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Friday November 6, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, Martinsville finally got to run the annual Cardinal 500.Ray Hendrick in the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11 picked up his 31st win of the season. Bugsy Stevens finished second and put himself in the NASCAR record book as the first three time NASCAR National Modified Champion. Perk Brown finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook, Leo Cleary, Billy Hensley, Richie Evans, Bernie Miller, Don Diffendorf and Don Miller. The final Modified standings showed Stevens the champion. Rounding out the top ten were Cook, Bobby Santos, Jimmy Hensley, Fred DeSarro, Billy Hensley, Don Miller, Lou Lazzaro and Ray Hendrick.

Thirty five years ago in 1974, the 1975 season began on Nov 10,1974. The Modifieds ran at the then paved Metrolina Fairgrounds Speedway in North Carolina. Harry Gant in the William Mason No.45 took the win over Jerry Cook, John Bryant and Bugsy Stevens.

Thirty years ago in 1979, Shangri-La closed out their season with George Kent, driving the Cal Smalles No.41 taking the win. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. Waterford closed out their season with a 100-lap open competition event, which saw John Rosati take the win after losing a lap in the early going because of a flat tire. Rosati made up his lap and passed Rick Donnelly for the lead and eventual win with ten laps to go. Donnelly finished second and was followed by Dick Dunn, Ronnie Rocco, Bob Potter and Dickie Doo Ceravolo.

Twenty five years ago in 1984, there was no racing but the Arute family had announced that they had entered into a lease with Harvey Tattersall for the Waterford Speedbowl for 1985. Racing at Waterford would be under the NASCAR banner.

Twenty years ago in 1989, with a new grandstand in place, Thompson got to run the World Series. Doug Hevron won the 75 lap modified portion. Mike McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero. Bob Potter was the SK type winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Barefoot Bob McCready annexed his 46th win of the DIRT season as he won the Eastern States 200 at Middletown, N.Y.

Ten years ago, in 1999, Speedway Motorsports announced that third quarter earnings were $6million less than expected. The stock market had a negative impact as 3.2 million shares were traded in one day, which caused the stock to drop from 45-15/16 to 28-1/2.

Five years ago in 2004, a good number of the northeastern modified teams headed south to Concord, North Carolina for the 2nd Annual North vs. South Shootout. Forty-five modified teams were on hand. The top five in time trials were John Blewett III, Eric Beers, Nevin George, Fred Query and Ed Flemke Jr. Qualifying heat winners were Donnie Lia, Ron Silk and Jerry Marquis. Consolation winners were Reggie Ruggiero and Jim Willis. The northern modified contingent led by Donnie Lia took nine of the top ten finishing spots in the 100 lap Shoot-out. Eric Beers took the lead at the start. Southern competitor Jay Foley triggered a massive wreck on lap two that eliminated ten cars including Reggie Ruggiero and Jim Broderick. Caution laps didnít count as Beers led the restart on lap three. John Blewett III powered by and led from lap 4 to 53. A caution for debris was thrown on lap 53 with just about all lead lap cars making a mandatory pit stop. Jerry Marquis elected to short pit while just about everyone else took on right side tires. Marquis led the pack out of the pit area and once the green dropped, Marquis kept the legendary Ole Blu in the lead. The lack of new tires bit him as Lia took the lead on lap 86 and led the final 14 laps to victory. With less than ten laps to go Marquis spun from his fourth position and ended up 11th. Eric Beers ended up finishing in second spot with Nevin George, third. Bob Santos III turned in another fine run as he finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was the 2003 winner John Blewett III. Eddie Flemke Jr. finished sixth with Doug Coby in the Mansfield CT based entry, seventh. Rounding out the top ten were Ron Silk, Freddie Query and Lisbon Connecticut paving contractor Charlie Pasteryak. Marquis slipped to 11th in the final rundown. Pre race favorite Ted Christopher had a top five car until sidelined with broken rear end gears on lap 82.

Sad news came from Michael Boehler, President of Boehler Racing. Jimmy Fournier, Chief Mechanic and Tire Changer for Boehler Racing passed away on Monday, November 1. Jimmy was a trusted and loyal member of Boehler Racing since the early 1970ís. Lenny now has his main man with him!

Joyce and Dick Ceravolo of Groton, Ct, owners of the Team 31 SK Modified, hosted a victory party in recognition of their Sunoco Modified Track Championship at the Thompson Speedway in 2004. Guests of honor included driver Todd Ceravolo, crew chief Rick Ceravolo and their pit crew along with their wives and friends. Started by Dick Ceravolo in 1969, Team 31 had been responsible for six track championships, three at Waterford and three at Thompson.

The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were in Phoenix, Arizona. Jamie McMurray was the Busch Series winner and Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled out the win in the Nextel Cup. George Bush defeated John Kerry for the President of our country.

Last year, 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series settled into a long winterís sleep with the exception of the upcoming Banquet of Champions, which would be held at the Mohegan Sun Casino on Saturday, September 13.

The weekly stars of NASCAR headed for Las Vegas for the 27th annual NASCAR Whelen All-American Series awards banquet at the Rio Hotel. NASCAR, series sponsor Whelen Engineering and track operators gathered to honor national champion Philip Morris, plus U.S. state, Canadian provincial, and track champions from throughout North America.

Morris, of Ruckersville, Va., made history, becoming only the second driver to win the title more than once. Morris, the champion also in 2006, joined five-time champion Larry Phillips in the seriesí very elite category.

Morris, who raced at the Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia entered 28 events and scored 14 victories. Including the wins he had 23 top fives. Finishing second was Brian Harris who raced at the West Liberty Raceway in Iowa. Harris had 35 top fives in 38 starts including 20 wins. Third is Marty Ward who raced at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Ward recorded 22 top fives in 24 starts including 13 wins. Fourth was New Englandís own, Keith Rocco who raced at Stafford, Waterford and Thompson. Rocco entered 49 events and scored 32 top fives including 11 wins. Rocco drove for three different car owners. Rounding out the top five was Jeff Strunk who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania. Strunk ran in only 20 events but made the best of it as he had 19 top fives which included four wins.

NASCAR also honored their state champions. Rocco, who made his Whelen Modified Tour debut at the 2008 World Series at Thompson took top honors as the Connecticut State Champion. Rocco was also the 2008 SK Modified Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Woody Pitkat, who, like Rocco raced at all three tracks, finished second. Pitkat entered 29 events and recorded 13 top fives, which included six wins. Jimmy Blewett, with 12 top fives in 25 starts, finished third. Blewett raced at Thompson and Stafford. Doug Coby, who also raced at all three tracks, finished fourth. Dennis Gada who won a record seventh Modified Track Championship at the Waterford Speedbowl, rounded out the top five. Gada, who raced only at Waterford, scored 13 top fives in 21 starts which included three wins. Sixth through tenth in the final NASCAR State standings are Rob Janovic from the Waterford Speedbowl, Todd Ceravolo from the Thompson Speedway, Jeffrey Paul from Waterford, Ted Christopher from the Stafford Motor Speedway and Tyler Chadwick from the Waterford Speedbowl.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the word had it that Jerry Robinsonís lease of the shoreline oval was up as of November 1. According to reports Mr. Robinson had removed himself and his belongings from the facility. In the mean time competitors who raced in the season ending Fall Finale had not been paid.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards won for the second straight week, squeezing a victory out of his last tank of gas. The combination of the win by Edwards and a 15th-place finish by Jimmie Johnson in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth left Edwards 106 points behind NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Johnson with two races remaining. Edwards dominated most of the race, leading 199 of the first 264 laps on the 1 1/2-mile oval. Edwards, who inherited the lead when Greg Biffle pitted with 13 laps remaining, beat runner-up Jeff Gordon by more than 8 seconds still had enough gas left to do a couple of victory doughnuts. Edwards went the final 103.5 miles on his last fill-up.

Kyle Busch won the O'Reilly Challenge Nationwide event at Texas Motor Speedway to capture his 10th win of the season, tying him with Sam Ard for the most wins in a season in the series, and giving Joe Gibbs Racing it's 19th win of the year. Carl Edwards finished second followed by Mark Martin, Joey Logano, and David Ragan. The race was slowed by 5 cautions for 20 laps and there were 4 lead changes among 10 leaders.

On November 4 Barak Obama became the first African-American to be elected as the President of the United States.

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


John Bergenty


Stub Fadden


John Falconi


Jeff Fuller

Lou Funk, Jr.

Hank Stevens

Thatís 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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