Forty years ago in 1969, the big event of the weekend was the
annual Race of Champions at the Langhorne Speedway in Langhorne, Pa.
Ray Hendrick and Dutch Hoag were the pole sitters. These two legends
put on one of the greatest races ever seen as they ran wheel to
wheel for 90 laps until Hoag lost oil pressure and had to drop out.
From there on, Hendrick cruised to the 200-mile victory. Roger
Treichler finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook, Chuck
Boos, Merv Treichler, Guy Chartrand and Richie Evans.
Thirty five years ago in 1974, the Race of Champions had
moved to Trenton and was stretched to 300 miles in the 1-1/2 mile
kidney shaped oval. Fred DeSarro who had had a sub par season showed
up with a tri-colored creation owned by Len Boehler and proceeded to
put on one of the best all time performances at the New Jersey oval.
DeSarro was in the hunt all day but it all came down to the last lap
when he and long time rival Bugsy Stevens came off of turn four
wheel to wheel. With the crowd on its feet, the two raced to the
finish line with DeSarro winning by less than six inches. Stevens
finished second with Satch Worley, third.
Thirty years ago in 1979, the Thompson World Series was on
tap. A 50 lapper was run for the modifieds. Richie Evans took the
win and was followed by Dave Thomas, Charlie Jarzombek, Ronnie
Bouchard and Eddie StAngelo. Denny Wheeler won the Supermodified
portion. Bentley Warren finished second with Doug Hevron, third.
Bobby Fuller was the late model winner.
Twenty five years ago in 1984, the World Series at Thompson
saw Reggie Ruggiero beat the master, Richie Evans. Brian Ross ended
up third. At Wall Stadium, Doug Wolcott took the Saturday night main
event over Tony Siscone and Gil Hearne.
Twenty years ago in 1989, the World Series was scheduled at
Thompson, qualifying was done on Saturday and just before the Sunday
features were to begin the main grandstand collapsed. Luckily only a
few spectators were in their seats and only a few minor injuries
incurred. Needless to say, the event was cancelled and was
rescheduled to November 12.The grandstand had been in place since
the speedway was built in 1939.What was left was bulldozed and
carted away and a new all steel grandstand which is in place today
Fifteen years ago in 1994, the World Series at Thompson drew
a record of 467 cars for nine divisions and a near record attendance
of 14,000 fans. In the Modified Tour Series 125,Jan Leaty pitted
early for tires and drove his way to the front to take the lead on
lap 74 and the eventual win. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was
followed by Reggie Ruggerio, Tim Connolly, Satch Worley and Mike
Stefanik. John Anderson was the SK winner over Tom Tagg and Bert
Marvin and Tommy Fox was victorious in the Late Models.
Ten years ago, in 1999, it was a big weekend and a sad one to
say the least. Riverside Park, a Saturday night institution for many
ran its last events before the speedway would be destroyed to make
way for more amusement park rides. Bob Polverari, a many time Park
champion, scored his 38th career victory after Ed Flemke Jr. and
Brad Hietella tangled with eight laps to go in the 100 lap modified
feature. Chris Wenzel finished second with Flemke, third and Rob
Summers, fourth. Todd Szegedy was the SK modified winner. Prior to
the final event, Richie Evans, Polverari, Mike Stefanik and NASCAR
Chief Steward Richard Brooks were inducted into the Riverside Park
Hall of Fame. At Thompson, Rick Fuller won the rained out World
Series-Featherlite Modified Tour Series 125. Fuller took the lead
from Tim Connolly on lap 118.Conelly finished second and was
followed by Tony Hirshman, Ed Flemke Jr. and Tom Cravenho. Hirshman
was declared the 1999 series champion. Todd Szegedy carried his
winning momentum from Riverside to Thompson as he won the 30 SK
World Series main. Szegedy started last. Mike Christopher finished
second with Chris Kopec, third. Driving a Super Modified normally
driven by Mike Ordway, Ted Christopher started dead last and with
the entire grandstand cheering, took the lead in the event with two
laps to go and went on to victory. Bryan Wall won the Busch North
Finale at Lime Rock. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Dale
Earnhardt Sr. took the win.
