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Friday December 2, 2011
Last Column of 2011, will return in February 2012
 

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1971, some of those in competition were Bobby Santos in the Joe Brady No.41, Denis Giroux in the Emmerick Associates No.50, Bob Karvonen in his own No.99, Ray Miller in his No.7, Don Flynn in his own No.25, Hank Stevens in the Freddy's TV No.23, Ernie Gahan, Moose Hewitt in the Bob Johnson No.17, Bugsy Stevens in the Sonny Koszela Woodchopper Spl,No.15,Fred DeSarro in Len Boehlers Ole Blu,No.3,Gene Bergin, Ed Yerrington, Leo Cleary in the Mystic Missile, Jerry Cook, Richie Gomes, Lou Austin, Dave O'Neil, Billy and Freddie Schulz, Ralph "Hop" Harrington in the Dick Armstrong No.1, Billy Harman in the Ted Marsh No.55, Bernie Miller, Tony Russo, Winston Barrows, Moe Gherzi, Ronnie Shawn, Roland LaPierre Sr, Ernie Caruso, Lou Toro, Ray Sitterly, Rene Charland, Ray Hendrick in the Tant/Mitchell No.11, Eddie Flemke in the Art Barry No.09,Roger Treichler, Dutch Hoag, Eddie Pieniezak, Jean Guy Chartrand in the Hemi-Cuda No.69,Max Berrier, Billy and Jimmy Hensley, Mike Loescher, Paul Radford, Satch Worley, Bill Henry, Hank Thomas, Dick Fowler, Jim Hendrickson, Andy Romano, Phil Libby, Tom Sutcliff, Gary Winters, Wayne Anderson, Bill Scrivner, Dave Lape, Glynn Shafer, Bobby Vee, Daring Dick Caso in the Simons Excavator No.9,Booker T Jones, Mark Zimmerman, Bob Melnick, Lou Hennessy, Bob Potter, Dick Watson, Ron Wycoff, Jerry Glaude, Don Bunnell, Fred "Fuzzy" Baer, Angie Cerese, Jack Lecuyer, Dale Holdredge, Artie Moran, Dick Dunn in the Al Gaudreau No.3,Walt Dombrowski, Jiggs Beetham, Gordon Page, Dynamite Ollie Silva, Don Kibbe, Bobby Turner, Joe Tiezzi, Bob Holmberg, George Delmar, Dale Holdredge, Jerry Dostie, Tom Baldwin, Frank Faria, Ed Patnoad, Bill Park, Paul Mancarella, Lou Lazzaro, Geoff Bodine, Charlie Jarzombek, Dave Nichols, Richie Evans, Al DeAngelo, Chuck Boos, Frank Curtis, Stub Fadden, George Wagner, Maynard Troyer, Clayton Sonney Seamon, Joe Trudeau, Seabury Tripler, Marvin Chase, George Murray, Don Dionne, Terry Peabody, Ed Hoyle, Mark Geer, Leo Hill, Mike Beebe, Dave Humphrey, Ronnie Bouchard, Jon Astle, Billy Clarke, Norm Holden, George Summers, Jap Membrino, Johnny Thompson, Merv Treichler, Dave Kotary, Billy Greco, Roger Hill, Nolan Swift, Eddie West, Big Don McClaren and Mario"Fats"Caruso

Thirty-five years ago in 1976 Fred DeSarro and the mighty No.3 of Len Boehler were the track champions at Stafford and at Thompson. Bobby Santos, the original, was driving for Joe Brady and took the Westboro Speedway title. Geoff Bodine, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 was the Yankee All Star League champion while Bob Potter took the title at Waterford. Punky Caron was the “Up Country” kingpin as he won titles at Monadnock and at Claremont. On Long Island there was still three nights of racing. Fred Harbach took the Islip Speedway championship while Chargin Charlie Jarzombek took the titles at Freeport and at Riverhead. Harbach was also the track champion at New Egypt in New Jersey. Jerry Cook was the NASCAR Modified champion but had no track titles to his credit in his native New York state. Richie Evans was the champion at the Spencer Speedway. Maynard Troyer took the title at Lancaster and Sonny Seamon at Shangri-La. George Kent took the championship at Fulton and Will Cagle was the Schaeffer Series champion as well as the champion at Rolling Wheels. Jim Shampine was the King of the Supers at Oswego and Dan Bridges was the Late Model champion at Plattsburg. Bob Polverari was the Champion at Riverside Park and Jim Hendrickson in the Ferrente x-3 was the man at Wall Stadium.

Thirty years ago in 1981 Richie Evans had a big year. In addition to the NASCAR National Modified championship he won track championships at New Smyrna, Stafford and Thompson. George “Moose” Hewitt was the Modified Champion with Harry Rice taking the title in the Super stocks. Rit Patchen was the Danbury champ and Wayne Anderson was champion at Islip. Jerry Marquis was the Sportsman champ at Stafford. Pat Chambrello was the Street Stock titleholder. Punky Caron was the Monadnock champion while Jeff Fuller took the top spot at Westboro. Bugsy Stevens was the Modified Champion at Seekonk and Stash Greger was the champ at Riverside. George Kent was the top dog at Spencer and at Shangri-La while Roger Treichler took the top spot at Lancaster. Doug Hevron was the Champion at Oswego wile John Blewett Jr won the title at New Egypt. Mike Weeden was the track champion at Lee. Darrell Waltrip was the Winston Cup champion and Ronnie Bouchard was awarded Rookie of the Year. Tommy Ellis was the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman champion.

Twenty five years ago in 1986 Reggie Ruggiero, driving the Mario Fiore No.44 won the New Smyrna Modified Championship. Wayne Anderson won the title at New Egypt while Tom Mauser won it at Wall. Bob Potter won another Modified Championship at Waterford. Brian McCarthy was the Super Stock champ. Mike Stefanik ended being the last Modified Champion at Stafford as the Mods were thrown out in favor of the SK Modifieds. Wayne Dion was the SK Modified champion and Scott Poirier, the Street Stock titleholder. Dion was also the SK Modified champion at Thompson. Spencer Speedway in New York also dropped the Modifieds after Jan Leaty won the Modified title. George Kent won the title at Shangri-La and second-generation driver Ken Troyer won it at Lancaster. John Rosati won the Modified Championship at Riverside Park. Hs younger brother Tom won the Pro Stock title. John Blewett Jr was the Champion at Riverhead. At Oswego, Brian Ross won the Modified title while Bentley Warren won the Supermodified Championship. Jimmy Spencer was the NASCAR Modified Series champion and second generation driver Larry Pearson won the Late Model Sportsman title. Dale Earnhardt Sr was the Winston Cup Champ.

Twenty years ago in 1991 Mike Ewanitsko was the Modified Champion at New Smyrna. Jerry Marquis had a big year driving for Bob Judkins as he won track championships at Monadnock and Riverside Park as well as the NASCAR Northeast Regional Championship. Wayne Anderson won the Riverhead championship and Lee Sherwood won the Modified Championship at Shangri-La. Champions at Stafford were Bob Potter in the SK Modifieds and Chuck Zantarski in the Late Models. At Waterford it was Ricky Young in the SKs, Phil Rondeau in the Late Models and Mike Holdredge in the Strictly Stocks. Mike Christopher was the SK Modified champion at Thompson. Mike Stefanik was the NASCAR Modified Tour Series champion and Ricky Cravens was the Busch North Series champ. Taking Rookie of the Year honors was Tony Hirschman. Bobby Labonte was the Busch Grandnational Champion and Dale Earnhardt Sr was the Winston Cup champ.

Fifteen years ago in 1996, Tiger Tom Baldwin was the New Smyrna Modified champion. Doug Didero made it three in a row at Oswego while Ted Christopher annexed Stafford in the SK Modifieds. At Riverside Park, Dave Berube took top honors in the Modifieds while Eddy Carrol took the Pro Stock title. Dick Houlihan won the Pro Stock championship at Thompson and Chuck Steuer was the Modified champion at Riverhead. At Waterford Jimmy Broderick won the Modified title and John Brouwer took top honors in the Late Models. Dave Dion was the Busch North Series champion and Randy Lajoie made it two in a row in the Busch Grandnational division. Sege Fidenza won his sixth championship at Lancaster and Tony Hirschman won the NASCAR Modified Tour Series title. The big news of the week was that Winston Cup crew chief Larry McReynolds left the Robert Yates No.28 for the Richard Childress No.3.

Ten years ago in 2001 the track champions were Ted Christopher at New Smyrna and in the SK Modifieds at Stafford. Christopher was also the NASCAR New England Regional Champion and the NASCAR National Champion, a title that was worth $160,000. Punky Caron was the Pro Stock Champion at Claremont and John Fortin was the Modified Champion at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Dennis Gada was the SK Modified Champion at Waterford while Bert Marvin was the Sunoco Modified Champ at Thompson. Mike Olsen was the Busch North Series Champion and Mike Stefanik won his fifth Featherlite Modified Title. Art Barry was the Champion Car owner. Jimmy Blewett took the title at the Wall Stadium and Eric Beers was the Champion at Pocono Mountain Speedway. Brett Hearn became the MR DIRT titleholder for the fourth time. Jeff Gordon took the Winston Cup title for the fourth time in nine years while Kevin Harvick took the Busch Series title.

Five years ago in 2006, NASCAR’s elite were in New York City where Jimmie Johnson was crowned the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion. He became the 28th driver to win the championship on NASCAR’s premier series, winning the championship by 56 points over Matt Kenseth. He collected a point fund award of $6,785,982, bringing his 2006 season total winnings to $15,770,125 – a new single season winnings record.

NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter was honored with the Buddy Shuman Award, presented at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers luncheon on Thursday. The award is presented annually by NASCAR in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the growth of Cup Series racing. Louis Grier "Buddy" Shuman was a pioneer NASCAR Grand National driver and tough competitor who was well respected by his peers. He died in a hotel fire in 1955. NASCAR established the Buddy Shuman Award in 1957 to recognize outstanding contributions to NASCAR racing. Also honored was Benny Parsons, NASCAR's 1973 Cup champion and a veteran broadcaster who was named the 2006 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Award. The award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, was presented today during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in New York. Parsons is the 47th recipient of the award. Parsons, who had 21 wins in 526 starts between 1964 and 1988, has more recently been a member of NBC/TNT's race broadcast team for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. Parsons, 65, underwent treatment for lung cancer earlier this year.

Last year 2010, The Stafford Motor Speedway welcomed a guest list of nearly 500 people consisting of teams, drivers, sponsors, and employees on Friday night, November 19 at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor to officially honor Keith Rocco, Ryan Posocco, Matt Galko, Dan Flannery, and Tony Membrino, Jr. as the 2010 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions.
With Stafford Motor Speedway broadcasters Matt Buckler and Joe Coss serving as the Masters of Ceremony, the 41st annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony not only honored the five track champions, it also honored the top-20 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. Other awards that were presented during the evening's festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, Most Improved Driver Awards, Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards, and the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award.
 
The race for the 2010 SK Modified® championship began and ended with Keith Rocco in victory lane. In between his season opening CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler and CARQUEST Fall Final feature victories this season were 8 more feature wins to give Rocco a Stafford SK Modified® record 10 wins. In 20 starts this season, Rocco collected 16 top-5, and 19 top-10 finishes along with his 10 wins for an amazing average finish of 3.4, which allowed him to win the championship by a whopping 138-point margin over Woody Pitkat. Rocco also finished in 7th place in the Late Model points standings this season with one victory.
 
The 2010 Late Model championship chase saw Ryan Posocco complete the "Drive for Five" as he collected his record fifth Late Model track championship at Stafford. The points race was a tight race all season long between Posocco, Woody Pitkat, and Dillon Moltz, which ended up coming down to the last race with Posocco and Pitkat separated by only 6 points as Moltz faded from contention. Pitkat ended up winning the CARQUEST Fall Final feature event for his division leading 8th win of the season, but Posocco finished third, which was enough to give him the championship by the smallest of margins, 2 points. In addition to locking down his fifth track championship, it was also a season of milestones for Posocco at Stafford as he surpassed 40 career Late Model feature race and he reached 50 career victories at Stafford with 43 Late Model wins and 7 DARE Stock wins. Posocco posted 4 wins, 13 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes 20 starts this season.

In the SK Light Modified division, a rookie driver claimed the championship for the second consecutive season. Matt Galko took over the points lead midway through the season and looked to be heading comfortably towards the championship. But Tommy Barrett, Jr. was in the middle of a white hot winning streak, winning 8 of 9 races, while Galko finished 13th or worse 3 times in four races leading up to the CARQUEST Fall Final, putting Galko 6 points behind Barrett for the final race of the season. But Barrett encountered trouble in the opening laps of the race while Galko went on to win the race and the track championship. Galko posted 4 wins, 13 top-5, and 16 top-10 finishes in 21 starts to win the championship by 32 points over Barrett.
 
One year after a flat tire eliminated him from championship contention, Dan Flannery returned strong to the Limited Late Model division and took the championship with a division leading 6 feature victories. Although Flannery led the division in wins, he had to contend with Dave Yardley, III as well as defending track champion Andrew Durand in the chase for the championship. Heading into the final race of the year, Flannery and Yardley were separated by only 6 points. But like Galko, Flannery won the final race to take the championship in grand style by 12 points over Yardley. Along with his 6 wins, Flannery also led the division with 15 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes.

Just as the SK Light Modified division had a rookie driver win the championship for the second consecutive season, the DARE Stock division had the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler feature winner win the championship for the third consecutive season. Tony Membrino, Jr. matched the feat that was turned by Norm Sears in 2008 and Don Wood last year. Membrino enjoyed a remarkable season, finishing no lower than seventh place all year long and he took the championship by a 42 point margin over Jeff Jolly. Membrino posted 1 win, 16 top-5, and 21 top-10 finishes in 21 starts this season.

Receiving awards for Most Improved Driver were Zach Sylvester in the SK Modified® division, Adam Gray in the Late Model division, Erica Santos in the SK Light division, and Michael Wray in the Limited Late Model division. The Most Improved Driver award is given to a driver who exhibits the greatest degree of improvement in on-track performance over the past season. Nominees are selected and voted upon by a committee of select Stafford Motor Speedway management and track officials.

The Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards were presented by Brad and Linda Hietala of Reliable Welding and Speed to Josh Sylvester from the SK Modified® division, Tim Fogg from the Late Model division, Matt Galko from the SK Light division, and Duane Provost from the Limited Late Model division. The awards will be worth a $700.00 bonus to Sylvester, and $500.00 bonuses to Fogg, Galko, and Provost from Reliable Welding and Speed. Each Rookie of the Year bonus will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2011 season.

The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified® and Late Model divisions, Erica Santos from the SK Light division, Andrew Durand from the Limited Late Model division, and Cory Casagrande from the DARE Stock division. The Most Popular Driver Awards are voted on by the fans who attend Stafford Motor Speedway race events and fill out the ballots found weekly in the track's PitStopper Magazine.
The Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award was awarded to Stephen Butova. Butova prepared and maintained Frank Ruocco's SK Modified® machine that visited CARQUEST Victory Lane 4 times this season, including the prestigious CARQUEST SK 150. The Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award is voted on by Stafford crew members who possess a valid 2010 NASCAR License.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes Racing ThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Don Flynn


Bill Harman


Bobby Vee


Lou Austin

Bob Potter

Leo Cleary

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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