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 Friday August 11, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Forty years ago in 1966 Steady Eddie Flemke, the master of the short tracks, took the Friday night win at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Flemke led a New England sweep of the top five with the exception of Lou Lazzaro who finished fourth. Pete Hamilton finished second with Elton Hill, third. Rounding out the top five was Dick Dixon. Lazzaro won at Fonda on Saturday night over Bill Wimble and Pete Corey. Lee Osborne won at Lancaster. Sunday night action at the Utica-Rome Speedway was rained out.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, Ken Cannestrari was the Friday night winner at Malta as he held off Fred DeSarro, Bugsy Stevens and Ed Pieniezak for the win. In NESMRA action at Thompson Don MacClaren took the win. Saturday night at Stafford belonged to Fred DeSarro as he put the Ole Blu of Len Boehler in victory lane. Gene Bergin finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Hop Harrington. At Fonda, young upstart Jack Johnson took on the veterans and came out on top for the win. Maynard Forette finished second and was followed by Kenny Shoemaker and Jerry Cook. Bob Potter got his fourth win of the season at the Waterford Speedbowl. Mark Geer finished second with Joe Trudeau, third. Many of the top guns in modified racing headed for the Pocono Raceway on Sunday. Bryan Osgood was the eventual winner over Fred DeSarro and Chuck Boos. The big story of the day was the fact that Dick Armstrong brought a virtually unknown driver to wheel the former Tant/ Mitchell coupe that he had purchased and if not for a blown engine, would have stole the thunder of the day. Virtually unknown outside of Seekonk and Westboro, Ronnie Bouchard started dead last in the consolation event, won that, and after starting in the tail end of the 40 car starting field, worked his way to the front. Even with a dnf, the Kid from Fitchburg "made his bones" and served notice that he would be one to reckoned with in the future. In other Sunday action, Utica-Rome ran on Sunday night with Dave Lape taking the win over Ralph Holmes and Ray Sitterly. At the Fulton Raceway Bob Merz won in the Modifieds and Ken Andrews in the Supermodifieds.

Thirty years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star League visited Thompson on Wednesday night. Geoff Bodine, who had been winning just about everything in sight, added another victory to his ever growing list. In fact, Bodine ended up going three for three on the weekend as he won a 100 lapper at Stafford on Saturday night and the regular small block modified 30 lapper at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second at Thompson on Wednesday with Ronnie Bouchard, Leo Cleary and Kenny Bouchard rounding out the top five. At Stafford it was the same story, DeSarro and Bouchard with Eddie Flemke and John Rosati rounding out the top five. Flemke shuffled the mix on Sunday as he finished second and was followed by DeSarro, Rosati and Moose Hewitt. Fred Harbach went two out of three for the weekend as he won at New Egypt on Thursday night and a 200 lapper at Islip on Saturday night. Charlie Jarzombek was the spoiler as he won a 100 lap Trenton qualifier at Riverhead on Friday. In other action for the weekend, Mike Beebe won at Waterford on Saturday night.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Monadnock ran an 81 lapper on Wednesday night. Despite a light field of 19 cars, the racing was good. Richie Evans took the win over Allen Whipple, Ray Miller and Dennis Albro. Friday night at Stafford, Ray Miller put the Mike Greci No.01 in victory lane after Reggie Ruggiero lost a clutch in the closing laps. John Rosati brought the Tuck Hoffman No.73 home in second spot and was followed by Kenny Bouchard and Richie Evans. Glynn Shafer, in the Ron Yuhas No.6 won the 30 lap Thompson 300 qualifier at Waterford on Saturday night. Westboro ran a Race of Champions qualifier, also on Saturday with Gomer Taylor taking the win and guaranteed spot. Ray Miller made it two in a row as he took top honors at Riverside as he beat out Richie Evans for the win. Thompson had their ROC qualifier on Sunday and it was Evans beating out Bugsy Stevens and George Summers for the win. Other weekend winners were Jerry Cook at Spencer, Bugsy Stevens and Mike Murphy at Seekonk and Tommy Ellis over Geoff Bodine in a Grandnational event at South Boston. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Talledega 500 winner Ronnie Bouchard was the Busch Pole sitter but fell by the wayside at the half way mark with a blown engine. Richard Petty was the eventual winner.

Twenty years ago in 1986, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a Wednesday night 150 lap event. It was a good night for the Long Island Gang as they ruled the roost. Tom Baldwin took the lead at the start and kept the point until getting trapped by a lapped car which allowed Mike Ewanitsko to slip by and take the lead on lap 80.Ewanitsko led until lap 119 when he got loose and Riverhead regular Dan Jivenelli took the top spot.Jivenelli led the rest of the way to the finish and was followed by Jim Spencer, Reggie Ruggiero, Jeff Fuller and George Kent. The Manchester Oil Heat 100 at Stafford on Friday night was rained out but not before the SK event was run with Jeff Fuller taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Riverside where it was announced that Race Director Gene Murphy had passed away after suffering a heart attack. In other Saturday night action, Bob Potter won his sixth of the season at Waterford over Ed Flemke Jr and Larry Ross. On Sunday, Oswego ran a 75 lapper which saw Brian Ross take the win over Greg Sacks and Jamie Tomaino. Other weekend winners included George Kent at Spencer and Shangri-La, Bob Park at Riverhead, Leo Cleary at Seekonk and Kerry Malone at Thompson. In Winston Cup action at Watkins Glen, Tim Richmond took the win after Geoff Bodine lost an engine

Fifteen years ago in 1991, racing at Stafford on Friday night rained out. On Saturday night, Don Bunnell put his family owned modified in victory lane at Waterford. The Bunnells, who had been active in racing at Waterford since the early 1950's only recently stopped being active competitors. Jerry Marquis won his fifth main event at Riverside which also was a Race of Champions qualifier. Ed Kennedy finished second. At Riverhead, Mike Ewanitsko and Don Howe finished one-two in the Charlie Jarzombek 76 lapper. Winston Cup star Ken Schrader paid a visit to Seekonk where he won the headline Pro Stock event. On Sunday, the Busch North Series and the Featherlite Modifieds shared top billing at Thompson. Ricky Craven beat out Tony Hirschman for the Busch North Series event and Jeff Fuller took top honors in the modified event. Mike Ewanitsko finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. On a sad note, long time Winston Cup independent racer, J. D. McDuffie was killed in a head on crash with a wall at Watkins Glen.

Ten years ago in 1996, Lloyd Agor was the Friday night SK modified winner at Stafford. Curt Brainard finished second with Steve Chowanski, third. On Saturday night at Waterford, veteran Bob Potter recorded his 96th career win at the shoreline oval. Jim Broderick finished second and was followed by Phil Rondeau and Eric Berndt. The modified tour was at Riverhead for a 201 lapper. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Tim Connolly on lap 178 and cruised on to victory. Connolly ended up in second spot and was followed by Steve Park, Charlie Pasteryak and Tony Hirschman. In other Saturday night action, Dave Berube scored his first modified win, that coming at Riverside Park

Five years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher scored his seventh and eighth wins in twin events run at Thompson on Thursday night. Bert Marvin scored two runner-up finishes. During one of the many wrecks in the first feature Jim Broderick suffered a broken arm which would put him out of action for the remainder of the season. Michael Boehler scored his first win as a Featherlite Modified Tour Series car owner when Jerry Marquis took the win at Chemung on Friday night. Marquis took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero who lost his brakes on lap 145 of the 157-lap event. Car owner Garry Cretty was extremely unhappy when Ted Christopher chose to run the Stafford Speedway instead of going to Chemung. It was a moot point as Stafford rained out. Mark LaJunesse beat out Ron Yuhas and Jay Miller for top honors at Waterford on Saturday night. At Riverhead, Donnie Lia scored his first ever-modified win. In Busch North Series action at Watkins Glen, Ted Christopher was the fastest and the favorite to win until he broke two panhard bar bolts. Tom Carey was the eventual winner. In Winston Cup action at the Glen, Jeff Gordon made it look easy as he recorded his 57th career win on NASCARís elite circuit.

Last year, 2005, Denise Barry Dion passed away suddenly on Wednesday, August 3. Denise was the sister and spotter of Modified driver Ken Barry (21), daughter to car owner Art and Deborah Barry and wife to Wayne Dion, Pro Stock driver. Denise, 45, was swimming when she began experiencing sudden abdominal pain and was then rushed to the hospital, put on life support, and by early evening, had passed away.
 
George "Mad Dog" Bessette, a frequent winner at the Thompson Speedway broke his back in a last lap accident at Oxford Plains Speedway while trying to qualify for the recent Oxford 250. He was out of a qualifying position when the driver behind pushed him into the wall. He is not paralyzed but is in a lot of pain. Bessette was diagnosed with having broken his first vertebrae.
 
Jeff Malave padded his Sunoco Modified point lead at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Malave received a gift when the top three, Kerry Malone, Bo Gunning and Richard Savory tangled with eight laps to go. Bert Marvin ended up second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Ricky Shawn and Kenny Bouchard rounded out the top five. Second generation driver Fred Astle, driving the Rollie Linblad No. 48 went pole to pole to win the Pro Stock feature. Other Thursday night winners were Glenn Boss who took his fifth win of the year in the Limited Sportsman, Dennis Botticello in the Late Models, Randy Jurcik in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the Thompson Modifieds.
 
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night. Donnie Lia has emerged as the next leader of the Long Island gang as he continues to turn in impressive finishes. At Riverhead he started on the pole and paced himself behind early leader John Fortin who led the first 39 laps. A faulty transmission ended Fortinís night. Lia was waiting in the wings and took command of the situation and never looked back as he led the balance of the 200-lap event to record the win. Tony Hirschman came from 8th spot to finish second with Jerry Marqius, third. Rounding out the top five were Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers.
 
Chris Kopec elected to step aside from his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ride because of medical problems. Mike Stefanik moved from the Brady Bunch No.00 to the vacated No. 16. John Blewett III had taken over the Brady car.
 
Eric Berndt ended a long dry spell at Stafford on Friday night as every lap of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Jeff Baral finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Donnie Lia and Mike Holdredge rounded out the top five. Tom Butler was the Late Model winner. The Waterford Speedbowl saw Dennis Charette lead every lap of the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Rob Janovic, third. Dennis Botticello was the Late Model winner with Tim Fogg taking top honors in the Sportsman. Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.
Tony Stewart won the Nextel Cup Brickyard 400 and Martin Truex JR won the Busch Series event at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

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: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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