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Friday March 19, 2010
 

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1970, the new look of Late Model Modifieds made their debut at Martinsville for the annual Dogwood 500. Fifty two cars were in the pit area for time trials. Pete Keller was the NASCAR official in charge. Many of those in the field had installed abbreviated nerf bars, which extended to the outer edge of tires that stuck out beyond body panels. It was Keller’s command decision to have all nerf bars removed. During the running of the consolation events on Saturday numerous wrecks were caused when competitors ran up over wheels of others. Keller was eventually told to resign or get fired from NASCAR when he was convicted of Income Tax evasion. Among those in the field was Eddie Flemke in a Mustang owned by Bob Garbarino, Ray Hendrick in a Camaro owned by Jack Tant and Clayton Mitchell, Fred DeSarro in a Mustang owned by Joe Brady, Leo Cleary in a Corvair owned by Sonny Koszela and Bugsy Stevens in a Corvair owned by Len Boehler. Ray Hendrick was the top time trialer with Max Berrier second fastest. Rain washed out the 500-lap event, which was rescheduled for early April.

Thirty five years ago in 1975, Metrolina Speedway in North Carolina and Fulton Raceway in New York ran head to head with modifieds. At Metrolina extra points were up for grabs. Ray Hendrick took the win and was followed by Jerry Cook, John Bryant and Paul Radford. At Fulton it was Maynard Troyer over Sonney Seamon, Ed Flemke and Siege Fidenza.

Thirty years ago in 1980, Waterford opened for the season with an open competition event. Marty Radwick took the win with Tom McCann, second. Rounding out the top ten were Stan Greger, Reggie Ruggiero, Moose Hewitt, Dick Dunn, Jerry Pearl, Roland LaPierre Jr, Gene Bergin and Rick Donnelly. It was also on this date that Joe Brady and Danny Bennett leased the Stafford Speedway for the first annual Racers Flea Market. The event drew thousands and was deemed a rousing success.

Twenty five years ago in 1985, the season opening event at Martinsville was rained out.

Twenty years ago in 1990, Riverside Park Speedway opened on Saturday night and a chilled crowd watched Tom Bolles lead all 100 laps of the modified feature. Jerry Marquis finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Stefanik.

Fifteen years ago in 1995, the Riverside opener was again a cold one. Chris Kopec took the lead on lap 25 of the 75-lap feature to take top honors in the opening night event. Dan Avery finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Tom Cravenho and Eric Beers. In Grandnational (Busch Series) action at Darlington, Larry Pearson took the win over Johnny Benson and in Winston (Nextel) Cup action Sterling Marlin took the win over Dale Earnhardt.

Ten years ago in 2000, the only action was at Bristol, Tenn. Sterling Marlin was the Grandnational (Busch Series) winner with Jeff Green finishing second. Mike Stefanik finished 20th after getting collected in an early wreck. In Winston (Nextel) Cup action, Rusty Wallace scored his 50th win. Johnny Benson finished second.

Five years ago in 2005, competitors and fans were glad to hear that the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts was installing a new electronic scoreboard which would be in place and would be operational. The Venditti family which has owned and operated the speedway since its inception in 1946 had also embarked on a major construction project which would permit pit access from the third turn of the oval. Modified racing can be full of surprises at times. One such surprise occurred when Hillbilly Racing, based in Westfield North Carolina, announced that Ted Christopher would be driving the Hill’s Enterprises No.79 in a Southern Modified Tour event at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC.

The Plainfield Connecticut Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 to defer a decision on a zoning change sought by New England Raceway LLC and Connecticut Yankee Greyhound Racing Inc. to give members time to review a more than 200-page transcript of a public hearing on the matter. The commission would conduct a special meeting to consider the so-called text amendment, which would accommodate plans for a domed auto racetrack, in the Plainfield Town Hall auditorium. Close to 300 people were on hand. The Waterford Speedbowl held their annual season preview car show at the Crystal Mall in Waterford.  Among the cars on display were the Modifieds of Shawn and Diego Monahan, Dennis Cherette and Rob Janovic, Late Models on display were those of Allen Coates, Larry Goss and Brandon Plemmends along with the Sportsman driven by Roger Perry, the Mini Stock driven by Chris Williams, the Legend Car driven by Jeffrey Paul and the X-Car of Vic Williams. The Speedbowl had announced that following week’s Nationals SK-Modified 150 would carry a purse of $20,000 and would pay $5,000 to win.

Carl Edwards scored a one-two punch as he won the Busch Series and Nextel Cup events at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He was headed toward a Busch win the previous week at Las Vegas before he cut a tire and spun while leading late. He made up for it by going four-wide Saturday in his charge to the front in the final laps. He beat Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson for the Busch Series win. Johnson appeared as if he would hold off Edwards to win the Nextel Cup event. Johnson has almost more career Cup wins (15) than Edwards has series starts (17). Edwards' chances seemed over when his car slid sideways exiting turn 2 with five laps to go. Instead, Edwards kept going. Edwards nipped Johnson after rubbing wheels as they headed for the finish line.

Last year, 2009, Former fans and competitors of the former Riverside Park Speedway were jumping for joy after the news broke that New York-based Six Flags Amusement Parks said that it may need to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy if it can't reach a deal to restructure almost $300 million in preferred stock, which is due in August. The Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass was one of the most successful short tracks in the country before it was torn down to make room for a roller coaster which has acquired a reputation of being extremely dangerous.

In some sad news, New England racing legend Stanley “Stub” Fadden died on Wednesday, March 11. He was 75 years old. Fadden, of North Haverhill, N.H., won more than 230 feature races in his career spanning more than 30 years, including four on the old NASCAR Busch North Series, where he was a mainstay for 12 seasons. Fadden was the grandfather of two-time Camping World East Series champion Mike Olsen, who continues to run his team under the banner of “Fadden Racing.” Before Fadden’s retirement from full-time competition after the 1998 season, he and Olsen formed the only grandfather-grandson team in NASCAR history. Frank Stoddard, a former Fadden crew member and currently a NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief inducted Stub into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2003.

It was also learned that SpeedwayLineReport.com web master Tom Ormsby lost his dad.

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Camping World Trucks enjoyed the weekend off.

This week are several vintage racing photos of Hall of Famer Richard "Moon" Burgess, courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Moon passed away on St Patrick's day after suffering a stroke earlier in the month.
Click on Photo for Full Size



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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