June 5, 2015
Sixty years ago in 1955, rain and cold forced officials at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl to cancel the racing for the weekend.
Fifty five years ago, in 1960, Wild
Bill Slater, driving the Connecticut Valley Rocket, V-8, won a 100 mile
modified event at the Trenton Fairgrounds in New Jersey. The night before,
Slater made it six wins in a row at the Norwood Arena as 8000 spectators
looked on. Slater took the lead on the last lap from Mario “Fats” Caruso.
Wally Silva finished third. Ernie Gahan was the winner on the dirt at
Stafford. Don Collins won three Modified features in one day at the
Waterford Speedbowl as the shoreline oval presented triple Modified
features. Newt Palm was the Bomber winner.
Fifty years ago in 1965 New Yorker
Bill Wimble won his first of eight season wins at Stafford on Friday night.
Dick Dunn won a 50 lap Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie
Bunnell was the Bomber winner. Freddie Schultz took the Modified win at
Norwood. Lou Lazzaro was the winner at the Fonda Speedway and Steady Eddie
Flemke won a 100 lapper at the Utica-Rome Speedway over Rene Charland and
Forty five years ago in 1970, Eddie
Pieniezak was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in
Malta, NY. Jerry Cook finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Stafford
rained out on Saturday. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x and
Don Wayman each won 25 lap events and at Plattsburg, Dick Fowler took the
win. Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Charlie
Webster took the 30 lap Modified feature. Johnny Delong won the Late Model
Daredevil feature. In twin 25's at Thompson on Sunday, Eddie Flemke and Bob
Santos shared victory lane and at Utica-Rome, local favorite Dave Kotary
beat out Jerry Cook for the win.
Forty years ago in 1975, In Friday
night action at Freeport, Art Tappen took the win over Charlie Jarzombek. At
Utica-Rome, Sonny Seamon bested Lou Lazzaro and Dick Fowler. Jerry Pearl was
the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Fowler made it two in a
row in Late Model Daredevil action. At Stafford on Saturday night, 53
Modifieds and 5000+ spectators were on hand as Leo Cleary beat Fred DeSarro
and Bugsy Stevens. The event went non stop after three restarts. At Islip,
Jarzombek turned the tables on Tappen as he took the top spot and at
Lancaster, Maynard Troyer went two for two. George Kent was the top dog at
Shangri-La and at Fulton on Sunday it was Richie Evans over Jerry Cook.
Sunday night racing at Thompson had to be postponed when the lights went out
and couldn't be restored. Shortly there after Speedway owner Don Hoenig
procured a diesel generator to make his own electricity.
Thirty five years ago in 1980, the
New England Drivers and Owners Club (NEDOC) met with Don Hoenig for six
hours to discuss problems and requests pertaining to pit fees. NEDOC wanted
Hoenig to give owners, drivers and mechanics a break on their pit fees.
Nothing was settled and a strike was called. In response to NEDOC's action,
Hoenig announced that the Thompson Speedway would be closed indefinitely. At
Stafford on Friday night, Ronnie Bouchard was the Modified winner as he beat
out Satch Worley and Jerry Cook. At Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard took the win
over Bob Karvonen and Ernie Hastings. Rain washed out action at Westboro,
Spencer, Waterford and Lancaster. Richie Evans headed south to Winston
Salem, NC where he scored a 200 lap win over Don Smith and Ralph Brinkley.
It was the first time a northerner won at the North Carolina bull ring since
Eddie Flemke Sr won back to back New Years Day Tobacco Bowl Classics in the
early 60’s. At Islip it was Don Howe over Wayne Anderson and at New Egypt,
Fred and Alan Harbach finished one-two.
Thirty years ago in 1985, Reggie
Ruggiero ruled the roost at Stafford on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens finished
second with Bobby Fuller, third. Kenny Bouchard made it three in a row at
Waterford on Saturday. Richie Gallup was second with Bob Potter, third. At
Riverside Park it was Marty Radwick over Dan Avery and at Riverhead, on Long
Island it rained. John Blewett Jr won at New Egypt over Bob Park and Tony
Siscone and at Spencer, Tom Druar took the checker. Jim Spencer outran
George Kent at Shangri-La and at Oswego on Sunday, Richie Evans and Brian
Ross finished one-two. In Winston Cup action at Pocono Raceway, Bill Elliott
was both pole sitter and winner.
Twenty five years ago in 1990, Rain
washed out just about everything except Riverhead and Monadnock. Steve Park
took the win at Riverhead over Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. and Don Howe. At Monadnock
a NASCAR Modified championship event was run. Jamie Tomaino took the win
over George Kent and Bruce Del.
Twenty years ago in 1995, Steve Park
was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Curt Brainard finished
second with Bob Potter, third. In dirt track action at Malta, N.Y. Brett
Hearne recorded his 400th career win. At Waterford on Saturday night, Jerry
Pearl took the win after early leader Bert Marvin broke a crankshaft. Todd
Ceravolo finished second with Jeff Pearl, third. At Riverside, Reggie
Ruggiero scored yet another win and at Riverhead, Quinn Vollegraff scored
his first win. It was also on this weekend that ageless veteran Pete
Fiandaca scored his 300th career win, that coming in Sunday night action at
Hudson, Speedway. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Terry Labonte had a win
handed to him when Jeff Gordon missed a shift in a late restart and broke a
rocker arm shaft. Last but not least, Kelly Moore won a Busch Grand National
North event at Beech Ridge in Maine.
Fifteen years ago in 2000, Ted
Christopher made it two in a row at Stafford as he won a 100 lapper there on
Friday night. Christopher, who led the final 50 laps, was followed by Jim
Williams, Todd Szegedy and Eric Berndt. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at
Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. The event drew 48 cars
and was won by Jerry Marquis who took the lead from Rick Fuller on lap 158.
Fuller ended up in second spot and was trailed by Tim Connolly, Howie Brode,
Ted Christopher and John Blewett III. Early in the evening Blewett had just
missed out in trying to qualify and was headed back to New Jersey when Rob
Summers had his time disallowed because of having two different ignition
boxes. Blewett carried a beeper and received the message to return to the
track as he was traveling down the Long Island Expressway. At Waterford,
Dennis Gada recorded his third win of the season. Ed Reed jr finished second
and was followed by Bob Potter and Tucker Reynolds. The World of Outlaws ran
on the dirt at Bristol with 50,000 spectators on hand. Tracy Gordon won the
Busch North Series event at Beech Ridge and on a sad note, Larry Nuber, the
original co-anchor of the ESPN Midget and Winston Cup broadcasts, passed
Ten years ago in 2005 year The Whelen
Modified Tour joined hands with the Busch North Series for twin 100 lap
events at the Thompson Speedway on Sunday. With intense humidity and
temperatures in the 90’s most of the day the twin bill turned into a test of
man and machine. When it was all said and done the weatherman won another
one as torrential rain hit the speedway causing yet another rain out. There
were 41 Modifieds and 34 Busch North Series Late Models in the pits when the
races were called.
Frank Ruocco staged a spirited battle with Jeff Malave in the closing
moments of the 40 lap SK-Modified feature at Stafford on Friday night.
Ruocco won out in the end as he recorded his first victory of 2005. Malave
ended up second with Doug Coby, third. Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor
rounded out the top five. The SK Modified field continued to hover around
the 21 car count. This was good and bad. The good was that everyone that
showed up went home with a paycheck. The bad was the qualifying heats which
are no more than glorified practice sessions. Joe Rzeszutek took advantage
of a confrontation that escalated between Tom Fearn and Mike Quintiliano as
he won the Late Model feature. Fearn and Quintiliano were battling one-two
until contact and a spin after a late restart took both out of contention.
Tom Butler finished second. Michael Bennett won the 20 lap Limited Late
Model feature and Stacy Botticello was the DARE Stock winner.
The Waterford Speedbowl had Rob Janovic taking the win in the SK Modified
feature after taking the lead from Frank Mucciacco with two laps to go in
the 35 lap feature. Mucciacco faded to third after being passed by Ron Silk
on the final lap. Jay Miller and Tom Fox rounded out the top five. Joe
Curioso is a security officer at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. by day and a
racer by night. On Saturday night he garnered his first win in the
Speedbowl’s tough Sportsman division. Bruce Thomas was the 30-lap Late Model
feature winner and Nick Pappacoda took the win in the Mini-Stocks.
Jeffrey Paul continued to showcase his ability as a racer in Wednesday
night's (June 9) Wild n' Wacky action at the Waterford Speedbowl. The
17-year old captured both the 20-lap Legends and the 15-lap X-Modified
features. Paul didn't lead the Legends' race until lap 18 and then held off
Jason Palmer. He edged Bill Leonard and Dean Christensen, in the X-Modified
event. Paul was looking to make it two in a row in the Legends on Saturday
night when he became involved in a violent wreck that all but destroyed his
mount. George Whitney ended up taking the win.
Carl Edwards won the Nextel Cup event at the Pocono Int, Raceway and
Clint Bowyer won the rain delayed Sportsman event at Nashville. On a sad
note, Patrick Evans passed away at the age of 47 after a long bout with
Five years ago in 2010, the Modified
Racing Series returned to action at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta,
NY. Rowan Pennink got a well deserved and long over-due win as he overcame a
cut tire on lap three and came back to win the 100 lap East-West Showdown at
Malta, NY Speedway New Jersey runner Pete Brittain led the first
forty-seven-laps before yielding the top spot to Earl Paules, Paules set a
torrid pace until lap seventy-six when Pennink claimed the top spot. Pennink
went on to score his second Modified Racing Series win. The victory was the
third for car owner, Gary Cassela. The race was marred by 15 caution periods
including, a crash that saw 2009 Koszela Speed Rookie of the Year, Jacob
Dore vault over the second place car, Brittain while battling for the
Like Pennink, Sean Bodreau overcame an early race mishap to finish a
strong third ahead of Les Hinckley, Rob Goodenough,, Daren Scherer, Norman
Wrenn, Mike Holdridge, and Kenny Barry.
The Stafford Motor Speedway celebrated NASCAR Day with a Whelen Event
Night race program consisting of five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
divisions. Keith Rocco picked up his second win of 2010 in the 40-lap SK
Modified® feature, Corey Hutchings took down his first victory of 2010 in
the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko was a first-time career winner in
the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera took down his first win
of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood scored his
first victory of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Jeff Paul broke the strangle hold that Keith Rocco had held on victory
lane at the Waterford Speedbowl as he claimed his first win of the year in
the SK Modifieds®, snapping Keith Rocco’s three race winning streak in the
division. Eighteen year old Brian Andronaco was a first time winner in the
Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model event. Josh Galvin became the first repeat
winner of the year in the Street Stocks and Louis Bellisle recorded his
first Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock win of the season. Anthony Frissora won
the visiting Allison Legacy Series tour race.
The Thompson International Speedway began their Thursday night Thunder
Series before a very healthy crowd and 100 cars in the pit area. Ted
Christopher had the crowd on it's feet as he worked over Keith Rocco,
finally taking the lead after the former slipped coming off turn four.
Rocco, who started eighth, passed Woody Pitkat after a restart on lap 18.
Christopher, who started seventh, closed in on Rocco's bumper on lap 20 and
began his assault. Back and fourth, up and down, Christopher tried every
trick. It appeared that Rocco's tires gave up as he drifted up just enough
to give TC the opening he needed. Rocco held on for the runner-up spot.
Ronnie Silk finished third and was followed by Woody Pitkat, Rowan Pennink,
Tim Sullivan, Bert Marvin, Dave Salzarulo, Glenn Griswold and Ryan Preece.
Derek Ramstrom made it three straight in Super Late Model competition.
Tommy O’Sullivan was victorious in Late Models while an ailing Chris “Moose”
Douton was tops in the Limited Sportsman division. R.J. Marcotte scored the
TIS Modified feature win while it was a career first for Lloyd Anderson in
the Mini Stocks.
The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC ran a 50 lapper on Saturday
night. Madhouse reality show star Burt Myers, who got his 41st victory in
Bowman Gray's featured Modified Division, strengthened his early-season
points lead in the standings by leading the event from pole to pole with the
exception of one restart. Myers started on the outside of the front row and
took the lead from his brother and pole-sitter Jason Myers on the first lap.
From that point, there were only two stretches of more than six laps without
a caution period, which necessitate a double-file restart. Tim Brown took a
short-lived lead in the eighth lap after a restart, zipping past Myers, who
said he was a victim of a too-sensitive computer chip that threatened to
stall his engine. In true Madhouse fashion Myers recovered with a stiff shot
to Brown's rear bumper. That loosened Brown, and Myers shot past to retake
the lead by the ninth lap. Zach Brewer finished second, Brian Loftin was
third and Alfred Hill finished fourth. Jason Myers rounded out the top five.
Defending champion Tim Brown ended up 12th. Junior Miller was seventh.
Riverhead Raceway Co-Chief Steward Mike Cappiello suffered two broken
legs and a dislocated shoulder. One broken leg said to be of the "minor"
variety, while the other was a compound fracture. This was a result of the
Modified of Steve Booker being spun from behind during hot laps, and
spinning out of control to the infield, where his car struck Capiello.
Cappiello was transported first to Peconic Bay Medical Center, then later
transferred to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was to get
surgery on his leg. Tom Rogers was the Modified winner.
All eyes were focused on the NASCAR Sprint Cup All Star Race at the
Charlotte Motor Speedway. As teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch lined up
side-by-side for the final segment of the All-Star race, one way or another,
a Joe Gibbs Racing victory seemed a mere 10-lap shootout away. But with a
cool $1 million prize on the line, neither driver had any intention of
lifting off the gas in the no-points, dash-for-cash Saturday night showdown.
Hamlin used defensive driving to protect his lead, Busch wrecked and his big
brother, Kurt, sailed by both JGR drivers to grab his first career All-Star
victory. One Busch was celebrating, while the other was so angry he
threatened to kill Hamlin over his team radio.
The inaugural five members of NASCAR's new Hall of Fame were inducted in
a ceremony that both honored auto racing's pioneers and celebrated the
Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, was lauded for his vision of turning
unregulated beach racing into America's premiere motorsports series. His
son, Bill France Jr., was remembered as a tough taskmaster who poured his
soul into NASCAR.
Richard Petty, a seven-time champion, was credited as the sport's first
superstar, while Junior Johnson was celebrated as the symbol of the sport's
And then there was Dale Earnhardt, the "champion's champion" who
epitomized the blue-collar spirit at the heart of NASCAR.
Last year, 2014, The Valenti
Modified Racing Series, 34 cars strong, paid a visit to the Thompson
Speedway Motorsports Park on Thursday night. Tommy Barrett used an exciting
last lap bonsai move under Todd Szegedy to take the win in the Valenti
Modified Racing Series 75-lap feature. Winners in NASCAR Whelen All American
Series action included a sweep by Ryan Preece in the Sunoco Modified
division, Glenn Boss in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Xtra Mart
Limited Sportsman division, and Chad Baxter in the Monster Mini Stocks.
Scott Quinn checkered the Vintage Outlaw feature event.
Barrett, who is getting a reputation as a villain, played his predictable
game as he faded from his outside pole starting spot leaving Todd Szegedy
and Ted Christopher to slug it out and wear out their tires. Szegedy and
Christopher ran nose to tail and at one point had a half lap lead on the
field. By lap 55, Keith Rocco was within a car length of Christopher.
A caution flew at lap 66 after Eric Goodale hit the turn one wall set the
stage for the fireworks to come. Szegedy held off Christopher on the restart
as Rocco moved into second place and relegated Christopher back to the
fourth spot. Barrett, with an unbelievable burst of power, came out of
nowhere to move into the third position. On lap 68 Barrett appeared to have
been shot out of a cannon as he blew Rocco away and set his sight on the
leader. Shortly after being passed it appeared that Rocco checked up a bit
and was tagged by Christopher, sending him into the backstretch wall
On the restart, Szegedy drove out front once again with Barrett on his
bumper. Rowan Pennink passed Christopher for third. Szegedy began to pull
away but Barrett glued himself to Szegedy’s rear bumper. Shortly after
Szegedy was given the white flag Barrett, in a last ditch bonsai move, dove
low and hard into turn one. In the flash of an eye Barrett rode Szegedy high
and came close to being planted in the concrete wall. Barrett went on to
take the win. Szegedy recovered to finish sixth. Rowan Pennink ended up
second with Christopher, third. Richard Savary and Dave Etheridge rounded
out the top five.
Barrett is bringing life and excitement back into Modified racing similar
to the way Geoff Bodine did it in the mid and late 70's. Barrett's style of
racing brings fans to the races. Some come to see him win and some come to
see him get wrecked. Hopefully no one will get hurt in the intrim.
The Sunoco Modified division kicked off their night with the remaining 17
laps of a feature held over from May 15 with Ryan Preece in victory lane.
Preece held off Keith Rocco on a late-race restart for the win. Danny Cates,
Todd Ceravolo and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five.
In the regularly scheduled 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature, Preece once
again proved to be the man to beat as he held off Pitkat on a late-race
restart for his second straight win. Rocco finished third and was followed
by Cates and Kerry Malone.
Thompson's next event will be on Wednesday, July 30. The bill of fare
includes Sunoco Modifieds (2-20 lap races; 1-10 lap sprint). Late Models, 20
Laps, Xtramart Ltd. Sportsman, 20 Laps and Mini Stocks 15 Laps.
The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to violent thunder storms for the
fourth week in a row. The Whelen Modified Tour Series, rained out twice,
will try again at Stafford this week.
In a prepared statement the Waterford Speedbowl management announced the
creation of a new position, penalties following Saturday, May 24th’s racing
program, and the departure of one member of their staff. As a result of post
race inspections following the May 24th race program, SK Modified® division
competitors Craig Lutz and Keith Rocco were each fined $500.00 for failure
to abide by rule 2.11.5 D of the Speedbowl rulebook. The rule requires the
use of wheel tethers on the front wheels of SK Modified® cars. Also
announced was the departure of long time SK Modified® division tech
inspector Everett Marvin who failed to conduct a pre-race inspection of the
cars that had had major work done following destructive wrecks at the
shoreline oval. To give Rocco and Lutz the benefit of the doubt, chances are
they honestly forgot to re-install the wheel tethers.
As a result, a new position of Race Vehicle Safety Coordinator has been
created. The sole responsibility of the newly created position will be
overseeing that all cars participating in the Speedbowl’s track race
divisions are compliant with track mandated safety regulations.
Lutz and Rocco paid their fines and got somewhat of a redemption as they
finished one-two in Saturday night's SK Modified feature. Lutz, who travels
from Long Island every week, spent the opening half of the race trying to
find a way around Diego Monahan. Lutz fell to third place for a lap when Ted
Christopher inched ahead of him, however slight contact between Monahan and
Christopher on lap-16 sent Monahan spinning out of turn two, drawing the
yellow flag. Christopher was placed to the rear of the field during the
caution period, handing the lead to Lutz.
The toughest part of the race for Lutz was holding back Keith Rocco the
rest of the way. Lutz held on during an initial assault by Rocco, then got a
brief breather before Rocco raced to his outside over the final four laps.
The two raced inches apart and even shared some contact during the final
laps. Lutz put forth a determined effort to keep Rocco’s final charge at
bay, able to pull ahead out of the final corner to claim the checkered flag.
Rocco was forced to settle for second and Tyler Chadwick ran among the front
runners all race to finish third. Rob Janovic Jr and Shawn Thibeault rounded
out the top five. Christopher recovered from his penalty to finish sixth.
Other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins went to Ken Cassidy Jr. who
was back in the winner’s circle during an extra-distance Mini Stock feature
and Jason Palmer recorded his first Valenti Auto Mall Late Model win of the
season. The Northeast Mini Stock Tour race was won by Toby Wells and Robin
Berghman picked up the victory in the visiting New England Pro Four Modified
race. Jordan Hadley won the X-Car feature.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Howie Brode swept the Twin 30
feature events for his 2nd and 3rd wins of the young season leaving him just
two points back of point leader Ryan Preece 135 to 133. The two wins put
Brode at 18 career victories.
In Modified racing in the Southland, two nights of racing at the Bowman
Gray Stadium in North Carolina were on tap. Jason Myers won a race without
leading a green-flag lap. Myers took the lead after front runners Lee
Jeffreys and Tommy Neal wrecked. During the clean up the rains came and
Myers was declared the winner when the race was called. Burt Myers was the
winner on Saturday night after he dumped Junior Miller on the final lap.
Miller became incensed and chased Myers with his car before being subdued by
police. The win stood. Myers sent Junior Miller spinning in the final turn
of the final lap of a wreck-filled 100-lap Modified race and went on to
notch his 60th career victory at Bowman Gray. Myers, Bowman Gray’s defending
champion and current points leader, completed a worst-to-first recovery. He
started from the rear of the 23-car field as result of a draw. Miller,
Bowman Gray’s all-time leader in feature-race victories, had ended a
five-year winless drought just a week earlier. He was a turn away from
winning again when he got a shot from behind from Myers and went spinning.
Myers gathered his partially-sideways car and made it to the checkered flag.
Lee Jeffreys wound up second and Kyle Ebersole third. An enraged Miller sped
after Myers and rammed his car into Myers’ car.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson raced his way to another
routine romp at Dover International Speedway. Johnson was the class of the
field in a race red-flagged for 22 minutes because of a pothole in the
concrete track. Johnson led 272 of 400 laps, and won consecutive races for
the 13th time. The six-time Cup champion swept Dover in 2002 and 2009 and
won races in 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Brad Keselowski was second, followed
by Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin.
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.
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