The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

September 4, 2015

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 Ernie Gahan, one of the chosen few to win on both dirt and asphalt at Stafford took the Friday night win on the dirt. Gahan continued his hot streak over to Saturday night at Norwood where he took his second win of the weekend. Bill Slater finished second with Red Foote, third. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran on three different days, Wednesday, with Don Collins taking the Modified win, Collins again on Saturday and Billy Harman on Sunday.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble scored his seventh win on the dirt at Stafford. Sal Dee was the 75 lap Modified winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Charlie Webster was the Sunday Modified winner. Back then, a track could run two nights a week and make money! Twin 50’s were run at the Albany – Saratoga Speedway. Elton Hill won the first 50 and was followed by Jerry Humiston, Billy Greco and Don Flynn. Greco won the second 50 with Flynn, 2nd. Ed Patnode finished third with Humiston, fourth. Fonda was shut down for a fair. The New Yorker 400 at the Utica – Rome Speedway was split into two, 200 lap events. Rene Charland, with two second place finishes, was declared the overall winner. Bill Wimble won the first 200 with Jerry Cook, third. Fred Harbach won the night cap with Jerry Humiston, third. Seekonk brought in the Modifieds for a special event which was won by George Summers with Eddie Flemke, second.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, the twin 25's took a strange twist at Stafford on Saturday night. Bugsy Stevens won the first one and was followed by Ed Flemke, Ed Yerrington and Lou Toro. Just past half way in the second 25,the red flag was displayed because a major fire had broken out in the town of Stafford and the fire truck and ambulance had to leave. When it was determined that the emergency vehicles would not return, then leader, Billy Harman in the Ted Marsh No.55 was declared the winner. It was to be Harman's only career win at Stafford. Yerrington was placed in second spot and was followed by Stevens, Bob Vee and Bobby Santos. Denis Giroux won a double point event at Plattsburg. Fred DeSarro finished a disappointing 16th after dropping out with mechanical problems. Dick Watson was the 30 lap Modified winner at Waterford. On Sunday at Thompson, Bob Santos and Eddie Flemke each won 25 lappers and at Utica-Rome on Sunday night, it rained.

  Forty years ago in 1975, Maynard Troyer won the Lancaster 200 over Paul Radford, Richie Evans and Lou Lazzaro. Dick Dunn scored a big win as he won the Fall Stinger 100 at the Waterford Speedbowl. At Islip, Charlie Siebert took the win and at Fulton, Jerry Cook beat out Evans and Sonney Seamon for the win. Leo Cleary was the small block modified winner at Thompson.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Jeff Fuller in the Tom Dunn T-5 took the win at Westboro over Bugsy Stevens and Mike Weeden. At Riverside it was Ray Miller over Richie Evans and Bob Polverari and at Waterford a 200 lapper was on tap and Bob Potter took the win over Moose Hewitt. Sunday afternoon at Thompson, Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Fuller and John Rosati. At the conclusion, Bouchard and Rosati headed for Monadnock for a Sunday night event. Bouchard drove and Rosati flew. Much to many surprised fans, Bouchard arrived 15 minutes before the consi and made it into the show. Rosati got there late and never got a chance to qualify. Mike Weeden took the win with Bouchard, second and Marty Radwick, third. Islip ran a 250-lap event on Sunday. Charlie Jarzombek led for 247 laps when he lost an engine and handed the eventual victory to Richie Evans. George Wagner finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Despite losing an engine, Jarzombek still finished fourth. Other weekend winners were Don LaJoie at Danbury, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, Gil Hearne at Wall, Jim Shampine at Star and George Kent at Shangri-La. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Bobby Allison took the win. Harry Gant crashed with 50 to go as he was trying to take the lead.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, Spencer Speedway ran on Friday night with Jan Leaty taking the win over Randy Hedger and Doug Hewitt. The annual Thompson 300 was on tap and with temperatures in the 90's it proved to be a test of man and machine. Richie Evans led 155 laps to win the event over Doug Hewitt and Bob Polverari. Doug Hevron had been running second with four to go when he suffered a flat and had to pit. Wayne Dion was the Thompson SK Modified winner. Riverside Park ran open competition on Saturday night with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Polverari and Richie Gallup. Chris Young ended the season at Riverhead with a win. The first ever Enduro was run at Waterford and drew 268 cars and 8000+ people. Richie Evans sewed up the NASCAR Northeastern Regional Championship and in Winston Cup action at Richmond, Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter and Darrell Waltrip took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, the Thompson 300 was a double header with the Busch North Series, which gave fans the best of both worlds. Mike McLaughlin won the modified portion, which paid $15050 to win. Satch Worley finished second with Doug Hevron, third. Forty-one cars started the event. Kenny Bouchard was the Busch North series winner. The pit fee was $40.00.Reggie Ruggiero got his fifth of the season at Monadnock on Friday night and Jim Broderick went pole to pole at Waterford on Saturday night.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Mike Gada went pole to pole at Waterford on Saturday night. Mark LaJunesse finished second with John Anderson, third. Matt Kobyluck was the late model winner. The Busch North Series ran at Stafford. Ted Christopher was leading with two laps to go when Andy Santarre dumped him. Tom Bolles was in the right spot at the right time and took the win. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero got his fourth win of the season over Steve Park. The Thompson 300 ran on Sunday. Steve Park won the preliminary Pro Stock 100 and came back to win the 300.In the Banzul No.8; Park led five times for 155 laps. Ricky Fuller finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik, Jamie Tomaino and Charlie Pasteryak. Point leader Tony Hirschman, wrecked. Barefoot Bob McCreadie won the Lebanon Valley 200 DIRT event and at Richmond, Dale Jarrett was the Grandnational winner and Rusty Wallace was the Winston Cup winner.

