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Friday April 20, 2012

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1952, Don Hall was the 25 Lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Harold "Curley" LeMay was the Claiming Car winner.

Fifty five years ago in 1957 Ray Moran won the opening day 25 lap Sportsman feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner.

Fifty years ago in 1962 Dick Beauregard won the opening day 25 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Caso was the 15 lap Bomber winner.

Forty five years ago in 1967, Martinsville ran a 100 lap modified event with Sonny Hutchins of Richmond, Va. taking the win. In the Grandnational (Winston Cup) event, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough lapped the field as they finished one-two in the 500 lap event. The Fulton Raceway in New York cleared away the snow for an open competition event that was won by Lee Osborne. Newt Palm made it two in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 30 lap Modified feature. Jiggs Beetham, who in later years would team up with Bob Potter as his car owner, was the 15 lap Daredevil feature winner.

Forty years ago in 1972, hot off his Spring Sizzler victory, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row at Stafford as he won the Sunday afternoon 30-lap event. Bob Santos finished second and was followed by Hop Harrington, Ray Miller, Moose Hewitt, Rene Charland and Bernie Miller. South Boston also ran a modified event with Max Berrier winning the 75 lapper over Ray Hendrick, Paul Radford and Jerry Cook. Saturday night racing at Fonda rained out. The weather was clear on the Connecticut shoreline on Sunday as Joe Trudeau won the 40 lap Modified feature. Ken Greggory was the 20 lap Sportsman Sedan feature winner.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, Maynard Troyer finally mastered the Stafford Speedway as he won the 80 lap Spring Sizzler. Bob Polverari, Richie Evans, Dick Caso and Ed Flemke Sr. rounded out the top five. Ron Cote was the winner of the non-qualifiers event.

Thirty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks, fresh off his Martinsville win, brought his streak to the Stafford Speedway where he won the 80 lap Sizzler. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Kenny Bouchard, George Summers, Maynard Troyer and Corky Cookman. Mike Weeden was the non-qualifiers winner with Jim Spencer, second. Also on this weekend, Richie Evans won the season opener at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Ray Miller finished second with George Kent, third. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Darrel Waltrip was both the Busch Pole sitter and the race winner.

Twenty five years ago in 1987, Riverside Park was the only game in town as Jerry Marquis in the Bob Judkins 2x took the win over Stan Greger, Mike McLaughlin and Wade Cole.

Twenty years ago in 1992, Riverside Park rained out for the second week in a row. Because of the Easter weekend, the only racing was a Busch Grandnational event run at Hickory, N.C., which was won by Tommy Houston.

Fifteen years ago in 1997, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was in Martinsville for a 200 lapper. Mike Ewanitsko started 19th, made an early pit stop and inherited the lead when Mike Stefanik pitted and went on to take the win. Stefanik, who borrowed a car from Chris Kopec after he wrecked his own as a result of a broken wheel, finished second .Ricky Fuller finished third and was followed by Jan Leaty, Reggie Ruggiero, Tim Connolly and pole sitter, Ed Flemke Jr. Events scheduled for Riverside Park, the Waterford Speedbowl and the Riverhead Raceway were rained out.

Ten years ago in 2002, Tommy Fox took the Saturday night win at the Waterford Speedbowl. Fox was running second to Ted Christopher when he got his left front into Christopher’s right rear. Fox turned left and Christopher spun out of the lead. Dennis Gada ended up second with John Brouwer, third. Christopher ended up 15th. Dave Michael got his 60th win at Wall Stadium and in Busch North Series action at Lee it was Andy Santerre over Mike Olsen and Mike Johnson. Dale Earnhardt JR led 133 of the 108 laps at Talledega to take the Nextel Cup win. Michael Waltrip finished second. Nextel Cup car owner Jack Roush was severly injured in a plane crash. Roush hit power lines and landed upside down in a lake. Larry Hicks, a retired Marine and recovering cancer patient pulled him to safety.

Five years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series got the green flag on Sunday at the Thompson Speedway as a near capacity crowd watched James Civali sprint to victory in the 150 lap Ice Breaker. Civali took the lead on lap 109 after running wheel to wheel with John Blewett III for several laps. A late race wreck which involved Reggie Ruggiero set the stage for a green, white, checkered finish on lap 152. Chuck Hossfeld got two late race gifts as it looked like he would end his day in fourth spot. With seven laps to go the green flew after a caution. Civali led the field followed by Richard Savory, Ron Yuhas Jr, Hossfeld and Ruggerio. As the field exited turn two Ruggerio went low, passing Hossfeld and Yuhas. Ruggerio, trying to get back in line after the pass, clipped Yuhas and they both ended up hitting the back stretch wall. While the track crews were cleaning up the mess and the field was circling under caution Savory suffered a flat tire and was forced to pit, thus handing the runner-up spot to Hossfeld. Savory ended up 17th. Following Hossfeld was Ronnie Silk, Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Tony Ferrante Jr, Carl Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Bob Grigas and Zach Sylvester in the Mansfield, CT based No77 of Curt Chase.

Ted Christopher, who started on the outside pole, was the early leader as he passed pole sitter Savory in turn three before the field completed the first lap. Christopher led until a lap 23 restart when Don Lia shot by in the second turn. Lia apparently planned to go non-stop without a change of tires as almost the entire field pitted for tires during a caution on lap 71. It proved to end up being a bad decision as his tires lost their grip by lap 97 when he gave way to Civali. Lia remained in the top five despite fading fast. His undoing finally came on lap 137 when he spun out and was never a factor after that. Lia ended up 20th, four laps down. Christopher also had a bad day as he was collected in a wreck on lap 99 and ended up in 27th spot at the finish. Defending series champion was never a factor as he was eliminated after losing a wheel on lap 33 after making contact with Jerry Marquis. Stefanik ended up 34th.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly action ”Showtime” Jimmy Blewett , driving the Eddie Partridge No.12 was victorious in Sunoco Modified action. Rick Gentes doubled up in Icebreaker Late Model action (also winning last Saturday). Jeff Connors of Ellington, CT won the Pro Stock field while Keith DeSanctis won the Limited Sportsman division and Leo Adams was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Andy Publicover scored the win in the Mini Stocks.

In Sunoco Modified action, Todd Ceravolo held the early lead over Woody Pitkat. A pack of hungry drivers, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, and Tommy Cravenho, were bearing down on the leaders. Slight contact between the lead duo opened the door for Jimmy. Blewett, who grabbed the second spot before the caution flew for Roland Bergeron. After a false start, racing resumed with Ceravolo retaining his lead. Contact between Pitkat and Rocco send Rocco hard into the turn two wall. Jimmy Blewett was able to take over the lead once racing resumed. A single lap later contact between Cravenho and Bert Marvin sent Cravenho spinning. A chain reaction accident claimed the cars of John Catania, Buddy Charette, and others. Marvin was sent to the rear for his involvement in the accident. Jimmy Blewett continued to lead Ceravolo and now his brother John when racing went back to green. Pitkat and Kerry Malone sat inside the top five. Pitkat was getting racy with John Blewett while the leader had his hands full with Ceravolo. The top four cars began to get some distance on Malone in fifth. Just after halfway, the caution flew when Harry Rheaume and Marvin made contact. Both cars were able to continue. On the restart, Jimmy. Blewett and Ceravolo were side by side for the lead; meanwhile, things got messy from third position on back. Pitkat and Marvin both sustained extensive damage in the melee. Also involved was third-running John Blewett. The battle for the lead continued when the race resumed. While Jimmy Blewett and Ceravolo began to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, Kerry Malone headed down pit road, relinquishing the third spot.

The final dash to the checkers found Jimmy. Blewett gaining some breathing room over Ceravolo. Dave Salzarulo and Danny Cates had great finish runs. Tommy Cravenho and Jo. Blewett had stormed back through the pack and put on a great show battling for the fifth position. At the finish, Jimmy Blewett scored the win over Ceravolo and Salzarulo. The rookie Danny Cates finished fourth in only his second Sunoco Modified start. John Blewett, who had won at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey on Saturday night recovered to finish fifth.

The Monahan brothers packed a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday evening, claiming the top-two slots in the 35-lap SK Modified feature. It was Diego prevailing, but only after an intense battle with older brother Shawn during several late-race restarts. Other winners were Rob Summers (True Value Tour Modifieds), Tim Jordan (Late Models), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Phil Evans (Mini Stocks).

Joey Logano won a NASCAR Grand National Series event Thursday night at Phoenix International Raceway. Logano was a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Clint Bowyer won a stirring duel with Matt Kenseth on Friday night, taking the lead with 14 laps to go and holding on in the Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Jeff Gordon took the Nextel Cup win at Phoenix on Saturday and dedicated the victory to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The board of directors for the International Speedway Corp. approved spending an additional $39.6 million for capital projects. With the approval, the board expects to spend $80 million to $90 million for a number of improvements at Darlington Raceway, including repaving the racing surface and aprons, constructing a new infield access tunnel, installing concrete pit stalls and other renovations. The improvements are expected to be completed in time for the facility's 2008 Nascar Nextel Cup and Busch series weekend.

The company also announced that William C. France, William P. Graves and Christy F. Harris were re-elected and Morteza Hosseini-Kargar was elected to the board by ISC shareholders. All terms were for three years.

Last year, 2011, the Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on a Spring Break before its next event which would be the annual Spring Sizzler at Stafford on Sunday, May 1. Ted Christopher's perch at the top of the series point standings was short lived. Two days after taking the win at Thompson, Christopher along with 5th place finisher Justin Bonsingnore were docked 50 points for altered carburetor boosters. Teams owners were also fined points while crew chiefs Brad Lafontaine and Aaron Clifford were fined $500. New points leader was Rowan Pennink while Christopher dropped to 8th, was fined $500 and suspended by NASCAR until the fines are paid. Christopher's team owner Ed Whelen and Bonsignore's team owner, Kenneth Massa were also docked 50 points in the owners standings. Christopher would keep his victory in the event. Tony Corrente, owner of Tony's Competition Engines, built both power plants.

The set-back at Thompson plus injured hands didn't slow down Ted Christopher as he traveled south to Virginia early Sunday morning and picked up a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory in the South Boston 150 in the afternoon at South Boston Speedway. Driving the Joe Brady No.00 Christopher out dueled George Brunnhoelzl III, who won the first two Whelen Southern Modified Tour events in 2011, to earn yet another win in his storied career. Zach Brewer finished third followed by Tim Brown and John Smith.

The South Boston 150 was originally scheduled for Saturday night but because of heavy rains and Tornados forced officials to reschedule for Sunday. Christopher started 17th, broke into the top three by lap 40 and took the lead on a restart on lap 99 of the 150 lap event.

There were 19 cars on hand. Nine cars were on the lead lap at the finish. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will be in action on Saturday, April 23 at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C.

The Waterford Speedbowl pulled the plug on last Saturday's races due to a forecast of cold weather and heavy rain along the Connecticut shoreline.

Fans and competitors of the season ending North-South Shootout found out that they will have to travel a little further south as the event would be moving from the Concord NC Speedway to the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. Race promoter Charles Kepley stated high insurance costs prompted the move.

MADHOUSE Star and driver of the #1 Bowman Gray & Whelen Modified Series Car, Burt Myers violently wrecked a Supermodified in practice at the Ace Speedway in North Carolina on Friday afternoon. Preliminary reports from the speedway indicated a stuck throttle. He was reported to be awake and talking, and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. After an extensive examination it was determined that He had three broken ribs and a punctured lung.

During the driver's meeting for the Whelen Modified Tour Series at the Thompson Speedway Whelen's Phil Kurze stated that the Speed Channel would televise WMT events at Bristol and the September event at New Hampshire. He had high hopes of working with NASCAR to put together a TV package that would include more events. Ratings from 2010 telecasts by Versus were quite high. Race announcers Jackie Arute and Jimmy Spencer did an outstanding job calling the events. NASCAR announced that 24 events for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR’s top developmental series, would be televised by the Speed Channel.

Mario Fiore, who, for many years had one of the top running and winning Modifieds in the Northeast made an interesting observation. "During the 1997 season there were eight televised NASCAR Modified events", he said. "Those eight events generated a Total Television Dollar Value of $162, 425 in advertising for Gulf Oil", he added. TV coverage is extremely important to the well being of the Whelen Modifieds.

Mike Joy was named the 2011 winner of the Henry T. McLemore Motorsports Journalism award. The McLemore is the most tenured motorsports journalism award, beginning in 1969 with inaugural winner Bloys Britt, who wrote for The Associated Press for 17 years. It is voted by peers, and today’s voters are past McLemore winners. It was presented at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony in Talladega, Ala.

Joy spent his entire adult life as a motorsports journalist. Raised in Windsor, Conn., Joy’s career started in 1970, working as the public address announcer at Riverside Park, the Stafford Motor Speedway and at the Thompson Speedway. He rose through the ranks of MRN Radio and chronicled the growth of NASCAR by announcing races on CBS, TNN, ESPN, TBS and now FOX, along with ancillary programming on SPEED.

His television career began on pit road, where he defined the position. He moved from pit road to the CBS anchor booth in 1998, where he called Dale Earnhardt’s historic Daytona 500 victory.

The Charlotte (NC) Observer reported that NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife, claiming she has taped phone conversations without his consent in attempt to extort money from him. Brian France, 48, claims that Megan France, to whom he has twice married and divorced, has not only been taping their phone conversations but has threatened to distribute their contents.

The lawsuit claims that Megan France told her ex-husband she would not distribute the recordings if he paid her "substantial sums of money." According to previous court documents, Megan France was awarded $9 million following her divorce, along with $32,500 a month in alimony for 10 years and $10,000 a month in child support.

Kyle Busch won under a yellow flag in a wild finish, taking the Nationwide race at Talladega Superspeedway when the last of 10 crashes sent Mike Wallace's car flipping upside down. Busch captured his fourth win in seven Nationwide races - and 47th of his career, on a day when tandem racing produced a series-record 56 lead changes, 11 cautions and two red flags to clean up all the debris.

When Wallace's car got clipped on the last lap going down the backstretch, spinning onto its roof, the yellow came out and Busch was assured of the win. Wallace's car wound up back on its wheels and he actually drove it to the finish line of a race that lasted seven laps beyond its scheduled 117.

In Sprint Cup action, Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided being a good teammate was more important than winning his first Cup race in nearly three years. Earnhardt hooked up with Jimmie Johnson in a thrilling Talladega finish, pushing his Hendrick Motorsports teammate across the line about a foot ahead of Clint Bowyer in a finish that tied for the closest in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. Johnson claimed his first win of the season and 54th of his career.

This week are several photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Dick Beauregard


Corky Cookman


Robbie Kotary


Hop Harrington

Maynard Troyer

Ray Moran

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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