Thursday 10-06-05

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1965, the Langhorne Speedway, formerly a one-mile circle dirt track, was paved. Langhorne was the site of the annual Race of Champions, which attracted close to 200 modifieds; the best there was east of the Mississippi River. Taking the win was New England top dog Wild Bill Slater. Slater, who had won just about everything there was to win became a New England legend that day as he drove his famous Connecticut Valley Rocket, the V-8, to an undisputed win. Dirt tracker Stan Ploski finished second with Herbie Tillman, Dick Havens and Tommy McAndrew rounding out the top five. Bugsy Stevens, in his first ROC start, finished 33rd.

Thirty-five years ago in 1970,cousinís Merv and Roger Treichler finished one-two in the Race of Champions at Langhorne. Finishing third was an outlaw driver from Rome, N.Y. by the name of Richie Evans.

Thirty years ago in 1975, the Race of Champions moved to Trenton in 1972 and it was still the race to win. Ray Hendrick, driving a Dick Armstrong owned Mustang took the win over Merv Treichler, Bugsy Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek and Richie Evans.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980, the Race of Champions was no longer a Columbus Day classic as its date was changed to September and the race itself was moved again, this time to Pocono. On this weekend, Oswego ran a season ending 30 lapper. Richie Evans took the win over Brett Bodine, Greg Sacks, Maynard Troyer and Doug Hewitt. The big event of the weekend was the DIRT 200 at Syracuse, which drew 154 cars and was broadcast by ESPN. Gary Balough, driving a car, which was a cross between a sprinter and a supermodified with side panels and a roof off a Lincoln Continental, made the event a no contest affair. Balough, who was booed in victory lane, received $26,507 for his efforts. Balough's win prompted DIRT officials to change the race rules, which in the future would allow only conventional dirt type modifieds to participate. Finishing second was Buzzie Reutiman with Frank Cozze, third. Geoff Bodine made a rare dirt track appearance and didn't disappoint his fans as he came home in fourth spot. Westboro ran a 50 lapper on Sunday, which drew 39 modifieds. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over John Rosati, Joe Howard, Leo Cleary and Corky Cookman.

Twenty years ago in 1985, the only action was an SK event at Thompson which saw Wayne Dion take the win in front of a sparse crowd.

Fifteen years ago in 1990, it was all quiet.

Ten years ago in 1995, Jerry Pearl won the season ending modified event at Waterford. Pearl passed Todd Ceravolo with three laps to go when Ceravolo blistered a tire. Ceravolo hung on for second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Chris Jones, Tucker Reynolds Jr. and George Moose Hewitt.

Five years ago, in 2000, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero took the win after a controversial confrontation with Ted Christopher with eight laps to go in the 200-lap event. Christopher had taken the lead on lap 158 from Tom Baldwin and was looking to put the Gary Cretty mount in victory lane when it all came to an end on lap 192.Ruggiero dove under Christopher in turn one. The two made contact and Christopher spun and hit the wall. Jerry Marquis ended up in second spot and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Rick Fuller. Mike Ewanitsko was involved in a bad crash on lap 78.Ewanitsko had slowed to avoid a spinning car and was just about stopped when southern competitor Junior Miller came flying in full bore, rode over a wheel and all but went through the rear window of the Ewanitsko mount. The Art Barry No.21 was destroyed but the cage and bracing did its job allowing Ewanitsko to walk away from the crash. Waterford ran their season ending 100 lapper with Ron Yuhas Jr. taking the win over Tucker Reynolds and Dennis Gada. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Tony Stewart took both the win and the pole.

Last year, 2004, The Thompson Speedway had released their final point standings for 2004. Todd Ceravolo, with five wins included with 16 top 5ís was the Sunoco SK-type Modified Champion. Ceravolo won a close battle over Jeff Malave. Malave scored two wins included with 15 top 5ís. Ted Christopher, with four wins, ended up in third spot. Kerry Malone and Eric Berndt rounded out the top five. Corey Hutchings, with nine wins, took the Late Model Championship. Dennis Botticelo, with two wins, finished second. Ryan Posocco, with two wins, ended up in third spot. Charles Bailey III, 3 wins, and Marc Palmisano, 2 wins, rounded out the top five.

The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their racing season with the Town Fair Fall Finale. With numerous track division titles on the line competition was intense to say the least. In addition to qualifying for the trackís regular divisions on Saturday features were held for All Star Truck where Chris Correll took the win, Legends where Jeff Paul made it five out of eight for the year, Pro Four Modifieds where George Sherman took the win and two divisions of X-Cars where Brad Vogelsong and Chris Avery recorded wins.

On Sunday, the NEMA Midgets started it off with a 25-lap feature. Ben Sikes took the win after pre race favorite Bob Santos III dropped out with a smoking engine. Next out was a 50 lapper for the Mini-Stocks. Richard Brooks took the lead just past the half way mark and held off Joe Godbout for the win. Glen Colvin was awarded the division championship. Following the Minis were the Sportsman. Roger Perry became the surprise winner after the front three, Ed Gertsch, Norm Root and Keith Rocco, got tangled up in turn one with five laps to go. Gertsch and Root spun and were put to the rear. Officials felt that Rocco was guilty of rough riding and put him to the rear also. It was later learned that officials had made a bad call as Gertsch had in fact suffered a flat tire, which caused him to check up. Rocco did touch him slightly but should have not been put to the back. In a determined bid, Rocco came from the rear of the field after the restart and finished third and won his division title. Corey Hutchings had previously sewed up the Late Model division title. Hutchings put icing on the cake as he drove to a convincing win over Allen Coats and Ed Reed Jr.

Dennis Charette took the lead from Chris Pasteryak on a lap 51 restart and went on to take the win in the Modified 100. It was a game of luck and wits between Dennis Gada and Eddie Reed Jr. to see who would become the 2004 Modified Champion. Gadaís luck soured right from the start when he developed a smoky power steering leak. After repeated pit stops while the field was under caution for miscellaneous spins Gadaís crew was able to make repairs and keep their driver on the lead lap. Gada later got collected in a spin but didnít do any damage. Reed, on the other hand, held a fair lead going into the event and only had to stay out of harmís way and finish to garner his first title. Reeds luck began a downturn on lap 59 when his left front tire was beginning to lose air. A caution on lap 65 allowed him to pit and make a change. Restarting in the rear as the field took the green on lap 68 Reed got collected in a wreck triggered by Shawn Monahan whom bounced off of Doug Coby. The wreck all but sheared off the right front suspension and tire from Reedís car. He somehow was able to drive to the pit area where an army was on hand to assist the Gordon Rogers crew in making repairs. Sheer determination on the part of his crew got him back in competition. In the meantime Gada had worked his way back to the front and was on Charetteís bumper at the finish. Reed was able to limp home and despite losing a lap in the closing stages finished 17th to win the division championship. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished fourth with Chris Pasteryak, fifth.

The Nextel Cup along with the Busch Racing Series were in Kansas City last weekend. Joe Nemechek took the Busch Series event over Greg Biffle. He carried his winning ways over to Sunday as he also won the Nextel Cup event over Ricky Rudd.

Ted Christopher was among the missing at Waterford. Christopher spent the weekend in Virginia at the Martinsville Speedway and at the Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. Christopher started dead last at Concord and took the win. At Martinsville he missed the qualifying cut.

Tim Fuller won the DIRT Eckered 200 at Syracuse. Fuller was running third on the final lap when leader Kenny Tremont ran out of gas and second place runner Matt Sheppard shreaded a tire. Fuller collected $50,000 for his efforts.

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:

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