By Phil Smith

Thirty-five years ago in 1970 Friday night racing at Malta rained out. In twin 25 lap action at Stafford on Saturday night, Mr. Leo Cleary put the Garbarino Bros.4 in Victory lane as did Eddie Flemke in the Garuti Bros.14. At Fonda, Harry Peek and Eddie Pieniezak did the trick and at Plattsburg, Dick Nephew took the win. The annual Trenton 200 was on tap on Sunday and when the checker dropped, Ray Hendrick took the win over Max Berrier, Sal Dee, Paul Radford and Bugsy Stevens.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980,Allen Harbach took the Wednesday night win at New Egypt. Fred Harbach finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Friday at Stafford, Richie Evans beat out Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens. Saturday night at Westboro, John Rosati in the Tuck Hoffman 73 did the deed as he won out over Ronnie Bouchard and Cleary. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Bobby Judkins 2x ruled at Riverside. onnie Rocco and Mike Stefanik followed. At Thompson on Sunday, Jerry Cook won the 40 lap Thompson 300 qualifier. Brian Ross finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Other weekend winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Tom McCann at Islip, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, Don LaJoie at Danbury, Larry Record at Star and Kenny Busch at Monadnock and Geoff Bodine won a Late Model Sportsman event at South Boston

Twenty years ago in 1985,the modified tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Ray Miller in the Simons No.9 took the win over Jamie Tomaino and Bugsy Stevens. Waterford was one of the few tracks that Richie Evans didn't master as the best he could do was sixth. Friday night at Stafford, Jamie Tomaino scored as he out ran Doug Hevron and Charlie Jarzombek for the win. Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at New Egypt and it was Richie Evans over Doug Hewitt at Spencer. Larry Ross pulled an upset at Waterford as he beat Bob Potter and Joe Tiezzi for the win and at Riverside, Mike Stefanik won the annual 200.Tim Contarino won at Riverhead and at Shangri-La it was Randy Hedger over Jim Spencer. In Sunday SK-Mod action at Thompson, Wayne Dion beat out Keith Williams. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt was the winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1990,the Modified Tour was at Thompson on Wednesday for a 150 lapper. Mike Mclaughlin took the win over Reggie Ruggiero. Stafford rained out on Friday and Waterford never completed their program because of curfew. The mod tour was at Riverside on Saturday. Richie Gallup took the win over Jeff Fuller. Lenny Fischer won at Riverhead. Five years ago in 1995,the modified tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Steve Park took the lead from Ricky Fuller on lap 77 of the 150-lap event and went on to record the win. Fuller ended up second with Mike Stefanik, third. Stefanik had the field covered but was held by officials on pit road after he made an illegal pass on the track. Satch Worley and Reggie Ruggiero rounded out the top five. The SK 50 lapper was won by Bo Gunning with Jim Broderick, second. Veteran Jerry Pearl took the victory at Waterford on Saturday night. Eric Berndt finished second. Jim Broderick had the misfortune of breaking his wrist after being involved in an early race wreck. Tom Fox was the Late Model winner. At Riverside, Ed Spires took the modified win and Mike Stefanik held off Kelly Moore as he won the Busch North event at the amusement park oval. At Riverhead, Chuck Stuer got his fourth of the year. Tempers were hot at Bristol Tenn. where Dale Earnhardt dumped Terry Labonte into the wall on the final lap. Labonte managed to win the event but he wasn't too happy with Mr. Goodwrench. Earlier in the event, Earnhardt had dumped Rusty Wallace. Steve Grissom was the BGN winner. During the weekend it was announced that sprint car driver Doug Wolfgang had been awarded $1.2million for burn injuries incurred at the Lakeside Speedway.

Five years ago in 2000 the Featherlite Modifieds were at Stafford for a 150 on Friday night. Ted Christopher had the dominant car until his engine sputtered with three laps to go. Waiting in the wings was John Blewett III who took the lead and the win. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Craven, Reggie Ruggiero, Rob Summers and Tim Connolly. The SK's ran twin 50's with Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor taking the wins. Saturday night at Waterford saw Tucker Reynolds Jr. in victory lane as he beat out Dennis Gada and Ed Dachenhausen for the win. Ted Christopher took on the New Yorkers in the Lancaster Open. Christopher took the win only to be disqualified as track officials stated that his carburetor was illegal. At Riverhead it was Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. and in Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the pole and the win. Kevin Harvick did likewise in the companion Busch Grandnational event. Scott Quinn got a hard fought win at Thompson on Sunday night. Curt Brainard finished second with Bert Marvin, third. In Busch North Series action, also at Thompson, Tracy Gordon took the win.

Last year, 2004 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night, August 19. In what was supposed to be a great night of racing, tragedy struck on the 8th lap of the 150 lap feature when veteran Tom Baldwin Sr. lost his life as a result of injuries sustained after hitting a concrete barrier that protects a light pole in the third turn area of the 5/8 mile speedway. Baldwin lost control while running at full tilt down the backstretch. Once his car left the asphalt surface and was on the wet grass his car appeared to pick up speed and spun, hitting the barrier on the driverís side. Baldwin had to be cut from his car and was taken to the Hubbard hospital in Webster, Mass. where he was pronounced dead. Because of the fact that Connecticut State Police were required to make an extensive investigation of the incident and the lateness of the hour the event was not re-started. NASCAR and the speedway announced that the event would be completed on Sunday, August 29. With a $75,803 on the line a banner field of 45 Modifieds were on hand and a near capacity crowd of fans. Sean Caisse, who has had little success since joining the tour, put his Art Barry owned mount on the Busch Pole as he toured the oval in 18.999 seconds, 119.746 mph. Rounding out the top four were Ted Christopher, Jeff Malave and Donnie Lia. For the start, Caisse pulled the pole starting position with Bobby Santos, the outside pole. The event took the green at 10:50 PM. Santos jumped out into the lead on the start but Caisse took it back in turn 2. The first caution flew on lap 2 when Mike Molleur spun on the backchute. The restart came on lap 7 with Santos taking the lead as Caisse began backing up. Ted Christopher blew by as they headed down the backchute. Just as Christopher had completed lap 8 a mass tangle on the backstretch incurred which resulted in Tom Baldwin hitting the protective barrier around a pole in turn three. Ron Silk and Steve Witt were also involved. Because of the severity of the accident the event was red flagged on lap 10. Speedway owner Don Hoenig stated that all rain checks would be honored on Sunday. The Busch North Series was in Maine at the Beech Ridge Speedway for the Irving Oil 150. That event was rained out. In Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Todd Ceravolo vaulted his way back into the point lead with a win in his newly rebuilt Sunoco Modified. Ceravoloís cause was helped when point leaders Kerry Malone and Jeff Malave crashed on lap 5 of the 30-lap feature. Malave was able to continue as Malone was towed from the scene with severe front-end damage. Ceravolo chased Bert Marvin until lap eight when the leader suffered a flat tire and spun. Marvin returned and made a spirited charge to finish second on Ceravoloís bumper. Ted Christopher, who was involved in an early spin with Bo Gunning, ended up third with Malave and Richard Savary rounding out the top five. While celebrating in victory lane Ceravolo stated that it was a good chance that he would retire at seasonís end as his car has been sold. In other action, Ron Rixham won the 15-lap Mini Stock feature, Scott Sundeen won his fourth Limited Sportsman feature and Mark Palmisano broke Corey Hutchingís stranglehold on the Late Model division. The Pro Stock feature was scheduled to be run following the Featherlite Modifieds. It would be run at a later date. During a close to two hour rain delay Speedway owner Don Hoenig, with the blessing of NASCAR announced a major format change for the September 10-12 Sunoco 300. Formerly an endurance run since its inception in 1975, the event will be divided into three-100 lap contests, which will carry a purse of over $100,000. Qualifying will be by 20-lap heats plus a last chance consolation.

Among the huge throng of spectators on hand at Thompson on Thursday night were many from years gone by including Leo Cleary, Bob Judkins, Billy Harman, Roland LaPierre JR and Carl Merrill. Cleary says that his grandson is now racing on the New England Pro Four Modified circuit. Also spotted was Lou Ewanitsko, father of Mike Ewanitsko. He stated that Mike wasstill fighting sugar-related problems and has gone through a gall bladder removal and would require a kidney transplant in the future. Heavy monsoon type rain at Stafford on Friday night forced the speedway management to cancel the nightís racing. Rain again on Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl forced another rainout. The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at Michigan. Mark Martin, who is rumored to be retiring after the 2005 season had one of his better weekends as he finished second in both events. Greg Biffile in a team car of Martinís won the Nextel cup event while Kyle Busch won the Busch Series event. In some sad news, NEAR Hall of Fame member and New England Supermodified legend Dynamite Ollie Silva, 77 passed away on Sunday, August 15. Silva, who won over 500 features, was a headliner for the New England Supermodified Racing Association (NESMRA) for years. A pedal to the metal racer, Silva had his racing career cut short after he hit a tree on the backstretch at the Monadnock Speedway in 1978.

With heavy hearts the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour headed back to Stafford on Wednesday after Tom Baldwin had been laid to rest. Services were held at the Lucia and Orlando Funeral Home in Patchogue on Long Island. National Speed Sport correspondent Gary London reported that thousands came to the wake and funeral of the popular Long Island driver. After only three days off the tour returned to Thompson on Sunday to continue the event that was halted due to the Tom Baldwin accident. The infield light poles in turns one and three had been moved outside the track. The concrete blocks that protected them were also gone. At Stafford, a fitting tribute was presented in honor of Tom Baldwin. Video clips of his highlights in Stafford events were shown and on the parade laps of the main event seventh place starting spot was left open in his honor. Forty-six modifieds were on hand for the Dodge Dealers 150. Donnie Lia was the Busch pole sitter. Nevin George drew the pole starting position and John Blewett III drew the outside pole. Lia drew seventh. Nevin George took the lead at the start and led through lap 54. John Blewett III took the lead on a re-start but his position at the point lasted only one lap as George took it back on lap 56. Todd Szegedy, who didnít pit for tires, took the lead on lap 81 when George developed problems and ended up dropping out with a bad clutch. Szegedy led the remaining laps and crossed the finish line 1.14 seconds ahead of current series point leader Tony Hirschman. Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Tom Bolles, who lives in nearby Ellington, finished a respectable sixth, just ahead of leading Rookie candidate Ken Barry. Barryís teammate Sean Caisse resigned his ride prior to the event and is looking to pursue a racing career elsewhere. Rounding out the top ten were Donnie Lia, Chuck Hossfeld and Doug Coby. Hossfelds car owner, Bob Garbarino, stated that he was extremely hurt by recent action taken by Stafford owner Jack Arute. When Hossfeld quit his Friday night SK Modified ride Arute became enraged as he felt that Garbarino had cost him one of his top weekly drivers. Arute instructed his announcing team not to mention Garbarinoís name or his business, The Mystic River Marina. Garbarino had supported the speedway since it was initially paved in 1967. Ted Christopher and Reggie Ruggiero, two of the pre-race favorites, failed to finish. Ruggiero, who started 18th, dropped out with suspension problems after completing 45 laps. Christopher, who started 22nd, lasted until lap 52 when he broke an axle. Tony Hirschman stretched his point lead to 55 over Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke finished on the lead lap in 13th spot. Flemke was running in third spot on the final lap when he spun as a result of a tire going flat. Jerry Marquis, who finished a distant 23rd after completing only 91 laps because of an early tangle with Ruggiero and Christopher, lost a little ground but still maintained third spot. Christopher and Lia rounded out the top five. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour returned to Thompson on Sunday to complete the Bud Racing 150 that had been halted when Tom Baldwin had his unfortunate accident. Not returning to re-start the event were Bobby Santos III, Sean Caisse, Ronnie Silk and Ken Wooley. Caisse, who was the Busch Pole sitter, had announced that he had quit the Art Barry No.21. Prior to the start of the event speedway announcer Russ Dowd paid an emotional tribute to the fallen Baldwin, one that left more than one with damp eyes. Ted Christopher, who was leading when the event was stopped on August 19 when the field took the green on lap 14. Shortly after Donnie Lia took the lead on lap 41, John Blewett III developed overheating problems with his Sheba No.8 and parked it on lap 44. Blewett, by the way, had won the Garden State Classic at the Wall Township Speedway on Saturday night. At just about the same time Tom Cravenho parked the Eddie Partridge No. 12 when it developed an oil leak. Lia led the field until he pitted on lap 81and handed the lead to Kenny Bouchard as the field completed the fourth of six caution periods. Bouchard's lead lasted one lap as a determined Tony Hirschman bolted into the lead on lap 83. Doug Coby posed a potential threat but couldnít compete with the former series champion who went on to take the eventual win. Coby and Eddie Flemke Jr. slugged it out for second spot until five laps remained and he ran out of gas, stopped and brought out the sixth and final caution. With a green-white-checkered finish Hirschman out powered Flemke for the win. Jimmy Kuhn finished a career best third with Ted Christopher fourth and Rick Fuller, fifth. Rounding out the top twelve on the lead lap were Dave Etheridge, Jerry Marquis, Eric Beers, Jeff Malave, Jamie Tomaino, Charlie Pasteryak and Renee Dupuis. Hirschman now leads Flemke by 65 points. Roy Smith won the Pro Stock event that had also been postponed from August 19.

In Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won one for the Tiger. Malone, who was a close friend of Tom Baldwin, won the 75 lap Sunoco Modified event and in victory lane dedicated his win to the fallen competitor. Jeff Malave ended up in second spot with Todd Ceravolo, third. Bo Gunning and Kelly McDougal rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher was a late contender until being spun out by Adam Norton. Norton was put to the rear for his actions. Christopher recovered to finish seventh while Norton played it cool to finish ninth. Jeff Zuidema was the Pro Stock winner. Point leader David Berghman was collected in a wreck while running third and finished out of the top 10. Other Thursday night winners were Dennis Botticello in the Late Models, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Todd Henshaw in the Mini Stocks.

Twin 40 lap SK Modified features were on the racing card at Stafford Friday night. Steve Chowanski went pole to pole to win the opening feature while Chris Jones won the nightcap after finishing second to Chowanski in the first event. Chuck Docherty finished second in the opening event and was followed by Ted Christopher and Todd Owen. Christopher finished second to Jones who withstood some horrendous pressure. Woody Pitkat finished third with Frank Ruocco and Todd Owen rounding out the top five. Ryan Posocco, who had won the Late Model event at Stafford on Wednesday, came back to make it two for two in Late Model Competition. Vince Gambacorta finished second in the DARE Stock event and was awarded the win after apparent winner Scott Hitchcock was disqualified.

Jeff Pearl won his third SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Pearl had to hold of an overheating Dennis Gada. Tom Fox finished third. Carl Errickson won the Late Model feature and Richard Brooks; son of Thompson Speedway Chief Steward Dick Brooks won the Mini-Stock feature. Other winners were John Mainetti in the X-modifieds and James Trenary in the Legends Cars.

The Nextel Cup Cars and the Busch Racing Series were in Bristol; Tenn. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored a clean sweep as he won both events at the ultra-fast half-mile speedway.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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