May 27, 2016
Sixty five years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl
reopened with a new asphalt surface with a one lane dirt buffer on the
outside. Stu Hillbrem was the 25 lap Modified winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1961, Ron
Narducci was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Ted Stack made
it four in a row when he won a 50 lap Modified feature at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl. Stack also won the non-Ford feature, his third
in a row. Joe Maynard was the Bomber winner.
Fifty years ago in 1966, Pete
Hamilton became the first repeat winner of the season at the Albany Saratoga
Speedway. Dennis Zimmerman finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.
Hamilton and Zimmerman were a second-generation version of the fabled
Eastern Bandits led by Flemke. Jerry Cook and Don MacTavish rounded out the
top five. Pete Corey made it two in a row on the dirt at Stafford. Jerry
Cook won his first race, a 25 lapper, at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday
night. Bill Wimble finished second with Gene Bergin, third. Ed Yerrington,
who in later years become the General Manager of the Stafford Motor Speedway
won the 30 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie
Bunnell made it five in a row in Bomber competition and Bill Ramsley was the
Daredevil winner. Kenny Shoemaker ruled the roost at the Utica-Rome Speedway
on Sunday night. Eddie Flemke finished second with Gaston Demarais, third.
Frank Mathalia and Jerry Cook rounded out the top five. Albany Saratoga also
ran on Monday with a 100 lapper to celebrate Memorial Day. Eddie Flemke rose
to the occasion to take the win with Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut
Valley Rocket V-8 in second spot. Dennis Zimmerman, Jerry Cook and Don
MacTavish rounded out the top five.
Forty five years ago in 1971, racing
at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY rained out. Bugsy Stevens went
two for two at Stafford as he won the twin 25's.In the opener, Leo Cleary
finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Ray Miller. DeSarro
rallied to finish second in the nightcap. Ageless veteran Maynard Forette
took the Saturday night honors at Fonda over Dave Buanno, Dave Lape, Ron
Narducci and Lou Lazzaro. In open competition action at the Fulton Raceway
Ronnie Wallace won a 75 lapper over Bryan Osgood, Richie Evans, Don
Diffendorf and Bob Sweeny. Donnie Bunnell won the Spring Championship 36 lap
Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Nelson Rabideau was the
Sportsman Sedan winner. At Islip, Richie Gomes got a popular win and at
Thompson it was Bobby Santos and Bugsy Stevens scoring wins. Santos was the
runner-up behind Stevens and was followed by DeSarro, Leo Cleary, Rene
Charland and Hop Harrington. Harrington was second behind Santos and was
followed by Stevens, Dick Caso and Ed Yerrington. Twin features at
Utica-Rome were won by Ray Sitterly and Jerry Cook.
Forty years ago in 1976, Charlie
Jarzombek took the Friday night win at Riverhead. Greg Sacks finished second
with Fred Harbach, third. Harbach rebounded to take the win at Islip on
Saturday night. Riverside Park saw Bob Polverari take the win over Pete
Fiandaca. At the Waterford Speedbowl local favorite Dickie “DOO” Ceravolo
was the 35 lap Modified winner. Dick LaFlesh was the Grand American Late
Model winner. NASCAR's Superspeedway Modifieds were at the Charlotte Motor
Speedway. Darrell Waltrip, in a Camaro, won the 300-mile event with Ray
Hendrick, second. Geoff Bodine was third and was followed by Merv Treichler,
Bobby Allison, Jerry Cook, Clayton Hustead and Joe Thurman. Back in New
England, Richie Evans led all 80 laps of the postponed Spring Sizzler at the
Stafford Speedway. Track owner Jack Arute had mandated 12-inch tires to cut
costs. Evans complied and then some as he used 10-inch Sportsman rubber.
Geoff Bodine finished second and was followed by Ray Hendrick and Fred
DeSarro. Don LaJoie, driving Bob Johnson No.17 became only the second driver
to leave the speedway as he rode over Charlie Jarzombek's wheel in turn
three. At Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two for two as he inched out a win
over Geoff Bodine, George Summers and Daring Dick Caso.
Thirty five years ago in 1981, the
Friday night Modified feature at Stafford went non-stop with Kenny Bouchard
in the Len Boehler No.3 taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Fiore No.44
was second and was followed by John Rosati and Bob Polverari. At the Spencer
Speedway, also on Friday, Jerry Cook took the win over Doug Hewitt. At New
Egypt, Tom Baldwin took the 100 lap win after Richie Evans tangled with
Frankie Schneider. Tony Siscone finished second with Bob Park, third. George
Moose Hewitt was the winner at Waterford on Saturday night while at
Riverside; Reggie Ruggiero won out over Ray Miller. At Westboro, seasoned
veterans George Summers and Leo Cleary finished one-two. Other Saturday
night winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Alan Harbach at Islip, Tom
Druar at Lancaster and Tony Siscone at Wall. Billy Greco in the Modifieds
and Jay Wilson in the Sportsman were the big winners at Danbury. The big
guns headed for Oswego on Sunday for the Port City 150.Maynard Troyer took
that win with Kent second and Baldwin, third
Thirty years ago in 1986, Bugsy
Stevens in the Garbarino No.4 took the Friday night win at Stafford. Jamie
Tomaino finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Reggie Ruggiero took the
win at Riverside while at Waterford and Seekonk, it rained. Eddie
Brunnhoelzl beat out Dan Jivanelli and Don Howe at Riverhead. Oswego ran the
Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Sunday. Jamie Tomaino led pole to pole as he
beat out Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and Jan Leaty for the win. In Winston Cup
action at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt took the win. Tim Richmond was the
Grandnational winner. It was also this week that Bob Cuneau and Bob Vee sold
Chassis Dynamics to John Anderson and Dan Civitello.
Twenty five years ago in 1991,
Stafford ran the rained out Sizzler 200 on Friday night. Jeff Fuller took
the win over Wayne Anderson, George Brunnhoelzl and Steve Park. Bo Gunning
was the SK Modified winner. Saturday night at Waterford, Bob Potter in the
Ceravolo family No.31 took the lead when Jamie Marvin spun out with two to
go and went on to record his 83rd victory at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada
finished second with Donnie Bunnell, third. Reggie Ruggiero got his fourth
win of the season at Riverside and Tim Connolly won a 100 lapper at
Shangri-La. At the annual Oswego Port City 100,Steve Park in the Curt Chase
No.77 took the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second. Other weekend winners
were Lenny Fischer at Riverhead, Jerry Marquis at Monadnock and Richie
Gallup at Thompson.
Twenty years ago in 1996, the
Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for a 150 lap event. Like his late
father had done many times, Ed Flemke Jr took the win. Reggie Ruggiero
finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Jan Leaty. Mike
Ewanitsko took the SK Modified 50 over Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor. It
was also on this night at Stafford that Eric Berndt went on his roof. Bob
Potter annexed his 94th career win at Waterford on Saturday night after
Chris Jones and Dave Kutka tangled with 14 laps to go. Brian Schofield beat
Tom Jensen at Riverside and it was Tom McCann over Eddie Brunnhoelzl at
Riverhead. George Kent won the Richie Evans Memorial at Tioga and Dave Dion
won the Busch North Series event at Holland. In Winston Cup action at
Charlotte, Dale Jarrett dominated the last half of the big event as he
crossed the finish line 1/3 of a lap ahead of Dale Earnhardt. Mark Martin
won the Busch Grandnational Red Dog 300.
Fifteen years ago in 2001 Mike
Ewanitsko took advantage of Jerry Marquis who was blocked by the lapped car
of Dan Avery and went on to win the Featherlite Modified Touring Series
event at Stafford on Friday night. Marquis ended up in second spot with Mike
Stefanik, third. Forty-one Modifieds were on hand. Willie Hardie scored his
third of the season in SK Modified competition. Waterford rained out on
Saturday night as JR Bertuccio took the checker at Riverhead. Sunday night
at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the top spot over Zach Sylvester and Scott
Quinn. Kelly Moore was the Busch North Series winner at Seekonk and in
Winston Cup action at Charlotte; Ryan Newman took the pole for the World 600
and Jeff Burton, the win. Jeff Green won the Grandnational 300.Helio
Castroneves won the Indy 500.
Ten years ago in 2006 in what
turned out to be a big surprise, NASCAR’s Director of Regional Racing
Development Don Hawk resigned his position with the sanctioning body. During
Hawk’s tenure the Modified division had prospered to the point where they
were and still are NASCAR’s top regional touring division. Despite sitting
in the front office in Daytona Hawk was always available to give guidance
and answer questions. He was held back only by those above him. A
spokesperson for NASCAR stated that he wanted to pursue personal options.
Larry Mattingly of the Jennerstown Speedway in Pa stated that anyone who
works within inner sanctum does not have an easy time of it as he has to try
to keep the competitors happy as well as his employer, NASCAR. Mattingly was
told that “major” things were in the works but did not elaborate.
The Stafford Motor Speedway was scheduled to host their second of four
Whelen Modified Tour Series events. For the third week in a row the
weatherman won as heavy rain dumped on the Stafford area. The Connecticut
Classic was rescheduled to Tuesday, July 4.
