May 10, 2013

By Phil Smith

Sixty five years ago in 1948, George Rice was the winner of the Midget feature at Avon, Ct's Cherry Park. He was followed by Bob Disbrow, Rex Records, Tony Bonadies, Al Keller and Dee Toran. At Candlelight Stadium in Bridgeport, Ct. 26 year old Mariano Marozzi of Hartford was killed when his Midget hit the guard rail avoiding another car which was stopped on the track.

Sixty years ago in 1953
, Red Foote made it two in a row in Sportsman competition at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bud Matter was the non-Ford winner. At Plainville Stadium, Red Foote was the Sportsman winner followed by George Lombardo and Ray Delisle. Dee Rogof was the Non-Ford winner ahead of Frank Fiola and Frank Belbusti. On a sad note, 21 year old Arthur Johnson of Madison, Ct. was killed when his car rolled over and he was ejected with the car landing on him. Johnson was the cousin of future Hall of Famer Dick Watson who was also competing that night. Both were in their first year of competition.

Fifty five years ago in 1958, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl went two for two in the rain.

Fifty years ago in 1963 Mr. Rene Charland took the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman win at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Lou Lazzaro finished second with Tom Kotary, third. Jim Luke and Jeep Herbert rounded out the top five. Racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to cold conditions. At Plainville Stadium Tony Mordino took down both 25 lap features. In the first feature Mordino was followed by George Lombardo, Ray Sikorski, George Hotchkiss and Russ Faust. The Second feature showed George Lombardo in second followed by Bob Vivari, Ray Sikorski and Rudy Bruzik. Returning to action after a months recovery from a fractured knee cap, Frank Manafort was the winner of the Novice feature followed by Joe DeAngelo, Will Schubert and Elton Hill. Riverside Park Speedway found Sparky Belmont as the victor in the 50 lap followed by Jerry Humiston, Andy Rock, Dick Dixon and Ed Patnode.

Forty five years ago, in 1968, the action was hot and heavy at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway where Rene Charland held off charging Don MacTavish for the win. Bernie Miller finished third with Dave Kotary and Ed Pieniezek rounding out the top five. At Stafford, Bugsy Stevens took the top spot over Jack Malone, Bill Slater, Lou Toro and Joe Trudeau. Saturday night action at Norwood and Fonda rained out. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Newt Palm was the 30 lap Modified winner. Plainville Stadium held a 50 lap "Mad-Cap" feature with Bob Vivari and Jack Proulx ending up in a tie. In the first 25 five laps Jo Jo Ferone was the winner followed by Bart Rocco, Bob Vivari and Jack Proulx. The second half saw Roland Cyr taking the win over Dick Turmel, Jack Proulx and Bob Vivari. Riverside Park Speedway saw Tony "Jap" Membrino in victory lane over Ernie Caruso, Russ McLean, Buddy Krebs and Dave Alkas. Bugs Stevens made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Thompson on Sunday afternoon. Sunday night racing at Utica-Rome fell victim to rain.

Forty years ago in 1973, weekend action began Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., where Fred DeSarro took the win over Eddie Flemke. On Saturday, at Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard came from deep in the field to make it three in a row. Don Flynn finished second followed by Fred Schulz, Moose Hewitt, and Bob Santos. Billy Greco was the Riverside Park winner over Jack Lecuyer and Lou Carangelo. Dan McNamara won at Islip over Charlie Jarzombek and Jim Hendrickson. Both Plainville Stadium and Waterford Speedbowl rained out.

Thirty five years ago in 1978, the Waterford Speedbowl ran an Open Competition feature with Ron Bouchard taking the win over Bugs Stevens, Moose Hewitt, Johnny Tripp and Dick Dunn. Wayne Smith was the Sportsman winner. Ken Bouchard was the winner of the 100 lap feature at the Plainville Stadium, followed by Reggie Ruggerio, Stan Greger, Ron Van Nesse, Sonny O'Sullivan and Gene Bergin. Steve Seaburg was the Sportsman winner. Rain won out at Stafford Speedway.

Thirty years ago in 1983, the weatherman won at Stafford as it rained. At Waterford on Saturday, Joe Tiezzi won out over Glynn Shafer and Ted Christopher. At Riverside, it was Mike Stefanik and at Islip, Fred Harbach was still winning. George Kent won out over Richie Evans at Spencer and at Tioga, Kent slipped to third behind Evans and Jim Spencer. In Winston Cup and Grandnational action at Dover Downs, Ricky Rudd took the GN win and Bobby Allison won the WC 500

Twenty five Years ago in 1988, the weatherman got another at Stafford. Richie Gallup got his third win at Waterford over Larry Lanphear and Bob Potter. At Riverside, Jerry Marquis took the win and in Modified Tour Series action at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Mike McLaughlin earned a victory over Jeff Fuller and Reggie Ruggiero. Fred Harbach won at Riverhead and at Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard took the win.

Twenty years ago in 1993, Rick Donnelly got his first Stafford win. Bob Potter finished second and was followed by Mike and Ted Christopher. A.J.Foyt officially retired from Indy Car racing after making one final lap around the fabled Brickyard. Bob Potter scored his 89th career win at Waterford on Saturday night over Mark Lajunesse and Larry Lanphear. Ron Rocco was going for second spot until getting walled by Jim Dolan who never turned when they entered turn three. Cris Kopec got his first win at Riverside after rookie Jim Houghton was disqualified with illegal gears. Bob Park won at Riverhead and in BGNN action at Monadnock, Robbie Crouch took the win over Kelly Moore and Mike McLaughlin. In Winston Cup action at Sears Point, Geoff Bodine survived a vicious hammering from Ricky Rudd to take the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1998, Curt Brainard scored his first ever win at Stafford. In his 112th try, Brainard took the lead on lap three and led to the checker at the 50-lap mark. Steve Chowanski finished second with Mike Christopher, Chris Jones and Frank Wainwright rounding out the top five. Matt Kobyluck was running a Pro Stock when he crashed hard and suffered a broken shoulder blade and numerous broken ribs. At Waterford on Saturday night, Rick Donnelly survived 13 cautions to win the 35-lap feature that took over an hour to run. Tucker Reynolds finished second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Dennis Gada and Mike Gada. Allen Coates was the late model winner. Coats’ win was the 198th for engine shop, Larry’s Automotive. Jim Broderick scored his first win at Riverside Park. Ed Spiers, Richie Gallup, Ted Riggot and Brad Hietella followed. Howie Brode scored his first ever win at Riverhead as he won out over George Brunnhoelzl. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Nazareth for a 100 lapper. Mike Stefanik took the win after a tough battle with Tom Baldwin and Ed Flemke Jr. Dan Avery finished fourth with Jamie Tomaino rounding out the top five. Tim Fedewa won the Busch Series event that was also run at the Pennsylvania oval. Dale Earnhardt Jr was a pre-race favorite but got wrecked after a pit stop. Randy Lajoie wasn’t too happy with Buckshot Jones after being dumped into the wall. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Mark Martin won the Winston after Jeff Gordon ran out of gas on the last lap. Jeremy Mayfield won the Winston Open.

Ten years ago in 2003 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series traveled to Nazareth, Pa. Ted Christopher was the class of the field as he won the 100-lap event that was extended to 107 laps because of a late race caution. Christopher and Busch Pole sitter John Blewett III were the only leaders in the event that was slowed by 8 caution periods for 47 laps. It was Christopher’s race to lose as he had the dominant car for just about the entire distance. Christopher led the first 94 laps before giving way to Blewett who led only laps 95 through 97 before Christopher took charge for good. It was Christopher’s second Modified tour victory of the year as he had previously won the Spring Sizzle at Stafford. Blewett finished second. Eddie Flemke, who has had a string of bad luck, got the monkey off his back with a strong run, which placed him third at the finish. Nevin George and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Thirty-eight cars were on hand, a little light considering the event. Not to insult anyone but there were at least eight cars that didn’t belong in the field. Based on his strong second place finish, John Blewett III took over the point lead from Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld crossed the finish line in 8th spot but was placed last, 19th, on the lead lap for jumping the final re-start. Hossfeld had now slipped to fourth in the standings. Trailing Blewett by one point was Todd Szegedy. Christopher moved up into third and Jerry Marquis sat in fourth. Ted Christopher had a busy weekend for himself. In addition to racing at Nazareth, he competed at Stafford on Friday night where he finished sixth after qualifying through the consolation and on Saturday night at Waterford he finished third in a rough night at the shoreline oval. At Stafford, Brad Hietala passed Jim Civali on a lap 30 re-start and went on to take the victory in the 50 lap main event. Hietala started in seventh position. Mike Holdredge finished second with defending track champion, Bo Gunning, finishing third. Civali finished fourth with Jay Miller rounding out the top five. Rookie Curt Lenahan started on the pole and captured his first ever win at Waterford on Saturday night. For the most part, many of the heavy hitters in the modified ranks were collected in wrecks, which were the norm at the shoreline oval. Jay Miller survived to finish second with Ted Christopher, third. Ron Yuhas Jr. and John Brouwer Jr. rounded out the top five. The Busch North Series was at the Lake Erie Speedway where Andy Santerre took the win over Mike Johnson and Mike Stefanik. Kelly Moore was the pole sitter and led the early going before losing two laps when he cut down two tires and had to pit. Moore ended up 16th. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Jeff Gordon on lap three of the final 20 lap leg of The Winston and went on to score the win. Kurt Busch finished second. In Busch Series action at Nazareth, Ron Hornady took the win after leading 148 of the 200-lap distance. Brian Vickers finished second with Mike Bliss, third.

Five years ago in 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 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.

Last year, 2012, The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of some pre-Memorial Day fireworks as Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco slugged it out in SK Modified competition. In the end, Woody Pitkat was the winner of a wild and thrilling 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Mark St. Hilaire was the a first time winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tyler Hines was a first time winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, and Josh Wood scored his third consecutive Limited Late Model feature victory of the 2012 season in the 20-lap feature. Albert Saunders drove to victory in the extra distance 20-lap DARE Stock feature to score his second consecutive feature victory.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper first it was Preece and Frank Ruocco fighting for the lead then it was Preece and Rocco. The duel between Ruocco and Preece ended with 20 laps complete as the two cars made contact in turn 1 with Ruocco’s car hitting the turn 1 wall to bring the caution out. Preece was sent to the rear of the field by NASCAR Officials for the contact with Ruocco. Rocco took the lead on lap 29 and set the stage for round two of the night's battle. On a lap 36 restart, Rocco and Preece raced side by side for 2 laps with Preece the leader at the line before Rocco got cleared of Preece on lap-38. Preece made a last ditch effort coming to the checkered flag and he made contact with Rocco’s car, which resulted in Rocco spinning. Preece took the checkered flag first, but he was penalized to the last car on the lead lap by officials for the contact with Rocco, making Pitkat the winner. Dave Gervais came home in second, with Ted
Christopher, Danny Cates, and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco didn't miss a beat despite taking a week off to race in a Whelen Modified Tour event at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire as he went two for two scoring wins in the SK Modified and Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models at the shoreline oval. Dan Darnstaedt won the Street Stock feature race and Ken Cassidy Jr. continued his domination of the Mini Stock division, winning his seventh race on the season. The INEX Legends Cars and Bandoleros joined the NASCAR race program, with Dana Dimatteo and Derek Debbis winning the respective divisions.

Rocco mastered the last restart attempt to pull ahead of Rob Janovic who got in line in second. Janovic got to the leader’s rear bumper in turns three and four on lap-32 however could not pull alongside. Rocco went on to the win, his fifth on the year. Janovic was second, while Keith’s twin brother Jeff ended a solid run in third place. Tom Abele and Tyler Chadwick each rebounded from spins to place fourth and fifth.

In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, twin 25 lap Modified features were run. Tim Brown posted his 60th career victory as he won the opener. Burt Myers was second, and his brother, Jason Myers, was third. Newcomer Dean Ward won the nightcap. Austin Pack finished second, and Junior Miller was third.

Ron Silk, the 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion walked away the winner in the Richie Evans Hall Of Fame 100 for the NASCAR Modifieds at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

A picture perfect day set the backdrop for a full slate of racing action at Thompson International Speedway that featured the Modified Racing Series and six divisions of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action on Sundat. A caution-filled main event saw Rowan Pennink as the survival of the fittest to post the victory.

Ryan Preece led only the checkered flag lap in the Sunoco Modifieds to score the feature event win. Last year’s TIS Modified track champion, Cam McDermott made the step up to the Lite Modified division in winning style. Marc Palmisano came on strong in the waning laps of the Late Model event to claim the victory. Art Moran III was tops in Limited Sportsman division while Mike Gorgievski earned the victory in the Mini Stocks. John Lowinski-Loh, Jr. scored his first career TIS Modified feature victory.

Pennink of Huntington Valley, PA, outlasted the competition in a Modified Racing event that was marred by 11 cautions. Ted Christopher and Pennink waged a great battle for the lead in the early stages of the main event that saw 35 cars take the green flag. Christopher held the point and held back advances of Pennink. Christopher held Pennink at bay on countless restarts as attrition built. Pennink made what turned out to be the winning move on lap 34 when he dove to the inside of Christopher to take the lead. Shortly after, Christopher retired from the event. In the late stages of the race, Pennink had to hold off the persistent challenges of Richard Savary. A bobble by Savary with 10 laps to go looked as if Pennink may find some comfort in the last dash to the checkers. Savary was quick to recover; however, running down Pennink again with five laps remaining. Pennink was solid over the final laps to post his victory. The win was his fifth with
the Modified Racing Series. Savary came home in second. Geoff Gernhard had a career night to finish third. Point leader Jon McKennedy and Mike Holdridge completed the top five.

A surprise ending in the Sunoco Modified main event found Ryan Preece in victory lane. Todd Ceravolo, who had led since the early stages of the event got loose exiting turn four on the final lap. With nowhere to go, Preece clipped the sliding #31 of Ceravolo. The resulting spin gave Preece the victory. Kerry Malone came home second followed by Keith Rocco. An eventful day ended with a fourth-place finish for Ted Christopher. Ceravolo had to settle for fifth.

New Englander Bobby Santos had a successful weekend racing in the mid-West. An early-race restart gave Santos the opening he wanted to see and the Franklin, Massachusetts drivers never looked back en route to dominating Saturday night’s inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Traxxas Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Jimmie Johnson had the fastest car and the perfect strategy Saturday night to win the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnson won the first of four 20-lap segments to secure a spot near the front of the field for the final 10-lap shootout, and then pulled away from Matt Kenseth and Brad Keslelowski to win the $1 million race.

Defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. dominated Sunday’s Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 for his third consecutive victory at Iowa Speedway.

This week are several Vintage photos, Courtesy of Tom Ormsby & Dave Dykes
Click on Photo for Full Size

#52 Tony Mordino - #1 Russ Faust

Dick Watson - Plainville Stadium

Brian Ross

Jack Proulx

Bob Vivari

Lou Carangelo

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, 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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