The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

October 6, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 Ray Delisle won the 25 lap Sportsman feature that was run on Sunday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Dean was the Claiming Car feature winner.

  Sixty years ago in 1957, George Lombardo made it two in a row in Sunday Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier in the Art Tiezzi No. 230, was the non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Rene Charland won the season ending Connecticut State Fair 50 lap Modified event at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain prevailed at Waterford.

  Fifty years ago in 1967, Donald ”Dutch” Hoag became the first four time winner of the Race of Champions, which, at the time was run at the one mile Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Hoag was a winner at Langhorne on both the dirt and asphalt surfaces. Al Tasnady finished second with Don MacTavish, Bill Wimble and Irish Jack Murphy rounding out the top five. Waterford closed out their season with a 30 lapper which was won by Charlie Webster. Newt Palm, with 10 Modified feature wins to his credit in the L&M was declared the Modified Track Champion. Bill Sweet was the Daredevil Champion.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, Geoff Bodine in his Plymouth Valiant bodied modified won the Race of Champions at the Trenton New Jersey Fairgrounds. In addition to the non-conventional body, Bodine's chassis was that of an International Scout which sported independent coil-over shock suspension on all four wheels. The big surprise of the day was the run turned in by Gene Bergin who came from a dead last starting spot to finish second.

  Forty years ago in 1977, Maynard Troyer was the big winner at the Pocono Race of Champions. Troyer took the lead from Geoff Bodine in the late stages of the event. Bodine settled for second with Richie Evans, Fred DeSarro and Ronnie Bouchard rounding out the top five. Events that were scheduled at Seekonk, Thompson and Monadnock were rained out.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his season long domination in the modifieds as he won the 100 lap Fall Final at Stafford. Sacks took the lead from Richie Evans on lap 22. George Kent finished second with Bob Polverari, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero rounding out the top five. Hector LeClair won the Busch North Series portion of the Fall Final. It was also on the same weekend that Waterford ran a special event for Strictly Stocks, which saw Brian McCarthy, take the win over Tom Fox. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Darrell Waltrip took the win.

  Thirty years ago, in 1987, the entire Fall Final weekend at Stafford was rained out. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Terry Labonte took the win over Dale Earnhardt. Pole sitter, Bill Elliott, finished third. Doug Hevron won a preliminary SMART Tour event that was run on Saturday.

  Twenty five years ago, in 1992, Bob Potter won the final Saturday night SK-Modified feature at Waterford over David Gada and Moose Hewitt. Ted Christopher recovered from a crash and finished eighth and garnered enough points to secure the track championship. Jim Broderick was also a contender for the title but dropped out early with a broken rear end. C.J.Freye took the late model feature after Phil Rondeau lost a timing chain, while leading, with two laps to go. At Riverside Park, Jerry Marquis and the Bobby Judkins No.2x won their twelfth feature of the year at the Massachusetts oval. Rick Fuller settled for second. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for the 150 lap Fall Final. Mike Stefanik had everyone covered as he won, going away. Jeff Fuller finished second with Mike Ewanitsko, Chris Amen and Satch Worley rounding out the top five. Bob Potter made it two for two on the weekend as he won the SK-Modified portion of the Fall Final. With the win, came the track championship. Mike Paquette finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. During the running of the 30-lap feature Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning were eliminated in a wreck. Officials felt that Richie Gallup had caused it and ejected him out of the race. Gallup’s car owner felt the decision was unfair and vowed that his car would never compete at Stafford again.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Waterford ran a 100 lapper that was won by Jeff Pearl. Caution laps didn’t count. A total of 27 yellows were thrown and a total of 160 caution laps were run in addition to the 100 green laps .It took two hours and 45 minutes from green to checker. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Dennis Gada, third. Jim Broderick was in Flemington, N.J. during qualifying and was given a promoters option to start the event. After starting in the rear, Broderick worked his way to the front to take the lead on Lap 25.Broderick led until lap 73 when he ran out of gas and had to pit. In Modified Tour action at Flemington, Mike Stefanik scored his ninth win of the season. Stefanik took the lead from Ken Woolly on lap 209 of the 250-lap contest. Wooly finished second and was followed by Tony Hirshman, Jan Leaty and Doug French. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter in event that saw Dale
  Jarrett take the win. Jim Spencer won the All Pro 300 GN event. The re-paving of the Stafford Speedway was begun and it was announced that Don Hoenig had leased the Thompson Speedway to Brian LaForte and Gordon”Butch”Davis, both key figures at the Polar Beverage Company. Both stated that they were in it for the long haul and would bring the speedway into the 21st century.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002 The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their 2002 season with the running of the Fall Finale on Sunday. Dennis Gada did what he had to do as he jumped out front on lap 22 and never looked back as he had a relatively easy time of winning the scheduled 100 lapper and the track’s SK-Modified Championship, his fourth in a row. Gada’s track title tied the record previously held by Dick Dunn who won the championship from 1972 to 1975. Gada drove for Harry Wyatt who, in addition to Gada’s championships, has two others when Jim Broderick drove his car. Dunn, who is now retired from driving, drove for Albert and Margaret Gaudreau. Gada’s closest challenger for the title was Ed Reed Jr. Reed started nine spots behind Gada in the 100 lapper and got as close as third in the closing laps. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second. Tom Fox and Stafford Speedway Track Champion Bo Gunning rounded out the top five. It was perhaps, one of the smoothest extra distance events ever run at the shoreline oval. One of the best displays of driving skills was that of mini-stock competitor Richard Brooks Jr. Brooks got dumped into the front stretch wall in the early going and after pitting and re-starting in the rear, finished a close second behind race winner Brandon Plemons. The late model 100 was rough and tumble and ended when Mark St Hillaire drilled Cory Hutchings on the final lap as they exited turn four. Allen Coates, who had previously won the Dodge Weekly Racing Short Track title finished fifth and wrapped up the track title. Tom Silva won the 50-lap sportsman race and Randy Cabal won the NEMA Midget 25 lapped. Second generation Sportsman driver Keith Rocco showed a lot of potential as he ran with the front-runners during most of the event. Rocco is the son of Modified great Ronnie Rocco. Also impressive was Bob Santos III who came from a dead last starting spot in the NEMA main to be in a position to contend when his motor soured.

  Ten years ago in 2007, in Whelen Modified Tour news rumor had it that Ed Cox may retire as the Tour Director. His replacement was rumored to be former Nextel Cup driver Chad Little. Employed by NASCAR, Little was the sanctioning body’s Director of Racing Development in Mexico.
The Seekonk Speedway closed out their 62nd season with the Annual D.Anthony Venditti Memorial Racing Festival. A vital part of that event was the True Value Modified Series. Conceived and owned by Modified racer Jack Bateman, the series had become an affordable alternative to those who couldn’t afford to travel or compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Behind the scenes it was a known fact that NASCAR officials had asked Modified competitors not to support the series.
  A lot of confusion and indecision had placed a dark cloud over the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series at various times during the 2007 season. Ben Dodge had the experience and the ability to make the True Value Modified Series the top racing division in the northeast. In addition to his promoting skills Dodge is also a former Modified car owner who understands the ins and outs of being a car owner. Although they won’t go public because of possible retaliation from NASCAR many of the prominent drivers and car owners felt the time was right for a change.
  Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, Mass. passed Kirk Alexander of of Swanzey, N.H with just three laps remaining to win the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Festival of Racing True Value Modified Series 100 lap event at Seekonk Speedway. Alexander’s second place finish clinched the 2007 series point championship. It was the third win at Seekonk this season for Annarummo and a hard fought victory. After starting the event in third he was placed to the rear of the field following a lap 2 accident with Andy Seuss. Annarummo methodically worked his way back to the front to take the lead on lap 81. Alexander then retook the lead on lap 86 and held off the challenges of Annarummo for the next 11 laps before the final pass for the win. The 2007 True Value Modified Series Championship is the third for Alexander in the last four years. He also is the series leader in career wins. Les Hinckley, who entered the event 14 points behind Alexander, suffered suspension failure and finished 25th. Alexander’s 56-point margin with one race remaining mathematically eliminated Hinckley who was assured of second place in the standings. Dick Houlihan, Chris Pasteryak and Rob Goodenough rounded out the Top-5 at Seekonk.
  The New England Antique Racers announced their choices for inductees for the Class of 2008 Hall of Fame. Drivers include Dave Alkas, Dave Darveau, Dick Batcholder and the late Howie Brown, car owners Joe Brady and the late Mike Scrivani Sr. along with media members Dr. Dick Berggren and writer Pete Zanardi will be inducted at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT on Sunday, January 27th
The Busch Series had the weekend off. NASCAR announced that Nationwide Insurance would become title sponsor of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, replacing Anheuser-Busch’s Busch brand at the start of the 2008 season. Nationwide Insurance would also become the official auto, home and life insurance provider of NASCAR. In Nextel Cup action at Talladega Jeff Gordon agreed to turn parade laps for much of the race before surging past Jimmie Johnson on the final lap and holding off his teammate to become the career victory leader at restrictor-plate tracks. He parlayed his decision into his 12th career plate win and fifth victory this season, and moved back on top of the points standings. He led Johnson by nine points with six races remaining in the Chase for the championship. Dave Blaney was third in the best finish this year for a Toyota driver. Title contender Denny Hamlin was fourth and was followed by Ryan Newman, who was leading late in his Dodge, and Mears.
  Vic Coffey was unbeatable Sunday afternoon at the New York State Fairgrounds' one-mile track as he scored his second victory in the Rite Aid 200 DIRT modified race. Coffey led the final 46 laps to collect over $50,000 in prize money. Chasing Coffey's Sweeteners Plus modified to the finish was Tim Fuller, the point leader in the chase for the Mr. DIRT national modified championship.

  Five years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour enjoyed a weekend off as competitors prepare for the season ending World Series of Speedway Racing at the Thompson Speedway..
  With one race remaining Doug Coby hheld a 17-point lead over Ryan Preece and 18 over defending tour champion Ronnie Silk. Donny Lia and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five but had been mathematically eliminated from championship contention.
  The big event for the weekend was the annual D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, MA. Venditti, along with his wife Irene built the quarter mile with their bare hands. The speedway has been operated continuously by the Venditti family since opening day in 1946.
The highlight of the weekend was the Valenti Modified Racing Series 100. The event drew 33 Modifieds. Rowan Pennink started on the pole and led the entire race receiving pressure early on from Geoff Gernhard, Steven Masse, Todd Annarummo and again from Masse on laps 50-53 when the fifth caution flag was displayed then followed by a red flag when the skies opened to end the event. With 53 laps completed the race by rule was officially completed. Pennink’s win, his sixth VMRS victory, is his first Seekonk victory, his second victory this season, and he clipped 20 points off Jon McKennedy’s point lead as the two battle it out for the series championship with two races remaining. Pennink entered the day 57-points behind McKennedy. The points now show McKennedy with 530 and Pennink with 493.
  The rains ended what was shaping up to be another classic finish at the famed oval. Masse and Annarummo were strong with a hard charging Les Hinckley who started 13th and running fourth at lap 53, methodically working his way to the front. Rounding out the top five was Geoff Gernhard. Sixth through tenth were Mark Bakaj, Max Zachem, Norm Wrenn, Tim Jordan and Jon McKennedy.
  In other Seekonk action Derek Ramstrom captured the 50 lap Pro Stock feature.
  In weekend action at the Waterford Speedbowl Mother Nature interfered with WaterfordSpeedbowl’s Finale Weekend on Sunday afternoon after just two of the scheduled six races were completed. The visiting Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) and INEX Legend Cars races were finished before the rain began to fall. Scoring the two race victories were Russ Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA in the 25-lap NEMA feature and Dave Garbo Jr. of Stonington in the Legend Cars.
  The scheduled 50-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini Stock feature was halted after 22 laps due to wet weather. The remainder of that race, along with the rest of the scheduled races, were postponed until Saturday, October 27. Sunday’s event was rain-checked by management, meaning ticket stubs and wristbands from Finale Weekend will be honored on October 27. The October 27 date will include racing by the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modifieds, Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street Stocks and the remaining 28-laps of the Mini Stock feature. There were 29 SK Modifieds on hand.
  The Speedbowl Management's cash drawer at the pit gate was bulging as over 200 race cars jammed Waterford Speedbowl’s pit area on Saturday for its Finale Weekend of racing. Qualifying racing for thirteen divisions along with eight main events took place over the day, with six more races being set for Sunday at the track.
  Taking NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories Saturday were Corey Hutchings in the Street Stocks and David Webb in the SK Light Modifieds. Duane Noll won an entertaining Outlaw Stock feature, Dylan Duhaime was the winner of the NEMA Lite series feature and Ivoryton racer Mark Panaroni won the visiting Northeast Mini Stock Tour race. Rounding out feature winners included Eric Finkbein Jr. in the Super X-Cars, Scott Limkemann in the X-Cars and Rene Morgillo in the Bandoleros. Keith Rocco passed Dylan Duhaime with three laps to go to win the 25-lap NEMA Lites feature but was disqualified after NEMA officials stated the wing on his Midget was not approved.
  Brett Hearn, the all-time victor in Super DIRT Week’s granddaddy race collected his sixth title in the Big Block Modified VP Small Engine Fuels 200 on Sunday in a rain-shortened affair at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. After starting third, the Sussex, N.J., driver took the lead on the sixth lap from pole-sitter Billy Decker and never trailed again. His biggest challenge was hedging a bet that he wouldn’t run out of gas before the race was called off because of a storm approaching slowly from the west.
  Running 113 laps on his only tank of fuel, he won the gamble, he estimated, with about 10 laps to spare. The victory was worth $50,000. Placing second was Waterloo’s Matt Sheppard, followed by Baldwinsville’s Jimmy Phelps. Justin Haers, of Phelps, and Pat Ward, of Genoa, rounded out the top five.
  None of them pitted during the race, opting to follow Hearn’s lead.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Tony Stewart tried to block his way to victory at Talladega Superspeedway. The strategy backfired badly. Stewart triggered one of the biggest wrecks ever seen in NASCAR racing. The "big one" came on the last lap, when Stewart's attempt to hold on for the win ended with his car sailing through the field and triggering a 25-car accident. Matt Kenseth won the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 under caution, and everyone else was left wondering what happened to cause so much damage. Stewart took full responsibility for causing the accident. He had charged to the lead on the first lap of a two-lap sprint to the finish but got too far ahead of the pack to keep any drafting partners.
  Matt Kenseth was charging on the outside, and Michael Waltrip was leading a line of traffic on the inside. Stewart was blocking all over the track, and said he mistakenly chopped across the front of Waltrip's car, triggering the accident. Jeff Gordon was scored in second place, and Kyle Busch in third.

  Last year, 2016, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ran the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For those who were there for the weekend there was a special treat as there was an Open House for folks to view the all new, New England Auto Racing Museum building.
  The Modifieds were greeted with rain showers on Friday morning which cancelled the first practice session for the 26 cars on hand. They were given a 25 minute window starting at 1:00pm. After 20 minutes of practice rain fell again on the track forcing a cancellation of practice. The starting positions would be determined by the rule book which states the starting order will be determined by the last ten minutes of the first practice results. Woody Pitkat was the fastest when the rains came. His speed was 129.459mph. Second fastest was Bobby Santos at 129.459mph. Rounding out the top five was Rowan Pennink, Doug Coby and Ryan Newman.
  Among the slowest was Melissa Fifield at 118.850, 10.609mph slower than Pitkat. Behind her was Gary Byington at 113.947 and Gary McDonald at 103.593. These three had no business being in the field !
  Bonsignore dominated the FW Webb 100, lead 77 laps and holding off the field in a green-white-checkered finish to score his first win at the "Magic Mile." Ron Silk finished second, followed by Doug Coby, Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Matt Swanson and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman.
  Patrick Emerling, Jimmy Blewett, Max Zachem, Timmy Solomito and Donny Lia, Jericho rounded out the top ten.
  Nineteen of the original 26 starters were on the lead lap. Among those who had problems and failed to finish was Rowan Pennink who led five laps and was in contention for the win when engine issues in Ole Blu on Lap 98 ended his day. It also brought out the race's final caution and pushed the event to 106 laps.
  Bobby Santos was the first out after hitting the wall a ton after making contact with another competitor. Melissa Fifield continued her string of non competitive driving and called it a day after completing 19 laps. Pole sitter Woody Pitkat dropped out with suspension problems after making contact with another competitor. Dave Sapienza was eliminated after he rode up Jeff Goodale on a restart following a lap 53 caution for debris on the track. Craig Lutz was eliminated after hitting the backstretch wall on lap 69.
  In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina, George Brunnhoelzl III passed Andy Seuss on Lap 119 and remained out front the rest of the way to win the Caraway 150 at Caraway Speedway. Brunnhoelzl also used the win to break a tie with Seuss for the most tour wins at Caraway with his 13th triumph in the 60th race held at the unofficial home track for the southern modifieds.
  Points leader Burt Myers finished second with Jason Myers third. Seuss followed in fourth and Danny Bohn completed the top five.
  At the western New York Lancaster National Speedway, Patrick Emerling completed a season sweep of the Race of Champions Modified Series events at Lancaster with his win in the 28th annual U.S. Open 125 on Sunday afternoon. Emerling passed teammate Mike Leaty with eight laps to go to secure his first career U.S. Open win. It was his fourth Modified win at Lancaster in 2016 as he won the Queen City Clash 75, Ol’ Boy Cup 60 and the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 earlier this season.
  Despite coming up short to Matt Bowling in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship series, it was another banner year for Keith Rocco. The 31-year-old from Wallingford, Connecticut, won 14 races and collected 30 top fives and 39 top 10s in 45 starts in the Modified divisions at Connecticut’s three tracks: Thompson Motorsports Park, Stafford Motor Speedway, and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Rocco, the 2010 national champion, finished in the top five in the national standings for the ninth straight season. He also won his ninth straight Connecticut championship. Rocco has races remaining at Thompson and New London-Waterford. While they won’t count toward national or state standings, those events do go to the track’s respective championships. If Rocco were to win both, he holds the points lead at each track, it would give him 13 career NASCAR Division I track titles and move him into a tie for third all-time.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Kevin Harvick, surging ahead of Matt Kenseth after a restart with six laps left in the 300-lap event at the 1.058-mile track, pulled away to win by .442 seconds and joined Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase’s Round of 12.
  Elliott Sadler made the most of a late-race restart to steal the race lead away from Ryan Blaney and pull away to win Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

  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,

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 6, 2017

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