8-12-05

Thirty-five years ago in 1970, it was a very busy week. Tuesday the All Star League visited the Catamount Stadium in Vermont. Richie Evans won the 100 lapper over Bugsy Stevens, Geoff Bodine and Maynard Troyer. The following night the league moved to Stafford Springs where Bugsy Stevens used his home track advantage to take the win over Don Diffendorf, Evans, Bodine and Eddie Flemke. The Albany-Saratoga Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Friday night. Evans who had been under suspension by NASCAR was allowed to run and he wasted little time as he took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Robbie Kotary and Jerry Cook. Fonda held a 200-lap National Championship event on Saturday night. In addition to their regular runners, the event drew asphalt runners who were chasing points for the national title. Harry Peek took the win over Rene Charland and Don Wayman. Modified point leader Fred DeSarro finished sixth behind Ron Narducci. Jerry Cook finished 11th,Bernie Miller, 16th and Dick Fowler, 20th.Racing at Plattsburg was cancelled because of a power outage and at Stafford, Leo Cleary scored a one-two punch as he won the twin 25's that were run. Billy Harman finished second in the first one with Ernie Gahan, third. Ed Yerrington finished second in the nightcap with Gahan, third. Cleary carried his win streak to Thompson where he won the first feature and finished second to DeSarro in the second one. Utica-Rome rained out.

Thirty years ago in 1975, the schedule was light due to rain. At Stafford on Friday night, Geoff Bodine held off Eddie Flemke and Ronnie Bouchard for the win. Bodine also won the Yankee All Star event at Thompson on Wednesday. The only other action was at Shangri-La and Fulton where Richie Evans went two for two.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980,Richie Evans went three for three as he won at Stafford, Riverside and Thompson. At Stafford, Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and Ronnie Bouchard. At Riverside, Bob Polverari finished second but the real action took place after the races. Evidently the Agawam Police felt that Evans and his crew and friends were celebrating too much and came on the scene to quiet things down. While the cops were talking to Evans, Crew Chief Billy Nicewicz let the air out of one of the cruiser's tires. The cops had no sense of humor and arrested Evans, Nicewicz and anyone else who was in the area including John McMullen and Speedway Sceneís, Val LeSeur. Evans got everyone out and no charges were pressed. The New England Drivers and Owners Club voted to propose a maximum motor rule (358 C.I.) for 1981.It was adopted by NASCAR and is still the rule today. Other weekend winners were Tom Baldwin at New Egypt, Doug Hewitt at Spencer, Jeff Fuller at Westboro, John Blewett Jr. at Islip, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, Don Bunnell at Waterford, Tony Hirshman at Wall, SJ Evonsion at Monadnock and Art Davis at Danbury.

Twenty years ago in 1985,Stafford ran a challenge of Champions on Tuesday, promoted by Russ Conway. Guest of honor, Tim Richmond driving an SK Modified owned by Jack Malone took the special event over Ted Christopher and John Anderson. The Modified Tour was at Riverhead on Wednesday and it was Jim Spencer taking the win over Tony Siscone and Dan Jivenelli. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday which saw Charlie Jarzombek beat out George Brunnhoelzl and Corky Cookman. Rick Fuller beat out Ted Christopher and Bob Potter to win a 50 lapper at Waterford. The Mod Tour was at Catamount Stadium on Sunday night and Jim Spencer picked up his second win of the week. John Rosati finished second with Brian Ross and Richie Evans following. Richie Evans stayed close to home as he won at both Spencer and Shangri-La. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott was the pole sitter and winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1990,rain-washed out everything except Wall Stadium where Gil Hearne got his 99th career win and Thompson where Tony Sylvester won a 100-lap late model event.

Ten years ago in 1995,Waterford ran on Wednesday and Saturday. Mark LaJunesse won on Wednesday over Mike Gada and Todd Ceravolo. On Saturday, David Gada took the win over Jim Broderick and Bert Marvin. Phil Rondeau won late model events on both nights. On Saturday night he blew an engine in his heat, made a change in time for the consi and still took the win. Chris Kopec won a 75 lapper at Riverside and retired veteran Jim Cash suffered a heart attack and died during the running of a legend race at the Park. The Modified Tour was at Riverhead where Mike Ewanitsko led all 201 laps to take the win over Rick Fuller and Satch Worley. Jim Broderick recorded his second win at Stafford, holding off Ted Christopher and Bob Potter. At Watkins Glen, Jerry Marquis was leading the Busch North event in the late stages when he ran out of gas and handed the victory to Joe Bessey. Mark Martin was the Winston Cup winner.

Five years ago in 2000, Thompson started the weekend off on Thursday. Taking the SK modified win was John Sneade with Stu McCarthy finishing second. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen on Friday. Pole sitter Ted Christopher led all 32 laps for the victory. Jerry Marquis ended up second after Rick Fuller who had been hit by Tom Cravenho collected Tim Connolly. Charlie Pasteryak finished third with Joey Caraccia, fifth. Among the casualties of the event was Tony Hirshman. Hirshman blew an engine and was fired by car owner Gary Cretty, who had already hired Ted Christopher as his replacement. In Winston Cup action at Watkins Glen, Steve Park led the final 27 laps of the 90-lap contest to record his first Winston Cup win. Mark Martin finished second. Stafford rained out on Friday night and it was Eric Berndt taking the win at Waterford on Saturday night. At Riverhead, local politician Ed Densieski beat out veteran Wayne Anderson for the win. In other news, NASCAR racing pioneer Herb Thomas passed away at the age of 77 and Larry McReynolds, Mike Skinner's crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, announced at seasons end he would be leaving his position to become an on-air race analyst on the FOX TV broadcasts in 2001.

Last year, 2004 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island last Saturday night. The night was cool but the action was hot as Donnie Lia won the 200 lap event. Lia took the lead from Riverhead regular Chris Young on lap 49 and survived seven restarts to take the win. Frank Vigliarolo Jr., another Riverhead regular finished second while Young faded to finish 19th. Former Modified Champion Wayne Anderson who now confines his racing to Riverhead finished fourth. Anderson started 22nd in the 28-car field. Rounding out the top four was Tour regular Jerry Marquis. The event drew 45 modifieds. Tony Ferrante Jr. was the fastest of the fast as he took the Busch Pole. Ferrante drew the fourth starting spot and finished in fifth position. Jamie Tomaino and John Fortin rounded out those that finished on the lead lap. Eric Beers, Howie Brode and Tony Hirshman rounded out the top ten, one lap down. Hirshman now leads the point standings by 9 over Eddie Flemke Jr. who finished 11th. It was a rough night for many including Tom Cravenho, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Nevin George who got caught up in various wrecks that slowed the action. Out of the 200 laps run, 59 of them were under caution. Among those who failed to qualify was John Blewett III. Blewett and car owner Curt Chase became embroiled in a dispute over a difference of opinion and Blewett left the speedway before qualifying. Chase did not put another driver in his car as he loaded up and went home.

The Featherlite Modifieds would take three short days off before heading for the Stafford Motor Speedway on Wednesday night for the Dodge Dealers 150. This would be the first ever mid-week visit that the tour had made to Stafford as previous events there have been run on Friday nights or on Sundays. It had also been learned that NASCAR has been talking to the Hart family that owns the New Smyrna and Orlando Speedworld speedways. Jim Hunter, Chris Boals and Ed Bennett represented the sanctioning body. Among the items that were discussed was bringing the Featherlite Modified Tour and the Busch North series to compete in Florida during Speedweeks. It has also been rumored that the Featherlite Modifieds, which were dumped in favor of the Craftsman Truck Series, may return to Martinsville. Now that the International Speedway Corporation owns the Virginia track maybe they realize that the trucks donít draw enough to justify their huge purse. Also in the rumor mill is word that the Modifieds may pay a visit to the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.

On Thursday night the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl went head to head. Thompson presented their regular Thursday night Thunder program while the Speedbowl presented an event labeled the Funkmaster Flex Super Series Invitational. The Waterford event drew what the Hartford Courant said was 8,000 spectators, which was awful hard to believe. Thompson had a late but rather healthy crowd for their event. Many of those at Waterford had never been there before and were drawn by the expected live entertainment. Those at Thompson were there to see the racing.

In Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway the highlight of the evening was a 75-lap contest for the Pro Stocks. Once a rough and tumble crashfest, the Thompson Pro Stocks had evolved into a highly competitive division worth watching. David Berghman took the lead on lap 54 and went on to record his sixth win of the season. Berghman did a masterful job of using the high banks to his advantage and conserved his tires so they would last to the end. Ron Smith, who led the early going, finished second. Norm Wrenn finished third. The speedway graciously altered their schedule in order to accommodate Sunoco Modified point leader Ted Christopher who was racing at Waterford. Needless to say, even with the Sunoco Mods running last, Christopher didnít make it. Crewmember Keith Rocco took his car and started in the rear. Richard Savory led the charge of initial start. On the second re-start Bert Marvin turned into Bo Gunning causing both to hit the wall at the exit of turn 2. Todd Ceravolo took the lead on the third re-start but before he could complete a lap Savory hit Ceravolo causing him to get loose. Jeff Malave slipped by as Ceravolo gathered it in. Ceravolo pressured Malave and was able to get his nose under him for the lead on lap 26. Malave ran second for a lap until doing a bump and run which allowed him to get back into the lead and take the eventual win. Eric Berndt slipped by for second at the finish. Ceravolo finished third and in doing so, took the point lead. Kerry Malone and Adam Norton rounded out the top five. In other action, Corey Hutchings pitted while leading at Waterford, charged up the road to Thompson and proceeded to take the win in the Late Model division. Jessie Gleason was the Limited Sportsman winner and Shane Michalski was the Mini Stock winner.

At Waterford, also on Thursday, Allen Coates reaped the benefits of a crash between Ted Christopher and Phil Rondeau as he reaped a $10,000 payoff for winning the Funkmaster Flex Invitational. Woody Pitkat finished second and took home $6,000. Rondeau finished third and received $4,000. Numerous wrecks precipitated 18 caution periods.

Ted Christopher made it six in a row at Stafford on Friday night. The current track and regional point leader started 15th and wasted little time as he took the lead from Frank Ruocco on a restart on lap 29 of the 40 lap feature. Ruocco had nothing for Christopher as he chased him the rest of the way to the finish. Jim Civale, Shawn Tryon and Chuck Docherty rounded out the top five. Things got ugly in the Late Model feature. Tom Butler, Ryan Posocco and Mike Quintiliano were running three wide in the closing stages when Butler hit the wall. Possoco and Quintialano then went at it and on the final lap Posocco found himself in the wall. Quintiliano took the checkered flag but was disqualified to last on the lead lap for rough riding. Joe Rzeszutek was awarded the win. Eric Grant was the DARE winner.

Ron Yuhas Jr. made it two in a row in SK Modified action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Yuhas blew away the field as he finished a considerable distance ahead of Dennis Cherette. Don Fowler finished third with Ed Reed Jr., fourth. Phil Rondeau was the Late Model winner. Jeff Paul, at 16 years of age, a veteran of the Quarter Midget ranks, won the Legends feature and Ed Gertsch tookhis fifth victory of the year in the Sportsman ranks.

The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were in Indiana. The Busch Series raced at the Indianapolis Raceway Park and the Nextel Cup cars were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In Busch Series competition at the Indianapolis Raceway Park, Kyle Busch took the win over Johnny Sauter and Jason Lefler. Jeff Gordon left little doubt that he had a handle on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he won the Brickyard 400 over Dale Jarrett.


Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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