The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

May 29, 2015

  Sixty five years ago in 1950 the Wall Stadium in Belmar, NJ ran their first Modified race on the high banked speedway. Frankie Schneider took the win. Although not an exact copy, Wall Stadium was patterned after the Lonsdale Sports Arena speedway that was located northwest of Providence, RI.

  Sixty years ago in 1955, rain washed out the Saturday night racing program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The following Wednesday, Phil Mitchell in his powerful six cylinder Modified took the win. Lou Tetreault made it six out of 7 in the non-Fords.

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 George Janoski and Bill Slater won the opening night NASCAR Modified features at the Stafford Springs Speedway. It was the beginning of the second year that NASCAR sanctioned races at the Connecticut oval. Slater carried his winning ways over to Saturday night at the Norwood Arena where he made it five features in a row at the fast ¼ mile oval. Buddy Krebs inherited the lead from Joe Paleski on lap 72 of a 100 lapper at Riverside Park. Gene Bergin finished second and was so exausted that he passed out in the pit area moments after the finish. Jerry Humiston finished third and was followed by Bill Guerney, Jocco Maggiacomo and Eddie Flemke. Local favorite Don Collins was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the Non-Ford winner and Newt Palm made it three in a row in the Bombers. Waterford also ran on Monday. Collins and Webster continued their win streaks as they each won twin features that were part of the Memorial Day program.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Don Wayman continued the domination of the New York drivers as he recorded the Friday night Modified win on the dirt at Stafford. Rain washed out the racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. Waterford scheduled an event for Monday which was won by Charlie Webster. Bob Potter was the Bomber winner.Irv Taylor took the win at Fonda on Saturday night. Sunday night at Utica-Rome Rene Charland scored his second win as he held off Jerry Cook and Eddie Flemke SR.

  Forty five years ago in 1970 Walt Dombrowski made it two in a row at the Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 36 lap Spring Modified Championship. Mike Daignault was the Late Model Daredevil winner.

  Forty years ago in 1975, it was the first night back for the big tires at Stafford. Stafford had been running under a tire rule that mandated a narrow width which was supposed to be more economical for the car owners and provide better competition. Ronnie Bouchard in the Bob Johnson No.17 wasted little time in his run to the front and when all was said and done, came home the winner. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens, Bob Vee and John Rosati. At Islip, Jerry Bartlet took the win over Charlie Siebert and Fred Harbach. George Kent beat out Jerry Cook and Sonney Seamon at Shangri-La in the first of twin events. Richie Evans won the nitecap over Billy Colton and Cook. Dick Dunn, in the Albert Gaudreau No.3 took the Modified win at the Waterford Speedbowl. At Fulton on Sunday, Maynard Troyer was the top dog over Evans, Mike Loescher and Cook. In open competition small block Modified action at Thompson on Sunday, Steady Eddie Flemke broke Fred DeSarro's win streak. DeSarro finished second with John Rosati, third. Because of light crowds, the Stafford management announced that they were dropping their General Admission price to $4.00 starting on June 7.Also on this weekend, the formation of the New England-Yankee All Star League was announced.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Richie Evans made it three in a row at Stafford as he continued to be unbeatable. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Evans carried his winning ways over to Riverside Park on Saturday as he won out over Reggie Ruggiero and Ray Miller. Geoff Bodine was also on a tear as he went three for three as he won on Friday at Spencer Speedway, Saturday at Shangri-la Speedway and on Sunday at the Oswego Speedway. In other weekend action, Bugsy Stevens won at Westboro, Mike Beebe at Waterford, Charlie Jarzombek at Islip, Bruce Batchelder at Claremont, Tony Siscone at Wall and New Evergreen, Ronnie Bouchard at Monadnock and Roger Treichler at Lancaster.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, Brian Ross in his own No.73 won the Memorial Day 100 at Stafford on Friday night over Charlie Jarzombek. At Waterford two features were on tap. Rodney Tulba won the first over John Anderson and Ted Christopher, the nitecap. At Riverside Park it was Bob Polverari and at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was Bob Park over Wayne Anderson. And at Wall Stadium, Tony Siscone was the king of the hill. Richie Evans won twin events at Shangri-La and Doug Hewitt was victorious at Spencer. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Darrell Waltrip won both the Winston and the WC 500.Tim Richmond was the Busch Grandnational winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, the modified tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for a 100 lapper which turned into a yawner as Jeff Fuller went pole to pole in an event that saw hardly any passing. Rick Fuller finished second with Tom Bolles, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Harry Rice beat out Jim Broderick for the win and at Riverside Park it was Reggie Ruggiero over Jerry Marquis. At Riverhead it rained and at Shangri-La, Jan Leaty went pole to pole to win out over Tony Hirschman and George Kent. The Oswego Speedway ran the Richie Evans 100 for the Modifieds without a NASCAR sanction and the car count reflected NASCAR's drawing power as only 19 cars were on hand. With many of the top guns missing, it was a good show that saw five different leaders before Jan Leaty took the checker. Chip Graves finished second with Lee Sherwood, third. At Monadnock, also on Sunday, Mike Stefanik won out over Tom Bolles.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, the Featherlite Modifieds were at Stafford for a 150 lapper. Mike Stefanik took the lead on lap 72 and never looked back. Charlie Pasteryak finished a strong second and was followed by Satch Worley, Mike Ewanitsko and Rick Fuller. Bob Potter took the 50 lap SK event after Ted Christopher and Ed Flemke Jr tangled with six laps to go. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bert Marvin passed Moose Hewitt at the half way mark of the 35 lap feature and went on to take the win. Bob Potter ended up third with Jim Broderick, third. Ted Riggot took the win at Riverside Park and Ed Brunnhoelzl won out over Don Howe at Riverhead. George Kent won at Tioga and at Seekonk, veteran retired driver Tex Barry passed away after suffering a heart attack shortly after his son won the Pro Stock feature there. In other action, Bentley Warren won the Little 500 at Anderson, Indiana and a Supermodified event at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000, Eddie Flemke Jr used an early pit stop to his advantage as he brought the Hill Enterprises No.79 home in the top spot at the Featherlite Modified Tour 150 at Stafford. Flemke pitted on lap 59 and when the rest of the field stopped on lap 85 he found himself in the lead which he never gave up. Tim Connolly finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, LW Miller, Chris Kopec and Ted Christopher. Christopher overcame being put to the rear during the early going of the SK modified 50 lapper and took the lead in that event with one to go. At Waterford on Saturday, Jeff Pearl beat out Ed Reed Jr for the win and in SK Mod action at Thompson on Sunday; Christopher won out over Todd Ceravolo and Bert Marvin. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Matt Kenseth took the win. Jeff Burton was the GN winner. Five pit crew members were injured during a pre-race pyro show. In Daytona Beach, a group of blacks picketed NASCAR headquarters when the sanctioning body refused an entry of a black driver In all fairness to NASCAR the driver in question was very slow in a practice session at Martinsville and wasn't even close to being competitive. They made the right decision!

  Ten years ago in 2005 the Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Stafford on Friday night only to get rained on. Forty-one Modifieds were on hand. Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole fastest qualifier as he toured the half-mile oval in 18.25 seconds. Tony Hirschman was second fastest with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Nevin George and Eric Beers rounded out the top five. The event was rescheduled for Sunday, July 3.In some good news it was learned that Mike Ewanitsko would be returning to the Whelen Modified Tour Series wars at Stafford on August 2 or at Thompson on August 18. Ewanitsko was scheduled to be driving for Ed Whelen. Ewanitsko was forced out of competition because of vision problems caused by sugar diabetes. With his problems behind him he felt he was ready to rejoin the tour.

  The Waterford Speedbowl finally got a break from the weatherman, as they were able to complete a Saturday night program. Dennis Gada ended a yearlong dry spell as he held of Ted Christopher to record his 47th career win at the shoreline oval. Christopher attempted to rattle Gada with a few love taps with his bumper but it was all for naught. Christopher settled for second and was followed by Ron Yuhas jr, Rob Janovic and Jay Miller. John Puglisi won the 20-lap Sportsman feature, which went pole to pole without a caution. Bill Gertsch Jr. was second and Joe Curioso was third. Phil Evans picked up his second Mini Stock win of the year in the 20-lap feature. Evans started 12th, passed Bill Leonard for the lead with eight laps to go. Leonard finished second, followed by Joe Godbout. Moose Douton led every lap in winning the 30-lap Late Model feature. Defending division champion Corey Hutchings, making his first start of the season, was second. Mark St. Hilaire was third, followed by Charles Bailey III and Allen Coates. Lou Ciccone dominated the 50-lap International Supermodified Association (ISMA) feature. The main buzz around the Speedbowl was still the possible sale of the property in which the track is located. There were people out there that wanted to buy the track and keep it in its present form. Track PR man Pete Zanardi alluded to the fact that no track is safe forever from being sold and added that the closing of the track was a premature conclusion as it has been stated that racing would continue through 2005 and quite possibly 2006.

In other racing, Kirk Alexander came from a dead last starting spot to win the True Value Modified Series event at the Seekonk Speedway and Tom Rogers and JR Bertuccio shared victory lane at the Riverhead Raceway. Jimmie Johnson won the World 600 Nextel Cup event and Kyle Busch won the Busch 300. Dan Weldon won the Indianapolis 500. Female driver Danica Patrick almost won it as she finished fourth.

  Five years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on "Spring Break". Selected drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour participated in a test held by Hoosier Tire at Lime Rock Park. In preparation for the Whelen Modified Tour’s inaugural visit to Lime Rock Park on July 3, drivers Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Bobby Santos and Todd Szegedy took part in four 20-minute sessions throughout the afternoon at the Connecticut road course.

  Selected drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Southern Modified Tours participated in a test held by Hoosier Tire on Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. In preparation for the second running of the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 combination race for both Whelen Modified Tours, Whelen Modified Tour veteran Mike Stefanik, along with Southern Tour regulars James Civali and Burt Myers took part in the all-day session.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway returned to racing action with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program on Friday, May 14th. Woody Pitkat picked up his first win of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature that ended up being a war of words between Pitkat and runner-up Ted Christopher. Dillon Moltz got win number two of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano, 15, scored his first career victory in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande was the second first time career winner of the night by taking the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  Racing at the Waterford Speedbowl is a five letter word, ROCCO. Keith Rocco continued his dominance by winning for the fifth time in six event in the 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl Saturday night. Rocco out handled and out drove Ron Yuhas JR on lap 25 and survived three restarts as he continued his domination of the SK Modified division at the shoreline oval. Yuhas held on for a runner-up finish. Tyler Chadwick, Rob Janovic Jr and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.

  Other feature winners were 18-year-old Chris Meyer in the Street Stock event, Ken Cassidy Jr. in the Mini-Stock event, Allen Coates in the truck and Anthony Flannery in the Legends Cars race.

  The Bowman-Gray Stadium, known as the MADHOUSE, in Winston-Salem NC had scheduled twin 25 lap features for their Modified division. Local runner Lee Jeffreys was the fastest in qualifying with a lap of 13.433 seconds (67.0 mph) on the quarter-mile track, and he started from the pole position in the first Modified race as a result. Jeffreys went pole to pole for his 15th career victory. Burt Myers finished second, Jonathan Brown third, Randy Butner fourth and Tim Brown fifth. The night cap event was rained out.

  The NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in Charlotte, NC. In celebration of this event the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran a 100 lap NASCAR Modified event. Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Ron Silk took top honors in the event after waging a heated battle with Tom Rogers. Silk and car owner Eddie Partridge walked off with $3,025. Wayne Anderson, 63, 1994 NASCAR national modified champion suffered a heart attack while competing in the 100 lap race Saturday night at Riverhead, NY Raceway. Anderson was revived by the track crew. He was removed to St. Vincent's hospital where he is said to be in "stable" condition. From Medford, N.Y. Wayne, who had been racing since 1965, is the son of the late legend, Axel Anderson.

  In Sprint Cup action at Dover Kyle Busch swapped the lead with Jimmy Johnson throughout most of the 400-mile race run in front of thousands of empty seats. Busch missed the tripleheader sweep on the one-mile concrete track by just a couple gallons of gas. He was in position to win the Trucks Series race on Friday but ran out of gas at the end. He easily took the checkered flag in Saturday's Nationwide series race as he raced about 800 miles in three days. Jeff Burton was second and Matt Kenseth third. Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann rounded out the top five.

  It looked like O. Bruton Smith, owner of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH was ready to go to battle stations with the New Hampshire Governor along with State and local police. The town of Loudon was looking to be paid $174,500 for police and fire coverage, the same cost as the September 2009 race weekend. Bruton Smith believed adequate coverage could be provided for $75,000. Jerry Gappens, the speedway's executive vice president stated that none of Smith's seven other speedways has to pay for local emergency services. Smith says he will pay for police and fire for June's race at $75,000.

  Even after the governor assembled a committee to deal with New Hampshire Motor Speedway's concerns about the cost of police and fire coverage at the track, the speedway and Loudon police Chief Bob Fiske were about $100,000 apart on the cost of covering next month's NASCAR race weekend.

  The Loudon NASCAR weekend runs from June 23 to June 27. With a little over a month to go there was still plenty of time to resolve the disagreement. When it comes to dealing with state and local authorities Smith is as tough as nails and in most cases gets his way. Smith has the power and the money to plow the Loudon Racetrack under and move it to another state if he has to. The state of New Hampshire and the towns around the speedway needed to realize how much money is generated into the state and local economies before making a final decision. Police officers from Loudon and towns across the state make $43 per hour to work the race weekend.

  Last year, 2014 The Stafford Speedway again fell victim to rain on Friday for the third week in a row. Shortly after 8:00pm when the SK Modifieds were on the track the heavy rain plus thunder and lightening closed in on the track and brought a halt to all racing.

  Prior to the rain, the 25 cars on hand took time for starting positions. Bobby Santos III scored his seventh pole at Stafford after turning a lap in 18.827sec or 98.216 mph. Doug Coby was second fastest with Eric Goodale, third. Completed earlier was the SK Lite feature which saw nine of the 14 starters involved in a wreck. Nick Salvo survived to record the win.

  Racing action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Keith Rocco take home his third NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® win of the year. In other NASCAR action, a new face found the Valenti Auto Mall Late Model winner’s circle as Vin Esposito claimed the checkered flag, breaking the strangle hold on the division held by Keith Rocco. Josh Galvin won again in the Street Stocks while driver Garrett Denton was victorious in the Mini Stocks. The Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday divisions were also on hand, with Dave Yardley and Zac Thomas scoring the respective Super X-Car and X-Car wins. Dylan Izzo won in the night’s INEX Legend Cars feature.

  In the SK Modified feature, Rocco sliced through the field, arriving in second position behind leader Shawn Thibeault on lap-13 just before the second caution flag of the race came out. Rocco restarted outside of Thibeault and stayed even with him for two laps, hanging on after the two cars made contact in turn three on lap-15 before driving away. Rocco was masterful over three late race restarts to cruise to his third victory of the year, padding his lead in the championship standings. Ed Puleo and Rob Janovic Jr. both got past Thibeault in the closing laps to finish second and third, respectively, while Thibeault finished fourth. Kyle James rounded out the top-five.

  A bit of controversy erupted post race when it was discovered the cars of Rocco and Craig Lutz were not equipped with wheel tethers that are mandated by NASCAR. No disqualifications were handed out but fines were expected. In recent weeks both Rocco and Lutz had been the victims of hard crashes and have suffered severe front end damage and the lack of tethers could be just an honest mistake. It sounds like the tech inspector needs to get his head out of his butt and pay more attention to the cars he is supposed to be inspecting pre-race. There were 18 Modifieds in competition.

  In NASCAR Modified action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Ryan Preece scored his first win of the year at the tough and tight quarter mile oval.

  It was a special night at the Seekonk Speedway as their annual Wall of Fame took place. The inductees for 2014 were drivers Wayne Dion, Don Dionne and Billy Clarke along with long time Speedway official Ron Manfredo.

  In Modified racing in the Southland, Junior Miller, Bowman Gray Stadium’s all-time leader in feature-race victories, won for the first time in five years Saturday night in the second of two 25-lap Modified races. Love him or hate him, the 63 year old has won a Nascar Sanctioned Race in the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's & Now the 2010's, 5 Decades. Miller, is in his 40th year of racing and is a six-time Bowman Gray champion.

  In the opening 25 lapper, Burt Myers registered his 59th victory but said it was a bittersweet one after his brother and pole-sitter Jason Myers went spinning after a two-lap, side-by-side duel for the lead between the two. Burt Myers led the rest of the way, Tim Brown finished second, and Lee Jeffreys third.

  NASCAR announced the inductees who will comprise the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The five-person group, the sixth in NASCAR Hall of Fame history, consists of Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. In addition, NASCAR announced that Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Also on the ballot was Mike Stefanik and Jerry Cook, both past champions in NASCAR' Modified division.

  Kyle Larson cruised to victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnson passed Matt Kenseth with eight laps to go and pulled away to win Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his first victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

  Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves traded leads three times in the final three laps with Hunter-Reay defeating the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner by just .0600 second of a second – the second-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. It was just a tick behind the famed 1992 finish when Al Unser Jr. defeated Scott Goodyear by .043 of a second.

  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: May 29, 2015

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