Forty years ago, in 1967,
washed out all racing in New England. The only action was at the
Utica-Rome Speedway where a 150-lap season finale was held. Don
MacTavish took the win over Jerry Cook, Bill Wimble, Sonny Seamon and
Kenny Shoemaker. Wimble was crowned the Modified Track Champion and
Bernie Miller was the Sportsman champion. In Winston Cup action at
Martinsville, Richard Petty won the 500-lap event by four laps over Dick
Thirty-five years ago, in 1972, the modifieds headed
to Martinsville for a 100 lapper. Local favorite Paul Radford took the
win over Denis Giroux, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Bugsy Stevens.
Stevens’ hopes of a fourth national title were going away as Cook held
an 890-point lead. Jim Shampine took the season ending Oswego
Modified-Sportsman 200.Eddie Flemke finished second with Mike Loescher,
Roger Treichler and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five.
Thirty years ago in 1977, a full plate of racing was
to be had both in the northeast and in the south. Stafford ran an open
competition 30 lapper on Friday night with Ronnie Bouchard being
declared the winner after the event was stopped after 19 laps because of
rain. Bugsy Stevens ended up in second with John Rosati, third.
Seekonk’s 100 lap open and Islip’s All Star 300 also fell victim to rain
as well as the Sunday Small Block Modified event at Thompson. In the
Southland, Donald ”Satch” Worley won the fall 150 at Martinsville on
Saturday afternoon. Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Wayne
Anderson rounded out the top 5. The modifieds headed up the road on
Saturday night to the Franklin County Speedway where Geoff Bodine took
the win over Paul Radford, Worley, Troyer and Cook.
Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued
his dream year of almost total domination of the modifieds as he won the
annual Race of Champions at the Pocono International Speedway. Sacks
took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 160 of the 250-lap event. Richie
Evans moved past Spencer on lap 169 and dogged Sacks to the finish.
Spencer held is own in third spot until he lost an engine on lap 221.
Ray Miller ended up third with Graeme Bolia fourth and George Summers
rounding out the top five. During pre-race activities, driver and car
builder Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro Memorial Award.
Shortly after the presentation Troyer announced that he was retiring
from driving at the conclusion of the event. Brian Horn won the National
Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship event. Jan Leaty finished
second. Waterford’s Mike Lovetere finished fourth. Among those in the
street stock event was Ricky Fuller. Although he didn’t finish in the
top five in the main, Fuller was the big show in the consi as he came
from a 27th starting spot to take the lead in six laps on the tricky ¾
mile oval. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Darrell Waltrip took the
500-mile win over Kyle Petty.
Twenty years ago in 1987, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. made
his mark in the record books as he won the Race of Champions at Pocono.
Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett Jr. on lap 185 and never
looked back for the remainder of the 250-lap event. Doug Hevron finished
second and was followed by George Kent, Wayne Edwards, Roger Treichler
and Ron Shepherd. Peter ”Buzzie” Erickson was the winner of the
companion Street Stock event. Two Hundred Forty eight cars, including
108 modifieds were entered into competition. In Winston Cup action at
Dover, Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.
Fifteen years ago in 1992, the entire East
Coast was covered with rain.
Ten years ago in 1997, the re-born Race of Champions
was run at Oswego. With the exception of Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty, Tim
Arre and Ted Christopher, the event drew mostly local drivers from
Lancaster and Tioga. Hirshman, driving a Leaty team car, won the 200-lap
event. Leaty finished second and was followed by Arre. At one time, the
ROC was 'THE" modified event but since falling on hard times a few years
ago when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the
event now. Saturday night action at Waterford rained out. At Dover
Downs, Buckshot Jones spun while leading with 14 laps to go and handed
the Grand National victory to Joe Bessey. Randy LaJoie finished second.
In Winston Cup action at Dover, Kyle Petty had the field covered until
he was forced to pit for fuel with 20 laps to go. Mark Martin took the
win with Dale Earnhardt coming home in second spot.
Five years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified
Tour Series was off .The series point standings showed Eddie Flemke
still leading by a slim margin of five points over Jerry Marquis. Mike
Stefanik, who had all but conceded a repeat title until his Thompson 300
win, sat third, seventeen points behind Flemke. By virtue of his Loudon
win, Chuck Hossfeld had moved to within 48 points of the leader. Fifth
thru tenth were Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Nevin
George, John Blewett III and Jamie Tomaino. NASCAR’s Jim Hunter said,
“The short tracks and the regional tours are the backbone of NASCAR.
