Friday July 22, 2011

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1951, Dave Humphrey was the Wednesday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Beebe was the Claiming Car winner. No racing was held on Saturday night.

Fifty five years ago in 1956, Johnny Sandberg was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. Lou Tetreault was the non-Ford winner. Tetreault won the 25 lap Modified event on Saturday night while Arnie Harris was the non-Ford winner.

Fifty years ago in 1961, Arnie Harris won the 25 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Caso made it two in a row in Bomber competition. Saturday night racing at the shoreline oval washed out.

Forty five years ago in 1966, Elton Hill was the Friday night winner at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Don MacTavish finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Dick Dixon and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. Joe Tiezzi scored his first and only win on the dirt at Stafford. The Norwood Arena hosted a Trenton qualifier. George Pendergast scored a surprise win. During a post race celebration Pendergast tripped over a trailer and fell, breaking his arm. Ernie Gahan padded his point lead in his quest for the NASCAR National Modified Championship as he won a 107-lap event on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night and a 30 lapper on the asphalt at the Utica Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Gahan drove the same car in both events. Following Gahan at Fonda were Jerry Cook and Bill Wimble. Wimble finished second at Utica-Rome with Eddie Flemke, Dave Kotary and Bernie Miller rounding out the top five. Billy Blum took the win at the Shangri-La Speedway.

Don Collins was the 30 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Marvin Shaw was the winner in the Bombers and Bill Sweet was the Daredevil winner at the Connecticut shoreline oval.

Forty years ago in 1971, Lou Lazzaro took the top spot at Malta on Friday night. Maynard Forette finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Jerry Cook and Fred DeSarro. At the Fulton Raceway Don Diffendorf, driving the radical coach that would grace the 1972 Spring Sizzler poster, took a 60 lap win over Richie Evans, Merv Treichler, Mike Loescher and Sonny Seamon. Mike Beebe took the Saturday night win at Waterford over Don Kibbe and Art Moran. Rain washed out Stafford and Fonda on Saturday night. While the NASCAR Modified point chasers were at Utica-Rome on Sunday, a bit of modified history was made at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine when car owner Bobby Judkins and driver Gene Bergin debuted an all-new Pinto bodied Modified. Bergin won the open competition event and the winds of change in the modified division were beginning to blow. Ernie Gahan finished second. At Utica-Rome, Ron Newman took the win over Dave Lape and Lou Lazzaro. Seekonk also held an open comp event on Sunday, which was won by hometown favorite George Summers. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Fred Astle Sr, third

Thirty five years ago in 1976, Fred Harbach made it two in a row at New Egypt on Thursday night. Bob Park finished second with Jerry Cook, third. A 100 lapper scheduled for Riverhead on Friday night was rained out. Geoff Bodine took the Saturday night win at Stafford over Fred DeSarro and Dick Caso but the big news was that NASCAR Chief Steward, Ed Yerrington, had been named to take over the position of General Manager and Promoter as of August 1. Jackie Arute had been promoting the facility and had got an opportunity to pursue a career in broadcasting as an announcer for the Daytona based Motor Racing Network. Other weekend winners were Pete Fiandaca making it two in a row at Riverside Park, Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford and George Murray at Seekonk. Geoff Bodine’s domination at Thompson came to an end when his engine was torn down in a post race inspection and was found to be 61/1000 over stroke. Second place finisher Fred DeSarro was
awarded the win.

Thirty years ago in 1981, Richie Evans scored his 299th career modified victory at Stafford on Friday night. Hot on his tail was Ronnie Bouchard, Reggie Ruggiero and Brian Ross. Evans scored No.300 at Shangri-La the following night. Other Friday night winners were Marty Radwick at Monadnock, George Kent at Spencer and John Blewett Jr. at New Egypt. Waterford ran twin features on Saturday night with Rodney Tulba and Sleepy Knapp taking the wins. George Murray ruled at Seekonk and Joe Howard at Westboro. Other Saturday night winners were Fred Harbach at Islip, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, Billy Layda at Danbury and Stan Greger at Riverside. The stage was set for a classic battle between Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine at Thompson on Sunday with an 81 lapper. Carl Pasteryak led the first four laps before being overhauled by Corky Cookman. Cookman led until lap 16 when he lost a transmission. Evans assumed the lead and appeared headed for win No.301 when his engine went up in smoke on lap 54.From then on it was Bodine all the way to the checker followed by Ray Miller, George Kent, Reggie Ruggiero and Bentley Warren. It was also at this event that a young upstart by the name of Mike Stefanik was given the opportunity of driving the Richie Evans back-up car known as the Grey Ghost. Stefanik was, at one time in contention in the top five when he fell victim to a shorted out battery.

Twenty five years ago in 1986, New Egypt ran what was to be their last NASCAR sanctioned Modified event on Wednesday. It was a 150 lapper with George Kent taking the win over Jerry Cranmer, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer. The competitors were paid by checks, which ultimately bounced. Once NASCAR got wind of this, the sanction was pulled. Kent made it two for two as he won a special event at Holland on Thursday night. Stafford ran twin 25's on Friday night. John Anderson, in the Mario Fiore No.44 took the opener over Brian Ross and John Rosati. Rosati came back to win the nightcap over Mike Stefanik and Charlie Jarzombek. Saturday night at Riverside Park saw Ed Kennedy go pole to pole, non stop, to win the 50 lap main event. Dan Avery finished second. Rick Holmberg won at Riverhead and it was Jim Spencer over Jan Leaty at Shangri-La. At Thompson on Sunday, the 300 outside pole position was up for grabs. Brian Ross left no doubt that he was after the spot as he cleaned house, beating out Jim Spencer and Mike McLaughlin for the win. Other weekend winners included Leo Cleary at Seekonk and Jamie Tomaino winning the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium over Doug French. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond took the win.

Twenty years ago in 1991, Bob Georgiades, son of John Georgiades, scored his first ever win as he won the SK Modified main at Stafford on Friday night Steve Chowanski finished second with Bob Potter, third. The Modified Tour was also at Stafford. Jeff Fuller was the class of the field. Despite starting last because he missed the time trials and heats Fuller had the field covered as he took the win over Steve Park, Reggie Ruggiero and Tom Baldwin. On Saturday, Bruce Del won at Riverside and Bill Park at Riverhead while rain prevailed at Waterford.

Fifteen years ago in 1996, Riverside Park hosted the Featherlite Modified Tour on Wednesday. Jerry Marquis, in the Art Barry No.21, took the win over Steve Park, Mike Ewanitsko and Rick Fuller. Waterford ran on Thursday because of a fireworks display was planned for New London on Saturday night. Mark LaJunesse took the win over Bob Potter and Scott Spaulding. Tom Fox, in the Al Gaudreau Late Model, won his seventh feature of the year. Stafford rained out on Friday and on Saturday; Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans memorial 76 lapper at Riverhead over Chuck Steuer and Tom Baldwin. At Riverside, it was Reggie Ruggiero over Richard Savory. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Rusty Wallace took the win and at Oxford Plains, Larry Gelinas won the Oxford 250.

Ten years ago in 2001 Thursday night match race between Steve Park and Michael Waltrip at Thompson drew 11,000 fans. In regular race action, Ted Christopher made it five in a row as he took the lead from Bert Marvin on lap 23 of the 30 lap SK-Modified feature. Marvin finished second with Kerry Malone, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series ran a 100 lap event at Loudon on Friday afternoon. Tony Hirschman passed Ted Christopher on lap 97 and held on to take the win. Christopher finished second but was moved back to last on the lead lap, 21st, when it was discovered that his crew put an illegal tire on the left front. Mike Stefanik was moved up into second. Rob Summers, Dan Avery and Chris Kopec rounded out the top five. Lloyd Agor was the Friday night winner at Stafford as Christopher, who flew in from Loudon, finished second. John Sandberg had taken the checker as the leader but was disqualified, as he didn't make weight. Dennis Gada got his sixth feature at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox finished second. At Riverhead, Howie Brode went pole to pole, holding off Ken Heagy for the win. In Winston Cup action at Loudon, Dale Jarrett took the win with Jeff Gordon, second. On a sad note, it was announced that long time Modified Racing supporter Sonny Richards had passed away.

Five years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made its first of two stops at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. A total of 35 teams were signed in the pit area preparing for practice before the event was canceled shortly after noon. The Thompson Speedway beat the rains that came with tropical storm Beryl on Thursday night. Scoring his second Sunoco Modified feature victory of the season was Keith Rocco. Rick Gentes also scored his second of the season in Late Model action. Fred Astle, Jr. claimed his first Pro Stock feature win of the season while career firsts went to Brian Blaise and Tim Sullivan in Limited Sportsman and TIS Modified competition respectively. Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI continued his domination of the Mini Stock division with his fourth win of the season.
Rocco jumped out from his third place starting spot and led the entire 30 lap distance. On a single file restart, with four laps to go, Rocco led a battle for second. Woody Pitkat dove underneath Tom Cravenho but Cravenho held strong . On the white flag, it was a replay of the same move by Pitkat. This time the move worked. Pitkat took second from Cravenho by inches to earn the runner-up spot to winner Rocco. Cravenho, whose crew worked feverishly during the week to get his car repaired after last week’s incident, finished third. Jeff Malave and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of the 33rd annual SK Modified 100. Todd Owen was the big winner of the evening, outlasting last year's winner Willie Hardie. In other weekly action, Woody Pitkat made it three in a row as he took home his sixth Late Model feature win of the season, Brit Andersen was a first-time winner in the SK Light feature, Sean Foster became a two-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, Carla Botticello outlasted Norm Sears for her first win of the season in the DARE Stock feature, and Kenny Horton won the 21 Means 21 SK Modified feature. In the 33rd annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 feature, John Blewett, III and Lloyd Agor were the early race leaders, setting a blistering pace at the front of the field. Near the midway point of the race, Bo Gunning, who was last week's SK Modified feature winner, moved out front and led the half-way point to pick up a $100 bonus from Reliable Welding and Speed. Gunning's good run turned sour when he and Frank Ruocco made contact while racing for the lead, which sent Gunning spinning and Ruocco to pit road for three fresh tires. Owen took over the lead of the race with Gunning and Ruocco's spin, and he led the rest of the way, outlasting Willie Hardie over the final 10-laps to take the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Owen and Hardie were Jeff Malave, Ruocco, and Zach Sylvester. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, hometown favorite Woody Pitkat, didn't take the lead of the race until lap-25, and then had to survive several restart situations to nail down his sixth feature win of the 2006 season. Wayne Coury, Jr. led the first 24-laps of the race from the pole position, but his night ended with a crash in turn 1. Late Model points leader Jim Peterson finished second behind Pitkat, with Tom Butler, Tom Fearn, and Mark Lewis rounding out the top-5.

Denny Hamlin completed the Pocono sweep by winning the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday in Long Pond, dominating the field for his second career victory. Hamlin's first victory came six weeks ago at Pocono when he recovered from a spin through the grass and held on after a late restart. This race was easier, as Hamlin led 151 of 200 laps, putting him eighth in the Nextel Cup points standings. Hamlin's teammate Tony Stewart nearly self-destructed and Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped in his pursuit of the title. Stewart, the defending Cup champion, was black-flagged early in the race for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer. Stewart had been pushed up the track and against the wall by Bowyer, and waved a hand out the window as the cars separated. He then swerved directly into the side of Bowyer's car, sending it spinning into Carl Edwards. Stewart was flagged for aggressive driving, and had to pull into the pits for a one-lap penalty that dropped him to 41st. Stewart wasted no time getting back on the lead lap. But on the next round of pit stops, Edwards gave him a retaliatory shove that spun Stewart and earned Edwards a penalty. Stewart still worked his way to a seventh-place finish, moving him back to 10th in the standings. Kevin Harvick held off Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer by .271 seconds Saturday to win the Goody's 250 Busch race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway - the first series race at the track since 1994. The victory was Harvick's series-leading fourth of the season. Harvick is one of six Nextel Cup drivers who are running full-time schedules in both that series and Busch this season .It was Harvick's 21st career Busch win and ties him for seventh place all time with Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harry Gant. Mark Martin leads the series with 47 victories. Harvick's No. 21 Chevrolet was by far the dominant car Saturday, leading 149 of 250 laps. He did, however, have to navigate several tricky restarts as the race was marred by a track-record 19 cautions covering 87 laps.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's Racing
Click on Photo for Full Size

Don Collins

Corky Cookman

Lou Tetreault

Bob Potter

Reino Tulonen

Stafford Speedway (Dirt)

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is:

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

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