The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

October 21, 2016

  Sixty five years ago in 1951 Don Collins was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Sixty years ago in 1956 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl had a 100 lapper on Sunday afternoon which was won by Don Collins. Leo Cleary, in his first ever appearance at the shoreline oval, was the 15 lap non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1961 saw rain prevail at the Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, The Race of Champions at Langhorne and the Cardinal 500 at Martinsville went head to head because of a previous rain out at Langhorne. Many of the NASCAR Modified contingents at Langhorne withdrew their entries as they were committed to the Martinsville event. Needless to say, both events went off as planned. At Langhorne, it was to be the last ever event to be held at the one mile circle track and it was Roger Treichler taking the win over Jim Shampine. Bob Merz finished third with Graeme Bolia and Lou Lazzaro rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Mike Loescher, Will Cagle, Chuck Boos, Sonny Seamon and Gary Iulg. Among those who chose not to go to Martinsville were Ray Hendrick who finished 32nd, Geoff Bodine who finished 27th and Charlie Jarzombek who finished 26th. Richie Evans, finished 28th. The Race of Champions, a fall tradition since 1951, would move to the 1-1/2 mile Trenton Fairgrounds Speedway for the 1972 event. At Martinsville, Fred DeSarro took the win over Jimmy Hensley, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Sonny Hutchins was the Late Model Sportsman winner. With the NASCAR Modified season now over, Jerry Cook was declared the division champion. Finishing second in the point standings was Fred DeSarro with Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Dave Lape rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Billy Harman, Dick Fowler, Denis Giroux, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro.

  Forty years ago in 1976, all was quiet.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981, all was quiet.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, the World Series was run under blustery conditions. Wes Rosner suffered severe head injuries when his late model hit the first turn wall driver’s side first. Rosner would survive but his racing career would be over. Corky Cookman started on the pole of the 50 lap modified feature and led the entire distance to record the victory. Mike McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer, Jamie Tomaino, Brian Ross and Tony Jankowiak. Kerry Malone was the SK modified winner and Dick Houlihan was the Mini-Modified winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, the season ending World Series was on tap. For the 125 lap Featherlite Modified Tour event, Mike Stefanik took the pole. Stefanik re-drew the outside pole but proved to be no match for Rick Fuller who jumped to an early lead. Fuller held the lead until he pitted on lap 65.By the 100 lap mark, Fuller was back in the lead and went on to take the win. Reggie Ruggiero ended up in second spot and was followed by Stefanik, Tom Baldwin, George Kent, Steve Park and Wayne Anderson. Bob Potter was the SK modified winner as he beat out Tom Tagg for top honors. Other winners were Eddie St Angelo in the Pro Stocks, Bentley Warren in the Supers, Nick Fornoro in the Midgets and Chuck Docherty in the Late Models.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, rain played havoc with the World Series at Thompson. Promoter Don Hoenig pulled the plug and rescheduled for the following week.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001, the Thompson Speedway closed out the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series with the running of the $65,068 World Series 125. One of the biggest crowds in the history of the speedway were on hand as 550 race cars including 55 Modifieds and 16,000 fans which forced the speedway management to close the parking lots one hour before the noon time start. It was a season end showdown for championship honors between Mike Stefanik and Jerry Marquis. Ted Christopher, in his last ride in the Gary Cretty No.25 took the lead from Stefanik on lap 65 and ran away with the event. Stefanik, with Marquis all over him at the end, finished second and wrapped up the division championship, his fifth, which was the first ever for car owner Art Barry. Charlie Pasteryak finished fourth with Tony Hirschman, fifth. The Sunoco-SK Modifieds provided their usual crashing and banging with a surprise ending. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap, Kerry Malone held a slight lead. Ron Yuhas JR made a gut move to the outside and as the two headed for the stripe Malone attempted to block. Yuhas didn’t lift and the two came together just before the finish line. With Yuhas riding the wall, he and Malone crossed the line together and the race was declared a dead heat. Chuck Docherty ended up third with Ed Flemke JR and Wayne Bellefleur rounding out the top five. At the drivers meeting it was announced that NASCAR would be mandating head and neck restraints for their major divisions and it was only a matter of time when they would be come mandatory at all NASCAR events. In other weekend action, Danny Johnson walked off with $20,000 after winning the DIRT Eastern States 200 at Middletown, N.Y. In Winston Cup action at Talladega Dale Earnhardt JR passed Bobby Labonte on the last lap to take the win. Labonte bumped with Bobby Hamilton who hit the wall and triggered a 16-car wreck. Tony Stewart ended up second.

Ten years ago in 2006, Stafford, Waterford and Thompson were quiet. NASCAR reprimanded Carl Pasteryak and Matt Hirschman, following their actions at the World Series at Thompson, Pasteryak got physical with Rene’ Dupuis and Hirschman got overly vocal with Richard Savory after on-track incidents. Pasteryak, driver of the No. 75 car, was suspended from the next Whelen Modified Tour event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 30. He was penalized for violating section 12-4-A of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book: actions detrimental to stock car racing; involved in an altercation with another competitor on the track; verbal abuse to a NASCAR official and failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official. Hirschman, driver of the No. 59 car, was also penalized for an incident after the race. Hirschman was placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating section 12-4-A: actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official; of the 2006 NASCAR Rulebook.
Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Irwindale Speedway in California, scoring a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature event while using the new, cost-reducing Grand National "spec" engine under the hood of his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet. Kobyluck, the runner-up in this event in 2004 and 2005, started sixth and took the lead for the final time from fellow Grand National Division, Busch East Series competitor Sean Caisse on a restart with ten laps remaining in the 150-lap race. AutoZone West Series champion Eric Holmes made a run at the win but tangled with Caisse on the final turn, spinning while Caisse held off AutoZone West Series driver Mike David for second. Tracy Gordon of the Busch East Series and Brian Ickler of the AutoZone West Series were fourth and fifth. Kobyluck was one of 11 drivers in the all-star event utilizing the new spec engine technology, which was introduced this season as a cost-saving alternative for NASCAR Grand National Division teams. The spec engine includes a closely-specified set of components to limit costs, while providing competitive performance and durability. The new engines, which are optional, are expected to save teams nearly 50 percent on the cost of their engines.
  The southern version of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season at the Southern National Raceway Park in North Carolina. Junior Miller took the win and his second series championship. Tim Brown finished second. A last minute entry was Chuck Hossfeld in the Roger Hill No.79. Hossfeld started scratch in the 100 lapper and finished fifth.
  Les Hinckley won the True Value Modified Series season ender at the Lee Raceway. Andy Seuss finished second with Jimmy Kuhn, third. Dale Evonsion and Bob Goodenough rounded out the top five. Dwight Jarvis was declared the series champion.
  At the Martinsville Speedway Jimmie Johnson held off Denny Hamlin to win the Nextel Cup Subway 500. The Busch Series had a week off.
  In a somewhat surprise move J&S Motorsports which owns the No. 36 that had been driven by Ted Christopher on the Whelen Modified Tour Series announced that they would part ways with driver Ted Christopher at the end of the 2006 Whelen Modified Tour season. According to car owner, Ed Whelan, this was a mutual agreement. Whelan said, “I wanted to clear the air so that everyone understands that there is no animosity between Ted and I. We’re still friends” Christopher was hired by Whelan to drive for J&S at the third race of this season at Jennerstown in June. Christopher was sixth on the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins list with twenty-six victories that include ten wins in the past two seasons. When asked about his future plans, Whelan responded, “We will run the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule in 2007.” When asked whether he was in negotiation with a driver for 2007, Whelan said, “I’m not planning on talking to anyone before we finish the season.” Before teaming up with Whelen, Christopher drove cars owned by Danbury, CT businessman Jim Galante.
  On a sad note it was learned that Bobby Sprague and George Greco Sr had passed away.

Five years ago in 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series wrapped up their 2011 season at the Thompson Speedway. Ron Silk came into the event with a 59 point lead over Todd Szegedy. Thirty four cars made up the car count. The seat in the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 was still warm after the exit of Mike Stefanik when Ryan Preece strapped in. Preece wasted little time as he adjusted to his new ride in short order as he garnered the pole position for the season ending World Series 150. Preece toured the 5/8 mile oval on 18.634 seconds. Second fastest was Doug Coby who had a time of 18.655 seconds. Stefanik drove the car he normally drives in Modified Racing Series events and qualified17th at 18.901 seconds. Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five. Point leader Ron Silk qualified 8th fastest. The only casualty was Matt Hirschman who slammed the wall during qualifying. Hirschman was allowed to take a provisional spot.
  The World Series drew a total of 273 cars including 34 Whelen Tour Modifieds, 16 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds, 28 Supers, 22 Super Late Models and 25 Midgets.
  The Whelen Modified Tour Series provided some intense drama during the running of the event which didn't see the championship finalized until the final moments of the event. The drama began on lap 52 when Silk and Tony Ferrante Jr spun and crashed into the first turn wall after hitting some oil that leaked out of the car of Timmy Solomito. While Ferrante suffered the most damage and had to be double hooked to the infield Silk was able to drive away with quite a bit of damage to his left front suspension. Once in his pit box the Eddie Partridge led crew went to work to repair the damage only to have to stop as the field went under a red flag while the oil was cleaned up that was spilled. After a short period the field went back under caution and work resumed on the Silk machine. When Silk finally re-entered the competition on lap 62 he was 10 laps down to the leader, Szegedy and it was thought that all was lost as far as the championship was concerned. Needless to say, Silk and the Partridge team kept digging and because of numerous cautions were awarded free passes under the rules which got them within three laps in arrears of Szegedy. Szegedy still had the title in hand until lap 148 when he got collected when Ken Heagy and Woody Pitkat tangled between turns three and four and collected Szegedy, shearing off his right front wheel which was the deciding factor. Silk finished 16th four laps down with 2,443 points with a 76 point cushion over Szegedy, who finished 25th. Both competitors were deserving of the title but it just wasn't in the cards for Szegedy, the 2003 champion, to win it. Congratulations to Silk along with his car owners, Eddie and Connie Partridge and their entire race team. Silk and the No. 6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet team will be honored as part of the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, N.C.
  Glen Reen scored somewhat of an upset as he took the win in a wild event that saw a season-high 16 cautions and the maximum three green-white-checker events attempts for his first career victory. Reen took the lead on lap 142 from Justin Bonsignore and watched in his mirror as his competition was eliminated. Pole sitter Ryan Preece, who had recently taken over the seat of the Flamingo Motorsports entry that was formerly driven by Mike Stefanik, was on cruise control for the first 36 laps, was eliminated in a wreck on lap 145 when he broke a tie rod. Stefanik, who finished ninth in a new tour ride, was running fourth on lap 155 when he went for an opening on the backstretch and triggered a wreck that eliminated Justin Bonsignore and Ted Christopher who were running second and third. Stefanik said, "the 51 moved up and I filled up the hole between him and Christopher". "Once I got in there", he added, "they didn't give me any room". Doug Coby and Daniel Hemric who were running second and third behind Reen on a lap 160 restart got together shortly after taking the green. Hemric, from Kanapolis, NC, was driving the Roger Hill No.79 and found himself in the turn one wall and Coby spun. NASCAR Control felt that Coby was overaggressive and placed him one lap down. It was later clarified that NASCAR did not penalize him for overaggression as he was the one who was taken out by the 79 on that late restart. "I was penalized for passing cars under caution to attempt to get my second place spot back", he said. Brian Vance, the Tour Race Director, afterwards acknowledged that the one lap penalty was more a result of his frustration with all of the drivers for how the race was ending, and acknowledged that it may in fact have been inconsistent with other calls he made that day with regards to other drivers who were incorrectly lined up on the racetrack. On the final restart for a green-white-checker finish Reen watched in amazement as Tom Rogers and Bobby Santos went at it as they almost wrecked. In a gut move, going into turn three on the final lap, Santos sunk the Mystic Missile in deep and took over the second spot behind Reen. Rogers, who had gotten roughed up a bit by Santos, finished fifth. Matt Hirschman brought Ole Blu home in third while Chuck Hossfeld finished fourth. Sixth through tenth were Keith Rocco, Eric Beers, Patrick Emerling, Stefanik and Eric Goodale.
  In other World Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Chris Perley turned in a dominating performance in the International Super Modifed Association (ISMA) 50-lapper to score the victory. Russ Stoehr scored top honors in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) ranks. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Ryan Preece outlasted the field in a rough-and-tumble Sunoco Modified feature. Derek Ramstrom scored his sixth Super Late Model race to cap off the 2011 season at Thompson and Corey Hutchings survived numerous restarts in the Late Model main event to score the win.
  Following a full day of practice and qualifying at Thompson on Saturday, ten (10) feature events were run. In Thompson regular weekly divisions it was Scott Sundeen scoring the victory in the Limited Sportsman division; Cam McDermott in the TIS Modifieds; and Chad Baxter in the Mini Stocks. Scoring Outlaw division victories were Rick Gentes (Late Models), Mike O’Sullivan (Street Stocks) and Richard Fournier (Mini Stocks). Frank Cardile capitalized in the Sunoco Lite Main event to score the victory. Jason Lafayette opened up the World Series feature festivities with a victory in the N.E. Trucks Series. Andy Lindeman led green-to-checker to win the companion Truck Series Shootout. Dan Meservey, Jr. earned the victory in the Harry Kourafas Memorial event for the Pro-Four Modifieds.
  Down in the south land, Tim Brown ended his year-long NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour winless streak with a victory he called one of his biggest of his career. The Cana, Va., veteran scored his seventh career win Thursday night in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on the quarter-mile on the front stretch at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was Brown's first trip to Victory Lane since Sept. 4, 2010 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.
  Brown took the lead from George Brunnhoelzl on a Lap 123 restart and led the rest of the way.
  Brunnhoelzl, the points leader, finished second on a day in which he won the Coors Light Pole Award and led a race-high 124 laps. Brunnhoelzl will take a 150-point lead over Andy Seuss, who finished fourth, into the season finale on Oct. 22 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. Defending race winner Burt Myers finished third and his brother, Jason, was fifth. There were 18 cars that went to post in the 150 lap event.
  After a short reincarnation as an asphalt track, it was announced that the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY would go back to being a dirt track as it would be run by Lebanon Valley promoter Howard Commander. He had secured a leasing deal with the Richards family while they continued to pursue the sale of the track.
  On a sad note, veteran driver Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time in 2011, died from injuries suffered Sunday when his car was entangled in a horrific, 15-car wreck early in the IndyCar series' season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Englishman was 33.
  Matt Kenseth won the Sprint Cup event held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards was the Nationwide Series winner.

  Last year, 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season at the Thompson Motorsports Park Thompson Speedway. Thirty four cars were on hand. Doug Coby took home the Coors Light Pole Award. A lap of 18.566 seconds (121.189 mph) secured Coby his 10th career pole. Timmy Solomito qualified second and Ted Christopher was third. In addition, taking the pole Saturday at Thompson earned Coby a $12,500 award bonus to be split with his crew chief Phil Moran thanks to Doug Dunleavy of Dunleavy Truck and Trailers.
  Just as the Modifieds began their pace laps a snow squall descended upon the speedway. The threat of snow did not hinder Doug Coby’s efforts. Coby clearly dominated the event as he scored his seventh win of the season and with it, the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Coby took the lead on the back chute on lap one and held it until pitting on lap 90. Patrick Emerling and then Justin Bonsignore swapped the lead until Coby took control for good with five laps to go. Following Coby and Bonsignore at the finish was Timmy Solomito and Todd Szegedy. If there was an award for determination it should go to Woody Pitkat who finished fifth. Pitkat was a front runner at the start but by lap 15 his day took a downward spiral. After losing power he was rear ended by Eric Goodale. In the process he lost two laps. After his crew made repairs and a couple of Lucky Dogs, Pitkat found himself inside of the top ten by the half way mark. His Hammer Down style of racing got him back to finishing fifth when the checkered flag waved. Sixth through tenth were Patrick Emerling, Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, Chase Dowling and Donny Lia.
  Fall came on strong at Thompson as fans and competitors were greeted with blustery 45 degree weather. First up was the Limited Sportsman division which saw Corey Hutchins take the win while Scott Sundeen beat out Larry Barnett for the division championship.
  In the Sunoco Modified (SK type) 30 lapper Ryan Preece recovered from an early race falter to take the lead and eventual win from Woody Pitkat with two laps remaining. Pitkat lost the battle but it was Pitkat garnering the championship, his second of the weekend. Kerry Malone finished third with Ted Christopher and Ryan Morgan turning in a strong run to round out the top five.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the World Series at Thompson with 29 cars strong. Qualifying heats were run on Friday night with Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat and Eric Berndt scoring wins. The Valenti Modified Racing Series crowned its champion as well in Woody Pitkat who started on the pole for the 50-lap feature and ran in the top three for the duration of the event to clinch the title. Pitkat only needed a top three finish to best Chris Pasteryak for the championship and after starting on the pole Pitkat’s victory was seldom in doubt. Pasteryak gave it his best shot, finally cracking the top five after a lap 35 caution, but Pitkat held on strong and finished second in the event to Keith Rocco to claim his first Valenti Modified Racing Series title. The championship is also a first for car owner Peter Kulessa. Rocco’s victory brought his career total to 210 wins. Dave Ethridge finished third with Jon McKennedy, fourth. Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.
  The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park crowned it’s first of fourteen champions that would be named over weekend as the track kicked off the biggest racing weekend in New England on Friday, October 16th, the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, presented by XtraMart. Friday’s racing action featured the first feature event of the weekend, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model season.
  Brian Tagg recovered from early race set backs, working his way to fourth, one position behind Keith Rocco, which would have secured him the championship. With less than two laps to go Rocco made a big move to pass Jeff Smith for second, putting himself two spots ahead of Tagg and in position to win the Late Model championship without winning a single event on the year. With the biggest move of the night, Tagg, who would not be defeated, passed Smith on the final lap to claim third place and win the championship by a single point, while Larry Gelinas went on the win the race. The event also marked the final race for Danielson, CT native, Glenn Boss, who finished fifth.
  The second night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing weekend saw eight champions crowned over the span of nine feature events throughout the evening with the centerpiece of the night’s racing action being the long awaited return of the American Canadian Late Model Tour (ACT) for the first time since 1992.
  The 100-lap feature saw some of the best Late Model drivers in both the United States and over the border in Canada take to the track as the series crowned it’s latest champion, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and saw the possible end of a storied career for one of the series most successful stars. While Helliwell took home the big trophy at the end of the night the race itself saw a victory for Brian Hoar who scored his 42nd career victory in the series and capped off the night with a major announcement. “I’m just really excited,” said Hoar who expanded on his record setting series-high win total. “It’s been a really emotional road for me the past couple of weeks because I made the decision to hang the helmet up for a while. This is it for a little while.”
  Other Saturday winners at Thompson were NEMA Midgets, Randy Cabral, Mini Stocks, Louis Belisle, North East Street Stocks, Ed Puleo, New England Trucks, Bert Oullette, New England Pro Four Modifieds, Dave Richardi and Lite Modifieds, Tony Membrino.
  Sunday winners, in addition to the Whelen Modifieds and the Sunoco Modifieds were Corey Hutchings in the Limited Sportsman, Dave Shullick in the Super Modifieds and Scott Bigelow in the NEMA Lites.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup competition at the Kansas Speedway, Matt Kenseth led a race-high 160 laps in a race he needed to win to clinch a spot in the Eliminator round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but contact between Kenseth and Logano with four laps to go sent Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota spinning. Logano held off Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson on a green-white-checkered restart to score his second win in a row.
  Kyle Busch overcame a pit-road speeding penalty, damage to his Toyota Camry suffered when he hit pieces of a SAFER barrier during a late-race yellow flag and a green-white-checkered finish to win the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

  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 21, 2016

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