Fifty years ago in 1959, fifty nine starters took the green
for the inaugural Daytona 500. As 41,921 spectators looked on, Lee
Petty and Johnny Beauchamp crossed the finish line in what appeared
to be Beauchamp by a whisker. There was no photo finish camera but
Petty was declared the winner, 61 hours later. Beauchamp was put
back to second spot with Charlie Griffith, third. The event, which
went non stop without a caution, had an average speed of 135.521
mph. For his efforts, Petty received $19,050.
Forty five years ago in 1964, Richard Petty led all but
sixteen of the 200 lap Daytona 500 and finished three miles ahead of
Jim Pardue. Paul Goldsmith finished third and was followed by Marvin
Paunch and Jim Pascal. Among those in the field were Ralph Earnhardt
who finished 19th, 20 laps down and New England modified and cut
down driver Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell who finished 20th.There were
three cautions for 19 laps. Petty, who averaged 154.334mph collected
$33,300 for his efforts as 69,738 spectators looked on. One
hundred-mile qualifying race winners were Junior Johnson and Bobby
Forty years ago in 1969, the late
model sportsman (Busch Grandnationals) replaced the somewhat
modified cars that ran on Saturday. LeeRoy Yarbrough won the
event, which saw New England Sportsman and Modified great
Don MacTavish lose his
life in a violent front stretch crash. Yarbrough came back on
Sunday to win the 500 by a car length over Charlie Glotzbach.
Donnie Allison finished third and was followed by A.J.Foyt.
Yarbroughs average speed was 157.950mph with 101,800 looking
on. For his efforts he received $38,950.
Thirty five years ago in 1974, the Modifieds were
included at Daytona and raced on the road course. Bobby
Allison and Tiny Lund finished one-two as they clearly
outclassed the field. John Bryant finished third and was
followed by Denis Giroux, Geoff Bodine, Jerry Dostie and road
racer, Charlie Blanton. The Daytona 500 was shortened to 450
laps because of the then, energy crunch. Even and odd days for
getting gas were the norm. Bobby Isaac and Donnie Allison won
the twin 125's which were also shortened to 112.5 miles in
length. Richard Petty won his fifth Daytona 500 after Donnie
Allison cut down two tires with eleven laps to go. Cale
Yarborough ended up second with Ramo Stott, third. A record
$300,000 was paid by ABC for broadcast rights and only the
second half of the 500 was shown live.
Promising New Englander Don
MacTavish lost his life at Daytona forty years ago.
Thirty years ago in 1979, Richie Evans dominated the modified
World Series at New Smyrna as he won seven of the nine events run.
Merv Treichler and Ronnie Bouchard were the only other drivers to
break the stranglehold that Evans had on the competition. Evans also
won a 200 mile modified event at Daytona. Neil Bonnett finished
second and was followed by Harry Gant, Ronnie Bouchard, Joe Thurman
and Bob Riley. For the first time, the Daytona 500 was shown live,
pole to pole, by CBS. Ken Squire called the action. Richard Petty
became a surprise six-time winner after Cale Yarborough and Donnie
Allison wrecked going for the lead in the closing laps. As Petty
took the checkered flag, Yarborough, Allison and Bobby Allison were
slugging it out on the infield grass in turn three. When the TV crew
realized what was going on they picked up the physical combat as it
unfolded. Darrell Waltrip ended up finishing second with A.J.Foyt,
Twenty five years ago in 1984, Richie Evans won seven of
eight modified events run at New Smyrna. Evans lost a fuel pump on
the night he didn't win. Charlie Jarzombek took the win that night.
At Daytona, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison won the
125's.Yarborough went on to win the 500 over Dale Earnhardt and
Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip won the Goodys 300 the day before.
Twenty years ago in 1989, Reggie Ruggiero won six of the nine
events at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko won two and Tom Baldwin won the
series closing Richie Evans Memorial. Darrell Waltrip was at the top
of his game as he won both the Goodys 300 and the Daytona 500.
Fifteen years ago in 1994, Richie Gallup ended up winning
four of the eight modified events run at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin,
although winless used consistency to win the series championship.
Other winners were Ricky Fuller, Bruce D'Assandro and Ted
Christopher who won the series ending Richie Evans memorial. At
Daytona, Bob Newton pulled his Hoosier Tires out of the event in the
interest of safety, as the tires were not wearing properly. Ernie
Irvan and Dale Earnhardt won the 125's.For the fifth straight year;
Dale Earnhardt won the Busch GN Goodys 300 with Dale Jarrett,
second. Chad Little the first GN regular finished third. Among the
casualties were Mike Stefanik, Doug Hevron and Mike McLaughlin who
were collected in a lap five wreck. The 500 saw Sterling Marlin
score his first Winston Cup win. Ernie Irvan finished second with
Terry Labonte, third.
Ten years ago, in 1989, at New Smyrna on Monday night, Ted
Christopher made it two in a row George Kent in the Gary Cretty
No.26.Kent switched from Hoosier to Goodyear but still couldn’t
catch the Connecticut speedster. JR Bertuccio finished third with
Eric Beers, fourth. At Daytona, Ken Schrader was the Busch
Grandnational Series top qualifier as he took the pole for the NAPA
300 with a speed of 189.865mph.Randy Lajoie was the outside pole
sitter. Tuesday night at New Smyrna belonged to Doug French as he
jumped out in front and beat Ted Christopher to the line. Jamie
Tomaino finished third. Christopher returned to winning form on
Wednesday at New Smyrna as he won his third event of the series over
Kent, Beers and Tomaino. At Daytona the big news was that Mike
Helton was named as SR. Vice President and CEO of NASCAR and his
duties were to oversee the day to day operations of NASCAR. Bill
France would still maintain ultimate control as he remained as
President of the sanctioning body. At Daytona on Thursday at the
125's, Bobby Labonte passed Jeff Gordon with 12 laps to go to win
the first event. Dale Earnhardt won the second 125 over Jeremy
Mayfield. During the first lap, Wally Dallenbach took out John
Andretti and Jeff Green. Christopher and Tomaino opened up a lead of
a half lap at New Smyrna on Thursday night. Christopher maintained
the point and recorded his fourth victory. George Kent finished
third with Doug French, fourth. On Friday at Daytona, Speedway
Motorsports announced that they had sold the Charlotte Motor
Speedway name to home improvement giant Lowes for $35million. Lowes
had previously been a NASCAR sponsor but was dumped in favor of Home
Depot. Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the IROC event held at the 2-1/2 mile
Five years ago in 2004, the action continued at the New
Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Tuesday night, February 10. The
Modifieds had Monday night off. On Tuesday night, Eric Beers took
advantage of Ted Christopher and Donnie Lia’s misfortune as he took
the win in Round 4 of the World Series. Christopher started on the
pole and was looking to be the first repeat winner when Lia made a
move under him, which resulted in both ending up in the wall. Lia
accepted responsibility for the incident. There had been virtually
no passing on the high-banked oval this year as the track had become
worn and the temperatures had not been ideal for racing. Buck
Catalano, who normally races at the Spencer Speedway in upstate New
York, ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. JR Bertuccio
and Mike Fitch rounded out the top five. Lia was able to make
repairs after the crash and ended up seventh behind John Blewett III
who was sixth. Chuck Hossfeld, who was driving for Bob Garbarino on
the Modified tour made his first appearance driving his own car and
finished 11th. It was also good to see Bo Gunning break into the top
ten as he finished 8th. The Modifieds went the 50-lap distance on
Wednesday night. Eddie Flemke Jr. and the Hill Enterprises team
joined the field and made the most of their effort as they took the
win. Flemke, who started third, took the lead on the first lap when
John Blewett III drifted up, leaving an opening. It was clear
sailing from then on. Blewett, who was then slugging it out with Ted
Christopher, lost a radiator hose and triggered a wreck, which
ultimately put him out for the night. Christopher applied the
pressure to Flemke to the point where his rear bumper looked like it
had been through a war but the second generation driver never
faltered as he romped home for the win. Christopher settled for
second with George Kent, third. Charlie Pasteryak and Chuck Hossfeld
rounded out the top five.
Flemke stated they never intended to run the whole series, just the
last three or four events. On Thursday night Ted Christopher became
the first repeat winner in modified competition at New Smyrna.
Christopher started on the pole and led the entire 25-lap distance.
Buck Catalano finished second with Eric Beers, third. JR Bertuccio
and Mike Fitch rounded out the top five. Things got ugly during the
early going when Ed Flemke Jr. came together with George Kent. Kent
spun out and went after Flemke, eventually planting him into the
wall. Flemke ended up in 19th spot while Kent ended up 9th behind
Don Lia, Chuck Hossfeld and Bo Gunning. On Friday night it was the
Richie Evans Memorial 100. John Blewett III, who had horrible luck
in the series, started dead last in the 27-car field and survived
numerous restarts and a crash to walk away the winner. A lap nine
crash collected eleven cars, including Blewett. Blewett was able to
rejoin the field but others weren’t as fortunate. The accident was
triggered when Charlie Pasteryak and Bo Gunning made contact with
Pasteryak getting the worst of the deal as he hit the outside wall.
Once the field restarted those not involved in the wreck made pit
stops with many putting on fresh rubber. Another late race caution
found the same scenario. On the restart, Ed Flemke was attempting to
rundown leader Blewett and George Kent. Flemke appeared to be the
fastest car but as the laps wore down he appeared to be getting
loose. Ted Christopher then put the bumper to him and sent the
Hill’s Enterprises No.79 into the inside wall. Flemke was able to
re-fire his engine and took off after Christopher while he circled
the track under caution. Flemke figured that the track officials
should have taken action against Christopher for his overly
aggressive driving and seeing as though they didn’t, Flemke plowed
Christopher in the rear and then exited the track to the pit area.
Once in the pits, Christopher’s crew joined Flemke’s crew for some
tea and crumpets! Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. George Kent
ended up finishing second to Blewett. Rounding out the top five were
Eric Beers, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld. Christopher managed to
finish tenth. The heavy rains that washed out the racing at Daytona
on Saturday also washed out the final night of the World Series at
New Smyrna. There would be no make up. Eric Beers was named the
modified champion of the series as he beat Ted Christopher by 31
points. Donnie Lia ended up third with JR Bertuccio, fourth and
George Kent, fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Charlie Pasteryak,
Buck Catalano, Kevin Goodale, John Bush and Chris Young.
At the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday the twin 125
qualifying races for the Daytona 500 were run with Dale Earnhardt
Jr. and Elliott Sadler scoring the wins. Of the 45 cars that entered
the events, 43 of them qualified for the 500. Going home were Kirk
Shelmerdine, a former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Andy
Hillenburg. In comparison to other years, a 45-car field for the 500
was a light one. The NASCAR Craftsman Trucks ran under the lights at
the Daytona International Speedway Friday night. Carl Edwards won it
in a Ford. Toyota, in its first showing, almost stole the show as
Travis Kvapil finished second in the once domestic brand series.
Heavy rains descended on the Daytona area on Saturday afternoon
bringing the Busch Series Hershey’s Kisses 300 to a halt. The event
was completed on Monday, February 16 at 11:00 am. An estimated
200,000 were on hand when President George Bush gave the command to
start the engines. The only scary wreck occurred when Michael
Waltrip took a mean tumble on the backstretch. It seemed like ages
until Waltrip emerged unhurt. In a TV interview Waltrip was
extremely critical of the track crew, which left him hanging upside
down for quite a while. Waltrip finally convinced the rescue workers
to roll his car back in the upright position and loa and behold he
got out without a problem. Unlike the previous year when the 500 was
stopped because of rain, the event ran the entire posted distance.
It looked like there would be a break in the Anti-trust suit that
had been filed against NASCAR over the awarding of NEXTEL (formerly
Winston) Cup dates. It had been strongly rumored that the
International Speedway Corporation, which is controlled by the
France family that also controls NASCAR, may sell their track in
Rockingham, North Carolina to Speedway Motorsports, which owns the
Texas track that has been seeking a second date. If Speedway
Motorsports ended up owning Rockingham they could move their date to
Texas. A similar situation took place when O. Bruton Smith, CEO of
Speedway Motorsports and Bob Bahre, owner of the New Hampshire
International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire bought the North
Wilkesboro Speedway, also in North Carolina, and moved their dates.
One went to Loudon and one went to Texas. If the deal for Rockingham
ever goes through it’s a good bet that the Anti-trust suit will go
away. A few months later it happened!
Last year, 2008, at New Smyrna it was back to business for
the Tour type Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds on Monday night.
The new week brought in some new competition including the Tom
Baldwin Sr Tribute car that would be driven by Sprint Cup driver
Kyle Busch. Other new arrivals included James Civali, Buck Catalano,
Ronnie Silk and Barry Callavini.
In the Tour type Modified 25 lap feature Ryan Preese, who is the
grandson of legendary car owner Bob Judkins, took advantage of the
eight-car qualifying inversion by starting on the Pole Position of
the Tour-Type Modified race and led pole to pole to score his first
Tour-Type Modified victory. Kevin Goodale finished second and was
followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Grigas and Ted Christopher.
The SK type Modified feature saw a surprise winner in the form of
Eric Goodale. Goodale, who had been running in third spot, took
advantage of a tangle between leaders Kenny Horton and Jimmy
Blewett. Both drivers went into turn four nose to tail with Horton
leading Blewett on the final lap. Blewett attempted to rattle Horton
with a blast from his chrome horn. The blast was a little too much
as Horton spun and Blewett hit the wall. Horton attempted to roll
across the track to the finish line as Goodale spun to avoid being
collected in the wreck. Goodale’s car suffered slight damage as he
hit the wall after taking the win. Blewett took full blame for the
incident. Horton managed to finish second with Josh Sylvester,
third. Billy Anderson and Brad VanHouton rounded out the top five.
Blewett ended up 11th in the final rundown.
Heavy rain and a bad forecast forced the New Smyrna Speedway to
cancel Tuesday night’s racing program.
On Wednesday night at New Smyrna Kenny Horton redeemed himself from
earlier misfortunes and defeats as he won the SK Type Modified
feature over Josh Sylvester. It was a great victory for Horton but
the night belonged to Jimmy Blewett who won the 50 lap feature that
was run in memory of his late brother John Blewett III. In the 50
lap John Blewett III Memorial Jimmy Blewett started on the pole and
led every lap to score the win over Ted Christopher. Christopher
recovered from a spin with Chuck Hossfeld on lap 8 and passed Ron
Silk for the second spot on a lap 20 restart. At the finish Silk
faded to fourth as Bob Grigas took over the third finishing spot.
Hossfeld rounded out the top five.
Horton stated that he was taking the rest of the week off in order
to spend some quality time with his family. Jimmy Blewett finished
third in the SK type event and was followed by Glen Griswold, Eric
Goodale and Billy Anderson. Nineteen cars started the SK type race
and 23 started the Tour type Modified race.
For the second time within a week Jimmy Blewett scored a clean sweep
at New Smyrna as he won both the Tour type and SK type Modified
features on Thursday night. In the Tour type feature Blewett took
the lead from Chuck Hossfeld on lap four and pulled away from the
field, running uncontested for the rest of the 25 lap distance.
Hossfeld finished second with Ted Christopher, third. Eric Beers and
Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. In the SK type feature Blewett
took a lot of heat from Josh Sylvester but in the end was able to
prevail. Sylvester finished second and was followed by Glen Griswold
Brad Vanhouten and Butch Perry.
In Thursday action at the Daytona Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr.
won the first 150 mile qualifier for his second victory of
Speedweeks, and Denny Hamlin captured the second in his Joe Gibbs
Racing Toyota, passing teammate Tony Stewart on the first overtime
lap, giving the manufacturer its first victory in Sprint Cup racing.
Earnhardt’s Thursday's victory came after he moved to the rear of
the starting field after changing an engine. Reed Sorenson was
second in his Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, Ryan Newman third in his
Penske Racing Dodge, Casey Mears fourth in his Hendrick Motorsports
Chevy and Carl Edwards fifth in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Stewart was second in the second race, Earnhardt's teammate Jeff
Gordon third, Kasey Kahne fourth in his Gillett Evernham Dodge and
Mark Martin fifth in Earnhardt's former Chevy ride at Dale Earnhardt
At New Smyrna on Friday night it was the Richie Evans Memorial for
the Tour type Modifieds taking center stage. Eric Beers used a
lightning fast pit stop to put him in position to win the
prestigious event. A caution on lap 65 of the 100 lap event shuffled
the field with most of the front runners pitting including then race
leader Ted Christopher. Kevin Goodale elected not to pit and
inherited the lead when the field restarted. Goodale’s strategy
almost paid off when, with eight laps left, he spun, handing the
lead to Beers. Beers then held off Jimmy Blewett to take the win.
Goodale recovered to finish 13th. Bob Grigas III finished third and
was followed by Ronnie Silk, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld.
Rounding out the top ten were James Civali, Jon McKennedy, Ted
Christopher and Rowan Pennick. There were 19 cars in the field.
In SK type Modified action the field was trimmed to 15 cars. Jimmy
Blewett in his Eddie Partridge owned mount had been the class of the
field and on Friday night made it four out of six in World Series
competition. Josh Sylvester, for the third time, finished second.
Glen Griswold, Billy Anderson and Shelly Perry followed.
Todd Bodine held off a late push from Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson
to win the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman truck race at the Daytona
International Speedway on Friday night and picked up his first
victory at the Florida Super Speedway. The 2006 Craftsman Truck
Series champion passed Erik Darnell coming off pit road with about
13 laps to go, and then stayed out front the rest of the way to
claim the Chevy Silverado 250.
Jimmy Blewett finished out his tour of duty at the New Smyrna
Speedway World Series with dual championships, the Tour type
Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds. For his week under the stars in
Florida Blewett scored 3 Tour type wins and 5 SK type wins.
Congratulations are in order for the New Jersey driver as well as
his owners, Eddie Partridge Racing and Grasso Bros. Racing.
In the final night of racing, Saturday, there were sparse fields of
cars in both divisions. Ten Tour type Modifieds and 13 SK type
Modifieds were on hand. Ted Christopher, who had been shut out of
victory lane at New Smyrna since 2006 somewhat redeemed himself as
he took the checkered flag in the series ending 25 lapper for the
Tour Type Modifieds. Jon McKennedy drew the pole starting position
and led the event for the first 17 laps before being passed by
Christopher. Christopher no sooner had gotten by when McKennedy and
Andy Seuss tangled and wrecked hard! Christopher, although winless
up to that point was in contention for the series championship.
Blewett finished a conservative fifth and was able to sew up the
title despite Christopher’s win. Eric Beers finished second and was
followed by Chuck Hossfeld and Bob Grigas.
The SK type Modifieds were supposed to go 50 laps but because of a
short field had their distance shortened to 30. Jimmy Blewett
started on the outside pole and before one lap was completed blew
away pole sitter Shelly Perry for the lead and eventual win. Glen
Griswold ended up second and was followed by Eric Goodale, Butch
Perry and Jim Zacharrias. Shelly Perry faded to finish in 11th spot.
Ryan Newman snapped an 81-race winless streak Sunday, using a huge
push from teammate Kurt Busch to give car owner Roger Penske his
first Daytona 500 victory. Penske, the most successful owner in
open-wheel history with 14 wins in the prestigious Indianapolis 500,
now has a victory in NASCAR's showcase event. In a
green-white-checker finish Newman pulled away for his first win
since New Hampshire in September 2005, while pre race favorite Tony
Stewart had to settle for third. Kurt Busch finished second.
The Sprint Cup, the Nationwise Series and the Craftsman Truck Series
head for Fontana CA this weekend. Don Lia, the 2007 Whelen Modified
Tour Series Champion will make his maiden voyage in the TRG
Motorsports Chevy Truck this Saturday.
The Hartford Courant reported on Feb 12 that Griswold, CT commercial
developer Gregory Mackin had signed an agreement with Terry Eames to
buy the Waterford Speedbowl property. Evidently the Courant jumped
the gun as property owner Eames stated there had been discussions
with several parties interested in buying the Speedbowl and one of
them was associated with Jerry Robinson. In Eames’ own words. “There
has been no agreement signed with anyone regarding the track
changing hands. Nor have any deposits been taken toward such a
sale”. The property was a go as far as being a race track in 2008
but beyond that, was still in question.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail is