The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

November 13, 2015

  Five years ago in 2010, The eighth annual 109 U-Pull It John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took center stage weekend in Concord, NC. Thursday's practice sessions were rained out which made for a hectic Friday schedule. The excitement began to build early Friday as the pit area was crammed with 31 Tour Type Modifieds, 18 SK type Modifieds, 27 Super Late Models along with 25 USA (Thompson type) Modifieds and some scattered Vintage Modifieds. As the day wore on a cold front descended on the speedway driving temperatures down to between 25 and 30 degrees.
  Time trials were held for the SK and Tour types. In the SKs Ronnie Silk in the Eddie Partridge entry took the top spot over Ryan Preece and Ron Yuhas Jr. Chuck Hossfeld was the Tour type top qualifier over Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman. SK type qualifying heats were won by Keith Rocco and Steve Reed. Shortly after the completion of the SK type heats rain descended upon the speedway forcing officials to cancel remaining qualifying. The decision was made to start all Tour type cars straight up from time when the action was scheduled to resume on Saturday.
Despite a shivering chill in the air the Shootout made it into the history books. Matt Hirschman and Keith Rocco survived a wreck filled day to win the modified and SK portions of the annual North-South Shootout. Hirschman picked up his third victory in the prestigious event, putting an end to the two-year domination of Burt Myers, who spun twice early in the 125-lap modified feature which took him out of contention. Hirschman started third and ran in the top five most of the event. He was running second behind leader James Civali on lap 89 when contact between he, Civali and third-place Ryan Preece sent all three spinning, giving fourth-place Ted Christopher the lead.
  Christopher didn’t hold the lead long as he was dumped two restarts later by Rowan Pennink entering turn one, causing a tangle that eventually included seven cars. Pennink was sent to the rear of the field for causing the crash. George Brunnhoelzl III inherited the lead, but Hirschman had recovered from his spin on lap 89 and was up to fourth for the restart. By lap 105 Hirschman was up to second and eight laps later he took the lead for good, passing Brunnhoelzl in lapped traffic. He survived one final restart with four laps left to earn the victory. Polesitter Chuck Hossfeld finished second, followed by Brunnhoelzl, Eric Beers and Ron Silk. The modified race featured 11 caution flags and two red flags. One of the red flag stops was to allow the track crew to repair water barrels on pit road.
  Tommy Farrell finished sixth and was followed by Pennink, Les Hinckley, Jason Myers and Eric Goodale. Justin Bonsignore finished 14th after being one of the race leaders who had problems. His was a dead battery. Jimmy Blewett finished 15th and Burt Myers was 19th. James Civali finished 20th with Ryan Preece and Christopher following.
  With eight laps remaining in the 50 lap SK type race Keith Rocco was sitting in seventh spot. A lot can change in the closing moments of any race and this 50 lapper was no different. Earl Paules led the restart and after just one lap Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat and Tom Farrell spun. Christopher suffered suspension damage and was towed off. Paules led the final restart which was single file. Almost immediately the field bunched up and went three wide. With three to go Ryan Preece went into the lead only to lose it to Rocco in the final moments. Preece ended up second with Silk, third. Paules and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Tom Barrett, Tom Farrell and Woody Pitkat.
  A real scary wreck took place on lap 41 when New Jersey racer Steven Reed got up on the backstretch wall, riding it for quite a way before crashing back on to the track. Reed hit a lightpole plus ripped down a portion of the catch fence. The car's chassis did its job as Reed emerged unhurt. In a track PA interview, Reed stated he lost a right-front tire going through the dogleg causing his car to hit the wall and get airborne.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Denny Hamlin completed a Texas two-step, winning at the track for the second time this year and taking over the points lead from four-time defending season champion Jimmy Johnson. Hamlin took the lead with 29 laps to go and then overcame a push from Matt Kenseth on the final restart with three laps left, holding on for his series-best eighth victory this season. Matt Kenseth finished second with Mark Martin, third. Joey Logano was fourth. Kyle Busch was penalized three laps Sunday - the first for speeding on pit road and two more for flashing an obscene gesture through his windshield at the NASCAR official who signaled the infraction while standing in front of Busch's car.
  Brad Keselowski clinched the Nationwide season title by finishing third in Texas on Saturday, giving owner Roger Penske his first championship in one of NASCAR's national series. Keselowski, who had to finish only 21st or better to wrap up the driver's championship with two races left, crossed the line behind winner Carl Edwards and runner-up Kyle Busch to earn his 24th top-five result of the season.

  Last year, 2014, Fans and competitors of the Waterford Speedbowl received some good news when the New London Day reported that New London Superior Court judge Emmett Cosgrove had ruled that actions among parties involved in the Oct. 18 foreclosure auction of the Waterford Speedbowl did not lead to a chilling effect on bidding.
  Creditor Edward DeMuzzio claimed in an objection filed earlier this month that collusion led to a winning bid that was artificially low, as the track is valued at about $3 million. Bruce Bemer, owner of Bemer Petroleum in Glastonbury, CT, won ownership of the track with a bid of $1.75 million at the auction.
  “Although there is a substantial difference between the appraised value of the property and the amount of the sale, the court is not confident that a new sale would render any different results, but rather would only incur additional expenses and the continued accrual of interest,” wrote Cosgrove in a memorandum of decision released on Friday, Nov 14. He added “The court approves the committee of sale’s report, approves the requested committee fees and expenses and appraisal fees,” The committee of sale is defined as the attorney who oversees a sale at auction.
  With that out of the way Bemer had 30 days following the approval of sale to close on the property, though he said his attorney had informed him that DeMuzzio has a window for appeal of the court’s decision.
  Once the sale is consummated creditors, competitors and vendors who were owed money by Terry Eames would be out of luck as it appeared that most or all the $1.75million paid by Bemer would go to Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli.
  The Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway saluted its NASCAR champions. Ryan Preece was the Sunoco (SK type) Modified champion by six points over Keith Rocco. Preece was absent from the affair but had a good reason as he was driving the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 Accell Construction Chevrolet in a NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. Preece started 33rd and finished 28th on the lead lap. Todd Ceravolo ended up in the third spot with Keith McDermott and Kerry Malone rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Tyler Chadwick, Danny Cates, John Catania, Woody Pitkat and Andrew Carron.
  Rick Gentes took the Late Model Championship at TMPS by a mere eight points over Larry Gelinas. Mark Curtis, Glenn Boss and James Banfield rounded out the top five. Other TMPS Champions included Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, Michael Veins in the Mini Stocks and Robert Palmer in the Lite Modifieds.
  Numerous special awards were presented. Sunoco Modified Most Improved driver, Andrew Charron and Rookie-of-the-Year, Keith “Cam” McDermott. The Most Improved Late Model driver, Jared Materas and Rookie-of-the-Year, Nick Ladyga. Ladyga as also presented with the UNOH Youth Achievement Award, an award that is open to NASCAR drivers between the ages of 14-17. Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman Most Improved Driver award was presented to Hank Stott. In the Mini Stocks, Most Improved driver, Jeff Moffat and Rookie-of-the-Year, Christopher Viens.
  The John Hoenig Memorial Award, which recognizes one individual for their hard work and dedication to the Speedway, was presented to Barbara Pickett. Pickett has been with Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for 45 years. She began her tenure as a bookkeeper, but soon was assisting in management of the golf course, restaurant, the Pro Shop, and the trucking company. She has served any role necessary including waitress or bartender if needed, and even served as Donald Hoenig’s personal secretary. The one constant throughout her 45 years of service, however, has been working the ticket booth at the speedway.
  Good news came from the Stafford Motor Speedway. According to their website pitch for season tickets the 2015 schedule currently consisted of 23 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series events, 4 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events, Valenti Modified Racing Series events yet to be determined, NAPA SK 5k, and Legend Cars.
  The New England Antique Auto Racing Hall of Fame held their annual induction. Drivers Deke Astle, Jim Martel, Mike Rowe, Fred Schulz, Ron Wyckoff, drag racing icon Bob Tasca, historian R.A. Silvia and car builder/mechanic Dave Tourigny and auto racing writer Bones Bourcier made up the New England AntiqueAuto Racing Hall of Fame’s class of 2014. Also inducted were Briggs Cunningham II, Roy “Pappy” Forsyth and Fred Borden were the veterans committee picks for inclusion into the Hall of Fame.
  Kevin Harvick did everything he needed to do at Homestead-Miami Speedway, holding off a determined Ryan Newman to win the Ford EcoBoost 400 and capture his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In Nationwide Series racing at Homestead, Matt Kenseth celebrated his first NASCAR win in more than a year, Chase Elliott basked in the glory of a Nationwide Series championship. Kenseth passed Kyle Larson on a green-white-checkered restart to win the Ford EcoBoost 300, his first victory of the year in any series. The 18-year-old Elliott capped off an incredible rookie season by becoming the youngest driver in NASCAR history to claim a major-series championship. A flat tire on Saturday relegated him to 17th at the finish, but he’d already clinched the title a week earlier at Phoenix Int’l Raceway. He finished the season with a 42-point advantage over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith.

  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: November 13, 2015

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