  Fifteen years ago, in 2000, Willie Hardie won the final Friday night SK modified event of the season at Stafford. Zack Sylvester finished second with Frank Wainwrite finished third. Ted Christopher finished seventh and wrapped up the 2000 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series North East Championship. Stafford closed out their regular Friday night series with the announcement that the Pro Stocks would be eliminated for the 2001 season. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada got his sixth win of the season. Ed Dachenhausen and Eric Berndt followed. Riverhead ran twin features to close their season. Taking the wins were J.R. Bertuccio and Frank Vigliarolo. Scott Quinn took the win at Thompson on Sunday after Todd Ceravolo lost an engine. Ted Christopher finished second with Kerry Malone, third. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Jeff Gordon took the win but a post race inspection showed that Gordon’s car had a magnesium intake manifold. The win was allowed. Gordon and car owner Rick Hendrick were docked 100 points and fined $25,000.Jeff Burton was the BGN winner at Richmond.

  Ten years ago in 2005 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on Saturday night. With gasoline approaching the $3.50 per gallon mark there were not too many race fans heading south from New England. Forty-six Northern and Southern Modifieds were on hand for qualifying which was held on Friday night. Chuck Hossfeld was the quickest as he took the Busch Pole with a speed of 99.979 mph. Eric Beers was second fastest at 99.355 mph. Tony Hirschman, Don Lia and John Blewett III rounded out the top five. The top eight redrew for starting spots. Ted Christopher, who qualified seventh, drew the pole. Hossfeld drew the outside pole.
  A 50 lap Last Chance qualifier, won by Reggie Ruggiero preceded what had to be one of the best attended stand alone, non Nextel Cup events at the Virginia oval. Years ago stand alone Modified events at Martinsville drew in excess of 20,000 fans.
  Ted Christopher got back on track in his quest for the Whelen Modified Tour Series Championship, as he was able to out duel Mike Stefanik for the win. Christopher, who led a total of 164 laps of the 250-lap event, took the lead for the final time on lap 227. John Blewett III finished a strong third with Eric Beers and Doug Coby rounding out the top five. A total of 46 Modifieds were on hand. The Speed Channel taped the race which was tentatively scheduled to be shown sometime in December. Ted Christopher had regained the Series point lead from Tony Hirschman. Jerry Marquis was third with Chuck Hossfeld fourth and Eric Beers, fifth.
  Jeff Malave all but saw all his hopes for a NASCAR Division IV championship go up in smoke on Thursday night at the Thompson Speedway. Malave, a former Long Islander who now lived in Manchester, CT., was a scant two points behind Donny Reuvers of Shakopee, MN. Malave ended his night in the wall after Ronnie Silk made a bonsai move on Todd Ceravolo for the lead. Silk hit Ceravolo, spinning him to the infield. Malave got collected. Malave, who was quite upset, stated that Silk had no business doing what he did. While Malave’s crew was trying to make repairs Ceravolo was given his spot back which allowed him to eventually record his third win of the season. Kerry Malone, who had had a string of bad luck, finished second. John Sandberg, who was under suspension at Stafford finished third and was followed by Ricky Shawn and Ron Yuhas Jr. The Division IV Championship, which would end on September 18, was worth $25,000 to the winner. During the early going it appeared that Jimmy Blewett had a good chance of recording his first feature at Thompson when he was forced to retire with motor problems. Other Thursday night winners were Jeff Zuidema in the Late Models, Fred Astle Jr in the Pro Stocks, Danny Cates in the Limited Sportsman, Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks and Leo Olivero in the Thompson Modifieds.
  Jeff Malave’s bad luck carried over to the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Malave hit the second turn wall on lap 33 of the 40 lap feature. Frank Ruocco led all but the first two laps of the feature as he notched the win. Woody Pitkat gave him some late race heat but in the end had to settle for second. Jeff Baral finished third with Mike Holdridge and Kenny Horton rounding out the top five. Other Friday night winners were Tom Fearn in the Late Models, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Models and Mike Sweeney Jr in the DARE Stocks.
  The Waterford Speedbowl continued to be a one-groove race track as Dennis Charette held his line on the bottom after taking the lead on the ninth lap of the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Rob Janovic finished second. Janovic started 14th. Ronnie Silk finished third with Don Fowler and Ron Yuhas rounding out the top five. Allen Coates was the Late Model winner with Bruce Thomas, second and Rob Summers finished third. Other Saturday night winners were Chis Bakaj in the Legends, Danny Field in the Mini Stocks and Dan Darnstaed in the Sportsman.

  Five years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on their late Summer break. Bobby Santos retook the point lead from Ted Christopher. Santos led by 32 points. Mike Stefanik, Todd Szegedy and Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ryan Preece, Erick Rudolph, Eric Goodale, Eric Beers and rookie Justin Bonsignore.
  With nine races left in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule two time Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Don Lia and SS Green Light Racing parted ways.
  The Thompson International Speedway announced that the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) had imposed an indefinite suspension from NASCAR competition on four drivers following an incident on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at the Thompson International Speedway. NASCAR is the sanctioning body for races at Thompson and NASCAR officials are in charge of the competition at the speedway. The official penalty notice from NASCAR cited the drivers for “Actions detrimental to stock car racing.”
  Race drivers Fred Michalski of Dayville, CT, Scott and Trevor Michalski of South Killingly, CT and Scott Jassaume of Danielson, CT all received the same penalty from NASCAR. In addition, the Speedway informed these drivers and Ruth Michalski of South Killingly, CT that they were no longer welcome on the property in and around the race track. This action is a result of an attack that the above made on Mini Stock driver Rick Blanchard following the feature held on August 19.
  In Thursday night action at the northeast Connecticut oval the Speedway played host to the Modified Racing Series for the second time in 2010. In the end it was “one of their” own standing in victory lane with Rowan Pennink scoring his third Modified Racing Series victory. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Ted Christopher earned his ninth Sunoco Modified feature event of the season. Mike O’Sullivan bested a strong field to post the victory in the Super Late Models.
  Wayne Coury, Sr. celebrated with a win in the Late Models. Joe Arena earned a hard-fought victory in the Limited Sportsman division. John Studley streaked to consecutive victories in the TIS Modifieds. It was a night banner night for Mike Gorgieveski who scored his first career victory in the Mini Stocks.
  Ted Christopher ended a long dry spell scored his first victory of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature. It was Christopher's first win at Stafford in over a year and overall his 92nd SK Modified win at the track he calls home. Woody Pitkat took advantage of a green white checkered restart to nail down his sixth victory of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his eighth win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dave Yardley won his second feature of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande matched his brother Kyle as a three-time winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Teenager Anthony Flannery won the 50-lap Raceceiver Legends National Tour race, earning a guaranteed starting position to the Legends Cars Nationals event held at Langley, VA Speedway in October. Tyler Chadwick won his second consecutive SK Modified® race and third on the season. Bruce Thomas Jr. and Ken Cassidy Jr. won their third races of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model and Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock divisions. Al Stone rounded out the winners by taking his third consecutive Street Stock win, his fifth overall on the year. For Thomas, it was his 50th career win
  Chadwick recieved a gift while running third in the closing laps when a heated battle between Doug Coby and Todd Ceravolo boiled over with Coby spinning in turn one. The pivotal moment of the race came on lap 28. Ceravolo was penalized to the rear for his involvement, handing the lead to Chadwick.
  Following Chadwick at the finish was Keith Rocco followed by Rob Janovick, Jeff Paul, and Joe Gada. Coby ended up seventh and Ceravolo was 11th.
  In some sad news, John Small, who manned the announcers booth at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl in the mid 50's to mid 60's passed-away at age 97. One of the most popular announcers in the early history of the shoreline oval, Small’s booming voice and talented delivery set the standard for calling the races at the Eastern Connecticut oval for many of the raceways formative seasons. He was extremely-popular with fans and competitors alike. In 1952, he began a long career in radio where he hosted many country music radio shows and was known as Cousin Johnny. Mr. Small, among many other things, was a past Mayor of the Town of Groton, CT.
  The Modified Racing Series headed for the Thompson Speedway for their second visit of the year. Rowan Pennink who has called Thompson International Speedway home for the last few seasons competing in the NASCAR All American Series Weekly, claimed the victory in Modified Racing Series 75. Mike Stefanik showed the way in the early going before relinquishing the lead to Bobby Santos III. Stefanik would retire from the event two laps shy of halfway. Santos led through lap 56 before giving up the battle to Pennink. Three laps later, Ted Christopher moved by Santos and into second. In a repeat of the Sunoco Modified event earlier in the evening, Pennink and Christopher waged a heated battle for the lead. A late race restart with less than 15 laps to go gave Christopher his best shot at Pennink’s lead. After a quick bid, Christopher had to settle back in line in second. The lead duo stretched their advantage over third running Santos. An incident involving the previous week’s winner Todd Annarummo brought out the caution with seven laps remaining. Pennink was up for the challenge on the single-file restart. Pennink went on to claim his third MRS win of the season over Christopher, Santos and Eric Goodale. Les Hinckley recovered from a practice crash to finish fifth.
  NASCAR reinstated crew member Randy LaJoie upon his successful completion of a counseling program following his June 22 suspension for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.
  Boris Said came back from an early spin and won the Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday, edging Max Papis by a nose on a green-white-checkered finish to win the crash-filled event. NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors enjoyed the weekend off.

