Friday June 29, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, Eddie Flemke won a 50 lapper at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Stafford had a 100 lapper scheduled but was forced to cancel due to rain. Following Flemke were Pete Hamilton, Bernie Miller, Elton Hill and Lou Lazzaro. Leo Cleary was the Saturday night feature winner at the Norwood Arena. At Fonda, Pete Corey took the win over Bill Wimble and Lazzaro. Thompson and Utica-Rome fell victim to rain. The All Star League, the brainchild of Larry Mendelsohn and Lou Figari made its debut at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Fred Harbach took the 100 lap main event over Bill Wimble, Pete Corey, Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan, Kenny Shoemaker and Eddie Flemke.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, the Fourth of July weekend started on a wet note as Friday night racing at Malta rained out. Saturday night at Stafford saw Canadian Denis Giroux take a popular win over Bugsy Stevens and Tom Sutcliff. At Islip, Fred Harbach out-dueled Missippi Curtiss and Charlie Jarzombek and at Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Irv Taylor and Don Wayman. Seekonk ran a 100 lap open show on Sunday with Fred DeSarro taking the win over Ed Flemke, Bobby Sprague, Johnny Tripp and Bugsy Stevens. Utica-Rome also ran a 100 lapper with Richie Evans taking the top spot over Sonny Seamon, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Stafford had a 150 lapper scheduled for Monday but tossed in the towel because of showers. The All Star League visited Fonda on Tuesday for a 100 lap contest which was won by Buzzie Reutimann over Jerry Cook, Lou Lazzaro and Ron Narducci.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Stafford started the Fourth of July weekend with a 100 lapper that drew 56 Modifieds and over 9000 spectators. Geoff Bodine took the hotly contested feature over Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller, John Rosati and Brett Bodine. Monadnock also ran on Friday night with a 50 lapper. Pete Fiandaca took the win over Bob Karvonen. On Long Island at Riverhead, Charlie Jarzombek won out over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. Saturday night was also a busy one. At Seekonk over 15,000 were on hand to cheer Bugsy Stevens as he took the victory in the Fred Fusco No.1. George Summers finished second with Eddie StAngelo, George Murray and Ray Lee rounding out the top five. Joe Howard beat out Mike Murphy at Westboro and in a 100 lapper at Waterford, Bill Greco won out over Mark Geer, George Allum, Joe Tiezzi, Mark LaJunesse and Dick Ceravolo. Geoff Bodine carried his winning ways over to Riverside Park on Saturday night with a victory over Bob Polverari and Ron Wycoff. Islip and Freeport were still butting heads and fighting for cars and fans. Greg Sacks took the win at Islip over Fred Harbach and Wayne Anderson. At Freeport, Charlie Jarzombek took the win over George Brunnhoelzl Jr. Ronnie Bouchard was the king pin at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third.

Twenty five years ago in 1982, Westboro ran an 82 lap open competition event on Wednesday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Gomer Taylor and Reggie Ruggiero. Greg Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford as he beat out Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero for his 13th win of the season. Bugsy Stevens, driving the Mystic Missile, had his season come to an early end as he suffered fractured lower vertebras after taking a hard shot into the turn one concrete as a result of a cut tire. It was also a not so good night for Daring Dick Caso who was given a three week suspension for making a banzai move that ended up wiping out the cars of Brett Bodine, Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller and Mike Hornat. Doug French took the Friday night win at New Egypt and Wayne Anderson took top honors at Riverhead. Waterford suffered a rain out on Saturday but at Seekonk it stayed dry as Mr. Leo Cleary put Joe Brady's 00 in victory lane. Gomer Taylor finished second with Eddie StAngelo, fourth. Marty Radwick won a 100 lapper at Riverside Park and John Blewett Jr. won a 100 lapper at Islip. At Shangri-La it was Jerry Cook over Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt. Sunday night at Thompson saw Reggie Ruggiero take the top spot over George Kent, Richie Evans and Bob Polverari.

Twenty years ago in 1987, the NASCAR Modified Tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Jim Spencer took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Mike Stefanik and Corky Cookman. Rain washed out Friday night at Stafford and Saturday night at Waterford. At Riverside Park, Stan Greger took the win over Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Bruce Del. At Riverhead, Tom McCann won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. The Mod Tour headed for Jennerstown, Pa on Sunday where Jan Leaty pulled off the win over Jim Spencer, Jeff Fuller, Mike McLaughlin and Mike Stefanik.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Touring Series was at Riverhead on Wednesday for a 201 lap event. Mike Stefanik started on the pole and led the entire distance to take the win. Ed Brunnhoelzl finished second. Rick Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero and Steve Park rounded out the top five. Friday night at Stafford saw Ted Christopher win out over John Sneade and Mike Christopher. Mike Ewanitsko made it three in a row at Riverhead on Saturday night. Racing at Waterford was delayed two hours because of rain. The Strictly Stocks started their main event and got seven laps in the books before the Connecticut DMV shut them down because of the midnight curfew. Jerry Marquis was the big winner at Riverside and Dave Dion won the Oxford 250 for the third time and pocketed $37,150 for his efforts.

Ten years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he put his Dodge powered SK modified in victory lane over Bo Gunning and Bob Potter. The Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen. Tim Connolly took the lead with six laps to go and went on to record the victory over Rick Fuller and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik juggled his schedule between Watkins Glen and the Busch Grandnational event at Nazareth. Stefanik practiced at Nazareth in the morning, flew to Watkins Glen and started the Modified event in the Brady 00, jumped out at the first caution, flew back to Nazareth for qualifying. Tucker Reynolds scored at Waterford after Todd Ceravolo pitted while leading with a leaky radiator. Don Fowler finished second. Jim Broderick was parked for the night after an altercation with Jeff Pearl and Ricky Young was suspended for two events because of a rough riding incident. Tim Continanno won at Riverhead and it was Richie Gallup at Riverside. Bob Dragon passed Jerry Marquis with five laps to go to take the Busch North Series event at Nazareth. Marquis finished second with Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Andy Santarre rounding out the top five.

Five years ago in 2002 the weeks race schedule brought back fond memories of years ago when there was racing five days out of seven. There was something for everyone to say the least. The best of both worlds, The Busch North Series and the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour, were in Southern New England. Stafford started it off on Wednesday night with the twice-rained out Connecticut Classic 150 for the Featherlite Modifieds. Ted Christopher used his home track advantage to the fullest as he led the event from pole to pole. Some would say it was boring but if one were aware of the background drama their opinion would change. Christopher’s secret was the fact that his car was set up to the precision of a Swiss watch by crew chief Barry Kuhnel. In fact, the car was so perfect; Christopher went the 150-lap distance on the same tires in which he started. The show behind him was the one to watch as Ed Flemke Jr. came from the rear twice to finish second. The event was also a true test of human stamina and equipment durability as temperatures were in the mid 90’s and the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife. There were fourteen cars on the lead lap at the finish. Rick Fuller toughed it out to finish third with Jerry Marquis and Chris Kopec rounding out the top five. Twenty-nine of the original thirty-one qualifiers were on hand. Fred Vordermeir, who missed the cut in time trials pinch hitted for injured Tony Hirshman. Vordermeir did a good job as he finished in eighth spot. Jeff Fuller qualified the No. 17, which had been driven by Mike Ewanitsko before he got hurt. Fuller and car were no-shows. In the SK-Modifieds, Bo Gunning scored his second victory of the year. Mike Stefanik started the event as the point leader but an eleventh place finish, plus Marquis’ fourth, moved him back to second spot as Marquis moved into the lead. On to Thompson, on Thursday night, Jeff Malave found himself sitting in the catbird seat after Ted Christopher tapped Bo Gunning. Gunning and Christopher passed Malave for the lead on the 13th lap. On the next go-round, Christopher tapped Gunning who in turn spun and hit the wall a ton. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks felt that Christopher was rough riding and black-flagged him to the rear. It was the second incident of the night involving the defending national champion. Bert Marvin, who had been riding a streak of three in a row, got wrecked on the second lap after Christopher brake checked him. Christopher, who has been doing some verbal jousting with Marvin, denied his accusation. With Gunning and Marvin out of it Malave had a somewhat easy time of it as he took the win over Ron Yuhas Jr. and Kerry Malone. Christopher rebounded to finish fourth with Tom Bolles, fifth. A total of 29 cars took the green. On Friday night, it was back to Stafford for the SK-Modifieds or off to Lee Raceway for the Modified open. At Stafford, Ted Christopher scored his 62nd career win at Jack Arute’s place. Like Malave at Thompson, Christopher got the win over another’s miss-fortune. With seven laps to go in the 50-lap feature, Ron Silk was running second and took a header into the fence after going over the roof of Doug Coby. Once the mess was cleared, Christopher drove to victory without incident. Don Travaglin finished second with Jeff Baral, third. At Lee, Ed Flemke Jr. went pole to pole to take the 100-lap win. Charlie and Carl Pasteryak followed with Kirk Alexander, fourth. At Waterford on Saturday night, Jeff Pearl got redemption after a bone jarring wreck a week ago that all but destroyed his car. Pearl led all but one lap to record his first victory since July 8, 2000. Pearl and his dad, Jerry, along with his crew cut the wrecked car up from behind the seat and replaced the entire rear structure of the car plus running gear and sheetmetal. Dennis Gada finished second with Rob Janovic, Ed Reed Jr. and Don Fowler rounding out the top five. The Busch North Series made its annual stop at the shoreline oval with Kelly Moore taking the win. Finishing out the weekend on Sunday was a Race of Champions Tour event at the all new Adirondack Speedway in upstate New York. The ROC event drew 33 modifieds including Ted Christopher. Christopher started second and led laps 71 thru 133 until getting taken out by George Kent Sr. Kent was parked for his actions and took a fit on the track. Eric Beers took the lead after the demise of Christopher and led Jim Willis and Rick Zacharias across the stripe at the finish.

Last year, 2006 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway on Thursday where they shared top billing with NASCAR’s Busch East Series (formerly Busch North Series). Forty four Modifieds were on hand on a humid and sultry night. Jimmy Blewett was the Busch Pole sitter. The re-draw for starting positions saw James Civali pick the pole with Eric Beers picking the outside pole.

Eric Beers, in the Boehler Racing Ole Blu, took the lead on the start with Ed Flemke moving into second spot. Beers led the first 42 laps until Ronnie Silk spun out in Turn 2 to bring out the first caution. After the restart on lap 45, Eddie Flemke went to the front by passing Beers two laps later on the front-stretch. A multi-car crash in the backstretch brought out the second caution on lap 48 and didn’t restart until lap 56. Among those eliminated was Jerry Marquis who expressed his displeasure of Jamie Tomaino’s patience. Also eliminated were Matt Hirschman and Tony Ferrante Jr. Flemke remained out front until Todd Szegedy passed him while working lap 65. Szegedy’s lead didn’t last long before another crash occurred in the backstretch to bring out the third caution that lasted from lap 66 to lap 74. Reggie Ruggiero lost control and triggered the crash. Eliminated in that crash were Ted Christopher and Chris Pasteryak. Chuck Hossfeld also lost many laps while his crew made repairs to damage sustained. Szegedy led the final restart and was untouchable from there. Flemke finished a strong second and was followed by Civali, Beers and Tony Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ruggiero, Steve Whitt, Ron Yuhas Jr and Ken Barry. Twenty-one of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.

Matt Kobyluck won his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season, and took over the series point lead. He took the lead when Sean Caisse suffered drivetrain failure after leading the first 13 laps. Caisse, the former point leader, was scored 28th and last in the field. Brian Hoar chased Kobyluck to the checkered flag, less than half a second behind, with Charles Lewandoski recording a career-best third place finish. Mike Johnson was fourth, Bryon Chew fifth, and Mike Olsen sixth. Dave Dion, Jamie Aube, Ruben Pardo, and John Salemi completed the top ten.

The Thompson Speedway ran their Double Trouble program last Thursday night despite the threat of showers. Jeff Malave muscled his way to a convincing win in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malave took the lead as he entered turn one on lap six and held off repeated challenges from Tom Cravenho who ended up settling for second. Woody Pitkat was extremely strong as he traded spots with Cravenho on numerous occasions but in the end settled for third. Jimmy Blewett and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Jeff Zuidema won the 30-lap Pro Stock feature. Dave Trudeau held off Salem's Corey Hutchings to win the 25-lap Late Model feature. Eddie Puleo of Branford, CT made it two-for-two taking down his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. The win; however, was not an easy one as Keith DeSanctis gave it all he had in the closing laps. DeSanctis got alongside Puleo briefly but had to settle for second. Rick Blanchard took down his second straight Mini Stock victory. Ron Rixham had enjoyed an early lead but in the late stages of the 15-lap Mini Stock feature the former divisional champ began to feel the pressure. After a short battle, Rixham relinquished his lead to Scott Michalksi. The lead quickly changed hands again with Blanchard taking over control of the event. Michalski took his place in second while Shelly Perry, true to form, came on strong in the waning laps to claim third. Rixham had faded to fourth at the checkers ahead of Andy Publicover. Roger Larson, Jr.

The Stafford Motor Speedway took advantage of the dry weather as they ran the 12th annual American Sleeve Bearing Late Model 100 last Friday night. Ryan Posocco was the big winner of the 100-lapper, recovering from an early race spin to drive back through the field under a prolonged green flag run. Todd Owen was the winner of the SK Modified® feature, while there were two first-time winners in the SK Lights and DARE Stocks. Richie Pallai, Jr. captured his first career win in the SK Light feature, while Lori-Jo Rzeszutek scored her first career victory in the DARE Stock feature. The Limited Late Model feature was tentatively rescheduled to next Tuesday, July 4th due to time constraints. In the 100-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Posocco ran down the leaders under a long green flag run, and then inherited the lead when race leader Scott Foster, Jr. broke a transmission on lap-88. Ed Ricard led the first 40-laps of the race with Tom Fearn taking the lead from Ricard. Fearn held the lead until lap-59 when Foster moved to the front. Posocco had spun on lap-16 after contact with Brad Boissonneault, and he had moved back into the top-5 at this stage of the race under green flag conditions. Foster held the lead until his transmission gave out on lap-88, which handed the lead to Posocco. Posocco pulled away from second place on two subsequent restarts to take his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season. Jim Peterson took second, with Mark Lewis third, Tom Butler fourth, and Todd Owen fifth. In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Todd Owen charged past Curt Brainard on the outside groove on lap-9 and then he held off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco over the final 10-laps to take his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season. Willie Hardie finished third, with Jeff Baral and Kenny Horton rounding out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Tom Fox all but cleaned house as he won the Pepsi-300 100 lap SK Modified event. Fox wore out Rob Summers and then held off Dennis Gada as he recorded his first win of the year. Summers faded to third spot in the closing laps. The 100-lap Late Model segment went to Allen Coates, making his season debut. Joe Godbout III won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature while Dwayne Dorr ruled the 50-lap Sportsman haul.

NASCAR announced that they had lowered the age to 16 to those who intend to compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series and Busch East. The Modifieds were part of a rain shortened practice session at the New Hampshire International Speedway last week. Thirteen Whelen Modified Tour teams showed up for the NHIS Open Test session. Among those were seven rookies including Danny Sammons, Glenn Tyler, Anthony Sesely, James Civali, Kenny Horton, Matt Hirschman and Jon McKennedy. Veterans that appeared for the test session were Rob Summers, Todd Szegedy, Zach Sylvester, Donny Lia, Nevin George and Todd Bodine. Because of the fact that rain cut short the session the Bahres refunded each team’s $500 payment plus provided free food for the competitors.

Tony Stewart won the Pepsi 400 Nextel Cup event at Daytona. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Busch Series winner.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:

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

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