The Chrome Horn - Looking Back with Phil Smith


Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby
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     Thirty years ago, in 1977,
Geoff Bodine capped a successful season with double wins for the weekend. Chemung ran a 100-lap Open Competition event on Saturday. Following Bodine at the finish were Merv Treichler, George Kent, Maynard Troyer, and Eddie Flemke Sr. Westboro closed out their season with a 50 lapper on Sunday. After an all night ride, Bodine took that one too. Ronnie Bouchard finished second and was followed by George Murray, Bugsy Stevens, Joe Howard and John Rosati.

    Twenty-five years ago, in 1982, the only action was at Atlanta where Bobby Allison took the 500-mile win over Harry Gant.

    Twenty years ago, in 1987, the rained out Fall Final at Stafford was run with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Jeff Fuller, Brian Ross, Bugsy Stevens, George Brunnhoelzl and Tony Hirschman. For Bugsy Stevens, the day marked the end of his modified career as he stepped out of the Garbarino Mystic Missile for the final time. A NASCAR Modified driver since 1966, Stevens garnered three NASCAR National Modified Championships plus numerous track titles. The SKís also closed out their season with Bob Potter taking the win over Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher. Phil Rondeau was the Late Model winner.

    Fifteen years ago, in 1992, the Race of Champions was at the Flemington, New Jersey Fairgrounds. Because of the fact that it was a non-NASCAR sanctioned event the absence of the top NASCAR Modified pilots was evident, with the exception of a few. It was very cold and the crowd was way off but the annual running of the event still drew 54 modifieds. New Jersey runner Lenny Boyd took the win over Mike Ewanitsko, Tony Siscone, Ricky Fuller and Ken Woolley. Long Islander Mark Tooker won the Street Stock event. Tony Sylvester finished second with Jerry Young, third. The Triple A-SK Modifieds were also on the race card. Brian Sisco took the win over Roger Heffler and Ted Christopher

    Ten years ago, in 1997, Joe Nemachek scored an emotional victory as he won the BGN 300 at Homestead, Fla., a track, which claimed the life of his brother. Randy LaJoie finished second and sewed up his second divisional title. Ted Christopher ran strong in the early going but broke an axle and ended up 34th.

    Five years ago in 2002, the Busch North Series capped off their 2002 season on Saturday night with their annual awards banquet. Guest of honor was the 2002 series champion Andy Santerre who took the title by a mere nine points over Matt Kobyluck. Over $360,000 in point funds and special awards were handed out. Judging from what news filtered out it looked like the Busch North Series could very well be running a combined event with NASCARís Winston West division at the end of 2003. The event, which would be run in the south in conjunction with a Winston Cup event could be costly but will give competitors in both divisions needed exposure.
Driver Bo Gunning and car owner Eddie Partridge were officially crowned the 2002 SK-Modified Champions at Staffordís annual banquet. Jim Peterson took top honors in the Late Model division. Gunning and Peterson received gold diamond rings and champions jackets as well as a trophy.

    Last year, 2006, The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their 2006 racing season with an event they called Double Down. Dennis Gada, who earlier in the season won his sixth championship, added to his resume on Saturday by winning both ends of the Modified segment of the season-ending Double Down Shoot Out. The two 25-lap victories brought Gadaís SK Modified career win total to 50. Dwayne Dorr, the 2006 Sportsman champ, set a record with his 11th victory in the first 15 lap Sportsman feature. Dorr, who finished fourth behind second feature winner Richard Staskowski in the second feature was also the overall winner. Corey Hutchings, Jeff Miller, Joe Godbout, Ken Cassidy Jr. were also winners as the concept proved a success. The second feature lined up with lead lap finishers from the first in reverse order. Jason Palmer passed Chris Bakaj with eight laps left to win the Legends race and Joey Payne Jr. dominated the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association race.
    In other Speedbowl news, according to a report on Gary Danko's Speedway Line Report Radio Show Monday night, the Speedbowl will be in operation for the 2007 season. Reportedly it should be announced within a week that the Speedbowl is being leased. It's reported that General Manager Bill Roth will remain at the Speedbowl in his current position. It is probably a majority of opinions the Speedbowl would not have survived 2006 without the efforts of Bill Roth and now retired PR Director Pete Zanardi. It remained to be seen, if true, how this would effect foreclosure proceedings on the property which have been put on hold by the court until June 2007. It was also rumored that current Speedbowl owner Terry Eames would not have any further connection with the operation of the track.
In other racing action, the Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, NC was the site of the North-South Shootout featuring the Hoosier 100 for the Modifieds along with a 50-lap main event for the SK-Type Modifieds.
    Practice and qualifying were the orders of the day on Friday. There were 36 Modifieds and 31 SK Modifieds on the track for practice. By the time qualifying began the cars counts changed to 46 Modifieds and 34 SKís. Time trials showed that Matt Hirschman was the fastest with southerner Burt Meyers, second fastest. Bob Grigas was third with Brian Pack, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Bobby Santos III in the Whelen No. 36 that was formerly driven by Ted Christopher. Christopher was 12th fastest in the Joe Brady No. 00. Long Islander Tom Rogers was the fastest of the SKís. Wall Township Speedway regular Tom Farrell was second fastest. Ronnie Silk was the only New Englander to break the top five. For most of those on hand it was like being at home in New England as temperatures dropped to the high 20ís once the sun went down.
    The cold weather carried over to Saturday but the racers used their heads for the most part and dealt with it. Tom Rogers won the SK Modified 50 lapper. Bobby Santos III came from 14th spot to finish second. Woody Pitkat, who started 15th, finished third. Earl Paules and Tom Cravenho rounded out the top five. Matt Hirschman won the 100 lap Modified Shootout. Ted Christopher finished second. Eric Beers came from 31st position to finished third with Earl Paules, fourth. Defending race winner John Blewett III rounded out the top five. It was a shame that Bobby Santos III never got to show his stuff in the Whelen 36 as he was collected in a grinding crash on lap 17.
    Hirschman brought the field to green to start the 100 laps of green flag racing in the Hoosier Modified 100 with Burt Myers and Bobby Grigas taking chase. Defending race champion John Blewett was already on the move going three wide on lap three to grab two spots. The potential of a good night ended for Grigas when he received the black flag for a fluid leak. Still under race conditions, Chuck Hossfeld was hounding Myers for the second spot with Blewett in hot pursuit. Blewett marched into third over Hossfeld on lap 13 and immediately set his sites on Myers. A single lap later Blewett was second. Christopher was working his way into contention. The first caution of the event flew on lap 17 for contact between Santos, Andy Seuss, and Ronnie Silk. Several competitors took advantage of the yellow to make their mandatory pit stop. On the restart Hirschman led Jo. Blewett, Myers, Ted Christopher and Hossfeld inside the top five. Hirschman and Blewett began to pull away from third-running Myers. George Brunnhoelzl, Jr., making his first Modified start of the season, brought out the yellow on lap two for an incident that also involved Daren Scherer. During the caution period, the leader headed down pit road, taking southern competitors Brian Loftin and Jason Myers along for the ride. John Blewett was the new leader when the green flag few again. B. Myers, Hossfeld, Christopher and now Todd Szegedy occupied the top five positions. B. Myers tried mounting a challenge on Blewett but had to settle back in line. This provided the opportunity for Hossfeld to make it a three-car battle for the top spot. On lap 26, Hossfeld grabbed the second position from B. Myers. Szegedy and NSS newcomer Les Hinckley teamed up to work their way to the front. On lap 31 they each gained a position by passing Christopher. Three laps later they made their way past B. Myers. Recently crowned Northern Modified Tour Rookie-of-the-Year James Civalli spun in turn four to bring out the events third caution on lap 36. A host of front-running cars ducked down pit road including John Blewett, B. Myers, Christopher, Beers and Brian Pack. Hossfeld inherited the lead on the restart but looked strong at the head of the pack. Hossfeld held the top spot over Hinckley, Hirschman, Paules, and Loftin. A heated battle between Paules and Loftin was slowed by a caution for a spinning Anthony Sesely on lap 36. Back under green, the Paules-Loftin battle continued with Loftin coming out on top. Loftin, now fourth, immediately began to pressure Hirschman for third. Hossfeld began to pull away from Hinckley. The Southern ace was able to get third from Hirschman; but not for long. On lap 44, Hirschman rocketed back by through the dogleg. Earlier front-runner, B. Myers spun in turn four to bring out the caution on lap 46. The caution was trouble for Szegedy, who headed down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop. The lap counter hit halfway with Chuck Hossfeld leading. The Hillbilly Racing team pocketed $500 for leading lap 50 courtesy of DMC Auto Exchange. Hirschman was back into the second position and looking for more. Paules sat in the third spot with a new face of Rick Kluth in fourth. A single lap later, incidental contact between John Blewett and Lia ended with Lia in the outside wall. Sesely, Seuss, and Hinckley spun during the incident as well. B. Myers received heavy damage to his car when Lia tried to drive away from the scene, collecting Myers. Hossfeld, the only car yet to make the mandatory stop, headed to pit road for service. Hirschman was the new leader when racing resumed. Paules, Kluth, Blewett and Christopher rounded out the top-five. With Hirschman and Paules pulling away slightly, the best battle on the track was for fifth position between Blewett and Beers. Christopher began to show his muscle as well. On lap 53, Christopher took third from Kluth and began to reel in the leaders. Kluth fell into the clutches of Beers. There was a scary moment for Hirschman on lap 70 when Gene Pack and Ryan Preece spun in the leaders path to bring out the caution. Unfazed, Hirschman jumped out to a comfortable lead on the restart. Paules continued to run in second over Christopher, Blewett and Beers. The action at the back of the pack was heated with several rows of side-by-side racing. A spin by Billy Pauch, Jr. brought out the seventh yellow on lap 76. Christopher took advantage of the restart to make a bid on Paules while Beers made a run on Blewett. Neither was able to make the pass stick. On lap 80, Paules had reached the back bumper of Hirschman. He, too, had to settle back into line. The final caution of the event flew on lap 85 for a spin by Hinckley. With a collective groan from the grandstand area, the Southís favorite son, Junior Miller was forced down pit road under the caution with an oil leak. The final 15-laps found Hirschman getting some breathing room as Paules, Christopher and Beers went nose to tail. On lap 94, Christopher was able to muscle his way by Paules for second. Beers, who lost a cylinder during the event, was still able to follow through to move his ailing #9 into the third position.
Hirschman cruised to the victory in the prestigious North-South Shootout. Hirschman was greeted in victory lane by his legendary father Tony and his teary eyed mother, Brenda. It was a big win for the young and rising star. In addition to his $9,000 plus bounty, Hirschman was also presented with a custom-painted helmet to commemorate his victory and a shotgun-a fitting trophy for Hirschman who symbolically gunned down the competition.
    One of the Whelen Modified Tour Series top crew chiefs and fabricators packed his bags and headed south. Phil Moran had taken a position with Bill Davis Racing in North Carolina which fields NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series cars. Moran has been behind the efforts of Todd Szegedy and at one time was a fabricator at Spearpoint Auto. Moran also spent considerable time at the Carl and Charlie Pasteryak racing garage. Tom Baldwin, Jr. apparently has hired Phil to be in charge of the chassis shop. Baldwin has also hired Steve Aspinwall from the Mystic Missile team for a position at Bill Davis racing.
    At the Texas Motor Speedway Tony Stewart, a two-time Nextel Cup champion made it two in a row as he earned his 29th career win. He also won in September at Kansas by gambling on gas and coasted under the checkered flag. But Stewart was dominating a week previous at Atlanta, leading 146 of 325 laps, and even stronger this week. Jimmie Johnson finished second. An unidentified crewman for Scott Riggs' team knocked driver Kevin Harvick, his wife and a NASCAR official to the ground on pit road Sunday, minutes after the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It was apparently in retaliation for an incident late in the race. Harvick was close behind Riggs when the latter crashed while running third on lap 332 of the 339-race event. It appeared Harvick's car took the air off the rear deck of Riggs' car and Riggs was unable to maintain control. Harvick won the preliminary Busch 300 that was run on Saturday.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891.
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The Chrome Horn 'Looking Back with Phil Smith' Archive


Source: Phil Smith/Courtesy of Tom Ormsby and
Posted:  November 9, 2007

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