The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

August 21, 2015

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 the rains descended on the Stafford Springs Speedway turning the track into a mud bog. Dick Beauregard recorded 25 lap Modified wins at the Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Ted Stack and Ed Moody followed suit as they recorded wins in the non-Ford and Bomber divisions respectively.
  The big event of the weekend was the 100-Mile National Championship for Sportsman-Modified Stock Cars at the one mile Trenton Speedway. Elton Hildreth took the win over Red Foote, Jack Hart, Bob Malzahn and Bill Wimble. Also in the field was Ray Hendrick who finished 18th and Bill Slater who finished 29th.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble made it four in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway on Friday night. Dick Dunn took the checkers at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Charlie Savage, who would become the first SK Modified Champion when the division was formed at Stafford, was the Bomber feature winner. Steady Eddie Flemke won the first ever extra distance Modified event, a 100 lapper, at the Albany Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. Frank Mathalia finished second and was followed by Billy Harman and Elton Hill. Kenny Shoemaker made it two in a row at the Fonda Speedway as he won a 100 lapper. At Utica – Rome rain prevailed for the third time of the season.
  NASCAR Modifieds and Sportsman competitors from up and down the east coast converged on the Trenton Speedway in New Jersey for the third annual Trenton 200. Ray Hendrick, in the Tant/Mitchell No.11 took the win over Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8. Bugs Stevens in the Ole Blu of Len Boehler finished third. Bill Wimble and Bill Dennis rounded out the top five.

  Forty five years ago in 1970 Friday night racing at Malta rained out. In twin 25 lap action at Stafford on Saturday night, Mr. Leo Cleary put the Garbarino Bros.4 in Victory lane as did Eddie Flemke in the Garutti Bros.14. At Fonda, Harry Peek and Eddie Pieniezak did the trick and at Plattsburg, Dick Nephew took the win. Walt Dombrowski put the L&M in victory lane at Waterford. Larry Crandall did the trick in the Waterford Daredevils. The annual Trenton 200 was on tap on Sunday and when the checker dropped, Ray Hendrick took the win over Max Berrier, Sal Dee, Paul Radford and Bugsy Stevens.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Allen Harbach took the Wednesday night win at New Egypt. Fred Harbach finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Friday at Stafford, Richie Evans beat out Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens. Saturday night at Westboro, John Rosati in the Tuck Hoffman 73 did the deed as he won out over Ronnie Bouchard and Cleary. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Bobby Judkins 2x ruled at Riverside. Ronnie Rocco and Mike Stefanik followed. At Thompson on Sunday, Jerry Cook won the 40 lap Thompson 300 qualifier. Brian Ross finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Other weekend winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Tom McCann at Islip, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, Don LaJoie at Danbury, Larry Record at Star and Kenny Busch at Monadnock and Geoff Bodine won a Late Model Sportsman event at South Boston

  Thirty years ago in 1985, the modified tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Ray Miller in the Simons No.9 took the win over Jamie Tomaino and Bugsy Stevens. Waterford was one of the few tracks that Richie Evans didn't master as the best he could do was sixth. Friday night at Stafford, Jamie Tomaino scored as he out ran Doug Hevron and Charlie Jarzombek for the win. Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at New Egypt and it was Richie Evans over Doug Hewitt at Spencer. Larry Ross pulled an upset at Waterford as he beat Bob Potter and Joe Tiezzi for the win and at Riverside, Mike Stefanik won the annual 200.Tim Contarino won at Riverhead and at Shangri-La it was Randy Hedger over Jim Spencer. In Sunday SK-Mod action at Thompson, Wayne Dion beat out Keith Williams. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt was the winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, the Modified Tour was at Thompson on Wednesday for a 150 lapper. Mike McLaughlin took the win over Reggie Ruggiero. Stafford rained out on Friday and Waterford never completed their program because of curfew. The mod tour was at Riverside on Saturday. Richie Gallup took the win over Jeff Fuller. Lenny Fischer won at Riverhead. Five years ago in 1995,the modified tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Steve Park took the lead from Ricky Fuller on lap 77 of the 150-lap event and went on to record the win. Fuller ended up second with Mike Stefanik, third. Stefanik had the field covered but was held by officials on pit road after he made an illegal pass on the track. Satch Worley and Reggie Ruggiero rounded out the top five. The SK 50 lapper was won by Bo Gunning with Jim Broderick, second. Veteran Jerry Pearl took the victory at Waterford on Saturday night. Eric Berndt finished second. Jim Broderick had the misfortune of breaking his wrist after being involved in an early race wreck. Tom Fox was the Late Model winner. At Riverside, Ed Spires took the modified win and Mike Stefanik held off Kelly Moore as he won the Busch North event at the amusement park oval. At Riverhead, Chuck Steuer got his fourth of the year. Tempers were hot at Bristol Tenn. where Dale Earnhardt dumped Terry Labonte into the wall on the final lap. Labonte managed to win the event but he wasn't too happy with Mr. Goodwrench. Earlier in the event, Earnhardt had dumped Rusty Wallace. Steve Grissom was the BGN winner. During the weekend it was announced that sprint car driver Doug Wolfgang had been awarded $1.2million for burn injuries incurred at the Lakeside Speedway.

   Fifteen years ago in 2000 the Featherlite Modifieds were at Stafford for a 150 on Friday night. Ted Christopher had the dominant car until his engine sputtered with three laps to go. Waiting in the wings was John Blewett III who took the lead and the win. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Craven, Reggie Ruggiero, Rob Summers and Tim Connolly. The SK's ran twin 50's with Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor taking the wins. Saturday night at Waterford saw Tucker Reynolds Jr. in victory lane as he beat out Dennis Gada and Ed Dachenhausen for the win. Ted Christopher took on the New Yorkers in the Lancaster Open. Christopher took the win only to be disqualified as track officials stated that his carburetor was illegal. At Riverhead it was Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. and in Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the pole and the win. Kevin Harvick did likewise in the companion Busch Grandnational event. Scott Quinn got a hard fought win at Thompson on Sunday night. Curt Brainard finished second with Bert Marvin, third. In Busch North Series action, also at Thompson, Tracy Gordon took the win.

   Five years ago in 2010, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the running of the Budweiser 150. Ted Christopher literally cleaned house as he totally dominated the 150 after winning the track's regular Modified feature. The big story of the night should have been Christopher's outstanding drive but that was overshadowed by the story in the Hartford Current that stated that speedway owner Don Hoenig would have to move his August Thursday night date to another week because the Whelen Modified Tour Series was going to be included in the 2011 schedule at the New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon. The IZOD IndyCar Series would return to Loudon after a 13-year absence on August 14 of 2011. It didn't sound like a big deal but it really was because of the fact that the Thompson Speedway had supported the NASCAR Modified Tour series since its inception in 1985. NASCAR, who's only loyalty is to the dollar, could care less about Hoenig's loyalty. Those who are employed by "The Company", as NASCAR is called by its employees, will tell you off the record that the organization is run like a mafia. Its there way or else! It would be interesting to see what would NASCAR's reaction be if Hoenig dropped the entire tour from his schedule in 2011.
   A somewhat slim field of 29 Modifieds were on hand for the event that carried a purse of $83,764. Christopher was the Busch Pole sitter as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.624seconds. Second fastest was Rowan Pennink. The redraw saw Justin Bonsignore on the pole for the start with Christopher, outside. At the drop of the green, in a hail of fireworks, Christopher had the lead by the time the field exited turn two. Setting a blistering pace, Christopher led the field from the start and only relinquished the lead twice during the Budweiser King of Beers 150 as he went on to record his 37th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. Bobby Santos took the lead after Christopher pitted for three tires under caution on Lap 95, however, it only took Christopher 10 laps to get back in front after the restart on Lap 101. Santos finished the race in third place.
  Christopher was clearly the class of the field building leads by as much as four seconds before losing his advantage after the fourth and final caution flag of the race flew on Lap 149 after Erick Rudolph’s problems set up the final sprint to the finish. Ronnie Silk, who moved into the second spot in the closing moments, ended up in second spot with Santos, third. Following Santos across the line was Rowan Pennink and Mike Stefanik who rounded out the top five. Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, Eric Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.
  It was Christopher’s 10th Whelen Modified Tour win at Thompson, and his fourth in the Tour’s last six races at the .625-mile oval. The Plainville, Conn., driver led 141 of the 156 laps. With the win, Christopher took the championship points lead from Santos, who had led through the first nine races. Christopher’s three wins and six top-fives have forged a 14-point lead over Santos with Mike Stefanik in third, 85 points back.
  The Thompson International Speedway also ran its regular six divisions. In addition to his Whelen Modified Tour Series victory Christopher scored a thrilling victory in the Sunoco Modified feature. Fellow Whelen Modified Tour double-duty driver Mike Stefanik turned in a dominating performance to earn the Super Late Model victory. In other NASCAR Whelen All-America Series action, Mark Oliveira was victorious in an eventful Late Model feature. Scott Sundeen took down his first Limited Sportsman win of the 2010 season. R.J. Marcotte continued to roll in the TIS Modifieds. Dwayne Dorr posted his second Mini Stock win.
  Christopher and Woody Pitkat slugged it out until the final lap when Christopher was able to forge ahead for the lead and ultimate victory, his 77th at the Northeastern Connecticut oval.
  Double SK Modified features at the Stafford Motor Speedway helped Keith Rocco get a little closer to his dream of becoming the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. The championship is based on a driver's best 18 finishes. Rocco's win was the 17th that counted toward the title. Frank Ruocco and Keith Rocco were the winners of the twin 40-lap SK Modified® feature events, Corey Hutchings won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes was the winner of the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  Ruocco led the field around to the white flag and he held off both Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece to take the victory, his fourth win of the 2010 season. Rocco finished 7th in the first race. In the second 40 lapper, Rocco rode behind Ted Christopher until the final lap of the race when he made a move to the inside of Christopher in turn 1. The two cars ran wheel to wheel down the backstretch and when they hit turn 3, Rocco surged ahead of Christopher and came off turn 4 with the race lead and his 8th victory of the 2010 season. Christopher finished second, with Preece, Todd Owen, and Zach Sylvester rounding out the top-5.
  In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco lived out his dream as he became the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion as a result of his convincing win. Rocco started from the No. 12 position and had moved into the fourth position by lap 11. He took over the second spot by lap 26, then tracked down race leader Tom Abele, where he finally passed him down low on the backstretch of lap 29 to take the lead.
  The second generation racer survived one final restart to win the race as Kyle James snuck past Abele to finish second. Abele wound up third, Rob Janovic fourth and Tyler Chadwick fifth.
  In other Speedbowl action, Chris Deritis of Philadelphia, PA won the 25-lap NEMA Midget race and Rowley, MA native Chris Perley took the checkered flag in a 50-lap race for the visiting IMSA Supermodifieds. In the 100-lap Modified Racing Series event, Stephen Masse of Bellingham, MA dominated to take his third career win and first in the Series at Waterford. Ted Christopher finished second and was followed by Doug Coby,. Rowan Pennink and Jon McKennedy, Christopher told the Hartford Currant on Sunday that he had been disqualified.
  The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina ran twin 25's for their Modifieds. Recording wins were Tim Brown and Brad Robbins. Burt Myers recorded a 7th and a 6th.
  John Beatty Jr recorded his first ever Modified win at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
  Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Brad Keselowski managed to make it through pit stops despite mechanical problems, then grabbed the lead on a restart with eight laps to go and pulled away to win the NASCAR Nationwide race.

  Last year, 2014, in the aftermath of the fatal accident involving NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Tony Stewart, that led to the death of Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward Jr., NASCAR issued new rules overseeing the behavior of drivers during events.
  On Friday, August 15, NASCAR announced new rules stating that barring emergency situations like a fire, smoke or being sprayed by hot water or oil, a driver involved in a crash is not allowed to exit a car until directed to do so by safety personnel or a NASCAR official. They also mandated that after exiting their car a driver must either proceed to an ambulance or safety vehicle. The new rules also stated that: “At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron or another moving vehicle at any time This rule covers all NASCAR divisions from Sprint Cup on down to weekly NASCAR sanctioned short track racing that is held at the Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway this past Thursday for the Budweiser 150. The event drew 25 cars. Justin Bonsignore earned his second Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park victory this season behind the wheel of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour entry after taking the late race lead and holding on through two restarts.
  Donny Lia, who was the pole sitter, and Ron Yuhas led the field at the start with Lia getting the early lead. Tommy Barrett, Jr. moved into second on lap four before he and Lia pulled away from the rest of the field by half-a-straightaway. Barrett attached himself to Lia’s bumper, but Lia held strong in the lead despite the pressure. The first caution occurred on lap 12 when Bobby Santos hit the first turn wall as a result of a deflating tire. The restart came on lap 17 with Lia jumping to the front. Ryan Preece got by Barrett for second, but didn’t have enough to take over the lead. Lia, Preece and Barrett pulled away from the rest of the field. Barrett challenged Preece on the outside in turn three, but Preece pulled away coming out of the corner. Preece started working the bottom groove to try and make a run on Lia, but Lia was too strong and continually pulled away.
  The second caution flew on lap 40 for debris spotted in turn one. Lia continued to set the pace when racing resumed at lap 46. Preece got hung up on the inside groove and dropped back to fourth behind Doug Coby and Yuhas. Preece’s luck continued to turn for the worse, however, when he got turned coming off turn four.
  Racing resumed on lap 58 with Lia leading the way. Barrett and Coby rounded out the top-three with Barrett only a car length behind Lia. The field strung out single file until the caution flew again on lap 73 when Patrick Emerling got loose and hit the outside wall in turn two. Emerling pitted with a right front flat. Lia led a contingent of lead lap cars onto pit road, but it was Timmy Solomito out first. Glen Reen inherited the lead for the restart. Reen held off the hard-charging Ron Silk to keep the lead on the restart, but Silk was able to get a run on the bottom to take over the top spot on lap 83. Barrett followed suit to take over second on lap 85 while Matt Hirschman took over third. Lia, meanwhile, was on the move and had advanced to third by lap 95.
  The long green flag run worked into Silk’s favor as he worked his way through lapped traffic with ease. Barrett remained within distance, but couldn’t get close enough to challenge. The race took a surprising turn at lap 124 when Emerling spun in turn one collecting Barrett and Lia, ending their night. Coby and Justin Bonsignore took over second and third.
  Silk drove to the front on the restart at lap 129 but caution quickly came back out when Rowan Pennink spun in turn four. Coby took the lead when racing resumed at lap 135, but the action wasn’t over yet. Justin Bonsignore used the bottom groove to take the lead on lap 136 in turn four. Coby remained glued to his bumper, but the race came to a halt quickly when Yuhas and Eric Goodale hit hard in turn two.
  Bonsignore led the field back to green with only nine laps remaining. Coby hung tough on the inside, but Bonsignore was able to prevail and hold on to the lead. Coby, Silk and Preece went three-wide for the second spot with Silk coming out with the position. Caution would realign the field back to the last completed lap with Coby back in the second position beside Bonsignore for the restart. Bonsignore cleared Coby heading into turn one to hold on to the lead. Hirschman advanced to second with Coby holding on to third at the finish. Preece and Silk rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Timmy Solomito, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy,Glen Reen and Spencer Davis.
  In other racing action at Thompson Kerry Malone led the way in NASCAR Whelen All American Series action with a convincing victory in the Sunoco Modified 30-lap feature event. Also picking up wins were Larry Gelinas in the Late Models, Eric Bourgeois in the Monster Mini Stock division and Corey Hutchings in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division. Art Chartier won the Vintage Outlaw feature.
  In Sunoco (SK) Modified action, Malone used two three-wide moves to take the lead on the third lap of the Sunoco Modified feature and led the remainder of the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature.
Troy Talman took the early lead, but had Malone to deal with as he shot up to the front to challenge heading into turn three. Talman held the lead as they came to the line. On lap three, Talman’s night took a dramatic turn when he and Keith Rocco made contact in turn two and took him out of the lead and out of contention. Malone used the outside groove for the restart with Tyler Chadwick getting relegated back to the sixth spot after starting on the front row inside groove. Todd Ceravolo, Ryan Preece, and McDermott rounded out the top-four. Malone pulled out to a five car length lead as the remaining top-five, which included Rocco, ran nose-to-tail.
  As the laps wound down, Malone and Ceravolo pulled away from Preece, who had slipped back by ten car lengths. Meanwhile, Rocco got by McDermott for the fourth spot at lap 26 and began to close in on Preece. Malone approached lapped traffic as he took the white flag, but it didn’t slow him down at all as he cruised to checkered flag ahead of Ceravolo. Rocco, Preece and McDermott rounded out the top five.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway ran under somewhat chilly skies last Friday night. Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins on the night were Keith Rocco, his first at Stafford this year, in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray in the 30-lap Late Model Feature, Nick Salva in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Norm Sears in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Andy Marchese in the 15-lap DARE Stock, and Cory DiMatteo in the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.
  In the SK Modified feature. Rocco got clear of Ryan Preece on lap-35 and Rowan Pennink was almost alongside Preece but he fell back into line in third. Pennink got ahead of Preece on lap-37 but Preece came back the very next corner and moved back in front of Pennink for second. With all the shuffling going on behind him, Rocco had pulled out to a slight lead and he led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2014 season. Preece finished second, with Pennink, Woody Pitkat, and Dan Avery rounding out the top-5.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl local favorite Rob Janovic Jr. claimed the night’s SK Modified® victory, his first of the year. Bruce Thomas Jr. took his third Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature win, Josh Galvin won for the tenth time in the Street Stocks, and Ken Cassidy Jr. took his sixth Mini Stock win of the year. Brendon Bock won his first ever Speedbowl feature in the evening’s INEX Legend Cars race and Allen Coates recorded another win in the New England Truck Series at his home track.
  In the SK Modified feature, Keith Rocco used a late race surge to take second, passing Tim Jordan for the spot on the final lap. Jordan was third and Diego Monahan was fourth, with Craig Lutz fifth.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Seekonk Speedway for a 100 lapper on Saturday night. Norm Wrenn scored an upset win after the front runners tangled on the last lap. To set the stage, Justin Bonsignore was leading Richard Savory when the took the white flag. Savary got into the back of Bonsignore in turn two and got them both out of shape. Rowan Pennink got clear of both going into turn three. Bonsignore slammed Pennink in the center of the corner, getting them both out of shape and Wrenn got by off four to take the win. Pennink ended up second with Bonsignore, third. Richard Savory and Bob Goodenough rounded out the top five.
  Something kind of strange happened at Seekonk. It seems that local runner Todd Annarummo has incredible luck when it comes to drawing starting positions. Annarummo, who is not a VMS regular, started on the pole in the second heat and started on the outside pole in the feature. It just seems strange that when ever a Modified race is run at Seekonk Annarummo always draws an up-front starting spot??
  In Modified racing in the Southland, Burt Myers led all the way in the first 50-lap race for Bowman Gray Stadium’s featured Modified Division and claimed his division-leading fifth victory of the season. Chris Fleming survived and won a wild second Modified race, capturing his career-best third victory in one season. Myers, a six-time Bowman Gray champion, started from the pole position in the first Modified race after a draw for the top starting spot among the fastest six qualifiers.
  Riverhead Raceway on Long Island hosted twin 30's for the Modifieds. Tom Rogers Jr won them both.
  Jeff Gordon raced to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the year, holding off Kevin Harvick on Sunday for his first win at Michigan International Speedway since 2001.
  Chris Buescher took the lead on the 68th of 90 laps in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and nursed his fuel the rest of the way to hold off Regan Smith and Brian Scott. Smith, in particular, was waiting for Buescher to run out of gas.

  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: August 21, 2015

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