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Friday Aug 17, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, the All Star League paid a visit to the Flemington Speedway on Wednesday night. Frankie Schneider, one of the top dirt track drivers of the day took the win over Budd Olsen, Jackie Hamilton and Bob Pickell. Friday night at Stafford saw Eddie Flemke take the win over Hank Stevens, Bill Slater, Fats Caruso and Lou Toro. Albany Saratoga on Friday and Fonda on Saturday fell victim to rain but at Norwood it was dry as Bob Melnick took the win. The up state New York rains continued into Sunday and washed out Sunday night action at Utica-Rome.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, Seekonk and Malta had double point events scheduled. It rained at Malta but not at the Cement Palace where Fred DeSarro took the win over Red Barbeau, Eddie Flemke, Hop Harrington, Ollie Silva and Ronnie Bouchard. Saturday night at Stafford saw George ďMooseĒ Hewitt power his way to victory in the Freddie Doolittle No.23. Fred DeSarro finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, Eddie Flemke and Leo Cleary rounding out the top five. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro took a hard fought battle over Ken Shoemaker, Dave Lape and Jerry Pennock Sr. Islip belonged to Charlie Jarzombek. Utica-Rome staged a double point event on Sunday night. Denis Giroux took the win over Dave Lape, Richie Evans and Sonny Seamon. Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro were trying to chip away at Jerry Cooks point lead but lost ground as both were bogged down by up-front traffic. Cook finished fifth while Stevens ended up eighth and DeSarro, 12th.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Bugsy Stevens started the weekend off with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Dick Caso, third. Bobby Santos ruled the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Eddie StAngelo finished second with Jim Wilkins, third. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero and Pete Fiandaca finished one-two and at Westboro, George Savory beat out Roland LaPierre Jr. and Mike Weeden. NASCAR scheduled a 300 mile modified event for the one-mile Dover Downs Speedway, on Sunday. Many of the New England based cars and drivers remained home to support the Sunday night small-block event at Thompson. Maynard Troyer won the Dover event over Paul Radford, Lennie Pond, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook and Ray Hendrick. Ronnie Bouchard took the Thompson win over Eddie Flemke, Bobby Clark, Brett Bodine and Dick Caso. After running somewhat successful modified events in 1969 and 1970, the Dover modified event was not a good fan draw. Needless to say, the modifieds have not been back since.

Twenty five years ago in 1982, Stafford ran a stand alone SK-Modified event on Wednesday night. The event drew 41 of the then new limited modifieds. Stafford was testing the waters to see if a future decision to drop the unlimited modifieds from their weekly program would be justified. Charlie Savage took the win over Dan Avery and Randy Lajoie. The racing was good but the regular Stafford Friday night crowd didnít support the event. Plans to dump the modifieds were shelved for a future date. In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Greg Sacks outgunned Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Kenny Bouchard finished third. Randy LaJoie was the SK-Modified winner. In other Friday night action, George Kent and Richie Evans finished one-two at Spencer, Fred Harbach over Wayne Anderson and Alan Harbach at Riverhead and at New Egypt, it rained. Dave Webber was the winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Don Bunnell, Moose Hewitt and Randy Lajoie rounded out the top four. Reggie Ruggiero beat out John Rosati at Riverside and at Seekonk, John Smith walked off with the checker. Fred Harbach made it two for two on the weekend as he backed up his Friday night win at Riverhead with a win on Saturday night at Islip. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer got the best of Richie Evans as he took the victory there. The modifieds and the Northern Molson Tour shared the billing at Thompson on Sunday. Jean Paul Cabana won the Late Model event and Richie Evans won the modified event over Corky Cookman, Reggie Ruggiero and George Kent. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bobby Allison took the win over Richard Petty. Geoff Bodine finished fourth and Ronnie Bouchard finished 10th.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Mike Mclaughlin scored a convincing win as he took the top spot in the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at Stafford on Friday night. Jim Spencer finished second with Brian Ross in the Ed Cloce 69, third. George Brunnhoelzl and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Jerry Pearl was the SK-Modified winner. S.J.Evonsion pulled off a surprise win over Mike Stefanik at Riverside on Saturday night. Ricky Young held off Bob Potter at Waterford and at Riverhead, Steve Park won the Charlie Jarzombek Memorial. The Riverhead event was also a qualifier for the Oswego 200.At Shangri-La, Tony Hirschman won a Thompson 300 qualifier. Thompson ran the 300 pole qualifier on Sunday. Brian Ross took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Mike Mclaughlin and Doug Hevron. Ted Christopher was the SK-Modified winner. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, Friday night action at Stafford saw Steve Chowanski take the win over Tom Tagg and John Sneade. At Riverside it was Bobby Gegetskas over Alan Rudonas and Rick Summers. Riverhead and Waterford rained out. On a sad note, Clifford Allison, the younger son of Bobby Allison, lost his life after crashing during a Busch Grandnational practice session at Michigan.

Ten years ago in 1997, Steve Park took the lead with fourteen laps to go and won the Busch Grand National event at Michigan and in Winston Cup action, Mark Martin made up two laps after getting a flat and took the win, also at Michigan. At Stafford, Steve Chowanski took the win over Jim Broderick and Lloyd Agor. Rick Donnelly beat out Todd Ceravolo at Waterford and it was Ted Riggot at Riverside. Tom McCann took the win at Riverhead and in Busch Grand National North action at Star Speedway, Mike Stefanik took the win over Brad Leighton. The Modified Tour series was at Loudon. Mike Stefanik attempted to pass Jan Leaty on the final lap and Leaty chopped him and triggered a big wreck, which took out Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero, Rick Fuller, Satch Worley and Ed Kennedy. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second and Tony Ferente, third.Rick Hendrick accepted a plea agreement in his mail fraud case and on a sad note, Canadaigua backstretch starter Fred Taney was run over and died from injuries.

Five years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour had a hot and sultry night at Thompson on Thursday for the Bud 150. It was a good night for racing with close to 10,000 spectators on hand and 46 Tour Modifieds in the pit area. Eddie Flemke Jr., fresh off his recent win at Riverhead, made it two in a row in Tour Series competition. After setting fast time for the Bud Pole award Flemke drew the tenth starting spot Total preparation and coaching by crew chief David Hill were key factors. A good race set-up and a plan to go non-stop gave the second-generation driver a distinct advantage. Charlie Pasteryak picked the pole starting spot and led the first 23 laps before giving way to Ted Christopher. Just about the same time that Christopher took the lead, mis-fortune struck defending series champion Mike Stefanik who slowed and dropped out with a blown engine. Christopher, with his brother Mike in tow, led the field until lap 70 when they pitted for tires. Ted would return but Mikey would park the No.48 normally driven by Tony Hirschman. It appeared that an electrical short burned through a power steering hose. Running third, when the Christopherís pitted was Flemke who assumed the lead. Chuck Hossfeld and Tony Ferrente Jr. also chose not to pit and followed Flemke. Hossfeld got a run on Flemke on a lap 88 restart and took the lead. Hossfeld set the pace until lap 110 when Flemke took it back for good. Meanwhile, as Hossfeld and Ferrente were feeling the effects of worn tires, Ricky Fuller and Ted Christopher moved into contention. With the race winding down with three laps to go, L.W.Miller and Jerry Marquis tangled and crashed into the turn two wall. Marquis took Miller a little low on the front chute and then Miller lambasted Marquis in the rear. Just before the crash Millerís spotter told him to get by Marquis, no matter what. Both drove away but Marquis suffered severe rear end damage and had to make numerous pit stops in order to make repairs. After a couple of false starts, the field took the green on lap 155 for a green-white-checker finish. Thatís when things got ugly. Christopher and Ricky Fuller had been slugging it out and as they entered turn one on the final lap Fuller attempted to pass on the outside and the two got together. Fuller bounced off the Christopher mount with the end result being that Christopher ended up in the turn two wall. With Flemke home free, Fuller was able to hold his spot and finish in second spot. Hossfeld got the benefit of the confrontation, as he was able to avoid the tangle as he brought the Mystic Missile home in third. Tom Cravenho got a solid fourth for Eddie Partridge and Christopher was able to regain his forward motion to finish fifth. Fuller later stated that Flemke had been dropping fluid for the final 25 laps and maybe Christopher went in a little too hard trying to pass and thatís why he slid into him. Fullerís left front touched Christopherís right rear and into the wall he went. The regular weekly racing started on Thursday at Thompson where Ted Christopher took the win over Jeff Malave and Ron Yuhas Jr. Defending champion Bert Marvin was never a factor as he dropped out with mechanical problems. During the running of the event Ronnie Silk and Tom Bolles got together on the backstretch. Silk attempted to pinch Bolles into the wall as he attempted to pass. Rather than hit the concrete, Bolles turned left and the resulting spin saw Silk hit the wall. Bolles pitted and it was at that time that a member of the Silk crew shut off Bollesí air tank while his crew was attempting to change a flat tire. Needless to say, the tire got changed and Bolles finished sixth. Congratulations went out to Bo Gunning and the Long Island Gang led by Eddie Partridge on their victory at Stafford on Friday night. It was Gunningís third of the year and the 41st of his career at the Arute Family oval. After getting drilled into the fence, while leading, the previous week, the win was especially sweet as Gunning and Partridge have the track championship on their minds. Gunning now led Ronnie Silk by 34 points. Dennis Gada finished second at Waterford on Saturday night and still got booed. Jeff Pearl took the win. Gada drove a clean race despite exerting a lot of pressure. Frustrated, Gada stated that all he hears is the whining of other competitors and feels itís his job to win as many races as possible. Fans tend to hate one that wins too much. In 1978 when Geoff Bodine won 55 races he got booed every where he went but once he went south to seek his fortune in NASCARís top division, many of those who booed him became supporters. Now that Ted Christopher is not winning as many races that he did in the past, many of last years boos have turned into cheers. Two of the few drivers that never got booed for winning too many races were Bugsy Stevens and the late Richie Evans. Their abilities and personalities were far above their peers.


Last year, 2006 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson International Speedway on Thursday night for the New England Dodge Dealers/Budweiser 150. Ted Christopher, who started 20th ended up an unpopular winner as he was given the Bronx Cheer in victory lane. Christopher, who along with John Blewett III staged a torrid side by side duel for the lead from lap 131 to lap 140. Christopher had just exited turn two when he made contact with Blewett, sending him into the wall. Christopher said he didnít mean for it to happen, Blewett and the almost capacity crowd felt different as they voiced their disapproval. NASCAR Tour director Ed Cox felt it was a racing accident and took no action. Blewett actually chased Christopher on foot to no avail. Had he caught him would have made for a different scenario. A few years back at Stafford, Blewett went after Carl Pasteryak and actually jumped aboard his car and began ripping at wires until the car shut off. Once the wrecked car of Blewett was removed Christopher ran the final three laps uncontested. Tony Hirschman, who was the Busch Pole sitter, ended up second with Zach Sylvester, third. Tom Bolles and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ed Flemke, Ron Yuhas, Don Lia and Jerry Marquis.

There were 38 cars on hand. Among those who didnít make the 33 car starting field was Reggie Ruggiero who was the victim of motor trouble as his crankshaft broke during practice. Alex Hoag also had motor trouble while Kevin Goodale hit the wall. Eric Berndt and Jake Marosz failed to make it on time. Pole sitter Hirschman led the opening laps which turned into a high speed freight train. Hirschman led for 45 laps before giving way to Mike Stefanik. A caution period on lap 30 saw John Blewett III pitting for a tire. Stefanik led until lap 82 when he pitted during a caution that came out when James Civali rode over Eric Beersí wheel. Beers expressed his displeasure of Civaliís driving while Blewett pitted again for two more tires. A quick stop enabled Blewett to get a good spot for the restart as he was able to tale the lead from Steve Whitt on lap 98. From then until the Blewett wreck the racing was at a fever pitch.

It is anticipated that Blewett and Christopher will meet again. The Whelen Modified Tour takes a week off before heading to Martinsville, Va. On Labor Day weekend.

In regular weekly racing action Glen Boss took the win in the TIS Modifieds, Shelly Perry won her fifth Mini Stock feature, Jeff Zuidema took the Late Model main and Mike OíSullivan won a squeaker in the Pro Stock feature. Larry Barnet was the Limited Sportsman winner and Jimmy Blewett gave a pay back body slam to Keith Rocco as he took the Sunoco Modified feature.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway started their week on Tuesday night. Billed as CARQUEST Presents the Big One, drivers had a chance to make history with the largest Northeastern payout ever offered with the Valvoline $50,000 challenge. If a driver could win both the 30-lap Midget race and then start last and win the 100 lap PRA Big Car Series race, then that driver would leave Stafford Speedway with a $50,000 bonus provided by Valvoline, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and Stafford Motor Speedway. Bobby Santos, III first won the 30-lap midget feature event, and then went out and won the 100-lap PRA Big Car Series race after starting shotgun on the field to leave Stafford $50,000 richer. Santos, a third generation racer is home grown from Franklin, Mass. Stafford Speedway returned to action on Friday night with five NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature divisions all in action. In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Woody Pitkat collected his second SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season by holding off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco. Lloyd Agor led the first lap with Kurt Lenahan taking the lead on lap-2. Lenahan held the lead until lap-5 when Pitkat moved out front. Ruocco took second from Lenahan on lap-7, and he spent the next 33 laps glued to Pitkat' s bumper, looking for a weak point to use to his advantage and overtake Pitkat for the race lead. But that weak point was never exhibited to Ruocco as Pitkat was able to fend him off for the victory. Chris Jones finished third, with Jeff Malave, and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. In the chase for the 2006 SK Modified track championship, Jeff Malave holds a slim lead by 6 points over Frank Ruocco. Todd Owen is third, 14 points behind, Pitkat is fourth, 26 points behind, and Jeff Baral is fifth, 34 points behind. Jim Peterson continued his winning ways with his second consecutive Late Model feature win, Glen Reen was a first time winner in the SK Light Modified feature while Mike Sweeney was also a first time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Hubbell was the DARE Stock feature winner, his first feature win of the 2006 season. The NASCAR Busch East, formerly Busch North Series, was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Matt Kobyluck treated the home folks with a victory after a paint swapping deal that saw Sean Caisse brush the wall. Bryan Chew ended up in second spot in a race that finished up in the rain. Earlier in the evening Jeff Pearl beat Chris Pasteryak on a green-white-checkered restart and held on to capture his third Waterford Speedbowl 35-lap SK-Modified feature of the season. Pasteryak, who stated he missed a shift fell to third as Shawn Monahan slipped into the second spot. Tommy Fox and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Jeff Miller won the 20-lap Mini Stock race. Rain ended the Late Model feature after nine laps.

At the Michigan Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to push his way past Carl Edwards on a restart with two laps to go en route to winning Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series CARFAX 250. The incident created a firestorm of controversy that included Edwards pulling in front of Earnhardt's pit area for a heated verbal exchange with Earnhardt's crew. Edwards then pulled back onto the track to ram into the side of Earnhardt's Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the cool-down lap. In Nextel Cup action, Matt Kenseth easily kept four-time NASCAR champion Gordon at bay in the final laps of the GFS Marketplace 400 by conscientiously taking care of his tires after his final pit stop.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail: 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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