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Friday February 5, 2010
 

By Phil Smith

Forty five years ago in 1965 Goodyear introduced their new Lifeguard Inner Tire for cars in competition at the Daytona International Speedway. The inner tire was designed to eliminate the loss of control when the outer tire loses air because of a puncture or from being worn out. Among those who were missing at Daytona was Richard Petty who decided to try Drag Racing because the Chrysler Corp pulled out of racing because NASCAR would not allow the Hemi engine to compete.

Thirty five years ago in 1975, the Modifieds were not part of the New Smyrna World Series. They were, however, a part of Speedweeks as they were scheduled to race on the road course of the Daytona Speedway.

Thirty years ago in 1980, Geoff Bodine led a full field of 39 entries to win the opening night event at New Smyrna. Maynard Troyer was a pre race favorite but blew his Hutter big block power plant. Gary Balough finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Doug Hewitt, Merv Treichler and Jerry Cook. Nite no.2 saw Evans take the top spot with Bodice, second. George Kent finished third and was followed by Leo Cleary and Brett Bodine. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt led a multi car draft that overhauled Darrell Waltrip on the last lap of the Busch Clash. Evans made it two in a row at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Bodine and Balough wrecked as George Kent went on to finish second. Junior Handley finished third.

Twenty five years ago in 1985,opening night at New Smyrna had to be cancelled because of a brown out. Saturday at Daytona, Bill Elliott blistered the 2-1/2 mile oval as he took the 500 pole with a speed of 205.114mph.Terry Labonte started 11th in the 12 car Busch Clash and beat Darrell Waltrip by less than a second. All was well at New Smyrna on Saturday night as Jim Spencer took the win over Doug Hewitt. On Sunday night at New Smyrna, Reggie Ruggerio was not to be denied as he out ran Charlie Jarzombek to the win. Tomaino finished third and was followed by Hewitt, Spencer, Evans and Dick Trickle.

Twenty years ago in 1990, Reggie Ruggiero, in the Mario Fiore No.44 was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Tony Jankowiac finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Night No.2 at New Smyrna rained out. At the Daytona Speedway on Saturday, Ken Schrader took the Daytona 500 pole and also was the winner of the Busch Clash. Dale Earnhardt took the outside pole for the 500 and Greg Sacks finished second in the clash. Sunday night at New Smyrna, Tom Baldwin had it all together as he romped to victory Tomaino finished second with Jankowiac finished third.

Fifteen years ago in 1995, Tiger Tom Baldwin was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Bruce Dell and Tom Cravenho. Baldwin made it two in a row as he won again on Saturday night. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Ewanitsko, Bob Park and Eric Beers. At Daytona on Sunday, 51 Winston Cup Cars attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 pole. Dale Jarrett took the top spot with a speed of 193.494 mph. Dale Earnhardt was the outside pole sitter. Brett Bodine and car owner Junior Johnson was barred from qualifying after NASCAR discovered an illegal intake manifold. In addition, Johnson was fined $45,000.It was also announced that Randy Lajoie and Bill Davis were fined $35,000 when it was discovered they had a hydraulic device that raised and lowered rear deck of their car. Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash. At New Smyrna on Sunday night, Ted Christopher broke Baldwinís streak.

Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Tim Connolly and Wayne Anderson.

Ten years ago in 2000, thirty-six Modifieds showed up for opening night at New Smyrna. Ted Christopher started eighth and despite getting drilled by Jim Willis on the start, took the opening night win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak and Jim Willis. Night number two saw Beers take the win over Pasteryak, Christopher and Tomaino. Sunday at Daytona saw the team cars of Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd take the front row starting spots for the Daytona 500.Jarrett also won the Bud Shootout consi and the Bud Shootout. Christopher took the lead from Pasteryak on lap 7 of the 25-lap feature and went on to score his second series win at New Smyrna on Sunday night Pasteryak finished second with Tomaino, third. It was also made public that Don Hoenig filed an eviction notice against Butch Davis and Brian LaForte in attempt to regain control of the Thompson Speedway.

Five years ago in 2005, Speedweeks in Florida shifted into high gear. The 39th Annual New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Speedway Racing got the green on Friday night, February 11, for nine consecutive nights on the high banked Ĺ mile asphalt track. Tour type and SK-type Modifieds from the Northeast were in competition along with Super Late Models, Late Models, Florida Modifieds, Mini-Stocks and Strictly Stocks.
 
Opening night at New Smyrna greeted fans and competitors with chilly conditions with temperatures in the mid 40s. Thirty three Modifieds, including seventeen SK types were on hand. Separate features, 25 laps for the Modifieds and 15 laps for the SKs. Pole sitter Tim Arre jumped out to an early lead as he led the first nine laps. The field had just completed three laps when Long Islander Glenn Tyler spun out. On the restart, Ted Christopher who had started 8th, spun out and pitted for a chassis adjustment. Christopher rejoined the field without losing a lap. Don Lia, who started seventh, took the lead from Arre on lap 10. Shortly after that Charlie Pasteryak hit the wall. Lia withstood five restarts before running out of gas on the 19th lap. Adding insult to injury Lia suffered a flat tire during a pit stop for fuel. Christopher inherited the lead and went on to record the win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Arre, Kevin Goodale and JR.

Swansbrough. Chris Jones won the SK Modified feature over Mike Holdredge. Christopher also finished third in the Super Late Model feature.

Night No.2 at New Smyrna saw 22 Modifieds and 13 SKs on hand. Charlie Pasteryak got patched up and made the field for the Modified feature but others who got banged up on opening night werenít as fortunate. Chuck Hossfeld started third and took the win after passing pole sitter Curtis Truex Jr. Truex faded in the late going and ended up finishing in 7th spot. Eric Beers recorded another runner-up finish with Ted Christopher, third. Kevin Goodale and Charlie Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Don Lia, who had high hopes of dominating the series continued to have problems as he was the victim of a spin-out and ended up in 12th spot. Mike Holdredge took the SK Modified win. Friday nightís winner Chris Jones finished 10th. In the Super Late models, Ted Christopher recorded a fifth.

Jimmie Johnson won the Busch Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night by 0.199 seconds, averaging 181.399 miles an hour. The victory was worth $212,945, Ryan Newman, who finished second, picked up $112,445. Jeff Gordon was third in a Chevrolet followed by Tony Stewart's Chevrolet and Greg Biffle's Ford Taurus. Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Bush was sixth in a Chevrolet with fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh. Earnhardt had ignition and handling problems. A crowd estimated at 85,000 watched the race in chilly conditions at Daytona. There were five lead changes among six drivers. Greg Biffle led the most laps in the race, one time for 44 laps. Johnson led the final 16.

Last year, 2009, after a long snowy winter in the northeast many race fans and competitors packed their bags and headed to Florida for the annual Speedweeks. The New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Auto Racing began on Friday night. Temperatures were in the 50ís most of the day but once the sun went down it got quite chilly. When the Modifieds took the green for their feature at 20 minutes to 11 it was 30 degrees Jimmy Blewett was the opening night Modified winner of what ended up being a rolling 25 lap demolition derby. Starting in ninth spot, Blewett took the lead after a lap 17 confrontation with Matt Hirschman. Hirschman and Blewett were racing quite hard for the lead when they came together on the backstretch. Hirschman rode the backstretch wall into turn three and suffered significant damage to his car which had to be double hooked off the track. Race Director Richard Brooks felt the incident was the result of hard racing and took no action against Blewett. He did, however take action against Ted Christopher following an incident on lap 21. Christopher dove under Jon McKennedy going into turn four. McKennedy hit turn four wall a ton. Christopher was penalized and sent to the back of the pack for over aggression on the track. After almost an hour the checkered flag flew on lap 25. Blewett won and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio, Bobby Grigas, Eric Goodale and Christopher.

Because of the lateness of the hour, 12:30am, officials shortened the SK type feature to 15 laps. Jimmy Blewett went pole to pole to record his second feature win of the night. Grigas and Kenny Horton followed.

Matt Hirschman and his crew completely rebuilt their damaged racer, finishing it just in time for night #2 at New Smyrna. Their efforts paid off as Hirschman put his car in victory lane after going pole to pole in the 25 lap Tour type Modified feature. Opening night winner Jimmy Blewett lost control of his mount on the first lap and hit the wall. With minimal damage Blewett restarted in the rear of the 22 car field and was able to salvage a ninth place finish. Ted Christopher ended up in second spot after trading positions with Chuck Hossfeld with eight laps to go. Hossfeld settled for third and was followed by Kevin Goodale, Jon McKennedy and Bob Grigas. The Modified feature was completed shortly after 8:00pm, a sharp improvement from the opening night. Temperatures were a little more tolerable as the thermometer stayed around the 50 degree mark.

Jimmy Blewett went from an eight starting spot to take the lead in the third lap as he cleaned house for the second night in a row in SK type Modified competition. Bob Grigas finished second with Kenny Horton, third.

The Tour type and SK type Modifieds did not race on Sunday night.

One of the big issues so far at the Florida Speedweeks had been the fans, or the lack of them to be exact. The economy of this country was not good and many people had been laid off from their jobs. The Busch Clash saw a lot of empty seats at the Daytona International Speedway. During Sundayís Daytona 500 qualifying the grandstands were virtually empty. In past years these events drew considerably better crowds.

Among the rumors circulating at New Smyrna was that quite possibly Modified competitors who race at the same tracks on the same weekends as the NASCAR Cup cars may be forced to shod their cars with Goodyear rubber. According to reports, Goodyear is working on a wider tire for the Cup cars in order to put a little more excitement back in the division. Itís not fair to Hoosier Tire which has stepped up to supply the Modifieds and have never had a major problem with their tires. If in fact NASCAR mandates this it will only apply to events scheduled for Loudon and Bristol. In the past Cup competitors have wined that Modified rubber has messed up their set-ups.

The Waterford Speedbowl property was still scheduled to be foreclosed on by mortgage holder Rocco Arbitell on March 2. Despite all that, property owner Terry Eames continued to make plans for the upcoming season. With Arbitell foreclosing on the track things would be slightly different then if a bank were to foreclose on a property. A bank would accept the highest bid no matter what their future plans were. Arbitell does not have to accept any bids he just legally has to advertise an auction and hold it. He could refuse any amount of money which in turn would ultimately give him ownership and control of the facility.

It appeared that former track operator Jerry Robinson could be setting himself up for future problems with the Internal Revenue Service as he had not complied with federal law in sending out accurate 1099's to competitors. The law says that all tax forms are supposed to be postmarked by Feb. 2 (technically Jan. 31st, but since that was a Saturday, it was Feb. 2). In the case of 1099ís, if the amount indicated includes money that was never paid they are bogus. If Mr. Robinson failed to provide the necessary accurate forms he could end up paying a hefty fine to the IRS and could find himself in jail!
An insider in the know at NASCAR had hinted that the Waterford Speedbowl may not get a sanction unless the purse is paid from the 2008 Fall Finale. NASCAR was founded by Bill France Sr to protect competitors from promoters who ran off with gate receipts when they should have paid competitors. Evidently it doesnít make any difference who would be running the track in 2009. The competitors needed to be paid before the NASCAR banner goes up!

Despite all the uncertainty the Waterford Speedbowl released its 2009 schedule with more than 50 events planned.

Kevin Harvick powered past Jamie McMurray on the outside of the last lap Saturday night to grab a come-from-nowhere victory in the Budweiser Shootout. It was Harvick's first victory in 71 races, dating to the All-Star race in May 2007. The only other event he won that year was the season-opening 500, when he nipped Mark Martin in a photo finish. Harvick was winless in 2008. Harvick started 23rd in the Shootout, spent most of the race in the back dodging wrecks, then slowly worked his way up toward the front. McMurray seemed headed for the win until a late wreck between Greg Biffle and David Stremme set up a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish. Harvick was in fourth on the restart, and didn't seem to have anything for McMurray. But as they closed in on the finish line, he used a huge push from Denny Hamlin to slide past McMurray on the outside. Harvick raced to the win as Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch all crashed behind him.

Martin Truex Jr won the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500, while Mark Martin qualified second. Truex and Martin locked in their spots during Sunday's qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. Only the top two spots were secured under the complicated qualifying process for the Feb. 15 race, and the rest of the field would be set by a pair of 150-mile races Thursday. Truex earned the pole by turning a lap at 188.001 mph in a Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. The team is a merged effort of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, organizations that joined up in late November when sponsorship difficulties threatened their race teams. Martin, meanwhile, turned a lap at 187.817 in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. The 50-year-old veteran is returning to full-time racing after running a partial schedule the previous two years.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos of Geoff Bodine who was just inducted into the New Engalnd Auto Racers Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Photos from the Danny Pardi Collection
Click on Photo for Full Size

Thatís 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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