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Friday July 4, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 
Forty five years ago in 1963 Bill Wimble won the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman feature at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Ed Ortiz finished second with Jim Luke, third. Bob Zeigler and Rene Charland rounded out the top five.

Forty years ago in 1968, Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens started the weekend with 25 lap wins at the Catamount Stadium on Thursday night. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday night with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Fred Harbach, Smokey Boutwell, Leo Cleary and Frank Faria. A t the Albany-Saratoga Speedway 50 laps was the main event. Don MacTavish drove to a convincing win over Andy Romano, Jerry Cook, Rene Charland and Lou Lazzaro. Leo Cleary took the top spot at Norwood on Saturday night while at Fonda Lou Lazzaro took the victory over Dave Lape and Don MacTavish. Thompson ran twin 25’s on Sunday with Bugsy Stevens taking them both. Utica Rome rounded out the weekend on Sunday night with Dick Fowler taking the win over Robbie Kotary, Sonny Seamon, Dick Clark and Bernie Miller.

Thirty five years ago in 1973, racing at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night, rained out. The rain carried over to Saturday and washed out Stafford. At Tioga, Richie Evans won a special holiday program over Jerry Cook and Mike Loescher. It stayed dry on Long Island where Jim Tyler took the win. Sunday night at Utica-Rome saw more rain. Stafford ran a night before the fourth 150 lapper on Tuesday. Ronnie Bouchard continued his hot streak as he took the win over Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. On the Fourth, Islip ran a 100 lapper. Geoff Bodine took the win over Evans and Dan MacNamara.

Thirty years ago in 1978, Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont started the Fourth of July weekend on Tuesday. John Rosati took the modified special event held there. Donnie Ayer finished second with Richie Evans, third. New Egypt ran a 100 lapper on the fourth. Geoff Bodine who dropped out of the Catamount event with a flat won the event and was followed by Jerry Cook, Fred Harbach and Greg Sacks. Friday night saw Bugsy Stevens in victory lane at Stafford, Punky Caron get his seventh win of the season at Monadnock and Charlie Jarzombek won a 100 lap double pointer over Richie Evans at Riverhead. Jarzombek went on to go two for two as he won again on Saturday at Islip. At Waterford it was Bob Potter over Moose Hewitt and Mike Beebe. Seekonk saw Fred DeSarro hold off Ronnie Bouchard and Corky Cookman and at Riverside, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero teamed up to win the Riverside 500.Bouchard and DeSarro reversed roles at Thompson on Sunday. Other holiday weekend winners were Roland LaPierre JR at Westboro, Mike Murphy at Hudson; Dean Hoag at Tioga, Maynard Troyer, two at Spencer and one at Lancaster and Richie Evans won at Utica-Rome.

Twenty five years ago in 1983, Holland ran the Modifieds on Wednesday night and Richie Evans was there to take the win. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday. Reggie Ruggiero in the mighty no.44 of Mario Fiore cleaned house. Corky Cookman finished second with Bobby Vee, third. At Spencer, Magic Shoes, Mike McLaughlin beat out Jim Spencer and Richie Evans. Ruggerio carried his winning ways over to Saturday at Oswego where he won a 100 lap modified event over Evans and Jamie Tomaino. Stan Greger won at Riverside while Bob Potter won a 100 lapper at Waterford and Riverhead went to Don Howe. In Winston Cup action in the Daytona 400, Buddy Baker won out over Morgan Shepherd.

Twenty years ago in 1988, Stafford ran twin 50's.Ted Christopher won the first one and Bob Potter, the second. Monadnock went to Marty Radwick. Christopher backed up his Friday night win with a 50-lap win at Waterford on Saturday. Jerry Marquis won at Riverside and Tom Tillotson won at Riverhead. Oswego again went to Ruggiero. Tom Baldwin finished second with Tomaino, third.

Fifteen years ago in 1993 Friday night racing at Stafford rained out. Mike Ewanitsko beat out Ed Kennedy to win at Monadnock. Ewanitsko finished third behind Reggie Ruggiero and Jerry Marquis at Riverside Park. At Waterford on Saturday, Dale Holdredge took the win over Jerry Pearl and Bert Marvin. Todd Ceravolo was the late model winner. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Ken Schrader, who was suspended from four events for altering his carburetor, was reinstated and fined $5,000. Schrader started last in the Daytona 400 and finished second behind Dale Earnhardt

Ten years ago in 1998, Thompson started the weekend on Thursday with a 100 lapper for the SK's. Thirty-three of the first 54 laps were run under caution because of spins and wrecks. The last half was a little smoother as Teddy and Mikey Christopher finished one-two. Riding high after his Thompson win, Teddy went to Stafford on Friday night and won the 50 Lap SK Modified event there and was leading the Busch North Series event also at Stafford with three to go when he lost his brakes and crashed. Ricky Fuller inherited the lead and the eventual win. Christopher’s SK Modified win was his 40th at the Connecticut half-mile oval. The International Speedway Corporation which owns and operates the Daytona Int. Speedway announced that the Pepsi 400 Winston Cup event scheduled there had been cancelled and would be run later in the year because of wild fires that were devastating central Florida. On Saturday night at Waterford, Mike Holdredge won his first ever-modified feature as he held off Dennis and Mike Gada at the checker. At Riverside, Ted Riggott beat out Dan Avery and at Riverhead; Howie Brode was the victor with Bill Park, second. In other weekend action, Ralph Nason won the Oxford 250 and Chris Ross scored his first ever Pro Stock win at Evans Mills, N.Y.

Five years ago in 2003 NASCAR announced that they had tested and approved the installation of the energy absorbing Steel and foam SAFER barriers at the New Hampshire International Speedway and the Richmond Raceway. The SAFER barrier is designed to absorb energy from a racecar when it hits a concrete wall. In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Bo Gunning was the feature winner in the Sunoco-SK Type Modifieds. After much frustration because of various wrecks and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time Gunning finally got the monkey off his back. Bobby Santos III, grandson of racing legend and NEAR Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Santos finished second. Eric Berndt, Jeff Malave, Todd Ceravolo and Ted Christopher rounded out the top six. Like Gunning at Thompson, Ted Christopher has had his share of frustrations at Stafford. Since winning the twin 40 lap SK-Modified events on April 27 at the Nutmeg oval, Christopher has come up empty. On Friday night, He too, got redemption. After starting fifth in the regularly scheduled 50 lap main event, Christopher took the lead on a lap 15 restart and went on to record his 66th career win at the Stafford track. Jim Civali finished second with Kerry Malone, third.

The Featherlite NASCAR Modified Tour Series took the Fourth of July weekend off. With seven events into the 2003 season John Blewett III was in the point lead by 35 over Todd Szegedy. Of the sixty-seven drivers entered into competition, Blewett was the only driver to finish in the top ten in all events. Blewett had one win to his credit, as did Szegedy. Ted Christopher was the only repeat winner at this point in the season with two victories to his credit. Christopher sat third in points, 94 behind the leader. Former series champion Jerry Marquis, 112 points behind the leader, sat in fourth spot. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld, 142 points behind the leader. Sixth through tenth were Jamie Tomaino, Rick Fuller, Eric Beers, Tony Hirshman and Dave Etheridge. The fields of Modifieds continued to be strong, as there was 35-40 at each event. Seventeen of the top twenty had run in all events. Lee Raceway, in New Hampshire, presented an open competition Tour type Modified event on Friday, July 4. That event, promoted by Ben Dodge, was 100 laps and carried a purse in excess of $30,000. Thirty-two Modifieds were on hand with Charlie Pasteryak taking the win over Tom Bolles, David Berghman and Jamie Tomaino. It was a hot night at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night as Dennis Charette garnered his first win. Ed Reed Jr. made a late race challenge but because of a traction problem in the outside groove, had to settle for second. Tom Fox finished third with Rob Janovic and Ron Yuhas Jr., rounding out the top five. Brent Dragon won the 100 lap American-Canadian Tour event. Harry Reed won at Wall Township. At Riverhead, Ken Heagy took the win. Conspicuous by his action was JR Bertuccio who sat out the event because of family problems. Those who supported the Race of Champions Series event at the Mountain Speedway in Pennsylvania became quite upset when their purse wasn’t paid at the completion of the event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started on the pole for the Daytona Busch Series event and made a shambles of the race as he led every lap and took the win. Greg Biffle won the Winston Cup Pepsi 400.

Last year, 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H on Sunday for the second of three “Flash Format Events” scheduled in 2007. Posted Awards were $56,762, which was considerably less than regular Tour events. As of July 5, only 29 teams had filed entries. Among the missing were Ron Yuhas Jr, Woody Pitkat, Tony Hirschman and Bobby Santos III. Car owners were attempting to make a statement that the race purses for the “Flash Events” were sub-par. Twenty-six Modifieds, a light field in comparison to previous Whelen Modified Tour series events, were on hand for the Sunday evening event. The top six, Ronnie Silk, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman, Don Lia, Mike Stefanik and James Civali, qualified through time trials. Heat winners were Ted Christopher and Jon McKennedy. Hirschman was fresh off a Saturday night 75 lap Race of Champions Series win at the Lancaster Speedway in Western New York State.

James Civali avoided the raindrops and held off Matt Hirschman as he won the Twin State event. Civali took the lead from Ron Silk going into turn 1 on lap 27 of the 100-lap contest. Ronnie Silk finished third and was followed by Donnie Lia, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik who recovered from an early spin. Civali led al but one of the final 90 laps. The race distance was extended to 117 laps because of caution laps in the first 50 laps, which were scored.

The True Value Modified Racing Series returned to Monadnock Speedway for a 100-lap feature on Saturday evening. Kirk Alexander passed Rob Goodenough with seven laps remaining to record the win at the Winchester, NH ¼ mile high banked oval. Goodenough finished second with Dwight Jarvis, third. Ted Christopher was an early contender until he was eliminated in a wreck on lap 65.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Keith Rocco scored a hard fought win as he scored his second win of the season at the northeast Connecticut oval. A late race confrontation with Bert Marvin added to the excitement. Harry Rheaume took the lead at the start followed by Danny Cates, Bert Marvin and Jimmy Blewett. The racing was slowed on lap three by a caution for a single car spin by Eric Goodale. On the ensuing restart Marvin moved ahead of Cates and set his sites on Rheaume. Marvin was able to drive around Rheaume for the lead on lap five. Jimmy Blewett moved into third ahead of Cates on the next circuit. John Blewett ran in fifth but was looking for more as he too battled with Cates. Keith Rocco joined the fray catching John Blewett in fifth. The second caution flew on lap 10 when Kerry Malone and Buddy Charette tangled exiting turn two.On the restart, Marvin jumped out to the lead followed by Jimmy Blewett Blewett made a run on Marvin but the action was halted for an incident that involved Shelly Perry, Eric Goodale, Brian Tagg and others. Marvin was again the man to beat on the restart getting the edge on Blewett. Rheaume held strong in third. Just as Blewett was making his run on the leader Marvin, the lead the race was slowed again when the Josh Steeves came to rest in turn three. The ensuing restart set off a chain reaction that claimed a number of cars including Steeves, Brett LeBlanc, and Ricky Shawn.The restart gave. Blewett the opening that he needed. Marvin and Blewett went side-by-side for nearly a lap before Blewett assumed his place at the head of the pack on lap 13. Another quick caution and a subsequent attempt at the restart was called back. Under the caution John Blewett headed down pit road for service. Once back under green, Jimmy Blewett took control of the race once again. Tommy Cravenho and Keith Rocco were locked in a battle for the third spot while Woody Pitkat sat in fifth.

Marvin pressured Blewett by running the outside groove in search of the lead once again. Jimmy Blewett appeared to bobble entering turn three opening the door for Marvin and Rocco. Contact between the three leaders ended with the leader Marvin with contact with outside wall on the front stretch. Marvin felt that Rocco had done him in and his resulting actions found him getting ejected from the event. When racing finally resumed, Rocco was the new leader. Pitkat gave Rocco a run on the restart but could not make the pass. Todd Ceravolo was able to take over the second spot from Pitkat. Pitkat, however, after regaining his composure successfully went back after Ceravolo. Pitkat ran in second again on lap 24. Meanwhile Rocco began to check out on the field. Things settled down over the closing laps with Rocco handily taking his second win of the season over Pitkat and Ceravalo. Cravenho and Cates rounded out the top five.

Other Thursday night Thunder winners at Thompson were Ben Seitz of Pocasset, MA, who carried the checkers in the traditional holiday visit of the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) to Thompson. In regular weekly series action, Kurt Vigeant earned a hard-fought victory in the annual extra-distance race for the TIS Modifieds. Also earning his second feature win of the season was Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, in the Pro Stocks.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway the Late Models took center stage for the 13th Annual DiGiorgi Roofing & Siding Late Model 100. Mike O'Sullivan scored the win, with Ted Christopher winning the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Brit Andersen taking the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis taking the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn winning the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 13th Annual DiGiorgi Late Model 100-lap feature saw Mike O'Sullivan outlast Jim Peterson to take the victory. Ted Christopher, Stafford’s winningest driver, ended a long dry spell as he won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, his first feature victory since the 2006 Spring Sizzler. Kerry Malone held the early lead, but retired on lap-7 after contact with Bo Gunning. Malone's misfortune put Keith Rocco out front and Rocco held the lead until lap-31 when Christopher dove under Rocco in turn 3 to take over the lead. One lap later, Rocco and Brad Hietala made contact and spun in turn 3 to bring out the caution. On the restart, Christopher powered to the lead and ran unchallenged to the checkered flag to take the victory. Woody Pitkat, who spun twice during the race, came back up through the field to finish second with Bo Gunning, Zach Sylvester, and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

The fastest open wheel cars in the Northeast returned to Stafford Motor Speedway on Tuesday, July 10th as the IMSA Supermodifieds made their fourth annual appearance at the Connecticut half-mile. Joining the ISMA Supers were the NEMA Midgets and the Pro-4 Modifieds, making for an exciting evening of open wheel competition. Rob Summers scored his first career ISMA Supermodified feature victory by winning the 50-lap feature, Erica Santos was the winner of the 25-lap NEMA Midget feature, and Jeff Zuidema was the winner of the 20-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl eased by Diego Monahan for the lead in turn three on lap 29 of the 100 lap SK Modified feature. He survived three restarts, the last with 19 laps remaining and finished a car length in front of Dennis Gada. Gada, involved in a first-lap crash that required considerable pit work, took second from Rob Janovic Jr. on the final restart.

In other action at the shoreline oval Dennis Botticello assumed command on lap 24 and went on to win the 100-lap Late Model feature. Botticello handled a number of restarts including three over the final 10 laps. In his first-ever Speedbowl ride, Tom O'Sullivan set a track record in qualifying (a 17.370 second lap) and then romped to victory in the 50-lap Sportsman feature. Point leader Ken Cassidy Jr. won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature after battling Danny Field side-by-side over the final six laps in the closest race of the night. O’Sullivan, winner of the 50-lap Sportsman event was disqualified. According to the release from the track the Camaro run by O'Sullivan and owned by Scott Fearn was found to be: “in violation of left-side weight requirements in post-race inspection.” Bill Gertsch Jr., who finished second, was declared the winner.

Jamie McMurray ended a massive losing streak in dramatic fashion, beating Kyle Busch by a bumper in the Pepsi 400 on Saturday night in Daytona Beach, Fla. McMurray snapped a 166-race winless streak by drag racing with Busch for much of the final two laps at Daytona International Speedway. The cars appeared to touch several times on their final trip around the famed track, and McMurray nosed across the finish line a mere 0.005 of a second ahead of Busch. It denied Busch a shot at a rare double victory - he won the rain-rescheduled Busch Series race 12 hours earlier.

In some sad news a twin-engine NASCAR plane crashed and destroyed two homes, killing five people. The tragedy began in Daytona Beach where Dr. Bruce Kennedy, husband of International Speedway Corp. executive Lesa France Kennedy, and Michael Klemm, a pilot who had worked for NASCAR aviation for 21 years, took off for Lakeland at 8:21 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Shortly after, the pair reported smoke in the cockpit to air traffic controllers and said they would try to land at Orlando Sanford International Airport. They never made it.
 

 This week are several vintage racing photos of John Rosati, Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com

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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