Fifty years ago, in 1952,
the Race of Champions was in its second year of existence on the
one-mile circular Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Jim Delaney scored
his first of three ROC victories. Hully Bunn who had won the previous
year finished a distant 39th. Also in the field and finishing 58th was
Ralph Moody, then from Taunton, Mass.
Fifty years ago, in 1957, Chevrolet was enjoying its
first year with the 327 small block V-8. With fuel injection heads plus
a four-barrel carburetor and duel exhaust, the 327 put out more
horsepower per pound of engine weight than any engine that would be
built for many years to come. Glenn Guthrie was the winner of the
Langhorne Race of Champions.
Forty-five years ago in 1962,
Frankie Schneider took the big one at Langhorne.
Thirty years ago, in 1977, rain washed out all
Twenty-five years ago, in 1982, triple features for
the Super Stocks at Waterford were the only action in Southern New
England. Bob Gada, Al Szulczyzk and Brian McCarthy were the winners. It
was also a big day for New Yorker Merv Treichler as he won the DIRT
Twenty years ago, in 1987, rain prevailed all
over the East Coast.
Fifteen years ago, in 1992, the Waterford
Speedbowl took center stage with a wide open competition event that saw
Ted Christopher, running nitrous oxide in the North End Auto Parts
No.54, lead from pole to pole to take down the win in the 50 lap event.
Mark LaJunesse finished second with Lloyd Agor, Mike Gada, Mike
Christopher and Richie Gallup rounding out the top six. It was also
announced that the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N. H.
would have a sanction for a Winston Cup event in 1993.
Ten years ago, in 1997, Waterford ran twin
features for the mods on Saturday night. Tucker Reynolds JR went two for
two in his attempt to close in on point leader Todd Ceravolo. In Winston
Cup action at Talledega, Terry Labonte took the lead with two laps to go
from Ken Schrader and went on to take the win. It wasn't a good day for
Jeff Gordon as he triggered a 20-car wreck after getting a flat tire. At
the Thompson World Series, Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Rick Fuller
on lap 123 of the 125 lap modified tour event. Fuller had attempted to
block but instead ended up spinning out. Tony Hirshman ended up second
and was followed by Tim Connolly and Jamie Tomaino. Ed Flemke JR won the
companion SK type modified event. For many years, the Race of Champions
was run on Columbus Day weekend. Last but not least, it was 42 years ago
in 1965 that Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket-V/8, won
the prestigious event.
Five years ago in 2002, the Busch North Series season
ender at Lime Rock and the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk
Speedway were rained out.
Last year, 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was
at the Waterford Speedbowl. There were 32 cars on hand for the 30
available starting spots. Jerry Marquis was the Busch Pole sitter as he
turned the 1/3-mile oval in 13.618 seconds. Marquis drew fifth after the
re-draw. The event was run on a very cold track due to the fact that the
backstretch track lighting failed to come on due to the fact that an
underground cable had broken. Engines were started at 8:15 following a
90-minute delay when the tracks lighting refused to come on. Eddie
Flemke started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead. Mike
Stefanik started on the outside but faded almost immediately. Ron Yuhas
Jr. was an early contender as he ran side by side with Flemke for many
laps. Donny Lia, who took the lead from Flemke on lap 128, also ran side
by side with Flemke before he was able to execute the winning pass. Once
in the lead Lia was able to open up a sizable cushion which ended up
being over ten car lengths at the finish. Flemke ended up second with
Ted Christopher, third. Stefanik toughed it out to finish fourth. Zach
Sylvester rounded out the top five. His day went from bad to worse when
he lost an engine during practice. His crew had to run home to Hebron,
CT to retrieve a replacement. Chris Pasteryak finished sixth with Yuhas
seventh and Eric Berndt, eighth.
Defending Series champion Tony Hirschman had a day he would
like to forget. During time trials Hirschman hit the front stretch wall
and after making repairs ended up crashing again on lap 22 of the
feature. Marquis was involved in his share of wrecks also.
The Waterford Speedbowl ended its regular season. Dennis Gada
finished second in the 100 lap SK Modified feature to Rob Janovic after
numerous laps of wheel banging. Gada did, however solidify his SK
Modified Championship, his sixth which tied Bob Potter. Jimmy Blewett
finished third with Don Fowler, fourth. Dwayne Dorr went into the
Limited Sportsman feature a scant four points behind Joe Curioso and
came out the winner and division champion. Curioso’s day went sour right
from the start as he suffered a flat tire on the parade lap. Once in the
feature his car was like a ping-pong ball as it was hit numerous times
in multi-accidents. In the end Curioso finished thirteenth. In the Late
Model feature Corey Hutchins and Allen Coates slugged it out for close
to 100 laps with Coates coming out the winner by inches.
In what had to be an ideal day for racing the Speedbowl had a
marginal crowd, mainly because of the total lack of advertising.
In other weekend racing Danny Johnson figured there was no
way he was winning the DIRT Motorsports Eckerd 200, the main event of
Super DIRT Week at the Syracuse, NY Fairgrounds. To win he needed to run
the final 114 laps on one tank of fuel. He didn't think it could be
done. Later, while clinging to the lead with just nine laps remaining,
two-time winner Jimmy Horton whizzed past a surprised Johnson. At that
point, Johnson figured the race was over, that there was no passing
Horton in the final nine laps. Yet when you're on a hot streak like
Johnson, you somehow find a way to win. The Rochester native passed
Horton on lap 191 and squeezed enough fuel out of his No. 27J car to
earn the victory and a $100,000 pay day.
In Nextel Cup action at Talladega Brian Vickers stole his
first career Nextel Cup victory Sunday by spinning Jimmie Johnson into
leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap of the Talladega 500.
At the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway,
With New England Hall of Fame racers on hand, including his legendary
father Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, Seekonk, MA, veteran Dave Berghman scored
the win Sunday afternoon in the “DAV 100” for the True Value Modified
Racing Series. It was Berghman’s first with the series and the first for
car owner Bill Eaton on the third year tour. Berghman becomes the 11th
different winner in 2006. On lap 28,Mechalides drew the attention of
tour officials when a fluid leak was seen coming from his racer
prompting officials to display the black flag for the hard charging
veteran driver for 3 laps. The fluid leak seemed to subside during a
caution period on lap 34 and Mechalides was allowed to continue to race.
It was at the end of the race that the driver and his crew were informed
that, “as a result of not adhering to the black flag displayed for 3
consecutive laps, as well as several radio transmissions to the team’s
spotter advising him of the same, the # 40 car would be placed back one
position in the official finish”. As a result, Mechalides and Berghman
swapped the first two positions, the result of the tour official’s
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
October 12, 2007