The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

November 17, 2017

  Twenty five years ago, in 1992, NASCAR’s Winston Cup division saw the end of one era and the beginning of another. Richard Petty drove his last race at Atlanta and officially retired from driving. Rick Wilson was named as his replacement. It was also at Atlanta that Jeff Gordon made his Winston Cup debut.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, The Busch North Series got some good news at their awards banquet when NASCAR Touring Series Director Chris Boals announced that the successful television package with the Speed Channel had been renewed, with expanded national television coverage for the BNS in 2003 and beyond. This was a definite shot in the arm for competitors who were in the process of securing sponsorship for their race teams. The Speed Channel had also announced that they would cover USAC events in 2003. The Stafford Speedway announced plans for a special invitational event for SK-Modifieds and Late Models. Tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2003, with a possible format of twin features for each division plus a grand finale for each, should make for an exciting day of racing.

  Ten years ago in 2007, it looked like Jimmy Blewett, who had 15 wins to his credit in 2007, would be spending his non-touring Saturday nights at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island in 2008. Blewett would compete on the tour in 2008 but not in the familiar Eddie Partridge No. 12. Blewett was scheduled be driving the George Bierce No. 19 that was driven by Ronnie Silk. Partridge consummated a deal that will saw both race teams merged into one. To supplement the Bierce team Partridge would supply an additional car plus motors and transmissions. Blewett and the Partridge SK Modified would compete weekly at the Stafford Motor Speedway and at the Thompson Speedway. Silk was a candidate to drive the Curt Chase No.77 as well as the Boehler No. 3, which is if Bobby Santos III is committed to racing in the south. Eric Beers, who lives down the street from Tony Hirschman, will be stepping into the Massachusetts based No. 46 that was driven by Dick Houlihan. Beers, who drove the Boehler No.3 a while back, finished an impressive second in the No. 46 at the recent North-South Shootout. Jamie Tomaino, who is considered to be the oldest active tour driver with close to 500 starts, has his home in New Jersey up for sale and hopes to be moving to North Carolina. Once the move is made he will concentrate his racing efforts on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour with occasional starts on the northern tour.
  The family of John Blewett III announced that it would be the end of an era as it will be the final appearance of the Blewett Motorsports family owned, Red, White and Blue #76 Modified. Jimmy Blewett, in honor of his late brother John who lost his life in a racing accident at the Thompson Speedway the previous summer, would race the car number for the final time in the Wall and Open Mods, and then the car will be placed in the Blewett Automotive Museum. The number 76 will be retired by Wall Speedway. The Blewett 76 has been a mainstay in Modified racing the last 4 decades.
The Stafford Motor Speedway honored its 2007 track champions at its 38th annual Champions Awards Ceremony at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor, CT. The guests of honor included Ted Christopher who was recognized as the 2007 SK Modified Champion, which is his sixth overall at the central Connecticut oval. Corey Hutchings was honored as the 2007 Late Model Champion, which he achieved in his rookie campaign at Stafford. Chris Matthews, who missed out on racing for the inaugural SK Light championship in 2006 because he was on his honeymoon, drove to the 2007 SK Light Championship in dominating fashion this season, clinching the championship with two races remaining. Sean Foster drove to four feature victories and eight top-4 finishes in the final 9 races this season and was recognized as the 2007 Limited Late Model Champion, and Norm Sears put together an amazing stretch during the second half of the 2007 season with seven podium finishes in the final eight races to win his second consecutive DARE Stock Championship.
  Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year honors went to Wade Mattesen from the SK Modified division, Corey Hutchings from the Late Model division, Josh Sylvester from the SK Light division, and David Capriati from the Limited Late Model division. In addition to recognizing the 2007 track champions, other prestigious awards, including Most Improved Driver, Most Popular Driver, and the Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards were presented.
  Matt Kenseth ended Johnson's four-race winning streak, but Johnson's seventh-place finish was more than enough to cap a brilliant Chase for the Nextel Cup performance and give him a 77-point final margin over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kurt Busch battled back from a flat tire 100 laps in to finish second. Denny Hamlin was third. Gordon ended up fourth. In Busch Series action at Homestead Jeff Burton won the Ford 300 for his 5th win of 2007 and the 27th of his career. It was the series' final race with Anheuser-Busch as the title sponsor. Mark Martin was second followed by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Stephen Leicht, Greg Biffle and Tony Raines. In the season ending event for the Craftsman Trucks a spin by the #08 brought about a green-white-checkered finish and gave Johnny Benson the room he needed to make the pass on then race leader, Kyle Busch to pick up the win in the Ford 200 at Homestead Miami Speedway. This was Benson's fourth win in 2007; ninth career. In the race for the championship, an early tire problem put Skinner a lap down and then again on lap 74 Skinner had tire problems as he lost the left rear wheel. Skinner had to pull the #5 Toyota into the garage losing eleven laps while the team made repairs. Ron Hornaday finished seventh to win the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series Championship. In his first outing Don Lia finished 25th.

  Five years ago in 2012, the 10th annual Colors Edge John Blewett III North-South Shootout presented by PPG is took center stage at the historic Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. There were 30 Tour type Modifieds and 11 SK type Modifieds. In pre-qualifying practice on Friday, Ryan Preece who was driving the 7ny that is normally driven by Ryan Newman was one-upped by Woody Pitkat who was the fastest of the fast in practice.
Competitors ran against the clock for the top 12 starting spots for the Tour type Shootout. Burt Myers took the top spot over Matt Hirschman, Jason Myers, George Brunnhoelzl III and Kyle Ebersole. Sixth through twelfth was Ryan Preece, Erik Rudolph, Tommy Barrett, Patrick Emerling, Danny Bohn, Brian Loftin and Chuck Hossfeldt. Woody Pitkat and Chris Pasteryak were the heat winners.
  In SK type time trials Michael Gervais took the pole over Matt Hirschman and TJ Zacharias.
  Sticking out like a sore thumb by their absence were just about all of the northern Whelen Modified Tour competitors.
The SK types were up in the late afternoon for their 25 lap feature event. Michael Gervais, a regular in the SK Modified division at the Stafford Motor Speedway led from pole to pole to take down the win. Jimmy Zacharias finished second with Glen Reen, third.
  The Modified North-South Shootout 125 lapper saw Ryan Preece, in the #7ny driven normally by Ryan Newman take a surprise win over Chuck Hossfeld and Matt Hirschman. The Shootout was a caution filled event as the yellow was displayed 17 times for numerous spins and crashes. The most important yellow came on lap 121 when Tommy Barrett attempted to pass Woody Pitkat on the low side. Pitkat moved to block and the two collided. Both were able to restart and finished respectively in seventh (Barrett) and ninth (Pitkat).
  Danny Bohn finished fourth and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Johnny Sutton, Barrett, Charlie Pasteryak, Pitkat and Kyle Ebersole.
  Preece and his team, co-owned by Gary Putnam and Kevin “Bono” Manion, had their winnings cut by two-thirds for a rules infraction, track officials told RaceDayCT.
  Track owner and promoter Renee Hackett confirmed that the team was fined $4,000 for an unapproved tire change during the event. Hackett read a statement from the track addressing the issue: “Following the conclusion of the event, during the [North-South Shootout] officials breakdown meeting, it was discovered that [Ryan] Preece had made an unapproved tire change. The 7NY team claimed a tire on the car was flat, but it was not. Thus resulting in the use of an unapproved tire, as he had already changed two on a previous pit stop. To be considered flat, the tire must have 12 pounds or less of air pressure. The tire in question had 15 pounds of air when checked. During the driver’s meeting all drivers were informed of the tire change rule and air pressure requirements. Drivers were informed that they would be penalized if a tire change occurred without prior approval from a [North-South Shootout] official.” Hackett said the $4,000 fine from Preece’s team would be redistributed to the teams that finished second through fifth. Hossfeld will be awarded an extra $2,500 and Hirschman an extra $1,000. Fourth place finisher Danny Bohn of Mooresville, N.C. will get an extra $300 and fifth place finisher Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon was given an extra $200.
  The rules for the race said teams got a six-tire inventory for the event, which included the four tires the teams started on and two tires that could be changed during the event. Preece said the team never went outside their six-tire inventory. North-South Shootout competition director Tom Fox said the team used an unapproved third new tire during the event.
  Congratulations went out to fellow scribe Kevin Rice who was the recipient of the Star(NH) Speedway Appreciation Award for his loyal support of the track. Rice is a reporter for the Lowell (Mass) Sun and trade publication Area Auto Racing News.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Phoenix Kevin Harvick snapped a 44-race losing streak by beating Kyle Busch on a pair of late restarts, the ironic winner on the same weekend news leaked he's reportedly signed a deal to leave Richard Childress Racing to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
  Harvick and Busch crossed the finish line ahead of a melee of crashing cars, a chain reaction caused in part because NASCAR failed to throw a caution when Danica Patrick was spun on the restart. Then others slid in oil, into Patrick's wrecked car, bounced all over the track, and even Keselowski was hit.
  But the carnage was simply the final exclamation point in a sequence triggered by four-time champion Jeff Gordon. He intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, and that led to a full brawl in the garage and a red-flag of nearly 15 minutes for clean up on the track. Gordon slowed his car to wait for Bowyer so he could intentionally wreck him as retaliation for several weeks of on-track contact between the two. The fireworks started with seven laps left, when Bowyer made contact with Gordon, sending him into the wall. Gordon's No. 24 car was black-flagged, but he didn't leave the track, instead waiting for Bowyer for his chance at redemption.
  After Gordon climbed from his car in the garage, he appeared to be jumped from behind by one of Bowyer's crew members who wiped the ground using him as the broom. It led to a full brawl between the crews, with Bowyer sprinting from his car to join the fracas. Bowyer was held back by NASCAR officials from entering Gordon's hauler.
  Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000, docked 25 points and placed on probation through the end of the season. NASCAR levied the penalties against Gordon the result of his altercation with Clint Bowyer during Sunday’s race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
  Rick Hendrick, owner of the No. 24 car, was also penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 car, also was found to be in violation of Section 9-4A (at all events, crew chief assumes responsibility of his driver, car owner and team members) and was placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
  Bowyer was not penalized, but Brian Pattie, crew chief for Bowyer’s No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing car, violated Sections 12-1 and 9-4A and was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
  Point leader Brad Keselowski was fined not for his profanity-laced tirade following the race, but for carrying his cell phone in his car during the event.
Joey Logano picked up his ninth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the year Saturday at Phoenix Int’l Raceway while Elliott Sadler’s shot at the series championship may have ended after a late-race crash. Logano dominated Saturday’s Great Clips 200, but a pair of late-race caution flags nearly did him in. Logano had a comfortable lead with nine laps left when Noel Dowler lost a tire in turns three and four to bring out a caution flag.

  Last year, 2016, The highlight of last weekend was the induction dinner for the New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame. Among those inducted were drivers Ken Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie, Jerry Marquis, Nokie Fornoro, George “Moose” Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, and Fred Meeker, along with broadcaster Jack Arute Jr., multi-faceted John Burgess, and brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley, inventors of the “Stanley Steamer” automobile and former land speed record holders.
  The inaugural Ron Bouchard Award, honoring lifetime service to the sport of auto racing, went to Vermont’s Ken Squier. NEAR President Paul Masse and Bouchard’s widow Paula Flemke Bouchard presented the award. Justin St. Louis accepted for Squire. The Danny Pardi Memorial Award, acknowledging service to the Hall of Fame, went to former NEAR President Al Fini. Presenter Fred Ciavola pointed out Fini’s long-time dedication to the club.
  Phil Whipple of Maine’s Lewiston Sun Journal and Richard Bigelow shared the Mitchell/Ratta Media Award and Russ Dowd, a track announcer at Thompson for 35 years, was the recipient of the Frank Maratta Award which recognized “outstanding contribution and support of auto racing.”
Matt Buckler, who has been Master of Ceremonies for all but three of the induction affairs, kept the festivities moving. Buckler pointed out that the crowd of 360 plus included Bugs Stevens and Eddie West, members of the Hall’s first (1998) and second classes respectively. There were two – Donnie LaJoie and Ron Narducci – from the third class. Fred Rosner, Don Rounds and Denny Zimmerman represented the fourth class
  The Stafford Motor Speedway became the first to announce a date for the 2017 Whelen Modified Tour. The 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler wouldl be held on the weekend of April 28-30. Although their scheduled hadn’t been released the Stafford management said there would be 22 races with 10 Touring Series races in 2017.
  A benefit party for Modified competitor Todd Ceravolo was held at the Groton Elks Club in Groton, Ct. Ceravolo was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer in April. He had been battling to beat it ever since. Between 400 to 600 family and friends were on hand for the benefit, which was used to help defer medical costs. For eight months it had been a battle and Todd is now on the home stretch to a full recovery. Among those on hand was multi time NASCAR Modified and K&N (Busch North) champion Mike Stefanik, Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified Champion Rowan Pennink, New London-Waterford and Thompson Motorsports Park Champion Keith Rocco and many time Stafford, Waterford and Thompson Track Champion Bob Potter. Noted author and fellow scribe Mark Bones Bourcier was also there.
  Modified driver Jeff Goodale announced on FaceBook that he was stepping away as a driver on the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Woody Pitkat would take his seat. He said, " My priorities for next year (2017) are devoted to my family business, Riverhead Building Supply". A business that has given me so much and has given me a life I am forever thankful for. I am so happy to finally give back and make a name for myself within the company. I owe it to my family to be the best asset I can possibly be. Aside from work I wanted to devote more time to my personal life. There is so much to enjoy and so many things in life aside from the racing scene that I would like to experience. I know Ill miss being behind the wheel, but I feel it is in my best interest, that missing it a little is the healthiest thing I can do for myself right now".
  Goodale will remain as team owner. "As for the future of Goodie Motorsports, I am very proud and excited to take a step back and become team owner. I am also pleased to announce our new driver, Woody Pitkat". Goodale is the Assistant Manager at Riverhead Building Supply. Riverhead Building Supply offers fourteen convenient locations including two in Rhode Island in North Kingstown and Middletown.
  Joey Logano snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat and won Sunday’s Can-Am 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Phoenix Int’l Raceway, earning a place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kyle Busch finished second. Busch dominated Saturday’s race in usual Busch fashion, leading 190 of 200 laps to easily score his 10th XFINITY Series victory of the season.

  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: November 17, 2017

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