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Friday November 13, 2009

By Phil Smith

Twenty five years ago in 1984, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event at Atlanta. On November 9, Jack Arute stated that most of the Stafford “Officials Team” would be running the show at Waterford during the tenure of his lease. Arute also unveiled plans to move the pit “On Gate” to the turn four area.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Greg Sacks was the pole sitter at Atlanta but Mark Martin was the eventual winner in the season ending Winston Cup event. Dale Earnhardt won the series championship. Rusty Wallace lost second spot in points after he ran over debris from a fiery crash that involved Geoff Bodine. Hoosier Tire announced that they were dropping out of Winston Cup and Busch Grandnational racing and Martinsville Speedway announced that they were dropping the Busch Grandnational series from their schedule for 1995. On November 15, George Korteweg ended his tenure as track operator and promoter at the Waterford Speedbowl as he announced that he had sold his interest in the track to the Waterford Sports Center, owners of the property. Korteweg was responsible for the repaving of the track and new lighting.

Ten years ago in 1999, Ted Christopher was the New Smyrna track champion. Jerry Marquis quietly showed his skills as he won the SK Modified championship at Stafford as well as the Northeast Regional title of the Winston Racing Series. Ricky Miller won the last ever-modified championship at Riverside Park and Frank Vigliarolo won the title at Riverhead. Dennis Gada was the mod champ at Waterford. Jay Stuart was the late model king and Moose Douton was the Strictly Stock champ. Todd Ceravolo took the SK title at Thompson and at Seekonk it was Rick Martin. Tony Hirshman was the Featherlite Modified Tour champion after beginning the year with out a ride. Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series champ and in the Busch South division it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jarrett was the Winston Cup champ and Tony Stewart was awarded Rookee of the Year.

Five years ago in 2004, Eric Beers was the Modified Champion at the World Series in New Smyrna. Ted Christopher was the SK Modified Champion at Stafford. Ryan Posocco was the Late Model Champ. At Thompson it was Todd Ceravolo taking the Sunoco SK type Modified Championship. Corey Hutchings was the Late Model Champ and David Berghman was the Pro Stock Champ. Hutchings was also the Late Model Champion at Waterford where Ed Reed Jr. dethroned Dennis Gada for the championship. Keith Rocco was the Sportsman Champion. Tony Hirschman was the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series champion and Andy Santerre was the Busch North Series Champion. Tom Rogers was the Modified Champion at Riverhead and ageless veteran Dave Lape was the Champion at the Fonda Speedway. Kurt Busch was the NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and Martin Truex Jr. was the NASCAR Busch Series champion.

Last year, 2008, The weekly stars of NASCAR headed for Las Vegas. The 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season ceremoniously came to an end Friday night as Philip Morris was crowned the national champion at the 27th annual awards banquet in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. Morris, of Ruckersville , Va. , captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship for the second time in the last three years on the strength of 14 wins and 23 top-five finishes in 26 starts. On his way to the 2008 national title, Morris captured the Motor Mile Speedway ( Radford , Va. ) track championship in a Late Model and also earned the Virginia state crown. Morris’ crew chief, Chad McCoy, took home the Lunati Cranks Crew Chief Award and the Lincoln Electric Car Owner Award also went to Morris as driver-owner.

The accomplishments of national runner-up Brian Harris ( Davenport , Iowa ) and Marty Ward ( Marietta , S.C. ) – third-place finisher in the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings – were also recognized, along with track champions and U.S. state and Canadian provincial titlists. In all, 53 championship drivers from throughout North America including Keith Rocco who finished fourth in the national standings and won the SK Modified Championship at Stafford, walked across the stage Friday night.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the Hartford Courant reported that Terry Eames would be legally rid of Jerry Robinson on November 30 and that he would be taking an active part in running the shoreline oval in 2009. Eames, who had also had his share of financial problems, leased the track to Robinson for the 2007 season and from the beginning of the season the track had been on a downhill slide. Since Eames purchased the track in 2000. He had not been good at paying his bills and has had foreclosure problems of his own and ended up selling off some of the property the track was located on in order to avoid foreclosure. Eames also told the Courant that he may bring on other individual investors in an operational capacity, but that his own personal involvement in the operations of the facility would be part of any agreements made.

In the mean time competitors who raced in the season ending Fall Finale on October 5 had still not been paid. Both Robinson and his race director Steve Harraka had lied to competitors about holding off on delivering purse payouts.
The 6th Annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took place at the Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. The mighty Modifieds took center stage. They were joined by SK Modifieds, Vintage Modifieds, Rolling Thunder cars, Vintage Sportsman and EastWest Supermodifieds.

Forty two Modifieds from both the North and the South along with over 30 SK type Modifieds were on hand. Southerner Burt Myers, who had a win stripped away at Martinsville over a technical issue redeemed himself as he became the first southerner to win the 125 lap Tour type Modified portion of the North-South Shootout. Myers overtook Matt Hirschman with four laps to go and never looked back. Hirschman, who stated that his tires were all but worn out, managed to hang on for the runner-up spot. Ronnie Silk in the southern based Hillbilly Racing entry of Roger and Sandra Hill finished third. Ted Christopher and Bobby Santos III rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were George Brunnhoelzl III, Jason Myers, Glen Reen, Chuck Hossfeld and Rusty Smith. It was a sweep for Myers who also earned the DMC Pole Award with his fast lap of 15.238 seconds. Myers also earned an impressive $11,280 in cash and prizes for the victory.

Erick Rudolph laid down an impressive lap to start on the outside of the front row. He capitalized on his starting position to lead the opening laps taking the defending champion Matt Hirschman along for the ride. Rudolph continued to lead Hirschman, Myers, George Brunnhoelzl III, and Ted Christopher through the first caution on lap 19 for a spin by Daren Scherer. On the ensuing restart, Hirschman was able to catapult into the lead while Myers faded back slightly. During a green flag run, Hirschman began to pull away from the field. Ryan Preece made his first appearance inside the top five. The second yellow flag of the event flew for an incident that involved Carl Pasteryak, Pete Brittain, and Rick Kluth. Green flag racing was short-lived when a spin by Gene Pack brought out the third caution of the event. Under the caution, a handful of teams headed to pit road for the mandatory pit stop including Hirschman, Rudolph, Brunnhoelzl, Christopher, Preece, Beers, and a host of others. Myers, Jimmy Blewett, Ronnie Silk, and Les Hinckley made up the top five of the running order after the pit stops. After another quick caution, Myers and Blewett swapped the lead back and forth. The battle for the lead allowed Silk to catch the lead duo. Bobby Santos III had worked his way into the top-five.
 
The teams struggled near lap 47 when a host of cautions slowed the field. The likes of Eddie Flemke, Jr. and Charlie Pasteryak were involved in separate incidents. On the second attempt at a restart, Blewett got out of shape slightly. As the field checked up a number of cars stacked up on the front stretch including Rowan Pennink, Todd Szegedy, and Chris Whitenight, Jr. Woody Pitkat. Glenn Reen, and Earl Paulus, were also involved. When green flag racing resumed Myers continued to lead Silk and Christopher. Hirschman got around Santos to rejoin the top-five once again. Myers was beginning to stretch out his lead while Christopher and Hirschman were both getting racy at this stage of the event. Brunnhoelzl came back to life as well. As the race approached halfway, Myers enjoyed a five-car length advantage over Silk, who had little breathing room back to Christopher. Hirschman was a distance back in fourth. Eric Beers was using the high groove in an effort to get to Brunnhoelzl and Santos. Myers meticulously motored his way through lapped traffic to maintain his comfortable lead. The remainder of the top-five now ran nose-to-tail. Myers had yet to make his pit stop that was required between laps 30-110. The caution flew on lap #98 when Santos spun in turn four. The caution allowed Myers the opportunity to head to pit road. He was joined by Silk, Szegedy, Rusty Smith and others. With the stop, Hirschman had inherited the top spot. The ensuing restart meant problems for another front runner Christopher, who spun in turn one. After a false start, Hirschman was able to jump out to the lead over Preece and Beers. Preece lost a quick battle for the second spot. Beers began to run down Hirschman. It looked for a while that it might be a repeat of last year’s finish with the Northampton, PA residents running at the front. There was a scary moment at lap 104 when the Hillbilly Racing teammates Silk and Flemke split Southern Whelen Modified Tour champion Brian Loftin to make it three-wide exiting turn four. All three cars came through the corner unscathed. Myers, meanwhile, was picking his way back to the front of the pack. He passed his brother Jason, then Flemke, and Brunnhoelzl to find the top-five. Myers’ march to the front continued by taking the fourth spot from Silk. He immediately erased the distance between himself and Preece. Just as quickly he disposed of Preece. With only four laps remaining, the field was single file with Hirschman at the helm. Beers was losing ground to Hirschman while Myers continued to gain it. The caution flew on lap 118 when contact dislodged one of the foam blocks placed on the track for safety. Ryan Preece watched his great fun come to an end when he headed to pit road for fuel. A spin by Flemke forced another caution in the event.

With two laps remaining, Hirschman lined up ahead of Beers, Myers, Silk, and Brunnhoelz. Beers faltered on the restart giving way to Myers and others. With the crowd on their feet, Myers got a great run to move ahead of Hirschman to take the lead. The enthusiasm could not quell even when the 13th and final caution flew when the #9 of Beers stalled on the front stretch. Myers pulled away on the final restart to streak under the checkers as the 2008 North-South Shootout champion.

The SK type 50 lapper was a slam-bang affair that took over two hours to run. Once the dust finally settled thousands of dollars in damages claimed a good portion of the event. Ted Christopher was the winner with Jimmy Blewett finishing second. Blewett made hard contact during a restart on lap 48. Blewett said that Christopher brake checked him and Christopher claimed that Blewett intentionally rammed him because he couldn’t go around to pass. Needless to say, both were mad at each other but at least they didn’t wreck. Steven Reed finished third with Tom Farrell III and Doug Coby rounding out the top five. It took several attempts to get the 50-lapper underway. A multi-car accident in turn three that involved Mike Carpenter, Henry Stampfl, Shaun Carrig, Ryan Preece and others required the first of two complete restarts. On the second attempt at a start, contact between Kenny Horton and Steven Reed sent Horton spinning and the caution flag flying once again. Jeffrey Earnhardt, making his SK-Type Modified debut, was also involved. With green flag racing finally underway, pole sitter Ronnie Silk showed the way with Reed in tow. Cravenho pressured Christopher for third while Jimmy Blewett and Ron Yuhas, Jr. jockeyed for position. A pass on lap five put Christopher at the head of the field.
Keith Rocco, who had started scratch on the field after missing qualifying to attend the early portion of the NASCAR All-American Series banquet, found himself comfortably inside the top ten and making fast tracks to the top-five. His progress was slowed when Richard Schwartz and Michael Carpenter where involved in an incident on lap seven to bring out the caution again. On lap 9, Rocco was able to make his way passed Yuhas and set sail for Cravenho for third. Up front Christopher continued to chase Silk. Sparks began to fly between Rocco and Cravenho as they battled for position. The two made contact. Yuhas went low to move by both competitors; however, contact with Cravenho sent Yuhas hard into the outside wall. Cravenho was sent to the tail end of the field for his involvement. Doug Coby was on the move after a lap 16 restart taking the fourth spot from Eric Beers, aboard the TS Haulers #5. Jimmy Blewett was also making his way to the front. Blewett passed Tommy Farrell to take over the fifth spot. While battling for the second position with Silk, Rocco watched his bid for victory end in the turn two wall. Silk was penalized for his involvement. The running order at halfway found Christopher leading Coby, Beers, Blewett, and Farrell.

Things settled down for a portion of the event with Coby taking chase of Christopher through lapped traffic. With only four laps remaining Farrell spun exiting turn four. Christopher watched his sizeable lead disappear with the yellow. Beers encountered mechanical problems falling off the pace on the final restart. Christopher was able to pull away from Coby. Blewett made his move after the restart to grab second from Coby. A scary looking incident that involved Gary Young, Jr. and Marc Nappi slowed the event with only two laps remaining. Christopher was up to the challenge on the final restart to take the victory in the 50 lap main event. Blewett settled for second. Steven Reed also earned a podium finish. Farrell recovered from an early incident to finish fourth. Coby fell back to fifth at the checkers. Horton also rebounded nicely to finish sixth. Reed received the RH2Way bonus as the highest finishing driver to compete in only the SK-Type
Modified division. With lap money and contingency sponsorships, Christopher earned $4,890.

Dave McKnight of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, scored the victory in the 2nd Annual East-West Supermodified Shootout. His efforts earned him a cool $4,590 in cash and prizes.
 
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson moved inches away from his record-tying third consecutive Cup championship with a dominating victory at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., where he led a race-high 217 of the 313 laps to deflate Carl Edwards' title hopes. Johnson needed only to finish 36th or better in the season finale at Homestead to join Cale Yarborough (1976-78) as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win three straight Cup titles. The win was his third straight at Phoenix, and had fourth-place finisher Edwards on the edge of conceding. Johnson started from the pole but gave way on the first lap to Jamie McMurray, who finished third. He didn't take the lead until lap 81, but was not challenged from there. Kurt Busch made a brief run in the closing laps but settled for second.

Some fans were denied watching the finish when, as an 18-minute red flag came to an end, ABC bailed out on the final laps and dumped the Sprint Cup telecast to ESPN2 so ABC could get to the last half-hour of an episode of "America's Funniest Videos?"

Carl Edwards won the Nationwide Series Hefty Odor Block 200 at Phoenix International Raceway for his sixth win of the season. Denny Hamlin was second and Kevin Harvick third. Points leader Clint Bowyer bounced back from a mid-race accident to finish fourth. There were 9 cautions for 41 laps and 6 lead changes between 6 leaders.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos from 1961 to 1965 of drivers from the Riverside Park Speedway, courtesy of, SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Photos By Shany
Click on Photo for Full Size


Walt Czepial


Danny Galullo


Buddy Krebs


Johnny Lobo

Jocko Maggiacomo

Ed Patnode

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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