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Friday October 2, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, the Nascar Modified championship point contenders headed for Martinsville for a Saturday afternoon 100 lap event. Bugsy Stevens was the point leader and furthered his lead with a win over Jerry Cook. Ray Hendrick finished third and was followed by Perk Brown and Lennie Pond. Fred DeSarro finished 12th. DeSarro flew back north to Norwood on Saturday night and finished fourth in a car owned by Leo Hill. Billy Schulz took the win over Ed Flemke and Freddie Schulz. Islip also ran on Saturday night and it was Gary Winters taking the win over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. Stafford ran a 150-lap event on Sunday afternoon, which saw Smokey Boutwell in victory lane. The Bugman finished second and was followed by DeSarro, Ted Stack and Bill Greco. The Waterford Speedbowl ran their season ending event with Don Collins in his famous No. 106 taking the win. Donnie Bunnell was the late model winner.


Bugs Stevens was a winner at Martinsville in 1969.
Photographer Unknown

Thirty five years ago in 1974, the Mods were still running on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville. Paul Radford took the win over Satch Worley, Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook. Richie Evans had one of his off days and finished 8th. A 300 lapper was held at Franklin County, which is on the way home that evening, and it was John Bryant taking the win over Evans and Cook. Islip ran on Sunday afternoon with George Wagner taking the win over Jim Hendrickson and Evans. In open competition action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row. Dick Caso finished second with Tony Russo, fourth.
 


Leo Cleary was the Seekonk Champion in 1979.
Danny Pardi Collection

Thirty years ago in 1979, Leo Cleary sewed up the modified track championship at Seekonk in fine style as he won out in the final event of the year. Cleary had replaced the late Fred DeSarro in the mighty No. 3 of Len Boehler. Jerry Cook finished second with John Rosati, third. At Monadnock it was Reggie Ruggiero over Allen Whipple and at Oswego Maynard Troyer took the win and was followed by Richie Evans and Bodine. Jack Johnson won at Syracuse and at Claremont; Whipple made it two for two.

Twenty years ago in 1989, the Stafford Fall Final was a 200-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero in the Fiore No.44 was the man to beat as held off Tony Hirschman for the win. Bob Potter won the SK portion of the Fall Final.

Fifteen years ago in 1994 at the Stafford Fall Final, Wayne Anderson, driving the Len Boehler No. 3, took advantage of Charlie Pasteryak's flat right front tire on lap 146 of the 150 lap Modified Tour Series event and sprinted to his biggest win. Anderson also took advantage of Reggie Ruggiero's engine trouble and was able to take the point lead for the series title. Jeff Fuller ended up second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Ed Flemke Jr. Pasteryak, after a tire change, came back to finish fifth. Ted Christopher was the 30 lap SK Modified winner as he beat out Mike Paquette and Mike Christopher. Bob Potter finished fourth and became the first four time Track Champion since Bugsy Stevens. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Geoff Bodine lapped the field as he led 335 of the 400 laps run to take the win. Terry Labonte finished second.

Ten years ago, in 1999, the Featherlite Modifieds were at Martinsville for a Saturday afternoon 200 lapper. Rob Summers was the Busch Pole sitter in the Bear Motorsports No.14.Mike Ewanitsko took the lead at the start and paced the field for the first 84 laps. Ed Kennedy led from lap 85 through 107 when Summers took the point. Summers led until lap 133 when Reggie Ruggiero took over the top spot which he held for the remainder of the event. Satch Worley finished second and was followed by Ricky Fuller, Charlie Pasteryak and Kennedy. Ted Christopher was running third in the closing stages until he ran out of gas and ended up 19th.Waterford closed out their season on Sunday with a 100 lapper which saw rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. score his first win. Bert Marvin finished second and was followed by Jeff Pearl, Rick Donnelly, Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon won his first race without the guiding hand of Ray Everham. During the running of the event, Kenny Irwin parked Tony Stewart. Stewart blew his stack and threw his shoe guards at Irwin. NASCAR decided that it wasn't a nice thing to do and fined Stewart $5,000.

Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was off as competitors were getting ready for the final battle, which would be held on the high banks of the Thompson Speedway on October 17. After 18 events Tony Hirschman of North Hampton, Pa. led Eddie Flemke JR of New Britain. It was guaranteed to be a slugfest as Hirschman held a 30-point lead. Flemke knew he had to go flat out, no holds barred, if he hoped to beat Hirschman and capture his first series title. Flemke hoped to accomplish something his famous father never did, become the Modified Tour Series Champion. The elder Flemke won over 500 races but for the most part was a money racer. Flemke Sr. raced for a living in a time when there was no such thing as a full time racer. Going into the final event, Hirschman was the series top winner with four victories to his credit. Flemke had two. Consistency had been a big part of the game. Hirschman had finished out of the top ten only three times. Flemke had 13 top fives. Jerry Marquis, Ted Christopher and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Another battle going on was for Rookie of the Year honors. Kenny Barry of Griswold, CT and Zach Sylvester of Hebron staged a season long battle for the honor. Both had done quite well as they were in the top ten in points. Barry sat in ninth with an 85-point edge over Sylvester, who was tenth. Sixth through eighth going into Thompson were Rick Fuller, Donnie Lia and Chuck Hossfeld. In the rumor mill was word that Chuck Hossfeld could be moving into the Don Barker No.50 that was to be vacated by Todd Szegedy who was supposed to be moving on to the Busch Series and word on the street was that Mike Stefanik, who was out of the Kopec No.16 at season’s end could be spending a lot of time in Mystic, CT. in 2005. The Busch North Series traveled to the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey on Saturday to wrap up their season. Andy Santerre had already wrapped up the series title. Mother Nature had other ideas as the Jersey shore oval was hit with rain forcing NASCAR and the speedway management to reschedule the event to Saturday night, October 17.

The Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at Thompson had to be halted because of rain and was continued to Friday night. Prior to the rainout at the driver’s meeting Ben Dodge alluded to the fact that something new was in the works for the speedway in 2005. Further investigation indicated that the Thompson Speedway would host a new class of racecar in the form of a Florida Type-IMSA Modified. The Florida Modifieds, run at New Smyrna, will give Thompson and its competitors a low cost alternative open wheel division. Tentatively the division is said to have a crate or spec type engine and run on tires similar to those used in the Late Model division. For Todd Ceravolo it had to be the longest 24 hours he ever spent. Prior to the event the Ledyard CT driver was placed seventh in the starting lineup. Directly in front, in fifth spot was his closest competition for the track championship, Jeff Malave. Ceravolo and his brother Rick had spent the entire week burning the midnight oil after a devastating wreck on September 23. Ceravolo had a plan but it had to be put on hold for 24 hours because of rain. Just the waiting can play head games! Ceravolo started seventh and played a waiting game as he watched Ted Christopher slug it out with Jeff Malave for the lead. Christopher won out in the end despite a last lap inside surge by Malave. Eric Berndt ended up third. Ceravolo finished fourth and clinched the track title, his second. Buzz Artiano finished fifth after a late race spin took Bo Gunning out of contention. At 40, Ceravolo felt its time to step back and more or less retire from the sport. He left his options open as he stated that if the right deal surfaced he might re-emerge. In other action, Charles Bailey III won the Late Model feature over RJ Marcotte. Corey Hutchings finished fifth and sewed up the Late Model title. David Berghman had already iced the Pro Stock title as he finished up the regular season in fine style with a win. Glenn Boss won the Limited Sportsman feature and Scott Michalski took top honors in the Mini Stocks. Jeff Malave made up for his disappointment on Friday night with a win on Saturday in the 50 lap open competition Sunoco Modified event that was run in conjunction with the Pro All Star Series. Malave started sixth and took the lead from Bo Gunning on lap 36. Bert Marvin moved into second spot in the closing stages and after a few aggressive tries, settled for second at the finish. Marvin was later disqualified when he refused inspection of his clutch and flywheel. Gunning, who finished third, was moved into second spot. Rounding out the top five were Ted Christopher, Jim Civalli and Zach Sylvester. Rick Gentes was the Late Model winner and Jimmie Silvia was the Limited Sportsman winner. Scott Mulkern won the PASS 100 after a spirited battle with Ben and Mike Rowe. Ted Christopher gave the event some local spice as he ran in the top five before dropping out with mechanical problems.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was quiet with the only thing on the schedule remaining was the 2004 awards banquet, which would be held on Friday, November 12. Ted Christopher was the 2004 SK-Modified Champion. Christopher, of Plainville, CT had now tied with Bob Potter with five division championships. Potter, of Occum, CT is retired. Christopher scored eight wins on his way to the title. Todd Owen finished second with defending champion Kerry Malone, third. Rounding out the top five are Frank Ruocco and Woody Pitkat. Ryan Posocco, with seven wins, defended his title beating Mike Quintillano by 64 points. Tom Butler, Craig Collins and Marc Atkinson round out the top five. Kevin Gambacorta is the DARE Stock Champion.

Rain played havoc at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Michael Pepe was the Legend Car winner and Richard Brooks was the Mini Stock winner before the rains came. The action was rescheduled for Sunday afternoon where Shawn Monahan won his first SK Modified race. Rob Janovic finished second with Ron Yuhas Jr., third. Chris Pasteryak and Ed Reed Jr. rounded out the top five. Dennis Gada kept his title hopes alive as he finished 8th.

The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Talledega Speedway in Alabama. The Busch Series was off and will resume in Kansas City next weekend. NBC anchor and Coventry, RI resident Allen Bestwick was among the missing as he was in the hospital recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg received while playing hockey. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the high-speed chess game that saw repeated four-wide competition.

The New York Daily News reported that City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had gone on record that he was not a fan of auto racing and was not in favor of the International Speedway Corporation proposed speedway on Staten Island.


Last year, 2008 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series attempted to move into the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Fall Final. With the forecast calling for heavy rain for Saturday, and Tropical Storm Kyle, which was predicted to intensify into a hurricane and approach the New England coastline on Sunday, the Stafford Motor Speedway announced that it has postponed its CARQUEST Fall Final to the weekend of October 10, 11, and 12.
One of the hot topics of discussion was the disqualification of Burt Myers from his Martinsville win. NASCAR Tech inspectors discovered that Myers had illegal gears in his transmission. Belated congratulations to Ryan Preece, Michael Boehler and the entire Boehler Racing team on their win.

In Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson International Speedway Jimmy Blewett won the battle in the Sunoco Modifieds but it was Kerry Malone winning the war. Fred Astle, Jr was the runner-up to George Bessette in Pro Stock action on Thursday Night to catapult him to the divisional championship. Jeff Zuidema was crowned as the 2008 Late Model Champion while Tommy O’Sullivan won the final regular feature event for the division. Chris “Moose” Douton was tops in a Limited Sportsman feature that found Scott Sundeen winning the championship. Kurt Vigeant, scored back-to-back championships in the TIS Modified division. Brian Sullivan was victorious in the final TIS Modified point race of season. Mike Romano did all he could; winning the Mini Stock feature; but, it was not enough to overtake Danny Field who earned the 2008 championship.

Blewett had the right combination of skill and luck to score his fifth Sunoco Modified victory of the 2008 season. Malone had the winning combination all year long, earning the Sunoco Modified 2008 track championship, his first Thompson title since 1993.

After two weeks of near incident free racing, the Sunoco Modifieds had a rough and tumble 35-lap feature. Before a lap could be completed, Todd Ceravolo backed into the inside wall on the backstretch. When the race went green, Josh Sylvester led with Tim Sullivan in tow as the top guns were dicing it up in traffic. Aggressive driving was the norm with cars sliding sideways and kicking up dirt. During the fray the likes of Blewett, Cravenho, and Rocco were swapping positions. Meanwhile championship contenders Malone and Danny Cates ran quietly deep in the pack. During an incident on the front stretch, Shawn Monahan got launched over a sliding Sullivan. Monahan landed, Sullivan kept going, and the green remained on the speedway. The caution did fly a lap later on the eighth circuit for a large piece of debris on the front stretch. On the ensuing restart, there was contact. Front row starters Josh Sylvester and Bert Marvin along with Keith Rocco, Cravenho and others getting involved. There was heavy damage to Cravenho and Marvin. Rocco and Cravenho were both able to continue.

When things shook out, Blewett had inherited the lead with Malone in second. Cates lined up third with Sullivan in fourth. Pitkat rounded out the top five. Under green, Blewett continued to lead with Cates glued to his back bumper. Pitkat had the best seat in third. Blewett withstood a pair of late race cautions to take his fifth win of the season. Cates, who never relented, capped off a stellar season with a second-place finish. Malone bested teammate Pitkat to finish third and to win his Sunoco Modified track championship. Sullivan rebounded nicely to finish fifth.Rounding out the top ten finishers were Shawn Monahan, Cravenho, Dave LaCroix, Brian McCarthy and Dave Nordman.

In the final Sunoco Modified point standings Danny Cates finished second, 20 points behind Malone. Jimmy Blewett finished up in third spot, two points behind Cates. Tom Cravenho finished in fourth spot with Ceravolo, fifth. A total of 58 different drivers entered into Sunoco Modified competition during the season.

At the Waterford Speedbowl it was also quiet, racing wise that is. Racing was cancelled due to the elements. The shoreline oval plans on running their Fall Finale this weekend. It was sincerely hoped that track operator Jerry Robinson could see his way clear to pay competitors who raced on Sept. 20.

Congratulations went to second-generation driver Keith Rocco who was crowned Connecticut State Champion for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Rocco raced at Waterford, Stafford and Thompson during the season. In 49 events he scored 32 top fives including 11 features. Rocco ran the majority of his races at the Waterford Speedbowl. Second in the NASCAR state standings was Woody Pitkat. Pitkat, who divided his time between Stafford and Thompson entered 29 events and recorded 13 top tens including six wins. Jimmy Blewett who divided his time between Thompson and Stafford finished third. Blewett raced in 25 events, recording 12 top tens that included four wins. Rounding out the top five in state standings were Doug Coby and Dennis Gada.

In NASCAR Nationwide action, Denny Hamlin used a fast pit stop to get the lead and lost it only briefly over the final half of the race, holding off points leader Clint Bowyer to win the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday in Kansas City, Kan. In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards did everything he could including purposely bouncing off the concrete wall at Kansas Speedway, but it wasn't quite enough to beat two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos from the Plainville Stadium, courtesy of the SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com. A big Plainville Stadium reunion is set for Saturday October 10, 2009.  For More information of the reunion <<CLICK HERE>>
Photos by Phil Hoyt & Frank Faust
Click on Photo for Full Size


John Manafort


Ron Vanesse


Don Spazano


Russ Faust

Elton Hill

Ed Flemke, Sr.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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