The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

October 7, 2016

  Sixty five years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran its final Wednesday night race meet. Charlie Busiere took the 25 lap Modified win and Jim Tourjee winning in the Claimers. At the Speedbowl on Sunday, George Lombardo took the Modified win and Charlie Webster in the Claiming Cars

  Sixty years ago in 1956 Don Collins took all the money as he won a 75 lap Modified event on Sunday afternoon at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1961 Don Hall closed out the season at the Stafford Speedway with a win. Red Foote was the Saturday night winner at Norwood. At Waterford, Ted Stack won the 25 lap Modified feature. Ed Moody was the winner in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, an era came to an end in Stafford Springs Connecticut as Pete Corey would win the last ever dirt track feature. The track would be paved over the winter months and would open in 1967 with an all-new look and all new competitors with the exception of a few. Corey would never again race in Connecticut, as he would do his entire racing in New York from then on. Mario “Fats” Caruso was the Saturday night winner at Norwood. The New London -Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up their season with a 100 lapper for the Modifieds on Sunday afternoon which was won by Newt Palm. Jiggs Beetham was the Daredevil winner.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, the annual Race of Champions was scheduled to be run at the Langhorne Speedway in Langhorne, Pa. It rained all weekend and competitors were dismayed and split over the fact that the event would go head to head with the season ending NASCAR modified event at Martinsville. Thompson also had an event scheduled but that too, was rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1976, Fred DeSarro in the Len Boehler Ole Blu made up three laps and was closing on leader Maynard Troyer when Troyer took the win in the annual Race of Champions at Trenton. DeSarro settled for second and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Geoff Bodine, Bugsy Stevens, Paul Radford, Merv Treichler, Jerry Cook and Bob Potter. Thompson Speedway ran a 30 lap program which saw Freddie Schulz take the win over Jim Landry, Ron Cote, Dick Dunn and Nick Gardinia.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981, Oswego ran their season ending Modified 30 lapper which saw Richie Evans take the win over George Kent and Jerry Cook. Merv Treichler was the big winner of the Super Dirt Week events at Syracuse. Treichler pocketed $25,085 for his efforts. Seekonk ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Jim Landry and Leo Cleary.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, Stafford ran the Fall Final which was 100 laps. Jamie Tomaino scored a big win over Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and Mike Mclaughlin but the big news was to come two days later when Stafford along with the Spencer Speedway announced that they were dropping the Modifieds from their weekly racing venue. Stafford said they would upgrade their SK Modifieds to lead division status in 1987 and Spencer would lead with their late models.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, the only action for the weekend was at Charlotte, NC. where Harry Gant won the Busch Grandnational event and Geoff Bodine was the Winston Cup winner.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Flemington ran two events on the weekend. Their Challenge of Champions event, run on Saturday was won by John Blewett III. Billy Pauch finished second with Lee Sherwood, Ted Christopher and Pete Britain following. The Featherlite Modifieds ran on Sunday. Mike Stefanik had the field covered and was headed for victory when he wrecked while leading. Stefanik had gotten into oil dropped by a blown engine. Jan Leaty avoided the wreck and drove to victory. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Charlie Pasteryak and Tim Arre. Waterford also ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Jim Broderick taking the win over Steve Chowanski, Tom Fox, Tucker Reynolds JR and Scott Spaulding. In Winston Cup and Busch Grandnational action at Charlotte, Mark Martin was the BGN winner and it was Terry Labonte taking the Winston Cup event .It was also on this weekend that dirt driver AJ Romano received serious injuries after being thrown from a car near his home in Syracuse, NY.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001 the northeast tracks were quiet with the exception of the DIRT 200 at Syracuse. Billy Decker won the event, his third in four years at the Moody Mile. For his efforts, he pocketed $50,000. Kenny Tremont finished second and walked of with $25,000. Second generation driver Tim McCreadie was by far the fastest and would have been a factor had he not lost an engine, while leading by a half lap, on lap 89. On the local scene, the racing world was saddened when news of Jimmy Waterman’s passing was made public. Waterman was a vital part of the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour as he served as tech inspector. He was also a former official at Stafford and Seekonk. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Sterling Marlin took the win. The big news was off the track where speedway promoter Humpy Wheeler went head to head with NBC over the fact that they would not mention the Speedway as ”Lowes Motor Speedway” unless they were paid to do it. Wheeler threatened to take an ax to all their cables and have their equipment towed off the property. Needless to say, Wheeler won his case and the TV production went on as planned. On a sad note, Blaise Alexander was killed during the running of the ARCA race, also on the same weekend. Alexander had just taken the lead in the event from Kerry Earnhardt and as he appeared to cut down, made contact with Earnhardt and went head on into the wall and died instantly. Earnhardt ended up flipping and was declared the race winner when the event was halted. In other action at Charlotte, Greg Biffle won the Busch Grandnational 300 after Matt Kenseth spun out while leading, with two laps to go.

  Ten years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Waterford Speedbowl. There were 32 cars on hand for the 30 available starting spots. Jerry Marquis was the Busch Pole sitter as he turned the 1/3-mile oval in 13.618 seconds. Marquis drew fifth after the re-draw. The event was run on a very cold track due to the fact that the backstretch track lighting failed to come on due to the fact that an underground cable had broken. Engines were started at 8:15 following a 90-minute delay when the tracks lighting refused to come on. Eddie Flemke started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead. Mike Stefanik started on the outside but faded almost immediately. Ron Yuhas Jr. was an early contender as he ran side by side with Flemke for many laps. Donny Lia, who took the lead from Flemke on lap 128, also ran side by side with Flemke before he was able to execute the winning pass. Once in the lead Lia was able to open up a sizable cushion which ended up being over ten car lengths at the finish. Flemke ended up second with Ted Christopher, third. Stefanik toughed it out to finish fourth. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top five. His day went from bad to worse when he lost an engine during practice. His crew had to run home to Hebron, CT to retrieve a replacement. Chris Pasteryak finished sixth with Yuhas seventh and Eric Berndt, eighth.
  Defending Series champion Tony Hirschman had a day he would like to forget. During time trials Hirschman hit the front stretch wall and after making repairs ended up crashing again on lap 22 of the feature. Marquis was involved in his share of wrecks also.
  The Waterford Speedbowl ended its regular season. Dennis Gada finished second in the 100 lap SK Modified feature to Rob Janovic after numerous laps of wheel banging. Gada did, however solidify his SK Modified Championship, his sixth which tied Bob Potter. Jimmy Blewett finished third with Don Fowler, fourth. Dwayne Dorr went into the Limited Sportsman feature a scant four points behind Joe Curioso and came out the winner and division champion. Curioso’s day went sour right from the start as he suffered a flat tire on the parade lap. Once in the feature his car was like a ping-pong ball as it was hit numerous times in multi-accidents. In the end Curioso finished thirteenth. In the Late Model feature Corey Hutchins and Allen Coates slugged it out for close to 100 laps with Coates coming out the winner by inches.
  In what had to be an ideal day for racing the Speedbowl had a marginal crowd, mainly because of the total lack of advertising.
  In other weekend racing Danny Johnson figured there was no way he was winning the DIRT Motorsports Eckerd 200, the main event of Super DIRT Week at the Syracuse, NY Fairgrounds. To win he needed to run the final 114 laps on one tank of fuel. He didn't think it could be done. Later, while clinging to the lead with just nine laps remaining, two-time winner Jimmy Horton whizzed past a surprised Johnson. At that point, Johnson figured the race was over, that there was no passing Horton in the final nine laps. Yet when you're on a hot streak like Johnson, you somehow find a way to win. The Rochester native passed Horton on lap 191 and squeezed enough fuel out of his No. 27J car to earn the victory and a $100,000 pay day.
  In Nextel Cup action at Talladega Brian Vickers stole his first career Nextel Cup victory Sunday by spinning Jimmie Johnson into leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap of the Talladega 500.
  At the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway, With New England Hall of Fame racers on hand, including his legendary father Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, Seekonk, MA, veteran Dave Berghman scored the win Sunday afternoon in the “DAV 100” for the True Value Modified Racing Series. It was Berghman’s first with the series and the first for car owner Bill Eaton on the third year tour. Berghman becomes the 11th different winner in 2006. On lap 28,Mechalides drew the attention of tour officials when a fluid leak was seen coming from his racer prompting officials to display the black flag for the hard charging veteran driver for 3 laps. The fluid leak seemed to subside during a caution period on lap 34 and Mechalides was allowed to continue to race. It was at the end of the race that the driver and his crew were informed that, “as a result of not adhering to the black flag displayed for 3 consecutive laps, as well as several radio transmissions to the team’s spotter advising him of the same, the # 40 car would be placed back one position in the official finish”. As a result, Mechalides and Berghman swapped the first two positions, the result of the tour official’s decision.

  Five years ago in 2011 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. Rain and fog greeted fans and competitors on Saturday morning. By mid-morning the precipitation quit and the 30 cars on hand were permitted to practice.
  The Long Island Gang dominated the qualifying session. Justin Bonsignore earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the second year in a row in the CARQUEST Fall Final when he posted the fastest time trial in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour qualifying. Bonsignore posted a fast lap of 18.427 seconds (97.683 mph) to earn his third career Coors Light Pole Award. Taking the outside pole position was fellow Long Islander Donny Lia. Ted Christopher, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Bobby Santos, Ron Silk, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik. All 30 cars on hand made the field including Chuck Hossfeld who did not take time because of a broken engine rocker arm.
  Ben Dodge, Stafford Motor Speedway's host announcer, was the Grand Marshal of Stafford Motor Speedway's 39th annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend. With the 39th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Dodge wrapped up his 41st season as part of the Stafford Motor Speedway announce team. Dodge, who is was the special assistant to Don Hoenig at the Thompson Speedway, gave the command to send the Whelen Modified Tour on its way with the most famous words in motorsports, "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines".
  Bonsignore took the lead at the start with Christopher and Lia hot on his tail. Todd Szegedy, who started 15th was the first casualty as he appeared to have a tire deflating as he faded to the rear of the field by lap 7. Szegedy got a gift on lap 7 as Richie Pallai spun in turn two, bringing out the first caution. Szegedy was able to rejoin the field without losing a lap. Glen Griswold brought out the second caution on lap 18 when he spun in turn two. Evidently there was something about turn two as Szegedy brought out the third caution with a spin on lap 32. On lap 37 the green was displayed. Bonsignore jumped to the lead as Donny Lia passed Ted Christopher bringing Eric Beers along with him. Christopher fell to fourth spot.
  Jamie Tomaino broke the spin cycle that had plagued turn two as he spun in turn four on lap 38, bringing out the fourth caution. Bonsignore continued to lead. The fifth caution flew on lap 46 as Rowan Pennink spun with Matt Hirschman and Bryon Chew in turn four. Matt Hirschman was also collected and suffered a flat right rear tire. The green came out on lap 51 with Bonsignore still on the point. On the race restart Eric Beers did not come up to speed as Ryan Preece made the pass and took over second spot. As the lead pair pulled away from the field the sixth caution came out on lap 56 for Tom Rogers who spun between turns one and two. The green was again displayed on lap 62 with Bonsignore and Preece still running one-two. Mike Stefanik, who was never in contention, saw his day end on lap 66 when his engine developed issues. At the half way mark, 75 laps, Bonsignore continued to lead with Preece second and Christopher, third. Szegedy who had numerous problems early on was able to recover and was running ninth. The seventh caution flew for Richie Pallai who spun between turns one and two on lap 77. Under caution the front runners, including Bonsignore, Preece and Christopher pitted. When the green was displayed on lap 82 Erick Rudolph pulled ahead to take the lead and was followed by Glen Reen and Todd Szegedy who didn't pit during the latest caution. More yellow fever on lap 85, this time for Kevin Goodale who spun.
  When the green flag dropped on lap 90, Szegedy went under Glen Reen for second spot as Rudolph continued to lead. The eighth caution was for a multi-car spin on lap 97 that collected Eric Berndt, Santos, Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk. During this caution Chris Kopec and Chuck Hossfeld retired with motor issues. Also pitting were Christopher, Silk and Bonsignore. Rudolph continued to lead as the field went back to green on lap 105. Szegedy was second with Don Lia, third.
  The caution was displayed for the ninth time on lap 111 when Rowan Pennink got into the back of Matt Hirschman and the two cars spun going into turn four. During the caution Santos parked the Mystic Missile which was experiencing rear end problems. The field went back to green on lap 115 with Rudolph leading Szegedy and Lia. Rowan Pennink, who was running 18th, brought out the 12th caution on lap 119 when he spun in turn two. The field went green again on lap 124. The natives were getting restless! As Rudolph led the restart, Szegedy got sideways which opened the door for Ted Christopher to move into the fourth spot. Christopher turned up the wick as he put the pressure on Beers and on lap 139 got the third spot as Beers got a little sideways. The cautions continued. The 10th yellow flew on lap 142 for Eric Goodale who spun into the outside wall in turn 4. On the race restart Erick Rudolph had Ted Christopher right on his rear bumper as Ryan Preece shot for third. The 11th caution was displayed for Szegedy who saw his day come to an end when he lost a left front wheel. After a short red flag period the field went back to caution for what would be a three lap shootout.
  On the final restart, Christopher took lead as Rudolph got shoved out of line. A NASCAR replay showed that Christopher was under Rudolph entering turn 1, Rudolph turned to block and Christopher held his ground. The two made contact, which slowed Rudolph enough that Christopher was able to clear him easily. A frustrated Rudolph came up behind Ted Christoper's #36 car and gave him a bump in the rear following the conclusion. In victory lane Christopher said that he had fresher tires and that Erick Rudolph did a turn left on him. Ryan Preece finished second and was followed by Lia, Beers and Rudolph. Sixth through tenth were Kevin Goodale, Silk, Hirschman, Doug Coby and Bonsignore.
  In regular weekly racing at Stafford, Eric Berndt won the 40 lap SK Modified feature over Glen Reen and Ted Christopher. Tom Bolles and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece, who had previously wrapped up the SK Modified track championship, finished sixth. Woody Pitkat won the Late Model feature over Mark St Hillaire, Dillon Moltz, and Patrick Townsend. Moltz was later disqualified for failure to submit to tech inspection. Ryan Posocco, who was moved up to fourth in the final rundown, won his sixth Late Model Championship. Woody Pitkat, driver of the No. 88 Late Model, and Ryan Posocco, driver of the No. 48 Late Model and Mark St. Hilaire, driver of the No. 3 Late Model were disqualified for rules infractions
  In Whelen Southern Modified Tour action south of the Mason-Dixon line Andy Seuss led flag-to-flag to win the Caraway 150 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday night. The victory on the .455-mile paved oval marked the third win this year and 11th career win for the Hampstead, N.H., driver. It was his sixth race win at Caraway. While Seuss gained ground in the championship standings with the win - his teammate, George Brunnhoelzl III, maintained a commanding lead in the points by finishing second. Brunnhoelzl's lead dropped from 150 points to 130 on the night.
  Seuss jumped into the lead past pole-sitter Brunnhoelzl at the drop of the green and then maintained command through two early restarts. He paced the field from there to the finish, with his biggest challenge appearing to be working lapped traffic late in the race. Seuss won by a margin of 2.785 seconds over Brunnhoelzl. Tim Brown took third, with Brian Loftin fourth and Brandon Ward charging forward to take fifth. Thomas Stinson, Jason Myers, Burt Myers, Austin Pack and LW Miller completed the top 10.
  There were only 13 cars on hand for the event. The blistering pace was such as there were only seven cars on the lead lap at the finish. NASCAR has got to realize the fact that the Whelen Southern Modified Tour is in trouble. Poor fields of cars can be blamed on the economy in general but paltry race purses make it almost impossible for race teams to break even. Evidently NASCAR is ashamed of their Modified Series race purses as they are no longer published or made available to the media
  In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, rain again prevailed. The Speedway will close out the 2011 season on October 16 with the Annual World Series of Speedway Racing. For the third week in a row the speedway management was forced to pull the plug and postpone the final weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event of the season to Thursday, Oct 6.
  At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won his 12th SK Modified feature of the year and sewed up the division championship at the shoreline oval. The Speedbowl, which wrapped up it's Saturday night season, also saw Bruce Thomas Jr. claim his fifth win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models and Ray Christian win his first of the year in the Mini Stocks. Al Stone III made it two in a row in Street Stock action. Stone has seven over all victories for the year.
  In other action, Dave Garbo Jr. won another Legends Cars feature and Dana Dimatteo added the Saturday series championship to his Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday series crown to unofficially sweep the division titles. Ken Morin Jr. won the night’s Bandolero feature and Taylor Martin wrapped up the division’s Saturday series championship.
  In the Modified feature, Rocco spent three laps trailing Glen Pressel before wrestling the lead away with an inside move in turn four on lap-22. Rocco surged into the lead while Jeff Pearl slipped under Pressel to take the second spot. Rob Janovic snatched third away from Pressel as the field raced in tight formation, which resulted with Frank Mucciacciaro spinning in turn three for the final caution on lap-24.
  Rocco outpowered Pearl on the final restart to hold the lead. Pearl lost second to Janovic, then third to Tyler Chadwick who moved to Pearl’s inside. Kyle James was fifth and the top-five singled out for the stretch run to the checkered flag. Janovic and Chadwick stayed in contention behind Rocco but were unable to find racing room for a bid to win.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Kurt Busch stormed into contention for a second Cup championship, holding off fellow Chase drivers Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards to win at Dover International Speedway. Carl Edwards dominated again at Dover International Speedway, winning his seventh race of the season in the Nationwide Series. Ron Hornaday picked up his 50th victory in the Trucks Series with a Saturday night win at Kentucky Speedway.

  Last year, 2015 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Fall Final. Twenty seven cars were on hand for practice and qualifying which started late Saturday due to intermittent rain. Fresh from their encounter at Loudon, Doug Coby and Ryan Preece qualified one-two for the 150 lap event. Coby garnered his ninth career Coors Light Pole Award with a fast lap of 18.329 seconds (98.205 mph). It was his fifth overall in 2015 behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dunleavy’s/HEX Performance Chevrolet. Following Coby and Preece in the qualifying results top 10 were Timmy Solomito, Bobby Santos, Donny Lia, Ted Christopher, Chase Dowling, Ronnie Williams, Eric Goodale and Woody Pitkat.
  True to form, wannabee driver Melissa Fifield qualified next to last at 83.141mph, 15.064mph off the pole speed. NASCAR is doing a gross injustice to the entire field as they continue to let her drive around at a snail's pace.
  In other Saturday action at Stafford, taking feature wins were Tony Membrino, Jr. in the SK Light feature, David Arute in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Brandon Michael in the DARE Stock feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars National Qualifier event. Stephen Kopcik won the SK Light championship, Al Saunders clinched the Ltd. Late Model championship, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. scored his second consecutive DARE Stock championship.
  It was cool and blustery but the sun shown brightly at Stafford on Sunday. In preliminary action Eric Berndt won the SK Modified 40 lapper. Ted Christopher finished second and Ryan Preece, third with Rowan Pennink, fourth. Pennink sewed up the division championship. Mike Christopher Jr rounded out the top five. Michael Bennett won the 30 lap Late Model contest.
  Doug Coby made it two in a row as he scored a decisive win over Ryan Preece as he won the Fall Final. Long Island drivers Timmy Solomito, Donny Lia and Shawn Solomito rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Chase Dowling, Matt Swanson, Jamie Tomaino, Ken Heagy and Todd Szegedy. All tolled, fifteen of the original 27 starters were on the lead lap at the finish.
  Preece, the 2013 champion who was the runner-up to Coby in 2012 and 2014, rebounded from an accident and pit road penalty to finish second at Stafford. Woody Pitkat, who entered the race weekend with the points lead, finished 12th after being involved in a late-race wreck.
  Unofficially the fight for the title couldn't be tighter as Preece and Coby are tied at 565 points and Pitkat is at 561 point in third spot.
  Seven caution periods and two red flag conditions slow the progress of the event. The first caution was displayed on lap 29 for Todd Szegedy who spun in turn four. Szegedy lost a lap but in the course of the event made it up to salvage a tenth at the finish. The second caution flew on lap 48 when Jeff Goodale spun in front of the field as he was about to be lapped. At the same time Dave Sapienza and Dave Salzarulo spun together in turn two. The third caution flew for Matt Swanson who spun in turn two. The fourth caution came at the 100 lap mark when James Civale spun and was tagged by Ryan Preece. Also collected in the mêlée was Patrick Emerling, Jeff Goodale, Ted Christopher, Justin Bonsignore, Ronnie Williams and Shawn Solomito. The red flag was displayed on lap 102 in order to clean up the track and to tow Emerling and Williams to the pit area. Bobby Santos brought out the fifth caution on lap123 when his engine came unglued. A red flag resulted to get the track cleaned of the oil spilled. Ted Christopher spun in turn four on lap 130 bringing out the sixth caution. Max Zachem was also involved. Christopher got collected on the resulting restart and was eliminated from the event. The seventh and final caution was for James Civali who suffered a flat right front tire and stopped in turn three.
  There were three different leaders. Preece took the lead at the start and held it thru lap 96. Lia led laps 97 to 105 and Coby led from lap 106 to the finish.
  Glenn Donnelly, the man who first organized and promoted Super DIRT Week in 1972, will keep the event alive in the future, thanks to an investment by the State of New York.
  New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference held at the New York State Fairgrounds that the Super DIRT Week event would move to the Central New York Raceway Park (CNYRP) in Central Square in 2016. New York State will invest $5 million in the development of the racetrack.
  Tony Stewart announced that he will quit Sprint Cup racing after 2016, but will not retire as a driver. That was the overriding message he delivered to an SRO audience on Wednesday afternoon at Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
  Kevin Harvick dominated the AAA 400 at the Dover International Speedway for his first victory since March 15. The defending Sprint Cup champion led an incredible 355 of 400 laps and withstood a challenge from Kyle Busch to punch his ticket into the Contender round of the Chase.
  Regan Smith overcame persistent rain showers and challenges from the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch while trying to save fuel to win Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 200 at Dover Int’l Speedway.

  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: October 7, 2016

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