Friday July 6, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday night with Gene Bergin in the M-6 taking the win over Fred DeSarro, Fred Harbach, Eddie Flemke and Tommie Elliott. At the Albany Saratoga Speedway Kenny Shoemaker took the top spot over Andy Romano, Bill Wimble, Don Wayman and Dick Clark. At Norwood Arena on Saturday night, Mr. Leo Cleary took top honors as he won the modified main event for the second week in a row. Fonda’s victory lane belonged to Bill Wimble as he out ran Dave Lape and Andy Romano for the win. Utica Rome ran their rained out 100 lapper from the week before and it was Eddie Flemke taking the win over Bill Wimble, Rene Charland, Don MacTavish and Ernie Gahan.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, Fred DeSarro had Len Boehler's Ole Blu in top form as he dusted the field at Malta on Friday night. Lou Lazzaro finished second. Ronnie Bouchard, Bobby Santos and Bugsy Stevens rounded out the top five. Stafford had a 150 planned for Saturday night but rain prevailed. At Islip, Charlie Jarzombek took the top spot and at Fonda it was Harry Peek over Lou Lazzaro and Don Wayman. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, favorite son Richie Evans with his Rusty Nail Special beat out Denis Giroux, Ron Newman, Bernie Miller and Jerry Cook. Waterford ran a 75 lap open competition event on Wednesday. Jerry Dostie took the win. Eddie Flemke finished second with Bob Potter, Dick Watson and Ronnie Bouchard rounding out the top five.

Thirty years ago in 1977, rain washed out Friday night racing at Stafford and Monadnock. Saturday night at Seekonk saw Bugsy Stevens take a 35 lap win over George Summers, George Murray and Ronnie Bouchard. At Westboro, Jim Landry took the top spot over Ken Bouchard and Butch Walch. The annual Riverside 500 saw Geoff Bodine and Bob Stefanik team up for the win. The team of Bob Polverari and Eddie Flemke finished second. At Islip a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier was on tap and it was invader, Richie Evans, stealing the thunder from the Long Island regulars. Gary Cretty finished second with Charlie Jarzombek, third and Jerry Cook, fourth. At Freeport, George Brunnhoelzl beat out Russ Klar and Eddie Brunnhoelzl and at Lancaster it was Maynard Troyer over Roger Treichler. In Sunday night action at Thompson, Geoff Bodine took the top spot over Ronnie Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens.

Twenty five years ago in 1982, after seven rain-outs in a row, Waterford Speedbowl promoter Dick Williams ran a Wednesday night event. Fifty laps,no points. Taking the win was Glynn Shafer in the Ron Yuhas No.6.Don Bunnell finished second with Moose Hewitt, Don Fowler and Joe Tiezzi rounding out the top five. At Stafford on Friday night, Reggie Ruggiero blasted his way to the front and beat Greg Sacks to the finish line. Kenny Bouchard finished third with Jerry Pearl,fourth. At New Egypt, John Blewett beat out Richie Evans for the win and at Spencer it was George Kent over Jerry Cook and Maynard Troyer. Fred Harbach made it two for two as he won at Riverhead on Friday night and at Islip on Saturday night. Saturday night at Waterford, it was dry for the first time since mid May. Jerry Pearl took the win over Randy Lajoie. At Seekonk, Gomer Taylor was the victor with George Savory and Eddie StAngelo in hot pursuit. Thompson ran twin 40's on Sunday with Kenny Bouchard and Greg Sacks sharing the glory. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Darrel Waltrip took the win.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Spencer Speedway ran a 100 lap NASCAR Modified championship event. Mike Mclaughlin took the win over Reggie Ruggiero, Kenny Bouchard, Jan Leaty and Jamie Tomaino. Double SK Modified Features were run at Stafford with Sonny O ‘Sullivan and Ted Christopher in victory lane. Christopher followed up his Stafford win with a victory at Waterford on Saturday night. At Riverside, it was Bob Polverari over Dan Avery and Mike Stefanik and at Riverhead; Dan Jivenelli took the top spot. In other Saturday night action, George Kent won out at Shangri-La over Randy Hedger. Oswego ran the Port City 150 on Sunday. Tony Hirschman rose to the occasion as he took the victory over George Brunnhoelzl and Ron Shepherd.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, rain washed out Friday night racing at Stafford and Saturday night racing at Waterford plus the Featherlite Modifieds at Loudon. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Rick Fuller and Chris Kopec and at Riverhead, Ed Brunnhoelzl beat out Bill Park for the win. Richard Petty, in his last appearance as a driver at the Daytona 400 and was a DNF.

Ten years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick won the 50 lap holiday program at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford, Todd Ceravolo recorded his fifth win of the season after passing Eric Berndt with 17 laps to go. Scott Spaulding finished second with Berndt, third. Reggie Ruggiero recorded his 89th career win at Riverside on Saturday night. Ted Christopher finished second. In Winston Cup action, John Andretti led the final 23 laps to win the Pepsi 400 at Daytona and in Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Randy Lajoie took the win.

Five years ago in 2002 the Fourth of July weekend started on Wednesday night with the NASCAR Featherlite Tour at Stafford for a 150-lap event. Ted Christopher went from pole to pole to win the event. Ed Flemke Jr. in the Hill Enterprises entry was the show as he came from the back twice to finish second. Rick Fuller, Jerry Marquis and Chris Kopec rounded out the top five. Bo Gunning won the companion 50 lap SK-Modified event. Jeff Malave survived a rough night at Thompson to take the win on Thursday night. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Kerry Malone, third. During the running of the event Eric Berndt rode over Bert Marvin after Marvin was brake checked by Ted Christopher. Christopher was later sent to the rear after he spun Bo Gunning into the wall. Christopher came from the rear and finished fourth ahead of Tom Bolles who rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher scored his 72nd career win at Stafford on Friday night. Christopher ‘s win tied him with all-time winner Bugsy Stevens. Lee Raceway ran an open competition modified event on Friday. Ed Flemke Jr. led from pole to pole to take the win over Charlie Pasteryak, Carl Pasteryak, Kirk Alexander and Matt Hirschman. At Waterford, Jeff Pearl started up front with a car that had been wrecked two weeks previous and went on to win the Saturday night feature at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada finished second and was followed by Rob Janovic and Ed Reed Jr. The Busch North Series was also on hand at Waterford and it was veteran Kelly Moore taking the win. At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, JR Bertuccio took the holiday 50 lapper over Wayne Anderson and Bill Park. Rounding out the weekend was the Race of Champions Tour event at the Adirondack Speedway in upstate New York. Eric Beers inherited the lead on lap 134 of the 150-lap event and went on to take the win. Ted Christopher was leading the event when he was turned into the fence while trying to block George Kent. Kent was sent to the rear. Jim Willis finished second with Rick Zacharis, third. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, the DEI cars continued to dominate as Michael Waltrip took the win. On a sad note, four spectators were injured after being struck by lightening.

Last year, 2006 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finally got to run the rained out Memorial Day Weekend, Connecticut Classic 150. John Blewett III has chosen not to chase tour points as he had indicated that he would like to annex the Wall Township Track Championship to his racing career. Blewett had no race conflictions on the Fourth of July as he traveled to Stafford Springs with his family owned Modified and earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series win of 2006. His win came at the expense of his brother Jimmy whom he passed for the lead with 15 laps to go in the 150-lap event. Donnie Lia finished third with Zach Sylvester and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five. John Blewett stopped for tires while the field was under caution on lap 65, Jimmy did not stop. He restarted the race in 10th and worked his way back to the front. Jimmy Blewett's second place finish in the Eddie Partridge/T.S Haulers entry gave the series a 1-2 by brothers for the first time since 2004. Calling the shots in the Partridge camp was Brad Lafountain.

Jimmy Blewett led the first 69 laps and swapped the lead with James Civali four times before John, who started 12th. made the pass for the win. Civali dropped out with ignition problems while running second on lap 101. Jimmy Blewett and Civali were among a handful of drivers who elected not to pit for fresh tires during the race.

There were 42 Modifieds on hand. Mike Stefanik was the Busch Pole sitter. Stefanik re-drew 6th spot while Ronnie Silk drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett drew the outside pole. Rookie Ron Yuhas got a scare on lap 23 when his car crashed into backstretch wall and caught fire. Yuhas emerged unhurt. Eric Berndt won the SK Modified 40 lapper, Tom Butler, the Late Model feature, Joseph Ferrigno, the Limited Late Models, Sean Foster the Limited Late Models, Chris Matthews, the SK Lights and Jeff Jolly, the DARE Stocks. Kenny Horton was disqualied from his runner-up finish in Tuesday night's SK Modified race at Stafford for failing to make weight. Also, Joey Ferrigno was stripped of his Limited Late Model victory after failing to meet wheel-base specs.

The clock began ticking as NASCAR announced several changes to its organization in relation to its Weekly and Regional racing programs. Greg Silbermann was named the Managing Director of Racing Operations, with a focus on the weekly and regional racing levels; Richard Buck was named Director of Touring Series; and Bob Duvall was named Director of Weekly Racing. The job security in these positions have not been very good. Tick-Tick-Tick!

The Thompson Speedway and the North East Midget Association paid tribute to Marvin Rifchin on Thursday night. The tire manufacturer had been a mainstay in auto racing for decades. Rifchin’s contributions to the sport of auto racing were felt in both oval track and drag racing. His notoriety comes from both his innovations with race tires and his generosity to the racing community. After being down on power and suffering through handling problems Todd Ceravolo had things go his way as he took the win in the Sunoco Modifieds. It was tough going right from the start. Jimmy Blewett was an early casualty as he parked the Eddie Partridge No.12 before one lap was completed. After a complete restart Ceravolo jumped out to an early lead. Jeff Malave and Bert Marvin brought out the caution shortly after the ten lap mark. Ceravolo continued to lead with Joe Lemay, second. Malave, who had restarted in the rear made a tremendous charge as he moved into the third spot on the final lap. Keith Rocco finished fourth with Tom Cravenho, fifth. Other winners were Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets, George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Dennis Perry in the Late Models, Danny Cates in the Limited Sportsman, Rick Blanchard in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of Woody Pitkat throwing a one-two punch on Friday night as he won the SK Modified 40 lapper and the Late Model 30 lapper. Pitkat and Bo Gunning staged a late race battle. The end result was Gunning spinning to the infield with two laps to go. Pitkat then had to hold off Chris Jones before recording the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Jones was Jeff Baral, Todd Owen, and Chris Osella. Pitkats Late Model win was his fourth of the year. Kyler Cafro and Kevin Gambacorta were both first time feature winners in the SK Light and Limited Late Model feature events respectively, and Stacey Botticello became the first repeat DARE Stock feature winner of the 2006 season.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the main topic of conversation is the impending foreclosure on the property by the Washington Mutual Bank, holders of the mortgage. The mortgage holder, T.H.E Enterprises (Terry Eames) had been trying to drum up revenue to keep the track afloat but has been unsuccessful. There had been individuals who had indicated that they would be interested in taking over the property and keep it as a race track. The big stumbling block is that Eames wants to be part of any management team that takes over. The Speedbowl was in it’s then current fix because of Eames’ management and it would not be good business to keep him around if and when the property is sold or foreclosed upon. Had it not been for the efforts of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi there would have been no 2006 season at the shoreline oval.

Rob Janovic Jr. became the season’s first two-time SK-Modified winner, besting point leader Dennis Gada by a car length in Saturday night’s 35-lap feature at Waterford Speedbowl. The first double winner came in the ninth race of the season. The other winners – Glenn Colvin (Late Models), Richard Staskowski (Sportsman) and Jeff Miller (Mini Stocks) won for the first time this season. A lap 29 restart, the second of the race, was the final challenge for Janovic. Getting the edge on the green, he got a great run out of two and was never challenged. Taking the lead four laps in, Janovic’s only other challenge came on a lap 12 restart against Chris Pasteryak. Colvin wound up the winner in a feature red-checkered by a horrendous crash involving five cars 12 laps short of the scheduled 30 laps. Contact between Bruce Thomas Jr. and Jay Stuart, running one-two, coming out of turn four started the crash. Jay Lozyniak went over Allen Coates and barrel-rolled several times before coming to a stop on his roof on the front stretch. Larry Goss was also involved. Colvin, the early leader, was running third in a tight bunch with Thomas and Stuart when the mayhem started. The Speedbowl management was seriously considering giving the Late Models at least a week of as an “Attitude Adjustment”

A bang from Jeff Gordon's bumper sent Matt Kenseth spinning out of the lead with four laps to go in regulation during Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, allowing Gordon to hold on in a two-lap overtime period to win his second race of the season and 75th of his career. In Busch Series racing, Casey Mears stretched the fuel and grabbed his first ever NASCAR win (at any level) at the Chicagoland Speedway. Carl Edwards finished second and trimmed 15 points from Kevin Harvick's lead.

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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