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 Friday May 26, 2006

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1966, Pete Hamilton became the first repeat winner of the season at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Dennis Zimmerman finished second with Eddie Flemke, third. Hamilton and Zimmerman were a second generation version of the fabled Eastern Bandits led by Flemke. Jerry Cook and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. Jerry Cook won his first race, a 25 lapper, at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Bill Wimble finished second with Gene Bergin, third. Kenny Shoemaker ruled the roost at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Eddie Flemke finished second with Gaston Demarais, third. Frank Mathalia and Jerry Cook rounded out the top five. Albany Saratoga also ran on Monday with a a02 lapper to celebrate Memorial Day. Eddie Flemke rose to the occasion to take the win with Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8 in second spot. Dennis Zimmerman, Jerry Cook and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, racing at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY rained out. Bugsy Stevens went two for two at Stafford as he won the twin 25's.In the opener, Leo Cleary finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Ray Miller. DeSarro rallied to finish second in the nightcap. Ageless veteran Maynard Forette took the Saturday night honors at Fonda over Dave Buanno, Dave Lape, Ron Narducci and Lou Lazzaro. In open competition action at the Fulton Raceway Ronnie Wallace won a 75 lapper over Bryan Osgood, Richie Evans, Don Diffendorf and Bob Sweeny. At Islip, Richie Gomes got a popular win and at Thompson it was Bobby Santos and Bugsy Stevens scoring wins. Santos was the runner-up behind Stevens and was followed by DeSarro, Leo Cleary, Rene Charland and Hop Harrington. Harrington was second behind Santos and was followed by Stevens, Dick Caso and Ed Yerrington. Twin features at Utica-Rome were won by Ray Sitterly and Jerry Cook.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Charlie Jarzombek took the Friday night win at Riverhead. Greg Sacks finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Harbach rebounded to take the win at Islip on Saturday night. Riverside Park saw Bob Polverari take the win over Pete Fiandaca. NASCAR's Superspeedway Modifieds were at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Darrell Waltrip, in a Camaro, won the 300 mile event with Ray Hendrick, second. Geoff Bodine was third and was followed by Merv Treichler, Bobby Allison, Jerry Cook, Clayton Hustead and Joe Thurman. Back in New England, Richie Evans led all 80 laps of the postponed Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Speedway. Track owner Jack Arute had mandated 12 inch tires to cut costs. Evans complied and then some as he used 10 inch Sportsman rubber. Geoff Bodine finished second and was followed by Ray Hendrick and Fred DeSarro. Don LaJoie, driving Bob Johnson No.17 became only the second driver to leave the speedway as he rode over Charlie Jarzombek's wheel in turn three. At Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two for two as he inched out a win over Geoff Bodine, George Summers and Daring Dick Caso.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, the Friday night Modified feature at Stafford went non stop with Kenny Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 taking the win. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Fiore No.44 was second and was followed by John Rosati and Bob Polverari. At the Spencer Speedway, also on Friday, Jerry Cook took the win over Doug Hewitt. At New Egypt, Tom Baldwin took the 100 lap win after Richie Evans tangled with Frankie Schnieder. Tony Siscone finished second with Bob Park, third. George Moose Hewitt was the winner at Waterford on Saturday night while at Riverside; Reggie Ruggiero won out over Ray Miller. At Westboro, seasoned veterans George Summers and Leo Cleary finished one-two. Other Saturday night winners included George Kent at Shangri-La, Alan Harbach at Islip, Tom Druar at Lancaster and Tony Siscone at Wall. The big guns headed for Oswego on Sunday for the Port City 150.Maynard Troyer took that win with Kent second and Baldwin, third

Twenty years ago in 1986, Bugsy Stevens in the Garbarino No.4 took the Friday night win at Stafford. Jamie Tomaino finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Reggie Ruggiero took the win at Riverside while at Waterford and Seekonk, it rained. Eddie Brunnhoelzl beat out Dan Jivenelli and Don Howe at Riverhead. Oswego ran the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Sunday. Jamie Tomaino led pole to pole as he beat out Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and Jan Leaty for the win. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt took the win. Tim Richmond was the Grandnational winner. It was also this week that Bob Cuneau and Bob Vee sold Chassis Dynamics to John Anderson and Dan Civitello.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Stafford ran the rained out Sizzler 200 on Friday night. Jeff Fuller took the win over Wayne Anderson, George Brunnhoelzl and Steve Park. Bo Gunning was the SK Modified winner. Saturday night at Waterford, Bob Potter in the Ceravolo family No.31 took the lead when Jamie Marvin spun out with two to go and went on to record his 83rd victory at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada finished second with Donnie Bunnell, third. Reggie Ruggiero got his fourth win of the season at Riverside and Tim Connolly won a 100 lapper at Shangri-La. At the annual Oswego Port City 100,Steve Park in the Curt Chase No.77 took the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second. Other weekend winners were Lenny Fischer at Riverhead, Jerry Marquis at Monadnock and Richie Gallup at Thompson.

Ten years ago in 1996, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for a 150 lap event. Like his late father had done many times, Ed Flemke Jr took the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Jan Leaty. Mike Ewanitsko took the SK Modified 50 over Ted Christopher and Lloyd Agor. It was also on this night at Stafford that Eric Berndt went on his roof. Bob Potter annexed his 94th career win at Waterford on Saturday night after Chris Jones and Dave Kutka tangled with 14 laps to go. Brian Schofield beat Tom Jensen at Riverside and it was Tom McCann over Eddie Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead. George Kent won the Richie Evans Memorial at Tioga and Dave Dion won the Busch North Series event at Holland. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Jarrett dominated the last half of the big event as he crossed the finish line 1/3 of a lap ahead of Dale Earnhardt. Mark Martin won the Busch Grandnational Red Dog 300.

Five years ago in 2001 Mike Ewanitsko took advantage of Jerry Marquis who was blocked by the lapped car of Dan Avery and went on to win the Featherlite Modified Touring Series event at Stafford on Friday night. Marquis ended up in second spot with Mike Stefanik, third. Forty one cars were on hand. Willie Hardie scored his third of the season in SK Modified competition. Waterford rained out on Saturday night as JR Bertuccio took the checker at Riverhead. Sunday night at Thompson, Ted Christopher took the top spot over Zach Sylvester and Scott Quinn. Kelly Moore was the Busch North Series winner at Seekonk and in Winston Cup action at Charlotte; Ryan Newman took the pole for the World 600 and Jeff Burton, the win. Jeff Green won the Grandnational 300.Helio Castroneves won the Indy 500..

Last year, 2005, At Stafford on Friday night Ted Christopher collected his 79th career win in the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Woody Pitkat appeared to be heading for the win when, on the last lap, he and Frank Ruocco tangled. While Pitkat and Ruocco were trying to collect themselves, Christopher who was running third, took advantage of their misfortune as he assumed the lead and eventual win. Pitkat recovered to finish second with Ruocco, third. Jeff Baral and Todd Owen rounded out the top five. Jay Stuart took a controversial win in the Late Models and Michael Bennett scored his fourth win in five starts in the Limited Sportsman division. Joey Ferrigno was the Dare Stock feature winner.

The Waterford Speedbowl continues to keep fans and competitors buzzing over the recent announcement that the trackís days are numbered. Speedbowl operator Terry Eames called a meeting on Wednesday, May 18, to explain to competitors what was really going on. Speaking in general terms Eames told those in attendance that the property owner, 1080 Hartford Road, LLC, had entered into an agreement that could potentially sell the property on which the Speedbowl is located to a real estate developer. He did specify that the 2005 season would continue as planned and there was a good chance that the 2006 season would also go on as planned. Rumor had it that the asking price was close to $5 million. Property values in southeastern Connecticut had soared in the last ten years and have created a housing shortage. It was recently announced that the New London Submarine Base is on the US Governmentís Base Closure list. If that became a reality property values could take a dive and building houses or condos on the Speedbowl property could be a bad investment. Electric Boat, which builds submarines for the US Navy had cut their workforce in half over the last ten years. The regions largest employers are the casinos which, in many cases, have hired displaced workers at low paying jobs. Itís a good guess that if the base goes the Speedbowl will stay. There are some who feel that Eames had betrayed them. When he took over operation of the track a few years back he stated that he was in it for "The Long Haul".

Seventeen year old Jeffrey Paul made his open wheel Modified debut at the shoreline oval in the "Wacky Wednesday" program. A standout competitor in the Legends Cars, Paul took to the limited X-Modified like a duck would take to water as he won the event Itís a pretty good bet that the Ledyard, CT driver will move up to the SK-Modifieds next year. Paul came back to the Speedbowl on Saturday to win the 20 lap Legends race. In Bud Nationals qualifying at Waterford on Saturday there were 29 SK Modifieds on hand. Despite the increased purse only two non-regulars plus Jim Broderick who was pinch hitting for Mark Pane who had a date at the altar, were on hand. Broderick who has been semi-retired the last few years hasnít lost his touch as he set fast time for the 150-lap event during time trials. Frank Ruocco was second fastest with Tom Fox,third and Ted Christopher, fourth. Rounding out the top five qualifiers was Chris Pasteryak. Drizzle and the prediction for more forced the postponement of the second day of the Budweiser Modified Nationals Sunday at Waterford Speedbowl.

In some sad news, Freddy Doolittle, a Modified car owner and sponsor for many years passed away at the age of 77 on Monday, May 16. Fred owned and operated Freddy's TV in Norwich for 52 years. During his 30+ years as a car owner the Freddyís TV No.23 ran up and down the east coast with drivers like Bob Potter, Ron Narducci, Ed Yerrington, Moose Hewitt and Kenny Bouchard at the controls.

Thatís 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: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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