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 Friday October 6, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Thirty five years ago in 1971, the annual Race of Champions was scheduled to be run at the Langhorne Speedway in Langhorne, Pa. It rained all weekend and competitors were dismayed and split over the fact that the event would go head to head with the season ending NASCAR modified event at Martinsville. Thompson also had an event scheduled but that too, was rained out.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Fred DeSarro in the Len Boehler Ole Blu made up three laps and was closing on leader Maynard Troyer when Troyer took the win in the annual Race of Champions at Trenton. DeSarro settled for second and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Geoff Bodine, Bugsy Stevens, Paul Radford, Merv Treichler, Jerry Cook and Bob Potter. Thompson Speedway ran a 30 lap program which saw Freddie Schulz take the win over Jim Landry, Ron Cote, Dick Dunn and Nick Gardinia.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Oswego ran their season ending Modified 30 lapper which saw Richie Evans take the win over George Kent and Jerry Cook. Merv Treichler was the big winner of the Super Dirt Week events at Syracuse. Treichler pocketed $25,085 for his efforts. Seekonk ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Jim Landry and Leo Cleary.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Stafford ran the Fall Final which was 100 laps. Jamie Tomaino scored a big win over Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and Mike Mclaughlin but the big news was to come two days later when Stafford along with the Spencer Speedway announced that they were dropping the Modifieds from their weekly racing venue. Stafford said they would upgrade their SK Modifieds to lead division status in 1987 and Spencer would lead with their late models.


Fifteen years ago in 1991, the only action for the weekend was at Charlotte, NC. where Harry Gant won the Busch Grandnational event and Geoff Bodine was the Winston Cup winner.

Ten years ago in 1996, Flemington ran two events on the weekend. Their Challenge of Champions event, run on Saturday was won by John Blewett III. Billy Pauch finished second with Lee Sherwood, Ted Christopher and Pete Britain following. The Featherlite Modifieds ran on Sunday. Mike Stefanik had the field covered and was headed for victory when he wrecked while leading. Stefanik had gotten into oil dropped by a blown engine. Jan Leaty avoided the wreck and drove to victory. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Charlie Pasteryak and Tim Arre. Waterford also ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Jim Broderick taking the win over Steve Chowanski, Tom Fox, Tucker Reynolds JR and Scott Spaulding. In Winston Cup and Busch Grandnational action at Charlotte, .Mark Martin was the BGN winner and it was Terry Labonte taking the Winston Cup event .It was also on this weekend that dirt driver AJ Romano received serious injuries after being thrown from a car near his home in Syracuse, NY.

Five years ago in 2001 the northeast tracks were quiet with the exception of the DIRT 200 at Syracuse. Billy Decker won the event, his third in four years at the Moody Mile. For his efforts, he pocketed $50,000. Kenny Tremont finished second and walked of with $25,000. Second generation driver Tim McCready was by far the fastest and would have been a factor had he not lost an engine, while leading by a half lap, on lap 89. On the local scene, the racing world was saddened when news of Jimmy Waterman’s passing was made public. Waterman was a vital part of the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour as he served as tech inspector. He was also a former official at Stafford and Seekonk. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Sterling Marlin took the win. The big news was off the track where speedway promoter Humpy Wheeler went head to head with NBC over the fact that they would not mention the Speedway as ”Lowes Motor Speedway” unless they were paid to do it. Wheeler threatened to take an ax to all their cables and have their equipment towed off the property. Needless to say, Wheeler won his case and the TV production went on as planned. On a sad note, Blaise Alexander was killed during the running of the ARCA race, also on the same weekend. Alexander had just taken the lead in the event from Kerry Earnhardt and as he appeared to cut down, made contact with Earnhardt and went head on into the wall and died instantly. Earnhardt ended up flipping and was declared the race winner when the event was halted. In other action at Charlotte, Greg Biffle won the Busch Grandnational 300 after Matt Kenseth spun out while leading, with two laps to go.

Last year, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series made its final stop of the year at Stafford for the annual Fall Final. There were 43 Modifieds on hand for the 150 lapper that carried a purse of $80,328. Taking the top spot in time trials was Donny Lia who turned the half-mile oval in 18.469 seconds. Second fastest was Tony Hirschman who was a tick slower at 18.524 seconds. The top six redrew for starting positions. Carl Pasteryak, who was sixth fastest, drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett, who was fourth fastest, drew the outside pole. Hirschman drew third, Jamire Tomaino, fourth, Lia, fifth and Ted Christopher, sixth. Among those who didn’t qualify were Tom Bolles and Mike Ewanitsko.
 
Tony Hirschman got a little closer to Ted Christopher’s point lead last Sunday as he won the Fall Final 150. Hirschman passed outside pole sitter and early race leader Jimmy Blewett on lap 17 and went non-stop to record the win. Blewett ended up 13th. Busch Pole sitter Donny Lia provided some late race excitement when his left front spindle broke on the final lap. Lia maintained control and finished second on three wheels. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher rounding out the the top five. Pole sitter Carl Pasteryak finished 15th, one lap down. Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino, John Blewett III and Reggie Ruggiero.

The Thompson Speedway closed out their regular season on a wet note as showers put a damper on the final Thursday night Thunder program. Jeff Malave, with 18 top tens including three wins is the 2005 Sunoco Modified Champion. Malave survived a season long battle with Burt Marvin as he won the title by 90 points. Marvin had 17 top tens including two wins. Defending champion Todd Ceravolo rebounded after a slow start to finish third, 78 points behind Marvin. Ceravolo had 15 top tens including three wins. Kerry Malone had an absolute horrible season but somehow managed to finish fourth in the final standings. Malone also scored three wins but had only 14 top tens. Rounding out the top five was Tom Cravenho with 11 top fives including 1 feature win. Malone and Cravenho still had a shot at third spot. Malone is only four points behind Ceravolo while Cravenho is 18 points out of third. Despite going winnless Ricky Shawn recorded 12 top tens which was good enough to put him in sixth spot and make him a best bet for Rookie of the Year honors. Dave Salzarulo, Richard Savory, John Sandberg and Frank Malec round out the top ten. Charles Bailey III, with 6 wins, led Woody Pitkat by 22 points for the Late Model championship. Pitkat had three wins to his credit. In the Pro Stock division Jeff Zuidema used consistency to his advantage to take the division point lead. Although winless, Zuidema led Norm Wrenn, who had two wins, by 10 points. Rounding out the top five were Jeff Connors, Joe Lemay and Mike O'Sullivan. Glenn Boss was the big winner at the speedway in 2005 as he put his Limited Sportsman in victory lane on six occasions. His efforts paid off with a championship. Scott Sundeen, 108 points back, finished second. Larry Barnett and Keith DeSantis are tied for third with Eddie Pulio rounding out the top five. Ron Rixham, with two wins, leads the Mini Stock championship. Rixham beat Scott Michalski by 10 points.

The Waterford Speedbowl ran one of their quickest programs ever as the final checkered flag dropped around 9:00p.m. On Saturday night. Kurt Lenahan went pole to pole to record his first win in two years. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot after Jay Miller faded in the latter stages of the event. Tom Fox finished third. Jeffrey Paul, who is rumored to be moving up in 2006, recorded his seventh victory in the Legends Cars. Other winners were Wayne Coury in the Late Models, Bill Gertsch in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini Stocks.


The Stafford Motor Speedway also wrapped up its regular season with the Fall Final. Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified portion.

In some sad news, Rick "Sleepy" Knapp, 53, of North Windham, Ct died Saturday Sept. 24, 2005 at Windham Hospital. He was an auto body technician by trade having worked in several places in the Windham/Chaplin area. At the time of his death, he was employed at Chris's Automotive in Chaplin. Rick began his racing career at the Waterford Speed Bowl at the age of 15. He drove is car, Sweet 16, in the Late Model division at the Waterford Speed Bowl, Stafford Speedway and Thompson Speedway until the early 1980’s when he began driving in the modified division. Rick held 3 track championships at Thompson.

Dale Jarrett used a three-wide pass to challenge Tony Stewart for the lead on the final lap of a three-lap overtime shootout, then passed Stewart on the backstretch in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talledega for his first victory since 2003 at the now-defunct North Carolina Speedway. Stewart finished second, Matt Kenseth was third and Ryan Newman fourth. It was also on this weekend that Matt Kobyluck won the Busch North Series event at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. NASCAR announced that the No. 74 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series team, including the driver, car owner and crew chief, had been assessed multiple penalties, following several incidents which took place after the Oct. 1 race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. Driver Ryan Moore was fined $1,000 and penalized 25 driver championship points. Moore violated section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; hitting another competitor’s car after the completion of the race – twice. Moore has been suspended from the next Busch North Series event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 31, 2005. Moore was also placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Car owner Richard Moore was penalized 25 car owner championship points, for the violations by his team’s driver. Crew chief James Lorfano was fined $250 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Lorfano was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; use of inappropriate language. Driver Kelly Moore was also fined $500 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2005. Kelly Moore was penalized under section 12-4-A of the 2005 NASCAR Rule Book, actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow the directive of a NASCAR official; use of inappropriate language.

The International Speedway Corporation announced on Friday, Sept.30,that Rocky Mountain Speedway Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of ISC, has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Pikes Peak International Raceway ("Pikes Peak"). Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ISC plans to petition NASCAR to realign the facility's NASCAR Busch Series event to Martinsville Speedway for 2006. The transaction is expected to close within the next week, and is expected to have minimal impact on the Company's future earnings. The purchase price is fully supported by the appraised value of Pikes Peak's tangible assets, including land and certain fixed assets ISC intends to relocate to other facilities in its portfolio. These assets include grandstand seating and other structures that can be utilized for future speedway expansion projects. ISC will honor all of Pikes Peak's currently scheduled community uses and rentals through October 31, 2005. After that date, ISC expects to close the facility and begin to market the approximate 1,200-acre parcel for sale, with the requirement that the property not be used for motor sports-related events.

Pikes Peak International, which includes a 1 mile oval, was completed in 1997 at a cost of $35 million. The facility, which also includes a 1.315 mile road course, has permanent seating for 42,787.

Forbes Magazine released its list of the 400 richest people in the USA. Among those on the list were Jim France and Bill France JR. who are tied in 198th spot with assets of $1.6 billion each. Also on the list is O. Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports who is 207th on the list with $1.5 billion. At the top of the list is Microsoft’s Bill Gates with $51 billion.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Photo Credits:
Turn5 Photo & Video
Race Dog Photography

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

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