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June 1, 2012

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1952 Red Bolduc was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Harold “Curley” LeMay took the top spot in the Claiming Cars. Saturday night racing was rained out.

Fifty five years ago in 1957 rain washed out the action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

Fifty years ago in 1962, Ron Narducci made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Waterford ran a 50 lap Modified event on Tuesday which was won by Dick Beauregard and a 25 lap Modified event on Saturday night which was won by Ted Stack. Ed Gladue was the Bomber winner on both nights.

Forty five 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. Charlie Webster took the 30 lap Modified feature at Waterford. Winston Barrows, who in later years would team up in a Modified effort with Craig Kirchoff and George Brennan won the 15 lap Daredevil feature at the shoreline oval. 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.

Forty 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. Don Bunnell was the Modified winner at Waterford. 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 five 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.

Thirty 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 five 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
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Twenty 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.

Fifteen 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.

Ten 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. Waterford’s night didn’t 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.

Five years ago in 2007 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued to regroup before coming alive for their “Summer Session” which begins on Thursday, June 21 at the Thompson Int. Speedway. Jimmy Blewett held a slim three point lead over James Civali. Two points behind Civali was Matt Hirschman. Blewett and Civali have won, Hirschman had not. Donny Lia with two wins to his credit sat in fourth spot, thirteen points behind Hirschman. Rounding out the top five was Todd Szegedy. Sixth through tenth were Zach Sylvester, Jerry Marquis, Mike Stefanik, Ronnie Silk and Jamie Tomaino. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued to be strong as 52 different drivers had entered into competition in four events.

Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway was canceled when Thunder Showers descended upon the speedway shortly after qualifying was completed.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Woody Pitkat won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Scott Cook, the 30-lap Late Model feature, Brit Andersen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Sean Foster the Limited Late Model feature, and Carla Botticello the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Woody Pitkat and Zach Sylvester duel for much of the race, with Pitkat having to hold off Ted Christopher to take his first win of the 2007 season. Sylvester took the lead at the drop of the green, and set the early pace. Pitkat settled into second, but moved past Sylvester on lap-6 to take over the lead. Pitkat then held the lead until lap-20 when Sylvester moved back out front. Sylvester then held the lead until lap-33, when Pitkat moved back by Sylvester to take the lead back. Ted Christopher followed Pitkat by Sylvester to move into second. Christopher hounded the bumper of Pitkat, but was unable to make a pass for the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Sylvester was Todd Owen, Sylvester, and Ryan Posocco.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl scored his 25th career win at the shoreline oval. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), Joe Godbout III (Mini Stock), and Chris Bakaj (Legends).

Pearl passed early leader Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. on the ninth lap. With the victory, Pearl earned a guaranteed starting spot for this Saturday’s True Value Modified Tour 100 at the Speedbowl. Diego Monahan, Dennis Charette, Ron Janovic Jr., and Frank Ruocco (subbing for Jimmy Horton), rounded-out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Zach Sylvester in a new entry owned by Dick Ceravolo, Shawn Monahan, Wendell Dailey, Mucciacciaro and Jay Miller.

In Late Model action, it was Bruce Thomas Jr. collecting his 3rd feature victory of the season. After a long intense side-by-side battle with multi-time champion Allen Coates that resulted in one of the closest finishes in Speedbowl history, Following Thomas and Coates was Tony Macrino, Ernie Bertrand, and Larry Goss.

Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; scored his second win of the season Sunday afternoon, June 3, at Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, NH; capturing the “Canaan 100” for modified race cars, his seventh career win with the True Value Modified Racing Series. The second generation driver captured the same event last spring at the Granite State oval. “I’ve always loved this place, we came here year’s ago with the pro stock, won an open comp show, love to come back,” Hinckley said, after being chased to the finish by point leader Kirk Alexander, Hinckley, who started the race 15th out of 28 racers, took the lead from Louie Mechalides; at lap 50, and was never headed. Mechalides pursued Hinckley until lap 90 when he yielded the second spot to Alexander. Alexander gave chase to Hinckley but was unable to get close enough to contest for the win. Lou Mechalides, Dwight Jarvis and Andy Seuss rounded out the top five.

There were 450 people in the stands at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. And it’s not just the front gate that was dwindling. Car counts were down, as well. Only the Blunderbusts and Modifieds had full fields. There were 16 cars for a double-point Charger race, 12 cars for the Late Model race, and 10 cars for the Figure Eights.

Carl Edwards, who passed Matt Kenseth with 13 laps left in the Busch Series Dover 200, extended his overall points lead and won for the third time this season. He popped his head out of the window, pumped his fist to the crowd and nailed his trademark backflip, making a clean landing on the concrete. The Nextel Cup race scheduled for Sunday was run on Monday. Martin Truex Jr became a first time winner as he took the checkered flag in the rescheduled event.

NASCAR Vice Chairman William C. France, whose leadership helped turn a family-owned company into a national phenomenon, died at 1:00pm on June 4, 2007 at his home in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the age of 74. France served as NASCAR’s president from 1972-2000, taking over from his father, NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France. In 2000, France, known as “Bill Jr.”, became NASCAR’s CEO and the chairman of the newly created NASCAR Board of Directors.

Last year, 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ventured to the Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Ron Silk ended a long dry spell as he returned to Victory Lane for the first time in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event since 2009 and he did it in dominating fashion as he went pole to pole. Driving for Eddie Partridge, Silk led all 125 laps to collect his fifth career win in his 25th start at Stafford. Once the race began, he was rarely challenged, and at one point had nearly two seconds on the field. Points leader Rowan Pennink followed in second with defending Whelen Modified Tour Champion Bobby Santos third. Ted Christopher and Erick Rudolph completed the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, James Civali and Matt Hirschman.

The race was slowed just three times by caution with the red flag displayed during the second yellow on Lap 53 to clean up a multi-car incident after Kevin Goodale hit the front stretch wall. There were 31 cars on hand. Seventeen of them were on the lead lap at the finish.

The Thompson Speedway celebrated its 71st Anniversary. Ryan Preece scored his first career Sunoco Modified victory. Chris “Moose” Douton took a borrowed ride to victory lane in the extra-distance Limited Sportsman event. Larry Gelinas posted his first victory of the season in Super Late Model action. John Materas continued his early season success with his second win of the year in the Late Models. Cam McDermott earned his first win of the year in the TIS Modifieds. Danny Field notched his third win on the season in the Mini Stocks. On the 71st anniversary of its first race, Thompson International Speedway hosted 95 race cars in the 6 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions.

Ryan Preece led pole to pole to score his first victory of the season in the caution-free 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature. Danny Cates and Ryan Preece were on the front row for the green flag, Preece controlled the event from when he took the lead off turn 2 and was never headed. Keith Rocco tried to advance on the low line past Todd Ceravolo but was kept at bay. Ted Christopher, whose car was repaired after a broken tie rod in the heat race, was up to fifth by lap 12. At the halfway juncture, Ryan Preece was still in command with Danny Cates in second. Ceravolo, Rocco and Christopher rounded out the top-5. Preece’s advantage over the field was some seven car lengths in his favor. On lap 18, Rocco found his opportunity to overtake Ceravolo. Ceravolo would have no part in it and used a crossover move to go back by Rocco on the next circuit. Ted Christopher was now in the mix as he got under Rocco to gain the fourth position.

Christopher continued his advance past Ceravolo on lap 21 off of turn 4. With 7 circuits to go, Preece led the remainder of the event to score the win. Danny Cates was second, followed by Christopher, Ceravolo and Rocco.
Although the bottom line looks good as far as the car counts go the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds drew a scant 11 cars and the Super Late Models only totaled 7.

The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted a 5-division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series along with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event as part of the 21st Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125 on Friday, May 27th. Keith Rocco scored his second victory of the season one week after destroying his car in a heat race accident in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Woody Pitkat picked up his first win of the 2011 season after starting shotgun on the field in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko picked up his second feature win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr. picked up his third win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders picked up his first win of 2011 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Pitkat had won two previous Late Model events but had them taken away because of technical issues.

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, three of five scheduled events got in the record book before heavy fog rolled in, forcing the end of the ISMA Supermodified race three laps shy of its scheduled distance, and the postponement of the remaining two feature events. In racing action, Rich Staskowski of Hope Valley, RI picked up the victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, his first on the season. Defending Mini Stock champion Ken Cassidy raced to his 27th career division win, his second victory on the year. In ISMA Supermodified action Russ Wood of Pelham, NH was the winner in a crash marred race, shortened to 47 laps. The final three laps were halted after the fog was too thick to continue.

In the Southland, Saturday was a historic event for Burt Myers at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. He claimed his 46th win, tying him for sixth on the all-time featured event list. It was also a memorable night for Joseph “Bobo” Brown, who became the 119th driver on that list of featured event winners. Brown took the checkered in the second race for the GMAC Insurance Modified Series, his first Modified win ever at Bowman Gray. Burt Myers qualified on the pole for the first 25-lapper for the Modifieds. Right beside of him on the outside front row was Jonathan Brown. As the green flag fell, Brown pushed hard on the outside, riding side-by-side with Myers for several laps. Myers claimed victory in the first race. Brown finished second, and Brian Loftin.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts “Madhouse Scramble” sent Joseph Brown, the brother of Jonathan Brown, to the pole for the start of the race. Joseph “Bobo” Brown had to fight to hold his position in the initial start, but he emerged victorious 25 laps later, his first Modified win ever. Myers finished a distant 12th.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tim Solomito made it two in a row in Modified competition.

In Modified Racing Series action Rowan Pennink survived six caution periods and three red flags to win the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event, Saturday night, at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. The victory was Pennink’s third with the VMRS and his first of the 2011 season.

Chris Pasteryak and Jon McKennedy brought the field to green with McKennedy jumping into the lead until Pasteryak took over the top spot on lap four. Pasteryak then set the pace before turning over the lead to Pennink on lap 39. Pennink led the remaining 60 laps to secure the win. Todd Patnode ended up second with Chris Pasteryak third, Dwight Jarvis, fourth, and Ken Barry, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Rob Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Aaron Fellows, Joe Doucette, and Kirk Alexander.

The race program was marred by several crashes with many competitors receiving heavy damage. Sean Bodreau, flipped end-over-end in the first qualifying race forcing the second generation driver out of the event. Bodreau was not injured. There were 27 cars on hand.

In addition to leading the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series point standings Pennink now leads the Valenti Modified Racing Series point standings.

The next event will be in two weeks at the Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, MA.

Get well wishes were sent out to longtime motorsports writer Al Robinson, who was recovering from a stroke. Al, who was the former Public Relations Director at the Dover Downs Speedway and the defunct Busch North Series had a stroke at his home.

On a sad note, noted photographer Howie Hodge sent word that Charles Kepley of the C&C Promotions family that was responsible for the annual North-South Shootout died suddenly.

In Sprint Cup racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr. was out front on the final lap for the first time in 105 races, and the only thing standing in the way of a victory was the gas, or lack of it, in his tank. The crowd roared as he took the white flag, the fans stomping in the stands in near hysteria over the almost certain ending of Earnhardt's nearly three-year losing streak. In a blink of an eye, it was over.

The gas tank in his Chevrolet ran dry along the backstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and as Earnhardt tried to coast his way through the final turn, Kevin Harvick zipped past him to steal the Coca-Cola 600. It was a heartbreaking end for the victory-starved JR Nation, and somewhat mimicked the final lap of the Indianapolis 500.

Earlier Sunday, rookie JR Hildebrand crashed coming out of the final turn to lose the Indianapolis 500. Both Earnhardt and Hildebrand are sponsored by the National Guard, and the sudden turns in the two big races spoiled what would have been a celebratory Memorial Day for the military, which makes sponsorship of auto racing its top marketing tool.

JR Hildebrand lost $1.5 million in the last mile of the Indianapolis 500. He was leading the race heading into the final turn on the final lap when he went high to pass a slower car and slammed into the safety wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to win the 100-year anniversary race. Wheldon received $2,567,255 for the victory while Hildebrand earned $1,064,895 for his second-place finish. The total purse was $13,509,485.

Matt Kenseth passed teammate Carl Edwards with two laps to go and hung on to win the 300-mile Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This week are several photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Bill Slater


Don Collins


Dutch Hoag


Red Bolduc

Bobby Santos

Winston "Win" Barrows

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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