Friday June 23, 2006

Forty years ago in 1966 Rene Charland was at the top of his game as he won the Friday night feature at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Frank Mathalia finished second with Pete Hamilton, third. Dennis Zimmerman and Gene Bergin rounded out the top five. At the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night Jerry Cook took the win over Kenny Shoemaker and Bill Wimble. Ernie Gahan, who was well on his way to becoming the 1966 NASCAR Modified Champion took the Sunday night win at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Shoemaker and Charland followed with Mathalia fourth and Hamilton, fifth.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, still sore from hitting a light pole two weeks previously, Fred DeSarro returned to the racing wars with a vengeance as he went on a tear going four for four. Len Boehler had Ole Blu tuned to perfection as DeSarro cleaned house at Thompson winning twin 25's at Thompson on Friday night, a thirty lapper at Stafford on Saturday and an open competition event at Stafford the following  Wednesday. Following DeSarro in the first event at Thompson was Leo Cleary, Ernie Gahan and Bob Santos. Santos finished second in the nightcap and was followed by Gahan. Albany-Saratoga ran a 100 lap double point event, also on Friday. Taking the win was Steady Eddie Flemke in the Richie Evans 61x. Still on the outs with NASCAR, Evans and his crew pitted the car in the parking lot. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Denis Giroux, Andy Romano and Jerry Cook. Following DeSarro at Stafford on Saturday night was Rene Charland in the Bob Johnson No.17.Bugsy Stevens finished third with Ernie Gahan, fourth. At the Fulton Raceway Bob Sweeney won a 60 lap feature over Don Diffendorf and Mike Loescher. Lou Lazzaro, well on his way to legend status copped wins at Fonda on Saturday night and at Utica-Rome on Sunday. The amazing thing is that he won both events with the same car. Maynard Forette finished second at Fonda and was followed by Dave Lape and Harry Peek. At Utica-Rome, Dave Kotary finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Denis Giroux. Oxford Plains ran an open comp modified event on Sunday. Bugsy Stevens took the win and was followed by Charland and Homer Drew. Last but not least it was Charlie Jarzombek over Fred Harbach at Islip.

Thirty five years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine, fresh off a Sunday afternoon 150 lap win at Stafford made it three in a row at Thompson on Sunday night. Bodine, driving for Richard Armstrong, used a Jack Tant small block Chevy for power. While the Sunday night small block series at Thompson was intended for the low buck racer, the intent was lost as Armstrong shelled out the bucks for a professional motor builder. This was the beginning of the end of the so called golden era. To compete with Bodine and Armstrong other teams would have to follow suit or just be content to follow the leader. Fred DeSarro, driving for Len Boehler, finished second to Bodine three weeks running. Boehler, a mechanical genius, built his own engines. Despite Boehler's efforts, DeSarro couldn't keep up. Many saw this as the beginning of the end of the backyard racer. At the Stafford 150, Bodine took the lead from DeSarro on lap 14 and never looked back. SJ Evonsion finished second and was followed by Satch Worley, Ed Flemke Sr and Richie Evans. It was also on this weekend that Stafford owner Jack Arute announced that as of July 14 all owners and drivers would be admitted free. In other weekend action, Fred Harbach won at New Egypt, Charlie Jarzombek at Riverhead, Fred Sipalla at Islip, John Anderson at Riverside, Ronnie Bouchard at Westboro and Punky Caron got his fifth win of the season at Monadnock.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, a huge crowd of 7100 fans were on hand to watch George Summers take the Friday night modified feature at Stafford. Following Summers at the line were Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Brian Ross. Richie Evans, who won at Holland on Wednesday night, blew an engine. Rain blanketed the east coast on Saturday washing just about everything out. Maynard Troyer won at Spencer, Allen Whipple at Monadnock, Billy Griffin at Shangri-La and Roger Treichler at Lancaster. At Thompson on Sunday, Evans lost his second engine of the weekend. Kenny Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 took the win over Reggie Ruggiero and George Summers. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Darrell Waltrip took the pole and Bobby Allison, the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished tenth.

Twenty years ago in 1986, New Egypt ran a circle of Champions (Mod Tour)150 at New Egypt on Wednesday night. George Kent came away the surprise winner after Jeff Fuller crashed with a lap car while coming down for the checker in the lead. Jim Spencer finished second with Mike McLaughlin, third. George Brunnhoelzl jr took the Friday night win at Stafford. Reggie Ruggiero was running second on the final lap when he tangled with Gilda Berti and crashed. Bugsy Stevens ended up in second spot with Brian Ross, third. Richie Gallup was declared the SK Modified winner after the top three finishers, Bo Gunning, Ted Christopher and John Anderson were disqualified after a post race inspection determined that their carburetors were illegal. Rick Donnelly won twin features at Waterford and Mike Stefanik took top honors at Riverside. Other weekend winners were Don Pratt at Spencer, Dan Jivenelli at Riverhead and Tony Hirschman at Shangri-La.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Mike Christopher beat out Bob Potter and Bob Georgiades in SK action at Stafford on Friday night. Rain washed out Waterford but at Riverside and Riverhead it stayed dry. Charlie Pasteryak won out over Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Riverhead; Dan Jivenelli was followed across the stripe by Wayne Anderson. The Modified Tour was at Oxford Plains on Sunday. Jeff Fuller in the Sheba No.8 took the win over Doug Hevron and Mike Stefanik .In SK Modified action at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the win over Richie Gallup and Mike Christopher.

Ten years ago in 1996, Mike Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter scored his 95th career win at the shoreline oval. Potter,who had been racing since 1964,started in 11th spot and took the lead with 26 laps to go in the 35 lap feature. Potters win broke the all time record previously held by Don Collins. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a 200 lap event. Because of a late race caution, the event went 207 laps with Rick Fuller taking the win over Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Chuck Steuer. Eleven cautions for 54 laps slowed the average speed of the event to 45.39 mph. Richie Gallup was the winner at Riverside Park. The Busch North Series was at Thompson on Sunday. Robbie Crouch led the 150 lap event until lap 81 when he went too hot into turn three, spun and took out Rick Fuller and Andy Santarre who were third and fourth. Jerry Marquis took the lead at that point and went on to take the win. Mike Stefanik finished second with Brad Leighton, third. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Rusty Wallace took the win and in Busch Grandnational series action at Myrtle Beach, David Green took the win. Dale Earnhardt Jr made his debut and finished 14th, down one.

Five years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher recorded his third win at Thompson on Thursday night and made it two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. At Thompson, Kerry Malone finished second with Bill Anderson, third. At Stafford, Christopher was chased by Eric Brendt and Lloyd Agor. In Busch North Series action at Stafford, Kelly Moore took the win over Brad Leighton and Dennis Doyle. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Seekonk under threatening skies but it didn't seem to bother Chris Kopec who took the win after taking the lead on lap 44 of the 150 lap event. Mike Stefanik had led from lap 15 to lap 43, pitted with handling problems and was never able to re-gain the lead. Charlie Pasteryak finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Mike Ewanitsko and John Blewett III. Based on a forecast of rainy weather, the Waterford management decided to pull the plug on the nights races. Needless to say it never rained and many unhappy fans were on hand to express their opinions! At Riverhead, Wayne Anderson got his first win in ten years as he took the checker over Don Lia. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, Tony Stewart took the win.
Last year, 2005, The Thompson Speedway got most of their Thursday night Thunder program in before the skies opened up. Second generation Sunoco Modified driver Richard Savory started on the pole and led 23 of the scheduled 30 laps when the rains came. Never seriously challenged, Savory scored his first ever win. Bo Gunning finished second with Tom Cravenho, third. Ted Christopher and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. Other Thursday night winners were Mike OSullivan in the Pro Stocks, Keith DeSantis in the Limited Sportsman and Roger Larson in the Thompson Mods. The Mini-Stocks amd Late Models will run their features at a later date. Thursday night Thunder continues this week with the Late Models going the 50 lap distance.

 The Busch North Series finally got to start their season at Stafford on Friday night. With 35 cars on hand and no rain in sight Matt Kobyluck put his name in the record books as the winner. After starting on the pole Kobyluck ran 150 laps non-stop without a pit stop to pick up the victory. Ryan Moore was an early threat but fell by the wayside with mechanical problems. Andy Santerre attempted a late race challenge but his efforts fell short as he had to settle for second. Jerry Marquis finished third with Ted Christopher, fourth. Mike Johnson rounded out the top five. Lloyd Agor recorded his second SK Modified win of the year as he held off Don Lia in the closing laps. Eric Berndt finished third with Todd Owen, fourth. Mike Quintilliano took the 30 lap Late Model feature with Andrew Durand taking the Limited Late Model feature. Charlie Newman was the DARE Stock winner.

The Waterford Speedbowl finally got to run their rained out Nationals program, at least most of it. Tom Fox won the 150 lap SK Modified portion. Chris Pasteryak put the pressure on over the last third of the event and in the end fell short by less than a car length. Dennis Cherette finished third, a half a lap back. Ron Yuhas Jr and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. The Mini Stock feature took on a finish that resembled an Abbot and Costello comedy routine. Whos on First, Whats on Second and I dont know is on third. Ken Cassidy Jr was the apparent winner and was about to be interviewed in victory lane when it was discovered that there was a mis-communication between the starter and assistant starter as to weather the race was complete or not. Needless to say the event was two laps short and had to be completed. The outcome was the same as Cassidy took the win, again. Len Beebe was the Legends winner. The 50-lap Late Model feature and the Sportsman 30 lap feature were rained out and will be rescheduled for a later date.

 Eugene Arganese, who was proposing a multimillion dollar domed auto racetrack at the Plainfield Greyhound Park in Connecticut, had applied for the necessary state gaming license to continue gambling activity on the site. Carl Edwards shot past Martin Truex JR with two laps to go to win the Busch Series event at the Kentucky Speedway. Greg Biffle scored his fifth Nextel Cup win at the Michigan Speedway. In Formula 1 racing at the Indianapolis Speedway fourteen of the 26 cars entered ended up getting parked prior to the start over concerns of unsafe Michilin Tires.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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