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Friday July 25, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                


Lou Lazzaro-Photo Credit: Turn 5 Photo & Video

Forty years ago in 1968, the All Star League visited Fonda on Wednesday night. Lou Lazzaro made it three in a row as he took the 100-lap win. Jerry Cook finished second with Ron Narducci, third. Stafford fell victim to rain on Friday night It stayed dry at Malta where Eddie Pieniezek took the win over Richie Evans, Bob Bruno, Jerry Cook and Bernie Miller. At Norwood on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens took the win. Jerry Cook beat out Andy Romano and Dick Clark at Fonda and at Fulton, Maynard Troyer got his first of 45 wins at the upstate New York track. Ernie Caruso collected the checker at the Riverside Park Speedway. The Bugman continued his win streak as he won at Thompson on Sunday night and at Utica-Rome, Ken Platt was a surprise winner over Al Tomasi, Lou Lazzaro, Maynard Forette and Dick Clark.

Thirty five years ago in 1973, Albany-Saratoga ran on Wednesday night. Jerry Cook took the win over Richie Evans and Maynard Forette. Friday at Albany-Saratoga, Evans took the win with Eddie Pieniezak, second. On Saturday at Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard made it four in a row. At Tioga, it rained. Evans carried his winning ways over to Utica-Rome where he won the Sunday night feature. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Andy Romano.

Thirty years ago in 1978 Geoff Bodine continued his domination of the Yankee All Star League as the mid week series visited Stafford. New Egypt ran the same night with Richie Evans taking the win. Bodine continued his roll as he returned to Stafford on Friday night to take another win. Evans finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. At Riverhead it was Charlie Jarzombek over Greg Sacks and Tom Baldwin and at Spencer, Mark Newton took the win. On Saturday at Waterford, Dick Dunn beat out Moose Hewitt and Bob Potter and at Seekonk Ronnie Bouchard hit the stripe ahead of Eddie StAngelo. Islip saw Don Howe in victory lane over Jarzombek and Baldwin and at Riverside, Richie Evans held off Stan Greger for the win. Evans took another at Utica-Rome on Sunday and at Thompson, Fred DeSarro inched out a win over Leo Cleary.

Twenty five years ago in 1983, Superman Greg Sacks was invincible as he won the Tuesday night Modified Madness at Stafford. Riverside ran on Wednesday with S.J.Evonsion beating out Stan Greger. At New Egypt it was Richie Evans. Bugsy Stevens took a popular win at Stafford on Friday night, holding off Kenny Bouchard and at Spencer, Doug Hewitt and Jim Spencer finished one-two. Saturday night at Waterford, Tommy Fox went pole to pole and won his first Modified event. Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished second. At Seekonk it was Leo Cleary and in Winston cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond was the pole sitter and the race winner.

Twenty years ago in 1988, John Jensen was the SK Modified winner at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second. Potter rebounded to win the Saturday night feature at Waterford. Riverside ran twin features with John Rosati and Reggie Ruggiero taking the checkers. On Long Island, at Riverhead, Bob Park took the win. The Modified tour was at Thompson on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took the win over Rick and Jeff Fuller.

Fifteen years ago this week in 1993, Riverside Park hosted the Modified Tour Series on Wednesday night. Ricky Fuller started on the pole and led the entire 150-lap distance and took the win. Ed Flemke jr. finished second with Jeff Fuller, third. Pre race favorites Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggerio wrecked and dropped out early. Friday night at Stafford saw Steve Chowanski win and on Saturday at Waterford, Ronnie Rocco went pole to pole for the win with Bob Potter, second. Lennie Fischer won at Riverhead and on a sad note, upstate New Yorker, Eddie Pieniezak passed away at the age of 60.

Ten years ago, in 1998, it was a busy week. Riverside ran a triple-header on Tuesday. Mike Ewanitsko, Todd Ceravolo and Ed Carroll each pocketed $5,000 for their respective wins. At Stafford on Friday, Mike Stefanik won the BGNN 150 by one foot over Rick Fuller and Tom Carey. Bob Potter was the SK winner over Bo Gunning. Stefanik traveled to Holland N.Y. on Saturday where he recorded his eighth victory of the season. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Tim Connolly, third. Bill Anderson won at Riverside and at Riverhead, JR Bertuccio recorded his first win. Mike Christopher won on Sunday at Thompson. Three spectators were killed during the CART 500 when tires and suspension parts went over a 15-foot fence after an accident. Jeff Gordon was the Winston Cup winner at Pocono and in BGN action at South Boston, Tim Fedawa took the win.

Five years ago in 2003, in Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher had luck on his side as he dodged numerous wrecks to record his second win of the year at the fast 5/8-mile oval. Kerry Malone led the early going until an over aggressive Jeff Malave put the leader into the wall on lap 6. Track officials felt that Malave’s move was deliberate and put him to the rear of the field. Ron Yuhas Jr. then held the lead until lap 20 of the 30-lap feature. After a re-start, Christopher got under Yuhas to take the lead and went on to record the win. In the mean time Male worked his way back to the front. His night ended after an encounter with Todd Caravel. Male hit the wall. After making repairs, Malave was able to re-start and ended up finishing in seventh spot. Yuhas ended up in second spot and was followed by Ceravolo, Eric Berndt, Bert Marvin and Bobby Santos III. Other Thursday night winners at Thompson were Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks, Jeff Plakias in the Late Models, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini-Stocks. At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night double SK-Modified features were run. Chris Jones ended a long dry spell as he garnered his first victory since September 1998. Jones passed Todd Owen on a lap 10 re-start and went on to lead the remaining 40 laps. Kerry Malone finished second and was followed by Ron Silk, Chuck Docherty and Lloyd Agor. Defending track champion Bo Gunning crashed out of the first event and after bringing out a back up, won the nite-cap over Jim Civali, Willie Hardie, Frank Ruocco and Mike Holdredge. Ryan Posocco won a special 100-lap event presented for the track’s late models. The Busch North Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Kelly Moore took the win after Matt Kobyluck had set fast time and led the first 54 laps before crashing out of the event after an encounter with a lapped car while under caution. Mike Stefanik ended up in second spot. In SK Modified action at the shoreline oval Chris Pasteryak recorded his first ever-modified win. Ed Reed Jr. ended up second after Dennis Gada, who crossed the finish line in second spot was penalized and put last on the lead lap for ignoring the black flag. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished third. John Fortin got his second win at Riverhead and Tim Arre took the win at Wall Township.

The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour series traveled to the Adirondack Speedway in up state New York. Despite threatening weather and one red flag period the tour prevailed and the event became history. Chuck Hossfeld was the Busch pole sitter and drew sixth starting spot. Tony Hirshman drew the pole and led the first 97 laps. Hossfeld led from lap 98 to 123 and race winner Todd Szegedy led from lap 124 to lap150. Szegedy, who started 17th, was forced to pit during a caution on lap 44 with a flat. The field had just resumed to move after a red flag for rain. Ed Flemke Jr. had his best finish in quite a while as he finished second, four seconds behind the winner. Flemke, who started 24th, mustered a late race charge that saw him go from eighth to second in the final 45 laps. Jan Leaty started 16th and passed Hossfeld on the final lap to finish third. Hossfeld and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Nine caution periods kept the field slowed for 53 of the scheduled 150 laps. It was a very competitive event as 15 of the original 32 starters finished in the top ten.

In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Ryan Newman was the Busch Pole sitter. Newman took the lead from Jim Spencer with 43 laps to go as he went on to take the win. Kurt Busch finished second. Scott Wimmer was the Busch Racing Series winner at Pikes Peak.

Last year, 2007. Once again the Waterford Speedbowl avoided the bullet of foreclosure that was scheduled for Saturday, July 28, 2007 at noon. Property owner Terry Eames finally consummated a deal with Harvey Industries late in the week in which he sold 8 acres of the Speedbowl property for $1.6 million. Before he could take the money and run, the town of Waterford had a lien on the property that had to be satisfied. Eames was forced to pay the town $188,176 for back and current taxes, as well as $29,976 for police protection that he owed. To stop the actual foreclosure Eames secured a private loan from Rocco Arbitell of Southbury and Peter Borelli of Derby, which allowed Eames and his holding company 1080 Hartford Road to pay off its debt to Washington Mutual of Seattle. Washington Mutual, a Seattle-based bank, had originally planned to foreclose on the property because of a $1.7 million mortgage debt. The 38.75-acre property is valued at $2.2 million. Arbitell is the owner of Arbitell Convenience Stores and Famous Uncle Al's Hot Dogs.

Now that Eames had over $1 million in his bank account hopefully he would continue to pay his bills and satisfy his debt to Arbetill and Borelli. History says in a year or two it would be the same old story again! I hope I’m wrong on that one.
The National Speed Sport News, considered one of the leading auto sports trade publications, recently announced that the New York Post ran an expose on former Staten Island borough president Guy Molinari. In the story the Post stated that Molinari was paid $1.5 by the International Speedway Corporation for his help in gaining government approval for the now abandoned proposed ISC Speedway that was to be built on Staten Island in New York City. Molinari’s Public Relations firm, The Molinari Group, was paid an additional $35, 000 per month from June of 2004 to December 2006. ISC, which paid $100million for the 440 acres that would house the proposed track was forced to abandon the project after fierce opposition from taxpayers. ISC then hired a guy named Peter Vallone for $12,500 a month to help sell the partially oil contaminated property. One would have to guess that Terry Eames probably wishes that he were Buds with these guys!

Mark Mockovak was terminated as Media Coordinator of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. No replacement had been named at that time. After 14 years on the job, Mark and all the help he had been to us all would surely be missed. Mockovak put his heart and soul into promoting the Whelen Modified Tour Series but evidently someone in Daytona Beach didn’t like him.
 
In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett of Howell, NJ, held off a stellar field of Sunoco Modified competitors to score his third win of the season. Dave Berghman of Seekonk, MA, led flag-to-flag in the Pro Stock 50-Lapper to score the popular victory. In other full-fendered action, Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, scored a dramatic win to earn what appeared to be his fifth triumph of the 2007 season. Joe Arena of Kensington took down top honors in the Limited Sportsman division. Roger Larson, Jr. of Milford, MA, and Mike Romano of Pascoag, RI, were victorious in the TIS Modifieds and Mini Stocks respectively.

Jimmy Blewett enjoyed an up and down ride in the Sunoco Modified feature. Dave Salzarulo and Steve Masse both took brief turns at the head of the pack before John Blewett muscled his way into the top spot over Masse. Contact between Jimmy Blewett and Salzarulo caused a chain reaction deeper in the top ten collecting strong competitors Kerry Malone, Todd Ceravolo, Tommy Cravenho, and Geoff Gernhard.

On the restart, John resumed his lead taking brother Jimmy along for the ride. Masse got a run from third making contact with John. Jimmy was able to sneak into the lead with Rocco taking over the second spot. John settled back into the third position. Pitkat charged by Masse with ten laps down. The top three ran in a high-speed chase of leader Jimmy Blewett. John dogged Rocco for second. At halfway, Rocco made a bid on Jimmy’s lead. Rocco looked as if he would take over the top spot but he could not hold his momentum and both Blewett brothers were able to make their way past putting Jimmy back in the lead. Rocco now had his hands full with Pitkat. The excitement had settled down as the top-four continued to run nose to tail. Shelly Perry spun in front of the leaders to bring out the caution to set up a six-lap dash to the checkers. On the double file restart, Rocco made it three-wide coming down to take the green. Jimmy Blewett squeezed into the top spot over John Blewett and Rocco. Rocco could not maintain his position and lost the third spot to Pitkat. Pitkat immediately went to work on John Blewett. He moved into the second spot with two to go. He lined up behind the younger Blewett but could not reel in the leader.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Woody Pitkat won the SK Modified and first Late Model feature for his second consecutive double shot, while Ryan Posocco won the regularly scheduled Late Model feature to break a tie with Jim Peterson as the division's all-time winningest driver. Glen Reen took down the SK Light feature win, Rick Lanagan won the Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Nosal turned in a dominating performance to score his first career DARE Stock win in the 15-lap feature event.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Woody Pitkat take down his second consecutive feature win. Willie Hardie took the lead from the pole and led the first 10 laps of the race. Pitkat made his move in turns 3+4 on lap-11 to overtake Hardie for the top spot. SK Modified points leader Ted Christopher was glued to Pitakt's back bumper throughout the second half of the race, with several caution periods keeping the field in close contact. The two race leaders had a near disaster on lap-39 as they had to avoid the lapped car of Frank Ruocco. Both Pitkat and Christopher made it by Ruocco unscathed, but the loss of momentum by Christopher allowed Pitkat all the margin he needed on the final lap of the race. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Christopher was Eric Berndt, Kerry Malone, and Keith Rocco.
 

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeffrey Paul finally got the monkey off his back as he ended weeks of frustration with a win in SK Modified action. Paul, who drives a family owned mount headed by his dad, Gary, took the lead on lap 11of the 35 lap main event. Point leader Rob Janovic applied the pressure in the closing laps but the young racer never faltered.

Bruce Thomas Jr. won the 30-lap Late Model race. Other winners were Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), Phil Evans (Mini Stock) and Mark Bakaj (Legends).

Rounding out the top five in the Modifieds were Matt Gallo, Dennis Charette and Jeff Pearl.


Jeffrey Paul took down his first feature at the Speedbowl
Photo By RaceDogPhotography

With a threat of rain and boomers closing in the Speedbowl management and competitors got the entire 5 feature race program completed in two hours and had fans heading home by 9:00pm.

Tony Stewart won the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jason Leffler got Toyota its first ever Busch Series win at O'Reilly Raceway Park as he slipped by Greg Biffle with three laps to go.

 This week are several vintage racing photos of the Dirt Modifieds,
Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com

 


 BuzzieReutimann


Gary Balough


Ken Brenn


Kenny Tremont


Sammy Beavers


Will Cagle

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467

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

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