Friday May 19, 2006

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1966 Jerry Cook broke the stronghold that New England drivers held at the Albany Saratoga Speedway as he won the Friday night 30 lap feature. Mario "Fats" Caruso finished second and was followed by Dennis Zimmerman, Rene Charland and Gaston Demaris. Crowd favorite Pete Corey took the 25 lap win at Fonda on Saturday night over Irv Taylor and Ernie Gahan At Utica-Rome on Sunday night Cook backed up his Friday night win with a victory at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Lou Toro finished second with Bill Wimble, third. Dave Kotary and Richie Evans rounded out the top five.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY saw the best in the business come together on Friday night. When the checkered flag flew it was two of New England’s best leading the way as Bugsy Stevens took down the win with Steady Eddie Flemke coming home in second spot. Guy Chartrand finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook, Andy Romano and Leo Cleary. Stevens continued his winning streak to Stafford on Saturday night as he won both ends of the twin-25 lap program. At Islip, Charlie Jarzombek outdistanced Art Tappen and at Fonda, Lou Lazzaro beat out Maynard Forrette. Racing on Sunday at Utica-Rome and at Thompson was rained out.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Riverhead ran on Friday night with Fred Harbach taking the win over Gary Winters, Charlie Jarzombek and Greg Sacks. Harbach tried to carry his streak to Islip on Saturday night but when all was said and done, the Flying Dutchman had to settle for second behind Tiger Tom Baldwin. Jerry Cook finished third with Wayne Anderson, fourth. Stafford pulled the plug because of rain and cold but they ran at Riverside despite the fact that only 3600 were in the stands. Charlie Glazier took the win over Ronnie Rocco, Ron Wyckoff and Sonny O'Sullivan. At New Egypt it was Ricky Lutz over John Blewett Jr and Wayne Anderson. On Sunday, a NASCAR Modified event was run at Cayuga where Roger Treichler took the win over Ed Howe, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook

Twenty five years ago in 1981, rain washed out all racing in the North east except at Claremont and Lancaster. Punky Caron beat out Dwight Jarvis at the New Hampshire oval and Siege Fidenza won at Lancaster. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Jody Ridley got his first and only win in NASCAR’s top division. Bobby Allison finished second. Ronnie Bouchard qualified 12th but crashed 22 laps into the event and finished 27th.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Jamie Tomaino beat the best there was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Greg Sacks and Kenny Bouchard. There were only 19 Modifieds on hand and despite the fact that they were all good ones, the Stafford management was having thoughts of dropping the mighty Mods from their weekly schedule. Saturday night at Waterford, Dale Holdredge held off Ricky Young to take the win. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead Wayne Anderson led Steve Park to the checker. The Modified tour was at Monadnock on Sunday. Kenny Bouchard took the win over Jim Spencer, Jamie Tomaino and John Rosati. In other weekend action, Leo Cleary was the Pro Stock winner at Seekonk and Jim Spencer was the Modified winner at Shangri-La. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Geoff Bodine started third and won the 500 lap-500 mile grind that saw temperatures in the 90's.Darrell Waltrip was the Busch Grandnational winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Stafford rained out on Friday night but Ted Christopher more than made up for it on Saturday night as he went two for two as he won a left over 75 lapper and the regular Saturday night 35 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Reggie Ruggiero beat out Jerry Marquis at Riverside and Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr took Riverhead. Ken Wooly won an open competition event at New Egypt on Sunday as he out distanced Tony Siscone and Jamie Tomaino. At Monadnock, Kirby Monteith ruled the roost as he won out over Dwight Jarvis, Jerry Marquis and Mike Ewanitsko.

