Sixty years ago in 1951 what was then known as the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl enjoyed it’s grand opening. The opening
of the Speedbowl would fill a southern New England void that was
created when the track at the Kingston Fairgrounds in Rhode Island
was shut down. According to John Brouwer Jr's “A Racing History of
the New London Waterford Speedbowl”, it took 40 men approximately 7
months to complete construction, a project, at the time, costing
over $150,000.00. The first event was held on Sunday April 15, 1951.
That night's feature winner was Bob Swift and the crowd was reported
around 5,700, far short of the 8,000 who showed up the week before
to watch the first practice session (that highly anticipated
exhibition caused a 3-hour traffic delay in all directions).
The original track was made of crushed blue stone. Over the first 3
weeks of operation, attendance continually dwindled due to poor
spectator visibility through the dust created from the track
surface. The owners promptly closed the track and re-opened on
Tuesday May 15th with an asphalt racing surface.
Fifty five years ago in 1956 the scheduled opening of the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl was put on hold as the track was put up
Fifty years ago in 1961 the scheduled opening of the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl was pushed back a week because of rain.
Forty-five years ago in 1966 the Albany Saratoga Speedway in
Malta, NY received a NASCAR sanction for their Friday night Modified
and Sportsman racing events. Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car
Racing Club had sanctioned Malta, which had opened in mid-1965.
Speedway owner and promoter Joe Lesik had originally tried for a
NASCAR sanction in 1965 but had been shot down because of opposition
from John Hoenig of the Thompson Speedway. Lou Toro won the NASCAR
opening 30-lap event and was followed at the finish by Gene Bergin,
Frank Mahalia, Kenny Shoemaker and Bill Wimble. Saturday night
racing on the dirt at the Fonda Speedway was rained out. The New
London-Waterford Speedbowl ran on Sunday with Wayne Wilkinson taking
the Modified 30 lap win. Eddie Bunnell was the 15 lap Bomber winner
and Lou Caso won in the Daredevils.
Forty years ago in 1971, the shot heard round the modified
world came to be as Fred DeSarro and Sonny Koszela, who had
successfully won the 1970 NASCAR National Modified Championship
parted company and Koszela successfully hired Bugsy Stevens away
from Len Boehler, who had supplied cars that had carried Stevens to
modified championships in 1967,1968 and 1969. Stevens' first outing
in the Koszela car was at Thompson where he cleaned house, winning
the twin 25 lap features. The mighty No.3 was warmed up and ready
but Boehler, who had not contacted DeSarro, had assumed that the
defending champ would show but he didn't. No one drove the Boehler
car that day but the stage was set for one of the biggest racing
rivalries that New England ever saw. Finishing second in the first
25 lapper behind Stevens was Leo Cleary who was followed by Bobby
Santos, Ed Yerrington and Don Flynn. Bob Melnick finished second in
the nightcap and was followed by Cleary, Bernie Miller and Jerry
Cook. Once Boehler returned home, a call was made and DeSarro agreed
to be his driver. DeSarro would go on to win many features until his
untimely death on November 1, 1978. In other weekend action, Fonda
opened for the season with crowd favorite Lou Lazzaro taking the win
over Harry Peek and Eddie Pieniezak. At the Waterford Speedbowl, on
a chilly Sunday afternoon, Jerry Glaude won his second feature of
the year. Leo Hill finished second with Joe Trudeau, third. Big Mike
Daignault made it three in a row in Sportsman Sedan action.
Thirty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds headed south for
the Saturday 150 at Martinsville. Jerry Cook took the lead when
Bobby Allison lost an engine. Paul Radford finished second and was
followed by Wayne Anderson and Gerald Compton. Richie Evans had
mechanical problems and finished 19th.As soon as the checker
dropped, Cook and Anderson hopped a plane and headed for Islip on
Long Island for their season opening Saturday night event. Hometown
favorite Greg Sacks, in his family owned No.18x took the win over
legend Al De Angelo. Cook finished third and was followed by Fred
Harbach, Tom Baldwin, Cliff Tyler and Wayne Anderson. Bugsy Stevens
stayed close to home as he won the season opening Blast Off 100 at
the Waterford Speedbowl. Wayne “Mysterious” Smith was the Late Model
Grand American winner.
Thirty years ago in 1981, Shangri-La Speedway in Owego, NY.
opened the season with an 81 lap event. George Kent took the win
after Richie Evans lost a tire in the late going. Greg Sacks,in the
Cal Smalles No.41 finished second and was followed by Maynard
Troyer, Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. On Sunday, the Modifieds ran at
North Wilkesboro in North Carolina. Richie Evans took the white
flag, leading the event and lost an engine. Paul Radford in the
Wayne "Speedy" Thomas No.07 took the 99 lap win. Jerry Cook finished
second and was followed by George Kent, John Blewett Jr, Evans and
Satch Worley. Rit Patchen was the Modified winner at Danbury. Fred
Drumm ended Randy LaJoie's winning streak in the Danbury Sportsman
division. LaJoie finished second with Bo Gunning, third.
Twenty five years ago in 1986, John Rosati dusted Bob
Polverari at Riverside on Saturday night. Mike Stefanik finished
third. The Thompson Ice Breaker was 75 laps and before over 7500
fans, Charlie Jarzombek took a convincing win. Reggie Ruggiero
finished second and was followed by George Kent .In Winston Cup
action at North Wilkesboro, Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter and
finished third. Willie T. Ribbs became the third black driver to
ever qualify for a Winston Cup event and finished 22nd. Jan Leaty
bypassed Thompson and scored a victory in a companion modified event
at North Wilkesboro. In some sad news, Firestone Tire Dealer Gene
White passed away.
Twenty years ago in 1991, Riverside Park rained out for the
second week in a row. Rain also washed out the Spring Sizzler at
Stafford. The top five in Modified tour points were Mike Stefanik,
Doug Hevron, Ricky Fuller, Tom Baldwin and Reggie Ruggiero.
Fifteen years ago in 1996, For the third consecutive week
Chris Kopec started on the pole at Riverside and won his third in a
row. Dave Berube finished second. Jim Broderick out ran Don Fowler
to take the Saturday night win at Waterford and at Riverhead, Ed
Brunnhoelzl Jr won the season opener at the Long Island oval. Ricky
Fuller dominated the first 150 laps of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler at
Stafford on Sunday. Jan Leaty waited for Fuller to use up his tires
as he took the lead with 50 to go and romped home to the checkered
flag. Fuller hung on to finish second and was followed by Tony
Hirschman, Tom Bolles, Ed Kennedy and Charlie Pasteryak. Bo Gunning
was the winner of the SK mod 50 lapper. Steve Park finished second
with Mike Christopher, third. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville,
Terry Labonte broke Richard Petty’s streak for the most consecutive
starts. Rusty Wallace passed Jeff Gordon with two to go to pick up
his 42nd Winston Cup win. Ricky Craven garnered his first ever
Winston Cup pole and crew chief Doug Hewitt was fined $5,000 and
suspended for three events for having an illegal clutch in his car.
Ten years ago in 2001, the Thompson Ice Breaker drew 51
Modifieds. Bob Polverari set a new record on the new asphalt as he
toured the 5/8-mile oval in 18.505 seconds. Polverari led the 150
lap Featherlite Modified Touring Series event from the start until
he pitted on lap 89.Ed Flemke took the lead for two laps when he was
passed by Rob Summers. Summers, in the Mystic Missile appeared to be
heading to his first Tour win when a tire started going soft and
gave way to Ricky Fuller on lap 125.Once Fuller took the lead he
never looked back as he romped home for the win. Mike Stefanik
finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak, Reggie
Ruggiero, John Blewett III and Jerry Marquis. Jim Broderick in the
Angie Cerese No.5 took the SK-Modified 30 lapper over Bert Marvin
and Curt Brainard. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada took
the modified win over John Brouwer and Tom Fox. On the Island at
Riverhead, Dan Jivenelli took the opening night win over Ken Heagy
and Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Bobby
Hamilton won the non-stop event. Mike McLaughlin was the Busch
Five years ago in 2006 despite a rocky financial situation
the Waterford Speedbowl continued to somehow survive. Thanks to the
efforts of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi plus friends and families of
competitors, the track had been able to remain open. Going into the
previous weekend two events had been held at the shoreline oval.
Second generation driver Chris Pasteryak was the currant SK Modified
point leader. Veteran Don Fowler and Rookie Jeffrey Paul were tied
for the second spot. Dennis Gada was fourth with Frank Ruocco and
Diego Monahan tied for fifth. Rain-washed out scheduled racing
action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. It was the
second rainout in four programs.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series was off. Their southern
counterparts, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series had a
scheduled event at the Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, VA. rained
out on Saturday, which was rescheduled for Sunday. LW Miller won the
200 lap contest. Ted Christopher, suffering a little jet lag from
his trip back from Arizona, finished sixth. Chuck Hossfeld finished
12th and Andy Seuss was 14th.
The Busch East division, formerly the Busch North Series, was the
subject of the latest schedule change as NASCAR and Don Hoenig
announced that a Busch East race was added to the Thompson
International Speedway’s Thursday, June 29 show, which already
featured the Whelen Modified Tour. The addition of the Thompson date
now gave eleven dates for the Busch East division.
Busch East competitor Matt Kobyluck who hails from Montville, CT was
in Phoenix Arizona as was Ted Christopher. Kobyluck had a strong
showing in a NASCAR Grandnational West event until losing an engine
and eventually finishing 30th. Kobyluck led the event twice for 55
laps. Christopher ended up 21st after being involved in an accident.
Last year, 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series
opened for the 2010 season at the Thompson Speedway with the
Icebreaker 150 that carried a race purse of $87,231. Thirty seven
Modifieds including southern invader Burt Myers were on hand. Bobby
Santos III showed his determination early as he was clearly the
fastest in practice despite blustery winds and a cool temperature.
Santos was a little more than a half mile per hour faster than Rowan
Pennick. Myers, who had never laid eyes on the Thompson Speedway
before, ran close to 60 laps in practice and was clocked 29th
fastest at the time.
The NASCAR Modifieds qualified as the sun was beginning to go down.
Bobby Santos III, in his first time out in the Mystic Missile, put
the Bob Garbarino owned mount solidly on the pole for the
Icebreaker. The third generation racer turned a fast lap of 18.418
seconds (122.163 mph) in qualifying for Sunday’s 150-lap
season-opener. That lap surpassed the previous Whelen Modified Tour
qualifying record at Thompson set by Eric Beers at 18.429 seconds
(122.080 mph) prior to the 2008 World Series. Chris Pasteryak was
the second-fastest qualifier on Saturday at 18.470 seconds (121.819
mph) followed by Ron Silk (18.514/121.530), Mike Stefanik
(18.596/120.994) and Burt Myers (18.603/120.948). Ryan Preece, Doug
Coby, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Eric Berndt rounded out the
top 10 qualifiers.
Following qualifying, a redraw of the top-10 cars saw Santos also
draw the No. 1 spot. He was joined on the front row by Coby, and the
second row consisted of Stefanik and Berndt. Myers drew fifth.
It was a dream come true for Bobby Santos III as he all but cleaned
house at the Thompson Speedway Icebreaker. Starting from the pole,
Santos led 91 laps of the 150 lap Whelen Modified Tour opener. The
Ron Hutter engine in the Garbarino Mystic Missile never missed a
beat as it provided ample power when Santos nailed the accelerator.
Santos took the lead for the final time during a restart on lap 119.
After running side by side with Ryan Preece, who was in the Boehler
Family No.3, for almost a lap Santos pulled ahead as they completed
lap 120. The race, which produced seven caution periods for 26 laps,
went green from lap 119 on. In the end, Santos finished a little
more than a quarter secon ahead of Preece. Mike Stefanik, who led
from lap 70 to 101, finished third. Stefanik was in contention the
entire race. Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top
five. Christopher led from lap 61 to 69 after inheriting the lead
when almost the entire field pitted for fuel and tires following a
lap 57 caution. Christopher, who gave way to Stefanik after a lap 69
restart, elected to pit for fresh tires after James Civali hit the
turn two wall on lap 96. Christopher took on both rear tires and a
right front. His charge back to the front of the field fell short.
Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale and Eric
Beers rounded out the top 10.
Southern invader Burt Myers ran in the top ten during the first half
before having transmission problems which hindered his efforts.
Needless to say he finished 14th, on the lead lap, at the finish.
While not to happy with his finish, Myers remained upbeat as he
greeted hundreds of fans in the pit area after the event. Myers, who
made himself available, hit a Public Relations Home Run. Myers
stated that he likes Thompson Speedway very much and is looking
foreward to returning when his schedule permits.
In other action at Thompson, Keith Rocco, running for a new team at
Thompson for the 2010 season and the defending track champion, was
back to his old and winning ways as he scored a victory in the first
race of a weekend twin bill for the Sunoco Modifieds on Saturday
night. Rocco and Ted Christopher swapped the lead position in the
late stages but the young gun was able to dust the veteran in the
end. The Super Late Models were the second of the twin bill on
Saturday. Defending divisional champion, Derek Ramstrom bested the
strong field of Super Late Models in convincing fashion.
Ted Christopher had to use his experience on restarts to score a
victory in the Sunoco Modified feature event on Sunday. Defending
champion, Derek Ramstrom swept the twin bill for the Super Late
Models while Rick Gentes scored Late Model honors. Shawn Monahan
bested a strong field of Limited Sportsman competitors to score the
victory. Another champion, TIS Modified ace Brian Sullivan made a
statement with an opening day victory. Leo Defevers opened Day Two
of the Icebreaker with a victory in the Mini Stock Division.
The Waterford Speedbowl made a lasting impression with Southern
invader Burt Myers. With the exception of eight SK Modifieds running
on the lead lap when the race was stopped at the end of 12 laps, the
remainder of the 23 starters were wrecked or disabled to the point
where they were out for the night. Myers was one of them. There were
eight cautions in the first six laps which made the rough and tumble
action at the Bowman-Grey Stadium seem tame. Race Director Tom Fox
ended the agony when he called for a red-checkered finish. Defending
division champion Ron Yuhas Jr. was declared the winner, followed by
Justin Gaydosh and Tyler Chadwick.
In other action at the shoreline oval three-time defending Late
Model champion Bruce Thomas Jr. held off a late-charging Tim Jordan
over the last three laps to win his first feature of the season.
Other winners were Josh Galvin (Street Stocks) and Danny Field (Mini
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and
Whelen Engineering, Inc., announced an extension that will see
Whelen remain as the entitlement sponsor for three of NASCAR’s
developmental series through the 2019 racing season.
The extension means Whelen, which became an entitlement sponsor in
2004, is the longest running current entitlement contract for any of
The weekend saw the Mad House come to the Thompson Speedway and the
Waterford Speedbowl. Mad House is a reality TV show that focus' on
the racing and drivers at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem,
NC. Burt Myers, one of the stars of the show, raced at both tracks.
Prior to heading North to compete Myers was an honored guest on the
weekly radio program, Gary Danko's Speedway Line Report. Myers, a
third generation racer, stated that he feels that the NASCAR
Modifieds are the heart of NASCAR racing. His race shop includes two
complete Troyer Modifieds, one that used exclusively at Bowman-Gray.
As far as the reality show goes, Myers stated that it was business
as usual at his shop and in general, the show was 90% accurate. When
questioned about the aggressiveness of Junior Miller, Myers stated,
"we would let it go if he would". The bad blood between Miller and
the Myers family goes back to a motor deal between Gary Myers,
Burt's dad and Miller, that went sour years ago. On the subject of
Ted Christopher, Burt stated "I like Ted, he's a good guy". Myers
added that Christopher didn't volunteer any tips on the Thompson
Speedway. "He did tell me to get off Rt.395 at Exit 100." He found
out later that exit 99 was the Speedway exit.
Mad House has portrayed Modified Racing on a short track the way it
is. Despite the rough stuff the program has been good for the
Modifieds. It is a true family sport and the show The New London Day
reported that Waterford resident and Late Model driver Dillon Moltz
was about to get the biggest shot of his 18-year-old racing life.
Moltz, who drives in the Late Model division at Stafford Motor
Speedway, was one of 12 drivers selected to participate in the
Richard Petty Driver Search April 26-29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
in North Carolina. Moltz, and 11 others were picked from a pool of
thousands of applicants from across the country.
Moltz, who was third in the Late Models at Stafford in 2009 with a
division-high five wins, will have a busy week. After the season
opens at Stafford April 23-25, he'll fly to Charlotte Sunday night
and begin a week of racing on Monday. After that, he'll come back
home and be ready for another full weekend at Stafford.
The winner of the competition will get a fully-funded ride in a
Petty car in an ARCA race at Pocono Speedway on June 5. The
competition will put the 12 drivers in four different cars and test
each one in car control and knowledge, track management, mechanical
knowledge, speed and other categories.
In some sad news, Speedway Illustrated Magazine has ceased
A tip of the hat to NASCAR with the announcement by NASCAR and
VERSUS of the broadcast schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours in 2010.
VERSUS’ first NASCAR race will feature the Whelen Modified Tour’s
annual appearance at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on July 31 and the
first Whelen Southern Modified Tour broadcast will be its stop at
historic Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug 7 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The
Riverhead event will air on Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00pm. The
re-air date is Sunday, August 8 at 11:00pm. The Bowman Gray event
will air on Wednesday, August 11 at 7:00pm and re-air on Sunday,
August 15, at 11:00pm.
VERSUS’ on-air schedule will include nine races between the two
Tours with the premiere one-hour race telecast airing on Wednesdays
at 7 p.m. ET. All races will air again the Sunday following the
In addition to Riverhead, the Whelen Modified Tour broadcast
schedule will also include August dates at longtime Modified
strongholds Stafford ( Conn. ) Motor Speedway and Thompson ( Conn. )
International Speedway as well as the last two races of the season,
also at Stafford and Thompson. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour
broadcast schedule also includes the August date at Caraway Speedway
(Asheboro, N.C.) and September races at Langley (Va.) Speedway and
Tri-County Motor Speedway ( Hudson , N.C. ).
VERSUS’ schedule, combined with SPEED’s coverage of seven races
between the two Tours, means that that nine of the 14 NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour races will be shown on national television in 2010 as
well as seven of the 10 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events.
It was previously announced that SPEED would air seven races between
the two Tours .
SPEED will broadcast Whelen Modified Tour events from Martinsville
Speedway (June 6), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 26), Lime Rock
Park (July 3), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18) and New Hampshire
Motor Speedway (Sept. 18).
Ryan Newman ended a 77 race losing streak as he won the NASCAR
Sprint Cup race at the Phoenix Int Raceway. Kyle Bush was the
Nationwide Series winner at the Arizona track.
This week are several vintage racing
photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing
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: