The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

May 5, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952, the guy they loved to hate, Dick Beauregard, was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Sandberg, who in later years would become a Modified standout at the shoreline oval, was the Claiming Car winner.

  Sixty years ago in 1957 Johnny Sandberg was the 25 Lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Joe Rosenfield was the 10 lap Non-Ford winner.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962 Hank Stevens was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Stevens would become very proficient in the Midgets in later years. Ed Gladue was the 15 lap Bomber feature winner.

  Fifty years ago in 1967, Billy Blum won at Fulton while at Fonda; Rene Charland beat out Maynard Forette and Jeep Herbert for the win. Rain-washed out Utica Rome and Waterford on Sunday.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta; N.Y. Bernie Miller finished second and was followed by Guy Chartrand, Lou Lazzaro, Bugsy Stevens, Bobby Santos and Richie Evans. At Fonda on Saturday night, Lou Lazzaro, using the same car that he ran on asphalt the night before, took the win over Kenny Shoemaker and Harry Peek. At the tight 1/5 mile oval at Islip, Charlie Jarzombek took the win over Jim Hendrickson and Wayne Anderson. Stafford ran a 30 lapper on Sunday afternoon with Gene Bergin in the Dick Armstrong No.1 taking the win over rookie Ronnie Bouchard. Leo Cleary finished third and was followed by Fred DeSarro, George Summers, Ray Miller and Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell. Waterford also ran on Sunday with Mike Beebe taking the Modified win. Ron "Boots" Cote was the Sportsman Sedan winner at the shoreline oval. Sunday night racing at Utica-Rome rained out.

  Forty years ago in 1977, Forty-five Modifieds were on hand at Stafford on Friday night. Ray Miller took the 30 lap win over Eddie Flemke, Jerry Cook, Ron Bouchard, Leo Cleary and Jerry Pearl. Geoff Bodine, who had been cleaning house was an early out due to a wreck. Monadnock was also running on Friday night. Punky Caron ruled the roost as he beat out Pete Fiandaca and Bob Karvonen for the win. Islip and Freeport were battling, running against each other on Saturday night on Long Island. Tom McCann won at Islip over Jim Tyler and Fred Harbach while at Freeport, Lou Hennesy took the win over Gary Winters and Jerry Bartlett. At Waterford, Bill Greco took the win over Rick Donnelly and Gene Bergin. Fred DeSarro made it two in a row in Sunday action at Thompson. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream season in the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 as he took the Friday night main event at Stafford. Reggie Ruggiero tried his best but had to settle for second. Ray Miller, George Summers and Bob Polverari rounded out the top five. Saturday night at Waterford belonged to Bob Potter .Moose Hewitt finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. At Riverside it was Stan Gregger and at Islip, Bob Park took the win. Sacks blew an engine in warm-ups at Thompson and opened the door for George Kent who ended up with the win. A poor crowd was on hand as less than 200 spectator cars were in the parking lot at race time. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bob Polverari and Marty Radwick. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Darrel Waltrip took the win with Terry Labonte, second and Ronnie Bouchard, third.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, Bill Elliott set an all time qualifying record at Talledega when he qualified at 212.809 mph. Elliott dropped a valve and dropped out while running second in the event which was won by Davey Allison. The race was halted on lap 22 when Bobby Allison got airborne on the front chute and tore down the catch fence. Allison escaped unhurt but this action would set in motion a drive by NASCAR, which would require restrictor plates on carburetors at Talledega as well as at Daytona. On the local front, Bob Potter beat out Ed Flemke Jr. at Waterford. Ted Christopher, Larry Lanphear and Ronnie Rocco rounded out the top five. Brian McCarthy was awarded the Late Model win after Phil Rondeau was disqualified because of illegal a-frames. At Riverside, Mike Stefanik took the win over Ted Riggott and Dan Avery and at Riverhead; Wayne Anderson took the top spot. At Shangri-La it was Jim Spencer.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, rain after two heats, washed out the Friday night action at Stafford. On Saturday night at Riverside, the quarter mile oval suffered its fourth rain out in a row. A weather window allowed Waterford to run. Bert Marvin took the win over Jim Broderick, Chris Jones, Harry Rice and Ted Christopher. In Late Model competition, Phil Rondeau debuted a new Thunderbird bodied car and ran away with his feature. Jeff Malave won the Riverhead opener and on Sunday at Loudon before 11,000 fans, Jeff Fuller won the 125 lap modified event over Jan Leaty, Reggie Ruggiero, Doug Hevron and Mike Stefanik. Mike McLaughlin won the 125 lap Busch North Series event also at Loudon. Dave Reszendes finished second with Dick McCabe, third and Jeff Barry, fourth.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick took advantage of Bo Gunning's soft left front as he went on to take the Friday night win at Stafford. Gunning toughed it out to finish second with Steve Chowanski, third. Saturday was a total wash out. On Sunday, Jack Bateman took the win at Monadnock over Dwight Jarvis and Rick Miller and in Busch North Series action at Jennerstown, Tom Bolles went pole to pole to win the 150 lap event over Andy Santarre and Kelly Moore. Mike Ewanitsko and Ted Christopher were fighting for the lead on lap 176 of the Waterford 200 when their bumpers locked which allowed Steve Chowanski to sneak by for the win. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Tucker Reynolds Jr and Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Mark Martin led 69 of the 74 lap distance to take the win.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, the Sizzler, which had been rained out, was run with Ted Christopher taking the win. Christopher took the lead in the 200 lapper on lap 173 from Rick Fuller. Fuller hung on for second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, David Berghman and Tom Cravenho. Mike Ewanitsko was without a doubt; the fastest in the field until he lost a driveshaft on lap 159. Ed Flemke Jr. was also a factor until his power steering went away in the closing stages of the event. Bo Gunning, in the Eddie Partridge No.12 was the 40 lap SK - Modified winner. In other action over the weekend Jimmie Blewett won a 50 lapper at Wall Township, Chuck Steuer beat out Bill Park at Riverhead and at Waterford, Dennis Gada and Jeff Pearl finished one-two.

