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Friday June 1, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                         

Forty years ago in 1967, the Stafford Speedway made the official transition from dirt to asphalt with the season opening 100 lapper for the NASCAR Modifieds. Smooth as silk asphalt along with new grandstands and fencing welcomed competitors and fans. Steady Eddie Flemke who was to become a modified legend in his own time took the victory over Pete Hamilton, Dick Watson, Bob Santos and Fred Harbach. With Stafford opening it drew some of the competitors away from the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Most of the New Yorkers were glad to see them go. When the checker dropped it was still a New Englander in the top spot as Ron Narducci took the win over Robbie Kotary, Guy Chartrand, Marcel Coriveau and Ernie Gahan. Dutch Hoag continued to win at Fulton and at Fonda Maynard Forette held off Bill Wimble and Dick Clark for the win. In Sunday night action at the Utica-Rome Speedway, Eddie Flemke took his second hundred


1967 and the first asphalt race at Stafford Speedway, (front row left to right) announcer former midget great Johnny Kay, track owner Mal Barlow, winner Ed Flemke, 2nd Pete Hamilton & 3rd Dick Watson.

lap feature win of the weekend over Dave Kotary and Kenny Shoemaker. Guy Chartrand and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five.

Forty years ago in 1967, the Stafford Speedway made the official transition from dirt to asphalt with the season opening 100 lapper for the NASCAR Modifieds. Smooth as silk asphalt along with new grandstands and fencing welcomed competitors and fans. Steady Eddie Flemke who was to become a modified legend in his own time took the victory over Pete Hamilton, Dick Watson, Bob Santos and Fred Harbach. With Stafford opening it drew some of the competitors away from the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Most of the New Yorkers were glad to see them go. When the checker dropped it was still a New Englander in the top spot as Ron Narducci took the win over Robbie Kotary, Guy Chartrand, Marcel Coriveau and Ernie Gahan. Dutch Hoag continued to win at Fulton and at Fonda Maynard Forette held off Bill Wimble and Dick Clark for the win. In Sunday night action at the Utica-Rome Speedway, Eddie Flemke took his second hundred lap feature win of the weekend over Dave Kotary and Kenny Shoemaker. Guy Chartrand and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five.

Thirty-five years ago in 1972, Friday night at Malta, Bugsy Stevens won a 100 lap double point event over Maynard Forette, Lou Lazzaro, Eddie Flemke and Ronnie Bouchard. Saturday night at Stafford saw Fred DeSarro take the win over Denis Giroux, Bob Santos and Gene Bergin. Islip also ran on Saturday night. Charlie Jarzombek took a 100 lap win over Art Tappen, Tom Baldwin and George Wagner. Bob Santos won a 100 lapper at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. Bernie Miller finished a strong second with Denis Giroux,Richie Evans and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Bugsy Stevens scored a popular victory at Stafford on Friday night as he beat Geoff Bodine to the stripe. Ron Bouchard finished third with John Rosati, fourth. At Monadnock, Pete Fiandaca scored an upset victory over Punky Caron and Allen Whipple. Also on Friday night, Fred Harbach took top honors at Riverhead over Charlie Jarzombek and Wayne Anderson. Seekonk ran a 50 lapper on Saturday night. George Summers rose to the occasion as he beat Eddie StAngelo and Corky Cookman to the stripe. Geoff Bodine beat out Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside Park and at Waterford, Moose Hewitt won out over Donnie Bunnell, Eddie Bunnell and Dick Ceravolo. At Westboro, Mike Murphy took the win over Mike Weeden and Gomer Taylor. Fred Harbach made it two for two as he mastered the tight Islip oval on Saturday night .Just down the road, Artie Tappen won at Freeport. Fred DeSarro remained king of the hill in small block action at Thompson on Sunday night. Geoff Bodine finished second with Ron Bouchard, third.

Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued to be the top dog in modified racing as he went two for two as he won at Stafford on Friday night and the modified portion of the Port City 150 at Oswego on Sunday. All racing in New England, on Saturday was cancelled because of rain. At Shangri-La, George Kent was declared the winner as Richie Evans was considered a lap down at the finish. John Blewett Jr. won at Islip and Roger Treichler at Lancaster. Racing at Thompson was cancelled due to a power failure and in Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Neil Bonnett overcame a 135 degree track temperature to win the World 600 by 1-1/2 car lengths over Bill Elliott.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Rick Fuller put the Brad Lafountain SK-66 in victory lane at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher finished second with Richie Gallup, third. At Waterford, on Saturday night, Mark LaJunesse took the win over Rick Fuller, Bob Potter and Ted Christopher. Riverside Park ran a 50 lapper with Bob Polverari winning out over Reggie Ruggiero. It was a son-father sweep at Riverhead as Steve Park took the win over his dad, Bob. The NASCAR Modified Tour was at Monadnock on Sunday for a 150 lapper. Jim Spencer took the win over Tom Baldwin, Mike Stefanik and Dave Reszendes. At Thompson on Sunday night, Bo Gunning beat out Mike Christopher for top honors. Gil Hearne scored his 86th career win at the Wall Stadium and in Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Davey Allison got his second win in his rookie season. Mark Martin was the Grandnational winner at Dover Downs
.
Fifteen years ago in 1992, Bo Gunning and Steve Chowanski shared victory lane at Stafford as twin features were run. Bob Potter scored two-seconds. David Gada scored his second victory of the season at Waterford on Saturday night. Jim Broderick finished second with Scott Poirier, third. Phil Rondeau scored his fourth victory of the year in the late models. Todd Ceravolo, second. Ed Kennedy out-lasted Jerry Marquis at Riverside as rain washed out the action at Riverhead and Jamie Tomaino was involved in a fiery road crash while on the way to Shangri-La.

Ten years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick took the lead with two to go as he powered by Steve Chowanski with his Mopar powered modified at Stafford. Chowanski finished second with Bob Potter, third. Waterford ran double features on Saturday night with Tucker Reynolds Jr and Todd Ceravolo sharing top honors. Ted Riggot won at Riverside and George Brunnhoelzl ended a long dry spell as he won at Riverhead. Brunnhoelzl's last win had been the 1987 Race of Champions at Pocono. The Featherlite Modified and Busch North Series were at Loudon. Mike Stefanik scored his 39th career Mod Tour victory after taking the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 82 of the 100 lap event. Reggie Ruggiero ended up second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Tim Connelly and Christopher. Dale Shaw was the Busch North Series winner. Dave Dion, Mike Stefanik, Jerry Marquis and Andy Santarre rounded out the top five. Waterford regular Tom Fox started 13th and had a good run going until getting parked by Kelly Moore. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Ricky Rudd took the win. Bob Labonte was the Grandnational winner.

Five years ago in 2002 Thompson pulled the plug on its Thursday night races after 1-1/2 inches of rain fell on the speedway. Ted Christopher recorded his 60th and 61st career wins at Stafford as he took the Friday night SK Modified Twin Bill features. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series traveled to Riverhead for a 200 lapper. Ted Christopher survived to take the win over Jerry Marquis, John Blewett III, Chuck Hossfeld and David Berghman. It was a wild night to say the least. JR Bertuccio was running second to Rick Fuller when a bold move saw Bertuccio hit Fuller and took him out. Bertuccio also backed up over Jeff Fuller. NASCAR officials parked the Long Island hot shoe and had him suspended for two weeks with a fine of $1,000. The suspension effectively cost Bertuccio a shot at the NASCAR Regional and National Championship titles. At Waterford, Dennis Gada won out over Ron Yuhas Jr. and at Wall Township, Mike Carpenter took the win. Waterfordís night didnít go without incident as officials parked John Brouwer Jr. after they felt that he intentionally backed over Jeff Pearl. Brouwer left the Speedbowl in a very hot mood and swore he would never return. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Dale Jarrett took the win after Ricky Rudd suffered a flat tire with four laps to go. Mark Martin finished second. In other weekend action, Mike Johnson won the Busch North Series event at Beech Ridge over Matt Kobyluck, Jack Sprague won his first ever Busch Series event at Nashville, Ken Tremont scored his 99th career win at Lebanon Valley and dirt tracker Jimmy Horton got his 100th win at Bridgeport, Pa.

Last year, 2006, rain blanketed the New England area wiping out action at the Stafford Speedway for the fourth week in a row. Rain also washed out racing at Waterford, Seekonk and at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. The Nextel Cup and Busch Series events got to run in Dover. Matt Kenseth passed teammate Jamie McMurray with four laps to go at the Dover International Speedway and went on to win the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America for his second win of the season. This was Kensethís 12th career victory and #92 for Roush Racing. It was worth $323,591 from the over $5.6M in posted awards. Early rain washed out the afternoon qualifying session and forced Burton to start 36th in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo. But the 38-year-old veteran battled his way to the front and held off Nextel Cup star Carl Edwards to register the best come-from-behind victory ever at Dover.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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