which would have marked the start of the 64th consecutive season of racing at the 1/3 mile Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to the forecast of heavy rain for the entire weekend on the east coast. The National Weather Service reported that 2.75 inches rain fell in the Waterford, Ct area on Saturday. Blastoff Weekend was supposed to open the season of racing with the Valenti Modified Racing Series, Northeastern Midget Association and the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing divisions along with many more.

  Rain also wiped out the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series Prestoria Farms 150 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. A makeup date for the event will be determined at a later date.

  The Thompson Speedway hosted a private test session before the rains came on Friday. Word has it that Woody Pitkat looked extremely stout in the Buzz Chew No.88 that was powered by a spec engine. Others said to be testing included Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher and Doug Coby.

  On a sad note Mrs. Irene Venditti, 94 passed away in her sleep on Friday, March 28. Considered by many to be the First Lady of Auto Racing, Irene was instrumental in the success of the Seekonk Speedway, working tireless alongside her husband, D. Anthony, until his death in 1991. They were married 53 years. Irene continued to be involved with the running of the speedway and in 2012 she was inducted into the New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame. She graduated from Hope High in Providence, RI and married D. Anthony Venditti in 1938. She is survived by 3 of her 4 children, Adrienne, a registered nurse, Francis, a raceway director, & Annie, designer. Her younger son, Anthony tragically passed away in 1980. She is survived by 7 grand-children and 6 great-grand children.

  For the first 6 years of their marriage Irene and Anthony were reluctant chicken farmers until Anthony, determined to make a better life for his family , decided to build a racetrack in his backyard. That dream became a reality when Seekonk Speedway opened it’s gates in 1946. Today the track holds the title of being the oldest consecutively family run track in the country.

  Her funeral was held on Wednesday at 9:00 AM from the PERRY-McSTAY FUNERAL HOME, 2555 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 AM in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Taunton Avenue, Seekonk. Burial was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Calling hours will be held on Tuesday from 5-8.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Martinsville, Kurt Busch led only three times for 23 of the 500 laps, including the final 11. Jimmie Johnson led 11 times for 296 laps, but fell just short for the second consecutive weekend. (He dominated at Auto Club Speedway before a late-race tire issue cost him a near-certain victory). Toward the end he led laps 348-449, then trailed Clint Bowyer for laps 450-460. He led again 461-472, yielded to Busch for 473-482 and took the lead again for lap 483-489. Busch got by at 490 and led the rest of the way.

  Johnson settled for second. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third in a Chevrolet, then Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose in Fords. After qualifying 10th, Danica Patrick immediately slipped backward through the field. She was lapped early and often en route to finishing 31st, six laps behind.

  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: April 3, 2015

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