Sixty years ago in 1953, New
London native Dom DeLaura won the season opening 25 lap Sportsman
feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault was the
20 lap non-Ford winner.
Forty five years ago in 1968,
Don Flynn scored the win at the Riverside Park Speedway which was a
1/5 mile oval at the time. Don was followed by Bobby Bard, Johnny
Cambino, Johnny Lobo and Tony "Jap" Membrino. Bob Potter won the
opening day 30 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford
Speedbowl. Dick Dunn was second followed by Dick Caso, Sal Dee and
Newt Palm. Ed "Butch" Reed was the Novice winner.
Forty years ago in 1973, rain
prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Thirty five years ago, in 1978,
the Modifieds ran a spring event at the 1-1/2 mile Trenton Speedway.
Richie Evans took the lead and the win when Bugsy Stevens ran out of
gas with two laps to go.
Thirty years ago, in 1983, all
Twenty five years ago, in 1988,
all was quiet
Twenty years ago in 1993, the
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was in Richmond, VA. Mike
Stefanik took the lead from Jan Leaty with three laps to go as he
went on to record the victory. Jeff Fuller finished second with
Leaty third over Mike Ewanitsko and Doug Hevron rounding out the top
Fifteen years ago in 1998, the
Thompson Speedway took center stage with the running of the Ice
Breaker. Fifty-two Modifieds were on hand for the 125 lap event
which saw Mike Stefanik take the lead from Tony Ferrente with four
laps to go. At the finish, Ferrente faded to third as Tony Hirschman
powered his way into the second spot. Ed Flemke Jr. and Jan Leaty
rounded out the top five. Jim Broderick won the Sunoco-SK Modified
event. Also running that weekend was a 40 lap Race of Champions
event at Tioga which was won by George Kent. In Winston Cup action
in Texas, qualifying had to be put off for a day because of water
seeping up through the track. Jeremy Mayfield ended up with the pole
position but it was Mark Martin who would score the win. A big wreck
on lap two took out Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt Jr.
won the Busch Series event.
Ten years ago in 2003 sleet and
ice forced NASCAR and the Thompson Speedway management to postpone
the season opening Icebreaker to April 14. During the weekend at
Thompson, George Pyne met with the Featherlite Modified Tour car
owners and assured them that their status within NASCAR was safe.
Pyne also told the owners he would look into improving the purse
structures of the tour events. Looks like good old George is still
years ago in 2008, the Thompson Speedway officially
opened the 2008 racing season in the northeast and began the 2008
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. In what was supposed to be a fun
filled and competitive weekend ended in tragedy and ultimately a wet
note. A racing accident claimed the life of race driver Shane
Hammond of Halifax, MA. The accident occurred on the fourth lap of a
scheduled 25-lap Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) feature event
race. Hammond was traveling down the backstretch of the 5/8 mile
oval when he cart wheeled over the third turn wall and hit an
advertisement sign. The 27 year old Hammond was transported to the
Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, CT where he was pronounced dead
shortly after arrival.
For a good part of the day it was misting and threatening rain.
Eddie Flemke Jr brought back fond remembrances of his father’s
Thompson 300 win in 1978 as he elected not to pit when the leaders
did and it paid off handsomely, $7,920, to the second generation
driver. Flemke, who started eighth, was running third and he
inherited the lead on lap 71 when leader Todd Szegedy and
second-place Reggie Ruggiero pitted. Flemke led until lap 92 when
the race was finally red flagged because of extremely heavy mist
that coated the track and made it unsafe. It was also the first win
for Gary Teto, Flemke’s car owner.
A similar situation occurred years ago, 1978, and involved Flemke’s
father and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens was clearly the fastest car during
the running of the Thompson 300. When rain began falling Stevens was
instructed to pit and handed the lead to Flemke. Flemke gambled that
the rain would prevail and that it did!
Chuck Hossfeld, in Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile finished second
and was followed by Bob Grigas, Long Islander Joe Hartmann and
rookie Tom Abele. Sixth through tenth were James Civali who was the
Coors Light Pole sitter and clearly the fastest on the track, Todd
Szegedy, Reggie Ruggiero, Rowan Pennick and Ted Christopher. There
were five caution periods for 53 laps. NASCAR Tour director Chad
Little needed to get a better grip on this situation as it took way
too long to get restart lineups correct. There were 39 Tour
Modifieds on hand and despite the cold weather close to 8,000 fans
turned out for the season opener.
Prior to the race, former champions Frankie Schneider (1952) and
Donny Lia (2007), and the late Richie Evans (nine-time champion)
were honored by NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
In other weekend racing at Thompson Bert Marvin was the Sunoco
Modified (SK type) winner on Saturday night in the first of two
events scheduled for the weekend. The Sunday event was rained out
and will be rescheduled at a later date. Jimmy Blewett finished
second and was followed by Doug Coby, Danny Cates and Josh
Sylvester. Jeff Zuidema was the Late Model winner, Mike O’Sullivan
was the Pro Stock winner, Jessie Gleason, the Limited Sportsman
winner, Glenn Boss was victorious in the Thompson Modifieds and
Danny Fields was the Mini Stock winner. The NEMA Midget feature was
halted after the lap 4 accident and was not resumed. Erica Santos
was the leader at that time.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing Carl Edwards ran away with the Samsung
500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for his series-best third win
of the season, holding off Jimmie Johnson on a two-lap overtime
sprint to the finish in Fort Worth. Kyle Busch, winner of the
Nationwide Series race Saturday, was strong early but had nothing
for Edwards in the end and faded to third.
Last year, 2012, The
northeastern hills of Connecticut came alive with the sound of
ground pounding NASCAR Modifieds as the Men that live by the Grace
of God and 600 horsepower were off on the run back under the sun as
the Whelen Modified Tour Series began the 2012 season with the
running of the annual IceBreaker at the Thompson Speedway.
The speedway came alive on Friday with hundreds of camp trailers and
race car carriers entering the speedway grounds. With gasoline
hovering around the $4.15 mark many just decided to bite the bullet
and went to enjoy their favorite form of auto racing.
Summer-like weather greeted fans and competitors on Saturday
morning. Twenty nine Modifieds were on hand. In 2010 the IceBreaker
drew 37 of the ground pounders. Maybe it is a sign of the times. The
recent announcement by NASCAR that only one Whelen Modified Tour
would be televised while 26 NASCAR K&N (Kids and Nephews)
Development Series events would be seen on television. Granted, the
Whelen Modified Tour Series is regional but their competition and
fan appeal is far above many of The K&N events that are run in front
of almost empty grandstands. Whelen Industries pours millions into
the Modified series and the lack of television is a slap in the face
to the Connecticut sponsor. Even though the Whelen Modifieds are
primarily in the Northeast there are many potential sponsors out
there and if television coverage existed maybe there would be a few
who would like to see their company names on the sides of the cars.
A race team can not exist on race purses alone. Sponsorship dollars
are desperately needed to keep the division alive or more race teams
will fall by the wayside.
Ryan Preece, who took over the seat formerly occupied by Mike
Stefanik, posted a lap of 18.387 seconds (122.369 mph) Justin
Bonsignore posted a fast lap of 18.402 (122.269). Bobby Santos III
had the third-fastest lap of Saturday qualifying at 18.545
(121.327). Keith Rocco (18.560/121.228) and Rowan Pennink
(18.594/121.007) rounded out the top-five qualifiers.
Ron Yuhas Jr., Mike Stefanik, defending Whelen Modified Tour
Champion Ron Silk, Todd Szegedy and Donny Lia rounded out the top 10
qualifiers for Sunday’s event. Don Lia who is in Santos' former ride
was 11th and defending race winner Ted Christopher was 12th fastest.
Keith Rocco made a hasty retreat to the Waterford Speedbowl where he
made it two out of three in SK Modified competition. Rocco saved the
best for last as he passed Tom Abele Jr., who had led from the start
of the 35-lap feature, on the final turn on the 1/3 mile oval. Other
winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Ken Cassidy Jr. who
won his third straight Mini Stock feature. Tyler Jackson picked up
his first career win in the SK Light Modified race and Chris Meyer
found Victory Lane in the Street Stock feature. In Saturday Showdown
Series action, Dan Butler won the Super X-Car feature race and Scott
Limkemann scored the win in the accompanying X-Car event. The Late
Models had the weekend off.
Ron Silk celebrated his eighth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
victory in an extended 159-lap Thompson IceBreaker after Rowan
Pennink was posted for not allowing Silk, who chose to take the
inside groove for the final restart, to set the pace. He officially
jumped the restart. “I had a better car than Rowan (Pennink),” said
Silk after the race. “Before the last restart, he had me up in the
marbles. He didn’t even give me a chance to have a line. You can’t
beat the leader to the line. If you do, you have to lift. I’m happy
to win and we had a better car than he did. I ran him down and
passed him with 15 to go. The rule is in black and white. You can’t
beat the leader to the line.” Ted Christopher was sitting in the cat
bird seat and had the best view of what happened. Christopher stated
that Pennink went early and when Silk realized what was happening he
jabbed the gas and spun the wheels. As a penalty NASCAR placed
Pennink at the tail of the lead lap which gave him a tenth place
finish. The official order of finish saw Christopher finishing
second with Mike Stefanik, third. Jimmy Blewett and Don Lia rounded
out the top five. Sixth through ninth were Jamie Tomaino, Patrick
Emerling, Doug Coby and Wade Cole. Fifteen of the original 29
starters were running at the finish.
Silk started the race in eighth and led just one time throughout the
race distance taking the lead at lap 138 when he dove underneath
Pennink in turn three. Ryan Preece took the lead at the start and
led through lap 84 before giving way to Bobby Santos III. Santos led
for only two laps when Preece took the lead back, but only
momentarily as Don Lia took his turn at the point. Lia led from lap
89 to lap 129 when Pennink took control following a restart on lap
130. Pennink and Silk slugged it out until lap 138 when Silk took
the lead for the final time.
There were 12 caution periods that slowed the 157 lap event with
some of them taking out some of the pre-race favorites. The first
caution flew on lap 9 when Patrick Emerling , Doug Coby and John
Jensen spun in turn 2. The second caution occurred on lap 39 when
Todd Szegedy spun while attempting to pass Mike Stefanik. It was
during this caution that Jensen dropped out with engine troubles.
Caution no.3 came on lap 52 when Eric Goodale spun in turn four.
Eddie Flemke JR and Doug Coby got together for a spin in turn two on
lap 69 to bring out the fourth caution. One lap later Long Islander
Ken Heagy dropped out with engine woes. Coby spun with Keith Rocco
during a restart on lap 74 for caution No. 5. The field had no
sooner taken the green on lap 78 when Patrick Emerling got sideways
coming out of turn two. Szegedy and Silk went on the defensive. Silk
survived but Szegedy didn't as he went into the inside wall a ton,
ending his day.
Caution no.7 on lap 85 had to be considered "The Big One" as it
involved 13 cars and caused NASCAR to throw the red in order to
clean the track of multiple wrecks. Rob Fuller and Bryon made the
initial contact in turn one that triggered the mess. Among those who
were collected and eliminated were Tony Ferrante Jr, Eric Berndt,
Eric Goodale, Eric Beers, Ron Yuhas Jr and Keith Rocco along with
Fuller. Doug Coby spun in turn 2 on lap 113 for yellow No.8. Another
multi car wreck on lap 122 brought out caution no. 9. Mike Stefanik
hit the rear of Ryan Preeces' car sending him into a spin in turn
three. Preece made contact with the wall and destroyed his radiator,
putting him out for the day. Also eliminated was Bobby Santos III.
On lap 142 Wade Cole spun, for caution No. 10, in turn two setting
the stage for the first green-white checker. When the field went
back to green on lap 149 Lia and Justin Bonsignore tangled. Lia was
able to continue but Bonsignore had terminal suspension damage and
was done for the day. On the restart, Christopher wrested the lead
from Silk only to lose it because Cole spun again bringing out the
12th and final caution of the day.
In other Thompson IceBreaker action, Ryan Preece, Tommy O’Sullivan,
Derek Ramstrom, Glenn Boss, Scott Sundeen, and Tyler Poulin all took
victories in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions.
Preece jumped to the lead in the Sunoco Modified feature and held
off Woody Pitkat for the win in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature.
It was Preece at the drop of the green with Woody Pitkat getting by
Ted Christopher for the second position. As Preece began pulling
away, the first caution flew at lap four when John Catania spun and
hit the backstretch wall. The green quickly went to yellow when on
the restart Shawn Thibeault, Wayne Arute, and Moose Douton got
tangled up in turn four. The action continued with Pitkat and Preece
side-by-side through turn one and Pitkat pulling ahead by a nose in
turn two, however, it was Preece ahead at the line with Pitkat in
tow. Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top-three and the trio pulled
away to a significant lead over the rest of the field.
The torrid pace of Preece and Pitkat saw them lapping the field by
the 17th circuit, and as they maneuvered through lapped traffic,
Ceravolo dropped a half a straightaway in the rear view mirror.
Preece took the checkers in commanding style followed by Pitkat,
Ceravolo, and Christopher, who was later disqualified for an altered
muffler. Christopher's finish was reinstated after it was determined
that his mufflers had not been altered. There were 18 Sunoco (SK)
Modifieds on hand.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returned to action for the
South Boston (Va.) 150. While the Whelen Modified Tour Series in the
north had been losing some of it's competitors the southern series
appears to be gaining as 27 cars were on hand for the event. Brandon
Ward won the South Boston 150 on Saturday night in NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour action at South Boston Speedway. Ward took
the lead from defending tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III, who
led a race-high 130 laps, on Lap 131 and never looked back over the
19 laps of the race. It was Ward’s first tour victory in 17 starts.
Andy Seuss rebounded from an early-race incident to finish second
followed by Danny Bohn in third. Kyle Ebersole and L.W. Miller
rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Thomas Stinson,
Burt Myers, Brunnhoelzl, Renee Dupuis and John Smith.
The Stafford Motor Speedway management announced that veteran car
owner Bob Garbarino would be the Grand Marshal of the upcoming
Spring Sizzler. Garbarino has been an avid supporter of Modified
racing at Stafford since the track was paved in 1967. His Mystic
Missile has carried some of NASCAR Modified's Greatest drivers
including Dick Watson, Ted Stack, Hop Harrington, Leo Cleary, Gene
Bergin, Geoff Bodine, Tim Connelly, Satch Worley, Brian Ross, Bugsy
Stevens and SJ Evonsion. In recent years Bobby Santos III and Don
Lia have steered the Missile. Garbarino owns and operates the Mystic
River Marina in Mystic, CT.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Greg Biffle held on tight in the
fastest Sprint Cup race ever on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked Texas
Motor Speedway, pulling away after charging below Jimmie Johnson for
a winning pass with 30 laps remaining on a windy and fast-paced
Saturday night. In Nationwide Series action, Ricky Stenhouse pushed
his Ford out in front with six laps left before Denny Hamlin came
from behind to get side-by-side at the start-finish line. Stenhouse
was ahead by only .001 seconds after that first lap before pulling
away for his second victory of 2012. Kasey Kahne celebrated NASCAR's
return to Rockingham Speedway with a victory Sunday in the Truck
Series race. The track was purchased at auction by Andy Hillenburg,
and he successfully brought NASCAR back. The truck race was the
first NASCAR-sanctioned event at The Rock since 2004. In other
Rockingham action Corey LaJoie continued to bat a 1.000 at the
speedway in the UARA Late Model Series, winning his third event in
three outings at the 1-mile track, while Frank Kimmel II finally
made it to victory lane after narrowly missing it in November in the
Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals.
This week are several
Vintage photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes