Forty years ago in 1969, Ed
Yerrington Sr won the season opening 30 lap Modified
feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Mazzella was the
20 lap Daredevil winner.
Thirty five years ago in 1974, Don Bunnell won
the season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl. Rick
Elnicki was the Grand American winner.
Thirty years ago this week in 1979, Thompson
opened for the season. Ronnie Bouchard won the small
block Modified feature over John Rosati and Dunk
Rudolph. Rudolph was subsequently disqualified when it
was found that his car's engine had illegal heads. Bobby
Fuller was the late model winner. The speedway sported a
new look as the Connecticut DMV mandated that the
Speedway eliminate all light poles from the infield.
The late Ed Yerrington
was the Speedbowl winner in 1969.
Track owner Don Hoenig had purchased high intensity lighting that
had been used at the Lincoln Downs Horse Track in Rhode Island. In
other news, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event at Bristol as a
rookie and Geoff Bodine was fired from the Jack Beebe Winston Cup
3 time Riverside Champion
Stan Greger was the winner this week in 1984. Howie
Twenty five years ago in 1984,
it was night No.2 at Riverside Park. Stan Greger wasted
little time and took down the win. Jim Spencer finished
second and was followed by Ray Miller, Richie Evans and
Twenty years ago in 1989, Reggie Ruggiero was the
top dog at Riverside in the Mario Fiore No.44. There
were only 21 cars on hand but they were all good ones.
Stan Greger finished second and was followed by Dan
Avery, Brad Hietella and John Zavisa.
Fifteen years ago, in 1994, the roles were
reversed at Riverside as Greger took the win with
Ruggiero, second. Avery finished third and was followed
by Eddie Spiers, Wade Cole and Tom Jensen.
In SMART action at Caraway in North Carolina, Tim Arre won a 150 lap
event over Frank Flemming, and in Hickory, N.C. Ricky Craven took
the lead with 32 laps to go and went on to win the Sundrop 300 over
Ten years ago, in 1999, David Green won the Busch Series 320
at Nashville. Casey Atwood finished second. Sterling Marlin provided
the only competition but his day ended after his car spun and was
wrecked by a wrecker in the pit area.
Five years ago in 2004, in a joint announcement from NASCAR
and the Thompson Speedway last Thursday; the Thompson Speedway
IceBreaker was postponed until April 17-18. The early cancellation
was made in order to prevent fans and competitors from making a
needless trip. The Thompson Connecticut area was pounded by over two
inches of rain and with more forecast for the weekend, it was a wise
move to pull the plug on the event. The Waterford Speedbowl also
fell victim to rain as Saturday night’s races were canceled. In
Nextel Cup action at the Texas Speedway Elliott Sadler won by inches
over Kasey Kahne. Jeff Gordon recorded his best finish in quite a
while as he finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth. In
Busch Racing Series action in Texas, Matt Kenseth took the win over
Kyle Busch. The Caruso family sold the Oswego Speedway to Steve
Gioia and Pat Furlong. In operation since 1951, Oswego is considered
the next best thing to going to
Last year, 2008, the Thompson
Speedway officially opened the 2008 racing season in the
northeast and began the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Series. In what was supposed to be a fun filled and
competitive weekend ended in tragedy and ultimately a
wet note. A racing accident claimed the life of race
driver Shane Hammond of Halifax, MA. The accident
occurred on the fourth lap of a scheduled 25-lap
Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) feature event race.
Hammond was traveling down the backstretch of the 5/8
mile oval when he cart wheeled over the third turn wall
and hit an advertisement sign. The 27 year old Hammond
was transported to the Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam,
CT where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
For a good part of the day it was misting and
threatening rain. Eddie Flemke Jr brought back fond
remembrances of his father’s Thompson 300 win in 1978 as
he elected not to pit when the leaders did and it paid
off handsomely, $7,920, to the second generation driver.
The racing world
tragically lost NEMA Midget driver Shane
Hammond during last years IceBreaker.
Flemke, who started eighth, was running third and he inherited the
lead on lap 71 when leader Todd Szegedy and second-place Reggie
Ruggiero pitted. Flemke led until lap 92 when the race was finally
red flagged because of extremely heavy mist that coated the track
and made it unsafe. It was also the first win for Gary Teto,
Flemke’s car owner.
A similar situation occurred years ago, 1978, and involved Flemke’s
father and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens was clearly the fastest car during
the running of the Thompson 300. When rain began falling Stevens was
instructed to pit and handed the lead to Flemke. Flemke gambled that
the rain would prevail and that it did!
Chuck Hossfeld, in Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile finished second
and was followed by Bob Grigas, Long Islander Joe Hartmann and
rookie Tom Abele. Sixth through tenth were James Civali who was the
Coors Light Pole sitter and clearly the fastest on the track, Todd
Szegedy, Reggie Ruggiero, Rowan Pennick and Ted Christopher. There
were five caution periods for 53 laps. NASCAR Tour director Chad
Little needed to get a better grip on this situation as it took way
too long to get restart lineups correct. There were 39 Tour
Modifieds on hand and despite the cold weather close to 8,000 fans
turned out for the season opener.
Prior to the race, former champions Frankie Schneider (1952) and
Donny Lia (2007), and the late Richie Evans (nine-time champion)
were honored by NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
In other weekend racing at Thompson Bert Marvin was the Sunoco
Modified (SK type) winner on Saturday night in the first of two
events scheduled for the weekend. The Sunday event was rained out
and will be rescheduled at a later date. Jimmy Blewett finished
second and was followed by Doug Coby, Danny Cates and Josh
Sylvester. Jeff Zuidema was the Late Model winner, Mike O’Sullivan
was the Pro Stock winner, Jessie Gleason, the Limited Sportsman
winner, Glenn Boss was victorious in the Thompson Modifieds and
Danny Fields was the Mini Stock winner. The NEMA Midget feature was
halted after the lap 4 accident and was not resumed. Erica Santos
was the leader at that time.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing Carl Edwards ran away with the Samsung
500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for his series-best third win
of the season, holding off Jimmie Johnson on a two-lap overtime
sprint to the finish in Fort Worth. Kyle Busch, winner of the
Nationwide Series race Saturday, was strong early but had nothing
for Edwards in the end and faded to third.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes
at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: