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Friday May 15, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969 rain washed out Friday night action at Stafford and Malta. Saturday night at Norwood, Freddie Schulz got Dick Armstrong his first win as a car owner. Jack Malone finished second and was followed by Johnny Thompson, Lou Austin, Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens. Lou Lazzaro made it two in a row at Fonda and Rene Charland was again second. Ron Narducci was third with Ray Sitterly, fourth. At Islip, Cliff Tyler took the win at the tough 1/5 mile oval. Mousie Kempster finished second with Japanese driver, George Tet, third. Dick Caso took the Modified win at Waterford. On Sunday it rained out at Thompson and it snowed at Utica-Rome.

Thirty five years ago in 1974 a 100 lapper scheduled for Utica-Rome on Friday was rained out.


George Wagner was the winner at both Freeport Stadium and Islip Speedway's on Long Island in 1974.
(Photo from the Danny Pardi Collection)

At Freeport, George Wagner took the top spot over Ted Wesnoski, Fred Harbach and Bob Park and at Metrolina in North Carolina, John Bryant took the win over Pudin Swisher and Harry Gant. At Stafford on Saturday night it was Steady Eddie Flemke in the Judkins 2x over Don Flynn. Geoff Bodine outran Richie Evans at Shangri-La and at Islip, George Wagner made it two for two on the weekend. Gary Winters finished second and was followed by Jim Hendrickson in the Ferrente x3. Dick Dunn was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl.
                           
Thirty years ago in 1979 Bugsy Stevens in the Brady Bunch 00 took the Friday night win at Stafford over Bobby Vee and Jerry Cook. On Saturday at Westboro, Jeff Fuller made his modified debut as he was asked to pilot the Tom Dunn T-5. Roland LaPierre JR took the win with Fuller finishing second. At Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Leo Cleary and Eddie St Angelo. George Murray suffered burns in an accident. Riverside, Islip, Waterford, Monadnock and Thompson rained out.
                           
Twenty five years ago in 1984 Richie Evans was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Rain washed out Spencer, Waterford and Riverside on Saturday night. At Shangri-La the rain quit and Evans made it two for two on the weekend. George Kent and Jan Leaty followed. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Darrell Waltrip won both the pole and the main event.
                           
Twenty years ago in 1989 Stafford pulled the plug on the night’s schedule because of rain. On Saturday night the Modified Tour Series was at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. Mike McLaughlin took an impressive win over Tony Hirschman, Tony Jankowiac and Satch Worley. Dan Jivenelli was the victor at Riverhead and at Riverside it was Jerry Marquis. Waterford rained out.

Ten years ago in 1994 NASCAR announced that they were in the process of forming a truck touring series which would debut in 1995.In Friday action at Stafford Mike and Ted Christopher finished one-two ahead of John Anderson and Bob Potter. Jay Stewart started 18th and won the late model feature. Twin features were run at Waterford on Saturday night with David Gada and Mark LaJunesse taking victories. Twins were also run at Riverhead with Wayne Anderson and Eddie Brunnhoelzl taking wins. At Riverside it was Dan Avery over Reggie Ruggiero. The Modified Tour Series was at Thompson on Sunday and it was a memorable day for Charlie Pasteryak as he won the 125-lap event over Tom Baldwin and Bruce Dell and Wayne Anderson. Rick Fuller was the apparent winner until he suffered a flat on lap 111 of the 125-lap event. In Winston Cup action at Sears Point, Ernie Irvan took the win over Geoff Bodine and at Indianapolis; Al Unser Jr. took the Indy 500 pole with a speed of 228.011 mph.

Ten years ago in 1999 the Featherlite Modifieds converged on the Richmond Raceway, 51 cars strong. It took two days to run 131 of a scheduled 150 laps but when the event was finally checkered, Ted Christopher and Joe Brady sat in victory lane. Tom Baldwin ended up second, Jamie Tomaino, third and Bruce Driver, fourth. At Stafford on Friday night, Mike Christopher won out over Frank Wainwright in an action filled night which saw Chris Jones removed and suspended indefinitely by the Connecticut DMV for intentionally ramming Christopher. Dennis Gada beat out Bert Marvin at Waterford while Ted Riggot won at Riverside and Ed Brunnhoelzl won at Riverhead. Kelly Moore won the BGNN200 at Thompson after taking the lead from Martin Truex on lap 120.Ted Christopher won the companion SK Modified event over Dave Kukta and Scott Spaulding. Lou Lazzaro who won his first modified feature at Fonda in 1961 recorded his 113th career win at the historic New York State dirt track. In the last 30 years, the 64-year-old legend has recorded at least one win every year. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Dale Jarrett took the win.
 


Eddie Flemke took down the Modified Tour Show at Waterford Speedbowl in 2004. (Howie Hodge Photo)

Five years ago in 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl. The 150-lap event, which drew 47 Modifieds, had to one of the most exciting and competitive run at the shoreline oval in quite a while. Busch Pole sitter Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Garbarino Bros. Mystic Missile, picked the pole starting position and led the first 80 laps. Hossfeld, who appeared to have the car to beat was hounded by Ted Christopher who, after starting third, shot by Tony Hirschman and moved into second spot on the first lap. During a restart from the third caution on lap 79 Christopher powered his way into the lead. One lap later, Hossfeld tapped him as they came out of turn four. Christopher and a host of others spun which allowed Mike Stefanik to inherit the lead. Hossfeld was put to the rear for rough riding. Stefanik with Eddie Flemke in hot pursuit led what was left of the 30 car-starting field.

The race was supposed to end at the 150-lap mark but because of the inefficiency of the Waterford wreckers and track crews to clean up a minor wreck on lap 140 the event was extended to 152 laps in order to provide a green-white-checkered finish. In a single file restart Stefanik took the green on lap 150. Flemke glued himself to the former national champion’s bumper. With victory in sight Stefanik hit some dirt and debris kicked up by a spinning Doug Coby in the fourth turn on the final lap. Stefanik drifted up and it was all that Flemke needed as he floored his Hill Enterprises mount and took the victory by inches. Stefanik ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. Jerry Marquis came from a 12th starting spot to finish fourth. Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. It was a great victory for car owners Roger and Sandra Hill who make the long trip north for every Mod Tour event from their base of operations in Westfield, North Carolina. Hossfeld finished 12th and Christopher, who came across the finish line in sixth was placed last on the lead lap in 15th for failure to restart in the proper spot. Following Szegedy to round out the top ten were Nevin George, John Blewett III, Tony Ferrante Jr, Jamie Tomaino and Rob Summers. There were seven cautions for 54 laps. Fifteen of the original 30 starters completed the entire race distance.
   
Ted Christopher is known to be an intimidator at times at Stafford but on Friday night he became intimidated. Christopher was leading the final lap of the 40 lap SK Modified feature when he became the victim of his own making. Chuck Hossfeld was second when they took the white flag. In a move made many times by Christopher, Hossfeld dove low into turn one. Christopher saw him coming and tried to pinch him off. It was then that the pair made contact and slid up the track. Jeff Baral, who was running third at the time shot under the tangled cars and went on to take the win. Hossfeld and Christopher managed to keep pointed in the same direction and kept going. Hossfeld finished second with Christopher, third. At least that’s what he thought. The top finishing cars were then weighed and at that time it was discovered that Christopher’s car had an illegal left side weight. With Christopher disqualified, Jim Civale was moved up to the third spot. Shawn Tryon and Todd Owen rounded out the top five. Former Pro Stock driver Tom Fearn broke the stranglehold that Mike Quintialano had on the Late Model division as he took the Late Model feature event. Quintialano, who finished sixth, was disqualified as it was discovered in a post race inspection that his car had an illegal suspension part. Fran Siana was the Dare Stock winner. 
       
At the Waterford Speedbowl in regular weekly competition on Saturday night, Doug Coby had to get mad to get aggressive in order to win. Coby led Jeff Pearl across the finish line after he had his lead taken away at one point for jumping on the restart. Pearl led a good portion of the event but in the end had nothing for Coby. Dennis Gada finished third with Ted Christopher and Chris Pasteryak rounding out the top five. Jay Stuart won the LateModel feature that went non-stop. Other Saturday night winners were Joe Bavolacco in the Mini Stocks and Bill Mcneil in the Sportsman division.

The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR along with the Busch Racing Series was in Richmond, Virginia last weekend. The announcement that NASCAR had awarded a second Nextel Cup date to the Texas Motor Speedway was the big news. The International Speedway Corporation announced that the North Carolina Speedway had been sold to Speedway Motorsports. Speedway Motorsports, which owns the Texas Speedway asked for and received approval from NASCAR to move the Rockingham race date to Texas. The sale price was $100 million. With Texas getting their second date meant that the anti-trust suit filed by a Speedway Motorsports stockholder against NASCAR would go away. The new Texas date would be November 6, 2005. It was also announced that the International Speedway Corporation had purchased the Martinsville Speedway from the Earles and France families. It was also indicated that the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina would lose one of its dates as Phoenix gets a second date. In a somewhat related announcement the International Speedway Corporation announced that they would cease racing operations at Nazareth. Their Busch Racing Series and IRL dates would be moved to another track, rumored to be Watkins Glen. As for the Featherlite Modified Touring Series date, no mention of its future was stated so it looked like it will just fade away. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the Nextel Cup win in Richmond after taking the lead from Tony Stewart with 54 laps remaining in the 400-lap contest. Jimmie Johnson finished second with Bobby Labonte, third. Stewart ended up fourth. Kyle Busch won the Busch Racing Series event at Richmond.

The New Hampshire International Speedway sued Action Performance, which makes and markets auto-racing collectibles. NHIS alleged that Action Performance was guilty of breech of contract, fraud and a violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act. NHIS felt that Action Performance had fraudulently underreported gross sales since 1993. NHIS charges a minimum fee of $5,000 or 25 percent commission which ever is higher. A similar legal action took place at the Dover Downs Speedway earlier in the year.

Last Year, 2008, the Stafford Motor Speedway suffered their third successive rain out. The Waterford Speedbowl continued to benefit from Stafford’s rain outs as their car counts in the SK Modified division had become quite healthy. Six-time champion Dennis Gada came from deep in the pack Saturday evening to win his third NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK feature of the season on Little League Night at the Waterford Speedbowl. The 35 lap SK Modified feature got off to a rough start as a pile of cars got drop kicked into the first turn wall after outside pole sitter Frank Mucciacciaro Jr failed to come up to racing speed. Jeff Pearl and Ron Yuhas Jr got the worst of it and were towed from the scene. On the restart, Wendell Dailey led momentarily before passed by Mucciacciaro and several others. Justin Gadosh then moved to the front pressed by Rob Janovic and a fast-moving Dennis Gada. Passing Gaydosh, Gada pulled alongside leader Janovic, executing an outside-pass to take the lead with only three circuits remaining when the caution waved for the final time. In one of the closest SK finishes of 2008, he was able to get the advantage on defending champion. Following was Gaydosh, Ronnie Silk, and Rocco. In the Late Models, Ed Reed took his second feature of the season. Moving into the lead following an altercation between leader Tim Jordon and defending champion Bruce Thomas Jr., Reed distanced himself from a furious battle between Vin Esposito and Ron Yuhas Jr. Having his best run of the season, a surprisingly-fast Esposito was able to nip Yuhas for second. After restarting from the back of the field, Jordan and Thomas Jr. recovered to complete the top-five. Both of these drivers deserve the “Meatball Flag” Jordan for blocking and Thomas for the lack of patience. Ed Lamb Jr. became the sixth different Sportsman feature winner of the season in scoring his first-ever main event. Lamb was dogged in the closing laps by veteran Jim Proccaccini, but managed to pull ahead by several car-lengths at the finish. Walt Hovey, Jr., Al Stone III, and Jonathon Avery followed.

In the caution-free Mini Stock feature, teenage rookie Raymond Christian III put on a dominating performance to win the first of his career. Christian is the son of defending "Women On Wheels" champion Kathy Civardi, and the step-son of popular Speedbowl veteran Jeff "Soup" Civardi. Lou Belisle finished second, and rounding-out the top-five was Randy Churchill Jr., Ken Cassidy Jr., and Bill Leonard.

According to the State of Connecticut Judicial website the Waterford Speedbowl was once again the center of foreclosure action. Rocco Arbitell, along with Peter Borelli, filed suit in state court in New London to foreclose on the Speedbowl property. The case was filed against 1080 Hartford Road, the group that owned the Speedbowl, and Terry Eames. In the mean time, the Speedbowl continued to run every week basically drawing fans on a word of mouth situation.

Special congratulations were sent out to Howie and Mary Hodge, two very special people who celebrated 45 years of wedded bliss on Sunday, May 18. Thanks to the efforts of Howie and Mary the Whelen Modified Tour Series gets recorded in pictures.

Kasey Kahne picked up a $1 million payday Saturday by gambling on a late pit stop to steal a win in NASCAR's Sprint All-Star race. Kahne didn't take tires on the pit stop before the fourth and final 25-lap segment, a decision that helped him start second when the race resumed. He wasn't challenged and easily held off Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth for the victory. Kahne wasn't originally eligible for the race, needing to finish first or second in the preliminary Sprint Showdown. He finished fifth, but earned his spot through a fan vote. The 100-lap event was intermittently dominated by Kyle Busch, Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Biffle, who led the final 11 laps of the third segment, took two tires and was mired in traffic on the start of the final segment. Biffle, who finished second, never got a chance to run down Kahne, who slid past leader Jimmie Johnson to lead the final 17 laps. Kenseth was third. Johnson and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos from the Danny Pardi Collection of some cars you my not necessarily associate with the driver, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size


Carl "Bugs Stevens


Ron Narducci


Geoff Bodine


Billy Greco


Reggie Ruggiero


3 time Riverside Mod Champ the late Bob Stefanik, Brother of Mike Stefanik.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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