October 2, 2015
Fifty five years ago in 1960 George Pendergast scored a 50 lap
win at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ray Moran won in the non-Fords and Ed Moody
in the Bombers.
Fifty years ago in 1965 Don Collins
won a 50 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday. Jerry
Glaude was the Bomber winner. Johnny Thompson was the winner at the Norwood
Forty five years ago in 1970,
cousin’s Merv and Roger Treichler finished one-two in the Race of Champions
at Langhorne. Finishing third was an outlaw driver from Rome, N.Y. by the
name of Richie Evans. Dick Watson won the season ending 36 lap Modified
feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Gada SR was the Late Model Daredevil
winner. Walt Dombrowski was crowned the Modified Champion at the Speedbowl.
Ron Cote was the Late Model Daredevil Champion.
Forty years ago in 1975, the Race of
Champions moved to Trenton in 1972 and it was still the race to win. Ray
Hendrick, driving a Dick Armstrong owned Mustang took the win over Merv
Treichler, Bugsy Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek and Richie Evans.
Thirty five years ago in 1980, the
Race of Champions was no longer a Columbus Day classic as its date was
changed to September and the race itself was moved again, this time to
Pocono. On this weekend, Oswego ran a season ending 30 lapper. Richie Evans
took the win over Brett Bodine, Greg Sacks, Maynard Troyer and Doug Hewitt.
The big event of the weekend was the DIRT 200 at Syracuse, which drew 154
cars and was broadcast by ESPN. Gary Balough, driving a car, which was a
cross between a sprinter and a Supermodified with side panels and a roof off
a Lincoln Continental, made the event a no contest affair. Balough, who was
booed in victory lane, received $26,507 for his efforts. Balough's win
prompted DIRT officials to change the race rules, which in the future would
allow only conventional dirt type modifieds to participate. Finishing second
was Buzzie Reutiman with Frank Cozze, third. Geoff Bodine made a rare dirt
track appearance and didn't disappoint his fans as he came home in fourth
spot. Westboro ran a 50 lapper on Sunday, which drew 39 modifieds. Ronnie
Bouchard took the win over John Rosati, Joe Howard, Leo Cleary and Corky
Thirty years ago in 1985, the only
action was an SK Modified event at Thompson which saw Wayne Dion take the
win in front of a sparse crowd.
Twenty five years ago in 1990, it was
Twenty years ago in 1995, Jerry Pearl
won the season ending Modified event at Waterford. Pearl passed Todd
Ceravolo with three laps to go when Ceravolo blistered a tire. Ceravolo hung
on for second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Chris Jones, Tucker
Reynolds Jr. and George Moose Hewitt.
Fifteen years ago, in 2000, the
Featherlite Modified Tour was at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero took the win
after a controversial confrontation with Ted Christopher with eight laps to
go in the 200-lap event. Christopher had taken the lead on lap 158 from Tom
Baldwin and was looking to put the Gary Cretty mount in victory lane when it
all came to an end on lap 192.Ruggiero dove under Christopher in turn one.
The two made contact and Christopher spun and hit the wall. Jerry Marquis
ended up in second spot and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Rick Fuller.
Mike Ewanitsko was involved in a bad crash on lap 78.Ewanitsko had slowed to
avoid a spinning car and was just about stopped when southern competitor
Junior Miller came flying in full bore, rode over a wheel and all but went
through the rear window of the Ewanitsko mount. The Art Barry No.21 was
destroyed but the cage and bracing did its job allowing Ewanitsko to walk
away from the crash. Waterford ran their season ending 100 lapper with Ron
Yuhas Jr. taking the win over Tucker Reynolds and Dennis Gada. In Winston
Cup action at Martinsville, Tony Stewart took both the win and the pole.
