The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

February 12, 2016

  Fifty five years ago in 1961, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts was the Daytona 500 pole sitter. Joe Weatherly was second fastest. Roberts' speed was 155.709 mph. Sixty one cars attempted to qualify. Among them was Ernie Gahan in a John Koszela car, Long Island Japanese driver George Tet, Pennsylvania modified great, Joe Kelly and Jim Reed.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, Sixty six cars were on hand for Daytona 500 qualifying. Richard Petty took the pole with a speed of 175.165 mph. Dick Hutcherson was second fastest. The only northern driver in the field was Rene Charland.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, the field was down but the speeds were up at Daytona 500 qualifying. With 44 cars on hand, AJ Foyt in the Wood Brothers car took the pole with a speed of 182.744mph.Bobby Isaac was second fastest. Among those in the field was defending Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton, Maynard Troyer and Ken Meisenhelder.

  Forty years ago in 1976, Ramo Stott was the surprise Daytona 500 pole sitter. Terry Ryan was second fastest.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981, the World Series at the New Smyrna got the green flag with fifteen Modifieds in the pit area. Taking the opening night win was Richie Evans. George Kent finished second and was followed by Maynard Troyer, Jr. Hanley, John Blewett Jr, Ronnie Bouchard and Doug Hewitt. The second night of competition saw heavy rain wash out the eveningís activities. Speedweek at Daytona shifted into high gear on Sunday as Darrell Waltrip won the Busch Clash and Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 194.624 mph. Geoff Bodine made his first attempt at Daytona as he was entered in a car owned by Dick Bahre, brother of NHIS owner Bob Bahre. Richie Evans made it two for two at New Smyrna on Sunday night as he won out over Kent, Ronnie Bouchard, Hewitt and Merv Treichler.

  Thirty years ago in 1986 Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 dusted the field at New Smyrna in opening night action. Jamie Tomaino finished second. Jeff Fuller was the mini-modified winner. Round two on Saturday night saw Ruggiero again in victory lane with Tomaino again the bridesmaid. Kerry Malone finished third with George Kent, fourth. On Sunday at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt was the winner of the Busch Clash and Bill Elliot took the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 205.039 mph. Geoff Bodine was the outside pole sitter with a speed of 204.545 mph. Also on hand for the 500 qualifying were Ronnie Bouchard, Doug Hevron and Greg Sacks. Ruggiero made it three for three at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Tomaino was again, second.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, it was the same car, the 44, but this time it was Rick Fuller at the controls and taking the win on opening night at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Kennedy and Tim Arre. On night number two, Baldwin shifted into high gear and took the win over Ewanitsko, Jeff Fuller and veteran, Andy Romano. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash and Davey Allison was the Daytona 500 pole sitter. Baldwin continued his winning ways as he went two for two at New Smyrna. Jeff Fuller finished second with Arre, third.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Steve Park, driving for Joe Brady was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin, Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller. Saturday night at New Smyrna, Fuller took the win after Christopher spun on the last lap. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Park, Jamie Tomaino and Bruce Del. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt was the fastest of 49 cars on hand and took the Daytona 500 pole position with a speed of 189.510 mph. Ernie Irvan was second fastest. Dale Jarrett won the Busch Clash and Jeff Purvis won the ARCA 200.Bruce Del was the surprise winner at New Smyrna on Sunday night after a big wreck on the start collected Fuller, Ewanitsko, Tomaino and Baldwin. Ted Christopher finished second and Ewanitsko recovered to finish third. It was also on this weekend that Tom Curley in behalf of ACT filed suit against Oxford Plains Speedway owner Mike Liberty charging fraud and breach of contract.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001 a record number of modified entries were received for the New Smyrna World Series with 36 on hand for opening night. Jim Willis went pole to pole to win the event over Ted Christopher and Jamie Tomaino. Charlie Pasteryak became a first night victim as he crashed hard as a result of a broken suspension part. In Daytona 500 qualifying on Saturday it was an all Dodge front row. Bill Elliott took the pole with a speed of 183.565 mph. Jerry Nadeau was second fastest but was disqualified because of illegal suspension parts. Stacy Compton was moved up to the outside pole spot. Ted Christopher was the winner of night No.2 at New Smyrna. Friday night winner Jim Willis wrecked hard. George Kent finished second with Eric Beers, third. Tony Stewart was the big winner at Daytona on Sunday as he beat out Dale Earnhardt Sr. to win the Busch Clash. Many Winston Cup car sponsors became enraged when FOX blurred out their sponsorís logos when they wouldn't submit to payola. Sunday night at New Smyrna saw Rob Summers put the Bear Motorsports entry in victory lane. Ted Christopher finished second with Junior Hanley, third. Charlie Pasteryak made it back from being wrecked to finish fourth. Monday night at New Smyrna, Summers was leading and hoping to make it two for two when he blew a tire and took a hard shot into the wall. Ted Christopher ended up taking the win and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Kent and Nevin George. It was announced at Daytona that FOX had backed off from blurring out car sponsors after it was reported that NASCAR put pressure on the network to do so. The Tuesday night event at New Smyrna ran only 16 of the 25 scheduled laps when rain and fog moved in. David Berghman, leading at the time the red was displayed, was awarded the win. Charlie Pasteryak ended up second with Eric Beers, third.

  Ten years ago in 2006 Speed Weeks in Florida shifted into high gear on Friday night as the Annual World Series at the New Smyrna Beach high banked half-mile Speedway got the green. A good field of Modifieds, 24, was on hand for the opening night 25-lap feature. Upstate New Yorker Chuck Hossfeld, who would be driving the Hills Enterprises No.79 on the Whelen Modified Tour Series, started on the pole and led every lap to take the opening night win. Hossfeld drove a New York based Modified owned by Jerry Graydle Racing. Eric Beers finished second with Kevin Goodale, third. Rounding out the top seven were Rob Summers, John Blewett III, Donnie Lia and Andy Seuss. A devastating wreck midway of the event all but ended the comeback attempt of Mike Ewanitsko. Jimmy Blewett, driving for Eddie Partridge, stated that he exited turn two a little too fast and triggered the wreck that also collected Ted Christopher. Christopher was able to return to competition but was never a factor. It was unfortunate that Ewanitsko was injured but Blewett was to be commended for accepting responsibility. It was later learned that Ewanitsko had suffered five broken bones in one of his feet. Rain washed out Saturday night action at New Smyrna. Sunday night was a scheduled night off. Rain washed out the Bud Shootout on Saturday which had to be run on Sunday afternoon. Bobby Gerhardt won the ARCA 200, which was run in the morning. Erin Crocker started 10th and finished 15th. Fifty-eight cars ran for the Daytona 500 pole. Jeff Burton in the Childress No.31 took the pole with a speed of 189.151 mph. Jeff Gordon was the second fastest. Jimmie Johnson was disqualified as his car had an illegal modification; his crew chief was suspended and ejected from the speedway. Rookie Denny Hamlin was the Bud Shootout winner. Dale Earnhardt JR finished second with Tony Stewart, third.

