The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

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 Ronnie Bouchard.

  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 second.

  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 with Cancer.

  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 feature.
  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 there.
  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,

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: May 13, 2016

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