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Friday April 15, 2011
 

By Phil Smith

Forty five years ago in 1966 the Fonda Speedway in upstate New York opened for the season with a 25-lap main event. Lou Lazzaro took the win over Irv Taylor and Ron Narducci. Hank Stevens was the 30 lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Martin Shaw was the winner in the Bombers.

Forty years ago in 1971, it was all-quiet with no racing.

Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds were at Hickory in North Carolina. Satch Worley took the win over Paul Radford, John Bryant, Wayne Anderson and Jerry Cook.

Thirty years ago in 1981, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford was the big modified event of the weekend. With 13000 fans looking on, Bob Polverari raced and beat the legendary Richie Evans to the finish line in the 80 lap, no holds barred event. Reggie Ruggiero finished third and was followed by Bernie Miller, Corky Cookman and Bugsy Stevens. Eddie St Angelo was the non-qualifiers winner. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Darrell Waltrip took the win over Harry Gant. At the Danbury RaceArena Don LaJoie beat out Chick Stockwell and Joe Chowanski for the Modified win while Randy LaJoie made it two in a row in the Sportsman division.

Twenty-five years ago in 1986, Flyin Brian Ross in his home built No.73 won the 80 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Ross, who dogged Charlie Jarzombek most of the way took the lead with seven to go when Jarzombek suffered a blown engine. Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Bugsy Stevens and Jim Spencer. Bob Potter was the SK Modified winner and Charlie Jarzombek was the winner of the Modified 25 lap Busch Clash. At Riverside Park, Ted Riggot took the win over Jerry Marquis.

Twenty years ago in 1991, The Featherlite Modifieds were at Loudon. Mike Stefanik took the win over Rick Fuller, Mike Ewanitsko, Doug Hevron and Reggie Ruggiero. Joe Bessey was the Busch North Series winner. Rusty Wallace took the Winston Cup win at Bristol.

Fifteen years ago in 1996, New England suffered a complete wash out as rain and snow fell on the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Steve Park was the modified pole sitter as well as the outside pole sitter for the companion Busch North Series event. Andy Santarre was the BNS pole sitter and sitting on the outside pole for the modified event was Mike Ewanitsko. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Terry Labonte took the win after Rusty Wallace blew an engine in the late stages, while leading.

Ten years ago in 2001 the Waterford Speedbowl opened for the season on Saturday night. Ron Yuhas took the opening night checker over Dennis Gada, Ed Dachenhausen and Ted Christopher. Alan Coats was the late model winner. John Blewett III won at Wall Stadium while Greg Biffle scored his first Grandnational win at the new Nashville Speedway. Because it was Easter weekend, the Winston Cup division was idle.

Five years ago in 2006 Diego Monahan became the first ever driver to win in all four NASCAR Waterford Speedbowl divisions – Mini Stock, Sportsman, Late Model and SK Modifieds on Saturday night. Monahan passed his brother Shawn with only three laps to go and held on to win Saturday night’s SK-Modified feature. Monahan followed his brother, the only other leader, for 27 laps before making the outside move. Chris Pasteryak finished third and was followed by Don Fowler and Ron Yuhas Jr. Rookie sensation Jeffrey Paul finished sixth. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Late Models: Joe Perry, Sportsmen: Dwayne Dorr and Mini Stocks: Richard Brooks.The True Value Modified Series had their season opener at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH also on Saturday. There were 33 Modifieds on hand. Kirk Alexander took the win over Andy Seuss, Dwight Jarvis, Ed Dachenhausen and Rob Goodenough.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series was off but their southern counterparts were on the prowl at the Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, NC. Junior Miller took the win over L. W. Miller, Tim Brown, Ted Christopher, Brian Crammer and Gene Pack. Christopher, in the Brady Bunch entry led the first 98 laps of the 156 lap feature and was forced to back off when a tire was losing air. Christopher managed to tough it out as he finished with only seven pounds of air in his right front. Chuck Hossfeld found himself planted in the wall on the 13th lap when he attempted to pass Michael Clifton on the outside.

Mike Stefanik sat in an all too familiar spot, in the Whelen Modified Tour Series point lead. Stefanik, who won the season opening IceBreaker at the Thompson Speedway on April 9 wasn’t sitting on his laurels as he knew there was some stiff competition headed his way from Chuck Hossfeld, Reggie Ruggiero, Ted Christopher and Tony Hirschman who followed Stefanik at Thompson. Among those looking to get back into the swing of things was Jerry Marquis. A former series champion, Marquis was out front and cruising in the lead with Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile when, on lap 47, his throttle stuck wide open, slamming him into Thompson’s unforgiving concrete wall. Thanks to all the NASCAR mandated safety devices plus the new design Troyer shock absorbing chassis snout and the Kirkey seat Marquis emerged from the wreck unhurt. The car and all its running gear was destroyed. Marquis felt like someone worked him over with a baseball bat but expected to be back in top form in time for the Sizzler. Garbarino had a spare mount ready to go.

In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, it appeared that Whelen was unhappy over the fact that only 14 races made up the 2006 tour. NASCAR turned up the heat to appease the series sponsor as they signed Jennerstown and Holland Speedways plus they were working on a yet to be named 17th date.

Jennerstown PA Speedway promoter Larry Mattingly stated that NASCAR approached him about reconsidering running a Whelen Modified Tour Series event in 2006 after he wouldn’t spring for a reported $65,000 purse. After some negotiation a deal was made and a date was set. Mattingly feels that selling a Modified race outside of New England is difficult to say the least. A $40,000 purse is more realistic as Mattingly states that no one is standing in line to get a date. To make it cost effective for competitors NASCAR needs to find a way to make up the $25,000 the promoters can’t afford to pay. The events at Jennerstown and Holland NY will be 100 laps rather than the normal 150 laps. The competitor will use less fuel and tires for somewhat of a savings. The travel costs are the same. The purse is reduced. Mattingly added that Jennerstown holds 8,000. Fan recognition is a big factor in drawing crowds, especially outside of New England. Had NASCAR been more aggressive in the past in getting the Modifieds on television maybe that wouldn’t be an issue now. Don Hawk stated that the 2007 -2011 television package with the Speed Channel would contain 25 dates per year for touring series events. It was hoped that some of these will find their way to the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Needless to say, they didn’t. Hawk had been sincere in his efforts so far. In a somewhat related matter NASCAR was currently in discussion with Dodge to extend their sponsorship contract for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.

Weekly racing competitors at the Stafford Motor Speedway got a big shot in the arm when it was announced that NESN, New England's most watched sports network, announced the addition of NASCAR New England to the network's summer programming line-up. NASCAR New England, hosted from Stafford Motor Speedway, is the only NASCAR authorized regional television program in New England.

Kevin Harvick won the Busch Series race in Nashville while the Nextel Cup competitors had the weekend off.

Last year, 2010, the Waterford Speedbowl began their Saturday night racing series with Keith Rocco making it two in a row in the SK Modifieds. Prior to the event Rocco indicated that his car did not have a Jerico Racing Transmission. He stated his car was equipped with a Saginaw 3-speed transmission. Rocco's big secret is the fact that his car out-handles his competition, especially in the outside groove.

Dan Field and Allen Coates repeated in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock and Truck divisions. Other winners were Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Street Stocks and Giovanni Giarratana in the Legends Cars.
A full field of SK Modifieds went to post for the 35 lap main event. Rocco, who started 12th, took the lead from former Legends Car track champion Mark Bakaj on lap 20. For the remaining 15 laps Rocco was on cruise control. Justin Gaydosh ended up in second with Rob Janovic third. Bakaj ran up front all night to finish fourth and Jeff Paul rounded out the top five. Todd Ceravolo, who finished second on opening day, was headed to the front to muster a challenge, had the misfortune of having an engine go bad which forced him to drop out. Ceravolo was credited with a 23rd finish.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour visited the South Boston Speedway in Virginia last Saturday for a 150 lap event. Connecticut native James Civali, driving the Roger and Sandra Hill No. 79 took the victory after withstanding a late race charge from LW Miller. Civali and Miller were out front for most of the race as the pair swapped the lead eight times with Miller getting past Civali for the final time on Lap 144. Civali was able to get back by on Lap 147 and hold on for the win. Miller finished second, while Andy Seuss recovering from an early-race accident that took him out of the lead to finish third. Thomas Stinson was fourth. Zach Brewer, who won his first Coors Light Pole Award with a track record of 14.765 seconds (97.528 mph), finished fifth. Tim Brown finished sixth. He started on the point after drawing the pole in the post-qualifying redraw of the top eight spots, but was involved in the early accident with Seuss. John Smith, Burt Myers, Brian King and Brian Loftin completed the top 10.

Kevin Harvick took advantage of a late caution to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. Harvick and crew chief Ernie Cope gambled by taking two tires when the eighth yellow flag of the day came out with 34 laps to go. That enabled Harvick to seize the lead from Kyle Busch, who was unable to mount a challenge as the race wound down. Harvick, strong on long runs all day, led three times for 52 laps, including the final 34.

Harvick, driving his own Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, beat Reed Sorenson by 0.2 seconds. Busch, who beat Harvick in the Trucks race on Friday night, was third. Justin Allgaier, coming off a victory two weeks ago at Bristol, was fourth, and Brad Keselowski rallied to finish fifth.

There were eight cautions for 43 laps including a five-car pileup that brought out a 14-minute red flag. Two cautions involved rookie James Buescher and veteran Jason Leffler. They tangled in turn two early in the race and Leffler was ejected later after crashing Buescher into the wall on the front straightaway. NASCAR's Sprint Cup division was off in observance of Easter.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing ThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Jerry Dostie


Don Moon


Ed Flemke, Jr.


Charlie Webster

Gene White

Billy Greco

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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