Ten years ago in 2005, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour series was supposed to be at the Thompson Speedway on
Saturday for the Twin 100's that was rescheduled from June 12. Heavy rains
moved into Connecticut during early afternoon on Friday and along with a
forecast of rain all day Saturday, postponed the event to Sunday. By mid day
on Saturday it became a moot point as over four inches of rain dumped on the
Thompson area and the forecast was extended to have continuing rain through
mid week. The decision was made to postpone the entire program to Saturday,
October 29. Prior to all this taking place the Waterford Speedbowl also had
to postpone their season ending Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. The Speedbowl
selected the same weekend with their main events to be run on Sunday,
October 30. In the interest of being fair to competitors and after
consulting with NASCAR the Waterford Speedbowl changed its rain date to
October 22-23. It’s not so much that it would create conflicts for
competitors but it did create a conflict for the paying fan as there were
only so many entertainment dollars to be spent by families per week. One of
the tracks would have taken it on the chin.
The winds of change were beginning to blow for 2006. Word had it that the
Don Barker-Bob Cuneau No.50 Whelan Modified team would be disbanded at
season's end. One of Chuck Hossfeld's Lancaster Speedway cronies let it slip
as he alluded to the fact that a Modified had been bought from Sege Fidanza
for him to drive at the western New York Lancaster Speedway for the 2006
It had also been heard that Kirk Alexander, one of the top guns of the
northern New England based True Value Modified Series, had been approached
by two Whelen Modified Series teams who were interested in securing his
services as a driver in 2006. It had also been said that the True Value
Modified Tour Series competitors had voted to look into racing at Thompson
in 2006. The TVMS raced at Seekonk in 2005 and was expected back in 2006.
Speaking of Seekonk, Whelen Modified Tour competitors were glad to hear that
a fully operational scoreboard and lap counter was now in place and was
operational at the Massachusetts oval.
A devastating fire struck the Troyer Engineering and Race Car Fabrication
facility in Rochester, NY late Friday, October 7. A power surge in an
electrical riser outside of the building sent sparks into the second floor
of the building. Materials in the storage area ignited, spreading the fire
throughout the facility ultimately engulfing the majority of the building.
The whole left half of the shop was gone along with much of the inventory.
All that was left were the outside walls. The office area and the bays were
gone with the roof either burned out or collapsed plus smoke and water
damage to the remainder of the shop. Troyer Engineering designed and
fabricated asphalt and dirt track chassis. Company founder Maynard Troyer
had begun searching for a temporary location so that chassis building would
continue on schedule. A remote office had already been set up with computers
The Stafford Motor Speedway had completed another year of racing. The
next order of business would be the annual banquet and awards dinner which
would be held on Friday, November 11 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in
East Windsor, CT. In the tracks SK Modified division Lloyd Agor wrapped up
his first ever track title by 30 points over Todd Owen. Agor had 14 top ten
finishes including two wins in 21 starts. Owen also had two wins in 21
starts. Willie Hardie Jr, with one win, finished third. Ted Christopher and
Frank Ruocco, each with three wins finished fourth and fifth. Sixth through
tenth are Jeff Baral with two wins, Keith Rocco with one win, Woody Pitkat
with two wins followed by Chuck Docherty and Jeff Malave who were winless.
Ryan Posocco, with two wins, won the Late Model Championship by 46 points
over Tom Butler. Butler had four wins but failed to display the consistency
required to be the champion. Jim Peterson, Ed Ricard and Scott Foster
rounded out the top five.
For the second time in 34 years, Super DIRT Week's premier event - the
Eckerd modified championship - was postponed indefinitely by inclement
weather, probably until next year. The 200-lap race, which began under
caution because of wet and slick track conditions, was halted by rain after
52 laps. After race teams and a dwindling group of fans waited through four
hours of on-and-off drizzle, DIRT Motorsports officials pulled the plug on
their richest race of the season. The announcement, DIRT's first
postponement of the 200-lap race since the 1977 event was pushed back to the
following spring, was met with anger and frustration by many race teams.
In Nextel Cup action, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle led a team sweep of the
top three spots and another Roush driver, Matt Kenseth, finished fifth. But
the last laugh might belong to Tony Stewart, who finished fourth to extend
his Chase lead from four points to 75. It was Stewart's 15th top-10 finish
in 16 races and, more important, his third in the first four events of the
10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. Biffle elected not to nudge
Casey Kahne out of contention during their side-by-side duel in the Busch
Racing Series event on Saturday, as Kahne edged ahead yards from the finish
for the victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Five years ago in 2010, The NASCAR
Whelen Southern Modified Tour made its first visit to Tri-County Motor
Speedway in North Carolina . MadHouse star Burt Myers passed John Smith with
five laps to go to record his first win of the season in the Tri-County 150.
It was Myers' seventh career win and first since he was credited with a
victory as the highest finishing NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver
in the combination race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in Sept. of 2009.
Smith wound up second, followed by Andy Seuss in third. Brandon Hire
finished fourth and James Civali fifth.
There were 12 lead changes among six drivers with Civali using his bonus
points for leading a lap to hold on to the points lead by just three points
over Seuss (1,460-1,457). Myers started fifth. There were five caution
periods for 21 laps. Twelve of the 19 starters finished on the lead lap.
In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Kyle James
of Ashaway, RI drove a great race to claim his first career SK Modified®
win. Keith Rocco of Wallingford used a third place finish to clinch the
division track championship and finish off his sensational season. Tim
Jordan of Plainfield won his fourth Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model
feature. Brandon Plemons of Uncasville was the Street Stock winner, his
second checkered flag of the year. Waterford native Chris Williams won the
Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock feature, another second time winner in 2010.
Allen Coates of Ledyard and Howard Payne of Shelton split the A.B. CDL
Driver Training Center Truck races.
Ron Yuhas closed in to James’ bumper for the final two laps as Rocco made
it a three-car race for the win. James held the bottom lane and did a
masterful job as he went on to take his first career win in the division in
his first season behind the wheel of a Modified. Yuhas was second ahead of
Rocco in third. Diego Monahan and Tucker Reynolds rounded out the top-five.
Ace Photographer Howie Hodge reported that Ted Christopher won the ISMA
Supermodified race on Saturday night (9/25) in Berlin, Michigan driving the
Clyde Booth 61. In 1999, Christopher climbed aboard a Paul Dunigan –owned
supermodified for the first time ever. It was at Thompson Speedway. He
started dead last. He won. Saturday at Berlin Raceway in Michigan, Ted
climbed into the Clyde Booth 61 for the first time, at a track he’d never
seen before, started dead last and won!
The Thompson Speedway ran a make-up event on Sunday which closed out
their regular racing season. In a somewhat surprising announcement Special
Consultant Ben Dodge hinted that the speedway management was thinking of
possibly dropping Thursdays off their weekly schedule and going back to
Sundays. Dodge asked the competitors what they thought of the change. This
writer's opinion was to leave well enough alone. The attendance on Thursdays
has been good. The shows are good and they get over early. Moving to Sundays
will not improve attendance, chances are during the summer months it will
hurt. With racing on Thursdays the race fan can have his cake and eat it
too! Fans get their weekly racing fix without interfering with family
activities on Sundays. Chances are moving to Sundays won improve car counts.
The only thins that will improve car counts are higher purses and a better
economy. Just my opinion!
On a blustery Sunday, the 2010 champions were crowned in all six NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series divisions at Thompson International Speedway. The
evening also featured what would ultimately be the fourth leg of the
Tour-Type Modified Shootout originally scheduled for August 5, 2010. Mike
Stefanik of Coventry, RI, who crossed the stripe in second, was declared the
winner of the event after post race technical inspection. At the checkers,
it appeared as if Long Islander Justin Bonsignore had posted his first
Modified victory at Thompson. Officials deemed the fuel in Bonsignore’s #51
to be in violation of the rules. Stefanik was awarded the victory. Charlie
Pasteryak had a great run to come home second. Erix Goodale, Shelly Perry
and Keith Rocco completed the top-five.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action Ronnie Silk turned in a
dominating performance to score his first victory of the season in the
Sunoco Modifieds. Ted Christopher, who finished fourth, had sewn up the
championship prior to the start of the night’s events. made it a run to the
end in the chase for the Super Late Model championship by winning the event.
His rival Derek Ramstrom chased him to the checkers to secure the 2010
divisional title-his second straight.
In the Late Models, Tom O’Sullivan of made winning a family affair as he
posted the feature victory. Rick Gentes wore the 2010 Late Model crown.
Scott Sundeen bested the field in the Limited Sportsman division in an
attempt to dethrone Larry Barnett. He won the battle but it was Barnett
winning the war with his second straight divisional title. Keith McDermott
ran to the victory in the TIS Modifieds taking the victory from the 2010
champion R.J. Marcotte. In the Mini Stocks it was Dwayne Dorr posting the
feature victory while Chuck Rogers earned the championship.
The 60th Annual Sunoco Race of Champions was held at the Oswego Speedway
in Oswego, NY. Former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Tony Hirschman
came out of retirement to win the event. Chuck Hossfeld finished second with
Matt Hirschman, third.
Kyle Busch took a dominating romp on the concrete and rolled into the
NASCAR record book. Busch set a single-season record for wins in the
Nationwide Series, taking the checkered flag for the 11th time in only 23
races on Saturday at Dover International Speedway. Busch was tied with Sam
Ard for the previous record with 10 wins. Busch also won 10 races in 2008,
matching the record Ard set in NASCAR's second-tier series in 1983.
In Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson had a perfect weekend on the track.
He won the pole, dominated again in another victory at Dover International
Speedway, and even held his baby daughter in his arms in Victory Lane for
the first time.
Last year, 2014, NASCAR has closed
out their 2014 Whelen All-American Series championship Series. Anthony
Anders has been declared the series champion. The 43-year-old Anders, who
competes at the Greenville Pickins Speedway in South Carolina, accomplished
the feat by leading the national points standings every week of the season
and finishing with 30 wins, ninth most in a single season in the history of
Two-time national champion Lee Pulliam of North Carolina finished second,
while Connecticut’s Keith Rocco finished third. It is the fourth straight
year Pulliam had been among the top three, while Rocco stretched his run to
eight seasons, every year under the current format, of being in the top
Anders had 30 wins, 44 top fives and 48 top 10s in 51 races at
Greenville, South Carolina’s Anderson Motor Speedway and Myrtle Beach
Speedway, as well as North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Pulliam
continued his incredible four-year run, adding 25 wins, 41 top fives and 42
top 10s in 46 starts to his resume. The 26-year-old from Semora, North
Carolina, has 92 Late Model wins since 2011. He won his first North Carolina
championship to go with the Virginia titles he has won in 2012-14. Rocco
also added to his own legacy. The 29-year-old from Wallingford, Connecticut,
won his seventh straight Connecticut championship. He has already clinched
the SK Modified Division title at Waterford Speedbowl, and is third at
Stafford Motor Speedway and second at Thompson Speedway heading into each
track’s final weekends. Rocco, who had 16 wins, 35 top fives and 40 top 10s
in 46 starts, will be on the big stage in Charlotte for the awards as one of
the top three drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for the sixth
When Mike Stefanik took his helmet off at Loudon it was his last time as
the multi-time NASCAR Modified Champion has decided to retire from driving,
once and for all. Stefanik has nothing to prove and a career to be proud of.
Stefanik began his racing career at Stafford in 1976, driving a back up six
cylinder All American car belonging to Bob Witcop. Believe it or not, the
night before he was to make his debut, he was hit by a car outside an auto
dealership where he worked. When Stefanik made his start a week later, he
realized that being on the track in competition was serious business.
Stefanik picked up his first LTD Sportsman win in 1978, but it was in 1979
when he dominated the division with eleven wins. He moved up to the
modifieds in 1980 and garnered his first open wheel win at Riverside Park on
July 12. Stefanik ran at both Stafford and Riverside, gaining confidence and
experience plus, he caught the eye of Richie Evans. Evans talked Sonny
Koszela into giving the young hot shoe a ride in the famous Woodchopper
Special that had been formerly driven by Ernie Gahan, Leo Cleary, Kenny
Bouchard, Fred DeSarro, and Bugsy Stevens.
The combination worked so well that Stefanik literally became part of the
family as he married Koszela’s daughter Julie. The alliance and marriage
into the Koszela family enabled Stefanik to become a full time race car
fabricator as well as a driver.
Stefanik began racing on the NASCAR Feather Lite Modified tour and has
been extremely successful. When the opportunity to race on the Busch Grand
National North (BGNN) series presented itself in 1991, Stefanik jumped at
the chance and has been equally successful there. In seven years he entered
102 BGNN events with six wins and 56 top 10’s. In 1997, Stefanik became the
second driver in the 50 year history of NASCAR to win two division titles,
the Feather Lite Modified and BGNN, in the same year.
By the time the dust had settled from the Richie Evans-Jerry Cook rivalry
that fueled NASCAR Modified racing in the 1970s, Massachusetts native Mike
Stefanik was beginning a career that would redefine success in NASCAR
racing. Stefanik's career accomplishments include four track championships,
four Most Popular Driver awards, 74 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories
(through 2013) and nine NASCAR championships. Stefanik's seven Whelen
Modified Tour titles (1989, '91, '97, '98 '01 '02 and '06) are accompanied
by two K&N Pro Series East championships, which he earned in 1997-98.
Incredibly, Stefanik won the dual championships in two consecutive seasons,
making him the first driver since Lee Petty to win two NASCAR division
titles in a single season, and the only driver to do it twice.
Jack Arute Sr had to be be rolling over in his grave as the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour hit a new low at the Stafford Motor Speedway as only 22
entries showed for the annual Fall Final. Stafford had run Modifieds every
year since 1959. Their future at the track could be in jeopardy. During the
1988 season the Modifieds were not part of the season schedule as track
owner Jack Arute felt his SK's deserved top billing. The SK's ran all the
big shows. The competition was good but the big names of the day chose to
ignore the track. Attendance suffered and Arute brought the Modifieds back.
In recent years NASCAR had changed rules and hiked up fees in order to
compete. One by one, teams had fallen by the wayside. Of the 22 cars on hand
maybe 14 had a chance of a top finish. The rest were field fillers.
Bobby Santos, from Franklin, Massachusetts, posted a fast lap of 18.506
seconds (97.266 mph) Saturday to capture the Coors Light Pole Award for the
sixth time in the last eight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events at the
Nutmeg oval. Second fastest was secured by rookie Tommy Barrett Jr., who
laid down a fast lap of 18.529 (97.145). Season points leader Doug Coby
qualified third at 18.548 (97.046). Defending NAPA Fall Final 150 winner
Donny Lia qualified fourth and Eric Goodale was fifth.
Ryan Preece scored a one-two punch at the Fall Final at Stafford on
Sunday as he won the Whelen Modified Tour 150 and the SK Modified 40 lapper.
While Preece won both battles it was Ted Christopher who won the war for
Track Championship honors. In the SK 40 lapper, Christopher finished third
after overcoming an early race penalty for contact on the track to clinch
his record 9th career Track title.
In the Mod Tour event Preece broke out of his winnless slump after a
season-long absence from Victory Lane, and collected his 10th career NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour victory by holding off Christopher. Immediately
following the checkered flag things go a little testy. After the finish
Preece and Christopher spun in turn two after they made contact. Both drove
Preece, the defending tour champion, had to weather a final challenge by
Christopher after a late caution set up a final restart with two laps
remaining. Christopher had an early advantage but Preece was able to power
back by for the victory. Preece led a race-high 79 laps in recording his
first win since Sept. 14 last year at New York's Riverhead Raceway.
Ron Silk rallied back to finish third, followed by rookie Tommy Barrett
Jr. and Patrick Emerling. Woody Pitkat was sixth and Eric Goodale seventh.
