The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

October 9, 2015

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 Dutch Hoag, a Modified legend in his own time, won the Race of Champions on the one mile dirt track in Langhorne, PA. Dick Tobias finished second with Wally Dallenbach, third. Bob Malzahn and Carl Van Horn rounded out the top five. George Pendergast won the season ending 25 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner and Dick Dunn was victorious in the Bombers. Don Collins was crowned the track’s Modified Champion. Ted Stack was the non-Ford Champion and Newt Palm was the Bomber Champion.

  Fifty years ago in 1965, Dick Watson won the season ending 100 lap Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Savage was the Bomber winner. Modified Championship honors at the shoreline oval went to Sal Dee. Bill Scrivner was the Bomber champion. Scrivner drove for Roger Bonnville who, in later years, would provide Bob Potter with Modified championship rides. Ralph "Hop" Harrington was the Saturday night winner at Norwood.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, the NASCAR Modifieds were at Beltsville, Maryland for a 200-lap event. Jerry Cook took the win over Eddie Flemke and Billy Hensley. At Thompson, Billy Harman, in the Ted Marsh 55, held off Leo Cleary and Lou Austin for that win. Dick Armstrong bought the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11 that was formerly driven by Ray Hendrick. With Hop Harrington at the wheel, a solid fourth place finish was recorded. Rounding out the top eight were Lou Toro, Joey Kay, Bob Vee and George Moose Hewitt.

  Forty years ago in 1975, it was all quiet with the modifieds as they were getting ready for the annual Cardinal 500 in Martinsville.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, the World Series at Thompson drew 53 modifieds. It was on this date that the late Richie Evans gave Mike Stefanik his big break as he put him in the seat of his back-up experimental-straight axle modified known as the grey ghost. After starting in the rear, the then young driver worked his way to the front and was running second behind Ronnie Bouchard when he was forced out with broken valve springs three quarters of the way through the 50 lap event. Evans had taken the lead at the start but also had bad luck as he was forced to pit with a flat tire on lap 33, giving way to Bouchard. Bouchard led until lap 44 when he was passed by Greg Sacks in the Cal Smalles No.41.Sacks went on to take the win and was followed by Bouchard, John Rosati, Bob Vee, Evans, Ray Miller, Moose Hewitt and Kenny Bouchard. Mike Benevides who today is a successful CPA was the late model winner and Warren Coniam won the Supermodified portion. Ronnie Bouchard won a special 15-lap match race.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, Oswego closed out their season on Saturday night with a 30 lap modified feature. Richie Evans took the win and little did anyone know that this would be the last, as the popular champion would lose his life in two weeks at Martinsville. Mike McLaughlin finished second.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, the Modifieds had the week off as they were getting ready for the World Series at Thompson.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Mike Stefanik scored his 32nd Modified tour win at the World Series at Thompson. Stefanik took the lead from Ed Flemke JR on lap 94 of the 125-lap event. Flemke finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Steve Park, Tony Hirschman and Jamie Tomaino. Bo Gunning won the SK 30 lapper over Bob Potter. The weekend was darkened when Harry Kourafas JR lost his life after being hit broadside during the running of the mini-stock feature. In DIRT action at Syracuse, Brett Hearne won his 5th classic at the historic mile. Mark Martin made a clean sweep at Charlotte as he won the Busch Grandnational and Winston Cup events. Dale Earnhardt did not qualify for the Winston Cup event but took a provisional and ended up in second spot.

  Fifteen years ago, in 2000, the Race of Champions, scheduled for the weekend at the Oswego Speedway, was cancelled on Thursday because of a forecast of rain and snow. It never rained! Seekonk ran the D.Anthony Venditti Memorial and added the SK Modifieds as an after thought. Only 11 SK's showed and the race distance was reduced from 50 laps to 25 laps. Ted Christopher started on the outside pole and went on to take the win over Ron Yuhas JR, Roger Godin and Dan Dailey. Vinnie Annarummo beat out Rick Martin and Wayne Dion to win the DAV main event. In victory lane he announced his retirement from racing. At the DIRT Classic at Syracuse, Billy Decker took the lead at the mid point and went on to take the win over Steve Paine, Ken Brightbill and Bud Christian. Deckers winning check was worth $50,000.00.In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Bob Labonte passed Jerremy Mayfield with ten laps to go to take the win. In Busch Grandnational action, Matt Kenseth took the lead and eventual win when Joe Nemechek ran out of gas with two laps to go. Ed Flemke JR made a surprise visit to the New River Speedway in Virginia and walked off with the victory in the Hills Enterprises No.79.

  Ten years ago in 2005 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series was at the Thompson Speedway for the annual World Series. The track opened on Friday in order to allow competitors entrance to the pit area. There was also supposed to be a practice session to the non-touring divisions but rain put a damper on that. It looked promising until last Friday night when a knock out punch in the form of five more inches of rain was delivered. With the speedway under water, the Thompson Speedway management and NASCAR had no choice but to postpone the event to the following weekend, October 21-23. The rescheduling created a conflict with the Waterford Speedbowl who had already rescheduled their season ending Fall Finale. Chances were, Waterford would not change again and the two speedways would go head to head. Thanks to the efforts of the Speedbowl Management team of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi a plan was worked out with NASCAR’s Ed Cox and the Fall Finale was once again scheduled for the weekend of October 28-29-30. Plans included coordination of race day schedules and a unique gas incentive supported by Xtra Mart convenience stores. Competitors who are intended on racing at both the Speedbowl’s Town Fair Tire Finale and Thompson would be able to do so. On the 29th, qualifying heats for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series divisions were slated to be completed at Waterford in time for racers to make the 50-mile trek to Thompson for their features. Also, racers who run the Speedbowl heats, compete at Thompson later that day and return to the Speedbowl to race on Sunday the 30th will be given fuel coupons redeemable at any Xtra Mart store. In some sad news, Anthony "Beebe" Zalinski passed away early Tuesday morning, October 11. He was 89 years old Mr. Zalenski worked for many years as a diesel mechanic at Palmer Motor Coach in Palmer, Mass. Later he owned his own speed shop. His real passion was auto racing, first with sports cars and then with stock cars. His famous M-6 coupe driven by many of the top drivers of the day was a frequent winner at tracks throughout the Northeast. In 1967, with Gene Bergin driving, they combined for 17 victories and reigned as modified champions at the Stafford Motor Speedway. In recent years, Mr. Zalenski was associated with the Flamingo Motor Sports Race Team. At the age of 78, Beebe built the engines that propelled Chris Kopec to the Riverside Park Track Championship.
  Ryan Newman set a NASCAR record by winning his fifth consecutive Busch Series race, avoiding a track-record 14 cautions Friday in the Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Elliott Sadler was second, followed by Paul Menard, Carl Edwards and Jason Leffler. Jimmie Johnson overcame every problem thrown his way - including tire troubles that turned Saturday night's event into a laughingstock - to win his fourth consecutive race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and move into a tie with Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Championship. Johnson started 41st, then battled a failing alternator, a cut right rear tire and overtime to prove no one can beat him on the track his Lowe's-sponsored team considers its own private playground. Johnson has won five of the past six events in Concord, N.C.
  Speedway Motorsports Inc. declared a cash dividend of $0.32 per share of common stock. The annual dividend will be payable on Nov. 21, 2005 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 8, 2005. This is the fourth consecutive year that Speedway Motorsports has paid a cash dividend to its stockholders and the fourth year the dividend increased over the prior year. The Board of Directors of the motorsports entertainment company unanimously decided to declare the dividend after reviewing the market for the Company's stock, current business conditions and future prospects of the Company.

