ARCHIVES

 
Friday October 12, 2007

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Fifty years ago, in 1952, the Race of Champions was in its second year of existence on the one-mile circular Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Jim Delaney scored his first of three ROC victories. Hully Bunn who had won the previous year finished a distant 39th. Also in the field and finishing 58th was Ralph Moody, then from Taunton, Mass.

Fifty years ago, in 1957, Chevrolet was enjoying its first year with the 327 small block V-8. With fuel injection heads plus a four-barrel carburetor and duel exhaust, the 327 put out more horsepower per pound of engine weight than any engine that would be built for many years to come. Glenn Guthrie was the winner of the Langhorne Race of Champions.

Forty-five years ago in 1962, Frankie Schneider took the big one at Langhorne.

Thirty years ago, in 1977, rain washed out all racing.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1982, triple features for the Super Stocks at Waterford were the only action in Southern New England. Bob Gada, Al Szulczyzk and Brian McCarthy were the winners. It was also a big day for New Yorker Merv Treichler as he won the DIRT Syracuse 200.

Twenty years ago, in 1987, rain prevailed all over the East Coast.

Fifteen years ago, in 1992, the Waterford Speedbowl took center stage with a wide open competition event that saw Ted Christopher, running nitrous oxide in the North End Auto Parts No.54, lead from pole to pole to take down the win in the 50 lap event. Mark LaJunesse finished second with Lloyd Agor, Mike Gada, Mike Christopher and Richie Gallup rounding out the top six. It was also announced that the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N. H. would have a sanction for a Winston Cup event in 1993.

Ten years ago, in 1997, Waterford ran twin features for the mods on Saturday night. Tucker Reynolds JR went two for two in his attempt to close in on point leader Todd Ceravolo. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Terry Labonte took the lead with two laps to go from Ken Schrader and went on to take the win. It wasn't a good day for Jeff Gordon as he triggered a 20-car wreck after getting a flat tire. At the Thompson World Series, Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Rick Fuller on lap 123 of the 125 lap modified tour event. Fuller had attempted to block but instead ended up spinning out. Tony Hirshman ended up second and was followed by Tim Connolly and Jamie Tomaino. Ed Flemke JR won the companion SK type modified event. For many years, the Race of Champions was run on Columbus Day weekend. Last but not least, it was 42 years ago in 1965 that Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket-V/8, won the prestigious event.

Five years ago in 2002, the Busch North Series season ender at Lime Rock and the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway were rained out.

Last year, 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Waterford Speedbowl. There were 32 cars on hand for the 30 available starting spots. Jerry Marquis was the Busch Pole sitter as he turned the 1/3-mile oval in 13.618 seconds. Marquis drew fifth after the re-draw. The event was run on a very cold track due to the fact that the backstretch track lighting failed to come on due to the fact that an underground cable had broken. Engines were started at 8:15 following a 90-minute delay when the tracks lighting refused to come on. Eddie Flemke started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead. Mike Stefanik started on the outside but faded almost immediately. Ron Yuhas Jr. was an early contender as he ran side by side with Flemke for many laps. Donny Lia, who took the lead from Flemke on lap 128, also ran side by side with Flemke before he was able to execute the winning pass. Once in the lead Lia was able to open up a sizable cushion which ended up being over ten car lengths at the finish. Flemke ended up second with Ted Christopher, third. Stefanik toughed it out to finish fourth. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top five. His day went from bad to worse when he lost an engine during practice. His crew had to run home to Hebron, CT to retrieve a replacement. Chris Pasteryak finished sixth with Yuhas seventh and Eric Berndt, eighth.

Defending Series champion Tony Hirschman had a day he would like to forget. During time trials Hirschman hit the front stretch wall and after making repairs ended up crashing again on lap 22 of the feature. Marquis was involved in his share of wrecks also.

The Waterford Speedbowl ended its regular season. Dennis Gada finished second in the 100 lap SK Modified feature to Rob Janovic after numerous laps of wheel banging. Gada did, however solidify his SK Modified Championship, his sixth which tied Bob Potter. Jimmy Blewett finished third with Don Fowler, fourth. Dwayne Dorr went into the Limited Sportsman feature a scant four points behind Joe Curioso and came out the winner and division champion. Curioso’s day went sour right from the start as he suffered a flat tire on the parade lap. Once in the feature his car was like a ping-pong ball as it was hit numerous times in multi-accidents. In the end Curioso finished thirteenth. In the Late Model feature Corey Hutchins and Allen Coates slugged it out for close to 100 laps with Coates coming out the winner by inches.

In what had to be an ideal day for racing the Speedbowl had a marginal crowd, mainly because of the total lack of advertising.

In other weekend racing Danny Johnson figured there was no way he was winning the DIRT Motorsports Eckerd 200, the main event of Super DIRT Week at the Syracuse, NY Fairgrounds. To win he needed to run the final 114 laps on one tank of fuel. He didn't think it could be done. Later, while clinging to the lead with just nine laps remaining, two-time winner Jimmy Horton whizzed past a surprised Johnson. At that point, Johnson figured the race was over, that there was no passing Horton in the final nine laps. Yet when you're on a hot streak like Johnson, you somehow find a way to win. The Rochester native passed Horton on lap 191 and squeezed enough fuel out of his No. 27J car to earn the victory and a $100,000 pay day.

In Nextel Cup action at Talladega Brian Vickers stole his first career Nextel Cup victory Sunday by spinning Jimmie Johnson into leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap of the Talladega 500.
At the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial at the Seekonk Speedway, With New England Hall of Fame racers on hand, including his legendary father Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, Seekonk, MA, veteran Dave Berghman scored the win Sunday afternoon in the “DAV 100” for the True Value Modified Racing Series. It was Berghman’s first with the series and the first for car owner Bill Eaton on the third year tour. Berghman becomes the 11th different winner in 2006. On lap 28,Mechalides drew the attention of tour officials when a fluid leak was seen coming from his racer prompting officials to display the black flag for the hard charging veteran driver for 3 laps. The fluid leak seemed to subside during a caution period on lap 34 and Mechalides was allowed to continue to race. It was at the end of the race that the driver and his crew were informed that, “as a result of not adhering to the black flag displayed for 3 consecutive laps, as well as several radio transmissions to the team’s spotter advising him of the same, the # 40 car would be placed back one position in the official finish”. As a result, Mechalides and Berghman swapped the first two positions, the result of the tour official’s decision.

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

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

Web Design Copyright © 2005-2007  www.vintagemodifieds.com & www.thespeedwaylinereport.com - All Rights Reserved
Opinions expressed in The Looking Back Column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of thespeedwaylinerport.com and the contents are the sole responsibility of the author.
For permission to reproduce any part of Looking Back contact Phil Smith @
smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com
 Looking Back is Copyright © 2005-2007 Phil Smith