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Friday April 24, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, Bill Slater, one of the greatest drivers to ever turn a wheel in New England retired as a driver and went to work for Mal Barlow as the Race Director and General Manager of the Stafford Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl George “Moose” Hewitt was the Modified winner while Bill Sweet made it two in a row in Daredevil action.

Thirty five years ago in 1974, the competition was in New York State. At Shangri-La on Saturday, Maynard Troyer took the top spot over Geoff Bodine, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. At Fulton on Sunday, the roles were reversed as Bodine took the top spot and Troyer played second fiddle. Evans and Cook again followed. Art Moran Sr, who was the head mechanic at Ed Yerrington’s Service Station, was the Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ron Cote made it three in a row in Grand American action.


Art Moran was the Waterford winner in 1974.
Rene Dugas Photo

Thirty years ago in 1979, the rescheduled Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Speedway took center stage. Maynard Troyer won the 80-lap event over Ronnie Bouchard and Ed Flemke. Tom Druar was the 50-lap non-qualifiers event. Richie Evans and Jerry Cook elected to go south. It paid off for Evans as he won a 150-lap event at Martinsville plus a 100-lap event at Ashboro

Twenty five years ago in 1984, Jim Spencer scored a one-two punch as he won at Riverside on Saturday night and the Spring Sizzler on Sunday. At Riverside, Bob Polverari finished second and was followed by Richie Evans and George Kent. Corky Cookman was the runner up to Spencer at Stafford with Brian Ross, Eddie StAngelo and Tony Hirschman, following. John Falconi won the 50-lap non-qualifiers event over Tom Baldwin.

Twenty years ago in 1989, Stan Greger was the Saturday night winner at Riverside. Mike Stefanik won the modified 150 at Martinsville over Reggie Ruggerio and Tony Hirschman. At the Waterford opener, Ronnie Rocco won an 89-lap event but was protested by Ted Christopher. Rocco was disqualified but a day later had his win reinstated when it was found out that the scales were not working properly. As an added note, Seekonk suffered its fifth rainout.

Fifteen years ago, in 1994 Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Jamie Tomaino on lap 97 of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler and went on to win the event over Jan Leaty and Reggie Ruggiero. John Anderson was the SK winner. At Riverside, Marty Radwick scored his first win in seven years and at Riverhead, Chris Young held off Tom McCann for the win. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Rusty Wallace was both the Busch pole winner and the race winner.

Ten years ago in 1999, Waterford and Riverside ran on Saturday night with the Stafford Spring Sizzler on Sunday. Twin events were run at Riverside. Rene' Dupuis became the first modern day woman to win a Modified event as she beat out Dan Avery. Dave Berube was the other mod winner at Riverside. At Waterford, Bill Sharp won the 35 lap modified event. Mike Gada finished second with Bert Marvin, third. Phil Rondeau scored his 98th career late model win. At Stafford, Rick Fuller changed tires with two to go and blasted his way to the 200 lap Sizzler win. Chris Kopec finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin, Tony Hirschman and Carl Pasteryak. Second generation driver, David Berghman suffered a broken rib and an injured spleen after a big wreck on the front chute. Twin SK-40s were run as part of Sizzler weekend. Taking wins were Todd Szegedy and Bob Potter. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Dale Earnhardt took the lead from Dale Jarrett with 13 laps to go and went on to take the win. Terry Labonte was the Busch Grandnational winner.

Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 33rd Annual Spring Sizzler. A total of 52 Modifieds were on hand looking to qualify for 33 starting spots. Todd Szegedy, who was the Busch Pole sitter at the Thompson, made it two for two, as he was the fastest of the fast. Second fastest was Tour Series part timer Jeff Malave. Reggie Ruggiero was third with Tony Hirschman and John Blewett III rounding out the top five. The top ten re-drew for starting spots with Eddie Flemke Jr. picking the pole and Ted Christopher the outside pole. Szegedy picked eighth and Malave, ninth. Qualifying for a Featherlite Modified Tour Series event had become extremely difficult as only 1.621 mph separated the pole sitter from the 28th and final time trialed spot.

Saturday at Stafford was extremely busy as the track’s regular divisions were also in competition. The first of two SK Modified features to be run saw Eric Berndt jump out from his outside pole starting position to lead the entire 35-lap distance. Ted Christopher finished second with Mike Holdredge, third. Shawn Monahan won the 21 means 21 feature that actually is a consolation event. Five-time track Champion Bob Potter finished second. Monahan ended up 12th in the first feature and Potter finished 26th. Chuck Hossfeld in his first outing in an SK finished 22nd.

When Jerry Marquis and car owners Mike and Janice Boehler left Thompson after getting wrecked in the closing stages of the IceBreaker they were totally dejected. They felt they had a good shot to win until an untimely trip into the wall put an end to their day. The Boehlers and Marquis are racers. They put their defeat behind them and rebuilt the legendary Ole Blu for the Stafford Sizzler. Their efforts paid off as they came from a 29th starting position to take the win in the 33rd Annual event. Ironically, a Boehler car won the First Spring Sizzler, run in 1972 with the late Fred DeSarro driving. Tony Hirschman finished second in the 200-lap grind with Ed Flemke Jr., third. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Tom Bolles, Ted Christopher, Ricky Fuller, Tony Ferrente Jr., Zach Sylvester and Jamie Tomaino.

Marquis took a lot of pressure from Ed Flemke Jr and Tony Hirschman in the closing laps. Pole sitter Ed Flemke Jr led the first ten laps before giving way to Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld led until lap 117 when he pitted under caution when it became apparent that a shower would not shorten the event. Marquis, who started in 29th spot, made a determined run to the front and inherited the lead when Hossfeld pitted. Ole Blu had the necessary handles to run the low groove. Hirschman got real close but couldn’t muster that little extra that would have put him in the lead at the end. Ted Christopher was the Sunday SK-Modified winner and Mike Quintiliano was the late model winner.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Justin Gaydosh had good reason to celebrate his 20th birthday when he scored his first ever-modified feature win. Blocking big time in the closing laps, Gaydosh was able to keep second place finisher Ed Reed Jr. at bay. Chris Pasteryak finished third. Ted Christopher made a quick trip from Stafford but fell victim to ignition problems in the early going. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Corey Hutchings in the Late Models, Norman Root in the Sportsman, Glen Colvin in the Mini-Stocks and Mike Pepe in the Legends Cars.

The Nextel Cup division along with the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR was in Talladega, Alabama. Martin Truex Jr., a graduate of the Busch North Series, took the Busch Series win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon took the lead in Sundays Aarons 499 Nextel Cup event six laps from the finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running second. Earnhardt was making a run at Gordon with four laps to go when a wreck brought the field under caution. NASCAR rules state there is no more racing to the finish line when the caution is displayed and it was determined that Gordon had three quarters of a car length on Earnhardt at the time of the caution. NASCAR was unable to restart the event and Gordon was declared the winner. When Gordon took his victory lap he was greeted by unruly and unhappy race fans that threw everything from Beer cans to chicken bones on the track.

The Busch North Series opened their season at the Lee USA Speedway. Andy Santerre took the win over Joey McCarthy, Eddie MacDonald, Ryan Moore and Mike Stefanik. Dave Dion was the Busch Pole sitter. There were only 27 cars on hand for the 150 lap event that saw seven caution periods for 48 laps.

It appeared that the anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR over the awarding of Nextel Cup dates might be coming to an end. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Texas Motor Speedway would get a second Nextel Cup date as part of the settlement. Other tracks could very well be paying the price as it had been said and written that race dates at Rockingham, North Carolina and at Darlington in South Carolina may go away.

Last year, 2008, The Stafford Motor Speedway opened for the season under sunny skies with qualifying for the annual Spring Sizzler, an event that has run continuously since 1972 featuring the NASCAR Modifieds. Thirty five Modifieds were on hand for qualifying for the 200 lap event that carried a purse of $94,676. In the inaugural event the late Eddie Flemke, driving the Bobby Judkins No.2x Pinto led until the closing stages when his engine suffered water pump failure, forcing him out of the event. Waiting in the wings on Flemke’s bumper was the late Fred DeSarro who was driving the car they call “Ole Blu” which was owned by the late Len Boehler. DeSarro inherited the lead and went on to take the win. Some thirty five years later the same names re-appeared, well almost. Seventeen year old Ryan Preece, who is the grandson of Bobby Judkins drove the 2008 version of “Ole Blu” which is now owned by Michael Boehler, Len Boehler’s son, and his mother Janice. Preece, who failed to qualify for the 2007 Sizzler, toured the Stafford half mile in 18.057 seconds, 99.684mph, and earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the Sizzler. Second fastest was Eric Beers with a time of 18.084 sec. Chuck Hossfeld, Ted Christopher and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five in qualifying. Following a redraw, Rob Summers and Frank Ruocco picked front row for Sunday’s race, with Jimmy Blewett and Eric Beers in the second row.

Ted Christopher got a little closer to the 100 feature win mark as he won his 98th career win at the nutmeg oval as he won the 200 lap Spring Sizzler. Christopher pitted after Wade Cole spun on lap 141. Restarting in 12th spot, Christopher made a determined march to the front. He broke into the top five by lap 156 after Kevin Goodale spun. By lap 167 Christopher had moved into second spot, turning up the heat on leader Eric Beers. Christopher put Beers away on lap 172 and never looked back. Beers ended up in second spot and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Mike Stefanik and James Civali. Sixth through tenth were Rowan Pennick, Richard Savory, Jamie Tomaino, Todd Szegedy and Glen Tyler.

Ryan Preece, who became the youngest Coors Light Pole Award winner on Saturday, led 64 laps in the event but exited the race on lap 91 while in the lead with engine failure.

Numerous cautions, 13 for 71 laps, slowed the event and at one point the event had to be red flagged. It was on lap180 after Jimmy Blewett made a hard impact with the SAFER barrier in Turn 1. He climbed out of the vehicle then expressed displeasure at Matt Hirschman before taking his mandatory ambulance ride. Blewett's 19 car was briefly airborne and needed the double hook to be removed from the track.

In SK Modified action Rob Summers took the 40 lap feature over Woody Pitkat and Chris Jones. Keith Rocco, Doug Coby and Jimmy Blewett followed. Among those in the field was Steve Reed who was one of the top runners at the now closed Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. Reed finished eighth.

The Waterford Speedbowl continued its regular Saturday night schedule. Dennis Gada charged from a 20th-place starting spot to pass Jeff Pearl with 10-laps remaining to win the 35-lap SK Modified at the shoreline oval It was the second victory of the season for the 6-time champion. Following Gada across the line was Ron Yuhas Jr, Keith Rocco, Pearl, and, Frank Ruocco.

SK Modified driver Ron Yuhas Jr. took the first Late Model win of his career. Starting deep in the field, he passed early leader Ed Reed Jr. following a late-race caution. Defending champion Bruce Thomas Jr. slipped past Reed for second. Completing the top-5 were Marc Curtis, and, Tim Jordan.

Other feature winners were Chuck Rodgers (Sportsman), Ben Bargnesi (Mini Stocks), and, Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends).

The True Value Modified Series moved to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH for an event on Saturday night. Point leader and defending series champion Kirk Alexander returned to his home race track, started last in a 26 car field, passed cross town rival Rob Goodenough on lap 86, to win the” Bond Auto Parts 100” in front of a near capacity crowd at the fast high banked quarter mile oval. The True Value Modified Racing Series event was Alexander’s 28th career victory and his third season opening win at the track known as “Mad Dog.”.

Pole sitter Chris Pasteryak set a torrid pace holding off the constant challenges of 2007 Rookie of the Year, Peter Jarvis, Jarvis stayed within striking distance of Pasteryak with Bryan Shumway last years winner, Les Hinckley and 2006 champion Dwight Jarvis in hot pursuit. By lap 20, Danbury CT ’s Ed Dachenhausen worked his way into fifth and ran strong until a late race mishap would force him to the sidelines. The race pace was fast early on with the first of six caution flags not displayed until lap 38 for a Chris Wenzel spin. The Holyoke , MA . veteran was able to rejoin the race which stayed under green until lap 54 when a David Pinkhamand Jon McKennedy spin drew the caution. On the restart, Peter Jarvis vaulted into the top spot and held it until lap 66 when Goodnough powered by. At this point, Alexander was fast making his move to the front and by lap 70, the three-time champion was in third and quickly closing in on Jarvis. Lap 73 saw Alexander pass Jarvis setting up a great battle with Goodnough for the top spot. A caution period slowed the pace on lap 85 resulting in Alexander motoring by Goodenough on the restart lap. The two former Monadnock pro-stock standouts raced hard and clean often side by side bringing the crowd to it’s feet several times. When the checkers dropped on the 100th circuit, Alexander’s margin of victory was a car length and a half over Goodenough. Goodenough, Pinkham, Dwight Jarvis, Peter Jarvis, Hinckley, Mike Holdridge, Pasteryak, Dale Evonsion, and Rookie of the Year contender Kenny White.Jr, rounded out the top ten.

Tony Stewart held off Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last-lap charge to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday for his first career victory at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Stewart started from the pole, led 81 of the 117 laps, and sat comfortably out front in the waning laps with Earnhardt on his rear bumper. Caution came out with five laps to go for debris, setting up a two-lap sprint to the finish. They raced nose-to-tail for the first lap, then Earnhardt pulled out of line to make his charge. But Earnhardt didn't have enough momentum and didn't get the help he needed to race past Stewart. It allowed Stewart to go virtually unchallenged for the final lap, as Earnhardt faded to sixth. David Stremme finished second, his best result since he finished second in Milwaukee in 2004. Bobby Hamilton Jr. was third. The race was slowed by eight cautions for 27 laps, including a 12-car accident that brought a red flag stoppage of 25 minutes.

The accident happened when Kevin Lepage pitted for a loose wheel under green and blended back onto the track right ahead of the field as the pack headed into the first turn. He wasn't at the same speed, and the cars couldn't avoid running over him. The first wreck occurred 10 laps in when Dario Franchitti lost his right rear tire, hit the wall and spiraled down the track. He was on the apron when his car was T-boned by Larry Gunselman. Both drivers were transported to a hospital for observation, and X-rays showed Franchitti broke his left ankle.

In Sprint Cup action at Talladega Kyle Busch came back from a lap down for his first win which was won under caution when a 12-car accident brought out the yellow flag on the final lap. It froze the field and allowed Busch to slowly make his way across the finish line. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second to match his career best on an oval since moving to NASCAR midway through 2006. Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, finished third.

 

This week are several vintage racing photos from the VintageModified.com files of the late Charlie Jarzombek Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com and RacingRemembrances.net.
Click on Photo for Full Size

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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