  Five years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed for the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Fall Final which carried a purse of $83,609. The event drew 31 cars. Justin Bonsignore bounced back from his recent disappointment at Thompson to capture his second Coors Lite pole of the year with a sizzling run of 18.355 seconds around the half mile oval. The young Long Island racer had recently won an open competition event at Thompson only to have the victory stripped away because he didn't use the proper gasoline. Eric Beers was second fastest with Mike Stefanik, third, Eric Berndt and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ed Flemke Jr, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk, Eric Rudolph and Bobby Santos III. In the re-draw for the start Beers drew the pole with Flemke drawing the outside pole spot. Bonsignore drew the seventh starting spot.
  Bobby Santos, who was celebrating his 25th birthday, took the eventual victory with the Garbarino Mystic Missile. Santos took the lead after a massive pile-up forced a long red flag period as the speedway fencing was destroyed and needed to be fixed. The wreck was triggered when Richie Pallai hit Dale Quarterly sending him sideways. It was a "Pig Pile" from then on. Also involved were Ed Flemke, Todd Szegedy, Eric Berndt and Eric Goodale. With seven laps remaining Santos jumped out and sprinted to the finish. Ron Silk finished second and was followed by Erick Rudolph, Rowan Pennink, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece, Glen Reen, Ted Christopher, Eric Beers and Ken Heagy. Polesitter Bonsignore took a shot in the turn two wall after getting sideways on lap 108. Also collected in the wreck was Jamie Tomaino and Woody Pitkat. Bonsignore finished 29th while Pitkat finished 30th and Tomaino, 28th.
  All tolled, there were 8 caution periods for 45 laps. In addition to those previously mentioned Jimmy Blewett and Eric Berndt also ended their day in wrecks.
  With one race remaining on the schedule, Santos carrys a 37-point lead on Stefanik in the season standings to Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway for the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racin.
  In regular weekly division racing at Stafford Keith Rocco, the 2010 Whelen All-American Series Champion, closed out the Stafford SK Modified season with his 10th win of the year to set a single-season track record. He clinched the track title earlier this year. Woody Pitkat won Stafford's Whelen All-American Series Late Model finale and Ryan Posocco clinched the division title.
  Following Rocco in the 40 lap SK contest was Frank Ruocco with Chris Matthews, Jeff Baral, and Zach Sylvester rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher, Stafford's winningist driver, finished 26th after being eliminated in a wreck.
  In action on the Connecticut shoreline the Waterford Speedbowl completed its final Saturday night points race of 2010 with six feature events including all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions in action. It was also Cystic Fibrosis Night at the track, raising awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jeff Pearl dominated the SK Modifieds® to roll to his third win on the year. Bruce Thomas Jr. won the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, with Tim Jordan taking the championship. In the Street Stocks Ed Puleo won his sixth race of 2010. Al Stone III claimed the Street Stock championship after a wild race for the points contenders. Ken Cassidy Jr. clinched the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock title in style, picking up his fifth win of the year. Allen Coates did the same in the A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck division, winning the race and title. Anthony Flannery finished the Saturday night season on a high note by taking yet another Legends Cars win.
  In the SK Modifieds, Tyler Chadwick was second over Rob Janovic, Keith Rocco and Glenn Pressell. The win was the 34th of Pearl’s career, good for second all-time in the division ahead of Ted Christopher. Rocco already secured the championship.
  Jason Myers won a special Modified event at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. Junior Miller was second with Burt Myers, third.
  Joey Logano got aggressive on a late restart to get past Kyle Busch, then used a push from Brad Keselowski to hold on at Kansas Speedway for his second Nationwide Series win of the season. Greg Biffle was the Sprint Cup winner. Busch had early contact with David Reutimann that caused Reutimann to spin, and when they crossed paths later on the track, Reutimann appeared to intentionally knock him into the wall. Busch was running seventh at the time of the accident, fell to 22nd and demanded over his radio that NASCAR take action against Reutimann. Crew chief Dave Rogers heightened the drama by telling Busch that Reutimann's team demanded he retaliate against Busch.

  Last year, 2014, In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl a persistent wet Saturday afternoon rain forced the Waterford Speedbowl to postpone its racing schedule for the first of its two day Finale Weekend. A revised Sunday schedule had thirteen divisions in action at the shoreline oval’s cap to the 2014 racing season, which could be the last at the shoreline oval.
  Keith Rocco came close to cleaning house in the two modified events held. When all was said and done he dropped out of the SK Modified event with engine trouble and won the 100 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series 100. Rocco was leading the SK Modified event when he lost power on lap 36. Rocco now has 103 career wins at the Waterford Speedbowl.
  In the SK 50 Craig Lutz was the early leader until Rocco took the point on Lap 11. Rocco led until losing power on lap 38 which opened the door for eventual winner Ed Puleo. Puleo led the rest of the way to hold off Ted Christopher for the win. Rob Janovic finished third with Dennis Perry recording a well-earned fourth. Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. There were 23 SK Modifieds on hand.
  In Valenti Modified Racing Series action 32 cars were on hand for their 100 lapper. It seems that when ever Todd Annarummo is in competition he always seems to draw a top spot in a qualifying heat. He did it again as he drew the pole for the first heat. Keith Rocco was the spoiler as he blew him away on lap six of the ten lap heat.
  In the VMRS 100 Rocco showed his strength and experience at the Speedbowl as he took the lead from Kyle James and fought off challenges from Tommy Barrett Jr and took the win by close to half a straightaway. Steve Masse and Barrett were early and mid-race factors but in the end it was Rocco who prevailed. Pre-race favorite Ted Christopher was in contention until he was collected by a spinning Barrett on lap 28. Barrett pitted and recovered as he was back in the top five by lap 53. Steve Masse took the lead for a short time at the half way mark. Three laps latter Rocco took the lead back for good. A strong run by Dennis Perry came to an end on lap 35 when he passed Dylan Kopec. Kopec sun Perry into the turn three wall, putting him out for the day. Richard Savory avoided the spins and wrecks of others as he ended up in the third spot on Barrett’s tail. Masse and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Rocco overcame 11 caution flags, including one red flag, to win his third Modified Racing Series race of the season and second at the Speedbowl. Rocco’s season totals show 30 wins overall including 18 in Modified competition.
  In addition to Rocco's victory, Corey Barry (SK Light Modified) and Garrett Denton (Mini Stock), secured season championships by winning their respective features in the Whelen All-American Series races, with the other Whelen features going to Jason Palmer (Late Model) and Josh Galvin (Street Stock).
  Also on the season ending racing card, Ryan Bigelow was the NEMA Midgets winner, Dan Cugini captured the NEMA Lite feature, Ray Reed won the Super X-Car race, Anthony Marvin captured the Bandolero feature, Wayne Shifflet won the X-Car race, Dana Dimatteo the Legend Cars race and Jay Stuart captured the Outlaw Stock race.
  In Modified racing in the Southland, Danny Bohn edged Brian Loftin at the finish line to take the Prestoria Farms 150 checkered flag in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action Saturday at Caraway Speedway. It was the third career victory for Bohn, and second at the .455-mile oval in rural Sophia, North Carolina. The dramatics were setup by a series of late-race cautions. Burt Myers had dominated the bulk of the event, but broken rearend on Lap 130 opened the door to the field. Loftin assumed the lead and held Bohn at bay for two subsequent restarts before the green-white-checkered flag conclusion.
  Loftin, an eight-time winner at Caraway, took the white flag in the lead, but coming to the checkers Bohn made it a side-by-side dash. With four-time titlist and current championship contender George Brunnhoelzl III wrecking behind them as they came to the stripe, it was Bohn that edged ahead. It was so close that it took a review of the official timing and scoring by NASCAR Race Control to determine the winner. The final margin of victory: 0.019 seconds.
  Bohn and Loftin were followed across the finish line by Kyle Ebersole, points leader Andy Seuss and Luke Fleming in the top five. The rest of the top 10 included: Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio, Daniel Speeney, Mike Norman and Bobby Measmer Jr.
The Whelen Southern Modified Tour will conclude its 2014 season and crown a champion in the finale on the quarter-mile at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 9.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at the Kansas Speedway Joey Logano managed to avoid troubles that ruined the days of fellow Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne to score his second win of the Chase and his fifth of the season. In doing so, Logano clinched a spot in the Eliminator round of the Chase. Logano had to fend off a hard-charging Kyle Larson over the final laps. Larson wound up settling for second, followed by Chase driver Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Another Chase contender, Carl Edwards, rounded out the top five. Kyle Busch drove to his sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway during the Kansas Lottery 300. 

  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: October 9, 2015

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