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Friday April 27, 2012

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1952 rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

Fifty five years ago in 1957 Don Collins was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier was the 10 lap non-Ford winner

Fifty years ago in 1962, Dick Beauregard made it two in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 25 Lap Modified feature. Ed Moody, who in later years would become the assistant tech inspector at the Stafford Speedway, won the 15 lap Bomber feature.

Forty five years ago in 1967, the only racing was in New York State and in Connecticut. Fulton Raceway ran on Saturday night with Maynard Troyer taking the win. The Fonda Speedway opened for the season with Pete Corey taking the win over Jeep Herbert and Bill Wimble. Also opening for the season was the Utica-Rome Speedway where Fran Kitchen took the win over Kenny Shoemaker, Bernie Miller, Ray Sitterly and Frank Mathalia. In Connecticut at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Newt Palm made it three in a row when he won the 30 lap Modified feature. Ron Emery was the Daredevil winner.

Forty years ago in 1972, the NASCAR Modifieds were in Martinsville for a 100 lap event which saw Bugsy Stevens take the win over Gene Bergin, Jerry Cook and Max Berrier. Islip opened for the season on Saturday night with Fred Harbach taking the win over Jim Hendrickson, George Wagner and Cliff Tyler. At Fonda, Jack Johnson dusted Lou Lazzaro and Maynard Forette for the win. Dave Lape and Harry Peek rounded out the top five. Stafford ran a 30 lapper on Sunday afternoon. Ronnie Bouchard in the Bob Johnson No.17 took the win over Leo Cleary, Bob Santos, Jerry Cook, Ray Miller and Smokey Boutwell. Waterford also ran on Sunday afternoon with Angie Cerase taking the 40 lap Modified win. Wally Gada was the Sportsman Sedan winner.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, Ronnie Bouchard beat out Fred DeSarro and Bob Polverari as he won the season opener 100 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Fowler was the Grand American Late Model winner. This event was the first to be promoted by Dick Williams and Coastal Racing who had leased the track from Harvey Tattersall. Jap Membrino won at Plainville and at Islip it was Wayne Anderson over Fred Harbach and Bill Park. Freeport was also running on Saturday night. Charlie Jarzombek took the win at the flat quarter over Gary Winters and George Brunnhoelzl. In the southland, Jerry Cook won a 200 lapper at Bowman Gray but had to settle for third at the Franklin County Speedway in Callaway, Va. On Sunday, Punky Caron took Monadnock by storm and at Thompson it was Fred DeSarro over Ronnie Bouchard, Eddie Flemke and Leo Cleary.

Thirty years ago in 1982, The Modifieds traveled to Martinsville for a 150 lap event. Richie Evans took the win over Jim Spencer, Greg Sacks and Jamie Tomaino. Reggie Ruggiero was the winner at Riverside Park over Stan Greger, Bob Polverari and Ray Miller. The event was marred by a crash as a result of a stuck throttle on the car driven by Dave Furoni. Furoni died as a result of injuries. Mike Stefanik was the Pro Stock winner. At Islip, John Blewett Jr. took the win over Don Howe and Bill Park and at Wall Stadium, Tony Siscone beat out Tom McCann for the win. On Sunday, Jerry Cook won an open competition event at Lancaster. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville Harry Gant ended a long string of second place finishes as he won the 250 mile event.

Twenty five years ago in 1987, the Modifieds traveled to Martinsville for the Spring 150 only to have it rained out and not rescheduled. A long trip for nothing! Bruce D'Assandro scored his first ever win in an 87 lapper at Riverside Park .Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles, Mike McLaughlin and Ed Kennedy rounded out the top five. Steve Park was the opening night winner at Riverhead as he beat Jerry Solomito to the stripe. At Shangri-La it was Ron Shepherd over Jim Spencer and at Waterford on Sunday, Rick Donnelly took the season opener over John Anderson and Dennis Gada. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt took the win. Geoff Bodine was leading the closing laps when he was spun by Kyle Petty. Bodine recovered to finish third.

Twenty years ago in 1992, Ricky Fuller jumped the curb in a late race pass of Jan Leaty to take the lead and eventual win at Martinsville. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Leaty and Satch Worley. Dennis Gada beat out Richie Gallup to win the Waterford opener. Jerry Young was the Late Model winner after Phil Rondeau broke an axle in the late going. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Mark Martin took the win and made it eight in a row for Ford products. Kyle Petty crashed and burned. First on the scene was Geoff Bodine who pulled him to safety.

Fifteen years ago in 1997, Todd Ceravolo took the Saturday night win at Waterford. Eric Berndt was leading the closing laps when his engine burped and he lost power. Scott Spaulding, running second at the time slowed to avoid a collision and was unintentionally tapped and spun by Ceravolo. Dennis Gada finished second with Jim Broderick, third. Tom Fox was the Late Model winner. At Riverside Park, Reggie Ruggiero recorded his 87th career win at the 1/4 mile oval over Dave Berube and Richie Gallup. At the Stafford Sizzler, Mike Stefanik recorded his third Sizzler win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Dan Avery and Tom Baldwin. Lloyd Agor and Steve Chowanski were the winners of the twin 40 lap SK Modified features.

Ten years ago in 2002, Ken Wooley was the Busch Pole sitter for the Spring Sizzler. Tony Hirschman was the outside pole sitter. The event, which drew 48 Modifieds was rained out and re-scheduled for the following week. The SK-Modifieds got to run on Saturday and when all was said and done, Doug Coby took the 40-lap win over Chuck Docherty and Lloyd Agor. Numerous wrecks and spins forced the race to go 52 laps before the checker dropped. In other Saturday night action Ron Yuhas Jr. passed Rob Janovic on lap 24 of the 35 lap feature at Waterford and went on to take the win. Janovic finished second and was followed by Ed Reed Jr., Tom Fox and Dennis Gada. In Winston Cup action at Fontana, California, Jimmie Johnson scored his first win. Scott Riggs was the Busch Series winner. Other weekend winners included Tom Arre at Wall Township, Chris Young at Riverhead, Brett Hearn made it two in a row at Lebanon Valley and TJ Potrzebowski won the Race of Champions Tour Richie Evans Memorial at Tioga.

Five years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford Motor Speedway on April 29. The track opened on Friday despite heavy rains that cancelled weekly racing division practice sessions. Forty-two Modifieds were on hand for practice and qualifying on Saturday. Second generation driver Matt Hirschman took the Busch Pole winner as he toured the half mile oval at 45/100th of a second faster then his father, Tony, in qualifying. Tony Hirschman, a five-time series champion, averaged 99.701 mph in his qualifying run. Reggie Ruggiero of Rocky Hill, Conn. was third fastest with a speed of 99.673 mph. Thompson Ice Breaker winner, James Civali, was fourth fastest with a speed of 99.448 mph. Ted Christopher rounded out the Top-5 in qualifying with a speed of 99.179 mph. The Top-8 qualifiers drew for starting position. Tony Hirschman drew the pole and was joined by Ruggiero on the front row. Civali and Matt Hirschman made up row number two.

