The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

June 23, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 Wes Kingsley was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Everett Harris was the Claiming Car winner.

  Sixty years ago in 1957, Red Bolduc, who normally raced at the Norwood Arena, ventured to Connecticut where he won the 25 lap Sportsman feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner. At the Islip Speedway, Johnny Rocco took the win over Johnny Coy. Harry Hebbenstreit, who in later years would serve as the General Manager of the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, finished third.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Bill Slater made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. At Waterford, George Pendergast was the 25 lap Modified feature winner. Lou Caso was the Bomber winner.

  Fifty years ago in 1967, Bugsy Stevens was the Friday night winner at Stafford over Gene Bergin, Bobby Santos, Pete Hamilton and Leo Cleary. It was Stevens’ first win at Stafford. Double features were on tap at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Rene Charland took the opener and was followed by Bill Wimble, Eddie Flemke, Lou Lazzaro and Guy Chartrand. Kenny Shoemaker won the nightcap over Richie Evans, Wimble, Lazzaro and Flemke. Hamilton, who had taken over the Worcester Sand and Gravel No.69 that had formerly been driven by Mario "Fats" Caruso took the Saturday night win at Norwood Arena. At Fonda, it was Rene Charland over Lou Lazzaro and Jack Farquar. Newt Palm made it two in a row at Waterford. At the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night George Pendergast beat out Richie Evans, Pete Corey, Billy Harman and Rene Charland for the win.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, rain put a damper on the racing in New York State as Malta, Fonda and Utica-Rome pulled the plug because of the wet stuff. Bugsy Stevens was the Saturday night winner at Stafford over Eddie Flemke, Leo Cleary and Ronnie Bouchard. At Islip, Japanese driver George Tet was the winner at the tight 1/5 mile oval. Cliff Tyler finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third. Waterford's features were washed out after qualifying was completed.

  Forty years ago in 1977, still going strong was Bugsy Stevens, now in the Koszela 15, as he blasted his way thru the field at Stafford to record a popular win over Geoff Bodine, Ray Miller and Brett Bodine. The rain stayed north and washed out Friday night action at Monadnock. Saturday night at Seekonk, Leo Cleary in the Tom Dunn T-5 Pinto Wagon showed the quick way around the 1/4 mile oval as he took the win over Jim Wilkins, John Rosati and George Murray. Waterford and Westboro were victims of rain but at Riverside it stayed dry long enough for Bob Polverari to record a win over Reggie Ruggiero. All racing for the weekend on Long Island was also wet. At Thompson on Sunday, Fred DeSarro made it four in a row. Geoff Bodine settled for second and was followed by Leo Cleary, Ronnie Bouchard and Ray Miller.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Richie Evans scored his 11th of the season with a 150 lap win at New Egypt on Wednesday night. Tony Siscone finished second with Jerry Cook, third. New Egypt ran again on Friday night with Siscone turning the tables with a win over Evans and John Blewett Jr. Greg Sacks, enjoying his best season ever, recorded his 12th win of the season at Stafford on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens finished second with George Summers, third. Tom Bolles was the SK Modified winner. Dan DeRosier beat out Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari at Riverside and at Thompson, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero each scored victories. Rain washed out Waterford and Islip. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Cale Yarborough took the win.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, Rick Fuller was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Richie Gallup finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. Ricky Shawn was the Late Model winner. Dickie Doo Ceravolo made it two in a row at Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Moose Hewitt and Jerry Pearl for the win. At Riverside, Dan Avery took the win over Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead, Wayne Anderson went pole to pole to take the win over Tom McCann. Out in South Central New York at Shangri-La, Tony Hirschman took the win and in Winston Cup action at Riverside, Tim Richmond took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, rain drenched the northeast, washing out Stafford's Busch North Series event on Friday night and Waterford on Saturday night. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series Modifieds were at Flemington for a 200 lapper which was won by local favorite Doug Hoffman. Jan Leaty finished second with Ed Flemke Jr, Tim Arre and Jeff Fuller rounding out the top five. Mike Ewanitsko ruled the roost at Riverhead and at Riverside, Bruce D'Assandro beat out John Zavisa and Ed Kennedy for the win.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Steve Chowanski started his weekend right with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Bo Gunning finished second with Jim Broderick, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Todd Ceravolo got his fourth win of the season after Jim Broderick was disqualified with an illegal transmission. Don Fowler ended up second with Dennis Gada, third. Mike Stefanik recorded his sixth modified win of the season as he won the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Touring Series 201 lap event at Riverhead. After taking the lead on lap 66, Stefanik survived nine cautions for 42 laps on his way to victory. His average speed was 46.708 mph. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Tim Connelly and Rick Fuller.Ted Riggott got his fourth win at Riverside and in Busch North Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Jerry Marquis took the win over Martin Truex, Tom Bolles, Rick Fuller and Mike Stefanik. Marquis started sixth and was running third on lap 31 of the 150 lap event when Kelly Moore dumped leader Dale Shaw. Shaw went to the back and Moore pitted for a stop and go. In Winston Cup action at Fontana in California, Jeff Gordon took the checker on fumes as he ran out of gas on the cool down lap.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, Bert Marvin made it three in a row in Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson. Marvin started 17th and followed Ted Christopher to the front. He passed Christopher on lap 7 and leader Stu McCarthy on lap18 of the 30-lap feature. McCarthy finished second and was followed by Christopher, Bo Gunning, Tom Bolles and Ron Yuhas Jr. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour traveled to Richmond, Virginia for a 150-lap event. Rookie sensation Todd Szegedy took the win after passing Mike Stefanik on lap 95. Stefanik finished second with Nevin George, Jerry Marquis and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top five. Stafford ran a 100 lapper for the SK-Modifieds. Mike Christopher drove the Mystique Motorsports No.13 for his brother who was at Richmond. Mikey started dead last and ended up taking the win over Jim Williams, Tucker Reynolds and John Lobo. Waterford was the scene of “The Big Wreck” on Saturday night. Jim Civalli got loose coming out of turn four on lap nine and ended up collecting 15 of the 22 starters in a grinding wreck. Among those sustaining race-ending damage were Dennis Gada, Jeff Pearl, Don Fowler and David Gada. Tom Fox survived to take the win over Ron Yuhas Jr., Dennis Charette and Jay Miller. Chris Young won at Riverhead and John Blewett III took Wall Township. Andy Santerre won the Busch North Series 150 at Holland and Greg Biffle won the Busch Grandnational event at Milwaukee. The Winston Cuppers had the weekend off.

  Ten years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour got back into action on Thursday night at the Thompson Speedway with the Charter Cable, Internet, Telephone 150. There were 38 Modifieds on hand to qualify for the 35 starting spots. Second-generation driver Richard Savory, driving the Art Barry No. 21 was the Busch Pole sitter. Second fastest was Don Lia in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile. The re-draw for starting spots saw Ryan Preece picking the pole position with James Civali picking the outside pole. Lia ended up winning the rain-shortened event after taking the lead on lap 34. Rain began to fall as the field completed lap 80 of the 150-lap distance. The field circled the 5/8-mile oval under caution for 20 more laps when the event was finally called. Among those who were hoping to restart the event was Ted Christopher who felt that he had something for the leader. Christopher, who was scheduled to start ninth, started scratch after suffering a flat tire just prior to the event. Christopher drove a determined race and was in the process of putting himself into position to challenge the leader when the skies opened up. Christopher was forced to settle for the runner-up spot in the final rundown. Bobby Santos III, driving the Boehler family entry finished third in his best effort to date. Former champions Tony Hirschman and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Pole sitter Civali and Eddie Flemke led the early going as they swapped the lead numerous times in a brilliant exhibition of high speed driving. Civali ended up 7th and Flemke, 19th.
  Woody Pitkat’s debut in the series started with a bang as he hit the wall in final practice. The Roger Hill crew was able to make repairs and Pitkat was afforded a starting spot because of an owner’s provisional. In spite of all his pre-race trouble Pitkat drove to a solid 10th place finish.
Among those on hand to take in the event and mingle with old friends were NEAR Hall of Fame driving legends Leo Cleary, Billy Harman, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers.
  The True Value Modified Series continued to attract competitors from the Whelen Modified Tour Series including former series champion Mike Stefanik. The True Value Series ran a 100 lap event at the ¼ mile Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Taking the win was local favorite Vinnie Annarummo. Louie Mechalides started 24th on the field and finished second. Stefanik got as high as seventh until spinning out shortly after the halfway mark. Also in the field but finishing out of the top ten was Ted Christopher.
  In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett jumped out at the start of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified 30 lapper and proceeded to go pole to pole to win the event. Tom Cravenho finished second with Keith Rocco, third. Kerry Malone and John Blewett rounded out the top five. In other Whelen All-American Series competition George Bessette was victorious in the Pro Stock division while Larry Barnett took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division. It was a night for repeats as three of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions featured back-to-back winners. Marc Jenison won the the Late Models, Mike Romano, the Mini Stocks and Tim Sullivan, TIS Modifieds.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway, rain prevailed.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl defending SK Modified champion Dennis Gada used the outside groove to pass early leader Jay Miller with four laps remaining in capturing his second feature race of the season. The event marked the 52nd SK Modified victory of the 6-time champions career. Zach Sylvester, driving a car owned by Dick Ceravolo and Miller completed the top-three.
Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), Randy Cabral (Northeastern Midget Association).
  Other weekend winners were Chris Young at Riverhead, after it was determined that apparent winner Ken Heagy had altered his tires. Ken Woolley won the Sunoco Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour race Saturday night at the Wall Township Speedway.
  In Nextel Cup racing Juan Pablo Montoya used his well-honed road-racing skill to save his tires, stretch his fuel to the limit, and win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Infinion Raceway for his first NASCAR Nextel Cup victory. In Busch Series action at the Milwaukee Mile Denny Hamlin proved you don't necessarily have to be around for the green flag to take the checkered flag. And Aric Almirola sulked away from what will go down in the record books as his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory. After missing the start of the race because his helicopter couldn't find a place to land, Hamlin rallied to take the checkered flag in a wacky AT&T 250 at the Milwaukee Mile. But because Almirola, a substitute driver, started the race in Hamlin's car, NASCAR officially will credit Almirola with the victory, points and prize money. In Victory Lane, Hamlin said it wasn't his decision to kick Almirola out of the car. According to NASCAR officials, it was the first time a relief driver had won a race a Busch series race since Jack Ingram turned his car over to Harry Gant at Darlington Raceway on April 13, 1985.

  Five years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Waterford Speedbowl. The event, the first since 2006, drew 24 cars and a packed house of fans. Doug Coby, the Racing Realtor, remained hot as a pistol as he took the win. Coby led 119 laps in the No. 52 Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Furnace & Duct Supply Chevrolet to his third victory in five races to start the 2012 season. It is his fifth career victory overall, and first in Whelen Modified Tour events at Waterford.
  Justin Bonsignore crossed the line second with Ryan Preece in third. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Donny Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennink, Eric Beers, Keith Rocco, polesitter Ted Christopher and Jon McKennedy.
  There were three lead changes among three drivers. Christopher led from the opening green to lap 43. Coby took over on lap 44 and led the rest of the way except for lap 146 when Preece led momentarily.
  Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw racing in heat that was close to the 100 degree mark. Ted Christopher is also close to the 100 feature win mark at the Big T as he scored his 95th career win. Christopher, who won his first victory at the Stafford Motor Speedway in 1986, has 96 SK Modified wins at the Arute family owned oval as well as 33 Modified wins at Waterford. Christopher's win was his second of the year at the northeastern Connecticut oval.
  Other feature winners included Tommy O’Sullivan in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds and John Lewinski-Loh in the Thompson Modifieds. Jim Banfield in the Super Late Models and Jesse Gleason in the Limited Sportsman scored their first season wins and Chad Baxter was victorious in the Mini Stocks.
  In the Sunoco (SK) Modified feature as the green dropped John Catania and Kerry Malone went into turn one double-file with Malone getting the lead coming out of turn two. Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece moved into second and third with Preece all over Christopher’s bumper for the second position. Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco made it a five-car bumper-to-bumper train up front.
  On lap nine, Christopher shot to the bottom and took over the lead with Preece in tow. Malone squeezed into third, but was quickly passed by Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco. The frontrunners approached lapped traffic at lap 13, but continued in a tight formation without a hiccup. On lap 22, Pitkat broke free of the trio to make a bid on Preece, but lost momentum and turned his focus to Rocco, who threatened his third place position. Pitkat regained himself as Christopher continued to lead Preece less than a car length in front of him. Christopher never faltered and drove straight to the checkered flag. Preece settled for second with Pitkat, third. Rocco and Malone rounded out the top five.
  The Stafford Speedway fell victim to rain and high wind that hammered central Connecticut on Friday afternoon. The Valenti Modified Series race that was also scheduled will be rescheduled to Friday, September 14th.
  In regular weekly racing at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic Jr. scored his first win of the season in the track's SK Modified feature, while Greg Moran Jr. picked up a first career victory in the Street Stock division and Sean Caron was back in the winner's circle in the Mini Stock division for the first time since 2010. Bruce Thomas Jr. took the Late Model division race, the only repeat winner.
  Janovic was the third leader in the 35-lap Modified feature, taking over from Kyle James following a lap-16 caution flag. Janovic raced the outside lane like a veteran, taking command down the backstretch to lead lap 17 just before the race's halfway point. Over the second half of the race Janovic had to hold off Jeff Pearl on two additional restarts, the final coming on lap 33 to set up a final sprint to the finish. Janovic held and went on to the checkered flag, his first of the year. Pearl, James, Tom Abele Jr. and Diego Monahan rounded out the top-five finishers.
  In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina twin 25 lap Modified features were the order of the night. Tim Brown went pole to pole to win the opening event while John Smith was victorious in the second event.
  Tom Rogers Jr. became the first NASCAR Modified repeat winner of the 2012 Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway as he won the Rapid Recovery night 35-lap feature.
  In Sprint Cup action, Clint Bowyer raced to his first victory on a road course, and first with Michael Waltrip Racing, by holding off Kurt Busch at Sonoma in California. Bowyer dominated Sunday's race by leading 70 of the 112 laps.
  The NASCAR Nationwide Series ran at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Nelson Piquet Jr took the win.

  Last year, 2016, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action resumed on Wednesday, June 15 at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Twenty nine cars were on hand for the event.
  Bobby Santos ended a long dry spell as he broke the stranglehold that Doug Coby had on the division. Santos, who had tire issues early on staged a lat race rally and passed Max Zachem on the final lap to take the win. Zachem settled for second after coming within one lap of his first career tour win. The 23-year-old from Preston, Connecticut, was making his 23rd career start and led a race-high 43 laps. Rookie Matt Swanson finished third, followed by Patrick Emerling and Jeff Goodale.
  Ryan Preece, who is running NASCAR XFINITY Series full-time this season, came back after a spin to finish sixth. Rowan Pennink, Brendon Bock, Jimmy Blewett and Ken Heagy rounded out the top 10. Coby, who earlier in the day won his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, wound up 11th after being black flagged for passing too early on a restart.
  Fifteen of the original 29 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Ron Silk, Shawn Solomito, Justin Bonsignore and Andrew Krause were eliminated in accidents with less than 15 laps to go. Craig Lutz and Nick Salva were also accident victims as were Chase Dowling and Dave Sapienza. Melissa Fifield finished a career high 19th, some six laps down. Last but not least was Woody Pitkat who retired after completing three laps when his clutch went bad.
  Doug Coby continued to lead the point standings, holding a 19 point edge over Max Zachem. Zachem continued to impress with his extremely strong runs as he came within a tick of scoring his first win in the Tour series. Rowan Pennink, Donnie Lia and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five.
In regular weekly racing action at Thompson Keith Rocco made it four in a row in the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds. A touch of the Flu didn't slow him down as he scored his 220th overall career win. Ronnie Williams finished second in a car maintained by Rocco. Ryan Preece finished third with Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top five.
  Other winners were Paul Charette in the Late Models, Dan Cugini in the NEMA Lites, Brent Gleason in the Limited Sportsman and Wayne Burroughs in the Mini Stocks.
  In weekly racing at Stafford, taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins on the night were Eric Berndt in the SK Modified® feature, Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, Daniel Wesson in the SK Light feature, Justin Bren in the Limited Late Model feature, Alexandra Fearn crossed the finish line first but was disqualified in post race tech for a ride height issue, making Tyler Trott the winner, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars feature.
  In the SK Modified feature, Rowan Pennink was able to make a pass stick on Keith Rocco to move into second on lap-38 as Eric Berndt was the leader. Berndt led Pennink and Rocco to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2016 season. Stephen Kopcik finished fourth and Ted Christopher rounded out the top-5.
  Third year SK Modified division driver Paul Kusheba IV scored his long awaited first career victory in the division Saturday to showcase the racing card at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Anthony Flannery was victorious in the Late Model feature. Tony Membrino Jr. scored victory in the SK Light Modified feature. Al Stone III was victorious in the Limited Sportsman feature. Charles Canfield won the Mini Stock feature. Duane Noll won in the debut of the track’s new Truck division in weekly racing action at the shoreline oval.
  In the SK Modified feature Kusheba took the lead early on and survived numerous restarts to record the victory. Rob Janovic Jr. finished second with Dennis Perry, Joey Gada and Todd Owen rounding out the top five.
  The NASCAR Modifieds ran twin 50s at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Burt Myers broke a season long dry spell as he qualified for the pole position and led every lap to record the win. Lee Jefferies and Tim Brown followed. James Civali, driving the Hills Enterprises No.79 started on the pole but spun out of the lead which allowed John Smith ended up with the win with Jason Myers, second. Jason Myers, Brandon Ward, Burt Myers and Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Civali recovered from his spin to finish 11th.
  Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice reported that Modified car owner David Hill was injured and his former driver, Joe Ryan Osborne from Kannapolis, N.C. was arrested during an altercation in the pit area following Saturday night’s second 50-lap Modified race at NC’s Bowman Gray Stadium.
  Hill told Area Auto Racing News that he approached Osborne’s car just to talk to him as Osborne was passing by Hill’s pit stall on the way to his own stall. Osborne then drove forward, and then spun his car around with Hill hanging onto Osborne’s helmet to avoid being thrown from the car and run over. Bystanders told Rice that Hill was thrown high into the air when Osborne was trying to get away, but fortunately he escaped with minor injuries and was not transported to a hospital. Osborne says that he was released by police with no bail after charges were reduced to misdemeanors
  The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island saw Kyle Soper take the Modified division win.
  Two Massachusetts racers scored big wins in Maine on Saturday night in twin 50s for the Valenti Modified Racing Series at the Oxford Plains Speedway. Anthony Nocella of Woburn, and Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, took decisive wins at the 1/3 mile speedway. Only two caution flags slowed the race. 17 cars finished on the lead lap. Three yellows were displayed in the second event. 9 cars finished on the lead lap.
  Following Nocella in the first event was McKennedy. David Schneider finished third with Richard Savary and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top five. George Sherman was the runner-up in the second 50 lapper with Chris Pasteryak. Russ Hersey and Colby Fournier rounded out the top five.
  NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors had the weekend off. Sam Hornish Jr. hadn’t raced in NASCAR since November of 2015, but it didn’t slow him down as he dominated the NASCAR XFINTY Series American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway for his fourth career series victory. Hornish, got the call from Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 18 Toyota in place of Matt Tifft. Tifft was forced to miss Sunday’s race because of a back injury, opening the door for Hornish to step in. Hornish eventually beat Ty Dillon to the finish line by nearly 1.5 seconds for his first XFINITY Series victory of the year in his first start of the season. He led a race-high 183 laps en route to the triumph.
  In some sad news, noted championship car owner and NEAR Hall of Fame member Mario Fiore had been fighting a valiant battle with cancer. On Friday close friend David Salzarulo was informed by Mario's physician that all treatment is now for comfort. While we will not stop hoping for a miracle, the racing community is praying for comfort and a miracle.

  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: June 23, 2017

2007-2017 © GeeLaw Motorsports/RGeePro    Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent