The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

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 cautions.
  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 Modified feature.
  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 Christopher.
  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 complete.
  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 feature.
  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,

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 27, 2016

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