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Friday May 20, 2011
 

By Phil Smith

Sixty years ago in 1951 the final touches were being done to the new asphalt surface at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

Fifty years ago in 1961, Johnny Thompson was the Saturday night winner at the Norwood Arena. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Ted Stack made it three in a row in Sunday Modified action at the shoreline oval. Stack also won the non-Ford feature while Joe Maynard was the Bomber winner.

Forty-five years ago in 1966 New York hot shoe Pete Corey was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Jerry Cook broke the stronghold that New England drivers held at the Albany Saratoga Speedway as he won the Friday night 30 lap feature. Mario “Fats” Caruso finished second and was followed by Dennis Zimmerman, Rene Charland and Gaston Demaris. Crowd favorite Pete Corey went two for two on the weekend as he took the 25 lap win at Fonda on Saturday night over Irv Taylor and Ernie Gahan. Dave Dias was the Saturday night winner at Norwood. Local favorite Charlie Webster won the Modified 30 lap feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Eddie Bunnell made it four in a row in the Bombers and Bill Sweet was the Daredevil winner. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night Cook backed up his Friday night win with a victory at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Lou Toro finished second with Bill Wimble, third. Dave Kotary and Richie Evans rounded out the top five.

Forty years ago in 1971, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY saw the best in the business come together on Friday night. When the checkered flag flew it was two of New England’s best leading the way as Bugsy Stevens took down the win with Steady Eddie Flemke coming home in second spot. Guy Chartrand finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook, Andy Romano and Leo Cleary. Stevens continued his winning streak to Stafford on Saturday night as he won both ends of the twin-25 lap program. At Islip, Charlie Jarzombek outdistanced Art Tappen and at Fonda, Lou Lazzaro beat out Maynard Forette. Racing on Sunday at Utica-Rome and at Thompson was rained out. It also rained at Waterford on Saturday night.

Thirty-five years ago in 1976, Riverhead ran on Friday night with Fred Harbach taking the win over Gary Winters, Charlie Jarzombek and Greg Sacks. Harbach tried to carry his streak to Islip on Saturday night but when all was said and done, the Flying Dutchman had to settle for second behind Tiger Tom Baldwin. Jerry Cook finished third with Wayne Anderson, fourth. Stafford pulled the plug because of rain and cold but they ran at Riverside despite the fact that only 3600 were in the stands. Charlie Glazier took the win over Ronnie Rocco, Ron Wyckoff and Sonny O'Sullivan. Waterford also beat the weather as Bob Potter ruled the roost at the shoreline oval in the Modified division. Potter was hot as a pistol as his win made it three in a row. Don Fowler was the Grand American Late Model winner. At New Egypt it was Ricky Lutz over John Blewett Jr and Wayne Anderson. On Sunday, a NASCAR Modified event was run at Cayuga where Roger Treichler took the win over Ed Howe, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook.

Thirty years ago in 1981, rain washed out all racing in the Northeast except at Claremont, Danbury and Lancaster. Punky Caron beat out Dwight Jarvis at the New Hampshire oval and Siege Fidenza won at Lancaster. Lou Funk Jr in the Modifieds and Randy LaJoie in the Sportsman were the winners at Danbury. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Jody Ridley got his first and only win in NASCAR’s top division. Bobby Allison finished second. Ronnie Bouchard qualified 12th but crashed 22 laps into the event and finished 27th.

Twenty-five years ago in 1986, Jamie Tomaino beat the best there was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Greg Sacks and Kenny Bouchard. There were only 19 Modifieds on hand and despite the fact that they were all good ones, the Stafford management was having thoughts of dropping the mighty Mods from their weekly schedule. Saturday night at Waterford, Dale Holdredge held off Ricky Young to take the win. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead Wayne Anderson led Steve Park to the checker. The Modified tour was at Monadnock on Sunday. Kenny Bouchard took the win over Jim Spencer, Jamie Tomaino and John Rosati. In other weekend action, Leo Cleary was the Pro Stock winner at Seekonk and Jim Spencer was the Modified winner at Shangri-La. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Geoff Bodine started third and won the 500 lap-500 mile grind that saw temperatures in the 90's.Darrell Waltrip was the
Busch Grandnational winner.

Twenty years ago in 1991,Stafford rained out on Friday night but Ted Christopher more than made up for it on Saturday night as he went two for two as he won a left over 75 lapper and the regular Saturday night 35 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Reggie Ruggiero beat out Jerry Marquis at Riverside and Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr took Riverhead. Ken Wooly won an open competition event at New Egypt on Sunday as he out distanced Tony Siscone and Jamie Tomaino. At Monadnock, Kirby Monteith ruled the roost as he won out over Dwight Jarvis, Jerry Marquis and Mike Ewanitsko.

Fifteen years ago in 1996, Lloyd Agor took the lead on lap 42 of the 50 lap feature at Stafford and went on to take the win over Bo Gunning and Tony Sylvester. Indy pole sitter Scott Brayton died in a practice crash caused by a deflated tire. On Saturday the Waterford Speedbowl management called the night’s races at noon because of impending rain. Needless to say, they got skunked by the weatherman and it never did rain. Waterford’s events were run on Sunday. After a big wreck on the start, Scott Spaulding went on to take the win. Tom Rosati, pinch-hitting for Reggie Ruggiero who was at Nazareth for a Mod tour event got credit for the win at Riverside on Saturday. Ruggiero arrived late and jumped into the car in the mid stages but Rosati started the event and got credit for the win. Ted Riggott finished second. Double features were run at Riverhead with Tom McCann and Chuck Steuer taking the wins. The Modified Tour was at Nazareth for a 100 lapper on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero led for 71 laps and was going into the final turn on the last lap when he was dumped by Jan Leaty, who went on to take the win. A very unhappy Ruggiero restarted and ended up 19th.Tony Hirschman finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Ed Kennedy, Ken Wooley and Tony Ferrente Jr. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Michael Waltrip took the lead with nine laps to go and won the Winston. It was also on this weekend that Alan Johnson got his 100th DIRT victory, that coming at Canadaigua

Ten years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher beat out Eric Berndt and Lloyd Agor at Stafford on Friday night. Christopher started 13th and took the lead on lap 9 of the 50 lap feature. Dennis Gada made it three in a row at Waterford on Saturday night. Mark LaJunesse finished second with Ed Reed Jr, third. John Fortin won a 50 lapper at Riverhead and Mike Carpenter beat out Jimmie Blewett at Wall. The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth. Ted Christopher took the pole and led the first 15 laps before losing a drive shaft. Mike Stefanik led from lap 16 to 42 when he pitted. Nevin George and Tom Cravenho had their time at the point until lap 62 when Stefanik re-assumed the lead with Mike Ewanitsko in tow. The two swapped the lead until lap 76 when Stefanik hit the wall after banging wheels with Ewanitsko. Ewanitsko went on to take the win and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr, John Blewett III, Charlie Pasteryak and Zane Zeiner. There were a total of nine cautions in the 100 lap event. Greg Biffle won the BGN 150, also at Nazareth. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Jeff Gordon won the Winston in his back-up car after wrecking his original car on the start. Because of wet track conditions, NASCAR allowed this to happen. Todd Bodine won the No-Bull 5 Winston Open. Maynard Forette, at 65 years of age won the Saturday night modified event at Lebanon Valley and Scott Sharp took the Indy 500 pole with a speed of 226.037 mph.

Five years go in 2006 the Stafford Motor Speedway suffered a rain out for the second week in a row. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dwayne Door made it five in a row in the Sportsman division, thus setting a division mark. Dorr, who started 12th, needed only six laps to take the lead. He then survived a restart- challenge from eventual runner-up Jim Procaccini with four laps left to the 20 lap feature. Jeff Pearl scored his first win of the season as he beat back advances from Dennis Gada. Chris Pasteryak finished third with rookie contender, Tyler Chadwick, fourth and Rob Summers, fifth. Other winners at the shoreline oval were Tim Jordan in the Late Models, Danny Field in the Mini-Stocks and Mark Bakaj in the Legends. In some sad news, Don Fowler, who finished sixth in the SK Modified feature suffered a stroke shortly after returning to his home in Clinton, CT.

In other Saturday night action, John Blewett III scored his 15th career at the Wall Township Speedway. At the Riverhead Raceway Chris Young won his second Modified feature of the year. True Value Modified Series racing at the Lee Raceway rained out. Bob Santos III won a USAC Midget event at Concord, NC.

It looked like many of Nextel Cup star Dale Jarrett’s fans would be burning their t-shirts, hats and jackets as they voiced their protests of him leaving the Ford camp for Toyota. Jarrett, who was 49, was in the twilight of his career with maybe only a couple years remaining of his competitive career. It was all about money and greed. Jarrett would drive a Toyota bodied Nextel Cup car owned by Michael Waltrip and financed by Toyota. They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Jimmie Johnson won the Nextel All-Star Challenge and its $1 million prize Scott Riggs won the Nextel Open.

Two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was almost one mile-an-hour faster than anyone else on the track and easily captured the pole for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. The No.6 Penske Racing Honda posted a four-lap average of 228.985 m.p.h. for his first Indianapolis 500 pole.

The DIRT MotorSports Inc. head office in Norman, Okla., appeared to have taken a more professional direction in the business of auto racing entertainment with in its top management. Paul Kruger, who first approached DIRT founder Glenn Donnelly with Boundless Motor Sports Racing's offer to purchase Donnelly's organization, resigned his position as president and CEO of the new DIRT MotorSports and sold the majority of his holdings in the company. In his place, Tom Deery was named acting CEO. Deery, a former NASCAR official whose family runs Rockford Speedway in Illinois, also is president of DIRT MotorSports, which includes the World of Outlaws sprint and late model series, DIRT NorthEast and both the UMP and MARS late model series.

Last year, 2010 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on "Spring Break" After two events Bobby Santos sat firmly atop the point standings with a 15 point lead over Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik sat in third spot, some 25 points behind the leader. Tied for fourth spot were Rowan Pennick and Todd Szegedy. Sixth through tenth were Eric Berndt, Ryan Preece, Chris Pasteryak, Eric Goodale and Erick Rudolph. After two events a total of 39 different drivers had entered into competition.

The Late Model division took center stage on Friday at the Stafford Motor Speedway with the 16th Annual Lincoln Technical Institute Late Model 100. Woody Pitkat scored a dominating win, leading the race from lap-17 all the way to lap-100 to pick up his first win of the 2010 season and the first win ever for his car owner Billy Snow, Sr. Frank Ruocco scored a dominating feature victory in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, David Webb won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr. won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly wired the field in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Ted Christopher took the lead from Frank Ruocco in the outside groove to lead the field, but Ruocco was glued to Christopher's back bumper. After several cautions slowed the action in the first several laps of the race, Christopher held the lead until lap-6 when Ruocco went to the front of the field. Keith Rocco was third behind Christopher with Mark Bakaj in fourth and Zach Sylvester in fifth.
 
Ruocco continued to hold the lead while Christopher and Rocco were having a great duel for second place. Rocco worked Christopher over and he finally was able to get by Christopher for second on lap-20. A spin by Brad Hietala brought the yellow out with 20 laps complete. Ruocco continued to lead on the restart, with Rocco and Christopher side by side for second. Christopher took the spot, but he spun on lap-23 after contact with Rocco, which brought the caution back out. Rocco was sent to the rear of the field for over aggressive driving, moving Sylvester into second, Jeff Malave into third, and Jeff Baral into fourth for the restart.

Ruocco again held the lead with Sylvester, Malave, Baral, and Dan Avery behind him in the top-5. The top-5 ran in line until the caution came back out with 29 laps complete for a spin by Brad Hietala. Ruocco again got a good restart and kept the lead with Malave moving into second and Baral into third. Keith Rocco was now back in the mix after his penalty and moved into fourth with Ryan Preece moving into fifth place. Rocco got by Baral on the last lap, but it was all Ruocco as he led the race from lap-6 to the checkered flag to take his first SK Modified® feature victory of the 2010 season. Malave finished second, with Rocco, Baral, and Preece rounding out the top-5.

Racing at the Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to rain. The sun was out at 3:00pm and it ended up being a pleasant day and evening. There was lots of standing water in the infield which meant that the water table at the shoreline oval was quite high. Keith Rocco held a commanding 19 point lead over Ron Yuhas jr in the SK Modified division. Sitting in third, 64 points in arears was Diego Monahan. Tyler Chadwick and Rob Janovic were tied for fifth.

In Long Island racing action, defending NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin of Holtsville escaped a close call late in Saturday's 35-lap feature event at Riverhead Raceway to drive to his 23rd career victory before a chilled and windswept collection of die hard fans. The win moved John into sole possession of 11th on the all-time win list, four behind Don Howe and John Berkoski who share 9th at 27 victories.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night in front of another packed house. MadHouse TV star Burt Myers scored his first victory of the year at the historic track. Myers started 16th on the field. Brian Loftin finished second with Brentt Elliott, third and Brad Robbins, fourth. Defending track champ Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Jason Myers, another MadHouse star finished ninth after drawing the scratch starting spot. Junior Miller ended up 15th.

Internet web site Speed 51 reported that defending Bowman Gray Stadium (NC) Modified champion and Madhouse television personality Tim Brown told Speed 51 Radio that SPEED TV had been negotiating with the History Channel to buy the rights to the reality television show. Brown said that even though he wasn't happy with how he was portrayed in the first season of the show he would consider being a part of a second season. He told 51 Radio that although a film crew has been taping at Bowman Gray this year, it might be too late into the season for a deal to be made and a possible SPEED version of Madhouse might not appear until the 2011 season.

Because of the fact that it was Mother's Day weekend the Nationwide Series ran on Friday and the Sprint Cup race was run on Saturday night at the Darlington Raceway. The weekend belonged to Denny Hamlin as he won both events.

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing ThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Rene Charland


Andy Romano


Bill Sweet


Leo Cleary

Pete Corey

Ted Stack

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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