April 1, 2016
Forty five years ago in 1971, Thompson opened their season with
Modifieds and Supers running together. Bobby Santos in the Joe Brady No.41
took the 50-lap win. Lou Austin finished second. Howie Brown, in a
Supermodified, finished third. The Supers were very unreliable as most
failed to finish. Rene Charland finished fourth and was followed by Bob
Karvonen, Ernie Gahan and Billy Schulz. Jerry Glaude won the open
competition opener at the Waterford Speedbowl. George Summers finished
second and was followed by Joe Trudeau and Walt Dombrowski.
Forty years ago in 1976, it was
Thirty five years ago in 1981, The
Thompson Speedway opened the season with Dick Williams as the promoter,
under warm 70-degree skies. With over 12,000 fans on hand, Richie Evans
followed up his Martinsville win with another win. George Kent finished
second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Kenny Bouchard. Because of the
huge crowd, Williams added $3,000 to the race purse and paid every
non-qualifier $50.00. Jeff Fuller was the late model winner and was followed
by Ron Cote and Pete Fiandaca. In the south at the Winston Cup event at
Bristol, Ronnie Bouchard qualified third behind Darrell Waltrip and Dale
Earnhardt. Bouchard ran in the top five until losing an engine at the half
way mark. In Busch Grandnational action, Geoff Bodine went two for two as he
won at Langley Field on Saturday and at South Boston, on Sunday. Both were
200 lap events.
Thirty years ago in 1986, Riverside
Park opened for the season. Mike Stefanik took the 100-lap win as 10,280
race hungry fans looked on. Stan Greger finished second with Bob Polverari,
Twenty five years ago in 1991,
Riverside began their season with a 100 lapper that went non-stop with
Reggie Ruggiero taking the win. Charlie Pasteryak finished second and was
followed by Jerry Marquis, Stan Greger and Rick Fuller.
Twenty years ago in 1996, Chris Kopec
made it two for two at Riverside as he beat out Dave Berube and Reggie
Ruggiero for the win. Thompson saw the Modified Tour on hand for a 125-lap
event. Steve Park took the win after coming back from a pit stop for tires
on lap 59.Park took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 98.Jerry Marquis
finished second and was followed by Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Bruce Del.
Todd Ceravolo went pole to pole to win the 35 lapper for the SK's. On a sad
note, Fred DeSarro Sr. passed away after suffering congestive heart failure.
Fifteen years ago in 2001, the
Featherlite Modifieds were off. Kevin Harvick led 114 laps of the Texas
Grandnational 200 to take the win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Winston Cup
pole sitter but it was Dale Jarrett and Steve Park who finished one-two.
Ten years ago in 2006, The Waterford
Speedbowl opened for the season with The Nationals. The two-day event hosted
feature events for SK Modifieds (150 laps), Late Models (50 laps), Sportsman
(30 laps), Mini-Stocks (30 laps), and NEMA Midgets (25 laps) plus Allison
Legacy and American Race Trucks. All features were run on Sunday. "Don’t
believe what you read in the papers" is what track owner Terry Eames alluded
to at a drivers meeting on Saturday. He said the entire 2006 season would be
run as scheduled. The Nationals, a big event that should have bolstered the
Speedbowl’s checkbook, was disappointing at the box office, but a resounding
success on the track. Good fields of cars and good racing didn’t disappoint
those who came. Too bad the grandstands were less than half full. Lack of
advertising was key. The race fans knew the Speedbowl was opening for the
season but much of the general public didn’t. Frank Ruocco made a guest
appearance at the Speedbowl, as did Jimmy Blewett and Ken Horton. They stole
the SK Modified show from the regulars. Blewett started on the pole and led
the event until he got loose and passed by Ruocco with about 12 laps to go.
Blewett went non-stop without a tire change while Ruocco pitted for a fresh
set shortly after the half way mark. Ruocco took the top spot while Blewett
ended up fourth. Kenny Horton came from dead last to finish second while
Chris Pasteryak was the top finishing Speedbowl regular in third spot.
Dennis Gada rounded out the top five. Other winners were Joey Payne in the
NEMA Midgets, Mark Esposito in the Legends, Dave Silvia in the Mini Stocks,
Tayla Orleans in the Allison Legacy Cars, Corey Hutchings in the Late
Models, Jason Heroux in the Pro Fours, Seth Duval in the Trucks and Dwayne
Door in the Sportsman.
The proposed domed speedway in Plainfield Ct. had been out of the news in
recent months. Now came word that the First Selectman, Kevin Cunningham, had
asked the town planning commission to repeal the controversial zoning
regulations that would have allowed a domed speedway to be built in a new
commercial district near the existing greyhound track. Cunningham had allies
in the Planning and Zoning Commission, which could work in his favor. If
Cunningham ended up being successful and the zoning regulations were
repealed, the roughly 820 acres that were designated as the
Resort/Recreational Development District, known as the C5 District would
revert back to their previous zoning designations, the possibility of
building a domed speedway in Plainfield would be dead. It had been almost a
year since the C5 District regulations were approved and the district was
established in the southeastern section of the town. During this time town
officials waited for an application to build a multimillion-dollar domed
speedway, which would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and
attract NASCAR-caliber events to the area. In the mean time, Eugene Arganese,
and his New England Raceway LLC, had not submitted an application despite
saying several times that one was in the works.
Five years ago in 2011, Kevin Rice
reported that four VMRS teams were at Thompson on Saturday for the first of
two Saturday practice sessions which would lead up to the Ice Breaker. Les
Hinckley, Chris Pasteryak, Steve Masse and Tim Jordan were shaking down
their mounts in preparation for the season opener at the Waterford
Rice also noted that Whelen Modified Tour Series drivers including Matt
Hirschman in the legendary Ole Blu of the Boehler family were on hand to get
in a few shakedown runs. In addition to Hirschman, other tour drivers
included Todd Szegedy, Bobby Santos III, Ronnie Silk, Glen Tyler, Tom
Rogers, Kevin Goodale, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Woody Pitkat, Wade Cole,
Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, Eric Goodale, Ron Yuhas, Rob Fuller and Bryon
Richie Pallai, Jr. was on hand with his new advisor and mentor Bob
Potter. Potter is a multi-time winner at Stafford, Waterford and Thompson
who has a wealth of driving experience and set-ups. Rick Gentes has thrown
his hat in the ring for Rookie of the Year honors as he joins the Tour in
2011. Modified Tour competitors will not be allowed to practice at Thompson
In the Sunoco Modified (SK type) ranks Ryan Preece started out the year
on the wrong foot as he apparently had a throttle stick and ultimately did
alot of damage when he crashed into the turn one concrete wall
Due to persistent rain overnight and a weather forecast calling for a
cold rain throughout the weekend, NASCAR and Caraway Speedway postponed the
Caraway 150 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race originally scheduled
Matt Kobyluck, winner of 16 career races NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and
the 2008 series champion, announced that he would not be competing in the
2011 racing season. Kobyluck’s longtime sponsor, Mohegan Sun Resort &
Casino, announced the 2010 season would be their last on Kobyluck’s #40
cars. Kobyluck owns and operates a sand and gravel operation in southeastern
National Speed Sport News published its last issue. After more than 76
years, the publication, which was first published as National Auto Racing
News on Aug. 16, 1934, printed its last issue, dated March 23, 2011.
Through the years National Speed Sport News was the industry leader in
covering motorsports, much of it thanks to Chris Economaki, 90, who sold the
first issue of NSSN at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in New Jersey, and began writing
for the publication soon after that and became editor in 1950.
Economaki saw the publication through its glory days, launching a career
on television and taking his newspaper into thousands of homes across
America. In a time when there was no Internet and very little racing was on
television or radio, National Speed Sport News thrived.
