Sixty five years ago in 1951 Dave Humphrey won the first ever
Modified Championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in style as he
won the final racing program of the year, a 25 lap Modified event. Humphrey,
who also took the title at the Seekonk Speedway narrowly edged out Moe Gherzi for the title.
Sixty years ago in 1956 Wild Bill Slater won the 50 lap season ending
Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was
the non-Ford winner.
Fifty five years ago saw rain wash out the racing at the Waterford
Fifty years ago in 1966 at the World Series at Thompson, season ending twin
50's were won by Sal Dee and Bugsy Stevens. Ed Flemke Sr was the overall
Forty five years ago in 1971, NESMRA promoted the World Series event at
Thompson which saw Supers and Modifieds running together. The Supers of the
day were very unreliable which gave the full bodied cars a chance. The 50
lap main event was won by Eddie West in a Super, who had a two lap lead on
the field. Don McLaren, also in a Super was second. Finishing third was
Eddie Flemke who drove the Mystic Missile. Howard Brown, in a Super was
fourth. Rounding out the top six were Bob Potter in the Billy Simonds
Excavator Special and Leo Cleary in the Armando Riccio Flying Nine.
Forty years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine and Ray Hendrick, driving team cars
owned by Richard Armstrong finished one-two in the season ending Cardinal
250 at Martinsville. Pole sitter Harry Gant in the William Mason No.45 led
the event until retiring with a blown engine. John Bryant also led the event
until losing two tires. Paul Radford finished third with Richie Evans,
fourth. The 250 lap Sportsman (Busch Grandnational) event was snowed out.
Thirty five years ago in 1981, Geoff Bodine dominated the season ending
Cardinal 250 at Martinsville as he led all but 15 laps to record his ninth
win of the season. Bodine drove a modified owned by Phil Taylor. Bugsy
Stevens in Bodine's old ride, the Armstrong No.1, finished second. It was a
war of attrition as only 15 of the original 40 starters were running at the
finish. A challenge from Richie Evans never materialized as he dropped out
after only five laps with a broken master cylinder. Maynard Troyer finished
third and was followed by Kenny Bouchard, Ray Miller and Doug Hewitt.
Thirty years ago in 1986, Charlie Jarzombek capped a successful season as he
won the season ending Modified 200 at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero finished
second and was followed by George Kent, Jeff Fuller, Jim Spencer and Carl
Twenty five years ago in 1991, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at
Martinsville for a 200 lapper. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Jan Leaty on
lap 128 and held off Leaty to take the win. Jeff Fuller finished third and
was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Wayne Anderson, Steve Park, Jamie Tomaino
and Satch Worley. Harry Gant won the Busch Grandnational 200 lapper over
Chuck Bown and Dale Jarrett.
Twenty years ago in 1996, after a one week postponement because of rain,
Thompson ran the season ending World Series. Steve Park, who had the pole
position, cleaned house as he took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 105 of
the 125 lap event. Stefanik had nothing for Park and had to settle for
second in the final run down. Jerry Marquis finished third and was followed
by Ed Flemke Jr, Tom Bolles, Bert Marvin, Tim Arre and Mike Ewanitsko. Tony
Hirschman, in the Len Boehler No.3, finished 10th and sewed up the series
championship. Because of numerous wrecks, the SK 30 lapper was shortened to
20 laps with Bob Potter getting the win over Jim Broderick, Scott Spaulding,
Ricky Young and Don Fowler.
Fifteen years ago in 2001, the only action was at Phoenix where Casey Atwood
was the Winston Cup Busch Pole sitter. Jeff Burton took the win. The Busch Grandnationals were also at Phoenix. Jim Spencer was the pole sitter and was
the class of the field until his transmission blew. Waiting in the wings was
Greg Biffle who went on to take the win.
Ten years ago in 2006 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Fall Final at Stafford
was originally scheduled for Saturday but because of impending rain, the
event was rescheduled for Sunday against the Waterford Speedbowl Double Down
event. As predicted, high winds close to 50mph and heavy rain, close to two
inches in spots, blanketed the entire New England – Long Island area on
Saturday. Race teams and fans coming from Long Island were forced to drive
around through New York City when the ferry terminal on Orient Point, Long
Island became submerged after 6-10 foot waves from Gardners Bay crashed
ashore. The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to a flooded parking lot and
track after it rained for over seven hours on Saturday. The Double Down
Showdown was postponed to Saturday, November 4.
Stafford’s Fall Final took the green shortly after 4:00p.m. on Sunday. Todd
Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT jumped from his pole starting position and went
non-stop for 150 laps to take the win. Despite the fact that there were no
lead changes there was action a plenty going on. Mike Stefanik became the
Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion when he took the green as he had a
decisive point lead going into the event over Ted Christopher. Stefanik
finished sixth. Christopher, who crashed while running second on lap 51,
lost second spot in the final standings by one point to Eddie Flemke Jr. who
finished ninth. Christopher was credited with 25th finishing spot.
Christopher’s car broke a left rear brake rotor, which caused his car to
turn sharply into the wall. Preston City Connecticut’s favorite son, Kenny
Barry finished a strong second after coming from a 19th starting spot. Zach
Sylvester, from Lebanon, CT, finished third with defending series champion
Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was John Blewett III.
Stefanik finished sixth with Donny Lia, Ronnie Silk, Flemke and Jerry
Marquis rounding out the top ten.
Eight caution periods for 42 laps kept the average speed down to 64.518mph.
In addition to the Christopher crash on lap 51 there were others who went
out on the hook of a wrecker including Reggie Ruggerio who wrecked with
Chuck Hossfeld on lap 29, Jimmy Blewett who was part of a six car wreck on
lap 7 and Rob Summers who wrecked on lap 21.
In other racing action at Stafford, three track championships were decided
on the track, as Frank Ruocco won the SK Modified championship, Woody Pitkat
won the Late Model championship, and Shelly Perry won a 4-way battle to take
the SK Light championship. Feature winners included Willie Hardie winning
the 50-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco winning the Late Model feature,
and Matt Gallo won the 20-lap SK Light feature.In the 50-lap SK Modified
feature event, Willie Hardie won the battle, but Frank Ruocco ended up
winning the war. Hardie did all that he could do to overtake Ruocco for the
championship by winning the race, but Ruocco ran just aggressively enough to
stay in a championship clinching position throughout the 50-lapper. The race
started with Jeff Malave leading the early laps, but Woody Pitkat overtook
Malave on lap-6. Pitkat held the race lead until he dropped off the pace and
pulled behind the wall on lap-45, which gave the lead of the race to Hardie,
who had worked his way up to second. Ruocco and Hardie started the race side
by side in the 5th row, and while Hardie set sail for the front of the pack,
Ruocco was never more than several positions behind Hardie, keeping himself
in championship contention. Hardie took the checkered flag ahead of Malave,
Zach Sylvester, Brad Hietala, and Eric Berndt. Ruocco finished seventh to
win the championship by 6 points over Hardie.
On a sad note Midget Great Johnny Coy passed away on Saturday Oct 28th.
Johnny raced everything from jalopies to Modifieds, but it was the midgets
where he excelled. In 1958 NASCAR had a midget division. Out of 25 races
Johnny won 14 of them and the NASCAR Midget Crown.
Tony Stewart was the Nextel Cup winner at Atlanta and Kevin Harvick was the
Busch Series winner at Memphis.
Five years ago in 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had wrapped
up their 2011 season. Congratulations to Ron Silk and the Eddie and Connie
Partridge led TS Haulers Race Team. Silks season point total was 2443 while
runner-up, Todd Szegedy amassed 2367 points. Eric Beers ended up in the
third spot followed by Rowan Pennink and Doug Coby. Sixth through tenth were
Matt Hirschman, Justin Bonsignore, Bobby Santos, Ted Christopher and Erick
Rudolph. Fifty seven different drivers were in competition during the
season. Fourteen different drivers ran all 16 events. Ted Christopher was
the top winner with four victories to his credit. Silk and Szegedy each won
three while Coby, Bonsignore and Santos had one each. Other winners were
Mike Stefanik, Glen Reen and Ryan Newman.
Many race teams were taking a wait and see attitude before making plans for
2012. Lenny Sammons, Publisher and Editor of Area Auto Racing News got an
interesting answer from car owner Bob Garbarino when asked about his plans
for 2012. He stated that he was not making a decision about next year until
he saw a schedule. Sammons quoted Garbarino, " I don't buy green bananas
anymore" he said, alluding to the fact about making a decision when the
schedule is unknown. Ryan Preece was all set for 2012 as it had been
announced that he would drive the Flamingo Motorsports entry that was
vacated by Mike Stefanik.
Doug Coby and Daniel Hemric were running second and third behind Glen Reen
on a lap 160 restart in the recent World Series NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Series event at the Thompson Speedway and got together shortly after taking
the green. Hemric, from Kannapolis, NC, was driving the Roger Hill No.79 and
found himself in the turn one wall and Coby spun. Based on what was heard on
a scanner it was assumed that NASCAR Control felt that Coby was
overaggressive and placed him one lap down. Coby stated that NASCAR did not
penalize him for over aggression. "I was the one who was taken out by the 79
on that late restart and I was penalized for passing cars under caution to
attempt to get my second place spot back", he said. He added, "Brian Vance,
the Tour Race Director, afterwards acknowledged that the one lap penalty was
more a result of his frustration with all of the drivers for how the race
was ending, and acknowledged that it may in fact have been inconsistent with
other calls he made that day with regards to other drivers who were
incorrectly lined up on the racetrack".
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Lee USA Speedway in Lee New
Hampshire last weekend, 32 cars strong. Qualifying heat race winners were
Ken Barry, Chris Pasteryak and Mike Holdridge.
Rowan Pennink took the season ending win over Les Hinckley, Norm Wrenn, Rob
Goodenough and Matt Hirschman. Chris Pasteryak finished ninth and has won
his second VMRS Championship.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour wrapped up their 2012 season at the
Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC. There were 15 cars on hand. George
Brunnhoelzl III started from the outside of the front row and led every lap
en route to winning the Caraway 150 season-ending event.
Brunnhoelzl took the lead from his pole-sitter and Ideal Racing teammate
Andy Seuss on the first lap and was never threatened as he picked up his
fifth win of the season and 11th of his career. Burt Myers picked up his
best finish of the season in second place with rookie Daniel Hemric
finishing with his first-ever top-three finish. Andy Seuss was fourth and
Brian Loftin completed the top five. Jason Myers completed his most
consistent season on the tour with a sixth-place finish with Tim Brown
rebounding from a spin to finish seventh. 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Austin Pack was eighth with Brandon Ward ninth and L.W. Miller completing
the top 10.
Brunnhoelzl entered the night with a comfortable lead in the point standings
only needing to take the green flag to wrap up the series championship.
Seuss finished second in the final point standings.
Clint Bowyer hung teammate Jeff Burton out to dry on the last lap of
Sunday's Talladega race, pulling around him when the checkered flag was in
sight to pick up his first win of the season and the 100th in the Sprint Cup
Series for Richard Childress Racing.
Last year, 2015, The New London-Waterford Speedbowl concluded its 2015
racing season with Bemer's Super Bowl of Auto Racing. Bruce Bemer, a
Glastonbury businessman is responsible for keeping the facility as a race
track. The two-day event included all nine of the Speedbowl's weekly series,
plus the New England Trucks, the Granite State Pro Stock Series, the 19th
annual SK Modified Nationals, where the winner received $5,000 and the Tri
Track Open Modified Series where close to 50 drivers were entered.
Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza reported that Derek
Ramstrom showed up at New London-Waterford Speedbowl with the fastest car in
the Granite State Pro Stock Series on Saturday. He was fastest in practice
and fastest in the feature event, never looking back after he passed D.J.
Shaw for the lead just before lap fifty. Ramstrom scored his first victory
of the 2015 season in his final start which put a cap on what was a tough
season for the Seekonk Grand Prix No. 35 team. While he won the feature
event, Derek Griffith, an 18-year-old driver, collected the 2015 Granite
State Pro Stock Series championship crown with his third place finish.
There were 31 SK Modifieds on hand for three qualifying heats for the Sunday
75 lapper. Scoring wins were Paul Kusheba, Jimmy Zacharias and Craig Lutz.
Ryan Preece won the consolation event. In other Saturday action at the
shoreline oval Ethan Durocher inherited the Bandolero 20 lap feature win
Saturday evening, after winner Jacob Perry failed to past post-race
technical inspection. Brandon Plemens found himself picking up a $1,000
check by scoring the win in the 40 lap Limited Sportsman feature event. Pete
Zakerite survived a rough, wreck-filled Mini Stock feature to notch his
second straight Mini Stock win in New England.
Woody Pitkat continued his late season winning surge as he won the Tri-Track
Series 75 lapper at the Speedbowl. Starting ninth, a determined Pitkat
charged his way to the front and by lap 19 was in the second spot behind Les
Hinkley when the caution was waved. On the restart Pitkat jumped into the
lead and never looked back as he romped to victory. Pitkat earned a little
over $8,000 for his efforts.
While Pitkat opened up a good lead Hinkley began to fade. Hinkley was able
to hang on for the runner-up finish despite the efforts of Ron Silk who
settled for third. Rounding out the top five was Ted Christopher and Ryan
Preece. Sixth throug tenth were Steve Masse, Jon McKennedy, Chris Pasteryak,
Matt Hirschman and Chase Dowling.
New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Modified Track Champion Keith Rocco had a
disappointing 19th place finish in the Tri Track event but more than made up
for it as he won the 19th annual SK Modified® Nationals 75-lap event and the
30 lap Late Model event. bringing his track win total to 121 wins. The win
also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 212 wins which
also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.
On lap-30 Rocco had cleared Ted Christopher, only to see Christopher take
the top spot back in turn one on lap-35 with a bold inside maneuver. A lap
later, Rocco was back inside of Christopher through turns three and four,
leaving Christopher to try and counter. While all eyes were out front, Matt
Hirschman quietly worked his way into the top-five looking poised to make a
run over the second half of the race.
Hirschman restarted third after a lap-42 yellow flag and pit stops for some
teams reset the running order behind Rocco and Christopher. From there,
Hirschman remained a factor the rest of the way. Rocco would never
officially relinquish his lead, however six additional yellow flags over the
remaining laps enabled both Christopher and Hirschman to fire shots Rocco’s
way in attempt to derail his efforts at a third consecutive Modified
After trading blows with Christopher to finally take second, Hirschman’s
best shot at Rocco came on a lap-65 restart. Contact between the two coming
to the green flag had Hirschman making a nice recovery to hold second while
Rocco squirted away in the lead. Rocco needed to master one final restart on
lap-72, doing so to pull ahead to a three car length victory. Hirschman’s
race ended with a runner-up finish at the checkered flag, and Christopher
was in contention until the conclusion to take third. Eric Berndt overcame a
lap-10 incident to finish a strong showing in fourth, and Ryan Preece
rallied from a rough first half of the race to take home a well-earned fifth
In other Sunday action at the shoreline oval Nick Salva was the SK Light
winner and Dylan was the Legends winner.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season. Doug Coby sealed
the championship with a convincing win at the recent World Series. In 15
events Coby scored seven wins which included 11 top five finishes. Ryan
Preece, who was tied with Coby going into the finale fell 11 points shy.
Preece, in 15 starts scored four wins which included seven top fives. Woody
Pitkat drove his heart out at the World Series but in the end was 13 points
shy of the champion.Pitkat ran the entire 15 race schedule and scored one
winwhich included 11 top fives. Todd Szegedy, who teamed up with Bob
Garbarino at the last minute to drive the famed Mystic Missile, finished the
year in fourth spot. Rounding out the top five was Patrick Emerling.
Although winnless, Emerling ran in all 15 events and recorded nine top tens.
Sixth through tenth in the final standings are Timmy Solomito, Donny Lia,
Eric Goodale, Chase Dowling and Justin Bonsignore. Dowling was the highest
finishing rookie. Eleventh through twentieth in the standings are Bobby
Santos, Max Zachem, Ted Christopher, Jamie Tomaino, Jeff Goodale , Shawn
Solomito, Dave Sapienza, Rowan Pennink, Ken Heagy and Gary McDonald
In a somewhat surprise move, Robert Our who owns the no. 22 driven by Ted
Christopher said his race team had suspended operations. On a positive note,
NASCAR's George Silverman told Area Auto Racing News that TV coverage for
the sanctioning body's touring divisions has been "Huge" and he expects a
greater focus on touring series coverage by NBC Sports net next year. It is
also a good bet that the Seekonk Speedway will host a Whelen Modified
Touring Series date in 2016 and it is a strong rumor that the Oswego
Speedway in up-state New York would like to bring back their Labor Day
weekend Modified 200 with a NASCAR sanction. Years ago the Oswego 200
Modified event was one of the best paying events in the northeast with the
winner receiving in excess of $18,000.
Joey Logano completed a sweep of the second round of the Chase for the
NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, but it wasn’t
without a great deal of controversy.
Logano was declared the winner by NASCAR after a crash at the start of a
green-white-checkered restart, leaving Logano just a few feet ahead of Dale
Earnhardt Jr. at the time of the caution.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive
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