November 11, 2016
Fifty five years ago in 1961 Wild Bill Slater won the season
ending 35 lap Modified feature at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Ed
Moody was the Bomber feature winner.
Fifty years ago in 1966, Ernie Gahan
won the Nascar National Modified Championship. Finishing second in his first
year of NASCAR Modified competition was Carl Bugsy Stevens. Ray Hendrick
finished third. Don MacTavish was the Sportsman Champion. Following
MacTavish in the standings were Wild Bill Slater, Rene Charland, Ralph
Earnhardt, Bill Wimble, Tiny Lund, Joe Thurman, Pete Hamilton and Andre
Manny. David Pearson was the Grandnational (Nextel) Cup Champion
Forty five years ago in 1971, NASCAR
declared Jerry Cook the National Modified Champion. For the year, Cook
entered 74 sanctioned events. Of those, he recorded four wins and 44 top
tens, including 28 top fives. Cooks win percentage was 5%. Fred DeSarro
finished second. DeSarro entered 66 events and recorded 19 wins and 31 top
tens including 28 top fives. DeSarro's win percentage was 29%.Bugsy Stevens
finished third in points. Stevens entered 58 events and recorded 25 wins and
33 top tens including 25 top fives. Stevens' win percentage was 43%. Richard
Petty was the Grandnational (Nextel) Cup Champion.
Forty years ago in 1976, Jerry
Cook was still chasing points and was again the Nascar Modified National
Champion. Among the track champions in the northeast were Fred DeSarro at
Stafford and Thompson, Bobby Santos at Westboro, Geoff Bodine in the Yankee
All Star League, George Murray at Seekonk, Bob Potter at Waterford, Punky
Caron at Monadnock and Claremont, Fred Harbach at Islip and New Egypt,
Charlie Jarzombek at Freeport and Riverhead, Richie Evans at Spencer,
Maynard Troyer at Lancaster, Sonney Seamon at Shangri-La, George Kent at
Fulton, Bob Polverari at Riverside, Jim Shampine at Oswego, Will Cagle on
the DIRT Circuit and Jim Hendrickson at Wall Stadium. Cale Yarborough was
the Winston Cup Champion.
Thirty five years ago in 1981, Richie
Evans was the Nascar National Modified Champion. Evans also recorded track
championships at Stafford and Thompson in addition to the World Series title
at New Smyrna. Other champions of note included George "Moose" Hewitt in the
Modifieds at Waterford, Harry Rice in the Superstocks, also at Waterford,
Rit Patchen at Danbury, Wayne Anderson at Islip, Jerry Marquis was the
Limited Sportsman Champ at Stafford, Punky Caron at Monadnock, Jeff Fuller
at Westboro, George Kent at Spencer and Shangri-La, Bugsy Stevens at
Seekonk, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, Stash Gregger at Riverside, John
Blewett Jr at New Egypt, Doug Hevron in the Supers at Oswego, Mike Weeden at
Lee and Darrell Waltrip was the Winston Cup Champion. Last but not least,
Ronnie Bouchard was named NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.
Thirty years ago in 1986, the following champions were
announced. Dale Earnhardt, Winston Cup, Larry Pearson, Busch Grandnational,
NASCAR Modified-Jim Spencer, NASCAR Northeast Region-George Kent. Kent also
won the Shangri-La track championship. Wayne Anderson at New Egypt, Reggie
Ruggiero at New Smyrna, Bob Potter at Waterford plus Perfect
Circle-Waterford, Stafford and Thompson combined, Bentley Warren in the
Supers and Brian Ross in the Modifieds at Oswego, Mike Stefanik at Stafford,
Wayne Dion in the SK's at both Stafford and Thompson, Jan Leaty at Spencer,
Ken Troyer at Lancaster, John Rosati-Modified and Tom Rosati-Pro Stock at
Riverside, John Blewett Jr at Riverhead and Tom Mauser at Wall Stadium.
Twenty five years ago in 1991, Dale
Earnhardt was the Winston Cup Champion and Bob Labonte was the Busch
Grandnational champ. Ricky Craven was the GN North (Busch North Series)
champion and Mike Stefanik was the Modified Tour Champion. Jerry Marquis was
the NASCAR Northeast Regional champ plus was the track champion at Riverside
Park and Monadnock. Other track champions were Mike Ewanitsko at New Smyrna,
Wayne Anderson at Riverhead, Lee Sherwood at Shangri-La, Mike Christopher in
the SK's at Thompson, Bob Potter in the SK's at Stafford and Ricky Young in
the SK's at Waterford.
Twenty years ago in 1996, Tony
Hirschman was crowned the Featherlite Modified Champion. Following Hirschman
were Steve Park, Ricky Fuller, Jan Leaty, Mike Stefanik, Tim Connolly, Jerry
Marquis and Ed Flemke Jr. Taking track championships were Tom Baldwin at New
Smyrna, Doug Diderio at Oswego, Ted Christopher at Stafford, Dave Berube at
Riverside, Jim Broderick at Waterford, Chuck Steuer at Riverhead, Siege
Fidenza at Lancaster, Dave Dion in the Busch North Series and Randy Lajoie
made it two in a row in the Busch South Series.
Fifteen years ago in 1991, the NASCAR
Featherlite Modified Tour Series held their awards banquet where Mike
Stefanik and Art Barry were officially crowned series champions. During the
evening, a 19-race schedule for 2002 was announced as well as a general
increase in race purses. NASCAR stated that there was a TV package in the
works. The First Annual Len Boehler Dedication to Modified Racing Award was
presented to Bob Garbarino who has built and owned Modifieds since the
mid-60s. Ted Christopher received the Gatorade Front Runner Award, Ricky
Miller, the Rookie of the Year Award and David Berghman, most improved.
Ten years ago in 2006 The Waterford
Speedbowl closed out their racing season with an event they called Double
Down. Dennis Gada, who earlier in the season won his sixth championship,
added to his resume on Saturday by winning both ends of the Modified segment
of the season-ending Double Down Shoot Out. The two 25-lap victories brought
Gada’s SK Modified career win total to 50. Dwayne Dorr, the 2006 Sportsman
champ, set a record with his 11th victory in the first 15 lap Sportsman
feature. Dorr, who finished fourth behind second feature winner Richard
Staskowski in the second feature was also the overall winner. Corey
Hutchings, Jeff Miller, Joe Godbout, Ken Cassidy Jr. were also winners as
the concept proved a success. The second feature lined up with lead lap
finishers from the first in reverse order. Jason Palmer passed Chris Bakaj
with eight laps left to win the Legends race and Joey Payne Jr. dominated
the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association race.
In other Speedbowl news, according to a report on Gary Danko's Speedway
Line Report Radio Show Monday night, the Speedbowl would be in operation for
the 2007 season. Reportedly it should be announced within a week that the
Speedbowl is being leased. It's reported that General Manager Bill Roth will
remain at the Speedbowl in his current position. It is probably a majority
of opinions the Speedbowl would not have survived 2006 without the efforts
of Bill Roth and now retired PR Director Pete Zanardi. It remained to be
seen, if true, how this would effect foreclosure proceedings on the property
which have been put on hold by the court until June 2007. It was also
rumored that current Speedbowl owner Terry Eames would not have any further
connection with the operation of the track.
In other racing action, the Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, NC was
the site of the North-South Shootout featuring the Hoosier 100 for the
Modifieds along with a 50-lap main event for the SK-Type Modifieds.
Practice and qualifying were the orders of the day on Friday. There were
36 Modifieds and 31 SK Modifieds on the track for practice. By the time
qualifying began the cars counts changed to 46 Modifieds and 34 SK’s. Time
trials showed that Matt Hirschman was the fastest with southerner Burt
Meyers, second fastest. Bob Grigas was third with Brian Pack, fourth.
Rounding out the top five was Bobby Santos III in the Whelen No. 36 that was
formerly driven by Ted Christopher. Christopher was 12th fastest in the Joe
Brady No. 00. Long Islander Tom Rogers was the fastest of the SK’s. Wall
Township Speedway regular Tom Farrell was second fastest. Ronnie Silk was
the only New Englander to break the top five. For most of those on hand it
was like being at home in New England as temperatures dropped to the high
20’s once the sun went down.
The cold weather carried over to Saturday but the racers used their heads
for the most part and dealt with it. Tom Rogers won the SK Modified 50
lapper. Bobby Santos III came from 14th spot to finish second. Woody Pitkat,
who started 15th, finished third. Earl Paules and Tom Cravenho rounded out
the top five. Matt Hirschman won the 100 lap Modified Shootout. Ted
Christopher finished second. Eric Beers came from 31st position to finished
third with Earl Paules, fourth. Defending race winner John Blewett III
rounded out the top five. It was a shame that Bobby Santos III never got to
show his stuff in the Whelen 36 as he was collected in a grinding crash on
Hirschman brought the field to green to start the 100 laps of green flag
racing in the Hoosier Modified 100 with Burt Myers and Bobby Grigas taking
chase. Defending race champion John Blewett was already on the move going
three wide on lap three to grab two spots. The potential of a good night
ended for Grigas when he received the black flag for a fluid leak. Still
under race conditions, Chuck Hossfeld was hounding Myers for the second spot
with Blewett in hot pursuit. Blewett marched into third over Hossfeld on lap
13 and immediately set his sites on Myers. A single lap later Blewett was
second. Christopher was working his way into contention. The first caution
of the event flew on lap 17 for contact between Santos, Andy Seuss, and
Ronnie Silk. Several competitors took advantage of the yellow to make their
mandatory pit stop. On the restart Hirschman led Jo. Blewett, Myers, Ted
Christopher and Hossfeld inside the top five. Hirschman and Blewett began to
pull away from third-running Myers. George Brunnhoelzl, Jr., making his
first Modified start of the season, brought out the yellow on lap two for an
incident that also involved Daren Scherer. During the caution period, the
leader headed down pit road, taking southern competitors Brian Loftin and
Jason Myers along for the ride. John Blewett was the new leader when the
green flag few again. B. Myers, Hossfeld, Christopher and now Todd Szegedy
occupied the top five positions. B. Myers tried mounting a challenge on
Blewett but had to settle back in line. This provided the opportunity for
Hossfeld to make it a three-car battle for the top spot. On lap 26, Hossfeld
grabbed the second position from B. Myers. Szegedy and NSS newcomer Les
Hinckley teamed up to work their way to the front. On lap 31 they each
gained a position by passing Christopher. Three laps later they made their
way past B. Myers. Recently crowned Northern Modified Tour
Rookie-of-the-Year James Civalli spun in turn four to bring out the events
third caution on lap 36. A host of front-running cars ducked down pit road
including John Blewett, B. Myers, Christopher, Beers and Brian Pack.
Hossfeld inherited the lead on the restart but looked strong at the head of
the pack. Hossfeld held the top spot over Hinckley, Hirschman, Paulus, and
Loftin. A heated battle between Paulus and Loftin was slowed by a caution
for a spinning Anthony Sesely on lap 36. Back under green, the Paulus-Loftin
battle continued with Loftin coming out on top. Loftin, now fourth,
immediately began to pressure Hirschman for third. Hossfeld began to pull
away from Hinckley. The Southern ace was able to get third from Hirschman;
but not for long. On lap 44, Hirschman rocketed back by through the dogleg.
Earlier front-runner, B. Myers spun in turn four to bring out the caution on
lap 46. The caution was trouble for Szegedy, who headed down pit road for an
unscheduled pit stop. The lap counter hit halfway with Chuck Hossfeld
leading. The Hillbilly Racing team pocketed $500 for leading lap 50 courtesy
of DMC Auto Exchange. Hirschman was back into the second position and
looking for more. Paulus sat in the third spot with a new face of Rick Kluth
in fourth. A single lap later, incidental contact between John Blewett and
Lia ended with Lia in the outside wall. Sesely, Seuss, and Hinckley spun
during the incident as well. B. Myers received heavy damage to his car when
Lia tried to drive away from the scene, collecting Myers. Hossfeld, the only
car yet to make the mandatory stop, headed to pit road for service.
Hirschman was the new leader when racing resumed. Paulus, Kluth, Blewett and
Christopher rounded out the top-five. With Hirschman and Paulus pulling away
slightly, the best battle on the track was for fifth position between
Blewett and Beers. Christopher began to show his muscle as well. On lap 53,
Christopher took third from Kluth and began to reel in the leaders. Kluth
fell into the clutches of Beers. There was a scary moment for Hirschman on
lap 70 when Gene Pack and Ryan Preece spun in the leaders path to bring out
the caution. Unfazed, Hirschman jumped out to a comfortable lead on the
restart. Paulus continued to run in second over Christopher, Blewett and
Beers. The action at the back of the pack was heated with several rows of
side-by-side racing. A spin by Billy Pauch, Jr. brought out the seventh
yellow on lap 76. Christopher took advantage of the restart to make a bid on
Paulus while Beers made a run on Blewett. Neither was able to make the pass
stick. On lap 80, Paulus had reached the back bumper of Hirschman. He, too,
had to settle back into line. The final caution of the event flew on lap 85
for a spin by Hinckley. With a collective groan from the grandstand area,
the South’s favorite son, Junior Miller was forced down pit road under the
caution with an oil leak. The final 15-laps found Hirschman getting some
breathing room as Paulus, Christopher and Beers went nose to tail. On lap
94, Christopher was able to muscle his way by Paulus for second. Beers, who
lost a cylinder during the event, was still able to follow through to move
his ailing #9 into the third position.
Hirschman cruised to the victory in the prestigious North-South Shootout.
Hirschman was greeted in victory lane by his legendary father Tony and his
teary eyed mother, Brenda. It was a big win for the young and rising star.
In addition to his $9,000 plus bounty, Hirschman was also presented with a
custom-painted helmet to commemorate his victory and a shotgun-a fitting
trophy for Hirschman who symbolically gunned down the competition.
One of the Whelen Modified Tour Series top crew chiefs and fabricators
packed his bags and headed south. Phil Moran had taken a position with Bill
Davis Racing in North Carolina which fields NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch
Series cars. Moran had been behind the efforts of Todd Szegedy and at one
time was a fabricator at Spearpoint Auto. Moran also spent considerable time
at the Carl and Charlie Pasteryak racing garage. Tom Baldwin, Jr. apparently
had hired Phil to be in charge of the chassis shop. Baldwin had also hired
Steve Aspinwall from the Mystic Missile team for a position at Bill Davis
At the Texas Motor Speedway Tony Stewart, a two-time Nextel Cup champion
made it two in a row as he earned his 29th career win. He also won in
September at Kansas by gambling on gas and coasted under the checkered flag.
But Stewart was dominating a week previous at Atlanta, leading 146 of 325
laps, and even stronger this week. Jimmie Johnson finished second. An
unidentified crewman for Scott Riggs' team knocked driver Kevin Harvick, his
wife and a NASCAR official to the ground on pit road Sunday, minutes after
the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It was apparently in retaliation
for an incident late in the race. Harvick was close behind Riggs when the
latter crashed while running third on lap 332 of the 339-race event. It
appeared Harvick's car took the air off the rear deck of Riggs' car and
Riggs was unable to maintain control. Harvick won the preliminary Busch 300
that was run on Saturday.
Five years ago in 2011, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour Series had wrapped up their 2011 season. The wheels
continued to turn as competitors continued to make their plans for 2012.
Among those who may not be running a full schedule is Mike Stefanik.
Stefanik vacated the seat in the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 just prior to
the season ending World Series at the Thompson Speedway. Stefanik drove the
Ed Marceau Modified at Thompson but does not have a Tour ride secured at
this time. Marceau and Stefanik have been successful in running limited
Valenti Modified Racing Series events and in open competition Tour type
events at Thompson. Marceau felt that his car could compete with the best of
them but financially there is no way he could field a car for the Whelen
Modified Tour Series. Stefanik's wife Julie has had health issues and maybe
the multi-time series champion may take a step back in 2012. As a competitor
and fabricator Stefanik can be proud of his accomplishments and has nothing
to left to prove.
Bobby Santos III came up a little short in defending his Whelen Modified
Tour title but in the USAC Sprint Cars he excelled as he won the first USAC
Sprint Car Pavement Series championship. Santos won two of the seven races
In Sprint Cup racing at Martinsville, Tony Stewart won this one by
passing Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps to go. The victory was
Stewart’s third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and vaulted him into
second place in the standings, eight points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Stewart won for the 42nd time in his career.
Last year, 2015, there appeared to be
a lot of rumblings of unrest in NASCAR's Whelen Modified Tour Series'
competitors. Robert Our had shut down his Modified team and Eddie Partridge
had indicated that he may shut his team down pending Ryan Preece's future
plans. It also looked like the Buzz Chew team was thinking of testing the
dirt racing waters. Much has been said how NASCAR handled some of their
calls this past season especially the Doug Coby-Ryan Preece incident at
Loudon in September. NASCAR had been consistently inconsistent with their
calls of rough riding. Couple that with increasing costs of running the tour
spells possible short fields for next year. Thanks to the efforts of NBC
Sports Net those who live outside of the northeast got to see a great brand
of racing with tight competition. It would be a shame to see it go away.
Ryan Preece had the opportunity of a life time as he secured a NASCAR
Sprint Cup ride for the final four events of the 2015 season including
Martinsville, the Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix and the series ending event
at the Homestead Speedway in Florida. At Martinsville, an inner axle broke
spreading grease all over rear tires. Changed axles and he came back out at
the end, finishing 42nd.
On the local front in New England the Thompson Motorsports Park Thompson
Speedway was expected to announce their 2016 oval track schedule which is
rumored to be expanding. Thompson's Wednesday night racing programs were
extremely popular this past year and had the reputation of getting the fans
on the way home at an early hour. The recent World Series drew a total of
342 cars that raced in 15 different divisions which crowned 14 champions.
Thanks to the efforts of Bruce Bemer and Shawn Monihan the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl enjoyed a successful rebirth. Very little
negativity emerged from the shoreline oval that was all but run in the
ground by the former owner-operator. The Speedbowl enjoyed the best of
competition and extremely healthy car counts. Scott Tapley, who had been the
Speedbowl's race director has resigned his position to take a similar post
at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in Martinsville, VA, Jeff Gordon punched his
ticket to the Championship round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by
scoring his 93rd career win, the first in his final season, with only
darkness and clouds covering the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.
Joey Logano started from the pole in an attempt to win his fourth
consecutive race, and was in command for most of the afternoon. He led 207
laps and built a solid lead on a late restart before Matt Kenseth drilled
him into the first turn wall in a payback move.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit