Friday Aug 3, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, the month of August began with a Wednesday night visit by the All-Star League at the Fonda Speedway. Rene Charland took on the best in the business and in the end prevailed in the 100-lap event at the New York oval. Pete Corey finished second with Maynard Forrette, Jack Farquar and Frankie Schenieder rounding out the top five. At Stafford, on Friday night, Gene Bergin had the M-6 in top form as he took a hotly contested win in the nights Modified feature. Nathan “Smokey” Boutwell in the Garuti-Arute No.14 finished second. Rounding out the top five were Leo Cleary, Sal Dee and Wild Bill Slater. Albany Saratoga ran a 150 lapper with Ernie Gahan taking the win over Rene Charland, Bill Wimble, Jerry Cook and Ed Patnoad. Rene Charland continued to be unbeatable at Fonda as he made it three in a row on Saturday night. Bill Wimble finished second with Ken Canistrary, third. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper on Sunday night. Steady Eddie Flemke, a master of the short tracks, took the win over Fred Harbach, Lou Lazzaro, Don MacTavish and Bill Wimble.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, Ralph “Hop” Harrington, driving the Dick Armstrong No.1, won the Friday night 50 lapper at Seekonk. George Summers finished second with Ernie Gahan, Fred DeSarro and Ronnie Bouchard rounding out the top five. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, also on Friday night, Eddie Flemke took the win over Denis Giroux, Bugsy Stevens, Bobby Santos and Bernie Miller. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Leo Cleary, in the Mystic Missile, taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro and Ernie Gahan. Dave Lape won on the dirt at Fonda over top guns Kenny Shoemaker, Jerry Cook and Lou Lazzaro. At Islip, it was Charlie Jarzombek and at Utica-Rome, Lou Lazzaro beat out Richie Evans, Sonny Seamon and Jerry Cook. Lazzaro used the same car at Utica-Rome, which was paved, that he used at Fonda.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Westboro ran a 50-lap open competition event on Wednesday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Bugsy Stevens, John Rosati and Mike Weeden. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday night. Bugsy Stevens scored a popular win as he beat out Geoff Bodine, Ray Miller and Ronnie Bouchard. Friday night at Riverhead saw Charlie Jarzombek win out over Wayne Anderson and Tom McCann. At Seekonk on Saturday, Bugsy Stevens made it two for two on the weekend as he won a 100 lapper over Ed Flemke, George Murray and George Summers. Geoff Bodine beat out Bob Polverari at Riverside and at Westboro, it was Pete Scwartz over Frank Kulhman. Rounding out the weekend was Sunday night at Thompson where Fred DeSarro scored another victory, Ray Miller finished second with Keith Williams and Dick Caso rounding out the top four. In other weekend action, Maynard Troyer went two for two as he won at Spencer and at Lancaster.

Twenty five years ago in 1982, Corky Cookman scored his biggest win as he took the victory in the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at Stafford. Charlie Jarzombek finished second with Ray Miller, third. Pre race favorite Greg Sacks was a dnf. with a flat tire. Monadnock ran an 82-lap event that saw Marty Radwick hold off Ronnie Bouchard and Dennis Albro for the win. In other Friday night action, Jerry Cook beat out Doug Hewitt at Spencer, Tony Siscone took a hotly contested win over Richie Evans at New Egypt and at Riverhead, Bill Park won the Thompson 300 qualifier. Waterford ran an 82 lapper on Saturday night. Randy LaJoie beat out veterans Jerry Pearl and Moose Hewitt for top honors. At Riverside, Bob Polverari took the win and at Seekonk, Eddie StAngelo won out over Ronnie Bouchard and Billy Clarke. George Brunnhoelzl won a Thompson 300 qualifier at Islip and Billy Griffin won out over Richie Evans and Doug Hewitt at Shangri-la. Bob Polverari backed up his Saturday night win at Riverside with a Sunday night win at Thompson. Corky Cookman finished second with Kenny Bouchard, third.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Jim Spencer mastered the Star Speedway as he won a 150 lap Featherlite Modified Tour Series event on Wednesday night. Jeff Fuller finished second with Mike McLaughlin, third. In SK-Modified action at Stafford on Friday night, Ronnie Rocco took the win over John Jensen and Richie Gallup. At Waterford on Saturday, Bob Potter scored his 75th career win at the shoreline oval. Harry Rice finished second with Dickie Doo Ceravolo, third. Reggie Ruggerio took a 100-lap win at Riverside over Mike Stefanik and Bob Polverari and at Shangri-La, Jim Spencer went two for two as he won the scheduled modified and Busch North Series events. Oswego ran a modified special on Sunday, which was won by Doug Hevron. Jan Leaty finished second with Brian Ross, Jamie Tomaino and George Brunnhoelzl rounding out the top five. Sunday night action at Thompson rained out.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, it rained out for the sixth time at Stafford. Double features were on tap at Waterford on Saturday night. Sharing the winners circle were Bob Potter and Moose Hewitt. Phil Rondeau recorded his seventh win of the season in Late Model action at the shoreline oval. Tommy Bolles unseated Jerry Marquis at Riverside as Dan Watts beat out Mike Ewanitsko at Riverhead. Jerry Cranmer got his sixth of the season at Wall Stadium and at Tioga, Ron Shepherd beat out Lee Sherwood for the win. Mike Mclaughlin was the Busch North Series winner at Holland and at Indianapolis Raceway Park; Joe Nemachek got his first NASCAR Busch Grandnational win.

Ten years ago in 1997, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Thompson on Thursday night for a 150-lap event. Ricky Fuller, in the Art Barry 21, took the lead from Mike Ewanitsko on lap 89 and never looked back Mike Stefanik finished second with Reggie Ruggerio, Tom Cravenho and Tim Connolly rounding out the top five. Ewanitsko faded to 14th, one lap down. Friday night at Stafford saw Jim Broderick score his sixth win of the season in the SK-Modified division. Using Mopar power, Broderick took the lead on lap 35 of the 50-lap contest. Jeff Malave finished second with Ken Barry, third. Tucker Reynolds Jr. took the lead from Todd Ceravolo with two laps to go at Waterford on Saturday night. Ceravolo finished second with Jeff Pearl, third. Ted Christopher took the win at Riverside over Ted Riggot and at Riverhead, John Fortin won out over George Brunnhoelzl. Randy Lajoie won the Grandnational event at the Indianapolis Raceway Park and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ricky Rudd made a mileage run and walked off with the win and the $571,000 first prize. Bill Slater celebrated his birthday on August 4 and NASCAR Scorer Morris Metcalf celebrated his birthday on August 6

Five years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. A temperature in the mid 90’s made the 200 lap contest a test of man and machine. It was a long hot summer day and night for just about everyone on hand, including the close to 6000 spectators. The speedway opened around 10:30 am for inspection and pit parking. Forty-five Modifieds were on hand. Eddie Flemke JR has had limited success at the Long Island oval up until now but last Saturday night was his night as he set fast time, 11.790 seconds, on the quarter mile. That was only the beginning as the second-generation driver pulled the pole and led all 200 laps. The Hills Enterprises- Ron Bouchard Auto Stores No.79 handled like it was on a wire. Early race pressure from Eddie Brunnhoelzl then late race pressure from John Fortin didn’t rattle Flemke who hugged the white line over the entire distance. Fortin finished second with Brunnhoelzl, third. Ted Christopher got in the event as a provisional and after starting 26th, drove a good heads up race to finish fourth. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld, in the Mystic Missile. Nine cautions for 53 laps took their toll. Local runner David Roys went out after ten laps after being involved in an accident Tom Cravenho went the same route on lap 20. Riverhead Bad Boy, JR Bertuccio got a round of applause when he dropped out with a flat tire on lap 76 and Frank Vigliorolo dropped out on lap 100 with overheating problems. Many of the top tour runners were involved in minor skirmishes and thru no fault of their own ended up with poor finishes. David Berghman got caught in the pits as his crew made repairs and only completed 117 laps. Mike Stefanik had his ignition go south on lap139 and ended the night in 23rd spot. Stefanik was not a factor before the malfunction. Former modified Tour champion Wayne Anderson finished 22nd after his engine overheated. Anderson, then in his late 50’s, raced only at Riverhead. John Blewett III was hoping for a good night and had a solid top ten going when he got clipped and broke a steering arm. Blewett also got caught in the pits and was only able to complete158 laps for a 21st place finish. Todd Szegedy continues to dazzle the troops as he drove to a consistent seventh in the final rundown. Jerry Marquis had been leading the standings also had his problems with bent suspension parts and finished 20th, 30 laps down. Because of Marquis’ misfortune, Szegedy now led the point standings. While the night was good for some, it was a night of frustration for others, as 17 Modifieds didn’t qualify. Among those who didn’t make it were Carl and Charlie Pasteryak, Fred Vordermeier, Jake Marosz, Wade Cole, Renee Dupuis and Dave Etheridge, Mike Christopher, Jim Kuhn and Tony Ferrante Jr. It got real nasty at Stafford on Friday night as a severe thunder and lightning storm forced the Arute family to pull the plug on the evening’s racing. Waterford ran a 100 lapper for the SK-Modifieds on Saturday night which saw Ron Yuhas Jr take the lead with two laps to go and go on to win the event. Eric Berndt led most of the event but got snookered on the final restart when he held back and Yuhas went. Both drivers were trying to out-fox each other and Yuhas got the last laugh.

Last year, 2006 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. Forty-one Modifieds including 11 Riverhead regulars were on hand to try and grab one of the 28 starting spots that were available for the 200-lap contest. Ted Christopher was the top qualifier as he toured the ¼ mile oval in 12.027 seconds. Second fastest was Riverhead regular Ken Heagy.

Tom Rogers, another local runner, qualified fifth and won the re-draw, which gave him the pole starting position. Rogers took the lead at the opening green and held it until lap 52 when Chuck Steuer, another Riverhead regular took the point. Meanwhile Christopher was methodically working his way to the front. Starting in eighth spot, the former Weekly Racing Champion broke into the top five on lap 20 and was in the top three by lap 53. Twelve laps later he was in the lead and never looked back. Chuck Hossfeld broke out of a season long slump as he finished second after starting seventh. Jerry Marquis started deep in the field in 18th spot and went on a determined march to the front, which rewarded him with a fourth place finish. Rounding out the top five was Mike Stefanik who came from provisional land, 24th starting spot. Sixth thru tenth were Mike Andrews, Chuck Steuer, Howie Brode, Todd Szegedy and Ed Flemke. Twelve caution periods for 85 laps kept the average speed at 41.929 MPH. Most of the cautions were for minor spins, which come with the territory of a short track. Fifteen of the original 28 starters were in the lead lap at the finish. The next stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series is this Friday night at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Thompson Speedway fought off temperatures nearing 100 degrees and threats of rain on Thursday night. The sultry night produced four first time winners. Tommy Cravenho thrilled the crowd with a last lap pass to score his first of ‘06 in the Sunoco Modifieds. Marc Palmisano dominated in the Late Model division to win his first of the year. Former Pro Stock champion Jeff Connors also made his first visit to Pro Stock victory lane on Thursday night. It was a career first for TIS Mod man Chad Hancock. Repeat winners included Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT in the Limited Sportsman division while Shelly Perry made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition. In the Sunoco Modifieds Cravenho made a last lap pass to the inside of Jeff Malave to ice the victory. The excitement got started even before the drop of the green flag and did not stop until the checkered flag flew. A flat tire at the start for Keith Rocco sent the pack scattering and the caution flying. Back under green the duo on the move were Marvin and Malave. Marvin moved around polesitter Buddy Charette to take the lead on lap two while Malave motored into the second spot. Ricky Shawn held the third spot but quickly had the company of Todd Ceravolo and Tommy Cravenho. A bid for the lead by Malave was halted when a spin by Geoff Gernhard brought out the event’s second caution on lap five. On the restart, Malave jumped into the lead while second-place runner Marvin was sent spinning after contact with Todd Ceravolo. Malave looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the ensuing single file restart. Cravenho took over the second position when Ceravolo got a touch out of shape in turn two. Cravenho quickly reeled in the leader Malave. Cravenho dove underneath Malave in a challenge for the lead on lap nine. Unable to make the pass stick he settled back in line. The lead duo began to get away form third place Ceravolo and a heated battle for the fourth spot between Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett. The action cooled down when the caution flew for a spin by Earl Paulus. Malave was able to resume his place at the head of the pack with racing back under green. It only took a few laps for Cravenho to begin his chase for the lead. The battling inside the top-five between Ceravolo, Blewett, Piktat and Rocco was equally as exciting as that for the lead. A scary incident on lap 22 that involved Ricky Shawn, Gernhard and other slowed the action again. Back under green it was much of the same with Cravenho dogging Malave for the lead. Blewett had freed himself from Ceravolo, who now had his hands full with Piktat. Up front, Cravenho tried countless moves on leader Malave to no avail.until the final lap. Cravenho put his Falmouth Ready Mix #31 to the bottom-side of the track entering turn four, motored down the front stretch with the lead and under the checkers with the win. Malave had to settle for the second position. Blewett, Ceravolo and Piktat rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway returned to action on Friday night, with a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program consisting of its five weekly divisions. Stafford competitors followed the trend set at Thompson the previous night as there were three first time winners as John Blewett, III won the SK Modified feature, Ed Ricard won the Late Model feature, and Dan Flannery was the DARE Stock feature winner, while Chris Matthews and George Nocera were both repeat winners in the SK Light and Limited Late Model feature events.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, John Blewett, III, driving the Eddie Partridge No. 12, picked up his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season. Kenny Horton took the lead from the pole and he led the first 23-laps of the race. But contact between Horton and Frank Ruocco while battling for the race lead sent both cars spinning and brought out the caution flag. This put Jeff Baral out front, but he was overtaken by Blewett on lap-29. Once into the lead, Blewett was never headed as he held off a hard charging Ted Christopher over the final laps to capture his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season. Christopher finished second, with Baral, Curt Brainard, and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top-5. Unofficial SK Modified® second place finisher Ted Christopher was disqualified from the official order of finish. Christopher's car was found to have an illegal flywheel, and thus he was disqualified from the official August 4, 2006 SK Modified® finishing order. Unofficial SK Light Modified feature winner Chris Matthews was disqualified from the official order of finish. Matthews' car did not meet the minimum frame height requirements, and thus he was disqualified from the official August 4, 2006 SK Light Modified finishing order. Unofficial DARE Stock feature winner Dan Flannery and second place finisher Vince Gambacorta were disqualified from the official order of finish. Both Flannery's and Gambacorta's cars were found to have illegal rear suspension parts, and thus both drivers were disqualified from the official August 4, 2006 DARE Stock finishing order.

Jeffrey Paul was all but born in the grandstand of the Waterford Speedbowl. His dad, Gary and his grandfather, Arthur have been sponsors there for years. Gary Paul worked on cars driven by Todd Ceravolo and at one point owned one of his championship cars. Jeff spent many a Saturday night watching his dad’s cars before moving up to a legend car after many successful years in a quarter midget. Last Saturday night Jeffrey Paul made a dream come true for himself along with his father and grandfather as he won his first SK Modified feature. Paul grabbed the lead at the start and then held off Tom Fox for 30 laps en route to his first-ever 35-lap SK-Modified feature Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Only a restart with four laps to go in interrupted the 18-year olds ride. Fox moved into second on the green and stayed right there until the checkered flag. Tim Jordan won for the fifth time in the Late Models. Other winners included Joe Curioso III (Sportsman), Richard Brooks (Mini Stocks) and Mike Keeler (Midgets) Kevin Harvick led the final 117 laps Saturday night en route to his fifth Busch Series win of the season in the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park. Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Harvick overtook pole-sitter Denny Hamlin on lap 83 and never looked back. On the final restart on lap 188, he sped away from Reed Sorenson and cruised to the checkered flag. Jimmie Johnson ended a career of frustration at Indy on Sunday by winning a race, the Brickyard 400, that had derailed his championship hopes the past two seasons.

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

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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