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Friday August 29, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Forty years ago, in 1968, the Labor Day weekend started at Stafford on Friday night where Eddie Flemke took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Gene Bergin and Fred Harbach. With the Fonda Speedway closed the Albany Saratoga Speedway ran on Saturday night. Lou Lazzaro won the scheduled 50-lap event. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Corey, Dave Kotary and Don MacTavish rounding out the top five. Freddie Schulz in the Dave Welch/Greg Mills No.79 won at Norwood. Bugsy Stevens won at Thompson on Sunday night and at the Utica-Rome Speedway, twin 200’s made up the New Yorker 400. Lou Lazzaro won both ends of the 400. In the first 200, Eddie Flemke finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Sonny Seamon and Ron Narducci. Seamon finished second in the nightcap with Fred Harbach, Narducci and Dick Fowler rounding out the top five. Fred DeSarro won the Labor Day Bardahal 400 at Norwood.


Fred Schulz was a winner at Norwood Arena 40 years ago.
(Photo by: Bill & Dave Balser)
(Courtesy of the R.A. Silvia Collection)

Thirty five years ago in 1973, Richie Evans started the long Labor Day weekend off with a win at Malta on Friday night. Jerry Cook finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Saturday night at Stafford, Brian Ross took the win over Bobby Santos and Leo Cleary. Maynard Troyer had a good weekend as he won at Tioga on Saturday and the Utica-Rome 400 on Sunday. Leo Cleary was declared the winner of the 200 at Stafford after a scoring error was found. Bugsy Stevens was first thought to be the winner but was given second spot. Eddie Flemke finished third with Denis Giroux, fourth.
 


Moose Hewitt took down the win at the Speedbowl 30 years ago.
(Photo from the Danny Pardi Collection)

Thirty years ago in 1978, New Egypt started the weekend off on Wednesday with a 100 lapper which was won by Richie Evans with Jerry Cook finishing second. Geoff Bodine finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Geoff Bodine was a DNF with a blown engine. At Stafford on Friday, Bodine beat out Ronnie Bouchard. Riverhead ran a 100 lapper, which saw Charlie Jarzombek take the win over Evans and Tom Baldwin. Moose Hewitt won at Waterford and at Islip, Greg Sacks sat in victory lane. Utica-Rome ran the New Yorker 400 on Sunday which saw Richie Evans and Jerry Cook finish one-two and at Thompson, Geoff Bodine took the win over Joe Howard and George Summers. Bodine, in the Armstrong No.1 made it three out of four for the weekend as he won the Labor Day 200 at Stafford. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Other weekend winners were Leo Cleary at Westboro, Punky Caron at Monadnock and Ronnie Bouchard at Seekonk.

Twenty five years ago in 1983, Kenny Bouchard was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Corky Cookman finished second with Reggie Ruggerio, third. Richie Evans and Doug Hewitt won twin features at Spencer. Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday with Bob Potter taking the win. S.J.Evonsion won a 200 lapper at Riverside and Gary Iulg won the 200 at Oswego. Evans and Ruggerio followed. Other weekend winners were Johnny Tripp at Seekonk; Chris Young at Islip, Jack Ely at Thompson and Brett Bodine won the 200 at Stafford. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Bobby Allison was the winner of the Southern 500.

Twenty years ago in 1988, Reggie Ruggerio got his eighth win at Monadnock on Friday. George Kent won the Oswego 200 for the third time on Saturday. Jan Leaty finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Fred Harbach won at Riverhead.

Fifteen years ago in 1993,Thompson ran a modified tour series on Wednesday. Jan Leaty, who was running third on the final lap, ended up being the surprise winner. Ed Flemke Jr. was leading going into the fourth turn. Satch Worley, who was running second, made a move on the bottom side and as Flemke attempted to pinch Worley off, the two made contact and spun. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second with Steve Park, third. John Anderson won a rained shortened event at Stafford. Cris Kopec beat out Dan Avery at Riverside and at Riverhead, Ewanitsko won a101 lapper. Waterford rained out and at Oswego, Ricky Fuller won the 200.George Kent, who hadn't driven in two years, finished second in the Art Barry No.21.Tom Baldwin, Steve Park and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Mark Martin made a clean sweep at Darlington winning both the Winston Cup Southern 500 and the companion Grand National events.

Ten years ago in 1998, Bo Gunning won his sixth victory of the year at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford on Saturday, Jeff Pearl survived a delay to fix the fence that was torn up. Dennis Gada finished second with Mike Christopher, third. Rick Miller won at Riverside and Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead. The Modified Tour Series was at Thompson on Sunday for the Shaw’s 250.Ricky Fuller took the lead on lap 203 and was cruising to victory until he crashed with the lapped car of Jake Marosz. Mike Stefanik assumed the lead and went on to record his eleventh win of the season. Chris Kopec finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino and Mike Ewanitsko. Tracy Gordon won a BGNN event at Thunder Road and ageless veteran Bentley Warren won his sixth Super Modified Classic at Oswego. I n Winston Cup action at Darlington, Jeff Gordon took the win plus the million dollar No-Bull bonus. Dick Trickle beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. by inches to win the Darlington GN event and on a sad note, Adam Petty, who was racing on the ARCA circuit, had the misfortune of having his crew chief killed when the car was dropped on him during a pit stop.

Five years ago in 2003, In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Kerry Malone took his second win of the season in the Sunoco-SK Type Modifieds. Bob Santos III finished second with Bert Marvin, third. In Pro Stock action, Chuck Docherty won the held over PASS qualifier and Norm Wrenn won the regular event. Other winners were Charles Bailey III in the Late Models, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini-Stocks. At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night, Frank Ruocco became a first time winner as he took the lead on lap 21 in the held over 150 lapped from July 11 and went on to take the victory over Chuck Docherty and Doug Coby. In the regularly scheduled 35 lapper, Ronnie Silk took the win over Willie Hardie and Doug Coby. Woody Pitkat was the late model winner. The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night for the Big Y World Class Market 150. Thirty-eight cars attempted to qualify for the 30 starting spots. Eric Beers, in the Bear Motorsports No.14 set fast time as he toured the 1/3-mile oval in 13.674 seconds. Second fastest was Chuck Hossfeld, in the Mystic River Marina Dodge, followed by Todd Szegedy and Ted Christopher. The start draw was key as Hossfeld picked the pole starting spot with Szegedy on the outside. Another key factor was the qualifying draw. Charlie Pasteryak, who is usually one of the top runners on the tour, was a dnq. As he paid the price of being the first one to qualify. Among those who also did not qualify were Ken Barry, David Berghman, Tom Cloce, Wade Cole and Jake Marosz. Chuck Hossfeld led from pole to pole to take the win. Todd Szegedy, who started on the outside pole finished second. On the start, Hosfeld jumped out in front. Szegedy faded and Eric Beers moved into second. By the completion of lap two Ted Christopher had moved into third spot as Szegedy continued to fade. The first of eleven cautions occurred on lap 15 when Jim Broderick stopped between turns one and two after developing a flat right front tire. Broderick would re-join the field only to drop out on lap 35 with suspension problems. The field went back to green on lap 20 but the action was short lived as the caution flew again on lap 23 when Doug Coby spun between turns one and two. The field went green on lap 30 with Christopher moving into second behind Hossfeld. The caution flew again on lap 48 when Tom Baldwin took a vicious hit when he contacted the wall in turn one. It took twelve laps for the track crew to remove the badly damaged car and do a clean up before the field went green again on lap 60. Meanwhile, Donnie Lia, who started eighth, had moved into fourth spot. Szegedy moved by Christopher and the race was on. Beers, who had been running in fifth spot, brought out the caution on lap 62 when he spun after getting a flat and losing a spring. After numerous stops, Beers’car was repaired and he rejoined the field. The field went back to green on lap 69 with Hossfeld leading followed by Szegedy, Christopher and Lia. Christopher moved back into second on lap 70 and two laps later the field went under caution when Jerry Marquis spun after being hit. Among those who were caught up in the ensuing wreck were Tom Cravenho, Jim Long and Howie Brode who were done for the night. An excessive amount of oil was spilled on the racing surface, which caused officials to display the red flag while the mess was cleaned up. The field went green on lap 89, single file with Hossfeld in command over Christopher, Szegedy, Lia, Rick Fuller and Ed Flemke Jr. Four laps later the yellow was displayed again as Kevin Goodale spun in turn four Back to racing on lap 97 only to go yellow again on lap 102 when Jamie Tomaino slowed on the front stretch. The field went back to speed on lap 105 only to be slowed again for a wreck in turn one. The action heated up when the field went green on lap 112 as Christopher began honking the chrome horn on Hossfeld’s bumper. One lap later Christopher miss-calculated as he hit Hossfeld with his right front tire and promptly popped his tire and came within inches of smashing into the wall in turn four. Christopher was able to pit for a new tire and re-joined the field when they went back to green on lap 117. Szegedy moved into second spot and was followed by Lia, Rick Fuller, Ed Flemke Jr. and Bo Gunning. The final caution of the night came on lap 121 when Bob Polverari tangled with Ron Silk and Kevin Goodale in turn four. With 20 laps to go, the green flew again. With ten to go Flemke began backing up as his alternator had malfunctioned and was causing his motor to miss-fire. At the finish it was Hossfeld followed by Szegedy, Lia, Fuller, Gunning, Tony Hirschman, John Blewett III, Jimmy Kuhn, Doug Coby and Nevin George. Flemke ended up 14th. For Hossfeld’s car owner, Bob Garbarino, the win was especially sweet, as Waterford is where he got his start as a car owner in the early 1960’s. In regular Dodge Series racing action Jeff Pearl made a bold move on a restart with 11 laps to go as he outdrove Ed Reed Jr. into turn one to take the lead and eventual win. Dennis Gada, who was mired in heavy traffic for most of the event, ended up third with Jeff Kraals, fourth. Second-generation driver Keith Rocco, son of modified great Ronnie Rocco won his first ever sportsman division event. Danny Field was the Mini-Stock winner. Racing at Riverhead and Wall Township fell victim to rain. The Busch North Series was at Thunder Road Speedway in Barre, Vermont. Brian Hoar took the win over Andy Santerre, Dave Dion and Matt Kobyluck. In Winston Cup action, Terry Labonte won the last Southern 500 that would be run at Darlington Raceway. Kevin Harvick finished second.

Last year, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Martinsville, VA. Donny Lia got the victory of a lifetime in the Made In American Whelen 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Lia held off Ted Christopher for the win in the race, which is the annual combination event between the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Not only did the victory further solidify Lia’s Whelen Modified Tour points lead, it came two weeks after his friend and fellow driver John Blewett III passed away following a racing accident. John’s brother Jimmy won the Made In American Whelen 300 in 2006. After sitting out a week, Jimmy Blewett returned Saturday. He finished 43rd after engine problems. It was Lia’s sixth win of the Whelen Modified Tour season and he improved his points lead to 193 over Todd Szegedy with four races remaining. L.W. Miller was the top finishing Southern Modified Tour driver in third. Fellow Southern Modified Tour drivers Tim Brown and Brian King were fifth and sixth respectively. James Civali was fourth. Lia, who won the Budweiser Pole Award, led twice for 234 laps. He pitted for tires on lap 157 on the first caution following the mid-race break. And he took over the lead when Christopher pitted for tires on lap 184. Christopher moved from 15th to second by lap 225 but was unable to get by Lia in the closing laps. It took a little over three hours to complete the event. There were 15 caution periods for 88 laps.

The Labor Day weekend venue of racing got started on Wednesday night at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts with an event they called Modified Madness. The historic 1/3-mile Speedway oval hosted the third annual Open Wheel Wednesday program, featuring the Viveiros Insurance-sponsored 100 green flag lap Modified Madness event, an open competition race paying $10,000 to the winner. Local favorite Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, MA scored the biggest victory of his storied 35-year career at the 1/3-mile Seekonk Speedway oval on Wednesday night, August 29, winning the 3rd annual Viveiros Insurance Modified Madness 100, worth $10,000. Thirty-three competitors from seven different states attempted to qualify for the 100 green flag lap open competition event which carried a total purse in excess of $31,000. Three qualifying heats and a consolation round set the 24-car starting field, with heavy hitters Mike Stefanik, Andy Seuss, and Tony Ricci among those who failed to qualify. Jon McKennedy led the initial go-around of the main event before Chuck Hossfield took over, bringing Chris Pasteryak with him into second. Pasteryak worked the outside groove to get around Hossfeld on lap 13, five circuits before a Woody Pitkat spin brought out the first of four cautions. Ted Christopher took third from McKennedy on the restart and was soon joined inside the top five by Richard Savary and Annarummo, who started tenth. Further back, second generation ace Matt Hirschman was on the move, coming from the 23rd starting spot to 10th in the first 27 laps. Annarummo took third from Christopher on lap 35 while Hirschman closed to eighth. Pasteryak navigated his way through heavy lapped traffic at the midway portion of the race while Annarummo, turning the fastest laps of the night, began to pressure Hossfeld for second. Christopher ran fourth, ahead of McKennedy, Savary, Hirschman, Dick Houlihan, Louie Mechalides, and Bobby Grigas III. Local entry Mike Brightman spun to bring out the second caution on lap 54. Two circuits later, Mechalides’ car came to a halt with a flat left front tire, necessitating the third stoppage. After a false start, Pasteryak and Hossfeld dueled side-by-side for the lead for several laps before Chris powered past. McKennedy roared back to life during this next green flag run, passing Annarummo and going to the outside of Hossfeld for second. After a torrid battle for position, Hossfeld and McKennedy made contact coming dsown the backstretch on lap 68, sending McKennedy into the concrete and Hossfeld into the pit area via the black flag. Hirschman, who had just nipped Annarummo for second, got loose in the outside lane on the restart, allowing Annarummo to slide back around on lap 70. Bobby Santos III spun after apparently locking up the brakes, bringing out the final caution on lap 77. Pasteryak, whose car tightened up in the inside lane, was unable to hold off Annarummo when the green was unfurled again, and surrendered the top spot to the six-time Seekonk champion on lap 79. In the final laps, Annarummo pulled away from Pasteryak and sailed under the checkers 0.682 seconds ahead to post his 44th career Seekonk win in the Francis Farm #12. “Ten thousand dollars- can you believe it?” the 58 year-old veteran asked from Victory Lane. “This is one hell of a division to drive in. All of the guys raced me clean. We struggled in warm ups this afternoon, but we took a spring rubber out and tonight the car was good.” “I got beaten by Vinnie Annarummo at Seekonk Speedway,” Pasteryak good-naturedly shrugged after posting a solid second place finish, worth $3,500. “We were tight on the bottom, too, and that hurt us at the end.” Matt Hirschman walked away with $2,500 for third, while Richard Savary pocketed $2,000 for finishing fourth. Ted Christopher finished fifth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Eric Beers, Dale Evonsion, who came on strong in the latter stages of the event, Louie Mechalides, and Dick Houlihan.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Kirk Alexander took the win over Les Hinkley, Mike Holdredge and Todd Patnoad. Alexander came to the shoreline oval needing a win on the one-third mile speedway to complete a sweep with victories on every track that the series has competed on in its four-year existence.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Keith Rocco hit everything but the lottery on his way to victory in the Sunoco Modified 50 lapper. Rocco, who was the triggerman of a mid-race caution all but rode Todd Ceravolo into the turn two wall following a restart on lap 48. Ceravolo kept his wits about him and managed to recover and finished fifth. Woody Pitkat finished second with Bert Marvin, third and Tom Cravenho, fourth.

Steve Masse jumped out from his front row starting spot to lead the opening lap of the event but it did not take long for Todd Ceravolo to take over command. Woody Pitkat gave up the third spot to a charging Kerry Malone while Tommy Cravenho had his hands full with Rocco. Things settled down in the early stages of the event with Ceravolo leading a freight train that included Masse, Malone and Pitkat. Current point leader Pitkat was the first to step out of line, motoring to the inside of Malone. Rocco, too, was making his run to the front. Rocco passed Cravenho then Malone before lap 15. The battle for the third position between Pitkat and Rocco really started to heat up as Masse had tucked in on the back bumper of Ceravolo. The first caution of the event flew on lap 23 when David Lacroix made hard contact with the pit gate on the backstretch. Kerry Malone headed down pit road for service under the caution flag. Ceravolo headed to the green flag two laps shy of halfway. Early leader Masse crashed into the back of Ceravolo after being drilled by Rocco. Both Masse and Rocco dropped to the back of the pack. As the Sunoco Modifieds struggled to get to the halfway marker, Cates lost the handle on the restart collecting Josh Steeves to bring out the caution yet again. When the halfway marker finally waved under green flag conditions, Ceravolo was the leader. Pitkat ran in second followed by Cravenho, Bert Marvin and Rocco. The caution flag waved again when Harry Rheaume spun on lap 30. After a failed attempt at a restart, Ceravolo resumed his place at the head of the field. Cravenho faltered on the restart losing positions to Marvin and Rocco. Pitkat made a run at Ceravolo on lap 33 but lost his momentum in the low groove, ultimately falling back and losing positions to Marvin and Rocco. Rocco looked to continue his charge to the front as he hounded Marvin in second. Rocco went low in turn two and drifted up the racetrack toward Marvin. Marvin was forced to check up giving way to both Rocco and Pitkat. Over the final ten laps, Ceravolo continued to show the way. Rocco took chase in second followed by Pitkat. With five circuits remaining Rocco really started to show his hand. On successive laps, Rocco would dive low in the turns but could not retain enough speed to make the pass stick. A spin by Masse on lap 47 set up a final chase to the checkers; giving Rocco the opening he needed. Rocco made a bonsai to the inside of Ceravolo, again drifting up the track. Ceravolo slid out of the groove relinquishing several positions in the process. Rocco went on to take down the victory over Woody Pitkat and Bert Marvin. Cravenho and Ceravolo rounded out the top five.

In other Thursday night racing, Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA made a long-anticipated return to Pro Stock victory lane while Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, scored his second Late Model feature win of the season. Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA edged Larry Barnett for the Limited Sportsman victory. Roger Larson, Jr. won the TIS Modified feature in tech while Brad Caddick of New London won a barnburner in the Mini Stocks.

It took Ted Christopher to end Woody Pitkat's five-race winning streak at the Stafford Motor Speedway as he won his second SK Modified feature of the 2007 season, Corey Hutchings won the Late Model feature, Josh Sylvester won his second consecutive SK Light feature, Sean Foster won the Limited Late Model feature, and Jim Brice won the DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Willie Hardie charging from third to the lead on the opening lap. Ted Christopher quickly moved his way by both Lloyd Agor and Keith Rocco to move into second. A caution with 7 laps complete slowed the field and gave Christopher the opportunity to move by Hardie for the lead on the restart. The top-5 ran in line until lap-19 when Hardie fell back several spots from second as Rocco, Woody Pitakt, Jeff Malave, Kerry Malone, and Brad Hietala all moved by. Hietala was on the move in the middle stages of the race, working his way up to second behind Christopher. Several late caution periods set up a five-lap dash to the finish. Christopher was not to be headed as he led the final five laps to pick up the feature win. Hietala came home second, with Pitkat, Owen, and Hardie rounding out the top-5.
 

In some sad news, Ed Yerrington who led the Stafford Motor Speedway out of financial despair in the early 1970’s passed away after suffering from liver cancer. Yerrington, Sr., 78, of 31 Trading Cove Circle, passed away Thursday, August 30, 2007, at his home. He was the President and General Manager for the Stafford Motor Speedway where he was the Co creator of the SK Modified Division. He also was an Operator and Promoter at the Waterford Speedbowl and was directly responsible for getting NASCAR and Don Hoenig together in order to secure a NASCAR Sanction at the Thompson Speedway. He was an avid racecar driver, racing along the East Coast for over 25 years, retiring in 1990. He was the 1970 Track Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway when he drove the Freddy’s TV No.23. He was also a Technical Inspector for NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway. He was an avid antique car collector and especially enjoyed showing his cars within CT and MA.


Ed Yerrington passed away this week last year.

It’s a shame and a disappointment that there was no mention of Yerrington’s passing on the web site of the Stafford Speedway.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl came from deep in the pack to win the first 25-lap SK segment of the “Double Down Shootout” at the shoreline oval. Following Janovic was Jay Miller, Don Fowler, and, Dennis Gada. In the nightcap SK event, it was Todd Ceravolo followed by Dennis Gada, Keith Rocco, Tyler Chadwick, and, Jeff Paul. For the second consecutive year, Gada was the overall “Double Down” winner.
Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. and Larry Goss (Late Model), Walt Hovey and Josh Galvin (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. and Phil Evans (Mini Stock).

In some sad news, Loren A. Card, 82, of Punta Gorda, Fla., the original starter at the Waterford Speedbowl, died Aug. 27, 2007. He was a colorfull starter from day one at the Speedbowl as he would start the races while standing on the inside of the track. He started races at the Speedbowl for over 20 years.

After going four months without a victory, Jimmie Johnson picked a great time to get back to victory circle. The reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion came on strong at the end of Sunday night's 250-lap race, grabbing his series-leading fifth victory of the season, clinching a spot in the Chase for the Championship and guaranteeing he will be no worse than a tie for the top seed in the 10-race playoff. Johnson, who took the lead for good after a series of green flag pit stops 22 laps, led 65 of the last 82 laps on the 2-mile oval and easily held off runner-up Carl Edwards. Kyle Busch finished third. Jeff Burton passed Kyle Busch late and pulled away for his third Busch win of the season in the Camping World 300 at California Speedway. Busch held on for second place, Denny Hamlin was third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Clint Bowyer fifth.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com,
 


Harry Bliss


Lou Carangelo


Mario "Fats" Caruso


Danny Galullo


Johnny Lobo


Jocko Maggiacomo

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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