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Friday June 5, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, rain washed out both Stafford and Albany-Saratoga on Friday. Saturday night at Norwood it was Freddie Schulz taking the top spot over Bob Santos, Eddie Flemke, Johnny Thompson and Bugsy Stevens. Lou Lazzaro made it three in a row at Fonda. Don Wayman finished second with Dave Lape and Jerry Cook rounding out the top four. Jim Hendrickson beat out Pat Moon at Islip and at Airborne Park it was Jean Guy Chartrand in the Hemi-Cuda beating Denis Giroux and Phil Spiak to the checker. Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Utica-Rome on Sunday. Lazzaro used the same car on both dirt and asphalt. Cook finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Thompson was silent as a sports car event was held on the road course-oval. Don Collins won the Modified 30 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Bunnell was the Daredevil winner.


Canadian Jean-Guy Chartrand took down the win at Airborne Park Speedway in 1969 in the radical Ed Cloce owned Hemi-Cuda.

Thirty-five years ago in 1974, it rained on Friday night again, washing out events scheduled at Freeport and Utica-Rome. Saturday night was busy. At Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard put the Bob Johnson No.17 in victory lane, beating Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary to the stripe. At Islip, Charging Charlie Jarzombek rim rode to victory over Al Holmberg and Herbie Hulse and at Shangri-La, Geoff Bodine dusted the field despite attempts by Sonny Seamon and Dick Fowler to run him down. Richie Evans went to Lancaster where he beat out Jim Rudolph and Maynard Troyer while at Waterford Joe Trudeau took the win and on Sunday at Fulton, Troyer bested Bodine, Evans and Jerry Cook. In open competition action at Thompson on Sunday night, twin 30's were on tap and Fred DeSarro scored a double. Bob Santos finished second in the first one and was followed by Dick Caso and Ronnie Bouchard. Bugsy Stevens finished second in the nite-cap and was followed by Bouchard, Santos and Angie Cerese.

Thirty years ago in 1979, Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday. Charlie Jarzombek took the win and it was almost ten years to the day from his previous win there. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Satch Worley and Dick Caso. At Spencer, Maynard Troyer beat out Billy Colton and Doug Hewitt. Jarzombek followed up his win at Stafford with a win at Islip on Saturday. At Riverside it was Richie Evans over Reggie Ruggiero and Jerry Cook and at Seekonk, Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens finished one-two. Other weekend winners were Jeff Fuller at Westboro, George Kent at Shangri-La, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Ron Bouchard at Thompson, Reggie Ruggiero at Monadnock, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster, Punky Caron at Claremont and Richie Evans won the Port City 150 at Oswego on Sunday.

Twenty-five years ago in 1984, monsoon type rains fell on New England and washed out Friday and Saturday night events at Stafford, Riverside and Waterford. The Connecticut River overflowed its banks and flooded Riverside Park up to the fifth row in the main grandstand. New Egypt got to run on Friday and it was Wayne Anderson taking the win over Tony Siscone and Jim Spencer. At Spencer Speedway, Jan Leaty led the charge to the checker with Roger Treichler and George Kent following. Leaty repeated the following night at Shangri-La as he beat out Corky Cookman and George Kent. Islip ran double features as did Wall Stadium. Tom Baldwin and Don Howe shared victory lane at Islip and at Wall it was Robert Hendrickson and Gil Hearne. In Winston Cup action at Riverside California, Terry Labonte took the pole and the win. The modifieds were at Thompson where Jeff Fuller took the win.

Twenty years ago in 1989, Bob Potter was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Ted and Mike Christopher followed. At Waterford, Rodney Tulba took the win and at Riverside, Stan Greger beat out Reggie Ruggiero. Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead .The Modified Tour was at Waterford on Sunday. Mike McLaughlin took the event over Tom Baldwin and Mike Stefanik.

Fifteen years ago, in 1994, Mike Paquette won at Stafford on Friday night over Ted Christopher. At Waterford, David Gada held off Todd Ceravolo and John Anderson. Tom McCann won at Riverhead and Dan Avery was the main man at Riverside. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Rusty Wallace survived many wrecks to take the win and in BGNN action at Watkins Glen, Butch Leitzinger won with little trouble.

Ten years ago, in 1999, Mike Christopher recorded his 23rd career win at Stafford on Friday night. Jerry Marquis finished second. Dennis Gada passed Rick Donnelly with 11 laps to go and made it five wins in a row at Waterford. Donnelly finished second and was followed by Bill Sharp and Todd Ceravolo. Ricky Miller got his third win at Riverside and at Riverhead, Ken Matlach won out over Al Ermarino. A dark cloud hung over Riverhead as NASCAR Chief Steward Walt Edsall, who was standing in turn three, was struck by a flying wheel off the modified of Joe Hartmann. Edsall suffered severe head injuries and would lie in a coma until he eventually passed away. Racing also lost one of its legends as Ralph"Hop"Harrington passed away in Florida after a lengthy illness. Bryan Wall got his first Busch North win at Holland, N.Y., after Brad Leighton and Tom Carey tangled. Evidently Busch North officials felt that Leighton had put Carey out as they placed him at the rear. At Dover Del., Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Grandnational event. Ted Christopher wrecked after a tangle with Johnny Benson and ended up 30th.Bob Labonte was the Winston Cup winner.

Five years ago 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island last Saturday night. A strong threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the competitors or the fans. A huge field, 47 cars, was in the pit area. Jerry Marquis was the Busch Pole sitter. Marquis drew the outside pole starting spot and led the entire 200-lap contest to record the win, the 16th of his career in Tour competition. Marquis put on a superb display of precision driving. The Boehler Racing entry never missed a beat and handled like it was on a wire. Marquis lapped all but the top five despite five cautions that consumed 56 laps. John Blewett III, who has had nothing but bad luck this year, used the Riverhead event as a breakout race as he finished second. Mike Stefanik finished third with Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke Jr. rounding out the top five. Tony Hirschman, fresh off his win at Stafford finished sixth, one lap down. Gregg Shivers, Ricky Fuller, Doug Coby and Chuck Steuer rounded out the top ten. Racing at Riverhead can be very intense and nerves of steel are required for one to be successful. Among the seven caution periods was a red flag condition on lap 52 when Fred Vordermeir and Jamie Tomaino wrecked. Many of the tour regulars had their problems. Defending series champion Todd Szegedy retired with overheating problems after he completed only 114 laps. Rookie candidate Ken Barry got caught up in a wreck and completed only 90 laps. Chuck Hossfeld toughed it out with handling problems and ended up 16th at the conclusion of the event. Hossfeld was parked in the infield when the checkered flag was displayed. Eddie Flemke Jr. continues to lead the point standings with a 49-point lead over Ted Christopher. Tony Hirschman sits third with Jerry Marquis and Tony Ferrante Jr. rounding out the top five.

Competitors, fans and officials endured at Thompson on Thursday night. Rain fell on the speedway shortly after Late Model qualifying. In what looked to be a rain out the speedway management persisted and in the end completed their racing program and had everyone headed home by 9:30 PM. Bo Gunning, who is concentrating on just racing at Thompson put the Eddie Partridge owned mount in victory lane. Gunning took the lead from Bert Marvin on lap six of the 30-lap feature. Ted Christopher, who finished second, made numerous attempts to pass but in the end settled for the runner-up spot. Jeff Malave was also a contender but lacked that little extra and settled for third. Rounding out the top five were Bob Santos III and Kerry Malone. Going into the event Todd Ceravolo and Eric Berndt were tied for the point lead. Thanks to the efforts of Adam Norton both were denied a top spot at the finish. In two separate incidents Norton turned into them. Berndt hit the wall and didn’t finish. Ceravolo ended up with bent wheels and a bent rear end but managed to finish. In Late Model action Corey Hutchings made it three out of five at the 5/8 mile banked oval. Hutchings and Charlie Bailey swapped paint on the final lap and in an almost photo finish Hutchings nipped Bailey at the finish line. Woody Pitkat finished third. Other winners were Mike O’Sullivan over David Berghman in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnet over Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks.

Ted Christopher was on the giving end rather than on the receiving end at Stafford on Friday night. Christopher used his famous bonsai bottom shot on Steve Chowanski in the closing moments of the 40 lap SK-Modified feature. In taking the win Christopher became the first repeat winner in SK Modified competition at Stafford. Chowanski faded to third as Willie Hardie took over second spot at the finish. Last week’s winner Jim Civale recovered from a flat tire and stormed his way into fourth spot. John Sanberg rounded out the top five. Other Friday night winners were Joe Rzeszutck in the Late Models and Glenn Barthowski in the Dare Stocks. Numerous wrecks and spins made for a long night. The SK-Modifieds continue to self-destruct. It seems that competitors have little respect for their peers or equipment.

The Waterford Speedbowl also beat the impending rain. Nextel Cup stars Bill Elliott, Kerry Earnhardt and Ken Schrader were on hand to greet the fans and engage in a special race. In regular competition Ed Reed Jr. ended a long dry spell as he took the win in the SK-Modified feature. Rob Janovick finished second with Don Fowler, Dennis Gada and Chris Pasteryak rounding out the top five. Dwayne Conant was awarded the win in the Sportsman division after apparent winner Dwayne Dorr was disqualified because of an illegal suspension part on his car. Former Late Model competitor Danny Field went pole to pole to win the 20 lap Mini Stock event.

Connecticut developer Gene Arganese officially announced on Thursday that he planed to build his $400 million domed ¾ mile speedway in Plainfield, Connecticut. The proposed speedway, which Arganese continued to imply that he will be holding Nextel Cup racing within four years after the track opens, would be located next to the existing Plainfield Greyhound Park. Once the local permits are submitted and filed it would take a little over two years to construct the facility. Arganese had previously proposed building his track in North Stonington, Connecticut. Anyone who follows Nextel Cup racing knows that their schedule is maxed out. The only way a Cup date would be available would be if NASCAR extended their season and that is very unlikely. The most that Arganese can hope for are dates for the Craftsman Truck Series, Featherlite Modifieds and the Busch North Series. It was also mentioned that the track could host the IRL. Bob Bahre tried that at Loudon and dropped them like a hot potato when they couldn’t draw flies. Based on Arganese’s projections the track will be ready for racing in late 2007 or early in 2008.

The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Dover Downs Speedway. Mark Martin survived a 400-mile wreck fest as he outran Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kasey Kahne had victory in sight when he spun in oil while leading and hit the wall in the closing laps.

Last year, 2008, the Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program was cancelled due to wet conditions..
The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to fog on Friday night.

The Waterford Speedbowl raced under clear skies and provided southeastern Connecticut race fans a full program of racing. The main event of the evening was a 100 lap American Canadian Tour contest that was won by tour regular Scott Payea. Waterford regular Bruce Thomas led the early going but in the end had to settle for second. Former Busch North Series regular Brad Leighton finished third with Ron Yuhas Jr and Nichloas Sweet rounding out the top five. Doug Coby was the SK Modified winner. Tyler Chadwick finished second and was followed by Dennis Gada, Jeff Paul, and Keith Rocco.

Other feature winners were Mark Hudson (Late Model), Brandon Plemons (Sportsman), and Lou Bellisle (Mini Stock).
The True Value Modified Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series were enjoying their second “Spring Break of the season.
 


One of the Galante owned Mystic #13 being confiscated by the Feds in 2006

In a somewhat racing related manner, James Galante, a major Connecticut trash hauler at the center of a sweeping federal corruption probe of mob influence in the industry pleaded guilty on June 3 and agreed to surrender dozens of businesses worth more than $100 million. The New London Day reported that Galante of Danbury entered guilty pleas to racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and wire fraud conspiracy. He faces 70 to 87 months in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. Galante sponsored and owned Ted Christopher’s racing endeavors from 1995 until June of 2006 when the Galante/Christopher race shop was raided by the feds who confiscated five complete Modified Type cars plus another one in the process of being built. One of the cars was a four-time winner at Loudon.

A 17 page indictment states that Galante is "knowingly and willingly turning over to the U.S. Government": "Six racing cars, marked with numbers 01 thru 06, on the front frame rails and one 1997 53 foot Featherlie Trailer." Galante agreed to take all steps as requested by the United States to pass clear title to all of the assets listed over to the United States Govermment.". Chances are that the race cars and equipment will be auctioned to the public at some date in the future. Galante’s actual sentencing would be on August 22.

In NASCAR Nextel Cup competition at the Pocono Raceway, Kasey Kahne started from the pole, overcame an early pit road penalty that dropped him to 38th and led a race-high 69 of the 200 laps in his Dodge as he went on to take the win. Brian Vickers was second for his best finish since joining Red Bull Racing and Denny Hamlin was third to give Toyota two cars in the top three. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth and appeared winded after racing more than four hours in temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees. Kyle Busch finished last, but became the first driver to compete in all three of NASCAR's national series at three racetracks on the same weekend. Brad Keselowski raced to his first Nationwide Series victory Saturday night, passing Clint Bowyer with six laps to go and easily holding off his closest rivals in the Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. Joey Logano won the pole during the day, but finished 31st after a crash on lap 89. He led the first 60 laps and 64 overall. David Stremme rallied to finish second, followed by David Reutimann and Bowyer.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos taken by photographer Shaney Lorenzet  from the files of the SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size


"Wild Bill" Slater


George Lombardo


Jocko Maggiacomo


Johnny Thompson


Red Bolduc


Tommy Van Epps

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