Friday May 8, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, action in the northeast shifted into high gear. At Stafford on Friday night, Fred DeSarro in his own No.11 took the opening night win. Eddie Flemke in the Garuti-Arute No.14 was second. Gene Bergin, in the Garbarino Bros.V-4 was third with Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler No.3 and Ed Yerrington in the Freddies TV No.23 rounding out the top five. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., Jerry Cook took the win and was followed by Richie Evans and Lou Lazzaro. Saturday night at Norwood, Johnny Thompson in his Ford powered No.122 took the victory over DeSarro, Stevens and Jack Malone. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro beat out Rene Charland for the win. Daring Dick Caso was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl.

Jim Shampine was the winner at Shangri-La Speedway in 1969. (Photo Courtesy of John Bisci)

On Sunday at Thompson, the Bugman took the main event despite stiff competition from Flemke, DeSarro, Bergin and Ed Yerrington. At the Utica-Rome Speedway it was again, Cook and Evans finishing one-two over Lazzaro and Dave Lape. Tioga Motorsports Park was called the Shangri-La Speedway. Jim Shampine was the winner there.

Thirty five years ago in 1974, rain-washed out a scheduled 100 lapper at Utica-Rome on Friday night. Racing at Shangri-La on Saturday was also cancelled, as it was way to cold for night racing. Charlie Jarzombek went two for two as he won at both Freeport and Islip. At Stafford on Friday, Bugsy Stevens held off Don Flynn and Jerry Cook for the win. Sunday was busy in New York State as Oswego and Fulton ran afternoon and evening programs. At Oswego, Gary Reichart won the 75 lap Port City event over Maynard Troyer, Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine. At Fulton it was Bodine over Cook and Evans. Waterford ran an open show on Sunday with Dynamite Ollie Silva taking the top spot over Bugsy Stevens, Bob Santos and Glynn Shafer.

Ronnie Wyckoff took the win at Plainville Stadium in the Nils Linstead owned 10x in 1979. (Phil Hoyt Photo)

Thirty years ago in 1979, a full plate of Modified racing was on the table. The weekend started on Friday night at Stafford where Richie Evans took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Ronnie Bouchard and Brian Ross. On Saturday night, Tom Dunn fired Freddie Schulz and put Bentley Warren in his T-5. Warren turned the trick and took the win at Westboro over Joe Howard and John Falconi. At Seekonk, Bugsy Stevens beat out Ronnie Bouchard, Fred Astle and George Summers. At Waterford, Rick Donneley took the win over Dick Ceravolo, Roland LaPierre Jr. and Billy Greco. At Plainville, Ron Wyckoff held of Ronnie Rocco for the win and at Islip, Tom McCann, Wayne Anderson, Greg Sacks and Fred Harbach were the top four. Shangri-La action saw George Kent over Richie Evans and Dave Nichols. On Sunday at Thompson, Joe Howard got a well-earned win over SJ Evonsion and at Monadnock it was Dunk Rudolph over Reggie Ruggiero and John Rosati. The mods also ran at Montreal in Canada where Evans beat out Satch Worley, Jerry Cook and Ronnie Bouchard.

Twenty five years ago in 1984, the family of the late Larry Mendolsohn sold the Islip Speedway, which meant the track would close forever at the end of the 1984 season. The lawsuit between M & H tires and Hoosier, Stafford and Seekonk was settled in appeals court after many months of bitter fighting. M & H lost and the door was open for tracks to implement track tire rules without fear of being sued. Stafford rained out on Friday night. It cleared on Saturday. Richie Evans won at Riverside over Stan Greger and Bob Polverari. George Moose Hewitt took a 30 lapper at Waterford over Bob Gada and at Islip, Chris Young outran Bill Park for the win. Down on the Jersey shore at Wall Stadium, Tony Siscone added another victory. At Thompson on Sunday, Mike Mclaughlin in the Len Boehler No.3 took the 30-lap win over Richie Evans and Ray Miller. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Cale Yarborough was the pole sitter and the winner.

Twenty years ago in 1989, the Modified tour was at Stafford for a 100 lapper on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took the win over Mike Mclaughlin. Ted Christopher beat out Bob Potter for the SK mod win. In other weekend action, Christopher beat out Moose Hewitt at Waterford, John Blewett Jr. beat Bill Park at Riverhead and Reggie Ruggerio ruled over Dan Avery at Riverside Park. It was also the seventh week in a row that Seekonk rained out.

Fifteen years ago, in 1994, rain washed out Stafford, Waterford and Riverhead. At Riverside, Steve Park in the Joe Brady No.00 started 16th and went on to win the 50 lap modified event over Stan Gregger and Reggie Ruggerio. At Seekonk, Eddie StAngelo beat out Vinnie Annarummo for the Pro Stock main event. The Winston Cup Teams were off and the Busch cars were at Loudon for the Chevy Dealers 250. Derek Cope, driving for Red Farmer, won the event after Hermie Sadler ran out of gas in the closing laps.

Ten years ago, in 1999, Jeff Malave beat out Willie Hardie to win the Friday night SK modified event at Stafford. Waterford and Riverside rained out as the action shifted to Loudon for the twin BGN-BGNN events. Elton Sawyer was the BGN winner and Brad Leighton, the Busch North. Nascar’s Winston Cup had an off weekend, as it was Mothers Day. In other news from the weekend, Steve Bird who led Bace Motorsports to multiple Championships was released (fired). Steve Hmiel was named as crew chief for Steve Park and The International Speedway Corporation and Penske Motorsports announced that they were merging. ISCA stock shot up and closed out the week at 43-1/8.

Five years ago in 2004, gas prices soared near or past the $2.00 per gallon mark. Lloyd Agor won his first SK-Modified win at Stafford on Friday night but it wasn’t pretty. Agor started on the outside pole of the 40 lap event and proceeded to block or ride up anyone who attempted to pass, even Ted Christopher who is known to put the bumper to a competitor when they block his progress. Christopher did more than his share of the bump and grind but in the end, finished the night in sixth spot. George Bessette finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Kerry Malone and Shawn Tryon rounded out the top five. After a weeks absence Eric Berndt returned to the Friday night wars with a heavy heart, still suffering from the loss of his mom. Berndt managed to survive to finish seventh. Maybe getting back in that racecar was good therapy. It seemed that everybody blamed everybody but Bo Gunning for all the wrecks on Friday night. Gunning and car owner Eddie Partridge felt almost like they had three wins in a row by not being there. No bent cars, no tire bills and nobody was mad. Gunning was tossed out of Stafford in 2003. It was not totally his fault but that’s history now. Gunning was told he could return to Stafford if he took anger management classes. Gunning chose not to and was backed by his car owner. Mike Quintiliano made it three in a row in Late Model competition at Stafford. On Friday night he and Joe Rzeszutek swapped spots and traded paint right to the final second when Quintiliano won by a whisker. Aaron Goff was the Dare Stock winner. At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night rain put a damper on the SK-Modified and Late Model features. A partial program was completed before the rains came with Dwayne Conant taking the win in the Sportsman division, Dave Silvia in the Mini Stocks and Silas Hiscock in the Legends. John III and Jimmie Blewett finished one –two at the Wall Township Speedway on Saturday night The Nextel Cup division had a weekend off in celebration of Mother’s Day. The Busch Racing Series was at the Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. on Saturday night. Martin Truex Jr. continued to make a name for himself as he led 123 of the 200-lap distance. Tom Rogers was the winner at Riverhead. Bill Park finished second with John Fortin, third.

Last year, 2008, gas prices ranged from $3.75 to $4.00 per gallon. The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain for the second week in a row. The New England DODGE DEALERS LATE MODEL 100 was. The Arute family that owns and operates Stafford announced that NASCAR New England, the hour long Television production that covers the weekly racing would be back on NESN for ten episodes during the 2008 season. The tentative starting date would be in late June.

The Waterford Speedbowl.enjoyed another good night of competition with Keith Rocco making it two in a row in SK Modified competition. Rocco took the lead from Jay Miller with 13 laps remaining in the 35 lap feature. Miller faded shortly after as Jeff Pearl moved into the second spot. Pearl tried repeatedly to overtake Rocco but was forced to back out of it when it became obvious that Rocco would wreck anyone who attempted to pass. Rather than wrecking Pearl made a smart decision to settle for second spot. Rob Janovic finished third and was followed by Ron Yuhas Jr and Tyler Chadwick.

In Late Model action, it was Bruce Thomas Jr. recording his third feature of the season. Thomas battled with Ron Yuhas Jr. during the last half of the event before finally getting the advantage as the two approached lapped traffic and Thomas was able to sneak-by on the inside. Following Yuhas was Tim Jordan, Vin Esposito, and Ed Reed Jr. Other Feature winners were Walt Hovey Jr. (Sportsman), Randy Churchill (Mini Stock), Jason Palmer (Legends), and Randy Cabral (NEMA Midgets).

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series and the True Value Modified Series were in the middle of their “Spring Break”. To date both series had enjoyed good counts despite the high costs of traveling. The Whelen Modifieds have had 41 Modifieds enter into competition while the TVMS has had 39. With the two major series on break the All Star Speedway in Epping, NH hosted a special 100 lap open competition event for Modifieds. Mike Stefanik took the win over Andy Seuss and Ron Silk. The event drew 31 cars.

Wayne Anderson won Saturday nights NASCAR Modified feature at the Riverhead Raceway just one week after a hard crash on opening night. Anderson started on the pole and led every lap.

Kyle Busch won the battle of attrition Saturday night as one of NASCAR's least popular drivers overcame a pit-road penalty and several scrapes with the wall to win the Sprint Cup Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. Carl Edwards finished second, Jeff Gordon was third and Dale Earnhardt Jr finished fourth.. Tony Stewart had never won at Darlington before, but he was dominant Friday night in gliding to victory in the Nationwide Diamond Hill Plymouth 200, the first race on the track's repaved surface.


This week are several vintage racing photos of some of the cars driven by Modified stand-out Ronnie Wyckoff over his career, Courtesy of &
Click on Photo for Full Size

A 50's win at Florida's Hialeah Raceway before his move to Connecticut in 1959.

An early 60's win at Plainville Stadium's in the Alkas owned 87. (Phil Hoyt Photo)

Riverside Park with the Eddie Mack owned 95. Eddie started his nephew, Reggie Ruggiero, off on his racing career. (Shaney Photo)

In the Billy Zenobi owned % at Waterford Speedbowl. (Shaney Photo)

The Billy Simons owned coupe at Stafford Speedway. (Rene Dugas Photo)

The Manchester Sand & gravel #10 at Stafford Motor Speedway. (From the Danny Pardi Collection)

The Czarnecki #20 at Riverside Park with starter Chris Hopkins.
(Shaney Photo)

Ronnie Berndt owned #54 at The Park.
(Shaney Photo)

The Eddie Oles owned Gremlin at Riverside.
(Shaney Photo)

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

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

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