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 Friday April 7, 2006

By Phil Smith

Thirty five years ago in 1971, the only racing action saw Bugsy Stevens take a 30 lap open competition win at Thompson. Little did anyone know that it was Stevens' last ride in the mighty no.3 of Len Boehler that had carried him to three NASCAR National Modified Championships. Stevens had been hired by Sonny Koszela to replace Fred DeSarro who, after a disagreement, had been let go. Bob Santos finished second and was followed by Leo Cleary and Ralph "Hop" Harrington. Harrington was in the recently purchased Tant/Mitchell Coupe that had been bought by Richard Armstrong. The Modifieds also ran at Hickory, N.C. Ray Hendrick took the win there and was followed by Max Berrier, Joe Thurman and Paul Radford.

Thirty years ago in 1976, there was no racing that weekend.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, the Winston Cup cars were at North Wilkesboro. Richard Petty took the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished seventh.

Twenty years ago in 1986, it was cold at Riverside Park but it didn't stop Reggie Ruggiero as he put Mike Greci's No.11 in victory lane after a 50-lap grind. Stan Greger finished second. The Thompson Ice Breaker was scheduled to run on Sunday but heavy rain forced a postponement. At Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the win. Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter but ended up 24th. Ron Bouchard had rear end problems and finished 25th.Doug Hevron finished 21st after losing an engine.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Reggie Ruggiero drove the Bob Polverari 711 to a convincing win at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x finished second with Ricky Fuller, third. At the Thompson Ice Breaker on Sunday, Fuller started eighth and after a series of pit stops, came out on top with five laps to go in the 125 lapper. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Richie Gallup. Ricky Shawn was the late model winner and Mike Christopher went pole to pole to win the SK 30 lapper. Gallup in the Dick Ceravolo No.31 finished second and was followed by Bo Gunning and Bob Potter.

Ten years ago in 1996, it was Easter weekend. Riverside was scheduled to run on Saturday night but was rained out. In the southland, David Green was the Busch Grandnational winner at Hickory in North Carolina.

Five years ago in 2001, rain and sleet postponed the Featherlite Modified Series event and SK Modified event at Waterford. In Saturday qualifying, 46 FMS cars and 23 SK's were on hand. Rob Summers was the Mod Tour pole sitter and Dennis Gada was on the pole for the SK event. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Dale Jarrett took the lead from Ricky Rudd with six laps to go and went on to score the win.

Last year, 2005 The Waterford Speedbowl was scheduled to host the opening event in New England on Saturday and Sunday. The main event of the weekend was to be the Waterford Nationals-150 lap SK-Modified event. The Speedbowl had posted a $20,000 purse with $5,000 going to the winner. The forecast of torrential downpours, up to four inches of rain, forced the Speedbowl management to postpone the weekend’s Budweiser Modified Nationals. The event, which included the lucrative SK-150, was been re-scheduled for May 21-22. In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, Eddie Flemke didn’t stay without a ride for long as it was announced that he would be driving the Teto No.10 that was formerly driven by Tony Papale. Flemke’s former mount, the Hillbilly Racing No.79 had a new color scheme highlighted by florescent orange with white trim. Long Island racer JR Bertuccio was expected to run at least the first three Whelen Modified Tour events in the Bear Motorsports No. 14. Bertuccio competes weekly in a family owned Modified at the Riverhead Raceway. Reports state that 2003 Whelen Modified Tour Champion Todd Szegedy had relocated to Mooresville, North Carolina and was working for Robert Yates Racing in the Shock Absorber department. Szegedy is hoping to secure a Busch Series or ARCA ride.

Several Modified Tour teams took advantage of Thursday’s practice session at the Thompson Speedway. Chuck Hossfeld and Mike Stefanik were shaking down their new rides along with Chris Kopec, Renee Dupuis, Ted Christopher, Howie Brode, Don Lia, Charlie Pasteryak, Kevin Goodale and Ricky Fuller. According to NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks there were a total of 87 cars on hand.

The Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series event that was scheduled for the Ace Speedway in Elkin, NC on Saturday night was rained out. The Southern Modifieds ran a non-sanctioned 125-lap event at the Friendship Speedway, also in North Carolina, on Sunday. Ted Christopher in the Hills Enterprises Hillbilly Racing No.79 took the win. Christopher drove his Hillbilly Racing Modified to the win in the 125 lap feature for the Modifieds. Christopher snatched the win from L. W. Miller when Millers modified was caught up in a mid race accident involving several cars. Miller's car was clipped by another spinning car after the caution flew. Rear end damage ended Miller's day after leading the first 87 laps. Miller had pretty much had his way until that point with some pressure from Donnie Lia, another invader from the Northeast. Caution periods kept the race close and after each restart, Miller has to fend off the challenges of first Lia then Christopher. After Miller's early exit, Christopher led a pack that included Jay Foley, Earl Baker, Burt and Jason Myers and FMS "rookie" challenger, Zach Brewer. Foley had a couple of chances at the number 9 of Christopher but after a few laps "Teddy" would manage to pull away. Foley had his hands full near the end of the race with Burt Myers until lap 113 when Myers got a run on the inside of Foley but contact between the two cars sent Myers into the inside wall and out of the race. Foley hung on to finish second with Jason Myers third, Brewer fourth and Baker fifth. A scoring recheck after the event moved Bob Park to 5 th followed by Bobby Hinkle, Baker, D. J. Krentz, Kevin Powell and Lia who was penalized for passing on the wrong side on a restart. Caution flew eleven times for 57 laps. The 125 lapper took 1 hour, nine minutes and 31 seconds to complete. L. W. Miller led laps 1 through 87 and the winner led 88 through 128. Foley was the winner of the "Bud Pole Award" for the Modifieds. Seven cars finished on the lead lap. Twenty-six Modifieds took the green flag. Kevin Harvick scored double victories at Bristol as he won the Busch Series and Nextel Cup events.

That’s 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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