Five years ago, in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour
Series was at the Thompson Speedway. It was showdown time between
Tony Hirschman and Eddie Flemke Jr. for the series title. Fifty
Modifieds were on hand for time trials. The Long Island gang
dominated the top spots as Mike Andrews, a regular competitor at the
Riverhead Raceway and Donnie Lia were the fastest. Andrews went
119.827 mph and Lia, the Bud Pole Champion for 2004, clocked in at
118.997 mph. The top six re-drew for starting spots with third
fastest qualifier Tony Hirschman drawing the pole starting spot.
Todd Szegedy, the 2003 series champion, drew the outside pole. Eddie
Flemke was not so fortunate as he qualified in 24th spot In what had
to be one of the best events ever put on by the Modified Tour
Series, Mike Stefanik came from a dead last starting spot to ring
down the curtain on 2004 with a convincing win. Tony Hirschman, who
led the first 33 laps ended up third in the final rundown and
secured his fourth Modified Tour Series Championship. Hirschman, who
was in contention with Eddie Flemke JR for the title, was able to
breathe easier after an incident on a lap 58 restart that ultimately
eliminated Flemke from the title chase. It appeared that Ted
Christopher checked up or brake checked Todd Szegedy as they exited
turn two which resulted in a scramble on the back chute which saw
Flemke suffer front end damage that would cause him to lose laps in
the pits making repairs. Prior to that, all eyes were on the
Southington, Connecticut racer as he put on a brilliant display of
driving as he came from his 24th starting spot to as high as fourth.
Christopher continued to lead until he hit the turn two wall on lap
82 and ended up spinning in turn four with a flat right rear tire.
Szegedy assumed the lead from that point. Mike Stefanik, who pitted
early in the event for a front-end adjustment, worked his way to the
front and on lap 92 took the lead. Stefanik and Szegedy traded the
lead back and forth until lap 97 when Stefanik was able to put a
little distance on the 2003 series champion. Szegedy ran second to
Stefanik until lap 123 when he brushed the wall in turn two. Chuck
Hossfeld moved into second with Hirschman moving up to third.
Rookie’s Zach Sylvester and Kenny Barry rounded out the top five.
Barry and Sylvester ended up tied for the Rookie of the Year title.
Barry was given the nod, as he was higher in the final point
standings. An estimated crowd of 9,500 sat in the sun drenched
Tony Hirschman, who was a guest on Gary Danko’s radio show during
the week, hinted that he might cut back his racing schedule in 2005.
Hirschman hoped to help his son, Matt, further his racing career and
feels that if he still races it could alter his focus. Because of
the fact that Mike Stefanik was committed to the Busch North Series
at the Wall Township Speedway on Saturday Todd Ceravolo was asked to
qualify his Mod Tour ride at Thompson. Congratulations to Modified
Tour Series photographer Mary Hodge as she was presented the Yvonne
Durocher Woman in Racing Award at the recent New England Antique
Racers Awards Banquet. Mary and her husband Howie do an excellent
job of covering the Modified Series tour with their pictures, which
are seen in every major racing publication.
The Busch North Series traveled to the Wall Township Speedway in New
Jersey on Saturday to wrap up their season. On and off rain all day
Saturday, on the Jersey shore forced officials to cancel the event.