  Five years ago in 2011, the long wait was over as the nights came alive in New Smyrna Florida as the green flag dropped for the 45th ANNUAL WORLD SERIES of ASPHALT STOCK CAR RACING at the New Smyrna Speedway The nine night series featured Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, NASCAR Tour-Type Modifieds, SK Modifieds, FL/IMCA Type Modifieds, Pro-Trucks, ACT Late Models.
  The Modifieds were scheduled to run every night except on Sunday, 2/13. Opening night saw a slim field of Modifieds, 11 and a real slim field of SK Mods, 7. Earl Paules was the opening night 25 lap Modified feature winner. Paules took the lead from Ron Silk following a lap 12 restart. Silk finished second with Chuck Hossfeld third and Ted Christopher, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Patrick Emerling. Because of the short field, the SK Modified feature was cut back to 15 laps instead of the scheduled 25. Ron Silk took the win with Earl Paules, second.
  Night number two, Saturday, saw a new Modified winner in the form of Ted Christopher. Driving the Joe Brady #00 Christopher took the lead in the 25 lap feature on lap 2 and never looked back. Chuck Hossfeld finished second with Ronnie Silk, third. Andy Petree who was a Championship Crew Chief for the late Dale Earnhardt Sr finished fourth with Earl Paules rounding out the top five. The Modified field continued to be thin as there were only ten on hand. Ron Silk made it two in a row in SK Modified action. The field of SKs continued at seven.
  The Modifieds and SK Modifieds did not race on Sunday night at New Smyrna.
  Kurt Busch won the exhibition Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night when Denny Hamlin was disqualified for going below the out-of-bounds line at Daytona International Speedway. The first NASCAR race on Daytona's new pavement created sizzling fast speeds, cars went over 206 mph at one point in the race, and created packs of two cars all around the oval.
  Busch skirted around Newman at the top of the track, pulling McMurray with him. Hamlin actually crossed the finish line first, but was black-flagged and fell to 12th.
  Instead of a smaller restrictor plate to lower the speeds at Daytona Intíl Speedway, NASCAR officials are taking a different approach by lowering the tolerance level of the pressure relief valve. By taking that approach, the cars will blow water out of the engine at a lower temperature, which will force cars locked in a two-car draft to pull out to get clean air into the inlet on the front grille.
  NASCAR officials recognized a problem in Saturday nightís Budweiser Shootout at Daytona when speeds of two cars in a draft exceeded 206 miles per hour. Once those cars began to overheat and had to unlock each other, the closing rate of another two cars locked up was more than 20 miles per hour faster.
  Since the advent of radial tires and the car of tomorrow Sprint Cup races have become a big time bore. Sprint Cup racing is nothing more than a glorified IROC race that in many cases is way too long.
  Dale Earnhardt Jr. reclaimed the spotlight in Daytona speedweeks, winning pole position for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.089 mph in qualifying Sunday. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, qualified second. It's the second straight Daytona 500 front row sweep for Hendrick, who put Mark Martin on the pole and Earnhardt in the No. 2 spot last year.
A little bit of New England racing nostalgia and history came to an end on Feb 10 when the roof that covered the former No. 44 race shop came crashing down. The Mario Fiore owned race team had occupied the premises from 1981 through 2006. It was from this race shop, located across the street from the former Riverside Park in Agawam, Ma that Fiore and his team produced and maintained some of the fastest and best handling Modifieds that ever turned laps.
  National Speed Sport News reported that fuel injected engines will make their way into NASCAR competition in 2012. The fuel injection system will replace carburetors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup division. The series has used carburetors since its inception in 1949. NASCAR and its top series teams will test the technology during the 2011 season with the anticipation of the systems being rolled out in 2012.
  Fuel injection was used in the NASCAR Modifieds up to and including the 1969 season. Among those who were the most proficient with the use and setup of fuel injection were Jack Tant, Bobby Judkins and the late Len Boehler.
  NASCAR officials announced that they had lowered the minimum age for drivers competing in their five regional touring divisions from 16 years old to 15 years old. The change took effect immediately for the K&N Pro Series East and West divisions, the Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the Canadian Tire Series.
  It marked the second time in four years that NASCAR had lowered the age minimum for its touring divisions. Prior to the 2007 season the minimum age was lowered from 18 to 16. Joe Gibbs Racing took advantage of that change immediately entering Middletown native Joey Logano into competition in the K&N Pro Series East. The then 17-year old went to win the division's championship, become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR title. Logano was in his third season in the Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.
  In another move, NASCAR announced that it's Learner's Permit NASCAR license for Whelen All-American Series competitors would be applicable for all divisions at NASCAR sanctioned tracks. NASCAR introduced the Learner's Permit license last year, allowing competitors and crew members ages 14 and 15 years old entrance into entry level divisions at NASCAR sanctioned short tracks.
  Many have mixed feelings about lowering age limits. Some kids are responsible enough to handle it while some are not.
  It was announced that Ford Motor Co. has sued Ferrari in Detroit federal court, saying the sports car maker has violated its trademark over the pickup truck name F-150.
  The suit is based on Ferrari's naming of its new Formula 1 racing car the "F150," and its creation of the website Dearborn-based Ford says in Wednesday's filing that its trademark is being harmed, and the suit asks a judge to block Ferrari from using the trademark in the U.S. Ford also seeks unspecified damages from Ferrari.
  Ferrari's website says the "F150" marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

  Last year, 2015 the Florida flat lands came alive with the sound of racing engines as Daytona and New Smyrna come alive for the official start of the 2015 racing season.
  Both Daytona and New Smyrna held practice sessions last Thursday. Daytona held practice for ARCA cars which totaled 46. Bobby Gerhart, an ARCA regular was the fastest with a 47.633 run on the 2-1/2 mile oval. 25 58 John Lowinski-Loh was 25th with a 48.085 sec run and Tommy Barrett Jr. was 30th with a 48.441sec run. At New Smyrna approximately a dozen tour type Modifieds were on hand. Among the fastest were Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio amd Kevin Goodale.
  The Daytona Int. Speedway held qualifying for the ARCA cars last Friday, Taking the pole for Saturdayís ARCA 200 was Mark Thompson who turned a 48.042 on the 2-1/2 mile oval. Second fastest was Cody Coughlin followed by Tom Hessert, Brett Hudson and Martinsville Speedway promoter Clay Campbell. John Lowinski-Loh, who races at the Thompson Speedway, qualified 23rd and Tommy Barrett Jr., who competes on the Whelen Modified Tour Series, was 35th. Barrett was not quick enough to make the starting grid.
  Opening night at New Smyrna saw only 14 cars start the Modified tour type feature as temperatures dipped into the low 40ís. Ryan Preece ran away with it but was disqualified after a post race weigh-in. Justin Bonsignore was moved up to the winners spot. J.R. Bertuccio finished second with Jimmy Zacharias, third. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Goodale and Dalton Baldwin.
  Because of the cold night the grandstands were all but empty. Track officials dragged their feet in expediting the program as it took way too long to clean up wrecks and restart events.
  Spencer Davis, who drives for the Hill family, had a rocky start after a rear end issue sidelined him prior to the green flag. He lost five laps swapping spots with the driver of the Hillbilly Racing backup car and completed what turned out to be his best finish of the night after disqualifications in the Super and Pro Late Model features.
  Grant Enfinger won the ARCA 200 on Saturday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway. John Lowinski-Loh was not as fortunate as he was an early drop-out with a blown engine. He was credited with a 33rd finishing position. Matt Kenseth won Saturday night's exhibition Sprint Unlimited, which was a crash-filled kickoff to the NASCAR season for the second consecutive year. Only 12 of the 25 cars in the field were running at the end of the race, which was stopped twice by red flags for multi-car accidents. There were only eight cars running at the end of the 2014 race.
  Ryan Preece got redemption from his opening night disqualification as he won the Tour type Modified 35 lapper on Saturday night. Chuck Hossfeld finished a close second with JR Bertuccio, third. Justin Bonsignore and Jim Zacharias rounded out the top five. Attendance was sparse as temps dipped to the low 40ís.
  In Daytona 500 qualifying last Sunday, Jeff Gordon, in what he says was his final attempt at the Daytona 500, got just enough of a draw from the line of cars ahead of him to post a lap of 201.293 mph (44.711 seconds), good enough to top all twelve cars who advanced to the third and final round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying and giving the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion his second career pole (1999) for NASCARís most prestigious event. Johnson, who was at the tail of the drafting train in the final moments of qualifying, came up three one-hundredths of a second shy of his third career 500 pole (201.135; 44.746), but sits on the front row of the Great American Race for the fourth time in his career and gives car owner Rick Hendrick his fourth career "sweep" of the front row for the 500.
  The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and the NASCAR K&N Series took center stage at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Eddie MacDonald led wire-to-wire to claim Sunday night's American-Canadian Tour 100 which went green to checker without a caution. Following MacDonald at the finish were Patrick Laperle, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Travis Stearns and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. The Rocco brothers, Jeff and Keith, finished 18th and 19th. Keith had a motor problem earlier in the day and was forced to borrowed one for Sunday night. A back-up motor arrived on Monday. Austin Hill, 20, took the lead after winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and never looked back on the field from there, besting a 26-car field and leading wire-to-wire to win the Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150.
  Details of the settlement of the sale of the Waterford Speedbowl have been released. The New London Day reported that the title to the Waterford Speedbowl has been officially transferred to Bruce Bemer, owner of Bemer Petroleum in Glastonbury, CT following a creditorís withdrawal of an appeal, according to a lawyer involved in the foreclosure lawsuit. Attorney Michael S. Bonnano said that his client, Speedbowl creditor Edward DeMuzzio, withdrew an appeal of the sale on Wednesday, Feb4.
  Bemer won ownership of the Route 85 track on Oct. 18 with a bid of $1.75 million at an auction. Speedbowl fan Rocco Arbitell and business partner Peter Borrelli filed for foreclosure against the racetrackís then owner, Terry Eames, in 2008. DeMuzzio later alleged that collusion had led to a winning bid that was artificially low, as the track is valued at about $3 million. He previously submitted documents to the court stating that the low bid led to him being "wiped out" as a creditor.
  Title was transferred from Eames to Bemer on Thursday, Feb 5 said Bonnano. A motion for a supplemental judgment outlining how much each creditor will receive from sale proceeds still requires approval by a New London Superior Court judge, according to Bonnano.
  The motion states that creditors Arbitell and Borrelli are to receive $1.22 million from proceeds of the sale. DeMuzzio is slated to receive $35,000 from the sale, and Shawn Monahan, who has also lent money to the track, is to receive about $13,000, according to the motion. Another $473,000 is to be divided among creditors First H&M Corp., Theodore Park Jr., and Shawn Parker, the motion states. DeMuzzioís firm CCi Inc., also listed as a creditor, is not slated to receive money from the court proceeds, according to the motion. Bonnano said parties in the settlement have agreed not to share further details of the settlement.
  Big News comes from the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. Could a Whelen Modified Tour Series event be in their future? The Venditti family just made their 70th season even more historic.
  As confirmed by NBC 10 in Providence, RI, the Seekonk Speedway will return to the NASCAR Home Tracks program as a NASCAR-sanctioned short track for the 2015 season.
  "NASCAR and Seekonk Speedway officials have confirmed that Seekonk Speedway will be returning to the NASCAR family in 2015," said NBC 10 news lead sportscaster Frank Carpano. "Seekonk Speedway has signed as a NASCAR member track this coming season and will feature the NASCAR Whelen All American Series." An official announcement of the partnership between the track and NASCAR is expected in the near future. The Speedway was most recently part of the Home Tracks back in the 2005 season. 

  Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

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: February 12, 2016

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