The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

October 14, 2016

  Seventy five years ago in 1941, the Thompson Speedway suffered its first fatality as Tony Willman was thrown out of his midget after crashing and was hit by Howard Bumpus. This was one of the last events to be run before the start of World War II.

  Sixty five years ago in 1951 the inaugural Race of Champions was run at the one mile circular dirt surfaced Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Pete Zanardi wrote the following: New Englanders Hully Bunn and Dick Eagan, teammates in cars prepared by Bob Duffy, were enjoying a successful 1951 season.
  A $4,250 purse lured them to the National Sportsman Stock Car Championship at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway on Oct. 14, 1951.
  Promoted by Al Gerber and Irv Fried, it was the first of what became the Race of Champions, for many years the premier modified/sportsman race in the country. It was the culmination of Langhorne’s 25th season.
  “We had wins all over the place,” recalls Bunn, “We won at Stafford Springs (Conn.), Morristown (N.J.), Bainbridge (Ohio). Dick definitely had more wins than I did.”
  When they arrived at Langhorne, however, Eagan’s car wouldn’t fire. “Duffy had made some changes in the motor, but never started it up before we left,” recalls Bunn. (Bob Duffy was a racer in his own right as he raced at Kingston RI, Stafford and at Fonda while holding down a full time job as the Parts Manager at the John Ahr Ford Co. in Westerly, RI). When the field took the green flag for the scheduled 100 laps, Eagan was a spectator.
Bunn grabbed the lead from New Jersey daredevil Wally Campbell, the polesitter, five laps in. Bill Tanner led the first three before giving way to Campbell. Bunn got Campbell out of four and set in for the long haul.
  Duffy wanted to overhaul the engine in the familiar No. X entry because it was “using oil,” but Bunn resisted. “Those old flathead Fords ran the best when they were smoking,” says Bunn. “We had a five-gallon pail filled with oil hanging in the car with a hose going into the fill pipe. We would turn it on and off during the race.”
  Langhorne was the 43rd race of the season and the pan on the car had never been dropped.
  Bunn and Campbell battled for some 50 laps before overheating problems got Campbell. As lap 63 began, Frankie Schneider was second, but better than two laps behind Bunn.
  In turn four Frank Holtzhauer’s car caught fire. Crashing into the pit wall, Holtzhauer’s clothes were aflame when he exited the racer. Pit crews saved Holtzhauer. The fire, however, reached Jack Bellinato’s car resulting in the second yellow flag of the day.
  Bunn turned the car over to Eagan. “I felt I owed him that” for the single-file restart. A broken axle on lap 80 ended Schneider’s day. Campbell had climbed back to third, but was four laps down. Suddenly, out of four, an upside-down Don Black skidded into the path of Campbell. Campbell’s car caught fire and the resulting smoke along with the setting sun “obscured” the track. Campbell escaped just ahead of eight cars piling into his disabled racer.
  When Black arrived at the hospital, doctors were still treating Holtzhauer’s burns. Six other drivers and a mechanic were also injured. At that point, NASCAR officials ended the carnage with Bunn and Eagan the winners.
  Ken Marriott, Don Bailey, Pee Wee Jones and Bob Myers were second through fifth.
  Rain washed out a scheduled program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Sixty years ago in 1956 Donald "Dutch" Hoag won the 6th Annual 100 mile Race of Champions on the dirt at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Hoag, from Bath, NY, beat out Don Stumph from New Jersey. Rounding out the top five were George Horvath, Bob Cameron and Lee Bliss. The event was sanctioned by NASCAR. Rain washed out a scheduled program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Fifty five years ago in 1961, Langhorne attracted the best there was at the time for the 11th Annual 100 Mile National Open Race of Champions. Taking the win was Bob Malzahn. Bob Abel was second with Dick Tobias, third. The event carried a $12,000 purse and paid $3000 to win.
Arnie Harris was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the Bomber feature winner.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, Will Cagle won the 100 mile National Open, (Race of Champions) at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Ray Tilley finished second with Bill Wimble, third. Jerry Dostie and Frank Myronchuk rounded out the top five. Bill Slater, who won the 1965 version, finished 15th.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, it was all quiet as teams were getting ready to head south for the season ender at Martinsville or the rescheduled Race of Champions at Langhorne. The current national modified standings showed Jerry Cook in the lead followed by Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller, Fred DeSarro, Dave Lape, Dick Fowler, Billy Harman, Lou Lazzaro, Denis Giroux and Ray Sitterly.

  Forty years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine went two for two as he put the Dick Armstrong modified in victory lane at Monadnock on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday. At Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard finished second with John Rosati, SJ Evonsion and Punky Caron rounding out the top five. Ronnie Bouchard in the M&H No7 finished second at Thompson. Rounding out the top five were Bugsy Stevens, Ray Miller and Eddie Flemke.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981,Thompson ran the World Series. Jamie Moore was the Supermodified winner and Richie Evans took the modified portion. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by John Rosati, Corky Cookman and Ronnie Bouchard.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, Doug Hevron scored his first modified win in a 35 lap season ending event at Oswego. Jan Leaty finished second with Mike McLaughlin and Billy Colton following. Brian Ross finished fourth and wrapped up the modified championship at the Lake Ontario oval. At Syracuse, Barefoot Bob McCreadie took home $66,000 after taking the win in the Eckered 200.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, Waterford ran their final event of the year. Ted Christopher took the checker over Jerry Pearl, Ronnie Rocco and Bert Marvin. Mike Holdredge was the Super Stock winner and Tommy Fox scored his tenth win of the season in the Late Models. At Syracuse, Brett Hearn made it two in a row as he took the lead in the Eckered 200 with 12 laps to go when Danny Johnson lost a wheel. The biggest prize in DIRT Modified Racing was worth $107,260. Ricky Craven won the Chevy Dealers 250 at Loudon.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Jan Leaty passed George Kent on lap 156 of the 200 lap Race of Champions at Oswego and went on to take the win over Siege Fidenza, Kent, Tim Arre, Ted Christopher and Tim Mangus. Doug Hoffman won the 25th anniversary DIRT 300 at Syracuse and Butch Leitzinger took the lead from Andy Santarre with seven to go in the season ending Busch North Series event at Lime Rock. Dale Quarterly finished second when Santarre flipped with two laps to go.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001, the NASCAR Featherlite Modifieds traveled to the Martinsville Speedway for a 200 lap event. Mike Ewanitsko was virtually unbeatable as he led the first 56 laps and the final 77 laps as he recorded an impressive win over Rick Fuller, Jerry Marquis, John Blewett III and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik was the point leader and suffered a set back as he lost five laps as a result of having to pit under green with a loose wheel. Stefanik ended up 21st and would go into the final event, a week later, only 20 points ahead of Marquis and Blewett. The event was run on Saturday as a preliminary to the tracks Winston Cup event. Prior to the event NASCAR announced that a three year contract with Hoosier Tires for the Modifieds had been signed. The annual Race of Champions was run at the Oswego Speedway. George Kent took the win over Chuck Hossfeld, Lee Sherwood, Jan Leaty and Dave Pecko. Martinsville fell victim to rain on Sunday which meant they would run on the next clear day which ended up being Monday. Ricky Craven scored his first and only win on NASCAR's elite circuit after doing the bump and grind with Dale Jarrett for 1-1/2 laps. The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their season with their Fall Finale which was won by Ron Yuhas Jr over Dennis Gada, Eric Berndt, Ed Reed JR and John Brouwer. It was also on this weekend that Randy LaJoie took the Busch Grandnational win at Memphis after Jeff Green and Jay Sauter bumped each other out of the way with 1-1/2 laps to go.

  Ten years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway for the annual World Series. Tony Hirschman set fast time in qualifying. It was the fourth Bud Pole Award of the season for Hirschman, the defending series champion, and also locked up the season long 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Bud Pole Award Championship. Hirschman toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.697 seconds for an average speed of 120.340 mph. Ron Yuhas of Groton, Conn. was second fastest with a speed of 120.077 mph. Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn. qualified third with a speed of 120.045 mph. Defending race winner Jerry Marquis was fourth fastest and Waterford winner Donny Lia rounded out the Top-5.
The Top-8 qualifiers drew for starting position. Jimmy Blewett and Marquis made up the front row. Christopher started third while Hirschman lined up fourth. Yuhas drew fifth flanked by Lia. There were 42 cars on hand for time trials.
  Sunday was a perfect fall day for racing.. The only thing negative was the way that campers hogged space in the parking lot. There is no order for them to park as they park every which way. The speedway needs to regulate the camper parking in the future.
  In what ended up being a surprise finish Reggie Ruggiero took the checkered flag in the Whelen Modified Tour Series Xtramart 150. Ted Christopher had taken the lead from Jimmy Blewett as they exited turn four on the 122nd lap. One lap later Billy Pauch Jr hit the wall in turn two, bringing out the caution. When the field went back to green on lap146 Christopher led the charge with John Blewett III in hot pursuit. On lap 147 as Christopher entered turn three Blewett attempted to pass on the low side. Christopher moved down to block. Blewett knew he was about to be pinched into the infield grass and turned into Christopher, sending him hard into the wall. With both cars destroyed Reggie Ruggiero, who was running third, inherited the lead for a green – white – checkered finish on lap 158. Jimmy Blewett ended up in second spot as he had nothing for Ruggiero at the finish. Jerry Marquis finished third with Donny Lia and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five.
  Jimmy Blewett led the charge at the drop of the green. Jerry Marquis took the lead by the time the field got to turn two. The first caution flew on lap 20 for Billy Pauch Jr who spun on the front chute. Marquis continued to lead until lap 25 when Tony Hirschman took the lead. The second caution flew on lap 35 when Danny Sammons and Kenny Barry got together in turn three. The green flew on lap 40 but one lap later the caution was out again for a seven car tangle on the front chute. Marquis retook the lead when the field went back to green on lap 46. Hirschman faded to fourth as Reggie Ruggiero and Ted Christopher slipped by. Two laps later the caution flew again, this time for a 14 car tangle in turn one that brought out the red. The field went back to green on lap 53 with Marquis leading Ruggiero, Christopher and Jimmy Blewett. By the time the field entered turn one Christopher had shot into the lead. Lap 55 saw the caution waving again, this time as Bob Grigas drilled Eric Beers into the turn four wall. Back under green at lap 60, Christopher still led Marquis as John Blewett III moved into third. Blewett moved past Marquis on lap 78. Christopher continued to lead as Blewett’s tires began to wear. By lap 94 Blewett had slipped to fourth when he spun by himself as he exited turn two. Blewett along with Christopher, Marquis and a host of others pitted for fresh rubber on lap 96. Richard Savory assumed the lead over Donny Lia as the field took the green on lap 100. A three wide move by Grigas on the backstretch triggered a wreck that collected among others, Mike Stefanik and Tony Hirschman, which ended their bid for a possible win. Savory led until Jimmy Blewett on lap 122, as previously mentioned, passed him. It was the 44th career victory for Ruggiero, who drives the Atlantic Sprinkler Chevrolet, and his first since 2004 when he won at Wall Township , N.J. Ruggiero’s last win at Thompson occurred in 1998.
  “Nobody seemed to want to win this race tonight, “ said Ruggiero. “I was just glad we were in a position to get it at the end.”
  Christopher was credited with 19th position after the lap 148 accident, effectively ending his hopes for his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Mike Stefanik of Coventry , R.I. finished fifth in the race and now leads Christopher by 148 points. Stefanik needs to earn at least a last place finish in the final race of the year at Stafford Springs , Conn. on Oct. 28 to secure his seventh career title.
  In other Sunday action at Thompson, Todd Ceravolo scored a convincing win over Jimmy Blewett, Jeff Malave, Zach Sylvester and Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco SK type Modifieds. David Berghman beat out Fred Astle Jr for the 50 lap Pro Stock win. A scarey moment occurred on lap 29 when Scott Rotherford went up and over another competitor and slid on his roof into the turn one wall and catching fire. Ben Dodge Jr, special assistant to track owner Don Hoenig, ran to the accident and pulled Rotherford to safety as fire engulfed the entire car. Ben Seitz won the NEMA Midget 25 lapper and Nokie Fornoro won the 50 lap ISMA Supermodified event after early leader Chris Perley dropped out. Sixty five year old Bentley Warren finished second.
  Norwich, Conn. Native Bob Potter was selected to the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Potter, who has 140 feature wins to his credit, is a five time Modified Track Champion at the Waterford Speedbowl and a five time Modified Track Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He was also the 1988 Duel Track (Thompson – Stafford) Champion. A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95. Potter joined an elite group that includes Richie Evans, Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Gene Bergin and Wild Bill Slater to name a few. Also to be inducted along with Potter were Supermodified great Bentley Warren, Busch East competitor Dave Dion, Canadian Jean Paul Cabana, John Rosati, car owner and former owner of the Westboro, Mass. Speedway John Falconi Sr, car builder/crew chief Bob Johnson and former Northeastern Midget Association president John McCarthy. The 10th anniversary inductees represented over a thousand victories and three-dozen championships.

  Five years ago in 2011, in NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, the regular season finally was wrapped up with championships settled in all racing divisions. Earning championships for the 2011 season were Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modifieds, Larry Gelinas Super Late Models and Tommy O’Sullivan in the Late Models. Chris “Moose” Douton was crowned the Limited Sportsman champ for 2011; Cam McDermott reigned in the TIS Modifieds; and Danny Field, Deep River, CT, earned top-honors in the Mini Stock division.
  For Rocco, it was a matter of survival as Ryan Preece was breathing down his neck going into the final event. If Preece were to win, Rocco needed to finish 12th or better to become champ. Rocco started fifth in the 30 lap feature. Preece started seventh. Rocco took the lead in turn four on lap two from Rick Fuller. By lap seven, Preece had the lead and Rocco was fading fast, almost to the point where he almost got the black flag for not running at a competitive speed. In the end, Rocco finished 12th, four laps down. Preece did his best but in the end he fell short by six points in his quest for the title. Preece had taken the lead from Rocco on lap seven and was headed for the win until Woody Pitkat got him in traffic in the fourth turn of the final lap. Pitkat took the win, his fourth in the car since taking the seat vacated by Ted Christopher. Preece beat out Danny Cates for the runner-up spot. Todd Ceravolo, in a team car to Preece, finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was Ricky Shawn.
  Other winners were Derek Ramstrom (Super Late Models), Marc Palmisano (Late Models), Larry Barnett (Limited Sportsman) and Travis Jurcik, (Mini Stocks) scoring feature victories.
  A bit of excitement developed during the running of the Limited Sportsman feature. On the opening laps Joe Coates and Jason Chicolas tangled on the backstretch going into turn three. Coats lost his temper and commenced to proceed to continually ram the Chicolas machine. Both competitors were parked for the night. Coats parked his car on the infield pit road and as Chicolas drove by on his way to the pit area Coats threw his helmet at him. Speedway officials attempted to calm the situation but Coats would have nothing of that as he gave the officials the single finger salute, then from atop pit wall, proceeded to drop his pants and Moon the officials and the crowd. The Speedway management and NASCAR Suspended Coats indefinitely.
  At the Waterford Speedbowl the two day Fall Finale wrapped up the 2011 racing season. Over 200 cars brought some serious revenue to the shoreline oval on Saturday. Keith Rocco added another victory to his yearly total as he took the fin in the 50 lap SK Modified portion of the Finale. Rocco, who now has 27 victories to his credit took the lead on lap 10 after starting in the 12th position. Rocco also won the Late Model 50 lapper at the shoreline oval. Rocco passed Bruce Thomas Jr. with six laps remaining and led the rest of the way to win the 50-lap Late Model feature. In the Modified event, Tyler Chadwick was second and Rob Janovic Jr, third. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece and Nicole Morgillo.
  A bit of controversy erupted before the start of racing at the Speedbowl on Sunday. Race Director Scott Tapley threw out Todd Ceravolo after he was allegedly threatened with physical violence. To back up a bit, Ceravolo missed the pit party and was told he would have to start in the rear instead of starting 15th. When told this, Ceravolo tried to explain that he had been home sick with the flu and had just got out of bed before noon. Tapley's response to Ceravolo's explanation was, "Too Bad". With this sarcasam, Ceravolo became rightfully irate, especially when a double standard existed. Bubby Brouwer also missed the pit party but he was allowed to start on the pole of the event in which he competed and also the track treated Ceravolo unfairly when they black flagged him for not having a transponder in a practice session but looked the other way when one of their top regular runners ran all day without a transponder. Ceravolo stated that Tapley never had a drivers meeting on Saturday and never announced that there would be a penalty if one missed the pit party. It just seems that every time a non-regular shows up to race at Waterford, officials go out of their way to make their lives miserable.
  Other Sunday winners at the Speedbowl were Al Stone in the Street Stocks and Glenn Colvin in the Mini Stocks. Paul French won the 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature and Dave Garbo Jr. won the day’s 25-lap Legends Cars feature.
  Race winners on Saturday included Shawn Thibeault who recorded his first career Speedbowl victory in the Outlaw Stock feature, John Kelly who scored his first career win in the Northeast
  Mini Stock Tour race and Andy Lindemann who nailed the win in the New England Truck Series feature. Rounding out the winners were Emily Packard in the Allison Legacy North Racing Series, Frank Alessio in the Super X-Cars, Brad Voglesong in X-Car action and Cory Dimatteo in the Bandoleros race.
  In Modified Racing Series action at the D. Anthony Venditti Classic at the Seekonk Speedway Mike Holdridge started 22nd in a 29 car field, took the lead on lap 65, and went on to win the Valenti Modified Racing Series, 100-lap, “DAV Fall Classic” race. The win was the second of the season for the second-generation driver. Holdridge also becomes the eighth different driver to win the eighth annual event.
  Pole-sitter Russ Hersey, led the field to green and the first six-laps until passed by veteran Kenny Barry. Barry quickly became the class of the field leading laps 7 through 64 holding off the challenges of Les Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, and Holdridge. When Holdridge took the top spot, Barry chased the winner to the finish, Jon McKennedyfinished third, Jimmy Kuhn, fourth, and Dwight Jarvis, fifth. Sixth through tenth were: Max Zachem, Hinckley, Chris Pasteryak, Timmy Jordan and Joe Doucette
  In Super Dirt action at the Syracuse NY Fairgrounds, Canadian Stewart Friesen made it back-to-back wins in the SEF 200 on Sunday and in the process denied Billy Decker’s bid to become the first driver to sweep the modified races at Super DIRT Week. Decker had won five out of five events heading into Sunday’s feature but had to settle for second after giving Friesen all he could handle late in the 200-mile race.
  The victory was worth $50,000, but not in the end. After a long post-race inspection, Friesen’s team was fined $25,000 for having an illegal fuel system. He retained the victory. Ted Christopher had attempted to qualify for the event but fell short after being involved in a qualifying heat crash.
In Sprint Cup action at Kansas City Jimmie Johnson led 197 laps in one of the most dominant performances the track has ever seen. The victory was the 55th for Johnson, moving him into a tie with Rusty Wallace for the eighth on the career list, and the 199th for team owner Rick Hendrick. Brad Keselowski dominated the Nationwide Series race at Kansas City as he led all but 27 laps on his way to victory.
  The Concord (NH) Monitor reported that The New Hampshire Motor Speedway was vowing to appeal a jury verdict that ordered it to pay almost $1 million to the sports radio network that used to broadcast its major NASCAR events. At the heart of the lawsuit, whose trial lasted five days in   Merrimack County NH Superior Court last week, is who had the right to broadcast NASCAR events at the Loudon-based speedway.
  The report, which was printed in the Monitor on Oct 4 stated that in Sept. 2000, the speedway, under the management of then-President Gary Bahre, entered into a perpetual contract agreement that gave Motor Racing Network Inc., a Florida-based company, exclusive rights to broadcast all NASCAR events, including time trials, practice runs and races.
  In exchange, the track received 25 percent of all the gross advertising revenue Motor Racing Network received from the broadcasts and rebroadcasts of NASCAR events at the speedway. The parties were each required to give three years notice to terminate the contract.
  But in January 2008, shortly after former owner Bob Bahre agreed to sell the track, his son Gary Bahre sent a letter to Motor Racing Network saying his company wished to end the contract immediately, calling the three-year termination notice "unconscionable."
  After Motor Racing Network refused, New Hampshire Motor Speedway sued, claiming the contract was void and unenforceable because it was "illusory, lacks mutuality of obligation, and is not supported by consideration," according to the suit. Motor Racing Network, which paid about $750,000 to the speedway over the eight year relationship, countersued, saying the breach of contract would cause, among other things, damage to the network's reputation.
  Over the three years of legal maneuvering, a judge found the agreement to be unenforceable. However, the court allowed Motor Radio Network to take their case to a jury and argue that the speedway had broken underlying promises made to them - promises which the network reasonably believed would be honored and therefore made business decisions around, said David Cole, one of several attorneys representing the network.
The Monitor stated that on Friday, Oct 7, 12 jurors agreed and awarded the network $993,724 - the amount of money the network said it would have made had it been allowed to broadcast seven races over three more years. While the speedway does not have to pay attorney fees, it does have to pay for costs such as depositions. Once those are added in, the judgment is likely to exceed $1 million. Once Motor Racing Network was out, Performance Radio Network, which is owned by the speedway's parent company, Speedway Motorsports, began broadcasting the track's NASCAR events. It was a move Cole said showed the speedway broke the contract purely for financial gain, not because Motor Racing Network had done its job poorly.
  Motor Racing Network, which claims to be the largest independent sports radio network in the country with almost 650 stations, is owned by International Speedway Corp., a Florida-based company that owns a dozen racetracks around the country.
Molly A.K. Connors was the reporter of record that covered the proceedings for the Monitor.

  Last year, 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour closed out their season at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. George Brunnhoelzl III, who previously triumphed on the Charlotte quarter-mile oval in 2012, led all but one of the 160 laps. Northern invader Ryan Preece followed Brunnhoelzl across the finish line in second with Danny Bohn third, Jason Myers fourth and Burt Myers fifth. Andy Seuss finished sixth and was followed by Jeremy Gerstner, John Smith, Bobby Measmer Jr. and Dalton Baldwin. With a sixth-place finish in Thursday’s season finale Southern Slam 150, Seuss edged race winner George Brunnhoelzl III by three points in the season standings to secure his second-consecutive Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire last week for twin 50 lap events. Woody Pitkat and Les Hinckley scored victories. Hinkley, who also placed third in the first event was declared the overall winner. Pitkat, who finished fourth in the second event, emerged as the point leader going into the series finale which will be held at Thompson on Saturday night.
  In the opening race, Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, Connecticut, grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Jon McKennedy and went on to victory. McKennedy settled for second followed by Hinckley, Mike Willis Jr, and Todd Patnode. Sixth through tenth were Dennis Perry, Donnie Lashua, David Schneider, Kevin Ianarelli, and Dylan Kopec.In the second 50-lap race, Kirk Alexander, of W. Swanzey, NH, took the early lead but when the checkered flag fell, it was Hinckley rolling to victory lane from his 19th starting position, winning his 19th VMRS career race and his fourth at Lee.Mike Willis Jr. made a great late race charge to finish runner-up with Norm Wrenn, Pitkat’ and McKennedy, rounding out the top five. Keith Rocco, Alexander, Schneider, Todd Szegedy, and Donnie Lashua, completed the top ten.
  Greg Narducci, a well respected Whelen Modified Tour former owner and mechanic made an interesting observation, “Thanks Nascar for saving the owners so much money with your new rules of only letting us bring one set of used tires to the track each race. He stated $4000.00 + in used tires are being thrown out at Thompson. All of these have 20 laps or less on them. Can't even give them away! Keep making rules like this, you'll have no cars soon!!!”
  The Syracuse dirt mile, a horse-racing track that first opened for business in 1826 (horsepower joined the hayburners in 1903), would be bulldozed into oblivion after this past weekend’s racing to make way for a renovation of the Fairgrounds that would see the old place become more like a year-round theme park.
  Once one of about a dozen mile-oval speedways that made up a circuit where Indianapolis-car drivers raced for the national championship, Syracuse was among the last remaining. Only the track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and two in Illinois, Springfield and Du Quoin, remained of those legendary bull rings that included Langhorne in Pennsylvania, Sacramento and Del Mar in California, Phoenix and, of course, Syracuse.
Glenn Donnelly created Super DIRT Week in the early 1970s, Buzzie Reutimann won the first two Shaeffer 200s (which carried a $100,000 first prize
  The first couple of years, that big race was won by guys from out of state: Dick Tobias from Pennsylvania, Gary Balough from Florida — Buzzie, of course — and then a guy named Jack Johnson out of Schenectady, N.Y., finally became the first native New Yorker to win it and he did that in 1979.
The track, called the Moody Mile, had been a place of passion and commitment, as well as blood and guts. And now, in the fall of 2015, it’s over. It was be the last time Super DIRT Week would be held at the fairgrounds, which will undergo a renovation after the event that will involve removing the grandstands and the historic track that has been home to 44 Super DIRT Weeks, extending back to 1972.Canadian Stewart Friesen, who has won four of the last six events held there won the Grand Finale. Ken Tremont was second. Friesen’s share of the purse was $50,000.
  Joey Logano led a race-high 227 of 334 laps and won the Bank of America 500 to punch his ticket into the Eliminator round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Team Penske driver started third and ran second to pole-sitter Matt Kenseth in the early going, but a decision to stay out and keep track position under an early caution gave Logano the lead. He was seldom challenged for the rest of the race.
  Austin Dillon was the NASCAR Xfinity Series winner at Charlotte.

  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 14, 2016

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