March 25, 2016
Forty five years ago in 1971, the Modifieds and Busch
Grandnationals shared the twin bill at Martinsville. Ray Hendrick was the
250-lap Grand National Late Model winner. The Modified 250 saw on of the
biggest wrecks ever as over a dozen cars piled up in turn four in the
closing stages. Sneaking thru and taking a surprise win was popular Bernie
Miller from Cannestota, N.Y. Jimmy Hensley finished second. Bobby Santos
finished third and was followed by Leo Cleary, Jerry Cook and Mike Loescher.
Fred DeSarro was the defending national champion and the outside pole
sitter. During the opening laps, he and Ray Hendrick banged wheels and
DeSarro parked it for the day with front-end problems. Unknown to him at the
time, the Martinsville race was to be his last in the Koszela N0.15 as car
owner Sonny Koszela was in the process of securing the services of Bugsy
Forty years ago in 1976, the
Modifieds were quiet.
Thirty five years ago in 1981, quiet
Thirty years ago in 1986, Brett
Bodine put the Art Barry No.21 in victory lane at Martinsville. Driving one
of the last chassis built by the late Richie Evans, Bodine took the lead on
lap 188 of the 200 lap event. Jamie Tomaino who led the most laps finished
second despite running on worn out tires. Maynard Troyer finished third and
was followed by George Kent and Corky Cookman. Bodine, who was in the
process of making the move to Grandnational racing in the south was in
contention to win the GN 200 and was dumped by Kyle Petty while leading on
lap 21.Mike Porter was the eventual winner. Dale Jarrett who was running
second on the last lap, ran out of gas, allowing Larry Pearson to slip into
second spot at the finish. Fifty-one Modifieds were on hand and seventeen
thousand witnessed the event.
Twenty five years ago in 1991,
Riverside Park was scheduled to open but freezing rain ruled. The
Featherlite Modified Tour was at Richmond on Sunday, Mike Stefanik, in his
family owned No.15 took the win. Doug Hevron finished second and was
followed by George Kent, Tom Bolles, Reggie Ruggiero, Tony Hirschman and Tom
Baldwin. Announced attendance was 18,000.
Twenty years ago in 1996,
Riverside Park opened with 27 Modifieds and 4795 chilled fans. At race time,
the chill factor was below zero but the show went on. Chris Kopec started
second and took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero on lap 12 and went on to
record the 75 lap win. Doug Meservey finished second and was followed by
Ruggiero, Ted Riggott, Richard Savory and Dave Berube. At Darlington in
Winston Cup action, Dale Jarrett took the lead with fifteen laps to go only
to run out of gas with two to go. Jarrett missed his pit and ended up in the
Ernie Irvan pit. He got a splash of gas but was penalized a lap by NASCAR
for stopping in the wrong pit. Jeff Gordon took the win with Bob Labonte,
second. Penske Motorsports went public on the stock market. After opening at
24, the stock jumped to 31-3/4 the first day.
Fifteen years ago in 2001, the
Dutch Inn in Martinsville burned and in Daytona a shake-up was taking place
as NASCAR vice-President Tom Deery was relieved of his duties and replaced
by Jim Hunter. It was also on this weekend that New York driving legend
Kenny Shoemaker passed away at the age of 71. Elliott Sadler got a long
overdue win for the Wood Brothers at Bristol. Action on the final lap was
hot and heavy as Tony Stewart spun while trying to pass Jeff Gordon. Stewart
felt that Gordon had done it on purpose and retaliated against Gordon,
spinning him out on pit road. NASCAR fined Stewart $10,000 and put him on
Ten years ago in 2006 The NASCAR
Whelen Southern Modified Tour season-opener got the green at the Caraway
Speedway in North Carolina. The weather in central North Carolina was mighty
cold but it didnít stop Ted Christopher as he scored the 250-lap win over
Chuck Hossfeld. Christopher drove the Joe Brady No.00 while Hossfeld made
his maiden voyage in the Roger Hill No.79. There were 27 NASCAR Modifieds on
hand, a record count for Southern Modified Tour events. Christopher took the
lead on Lap 20 and never looked back, even though his .219-second margin of
victory over Hossfeld was anything but easy for the Plainville, Conn.
driver. A late caution allowed Hossfeld to close in on Christopherís bumper
for the Lap 148 restart with two circuits remaining. Southern drivers Burt
Myers and Junior Miller finished third and fourth with Jamie Tomaino
rounding out the top five. Andy Seuss, a regular on the Northern New England
True Value Modified Tour Series and recent Modified Champion at New Smyrna,
finished 27th after dropping out on lap 97 with handling problems. There
were eight caution flags that slowed the field for 48 laps. In Whelen
Modified Tour Series news, Bob Finan, the very capable Public Relations
director at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island said that Mike Andrews Jr.
would pilot the Ed Whelen #36 NASCAR Modified on the tour while Mike
Ewanitsko continued to heal broken bones in his foot. Ewanitsko was injured
on opening night at the World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.
In non-modified news Finan eluded to the fact that Busch East driver Bryan
Chewís mom was seriously injured in an accident in upstate New York.
Five years ago in 2011, Kyle Busch
sailed off to his fifth consecutive win at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch won
both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at the Tennessee track and
has won the past five NASCAR events there. His dominating win Saturday was
the 46th of his career in the second-tier Nationwide Series, which puts him
three back from tying Mark Martin's record. But in leading 266 of the 300
laps, he became the first driver in series history to lead more than 10,000
Last year, 2015, It looked like Bob
Garbarino had put his retirement from racing on hold as Area Auto Racing
News announced that he had teamed up with Todd Szegedy for the 2015 NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series. Szegedy ran a partial season on the Whelen
Modified Tour in 2014 after splitting up with the Mike Smeriglio III owned
team after the 2013 season. Szegedy had been driving for Smeriglio from the
start of the 2006 season and had 10 of his 18 career series victories with
the team. Szegedy brings to the Mystic Ct team a rťsumť that includes 18
wins, 10 poles and 115 top 10s in 187 career starts. He won the tour title
as a second-year driver in 2003 with the No. 50 team owned by Barker, and
was twice the runner-up with Mike Smeriglio III Racing before his departure
following the 2013 season.
Corey LaJoie is filling the seat left vacant by Todd Szegedy. Rob Fuller
Motorsports announced that LaJoie, son of Randy LaJoie, would drive the No.
15 15-40 Connection Chevrolet in seven races in the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour (NWMT) in 2015.
The KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series had their season opener at
Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Burt Myers took the lead with five
laps remaining in the 125 lapper, passing Chris Pasteryak for the win. Jason
Myers rounded out the top three. Ryan Preece who was the fastest in practice
and the pole sitter was never a factor. Zach Brewer finished fourth with
Gary Putnam, fifth. Preece ended up in sixth spot. There were twenty cars on
New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Bruce Bemer and General Manager
Shawn Monahan were pleasantly surprised to hear from a structural engineer
that the grandstands at the shoreline oval were generally in good shape.
Bemer hoped to have the stands painted before opening day and to have new
stands in place by the 2016 season. While the stands are acceptable for this
season, the bathrooms, especially the ladies facilities, are not. Those will
be a major focus once the weather breaks."I would like to do more than I
possibly can do in 45 days," Bemer said.
But other things have already changed. As was previously announced, the
name was changed to differentiate the new ownership and give the facility a
fresh start, something that Monahan deemed necessary for a business that
"had a cloud over it." Itís actually the original name of the facility
before New London was dropped somewhere in the 1980s, according to Monahan.
Above all, race teams will know that checks will be handed out at the end
of the night. "Thatís totally done, there will never be a problem with that
with Bruce Bemer here," Monahan said. The previous owner/operator stiffed
many competitors of moneys earned while living a high life style. Monahan
said he is still owed by the former owners of the track for trophies that he
provided last year. He did it, he said, because he did not want the
competitors to go without. He also lost money in the foreclosure deal, but
money, sometimes, isnít everything. For Monahan, true satisfaction will come
when the lights go on in May.
Word came from Lou Modestino that Francis Venditti, president of Seekonk
Speedway, was looking hard at building a one-eighth mile drag strip on the
extensive track property. This has been looked at over the 70 years that the
track has existed. "I think that we have a good chance of making this
expansion happen. I just need to concentrate on it. Iíve been working with
some of my neighbors who own the land on other issues. Itís a lot of
give-and-take," said Venditti.
There will be a lot of hearings and permits to obtain before a shovel
even turns on this expansion. It will be tricky with some pitfalls. But
Venditti indicated heís pretty committed to the project at this point in
On a sad note, Andy Fusco, a longtime attorney and the city of Auburn.
NYís assistant corporation counsel, died unexpectedly Thursday morning. He
was 62 years old. Beyond his legal achievements, Fusco was known as a sports
fan beyond his auto racing interests, and was also a noted music buff and
antique car enthusiast. The Auburn man's racing interests were expanded
through his weekly columns in Syracuse publication Gater Racing News from
1970 through 1976. He also served as an editor for Virginia magazine "Stock
Car Racing" and appeared as a racing personality on WIXT-TV Channel 9.
This varied background made him the perfect choice as the counselor for
the DIRT organization, said DIRT founder and former president Glenn
Donnelly. Despite his other duties with the city and his private practice,
Fusco remained a presence as counselor and board member for the DIRT
Modified Stock Car Museum for more than 20 years.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in California, Kevin Harvick chased Kurt
Busch down the stretch in a battle of the best cars in the Fontana field,
Brad Keselowski was buried in 17th place, until the yellow flags started
flying. A caution for debris allowed Keselowski to move up to sixth. When a
second flag went up, he took four new tires while Harvick and Busch got only
Keselowski roared past Busch on the final lap and held off the streaking
Harvick to win at Fontana on Sunday, earning his first NASCAR victory of the
season in a wild finish.
Kevin Harvick won his second race of the season, his first at Auto Club
Speedway and the 46th of his career, third-most all-time. Incredibly,
Harvick scored his 28th consecutive top 10 in the Xfinity Series, dating to
2013. With two victories and two seconds in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
this year to go with two wins and a third in the Xfinity Series, Harvick has
recorded seven podium finishes in seven starts in both series combined.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
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