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Friday August 22, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Forty years ago, in 1968, heavy rain forced the cancellation of Friday night racing at the Stafford and Albany-Saratoga Speedways. Frank Faria won at Norwood on Saturday night while at Fonda; it was Jerry Cook over Ray Sitterly and Eddie Pieniezek. On Sunday it was the annual Trenton 200, which pitted the best of the north against the best of the south. Mr. Modified, Ray Hendrick, driving the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11 took the win.

Thirty five years ago in 1973,Malta started the week off with a 30 lapper that saw Richie Evans take the win over Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. At Stafford, on Saturday, Giroux again finished second but this time it was behind race winner, Bugsy Stevens. At Tioga it was Geoff Bodine over Cook and at Utica-Rome it was Evans again but over Maynard Forette. Pocono ran a special modified event with Stevens taking the win.
 


Denis Giroux was a bridesmaid twice this week on 1973, pictured here with fellow driver Billy Harman.


New Yorker Don Diffendorf hung
up his helmet this week in 1978.

Thirty years ago in 1978, New Egypt ran on Wednesday. Wayne Anderson took the win and was followed by Evans and Cook. Evans and Cook finished one-two at Stafford and at Monadnock, Punky Caron won his 12th win of the season. Geoff Bodine took charge at Seekonk and at Riverside Charlie Glazier tasted victory. At Thompson on Sunday Bodine added another win as he held off Ron Bouchard and Joe Howard. Other weekend winners were Fred Harbach at Islip, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, George Kent at Tioga and Richie Evans at Utica-Rome. It was also this weekend in 1978 that New York racing legend Don Diffendorf hung up his helmet and retired.

Twenty five years ago in 1983,Thompson ran a pole qualifier for their annual 300.Richie Evans took the win and the spot over Corky Cookman. Friday night at Stafford, Bob Polverari out dueled Bugsy

Stevens for the win. Rich Evans had quite a weekend as he won 200 lap events at New Egypt on Friday and at Slip on Saturday. George Kent won at Spencer on Friday and at Waterford on Saturday, Mark LaJunesse beat out Donnie Bunnell. Marty Radwick won at Riverside and Thompson was cancelled due to a power shortage that caused a brown out.

Twenty years ago in 1988,Ted Christopher got his fourth win of the season at Stafford on Friday night. At Monadnock, Dwight Jarvis was the victor. Christopher repeated at Waterford on Saturday. At Riverside, Richie Gallup took the win. Reggie Ruggerio finished second and sewed up the track championship. Tim Connolly drove his self-owned modified to a win at Tioga, which happened to be a Race of Champions qualifier. At Riverhead, Bob Park recorded his third win. Wayne Anderson finished second and wrapped up the track championship. Ted Christopher wrapped up the Thompson Championship on Sunday.

Fifteen years ago in 1993,Ted Christopher got his sixth win of the year at Stafford, beating out John Anderson. The Modified Tour Series was also at Stafford. Jeff Fuller took the lead from Jamie Tomaino on lap 71 of the 150-lap event and went on to take the win. Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. At Waterford, on Saturday night, the races were cancelled due to a flooded parking lot. Brian Miller won at Riverhead and Dan Avery won at Riverside. In Busch Grand National action at Bristol, Todd Bodine took the win over Joe Nemacheck and in Winston Cup action, Mark Martin took the win.

Ten years ago, in 1998, Bo Gunning recorded his 4th win of the season at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher finished second. Eric Berndt was the Waterford winner despite the efforts of Jeff Pearl. Eddie Spiers beat out Rick Miller at Riverside and at Riverhead Chris Young took the win. Mike Stefanik took the BGNN point lead after he won at Jennerstown. In Sunday action at Thompson, Ted Christopher sat in victory lane. Mark Martin won the Bristol Winston Cup event and Kevin LePage was the Grand National winner.

Five years ago in 2003, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series returned to the Stafford Speedway on Tuesday night to complete the rain-postponed ASB 150 from August 8. With no rain in sight, the event was completed. When the dust settled, Todd Szegedy sat in victory lane. It was his fifth career Modified tour win and his first at Stafford. Szegedy is a graduate of Stafford’s SK-Modified ranks. The action resumed after a lap 61 red flag on August 8. Eddie Flemke Jr. assumed the pole starting position. The first five laps were run under caution, which allowed competitors to change tires. Flemke elected to pit on lap 65 along with Szegedy and a host of others. Dave Etheridge to the front, followed by Don Lia and Ricky Fuller. The trio had pitted before the rains came on the initial date. Etheridge, who recently had become engaged to Renee Dupuis, led for three laps. Lia, who has shown a lot of promise and potential in his rookie season, took the lead and held it until lap 73 when he was passed by Rick Fuller. Szegedy’s big break came on lap 85 when Etheridge and Nevin George got together in turn three. As the field took evasive action to avoid the potential wreck, Szegedy made the right move and went from tenth to fourth during the melee. When the event re-started on lap 90 Szegedy wasted little time as he went from fourth to second and as the field completed lap 91, he had passed Fuller for the lead. Fuller faded to third as Szegedy took the checker. Nevin George finished second. John Blewett III and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tony Hirshman, Jamie Tomaino, Tom Cravenho, Tony Ferrente Jr. and Eric Beers. There were a total of six cautions for 61 laps. Szegedy continued to lead the series point standings by 103 points over Blewett. Chuck Hossfeld sat in third spot with Ted Christopher and Jerry Marquis rounding out the top five. Christopher had a poor finish, 18th, after getting involved with Hossfeld and wrecking. Marquis ended up 23rd. Early race leader Eddie Flemke Jr. was an unfortunate victim as he was robbed of a potential win as a result of a broken shifter which resulted in a missed shift by Donnie Lia on a lap 119 re-start and resulting pig pile that saw him get turned into the front stretch wall. Flemke’s crew got him back in the event. With less than five laps from the finish something broke and he hit the wall again and ended his night in 21st spot. Ted Christopher, another potential winner, also had one of those nights as he crashed after making contact with Chuck Hossfeld on lap 126. A replay of the incident showed that Hossfeld was making a pass and was under him when he attempted to pinch him down. Hossfeld didn’t back off and the resulting contact saw Christopher in the wall, ending his night in 18th spot. In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, the Sunoco SK-type modifieds went 75 laps. For the most part the racing was clean and green with only a few minor cautions. Bo Gunning, who has had an up and down season, took the win over Eric Berndt, Todd Ceravolo, Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone. Gunning closest challenger was Berndt who took the lead during a re-start with 15 to go. Five laps later Gunning powered his way to the lead and never looked back. Eric Berndt continued to lead the point standings with a 26-point edge over Jeff Malave. Malave was never a factor on Thursday as he finished 7th in the final rundown. Todd Ceravolo sat third in points, 18 behind Malave. Bert Marvin and Gunning rounded out the top five. Among the missing at Thompson on Thursday was defending track champion Ted Christopher. According to reports Christopher’s car never left the shop as he experienced engine problems. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners at Thompson were Joe Lemay in the Pro Stocks, RJ Marcotte in the Late Models, Mike Cavanaugh in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night, Bo Gunning carried his winning ways over from Thompson as he copped the first of the twin 40 lap SK-Modified features run. Gunning took the lead with five laps to go from Willie Hardie. Lloyd Agor made a late race charge and finished on Gunnings bumper. Willie Hardie, Ted Christopher and Jim Civali rounded out the top five. Jim Williams won the second 40 lapper over Jeff Baral, Chuck Docherty, Bo Gunning and Todd Owen rounded out the top five. Ryan Posocco picked up his fourth win of the season as he beat out Kenny Horton for the victory. Bob Leone was the Dare Stock winner. At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night the flag was flying at half-mast in honor of Dan Brigham who had passed away. Brigham, a lieutenant in the Cohanzie Fire Department, was the officer in charge of Safety at the Speedbowl. The Modifieds at the shoreline oval ran twin 25’s because of the fact that time was running out to meet the minimum of 18 events required to have drivers eligible for NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing points. Dennis Gada, who was thought to be retiring at season’s end, cleared up a misunderstanding as he stated that he was retiring from the SK- Modifieds, not from racing all together. The four-time track champion is looking to climb the ladder a bit, maybe into a tour mod or a Busch North Series car. The hardest part about getting a ride in the tour series cars is money or the ability to bring it with you. In the first of the two features Gada made it three in a row and five overall for the season. Pete Pavone finished second with John Brouwer Jr., third. In the nightcap, Rob Janovic took the win after coming back from a crash in the first feature. Janovic, who is close friends with the Brigham family, dedicated his win to the recently departed Daniel. Dennis Charette finished second with Gada, third. Based on his recent finishes, Dennis Gada had moved by Ed Reed Jr. for the modified point lead. Other Saturday night winners were Russell LaJoie in the Late Models, Ed Gertsch in the Sportsman with Dan Darnstaedt and Glen Colvin victorious in the Mini Stocks. At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Joe Hartmann came home the winner over John Fortin. JR Bertuccio and Frank Vigliorolo Jr. were both given a week’s suspension for their on track confrontation and at Wall Township, Kevin Flockhart took top honors over Tim Arre. The Busch North Series was at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine. Mike Olsen was awarded the win after apparent winner Mike Johnson was put to the rear of the rear of the lead lap cars as officials noticed that he jumped the green flag on the final restart. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Kurt Busch took the win and was loudly booed in victory lane by the many fans who felt that he had agitated Jim Spencer to the point where he got violent. Kevin Harvick finished second. Michael Waltrip bumped Ron Hornaday out of the lead with 34 laps to go and went on to take the Busch Series win at Bristol. Jim Spencer filed an appeal of his suspension, which was denied by the NASCAR commission.

Last year, 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the mid-west, Mansfield, Ohio to be exact. The entire area had been under siege from heavy rains and tornado threats but the event went on as scheduled. That is until lap 108 when the race was called after repeated attempts to dry a rain soaked track. With his brother serving as his spotter and tracking the weather on his cell phone, James Civali elected not to pit with the leaders and was out front when NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour officials called the rain-shortened Mansfield 150 at Mansfield Motorsports Park. Doug Coby, driving the Mansfield CT based No.77 of Curt Chase, finished second and rookie Woody Pitkat was third. Point leader and Budweiser Pole Award winner Donny Lia was fourth and Eric Beers fifth. Ronnie Silk, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Grigas III rounded out the top 10.

Coby led the first 13 laps before Civali made the pass. Silk moved to the front seven laps later and led until a lap 54 caution. Silk elected to pit along with the fifth-place car of Szegedy and nine others. “We were leading and the car was really good,” Civali said. “When Ronnie got by me, the car got free. But then it stayed the same. It had 90 hard laps on it, too. But it never changed that whole run. It looked like Ronnie got free and then kept getting (more free).” Following the restart, Civali and Coby built a straightaway lead over third-place Pitkat on the half-mile banked oval. The field was bunched briefly following a lap 96 caution. Rain brought out the caution at lap 104 and the red at lap 108.

Twenty-seven cars were on hand. Donny Lia was the top qualifier as he toured the Ohio oval in 15.274mph. Ronnie Silk was second fastest with James Civali, third. Ryan Preece and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five.

Lia maintained his points lead at 131 over Szegedy and 139 over Hirschman. The next NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race will be at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sept. 1.

The Mansfield Motorsports Park also hosted the NASCAR Busch East division where Sean Caisse won the pole and the race. Caisse raced to the finish under the threat of rain, and the skies opened up during victory lane celebrations, but the race did get to run its advertised distance. 1) Caisse 2) Matt Kobyluck 3) Joey Logano 4) Jerry Marquis 5) Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Twin State Speedway track owner Dennis Fleury announced on Friday, Aug 17 at the drivers meeting that Twin State Speedway would not be a NASCAR track in 2008. The Twin State Speedway is located in Claremont, NH.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH numerous rain delays were encountered and the scheduled 100 Lap event was stopped on lap 42 with Rob Goodenough in the lead. Goodenough took the lead from Chris Pasteryak on lap 27. The TVMRS series declared Saturday nights Monadnock race, stopped on lap 42 by the second of two thunderstorms, an official race. Rob Goodenough was declared the official winner followed by Les Hinckley and Kirk Alexander. The track had announced a Sept 22 continuation but the series felt it was in the best interests of its competitors to declare the race official. Mike Holdredge and Pasteryak rounded out the top five.
 

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the management, fans, friends, and family joined the racing community in mourning the tragic loss of John Blewett III.

A night of fiercely competitive racing was a fitting homage to the fallen racer. Two races, the Late Models and Mini Stocks, were decided by mere feet at the line. An emotional Kerry Malone of Needham, MA visited victory lane in the Sunoco Modified main event held in Blewett’s memory. Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, scored his eighth win of the season in a Late Model thriller while Mike Romano of Pascoag, RI added to his win tally by inches. Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, took home his second win of the season in the Pro


Last year at this time the racing world was mourning the loss of John Blewitt III.

Stocks. Keith DeSanctis of Monson, MA, pulled off a similar feat with his second win in the Limited Sportsman division. Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor padded his point lead with another TIS Modified feature victory on Thursday night.

Out of respect for Blewett the Sunoco Modified drivers filed side-by-side to the infield. Front row starters Josh Steeves and Danny Cates lowered the flag to half-mast before track announcer Russ Dowd gave a heartfelt tribute to John and Reverend Don Rivers led the crowd in prayer. With the safety lights on all the track vehicles, Karen Lussier delivered a tender rendition of the National Anthem. A flag, still all night, waved effortlessly during the Sunoco Modified main event.
Cates immediately motored out to a sizable lead over Steeves and Steve Masse. A scary moment near the start of the race saw the red flag flying. On lap three, Ricky Shawn launched over the tire of Bert Marvin sending his car flipping, making a complete rotation, before landing on his wheels and hitting the wall in turn three. Shawn was not hurt in the incident.

The youngsters Cates and Steeves vied for the lead when racing resumed. Their time at the head of the pack was short-lived with Kerry Malone on the move. In a half lap, Malone was the new leader. After freeing himself from Masse, he took second from Cates in turn one of lap four, he took the lead from Steeves exiting turn two. Steeves continued to run in second while Masse had his hands full with Keith Rocco. Cates began to fall back. Tommy Cravenho, who started deep in the pack after being involved in a heat race incident, was working his way through the pack. Marvin had begun to work his way back toward the front as well. After a disqualification in the heat, Pitkat was making tracks from deep in the field. The mount of Glen Griswold went up in smoke to bring out the second caution of the event. A chain of events on the ensuing restart found James Harrison hard into the outside wall. Todd Ceravolo and Pat Moreau were also involved. The restart at the halfway marker pitted Malone against Steeves with Rocco laying in wait in third. Malone easily resumed his spot at the head of the pack while Steeves and Rocco battled. Rocco came out on top of an aggressive battle for the second spot on lap 17.

Pitkat and Masse made contact in turn two. Both cars slid out of the corner with Masse eventually losing the handle. The remainder of the pack was able to avoid the spinning Masse. Pitkat lined up in the fourth position on the restart behind leader Malone, Rocco and Steeves. Cravenho rounded out the top five with ten laps to go. The race was set for an exciting finish after the restart that found Malone and Rocco on the front row. Malone got a great run to retain his lead. Pitkat made quick work of Steeves to move into the third spot. Pitkat dove low in turn one in search of the second spot, to no avail. Rocco was able to maintain the position. Malone could not get any breathing room despite the battling between Rocco and Pitkat. Equally as exciting was the battle for the third spot as Marvin and Cravenho did battle. Over the final two laps, things settled down with the top five going nose to tail. Malone ran to the checkers a wisp ahead of Rocco. Pitkat was glued to the bumper of the #6 as they streaked to the checkers. Marvin topped the secondary battle taking fourth over Cravenho.

In victory lane Malone dedicated his win to John Blewett. “I will miss racing with him,” said Malone. “I will miss that twinkle in his eyes. God Bless John Blewett.”

Woody Pitkat continued his high-speed freight train approach to racing in the SK Modified division at the Stafford Motor Speedway as he made it five feature wins in a row. Tom Fearn ended Ryan Posocco's three-race Late Model winning streak by taking his third Late Model feature win of the 2007 season, Josh Sylvester came home a first time winner in the SK Light Modified feature, Rick Lanagan won his sixth Limited Late Model feature event of the 2007 season, and Duane Provost joined Sylvester as a first time winner by taking the DARE Stock feature event victory.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Richie Pallai, Jr. leading the first lap and then surrendering the lead to Todd Owen on lap-2. Zach Sylvester took the lead from Owen on lap-7, and by lap-10, Woody Pitkat was on Owen's bumper looking to take the lead. Pitkat got the lead on a lap-11 restart by powering to the outside of Sylvester. Pitkat led lap-20, which earned him a $100 bonus from event sponsor Porter & Chester. The race began to take on a long green flag run, and Pitkat slowly built his advantage up over Sylvester and the rest of the field. With 5 laps to go, Pitkat's lead was about 2 seconds ahead of Sylvester and Pitkat cruised to his fifth consecutive SK Modified feature victory. Sylvester finished second, with Owen, Malave, and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, the 2006 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year, came of age when he scored his first career win before a large crowd on Donaldsons VW-Subaru night in a 35-lap main event. The 18-year old driver led all the way in earning the popular victory.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Veteran Tommy Fox prevailed over Dennis Gada in one of the closest SK Modified races of the season at the shoreline oval. Exchanging the lead numerous times over the final circuits, Fox used the inside lane to keep the defending champion at bay until the checkers. Rob Janovic Jr., Jeff Pearl, and Tyler Chadwick rounded-out the top-5.

Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), and, Michael Gervais Jr.(Legends).

The New London Day reported that Waterford Speedbowl property ownerTerry H. Eames, 53, of 41 Pine Island Road, was charged Sunday with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and failure to obey a stop sign.
Carl Edwards clinched a berth for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship by winning Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, leaving Dale Earnhardt JR farther from contention with his fifth-place finish. With only two races to go before the championship field is set, Earnhardt is 158 points away from the 12th and final qualifying spot. Before an estimated crowd of 115,000, Kasey Kahne won the Food City 250, his seventh career NASCAR Busch Series victory.

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


Wade Dole


Rick Fuller


Danny Gaudiosi


Jack Lecuyer


Bob Walker


Allen Whipple

That’s 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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