Thirty years ago, in 1977, rainouts split the modified fields of
cars as some went to Martinsville for the Cardinal 500 and some went to
Thompson for the World Series. Martinsville had the NASCAR sanction and
drew most of the top stars. The World Series, at that time was open
competition. Bugsy Stevens took the win in Virginia. Local favorite
Billy Hensley finished second with Brian Ross, Hank Thomas and Brett
Bodine rounding out the top five. At Thompson, Fred DeSarro took the win
over Freddie Schulz, Leo Cleary, George Summers and Bobby Clark.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1982, the NASCAR Modifieds
were in Martinsville for the season ending Cardinal 500. Fifty-seven
cars were on hand. Best appearing awards went to Tony Siscone and the
Dick Barney No.14 modified and the No.32 Late Model Sportsman driven by
Dale Jarrett. The modified 250 lapper saw Jim Spencer jump out to an
early lead over Doug Hevron and George Kent. Greg Sacks, who had all but
dominated the modified ranks was on the move and by lap 27 had taken the
lead. Sacks led until lap 92 when he, along with Richie Evans, Tony
Siscone and Brett Bodine pitted for fuel. Spencer led the restart on lap
98 with Jerry Cranmer, Sacks, Bodine, Evans and Siscone in tow. Spencer
led until lap 124 when he lost a driveshaft and Evans assumed the lead.
A terrible crash and a horrific fire occurred on lap166. Ray Everham hit
the wall and stopped on the backstretch.
Tony Siscone, with nowhere to
go, rear-ended Everham's car, splitting the gas tank. Flames engulfed
both cars. Everham escaped but Siscone, who was pulled out by Brian Ross
and Geoff Bodine, suffered serious burns. Just before the crash, Siscone
had removed his driving gloves, as they had become sweaty. After a long
red flag period the race was resumed with Kent in the lead as Evans had
pitted. Sacks, who was hoping to end his season with a win, dropped out
on lap 187 when his right front suspension broke. Evans made a gallant
charge in the closing laps but in the end had to settle for second
behind Kent. Satch Worley finished third with Jerry Cranmer, fourth and
Brett Bodine, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Paul Radford, Bob Vee,
Gail Barber, Jean Michaud and Tom Baldwin. It would take over a year for
Tony Siscone to heal and be able to race again, which he did. In fact,
Siscone came back to Martinsville to record a well-deserved win. The
Martinsville event was also the final race of Jerry Cook's driving career
as he retired to accept a position as Technical Coordinator in the
Northeast for NASCAR.
Twenty years ago, in 1987, the Winston Modified Tour
headed for Martinsville for what was supposed to be the last event of
the year but because of the fact that the Stafford Fall Final had to be
re-scheduled to the following week the Martinsville event did not
determine the series champion. George Kent took the win with Jamie
Tomaino finishing a strong second. Third thru fifth were Mike
Mclaughlin, Satch Worley and Brian Ross.
Fifteen years ago, in 1992, the Thompson World Series
took center stage as the Winston Modified Tour season came to a close.
Reggie Ruggerio took the 125 lap win but had to settle for the runner-up
spot in the final standings to Jeff Fuller who finished tenth. Satch
Worley, in the Mystic Missile finished second with Mike Ewanitsko in
third spot. Doug Hevron and Ricky Fuller rounded out the top five. Ted
Christopher won the SK Modified portion of the World Series as he beat
out Eddie StAngelo and Mike Christopher. The final Modified Tour
standings showed Jeff Fuller as taking the championship over Ruggerio,
Tom Baldwin, Steve Park and Satch Worley.
Ten years ago, in 1997, the Richmond International
Speedway closed out the 1997 Nascar Modified Tour Series with a 150-lap
event. Mike Stefanik ended his championship season in fine style as he
took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 113 and never looked back.
Finishing second was pole sitter Tony Hirshman. Jan Leaty finished third
and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr, Rick Fuller, Tom Cravenho, Tom Baldwin
Five years ago in 2002, The NASCAR Featherlite
Modified Tour Series had closed out the year with Mike Stefanik taking
the driving title. The tour consisted of 19 events with a total of 99
different competitors. Of those, 14 ran in all events. Their
participation percentage was 14%. Looking at other NASCAR divisions, the
Winston Cup has had, 84 different competitors in 28 events. Their
participation percentage is the highest, 33%. The Busch Grandnationals
have the highest car counts with 123 cars in competition. Nineteen ran
all events for a percentage of 15%. The Craftsman Trucks have drawn 107
vehicles for 20 events. Twenty competitors ran all events for a
percentage participation of 19%. The Busch North Series had a total of
18 events with a total participation of 64, which puts their percentage
at 25%. The Goody’s Dash Series, which would be dropped by NASCAR after
2003 ran only 14 events. Eighty-seven cars ran with 12 running all
events for a participation percentage at 14%.
Competitors of the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series
were still waiting for their 2003 schedule. Waterford announced theirs a
few weeks back, May 10 and August 30. Last week word leaked from
Riverhead that their dates were June 7 and August 2. Chances are that
Stafford will announce their entire 2003 schedule at their banquet this
week. From all indications the New Hampshire International Speedway will
have their Featherlite Modified Tour Series events on Friday, July 18
and on Friday, September 12. Many competitors of the Busch North Series
and the Featherlite Modified tour were hoping that NASCAR and the Speed
Channel would announce their 2003 Touring Series coverage schedule as
now was the time for race teams to be out beating the bushes for
sponsorship dollars and it would be a big plus for a competitor to give
a potential sponsor the word that his product will be on the television.
The Busch North Series Champion Andy Santerre won $95,185 in
18 events. Santerre scored three wins included with 10 top 5’s. Matt
Kobyluck finished second, 38 points behind the leader. Kobyluck recorded
two wins and 11 top fives. Brad Leighton, Kelly Moore and Tracy Gordon
rounded out the top five. Featherlite Modified Tour Series Champion Mike
Stefanik won $87,890 in 19 events. Stefanik won two events, which
included seven top fives. Ted Christopher was the leading winner with
five victories to his credit including ten top 5’s. He finished 50
points behind Stefanik with a season total of $76,745. Chuck Hossfeld,
Jerry Marquis and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Schedules for
both touring series are due out any day. Overall, both New England based
series provided good competition and were good draws at the gate where
ever they raced.
Auto racing in the northeast lost two staunch supporters.
Ronald Marquis, Jerry Marquis’ dad and Tony Vecchio Sr. Mr. Marquis was
very instrumental in his sons auto racing career and Mr. Vecchio played
a vital part as he supplied both Modifieds and Busch North Series cars
for Tony Hirschman, both would be missed.
Last year, 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour 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 green. 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
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.
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
November 2, 2007