Forty years ago in 1978 Benny Parsons won the Richmond 400 as
20,000 spectators looked on. Lenny Pond finished second with Cale
Yarborough, third. Darrel Waltrip and Dick Brooks rounded out the top five.
Thirty five years ago in 1983, Bobby
Allison won the Richmond 400 Winston Cup event.
Thirty years ago in 1988, the Winston
Cup division of NASCAR was at Richmond and the tire war between Hoosier and
Goodyear was on. Hoosier had the tire to beat. Morgan Shepherd took the pole
on Hoosiers and Neil Bonnett took the win, also on Hoosiers.
Twenty five years ago in 1993, Mark
Martin won the Busch Grandnational 200. Todd Bodine was involved in a bad
crash after he blew a tire and hit the wall. Rusty Wallace rebounded from
his wreck at Daytona and dominated the Winston Cup event. Dale Earnhardt
Twenty years ago in 1998, Speedway
Motorsports exercised an option to buy the 800 acres and buildings that made
up the Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California. In Winston Cup qualifying
at Rockingham, Rick Mast was the Busch Pole sitter. Kenny Wallace was second
fastest. Tony Stewart was the Busch Grandnational pole sitter. Mike Stefanik
made it into the starting field with an owner’s provisional. In the GN 200,
Matt Kenseth bumped Tony Stewart on the last lap and went on to take the win
by a half car length. Stefanik finished 35th, 11 laps down. Jeff Gordon took
the Winston Cup win after he passed Rusty Wallace in the late stages.
Fifteen years ago in 2003, rain
played a role at Rockingham as the wet stuff cancelled qualifying for both
the Busch Series and the Winston Cup Series. Saturday’s Busch Series event
was also rained out and re-scheduled for Monday. Jamie McMurray led the
entire event to take the win over David Green. In Winston Cup action on
Monday, Dale Jarrett and Kurt Busch swapped the lead four times during the
final 11 laps with Jarrett coming out on top at the finish. On a sad note,
Bill Colton Sr., who brought soft walls to Lancaster and Oswego Speedways
passed away and Dexter Burnham, noted newspaper man and former Stafford
Speedway Public Relations director passed away at the age of 79.
Ten years ago in 2008 Carl Edwards
won the rain-delayed Auto Club 500 in Fontana CA on Monday, charging past
NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson with 13 laps remaining. Johnson,
winner of the past two Cup titles, came out of the final pit stop in the
lead with 26 laps left. But Edwards surged from third to capture the eighth
victory of his career. Jeff Gordon, who dominated Sunday's racing, was
third. He was followed by Kyle Busch and Roush's Matt Kenseth, who had won
the two previous February races at this track. Another Roush driver, Greg
Biffle, won this event in 2005.
About 25,000 fans, far short of the approximate 120,000 capacity, showed
up Monday, with the sun peeking out from high clouds and temperatures moving
into the high 60s.
The drivers spent most of Sunday waiting through rain, track drying and
attempts to stop water seeping through seams of the track. The race finally
began about 2 1/2 hours late, followed by a rain delay of just more than an
hour and then a five-hour wait after a downpour. NASCAR and track officials
finally gave up after 11 p.m. and postponed the conclusion until Monday.
Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana on
Monday afternoon following the Sprint Cup event for his second win of the
season. He dominated the race, leading 136 of the 150 laps. The rest of the
top 10 were Kyle Busch, Keving Harvick, David Reutimann, Carl Edwards, Jamie
McMurray, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, and Stepen Leicht
(who was the only driver in the top 10 who wasn't in the Cup race earlier).
The race was slowed by 5 cautions for 19 laps and there were 11 lead changes
among 9 drivers.
Kyle Busch won the Craftsman Truck Series event that was run on Saturday.
Don Lia, the defending Whelen Modified Tour Series champion, started 32nd
and finished 26th, one lap down.
In some sad news, Ronnie Ambrosi, 78, of Stafford Springs, passed away on
Saturday, (February 16, 2008) at Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford
Springs. Ron retired in 1992 as owner of the food concessions at Stafford
Motor Speedway and Ronnies Restaurant where everyone came from far and wide
to enjoy ice cream. Prior to the food concessions and the restaurant, Ron
was co-promoter along with Clarence Benton of all events that took place at
the speedway. He has had a relationship with the speedway for close to 67
years. As co-promoter of the track, which was dirt at the time, Ron had
American Motorcycle Association motorcycle races on Sundays. On Thursday
evenings he had semi-pro boxing. The ring was placed at the start-finish
line of the racetrack. He was a member of the New England Antique Racing
The International Speedway Corporation received a huge financial shot in
the arm as they announced a 10-year, multi-million dollar partnership with
the Automobile Club of Southern California ("Auto Club"), the nation's
largest member of the AAA federation, to re-name California Speedway as Auto
Club Speedway of Southern California. Specific financial terms were not
Five years ago in 2013 the big
highlight of the weekend was the 54th annual Frank Maratta Auto and Race-A-Rama
at the Big E in West Springfield, Ma. Hundreds of custom cars, Motorcycles
and Race Cars were on display. Numerous speedways were represented plus many
racing related vendors. Among the cars on display was the Valenti Modified
Racing Series Championship entry of Art and Kenny Barry of Spearpoint Auto
and the beautiful V-One No. 52 of John and Joe Catania. One of the
highlights of the weekend was the pit crew competition which was won by the
Jeff and Keith Rocco race team.
A hot topic of conversation was the exit of Frank Sgambato Jr from the
Race Management team at the Stafford Speedway and the rumor that Tom Fox
would be taking his place.
Word from Long Island indicated that Ted Christopher would not be a
regular competitor at the Riverhead Raceway in 2013. Wayne Anderson, a
former five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion announced that
21-year old Timmy Solomito of Islip would drive his famed Eastport Feeds
NASCAR Modified at the ultra-competitive quarter mile oval in 2013. The
Anderson/Solomito pairing would start their quest not only for the NASCAR
Modified championship at Riverhead but also the New York State title in the
Whelen All-American Series on Saturday evening May 4th in Twin 30 main
events. Solomito was the defending opening night winner.
Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice sent word that The Star Speedway
in Epping, NH is very excited to announce a sponsorship donation of $4,400
from Long Island race fan Jim Schaefer that will go directly to the drivers
who compete in the third annual SBM 125 Open Modified event at the
quarter-mile oval on Saturday, June 15.
Each of the 24 drivers who qualify for the race will be handed $100 bills
by Schaefer once they are officially in the star-studded field. This means
that the race would now pay $600 to start and a minimum of $5,125 to win,
even before the thousands of dollars in bonuses were added in.
At the 2012 event, race winner Matt Hirschman pocketed just under $9,000
when including the bonus cash. In fact 22 of the 28 race teams who entered
the SBM 125 last June earned additional monies beyond the purse payout for
In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Kyle Busch led 142 laps at Phoenix
International Raceway on Saturday to end a 24-race Nationwide winless
In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards pulled away on a late restart and
snapped a 70-race winless streak on Sunday, the second long drought he's
ended at Phoenix. Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole and
lead green-flag laps during NASCAR's season opener, sending her popularity
to a new level.
But she couldn't stay with the leaders at Phoenix, ending her day with
one of the hardest hits of her career. It happened with about 100 laps left,
when the right-front tire on Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet went down and
slammed her into the wall.
Last year, 2017, The World Series at
New Smyrna shifted into high gear with the running of the first of five Tour
type Modified events, a 50 lapper on the fast high banked ½ mile oval. A
healthy field of 24 cars went to post with up-state New Yorker Amy Catalano
on the pole and Jim Zacharias on the outside pole. At the drop of the green,
Catalano faded quickly as Zacharias took the lead with JR Bertuccio in tow.
Bertuccio took the lead from Zacharias on a lap-34 restart after riding him
high. He then had to hold off Ryan Preece for a few laps and then a late
charge from Matt Hirschman as well. Bertuccio beat Hirschman to the
checkered flag by 0.237 seconds to take the victory. Preece finished third
with Jon McKennedy and Ron Silk rounding out the top five.
In previous years the New Smyrna management was considering abandoning
the Modifieds for the lack of participation. The biggest problem was the
officiating, as tech inspectors often looked the other way when cheating
occurred. As a result the fields of cars dwindled. A change in the Modified
officials and stricter and fair enforcement of the rules has resulted in
better fields of cars, which will allow the Modifieds to compete at the
Florida track for many years to come. This yer’s World Series drew the
largest field of cars in 17 years.
Round two of the Modified portion of the World Series was a 30 lapper on
Tuesday night. Newcomer Tyler Ryptkema, from up-state New York, broke a rear
end and transmission on opening night but was able to make repairs and came
back with a vengeance as he led pole to pole in the non-stop event to score
a convincing win over Jimmy Zacharias. Jon McKennedy finished third with
Ryan Preece and Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top five. Round one winner JR
Bertuccio had a solid third place finish up until the last corner of the
last lap when he spun after making contact with Preece.
Bertuccio, who ended up 16th, lost his temper upon entering the pit area
and ended up in a confrontation with his dad and then with Preece. Bertuccio
made a mistake and couldn’t live up to the fact that he “blew it”. Ron Silk
finished sixth and was followed by Chuck Hossfeldt, Matt Hirschman, Timmy
Solomito and Tommy Catalano.
Heavy rain in central Florida washed out action at New Smyrna. The
Modified John Blewett III Memorial that had been scheduled for Wednesday
night was rescheduled for Thursday.
The skies cleared on Thursday night for the running of the John Blewett
III Memorial. In what was a highly competitive event with a lot of passing,
Ryan Preece scored a hard fought win over Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk.
Twenty six cars went to post. Justin Bonsignore who started 19th was the
show of the night as he fought his way to fourth at the finish. Jimmy
Blewett, who started on the pole, rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth
were Timmy Solomito, Richie Pallai Jr, Chuck Hossfeldt, JR Bertuccio and
Preece and Jon McKennedy were tied for the point lead going into the
event. McKennedy spun on the last lap and ended up 13th.
Matt Hirschman saved the best for last as he scored a convincing win in
the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday night at New Smyrna. Hirschman used
his inside position on a restart with 13 laps remaining and was able to get
by the leader from a majority of the race, Ron Silk, coming out of turn two.
Despite the win, Hirschman never broke a smile as he credited his dad,
former Mod tour champion Tony Hirschman, for doing a great job in building
and setting up the car. Silk ended up second. Jon McKennedy, Ryan Preece and
Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Timmy Solomito, Chuck Hossfeld,
Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio and Richie Pallai Jr. made up the top ten.
Ryan Preece claimed his third straight World Series title in the Modified
division. Preece edged Hirschman by just a mere one point in the final
Former driver John Jarush made an interesting observation, “The truck
race Friday was a wreckfest and boring till I saw the Xfinity 4 hour race
marathon ! NASCAR wants to make it more exciting ? Maybe during red flags
have Brian France in the infield on a horse, like Joe Tinty on Sugarfoot at
Plainville. Add to that put him in a clown suit and that would sum up the
state of NASCAR, run by a clown (with no disrespect to clowns ) It`s been
proven again and again, the first generation starts a business, the second
builds it up and the third runs it into the ground !!! “
Congratulations to Josh Vanada, Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway GM who
received the RPM Eastern Region Auto Racing Promoter of the Year Award.
Chase Elliott, who was already locked into the pole position for the 59th
Daytona 500 after qualifying in time trials, won Thursday night’s Can-Am
Duel Race No. 1.The 21-year-old Elliott, the son of two-time Daytona 500
winner Bill Elliott, became the youngest winner of a Daytona 500 qualifying
race. Previously it was Jeff Gordon, who won a qualifying race in 1993 that
was the youngest winner.
Elliott’s No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet finished .156 of a second ahead of Jamie
McMurray’s Chevrolet. It was the second-year driver’s first win in a Cup
Denny Hamlin drove from worst to first as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver
overcame a penalty on his pit stop to pick up the victory in Thursday
night’s Can-Am Duel No. 2 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Hamlin’s Toyota passed
race-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. heading to the white flag. Earnhardt’s
Chevrolet was in front for 53 laps in the 60-lap race.
Rookie Kaz Grala, a high school Senior from Boston, Massachusetts
attending Worcester Academy, won the NASCAR Truck Series season opener
Friday night, getting through a massive wreck on the final lap at Daytona
The 18-year-old Grala who has raced at the Seekonk Speedway and at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl became the youngest winner in a NASCAR
national series at Daytona. He was lucky to even make it to the checkered
flag. Two-time series champion Matt Crafton was leading the 100-lap race
when he got turned sideways and went for a wild ride that included several
spins and a harrowing flip. Crafton's No. 88 Toyota landed on all four
tires, and he was able to walk away unscathed.
Grala managed to escape the carnage, and considering it was his first
victory in 10 starts in the series, he had no idea what to do next.
Only 13 of 32 trucks finished on the lead lap, but even that doesn't
properly explain the all the damage done in a little more than two hours.
NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted a picture on his Twitter page of two
sailors shoveling money into a furnace with the caption "quick recap of
tonight's action." More than half the field was involved in accidents,
fairly routine at Daytona. Seventeen trucks were involved in a huge wreck on
the second lap, knocking out a number of contenders. Austin Wayne Self was
Ryan Reed jumped to the lead on the final green-white-checkered restart
and held off a final corner challenge from charging Kasey Kahne to collect
his second XFINITY Series victory and his second at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
He won the same race in 2015.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit