ARCHIVES

Thursday 10-20-05

By Phil Smith
 

Thirty years ago in 1975, the season came to an end at Martinsville. Geoff Bodine took the win with Bugsy Stevens, second. Satch Worley finished third and was followed by Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Ronnie Bouchard, Maynard Troyer and Fred DeSarro.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980, Martinsville's season ender was a 250-lap event. Richie Evans ducked by Greg Sacks on lap 144 of the 250-lap contest as he finished out the year with a win, the 350th of his career. Ronnie Bouchard in the Dick Armstrong No.1 finished second and was followed by Geoff Bodine and Brian Ross.

Twenty years ago in 1985, George Kent won the World Series at Thompson. Mike McLaughlin finished second with Jeff Fuller, third. Richie Evans finished fifth and wrapped up the 1985 National Championship. Little did anyone know but popular champion would be dead just four days later when his car would slam into the third turn wall at Martinsville. In Winston Cup action at Rockingham, Darrell Waltrip took the win. Brett Bodine was the Grandnational winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1990, Jeff Fuller won the World Series 75 lapper at Thompson Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Ricky Fuller, Tom Bolles and Doug Hevron. Ed Ballenger was the Super Modified winner, Ted Christopher beat his brother Mikey in SK action and Ricky Shawn was the late model winner. David Gada won a season ending 60 lapper at Waterford.

Ten years ago in 1995, the Race of Champions was run at Flemington. John Blewett III led the last 20 laps to take the win over Billy Paunch and Todd Gray. Rick Zacharis won the rain shortened AAA-TAR-SK race, which was checkered after State Police stopped the event, which was being run in the rain. Ken Wooly finished second. Steve Whitt won the Street Stock-Late Model race. Tom Fox and Dan Turbush were fighting for the win when they tangled on the last lap. Fox was put last for dumping Turbush. Brad Boisoneault stated later that Turbush hit just about everyone in the field including Fox, three times, and deserved to get dumped. Poor weather kept the crowds down which necessitated that competitors were paid by check. The checks were bad and bounced like balls. From then on, competitors have avoided the Race, which at one time was the most prestigious modified event run. In other weekend action, Tucker Reynolds Jr. won the modified portion of the Lee Octoberfest.

Five years ago in 2000, Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour Official Bill Brice was severely injured after being hit by a car near his place of business. George Kent won the Race of Champions on Saturday at Oswego. Ted Christopher finished second. It was also World Series weekend at Thompson. Sixteen Thousand plus spectators were on hand for the two day event which featured the Featherlite Modifieds which would run 125 laps for a purse of $63,511.Jerry Marquis and Reggie Ruggiero were in contention for championship honors. Mike Ewanitsko led the first 63 laps until getting taken out when Tony Hirschman lost it on a restart. Ewanitsko hit the wall with such force that he suffered a broken elbow. The ensuing wreck also collected Marquis and Ruggiero. Marquis suffered body damage and Ruggiero received extensive suspension damage. When all was said and done, Tom Cravenho took the win over Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher and Hirschman. Marquis finished fifth and sewed up the series title. Ruggiero finished a distant 12th.Eric Berndt was the SK Modified winner. The Race of Champions was run the night before at Oswego with George Kent taking the win over Ted Christopher and Ken Wooley. On a sad note, NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver Tony Roper died from injuries received in an accident at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Last year, 2004, NASCAR released The NASCAR Featherlite Modified final point standings for 2004. Tony Hirschman, of North Hampton, Pa. was now officially the series champion. Hirschman, who had four wins in 19 starts beat Eddie Flemke JR. by 104 points. Flemke, of Southington, Ct. had two wins in 19 starts. Jerry Marquis, of Broadbrook, Ct finished third, 281 points behind the champion. Marquis also had two wins in 19 starts. Ted Christopher of Plainville, Ct. finished fourth despite being the top money winner with three wins in 19 starts. Christopher earned $55,615 but his lack of consistency kept him 403 points behind the leader at seasonís end. Rounding out the top five was Rick Fuller of Auburn, Mass. Fuller, 443 points behind the leader went winless in 19 starts. Sixth through tenth in the final standings were Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, Donnie Lia, Kenny Barry and Zach Sylvester. Barry, of Griswold, Ct. was crowned Rookie of the Year.

The Featherlite Modified Tour Series continued to be one of the strongest NASCAR Touring divisions. During 2004 87 different drivers attempted to qualify for events. Twelve drivers competed in all events. Car counts were high as consistently 40 to 50 cars were at each event. NASCAR Modified Tour Series director Ed Cox said that talks were in progress for races at Martinsville, Va., Jennerstown, Pa and at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It was also stated that the mods would not be going to the Lake Erie Speedway in Pa. in 2005.

It looked like the Busch North Series would not be returning to the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts for the 2005 season. NASCAR had doubled the purse requirements for the division for their short track events. Seekonk, which would be celebrating their 60th anniversary season, would host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series on July 30. The had also booked the NEMA Boston Louie Midget event for August 27 and the True Value Northern New England Modifieds for two visits, May 28 and August 20. Busch North Series Director Lee Roy said that sanctioning agreements being made up for 2005 would address the rainout problems incurred during 2004. An event at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine was rained out as well as a scheduled event at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey.

When the Thompson Speedway broke the news that they were planning to start up a new division of race cars similar to the Florida/IMSA Modifieds the rumor mill shifted into high gear with stories about the demise of the Pro Stock division. The speedway management put all that to rest as they announced that the Pro Stocks at Thompson were there to stay. In the beginning the Pro Stocks were a slam-bang rolling demolition derby. In the last couple of years the division has evolved into a first class racing program with good competition with the minimum amount of wrecks and spins.

Speaking of rumors, rumor had it that the management of the New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire had expressed interest in buying the near-by-Star Speedway, a ľ mile oval. If the deal didnít fly the dragway owners were thinking of building their own oval.

The NASCAR Busch Series was in Nashville Tenn. on Saturday. Martin Truex Jr., a graduate of the weekly ranks at the Wall Township Speedway and the Busch North Series, beat out Gregg Biffle in a green-white-checker finish for his sixth victory of the year. Todd Szegedy, who drove the No.50 Featherlite Modified, finished 15th. In Nextel Cup action at Martinsville, Va. Jimmie Johnson out ran Jamie McMurray for the win. Ryan Newman survived a late race confrontation with teammate Rusty Wallace to finish third. On a sad note, it was announced that a plane carrying members of the Hendrick Racing organization had crashed in the Bull Mountain area of Stuart, Va. Said to be on board were Ricky Hendrick, son of Rick Hendrick, John Hendrick, brother of Rick Hendrick and engine builder Randy Dorton. Virginia State Police dispatched a helicopter to the area and no survivors were observed.

On an additional sad note, Dick Watson, a NEAR Hall of Fame inductee lost a long battle with cancer and passed away. It was also learned that Ricky Miller, the last Riverside Park Track champion had passed away.

Boundless Motorsports Racing Inc announced that they had officially changed their company name to DIRT Motorsports Inc. The company owns various dirt track racing series including the DIRT Modified Series, the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Among the numerous television broadcasts that the company produces is the popular "Rush Hour on Dirt" which features the ground pounding Big Block Modifieds.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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