Championship points leader Doug Coby finished eighth and took advantage of
second straight rough outing by Justin Bonsignore (21st) to extend his
points lead. Coby leads Christopher, who moved into second, by 28 points and
Bonsignore by 39 heading into the season finale coming up at the Thompson
Speedway on Oct 19. Donny Lia and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top 10.
Bobby Santos, who won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying Saturday,
In other Stafford action, Tom Butler scored a wire to wire victory in the
30-lap Late Model feature event while Adam Gray celebrated his second
consecutive Late Model championship.
In the SK 40 lapper, Dan Avery took to the outside of Preece on the final
lap but Preece was able to hold him off to the checkered flag to pick up his
sixth win of the season. Christopher finished third. Keith Rocco came home
fourth with Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith
Rocco won the SK Modified® feature while Jason Palmer won the Valenti Auto
Mall Late Model race. Ed Gertsch Jr. returned to Victory Lane after a long
hiatus in the Street Stocks, Ken Cassidy Jr. took the night’s Mini Stock
race and Paul Buzel continued a hot streak in the SK Light Modifieds. Mike
Christopher Jr. won another INEX Legend Cars feature and set a track record,
while Taylor Bowser won in the visiting Mini Cup series event.
Rocco found the winner’s circle for the eleventh time of the year in SK
Modified® racing. He checkered a non-stop 35-lap race that took under nine
minutes to complete from start to finish. Rocco started in ninth position
and quickly moved into contention, taking second on lap-10. He ran down
leader Rob Janovic Jr. of Waterford by lap-16 and applied heavy pressure
until making an inside move stick as they raced to turn one on lap-21. Once
clear of Janovic, Rocco had smooth sailing through the finish. Janovic wound
up second and Joe Gada of Salem was third. Rocco already secured the
division’s 2014 championship, his second in a row and fourth overall.
Rocco's win placed him second on the all-time winners list with 102
victories at the shoreline oval.
The final event of the year takes place this coming Saturday and Sunday
when the track hosts Finale Weekend.
On the horizon, later in October, the track may be up for a foreclosure
auction. Many rumors persist as to whom will be bidding on the property and
what it future holds. The Waterford Speedbowl has been in existence since
1951. Racing at the shoreline oval has been highly competitive and it would
be a shame to see it go away.
In Modified racing in the Southland, George Brunnhoelzl held off Burt
Myers Saturday night in a green-white-checkered finish and in the process
kept alive his hopes for a fifth NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
championship with his win in the Zooland 150 at the Caraway Speedway in
JR Bertuccio finished third, followed by Danny Bohn and championship
points leader Andy Seuss. Brunnhoelzl cut Seuss' championship points lead
from 18 to nine with two races remaining. Myers, who entered the night
winning three of the last four races, remains in third place 22 points out
of the lead. Jason Myers, Luke Fleming, Brian Loftin, and rookies Bobby
Measmer Jr. and Joe Ryan Osborne completed the top 10.
Jeff Gordon drove away from Brad Keselowski in the final 100 laps of
Sunday’s AAA 400 at the Dover International Speedway to score his fourth
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season, locking himself into a spot
in the second round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch was
the Nationwide Series winner.
The Associated Press reported that a grand jury has decided against
charging NASCAR star Tony Stewart in the August death of another driver at a
sprint car race in upstate New York. The decision was announced Wednesday,
Sept 24, nearly seven weeks after Stewart's car struck and killed Kevin Ward
Jr. at a dirt-track race on Aug. 9 in Canandaigua (can-uhn-DAY'-gwah).
Ward had climbed from his car after it had spun while racing alongside
Stewart. The 20-year-old walked down the track, waving his arms in an
apparent attempt to confront the three-time NASCAR champion.
Toxicology reports revealed Kevin Ward Jr., was under the influence of
marijuana on the night he was struck and killed by a sprint car driven by
Tony Stewart, Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney Michael Tantillo said
Wednesday. Tantillo said the level of marijuana in Ward's system was high
enough to impair judgment.
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
Smith / Looking Back A Bit