  Last year, 2014, The Valenti Modified Racing Series, with 24 cars strong, made its third and final visit of the 2014 season to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 5th Annual VMRS 80. Taking the checkered flag was Tommy Barrett, Jr., after starting fourth, used a bold three-wide move to take the lead for the first time on a lap-58 restart and led the rest of the way.
  At the drop of the green flag, Justin Bonsignore took the lead with Max Zachem in second. Rowan Pennink quickly moved past Zachem for second on lap-2 and Keith Rocco followed Pennink by Zachem to take third. Behind Zachem, Chris Pasteryak got around Tommy Barrett, Jr. to move into fifth place.
  Rocco got around Pennink for second and he then took the lead from Bonsignore on lap-6. Pennink was now third, with Zachem fourth and Pasteryak was fifth. Bonsignore went back by Rocco for the lead on lap-8 and then Rocco retook the lead from Bonsignore on lap-9. Rocco held the lead until lap-22 when Bonsignore went back to the front. Bonsignore’s lead was extremely short lived as Rocco went back by Bonsignore in the next set of corners. Things then began to settle in as the top-9 cars of Rocco, Bonsignore, Pennink, Zachem, Pasteryak, Preece, Barrett, Ted Christopher, and Woody Pitkat were all in close contact with each other. Preece’s run came to an end on lap-36 as his #31 dropped off the pace and he slowly made his way back to pit road. Zachem took a look to the inside of Pennink for third, but he was unable to make the pass stick and he settled back into line in fourth behind Pennink.
  Rocco took the lead back under green with Bonsignore in second. One lap after the restart, contact between Barrett and Pennink sent Pennink up the track and into the path of Zachem to bring the caution back out. Rocco took the lead on the restart but behind Rocco, Charlie Pasteryak, Mike Willis, Jr., and Carl Medieros, Jr. came together and spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out.
  Rocco again took the lead back under green with Bonsignore in hot pursuit. Christopher was third with Barrett and Pasteryak making up the top-5. Christopher’s car dropped off the pace on lap-54 and he slowly made his way to pit road. Bonsignore was all over the back of Rocco when the caution came back out with 57 laps complete for a spin by Bakaj.
  The next restart told the story as Barrett went 3-wide to the inside of both Rocco and Bonsignore to take over the race lead. Rocco and Bonsignore settled into second and third with Pennink back up to fourth after his earlier misfortunes. Woody Pitkat was up to fifth behind Pennink, his first appearance of the night in the top-5 with 20-laps to go in the race.
  Barrett pulled away from Rocco in the closing laps to pick up his third Stafford VMRS victory. Rocco finished second, with Bonsignore, Pennink, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
  In other action at Stafford, Rowan Pennink won for the fourth time in the last 6 races in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Josh Wood was a first time winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno won for the fifth time in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Duane Provost won for the fourth time in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, and Brandon Michael took down his second win in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  Following Pennink, Ted Christopher beat Doug Coby to the line by a nose to take second, with Dan Avery and Ryan Preece rounding out the top-5. Nichole Morgillo continues to keep her racing at Stafford as she finished 15th in the SK feature.
  Mike Christopher Jr who made his open wheeled debut in a SK Lite finished 7th.
  One of Modified racings legends, Eddie Flemke SR, would have been 84 on this week had he lived. A great driver, innovator and one not afraid to express his opinions, Flemke mentored and touched many and is sorely missed.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval hosted Thunder on the Sound, a seven division motorsports program highlighted by the 18th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals SK Modified® 150. The biggest race of the year for the track’s headline NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division was won by Tyler Chadwick. Other winners on the night included Keith Rocco in the Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while a pair of drivers picked up their third victories of the year, Ryan Waterman in the Street Stocks Ray Christian III in the Mini Stocks. Paul Buzel was a first time winner in SK Light Modified action, Mike Christopher Jr. won in the INEX Legend Cars and Paul LaPlante won the Vintage Outlaw Modified race.
  Chadwick’s biggest ally in the 18th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals may have been his patience. The 2012 division champion started the race tenth and slowly moved into contention just before the halfway point of the 150-lap grind. Ted Christopher was out front, showing the way after he passed early leader Ed Puleo on lap-11. Christopher led comfortably until a caution flag came on lap-96.
  Chadwick was in second on lap-70, and trailed Christopher until the lap-96 restart. He tried to unseat Christopher on multiple occasions, finally tucking in behind Christopher in second position. The intensity was definitely on the rise among the lead pack as the race moved to its final stages. Keith Rocco, who spent most of the first hundred laps outside the top-five exhibiting patience of his own, asserted himself in the final fifty circuits. Rocco pressed Chadwick until he gave up the outside, allowing Rocco to move to second on lap-117. Rocco stalked Christopher for the lead until he made a diving maneuver to the inside on lap-130 down the back chute. The two cars came together between turns three and four, spinning both and bringing out a caution.
  Chadwick’s patience paid off as he inherited the lead while Rocco and Christopher resumed from the tail of the field. Chadwick took off from Rob Janovic Jr. on the restart, distancing himself from the competition over the final dash to the finish as Rocco fired his way back through the field. Rocco’s furious rally landed him in second, but he could not catch Chadwick and finished in the runner-up spot. Puleo finished third, Janovic fourth and Matt Galko was fifth.
  Sixth through tenth were Craig Lutz, Ted Christopher, Dennis Perry, Joe Gada and Diego Monahan,
  Just one caution flag slowed Rocco’s roll in the 30-lap Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race, Rocco is now tied with Don Collins with 101 overall wins at the shoreline oval.
  In Modified racing in the Southland, Burt Myers got his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour win of 2014 Saturday night and not without controversy. The 38-year-old Walnut Cove, North Carolina, driver drove to Victory Lane at Langley Speedway after a wild final lap of the Bayport Credit Union 150. Myers was running second to George Brunnhoelzl III on the final lap when the two made contact coming out of Turn 4. Myers gave him a "Bowman Gray Tap" and crossed the line first as Brunnhoelzl bounced off the outside wall and spun across the track. After a video review of the incident, NASCAR officials upheld Myers win and Brunnholzl was scored in second. Andy Seuss finished third, followed by J.R. Bertuccio and Jason Myers.
  Kyle Ebersole, Danny Bohn, Gary Putnam, Ryan Preece and Luke Fleming rounded out the top 10 at Langley. Earlier in the day, Preece won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying, but a late race pit stop cost the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular a shot at the win.
  Preece led a race-high 64 laps, while Brunnhoelzl led 55. The race featured seven lead changes among four drivers. It was the first race in which, in lieu of a mid-race break, teams were allowed to pit and change one tire at any point in the race.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Kasey Kahne drove his way from third to first during a green-white-checkered restart to win Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick led the last 159 laps and held off Joey Logano to score his second consecutive Nationwide Series win at Atlanta and the third of his career at AMS. It’s also his third win of the season and his third with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports operation.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island John Fortin scored his third Modified feature win of the season.

  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: September 4, 2015

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