Friday July 27, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, the All Star League paid a Wednesday night visit to the Wall Stadium in Belmar, N.J. Gene Bergin took the 100 lap win over Eddie Flemke, Tommie Elliott, Ernie Gahan, Bill Wimble and Don Stives. It rained at Stafford and at the Albany Saratoga Speedways on Friday night. Spencer Speedway managed to get their races in with Merv Treichler taking the win. Saturday night action saw Rene Charland make it two in a row at Fonda as he won over Don Wayman and Maynard Forette. Dutch Hoag continued his win streak at Fulton and at Riverside Park Jerry Humiston took the win. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Bill Wimble took the win over Dave Lape, Richie Evans, Dick Clark and Rene Charland.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, Georgie Summers in the Ken Curley No.31 was the top dog at Seekonk on Friday night. Brian Ross finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. At Malta, Bugsy Stevens outran Jerry Cook and Richie Evans for the win. Saturday night at Stafford belonged to Fred DeSarro as he put Len Boehler’s Ole Blu in victory lane. Eddie Flemke finished second and was followed by Denis Giroux, Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Turner. At Fonda, Jack Johnson was building on his legend as he took another win, this time over Maynard Forette,Dave Lape and Jerry Cook. At Islip, Richie Gomes took the win and in double features at Utica-Rome, Dave Lape and Lou Lazzaro took the top spots.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Bugsy Stevens held off Ronnie Bouchard to take a hard fought win at Stafford on Friday night. Ray Miller, Geoff Bodine and Eddie Flemke rounded out the top five. At Monadnock, Dynamite Ollie Silva cleaned house as he won out over Pete Fiandaca and Bob Karvonen. Riverhead was also running on Friday. Charlie Jarzombek out-dueled Fred Harbach for the win at the eastern Long Island oval. George Summers,in the Frank Fedderici No.77 ruled the roost at Seekonk on Saturday night. Bobby Santos finished second with Brett Bodine,third. Veteran, Bob Stefanik mastered the Riverside Park oval despite a lot of heat from Geoff Bodine who had to settle for second. At Islip it was Tom McCann over Al Hansen and in Sunday night action at Thompson, Eddie Flemke came home the winner over Ray Miller and Leo Cleary. Other weekend winners were George Kent over Richie Evans at Shangri-La and Merv Treichler at Lancaster.

Twenty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks sheared the right front wheel off the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 during the running of Modified Madness at Stafford. A rain delay helped in making repairs and he was able to come back and take the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third. In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Kenny Bouchard and Sacks. At the Spencer Speedway, George Kent took the checker but failed tech inspection as he was found with an illegal gear. Doug Hewitt was awarded the win with Jerry Cook, second. Joe Tiezzi was the Saturday night winner at Waterford. Jerry Pearl and Moose Hewitt rounded out the top three. Ray Miller was the top dog at Riverside and at Oswego, Greg Sacks beat out Maynard Troyer for the win. At Seekonk, Eddie StAngelo got one for the hometown crowd as he took the win over Rick Donnelly and Gomer Taylor. George Brunnhoelzl won a 200 lapper at Islip over John Blewett Jr, Bill Park and Bob Park. At Shangri-La, twin features were on tap with Wayne Edwards and George Kent taking the top spots. Thompson closed out the weekend with a 30-lap feature which was won by Reggie Ruggiero over George Kent, Kenny Bouchard and Corky Cookman. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Geoff Bodine took the pole with a speed of 199.400 mph. Darrell Waltrip took the win. Bodine suffered with a broken windshield and finished 15th, three laps down.

Twenty years ago in 1987, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series visited the Riverside Park Speedway for a 150-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero was in top form as he put the Mario Fiore No.44 in victory lane. Tom Baldwin finished second with Mike McLaughlin, third. Ricky Fuller had himself a good weekend as he put the Don Lafountaine Number 66 in victory lane at Stafford on Friday and at Thompson on Sunday. At Waterford, crowd favorite Ronnie Rocco took the top spot over Ed Flemke Jr. and John Anderson. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Bill Elliott took the pole with a speed of 203.827 mph. Bill Elliott took the win with Davey Allison, second.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Riverside for a 150 lapper. Although in a different car, the Ed Cloce No.69, Reggie Ruggiero dominated like he owned the place as he took the win over Dan Avery and Donald “Satch” Worley. At Stafford on Friday night, Steve Chowanski hammered his way to the front as he beat out Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning for the win. At Waterford, Chris Jones was the modified winner and in the late models, Todd Ceravolo scored his first ever win. It was also on this weekend that NASCAR announced that they would no longer sanction the Race of Champions because the race organizer, Joe Gerber, had got himself in financial hot water.

Ten years ago in 1997, the Busch North Series visited the Stafford Speedway. Andy Santarre took the win and was followed by Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Tom Bolles and Stub Fadden. Bob Potter was the SK-Modified winner as he beat Steve Chowanski, Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning to the stripe. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series made the long tow to the Holland Speedway for a Saturday night event. Tim Connolly took his third win of the season as he put the Mystic Missile in victory lane at the conclusion of the 150-lap contest. Connolly took the lead on lap 96. Mike Stefanik, Charlie Pasteryak, Ed Flemke Jr, and Chris Kopec rounded out the top five. At Waterford, Jim Broderick took the lead from Dennis Gada on lap 19 of the 50-lap feature and went on to record his third win of the year. Tucker Reynolds ended up second with Jerry Pearl, third. Gada faded in the closing laps and ended up in fifth spot. At Riverside Park, Ted Christopher took the place by storm as he won the 50-lap feature on Saturday night. Dave Berube finished second with Brad Hietella, third. At Riverhead, John Fortin mastered the ¼ mile oval. In other matters, Penske and the International Speedway Corporation entered into an agreement to purchase the Homestead Speedway in Florida and on a sad note, Mrs. Anne LeSeur, wife of Speedway Scene publisher Val LeSeur, passed away.

Five years ago in 2002 The Thompson Speedway management and competitors continued to impress as they get their Thursday night events completed by 9:00 PM. On Thursday the grandstand was ¾ full as Bert Marvin got the best of Bo Gunning as he won his fourth of the season at the 5/8-mile oval. At Stafford on Friday night, dirty Dale Shaw did it again and got away scot-free as he won the Busch North Series 150 at Jack Arute’s oval. Running third with two to go, Dale Shaw got two for the price of one as he put the bumper to second place Dale Quarterly who in turn hit leader Andy Santarre, who ended up into the wall. Bill Anderson went pole to pole to win the SK-Modified 50 lapper and Jay Stuart was the late model winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Rob Janovic won the SK-Modified feature but it was Jeff Rocco who “stole” the show. On a dare from some friends, Rocco “borrowed” one of the cars being used in a stunt show and created a smoke show that all but drove all the mosquitoes out of southeastern Connecticut. The crowd loved it, as usually the stunt shows are boring. It was too bad that those who were part of the stunt show didn’t have a sense of humor as they dragged him from the car and beat on him. The Waterford Cops pretty much saved him as they cuffed him and stuffed him in back of a car. Meanwhile back at the races, Ron Yuhas finished second with Dennis Gada, Tom Fox and Jeff Pearl, rounded out the top five. Pete Daniels made it seven in a row at Claremont and on a sad note Booker T. Washington Jones passed away.

Last year was a busy one for competitors and fans in the southern New England region. The weekend started off on Wednesday when the True Value Modified Racing Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The event, Modified Madness, carried a purse of $31,000 and was sponsored by Viveiros Insurance. Forty-two competitors from nine states attempted to qualify for the 26-car event at the 1/3-mile Bay State oval, which drew the largest crowd of the season at the track, which has been in continuous operation since 1946.

Defending True Value Modified Racing Series champion Kirk Alexander started on the pole after winning his qualifying heat and led the first 30 laps while former NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion Ted Christopher gradually worked his way to second from his sixth place starting spot. Christopher pulled alongside Alexander and the pair raced wheel to wheel for several laps before the second of six cautions waved for a minor incident involving Jack Bateman on lap 34. Christopher, driving the Joe Brady No.00 took the lead on the restart and proceeded to pace the next 49 circuits with Alexander never less than a car length away. Andy Seuss passed Louie Mechalides for third three laps before the halfway mark, with Ed Brunnhoelzl III in fifth, ahead of Bobby Grigas, Rob Summers, Les Hinckley, and local favorites Vinnie Annarummo and Dick Houlihan. On lap 51, Hinckley got loose in turn three, resulting in a multi-car pileup that saw John Blewett III hitting the outside concrete nose-first. After a Brunnhoelzl spin triggered a lap 77 restart, Alexander hounded Christopher, looking for a way back around the leader. As the duo entered turn three on lap 83, Alexander put the bumper to the leader which resulted in Christopher spinning into the infield grass to bring out the final caution. The True Value Modified Racing Series officials chose not to penalize Alexander for the contact. Mechalides and Seuss ran a spirited battle for second during the final sprint to the checkers, but no one would catch Alexander, who claimed the $10,000 win. “I know,” the victor acknowledged, as many of the spectators voiced their displeasure at the outcome. “We were racing very hard out there. I got into him. I didn’t mean to, and I backed off and tried to let him save it, but he went around. I don’t like to win a race that way.” Mechalides earned $3,500 for his stellar runner-up effort while Seuss was equally pleased with his third place finish, worth $2,500. Chuck Hossfeld came from 26th to finish fourth, ahead of former Seekonk competitor Bobby Grigas, Cement Palace regular Vinnie Annarummo, and John McKennedy. Chris Pasteryak, Ryan Preece, and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top ten. Christopher ended up 13th. Defending race winner Donnie Lia was involved in a heat race crash and ended up among the 16 non-qualifiers.

At the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night, Joe Lemay scored his career first victory as the Sunoco Modifieds went pole to pole. Lemay ran to the victory nearly a half straightaway ahead of second place finisher Tom Cravenho Bert Marvin turned his early season bad luck around as he finished third. Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Pitkat took over the point lead with his finish. In the Pro Stocks Jeff Zuidema dodged a bullet in the Pro Stock main event to take down his third win of the season. After destroying his car the week before, Zuidema’s crew pulled out a potent back-up car, enabling Zuidema to score the victory. Rick Gentes made it two straight in the Late Models. Leo Oliviera of Raynham, MA became the third different winner in three weeks in the TIS Modified division and Shelly Perry scored her third Mini Stock victory of the season.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Holland Int. Speedway on Saturday night. There were 30 cars on hand which wasn’t bad considering the distance competitors had to travel. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Tony Hirschman ended a long dry spell as he scored his first victory of the season in the Paul Graff Trucking 100. Hirschman, driving the Kamco Supply Chevrolet, passed Todd Szegedy on lap 34 and led the rest of the race holding off challenges from Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik Hirschman started the race in the sixth position. He was in the Top-3 by lap 15, and was second by lap 24. He raced wheel to wheel with Szegedy for a couple laps before pulling ahead for good. It was the 35th career win for Hirschman and his second at Holland. He now trails Stefanik by 21 points in the race fore the series championship.Christopher held off a late race challenge by Mike Stefanik and finished second. Stefanik, who led the first 10 laps before giving way to Szegedy, was third in the Diversified Metals Chevrolet. Eddie Flemke, winner of the series last race at Holland, finished fourth in the Red Line Oil/Ron Bouchard Chevrolet. Jerry Marquis rounded out the Top-5 in the Reynolds Auto Wrecking Dodge.The race distance was increased to 117 laps as 27 laps of caution were run but only 10 counted toward the scheduled race distance of 100 laps.Second generation driver Matt Hirschman set fast time in qualifying to record his first Bud Pole Award. Jimmy Blewett was the Featherlite Most Improved Driver. Marquis collected the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award. Danny Sammons was the Rookie of the Race.

There were four cautions for 27 laps. Sixth through tenth were Szegedy, Sammons, Dick Houlihan, Jimmy Blewett and James Civali. The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Riverhead, N.Y.this coming Saturday on August 5.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the weather as violent thunderstorms hammered most of Connecticut on Friday night.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl led from start to finish and survived a number of restarts as he romped to victory in the 35-lap SK-Modified feature Saturday. It was his second victory of the season and the 21st career win for Pearl. Chris Pasteryak finished second with point leader Dennis Gada edging Rob Janovic for fourth. Point leader Tim Jordan won his fourth Late Model feature of the season. Other winners included Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Ken Cassidy in the 20-lap Mini Stock event. Mark Bakaj won the INEX 50-lap Legends National Qualifier.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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