Forty five years ago in 1961, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and Joe Weatherly were the winners in the wreck marred 100 mile qualifiers. Lee Petty received life threatening injuries which all but ended his racing career when he crashed out of the track with Johnny Beauchamp. Marvin Paunch, in a Smokey Yunick built 1960 Pontiac, won the 500 after Roberts lost an engine with 13 laps to go. The spectator count was 51,287 and the winner’s share of the race purse was $21,050.
Forty years ago in 1966, Paul Goldsmith and Earl Balmer were the 100 lap qualifying race winners. New England’s only entry, Rene Charland, blew an engine and finished 33rd in the second 100.In the 500, Richard Petty became the races' first repeat winner. The 200 lap-500 mile event was halted with two laps to go because of rain. For his efforts, Petty received $28,150 and there were 90,000 spectators on hand.
Thirty five years ago in 1971, Pete Hamilton, the defending Daytona 500 winner, took the lead on the last lap from AJ Foyt in the first 125 mile qualifier. David Pearson won the second 125.Richard Petty secured his third Daytona 500 win after AJ Foyt ran out of gas with 39 laps to go. Buddy Baker, in the Petty Team car that had been driven to victory the previous year by Pete Hamilton, finished second. Hamilton, driving for Cotton Owens, led some of the early going but lost an engine and finished a distant 28th. Northern modified fans held their breath when Maynard Troyer in a Ford owned by Dave Nagle blew an engine and flipped 16 times. Troyer survived the wreck but was hospitalized with serious injuries.
Thirty years ago in 1976, the Modifieds ran on the road course at Daytona. Despite being out of their element they put on a fairly good show. Taking the 200 mile win was Bobby Allison. Merv Treichler finished second and was followed by Gene Felton, John Bryant, Buzzy Reutaman, Philip Smith, Fred Harbach, Geoff Bodine and George Wagner. Dave Marcis and Darrell Waltrip were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Richard Petty and David Pearson battled wheel to wheel until they wrecked together on the final lap, just before the start finish line. Pearson managed to keep his car running and drove thru the infield to take the checkered flag. The winners share was upped to $46,800. There were 125,000 spectators were on hand.
Twenty five years ago in 1981, after winning on Friday and Sunday on the first weekend at New Smyrna, Richie Evans continued his winning streak to six in a row. Ron Bouchard and George Kent were the only two who could run with Evans. Bouchard turned the tables on Saturday night as he garnered a hard fought win with Evans, second. Brett Bodine became a surprise winner as Evans blew two engines on the final night. Bouchard ended up second with Maynard Troyer and John Blewett Jr following.
Twenty years ago in 1986, Jamie Tomaino started the week on Monday night at New Smyrna with a win over Mike Casterline, Randy Sweet and George Kent. Tuesday thru Friday night at New Smyrna belonged to Reggie Ruggerio who ran up a four race win streak to win the overall championship. Mike Casterline was the spoiler as he took the victory on the final night. At Daytona, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Dale Earnhardt appeared headed for his first Daytona 500 win when he ran out of gas with three laps to go. Geoff Bodine, running second, inherited the lead and went on to record the win which was worth $192.715.Terry Labonte finished second while Earnhardt faded to 14th.Ronnie Bouchard finished sixth, Doug Hevron finished 15th and Greg Sacks finished 35th after losing a clutch. Because of an in car camera, fans and race officials got a first hand look at how far ones body stretches on impact. Richard Petty hit the backstretch on lap 63.Cameras recorded the fact that Petty’s body stretched to the point where his head almost hit the right side roll bars.
Fifteen years ago in 1991, Tim Arre went pole to pole in Monday night action at New Smyrna. Rick Fuller in the Mario Fiore No.44 finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin. Rookie David Green took the Goody’s 300 pole at Daytona. Tuesday night at New Smyrna, Jeff Fuller beat out Arre and Baldwin for the win. Rick Fuller banged out two in a row on Thursday and Friday at New Smyrna. The final two nights at New Smyrna belonged to Mike Ewanitsko including a pole to pole run in the series ending Richie Evans Memorial 100.Ewanitsko was awarded the series championship for his efforts. At Daytona, Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison won the 125 mile Daytona 500 qualifiers. Earnhardt won the Goodys 300 and was leading the Daytona 500 when he spun with five laps to go. Ernie Irvan was the 500 winner.
