Friday May 12, 2006

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1966 Steady Eddie Flemke continued the New England driver domination of the Albany Saratoga Speedway as he won the Friday night 30-lap feature. Dennis Zimmerman finished second with Lou Toro, Mario "Fats" Caruso and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five. At the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night Kenny Shoemaker showed one and all who was boss as he won a 101 lap feature. Lou Lazzaro finished second with Ron Narducci, third. At the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night Eddie Flemke took the win over Bill Wimble, Richie Evans, Frank Mathalia and Ernie Gahan.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, Richie Evans was banned from running in NASCAR sanctioned events because of the fact that he was racing at independent New York state tracks. Malta opened for the season on Friday night. Evans hired the master, Eddie Flemke, who, despite having to pit in the parking lot, won the modified feature. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Denis Giroux, Fred DeSarro, Lou Lazzaro and Dick Fowler. That was it for the weekend as Stafford, Islip, Thompson and Utica-Rome had rain-outs.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine in the Armstrong No.1 took the win at Stafford. Dick Caso, in the Ted Marsh 55 finished a strong second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, John Rosati and Ronnie Bouchard. Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford. During the Waterford event, Billy Harman incurred injuries when he flipped the Joe Zenga modified. At Islip it was Ricky Lutz over Don Howe and at Riverside Park, Bob Polverari took the win over Pete Fiandaca and Jap Membrino. On Sunday at Thompson, Fred DeSarro was the small block modified winner. John Rosati finished second and was followed by George Summers and Ronnie Bouchard.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Richie Evans won the Friday night feature at Stafford as 5500 chilled fans looked on. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Corky Cookman. Pete Fiandaca was the late model winner with Pat Chambrello taking the win in the Street Stocks. Evans made it two for two as he carried his winning ways over to Riverside on Saturday. At Islip, Charlie Jarzombek showed the way as he again mastered the 1/5 mile oval. Bill Park finished second with George Wagner, third. Billy Griffin won at Shangri-La and Allen Whipple won at Claremont. An 81 lap event scheduled for the Westboro Speedway on Sunday was rained out.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Mike Mclaughlin in the Sheri-Cup No.12 beat out Dave Reszendes at Stafford on Friday night. Jeff Fuller finished third. Richie Gallup was the SK Modified winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter made it three in a row. Mark Lajunesse finished second. Jimmy Lloyd continued his strangle hold on the Super Stock division as he made it three in a row. Dan Avery got his first win at Riverside on Saturday while at Seekonk; Mr. Leo Cleary gave the kids a driving lesson as he took the victory. At Riverhead it was Fred Harbach over Bill Park and John Blewett jr and at Shangri La, Tony Hirschman dusted George Kent and Doug Hevron. In Winston Cup action at Atlanta, Bill Elliott ran away and hid as he won "The Winston". Dale Earnhardt finished second.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Steve Chowanski was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Bob Potter, Willie Hardie, Rick Fuller and Pat Chambrello followed. Saturday night at Waterford the races were halted after Bob Potter, who was driving the Ceravolo No.31, sailed out of the track and almost thru the score board. Extensive damage was done to the fence and wall. Jan Leaty scored a major win for Hoosier Tires as he won the Goodyear dominated Featherlite Modified Tour at Nazareth. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik, Jeff Fuller and Bob Park. Charlie Pasteryak won at Riverside and ageless veteran Gil Hearne scored his 100th victory at Wall Stadium. Other weekend winners were Fred Harbach at Riverhead, Rusty Ball at Monadnock and Ron Shepherd at Shangri-La.

Ten years ago in 1996, rain washed out everything except Stafford on Friday night. Bob Potter started on the outside pole of the SK modified 50 lapper and led for 45 laps until being pushed out of the way by Mike Ewanitsko who went on to take the win. Potter finished second and was followed by Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. On a sad note, legendary Winston Cup crew chief Harry Hyde passed away. The Busch Grandnationals and the Busch North Series were scheduled to run at Loudon on Sunday but they too,gave way to rain.

Five years ago in 2001. Chuck Docherty took the Friday night win at Stafford over Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor. Female driver, Renee Dupuis saw her season cut short as she suffered severe and painful foot injuries after a crash. The modified event at Waterford on Saturday night went pole to pole, non-stop. Dennis Gada took the lead from John Brouwer on lap 17 of the 35 lap feature and never looked back. Eric Berndt finished second with Ed Dachenhausen, third. Brouwer faded to fourth in the final run-down. JR. Bertuccio made it two in a row at Riverhead and at Loudon; Ted Christopher took the lead with four laps to go after Tom Carey cut a tire down in the Busch North Series event at the one mile oval. Following Christopher at the finish were Martin Truex, Mike Johnson and Brad Leighton. Carey, who pitted under green, lost two laps and finished 14th. Team Racing Auto Circuit (TRAC) was announced and would debut in 2003 at non-International Speedway Corporation tracks. On a sad note, legendary modified car owner Len Boehler passed away after a long battle with Cancer

Last year, 2005, The Stafford Motor Speedway beat the rain on Friday but the Waterford Speedbowl did not as they suffered their third rain out in a row. At Stafford Jeff Baral went pole to pole to win the 40-lap SK Modified feature. Ted Christopher started 12th and finished second with Eric Berndt, third. Keith Rocco recorded the best finish of his young rookie season with a fourth, and Frank Ruocco rounded out the top-5. Cold temperatures and a threat of rain kept the crowd down. During warm-ups, a stuck throttle caused the #25 SK of Billy Bolton to wreck and cause extensive damage that will not allow them to compete in tonight's event. Another practice crash involving the #2 SK of New Milford rookie and protégé of Jon Cote Jr., Jess Hilger, apparently forced the #47 of Donny Lia into the turn #1 wall. The rookie left the track unscathed, while the WMT driver Donny Lia's mount needed assistance to leave the track. Rookie Jess Hilger, although apparently undamaged from the practice wreck with Donny Lia chose not to start the night's event. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Rick Lanagan, of Stafford Springs, took the lead on lap-9 and led the rest of the way to capture his first career Late Model feature win. Tom Fearn closed in on Lanagan in the final laps, but was unable to get close enough to make a bid for the lead. Jim Mavlouganes finished third, with Jim Peterson and Ryan Posocco rounding out the top-5. The 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event saw a race long battle between Eric Grant and Michael Bennett, with both drivers taking turns at the front of the pack. In the closing laps, it was all Bennett, as he took the checkered flag ahead of Grant. Bennett's rims were found to not meet the rules in post race inspection, and he was thus disqualified from his finishing position. Eric Grant was declared the feature winner, with Dan King, Ed Charette, Jr., Michael Nadeau, and Paul Varricchio, Jr. rounding out the top-5. In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, Joey Ferrigno survived a wild green white checkered flag restart to take his first feature win of the 2005 season. George Nocera, Jr. came up to second behind Ferrigno on the white flag lap, with Stacey Botticello, David Gambacorta, and Neil Provost, Jr. rounding out the top-5

Al Fini, President of the New England Antique Auto Racers since January of 1997 had tended his resignation as President effective July 1, 2005. Fini, who had recently turned 66, cited increased pressure of his business and a lack of energy as the main reasons for stepping down.

The once proud Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania, a regular stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series and the Busch North Series would soon fade into oblivion as the International Speedway Corporation had sold the property for $19 million to a developer who intended to build a domed hockey rink. Originally a dirt track, the Nazareth Speedway had been in existence for 39 years.

The Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire was also in danger of disappearing as the track had been denied the permits to open. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported recently that the reason for the denial was because of unsafe grandstands On Friday, May 6, The Exeter News Letter in New Hampshire reported that the Star Speedway would not open any time soon because of uncorrected safety issues. Town officials were trying to get to the bottom of conflicting reports by structural engineers hired by the owner to inspect the facility. One of those reports, detailing serious deficiencies, was purposely withheld from the town. The April 18 report, nearly three pages, noted that the six sections of the grandstand were in need of support repairs, and "there were a number of areas where the ground beneath the A-frame feet had settled or washed away, reducing its capacity to support the weight of the occupants." Seat planks and footrest planks were also a concern, as some showed signs of splitting, cracking, or excessive deflection.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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