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June 15, 2012

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1952 Johnny Sandberg, who was a R&D Sound and Vibration Technician at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT, went two for two in Claiming Car action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Don Collins was the Sportsman winner on Saturday night as rain prevailed before the Sportsman feature could be completed on Wednesday night.

Fifty five years ago in 1957, Melvin "Red" Foote was the 25 lap Sportsman feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Arnie Harris was the non-Ford winner.

Fifty years ago in 1962, Wild Bill Slater, who was known for his proficiency on asphalt was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Don Collins was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ed Moody was the Bomber winner.

Forty five years ago in 1967, rain washed out weekend racing at Stafford, Norwood and Thompson. Spencer Speedway got their show in with Bob Hudson taking the win. The skies remained dry along the Connecticut shoreline while Newt Palm won the Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night local favorite Clayton “Sonny” Seamon took the win over Eddie Flemke, Lou Lazzaro, Kenny Shoemaker and Andy Romano.

Forty years ago in 1972, Gene Bergin, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 took the top spot in Friday night action at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Bob Santos finished second with Richie Evans, Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro rounding out the top five. Ray Miller, in the Meyers-Sweatland Mustang, took Stafford by storm on Saturday night. Following Miller at the finish were Fred DeSarro, Billy Harman, Bob Santos and Eddie Flemke. At Islip it rained and at Fonda, Maynard Forette beat out Jerry Pennock, Ken Shoemaker and Jerry Cook. Dick Dunn, driving the Al and Peg Gaudreau Budda's Bullet was the Modified winner at Waterford. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Eddie Pieniezak took the win over Richie Evans, Bernie Miller and Jerry Cook.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, Geoff Bodine won at Stafford on Friday night over Ron Bouchard, John Rosati and Dick Caso. Rain washed out action at Seekonk, Westboro, Waterford and Riverside on Saturday night. It remained dry at Islip where Gary Cretty took the win over Wayne Anderson, Cliff Tyler and Tom McCann. At Freeport it was Jerry Bartlett over Gary Winters and Jim Hendrickson. Riverhead ran a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier on Sunday with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Jerry Cook and Fred Harbach. Kirby Monteith unseated Punky Caron as King of the Hill at Monadnock and at Thompson; Fred DeSarro made it three in a row as he beat out Ray Miller and John Rosati for the win. Other weekend winners were Richie Evans at Spencer and Maynard Troyer at Lancaster.

Thirty years ago in 1982, Reggie Ruggiero was the Friday night modified master at Stafford as he romped to a convincing win over Bob Vee, Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens. Spencer ran twin features including a 100 lapper that was won by Maynard Troyer. George Kent won the nite-cap and carried his win streak to Riverside on Saturday night where he beat out Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Waterford cancelled due to high water in the infield and at Seekonk; Bugsy Stevens took the top spot with the Mystic Missile. Carl Pasteryak finished second with George Summers, third. Sunday racing at Thompson rained out. Other weekend winners were Wayne Anderson over Richie Evans and Bob Park at New Egypt and Fred Harbach at Islip. In Winston Cup action at Riverside in California, Tim Richmond took the win over Terry Labonte and Geoff Bodine.

Twenty five years ago in 1987, rain washed out Stafford, Riverhead and Riverside. At Waterford, Dickie Doo Ceravolo took a popular win as he held on to beat out Bo Gunning and John Anderson. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer picked up his third win over Jan Leaty and Tony Hirschman. In Winston Cup action at Pocono the winner was Tim Richmond.

Twenty years ago in 1992, Ted Christopher took no prisoners at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Bo Gunning, Bob Potter and Richie Gallup for the win. Waterford ran twin 25's on Saturday night with Bob Potter and Rick Young each taking a victory. Tom Fox was the late model winner after Phil Rondeau and Jerry Young tangled late in the event. Jay Stuart won his fifth Pro Stock feature at Riverside and Ricky Fuller bested Chris Kopec for the modified win. Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper at Riverhead. Bob Park finished second with Brian Miller, third.

Fifteen years ago in 1997, Stafford rained out on Friday night. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series traveled to Jennerstown, Pa. where Mike Ewanitsko scored his 16th Mod Tour win over Tony Ferrente Jr, Sam Russo and Doug French. Charlie Pasteryak had been leading with five laps to go in the 150 lapper when he broke a wheel hub and crashed. Jim Broderick took the lead for the win with two laps to go at Waterford. In victory lane he dedicated his win to Scott Spaulding's dad who had passed away during the previous week. Riverside ran a 100 lapper on Tuesday and a 50 lapper on Saturday night. Dave Berube won the 100 lapper over Ted Riggott and Ted Christopher and in the 50 lapper on Saturday, Richie Gallup took the win over Christopher and Rene' Dupuis. Rumors coming out of Riverside indicated that racing for 1998 could be in doubt due to consistently bad crowds. In other weekend action, Dale Shaw won the Busch North Series 150 at Beech Ridge over Mike Stefanik and Jerry Marquis and at Riverhead; Ken Matlach scored his first ever modified win.

Ten years ago in 2002, Bert Marvin made it two in a row in Thursday night action at Thompson. Ted Christopher finished after coming from the back and was very critical of Marvin’s blocking. Tom Bolles finished third with Ron Yuhas Jr and Jeff Malave rounding out the top five. Perfect weather drew a near capacity crowd. Ed Spiers ended a long dry spell as he scored his first win since 1989 at Stafford on Friday night. During the early going Ted Christopher and John Lobo Jr. were fighting for the lead when they tangled. Christopher lost two laps while his crew changed a tire and was never a factor after that. Ron Silk finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. Lobo finished fourth. The Busch North Series was also at Stafford. Kelly Moore won the 150-lap contest over Dale Shaw and Andy Santerre. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The 150 lap event carried a purse of $67,675 and drew 40 Modifieds and a reported 10,000 spectators. Ed Flemke Jr. started third and took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 26, survived four re-starts and went on to record the win. David Berghman finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Joey Carracia and Rob Summers. Tony Hirschman wrecked on lap five and re-injured his wrist, which all but eliminated his title hopes. Rob Janovic took the win at Waterford over Ron Yuhas Jr. and Dennis Gada. Mike Andrews took the win at Riverhead and Harry Reed got his second of the season at Wall Township. New England was well represented in a Hooters Cup event run at Indianapolis Raceway Park as former Waterford Late Model Champ Phil Rondeau finished fifth and Dale Evonsion finished eighth. George Kent Sr. won the Race of Champions Tour Series event at Tioga and in Winston Cup action at Sonoma, Cal. Ricky Rudd lucked into a win after Jerry Nadeau lost a rear in the Petty car that he drove.

Five years ago in 2007 The big news of the week was that Woody Pitkat had been named as the driver of the Hillbilly Racing No.79. Pitkat replaced Chuck Hossfeld. In other big news, NASCAR listened to car owners concerns and changed the format for an upcoming “Flash” Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was to be held at the Twin State Speedway. After a comprehensive review of the “Flash” format, NASCAR announced changes effective for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event in Claremont (N.H.) on Sunday, July 8.The race, the seventh in the 16-race schedule, would be 100 laps in length. The 30-car field would be set through time trials and twin heat races.

Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway saw six drivers red hot in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition on an uncharacteristic night of yellow fever. Thursday night featured two first time winners with Marc Jenison scoring his first Late Model triumph in the division’s marquee 50-lapper and Eric Grant besting a strong Limited Sportsman field for his career first. Keith Rocco survived a caution-filled event to score the Sunoco Modified victory while Norm Wrenn, was tops in the Pro Stocks. Tim Sullivan was victorious in the TIS Modifieds and Mike Romano in the Mini Stocks.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Woody Pitkat won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco, the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glenn Griswold the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand the Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Rick Fuller joined the Stafford Motor Speedway TV crew as a color man. Fuller’s insights greatly enhanced the Stafford produced NASCAR New England program that was seen every Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm on NESN.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Charette passed early leader Jay Miller with ten laps to go, notching his first 35-lap SK Modified feature of the season. Dennis Gada and Diego Monahan completed the top-three. The race concluded with a grinding multi-car crash on the front chute that sent Wendell Dailey to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), Jason Palmer (Legends).A lot of racing equipment was damaged as numerous wrecks took place in all divisions.

In True Value Modified Series action “Lightning” Lou Mechalides returned to his old stomping grounds, Lee USA Speedway and when the checkered flag was displayed on lap 100, the veteran driver captured his third career win with the touring series. Mechalides is no stranger to feature wins at the Rte 125 oval. He is a former champion of the tracks super modified division driving for the same car owner, Marco Turcotte. Twenty-six Modified race cars towed to Lee for the “Rockingham Boat Spring Fling 100.” Three 12 lap heat races and a 15 lap last chance consolation race determined the 24 car starting field. Mechalides set a torrid pace, leading the Black Mountain Painting half way award at lap 50. A third caution flag slowed the race on lap 57 for early race leader Tony Ricci who spun. Longtime Lee racer and fan favorite, Vinnie Annarumo moved into the top five on the 57th circuit. Fans were starting to watch the Les Hinckley #06 as the two time winner was starting to put on a late race show. By lap 70, Hinckley got past Annarummo, and cracked the top five. He dogged Kirk Alexander for several laps racing right behind the two time champ. Following a lap 88 caution for an Annarummo spin, the last ten laps got interesting. Hinckley was fifth with 10 laps to go; when the checkered flag was displayed the second-generation driver was second. The charge to the front by Hinckley thrilled the crowd but it was the hometown driver, Mechalides, that put a charge into his old stomping grounds. Jimmy Kuhn Jr, also made a late race run to the front to finish in the top five while Donny Lashua garnered a solid sixth place finish driving the Jack Bateman entry.

In Nextel Cup action Carl Edwards ended a 52-race Nextel Cup winless streak Sunday by holding off Martin Truex Jr. at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. Stephen Leicht took advantage of Carl Edwards' late wreck, then passed good friend Brad Coleman with 13 laps to go to win the Meijer 300 on Saturday night for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has filed a counter claim in U.S. District Court against AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless and AT&T Inc., alleging breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and conspiracy to aid and abet wrongful interference with NEXTEL’s exclusive sponsorship agreement. NASCAR is seeking a minimum of $100 million in damages.

The NASCAR Rule Book governs participation in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and its contents are agreed to in writing by all NASCAR members and participants. Cingular is a member of NASCAR and agreed to abide by all NASCAR rules and regulations when its representatives signed official documents such as the NASCAR Membership and License Application.

NASCAR’s suit further alleges that AT&T, Cingular and its representatives breached its explicit agreements with NASCAR when they re-branded the No. 31 car; entered into contract with RCR knowing that they would litigate against NASCAR; and when they sought to ambush NEXTEL’s exclusive sponsorship rights.

NASCAR also submitted its response to a suit filed by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless by soundly rejecting each of their claims. The response demonstrates the clarity of NASCAR’s rule book and the baseless allegations made by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless in its attempts to re-brand the No. 31.

The court’s preliminary injunction allowing the No. 31 to re-brand is still on appeal by NASCAR and NEXTEL.

Last year, 2011, The Whelen Modified Tour continued on Spring Break for another two weeks before returning to action with the Monadnock 200 on June 25 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.

The weekend started off on a wet note as Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway fell victim to heavy rain and high winds. Its too bad that the weather front didn't arrive earlier as competitors and fans were already on hand when the plug was pulled on the night's racing. The fields of both Sunoco(SK)Modifieds was up two to 11 but there is still a long way to go to get a full field. The Valenti Modified Racing Series will highlight the competition this coming Thursday night at the Thompson International Speedway. This impressive touring series boasts a roster of Modified drivers that includes many of the very best drivers in the entire northeast. Thursday night’s appearance will be the first of two scheduled races for the VMRS at Thompson this year. Their feature will be 75 laps.

The VMRS was scheduled for an event at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday but because of foul weather in the forecast the event was cancelled.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of the 38th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100. Ryan Preece took home the $2,600 winner's check by taking the checkered flag in the 100 lap contest, Dillon Moltz captured his second feature victory of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. took down his third win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Kevin Gambacorta picked up his first win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Josh Wood was a winner for the second consecutive week in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Preece went under Woody Pitkat in turn 4 on lap-32 to take race lead. Frank Ruocco was able to complete the pass on Pitkat on lap-99, but no one had anything for Preece as he took the checkered flag. Ruocco nipped Pitkat at the line for second, with Ted Christopher and Curt Brainard rounding out the top-5. Among those missing from the starting grid was NASCAR Champion Keith Rocco who suffered a dislocated shoulder in a needless wreck in a heat race. Rocco was trailing Adam Skowyra when Skowyra triggered a wreck that collected the defending national champion. The Hartford Courant reported that Skowyra was given the black (pit for consultation) flag numerous times, which he ignored. Instead of stopping scoring of the car why didn't officials just throw the caution and remove the driver from the track.

The Stafford officials are just as responsible for Rocco's injuries as are Skowyra's lack of taking heed after receiving the black flag. Back in the early 1970's NASCAR Competition Director was involved in a similar situation. Cook's car was leaking fluids in the late stages of an event. He was given the black flag numerous times which he ignored. He later stated that he was unable to tell who the flag was directed at. The late Jack Arute stated that this type of situation at his track would never happen again as he purchased and had installed a lighted sign in turn one where the black flagged car's number would be displayed in big numbers so there would be no second guessing as to who the flag was directed at. Arute called the sign "The Jerry Cook Light".

In an unrelated matter, the SK Modified division was born at the Stafford Motor Speedway in 1982, twenty nine years ago. Why was this event called the 38th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100??

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl rain prevailed at the shoreline oval plus the precipitation bought some much needed healing time for Keith Rocco.

In the Southland at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, rain prevailed.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, it rained there too.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at the Pocono Raceway, Jeff Gordon took the win.

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


Ray Miller


Dick Ceravolo


Bobby Hudson


Red Foote

Gene Bergin

Sonny Seamon

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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