Forty five years ago in 1965 Ray Delisle was the 30 lap
Modified winner at was then called the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl. Charlie Savage took the Bomber main.
Forty years ago in 1970, the Stafford Speedway and the
Thompson Speedway were running twin 25 lap features for the
Modifieds. When the Norwood Arena decided to drop the Modifieds at
the end of the 1969 season Stafford petitioned NASCAR to change
their race dates from Friday to Saturday nights. NASCAR allowed
Stafford to change their race night and in doing so opened up the
flood gates at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway to the New Englanders
who wanted to race on Friday nights. Taking the opening 25 lapper at
Stafford was Carl Bugsy Stevens driving the mighty no. 3 of Len
Boehler. Ralph “Hop” Harrington driving the famous Tant/Mitchell
coupe that had been purchased by Richard Armstrong finished second.
Fred DeSarro in the Joe Brady No. 41 finished third. Jerry Dostie
and Roland LaPierre Sr rounded out the top five. Harrington won the
nightcap with Stevens a close second. Billy Greco, Ted Stack and Ed
Yerrington rounded out the top five. At Thompson on Sunday Stevens
took the first 25 lapper and was followed by George “Moose” Hewitt,
Yerrington, DeSarro and Leo Cleary who was in the Koszela
Woodchopper. Hewitt took the nightcap and was followed by Yerrington,
DeSarro, Stevens and Jerry Cook. The Fonda Speedway in New York was
also running twin 25’s. Rene Charland won the first one and was
followed by Dave Buanno, Jerry Cook, Ron Narducci and Irv Taylor.
The second 25 lapper was won by Narducci with Taylor second. Wes
Moody finished third with Charland, fourth. Also running this
weekend was the Fulton Raceway where Lou Lazzaro beat out Richie
Evans for the win and Langley Field in Virginia where Ray Hendrick
won in the new Tant/Mitchell Camaro. After two consecutive rain outs
the Waterford Speedbowl finally got to run their opener. Walt
Dombrowski won the 30 lap Modified feature. Johnny DrLong was the
Late Model Daredevil winner.
Thirty five years ago in 1975, Jack Arute had a vision that
if the Modifieds switched from 15 inch wide tires to narrow ones the
cars would be slower and the car owners would be spending less. His
heart was in the right place but his vision was mis-guided. In the
season opening Spring Sizzler Richie Evans did him one better as
used eight inch rubber that was used by NASCAR’s Winston Cup
division. Evans won the Sizzler with Eddie Flemke Sr, second.
Freddie Schulz, Ronnie Bouchard and Fred DeSarro rounded out the top
five. Racing at Fulton was called because of rain.
Thirty years ago in 1980, SJ Evonsion was the Saturday night
winner at Riverside Park Doug Hevron, in the Mario Fiore No. 44
finished second with John Rosati, third. Richie Evans won the 80 lap
Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Brian Ross in his home built No. 73
finished second. Hevron, who won the 50 lap non-qualifiers race came
from a dead last starting position to finish third in the Sizzler.
Jimmy Spencer was fourth with Reggie Ruggiero, fifth. In Winston Cup
action at Darlington, Bill Eliott took the win. Ron Bouchard
qualified sixth and finished 13th while Geoff Bodine qualified 11th
and finished seventh.
Twenty five years ago in 1985, a banner field of 99 Modifieds
was on hand for the Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Geoff Bodine,
driving the Lee Allard No.99, cleaned house as he took the win over
Bugsy Stevens and Charlie Jarzombek. Bobby Vee and John Rosati
rounded out the top five. Among those who failed to finish was
Richie Evans who broke an a-frame and placed last in the 30 car
field. Leo Cleary, who had been driving for Len Boehler since Fred
DeSarro had passed away, was given his walking papers as he was
informed that he was replaced by Ron Bouchard. It was also announced
that the Thompson Speedway had been granted a NASCAR sanction for
all future events.
Twenty years ago in 1990, Jerry Marquis made it two in a row in
Modified action at Riverside Park. Marquis drove the famous No. 2x
of Bobby Judkins. Bob Ploverari finished second with Kenny Bouchard,
third. Dick Trayner and Tom Bolles rounded out the top five. During
the running of the event Ricky Summers in the Bill Simons Excavator
No. 9 set an altitude record as he rode over a wheel and sailed 25
feet into the air.
Fifteen years ago in 1995, Chris Kopec picked the pole and
led from start to finish at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Reggie
Ruggiero finished second with Paul Corazzo, third. Tom Cravenho and
Ted Riggot rounded out the top five. In NASCAR Grand National action
at Hickory, NC Johnny Benson took the win after Chad Little was
knocked out of the event by Kevin LePage.
Ten years ago in 2000, it was Easter weekend. Scheduled
events at Riverhead, Wall and Waterford were rained out. The only
activity was the fact that Mike Liberty filed suit against Bob Bahre
and Bill France Jr. Liberty believed that Bahre and France had lied
to him and had mislead him when he purchased the Oxford Plains
Speedway in Maine.
Five years ago in 2005, The Waterford Speedbowl began its
55th consecutive year of staging auto races. Despite the cool night
a good crowd was on hand. Ron Yuhas Jr figured he had a tenth place
car until Shawn Monahan triggered a massive wreck that eliminated
nine of the front runners. Yuhas ended up with the victory with
Chris Pasteryak ending up second. Jeff Pearl finished third. Allen
Coates won the Late Model feature. Danny Field edged Richard Brooks
to take the win in the Mini-Stocks and Len Beebe just nipped Jeff
Paul for the Legends feature. Norman Root was the Sportsman winner.
The Whelen Modified Tour opener at the Thompson Speedway provided a
surprise ending and almost a new winner. Zack Sylvester was well on
his way to victory until a stalled car on lap 146 of the 150 lap
Modified main event bunched the field. It ended up being a green-
white checkered situation. Sylvester led the restart with Chuck
Hossfelt and Ted Christopher in tow. Hossfeld got under Sylvester
going into turn one and about the same time Ted Christopher dove
underneath both of them to take the lead. On the final lap Sylvester
got by Hossfeld and raced wheel to wheel to the finish line with
Christopher It looked like Sylvester nipped him by six inches.
NASCAR officials saw it differently and awarded the win to
Christopher. Hossfeld ended up third with Mike Stefanik, fourth.
Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ten caution periods kept the
event to a bunch of short sprints. The longest green flag period was
from lap 108 to lap 146.
Kenny Bouchard led the initial start but was quickly overhauled by
Eddie Flemke. Flemke led until lap 8 when Donnie Lia passed him. Two
laps later, Ted Christopher took the lead. The first caution came on
lap 12 when Tony Ferrente and Chris Kopec spun in turn two,
collecting Tom Cloce, Kenny Barry and Tom Bolles. Christopher
continued to lead as the second caution waved on lap 21 for a
six-car tangle in turn one. The third caution flew on lap 29 for a
13-car melee. Christopher and Hossfeld swapped the lead until lap55
when many of the leaders pitted after Howie Brode and Eric Beers
tangled in turn four. Beers went head long into the fourth turn wall
and suffered shoulder injuries. Despite the many front runners
pitting for tires Christopher elected to stay out. Christopher
finally pitted for tires on lap 105. Tony Hirschman, who took the
lead on lap 76, paced the field until his tires wore out as
Sylvester powered by on lap 134. Christopher made a determined
charge and until the final caution when he was running third.
In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, the car counts and spectators
continued to be great. There were 46 Modifieds on hand and there
weren’t too many empty seats as a crowd estimate of 10,000 was
announced. Had it not been for the LaJoie seat and the exceptional
workmanship on the Boehler No.3 Eric Beers could have suffered
serious injury when he made hard impact into the turn four wall. In
other Ice Breaker action James Civali won the twin Sunoco Modified
SK type events. Dennis Botticello won the Saturday night 20 lap Late
Model event and Charles Bailey III won the Sunday event. Joe Lemay
was the Pro Stock winner and Glen Boss, the Sportsman winner. Jeff
Gordon made up three laps to win the Advance Auto Parts 500 at
Last year, 2009 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour began its
25th anniversary year at the Thompson Speedway ICEBREAKER last
weekend. This year’s event marked the 107th time that the WMT has
raced at Thompson since the formation of the Tour in 1985. An
outstanding field of competitors attempted to qualify on Saturday
afternoon for a starting spot in the 150-lap main event which was
run on Sunday. The WMT was joined by Thompson’s “Super 6” NASCAR
Whelen All American Series divisions in this two-day racing
spectacle that has ushered in the beginning of the auto racing
season in New England for well over 40 years.
Thirty five NASCAR Whelen Modifieds were on hand for practice and
qualifying at Thompson. Jimmy Blewett made himself the pre-race
favorite as he was the fastest in pre-time trial practice. Blewett
toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.612 seconds, 120.890 mph. Also up to
speed and in contention were Doug Coby, Jamie Tomaino, Todd Szegedy
and Reggie Ruggiero.
Blewett might have been the fastest one in practice but Ted
Christopher was the fastest when it counted. Christopher won the
Coors Light Pole in qualifying for Icebreaker 2009 With a lap of
18.642 seconds (120.890 MPH), Christopher earned his 19th career WMT
pole and his eighth career pole at Thompson. Doug Coby qualified
second. There were a few surprises in qualifying including Glenn
Reen, Jamie Tomaino and Rowan Pennink who rounded out the top-five.
After the redraw, Coby and Pennink ended up on the front row while
Tomaino, who would make his record-setting 500th career start would
go third. Christopher picked the fourth position followed by Mike
Stefanik and Reen.
Christopher began his title defense the way he ended it, with a win
at Thompson. Once the green flag was displayed to start the 150
lapper Christopher wasted little time in showing what he had as he
took the lead from Doug Coby on lap 10. Jamie Tomaino, who was
making his 500th start, was quite stout in the early going as he
wrestled the lead from Christopher on lap 41 and held it until a
restart on lap 58 when he gave way to Mike Stefanik. A caution on
lap 48 when John Busch spun out in turn two opened the door for pit
stops by Christopher along with Don Lia, Ron Silk, Jimmy Blewett and
Rowan Pennick. Stefanik and Tomaino had elected to remain on the
track. By lap 62 Lia had worked his way back to 4th spot and had
Christopher and Silk in tow. Four laps later Lia was third. Tomaino
retook the lead on lap 67. Stefanik began to fade with obvious worn
tires. Tomaino was able to hold on until lap 74 when his tires went
south as Christopher stormed by Lia to take the lead. By lap 120
Christopher continued to lead as Ronnie Silk had moved him into the
second spot. For all intents and purposes Silks run for the front
ended a few laps later when Jimmy Blewett roughed him up and almost
planted him in the first turn wall. Blewett also roughed up Lia
before he passed him for the second spot. A caution on lap 133 for a
Reggie Ruggeri spin set the stage for some late race excitement.
With Blewett on the outside and Christopher on the inside they led
the field to a restart on lap137. As Christopher entered turn three
Blewett made a bottom shot and in the process moved him up to take
the lead. Christopher returned the favor in turn four as he retook
the lead. A Woody Pitkat spin on lap 148 precipitated a Green –
White – Checkered finish. The field restarted for the final time on
lap 152, single file. Despite the fact that Blewett beat and banged
on the back of Christopher the defending champion never gave the
aggressor the opportunity for another bottom shot as he scored an
impressive win. Blewett, reluctantly settled for the runner-up spot
with Lia, third. Ryan Preece and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top
five. Sixth through tenth were Silk, Stefanik, Coby, Penneck and Bob
For his efforts Christopher pocketed $8,800. He also received the
first commemorative Tissot wrist watch, which will be presented by
NASCAR and tour sponsor Whelen Engineering to each of the 14 race
winners throughout the 25th anniversary season. The win was
Christopher’s eighth at Thompson and his third in the track’s
Icebreaker. He also won the traditional season-opener, which hosted
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s first race in 1985, in 2004 and
2005. Christopher also moved into sole possession of fourth-place on
the tour’s all-time win list with his 32nd victory. He trails only
Mike Stefanik (69), Reggie Ruggiero (44) and Tony Hirschman (35).
In Saturday night Sunoco Modified action at Thompson Keith Rocco
scored his first win of the 2009 season in a fiercely competitive
opener. As Rocco crossed the line to take down the victory, contact
between Tom Cravenho and Ted Christopher sent Christopher head-on
into the turn four wall. Christopher took a hard hit but walked away
from the incident. Todd Ceravolo finished a strong second over Eric
Goodale, Rowan Pennink, and Zach Sylvester. After post-race
technical inspection, Goodale was stripped of his third-place
finish; moving Pennink and Sylvester up a position and Jimmy Blewett
inside the top five.
Defending division champion Jeff Zuidema of North Brookfield, CT,
led wire-to-wire to win the first of two Late Model main events
scheduled for the weekend.
Todd Ceravolo earned a hard-fought victory among a strong field of
Sunoco Modifieds on Sunday afternoon. Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH,
kicked- off a new era in full-fendered racing at Thompson Speedway
with the first-ever Super Late Model victory. Jeff Zuidema of N.
Brookfield, CT, went two-for-two in Late Model competition on
Icebreaker weekend winning both ends of the double-header. Joe Arena
of Bristol, CT, turned in a dominating performance to score the
victory in the season-opener for the Limited Sportsman division.
Chuck Rogers of Quaker Hill, CT, scored his first-ever winner at the
Thompson Speedway in the Mini Stocks. Brian Sullivan of S. Windsor,
CT picked up where he left off winning TIS Modified features.
Ceravolo jumped out to the early lead of the main event followed by
Keith Rocco. On the final lap, Bert Marvin got up alongside Ceravolo
but could not muster up enough momentum to make the pass. Ceravolo
rolled into victory lane for his first win of the season. Marvin had
to settle for second followed by Rocco. Woody Pitkat had a strong
run to finish fourth. Cravenho completed the top five.
The Waterford Speedbowl tried to open for the season but a forecast
of rain and possible snow put a damper on action at the shoreline
The True Value Modified Racing Series reports that a record 53 teams
had secured numbers and paid fee’s to compete in 2009. Series
founder Jack Bateman structured a 16 race schedule in response and
additional prize money would be paid.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jeff Gordon ended a 47-race winless
drought, the longest of his career as he beat Hendrick Motorsports
teammate Jimmie Johnson to win the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor
Speedway in Fort Worth. It was the 17th Cup race at Texas, the track
where Gordon has his only two last-place finishes in his 552 career
starts. One of the 43rd-place finishes came last spring before he
was runner-up to Carl Edwards in the fall race after winning the
pole.Gordon won by 0.542 of a second over Johnson with an average
speed of 146.372 mph. Middletown CT native Joey Logano, who started
10th, finished 30th. A strong rumor had his ride in jeopardy.
Kyle Busch won his third consecutive Nationwide race in Texas with
another dominating performance, leading a race-record 178 of 200
laps to win the O'Reilly 300 even though he insisted it wasn't as
easy as it looked. Busch finished 1.447 seconds ahead of Tony
Stewart, who made a late charge from seventh with four new tires
after a caution on lap 188. Brad Keselowski, forced to start 42nd in
a backup car, finished third.
This week are several vintage racing
photos which we will call when they were young, courtesy
of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
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: