Friday April 4, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1968, SJ Evonsion scored his first win at the Riverside Park Speedway which was a 1/8 mile oval at the time.

Thirty years ago, in 1978, the Modifieds ran a spring event at the 1-1/2 mile Trenton Speedway. Richie Evans took the lead and the win when Bugsy Stevens ran out of gas with two laps to go.
Twenty five years ago, in 1983, all was quiet

Twenty years ago, in 1988, all was quiet

Fifteen years ago in 1993, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was in Richmond, VA. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Jan Leaty with three laps to go as he went on to record the victory. Jeff Fuller finished second with Leaty third over Mike Ewanitsko and Doug Hevron rounding out the top five.

Ten years ago in 1998, the Thompson Speedway took center stage with the running of the Ice Breaker. Fifty-two Modifieds were on hand for the 125 lap event which saw Mike Stefanik take the lead from Tony Ferrente with four laps to go. At the finish, Ferrente faded to third as Tony Hirschman powered his way into the second spot. Ed Flemke Jr. and Jan Leaty rounded out the top five. Jim Broderick won the Sunoco-SK Modified event. Also running that weekend was a 40 lap Race of Champions event at Tioga which was won by George Kent. In Winston Cup action in Texas, qualifying had to be put off for a day because of water seeping up through the track. Jeremy Mayfield ended up with the pole position but it was Mark Martin who would score the win. A big wreck on lap two took out Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt Jr. won the Busch Series event.

Five years ago in 2003 sleet and ice forced NASCAR and the Thompson Speedway management to postpone the season opening Icebreaker to April 14. During the weekend at Thompson, George Pyne met with the Featherlite Modified Tour car owners and assured them that their status within NASCAR was safe. Pyne also told the owners he would look into improving the purse structures of the tour events.

Last year, 2006 The Waterford Speedbowl was slated to begin its regular Saturday night schedule. Fans and competitors were still buzzing about the poor officiating at the recent Bud Nationals, especially the Jimmy Blewett incident. A ten shot photo series by noted photographer Howie Hodge told the story. Doug Coby got into the back of Frank Ruocco as they exited turn two. Blewett, running in fourth spot at the time went low to avoid the car of Ruocco only to be hit accidentally by Ruocco. Jimmy Blewett was below the white line when Ruocco’s left front tire hit Blewett’s nerf bar. As stated previously it was a bad call! A video by Nick Teto verified what really took place and what the Waterford on track officials failed to acknowledge.

Extremely bone-chilling temperatures put a damper on the Speedbowl as racing was cancelled on Friday.

While the northeast continued in a deep freeze the action south of the Mason-Dixon Line was hot. In the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour American Revolution 150 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina Junior Miller rode around in the top five for the majority of the race behind the dominant car of Matt Hirschman. Hirschman ran out front from lap five until lap 129, when Miller drove underneath him to take the lead away. Miller led the rest of the way en route to his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory. After Miller took the lead, Hirschman fell back to second until he spun coming off the fourth turn after contact with Tim Brown. Hirschman’s late spin set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish with Miller holding off Brian Pack for the win.

Miller’s win allowed him to take over the Whelen Southern Modified Tour point lead by 28 points over Burt Myers. L.W. Miller, who held the point lead coming into Saturday night’s race, was knocked out of the race on lap 45 due to electrical problems. For Pack, his runner-up effort tied a career best NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour finish from last year at Motor Mile (Va.) Speedway. Andy Seuss and Brandon Ward. Burt Myers, Jason Myers, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Hutchens and John Smith rounded out the top 10.Hirschman spun after contact with Brown on lap 147, necessitating the overtime finish. Hirschman wound 11th, the last car on the lead lap.

Among the new driver-owner combinations slated to debut were Rick Fuller who would be driving the Bear Motorsports entry. Don Lia in the Mystic Missile and Jerry Marquis in the Brady Bunch entry. In addition Zach Sylvester would make his first run in the Curt Chace No.77. The Blewett brothers would make their team debut during ICEBREAKER weekend
The NASCAR Nextel Cup division had a weekend off to celebrate Easter. The Busch Series raced on Saturday. Carl Edwards raced to his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series victory, easily winning the Pepsi 300 in chilly conditions at the Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn., to extend his lead in the standings. The Nextel Cup driver led the final 25 laps and crossed the finish line 4.7 seconds ahead of David Reutimann. Dave Blaney, who was involved in an early fracas, rallied to finish third. Jason Leffler was fourth, followed by Regan Smith

It was announced that sponsors of a $368 million NASCAR race track proposal for Washington State had abandoned their efforts after encountering stiff opposition from local officials and resistance at the state Legislature. Great Western Sports, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corp., announced the decision to drop the plan for the motorsports venue in Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from the Seattle metropolitan area. ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago said his group hasn't taken Washington state completely off the table, but could not see a way to proceed this year. Developers had touted the racetrack as a $4 billion boon to the state's economy, including thousands of jobs. But legislation to help finance the track had gone nowhere. The company's proposal had called for taxpayers to pay for about half of the facility, with ISC contributing $180 million. The company had said it would pay for any cost overruns. The state share would have been paid through bonds. Despite the setback on the west coast ISC raised its annual dividend by 2 cents to 10 cents a share. The dividend will be payable on June 29 to stockholders of record May 31, the company said in a statement.

The company also said its board approved an additional $39.6 million for capital projects.

This week here are several vintage racing photos of Steve "S.J." Evonsion courtesy of

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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