NASCAR's Chris Boals said that the sanctioning body was developing a
strategic plan to boost these series. Boals said that just about
everything was now in place and an announcement should be coming from
NASCAR in the not too distant future. Evidently part of the plan was the
announcement made that The National NWRS Champion, Peter Daniels, will
be invited to the NYC Banquet. Also, all of the Regional Touring Series
Champions (including the FMS and the BNS) will be a part of the banquet.
This was announced in the Drivers Meeting at New Hampshire.
The regular weekly racing in Southern New England was slowly
but surely coming to a halt. Thompson ran their final Thursday night
Thunder series, which turned into a slugfest between Bo Gunning and Ted
Christopher. Gunning had taken the lead from Christopher on lap 14 and
was holding the former National Champion at bay until the final lap.
Christopher made a move to the bottom and the two came together. Gunning
went on to take the win as Christopher gathered it back up to finish
second. Christopher claims the move was deliberate, Gunning, on the
other hand said, “That’s racing”. Tom Fox finished third. Stafford was
idle on Friday night. Tom Fox got a definite gift at Waterford on
Saturday night. Dennis Charette had led a good part of the event with
Fox on the outside. With 12 laps to go, Fox got a little wiggly in turn
four and the next thing you know, both were in the fence. Both were able
to drive away. Charette pitted and Fox took a position at the head of
the field. Fox definitely lost foreword motion and should have
re-started in the rear. It is common practice that when one causes the
caution, which he did, and when one loses foreword motion, which he did,
the car in question goes to the rear. Ed Reed Jr. finished second and
closed the gap to 28 points behind Dennis Gada who is looking to win the
championship. Gada had his problems and had to pit with a broken tie rod
but made a remarkable recovery as he came from the back to nip Ron Yuhas
Jr. at the finish line and record a fourth place finish. Mark Lajunesse
finished third as he too, received a gift from officials. During the
closing laps Ron Silk was attempting to pass Lajunesse on the outside in
turn two when Silk felt that Lajunesse rode him up and he hit the wall.
With obvious right side damage, Silk managed to make the next re-start
and dumped Lajunesse into the infield as a pay back. Silk was black
flagged and bounced for the night and Lajunesse was given his spot back.
Last year, 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was
at the New Hampshire International Speedway last weekend for a 100-mile
event that was run on Friday. Forty-one cars were on hand for time
trials. Showers forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the starting
field based on car owner point standings. Mike Stefanik was given the
pole starting position. Earlier before the rains came a practice session
gave a preview of things to come. Todd Szegedy was the fastest as he
toured the 1-mile oval to the tune of 128.398 MPH. Second fastest at
128.363 MPH was Tony Hirschman. Rounding out the top five by speed were
Donny Lia, Eddie Flemke Jr. and Mike Stefanik.
Because of the fact that John Blewett III chose to run for
the track championship at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey he
was forced to start 21st as he has only run a partial schedule on the
tour. When he does compete in tour races he is fast, very fast. He left
little doubt last Friday as he completed a clean sweep of both Whelen
Modified Tour Series events at Loudon. At least this time he could
celebrate. When he won the July event, he was on his way to New Jersey
when he got the word that NASCAR, in its haste to complete the event
under caution, had made a mistake and declared James Civali the winner.
When Blewett took the checkered flag the field had been under green
since lap 68 and there was no question who the winner actually was. He
was flat out running! Jerry Marquis finished a close second but in the
end couldn’t a pass by Blewett. Civali, who was still licking his wounds
from July, finished a solid third ahead of Mike Stefanik and Todd
Szegedy who rounded out the top five.
The race was slowed by only two cautions for 11 laps. The
first caution was for Doug Coby who came to a stop on the front stretch
on lap 48. The second caution came on lap 61 when Reggie Ruggiero,
Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld were collected in a wreck in turn four.
Ruggerio got the worst of it and was done for the day. Twenty-one of the
original 21 starters finished on the lead lap. As always, the Whelen
Modified Tour Series event at Loudon was the best of the weekend. There
were 17 official lead changes among 7 drivers. Szegedy led the most
laps, 33, but it was Blewett who got the big check, $13,000 after he led
only the final eight laps. Sixth through tenth were Ted Christopher,
Eddie Flemke Jr., Zach Sylvester, Eric Beers and Tony Hirschman.
Blewett’s younger brother Jimmy finished 11th.
Blewett backed up his Loudon win with a convincing win at his
home track, Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey, on Saturday night.
The Thompson Speedway was forced to cancel their regular
Thursday Night Thunder program when rain blanketed the area. With the
season rapidly winding down only two more Thursday dates remain to fill
out the schedule. The intensity of the points battles is lead by the
Sunoco Modified division with a mere six points separating Woody Pitkat
and Jeff Malave. Not only is the Thompson championship the goal of both,
but the NASCAR Division IV title is also a huge part of the equation.
The final two races in this division are bound to be of high interest to
both competitors and fans. Tom Cravenho, Todd Ceravolo and Bert Marvin
round out the top five in the point standings.
Close points races exist in the remaining five NASCAR Dodge
Weekly Series divisions. Jeff Zuidema leads Jeff Connors by fifty-four
points in the Pro Stock division and Steve Landry had a thirty point
advantage over Corey Hutchings in the Late Models. Hutchings was under
suspension for fighting and would not be allowed to race this week.
Thirty six points is the advantage that Roger Larson, Jr. had over Tim
Sullivan in the Thompson Modified division while Limited Sportsman
driver Larry Barnett held thirty eight point bulge over second place
Scott Sundeen. The largest points spread is in the Mini Stocks. Shelly
Perry maintained a sixty two-point advantage over Scott Michalski. Perry
had the miss-fortune of breaking her wrist at the recent Modified Mania
event. It was doubtful at this time as to weather she would be able to
race for the balance of the season. If she can maintain her point lead
she can become the first female driving champion at the northeast
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway made the right call when
they canceled Friday’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series racing card. With the
forecast calling for intermittent rain throughout the entire day and
evening, the speedway pulled the plug shortly before 9:00am. The
Waterford Speedbowl closed out their regular Saturday night season this
past week. Tom Fox and Diego Monahan topped a slate of 12 different
winners. The Speedbowl crowned two champions as well. Tim Jordan and
Danny Field clinched the Late Model and Mini Stock championships
respectively and Dennis Gada was all but assured of his sixth SK crown
headed into the weekend’s Finale. Rescheduled rainouts resulted in the
marathon racing session. In addition to Fox and Monahan, the win list
included Allen Coates and Larry Goss in the Late Models; Greg Butler Jr.
and Al Stone III in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout III and Phil Evans in
the Mini Stocks. It was the first-even win for Butler and the first of
the season for Stone. Dan Valentine of the Faith Church Ministries of
New Milford scored a convincing win in the Faster Pastor race. Curtis
D’Addario Sr., a nine-time Wild n’ Wacky Wednesday winner, added another
X-Car feature Saturday night, edging Mark Caise at the checkered.
Jordan, the first-ever rookie to win the Late Model title, did it the
hard way with a couple of 15th place finishes, the second in Jay
Lozyniak’s regular ride. The consistent Field scored a third and a
second. Gada needs only to start Sunday’s 100-lap SK feature to capture
his record-tying sixth crown following a fifth and second. Bob Potter
currently holds the record. A seventh and a third put Joe Curioso III
back into the Sportsman point lead but by a scant four points over
Dwayne Dorr heading into the Finale.
Fox grabbed the lead at the start and won the resumption of
the SK-feature stopped after 12 laps on Sept.9. Gada made a determined
outside bid following a restart with 16 laps left but drifted back to
fifth at the checkered. Shawn Monahan ended up second and was followed
by Chris Pasteryak and Rob Janovic. Diego Monahan held back Gada for
most of the second half of the second SK race and claimed his third win
of the season. Jeff Pearl, Chris Pasteryak and Mark Pane rounded out the
It was announced that long time public relations director
Pete Zanardi would retire from his post at the shoreline oval at seasons
end. Considered one of the best in the business as both a PR Man and a
writer Zanardi has been a mentor to many of us in the writing game
including yours truly. Zanardi’s efforts as well as those of Bill Roth
have kept the Speedbowl afloat during the last few difficult years.
In other weekend racing, Bentley Warren passed Chris Perley
and Dave McKnight to win the Bud Super Nationals at Oswego, TJ
Potrzebowski won the 56th annual Race of Champions and Kevin Harvick
beat out Tony Stewart in the Nextel Cup event at Loudon. Ted Christopher
got a late start and an early finish. Scheduled to drive the Kirk
Shelmerdine entry, Christopher started the race after seven laps were
run as his spotter was stuck in an elevator. He finished dead last in
That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:
The Chrome Horn
'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive
Phil Smith/Courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
September 21, 2007