Don Lia and car owner Bob Garbarino didn’t repeat their mistake made at Thompson as they pitted for tires on lap 75 of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler. Their pit stop paid off in dividends as they won the event. Lia and Todd Szegedy swapped the lead three times over the final 29 laps. Lia took the lead for good on lap 97. Szegedy settled for second with Jerry Marquis bringing the Brady Bunch No.00 home in third spot. Mike Stefanik, who had a problem and never got to time trial, got in the event using a provisional starting spot, finished fourth. Zach Sylvester in the Curt Chase No.77 finished fifth. Fourteen caution periods for 76 laps kept Lia’s average speed at 55.147 mph. Frank Ruocco, a part time Modified Tour competitor caused the two biggest wrecks and was responsible for at least six cars being knocked out of the Sizzler. The first “Big One” came on lap 20 when Ruocco got airborne and landed on the Roger Hill No.79 driven by Chuck Hossfeld. The Hill car suffered extensive body damage and looked ready for the scrap heap. Extensive pit repairs and body work with a sledge hammer plus miles of 100 mile per hour tape kept Hossfeld on the track. Plus the fact he received two separate Lucky Dog awards and was able to finish on the lead lap in 13th spot. Carl Pasteryak and Bobby Santos III weren’t as lucky as their mounts had to be parked because of extensive damage. The second Ruocco “Big One” came on lap 117 when his radiator broke and the resulting mess collected Rick Fuller, Rob Summers and Matt Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Tony Hirschman, James Civali, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy Blewett and Jamie Tomaino.

Among the highlights of the weekend was the release of Steady Eddie: Memories of Ed Flemke, Modified Racing's Fastest Professor. Coastal 181 and Bones Bourcier did an excellent job on this one. Flemke became a Modified Legend in his own time. A favorite Flemke story took place at the Waterford Speedbowl in the early 1950’s. Flemke was in the Army and stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Waterford had a big race and Flemke wanted the weekend off and his superiors refused his request. Some how he was able to go AWOL and make the race. Some of his friends had his car ready when he arrived and he jumped in and went out and won the race. Military Police were waiting at the pit gate. They got a big surprise when Flemke parked his race car between turns one and two and jumped the fence and ran off into the nearby woods. To make a long story short, Flemke made it back to Fort Dix and was in his bunk fast asleep when the MPs returned from Connecticut.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Chris Matthews repeated his Spring Sizzler SK Light Modified feature win of one year ago, and Rick Lanagan drove to victory in his Limited Late Model feature debut. Zach Sylvester was the winner of the Coors Light 21 Means 21 SK Modified® feature event, and Ryan Posocco was the winner of the Late Model 16 feature event.

Lloyd Agor was awarded the SK Modified win after apparent winner Woody Pitkat was disqualified after officials discovered his car had an illegal rear spoiler. Jeff Baral finished second and was followed by Jeff Malave, Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher. The Late Model Feature went green to checker with first-time winner Corey Hutchings taking the win. Woody Pitkat finished second.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Shawn Monahan passed Doug Coby with 12-laps to go to win Saturday evening’s 35-lap SK Modified feature at the shoreline oval. Early leader Dennis Charette spun after contact with Kenny Horton. Jeff Paul, Rob Janovic, and Tyler Chadwick rounded-out the top-5. Last weeks winner Diego Monahan finished sixth.

Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Models), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Joseph Godbout III (Mini Stocks), Ginny Quinones (USAC Ford Focus Midget Series).

At the Wall Township Speedway Kevin Flockhart won the 40 lap Modified feature. Tom Farrell, Michael Bohn, John Blewett III, Steve Reed and Shaun Craig rounded out the top five.

In NASCAR Busch East competition Sixteen-year-old Joey Logano swept to the win at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, his second NASCAR Grand National victory in less than ten days. Logano, of Middletown, Conn., held off Sean Caisse to win the NASCAR Busch East Series Greased Lightning 150. The victory comes on the heals of his NASCAR West Series season opening win at Phoenix International Raceway April 19. The West Series and Busch East Series wins were Logano’s first and second career NASCAR starts, respectively. Logano, who set the track record at 87.481 mph qualifying, took the lead from defending race winner Caisse on lap 73. Bryon Chew of Mattituck, N.Y. was third followed by Peyton Sellers of Danville, Va., and Rogelio Lopez of Mexico City, Mexico.

In Nextel Cup action at the Talledega Speedway Jeff Gordon crossed the finish line for win No. 77, breaking a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt on NASCAR's career victory list. It was only fitting that it happened at Talladega, where Earnhardt, who would have been 56 on Sunday, won 10 times in his Cup career. But it was anticlimactic and confusing, ending under caution to leave Gordon unsure if he'd actually won and taken over sixth place on the wins list.

Gordon, who started on the pole, ran up front at times during the race but was 14th on a restart with 10 laps to go. But he stormed to the front and with three laps to go passed Jamie McMurray for the lead a split-second before a caution came out. It set up a the green-white-checkered flag finish, with Gordon out front on the restart. But before the field reached full speed, a wreck far behind the leaders brought out the caution and effectively ended the race. Tony Stewart, embroiled in controversy all week for likening NASCAR to pro wrestling, was knocked into the wall far ahead of the first accident. He bounced off the outside wall, slid down the track and into the inside wall, then stood fuming on the apron as he waited for the field to pass. He made an angry gesture at Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland as they passed under caution. Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's teammate, finished second as Hendrick Motorsports cars continued their season-long domination. Hendrick drivers have won six of the first nine races.Kurt Busch was third, Gilliland fourth and McMurray finished fifth. Kevin Harvick was sixth, followed by Earnhardt, David Stremme, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Kentucky Speedway revised their lawsuit against NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation. Kentucky Speedway is no longer is demanding a Nextel Cup race in its federal lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. In an amended complaint filed Friday, April 20, the speedway said it wants NASCAR to develop "objective factors" for the awarding of Nextel Cup races, the France family to give up control of either ISC (a public company that operates tracks and whose majority of voting stock is owned by the Frances) or NASCAR (a private company owned by the Frances) and for ISC to sell at least eight of the 12 tracks it owns that host Nextel Cup events. The 41-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Covington, also reveals some of the speedway's attempts to bring NASCAR's top racing series to Gallatin County. The speedway filed suit in July 2005 alleging NASCAR and ISC violated antitrust laws by restricting which tracks host Nextel Cup races and trying to "monopolize the market for hosting premium stock car racing events." In the original complaint, the speedway asked for Nextel Cup races to be awarded through a competitive bidding process. The complaint details some specific attempts by the speedway to secure a spot on the Nextel schedule. According to the new complaint, the track offered New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre $360 million to buy the facility that holds two Cup races annually. NASCAR and ISC have denied the allegations contained in the original complaint.

Last year, 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was in action at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. Ted Christopher made it two in a row as he edged Thomas Stinson in a two-lap dash to the finish.

Christopher, a veteran of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with 294 career starts and 39 wins on that circuit, took command from pole-sitter George Brunnhoelzl III on the sixth lap of the Caraway 150 and held off Stinson in a green-white-checkered finish to win by .284 seconds.

Christopher's victory follows his at South Boston, Va. It marked the sixth career win in 15 starts in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the Plainville, Conn., driver and his fourth win at Caraway. After being passed, Brunnhoelzl stayed close and shadowed Christopher for most of the race. He made several challenges, but was not able to regain the lead. Stinson, who had started 17th, caught the pair on Lap 125 and gained the second spot on Lap 131. He attempted to move by Christopher for the lead, but had to settle for the runner-up spot. John Smith finished third with Brunnhoelzl and Frank Fleming rounding out the top five. Jason Myers, Austin Pack, Tim Brown, Lee Jefferies and James Civali made up the top ten. Jeffries was pinch hitting for the injured Burt Myers. Ten of the original 20 starters were on the lead lap at the finish.

For the second week in a row the Waterford Speedbowl pulled the plug due to cold weather and heavy rain along the Connecticut shoreline.

In Nationwide Series racing at Nashville, Carl Edwards led five times for 148 laps beating Kyle Busch to the checkered flag by .521 seconds. Edwards surged past Busch as the two dueled for the lead with 35 laps to go. Sprint Cup competition took a week off.

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


Ed Flemke & Rocky Germano


Red Cummings


Ron Narducci


Jimmy Bosco & Pete Corey

Tony "Jap" Membrino

Punky Caron

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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