Ten years ago in 1996, Lloyd Agor took the lead on lap 42 of the 50 lap feature at Stafford and went on to take the win over Bo Gunning and Tony Sylvester. Indy pole sitter Scott Brayton died in a practice crash caused by a deflated tire. On Saturday the Waterford management called the night’s races at noon because of impending rain. Needless to say, they got skunked by the weatherman and it never did rain. Water ford’s events were run on Sunday. After a big wreck on the start, Scott Spaulding went on to take the win. Tom Rosati, pinch hitting for Reggie Ruggiero who was at Nazareth for a Mod tour event got credit for the win at Riverside on Saturday. Ruggiero arrived late and jumped into the car in the mid stages but Rosati started the event and got credit for the win. Ted Riggott finished second. Double features were run at Riverhead with Tom McCann and Chuck Steuer taking the wins. The Modified Tour was at Nazareth for a 100 lapper on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero led for 71 laps and was going into the final turn on the last lap when he was dumped by Jan Leaty, who went on to take the win. A very unhappy Ruggiero restarted and ended up 19th.Tony Hirschman finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Ed Kennedy, Ken Wooley and Tony Ferrente Jr. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Michael Waltrip took the lead with nine laps to go and won the Winston. It was also on this weekend that Alan Johnson got his 100th DIRT victory, that coming at Canadaigua

Five years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher beat out Eric Berndt and Lloyd Agor at Stafford on Friday night. Christopher started 13th and took the lead on lap 9 of the 50 lap feature. Dennis Gada made it three in a row at Waterford on Saturday night. Mark LaJunesse finished second with Ed Reed Jr, third. John Fortin won a 50 lapper at Riverhead and Mike Carpenter beat out Jimmie Blewett at Wall. The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth. Ted Christopher took the pole and led the first 15 laps before losing a drive shaft. Mike Stefanik led from lap 16 to 42 when he pitted. Nevin George and Tom Cravenho had their time at the point until lap 62 when Stefanik re-assumed the lead with Mike Ewanitsko in tow. The two swapped the lead until lap 76 when Stefanik hit the wall after banging wheels with Ewanitsko. Ewanitsko went on to take the win and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr, John Blewett III, Charlie Pasteryak and Zane Zeiner. There were a total of nine cautions in the 100 lap event. Greg Biffle won the BGN 150, also at Nazareth. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Jeff Gordon won the Winston in his back-up car after wrecking his original car on the start. Because of wet track conditions, NASCAR allowed this to happen. Todd Bodine won the No-Bull 5 Winston Open. Maynard Forrette, at 65 years of age won the Saturday night modified event at Lebanon Valley and Scott Sharp took the Indy 500 pole with a speed of 226.037 mph.

Last year, 2005, saw Todd Owen, Tom Butler, Michael Bennett, Charlie Newman, and Jim Mavlouganes drive to victory lane in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature events at the Stafford Speedway. Both Owen and Newman were first time feature winners, while Bennett's win was his third in four events of the season. In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Owen, of Somers, took the lead on a lap-5 restart and led the rest of the way to pick up the first career SK Modified® feature win of his career at Stafford. Owen had Ted Christopher lined up behind him on a lap 19 restart but drove away from Christopher in the closing laps to score a convincing win. Christopher finished second, with Eric Berndt, Jeff Baral, and John Sandberg rounding out the top-5 behind him. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tom Butler, of Stafford Springs, took the lead on lap-10 and led the rest of the way to take his first Late Model feature win of the 2005 season. Jay Stuart finished second. The 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event saw Bennett out duel the field to take his third win in four events. In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, Newman moved to the lead late in the race, and then had to hold off Robert Dow on three green white checkered flag restarts to capture his first career win. After three rainouts in a row the Waterford Speedbowl finally got their Saturday night racing program in. Tommy Fox avoided a multitude of wrecks and spins to go on to record his first win of the year. Fox led all but four laps. He battled Ron Yuhas Jr. over the final seven laps. Kurt Lenahan, Don Fowler and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Allen Coates became the first two-time winner of the season as he won the Late Model 30 lapper. Coates took the lead at the halfway point and beat several restart challenges from Chris Douton. Carl Eriksson, Mark St.Hilaire and Charles Bailey III rounded out the top five. Roger Perry won the 20 lap Sportsman event and Jeff Miller was the winner of the Mini Stock feature. Jeffrey Paul was the 20-lap Legends Car winner.

First it was the Tioga Speedway in Owego, NY, and then it was the Wall Township Speedway in Belmar, NJ now it appeared maybe the Waterford Speedbowl was on thin ice. The May 15 edition of the Hartford Courant hinted to the fact that the Speedbowl, in existence since 1951 may shut down at season’s end. The Speedbowl had been at the mercy of the weather in2005 and with no money coming in the management had been put in a somewhat of a bad way. Speedbowl operator Terry Eames acknowledged that there was a study going on involving alternative uses of the property, which is owned by 1080 Hartford Road LLC. He said he had a "fiduciary responsibility" to other stockholders in that regard but cautions the "speculation" may be premature. "There are absolutely no firm plans to do anything at this time," Eames said. "We have some big events on the immediate horizon including the Budweiser Modified Nationals and that is the Speedbowl’s primary concern right now," Eames continued. "We have a dedicated group of competitors and fans and, many believe, the best racing in the area. We’re not about to just throw all of that away." In the event that Eames does decide to pull the plug on his operation the word on the street has an interested group ready to step up to the plate.

The Pro All Star Series was at the Thompson International Speedway on Sunday for the running of the Pro Stock Shootout 100. It proved to be a Shootout between Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe. At the end, C. Clark was the last man "standing". In NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series action, Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT scored an impressive win in the Sunoco Modified Division. Charles Bailey, III picked up where he left off, winning the Late Model feature. Limited Sportsman honors went to Larry Barnett, Mini Stock checkers flew for Terry Boudreau.. It was a dominating win for Bernie Singer in All Star Truck Series competition. Ben Rowe summed it up best in his post-race interview. "He (Cassius) was the class of the field. Cassius Clark of Farmington, ME led much of the early going of the 100 lapper, only to lose the lead to Ben Rowe with just over 30 laps to go. Over the remaining 25 laps, the two went fender-to-fender swapping the lead a number of times. A caution with 14 laps remaining set up a final duel between the two. C. Clark got a great jump of the restart but Rowe retained the lead. A bobble by Rowe on lap 89 opened the door for both Cassius and Johnny Clark. The three had a comfortable distance between one another as they headed for the finish while Corey Williams and Scott Mulkern battled for fourth. In the waning laps, Rowe began to backslide a bit even falling into the clutches of Williams. Rowe was able to hold on to the podium finish with winner C. Clark and runner-up J. Clark. Williams and Mulkern finished rounded out the top-five. Bert Marvin drove a smart race to win his first of the season in Sunoco Modified feature action. Bo Gunning led the charge early while Tommy Cravenho and Jeff Malave were coming through the pack. Gunning held the point while positions were changing inside the top five. Marvin got the second position on lap 10 while Cravenho and Malave followed through into the third and fourth positions. Malave began to pressure Cravenho before the yellow came out. Just as the crossed flags were displayed the caution flew for a spin by Russ Savoy. The restart found Gunning with Marvin to his outside and Cravenho and Malave in the second row. Cravenho sailed his car into turn four to take over the second position from Marvin with Malave following through. The caution came out for a spin by Darin Renihan to negate the pass. Cravenho made the same move work a second time to take the second spot when they went back to green. Malave continued to take chase in fourth followed by Adam Norton. Cravenho caught Gunning and pressed for the lead. Contact between the two sent Gunning over the #31 of Cravenho and hard into the wall. Cravenho was sent to the rear for his involvement in the incident. Marvin and Malave lined up one and two for the restart with ten laps to go. Kerry Malone started to make his presence known on the restart. The battle up front began to heat up as well between Marvin and Malave. George Bessette was turning in a great performance in his debut in the #2. After several attempts at green flag racing the final shootout came with five laps remaining and a single-file restart. Malave glued his Interstate Diesel #6 to the bumper of Marvin. Malave even looked inside coming out of two but settled for second behind winner Bert Marvin. Malone finished third followed by Ricky Shawn and John Sandburg. Charles Bailey, III made it two in a row in the Late Model division. The NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series were in Virginia at the Richmond Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards took the Busch Series win and Kasey Kahne got his first Nextel Cup win. Reigning Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan took the pole for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Kanaan, last year's Indy runner-up, had a four-lap qualifying run at 227.566 mph

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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