Ten years ago in 1996, Bruce Dell in the Ben Dodge No.36 made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he won on Monday night. Ricky Fuller finished second with Jamie Tomaino and Ted Christopher in tow. Steve Park in the Joe Brady entry went pole to pole to win the Tuesday night modified event at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Mike Ewanitsko. Jamie Tomaino broke into the win column on Wednesday at New Smyrna. Bruce Del finished second and was followed by Baldwin, Park and Christopher. At Daytona on Thursday, Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan won the 125 mile qualifiers. Back home in the northeast, Tom Curley in behalf of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) filed suit against Mike Liberty, owner of the Oxford Plains Speedway claiming fraud and breach of contract. Thursday night at New Smyrna saw Ricky Fuller take the win. Tom Baldwin moved into second spot after Bruce Del, who was running second on the final lap, tangled with Ted Christopher and went into the wall. Tomaino came home in third. On Friday, Park again ruled the roost with Tomaino, Fuller, Baldwin and Christopher following. In the Goodys 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Steve Grissom used the draft from the lapped car of Jim Spencer to pass Dale Jarrett with five laps to go. Jarrett finished second with Mark Martin, third. The final night at New Smyrna saw Rick Fuller win the Richie Evans Memorial 100.Baldwin finished second with Ewanitsko and Park following. The final tally for the week saw Baldwin take the series championship despite not taking a win.Steve Park and Ricky Fuller each recorded three wins, Bruce Del, two and Jamie Tomaino, one. In the Daytona 500, Dale Jarrett took the lead from Dale Earnhardt with thirteen laps to go and went on to score the win. Earnhardt finished second and was followed by Ken Schrader, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.
Five years ago, in 2001, Ted Christopher picked up his third win in the New Smyrna World Series on Thursday night. George Kent finished second with Junior Hanley, third. In 125 action at Daytona, Sterling Marlin passed Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the last lap to win the first one. Jerry Nadeau, who started dead last, also passed Earnhardt and finished second. Mike Skinner won out over Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a photo finish of the second 125.Jeff Burton finished third. Jamie Tomaino out raced Charlie Pasteryak and Rob Summers to win the Richie Evans 100 on Friday night at New Smyrna. At Daytona on Saturday, Randy LaJoie took the win over Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Green. Jamie Tomaino went pole to pole to win the New Smyrna World Series final on Saturday night. Junior Handley finished second with George Kent, third. Ted Christopher finished ninth and sewed up the series title. Speedweeks came to a close on Sunday with the running of the Daytona 500.Little did anyone know, this day would be one of the most devastating in NASCAR history. It all came down to the final corner of the final lap. Michael Waltrip, driving his first race for Dale Earnhardt Inc. was leading the pack with Dale Jr. and Sr. in tow. As Waltrip streaked home for the win, Sterling Marlin took the air off Earnhardt Sr’s spoiler, causing the former champion to break loose and collide with the concrete wall and the car of Ken Schrader. Earnhardt Sr., 49, died instantly of head injuries from the impact.
Last year, 2005, after having Sunday night off the Modifieds and SK Modifieds returned to the high banks at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Monday night. Ted Christopher led the 22 car starting field to the green in the 25 lap Modified feature. Christopher led the entire distance to record his second win. Don Lia, who had been having handling problems, got it all together and spent the closing moments of the race beating on Christopher’s rear bumper. Christopher sealed his fate when he caught Lia sleeping on a restart with two laps to go. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Among the night’s casualties was Jonothan McKennedy who took a hard shot into the wall just after he finished seventh. His Michael Boehler owned No. 34 sustained considerable damage from the impact and had to be towed from the scene. Tim Arre, driving the Connecticut based Bear Motorsports No.14 continued to have bad luck as he was forced to retire early in the event and ended up in 20th spot. In the SK Modified feature Mike Holdredge was headed for victory until Chris Jones rode him up and out of the racing groove in the closing moments. This incident opened the door to Tim Arre who went on to take the win. The Super Late Models enjoyed a night off.
Ted Christopher scored a one-two punch in World Series action at New Smyrna on Tuesday night as he won not only the Modified feature but the Super Late Model feature as well.. Thirty seven Modifieds including 15 SKs were on hand. It looked like Don Lia had finally shaken off the bad luck that has plagued him in Florida as he took the lead in the Modified 25 lap feature on the first lap from Charlie Pasteryak. His bubble burst on lap 10 when a transmission malfunction forced him out of the event, handing the lead to Christopher. Kevin Goodale had his best run to date in the series as he finished second. Zach Sylvester finished a solid third with Eric Beers, fourth. Riverhead Raceway hot shoe JR Bertuccio replaced Tim Arre in the Bear Motorsports No. 14 and recorded a fifth in his first outing. Chuck Hossfeld finished sixth with Charlie Pasteryak, seventh. Christopher, who is on the cover of the latest issue of Speedway Illustrated, started on the pole and led every lap of the Super Late Model feature. One of the biggest wrecks in the history of the speedway occurred during the event when Ryan Mathews got launched into the catch fence on the front chute when he rode over second place runner David Rogers. After tearing up the catch fence Mathews flipped high in the air and went end over end past the starters stand and landed almost to the entrance of turn one. Mathews escaped with minor bumps and bruises but the event was red-flagged for an extended period while the fence was repaired.
The temperatures and competition heated up last Wednesday night as the Modifieds at New Smyrna went 50 laps. The heat was on as temps hit the low 80’s during the day and Ted Christopher remained hot at night as he made it four out of five in World Series competition. Eddie Flemke and the Hill’s Enterprises team joined the mix as a full field of 24 Modifieds went to post for their first extra distance event. Kevin Goodale, who qualified seventh, drew the pole and led the charge to the green flag. The first caution period of the night came on lap 2 when JR Bertuccio had the misfortune of having his Bear Motorsports No.14 catch fire as he came to a halt on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green flag when Eddie Flemke came to a grinding halt in turn three. It appeared that Flemke had a right rear tire blow out which turned him into the unforgiving concrete wall. Flemke’s car sustained heavy damage including having the right front suspension torn off. Caution no.3 came on lap five when Goodale got a little over excited while leading the restart and spun. Also collected were Jeff Malave, Andy Seuss and Jonothan McKennedy. Christopher inherited the lead and was untouchable for the rest of the distance as he captured his fourth win of the series. Chuck Hossfeld finished second with Eric Beers, third. Rounding out the top five were Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex JR. Don Lia continued to have problems as his car came to a halt in a cloud of smoke on the 17th lap. Eric Beers was the SK Modified winner with Chris Jones, second.
A new winner emerged in Modified competition on Thursday night as Riverhead, Long Islands’ Kevin Goodale won his first ever Modified feature. Goodale started on the outside of pole sitter Zach Sylvester. Shortly after Sylvester led the charge to the green in the 25 lap feature he spun between turns one and two. Goodale assumed the lead and never looked back as he sprinted to victory ahead of Ted Christopher and Eric Beers. Sylvester restarted in the rear but was never a factor as he finished 12th in the final rundown. Don Lia and Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Ed Flemke made it back as he finished behind sixth and seventh place finishers Chuck Hossfeld and Charlie Pasteryak. With the exception of a delay caused when a Sportsman car took out 100 feet of fence on the backstretch it was a relatively quiet night. Among the missing was JR Bertuccio and the Bear Motorsports No.14 who called it a week as they were out of motors. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner over Eric Beers and Dave Michael.
Don Lia, who had less than a satisfying week at New Smyrna, more than made up for it as he won the Friday night Richie Evans Memorial 100. Lia was the top qualifier and started on the pole. Lia was the class of the field until pitting under caution at the half way mark for fresh tires. Chuck Hossfeld, who started second, elected to stay out and assumed the lead with Kevin Goodale in tow. Hossfeld was planning on going non-stop until his tires started giving out shortly after the 75 lap mark. Hossfeld was hoping to hang on but to no avail as he was forced to pit with victory in sight with ten laps to go. Lia had sliced his way to the front and took over the top spot on lap 91 and went on to take the victory. Goodale finished second. Hossfeld made a determined charge after restarting in the rear of the field and managed to salvage a third place finish at the end. Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex Jr. rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher had one problem after another. After starting sixth, Christopher worked his way up to the runner-up spot before he pitted with the leaders at the half way mark. After numerous pit stops the defending Stafford Speedway champ worked his way back to fourth spot only to spin out of contention on lap 97. He ended up 8th in the final rundown. Despite a hard wreck in practice Eddie Flemke had one of the fastest cars in the field. After starting 11th Flemke worked his way into the top five by lap 24 only to tangle with Goodale and spin. After pitting at half way Flemke came back to close in on Jeff Malave who was running fourth at the time and was able to make the pass. Flemke and Lia battled for position. On lap 68 contact was made and Flemke spun to the infield and was hit by Jonothan McKennedy who also hit Zach Sylvester. All three were done for the night. Chris Jones was the SK Modified winner over Steve Reed and Dave Michael.
Chuck Hossfeld won the final battle of the 2005 World Series of Asphalt Modified racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida but it was Ted Christopher who won the war as he wrapped up the Modified series championship for himself and car owner Joe Brady. In the night’s 25 lap feature Charlie Pasteryak led the pack to the starting green with Chuck Hossfeld in hot pursuit. Andy Seuss spun on the front chute. Before the caution came out Hossfeld had taken the lead from Pasteryak. Pasteryak got hung out to dry after a gentle nudge by Christopher. By the half way mark Hossfeld continued to lead with Don Lia moving into the runner-up spot. Curtis Truex had been running in second spot but he had gotten shuffled back to fifth spot. Truex’s night came to an end on lap 14 when he hit the turn 2 wall after an encounter with Christopher. Following Hossfeld at the finish were Lia, Eric Beers, Zach Sylvester, Christopher, Kevin Goodale and Pasteryak. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner. In addition to winning the Modified title Christopher finished fourth in the Super Late Model standings. Louis Mechalides took the Super Late Model title.
Tony Stewart won the Hershey’s Take 5 300 Busch Series race in spectacular fashion. Not only did he avoid trouble on lap 95 when he drove through the grass in Turn 1 and then simply drove right back onto the banking into traffic, but he also came from 17th place in the closing laps for the win on Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway. Kevin Harvick finished second, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Reed Sorenson ran with the leaders most of the day and finished ninth. Fellow rookie Carl Edwards (10th place) was the only other NASCAR Busch Series regular to finish in the top 10. Jeff Gordon came out on top to win his third Daytona 500. The four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion grabbed the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr. with three laps to go, then held off the defending race winner during the final three-lap dash to the finish. For the second year in a row, Tony Stewart led the most laps and was in position to take his first win in the "Great American Race," but was shuffled back through the pack when Earnhardt passed him with five laps to go, eventually winding up seventh at the finish line. Kurt Busch pressured Gordon as the finish but had to settle for second, while Earnhardt took third. Scott Riggs garnered an impressive fourth-place finish while Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth.