Friday October 13, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Sixty five years ago in 1941, the Thompson Speedway suffered its first fatality as Tony Willman was thrown out of his midget after crashing and was hit by Howard Bumpus. This was one of the last events to be run before the start of World War II.

Forty years ago in 1966, Will Cagle won the 100 mile National Open, (Race of Champions) at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Ray Tilley finished second with Bill Wimble, third. Jerry Dostie and Frank Myronchuk rounded out the top five. Bill Slater, who won the 1965 version, finished 15th.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, it was all quiet as teams were getting ready to head south for the season ender at Martinsville or the rescheduled Race of Champions at Langhorne. The current national modified standings showed Jerry Cook in the lead followed by Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller, Fred DeSarro, Dave Lape, Dick Fowler, Billy Harman, Lou Lazzaro, Denis Giroux and Ray Sitterly.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Geoff Bodine went two for two as he put the Dick Armstrong modified in victory lane at Monadnock on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday. At Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard finished second with John Rosati, SJ Evonsion and Punky Caron rounding out the top five. Ronnie Bouchard in the M&H No7 finished second at Thompson. Rounding out the top five were Bugsy Stevens, Ray Miller and Eddie Flemke.

Twenty-five years ago in 1981, Thompson ran the World Series. Jamie Moore was the Supermodified winner and Richie Evans took the modified portion. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by John Rosati, Corky Cookman and Ronnie Bouchard.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Doug Hevron scored his first modified win in a 35 lap season ending event at Oswego. Jan Leaty finished second with Mike Mclaughlin and Billy Colton following. Brian Ross finished fourth and wrapped up the modified championship at the Lake Ontario oval. At Syracuse, Barefoot Bob McCready took home $66,000 after taking the win in the Eckered 200.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Waterford ran their final event of the year. Ted Christopher took the checker over Jerry Pearl, Ronnie Rocco and Bert Marvin. Mike Holdredge was the Super Stock winner and Tommy Fox scored his tenth win of the season in the Late Models. At Syracuse, Brett Hearn made it two in a row as he took the lead in the Eckered 200 with 12 laps to go when Danny Johnson lost a wheel. The biggest prize in DIRT Modified Racing was worth $107,260. Ricky Craven won the Chevy Dealers 250 at Loudon.

Ten years ago in 1996, Jan Leaty passed George Kent on lap 156 of the 200 lap Race of Champions at Oswego and went on to take the win over Siege Fidenza, Kent, Tim Arre, Ted Christopher and Tim Mangus. Doug Hoffman won the 25th anniversary DIRT 300 at Syracuse and Butch Leitzinger took the lead from Andy Santarre with seven to go in the season ending Busch North Series event at Lime Rock. Dale Quarterly finished second when Santarre flipped with two laps to go.

Five years ago in 2001, the NASCAR Featherlite Modifieds traveled to the Martinsville Speedway for a 200 lap event. Mike Ewanitsko was virtually unbeatable as he led the first 56 laps and the final 77 laps as he recorded an impressive win over Rick Fuller, Jerry Marquis, John Blewett III and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik was the point leader and suffered a set back as he lost five laps as a result of having to pit under green with a loose wheel. Stefanik ended up 21st and would go into the final event, a week later, only 20 points ahead of Marquis and Blewett. The event was run on Saturday as a preliminary to the tracks Winston Cup event. Prior to the event NASCAR announced that a three year contract with Hoosier Tires for the Modifieds had been signed. The annual Race of Champions was run at the Oswego Speedway. George Kent took the win over Chuck Hossfeld, Lee Sherwood, Jan Leaty and Dave Pecko. Martinsville fell victim to rain on Sunday which meant they would run on the next clear day which ended up being Monday. Ricky Craven scored his first and only win on NASCAR's elite circuit after doing the bump and grind with Dale Jarrett for 1-1/2 laps. The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their season with their Fall Finale which was won by Ron Yuhas Jr over Dennis Gada, Eric Berndt, Ed Reed JR and John Brouwer. It was also on this weekend that Randy LaJoie took the Busch Grandnational win at Memphis after Jeff Green and Jay Sauter bumped each other out of the way with 1-1/2 laps to go.

Last year, 2005í the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series was supposed to be at the Thompson Speedway on Saturday for the Twin 100's that were rescheduled from June 12. Heavy rains moved into Connecticut during early afternoon on Friday and along with a forecast of rain all day Saturday, postponed the event to Sunday. By mid day on Saturday it became a moot point as over four inches of rain dumped on the Thompson area and the forecast was extended to have continuing rain through mid week. The decision was made to postpone the entire program to Saturday, October 29. Prior to all this taking place the Waterford Speedbowl also had to postpone their season ending Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. The Speedbowl selected the same weekend with their main events to be run on Sunday, October 30. In the interest of being fair to competitors and after consulting with NASCAR the Waterford Speedbowl changed its rain date to October 22-23. Itís not so much that it would create conflicts for competitors but it did create a conflict for the paying fan as there are only so many entertainment dollars to be spent by families per week. One of the tracks would have taken it on the chin.
The winds of change were beginning to blow for 2006. Word had it that the Don Barker-Bob Cuneau No.50 Whelan Modified team would be disbanded at season's end. One of Chuck Hossfeld's Lancaster Speedway cronies let it slip as he alluded to the fact that a Modified had been bought from Sege Fidanza for him to drive at the western New York Lancaster Speedway for the 2006 season.

It had also been heard that Kirk Alexander, one of the top guns of the northern New England based True Value Modified Series, had been approached by two Whelen Modified Series teams who were interested in securing his services as a driver in 2006. It had also been said that the True Value Modified Tour Series competitors had voted to look into racing at Thompson in 2006. The TVMS raced at Seekonk in 2005 and was expected back in 2006. Speaking of Seekonk, Whelen Modified Tour competitors were glad to hear that a fully operational scoreboard and lap counter is now in place and is operational at the Massachusetts oval.

A devastating fire struck the Troyer Engineering and Race Car Fabrication facility in Rochester, NY late Friday, October 7. A power surge in an electrical riser outside of the building sent sparks into the second floor of the building. Materials in the storage area ignited, spreading the fire throughout the facility ultimately engulfing the majority of the building. The whole left half of the shop was gone along with much of the inventory. All that was left were the outside walls. The office area and the bays were gone with the roof either burned out or collapsed plus smoke and water damage to the remainder of the shop. Troyer Engineering designed and fabricated asphalt and dirt track chassis. Company founder Maynard Troyer had begun searching for a temporary location so that chassis building would continue on schedule. A remote office had already been set up with computers and telephones.

The Stafford Motor Speedway had completed another year of racing. The next order of business would be the annual banquet and awards dinner which would be held on Friday, November 11 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. In the tracks SK Modified division Lloyd Agor wrapped up his first ever track title by 30 points over Todd Owen. Agor had 14 top ten finishes including two wins in 21 starts. Owen also had two wins in 21 starts. Willie Hardie Jr, with one win, finished third. Ted Christopher and Frank Ruocco, each with three wins finished fourth and fifth. Sixth through tenth are Jeff Baral with two wins, Keith Rocco with one win, Woody Pitkat with two wins followed by Chuck Docherty and Jeff Malave who were winless. Ryan Posocco, with two wins, won the Late Model Championship by 46 points over Tom Butler. Butler had four wins but failed to display the consistency required to be the champion. Jim Peterson, Ed Ricard and Scott Foster rounded out the top five.

For the second time in 34 years, Super DIRT Week's premier event - the Eckerd modified championship - was postponed indefinitely by inclement weather, probably until next year. The 200-lap race, which began under caution because of wet and slick track conditions, was halted by rain after 52 laps. After race teams and a dwindling group of fans waited through four hours of on-and-off drizzle, DIRT Motorsports officials pulled the plug on their richest race of the season. The announcement, DIRT's first postponement of the 200-lap race since the 1977 event was pushed back to the following spring, was met with anger and frustration by many race teams.

In Nextel Cup action, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle led a team sweep of the top three spots and another Roush driver, Matt Kenseth, finished fifth. But the last laugh might belong to Tony Stewart, who finished fourth to extend his Chase lead from four points to 75. It was Stewart's 15th top-10 finish in 16 races and, more important, his third in the first four events of the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. Biffle elected not to nudge Casey Kahne out of contention during their side-by-side duel in the Busch Racing Series event on Saturday, as Kahne edged ahead yards from the finish for the victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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