Forty five years ago in 1966, Lou Toro was the opening day 30
lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Bunnell was
the Bomber winner.
Forty years ago in 1971, the only racing action saw Bugsy
Stevens take a 30 lap open competition win at Thompson. Little did
anyone know that it was Stevens' last ride in the mighty no.3 of Len
Boehler that had carried him to three NASCAR National Modified
Championships. Stevens had been hired by Sonny Koszela to replace
Fred DeSarro who, after a disagreement, had been let go. Bob Santos
finished second and was followed by Leo Cleary and Ralph "Hop"
Harrington. Harrington was in the recently purchased Tant/Mitchell
Coupe that had been bought by Richard Armstrong. The Modifieds also
ran at Hickory, N.C. Ray Hendrick took the win there and was
followed by Max Berrier, Joe Thurman and Paul Radford.
Thirty five years ago in 1976, there was no racing that weekend.
Thirty years ago in 1981, the Winston Cup cars were at North
Wilkesboro. Richard Petty took the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished
seventh. The Danbury RaceArena opened for the season with Bob Riley
taking the Modified feature over Danny Galullo and Joe Chowanski.
Randy LaJoie was the Sportsman winner.
Twenty-five years ago in 1986, it was cold at Riverside Park
but it didn't stop Reggie Ruggiero as he put Mike Greci's No.11 in
victory lane after a 50-lap grind. Stan Greger finished second. The
Thompson Ice Breaker was scheduled to run on Sunday but heavy rain
forced a postponement. In Winston Cup racing at Bristol, Rusty
Wallace took the win. Geoff Bodine was the pole sitter but ended up
24th. Ron Bouchard had rear end problems and finished 25th.Doug
Hevron finished 21st after losing an engine.
Twenty years ago in 1991, Reggie Ruggiero drove the Bob
Polverari 711 to a convincing win at Riverside Park on Saturday
night. Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x finished second with Ricky
Fuller, third. At the Thompson Ice Breaker on Sunday, Fuller started
eighth and after a series of pit stops, came out on top with five
laps to go in the 125 lapper. Mike Stefanik finished second and was
followed by Tom Baldwin and Richie Gallup. Ricky Shawn was the late
model winner and Mike Christopher went pole to pole to win the SK 30
lapper. Richie Gallup in the Dick Ceravolo No.31 finished second and
was followed by Bo Gunning and Bob Potter.
Fifteen years ago in 1996, it was Easter weekend. Riverside
was scheduled to run on Saturday night but was rained out. In the
southland, David Green was the Busch Grandnational winner at Hickory
in North Carolina.
Ten years ago in 2001, rain and sleet postponed the
Featherlite Modified Series event and SK Modified event at
Waterford. In Saturday qualifying, 46 FMS cars and 23 SK's were on
hand. Rob Summers was the Mod Tour pole sitter and Dennis Gada was
on the pole for the SK event. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville,
Dale Jarrett took the lead from Ricky Rudd with six laps to go and
went on to score the win.
Five years ago in 2006 the Thompson Speedway opened for the
season with IceBreaker í06. This yearís IceBreaker carried a race
purse of. $89,573, an $11,600 increase over 2005. Heavy rain forced
NASCAR Officials to reschedule qualifying for Icebreaker 2006.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener was
re-scheduled for high noon on Sunday. A total of 46 Whelen Modified
Tour teams were on hand at Thompson including a bumper crop of 13
rookie drivers. Woody Pitkat and Pat Trudeau found victory lane in
the Sunoco Mods and Late Models on Saturday night. Todd Ceravolo
took the lead in the Sunoco Modified feature shortly before the half
way mark. Bert Marvin finished a close second with Tom Cravenho,
third. Corey Hutchings of Salem, CT was victorious in the Late
Models. Todd Owen of Somers, CT was tops in Pro Stocks ranks.
Checkers also fell for Danny Cates of Chaplin, CT in the Limited
Sportsman; Brian Vincent of W. Warwick, RI in the Mini Stocks and
Roger Larson, Jr. of Milford, MA in the TIS Modifieds.
Mike Stefanik served notice that he intended to dethrone Tony
Hirschman for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Championship. Stefanik won
the opening round 150 lap IceBreaker. The former champion started
ninth and after making a pit stop for tires at the half way mark
made a determined march to the front and took the lead from Chuck
Hossfeld on lap 127. It was the 67th career NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour victory for the six-time champion who led the series in all
time victories. It was also the second career Icebreaker win for
Stefanik who won this event in 1998.Ted Christopher moved to second
and applied the pressure before Hossfeld regained second on lap 140.
Hossfeld then chased Stefanik to the finish line with the pair both
sideways coming off of Turn 4 on the final lap. Hossfeld ended up
second with Reggie Ruggiero, third. Ted Christopher and Tony
Hirschman rounded out the top five. Don Lia was running sixth until
the closing moments when he ran out of gas. Jerry Marquis started on
the pole and led the first 47 laps when his throttle stuck causing
him to crash violently between turns one and two. Marquis emerged
unhurt but his car, the Mystic Missile was damaged beyond repair.
Prior to the start of the Whelen Modified Feature event the Thompson
Speedway management, competitors and fans paid tribute to the late
Jack Arute with a moment of silence in his honor. The American flag
in the infield was flown at half-mast. Jack Arute Sr. passed away on
Monday, April 3 at the age of 79. Arute owned and operated the
Stafford Motor Speedway since 1970 and is credited with saving the
Modifieds from extinction. He pushed for class within the Modified
ranks. The Stafford Speedway was about to go under when he bought
the track in 1970. In a time when tracks were dumpy Arute dressed up
Stafford with picnic tables and shrubs. He was responsible for the
first ever owners point fund and the legalization of the Pinto body
for use on Modifieds. He also is credited with the original idea of
the SK Modified, a low cost version of what is now a tour type
Modified. Arute was a dedicated businessman and family man.
Hardnosed at times, he was always fair. Arute paid attention to his
patrons and to the press, He wasnít afraid of constructive
criticism, in fact he used it to his advantage. He traded e-mails
with many of us including yours truly. I greatly miss that. He was
laid to rest on Friday, April 7, in the Bedford Center Cemetery in
Bedford, New Hampshire.
At a pre-race news conference held by Don Hawk it was stated that
NASCAR was extremely happy with the Modified division. Two more
dates, Jennerstown, PA and Holland, NY were added to the tour
schedule. Safety wise, the NASCAR drivers are now the safest they
have ever been. The new design of chassis is doing its job absorbing
energy. As far as TV coverage goes Hawk felt confident that Speed
Vision coverage in 2007 would improve quite a bit.
In Nextel Cup action in Fort Worth TX. Kasey Kahne took the win.
Kurt Busch won the companion Busch Series event.
Last year, 2010, The Waterford Speedbowl began its 60th
season with renewed vigor with Blast Off 2010. When fans and
competitors arrived for practice on Friday many improvements were
noted including new concrete barrier walls along the front and back
straight-aways and an all new coat of paint in the grandstand area.
The shoreline oval was one of 10 tracks nationwide to receive funds
through NASCAR's Capital Improvement Grants program.
Speedbowl owner Terry Eames told the Norwich Bulletin that he was
still working on a deal to get the Speedbowl on firmer financial
footing, but that wonít affect the 2010 racing season. He also
stated that any businessman whose company is in Chapter 11 canít say
theyíre in great shape. But he felt confident that he and his
creditors will agree on a plan in the next six to nine months, and
that the plan will save the place forever.
Qualifying for all divisions was held in blustery, winter like
weather. With somewhere between 230-250 cars on hand, Race Director
Tom Fox said the actual count was 244, the north and south pit areas
were jammed to capacity.
The Bob Valenti Modified Racing Series portion of Blast Off drew 35
cars. Among the early casualties was Rob Goodenough who lost his
left front tire and hit the wall. Chris Jensen and Ed Dachenhausen
withdrew because of engine problems. Dave Etheridge, Jon McKennedy
and Rowan Pennick were the qualifying heat winners. Todd Annarummo
was the consolation winner.
It was almost 4:30pm when the SK Modifieds ran their qualifying
heats. With the sun on the way down, the temp dropped below 40deg.
Keith Rocco, Ron Yuhas jr. and Jeffrey Paul were the SK Modified
heat winners. Conspicuous by his absence was Ted Christopher.
Feature winners Saturday were Allen Coates (25-lap All-American
Series Truck), Anthony Mocella (25-lap NEMA Lites), Norm Wrenn
(25-lap Pro4 Modifieds), Max Zachem (25-lap Legends Car) and Chris
Lomartire (15-lap Bandoleros).
Sunday dawned a cloudy-windy day which kept many fans home as the
grandstand was a little over half full. Not bad considering. Keith
Rocco started the track season off right as he led pole to pole in
the SK Modified 60 lapper. Ron Yuhas jr dogged the leader in the
early going but it was Todd Ceravolo who gave the winner the biggest
pressure. Ceravolo, who started 11th, moved into the second spot on
lap 13 and despite eight restarts Ceravolo could not muster the
extra needed speed to out gun the leader. Jeff Pearl turned in a
fine run as he finished third after starting near the rear. Yuhas
faded to fourth while Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.
The Bob Valente Auto Mall.com Modified Racing Series turned out to
be quite competitive. Doug Coby was the eventual winner but the star
of the show was Rowan Pennick who came from dead last to challenge
for the lead. Pennick actually had Coby covered at one point but
Coby ran him up on a couple of restarts and if he hadn't backed out
of it he would have certainly found himself in the wall. In the end
it was all for naught as Pennick appeared to run out of gas on a
restart with 10 laps remaining. Matt Hirschman, who came from a 17th
starting spot, seized the opportunity and took over the runner up
spot to the finish. Jon McKennedy, who led the early going finished
third. Andy Seuss and Jacob Dore rounded out the top five. Sixth
through tenth were Les Hinkley, Eric Goodale, Steve Masse, Dave
Etheridge and Pennick. Pre-race favorite Mike Stefanik had
mechanical problems right from the start as he completed only two
laps, finishing 26th.
Other Sunday winners at the Speedbowl on Sunday were Chris Leonard
in the NEMA Midgets, Tim Jordan in the Late Models, Ed Puleo in the
Street Stocks and Danny Field in the Mini Stocks.
Racing continues at the shoreline oval this Saturday night. A tip of
the hat to Race Director Tom Fox for running a fast-efficient
At Thompson, Test and Tune sessions were on Saturday from 11:00am to
6:00pm. Among those on hand was Bobby Santos III in the Mystic
Missile. According to those on hand the young gun looked extremely
sharp in the storied car.
MadHouse star Burt Myers confirmed to Russ Dowd that he would be in
competition at the upcoming IceBreaker Whelen Modified Tour Series
event. Myers is one of the featured drivers in the History Channel
reality series which depicts the trials and tribulations of Modified
competitors at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.
Denny Hamlin passed Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and leader Jeff Gordon
following the final restart to get his third career Sprint Cup
victory at the Martinsville Speedway. The race was run on Monday due
to the fact that heavy rain pelted the state of Virginia on Sunday.
Kevin Harvick was the Truck Series race at Martinsville.
This week are several vintage racing
photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing
Click on Photo for Full Size
Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes
at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: