The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

June 26, 2015

  Sixty years ago in 1955, rain-washed out the Saturday night program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In Wednesday night action at the bowl, Ray DeLisle was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the bowl. Ted Dean was the non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 rain was the big winner at the Stafford Springs Speedway. The Waterford Speedbowl began their summer schedule which consisted of race dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Joe McNulty won the opening night Wednesday Modified feature. Red Foote, who in later years would make a name for himself in Virginia was the non-Ford winner. Dick Dunn was the Bomber feature winner. Don Collins won double features on Saturday night at the Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the Bomber feature winner.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 it rained again at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dick Watson won the 50 lap June Championship for the Modifieds. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber feature winner. Kenny Shoemaker recorded his fourth feature win of the season at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Holly Wildler won at Riverside Park and on Sunday at Utica-Rome it was Jerry Cook over Eddie Flemke and Don Moon.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, the long holiday weekend started on Wednesday with an All Star League at Lancaster where Maynard Troyer and Roger Treichler finished one-two to beat out the best in the business at the time, Ray Hendrick. The following night, the league moved to Oswego where Troyer made it two for two with Hendrick finishing second. Geoff Bodine finished third with Richie Evans finishing fourth followed by Roger Treichler and Bill Greco. Rain washed out weekend events at Malta, Stafford, Fonda and Plattsburg. The rain at Stafford was the final nail in the coffin as it was announced that the track was almost bankrupt and would be shut down. Bill Slater was the race director at the time and was devastated. Rather than sit idle, Slater contacted Connecticut Construction Company owner Jack Arute and somehow convinced him to lease the track and keep it going. Arute agreed and the rest is history but he was left holding the bag with a few thousand rain checks. Seabury Tripler was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. George Allum was the Late Model Daredevil winner. The skies cleared on Sunday for the twin 25's at Thompson. Ray Hendrick remained in the north and won the opening event over Leo Cleary and Lou Austin. Cleary won the nightcap over Fred DeSarro and Hendrick. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Lou Lazzaro beat out Jerry Cook and Robbie Kotary.

  Forty years ago in 1975, Stafford began the Fourth of July weekend on Thursday night with a 150-lap event. Satch Worley in the Clarences' Steak House No.26 paid a visit and walked off with the top money. Bugsy Stevens finished second with Eddie Flemke Sr, third. Stafford ran again on Saturday night with Ray Miller taking the win over Geoff Bodine and the Bugman. The Stafford management announced that the speedway would be running small block modifieds beginning on Sunday, July 20 in addition to their regular NASCAR modified program on Saturday. At Islip, Fred Harbach took the win over Gary Winters and at Shangri-La, Richie Evans won twin 50's. Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford after winning the 35 lap Modified feature. Big Mike Daignault was the Late Model Daredevil winner. On Sunday, Maynard Troyer outran George Kent. At Thompson, Don Hoenig on hearing that Stafford was going to be running against him raised the modified purse to pay $600 to win instead of the $500 that had previously been paid. Leo Cleary won the 30-lap feature at Thompson over Freddie Schulz.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, the weekend started on Wednesday with events at Westboro and New Egypt. At Westboro, Bugsy Stevens in the Brady Bunch No.00 took the top spot and at New Egypt, John Blewett Jr held off Tony Siscone for the win. Monadnock ran on Thursday with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over John Rosati and Punky Caron. Holland also ran on Thursday with George Kent taking the win. Stafford ran on Friday night with Richie Evans taking the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Ray Miller. Spencer also ran on Friday with Kent continuing his win streak. Just about everything on Saturday with the exception of Islip rained out. Islip ran a 100 lapper with Tom McCann taking the win over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. A Race of Champions qualifier was run at Trenton on Sunday. New England competitors boycotted the event because of the then considered high pit fee of $15.00 and $25.00 entry fee. Needless to say the event was run without them. The event ran 81 of the 134 laps that had been scheduled when the rains came. Geoff Bodine who was leading when the event was stopped was declared the winner. Richie Evans ended up second and was followed by John Blewett Jr., Bob Riley, George Kent and Charlie Jarzombek. Thompson was also scheduled to run on Sunday but was also rained out.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, the modified tour was at New Egypt on Wednesday. Jim Spencer took the win over George Kent and Brian Ross. Rain washed out Stafford on Friday night but at Spencer, Richie Evans took the win over Jan Leaty and George Kent. Rain also washed out Waterford, Riverside and Thompson. Randy Hedger scored a popular win at Shangri La over George Kent and Bill Park won the Race of Champions qualifier at Riverhead. Closing out the weekend was a special event at Oswego where Richie Evans was boss as beat out Mike McLaughlin, Jim Spencer, Brian Ross, and Charlie Jarzombek.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, the Featherlite Modified Tour stopped at Riverhead Raceway on Wednesday night. Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin scored a Long Island sweep as they finished one-two in the 151-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero finished third with pole sitter Bob Park finishing fourth. Stafford rained out on Friday and Phil Rondeau got his first modified win at Waterford on Saturday night. Stan Gregger won at Riverside where it was announced that Ben Dodge had decided against leaving after tendering his resignation. The mods invaded Oswego where Tony Hirschman beat out Jan Leaty and John Preston.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Steve Chowanski won a 100 lap SK Modified event at Stafford. Steve Park finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. The Featherlite Modifieds were at Beech Ridge in Maine on Saturday. Steve Park in the Banzul No.8 went pole to pole to win the 100-lap event with Mike Stefanik in tow. Satch Worley, Ed Flemke Jr. and Jan Leaty rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher borrowed his brother Mikey's car and won at Waterford with it on Saturday night. Bert Marvin finished second with Jim Broderick, Todd Ceravolo and Jerry Pearl rounding out the top five. It rained at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Don Howe over Ed Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action, Jeff Gordon won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

  Fifteen years ago in 2000 the weekend started on Thursday night Thompson where Ted Christopher took the SK modified win over Todd Ceravolo and Darrell Tiezzi. Christopher carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he won the Busch North Series-150.Christopher started 20th and had broke into the top 10 by lap 30.In taking the win, Christopher went the entire 150 lap distance non-stop. Curt Brainard won the crash fest SK-50.Kerry Malone finished second. Ron Yuhas beat out veteran Mark LaJunesse at Waterford and Howie Brode got the best of Wayne Anderson at Riverhead. Ralph Nason, at the age of 60,won the Oxford Plains 250 for the third time. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Jeff Burton took the win over Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

  Ten years ago in 2005 The Fourth of July weekend got its start at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Ted Christopher, who had been winless in two previous tries, got it all together to take his first win of the year in the Sunoco Modifieds. Christopher dodged an opening lap tangle to take an early lead and the eventual win. For the season which has seen him run in 42 different events the Thompson victory was his 13th win overall for 2005. Bert Marvin turned in a strong showing to finish second with Kerry Malone, third. Bo Gunning finished fourth with Todd Ceravolo, fifth. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Ben Seitz in the NEMA Midgets, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Chris McGee in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman, Terry Boudreau in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the TIS Modifieds.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain on Friday night. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made up their rained out Haynes 150 from Memorial Day weekend on Sunday night. Ted Christopher took the win after taking the lead with three laps to go. Doug Coby in the Curt Chase No.77 dominated almost the entire event only to lose it due to worn tires. Coby ended up third behind Chuck Hossfeld. Jamie Tomaino and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ronnie Silk was the SK Modified winner while Carla Boticello won in the DARE Stocks and Mike Quintiliano won the Late Model feature.
  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Ron Yuhas survived an early race accident and came back to record his second SK Modified victory of the 2005 season. In what turned into a marathon session of close to 90 minutes for the 35 lap feature, Yuhas’ crew did some thrashing and was able to make the necessary repairs to get him back in action. Yuhas made a bold outside move with two laps to go to take the lead from Ted Christopher. It was Christopher’s race to lose and had it not been for a right rear tire going flat the outcome would have been different. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Jay Miller originally finished third but was disqualified when his car failed to meet ride height requirements. Diego Monahan ended up fourth with Christopher, fifth. Allen Coates made it two in a row in the Late Models and Vinnie Esposito was declared the winner of the Legends feature after Len Beebe was disqualified. Al Stone was the Sportsman winner and Bill Leonard won in the Mini Stocks.
  While rumors of doom and gloom continued to circulate concerning the demise of the Waterford Speedbowl and the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island word came of an impending project that could have resulted in increased racing activity on Long Island. Top Gun Sports and Entertainment was proposing multi-venue motorsport and entertainment facility in Yaphank which is in Suffolk County. The complex which would include a ¾ mile oval with a 3/8 or ¼ mile oval inside would also include a drag strip is adjacent to the Grucci fireworks plant, the Firematic training facility and the County prison farm. In a somewhat related announcement one of the Waterford Speedbowl owners, Terry Eames told the New London Day that there had been no decision made by a proposed developer on an option to buy the Speedbowl property.
  Tony Stewart made it two in a row in Nextel Cup competition as he won the rain delayed Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

  Five years ago in 2010, The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series was cancelled because of rain and tornado warnings in the northeastern Connecticut area.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was idle as teams made preparations for the first of two trips to Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos who had won an a record setting three out of four races led Mike Stefanik by 89 points. Although winless, Stefanik had been the model of consistency with four top fives. Todd Szegedy sits third, six points behind Stefanik. Ted Christopher the only other winner on the tour is 49 points out of third spot and 95 points in arrears of Santos. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece. Rookie Justin Bonsignore along with Jimmy Blewett, rookie Richie Pallai, Jr., Erick Rudolph and Ron Silk made up the top ten. Forty six different drivers had entered into tour competition so far.
  The Modified Racing Series was scheduled to appear at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday June, 12. Rain forced cancellation with no rain date.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway the 37th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100 was on tap. Keith Rocco defended his 100-lap victory from one year ago and scored his fourth win of the 2010 season, Ryan Posocco picked up his first win of the 2010 season and the 40th win of his Late Model career at Stafford in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Frank Cardile scored his second victory of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery scored his third win of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande picked up his second win of 2010 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain
  The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC avoided the rain that played havoc in the northeast. Lee Jeffreys started the first of twin 25's race in second place behind pole-sitter Terry Gaither, but quickly took the lead to pick up his second win of the season and 16th of his career. Jeffreys survived two late cautions and a hard-charging Gaither, and then drew No. 10 for the inverted-start second race. He was able to battle his way to the runner-up spot but couldn't muster a charge to pass leader and eventual winner Jonathan Brown. Burt Myers qualified 19th out of 20 cars in the first race and finished 14th. Myers finished fourth in the second 25 lapper.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it remained dry as four-time Modified champion Bill Park out dueled three-time and defending Modified champion John Fortin for the Modified feature win. Park took home his 31st career victory landing him in a five way tie for third on the track's all-time win list. Park is now tied with Wayne Anderson, Chris Young, Jack Reinhard and Tommy Washburn in career wins.
  Denny Hamlin, his No. 11 Toyota becoming a distant spec on the horizon to the rest of the field late in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Michigan International Speedway, heard the caution call come over the radio and tried not to roll his eyes. He knows nobody wants to watch a driver lead by 10 seconds, as he was doing at the time. It makes for bad TV. And even though Hamlin didn't see any debris on the track when the yellow flag flew, he didn't exactly panic when his massive advantage was wiped out.
  "I understand this is show business," Hamlin said. Hamlin easily pulled away from Kasey Kahne on the restart with 14 laps remaining and rolled to his fifth victory of the season, dominating the 400-mile race.
  Joey Logano became the first Nationwide Series driver to win three consecutive races at the same track when starting from the pole as he held off Carl Edwards to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.
  Les Richter, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Los Angeles Rams who became a top NASCAR executive after retiring from the NFL, died. He was 79.
  His second career started as president of Riverside International Raceway in 1961. He joined NASCAR in 1983 and grew into an adviser to then-chairman Bill France Jr. Richter was named NASCAR's executive vice president of competition in 1986, and the senior vice president of operations in 1992.

  Last year, 2014, The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of three visits during the 2013 season to Stafford Motor Speedway for the Inaugural VMRS 80. Taking the checkered flag was former Stafford SK Modified® regular and 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy.
  Ted Christopher started on the pole of the 80 lapper and led until lap 9 before giving way to Eric Goodale. Goodale had built up a comfortable lead but Christopher was beginning to erase that advantage as the race neared the halfway point of 40-laps. The top-2 cars had a margin of a half straightaway back to the trio of Keith Rocco, Todd Szegedy, and Rowan Pennink. With 44 laps complete, Dave Schneider, Norm Wrenn, Mike Willis, Jr., and Todd Owen spun coming out of turn 4 directly in front of Goodale, who had to stop to avoid crashing into the spun cars. Goodale was able to maintain the race lead for the restart.
  On the restart, Christopher got a good run on the outside of Goodale and he moved back to the race lead for the first time since lap-9. Szegedy was also on the outside of Goodale and he was trying to take over second. Szegedy cleared Goodale after a lap of side by side racing and now Rocco was on the outside of Goodale and he got around Goodale to move into third on lap-47.
  Szegedy was now looking to make a move around Christopher for the race lead. With Szegedy looking for a way around Christopher, Rocco was looking for a way to make a pass on Szegedy as the action at the front of the pack was picking up in a hurry. The caution came back out with 50 laps complete for Dylan Kopec, who spun in turn 4.
  The restart order was Christopher and Szegedy on the front row, Rocco and Goodale in the second row, Pennink and Tommy Barrett in the third row, Justin Bonsignore and Anthony Nocella in the fourth row, and Chris Pasteryak and Richard Savary in the fifth row.
  On the restart, Savary got into the turn 2 wall and Matt Mead spun in turn 2 to bring the caution right back out before a lap could be completed. Back under green, Christopher took the lead with Szegedy quickly slotting himself into second behind Christopher. Rocco was third, with Goodale and Pennink lined up behind him. Szegedy made a strong move on lap-53, but Christopher was able to keep Szegedy behind him. Szegedy made another strong move on lap-58 to get alongside Christopher and he made his move stick for the lead on lap-59. With Szegedy now in front, he began to slowly pull away from Christopher after riding behind him for so many laps. Szegedy was continuing to stretch out his advantage over Christopher in the closing laps while Rocco was applying heavy pressure to Christopher’s bumper in a fight for second. Szegedy led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his first VMRS feature victory. Christopher was able to hold off Rocco for second, with Pennink and Goodale rounding out the top-5.
  There were 33 Valenti Modifieds on hand. In other Friday night racing at Stafford, Chase Dowling beat out Woody Pitkat to win the 45-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature. It was the first career SK Modified victory for Dowling, who was making his fourth start in the division. Pitkat finished second with Dan Avery, third. Dylan Menditto won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature. Johnny Walker, won for the second consecutive time in the 20-lap DARE Stock feature and Austin Bessette was the Limited Late Model winner.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Waterford Speedbowl last Saturday night. The event drew 28 cars and a full house of spectators for the Mr. Rooter 161. Donnie Lia in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile was the pole sitter. Bobby Santos was second fastest. Lia jumped out at the start and led the event for 133 laps before an inside move by Santos on the low side between turns three and four caught Lia by surprise. Santos had tried to pass Lia numerous times on the outside but to no avail. Lia, finished second. Ted Christopher finished third. Santos and Lia ran the event non-stop without a pit stop while Christopher pitted and came from the rear to the front. Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling were fourth and fifth, respectively. Sixth through tenth were Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, Keith Rocco, Ron Yuhas, Jr. and Doug Coby.
  The shoreline oval took its toll on many of the competitors. One of those was Tommy Barrett who had worked his way from a 14th starting position to the runner-up spot when he fell victim to a flat tire and hit the wall which ultimately placed him 24th in the final run-down. Ron Silk was also a contender until a bout Timmy Solomito and the wall in turn three ended his night on lap 145. Silk ended up 20th.
  Justin Bonsignore took over the points lead from Doug Coby, who finished 10th, by two points. Santos is third, three back of Coby. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour now heads to the Riverhead (New York) Raceway this coming Saturday, June 28.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Ed Puleo picked up his second SK Modified® win of the season and Bruce Thomas Jr. landed his second Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature win of 2014. Bill McNeil took his first Street Stock victory and Ray Christian III won the Mini Stocks.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Former Legend Race Car champion Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead at just 18-years old realized his life long dream Saturday night when he topped a non-stop 35 lap NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway. Modified weekly racing appears to be in trouble on the Island as only 12 cars were on hand.
  In Modified racing in the Southland, Tim Brown ended a long dry spell as he won the first of what was supposed to be two 25 lap features for the Modifieds at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.
  Brown won the pole and led wire-to-wire to win Saturday’s only race in the Modified Division. Rain finally ended racing for the night just as the Modified cars lined up for the second race. Brown, who now has 71 victories at the place they call "The MadHouse" trails all time winner Junior Miller by two wins. Miller, who is in his 60's is still an active competitor at Bowman Gray and has recently purchased a new car from North East Race Cars. Burt Myers, the Modified Division points leader, stayed glued to Brown’s tail most of the race and wound up second.
  Carl Edwards held off a late charge from eight-time road course winner Jeff Gordon to win the Sonoma Toyota/Save Mart 350, his first road course victory and the 23rd triumph of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. Gordon finished second with Dale Earnhardt Jr. third. Brendan Gaughan won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

  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: June 26, 2015

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