At the Waterford Speedbowl the Supermodifieds of ISMA were the guest
attraction. Justin Belfiore won the 50-lap contest. Belfiore took the lead
after the top three including Waterford regular Rob Summers were eliminated
on a lap 17 crash. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. went pole to pole to win the 35
lap SK Modified feature. Chris Pasteryak closed to within a car length at
the finish with Tommy Fox third. Other winners were Jay Stuart in the 30-lap
Late Model event, Billy Gertsch Jr. in the 20-lap Sportsman haul and Danny
Field in the 20-lap Mini Stock race. Dwayne Dorr’s bid for a record-tying
sixth straight Sportsman victory was lost in a lap seven crash.
In other weekend action Mike Leaty won the Richie Evans 100 at Oswego.
Matt Hirschman finished second with Eric Beers, third. John Blewett III won
at Wall Township and JR. Bertuccio won at Riverhead. Kasey Kahne won the
Coke 300 at Charlotte. Defending series champion Tony Stewart broke his
shoulder after hitting the wall. Sam Hornish Jr. won the Indy 500.
Five years ago in 2011, the NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour continued on Spring Break.
The Thompson Speedway fell victim to rain on Thursday night.
The Stafford Motor Speedway avoided the rain on Friday night as did Ted
Christopher who drove to his second SK Modified win in a row. Christopher
now had 94 SK Modified wins at Stafford.
Woody Pitkat picked up his first win of 2011 in the 30-lap Late Model
feature. Pitkat had recorded a previous win but was disqualified when it was
discovered that illegal fuel was in his tank. Tommy Barrett, Jr. was the
winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for the second consecutive
week, Shawn Thibeault won his first race of the year in the 20-lap Limited
Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his second feature victory
of the year in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Twenty three cars started the SK Modified feature which was slowed by two
In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it two in a row as
he rose above early race problems before rallying over the final laps to
take the victory. Anthony Flannery was a first time winner in the Bob
Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, Al Stone returned to the winner's
circle in the Street Stocks, Glenn Colvin was the Mini Stock feature winner
and Paul French won the debut event for the SK Light Modifieds. Ken Downing
III was the Super X-Car winner.
Rocco, who had spun out after being tapped by Ron Yuhas Jr on lap 14
while running second, had advanced to third when a lap-32 restart set the
stage for Rocco’s late race charge. Jeff Pearl got the jump on Ron Yuhas Jr
but it was Rocco who made a bonsai move down low in turn one as he seized
the opportunity to race to Pearl’s inside into turn one with a bold move. He
cleared Pearl exiting turn two and was able to hold on over the final two
laps to take his second consecutive win and fourth overall on the season.
Pearl, Yuhas, Tyler Chadwick and Reynolds completed the top-five finishers.
Twenty one cars, including the SK Lite of Paul French, started the SK
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, two of the brightest young
NASCAR Modified stars waged a classic battle in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 100
with Timmy Solomito of holding off a hard charging Justin Bonsignore in a
battle that race fans will be talking about for years to come. The victory,
Solomito's second in three races in 2011, was worth $3,550 which included a
$1,000 winner's bonus as well as a $500 first Riverhead Raceway driver
across the line from ardent race fan, Jim Schaefer.
In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray
Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, John Smith, who is employed by Richard
Childress Racing as a front-suspension specialist on the NASCAR Sprint Cup
car driven by Clint Bowyer, got his eighth career victory on the flat
quarter mile speedway in a 100 lap event.
Smith drew the pole position and withstood five double-file restarts,
holding off Lee Jeffreys and Dean Ward, both of whom were sidelined with
mechanical trouble and finally endured a late challenge by Brian Loftin.
Loftin, who worked his way up from the 17th starting position, finished
second. Michael Clifton was third, Burt Myers fourth, Jason Myers fifth and
Jonathan Brown sixth.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Charlotte Carl Edwards won the annual All
Star Race that was deemed a yawner until the checkered flag was dropped.
Edwards did a show-off slide through the infield, hit a man-hole cover and
destroyed the nose of his car. In Nationwide action, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
held off Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to win Sunday's
NASCAR Nationwide series race in Iowa, becoming the first series regular to
pick up a victory in 2011. Stenhouse took the lead from Edwards 233 laps
into the 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway and held off the only Cup regulars
in the field for his first career Nationwide win.
The second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, champions all, captured over
50 victories and a dozen championships in NASCAR’s premier series. The five
inductees, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee
Petty, made up the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte,
N.C., which was officially inducted on May 23.
Alex Tagliani broke up the monopoly in the top-heavy IndyCar series and
became the first Canadian to earn the pole for the Indianapolis 500. On a
day each of the series' three top teams - Andretti Autopsort, Target Chip
Ganassi and Team Penske - made big mistakes, it was a 37-year-old Canadian
who got it right twice with a four-lap average of 227.472 mph on the day's
final run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Last year, 2015, Keith Rocco achieved
immortality at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night as he
became the shoreline oval's all time feature winner. Rocco scored a one-two
punch as he won the Late Model and SK Modified feature events which gave him
an overall feature win total of 108, besting a total of 106 wins by Late
Model competitor Phil Rondeau who is now retired as a driver. Rocco, who is
30, has at least 20 good years of racing ahead of him and could very well
set a record that will never be broken.
Other winners were Ryan Waterman in the Limited Sportsman, Corey Barry in
the SK Lites and Wayne Burroughs Jr in the Mini-Stocks.
In the SK Modified event Rocco took the lead shortly after the half way
mark and was never pressured after that. Diego Monahan finished second with
Joe Gada, third. Rounding out the top five was Tyler Chadwick and Ted
The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the Valenti Modified Racing Series
this past Friday night in addition to their regular racing program. Doing
double duty were Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, Rowan Pennink,
and Keith Rocco.
In the Valenti Modified Racing Series 80 lapper Woody Pitkat took the win
over Keith Rocco, Todd Szegedy, Ted Christopher and Todd Patnode.
Pitkat took the lead at the 50 lap mark with Ryan Preece in second. Rocco
was side by side with Szegedy for third with Kirk Alexander right behind
them. A multicar incident in turn 2 brought the caution out with 51 laps
Rocco, who led the early going, went back to the lead on the restart with
Pitkat second, Todd Szegedy third, Preece fourth, and Todd Patnode fifth.
Pitkat was applying pressure to Rocco’s back bumper but was unable to make a
pass. Rocco and Pitkat were beginning to pull away from Szegedy in third in
a 2-car fight for the lead. Pitkat was able to make a pass for the lead on
lap-68 and with 10 laps to go, Rocco was looking high and low to get back
around Pitkat. The caution came back out with 74 laps complete as Norm Wrenn
took a hard hit into the wall coming out of turn 4.
The order for the restart was Pitkat and Rocco on the front row, Szegedy
and Christopher in the second row, and Preece and Patnode in the third row.
Pitkat took the lead on the restart with Rocco slotting into second behind
him. Szegedy got by Christopher for third and Patnode was fifth. Pitkat was
able to hold Rocco off to the checkered flag to pick up his first Valenti
Modified Racing Series feature victory.
Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Rowan Pennink in the
40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett scored his third win of the
season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno won for the second
time in 2015 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Duane Provost won the
20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Frank L’Etoile won the 15-lap DARE Stock
feature, and Devin O’Connell was the winner of the 20-lap Legend Cars
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island saw Ryan Preece take the Modified
win over John Fortin and Kyle Soper.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC Tim
Brown won the first of two 25-lap races for the Modified Division and
matched Junior Miller’s all-time mark of 73 wins. Brown beat out John Smith
and Chris Fleming in the first of two twin 25 lap events. In the night cap,
Dean Ward took the win over Burt Myers and Randy Butner.
In other Modified racing in the south, Burt Myers out ran his brother
Jason in Concord, NC KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Main on Friday night. The
1/2-mile tri-oval at the Concord Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina
came alive again for the first time since late 2012 to a packed house and a
full pit area.
In a somewhat related manner it was announced the North-South Shootout
would return to Concord in the fall.
Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
and held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Will
Power by 0.1046 of a second.
At the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards’ final fuel run lasted 59
green-flag laps, just enough to capture his first Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup
victory. Edwards, runner-up Greg Biffle and third-place finisher Dale
Earnhardt Jr. saved the requisite fuel after pitting when most of the race
leaders stayed out on a lap 338 caution. Fortune favored the bold trio.
Austin Dillon won the Xfinity Series event.
Three former champions, a legendary hard-living driver and a successful
track executive have been selected for the Class of 2016 into the NASCAR
Hall of Fame. The men will be inducted on Jan. 22 in the NASCAR facility in
uptown Charlotte, N.C.
The late Sprint Cup champion Bobby Isaac made the HOF on his fifth try.
Two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte made it on his second and six-time
Modified Series champion Jerry Cook made it on his sixth. The late Curtis
Turner, one of stock car racing’s most endearing personalities, made it on
his seventh. And in something of a surprise, Bruton Smith of Speedway
Motorsports Inc. made the Hall on his third try.
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, email@example.com.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
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