Friday August 25, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Forty years ago in 1966, Kenny Shoemaker took the Friday night win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Hamilton, third. Frank Mahalia and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. The Fonda Speedway was closed for the townís annual fair. Bill Wimble was the Sunday night winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Charland was second with Flemke, third. Bernie Miller and Lou Lazzaro rounded out the top five.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, Bugsy Stevens in the Sonny Koszela Woodchopper started off the weekend with a win on Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. Dave Lape finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Denis Giroux and Bernie Miller. Howie Brown was the NESMRA Supermodified winner at Thompson. Islip ran a 200 lap Championship event on Saturday night. Thirty cars started the 200 lap grind on the 1/5 mile oval and when the checker fell it was invader Fred DeSarro taking the win over Islip kingpin Jim Hendrickson. Charlie Jarzombek finished third with Bugsy Stevens and Al DeAngelo rounding out the top five. Moose Hewitt, driving the Freddyís TV No.23 took the win at Stafford on Saturday night over Hop Harrington, Bobby Santos and Winston Barrows. Jiggs Beetham held off Bob Potter to take the win at Waterford. Angie Cerese finished third. Dave Lape, at that time in the top five in national points, took the win at Fonda on Saturday night. Jack Johnson finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Trenton ran a big modified event on Sunday. Geoff Bodine with his outlaw Plymouth Valiant bodied modified took the win. Ronnie Bouchard, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 got to show his stuff as he finished a strong second. Richie Evans finished third and was followed by Mike Loescher, Jerry Cook, Jim Shampine, Chuck Boos, Cliff Tyler and Ray Miller. It rained at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night but not at Fulton where Bob Hudson took the win over Ronnie Wallace.

Thirty years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star league finished up their season at Thompson on Wednesday night. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Fred DeSarro and Kenny Bouchard. John Blewett JR took the top spot at New Egypt on Thursday night. Fred Harbach finished second with Tom McCann, third. Fred DeSarro wrapped up the track championship at Stafford in convincing style as he took the Saturday night win over Ray Miller and Geoff Bodine. Reggie Ruggiero won at Riverside Park .Bob Polverari finished second and wrapped up the track championship. At Westboro, Joe Howard took the win and Bob Santos wrapped up the track championship.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Westboro ran an 81 lapper on Wednesday night with the Bouchard brothers, Ronnie and Kenny, finishing one-two. Friday night at Stafford saw the Modifieds go non stop with Greg Sacks taking the win over Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Richie Evans. Ronnie Bouchard went "up country" to Monadnock on Friday where he out dueled Punky Caron for the win. Moose Hewitt was the big winner at Waterford on Saturday night as in addition to the feature win, wrapped up the track championship. At Seekonk, Leo Cleary took the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Mike Murphy. It was not a good night for George Summers who left the track in a lot of pain after hitting the wall during the main event. Islip ran a 200 lapper with Richie Evans taking the win over John Blewett Jr and Bill Park. Bill Griffin won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Shangri-La over Jerry Cook and George Kent and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero beat out Stan Gregger and Ray Miller. Ruggiero finished out the weekend in fine style as he took the Sunday night win at Thompson over Joe Howard and Mike Stefanik. Geoff Bodine had himself a good weekend in the southland as he won extra distance Busch Grandnational events at South Boston and Langley Field.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Friday night at Stafford saw Mike McLaughlin take the top spot over Bugsy Stevens and Mike Stefanik. At Spencer, it was Jan Leaty taking the top spot. Bob Potter got a little closer to a championship for the Ceravolo family at Waterford as he took the top spot at Waterford on Saturday night. Rick Donnelly finished second with Bob Gada Jr, third. John Rosati was the winner of the Riverside 200 with Mike Stefanik and Bob Polverari in tow. Leo Cleary closed in on the track championship at Seekonk as he recorded his seventh win of the season at the cement palace. At Wall it was Tony Siscone over Jim Hendrickson .Thompson ran a 100 lapper on Sunday. Jim Spencer passed pole sitter Mike McLaughlin on the last lap to take the win. McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. In Winston Cup action at Bristol on Saturday night, Geoff Bodine was the Busch Pole sitter and Darrell Waltrip took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Thompson announced on Friday that weekend events were cancelled because of wind damage from Hurricane Bob. Stafford escaped damage and ran on Friday night with Bo Gunning taking the win over Bob Potter and Steve Chowanski. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau in the Rich Sylvestri No.8 took the Modified win over Chris Jones and Bert Marvin. CJ Freye was the late model winner. Jerry Marquis in the Bobby Judkins 2x wrapped up his sixth track championship at Riverside Park with a win over Reggie Ruggiero and Dan Avery. Chris Young was the winner at Riverhead. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Loudon. Doug Hevron, driving Ole Blu for Len Boehler, took the lead from Jeff Fuller on the last lap and went on to take the win. Fuller finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Tom Baldwin, Reggie Ruggiero and Tim Connolly. One of the top finishers had to get out on bail after taking a poke at a State Cop the night before!

Ten years ago in 1996, Steve Park had one of the most important days of his racing life as he won pole positions at Watkins Glen for both the Featherlite Modified Tour and the Craftsman Truck Series. It was a few days later that Park got the infamous call from the man, himself, Dale Earnhardt Sr. Eric Berndt was the Waterford winner on Saturday night as he beat out Jeff Pearl, David Gada and Jerry Pearl. The Busch North Series visited Riverside Park. Bob Dragon took the win over Dave Dion and Mike Stefanik. Dave Berube was the Modified winner. Riverhead ran a 90 lap memorial event in honor of past champion Fred Harbach. Tim Contarino took the win over Chuck Steuer. Butch Miceka, a long time supporter of Modified racing on Long Island and Contarino's uncle, passed away at the track after suffering a heart attack. In Featherlite Modified Tour action at Watkins Glen, Ted Christopher was well on his way to a win when a wheel broke causing him to spin and crash. The event was telecast live and fans got to see Christopher take a tumble off the fence after he had lost his balance. Mike Stefanik took the lead when Christopher dropped out on lap 35 of the 42 lap event. Jerry Marquis finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Reggie Ruggiero. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the win. Jeff Fuller won his first Busch Grandnational event, beating out Glenn Jarrett.

Five years ago in 2001, Ted Christopher just beat the rain as he won his 10th feature of the year at Thompson on Thursday night. Kerry Malone finished second with Bert Marvin, Josh Steeves and Bill Anderson rounding out the top five. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik drew the pole and led the first 65 laps before pitting. Stefanik was hooked up and sliced his way to the front to re-take the lead from Tom Baldwin on lap 96. From there on, he never looked back as he clicked off the laps to take the win over Mike Ewanitsko, Jerry Marquis, Charlie Pasteryak, David Berghman and Baldwin. Jeff Malave was the SK-Modified winner. At Waterford, Eric Berndt recorded his fifth win at the shoreline oval. Jay Miller finished second with Ed Dachenhausen, John Brouwer and Harry Rheaume rounding out the top five. Riverhead Raceway, on Long Island, celebrated its 50th anniversary and 25th year under the Cromarty Family. Bill France and Jerry Cook represented NASCAR. John Fortin started 17th and fought his way to the front to take the win. J.R.Bertuccio finished second with Lenny Fischer, third. Matt Kobyluck qualified fourth in a Busch North Series event at Nazareth, went the distance without pitting and recorded his first win. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Tony Stewart took the win over Kevin Harvick. In the preliminary Busch Grandnational event, Harvick came from two laps down to take the win. Harvick moved his team mate Jeff Green out of the lead with eleven laps to go.

Last year, 2005 Tony Hirschman cruised to a convincing win in the NASCAR New England Dodge Dealers 150 at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Hirschman, the top time trailer, started seventh after the top ten redrew. Doug Coby, driving the Mansfield Ct. based No.77 of Curt Chase, started on the pole and led the first 80 laps before pitting. Coby ended up 14th after bad luck reared its ugly head. Ricky Fuller came from 18th to finish 2nd, his best finish in quite a while. Eric Beers started 19th and finished third. Mike Christopher had his best run to date in the Hills Enterprises No.79 as he took advantage of John Blewett IIIís transmission problems in the late going. Blewett had only high gear. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld. Sixth through tenth were Blewett III, Marquis, Tom Bolles, Donnie Lia and Dave Etheridge. Ted Christopher entered the event as the point leader but left in the runner-up spot, some 63 points in arrears. Christopher ended up 20th after experiencing a flat tire and an encounter with Tyler Haydt. Former series champion Mike Stefanik had one of those nights he would like to forget. Stefanik took a hard trip into the first turn wall after blowing a right rear tire on a lap 112 restart. In other Thursday night action at Thompson, Tom Cravenho ran away with the 30 lap Sunoco SK type Modified feature. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Ricky Shawn, third. Eric Bourgeois was the Mini Stock winner, Larry Barnett in the Sportsman div, Jeff Zuidema in the Late Models, Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

Prior to the running of the Bud 150 at Thompson last Thursday NEAR Hall of Fame driver George Summers was honored for his many years as a driver, 1952 to 1983 with over 200 wins and numerous track championships. Summers paced the field in a Connie LaJoie Vega Modified that he had driven at Seekonk and Westboro. Summers had the distinction of winning the last race in which he drove which was the 1983 World Series at Thompson where he put the Art Barry No.21 in victory lane. Prior to pacing the field Summers received instructions on driving from George Savory!
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Kenny Horton took the win in the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Horton started third and after putting away Jeff Malave on the second lap, led the balance of the event to record the win. The first 29 laps went non-stop until the full moon syndrome kicked in which resulted in eight cautions for accidents. In the end, following Malave at the checker was Willie Hardie in the runner-up spot with Ted Christopher, third. Malave and Chuck Docherty rounded out the top five. Worth noting was the impressive run turned in by Jimmy Blewett who is the new hired gun for the Eddie Partridge Racing stable. In his first ever race at Stafford, Blewett finished an impressive sixth. Jim Peterson was the 30-lap Late Model winner and Andrew Durand was the Limited Late Model winner.

Waterford Speedbowl SK Modified competitor Diego Monahan was looking to become the first ever driver to win in all divisions at the shoreline oval. Rob Janovic had other ideas. Janovic went into no-mans land (the outside groove), on lap 19 of the 35 lap SK Modified feature, to take the lead and eventual win. Monahan, trying to protect his second place spot, ran Jeff Pearl into the turn three wall. That cost Monahan a top five finish as track officials put him to the back of the field. Ronnie Silk inherited second spot but had nothing for Janovic and had to settle for a runner-up finish. Dennis Gada, Rob Summers and Jay Miller rounded out the top five. Other winners were James Procaccini in the Sportsman, Allen Coates in the Late Models, Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks and Jason Palmer in the Legends.

Itís been just about a year since Don Hawk came on the scene to oversee the Modifieds of NASCAR. After asking many in the Thompson pit area what they thought of his job performance the general conclusion is he has done what NASCAR has allowed him to do. It was a big plus that Hawk was instrumental in getting Martinsville back on the schedule plus raising the purses. Television coverage of Modified Tour Series events never happened but it wasnít his fault. He did try. The general overall attitude of competitors and officials is the best that it has been in many years. Thatís a big plus!

Hopefully Hawk can convince his bosses to give him a broader range in which to operate. The Modifieds are an extremely healthy division and should stay that way for many years to come. NASCAR needs to dwell on that. It must be noted that competitors were extremely unhappy that there would be a half hour hot dog break in the middle of this yearís Thompson 300.

George Bessette, recently injured in a qualifying race for the Oxford 250 in Maine is now at home but has a long row to hoe before he gets back to work and racing. The Thompson Pro Stock racer is very sore and has a brace on. He is allowed to get out of bed to eat. He has to be in bed most of the time for the next couple of weeks. The brace will be on until December. He spoke with Randy LaJoie and Randy spoke with some people in the know at GM and they estimated his injuries displayed symptoms and bruises reflecting an 80-100 G hit! The HANS device did save his life! Bessette hit the wall head on which folded up the front clip like an accordion and went so far as to ruin the fuel cell! He crossed his arms to brace for the hit and had bruises on his forearms from the steering wheel. He also has bruised ribs.
Competitors in the southland got out of control which resulted in a bloody fight after a NASCAR-sanctioned Mini-Stock race at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC on August 13 which resulted in the indefinite suspensions of a driver and a car owner, NASCAR officials said. The victim, Maynard Peters, 47, was released Tuesday from Forsyth Medical Center after surgeries on his face and nose. He said he had 15 fractures in bones around his eyes and a broken nose, and that he can't work or eat solid food for at least six weeks. In notices issued to driver Kris Bradley and car owner James Rupert Sink, NASCAR officials said that they were suspended for actions detrimental to stock-car racing, failure to follow directives from NASCAR officials and fighting. Jerry Cook, NASCAR's competition administrator, said he was still gathering information from police and stadium officials. He said it was too early to say how long the suspensions will last. Winston-Salem police also are investigating Saturday's fight, but no charges have been filed, police Lt. Bill Cobb said. Peters said their cars made contact during the first stadium-stock, Mini Stock race of the night, causing Bradley to spin out. The fight started because they disagreed on who was at fault. Peters said he remembered about four men kicking and stomping on his head outside the Bowman Gray field house, where drivers collect their money when the races are finished. Sink has been involved in a racetrack fight before. He was convicted in Forsyth District Court last year of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury after he and other drivers were involved in a fight with driver Gary Brewer on Aug. 21, 2004. Brewer had a broken finger and cuts on his face, court papers said. Winston-Salem Speedway Inc. runs NASCAR-sanctioned racing on Saturday evenings during the summer at the Bowman Gray Stadium, which is owned by the city of Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

The New London Day reported that one of the major partners in New England Raceway LLC, which is proposing to build a $343 million auto racetrack in Plainfield, Ct, is embroiled in a stock-trading controversy involving another corporation. Gilbert Rossomando of Milford, who along with principal partner Eugene Arganese has promoted the racetrack development, is listed as a director and officer of Host America, a Hamden Ct-based company that is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and the target of several lawsuits. Host America, which trades as CAFE on the Nasdaq exchange, has experienced a dramatic rise and fall this past month. For most of its 19 years, it primarily operated as a food-service provider for schools, companies and government programs such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels. Recently, it has branched out into energy conservation.

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 and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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