The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

April 17, 2015

  Sixty years ago in 1955 Don Collins made it two in a row in Modified action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault followed suit as he made it two in a row in non-Ford action at the Conn. shoreline oval.

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 Wild Bill Slater, driving the famous Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8, was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at what was called then, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Newt Palm was victorious in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Sal Dee became an early season repeat winner as he notched the 35 lap Modified win at Waterford. Bill Scrivner was the Bomber winner.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, Martinsville ran their spring 100 lap modified event on Saturday afternoon. To no ones surprise, Ray Hendrick took the win over Jerry Cook, Jimmy Hensley and Fred DeSarro. Stafford ran twin 25's on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, driving the Koszela NO.15 took the opener over Bob Melnick and Ed Yerrington. Yerrington came back to win the nightcap despite a lot of pressure from Bill Greco and Don Flynn. At Fonda, Jerry Pennock and Lou Lazzaro shared victory lane .Don Wayman finished second to Pennock and was followed by Lee Millington and Rene Charland and Bob Langevan. Cook managed to fly back to Fonda where he recorded a sixth. At Thompson on Sunday, Bugsy Stevens and Moose Hewitt shared victory lane as they both won 25 lap events. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Glynn Shafer took the Modified win while Larry Crandall was victorious in the Late Model Daredevils.

  Forty years ago in 1975, the Modifieds ran at Beltsville on Friday night. Joe Thurman took the win over Geoff Bodine, Billy Hensley and Jerry Cook. Richie Evans ran out of gas and finished 10th.Evans made up for Beltsville on Saturday night as he took the win at Shangri-La. George Kent finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, third. Evans gambled that it would rain at Fulton and he hit it right as he headed for Franklin County in Virginia for a Sunday afternoon event. John Bryant took the top spot over Joe Thurman and Ray Hendrick. Evans had problems and finished 11th. Blast Off ’75 at the Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, the only weekend action was at Shangri-La where Jerry Cook took an 80 lap win over Richie Evans and George Kent. A dispute over race purses between competitors and Wall Stadium owners caused track owners to cancel racing indefinitely.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, all eyes were on Riverside Park where Doug Hevron, in the Mario Fiore N0.44, took an 85 lap win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Ted Riggott, third. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Neil Bonnett took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, Stan Greger was the Saturday night winner at Riverside Park. Tom Bolles finished second and was followed by Dan Avery, Bob Polverari and Steve Park. Stafford ran their Sizzler on Sunday. A glorious day turned to sadness when Tony Jankowiac lost his life in a bad crash. Mike Stefanik was the eventual winner and was followed by Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Brett Bodine scored his first Winston Cup Win

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Reggie Ruggiero broke Chris Kopec's streak at Riverside as he won the 50 lap main event on Saturday night. Chris Young took the opener at Riverhead over Lenny Fischer and John Fortin. Mike Ewanitsko in the Art Barry No.21 won the 200 lap Spring Sizzler on Sunday by a large margin over Rick Fuller and Mike Stefanik. Reggie Ruggiero led the first 70 laps before going down one lap because of worn tires. Ewanitsko took the lead from Fuller in turn two on lap 178.Dan Avery finished fourth and Satch Worley rounded out the top five. Steve Park won the 80 lap-SK-Mod Feature. Last but not least, DIRT Legend, Barefoot Bob McCreadie scored his 400th career win at Canadaigua Speedway on Sunday night.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000, it was Easter weekend. Scheduled events at Riverhead, Wall and Waterford were rained out.

  Ten years ago in 2005, The Waterford Speedbowl ran under clear but cool skies. Rob Summers made up for the previous weeks disappointment as he won the SK Modified feature. Summers never got to race on opening night as his engine expired during a qualifying heat. Summers started on the pole. Mike Finkeldey had a career high second place finish. Finkeldey now had Rick Ceravolo as his crew chief. Rob Janovic, Jay Miller and Kurt Lenehan rounded out the top five. Carl Eriksson edged Bruce Thomas for the Late Model win and Jim Procaccini was the Sportsman winner. George Whitney took the victory in the Legends Car feature.

  In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, Eric Beers, driver of the Boehler Racing Enterprises No.3 was on the mend at his home in North Hampton, PA after suffering a broken collar bone and hairline fractures of two ribs at the Thompson Ice Breaker. Beers stated that he hoped to be in competition at Stafford the following weekend and would like it to be known that his LaJoie seat and the rugged construction of the Boehler No.3 saved him from what could have been severe injuries. After much thought it was decided by Beers and car owner Mike Boehler to put Todd Szegedy in Ole Blu for the Sizzler.

  Connecticut Speedway Developer Gene Arganese was forced to wait until April 25 to learn what property will be rezoned to establish the resort/recreational development (C-5) zones he needs to build his proposed racetrack and convention center in the town of Plainfield. On April 12 the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to delay a decision on creating the zones on land off Interstate 395 exits 87 and 88 until the Town Planner could define more clearly the properties that could be included in the zones.

  In some sad news it was learned that Leon Drake, known better as Leo Hill, passed away on April 9 at the age of 66. For many years Drake’s garage in North Stonington Ct housed the Modified driven by Johnny Thompson at the Norwood Arena and later at Thompson and Stafford. Drake was a Plumber by trade and was also a welder and steel fabricator as he did numerous repairs and built more than his share of race cars including a replacement V-8 for Bill Slater when he was hurt at Thompson in the late 60’s.

  Greg Biffle won the Nextel Cup event at the Texas Motorspeedway. Kasey Kahne was the Busch Series winner. Junior Miller won the Whelen Southern Modified Tour 100 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina,

  Five years ago in 2010, the Waterford Speedbowl began their Saturday night racing series with Keith Rocco making it two in a row in the SK Modifieds. Prior to the event Rocco indicated that his car did not have a Jerico Racing Transmission. He stated his car was equipped with a Saginaw 3-speed transmission. Rocco's big secret is the fact that his car out-handles his competition, especially in the outside groove.

  Dan Field and Allen Coates repeated in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock and Truck divisions. Other winners were Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Street Stocks and Giovanni Giarratana in the Legends Cars.

  A full field of SK Modifieds went to post for the 35 lap main event. Rocco, who started 12th, took the lead from former Legends Car track champion Mark Bakaj on lap 20. For the remaining 15 laps Rocco was on cruise control. Justin Gaydosh ended up in second with Rob Janovic third. Bakaj ran up front all night to finish fourth and Jeff Paul rounded out the top five. Todd Ceravolo, who finished second on opening day, was headed to the front to muster a challenge, had the misfortune of having an engine go bad which forced him to drop out. Ceravolo was credited with a 23rd finish.

  The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour visited the South Boston Speedway in Virginia last Saturday for a 150 lap event. Connecticut native James Civali, driving the Roger and Sandra Hill No. 79 took the victory after withstanding a late race charge from LW Miller. Civali and Miller were out front for most of the race as the pair swapped the lead eight times with Miller getting past Civali for the final time on Lap 144. Civali was able to get back by on Lap 147 and hold on for the win. Miller finished second, while Andy Seuss recovering from an early-race accident that took him out of the lead to finish third. Thomas Stinson was fourth. Zach Brewer, who won his first Coors Light Pole Award with a track record of 14.765 seconds (97.528 mph), finished fifth. Tim Brown finished sixth. He started on the point after drawing the pole in the post-qualifying redraw of the top eight spots, but was involved in the early accident with Seuss. John Smith, Burt Myers, Brian King and Brian Loftin completed the top 10.

  Kevin Harvick took advantage of a late caution to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. Harvick and crew chief Ernie Cope gambled by taking two tires when the eighth yellow flag of the day came out with 34 laps to go. That enabled Harvick to seize the lead from Kyle Busch, who was unable to mount a challenge as the race wound down. Harvick, strong on long runs all day, led three times for 52 laps, including the final 34.

  Harvick, driving his own Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, beat Reed Sorenson by 0.2 seconds. Busch, who beat Harvick in the Trucks race on Friday night, was third. Justin Allgaier, coming off a victory two weeks ago at Bristol, was fourth, and Brad Keselowski rallied to finish fifth.

  There were eight cautions for 43 laps including a five-car pileup that brought out a 14-minute red flag. Two cautions involved rookie James Buescher and veteran Jason Leffler. They tangled in turn two early in the race and Leffler was ejected later after crashing Buescher into the wall on the front straightaway. NASCAR's Sprint Cup division was off in observance of Easter.

  Last year, 2014, The main event in New England was the running of the re-scheduled Blast Off at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday and Sunday. Literally tons of cars from New England and Long Island were at the Connecticut shoreline oval. In total, 13 race divisions saw action on the three-eighths mile oval, with seven feature races run Saturday evening.

  Keith Rocco hit a home run as he went three for three on Sunday as he won the SK Modified 64 lap Blast Off, the Late Model feature and the 100 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series 100. Rocco, clearly the class of the field in all three divisions, took the lead in the 64 lap SK Modified feature on lap 10. He started on the pole in the 100 lap VMRS event and led every lap.

  Following Rocco in the SK 64 lapper was Craig Lutz, Kyle James, Ted Christopher and Shawn Thibeault. Chris Pasteryak finished second to Rocco in the Valenti Mods, Todd Szegedy finished third with Jeff Rocco, fourth and Max Zachem, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Mike Holdridge, Eric Goodale, Anthony Nocella, Todd Annarummo and Mike Willis, Jr. In the Late Model feature Bruce Thomas finished second with Jason Palmer, third. Glenn Boss and Vince Esposito rounded out the top five. Sixth through twelfth were Jeff Smith, Anthony Ryan, Nick Sowa, Joe Gada, Mike Sweeney, Rich Duranti and Ryan Morgan.

  Qualifying for Sunday’s six big events took place Saturday afternoon. Leading the way were the Rocco brothers, as Jeff and Keith each picked up heat race wins in the Valenti Modified Racing series. Ted Christopher won the Series’ third heat race while Justin Bonsignore won the 15-lap consolation race. Jeff Rocco followed up his strong Valenti Modified run by earning pole position honors for Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® division’s 64-lap race which commemorates the track’s number of years in operation. He won his qualifying race in that division as well, joining Christopher and Todd Ceravolo as winners in the three qualifiers.

  In features run on Saturday night at Waterford, Rick Williams scored a first-ever victory in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified race. Dylan Izzo continued his domination of the INEX Legend Cars division winning for the second straight week while Zach Thomas and Jon Porter won for consecutive weeks in the X-Car and Super X-Cars, respectively. In touring series races, P.J. Stergios of Candia, NH won the NEMA Lite feature and Chris Turbush of Riverhead, NY won the NewEngland Truck Series race. Oakdale’s Derek Debbis checkered the INEX Bandolero feature for the youth racing class.

  There were 33 Valenti Modified Racing Series Modifieds on hand. The SK Modified car count totaled 25. The next event for the Valenti Modified Racing Series is a 100 lapper at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was off as competitors made preparations for the upcoming Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway on April 27. While most of the Modified teams enjoyed the weekend off their southern counter parts were racing at the Langley Speedway in Virginia.

  George Brunnhoelzl III led the final 67 laps of the 150 lap event after passing points leader Andy Seuss, and survived a green-white-checkered finish for his first win of the season. Twice in the first three races, Brunnhoelzl finished second to Seuss. It also extended Brunnhoelzl's tour record for career wins to 21. Seuss came home second and David Calabrese was third. Luke Fleming and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Seuss took the lead on Lap 62 from Ryan Preece, who won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day. Burt Myers was sixth, followed by rookies Bobby Measmer Jr. and Joe Ryan Osborne, Jason Myers and Gary Putnam. There were 17 cars on hand.

  Chase Elliott drove around Elliott Sadler on the last lap of Friday’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway to score his second-straight series victory.

  Kevin Harvick turned around all the bad luck he has faced in the last five weeks by winning Saturday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Harvick dominated at the 1.366-mile oval Saturday after starting from the pole, leading 239 of 374 laps.

  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 17, 2015

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