It would not be made up. Andy Santerre had already wrapped up the
The Dodge Weekly Racing Series at Thompson on World Series weekend
provided some excellent racing. Jim Civali gave Ted Christopher some
of his own medicine as he took the win in the 30 lap Sunoco SK-type
Modified event. Christopher started on the pole and led just about
all the event except for a brief moment when Kerry Malone led before
dropping out. Civali glued himself to Christopher’s bumper and when
the opportunity presented itself when the pair exited the fourth
turn on the final lap Civali made his move. Christopher attempted to
block but Civali held fast and the pair touched. Christopher lifted
long enough to allow Civali to forge ahead and take the win. During
the slow down lap Christopher vented his frustrations as he spun
Civali in turn two. Eric Berndt ended up third with Bert Marvin and
Tom Cravenho rounding out the top five. David Berghman capped off
his championship season in the Pro Stock division with a convincing
win. Starting 29th, Berghman made a superb charge to the front and
took the lead in the 30 lap feature on lap 18 to record his 9th
victory of the season. Other winners on Sunday were Corey Hutchings
in the Late Models, Chris Perley in the Supermodifieds and Mark
Buonomo in the NEMA Midgets.
The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted an automotive Flea Market over
The final point standings for 2004 at the Waterford Speedbowl were
made official. Eddie Reed JR. was officially the SK Modified
Champion. Reed had three wins to his credit. Dennis Gada, who was a
five-time champion, finished second, 16 points back. Ron Yuhas JR,
with two wins finished third with Chris Pasteryak and Rob Janovic
rounding out the top five. Corey Hutchings was by far the class of
the Late Model field as he won six events on his way to the title.
Hutchings, also the Late Model champion at Thompson, beat Allen
Coates by 46 points. Coates had five feature wins to his credit.
Mark St.Hilaire, with two wins, ended up third. Former division
champion Phil Rondeau, three wins and Carl Erickson round out the
top five. Second generation driver Keith Rocco won the Sportsman
division championship on the final lap of the final feature. Rocco,
the son of Ronnie Rocco, beat Ed Gertsch by eight points. Rocco had
three wins while Gertsch had six wins to his credit. Dwayne Conant,
Norm Root and Roger Perry rounded out the top five. Glenn Colvin,
with three wins, is the Mini Stock Champion. Colvin beat Tim Jordan
by 22 points. Richard Brooks was the top feature winner with five
victories and finished third in the final standings. Joe Bavalocco
and Bill Leonard rounded out the top five. Michael Pepe, with two
wins, is the Legends Champion. Pepe outdistanced Silas Hiscock JR by
50 points. Sixteen year old Jeffrey Paul ran in only eight events
but he won six of them which placed him third in the final
standings. Jim Ahern and Silas Hiscock Sr rounded out the top five.
The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were
at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. Mike Bliss made a
dramatic three wide pass in the closing stages to take the lead and
eventual win on Friday night’s Busch Series event and on Saturday
night Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon
finished one-two. Casey Kahne had them covered until a blown out
tire forced him into the wall and out of the event.
Last year, 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series
returned to the Stafford Motor Speedway to make up the rained out
Fall Final. Just prior to the weekend it was learned that Speedway
announcer Deane Mercier had passed away.
Mike Stefanik led a banner field of Modifieds as he captured the
Coors Lite Pole award as he turned in the fast time in qualifying
for the CARQUEST Fall Final. Stefanik toured the Stafford oval
in18.158 seconds (99.130mph). It was the first pole for Stefanik
since 2006 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In the process he
tied Tony Hirschman for the series’ all-time lead with 41 career
poles, and extended his own record for poles at Stafford to 15. Eric
Beers was the second-fastest qualifier at 18.168 seconds (99.075
mph) and started in the third row following the redraw. Rob Summers
was third fastest at 18.316 seconds (98.275 mph). Series points
leader Ted Christopher who seventh in time trials when he was
clocked at 18.355 seconds (98.066 mph). After the redraw Christopher
started alongside Stefanik in the front row on Sunday. Californian
Brian Ickler was the pole sitter for the companion NASCAR Camping
World Series East event. Mike Olsen, Kevin Swindell, Ted Christopher
and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Series champion Matt
Kobyluck was sixth fastest.
Stefanik capped off a dominating weekend by reaching Victory Lane in
the CARQUEST Fall Final for the eighth time in his illustrious
career. Stefanik used the front row starting position to his
advantage as he led 129 of the 150 laps in what was Stafford’s last
race of the year. The win was Stefanik's eighth in the Fall Final,
Stafford 's traditional season-ending race. It was also his 20th
all-time win at track and the 69th in his career overall. All three
totals are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour records.
Matt Hirschman came home second to Stefanik. With the runner-up
finish, Hirschman trailed series leader Ted Christopher by just 35
points with one race remaining on the schedule. Christopher finished
sixth. Chuck Hossfeld was third, while Todd Szegedy and Eric Beers
rounded out the top five finishers. The rest of the top 10 consisted
of Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Anthony Sesely, Glenn Tyler and Kevin
Goodale. It was the best finish of the season for Sesely and Tyler.
There were five caution flags for 27 laps. For the most part the
race was wreck free with only a few minor spins. Ted Christopher
held a 35 point lead over Matt Hirschman going into the final event.
Todd Szegedy sat in third, over 143 points out of the lead. Chuck
Hossfeld was fourth with Stefanik rounding out the top five. Prior
to the race NASCAR legend Bobby Allison was honored for his 1964 and
1965 NASCAR Modified division titles as part of the celebration of
60 Years of Modified Champions.
Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Keith Rocco who won the war
in the SK Modifieds. Rocco finished second to Pitkat and beat out
Ted Christopher for his first Stafford Track Championship. Peyton
Sellers won the slam-bang NASCAR Camping World Series East event. In
lat Model action, Ryan Posocco took the lead from Scott Cook on lap
11 and led the rest of the way to win the 30-lap Late Model feature.
It was the seventh victory in 17 starts this year for Posocco, the
division's all-time winningest driver. Posocco had already sewed up
the Stafford Late Model title.
In True Value Modified Series action at the Seekonk Speedway last
weekend twenty six Modifieds were on hand for the annual D.Anthony
Venditti Memorial event. Three qualifying heats were run with Chris
Pasteryak, Kevin Iannarelli and Todd Annarummo taking the wins.
Chris Pasteryak went pole to pole to win the 100 lap contest. Todd
Annarummo finished second and was followed by Dwight Jarvis, Les
Hinckley and Mike Holdridge. Prior to the start of the event Kirby
Monteith, who died this past week was honored by his fellow drivers.
They had a moment of silence and the front row at the start had an
open spot for him.
Jeff Burton used three gas-only pit stops to pull off a Sprint Cup
victory in Concord, N.C., that catapulted him into championship
contention. Burton culminated savvy pit strategy on a final stop,
going into the pits with the lead and taking fuel only to make sure
he was still out front on the restart with 34 laps to go at Lowe's
Motor Speedway. Jimmy Johnson staged a brief battle for the lead,
but Burton held steady to snap a 25-race winless streak. Kasey Kahne,
who swept the May races at the track, finished second and was
followed by Kurt Busch. Kyle Busch returned to his familiar spot in
the Nationwide Series on Friday night, cruising to a win in the
soggy, wreck-filled Dollar General 300. The victory was the ninth
for the 23-year-old Busch in NASCAR's second-tier series. He has won
eight Cup races and three more in the Craftsman Truck Series. The
busy Busch's 70th race of the season followed a familiar script for
Joe Gibbs Racing, whose teams had won 18 of the 31 Nationwide races.
Busch started 16th, but his superior No. 18 Toyota was on display
early. He quickly moved to the front and led 137 of the 200 laps.
Busch pulled away from Jeff Burton on a restart with three laps to
go, despite taking just two tires on his final pit stop. Burton held
on to finish second and Brian Vickers was third. Point leader Clint
Bowyer finished fourth and Carl Edwards was fifth.
This week are several vintage racing
photos from the late racing photographer Peter Lawlor, courtesy of
the SpeedwayLineReport.com &
Click on Photo for Full Size
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes
at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: