The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

May 12, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Sixty years ago in 1957 Don Collins was the 50 lap April Championship winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962 Dick Beauregard recorded his third Modified feature win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Caso was the Bomber feature winner. The Stafford Speedway began their dirt season with hometown favorite George Janoski taking the win.

  Fifty years ago in 1967 the Albany Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY opened for the season. A New England invasion captured four of the top five spots. Mario “Fats” Caruso took the win with Eddie Flemke and Gene Bergin following. Kenny Shoemaker finished fourth with George Pendergast rounding out the top five. Bill Wimble was the big winner at Fonda on Saturday night. Ernie Gahan and Pete Corey followed. Fulton’s main event went to Jim Shampine. For the second week in a row the Utica – Rome Speedway fell victim to rain. The skies in southeastern Connecticut remained clear as Charlie Webster captured the final Sunday afternoon Spring Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, Eddie Flemke in the Bobby Judkins 2x mastered the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Richie Evans finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Flemke carried his winning ways over to Stafford as he made it two for two as he beat out Ray Miller, DeSarro, Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens for the win. At Islip, Gentleman Jim Hendrickson ruled the roost in the Tony Ferrente x3. Charlie Jarzombek finished second and was followed by Frank Curtis and George Tet. Harry Peek took the win at Fonda. At the Waterford Speedbowl Daring Dick Caso took the 36 lap Modified feature win. Jerry Lilliquist was the Sportsman Sedan winner.

  Forty years ago in 1977, forty-four Modifieds were in the Stafford pit area on Friday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Geoff Bodine, Dick Caso, Eddie Flemke and Leo Cleary. Brian Ross in the Mystic Missile finished fourth but was disqualified after a post race weigh in determined that he was 33 pounds light. Sonny Koszela broke out a new Woodchopper Special for Bugsy Stevens but spun engine bearings put him out for the night. Wayne Anderson won two features at New Egypt on Friday night and one at Islip on Saturday night. Anderson became only the second modified driver to ever win three features within a twenty four hour period. Waterford was running under the United Stock Car banner. Dick Dunn in the Peg and Albert Gaudreau No.3 took the win over Bill Greco, Rick Donnelly, Dick Ceravolo and Mark Geer. United president Harvey Tattersall announced that he was dropping the gear rule that had been in place plus was eliminating the 340 bonus. Based on the announcement, Dunn, Bob Potter and Gene Bergin stated that their days of racing at Waterford were over and quit the track. Bob Polverari took the win at Riverside over Pete Fiandaca and at Westboro, George Savory took the win over Mike Weeden and Freddie Schulz. Fred DeSarro made it three in a row at Thompson on Sunday night and at the Port City 150 at Oswego, Richie Evans took the win over Jim Shampine, Maynard Troyer and George Kent.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks in the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 remained the combination to beat as he won the 30 lap feature at Stafford on Friday night. Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Ray Miller, George Summers and Bob Polverari rounding out the top five. Saturday night at Waterford saw Bob Potter beat out cross town rival Moose Hewitt for the win. Jerry Pearl finished third. At Seekonk, Brian Ross, who had lost an engine at Stafford, took the win over Gomer Taylor and George Savory. At Riverside Park it was Stan Greger over Bob Polverari and Ray Miller. Bob Park had the hot set-up at Islip as he bested John Blewett Jr, Wayne Anderson and Don Howe. Less than 200 cars were in the parking lot at Thompson on Sunday but it didn't slow George Kent as he took down the win over Jerry Cook, Bob Polverari and Marty Radwick. Pre-race favorite Greg Sacks packed it in early after losing an engine. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Tenn, Darrell Waltrip took the 400-lap win over Terry Labonte and Ronnie Bouchard.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, Steve Chowanski took the Friday night win at Stafford. Bob Potter was the king-pin at Waterford and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero chalked up another win for Mario Fiore as he beat out Tom Bolles and Bruce Del for the win. Bill Park was the top gun at Riverhead and he was followed by Fred Harbach and Wayne Anderson. George Kent got the best of Jim Spencer at Shangri-La and at Lancaster it was Tom Druar taking the top spot.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, Riverside Park ran on Thursday night with Rick Fuller taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero in the Bob Polverari No.711 finished second with Stan Greger, third. Stafford rained out on Friday. At Waterford, on Saturday night, Lloyd Agor was leading on the final lap when he was hit by Jerry Pearl who had gotten hit by Moose Hewitt. Agor bobbled and Pearl got by for the win. Agor hung on to finish second with Dennis Gada, third. Hewitt, who spun, ended up fourteenth. Double features were on tap at Riverside and Jerry Marquis and the Bobby Judkins 2x were up to the task as they won both of them. At Shangri-La, promoter Dale Campfield was evicted after a disagreement with the speedway property owner and in Modified Tour action at Nazareth, Jeff Fuller took the 150 lap win over Wayne Anderson, Rick Fuller, John Preston and Tom Baldwin. Todd Bodine won the Busch Grandnational event that was also run at Nazareth.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Rick Martin made it two in a row at Thompson on Wednesday night. On Friday night at Stafford, Bo Gunning recorded his 20th career win at the nutmeg oval as he beat out Steve Chowanski, Bill Anderson and Bob Potter for top honors. Waterford rained out on Saturday. Riverside avoided the wet stuff and ran a 75 lap event that saw Reggie Ruggiero score his 88th career win at the Agawam oval .Bill Park won at Riverhead over John Fortin and in Busch North Series action at Loudon on Sunday, Dave Dion went pole to pole to win the 100 lap event which was held up three hours because of rain. Brad Leighton, Jerry Marquis, Jeff Barry and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher was running within the top ten before losing a dry sump belt. The NASCAR Winston Cup event at Talladega went non-stop with Mark Martin taking the win at a race record average 188.354 mph. Dale Earnhardt Sr. finished second.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, Jeff Malave was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Ted Christopher finished second with Ron Silk, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Waterford on Saturday night for a 150-lap event. Forty-one cars were on hand. David Berghman took the lead from Todd Szegedy with eight laps to go to score a popular victory. Szegedy finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik, Rob Summers and Ricky Fuller. Mike Ewanitsko suffered season ending back injuries after a hard crash into the first turn Armco barrier. In other Waterford action, Dennis Gada was the SK Modified winner over Rob Janovic and Tom Fox. Ed Denseski was the winner at Riverhead and it was Tim Arre on top at Wall Township. The Busch North Series and the Busch Grandnationals were at Loudon. Brad Leighton won by inches over Andy Santerre. Kelly Moore finished second with Dale Shaw and Matt Kobyluck rounding out the top five. Bobby Hamilton Jr. was the Busch Grandnational winner over Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague. In other news, Jerry Nadeau was released from Hendrick Motorsports as the Winston Cup teams enjoyed a wee off to celebrate Mother’s Day and Jack Johnson got his 138th win at the Fonda Speedway.

  Ten years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was in the middle of their “Spring Break”. Jimmy Blewett, who drove for Long Island car owner Eddie Partridge sat atop the point standings with a 31 point lead over second generation driver Matt Hirschman. In three starts Blewett had three top tens including one win. Hirschman, the son of multi-time Whelen Modified Champion Tony Hirschman also had three top tens but was winless. James Civali, who won the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, sat in third spot, 49 points behind the leader. Todd Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Donny Lia, Jerry Marquis, Ronnie Silk, Mike Stefanik and Billy Pauch Jr. In three events, fifty one different competitors had entered into competition.
  Much had been said, both pro and con concerning the recent “Flash Event” at the Wall Township Speedway. It was NASCAR’s intent to make the Whelen Modified Tour Series more affordable to their weekly tracks and make the events more exciting to the paying fan. In both cases NASCAR needed to take a second look and maybe ask those involved to give their constructive criticism. From this corner it appeared that to keep competitors happy NASCAR needed to pressure promoters to get out and sell their events in order to offset costs which come with special events. To create excitement NASCAR should try to handicap the top 20 based on their last three performances and invert the field. To fill out a 30-35 car starting field NASCAR needed to run a consolation event which would afford some track time to those who need it.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night second generation driver Keith Rocco captured the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Rocco is the son of retired driving great Ronnie Rocco. Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 40-lap SK Modified feature event saw several drivers all take a shot at Keith Rocco, but Rocco was able to fend off all challengers to pick up his first feature win of the 2007 season. Rocco moved to the lead on lap-5, passing early race leader Woody Pitkat. Pitkat would spend the next 30 laps trying to get around Rocco, with several caution periods slowing the action and giving Pitkat multiple opportunities to take the lead back. Pitkat held tough on the outside groove, but was unable to get around Ruocco. The final caution came out with 4 laps to go, setting up a dash to the finish. Rocco again got the drop on the field, with Willie Hardie moving past Pitkat for second. Rocco was able to pull away from Rocco in the closing laps to take the win. Hardie finished second with Pitkat, Kerry Malone, and Jeff Malave rounding out the top-5.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic used a bottom-shot coming out of turn-four to pass leader Doug Coby with eight circuits remaining to capture his second consecutive 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Speedbowl on Saturday evening. Other winners were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Joe Godbout III (Mini Stock), and Norm Wrenn (Pro-4 Modified). Coby faded in the late going and was overtaken by Shawn Monahan who ended up in second spot. Coby, Diego Monahan and Dennis Gada rounded out the top five Sixth through tenth were Jeff Pearl, Kenny Horton, Frank Mucciacciaro, Jeff Paul and Tyler Chadwick.
The Star Speedway in Epping, NH hosted a special Open Competition Modified race that attracted only 19 cars. Ted Christopher was in the lead with only eight laps remaining when he tangled with Andy Seuss under caution and suffered a flat tire. Rob Summers ended up taking the win over Jon McKennedy, Seuss, Ron Silk and Chris Pasteryak.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Bill Park took the win over Tom Rogers and JR Bertuccio.
  In the RACE OF CHAMPIONS ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR event at the Oswego Speedway Matt Hirschman went pole to pole to win the 75 lap event. Billy Putney finished second and was followed by Lee Sherwood, Zane Zeiner, Earl Paules, Eric Beers and Rick Zacharias.
  In Nextel Cup action at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina Jeff Gordon overcame an overheating engine with five laps to go to race to his third victory of the season Sunday, winning the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Hendrick Motorsports has won four straight races, eight of the last nine, and remained perfect in the five Car of Tomorrow events. Denny Hamlin, who led a race-high 179 laps, had a chance to win before his crew dropped a pair of lug nuts on a late pit stop. Rain washed out the race Saturday night, making it the first NASCAR race run on Mother's Day since 1986. Jimmie Johnson, last week's winner, finished third for Hendrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth, capping a frenzied week that began when he said he's leaving DEI at the end of the season. Denny Hamlin won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 for the second straight year Friday night, again surviving a wreck-filled Busch Series event at historic Darlington Raceway. Hamlin, a Virginia native, then paid tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, taking a school flag along for his victory lap
  International Speedway Corp., the company that owns and manages NASCAR race tracks, will partner with the Cordish Co. to build Daytona Live, a mixed-use entertainment destination, across from Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Live will be built on 71 acres that currently are home to Speedplex Office Park. The park houses ISC's and NASCAR's headquarters. The project is expected to cost $250 million

  Five years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series went "Up Country" to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Thanks to the efforts of Ted Hebert and Teddy Bear Pools & Spa $5000 in extra money was added to the WMT purse. This money was paid out to the drivers from positions 12 to 26. Last place paid out $810.
  Ryan Preece led from pole to pole to win the 175 lap event at the New Hampshire oval. Preece withstood 10 restarts to take the win where his grandfather, Bobby Judkins had fielded winning mounts at the track in years past. It took an extreme amount of concentration on the part of Preece as he was repeatedly pressured and dogged by runner-up Doug Coby and Ted Christopher. Coby, who started second was kind of the meat in the sandwich as he had third place starter Todd Szegedy on his bumper for a good part of the distance. Ted Christopher had moved into the second spot on lap 13 but was later spun to the infield after contact from Coby. Justin Bonsignore put on the drive of the night as he came from a 14th starting spot to finish fourth. Likewise for Donnie Lia who started 17th, lost a lap at one point and rallied to make up his lap and finish sixth behind point leader Ron Silk. Rounding out the top ten were Mike Stefanik, Eric Beers and Keith Rocco. Rocco also put on a tremendous drive, rebounding from a late race pit stop to finish 10th. Rounding out those who finished on the lead lap were Jamie Tomaino, Christopher, Andy Seuss and Jimmy Blewett. Blewett actually finished sixth but was placed at the tail of the lead lap after he dumped Seuss on the final lap.
  The race marked the return of Jerry Marquis after a six year retirement. Marquis who retired from driving in 2007 drove the Ralph Solhem No. 0. Marquis completed 134 laps before being forced to park it with suspension problems. Among the missing was Rowan Pennink who was attending his sisters wedding. Woody Pitkat was also absent. Jon McKennedy took over the controls of the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 after Daniel Hemric felt that it would be in his best interests if he contained his racing to the southland. McKennedy qualified fourth and was headed for a decent finish before a brush with the wall ended his night, pacing him in 24th finishing spot.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway finally began their Friday night racing series after a one week delay because of rain. J.J. Hill was the winner of the extra distance 40-lap Late Model feature, Eric Berndt got around Ted Christopher on a green white checkered restart to pick up his first win of the 2012 in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Dylan Kopec was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for the second consecutive week, Josh Wood also won for the second consecutive week in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders drove to victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature with a late race pass on Austin Bessette.
  In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Berndt took the lead from Ted Christopher in the closing moments of the race and went on to score the victory. Rounding out the top-5 behind Berndt and Christopher was Dave Gervais, Ryan Preece Preece, and Todd Owen.
  At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco did not continue his winning streak as he was over 100 miles away competing in a Whelen Modified Tour event at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire.
  Tyler Chadwick took the checkered flag in the SK Modified® feature, his second on the year, while defending Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model champion Jeff Smith returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in 2012. Chris Meyer became the first repeat winner of the season in the Street Stocks and Ken Cassidy Jr. won again in the Mini Stocks, giving him six on the year.
  A special 60th anniversary event for the Northeastern Midget Association was also run. The Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) is one of the nation’s oldest racing series, with roots at Waterford going back to its beginning. Greg Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA took home the prestigious win in the night’s NEMA Midget feature while Brandon Igo of Bondsville, MA won the companion NEMA Lite race.
  In the SK Modified feature Chadwick took the lead from Joe Perry on lap 20 and never looked back. Perry faded in the closing moments. Nicole Morgillo eventually grabbed second from Perry on lap-29 to score her best career finish. Kyle James rallied from an early race spin to drive back up to an impressive third place at the checkered flag. Perry faded to fourth, while Joe Gada ran with the leaders all night and took fifth.
  In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, Jonathan Brown said that he practiced at Bowman Gray Stadium all day on Saturday. Brown held off John Smith for his first win since leaving the Melvin "Puddin'" Swisher team. Michael Clifton was third, Danny Bohn was fourth and Jason Myers fifth. Burt Myers, who started the race in the points lead, finished sixth.
  Brown passed Smith when the race restarted on Lap 86 and led the rest of the way.
  Tom Rogers was the winner of twin 30 Modified features at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
  In Valenti Modified Racing news it had been learned that series founder Jack Bateman had retired from driving and had selected Todd Owen as his replacement. The decision ends a 46 year driving career. Bateman would focus on his race team and the VMRS he started 9 years previous.
  Dirt tracker Brett Hearn recorded his 100th career win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Hearn had a win streak of four in a row going when he hit the century mark at the Malta, NY oval.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Darlington, Jimmie Johnson broke free on a restart three laps from the end to give Hendrick Motorsports its 200th Sprint Cup victory. Denny Hamlin was second, followed by Stewart and Kyle Busch. Danica Patrick, still trying to cut the mustard as a top division driver, lasted until the end of her second Sprint Cup race, finishing six laps behind Johnson in 31st. Joey Logano wrecked leader Elliott Sadler five laps from the end, then broke free during a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington Raceway for his second straight Nationwide Series victory.
  On a sad note, Carroll Shelby, known in the motorsports world as the father of the Shelby Cobra and many other high-end automobiles, died in Dallas at the age of 89. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia

  Last year, 2016, Opening night at the Stafford Motor Speedway was rained out. Stafford will try again next Friday night. Also falling victim of rain was the newly revamped Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island and the Seekonk Speedway in Mass.
  The New London-Waterford Speedway defied the rain for a while but they too succumbed. Two of the ten scheduled feature events were completed when rain forced the track management to pull the plug. Because of the fact that the Whelen Modified Tour Series will be running at the shoreline oval on Saturday night along with a full card of Saturday night regular divisions this event resumed on Sunday at noon with the remaining eight features to be run. Remaining to be run Sunday will be a 35-lap SK Modified feature, 25-lap Limited Sportsman feature, 25-lap Mini Stock feature, 25-lap SK Light Modified feature, 25-lap Legends feature, 25-lap Mr. Rooter New England Truck Series feature, 20-lap X-Car feature and a 20-lap Super X-Car feature.
  Keith Rocco, a second generation racer, won the 30-lap Late Model feature and Tyler Barry, a ten year old third generation racer, won the 20-lap Bandolero feature before rain began falling.
  Rocco took the lead from Ray Christian III at the drop of the green flag and never looked back. Anthony Flannery was second and Adam Gray, third. Barry, is the grandson of legendary Modified team owner Art Barry and the son of former Modified driver Ken Barry. Ethan Durocher was second and Andrew Morin was third on the track but was disqualified for an illegal gear, moving Charles Prinz to third.
  Also of note was the debut of third generation racer Jacob Perry in the Mini Stock division. Perry, the son of Dennis Perry was sixth fastest in practice and sixth in his qualifying heat.
  The field in the SK Modified division was 24 cars strong. Heat winners were Rowan Pennink, Keith Rocco and Paul Kusheba.
  Keith Rocco added to his legend as he beat out Ted Christopher to win the 25 lap SK Modified opener. Rocco now has a total of 123 wins at the track and a career total of 216 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways. Following Christopher at the finish was Rob Janovic. Joe Gada and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Dennis Perry finished sixth and was followed by Tyler Chadwick, Dylan Izzo and Ryan Morgan.
  Janovic took the SK Modified field to green from the pole with Monahan on his outside. Caution flew on lap 12 when Bo Gunning went to the infield in turn two. Janovic held the top spot on the restart but the caution quickly flew again for a multi-car pileup on the front stretch on lap 13.Following the cleanup it was Janovic again getting the advantage over Diego Monahan on the restart. Janovic held on again through a lap 23 restart, but Monahan gave him two hard taps before the completion of the lap.
  On lap 26 Monahan stuck his nose under Janovic going into turn one. The two had contact and Janovic was forced to save a sliding car while Monahan went to the front. But two laps later, Monahan ended up in the front stretch wall while battling for the lead with Rocco. The caution flew again on lap 31 when rookie Paul Buzel got into the wall in turn four. On the ensuing restart, Christopher was able to go to the outside pass Janovic for second place, but Christopher couldn’t get close enough to challenge Rocco at the front.
  Other winners on Sunday included Al Stone III in the Limited Sportsman division, Tony Membrino Jr. in the SK Light feature, Wayne Burroughs Jr. in the Mini Stock event, Dana DiMatteo in the Legends feature, Bert Ouellette in the Mr. Rooter New England Truck Series race, Dave Gargaro Jr. in the X-Car feature and Dave Yardley III in the Super X-Car race.
  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 resumed Saturday night with Tim Brown and Burt Myers on the front row. Brandon Ward inherited the lead after the front runners pitted for tires on lap 159. Ward’s tire strategy had worked out a little differently. “We had to pit early because we needed to make adjustments. So we stopped and took our tires quite a bit earlier than the rest of the leaders,” said Ward, who was worried about how his car would perform later in the race. “But really once we could get out front, the car made some really good times,” said Ward.
  John Smith attempted to slip by Ward with a few double-file restarts, but Ward held strong. Ward claimed the checkered for the 200-lapper, the biggest win of the season and his first ever victory at the place they call The Madhouse.
  John Smith finished in second, with Joe Ryan Osborne taking third. Danny Bohn and Burt Myers rounded out the top five.
  After review of the results from Saturday night's Hayes Jewelers 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium, Brandon Ward was been stripped of his win and moved to 13th in the finishing order. John Smith has officially been declared the winner. It was pure chaos after the races as teams were protesting nearly everyone saying cars were laps down in front of them. Ward was actually a lap down from a previous spin in the event. Bowman Gray scores the races by hand and has never used transponders in their history other than when the NASCAR Whelen mod tour runs there.
  On a sad note, local racer Dave Berube, 66, was killed in a plane crash Tuesday in Syosset, N.Y, a town on Long Island. Berube won the 1996 Modified championship at Riverside Park Speedway. His last race was in 2013 at Canaan Fair Speedway in Canaan, N.H., finishing 22nd.
  Kyle Busch claimed his first victory at Kansas Speedway, holding off Kevin Harvick during the final 19-lap run to the checkered flag to win the 400. It was Busch’s third victory of the season and with his first win in 17 starts at the 1.5-mile track, it left him with only two tracks (Kentucky Speedway and Pocono Raceway) on the Sprint Cup Series schedule where he has never won.
  Busch, 30, led 69 of the 267 laps and gave Joe Gibbs Racing its sixth victory of the season, beating Harvick to the checkered flag by 1.112 seconds for his 37th Sprint Cup Series triumph.

  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 12, 2017

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