Forty years ago in 1969 the scheduled season Saturday night
opener at the Norwood Arena was rained out. The skies cleared the
following day as Fred DeSarro took the win at the Thompson Speedway.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Charlie Webster took the Modified win and
Bill Sweet won his first of four in a row at the shoreline oval. In
Grandnational (Cup) racing at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in North
Carolina, Bobby Allison took the win.
Thirty five years ago in 1974 there was plenty of action both
in the north and the south. Three nights of Modified racing in North
Carolina saw Richie Evans score a victory at Metrolina on Friday
night over Harry Gant, Jerry Cook and Paul Radford. Radford turned
the tables on Saturday night at Hickory as he won a 100 lapper over
Gant, John Bryant, Cook and Evans.
"Gentleman" Dick Watson was the
winner at the Waterford Speedbowl in 1974. (Rene Dugas
Action shifted to Ashboro on Sunday where Gant was the top gun over
Radford, Cook and Evans. In New England, Thompson began their open
competition small block modified series and it was Fred DeSarro
taking the win over Daring Dick Caso, Deke Astle, Kenny Bouchard and
Charlie Savage. Dick Watson was
the Modified winner at Waterford. Ron Cote made it two in a row in
Grand American action.
Thirty years ago in 1979, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford was
Twenty five years ago in 1984 it rained again, washing the
Twenty Years ago in 1989 the cycle of rainy weekends
Fifteen years ago in 1994, the rain cycle was finally broken.
Riverside Park just beat the rain as Dan Avery took the checkered
flag on Saturday night. Brian Miller finished second and was
followed by Stan Greger and Chris Kopec. Loudon scheduled a double
header for the Modifieds and Busch North Series. Qualifying for both
divisions was rained out but it cleared on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero
blasted by a trapped Rick Fuller on the last lap and won the
modified portion. Fuller finished second and was followed by Jan
Leaty, Steve Park and Mike Ewanitsko. Kelly Moore was the BGNN
winner over Mike Stefanik, Stub Fadden and Tom Bolles. In Winston
Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Terry Labonte took the win over
Rusty Wallace. Jim Spencer was penalized ten laps for spinning out
Ten years ago, in 1999, Rick Miller made it four in a row at
Riverside Park on Saturday night. Rob Summers finished second and
was followed by Dave Berube and Ted Christopher. On Sunday,
Riverside ran their rained out Modified Tour Series event against
Waterford's opener. Ed Flemke Jr. took advantage of Reggie
Ruggerio's worn tires and took the lead on lap 182 and went on to
take the win. Bob Polverari finished second with Tom Cravenho,
third. Despite fading, Ruggiero was able to finish fourth. Ted
Christopher finished tenth and made a fast trip to Waterford.
Christopher started ninth and took the lead from Todd Ceravolo just
before the half way mark. Christopher, who lost a power steering
belt in the second half, was able to maintain enough of a lead to
take the win. Ceravolo finished second and was followed by Bert
Marvin, Ed Dachenhausen and Jerry Pearl. It was a big weekend for
the Petty family at Martinsville as Jimmy Hensley won the Craftsman
Truck event on Saturday and John Andretti won the Winston Cup event
Five years ago in 2004, the Thompson Speedway opened the 2004
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series on Sunday. The event drew
9000 fans. The outcome was a shocker. Defending series champion Todd
Szegedy was the fastest time trialer and the apparent winner until a
post race inspection revealed an illegal rear end gear ratio.
Szegedy was disqualified and placed last in the final rundown. Ted
Christopher, who crossed the finish line behind Szegedy was awarded
the win. This was the third time in the history of the Tour series
that began in 1985 that a winner has been disqualified. The 150 lap
IceBreaker was one of the most competitive ever seen. With 47
Modifieds on hand for time trials it was difficult just to qualify
as 21 cars were in the 18-second bracket. Todd Szegedy was the
fastest with Tony Hirschman, second fastest. Szegedy, who had pitted
on lap 71, charged his way to the front and took the lead from Jerry
Marquis on lap 125. Running second, Marquis found himself in the
wall on lap 126 after contact by a spinning Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke had
been hit by Chuck Hossfeld. Flemke recovered, losing only one spot.
Ted Christopher, who also pitted on lap 71, conserved his tires and
was able to move into the second spot with two to go. Flemke got by
Hossfeld on the final lap to cross the finish line behind
Christopher. Zach Sylvester, who crossed the finish line in fifth
spot, was moved up to fourth. Tony Hirschman was moved up to fifth.
There were ten cautions for 52 laps. Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher
shared victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds as they each won
separate twin 25 lap features. Twin features were also run for the
Late Models with Corey Hutchings and Rick Gentes taking wins. Other
weekend winners at Thompson were Scott Sundeen in the Limited
Sportsman and Andy Publicover in the Mini-Stocks.
Dennis Gada returned to his winning ways Saturday night at the
Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Reed Jr, Tom Fox, Ted Christopher and
Dennis Cherette rounded out the top five. Allen Coates was the Late
Model winner with Dave Zemke taking the top spot in the Sportsman
division. Tim Jordan was the Mini Stock winner and Justin Dougherty
won the Legends feature.
In Nextel Cup action at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Jeff
Gordon was the Busch Pole sitter with Jamie McMurray on the outside.
Rusty Wallace ended a long dry spell as he held off Bobby Labonte
for the win.
NASCAR announced that Jim Hunter, former Vice President of Corporate
Communications had been given the new title as Vice President of
Corporate Communications / Regional Touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly
Series. Hunter would work with Don Hawk who had been hired as
Director of Regional Racing Development. Chris Boals the Director of
Regional Touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series would remain in his
present position. NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France said, “This
revamped approach illustrates our commitment to grassroots racing
which is the bedrock in our sports foundation”.
The American Speed Association, which has been primarily in the
mid-west, had recently hired former NASCAR executives Dennis Huth
and Tom Deery. The ASA had begun branching out and had taken the
southern-based Southern Modified Auto Racing Tour (SMART) under
their wing and was making an attempt to move into the northeast.
NASCAR also announced that Brett Bodine had joined the sanctioning
body’s Research and Development team as a Special Project Engineer
at the R & D center in Concord, North Carolina. Bodine holds a
degree as a Mechanical Engineer from the State University of New
York. Bodine evidently had retired as a competitor on the Nextel Cup
circuit. He is also a former Modified competitor in the Northeast.
Before moving south Bodine raced at Stafford and Thompson. It was at
Stafford in 1984 that he finished second to Brian Ross in the
track’s final point standings. Bodine is also a former Race of
NASCAR also announced that the local track point funds for weekly
racing series tracks had increased to $3,500 which would be paid out
to the top ten at seasons end. In 2003, $2,000 was distributed to
the top five.
Mike Joy, FOX anchorman for Nextel Cup and Busch Series telecasts
spent some time in Washington, DC speaking to Senators and
Representatives about a bill that was making its way through
congress that could severely restrict speedway owners ability to
improve their facilities. The IRS allowed motorsports facilities to
fully depreciate capital improvements over a seven-year span. The
IRS then wanted these improvements to be amortized as real estate
improvements, stretching the recapture period to 30 years. Bill
HR-2900, The Motorsports Facilities Fairness Act would preserve the
seven-year benefit. All speedway owners and operators were urged to
contact their congressmen to support this bill.
Last year, 2008, The Waterford Speedbowl moved into its
regular Saturday night schedule. The management created a new flag
for the starter to display. It was called the “Meatball” flag and it
was to be waved at an individual who refuses to comply with the
officials in charge or someone who makes a dumb move or decision.
The “Meatball Flag” should have been shown to the Late Model driver
who started on the pole of the Late Model feature who triggered a
wreck that eliminated the potential winning cars of Larry Goss and
Eddie Reed Jr. Starting on the pole as a rookie makes no sense at
all. The individual who made the line-ups was also deserving of the
“Meat Ball”. Bruce Thomas Jr was the eventual winner and is now two
for two in Late Model competition at the shoreline oval.
Defending SK Modified champion Rob Janovic redeemed himself after a
poor showing at the season opener as he scored a convincing win in
the 35 SK Modified feature. Jeff Paul, who also had a poor showing
on opening day, finished second. Tyler Chadwick, Justin Gaydosh and
Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Opening day Nationals winner
Dennis Gada was eliminated after making contact with Dennis Charette
who was the early leader after pole sitter Frank Mucciacciaro spun
out on lap 11. The Gada-Charette confrontation occurred on lap 18
and also eliminated Jeff Pearl and Jeff Malave.
Other feature winners were Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), and, Randy
Churchill Jr. (Mini Stocks). Also making an appearance were the New
England Antique Racers, presenting exhibition events featuring the
cars of a past era. With over twenty restored racers taking to the
track, fans were treated to a view of the true “racing roots” of New
England short track history.
The True Value Modified Series opened their 2008 season at the Lee
USA Speedway in New Hampshire on Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were
on hand. Kirk Alexander took the win over David Pinkham, Dale
Evonsion, Mike Holdredge, Jon McKennedy. Ted Christopher Rob
Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Ed Dachenhausen and Chris Pasteryak
finished sixth through tenth.
Defending champion Alexander jumped into the lead on lap three and
roared to victory in the” Governors Cup 100” Modified race. The win
was Alexander’s 27th career victory with the touring series. The
three-time champion survived a caution plagued race that was once
stopped for an overheating racer that sprayed water on the racing
surface resulting in six cars retired to the pit area. Sunday’s race
was also the first of eight guaranteed starter races for the Sunoco
Modified Mania 400 weekend at Thompson, CT. in September.
The Nationwide Series of NASCAR was in Mexico City while the Sprint
Cup drivers had the weekend off to celebrate Passover with their
families. Kyle Busch won his third consecutive race on NASCAR’s
Nationwide Series, taking the Corona Mexico 200 by less than a
second. This latest win was the 27th of his career in NASCAR’s top
three series, and first on a road course. Marcos Ambrose finished a
career best second after a hectic day in which he collided with
Boris Said, knocking Said out of the race. Ambrose’s finish was his
first top-10 finish of the year. He had six as a rookie in 2007.
Ambrose trailed by 1.139 seconds in his Ford with two laps to go,
and Busch was able to hold on for a 0.737-second win.
Busch led for 22 of 80 laps, second to Scott Pruett’s 36. Busch
passed Pruett on the 72nd lap to take the lead. In a race that
included seven cautions and two red flags, Busch stayed out of
trouble in his Toyota on the 2.518-mile course at Autodromo Hermanos
Rodriguez before making his decisive move past Pruett. Pruett
finished third, followed by Carl Edwards, who is second in the
points standings. He’s nine points behind Clint Bowyer, who finished
sixth on Sunday. The third-place finish was a career best for the
48-year-old Pruett, a road-course ace making his 10th Nationwide
start. He finished fifth in Mexico City last year.
This week are several vintage
racing photos from the VintageModified.com files of the cars of
Legendary Car Owner Billy Simons and a portion of the great drivers
who graced the wheel of the Simon's Excavating #9 over the years.
Click on Photo for Full Size
Billy Simons with driver Stan Greger
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes
at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: