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Friday May 14, 2010
 

By Phil Smith

Fifty years ago in 1960 Bill Slater made it three in a row at the Norwood Arena. He also took his third Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl as the shoreline oval continued to run on Sundays. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner and Newt Palm annexed his second win in the Bombers.

Forty five years ago in 1965 Ron Narducci was the opening Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl Ray DeLisle was the Modified feature winner and Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner. At Fonda, Ken Shoemaker made it two in a row and three for the year in Modified action at the New York State oval. Lou Smith was fatally injured after his car hit the wall during the feature. At Utica-Rome it rained.

Forty years ago in 1970, Fred DeSarro hit full stride in his quest for the NASCAR Modified National Championship as he won on Friday night at Malta and twin 50's at Stafford on Saturday night. Eddie Flemke was just as hot as he finished second to DeSarro in all three events. At Malta, Charlie Jarzombek finished third and was followed by Andy Romano and Lou Lazzaro. In the first 50 lapper at Stafford, Lou Austin finished third with Bernie Miller, fourth. In the nightcap, Bobby Santos finished third with Austin, fourth. Ron Narducci who was inducted in the NEAR Hall of Fame won at Fonda over Don Wayman. Rain washed out all action at the Waterford Speedbowl. On Sunday, Thompson ran a 200-lap NASCAR championship event. Ray Hendrick was scheduled to drive the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11. Hendrick became fog bound in Newark airport so on the advice of Eddie Flemke, Hop Harrington was given the ride for the day. Harrington didn't disappoint his mentor as he went out and won the event. Bernie Miller finished second with Eddie Flemke, Moose Hewitt and Frank Faria rounding out the top five.

Thirty five years ago in 1975, Stafford Speedway had been under duress since the beginning of the season when Jack Arute mandated that narrow tires be used on the modifieds. Stafford car owners voted to return to the fifteen-inch wide rubber and Arute gave in after a long fight. It was also on this weekend that Bill Slater tended his resignation from the Stafford management over differences of opinion. On the final weekend of running the narrow tires, Eddie Flemke in the Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 took the Friday night win over Freddie Schulz, Bugsy Stevens and Lenny Cleaves. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Monday, Memorial Day. This event, the last on narrow tires was to be the biggest win of the late George Moose Hewitt. Ronnie Bouchard with a small block for power finished second and was followed by Ray Miller, Flemke and Richie Evans. In other weekend action, George Wagner won at Freeport on Friday night over Gary Winters, Jerry Cook and Charlie Jarzombek. Winters turned the tables on Wagner on Saturday at Islip with Jarzombek again third. Freeport ran a 100 lapper on Monday and it was Richie Evans outgunning Fred Harbach for the win. Billy Harman was the Modified feature winner at Waterford. Bob Gada Sr was the Grand American Late Model winner. In Sunday action in New England, Eddie Flemke won out over Fred DeSarro and John Rosati at Thompson and at Monadnock, also on Sunday it was Brian Ross over Ray Miller and Jerry Dostie.

Thirty years ago in 1980, Over 5000 fans were on hand at Stafford on Friday night as Richie Evans made it two in a row. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller and Corky Cookman. Mike Benevides who has since retired from racing and is now a CPA won his first late model feature. Evans carried his winning ways over to Saturday as he took a convincing win over Reggie Ruggerio and Miller. Ron Bouchard won at Westboro while Mike Beebe held off Bob Potter for the win at Waterford. Geoff Bodine had a busy weekend as he won the modified feature at Spencer in the Lee Allard modified, won a Late Model Sportsman event at South Boston, Va. in the Zervakas No.01 and on Sunday jumped back in the Allard No.99 to beat out Satch Worley and Jerry Cook at North Wilkesboro, N.C. Other weekend winners were Larry Record at Star, Tom McCann at Islip, Allen Whipple at Clairmont, George LeBlanc at Danbury and Charlie Jarzombek at Plainville.

Twenty five years ago in 1985, Charlie Jarzombek was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Reggie Ruggerio finished second with Corky Cookman, third. Riverside ran a 100 lapper on Saturday, which saw only eight cars finish. Ruggerio survived to take the win over Wade Cole and John Rosati. Randy Hedger beat out Richie Evans at Spencer and at Waterford, Bob Potter and Dale Holdredge finished one-two. Bob Park scored a win at Riverhead and in SK action at Thompson, Wayne Dion in Brad LaFountain's 66 won out over Kerry Malone and Lloyd Agor. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Bill Elliott emerged the winner.

Twenty years ago in 1990, Steve Chowanski was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Mike Christopher finished second with Wayne Dion, third. Christopher stepped it up at Waterford on Saturday, as he was no match for David Gada. Bob Polverari was the winner at Riverside over Jerry Marquis and at Riverhead; Bob Park beat out Frank Vigliorlo for the win. The racing world was saddened when it was learned that AJ Michaels had died at Oswego and the big news of the weekend was that Brian Ross had decided to retire from modified racing as he felt the modifieds were getting to the point that they were unsafe.

Fifteen years ago in 1995, Friday night action at Stafford rained out. At Waterford, Mark LaJunesse scored a popular win over Bert Marvin and Todd Ceravolo. At Seekonk, starter Ron Manfredo was struck accidentally by Tony Dias Jr. while directing cars for a restart lineup. Manfredo received a broken leg, a bad nose gash and many scrapes. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggerio over Doug Meservy and at Riverhead, Bill Park took the top spot. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Nazareth for a 100 lapper. Tony Hirschman, in the Len Boehler No.3 passed Tim Connoly with two laps to go to take the win. Connoly, in the Bob Fuller No.17 finished second and was followed by Ed Kennedy, Tom Cravenho and Mike Stefanik. Tim Fedewa won the wreck marred Busch Grandnational event, also at Nazareth. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Todd Bodine won the Winston Open and Jeff Gordon won the Winston.

Ten years ago, in 1990, rain played havoc in the northeast, washing just about everything out. Thompson drew 53 mods for the Featherlite modified tour event. Tim Connolly in the Mystic Missile took the pole with Tony Hirshman, second fastest. Todd Ceravolo and Ted Christopher were the SK mod heat winners and that’s as far as they got as the skies opened up.

Five years ago in 2005 saw Todd Owen, Tom Butler, Michael Bennett, Charlie Newman, and Jim Mavlouganes drive to victory lane in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature events at the Stafford Speedway. Both Owen and Newman were first time feature winners, while Bennett's win was his third in four events of the season. In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Owen, of Somers, took the lead on a lap-5 restart and led the rest of the way to pick up the first career SK Modified feature win of his career at Stafford. Owen had Ted Christopher lined up behind him on a lap 19 restart but drove away from Christopher in the closing laps to score a convincing win. Christopher finished second, with Eric Berndt, Jeff Baral, and John Sandberg rounding out the top-5 behind him.

After three rainouts in a row the Waterford Speedbowl finally got their Saturday night racing program in. Tommy Fox avoided a multitude of wrecks and spins to go on to record his first win of the year. Fox led all but four laps. He battled Ron Yuhas Jr. over the final seven laps. Kurt Lenahan, Don Fowler and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Allen Coates became the first two-time winner of the season as he won the Late Model 30 lapper. Coates took the lead at the halfway point and beat several restart challenges from Chris Douton. Carl Eriksson, Mark St.Hilaire and Charles Bailey III rounded out the top five. Roger Perry won the 20 lap Sportsman event and Jeff Miller was the winner of the Mini Stock feature. Jeffrey Paul was the 20-lap Legends Car winner.

First it was the Tioga Speedway in Owego, NY, and then it was the Wall Township Speedway in Belmar, NJ now it appeared maybe the Waterford Speedbowl was on thin ice. The May 15 edition of the Hartford Courant hinted to the fact that the Speedbowl, in existence since 1951 may shut down at season’s end. The Speedbowl had been at the mercy of the weather in 2005 and with no money coming in the management had been put in a somewhat of a bad way. Speedbowl operator Terry Eames acknowledged that there was a study going on involving alternative uses of the property, which is owned by 1080 Hartford Road LLC. He said he had a “fiduciary responsibility” to other stockholders in that regard but cautions the “speculation” may be premature. “There are absolutely no firm plans to do anything at this time,” Eames said. “We have some big events on the immediate horizon including the Budweiser Modified Nationals and that is the Speedbowl’s primary concern right now,” Eames continued. “We have a dedicated group of competitors and fans and, many believe, the best racing in the area. We’re not about to just throw all of that away.” In the event that Eames does decide to pull the plug on his operation the word on the street has an interested group ready to step up to the plate.

The Pro All Star Series was at the Thompson International Speedway on Sunday for the running of the Pro Stock Shootout 100. It proved to be a Shootout between Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe. At the end, C. Clark was the last man “standing”. In NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series action, Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT scored an impressive win in the Sunoco Modified Division. Charles Bailey, III picked up where he left off, winning the Late Model feature. Limited Sportsman honors went to Larry Barnett, Mini Stock checkers flew for Terry Boudreau.. It was a dominating win for Bernie Singer in All Star Truck Series competition. Ben Rowe summed it up best in his post-race interview. “He (Cassius) was the class of the field. Cassius Clark of Farmington, ME led much of the early going of the 100 lapper, only to lose the lead to Ben Rowe with just over 30 laps to go. Over the remaining 25 laps, the two went fender-to-fender swapping the lead a number of times. A caution with 14 laps remaining set up a final duel between the two. C. Clark got a great jump of the restart but Rowe retained the lead. A bobble by Rowe on lap 89 opened the door for both Cassius and Johnny Clark. The three had a comfortable distance between one another as they headed for the finish while Corey Williams and Scott Mulkern battled for fourth. In the waning laps, Rowe began to backslide a bit even falling into the clutches of Williams. Rowe was able to hold on to the podium finish with winner C. Clark and runner-up J. Clark. Williams and Mulkern finished rounded out the top-five. Bert Marvin drove a smart race to win his first of the season in Sunoco Modified feature action. Bo Gunning led the charge early while Tommy Cravenho and Jeff Malave were coming through the pack. Gunning held the point while positions were changing inside the top five. Marvin got the second position on lap 10 while Cravenho and Malave followed through into the third and fourth positions. Malave began to pressure Cravenho before the yellow came out. Just as the crossed flags were displayed the caution flew for a spin by Russ Savoy. The restart found Gunning with Marvin to his outside and Cravenho and Malave in the second row. Cravenho sailed his car into turn four to take over the second position from Marvin with Malave following through. The caution came out for a spin by Darin Renihan to negate the pass. Cravenho made the same move work a second time to take the second spot when they went back to green. Malave continued to take chase in fourth followed by Adam Norton. Cravenho caught Gunning and pressed for the lead. Contact between the two sent Gunning over the #31 of Cravenho and hard into the wall. Cravenho was sent to the rear for his involvement in the incident. Marvin and Malave lined up one and two for the restart with ten laps to go. Kerry Malone started to make his presence known on the restart. The battle up front began to heat up as well between Marvin and Malave. George Bessette was turning in a great performance in his debut in the #2. After several attempts at green flag racing the final shootout came with five laps remaining and a single-file restart. Malave glued his Interstate Diesel #6 to the bumper of Marvin. Malave even looked inside coming out of two but settled for second behind winner Bert Marvin. Malone finished third followed by Ricky Shawn and John Sandburg. Charles Bailey, III made it two in a row in the Late Model division.

The NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series were in Virginia at the Richmond Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards took the Busch Series win and Kasey Kahne got his first Nextel Cup win.
 
Reigning Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan took the pole for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Kanaan, last year's Indy runner-up, had a four-lap qualifying run at 227.566 mph.

Last year, 2009, the Friday night racing season opener at the Stafford Motor Speedway avoided the elements until the very end. The speedway opened up its regular Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule with the Late Model division taking center stage for the 15th Annual Late Model 100. Dillon Moltz outlasted veterans Jim Peterson and Ryan Posocco over the final 15 laps of the race to take home his third consecutive extra distance feature victory at Stafford. Jeff Malave drove a strong race to score his first SK Modified® feature win in over 4 years in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tony Santangelo was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, and Andrew Durand made it two-for-two in 2009 with his second consecutive victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature. The 15-lap DARE Stock feature was halted by rain with two laps complete.

Dennis Gada, who has had less than a spectacular start to the season took advantage of a mis-cue by Cory Hutchings and found himself in victory lane at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. After numerous restarts Gada was unable to overtake Hutchings. All of a sudden with less than ten laps remaining, Hutchings lost control near turn two and spun out. Gada took advantage of Hutchings predicament as he inherited the lead and went on to record his first win of the 2009 season. Jeffrey Paul finished second and was followed by Rob Janovic Jr, and Shawn Solomito. Keith Rocco, who had won the previous two features, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Ron Yuhas Jr., Justin Gaydosh, Todd Ceravolo, Jeff Pearl and Wendell Dailey. Hutchings finished 14th. Twenty three Modifieds started the event.

Other winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model feature), Mark Panaroni (Mini Stocks) and Mark Cooper (Street Stocks). There were only nine cars in the Late Model field.

The True Value Modified Series made its first of two visits to the shoreline oval. In his first-ever start on the True Value Modified tour, Doug Coby took the win in the 100-lap feature. Coby, who is a former competitor on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series, took the lead from polesitter Chris Pasteryak late in the race and kept it on two restarts, including one with three laps left. Mike Stefanik finished second and Pasteryak was third. Coby, who started 11th, was in the top five just past the 1/3 mark.

At the end of the 100 lap grind that was slowed by eight caution periods, former Waterford winner Les Hinckley finished fourth after overcoming earlier handling problems, second year driver Steven Masse was fifth, his best finish with the series. Ted Christopher, driving the Joe Brady owned #00, cut a tire while running ninth on lap 13 and made contact with the turn three aarmco barrier, ending his night early in 25th spot.

John Fortin took the Modified win at Riverhead Raceway when he went wire to wire to win the opening night 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature event for the Whelen All-American Series. The triumph was the 18th of Fortin's career and worth $1,435.

Matt Kenseth found one of the few ways to beat Kyle Busch. Kenseth took advantage when Busch's dominant car got a flat with two laps to go Friday night, lifting him to his first Nationwide Series win this year and capping a record-setting day at Darlington Raceway. Busch led 143 laps and looked like he would ease to victory. Then a late collision between Scott Legasse Jr. and Joe Nemechek brought out the race's 10th caution and set up a two-lap sprint to the finish. As Busch ran through the wreckage, he got a flat in his right rear tire. Busch tested the tire for several laps before rolling into the pits to loud cheers from Darlington fans.

Kenseth, who earlier set a track record to win the Southern 500 pole, still faced a green-white-checkered finish. That, too, went Kenseth's way when Morgan Shepherd spun out on the restart, ending the race. Jason Leffler finished second, followed by Carl Edwards, and Nationwide rookies Erik Darnell and Justin Allgaier. Busch wound up 16th.

Former Nationwide Series driver Kevin Grubb was found dead in a Richmond-area motel room from what police said was an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Grubb was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after a second failed drug test in 2006 and never raced again in a NASCAR sanctioned event. Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Saturday for failing a random drug test, becoming the first driver to violate a toughened new policy that went into effect this season. Mayfield tested positive for a banned substance at Richmond International Raceway. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter would not reveal what banned substance Mayfield used, but Hunter said it was not an alcohol-related offense.

In Sprint Cup racing at Darlington, Mark Martin led the final 46 laps to win his 37th career Sprint Cup victory. Martin had to show as much patience as speed, handling a record 17 cautions on Darlington's 2-year-old pavement. The wrecks surpassed the previous high of 15 set in Darlington's spring race 14 years ago, and more than doubled the eight of last year after the track was freshly paved. Jimmie Johnson wrecked in qualifying and had to start 42nd. He made it all the way to Martin's bumper before settling for second. Tony Stewart finished third. Ryan Newman, Stewart's teammate, was fourth, followed by points leader Jeff Gordon.

Less than a month after being acquitted of charges of tax evasion, Helio Castroneves was right where he wanted to be, back in the cockpit and on the pole for the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves's four-lap average of 224.864 mph on the historic 2.5-mile oval came with less than two hours remaining in the six-hour opening round of time trials for the May 24 race.

This week are several vintage racing photos from the late Plainville Stadium, courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size




Jap Membrino



George Bouley


Larry Lafayette


Ernie Olson

Dean Anderson

Eddie Flemke

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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