Friday April 28, 2006

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1966 Pete Hamilton who would go on to become the 1970 Daytona 500 winner took the Friday night 30-lap win at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Rene Charland finished second and was followed by Eddie Flemke, Dick Dixon and Dennis Zimmerman. The entire above mentioned have since been inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. The Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, NY began its sixth season with Bill Wimble taking a 30 lap win over Ernie Gahan, Frank Mathalia, Eddie Flemke Sr. and Lou Toro.
Thirty five years ago in 1971, Fred DeSarro got a mid week call from Len Boehler to drive the mighty No.3 that had recently been vacated by Bugsy Stevens. Their first outing together as a team was at Martinsville for the spring 100 on Saturday. Ray Hendrick, still in his prime, cleaned house as he took the win over Stevens and Jerry Cook. DeSarro finished fourth. After an all night high speed run up I-81 the scene shifted to Thompson. On a mission, DeSarro didn't disappoint the fans as he won both ends of the scheduled twin 25's.In the first 25, Bob Santos finished and was followed by Stevens and Leo Cleary. In the second 25, DeSarro and Stevens slugged it out as they ran wheel to wheel to the checker. Ronnie Shawn finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook and Ernie Gahan. A scheduled 50 lapper at Fonda on Saturday night was snowed out and the Utica-Rome Speedway suffered its first of three rainouts in a row. The weather stayed dry in Connecticut as Bob Potter took a 30-lap win at the Waterford Speedbowl over Howard "Jiggs" Beetham, Leo Hill and Bob Tetrault.
Thirty years ago in 1976, the New Egypt Speedway, then asphalt, hosted the NASCAR Modifieds. Maynard Troyer lapped the field to take the 150 lap win over Jerry Cook, George Wagner and Wayne Anderson. Steady Eddie Flemke made it two in a row at Thompson. Ronnie Bouchard finished second.
Twenty five years ago in 1981, the Modifieds were at Martinsville for the Spring 150. Because of a broken driveshaft while qualifying, Richie Evans started dead last in the 30 car field and after a determined charge took the win over Ronnie Bouchard, Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook and Ray Hendrick in the Dick Armstrong No.1.Lancaster opened for the season on Sunday. After finishing sixth at Martinsville, Geoff Bodine made the all night ride pay off as he won the open competition event George Kent finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Waterford also opened for the season with an open competition event which drew 42 cars. Rick Donnelly took the win with John Rosati, second. Eddie St Angelo finished third and was followed by Moose Hewitt, Joe Tiezzi, Charlie Jarzombek and Jerry Pearl. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Morgan Shepherd took the win.
Twenty years ago in 1986,Brett Bodine, already firmly entrenched in the southern Grandnational ranks drove Art Barry's modified to a 1.13 second win over Brian Ross in the Spring 150 at Martinsville. George Kent finished third and was followed by Corky Cookman, Kenny Bouchard and Jamie Tomaino. At the conclusion of the Martinsville, Kent hopped a plane for Shangri-La (Tioga).The trip was worth it as the Duke took the Saturday night win over Rod Spaulding and Tony Jankowiac. Riverhead also ran with Jerry Solomito taking the win. At Waterford on Sunday, Bob Potter started fourth and led all 86 laps of the main event. Richie Gallup finished second and was followed by Harry Rice and Charlie Savage. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville Tim Richmond was the pole sitter and Ricky Rudd won the 500 lap grind.
Fifteen years ago in 1991, Mike Stefanik went pole to pole to win the 150 at Martinsville. Rick Fuller in the Fiore No.44 finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggerio, George Kent and Doug Hevron. Among the missing was Tom Baldwin who was reported to have been shot by a home intruder. At Riverside on Saturday night, Dan Avery took the win over Bruce D'Assandro and Brad Hietella. Rick Fuller made it back from Martinsville only to be ejected for rough riding after officials felt he intentionally wrecked Charlie Pasteryak. Other Saturday night action saw Carl Miller beat out Bill Park at Riverhead. On Sunday, Waterford ran a 91 lapper as their opener. Dennis Gada took the win over Ricky Young and Harry Rice. Monadnock also opened on Sunday with Rick Fuller taking the win over Kirby Monteith and Dwight Jarvis.
Ten years ago in 1996, Waterford ran back to back events on Saturday and Sunday because of a rain out of the Blast Off event. Eric Berndt beat out David and Dennis Gada to win the Saturday night 35 lapper. Tommy Fox was the late model winner. During the running of the late model event Matt Kobyluck was ejected for two weeks for arguing with officials over an accident he had with Eddie Reed Jr. On Sunday in the rained out 96 lap opener, Todd Ceravolo took the lead from veteran Jerry Pearl on lap 55 and went on to record the win. Jim Broderick pitted for fresh rubber on lap 54 and made a hard charge to the front but his efforts fell short and he had to settle for second spot. Pearl finished third ahead of the Gada Bros. Don Howe won at Riverhead and Reggie Ruggerio beat out Richie Gallup at Riverside. In BGNN action at Lee, Dave Dion took the lead from Jerry Marquis on lap 91 and went on to win the 150 lap event. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Sterling Marlin took the win over Dale Jarrett. NASCAR took Ernie Irvanís pole winning car and put it on a chassis dyno. While loading the car, NASCAR tech man Gary Nelson slipped the clutch and ultimately ruined the engine. Bill Elliot fractured a left thigh bone after going fifteen feet in the air and came down on all fours like a ton a bricks and Ricky Craven almost went out of the ball park in a twelve car wreck.
Five years ago in 2001 John Blewett III took the win in the 200 lap,30th annual, Spring Sizzler after Rick Fuller dove under and spun with leader Mike Stefanik on lap 183.Reggie Ruggiero ended up second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Jerry Marquis, Tony Hirshman and Stefanik. There were 10 cautions for 50 laps as 7000 looked on. Willie Hardie won the twin 40 lap SK Modified events. Eric Berndt beat out Ed Reed Jr. for the win at Waterford and it was Chris Young at Riverhead. Twin features were run at Wall Stadium with Jimmy Blewett and Tim Arre sharing victory lane. In Winston Cup action at California Speedway, Rusty Wallace came from a 19th starting spot and dominated the event on his way to victory. Jeff Gordon finished second. Hank Parker Jr won the California Grandnational event. Billy Nicewicz, former Richie Evans crew chief, was Parkers crew chief. It was also announced that CART cancelled their event at Dallas-Fort Worth. With that news, Speedway Motorsports stock dropped 3.50.
Last year, 2005 The Whelen Modified Tour headed for the Stafford Motor for the 34th annual Spring Sizzler. Friday was a beautiful day with sunny skies and temps in the low 50ís. Whelen Modified Tour Series teams were allowed to enter the pit area where they could park their tow vehicles and get inspected. The Stafford SK Modifieds and Late Models were allowed to practice. Competitors were instructed to have their scoring transponders in their cars as their speeds would be recorded and could be used to determine lineups for feature events if qualifying heats were rained out on Saturday. Heavy, monsoon type rain washed out all activity on Saturday. The 43 Whelen Modified Tour cars on hand were forced to wait until Sunday for their qualifying and 200 lap Sizzler. The Stafford management along with NASCAR made the decision to run the entire Sizzler program on Sunday. The Pit Party was eliminated as practice was started at 10:00am. Despite extremely long day competitors, officials and track management worked together and got the entire program in. The SK feature provided the usual sparks with Ted Christopher and James Civali slugging it out in the closing laps. Christopher got the win and Civali ended up fourth. Mike Holdredge finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Civali was subsequently disqualified when he refused the tech inspection. Woody Pitkat moved up to fourth with Kenny Horton rounding out the top five.
Tony Hirschman took the win in the 200 lap Whelen Modified Tour Sizzler 200. Zack Sylvester backed up his runner-up finish at Thompson with another second place finish.. Todd Szegedy, pinch hitting for injured Eric Beers in the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3 finished third. Reggie Ruggerio and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Jim Mavlogenes won the Late Model feature over Ted Christopher and Ryan Posocco.
Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole sitter and started fourth behind Nevin George, Todd Szegedy and Tony Hirschman. George led the charge to the green and led until lap 28 when Szegedy moved into the lead. Hirschman, who had been running third, spun but didnít bring out the caution. The first caution came out on lap 40 when Jerry Marquis had a flat tire and collected Mike Stefanik as he attempted to cut across the track to pit road. Stefanikís car dumped a lot of liquid on the track which forced officials to red flag the event on lap 42 in order to clean the track. The field went back to green on lap 47. Another caution on lap 50 for a mass tangle. Among those involved was Ed Flemke Jr. who was black flagged for having no nerf bars. The field went back to green on lap 55. Ted Christopher took the lead one lap later. The caution flew on lap 58 for Jerry Marquis who stopped on the back stretch. Green again on lap 64 with Christopher still leading with Szegedy on his tail. Two laps later another caution, this time for Mike Christopher who spun. The field returned to green on lap 68 with Ted Christopher leading Reggie Ruggiero and Rick Fuller. The next caution came on lap 76 when Ken Barry spun. Tony Hirschman pitted for tires and fuel on lap 78. The field returned to green on lap 82. Christopher led thru numerous restarts and cautions until lap 121 when he along with Szegedy and Ruggiero pitted. On a lap 127 restart Jamie Tomaino led with Hirschman and Sylvester following. By lap 130 Sylvester was in second spot and Hirschman was leading. By lap 195 there were only ten cars on the lead lap. Don Lia, who had been running ninth, hit the wall and set up a green-white-checker sprint to the finish. Following Hirschman, Sylvester, Szegedy, Ruggerio and Ted Christopher at the finish were Chuck Hossfeld, Tomaino Charlie Pasteryak and Tom Bolles.
Time of Race: 1 hr. 40 mins, 45 secs Average Speed: 60.447 mph Margin of Victory:.28 Seconds. BUD POLE AWARD: Donny Lia, FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD: Charlie Pasteryak, POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE: Thomas Bolles, TOMMY BALDWIN MEMORIAL AWARD: Tony Hirschman. There were nine cautions for 52 laps. Estimated attendance was 8,000.

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:

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