May 13, 2016
Sixty five years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl
was closed as the facility was being prepped for asphalt that would replace
the crushed stone.
Fifty five years ago in 1961 Mario
“Fats” Caruso won the left over 50 lap opening night Modified event at the
Norwood Arena. Rene Charland finished second with Wild Bill Slater in the
Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8, third. Caruso came back to win the regularly
scheduled 25 lapper at the Massachusetts oval. Racing at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl was canceled due to rain.
Fifty years ago in 1966 Steady Eddie
Flemke continued the New England driver domination of the Albany Saratoga
Speedway as he won the Friday night 30-lap feature. Dennis Zimmerman
finished second with Lou Toro, Mario “Fats” Caruso and Jerry Cook rounding
out the top five. At the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night Kenny Shoemaker
showed one and all who was boss as he won a 101-lap feature. Bill Slater
recorded his first win of the season at Norwood. Pete Hamilton started on
the pole and led until lap 15 of the 30 lap feature when Slater moved into
the top spot. Johnny Thompson powered his way into the second spot on the
last lap as Hamilton faded to third. Rounding out the top five were Dennis
Zimmerman and Bob Baccioce. Sixth through tenth were Billy Schulz, Bobby
Sprague, Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro and Joe Trudeau. Lou Lazzaro finished
second with Ron Narducci, third. Wild Bill Slater Fred “Fuzzy” Baer scored a
popular win at the Waterford Spedbowl on Saturday night. Eddie Bunnell made
it three in a row in the Bombers and Fred Sentell was the Daredevil winner.
At the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night Eddie Flemke took the win over
Bill Wimble, Richie Evans, Frank Mathalia and Ernie Gahan.
Forty five years ago in 1971, Richie
Evans was banned from running in NASCAR sanctioned events because of the
fact that he was racing at independent New York state tracks. Malta opened
for the season on Friday night. Evans hired the master, Eddie Flemke, who,
despite having to pit in the parking lot, won the modified feature. Bugsy
Stevens finished second and was followed by Denis Giroux, Fred DeSarro, Lou
Lazzaro and Dick Fowler. That was it for the weekend as Stafford, Waterford,
Islip, Thompson and Utica-Rome had rainouts.
Forty years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine
in the Armstrong No.1 took the win at Stafford. Dick Caso, in the Ted Marsh
55 finished a strong second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, John Rosati
and Ronnie Bouchard. Bob Potter won a 35 lapper on Saturday night and a
special 50 lapper on Tuesday night at Waterford. During the Saturday
Waterford event, Billy Harman incurred severe injuries when he flipped the
Joe Zenga modified. At Islip it was Ricky Lutz over Don Howe and at
Riverside Park, Bob Polverari took the win over Pete Fiandaca and Jap
Membrino. On Sunday at Thompson, Fred DeSarro was the small block modified
winner. John Rosati finished second and was followed by George Summers and
Thirty five years ago in 1981, Richie
Evans won the Friday night feature at Stafford as 5500 chilled fans looked
on. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Corky
Cookman. Pete Fiandaca was the late model winner with Pat Chambrello taking
the win in the Street Stocks. Evans made it two for two as he carried his
winning ways over to Riverside on Saturday. At Islip, Charlie Jarzombek
showed the way as he again mastered the 1/5-mile oval. Bill Park finished
second with George Wagner, third. Billy Griffin won at Shangri-La and Allen
Whipple won at Claremont. An 81-lap event scheduled for the Westboro
Speedway on Sunday was rained out. Gerry Dinnen was the Modified winner and
Tom Bressonthe Sportsman winner at Danbury.
Thirty years ago in 1986, Mike
Mclaughlin in the Sheri-Cup No.12 beat out Dave Reszendes at Stafford on
Friday night. Jeff Fuller finished third. Richie Gallup was the SK Modified
winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter made it three in a row.
Mark Lajunesse finished second. Jimmy Lloyd continued his strangle hold on
the Super Stock division as he made it three in a row. Dan Avery got his
first win at Riverside on Saturday while at Seekonk; Mr. Leo Cleary gave the
kids a driving lesson as he took the victory. At Riverhead it was Fred
Harbach over Bill Park and John Blewett jr and at Shangri La, Tony Hirschman
dusted George Kent and Doug Hevron. In Winston Cup action at Atlanta, Bill
Elliott ran away and hid as he won "The Winston". Dale Earnhardt finished
Twenty five years ago in 1991,
Steve Chowanski was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Bob
Potter, Willie Hardie, Rick Fuller and Pat Chambrello followed. Saturday
night at Waterford the races were halted after Bob Potter, who was driving
the Ceravolo No.31, sailed out of the track and almost thru the scoreboard.
Extensive damage was done to the fence and wall. Jan Leaty scored a major
win for Hoosier Tires as he won the Goodyear dominated Featherlite Modified
Tour at Nazareth. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Mike
Stefanik, Jeff Fuller and Bob Park. Charlie Pasteryak won at Riverside and
ageless veteran Gil Hearne scored his 100th victory at Wall Stadium. Other
weekend winners were Fred Harbach at Riverhead, Rusty Ball at Monadnock and
Ron Shepherd at Shangri-La.
Twenty years ago in 1996, rain washed
out everything except Stafford on Friday night. Bob Potter started on the
outside pole of the SK modified 50 lapper and led for 45 laps until being
pushed out of the way by Mike Ewanitsko who went on to take the win. Potter
finished second and was followed by Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. On a sad
note, legendary Winston Cup crew chief Harry Hyde passed away. The Busch
Grandnationals and the Busch North Series were scheduled to run at Loudon on
Sunday but they too, gave way to rain.
Fifteen years ago in 2001. Chuck
Docherty took the Friday night win at Stafford over Ted Christopher and
Lloyd Agor. Female driver, Renee Dupuis saw her season cut short as she
suffered severe and painful foot injuries after a crash. The modified event
at Waterford on Saturday night went pole to pole, non-stop. Dennis Gada took
the lead from John Brouwer on lap 17 of the 35 lap feature and never looked
back. Eric Berndt finished second with Ed Dachenhausen, third. Brouwer faded
to fourth in the final run-down. JR. Bertuccio made it two in a row at
Riverhead and at Loudon; Ted Christopher took the lead with four laps to go
after Tom Carey cut a tire down in the Busch North Series event at the one
mile oval. Following Christopher at the finish were Martin Truex, Mike
Johnson and Brad Leighton. Carey, who pitted under green, lost two laps and
finished 14th. Team Racing Auto Circuit (TRAC) was announced and would debut
in 2003 at non-International Speedway Corporation tracks. On a sad note,
legendary modified car owner Len Boehler passed away after a long battle
Ten years ago in 2006, The
Stafford Motor Speedway made a wise decision when they cancelled the races
on Friday. The National Weather Service predicted upwards of four inches of
rain for the state of Connecticut. Rain it did, for five days straight.
At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night the weatherman stopped
Dwayne Dorr at four in a row when no one else in the Sportsman division
could. The Speedbowl management canceled last Saturday nights races after
the infield and parts of the track were under water. Defending Waterford
Speedbowl Late Model Champion Mark St. Hillaire would have a few weeks to
collect his thoughts and cool his jets as Speedbowl Race Director Steve
Harraka suspended him from racing in the first four events following his May
6 tantrum when he deliberately rammed the car of Jay Lozyniak while the
field was under caution. Hilaire was also fined $70 and 24 championship
points which would eliminate him from defending his title. Lozyniak was
placed on probation for two months for speeding in the pits.
It was cold and damp on Long Island but the rain held off long enough for
the Riverhead Raceway to get their program in. Howie Brode took the win over
Sal Accardi Jr. At the Wall Township Speedway Kevin Flockhart beat out John
Blewett III for the win.
Under the lights at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina Denny Hamlin
won the Busch Series event and Greg Biffle was the Nextel Cup winner.
Five years ago in 2011, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour went back on Spring Break before returning on Friday,
May 27 at Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Rowan Pennink remained
atop the point standings with a 20 point edge on Mike Stefanik. Eric Beers
held down the third spot with Ted Christopher and Matt Hirschman rounding
out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway kicked off its Friday Night NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series schedule with 5 divisions of racing on Friday night, May
6th. Keith Rocco picked up where he left off at the end of 2010 as he scored
his first Stafford win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature
event. Rocco, who won two at Waterford in early season action, has a total
of three wins for the year. Adam Gray took down his first career victory in
the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko was declared the winner of the
20-lap SK Light Modified feature after race winner Zach Aszklar's car did
not meet the minimum ride height requirement, Norm Sears returned to victory
lane after a year away from Stafford Speedway in the 20-lap Limited Late
Model feature, and Don Wood drove to victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock
In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Jeff Pearl broke the ice for 2011
as he won his 35th career victory. Bruce Thomas Jr. captured his 45th win in
the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, taking the evening’s 30-lap
event. Ed Puleo overcame an intense battle in a special 50-lap Street Stock
race, his second victory of the season while Chris Williams was the winner
of the 25-lap Mini Stock feature. Ryan Bigelow was the winner in the
visiting NEMA Lite Series 25-lap race.
In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray
Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC eight-time champion Tim Brown got his 55th
career victory in the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified
Division and it was Danny Bohn who was a surprise winner in the second race,
in just his third career start. Originally from New Jersey, Bohn works for
Ray Evernham and also races dirt cars. He started on the pole and led every
lap. Brown also went pole to pole. Jonathan Brown finished second to Bohn
while Burt and Jason Myers followed Brown.
In Sprint Cup action at Darlington, Regan Smith moved in front on a
caution nine laps from the end and survived a green-white-checkered finish
to win the Southern 500 for his first Sprint Cup victory Saturday night at
Darlington, S.C. Smith held off Carl Edwards over the final two laps in a
race that turned ugly late when Kyle Busch tangled with Kevin Harvick and
Clint Bowyer to set up the overtime finish. Harvick and Busch stared down
each other from their cars as they entered the garage before a standoff that
looked like it might erupt further. It finally ended when Busch bumped
Harvick’s car several times to make space to drive off. Brad Keselowski
finished third, pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.
Kyle Busch moved past Elliott Sadler 23 laps from the end and stayed in
front of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to win the Royal Purple 200
on Friday night, his fifth Nationwide victory this season and 48th overall,
one behind Mark Martin's series record.
Last year, 2015, The Stafford Motor
Speedway continued their Friday night NASCAR Racing Series. The highlight of
the evening was the Late Model Xtra Mart Xtra D 50. Xtra Mart Convenience
Stores put up a $1,000 bonus that was split evenly among the top-5 finishers
in the extra distance Late Model feature event. Michael Bennett recorded his
second feature victory of the 2015 season with a thrilling late race pass
that saw him beat Adam Gray to the checkered flag by the length of the nose
on his car. Among the missing from the Late Model field was Tom Fearn who
was under suspension for unsafe conduct, on-track. Unsportsmanlike conduct,
on-track and actions detrimental to the sport.
Other feature winners included Keith Rocco holding off spirited
challenges from Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink in the 40-lap SK
Modified® feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. won the SK Light feature, Austin
Bessette won the Limited Late Model feature, Tyler Trott was a first time
career winner in the DARE Stock feature, and Dana DiMatteo took his second
consecutive win in the Legend Cars feature.
With three laps to go on the SK Modified 40 lapper the crowd was on it's
feet as Rocco and Bonsignore were side by side with Pennink glued to Rocco’s
bumper on the restart. As they took the white flag, Rocco was clear in the
lead with Pennink side by side with Bonsignore. Rocco kept the lead back to
the checkered flag for his first win of the 2015 season. Bonsignore took
second by a nose over Pennink, with Glen Reen and Ronnie Williams rounding
out the top-5.
Keith Rocco would have to wait one more week for immortality at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl. Rocco tied the all-time feature win record set
by Phil Rondeau when he won the Late Model feature at the shoreline oval on
Saturday night. Rocco's win gave him 106 combined victories there. A win in
the SK Modified feature could have broke the tie but it wasn't meant to be
as Tim Jordan scored his first open wheeled Modified win. Rocco had two
things against him, first off he started in the rear because of his win on
May 2 and was collected in a wreck on the first lap. Trying to make up for
lost time, Rocco burned up his right rear tire which ultimately plagued him
with handling problems. Rob Janovic was second with Ted Christopher Rocco
ended up fourth with Tyler Chadwick, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Craig
Lutz, 7. Ed Puleo, Diego Monahan, Joe Gada and John Montesanto.
In other action at the Speedbowl, Ray Christian III won the 25-lap Mini
Stock even, Corey Barry made it two in a row winning the 25-lap SK Light
Modifieds race and Chris Meyer won the 25-lap Limited Sportsman race.
Rob Janovic Jr. was removed from his second place finish in the 35-lap SK
Modified feature for use of an unapproved tire in competition. Janovic was
penalized one lap from the event, dropping him from a second place finish to
a 13th place finish in the event.
Jordan Hadley, who finished third in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature, was
disqualified by the track for use of an illegally altered exhaust manifold.
Limited Sportsman division driver Brandon Fisher was penalized for blocking
during Saturday’s event and will be required to start at the rear of the
field of his next event at the track.
A special awaited fans this coming week. Grandstand admission is $5 this
coming Saturday for residents in towns starting I-Q with proof of residency.
On Thursday, the second edition of Thursday Night Thunder will hit the track
with eight dollar adult general grandstands admission and free grandstands
admission for all youth ages 14 and under.
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran twin 30 lap Modified events.
Shawn Solomito won both of them. Tom Rogers Jr. was second in both events.
Down in the southland, Burt Myers made it two for two at Bowman Gray
Stadium, following up on his season-opening victory with another one in the
rain-shortened Kevin Powell Motorsports 100 on Saturday night. Myers, who
started third, took the lead from Dean Ward in the 37th lap and hung on from
The race officially went 74 laps, being called after rain began soaking
the track and led to a final caution period with 31 laps left. Ward finished
second, and Randy Butner was third.
Jimmie Johnson stayed on the track during a late caution to take over the
lead, then held off hard-charging Kevin Harvick to win the rain-delayed
NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. Johnson was chased across the
line by Harvick and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and
Jeff Gordon as the clock ticked past midnight into Sunday.
Bugs Stevens completed his 81st lap.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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