NASCAR's top divisions were on the West coast. It was another dismal
crowd at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Sunday afternoon. Despite a
shift from the second race of the season to the fifth, more than half the
seats at the two-mile superspeedway were empty for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Interestingly, the race came down to a battle between California natives
with Bakersfield’s Kevin Harvick edging El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson. Harvick
passed Johnson on the final turn at Auto Club Speedway to win after trailing
the entire race. Kyle Busch had the dominant car most of the day and led a
race-high 151 laps, including off a restart with nine laps left. Johnson, a
five-time winner at Fontana, had the late burst, chasing down Busch for the
lead with two laps left.
Kyle Busch came out of the pits in the lead after taking two tires on a
late stop, then held off Edwards and Harvick to win his third straight
Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday.
Last year, 2015, The NASCAR Southern
Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Caraway Speedway in North
Carolina last week. Andy Seuss went from Zero to hero in two weeks. After
finishing last in the season opener two weeks ago at Caraway Speedway, Seuss
held off Eric Goodale on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Charles
Kepley Memorial 150 Saturday in a return to Caraway.
The key to success was with his pit crew. Seuss’ pit crew got him out of
the pits first just in front of Eric Goodale on Lap 131, after a spin by
Kyle Ebersole brought out the fifth caution flag of the race. Ryan Preece
rebounded from contact with JR Bertuccio on the final restart on Lap 146 to
finish third, with Bertuccio and Burt Myers completing the top five.
For most of the race it appeared Bertuccio was on his way to his third
career tour win as he took the lead from Preece on Lap 8 and remained out
front until the leaders came in for the decisive pit stop. It was the most
laps the Centereach, New York, native had led in competition since he led
145 in his win last April at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly,
Jason Myers finished sixth, and Ebersole able to work back through the
field after his late spin to finish seventh. Frank Fleming, Gary Putnam and
John Smith completed the top 10.
Seuss and the rest of the Southern Modified competitors will be in action
next Saturday at Virginia's South Boston Speedway for the South Boston 150.
Congratulations to Todd Ceravolo who won a 2015 Corvette in a raffle last
week. Son-in law Keith Rocco will be driving the Ceravolo family Sunoco SK
Modified at Thompson this season.
In some sad news, multi-time New London-Waterford Speedbowl Modified
track champion Dick Dunn passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, March 27th,
2015. He was 77. Long heralded as a top star at the Speedbowl, Dunn began
his career in the shoreline oval’s support divisions before successfully
transitioning to the headlining Modifieds where by the 1960s he’d become a
multi-time feature winner with his own car, and also while driving for other
A pairing with car owner the late Peg Gaudreau and her late husband Al at
the dawn of the 1970s proved wildly-successful for the Middletown, CT,
native. Piloting the Gaudreau "Buddha’s Bullet" #3, he went on to record
4-straight Speedbowl Modified track championships beginning in 1972.
Significant Speedbowl victories during those years included the Schaefer
100, New England 100, and Fall Stinger 100. The Dunn-Gaudreau team also
notched feature event victories at other New England speedways including the
Thompson Motorsports Park in Connecticut, and at New Hampshire’s Monadnock
Speedway. Additionally, the team also frequently competed at the big yearly
Modified shows at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway.
In 2000 he was named among the Speedbowl’s "50 Favorite Drivers" during a
ceremony honoring the tracks 50th Anniversary. The last laps of Dunn’s
Modified career were recorded at the Speedbowl aboard a Ted Marsh-owned
Modified in 1987.
The funeral was held on Monday at 11 am from the Coughlin-Lastrina
Funeral Home, 491 High Street, Middletown, CT followed by a mass of
Christian burial at St. Pius X Church at 12 noon. Burial was in the family
plot in St. Sebastian Cemetery, Middlefield, CT.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Denny Hamlin passed teammate Matt Kenseth
for the lead with 28 laps to go Sunday and ended Toyota's 32-race winless
streak in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. It was his
fifth victory on NASCAR's oldest, smallest circuit. Brad Keselowski was
second, followed by Joey Logano, Kenseth and David Ragan, giving Joe Gibbs
Racing three cars in the top five. Logano won the Camping World Truck race
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit