March 31, 2017
Fifty years ago in 1967, the Dogwood 300 was run at Martinsville
to open the season. Ray Hendrick in the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11 cleaned
Forty five years ago in 1972, it was
quiet in the northeast as the NASCAR Modifieds were at Hickory, NC. for a
125 lap event. Richie Evans took the win over Geoff Bodine, Gerald Compton,
Satch Worley and John Bryant.
Forty years ago in 1977, Bugsy
Stevens took the Small Block Modified portion of the season opening Ice
Breaker at Thompson. Leo Cleary finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, Dick
Caso and Ollie Silva rounding out the top five. The event was marred by an
accident that took the life of Dave Peterson. This incident was the
beginning of a scandal, which led to one of the speedway employees getting
put in an embarrassing position when it was discovered that pit sign-in
sheets were missing, and Petersons name was found added on a sheet where it
Thirty five years ago in 1982, after a rain out the previous
week, the Modifieds returned to Martinsville for the NASCAR Modified season
opener. Forty-seven Modifieds were on hand. Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter
but it was Greg Sacks in the Ernie Wilsberg No.5 that ruled the roost. It
was the beginning of a storybook season for Sacks and Wilsberg as they would
win just about every major race during the course of the season. Richie
Evans finished second with Jim Spencer, third. Roger Treichler, Reggie
Ruggiero, Jamie Tomaino, Bob Polverari, Doug Hewitt, Doug Hevron and Ralph
Brinkley would round out the top ten. Attrition was quite high as only 12 of
the original 40 starters were running at the end of 250 laps. Among the
dnf's were Tom Druar, Geoff Bodine and Roger Hill who lost engines, Jerry
Cook overheated and wrecks eliminated Wayne Anderson, Tom Baldwin, John
Blewett Jr and George Summers. Sam Ard won the late model portion of the
Thirty years ago in 1987, Riverside
Park Speedway opened for the season with a 100 lapper. Jim Spencer took the
win. Mike Stefanik finished second with Tom Bolles, third. At the Thompson
Ice Breaker on Sunday, Spencer made it two for two on the weekend as he beat
George Summers and Corky Cookman to the stripe. Spencer started fifth and
took the lead on lap 60 of the 125-lap event. In victory lane, Spencer, who
finished second in 1986, stated, "Charlie taught me how to win this race ".
Jarzombek had passed away a week earlier at Martinsville. In SK-Modified
action, Richie Gallup took the win over Mike Christopher, Marcel L'Etiole
and Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Dale Earnhardt
took the lead and the win on the last lap when Bill Elliott ran out of gas.
Earnhardt also won the Busch Grandnational event held on Saturday. Geoff
Bodine finished second.
Twenty five years ago in 1992, after
hitting the wall at Martinsville the previous week, Jeff Fuller was on a
mission at the Ice Breaker at Thompson. Fuller took the lead on lap 76 of
the 125-lap event and never looked back as he redeemed himself with a hard
fought win. Mike McLaughlin, in the Art Barry No.21, had the misfortune of
hitting the wall in Saturday practice. The Barry crew worked all night
putting a new snout on the car. Starting last, McLaughlin rewarded their
efforts as he finished second. Tom Baldwin finished third and was followed
by Steve Park, Tom Bolles, Jan Leaty, Tim Connolly, Wayne Anderson and
Charlie Pasteryak. Eddie StAngelo was the winner of the SK-Modified event.
Bob Potter finished second with Ted Christopher, Ronnie Rocco and Mike
Christopher rounding out the top five.
Twenty years ago in 1997, it was
Easter Weekend. The only action was at Hickory where Dick Trickle took the
Grandnational win over Randy LaJoie.
Fifteen years ago in 2002, NASCAR’s
Winston Cup and Busch Grandnationals were idle because of the Easter
weekend. The Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey opened under new
management. Frank Polimedia went pole to pole to win the opener. John
Blewett III finished second with Dave Michael, third. Jimmy Blewett and
Harry Reed rounded out the top five. The southern modified series SMART had
a scheduled event at Caraway in North Carolina, which was rained out
Ten years ago in 2007, The Southern
New England countryside came alive with the sound of engines roaring as the
Waterford Speedbowl opened for their 57th season. The shoreline oval opened
under new management on Saturday and Sunday. A new and rejuvenated look plus
an entirely different attitude on the part of all new management greeted
fans and competitors. The Speedbowl had been the scene of a “Big Dig” as a
huge septic cement tank has been installed. As Pete Zanardi stated, “Our cup
no longer overflowith”. Thanks to the hard work of the new management the
tracks rest rooms have been put back in working order. No longer would hip
boots be required in order to enter the rest rooms. Thousands of dollars
were spent in the grandstand area which showed a lot of progress.
Sunny skies greeted competitors and fans at the Speedbowl on Saturday for
Bud Nationals qualifying. Outside invaders Jimmy Blewett, Matt Hirschman and
Kenny Horton blew away the Waterford regulars in SK Modified time trials as
they took the top spots. Blewett toured the 1/3 mile oval in 14.233 seconds.
Waterford regulars Tommy Fox and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five.
Among those who failed to make the cut for the top 20 was six time track
champion David Gada who was forced to run in the Last Chance 25 lap
consolation event. Thirty one SK Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the
28 starting spots. Jeff Paul won the Last Chance event. Tyler Chadwick
finished second with Dennis Gada, nursing a sick engine, finishing third.
The more things change at the Speedbowl the more things stay the same.
Jeff Pearl ended up having the biggest day of his career as he won the SK
Modified portion of the Bud Nationals on Sunday. The new management showed
hope and promise for the shoreline oval but a general house cleaning of
those in charge of the on track action was sorely needed. Confusion and
indecision by track officials dragged out the many caution periods. Case in
point, Jimmy Blewett was put to the rear for an accident that involved Frank
Ruocco and Doug Coby. They were running second and third when they tangled
first in turn two and then in turn three where they spun. Blewett, who was
running fourth at the time avoided the spinning cars and went low to take
over second. Needless to say, the track made a bad call when they said he
was involved and had to go to the rear with 11 laps remaining in the 150 lap
feature. In plain English, Blewett and his car owner Eddie Partridge were
royally screwed by the Speedbowl race officials. Funny thing though, with
only four laps remaining local runner Shawn Monahan deliberately turned
Tyler Chadwick, another local runner into the first turn fence. Nothing was
said or done about this incident. Track racing director Steve Harraka made
the final call in the Blewett incident and turned a blind eye in the Monahan
The SK Modified 150 took the green at 4:02pm and finished up at 5:30.
Jimmy Blewett took the lead at the start with Kenny Horton and Frank Ruocco
in tow. By lap 25 Blewett began having handling problems in the turns and on
lap 30 gave way to Ruocco. Blewett began backing up as Don Fowler shot into
the second spot. Rob Summers passed both Ruocco and Fowler on lap 46. Just
shy of half way with Summers leading Fowler and Horton, Blewett was hit and
spun in the third turn by Rob Janovic. Blewett pitted with a flat left rear
and returned with an all new set of tires for the run to the finish. By lap
125 Blewett had worked his way back to the top five It was actually lap 136
when Ruocco and Coby tangled. Between the Blewett fiasco and the Monahan
dumping incident the race was settled in a three lap sprint which saw Jeff
Pearl running wheel to wheel with Matt Hirschman with Pearl winning by
inches. Summers ended up third with Frank Ruocco, fourth and Shawn Monahan,
fifth. Sixth through tenth were Wendell Dailey, Dave Sazarulo, Tyler
Chadwick, Jay Miller and Doug Coby. Blewett ended up 15th. Other winners
were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Models), Billy Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Joe
Godbout III (Mini Stocks) and Lou Ciccone (NEMA Midgets).
Andy Seuss scored his first career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
victory in breathtaking fashion on Sunday afternoon in the Whelen 150 at
Music City Motorplex. Seuss had to do it in overtime due to a late caution
that set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish. On the final restart,
the Hampstead, N.H. native was looking to hold off the second-place car of
Tim Brown. However Brown would not get up to speed and dropped back through
the pack while L.W. Miller moved up to the runner-up position where he
Jimmie Johnson withstood Jeff Gordon’s 53-lap challenge that included
plenty of banging Sunday and held him off by a bumper for his third NASCAR
Nextel Cup win in six races, the latest in Martinsville. Michael Waltrip
continued his streak of not qualifying as he missed the field for the fifth
Five years ago in 2012, Snow, rain
and a dismal forecast forced the Thompson International Speedway management
to postpone Saturday's open practice session for 24 hours. Among those
taking advantage of the early season practice session on Sunday were Whelen
Modified Tour Series competitors Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece, Ron Yuhas, Bryon
Chew, Eric Beers, Donny Lia, Patrick Emerling, Richie Pallai, Jr, Rob Fuller
and Eric Berndt.
The Waterford Speedbowl, one of the nations oldest and most historic
racing venues in the country, opened its gates for the 62nd consecutive
season-opener with the annual Budweiser Blastoff Weekend. In addition to the
shoreline ovals usual bill of fare the NEMA Midgets and the Valenti Modified
Racing Series on the racing card. Competitors waited out the rain finally
getting on the track to practice shortly after three PM. There were 25 SK
Modifieds and 28 Valenti Modified Racing Series Modifieds on hand.
First on tap for Sunday's main events were the SK Modifieds who ran a 62
lap feature. Tom Abele, Jr brought the field down for the green. His lead
was short lived as Todd Ceravolo stormed to the lead after a restart.
Ceravolo, with his future son-in-law Keith Rocco hot on his tail, led until
lap 14 when he gave way to the defending track champion. Rocco ran the rest
of the 62 lap distance without faltering as he captured his first win of
2012. It was his 37th career win at the Connecticut shoreline oval.
Ceravolo had a lock on the runner-up spot until less than five laps to go
when he was passed by Rob Janovic. Janovic ended up in second and was
followed by Ceravolo, Jeff Pearl and Doug Coby.
Jon McKennedy jumped out from his outside pole starting spot and led all
100 laps to record the win in the season opener for the Valenti Modified
Racing Series. McKennedy drove a car owned by Preston CTs Art Barry. Rowan
Pennink finished second with Norm Wrenn, third. Even though McKennedy went
pole to pole the event was far from boring. Pennink came from deep in the
field twice in the event and Wrenn, who came from a 26th starting spot,
overcame going a lap down at one point.
Rounding out the top five were Mike Holdridge and Dave Etheridge. Sixth
through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Tommy Barrett, Doug Coby, Les Hinckley
and Chris Pasteryak.
In other opening weekend action at Waterford, Keith Rocco doubled up,
taking down the win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division event.
Charles Beal of Ledyard was a first time Street Stock winner and Ken Cassidy
Jr. of Lisbon won the Mini Stock feature. Another first time winner found
victory lane in the NEMA Midget feature, as Louisville, KY driver John Zych
The Speedbowl also ran numerous feature races on Saturday. Picking up
wins included Paul French of Andover, who won the evening’s NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series SK Light Modified race, Ryan Bigelow of East Hampton who
found Victory Lane in the NEMA Light touring series race, and Corey Coates
of Ledyard who won in the visiting New England Truck Series. In INEX racing,
Dave Garbo Jr. of Stonington claimed the win in the opening day Legends Cars
feature and Jacob Urch in the afternoon’s Bandolero race. Other winners
included Jon Porter of Canterbury in Super X-Cars, Chris Garside of
Waterford in X-Cars and James Logan of Dighton, MA in the New England Four
Cylinder Pro Stock tour event.
Lou Modestino, who has been the Brockton, MA Enterprise's Motorsports Writer
for over four decades, announced that Ted Hebert, owner of Teddy Bear Pools
and Spas of Chicopee, Mass., has agreed to become an associate sponsor of
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday
night, May 12.
Following an idea created by Modified race fan Jim Schaefer at his home
track, the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, the Monadnock NASCAR WMT event
purse would be bolstered $5,000 by Teddy Bear Pools, the #1 Dealer of Pools
and Spas in all of Massachusetts. All competing drivers who sport a provided
Teddy Bear Pools sticker on their cars will be eligible to compete for the
added bonus money.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour series started their season with
a lot of heat both on and off the track, the Caraway Speedway in North
Carolina. A restart shortly after the halfway break set up a battle at the
front of the field, one that left Andy Seuss' car both out of contention and
destroyed. Contact with L.W. Miller's machine as the two tried to make
advances on eventual winner George Brunnhoelzl III, left both crews fuming
with one another and plenty of hot tempers on a warm spring night. Seuss
drove all the way from 12th on the starting grid to challenge for the lead
before Lap 100.
Brunnhoelzl was on the inside of the front row, with Seuss to his outside
and Miller behind them in third as the field raced through Turns 1 and 2 on
the Lap 95 restart. Contact sent sparks flying, and Seuss' car hit the
outside wall hard with the right front.
Brunnhoelzl went on to take the win. Jason Myers eased by Miller with two
laps to go and ended up second. Miller finished third. Rounding out the top
five were Brandon Ward and John Smith.
Congratulations went out to Tom Fox, a 30 plus year veteran of weekly
short track racing, who had joined the Stafford Motor Speedway staff as
Director of Racing Operations and Competition. Fox’s duties during the
season would entail working alongside Frank Sgambato Jr in the Race Control
booth during races and oversee post-race technical inspection in the CBYD
Inspection Zone. Fox joined the SMS staff for the final 4 races of the 2011
season as an observer to better prepare him for his 2012 duties.
As a former racer Fox knew quite well some of the frustrations and hard
work that a competitor must go through in order to get his car to the track
and in the competition with others on the track. It should be a good fit.
NASCAR has announced the 2012 race season programming for the NASCAR K&N
Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on the SPEED Channel. As in the
past, the Whelen Modifieds once again got what the cow left behind after
jumping over the fence.
The case of Jeremy Mayfield vs. NASCAR may finally be over. A three-judge
panel of 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled on the side of U.S.
District Judge Graham Mullen in his previous dismissal of the Mayfield’s
complaint against NASCAR.
Mayfield was suspended by NASCAR in May of 2009 after failing a random
drug test and later sued NASCAR and its Chairman Brian France for
defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices and breach of contract.
Mullen ruled that Mayfield had signed documents waiving his right to sue and
tossed the case out of court despite Mayfield’s arguments that
over-the-counter medications led to his positive test.
For the fourth time Kevin Harvick started on the pole for a NASCAR
Camping World Truck Series race and for the fourth time, he went to victory
lane in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Harvick started on the pole and led 248 of the 250 laps of the .525-mile
race track in beating his Richard Childress Racing teammate Ty Dillon to the
checkered flag by three car lengths as the Chevrolet teammates swept the top
In Sprint Cup racing, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and
Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville
Speedway, but neither brought team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series victory.
Instead Ryan Newman celebrated his first victory of the season and the
fourth for Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman lost a lap after a pit-lane speeding
penalty early in the race and was in position to take advantage when all
heck broke loose at the end of the race.
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were racing side by side for the lead when
David Reutimann stopped on the track with two laps remaining, setting up the
green-white-checkered finish. They were the only two drivers not to pit
during the yellow flag and when the green flag waved, Clint Bowyer riding on
fresh tires powered his Toyota three wide into the first turn pushing Gordon
and Johnson high on the track with Johnson and Bowyer spinning and Ryan
Newman shooting to the lead as the yellow flag waved again.
On the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Newman and A.J.
Allmendinger battled side by side for a lap before Newman gained control and
carried his Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet to a .537-second victory over
Allmendinger in a race that ran 515 laps of the .525-mile asphalt oval. Dale
Earnhardt Jr. finished third
Last year, 2016, Thompson held a test
and tune session for all competitors on Saturday. Despite the fact that it
was 43 degrees and overcast, 94 cars were on hand for shake-down runs. Some
of the top names of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour were in attendance, as
were some of the Thompson NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division stars.
The day included constant practice sessions with divisions from not only the
Whelen Modified Tour and Thompson, but from all over New England.
Drivers from the NEMA Midgets, NEMA Lites, North East Street Stock Tour
and other divisions also tackled the oval.
Among drivers of the Whelen Modified Tour was defending three-time
champion Doug Coby, who unloaded two cars to take to the track. Coby and his
crew chief Phil Moran were preparing for their second year with the new LFR
chassis. Joining Coby in the LFR chassis department was Bobby Santos, who
unloaded the brand new machine for the first time. Santos told Race Chaser
Online that the goal is the same as always with the new car, to win races
and chase the title. He doesn’t yet know if they will be a step above any
other drivers with the new car. Donny Lia also unloaded his LFR No. 8
modified and took some laps on the track.
Long Islander Timmy Solomito was on track with his Flamingo Motorsports
No. 16, a year after finishing sixth in the point standings and finishing
the year strong. He was joined by defending Rookie of the Year Chase
Dowling, behind the wheel of his S&S Paving No. 9. XFINITY Series regular
Ryan Preece drove his No. 6 TS Haulers modified on Saturday. He would be
running a partial schedule on the tour this season while he continues his
XFINITY career as well. Rowan Pennink drove the No. 3 BRE Racing machine for
the first time in preparation for his campaign in 2016. Max Zachem also
rolled his brand new paint scheme out of the trailer with his No. 20 MPZ
Racing wise, the weekend was a quiet one except at the Hickory Motor
Speedway in North Carolina where the inaugural event for the Southern
Modified Racing Series Presented By PASS took the green. Among those on hand
were Charlie and Chris Pasteryak from Lisbon, Ct plus Multi-time North-South
Shootout winner Matt Hirschman, Jon McKennedy, Derek Ramstrom, Edward
LeClerc, Mike Leaty, and Ryan Russo.
Jon McKennedy found himself out front during Saturday’s inaugural
Southern Modified Racing Series feature when the skies opened up, leading to
officials to call the race after 108 laps and award him the victory. John
Smith finished second with Burt Myers, third. Bobby Measmer Jr., Matt
Hirschman, Kyle Bonsignore, Chris Pasteryak, Jason Myers, Patrick Emerling,
Cale Gale, Brian Loftin, Edward LeCerc, Mike Leaty, Renee Dupuis and Charlie
Ben Rowe was on cruise control at Hickory Motor Speedway, dominating the
PASS South super late model Easter Bunny 150 en route to a $5,000 payday.
Rowe started the 150-lap event from the pole following a redraw, sharing the
front row with his father and teammate Mike Rowe. The elder Rowe jumped to
the lead at the start of the event and led the first 22 circuits before Ben
Rowe moved around him on the outside to take the lead on lap 23. Riley
Herbst finished second with Derek Ramstrom, third.
NASCAR”s top tier divisions were off in observance of Easter.
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