  Ten years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Wall Township Speedway at the New Jersey shore for the inaugural “Flash Event” format race. Dubbed “The Thunder at the Shore” by NASCAR, the event was the first of three flash events for 2007. The races with the new format have met with mixed feelings from competitors. Usually time trials determine starting fields, the “Flash Format” eliminates time trials and puts qualifying heats in its place. Twin 50 lap races determined the 50 lap main event.
  Thirty seven Modifieds attempted to qualify for the event that was run in cool, early spring type weather. Among the missing was Tony Hirschman and Bob Santos III who was at the Richmond race.. Hirschman had said earlier in the year that he would not run a full schedule if he was not in the lead group in the point standings. The first 50 lap qualifier was won by Reggie Ruggiero. Seven caution periods slowed the event. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Todd Szegedy, third. Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. John Blewett III won the second 50 lapper. John Blewett III started on the pole of the second 50 lapper. He went on to lead every lap. Six cautions broke up the action. Ted Christopher finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Bob Grigas and Bill Pauch Jr rounded out the top five. Stafford Sizzler winner Donny Lia finished fourteenth. The Blewett Brothers made Modified history as they scored a one-two punch to cop the top two spots in the first ever “Whelen Modified Tour Flash Race”. Jimmy Blewett gave Reggie Ruggerio a gentle nudge of the bumper during a lap one restart as he took the lead and never looked back. John Blewett III finished a close second. Ruggerio, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ruggerio was credited with leading one lap, Jimmy Blewett led the rest, ho-hum. NASCAR had good intentions but it looked like the “Flash” ended up being a “Fizzle” NASCAR needs to re-think their way of staging competitive racing rather than putting the top dogs in front. Its ok to do that for long races where pit stops shake up the field but to continue to stage races like this will all but guarantee the demise of the division. If NASCAR wants to run short races they should at least handicap the field by inverting the point standings to create a little excitement.
Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Ronnie Silk, Todd Szegedy, Jerry Marquis and Billy Pauch Jr.
  It appeared that the northern based True Value Modified Series had NASCAR looking over their shoulder. Although they wouldn't speak publicly, Whelen Modified Tour competitors had “been spoken to” about their participation in these events. Because of “Right to Work” laws NASCAR had to tread softly on this issue but they can still make offending competitors life miserable when they compete in NASCAR events. During the late 60’s and early 70’s NASCAR branded the late Richie Evans as an “Outlaw” because of his participation in non-NASCAR events. They pulled his competitors license and prohibited him from racing in NASCAR sanctioned events. Evans, who raced for a living took his case to court and won the right to compete where ever he wanted to. As we all know, Evans went on to become NASCAR’s greatest Modified competitor and champion. The TVMS ran a rescheduled 100 lap event at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Les Hinckley took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander. Ted Christopher finished seventh.
  “The Bond Auto Parts 100” was a hotly contested battle in front a large crowd that braved cold temperatures and gusty wind chills. The event had been postponed twice by rain. It was the second time Hinckley has won the first race at Monadnock. He did so in 2005. An overflow field of 38 cars from throughout the northeast traveled to the Granite State oval to contest in three 12 lap qualifying races and a new twist added to the TVMRS program, a 20 lap “B” feature to give race teams that did not qualify in heat race action a chance to race for a separate purse and gain entry in the 100 lap main event. Six positions were added to the 26 car field from that race.
  Peter Jarvis and Louie Mechalides, brought the field to green with Jarvis jumping into the top spot and leading the opening five laps until the first caution flag was displayed for a spinning car on the start of lap 6. On the restart, Hinckley, who started in fourth position, took the lead from Jarvis and would hold it until lap 52 giving him the Black Mountain Painting ½ way award, Jarvis, who won his heat race earlier, would stay right behind the race leader and wheel his Wally Albro owned, Cheever Tire Service sponsored, race car to it’s best run on the TVMRS. The former Claremont late model champ impressed, and would take the lead back on lap 53 only to turn it back over to Hinckley on the 56th go around. Hinckley would continue to set a hot pace despite several caution flags that slowed the race including a stoppage on the 63rd circuit for second year driver Bryan Shumway, Belchertown, MA., who was involved in a 1st turn skirmish that resulted in a hand injury. When the race resumed Hinckley was the top dog but with the series defending champion and the two time champion in hot pursuit.
  Dwight Jarvis cut a tire at the half way mark and with a fresh right rear tire on his new mount, he started to make his way to the front with Alexander doing the same. The W.Swanzey, NH., driver took the point and lead laps 85 to 87 with Hinckley taking it back for good on lap 88. A lap 99 spin involving Stafford Springs, CT., hot shoe Woody Pitkat brought out the eighth caution period. The TVMRS race procedure is to finish the race under green with a green, white, checkered flag finish, the race ended on lap 101.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Frank Ruocco, the defending SK Modified track champion started on the pole of the 40 lap main event and led every lap to take the win. Ruocco suffered a blown engine that relegated him to an 18th place finish during the Spring Sizzler weekend. The feature’s starting order was determined by his previous finish. Ruocco's win was not an easy win by any means. Kerry Malone worked his way through traffic to come up to second, and he hounded Ruocco for the final 10 laps, but came just up short at the checkered flag. Todd Owen finished third, with Keith Rocco fourth and Jeff Baral rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher, who apparently had a regular ride for Stafford, finished sixth. Eric Berndt, Curt Brainard, Brad Hietella and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten. Sizzler weekend winner Lloyd Agor finished a distant 23rd.
  In other Stafford action Scott Foster, Jr. won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Robert Thompson the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic took the SK Modified feature win after a heated battle with Dennis Charette. Charette started on the outside pole and was able to withstand the constant pressure applied by Don Fowler. In the closing stages Fowler lost his handling as he spun and collected Jeff Paul. Janovic avoided the tangle and with a green- white- checker situation got the best of Charette. Shawn Monahan finished third and was followed by Diego Monahan and Tyler Chadwick. Other winners included Tim Jordan (Late Model) Bill Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends).
  Tom Ferrel was the Saturday night winner at Wall Township and Dave Brigati was the opening night NASCAR Modified winner at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
  In Nextel Cup action Jimmie Johnson led 105 of the 400 laps at the Richmond Raceway en route to capturing his fourth checkered flag this season and second in NASCAR's next generation car. More notable, though, team owner Rick Hendrick has won seven of eight races, including three in a row and all four contested with the Car of Tomorrow. Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road with about 28 laps to go Friday night and easily went on to his fifth career NASCAR Busch Series victory.

  Five years ago in 2012, The Stafford Motor Speedway cancelled its May 4 Opening Night racing program due to the forecast of showers and thunderstorms that lasted throughout the day and into the evening
  At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it four out of six in the SK Modifieds, while Mike Caprio won the night's special extra-distance Street Stock feature. Those victories came as Waterford Speedbowl played host to a six-division race program Saturday evening as part of the shoreline oval's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule. It was Rocco's 40th career win in an SK Modified at the shoreline oval. Tom Abele finished second, followed by Nichole Morgillo, Jeff Pearl and Tyler Chadwick.
  Other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winners included Ken Cassidy Jr. who won his fifth Mini Stock race out of six on the year and Corey Barry who was named the winner in the SK Light Modified feature. Matt Pappa was the night's Legends Cars feature winner and Dan Butler won another Super X-Car race.
  Rocco had to overcome adversity to pick up his fourth victory of the six SK Modified events at the Speedbowl. He received damage in a lap-7 wreck that involved his brother Jeff Rocco and Diego Monahan. Keith Rocco was third in the running order on lap 19 when under another caution flag, he ducked to the pits to make repairs to his car. Rocco restarted in the rear and made a determined charge to the front setting up for the final five lap run to the checkered flag.
  Rocco dogged Abele looking for a way around. Headed into turn one on lap-32, Rocco made a bold inside bottom shot on Abele. With two wheels on the apron and two wheels in the grass he made the move stick and raced out of turn two with the lead. A stunned Abele fought back, getting to Rocco’s rear bumper in turn three a determined Rocco was able to hang on to the lead. From there he went on to the win.
  A surprise entry in the SK Lite division was 72 year old former Track Modified Champion Dickie Doo Ceravolo. Just out to have some fun, Ceravolo finished fifth.
  The sparks flew on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway. Twin 30's for the Modified were run with Tim Solomito winning both. Ted Christopher crashed out of the first feature and never made it out for the night cap.
  In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, Tim Brown pulled off a pass from the outside and went on to claim his 59th career victory in the featured Modified Division. Robert Jeffreys won the second 25-lap Modified race after a tangle between Brad Robbins and visitor Jimmy Blewett left both out of contention. Jeffreys matched Alfred Hill, at age 67, as the oldest winners of a feature race at Bowman Gray.
  Brown started from the outside on the front row, beside pole winner Lee Jeffreys, and took the lead on the opening lap. Lee Jeffreys, the fastest in qualifying with a lap of 13.276 seconds (67.8 miles per hour) on the quarter-mile track, appeared to have successfully held off Brown at the start. But Brown pulled ahead on the backstretch and led the rest of the way. Lee Jeffreys finished second, and Burt Myers was third.
  Brown, an eight-time Bowman Gray champion who finished in the top five just once in the first seven races in 2011, followed a third-place finish in the season opener with his victory.
  Robbins started from the pole in the second Modified race, but Blewett, driving for Hillbilly Racing, maneuvered his way to the lead in the opening lap. Robbins kept the pressure on Blewett with bumps and shoves, and Blewett went spinning on the 18th lap. One lap later, Blewett sent leader Robbins spinning, and Robert Jeffreys took the lead for good. Ronnie Clifton finished second, and Jason Myers was third.
  Joey Logano got the best of Kyle Busch heading to the checkered flag to win Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
  On the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish following a massive crash that involved eight cars and sent Eric McClure by helicopter to the University of Alabama Birmingham hospital, Logano helped Busch hold off the two-car tandem of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cole Whitt and then pulled out at the last second and beat Busch to the checkered flag by a mere .034 seconds.
  In Sprint Cup action at Talladega, Brad Keselowski used a big push from Kyle Busch to pass leader Matt Kenseth, and after leaving the Daytona 500 winner in their wake, Keselowski staved off Busch's attempt to snatch the win. Using a move Keselowski said he had dreamed about, he held on for his second win of the season and second at Talladega.

  Last year, 2016, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was in a mini-spring break. After two events Doug Coby sat atop the standings with a one point edge over Timmy Solomito. Six points out of the lead was Justin Bonsignore who was third. Rowan Pennink, who had injected new life into the Ole Blu No. 3 of the Boehler family sat in fourth, some 12 points out of the lead. Rounding out the top five was Chase Dowling, 19 points out. Sixth thru tenth were Bobby Santos, Donny Lia, Shawn Solomito, Max Zachem and Matt Swanson.
  The New London-Waterford Speedbowl with a fabulous new look was scheduled to begin their season with Blast Off 2016 with all their regular divisions. Fans and competitors would be greeted by a new view as the grandstands had been painted, the wooden walls and Armco were gone with concrete in their place, a new back stretch gate plus upgraded rest rooms. Track owner Bruce Bemer and track manager Shawn Monahan were responsible for the new look. A great job by both and their staff.
  Keith Rocco had high hopes to keep rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he intended to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco had 121 wins at the shoreline oval going into 2016.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series started their 2016 season at the 1/4 mile high banked Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. There were 23 cars and a packed house of fans on hand for the event. Qualifying heat winners were Richard Savory, Michael Willis and David Schneider.
Chris Pasteryak scored an impressive win after taking the lead at the half way mark. Kirk Alexander finished second with Russ Hersey, third. Donnie Lashua and Jon McKennedy rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Todd Patnode, Richard Savory, Woody Pitkat, Colbey Fournier and Mike Holdredge.
  Savory led the opening laps and was in control until passed by Woody Pitkat on lap 25. Pitkat led until lap 49. Eleven of the original 22 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Next up for the Valenti Modifieds is an 80 lapper at the Stafford Motor Speedway on May 20.
  The Bowman- Gray stadium in Winston-Salem, NC opened for the season on Saturday night with the Hayes Jewelers 200. Unfortunately rain prevailed after 40 laps were completed. The event would resume the following Saturday night with Tim Brown and Burt Myers on the front row.
Brad Keselowski won the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on an absolutely crazy, overcast Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Kurt Busch took the lead on the final restart with three laps to go, getting a push from behind by the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne. But soon enough it was a battle for the lead between Keselowski on the outside and Busch in the inside. Keselowski eventually got a push from Kyle Busch and surged back into the lead he had held prior to the final caution coming out for a wild wreck involving Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth and others.
  Yet another multi-car wreck occurred as Keselowski rushed toward the checkered flag, bringing out one final caution and freezing the field with Keselowski's No. 2 Team Penske Ford just yards from reaching the start-finish line. On a day when 33 of the 40 cars in the field were involved in at least one wreck -- and some in more than one -- that was good enough for Keselowski to secure the 19th Sprint Cup victory of his career, including his fourth on the 2.66-mile Talladega track.
  Kyle Busch ended up second, with Austin Dillon, pole-sitter Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top five.
  NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Donny Lia made an interesting and factual observation following this past Sundays NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Talladega. "Danica's hit would of killed her only 15 yrs ago. It gets dismissed nowadays. Nascar, soft walls, Hans, chassis and the seat manufactures just don't get enough credit anymore. It's taken for granted. Dale Earnhardt's death did so much more than anyone knows. Sadly many guys had to die before Sr, before anything got done. In the end his life has basically saved 100's of other lives." Very well said!
  Elliott Sadler's Xfinity Series victory Saturday in the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway took five minutes to be declared official by NASCAR officials. Xfinity Series director Wayne Auton held a news conference after the race explaining the process of how eight officials in the scoring tower determined Sadler, who collided with leader Joey Logano off the final turn, was ahead of Brennan Poole and Justin Allgaier when the yellow flag waved. Poole took the checkered flag in first but was ruled to have finished third. Though Sadler's #1 Chevrolet went below the double-yellow line after Logano's crash, Auton said NASCAR ruled it didn't advance a position and had been forced low by the contact. Ryan Preece finished 15th on the lead lap.
  The Seekonk Speedway beat the rain that blanketed New England this past Sunday. Fred Astle was the opening day Pro Stock winner.

  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: May 5, 2017

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