The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

September 16, 2016

  Sixty five years ago in 1951 Wes Kingsley was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Tourjee was the Claiming Car winner. On Saturday night, Dave Humphrey took the Modified main while Tourjee made it two in a row in the Claimers.

  Sixty years ago Melvin "Red" Foote was the 25 lap Modified winner on Wednesday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. The Saturday night action at the shoreline oval was rained out.

  Fifty five years ago in 1961, Bob Hall was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Red Foote took the win at Norwood on Saturday night with Jack Malone, second. Ted Stack, a truck driver for New London Sand and Gravel, won a 50 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ed Moody made it two in a row in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, the Fonda and Utica-Rome Speedways closed out their racing seasons. At Fonda, Pete Corey took the win over Jeep Herbert and Lou Lazzaro. At Utica-Rome Kenny Shoemaker took the win over Lazzaro, Jerry Cook, Sonny Seamon and Wimble. Rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, Islip, Stafford and Oswego were still running as the season was winding down. Jim Shampine won the Oswego 200 for Modifieds. At Islip, Jim Hendrickson, in the Tony Ferrente x3, ruled the roost. Cliff Tyler finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Gary Winters. At Stafford on Sunday afternoon, Bugsy Stevens in the Koszela Woodchopper took the win over Fred DeSarro, Denis Giroux and Ray Miller. Howie Brown won the NESMRA Supermodified feature at Thompson over Paul Richardson and Eddie West. Dave Humphrey beat out Len Thrall and Russ Klar to win the Midget feature. Donny Bunnell took the win at Waterford over Glynn Shafer, Bob Tetreault, Lou Toro and Mark Geer.

  Forty years ago in 1976, Charlie Jarzombek recorded his tenth victory of the season at Riverhead. Fred Sipala finished second with Wayne Anderson, third. The Thompson 300 was a non-sanctioned small block Modified event. Geoff Bodine in a Dick Armstrong team car took the win over Ed Flemke, Bugsy Stevens, Ray Hendrick, Don LaJoie, SJ Evonsion, Pete Fiandaca and George Moose Hewitt.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981, just about everyone was at the Pocono Raceway for the Annual Race of Champions. Ninety-eight Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 51 starting spots. Among those who did not qualify was Tom Baldwin who set an altitude record when he rode over Fred Harbach's wheel and vaulted out of the track. Geoff Bodine started on the pole with Richie Evans on the outside. A classic battle was anticipated between the two but it came to an end on lap two when the rear end in the Evans mount broke. The 250-lap contest ended up being a survival of the fittest affair. George Kent took the lead on lap 179 and went on to take the win. Jamie Tomaino passed Tony Hirschman on the final lap to finish second. Jerry Cook finished fourth. It was also on this weekend that the last ever race would be run at the Danbury Fairgrounds as the property had been sold and the speedway would give way to a shopping mall. Bill Ladya won the final event. Don La Joie finished second with Lou Funk Jr, third. Sean Donnelly was the Sportsman winner.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, the Race of Champions was still at Pocono and it was the same story as in 1981 as George Kent took the win. Kent took the lead after Reggie Ruggiero pitted on lap 164 of the 250 lap contest. Geoff Bodine ended up in second spot and was followed by Jim Spencer, Ruggiero, Jan Leaty and Tony Siscone. In other weekend action, Stan Gregger won at Riverside over Bob Polverari and Dan Avery.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, the Race of Champions made its final appearance at Pocono Raceway. Donald "Satch" Worley, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino took the lead from Tom Baldwin with two laps to go and went on to take the win. Baldwin broke a valve and faded to fifth in the final run down. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino and Greg Sacks. Mike Stefanik finished sixth and wrapped up the tour championship. In other weekend action, Jerry Marquis got his seventh win at Monadnock and it was Jim Broderick taking the win at Waterford over Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action, Harry Gant earned the name, "MR. September" as he made it three in a row in NASCAR's elite division at Dover. Gant also won the preliminary Busch Grandnational event. On a sad note, former driver, promoter and friend of many, George Pendergast, passed away after a bout with cancer.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Todd Ceravolo got his fourth win of the season at Waterford. Jim Broderick finished second with Don Fowler, third. Matt Kobyluck was the Late Model winner. Tom McCann won his seventh at Riverhead. Don Howe finished second and announced that he was retiring after 27 years of competition which saw 27 wins and three championships. Steve Park, who was at the top of his game in the Featherlite Modifieds got "THE CALL” from Dale Earnhardt Sr and announced that he would be driving a DEI entry in 1997 on the Busch Grandnational circuit of NASCAR. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Jeff Gordon took the win. Jim Spencer was fined $10 grand for trying to hit Wally Dallenbach along with Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty who were fined for threatening.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001, the country was still reeling from the World Trade Center tragedy. NASCAR cancelled the entire weekend schedule at the New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon. The Modified and Busch North events were cancelled and the Winston Cup event was rescheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. Before a light crowd the show went on at Thompson on Thursday night. Kerry Malone took the SK Modified win over Scott Foster, Ted Christopher, Bill Anderson and Jeff Malave. Eric Berndt won the SK Modified feature at Waterford, was disqualified, had it overturned. Ron Yuhas finished second with Mark LaJunesse, third. The Waterford drivers took up a collection for the World Trade Center victims, which resulted in over $10,000. On a sad note, Lou Funk Sr passed away at the age of 76 and CART Superstar Alex Zanardi lost both legs as a result of a crash in Germany.

  Ten years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for a 100-mile event that was run on Friday. Forty-one cars were on hand for time trials. Showers forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the starting field based on car owner point standings. Mike Stefanik was given the pole starting position. Earlier before the rains came a practice session gave a preview of things to come. Todd Szegedy was the fastest as he toured the 1-mile oval to the tune of 128.398 MPH. Second fastest at 128.363 MPH was Tony Hirschman. Rounding out the top five by speed were Donny Lia, Eddie Flemke Jr. and Mike Stefanik.
  Because of the fact that John Blewett III chose to run for the track championship at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey he was forced to start 21st as he has only run a partial schedule on the tour. When he does compete in tour races he is fast, very fast. He left little doubt last Friday as he completed a clean sweep of both Whelen Modified Tour Series events at Loudon. At least this time he could celebrate. When he won the July event, he was on his way to New Jersey when he got the word that NASCAR, in its haste to complete the event under caution, had made a mistake and declared James Civali the winner. When Blewett took the checkered flag the field had been under green since lap 68 and there was no question who the winner actually was. He was flat out running! Jerry Marquis finished a close second but in the end couldn’t a pass by Blewett. Civali, who was still licking his wounds from July, finished a solid third ahead of Mike Stefanik and Todd Szegedy who rounded out the top five.
  The race was slowed by only two cautions for 11 laps. The first caution was for Doug Coby who came to a stop on the front stretch on lap 48. The second caution came on lap 61 when Reggie Ruggiero, Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld were collected in a wreck in turn four. Ruggerio got the worst of it and was done for the day. Twenty-one of the original 21 starters finished on the lead lap. As always, the Whelen Modified Tour Series event at Loudon was the best of the weekend. There were 17 official lead changes among 7 drivers. Szegedy led the most laps, 33, but it was Blewett who got the big check, $13,000 after he led only the final eight laps. Sixth through tenth were Ted Christopher, Eddie Flemke Jr., Zach Sylvester, Eric Beers and Tony Hirschman. Blewett’s younger brother Jimmy finished 11th.
  Blewett backed up his Loudon win with a convincing win at his home track, Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey, on Saturday night.
  The Thompson Speedway was forced to cancel their regular Thursday Night Thunder program when rain blanketed the area. With the season rapidly winding down only two more Thursday dates remain to fill out the schedule. The intensity of the point’s battles is lead by the Sunoco Modified division with a mere six points separating Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave. Not only is the Thompson championship the goal of both, but the NASCAR Division IV title is also a huge part of the equation. Tom Cravenho, Todd Ceravolo and Bert Marvin round out the top five in the point standings.
  The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway made the right call when they canceled Friday’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series racing card. With the forecast calling for intermittent rain throughout the entire day and evening, the speedway pulled the plug shortly before 9:00am.
  The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their regular Saturday night season. Tom Fox and Diego Monahan topped a slate of 12 different winners. The Speedbowl crowned two champions as well. Tim Jordan and Danny Field clinched the Late Model and Mini Stock championships respectively and Dennis Gada was all but assured of his sixth SK crown headed into the weekend’s Finale. Rescheduled rainouts resulted in the marathon racing session. In addition to Fox and Monahan, the win list included Allen Coates and Larry Goss in the Late Models; Greg Butler Jr. and Al Stone III in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout III and Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks. It was the first-even win for Butler and the first of the season for Stone. Dan Valentine of the Faith Church Ministries of New Milford scored a convincing win in the Faster Pastor race. Curtis D’Addario Sr., a nine-time Wild n’ Wacky Wednesday winner, added another X-Car feature Saturday night, edging Mark Caise at the checkered. Jordan, the first-ever rookie to win the Late Model title, did it the hard way with a couple of 15th place finishes, the second in Jay Lozyniak’s regular ride. The consistent Field scored a third and a second. Gada needed only to start Sunday’s 100-lap SK feature to capture his record-tying sixth crown following a fifth and second. Bob Potter currently holds the record. A seventh and a third put Joe Curioso III back into the Sportsman point lead but by a scant four points over Dwayne Dorr heading into the Finale.
  Fox grabbed the lead at the start and won the resumption of the SK-feature stopped after 12 laps on Sept.9. Gada made a determined outside bid following a restart with 16 laps left but drifted back to fifth at the checkered. Shawn Monahan ended up second and was followed by Chris Pasteryak and Rob Janovic. Diego Monahan held back Gada for most of the second half of the second SK race and claimed his third win of the season. Jeff Pearl, Chris Pasteryak and Mark Pane rounded out the top five.
  It was announced that long time public relations director Pete Zanardi would retire from his post at the shoreline oval at seasons end. Considered one of the best in the business as both a PR Man and a writer Zanardi has been a mentor to many of us in the writing game including yours truly. Zanardi’s efforts as well as those of Bill Roth have kept the Speedbowl afloat during the last few difficult years.
  In other weekend racing, Bentley Warren passed Chris Perley and Dave Mcknight to win the Bud Super Nationals at Oswego, TJ Potrzebowski won the 56th annual Race of Champions and Kevin Harvick beat out Tony Stewart in the Nextel Cup event at Loudon. Ted Christopher got a late start and an early finish. Scheduled to drive the Kirk Shelmerdine entry, Christopher started the race after seven laps were run as his spotter was stuck in an elevator. He finished dead last in 41st spot.

  Five years ago in 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour came together at the Thompson Speedway for the UNOH North–South Showdown . The cars of the both Tours took to the track on Saturday for a full-day of practice and qualifying. The ‘21 Means 21’ Pole Award presented by Coors Light in the Northern Whelen Modified Tour went to Ryan Preece. Andy Seuss was tops on the speed charts for the Southern contingent. Two of the Whelen All-American Series divisions competed in feature event activity with Rick Gentes taking down the victory in the Late Models and Danny Fields scoring his 11th win in the Mini Stocks.
  The Northern WMT event drew 25 Modifieds while the Southern WMT event drew 23 cars. During qualifying Keith Rocco escaped injury when a wheel hub apparently broke which caused him to crash with heavy impact. Doug Coby, Erick Rudolph, and Eric Goodale made up the remainder of the top-five in Northern qualifying. In Southern qualifying, Steve Masse, Burt Myers, Donny Lia, and L.W. Miller completed the top-five.
  Doug Coby, Erick Rudolph, Eric Goodale and Ronnie Silk made up the remainder of the top-five in Northern qualifying. In Southern qualifying, Steve Masse, Burt Myers, Donny Lia, and L.W. Miller completed the top-five.
  Justin Bonsignore who was in contention for the Riverhead Raceway weekly Modified Championship raced at the Long Island track on Saturday night, avoiding practice and qualifying at Thompson which put him in scratch starting position for the Sunday NASCAR Touring Series event. Zach Sylvester qualified his car.
  In a somewhat surprise, Stephen Park and Jeff Fuller entered the NASCAR Southern Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was also held at Thompson.
  Steve Masse watched the biggest win of his career get away as George Brunnhoelzl III was awarded the win in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event. NASCAR officials ruled that he jumped a restart on lap 123 and then ignored the consultation flag. Masse started second and had lead after passing Donny Lia on lap48 of the 125 lap event. Be as it may, it could have been an error in judgment on the part of his spotter as it is most likely the one who told him to go on the restart. No matter what, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Brunnhoelzl was booed in victory lane which didn't seem fair. Masse was placed 14th in the final finish. Burt Myers ended up in the runner-up spot with Tim Brown, third. Andy Seuss and Steve Park rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Frank Flemming, Tim Solomito, Donny Lia, Thomas Stinson and Austin Pack.
  The 125 lapper for the Northern Modified Tour was a little more saner. Doug Coby got a long overdue victory as he cruised to the win over James Civali and Ryan Preece. According to reports, NASCAR did not allow changing of tires during the event. Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tom Rogers, Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore.
  Doug Coby, with an eight car lead over the rest of the field, won the 50 lap UNOH Showdown. Ted Christopher took the second spot. For Coby, it was the icing on the cake as he accumulated $20,000 with the lap money that he earned leading the race. Coby stated in Victory Lane that this is the same car that he won the $10,000 with recently at the Seekonk Speedway. James Civali finished third with George Brunnhoelzl III and Eric Goodale rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth wereBobby Santos, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Justin Bonsignore and Ed Flemke Jr.
  In regular NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, Keith Rocco, who started racing at the Street division at the Waterford Speedbowl in 2003, scored his 100th career win in Sunoco Modified competition. The defending National Champion has 24 wins in 49 starts in 2011 but in reality is shoveling poop against the tide as far as the 2011 series title goes. His main competition is Philip Morris who races in the mid-Atlantic states. Morris has 20 wins in 28 starts and needs only to win this coming weekend in order to sew up the title. It's too bad but because of the fact that most of Rocco's wins have come from starting in the back and many of the events had less than full fields of cars the defending champion may be forced to pay the price of losing through no fault of his own.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway continued its Friday night racing series as Ryan Preece scored his fifth win of the 2011 season in a thrilling finish with Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Woody Pitkat scored his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano scored his sixth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery picked up his first win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Josh Wood scored his fifth win of 2011 with a last lap pass in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  Preece and Rocco were side by side for the lead on the final restart with Preece holding the lead by a nose at he passed under the white flag. Rocco made one last ditch effort on the final turn for the lead and the win, but he came up just short as Preece won his fifth feature of the season. Rounding out the top-5 behind Preece and Rocco was Dan Avery, Ted Christopher, and Kurt Lenahan.
  At the Waterford Speedbowl victories went to Tyler Chadwick who won his third SK Modified® race of the season. Rich Staskowski won his third Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature on the year, while it was Josh Galvin in the winner’s circle for the fourth time in the Street Stocks. Chris Williams also earned his fourth win this year in the Mini Stocks. Dave Garbo Jr. continued his stellar Legends Cars season by taking the Legends Cars 50-lap race, earning him a guaranteed starting spot in the Legends Cars Nationals October 27-29 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Joey Ternullo won the night’s Bandolero feature.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to action at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Chris Pasteryak was the big winner of the night, taking the lead on lap-2 and leading the rest of the way to pick up his first victory at Stafford Motor Speedway and his family's first modified victory at Stafford. Pasteryak had a few nervous moments in the closing laps when the action was slowed with 77 laps complete for a spin by Tom Bolles in turn 4, setting up a three lap dash to the finish. Pasteryak took the lead on the restart and he led Rowan Pennink around for the final 3 laps to take the victory. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pasteryak and Pennink was Doug Coby, Matt Hirschman, and Keith Rocco.
  There were 25 cars on hand for the event. Pennink came from a 24th starting position. He was black-flagged from his heat when his car was leaking gas from the filler. Ted Christopher finished sixth and also had to come from the back because of an electrical malfunction during his qualifying heat.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, the 2011 NASCAR Modified title fight came down to the final race on Saturday night, Justin Bonsignore and John Fortin raced in the final 35-lapper of the year for the crown. John Beatty took advantage of a third-place start to win the Modified feature while Justin Bonsignore held off John Fortin for his first Modified track championship. Bonsignore started his career racing karts at Riverhead when he was only 8 years old and to be Track Champ has been a long time dream.
  Kevin Harvick was the NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at Richmond. Kyle Busch took the lead from Carl Edwards during pit stops with just over 30 laps to go and won his eighth NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

  Last year, 2015, At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the track paid tribute to those who help others with a First Responders Appreciation Night that recognized Fire, Police, EMS, and all First Responder personnel. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Ryan Preece in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Al Saunders in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Nicole Chambrello in the DARE Stock feature, and Teddy Hodgdon in the Legend Cars feature.
  In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event Preece took the lead following a caution on lap 4 of the 40 lap event. Preece dedicated his win to his grandfather, legendary car owner Bobby Judkins. Ronnie Williams, Joey Cipriano, Woody Pitkat, and Keith Rocco rounded out the top-5. For Preece it was his third win of the season. For Fearn it was his tenth.
  The New London-Waterford Speedbowl hosted the Tri-Track Open Modified Series finale 100 lap Championship last Sunday. Despite threatening skies 40 Modifieds and a half packed grandstand of race fans saw what many felt was one of the best ever Modified races. Ron Silk who dropped off the racing radar after parting with car owner Eddie Partridge took on the best in the business and walked off with the top prize. Silk, in the Bob Horn #50, started 11th and took the lead from Steve Masse following a lap 81 restart. Masse finished second with Matt Hirschman, third. Hirschman is the unofficial overall champion of the series. Ryan Preece and Les Hinckley rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Andy Jankowiac, Norm Wrenn, Ted Christopher, Chris Pasteryak and Woody Pitkat.
  Christopher drew the pole and led the event until making contact with Masse which caused him to spin out. Masse led from Lap 71 to a restart following on lap 81when he was overtaken by Silk. There were 17 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish was pre-race favorite Keith Rocco who had the misfortune of having his engine break a rocker arm while running second to Christopher on the 22nd lap.
  Many time track champion Bob Potter was the Grand Marshall of the event. Prior to sending the field on their way Potter publicly thanked track owner Bruce Bemer for saving the shoreline oval and for making it a great place to race or just be there. Potter also thanked Shawn Monahan and his staff for the great job they have done in such a short time.
  The total payout was $51,850 ( including lap leader money, bonus money, etc). The series now has a month off, before concluding the season with a non-points event at the Speedbowl on October 25.
  Other Sunday winners were Cory Barry in the SK lights and Jason Palmer in the Late Models.
  In regular weekly action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl an impending rain storm threatened throughout the afternoon and into the first few races of the night but it didn't put a damper on the efforts of Timmy Jordan and Ted Christopher who won the twin SK Modified 30 lappers at the shoreline oval. Late Model, Mini Stock and Limited Sportsman events were rained out.
  The first event of the night was the track’s premier division of SK Modifieds. These drivers were set to race twin 30 lap features. The first 30 laps started with the biggest field of SK Modifieds of the season with 27 cars in the field. Ed Puleo took the lead on the first lap of the race until the 1st caution which came out with 18 laps remaining in the race. Timmy Jordan took the lead on the restart and held that lead through the second and 3rd cautions. Timmy Jordan won the first SK Twin 30 lapper, Ed Puleo was second, and Rob Janovic Jr. was 3rd. Keith Rocco and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.
  NEMA Lites and NEMA Midgets were run next with Randy Cabral taking the Lite win and Doug Coby taking the Midget win.
  The fourth event and final event of the night was the second twin SK 30 lapper. Diego Monahan and Keith Rocco came into the event tied in the division points. Rocco, who had missed two events because of Whelen Modified Tour commitments, took over the division point lead after Monahan wrecked. Rain threatened to fall and finally did which resulted in a shortened event. The race was Red- Checkered due to the rain coming and stopping all racing for the night. The lead changed a few times between Jeff Gallup, Tyler Chadwick, and Ted Christopher. Through the wreck fest of the last 15 laps of the race Christopher kept the lead until the red checkered. Keith Rocco was second, and Joey Gada was 3rd.
  The Riverhead Raceway fell victim to rain on Saturday. Spectators at the Long Island oval were upset over the fact that rain checks would not be honored. The INEX Legends ran their heats and the Grand Enduro feature was run. The Blunderbust race ended early on a caution due to the start of the heavier rain (as said by the announcer). On the rain check ticket it states "if postponed before the fourth event...". It's decisions like that would be remembered the next time disgruntled fans are thinking about taking in the races. The Modifieds, Chargers, Late Models, INEX Legends and the 4 Cylinder Enduro were washed out. The Riverhead Raceway will be back in action this coming Saturday with all divisions closing out the regular season. The Riverhead management reversed their decision and allowed rain checks to be used in the next event.
  Matt Kenseth was the NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at Richmond.

  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: September 16, 2016

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