Friday June 8, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, Eddie Flemke made it clear that he liked the new asphalt at Stafford as he made it two in a row. Fred Harbach finished second with Bobby Santos, third with Fred DeSarro and Joe Trudeau rounding out the top five. Rain put a damper on action at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. A little further west at the Spencer Speedway Jim Shampine took a Friday night win. At the Norwood Arena on Saturday night, Johnny Thompson put his Ford Cobra powered mount in victory lane. The NEMA midgets gave Stafford a try on Sunday with Johnny Coy taking the win over Russ Klar, Jerry Wall and George Konklin. Fulton Raceway ran on Saturday and Sunday. Dutch Hoag won the Saturday event with Don Diffendorf winning on Sunday. Flemke made it two in a row at the Utica – Rome Speedway. Ernie Gahan finished second with Elton Hill, third. Bernie Miller and Dick Clark rounded out the top five.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, ageless Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner at Malta over Bugsy Stevens, Denis Giroux and Rene Charland in the Bob Johnson No.17. Fred DeSarro, who was an early retiree at Malta on Friday night, took the top spot at Stafford on Saturday night. Eddie Flemke finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Bob Santos and Denis Giroux rounding out the top five. Charlie Jarzombek beat out Jim Hendrickson at Islip and at Fonda it was Harry Peek over Jack Johnson and Andy Romano. Sunday night at Utica-Rome saw Lou Lazzaro take the win over Richie Evans and at Seekonk in a 100 lap open competition event, George Summers refused to be intimidated by the NASCAR hot dogs as he ruled his home territory. Fred DeSarro finished second with Jon Astle, third.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, rain washed Stafford out on Friday night. At Riverside Park on Saturday night Bob Stefanik beat out Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari for the win. Monadnock ran a 100 lap NASCAR championship event on Sunday with surprise entry Maynard Troyer taking the win over Brett Bodine, Bob Polverari, Pete Fiandaca and John Rosati. In Sunday night small block modified action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row. Ron Bouchard finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.

Twenty five years ago in 1982,all of the racing for the whole weekend in New York and New England rained out. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Terry Labonte took the pole but it was Bobby Allison in victory lane. Ronnie Bouchard qualified 12th only to retire after 67 laps when his clutch went.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Jerry Pearl took top honors in SK Modified action at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Richie Gallup, Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. Ron Shepherd was awarded the win after Dave Reszendes,who crossed the stripe first, was penalized and placed eighth for rough riding. Reggie Ruggiero won a 100 lapper at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Wayne Anderson over Fred Harbach. Bugsy Stevens was the Pro Stock winner at Seekonk. On Sunday, the Modifieds traveled to Beech Ridge where Jeff Fuller took the win over Reggie Ruggiero.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, Stafford had an off night. At Riverside on Saturday night, Reggie Ruggiero took the 50 lap win over Chris Kopec and Dan Avery. Chris Jones got his first ever SK-Modified win at Waterford. Bert Marvin finished second with Harry Rice, third. Riverhead hosted a double header with Tom Baldwin and Bob Park recording wins. The Featherlite Modified Tour series was at Thompson on Sunday. Jeff Fuller, who had set fast time, drew the pole and led the first 91 laps of the 150 lap contest. After pitting for tires on lap 91, he powered his way back to the front and took the lead for good from Tom Baldwin on lap 114.Baldwin hung on to finish second and was followed by Steve Park, Jan Leaty and Rick Fuller. Mike Christopher was the SK Modified winner over Bo Gunning, Tom Tagg and Ted Christopher. On a sad note, it was announced that Bill France Sr, who had founded NASCAR, had passed away.

Ten years ago in 1997, the Busch North Series visited Stafford for a 150 lap event. Jerry Marquis took the win over Tom Bolles and Andy Santarre. In SK Modified action, Bob Potter recorded his 22nd career win over Steve Chowanski and Jim Broderick. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Flemington where Mike Stefanik made it five in a row. Stefanik took the lead from Tim Connolly on lap 118 of the 150 lap contest. Eight cautions for 42 laps kept the average speed down to 81.977 mph. Jan Leaty, Connolly, Tom Cravenho and Lee Sherwood rounded out the top five. Todd Ceravolo recorded his third win of the season at Waterford. Ceravolo took the lead from Mark LaJunesse on lap 20 of the 35 lap feature. Lajunesse finished second and was followed by Dennis Gada, Mike Gada and Jeff Pearl. Bill Park went pole to pole to beat out John Fortin for the win at Riverhead and at Riverside, Ted Riggot held of Rob Summers for the win. AJ Foyt and Arre Lyandike came close to slugging it out as Billy Boat won an IRL event in Texas and in Winston Cup action at Pocono, Jeff Gordon took the win over Jeff Burton.

Five years ago in 2002, Thompson started the weekend off with their Thursday night Thunder Series. Bert Marvin won the Sunoco SK Modified feature by twenty car lengths over Ted Christopher. Bo Gunning finished third with Chuck Docherty, fourth. Stafford suffered their third rainout of the season on Friday. A short field of 22 Modifieds was on hand at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox took the win over Dennis Gada, Eddie Reed Jr and Rob Janovic. For some strange reason the pit area concession stand never opened At Riverhead, Joe Hartmann took the win over Dan Jivenelli and Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. Tim Arre was victorious at Wall Township over Curtis Truex and Chip Graves. Richie Evans Jr. had been a regular competitor at Wall up until this time but was not allowed to compete as officials learned that his drivers license had been revoked by the state of North Carolina because of a DUI charge. Kenny Tremont got his 100th win at Lebanon Valley. In Winston Cup action at Michigan it looked like Dave Blaney was headed for his first win until he was forced to pit for fuel with nine laps to go. Matt Kenseth inherited the lead and went on to take the win over Dale Jarrett. Brett Bodine was the Busch Racing Series at Kentucky.

Last year, it looked like the proposed domed speedway in Plainfield, CT was a dead issue as town zoning commissioners voted 4-1 to eliminate a controversial one-year-old development district that incorporated 822 acres east of Interstate 395 near exits 87 and 88. The commission voted unanimously to also repeal the supporting zoning regulations that enabled the district to be established. The decision became effective on Saturday. New England Raceway LLC, a Trumbull, CT-based firm, originally proposed the development district, which was commonly referred to as the C5 zone. Developer Eugene Arganese, who had previously all been run out of North Stonington, spent the better part of the summer of 2004 garnering support for the zoning concept and his proposal to build a nearly $400 million domed auto racetrack. After a first failed attempt in November 2004, Arganese was successful in getting the regulations passed and the zoning map amended to establish the district with the Plainfield Greyhound Park on Lathrop Road at its anchor. He secured options on hundreds of acres in the area with promises to purchase the properties for prices much higher than market value once he received all necessary approvals for his project. Arganese, who did not attend the previous week’s meeting, had never filed an application for his proposed 140,000-seat racetrack. In May, the LeBlanc family on 226 Lathrop Road filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Arganese. Family members allege he failed to purchase their property for the $894,700 he promised by Dec. 31, 2005.

The Thompson Speedway was scheduled to start it’s Thursday night Thunder Series but after close to five inches of rain fell on the speedway track owner Don Hoenig had no choice but to cancel the event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of Summer Blast-Off Night on Friday as the weatherman finally gave the speedway a break. In the consecutive win category, Jeff Baral racked up his second consecutive SK Modified feature win while Woody Pitkat took home his third consecutive Late Model feature win. Shelly Perry was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature event, George Nocera, Jr. was the winner of the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Steve Berardi was the 15-lap DARE Stock feature winner, and Woody Pitkat was the winner of the Late Model 16 feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Jeff Baral, of Enfield, survived a crash marred feature event to take his second consecutive win of the 2006 season. Baral and Bo Gunning were dueling for the lead in a nose to tail battle when a caution came out with 32 laps complete. Baral got around Gunning on the ensuing restart, and he outlasted Gunning to the checkered flag. Woody Pitkat took third, with Jeff Malave fourth and Chuck Docherty fifth. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, captured his third consecutive Late Model feature win of the 2006 season.
Conspicuous by his absence from the SK Modified feature was Ted Christopher. Christopher had planned on competing at Stafford until federal and state marshals raided his race shop in Plainville, CT on Friday morning taking six cars plus truckloads of racing related equipment and parts. The racecars that he drove belonged to Danbury Connecticut businessman Jim Galante. Galante was arrested Friday with others as part of a federal investigation into organized crime's influence over the trash hauling business. Galante also owns the Danbury Trashers hockey team. Christopher is Stafford’s all time feature winner plus a top contender on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Christopher will bounce back from this temporary setback.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Shawn Monahan survived seven restarts after starting on the pole and became the seventh different SK-Modified feature winner of the season. Monahan, who battled defending champion Rob Summers most of the way, secured one of two guaranteed spots for the upcoming True Value Modified Series 100. Summers had a Whelen Modified Tour commitment in Jennerstown, PA giving the second True Value spot to Monahan’s brother Diego, a winner earlier in the season. Diego, who finished third, fought off Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada over the final seven laps. Other winners included Tim Jordan (30-lap Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (20-lap Sportsman) and Ken Cassidy (20-lap Mini Stock).

The Busch East, formerly Busch North Series, got its new beginning on Saturday night at the Greenville- Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Live HD Net TV coverage and a purse of $118,911 served as another slap in the face to the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Sean Caisse, the 2005 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, won his first career NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race. Caisse, driving for four-time champion Andy Santerre, took the lead for the final time on lap 142 of An American Revolution 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet. A near-capacity crowd at NASCAR’s second–oldest speedway, including racing legends David Pearson and Jack Ingram, enthusiastically enjoyed the classic short track bumping, grinding, and three-wide racing on the nearly flat half mile track where the first live NASCAR telecast on a major network took place 35 years ago. Brian Hoar, Mike Olsen, Matt Kobyluck, and Bryon Chew completed the top five.

Denny Hamlin did a NASCAR version of a spin and win and captured his first ever NEXTEL Cup victory at Pocono Raceway in the Pocono 500. Hamlin led all but one lap of the first 51 when he lost a left rear tire going into the tunnel turn. After managing to keep it off both walls, his crew did yeoman's work both keeping that car on the lead lap and keeping it fast and that was all he needed as he went on to register a dominant victory. Denny led 6 times for 83 laps and posted a 1.328 margin of victory. Kurt Busch finished second with Tony Stewart, third. Carl Edwards drove to a dominating win in the Federated Auto Parts 300 in Nashville, TN. He unofficially led 70 of the last 85 laps, and beat Clint Bowyer to the finish by .920 seconds. It was Edwards' second win in the last three Busch races.

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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