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 Friday July 7, 2006

Forty years ago in 1966 Eddie Flemke and the second generation of the Eastern Bandits took the top five spots at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Pete Hamilton took the win and was followed by Dennis Zimmerman, Flemke, Elton Hill and Rene Charland. At Fonda on Saturday night Bill Wimble broke the toe hold on Fonda’s victory lane that Jerry Cook held. Guy Chartrand finished second with Cook, third. Elton Hill won at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. Flemke finished second and was followed by Wimble, Charland and Cook. The NASCAR Grandnational Northern Tour visited the Bridgehampton Raceway on Long Island David Pearson took the win over James Hylton and Marvin Panch. Two days later they traveled to Oxford Plains where Bobby Allison scored his first Grandnational win. Rene Charland finished 15th, Fats Caruso finished 16th and Ernie Gahan was 19th.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, the Thompson Speedway dropped its NASCAR sanction for weekly Modified racing citing the fact that driver demands for increases in the race purse were too steep. In their place was the New England Supermodified Racing Association (NESMRA). Events were run with Modifieds and Supermodified running together. Big Don McClaren was the first winner of the new Friday night series. Meanwhile many of the New England NASCAR modified hot shoes headed up the Mass. Pike to the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Bugsy Stevens won the Friday night event over Fred DeSarro, Guy Chartrand, Ken Cannestrari and Eddie Flemke Sr. While most of the New England contingent headed home Eddie Flemke elected to stay in New York State for a 200 lapper at Fulton Raceway. Flemke’s choice ended up being a wise won as he took the win over Dave Hafner, Gary Cornelious, Ronnie Wallace and Ben Stephens. Waterford winners were Bob Potter and Dick Watson. Because of the holiday weekend, Stafford ran on both Saturday and on Monday. On Saturday night, Ernie Gahan led the way over Ray Miller, Bob Melnick and Hop Harrington. Stevens, who had won at Malta the previous night, experienced mechanical problems and finished 18th.Stevens bounced back from his set back at Stafford to make it an almost perfect weekend as he won a 100 lapper at Utica-Rome on Sunday night and a 150 lap Fourth of July Classic on Monday at Stafford. At Utica-Rome, home town favorite Bernie Miller finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Dave Lape and Jerry Cook. Leo Cleary finished second at Stafford with Hop Harrington, Jerry Cook and Bernie Miller rounding out the top five. Saturday night action at Fonda saw Lou Lazzaro take the top spot over Dave Lape. The All Star League paid a visit to Islip on Wednesday night with Jerry Cook taking the 100 lap win over Richie Evans, Merv Treichler and Rene Charland.

Thirty years ago in 1976, rain washed out Thursday night action at New Egypt. Friday night at Riverhead, Jim Tyler took the win over Charlie Jarzombek. At Islip on Saturday, Tyler finished third behind Fred Harbach and Greg Sacks. Geoff Bodine was again the top dog at Stafford as Ron Bouchard and Bob Vee, followed. Other Saturday night winners included Leo Cleary at Westboro, Bob Potter at Waterford and Bob Polverari at Riverside. Geoff Bodine was out to make it four out of five at Thompson when a power blackout ruined his chances as the racing was cancelled for the evening.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Monadnock ran an open competition event on Wednesday night. Forty Modifieds were on hand. Home track favorite Punky Caron took the win after Ronnie Bouchard dropped out with engine problems while leading at the half way mark. Kenny Bouchard finished second and was followed by John Rosati, Kirby Monteith and Reggie Ruggiero. At Stafford on Friday night, promoter Ed Yerrington announced that the weekly modified purse was increased to $11,900.A crowd of 7130 was on hand as Reggie Ruggiero took the 30 lap main event. Ronnie Bouchard finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Bob Polverari and Ray Miller. Other Friday night winners were Jerry Cook at Spencer and Jamie Tomaino at New Egypt. Double features were run at Waterford on Saturday night. Bob Potter and George "Moose" Hewitt shared top honors. At Seekonk it was Bugsy Stevens over Eddie St Angelo and Rick Donnelly and at Westboro, Jeff Fuller in the Tiger Tom Dunn T-5 won out over Corky Cookman and Mario "Fats" Caruso. Richie Evans won a 200 lapper at Riverside over Reggie Ruggiero and Jerry Cook and on Long Island, at Islip; it was Charlie Jarzombek leading the way to victory lane over Wayne Anderson and Tom Baldwin. At Lancaster, Roger Treichler got his fourth win of the season over Billy Colton. Richie Evans capped off the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday over Brian Ross and Larry Record. In Busch Grandnational action at South Boston, Geoff Bodine took the win.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Spencer Speedway started off the weekend with a mod tour event on Thursday. Jeff Fuller took the win over Jim Spencer, Jan Leaty, Brian Ross and Tony Hirschman. At Stafford on Friday night, Jamie Tomaino won the July 4th 100 lapper George Brunnhoelzl Jr finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Also on Friday night, New Egypt ran a Race of Champions qualifier which was won by Jim Spencer. Saturday night saw Bob Potter over Mark LaJeunesse at Waterford, Stan Greger over Bob Polverari at Riverside, Don Howe at Riverhead and George Kent winning double features at Shangri-La. The action shifted to Oswego on Sunday for the running of the Port City 150.Mike McLaughlin took the 75 lap win over Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and George Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action at the Daytona 400,Tim Richmond took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, the Connecticut Department of Motor vehicles announced that because of budget cuts, they would not be able to provide inspectors at racing events over the holiday weekend and track promoters would not be allowed to operate, thus shutting them down. Stafford Speedway owner Jack Arute was very adamant over the fact that Stafford would not shut down as he would go to jail first. Arute stood tall but it was all for nothing as it rained at Stafford on Friday. Arute did prove a point as Waterford ran on Saturday night. Bert Marvin was the winner. The Modified Tour was at Jennerstown where Mike Stefanik took the win over Bob Park. Other Saturday night action saw Jerry Marquis over Stan Gregger at Riverside and Bill Park over Don Howe at Riverhead.

Ten years ago in 1996, Richard Armstrong passed away after a long battle with cancer. Armstrong owned Modifieds driven by Ray Hendrick, Hop Harrington, Freddie Schulz, Geoff Bodine and Ronnie Bouchard. Armstrong’s Modifieds driven by Bodine won a record 55 races in 1978.Armstrong was also the President of the New England Drivers and Owners Club. Armstrong fought numerous battles with track promoters and NASCAR and did a lot to improve race purses. The Modifieds could use someone like Armstrong today! Steve Chowanski and Steve Park won twin 50's at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford, Mike Gada held off Jim Broderick and Jeff Pearl. Tom Fox got his 46th career late model win. Riverside ran a 100 lapper with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Dan Avery and Steve Park. Mike Ewanitsko was the winner of the Riverhead holiday program. Don Howe finished second with Bill Park, third. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Sterling Marlin won the rain shortened Pepsi 400.Terry Labonte finished second in the event which went 117 laps of the scheduled 160.In Busch GN action at Milwaukee, Buckshot Jones took the win after Dick Trickle spun out with three laps to go.

Five years ago in 2001, Lee ran an open competition Modified event on Friday night which drew 37 Modifieds. Rob Summers took the win over Doug Meservy and Eric Beers. Those on hand said there was lots of rough stuff and spot stealing going on during the event. Todd Szegedy was the SK Modified winner at Stafford over Curt Brainard and Lloyd Agor. Dennis Gada got his fifth win of the season at Waterford on Saturday night. Ed Dachenhausen finished second. Joe Hartmann went pole to pole as he won a 50 lapper at Riverhead over Howie Brode and Don Lia. Down at the Jersey shore, Dave Michael won at Wall Stadium. Tioga presented the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lap event which was won by Zane Zeiner. In Winston Cup action at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona Beach, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip finished one-two. Tony Stewart was given the black flag after he drove below the yellow line after being moved down by Johnny Benson. Stewart lost his temper in post race confrontations with NASCAR and a southern reporter and was fined $10,000 and put on probation in addition to be required to apologize to NASCAR and the reporter for his actions.

Last year, 2005, The Fourth of July weekend got its start at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Ted Christopher, who had been winless in two previous tries, got it all together to take his first win of the year in the Sunoco Modifieds. Christopher dodged an opening lap tangle to take an early lead and the eventual win. For the season which has seen him run in 42 different events the Thompson victory was his 13th win overall for 2005. Bert Marvin turned in a strong showing to finish second with Kerry Malone, third. Bo Gunning finished fourth with Todd Ceravolo, fifth. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Ben Seitz in the NEMA Midgets, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Chris McGee in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman, Terry Boudreau in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the TIS Modifieds.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain on Friday night. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made up their rained out Haynes 150 from Memorial Day weekend on Sunday night. Ted Christopher took the win after taking the lead with three laps to go. Doug Coby in the Curt Chase No.77 dominated almost the entire event only to lose it due to worn tires. Coby ended up third behind Chuck Hossfeld. Jamie Tomaino and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ronnie Silk was the SK Modified winner while Carla Boticello won in the DARE Stocks and Mike Quintiliano won the Late Model feature.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Ron Yuhas survived an early race accident and came back to record his second SK Modified victory of the 2005 season. In what turned into a marathon session of close to 90 minutes for the 35 lap feature, Yuhas’ crew did some thrashing and was able to make the necessary repairs to get him back in action. Yuhas made a bold outside move with two laps to go to take the lead from Ted Christopher. It was Christopher’s race to lose and had it not been for a right rear tire going flat the outcome would have been different. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Jay Miller originally finished third but was disqualified when his car failed to meet ride height requirements. Diego Monahan ended up fourth with Christopher, fifth. Allen Coates made it two in a row in the Late Models and Vinnie Esposito was declared the winner of the Legands feature after Len Beebe was disqualified. Al Stone was the Sportsman winner and Bill Leonard won in the Mini Stocks.

While rumors of doom and gloom continue to circulate concerning the demise of the Waterford Speedbowl and the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island word comes of an impending project that could result in increased racing activity on Long Island. Top Gun Sports and Entertainment was proposing multi-venue motorsport and entertainment facility in Yaphank which is in Suffolk County. The complex which would include a ¾ mile oval with a 3/8 or ¼ mile oval inside would also include a drag strip is adjacent to the Grucci fireworks plant, the Firematic training facility and the County prison farm. In a somewhat related announcement one of the Waterford Speedbowl owners, Terry Eames told the New London Day that there had been no decision made by a proposed developer on an option to buy the Speedbowl property.

Tony Stewart made it two in a row in Nextel Cup competition as he won the rain delayed Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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