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Friday August 15, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 


Tommy Sutcliff

Forty years ago, in 1968, Bugsy Stevens added another win to his record at Stafford as he beat out Bobby Santos, Billy Harman, Smokey Boutwell and Tom Sutcliff. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Phil Spiak took a surprise win. Don MacTavish finished second with Pete Corey; third, Dave Lape and Richie Evans rounded out the top five. In other Friday night action, Eddie Brunnhoelzl Sr. won at Riverhead. Norwood Arena had the Bay State 200 scheduled but the event fell victim to rain. Ron Narducci beat out Jerry Cook and Andy Romano for a 100 lap win at Fonda. At Thompson, on Sunday, Eddie Flemke took the win and at Utica-Rome, Dave Kotary won a 50 lapper over Lou Lazzaro, Ed Pieniezek, Ron Narducci and Richie Evans.

Thirty-five years ago in 1973, Albany-Saratoga ran a 100 lapper. Bugsy Stevens took the win and was followed by Eddie Flemke and Denis Giroux. At Stafford on Saturday night it was Daring Dick Caso in the Billy Simons Excavator No.9 taking the win over Leo Cleary and Ronnie Bouchard. At Utica-Rome on Sunday, Richie Evans took the win over Bugsy Stevens and Maynard Troyer.

Thirty years ago in 1978, Westboro ran the Yankee All Star League on Wednesday. Geoff Bodine continued his domination of the series as he won the 100-lap event. At New Egypt, Richie Evans beat out Wayne Anderson. Evans repeated the following night at Holland. Friday night at Stafford Eddie Flemke took the victory. Bobby Vee finished second with Geoff Bodine, third. Riverhead ran a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier. Charlie Jarzombek took the win over Greg Sacks and Wayne Anderson. At Waterford, Jerry Pearl won a close one over Dick Dunn and Moose Hewitt. At Spencer Speedway, Maynard Troyer won his 34th feature of the year. Reggie Ruggerio cleaned house at Riverside while Geoff Bodine continued his winning ways at Seekonk. Other weekend winners were Charlie Jarzombek at Islip; Eddie Flemke at Thompson and Richie Evans beat out Geoff Bodine to win a 100 lapper at Monadnock.

Twenty-five years ago in 1983, Monadnock ran a 100 lapper on Tuesday. Kenny Bouchard took the win over Marty Radwick and Ray Miller. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday. Brett Bodine took the win over Reggie Ruggerio and Bob Polverari. A regular 30 lapper was also run and Kenny Bouchard took the win. Jeff Fuller finished second. At Spencer, Richie Evans and Mike McLaughlin finished one-two. Saturday at Wall Stadium, an unknown by the name of Ray Everham beat out Tony Siscone for the win. At Waterford, it was Moose Hewitt over Bob Potter and at Islip, Bill Park took the victory. Don Howe won at Riverhead and Kenny Bouchard won at Riverside. Seekonk ran a 200 lapper on Sunday. Bugsy Stevens led all 200 laps to take the win. Brian Ross finished second with Mike McLaughlin, second. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Cale Yarborough took the win over Darrell Waltrip. Ronnie Bouchard qualified fourth and finished 12th.

Twenty years ago in 1988, Ted Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford and Reggie Ruggiero go his seventh of the season at Monadnock. Harry Rice held off Larry Lanpher for the win at Waterford and Jerry Marquis won a 200 lapper at Riverside. Oxford Plains ran a 100 lapper, which saw Mike McLaughlin, take the win over Brian Ross. Other weekend winners were Ron Shepherd at Tioga, Bill Park at Riverhead and Tom Tagg at Thompson.

Fifteen years ago in 1993, Mark Martin cleaned house at Michigan as he won both the Busch Grand National and Winston Cup events. Thompson ran a Wednesday special for SK's with Richie Gallup taking the win over Eddie St Angelo. It rained at Stafford on Friday night. The Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a 201 lapper. Wayne Anderson took the lead from Jan Leaty on the last lap and took the win. Leaty finished second with Doug Hevron, third. It was a typical slam bang affair with 15 cautions for 73 laps. Ted Christopher beat out Ricky Young at Waterford and at Riverside, Brian Schofield scored his first career win.

Ten years ago, in 1998, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Speedway for a Friday night 150-lap event. Rick Fuller took the win but it was Mike Ewanitsko who stole the show, despite the fact that he finished second. Ewanitsko had taken the lead from Chris Kopec on lap 80 and had his car on cruise control when he suffered a flat left front tire. Fuller assumed the lead when Ewanitsko pitted during a timely caution on lap 93. Restarting in the rear, Ewanitsko charged to the front. At the 145-lap mark, Ewanitsko had moved into third spot and passed second place runner Mike Stefanik with one lap to go. Time ran out as Fuller took the win with Ewanitsko glued to his bumper. Stefanik hung on for third and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak and Dan Avery. Numerous spins caused the field to run under caution on 12 occasions for 52 laps; Bob Georgides won the companion 50 lapper for the SK-Modifieds. Todd Szegedy finished second with Bo Gunning, third. Todd Ceravolo passed Mike Gada with two laps to go to win the 35-lap feature at Waterford on Saturday night. Gada finished second with his brother Dennis third. Mark Lajunesse and Jerry Pearl rounded out the top five. Dan Avery and Bob Polverari won twin features at Riverside Park. Joe Hartmann beat out Chris Young and John Fortin at Riverhead. The Busch North Series visited the Star Speedway where Kelly Moore took the win over Brad Leighton and Tracy Gordon. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Jeff Gordon made it five in a row. Mark Martin finished second. The Saturday Busch Grandnational event went non-stop with Jeff Burton taking the win.

Five years ago in 2003, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for a 105-lap event. There were 42 cars on hand for time trials. John Blewett III took the pole. Bob Polverari was second fastest. Jimmie Kuhn drew the pole starting position and took the lead at the start. The first caution flew before the first lap was completed as Jim Broderick, Kevin Kanopka and Renee Dupuis tangled in turn four. The re-start came on lap six with Todd Szegedy taking the lead as the field entered turn one. Defending Champion Mike Stefanik was on the move. After starting ninth, Stefanik was fourth by lap 9, third by lap 1 and second by lap 34. The second caution occurred on lap 36 when Tom Bolles spun in turn four. It was then that most of the field pitted for fresh tires with the exception of Szegedy and Stefanik. The field went back to green and from then on went non-stop. Stefanik took the lead on the re-start and went on to record his 65th career win in Mod Tour competition. Szegedy finished second and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr., Chuck Hossfeld and Jerry Marquis. Eric Berndt took the win in the 30 lap Sunoco SK type modified event. Berndt took the lead on a lap 19 re-start when early leader Jeff Malave missed a shift on the re-start. Todd Ceravolo ended up second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher. A near capacity crowd was on hand. On Friday at Stafford, track owner Jack Arute spoke to competitors at the drivers meeting and told them he wasn't happy with their performance as the SK Modified events had become rolling demolition derbies. Jeff Baral took the 50-lap win over Lloyd Agor and Frank Ruocco. Dennis Gada was the Saturday night winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. In victory lane he announced that 2003 would be his last in the SK Modifieds as he felt it was time to move on. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Jeff Karns, third. Mike Andrews took the win at Riverhead and Kevin Flockart shared victory lane with Mike Carpenter after they won the twin 35's at Wall Township.

The Busch North Series was at the Adirondack Speedway where Dale Quarterly took the win over Martin Truex and Andy Santerre. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Ryan Newman took the win over Kevin Harvick. During the post race cool down lap Jimmy Spencer spun Kurt Busch around on pit road. After exiting his car Spencer attacked Busch, punching him several times. NASCAR suspended Spencer for one event and fined him $25,000. Kevin Harvick won the rain shortened Busch Series event, also at Michigan. It was also on this weekend that Sunoco and NASCAR announced a 10-year agreement and on a sad note, Steve Danish, a former DIRT star at Fonda, had passed away.


Steve Danish passed away 5 years ago
Photo from the Lew Boyd Collection
Coastal181 Publishing

Last year, 2006 The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the running of the annual BUDWEISER 150 presented by the New England Dodge Dealers. In what was to be a festive night of good hard racing the night turned to be one of sadness as John Blewett III lost his life while battling for the lead with his brother Jimmy. As close to 8,000 fans looked on the Blewett brothers tangled following a restart on lap 107 of the 150-lap race. Jimmy's car, owned by Eddie Partridge, came to rest on top of John's family owned mount. It appeared that John lost his life when a bumper came through the window opening and struck his helmet. Was it a case of sibling rivalry getting out of hand? Who knows! Earlier in the evening during the Sunoco Modified feature Jimmy Blewett hit the front stretch hard as he dueled with brother John for the start. Jimmy's car was towed off the track. In no way did Jimmy Blewett want to harm his brother but for a split second his will to win at all cost, cost him dearly.

Car owners Eddie and Connie Partridge are extremely close with the Blewetts. John Blewett III was the key set-up man for Partridge's SK Modified team as well as his Tour Car team. Jimmy Blewett idolized and loved his brother. Jimmy convinced Eddie and Connie to field a second Sunoco Modified for John to race at Thompson so they could be teammates this season. Jimmy had grown tremendously from JohnĘs mentorship as a result of that decision.

Blewett was 33 years old. The New Jersey native was a throw-back to the glory days of racing, an answer to fans who complained that drivers who become too buttoned-down, too politically correct and too willing to second-place in recent times. Blewett's list of accomplishments in Modified racing was extensive. He had 10 career victories, 42 top five finishes and 76 top 10 finishes on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Blewett won two North-South Shootout races at Concord Motorsport Park (NC). He was the 2003 and 2006 New Hampshire International Speedway Modified division track champion. He was the 1996 NASCAR Regional Racing Northeast champion.

During a fitting tribute at his home track, the Wall Township Speedway, an emotional mix of cheers and tears filled the stands Saturday as the late John Blewett III's No. 76 car led the ceremonial final lap at the Wall Township Speedway. No. 76, driven by Jamie Tomaino, was then parked in the grandstand area for fans to leave cards, letters and flowers. The ceremonial lap was followed by a memorial service lead by the Rev. Don Rivers of the Racing With Jesus Ministries.

Automobile racing can be one of the most enjoyable sports but can be one of the most dangerous sports. Many great drivers have lost their lives including Dick Dixon, Fred DeSarro, Charlie Jarzombek Tom Baldwin and Richie Evans.

The race was stopped and Todd Szegedy was the leader at the time of the red flag. Tony Hirschman was second with Ron Yuhas Jr, third. Donnie Lia was fourth. NASCAR deemed the race officially completed on Monday and awarded Szegedy his first win of the year.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night all drivers on hand gathered on the track in turn four and had a few moments of silence in memory John Blewett III.

Les Hinckley won the Seekonk event and was followed by Vinnie Annarummo, Tony Ricci, Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Tom Cravenho won the wreckfest that was called the Sunoco Modified 30. Cravenho of Raynham, MA, withstood a number of cautions to score his first victory of the season. Fred Astle, Jr. of N. Westport, MA, continues to run strong in the Pro Stock division winning his second feature event in three weeks. Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI streaked to consecutive wins in the Late Model division. Ed Puleo of Branford was another first time winner on the season after taking down the victory in the Limited Sportsman Division. Roger Larson, Jr. of Milford, MA, and Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI, added to their win tallies in the TIS Modified and Mini Stock divisions respectively.

Cravenho withstood a number of restarts in a caution-marred Sunoco Modified event to score his first feature win of the season. After taking the lead from pole sitter Buddy Charette, Harry Rheaume took his spot at the head of the pack. Rheaume had plenty of company as John Blewett III dogged the leader from the opening lap. A handful of laps later, John Blewett was the new leader. It was a three-wide battle for the second position with Rheaume, Kerry Malone, and Jimmy Blewett. The trio entered turn one stacked up. Jimmy Blewett shot out of the pack in second. He immediately ran down his brother John. The team cars went wheel-to-wheel for an entire lap before Jimmy claimed the top spot on lap eight. While Kerry Malone slowed on the speedway, Rheaume, who was running third, was punted by Rocco and made hard contact with the outside wall. Rocco was sent to the tail of the field for his involvement in the incident. The Blewett Brothers were vying for the same piece of real estate on the restart when contact sent Jimmy into the outside wall to bring out the yellow. Under caution, Rocco headed to pit road with a broken rear axle. John Blewett headed down pit road as well handing the lead over to Cravenho.

There was mayhem on the ensuing attempt at a restart when Ceravolo went spinning at the start/finish line. Danny Cates ended up against the turn one wall with heavy damage. Under the caution, the point leader, Woody Pitkat, headed down pit road for service. The third attempt on the restart was a charm with Cravenho jumping out to the lead. Cravenho immediately stretched his lead while Bert Marvin and Buddy Charette battled for second. Marvin was able to gain the position on a lap 12. Geoff Gernhard was also able to advance his position into third. Gernhard made a power move on Marvin exiting turn two to take over the second spot on lap 15. Cravenho continued to stretch his lead. By the time the caution flew on lap 22, John Blewett had already made his way back into the top five. The incident that caused the caution involved Eric LeClair and Dave Salzarulo. Pitkat and Ceravolo took advantage of the yellow to come down pit road. On the restart, it was all Cravenho leaving Gernhard to hold off Marvin. At that point, Rocco had rejoined the field. The problems for the field continued when James Harrison came to rest on the front stretch. After only a few laps of green flag racing, an incident on the backstretch necessitated the caution. The #16 of Ceravolo came to rest atop the #09 of Brad VanHouten. The final four laps were uneventful with Cravenho stretching his lead. The closing laps also featured one of the best races of the night. The battle for the runner-up position heated up with Gernhard holding second over Marvin and John Blewett. Cravenho went unchallenged over the final laps to earn his first victory of the season. Gernhard had a career day holding on for second over Bert Marvin. John Blewett and Pitkat rebounded from early race incidents to complete the top five.

Rain washed out the Friday night action at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Gada passed Diego Monahan on lap 12 of the 35 lap SK Modified feature and went on to score his 54th career win at the shoreline oval. Monahan ended up second and was followed by Don Fowler, Zach Sylvester and Bo Gunning. In other races, Bill Leonard edged Seth Duval to win the 25-lap AllStar Race Truck feature, Dennis Botticello won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jim Procaccini captured the 20-lap Sportsman feature and Danny Field won the Mini Stock 20-lapper.

Denny Hamlin fought off a mid-race challenge from Matt Kenseth, then drove away for a dominating victory Saturday in the Carfax 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Hamlin picked up his second Busch win of the season and the fourth of his career. His victory gave Nextel Cup regulars 22 victories in 25 tries on the Busch circuit for the season. There were three caution flags, all during the first 36 laps, and Hamlin took advantage of the green flag racing the rest of the way. He steadily pulled away, beating Kenseth to the finish by 6.988 seconds - the length of the front straightaway. Matt Kobyluck won the Busch East Mohegan Sun 200 at Lime Rock Park.

Kurt Busch won for the second time in three races, prevailing in a rare Tuesday NASCAR event after two days of rain postponements at Michigan International Speedway. Busch, who didn't take his first lead until lap 101 and wound up leading four times for 92 laps, beat Martin Truex to the finish by 0.495 seconds, about eight car lengths on the high-banked, 2-mile oval.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com,
From the collection of Danny Pardi
 


George Summers


Dick Dunn


Ed Pieniezek


Dick Traynor


Ken Canestrari


Gene Bergin

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467

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

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