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August 17, 2012

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1952 Cy Yates and Fred Luchesi were declared co-winners of a 25 lap Sportsman feature on Wednesday night after a photo finish at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Dean was the Claiming Car winner. Luchesi came back on Saturday night to record an uncontested win.

Fifty five years ago in 1957, Red Foote was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. Don Collins took another Sportsman win at the Bowl on Saturday night and Danny Gallulo paid a surprise visit as he won the non-Ford feature.

Fifty years ago in 1962, Hank Stevens scored a popular win as he took the Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Don Collins was second followd by Charlie Webster, Dick Watson and Dick Beauregard. Ed Moody made it three in a row in the Bombers at the shoreline oval. At Riverside Park Speedway Charlie Brayton was the winner followed by Ned Kenney, Rebel Harris, Frank Blum and Dick Dixon. George Lombardo won his 5th feature of the season. Tony Mordino ws second followed by Tony "Jap" Membrino, Dean Anderson and Johnny Georgiadas. Adolph Pecka was the Novice winner followed by Kenny Orr and Dave Gindel.

Forty five years ago in 1967, the All Star League paid a visit to the Flemington Speedway on Wednesday night. Frankie Schenieder, 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. It was also dry at Waterford where Charlie Webster took the Modified win over Dick Dunn, Fred "Fuzzy" Baer, Newt Palm and Don Collins. Butch Reed was the Daredevil winner. Jack Lecuyer took down the 50 lap feature at the Riverside Park Speedway. Bill Greco was second followed by Jim Ashe. Rain halted the racing at Plainville Stadium. The up state New York rains continued into Sunday and washed out Sunday night action at Utica-Rome.

Forty 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 “Moose” 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. New Jersey's Jerry Wall won the NEMA midget feature. At Plainville Stadium Elton Hill took teh checkered flag followed by Dave Alkas, Don Moon, Dave Germano and Nick Nickerson. Loren Trombly was the Novice winner followed by Earl Pellitier, Wally Semrow Ronnie Rocco and Bob Benson. At Riverside Park Chrarlie Glazier was th winner of the 75 lap feature with Bob Stefanik second followed by Tony "Jap" Membrino. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro took a hard fought battle over Ken Shoemaker, Dave Lape and Jerry Pennock Sr. Islip belonged to Charlie Jarzombek. Bill Scrivener took the win at Waterford. 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 five years ago in 1977, Bugsy Stevens started the weekend off with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Ronnie Bouchard finished second followed by Dick Caso, Eddie Flemke, and Geoff Bodine. Bobby Santos ruled the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Eddie St Angelo finished second with Jim Wilkins, third. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero won the 100 lap feature followed by Pete Fiandaca,  and Sonny O'Sullivan. Joe Tiezzi was the winner of the Waterford 200 at the Speedbowl. Tommy Berndt won the 50 lap feature at Plainville Stadium with Fred Alkas second followed by Dave Alkas, Don Spazano and Dave Germano. Pete Vargosho was the Pleasure Car winner. 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.

Thirty 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 didn’t 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 five 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.

Twenty 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.

Fifteen 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.

Ten 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 Christopher’s 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 Miller’s 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. That’s 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 that’s why he slid into him. Fuller’s left front touched Christopher’s 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 Bolles’ 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 Gunning’s 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 it’s 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 NASCAR’s 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.

Five years ago in 2007, the 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.

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 John’s 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.

Last year, 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour joined the Indy Cars at Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos crossed another track off his list when he earned the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole in time trials for the Granite State Classic. Santos toured the one mile oval in 29.858 seconds (127.564 mph) for his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award and second of the 2011 season. There were 31 cars on hand. Second fastest was Eric Beers with Eric Beers, third. Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five.

Mike Stefanik ended a long dry spell in the No. 16 Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Pontiac when he earned his first win of the season and the 71st of his Tour career by edging Woody Pitkat at the line. It was Stefanik’s seventh win at the track and first since Aug. 2, 1998. Additionally, it was his first overall victory since winning at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 27, 2009. The runner-up marked the best career finish for Pitkat. Todd Szegedy finished in in the third position followed by Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers in fourth and fifth, respectively. Bobby Santos, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, Erick Rudolph and Doug Coby rounded out the top 10.

There were 10 lead changes among 5 drivers. Santos led the opening 29 laps before giving way to Erick Rudolph who led lap 30. Santos retook the lead one lap later and remained on the point until lap 44 when Bonsignore took his turn on the point for one lap before giving way to a determined Santos who would lead to lap 53. Bonsignore and Santos slugged it out until lap 60 when Woody Pitkat came alive. From there on Pitkat and Mike Stefanik went toe to toe. Stefanik took the lead for the final time on lap 73 before sprinting home for the win. Seventeen of the original 31 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were James Civale, Andy Seus and Ron Yuhas who wrecked on lap 92, Matt Hirschman, Kevin Goodale, Eric Goodale and Don Lia who wrecked on lap 66, Jake Marosz retired on lap 62 with handling problems, Eric Berndt wrecked on lap 58 and Ted Christopher who dropped out with rear end problems after completing 50 laps. Jimmy Blewett, Wade Cole and Ken Heagy dropped out with engine problems with engine problems.

The crowd on hand was extremely sparse. The Indy Cars that raced on Sunday also played to a sparse crowd, estimaed to be 30,000.

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Sunny skies and 82 degree weather welcomed race teams and fans. The Late Model division took the center stage with their 40-lap extra distance race and Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, was the star. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, returned to top-form and to victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds. Andy Lindeman of Poestenkill, NY, was tops in the touring New England Truck Series. Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA scored his fourth win of the season in the Super Late Models. Dwayne Dorr of Ledyard, CT, motored his way to the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Jay Sundeen of Douglas, MA, bested the field to win in the TIS Modifieds. He had been knocking on the door and on Thursday night Eric Bourgeois of Moodus, CT, scored his first Mini Stocks feature event win of the season. There were 14 cars on hand for the event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway did not run into any weather problems as Ryan Preece scored his third win of the 2011 season in the SK Modified® feature, Ryan Posocco scored his second win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko nailed down his fourth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders picked up his first win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the SK Modifieds, Keith Rocco came home in second, with early leader Dan Avery, Glen Reen, and Eric Berndt Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher finished a distant 21st after being collected in an early race wreck.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, the shoreline oval hosted the fourth annual Wings and Wheels event Saturday night, staging another round of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing for the SK Modifieds®, the track’s weekly headline division plus the visiting ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and Valenti Modified Racing Series.

Claiming victories were Keith Rocco, continuing his domination of the SK Modified® division by picking up his tenth win on the season. Chris Perley scored his third career win at the Speedbowl by picking up the victory on the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified race. A first-time winner reached the winner’s circle in the 25-lap NEMA Midget feature as Todd Bertrand etched his name into the record books. In the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature, veteran racer Jerry Marquis of Broad Brook came out of racing retirement to score an upset victory.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to the Stafford Speedway to complete a previously started event. Keith Rocco continued his winning ways as he picked up his first career Modified Racing Series victory in the Lincoln Tech 80. The race was started on June 24th, but rain halted the race with 32 laps complete. Rocco was the race leader when the rain came and he had to fight off strong challenges from Matt Hirschman and then Todd Owen to take the victory as he led the final 47 laps of the race.

With 10 laps to go, it was a four-car train for the top spot with Rocco leading Owen, Doug Coby, and Hirschman. With 5 laps to go the running order remained the same, but Rocco was able to pull away from Owen by several car lengths. Rocco led the field around to take the checkered flag. Owen finished second, with Coby, Hirschman, and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top-5.

Before the engines would cool the series headed to the Waterford Speedbowl. Retired race driver Jerry Marquis came out of retirement and won the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature at the shoreline oval. The win came on a night when the track presented the fourth annual “Wings & Wheels” program in front of a large crowd of open-wheel race fans. Marquis became the fourth consecutive first time winner and the 10th different winner for 2011. Marquis was asked to pinch-hit for regular driver Rowan Pennink who was competing in a Whelen Modified Tour event in Loudon. Marquis agreed to practice the car at Stafford, (CT) on Friday and be ready on Saturday at Waterford if needed. When the field of 21 cars rolled from the Waterford pit area, Marquis took his position in the front row to a rousing ovation.

At the drop of the green flag, Marquis was the driver to beat and no one could top the Roscoe Racing #25. The 56-year Marquis had the field covered but received pressure throughout the race. Local favorite Rob Janovic Jr, of chased Marquis until Les Hinckley III slipped by on lap 40. For the next 60 laps Hinckley chased Marquis and ran him hard on restarts but this was not the night for the current point-leader. Marquis prevailed for the full 100-laps. Keith Roccostarted 21st and finished a solid third. Chris Pasteryak finished fourth with Max Zachem rounding out the top five. Mike Holdridge, Louie Mechalides, Dave Etheridge, Tim Jordan, and Josh Sylvester finished sixth through tenth. 17 of the 21 cars that started the race finished the event, 16 on the lead lap.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Eddie Brunnhoelzl was the NASCAR Modified winner.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC fell under rain which washed out both 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division.

At Watkins Glen, subbing for injured Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch held off Jimmie Johnson on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Nationwide Zippo 200 on Saturday.

Busch beat his Sprint Cup nemesis by nearly a second for his third victory in 12 Nationwide races. He also deprived brother Kyle of his 50th career victory, which would have broken a tie with Mark Martin for the most in series history. Marcos Ambrose of Australia won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Monday's rain-delayed Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. He had to make a late pass of Brad Keselowski to finally win at the Glen, where he had finished third, second and third in the last three Cup races there.

Get well wishes went out to Dick Caso, a long time Modified veteran who was critically injured following a accident on his moped. Dick was a multi-time winner at many New England tracks for about 3 decades and earned the nickname "Daring" Dick Caso for his driving style. In addition to his own cars Caso drove the Ted Marsh No. 55 and the Billy Simons No.9 in numerous NASCAR Modified events in the 1970's. Get well wishes also went out to former Speedway Scene publisher and editor Val LeSieur who had entered Tufts Medical Center in Boston with a knee infection.

This week are several Vintage photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


George "Moose" Hewitt


Tommy Berndt


Donald "Hank" Stevens

T
Charlie Brayton

Jack Lecuyer

Jerry Wall

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: 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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