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Friday May 2, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 
Forty-five years ago in 1963, Jim Luke won the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman feature at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Ken Meahl finished second with Bobby Cain, third. Rene Charland and Lou Lazzaro rounded out the top five.

Forty years ago in 1968 the Fonda Speedway opened for the season with Eddie Pieniezek taking the win over Jerry Cook and Ron Narducci. Ray Hendrick won the Spring 100 at Martinsville. Steady Eddie Flemke, in the Bobby Judkins No.2x went two for two as he won season openers at Norwood Arena on Saturday night and Thompson on Sunday afternoon. In other northeast action, Don Diffendorf won the season opener at Fulton Raceway in New York on Sunday.

Thirty-five years ago in 1973, Stafford was running on Saturday nights. Ronnie Bouchard took the 30-lap win over Bob Santos, Eddie Flemke, and Leo Cleary. Islip opened for the season with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Jim Hendrickson and Fred Harbach. Seekonk ran a 200 lapper on Sunday. Leo Cleary in the RGM 87 took the win. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Freddie Schulz, Flemke and Bugsy Stevens.

Thirty years ago in 1978, opening night at Stafford rained out. At Waterford Ron Bouchard made it two in a row. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Moose Hewitt in third. At Westboro, George Savory took the top spot over George Summers. Down on the Island at Islip, Tom McCann was the big winner. At Thompson on Sunday, Cleary in the Steve May no.15 out ran Fred DeSarro to victory. Ray Miller, Bugsy Stevens and Freddie Schulz rounded out the top five. Other weekend winners were Dunk Rudolph at Monadnock, Dave Thomas at Star and Maynard Troyer at Fulton.

Twenty-five years ago in 1983, Stan Greger won at Riverside on Saturday over Ray Miller and SJ Evonsion. Gil Hearne scored his 70th career win at Wall Stadium and at Islip, Alan Harbach held off Don Howe for the win. Waterford cancelled because of high water in the infield. Thompson ran twin 30's on Sunday. Richie Evans won them both.

Twenty years ago in 1988, Bob Potter won at Waterford on Saturday. Ted Christopher finished second with Dickie Doo Ceravolo, third. At Riverside, Charlie Pasteryak braved the cold to get a well-deserved win and at Riverhead, Tom Baldwin won out over Ed Brunnhoelzl. In SK modified action at Thompson, Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning finished one-two. The Mod Tour traveled to Jennerstown, Pa., where Reggie Ruggiero got his second tour win of the year. Jim Spencer finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and Steve Park

Fifteen years ago in 1993, Bo Gunning was the Friday night SK-Modified winner at Stafford. At Waterford, on Saturday night, Ricky Young came home the surprise winner after Ted Christopher and Dennis Gada spun while fighting for the lead on the final lap. Christopher, running second, made a move outside of Gada. Gada moved up to block and subsequently hit Christopher. Both spun and crashed. Bob Potter ended up in second spot. Bob Gegetskas won out over Dan Avery and Larry Moore at Riverside and at the Riverhead Raceway, on Long Island, Tim Continaro went pole to pole to win the 36 lap Modified feature. Jeff Malave finished second with Ed Brunnhoelzl, third. The Featherlite Modifieds and the Busch North Series were at Loudon on Sunday. With 16,000 fans looking on, Reggie Ruggerio won the 125-mile contest. Mike Stefanik tried his darndest but couldn’t muster a charge and ended up second. Doug Hevron finished third with Tim Arre and Bob Park rounding out the top five. Jamie Aube was the BNS winner. Kelly Moore finished second with Mike Mclaughlin and Dave Reszendes following. Thompson ran SK-Modifieds on Sunday with Mike Christopher taking the win over Tom Tagg and Lloyd Agor. Less than 1,000 spectators were on hand. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Ernie Irvan took the win over Jim Spencer and Dale Jarrett. Rusty Wallace took a mean looking dump as he went end over end after getting some help from Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Ten years ago, in 1998, the rained out Spring Sizzler at Stafford was finally run. Mike Stefanik took the lead from Doug French on lap 134 of the 200-lap event and held off Tim Connolly for the win. Tony Ferrente Jr. finished third with Jan Leaty and Carl Pasteryak rounding out the top five. In a post race interview Stefanik said he felt that Ed Flemke Jr. didn’t give him a fare shake as he attempted to pass him. Mike Christopher was the 40 lap SK-Modified winner. In other weekend action, Waterford was fogged out; Riverside Park hosted the Busch North Series on Saturday night where Tom Carey took the win over Kelly Moore and Jerry Marquis. Dan Avery was the modified winner. Bill Park took the checker at Riverhead and was disqualified when a post race inspection revealed an illegal clutch in his car. John Fortin was awarded the win and Ed Brunnhoelzl moved up to finish second.

Five years ago in 2003 opening night at Stafford rained out. It cleared out on Saturday as Riverhead opened for the season with a 50 lapper. JR Bertuccio took the win over Joe Hartmann and John Fortin. At Waterford, Dennis Gada picked up his first win of the season beating out Jeff Pearl, Rob Janovic and Ed Reed Jr. Frank Polimedia won out at Wall Township with Jimmy Blewett, second. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Terry Labonte took the pole. Jerry Nadeau crashed hard during Happy Hour. He spun between turns one and two, and then hit the wall on the driver’s side. Nadeau, who had to be cut from the car and life starred to the hospital received severe head injuries. Joe Nemachek was the Winston Cup winner with Bobby Labonte finishing second. The event went 392 of the scheduled 400 laps because of rain. A major confrontation erupted in the pit area after Jeff Green and Kevin Harvick tangled and Green ended up getting wrecked. Both drivers, in cars owned by Richard Childress, verbally assaulted each other over what happened, plus Green argued with Childress. The end result was that Green ended up getting fired from his ride.


Last year, 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Wall Township Speedway at the New Jersey shore for the inaugural “Flash Event” format race. Dubbed “The Thunder at the Shore” by NASCAR, the event was the first of three flash events for 2007. The races with the new format have met with mixed feelings from competitors. Usually time trials determine starting fields, the “Flash Format” eliminates time trials and puts qualifying heats in its place. Twin 50 lap races determined the 50 lap main event.

Thirty-seven Modifieds attempted to qualify for the event that was run in cool, early spring type weather. Among the missing was Tony Hirschman and Bob Santos III who was at the Richmond race.. Hirschman had said earlier in the year that he would not run a full schedule if he was not in the lead group in the point standings. The first 50-lap qualifier was won by Reggie Ruggiero. Seven caution periods slowed the event. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Todd Szegedy, third. Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. John Blewett III won the second 50 lapper. John Blewett III started on the pole of the second 50 lapper. He went on to lead every lap. Six cautions broke up the action. Ted Christopher finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Bob Grigas and Bill Pauch Jr rounded out the top five. Stafford Sizzler winner Donny Lia finished fourteenth. The Blewett Brothers made Modified history as they scored a one-two punch to cop the top two spots in the first ever “Whelen Modified Tour Flash Race”. Jimmy Blewett gave Reggie Ruggerio a gentle nudge of the bumper during a lap one restart as he took the lead and never looked back. John Blewett III finished a close second. Ruggerio, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ruggerio was credited with leading one lap, Jimmy Blewett led the rest, ho-hum. NASCAR had good intentions but it looked like the “Flash” ended up being a “Fizzle” NASCAR needs to re-think their way of staging competitive racing rather than putting the top dogs in front. Its ok to do that for long races where pit stops shake up the field but to continue to stage races like this will all but guarantee the demise of the division. If NASCAR wants to run short races they should at least handicap the field by inverting the point standings to create a little excitement.

Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Ronnie Silk, Todd Szegedy, Jerry Marquis and Billy Pauch Jr.

It appears that the northern based True Value Modified Series has NASCAR looking over their shoulder. Although they won’t speak publicly, Whelen Modified Tour competitors have “been spoken to” about their participation in these events. Because of “Right to Work” laws NASCAR has to tread softly on this issue but they can still make offending competitors life miserable when they compete in NASCAR events. During the late 60’s and early 70’s NASCAR branded the late Richie Evans as an “Outlaw” because of his participation in non-NASCAR events. They pulled his competitors license and prohibited him from racing in NASCAR sanctioned events. Evans, who raced for a living took his case to court and won the right to compete where ever he wanted to. As we all know, Evans went on to become NASCAR’s greatest Modified competitor and champion. The TVMS ran a rescheduled 100 lap event this past Saturday night at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Les Hinkley took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander. Ted Christopher finished seventh.

“The Bond Auto Parts 100” was a hotly contested battle in front a large crowd that braved cold temperatures and gusty wind chills. The event had been postponed twice by rain. It was the second time Hinckley has won the first race at Monadnock. He did so in 2005. An overflow field of 38 cars from throughout the northeast traveled to the Granite State oval to contest in three 12 lap qualifying races and a new twist added to the TVMRS program, a 20 lap “B” feature to give race teams that did not qualify in heat race action a chance to race for a separate purse and gain entry in the 100 lap main event. Six positions were added to the 26 car field from that race.

Peter Jarvis and Louie Mechalides, brought the field to green with Jarvis jumping into the top spot and leading the opening five laps until the first caution flag was displayed for a spinning car on the start of lap 6. On the restart, Hinckley, who started in fourth position, took the lead from Jarvis and would hold it until lap 52 giving him the Black Mountain Painting ½ way award, Jarvis, who won his heat race earlier, would stay right behind the race leader and wheel his Wally Albro owned, Cheever Tire Service sponsored, race car to it’s best run on the TVMRS. The former Claremont late model champ impressed, and would take the lead back on lap 53 only to turn it back over to Hinckley on the 56th go around. Hinckley would continue to set a hot pace despite several caution flags that slowed the race including a stoppage on the 63rd circuit for second year driver Bryan Shumway, Belchertown, MA., who was involved in a 1st turn skirmish that resulted in a hand injury. When the race resumed Hinckley was the top dog but with the series defending champion and the two time champion in hot pursuit.

Dwight Jarvis cut a tire at the half way mark and with a fresh right rear tire on his new mount, he started to make his way to the front with Alexander doing the same. The W.Swanzey,NH., driver took the point and lead laps 85 to 87 with Hinckley taking it back for good on lap 88. A lap 99 spin involving Stafford Springs,CT., hot shoe Woody Pitkat brought out the eighth caution period. The TVMRS race procedure is to finish the race under green with a green, white, checkered flag finish, the race ended on lap 101.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Frank Ruocco, the defending SK Modified track champion started on the pole of the 40 lap main event and led every lap to take the win. Ruocco suffered a blown engine that relegated him to an 18th place finish during the Spring Sizzler weekend. Ruocco's win was not an easy win by any means. Kerry Malone worked his way through traffic to come up to second, and he hounded Ruocco for the final 10 laps, but came just up short at the checkered flag. Todd Owen finished third, with Keith Rocco fourth and Jeff Baral rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher, who apparently had a regular ride for Stafford, finished sixth. Eric Berndt, Curt Brainard, Brad Hietella and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten. Sizzler weekend winner Lloyd Agor finished a distant 23rd.

In other Stafford action Scott Foster, Jr. won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Robert Thompson the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic took the SK Modified feature win after a heated battle with Dennis Charette. Charette started on the outside pole and was able to withstand the constant pressure applied by Don Fowler. In the closing stages Fowler lost his handling as he spun and collected Jeff Paul. Janovic avoided the tangle and with a green- white- checker situation got the best of Charette. Shawn Monahan finished third and was followed by Diego Monahan and Tyler Chadwick. Other winners included Tim Jordan (Late Model) Bill Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends).

Tom Ferrel was the Saturday night winner at Wall Township and Dave Brigati was the opening night NASCAR Modified winner at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

In Nextel Cup action Jimmie Johnson led 105 of the 400 laps at the Richmond Raceway en route to capturing his fourth checkered flag this season and second in NASCAR's next generation car. More notable, though, team owner Rick Hendrick has won seven of eight races, including three in a row and all four contested with the Car of Tomorrow. Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road with about 28 laps to go Friday night and easily went on to his fifth career NASCAR Busch Series victory.

This week here are several vintage racing photos of 3-time Riverside Park Speedway Champion Stan Greger Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467

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

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