Friday May 25, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                         

Forty years ago in 1967 Don MacTavish took the top spot at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. It was an all New England top five as Pete Hamilton finished second and Tommy Borget finished third. Billy Harman and Gene Bergin rounded out the top five, At the Fonda Speedway Irv Taylor beat out Lou Lazzaro and Dave Lape and at the Utica-Rome Speedway Bill Wimble outlasted Bruce Dostal for the win. Dick Clark, Dave Lape and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. The Albany Saratoga Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day. MacTavish made it two in a row at the Malta oval. Pete Hamilton again finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Guy Chartrand and Ernie Gahan rounded out the top five.

Thirty-five years ago in 1972, Eddie Flemke, in the Vigliorolo No.34 which was the original Bob Judkins Pinto started off the weekend on the right foot as he won the Friday night feature at Malta, N.Y. and the Saturday night feature at Stafford. Bugsy Stevens finished second on both nights. At Islip on Saturday night, Gary Winters mastered the 1/5 mile oval as he took the main event over Cliff Tyler and Jack Reinhardt. At Fonda it was Dave Lape over Lou Lazzaro. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Ed Pieniezak won out over Al Clark. Stafford ran their 100 lap Memorial Day Classic on Monday. Fred DeSarro took the win over Ed Flemke, Ronnie Bouchard, Denis Giroux and George Summers.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Fred DeSarro was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Ron Bouchard finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Brian Ross and Ed Flemke rounding out the top five. Allen Whipple was the winner at Monadnock and at Riverhead it was Charlie Jarzombek over Fred Harbach. Saturday night was busy. At Waterford it was Bill Greco over Don Bunnell, at Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard and Freddie Schulz finished one-two and at Westboro, Mike Murphy, Mike Weeden and Gomer Taylor were the top three. Pete Fiandaca beat out Bob Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Charlotte a Super-Speedway Modified event was run with Harry Gant taking the win over Jerry Makara, Jerry Cook and Lennie Pond. Sunday night at Thompson, Ronnie Bouchard mastered the 5/8 mile oval. Fred DeSarro finished second with Ray Miller, third.

Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Ray Miller took the Friday night win with Reggie Ruggiero, second and Ronnie Bouchard, third. Everything else in New England for the weekend was rained out. At New Egypt Richie Evans won a 100 lapper over Wayne Anderson and Tony Siscone. Evans carried over his winning ways to Shangri-La where he beat out George Kent and Jerry Cook. At Islip John Blewett Jr took the nights feature over Don Howe and Fred Harbach.

Twenty years ago in 1987, the Modified Tour Series was at Stafford on Friday night for a 100 lapper. Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 was the class of the field as he took the victory over Jeff Fuller, Kenny Bouchard, Brian Ross and Corky Cookman. Richie Gallup was the SK-Modified winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Bob Potter recorded his 74th career win at the shoreline oval. Dick Ceravolo finished second with Bob Gada, third. At Riverhead it was Tom McCann over Don Howe and at Seekonk and Riverside, it rained. Don Pratt won at Shangri-La on Saturday and on Sunday for the Port City Classic at Oswego, Tony Hirschman won the 100 lap event over Jan Leaty, Jamie Tomaino and Wayne Edwards. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Kyle Petty took the win. Harry Gant was the Busch Grandnational winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, the modified Tour Series was at Stafford for a 150 lapper. Reggie Ruggiero, in the Ed Cloce No.69 took the win with Jeff Fuller, second. Jamie Tomaino, Wayne Anderson and Ed Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. Ricky Young was the big winner at Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Mark Lajunesse and Ted Christopher for the win. Jerry Marquis got his fifth of the year in the Judkins 2x at Riverside and it was Carl Miller over Dan Jivenelli at Riverhead. Jan Leaty won the Port City Classic at Oswego. Jim Rudolf, Reggie Ruggiero and Chris Amen followed. In Sunday night SK-Modified action at Thompson, Richie Gallup in the Ceravolo No.31 took the win over Bo Gunning and Tom Tagg.

Ten years ago in 1997, Mike Stefanik recorded his 38th Featherlite Modified Tour Series win as he beat out Tony Hirschman, Reggie Ruggerio and Rick Fuller in a 150 lap event at Stafford. Ken Barry was the SK winner. Tucker Reynolds took the Saturday night win at Waterford Jeff Pearl led the early going until getting bumped out of the way by Reynolds with 15 laps to go. At Waterford it was announced that long time driver and race official Ed "Spinner" Smith had passed away at the age of 82. Chris Kopec won at Riverside and Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead. George Kent won the Richie Evans Memorial at Shangri-La and Dave Dion won the Busch North Series event at Holland. Mike Stefanik finished second. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt Sr. announced the Steve Park would drive in five Winston Cup races in 1998.Jeff Gordon won the rain delayed World 600 at Charlotte.

Five years ago in 2002, heavy rain and high winds wiped out the scheduled NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series event at Stafford. Eddie Reed Jr. beat Dennis Gada by a bumper to make it two in a row at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox finished third. JR Bertuccio made it three in a row at Riverhead as he beat out Howie Brode and Wayne Anderson. At Wall Township on Saturday night, Jimmie Blewett took the win over Marc Rogers and Tim Arre. The Race of Champions Championship Trail was at Wall Township on Sunday for a 100 lapper. Doug Wolcott went pole to pole to take the event over George Kent Sr, Jamie Tomaino and John Blewett III. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Jimmie Johnson took the win with Bill Elliott, second.

Last year, 2006, in what turned out to be a big surprise, NASCAR’s Director of Regional Racing Development Don Hawk resigned his position with the sanctioning body. During Hawk’s tenure the Modified division has prospered to the point where they are NASCAR’s top regional touring division. Despite sitting in the front office in Daytona Hawk was always available to give guidance and answer questions. He was held back only by those above him. A spokesperson for NASCAR stated that he wanted to pursue personal options. Larry Mattingly of the Jennerstown Speedway in Pa stated that anyone who works within inner sanctum does not have an easy time of it as he has to try to keep the competitors happy as well as his employer, NASCAR. Mattingly was told that “major” things were in the works but did not elaborate.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was scheduled to host their second of four Whelen Modified Tour Series events. For the third week in a row the weatherman won as heavy rain dumped on the Stafford area. The Connecticut Classic was rescheduled to Tuesday, July 4.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the Supermodifieds of ISMA were the guest attraction. Justin Belfiore won the 50-lap contest. Belfiore took the lead after the top three including Waterford regular Rob Summers were eliminated on a lap 17 crash. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. went pole to pole to win the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Chris Pasteryak closed to within a car length at the finish with Tommy Fox third. Other winners were Jay Stuart in the 30-lap Late Model event, Billy Gertsch Jr. in the 20-lap Sportsman haul and Danny Field in the 20-lap Mini Stock race. Dwayne Dorr’s bid for a record-tying sixth straight Sportsman victory was lost in a lap seven crash.

In other weekend action Mike Leaty won the Richie Evans 100 at Oswego. Matt Hirschman finished second with Eric Beers, third. John Blewett III won at Wall Township and JR. Bertuccio won at Riverhead. Kasey Kahne won the Coke 300 at Charlotte. Defending series champion Tony Stewart broke his shoulder after hitting the wall. Sam Hornish Jr. won the Indy 500

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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