Forty years ago in 1969, triple 25's closed out the season at
Thompson. Taking the wins were Smokey Boutwell, Bill Greco and Eddie
Flemke. The overall winner was Boutwell. Flemke ended up second and
was followed by Freddie Schulz, Red O'Keefe, Greco, Ernie Gahan,
George Pendergast and Sal Dee. The Nascar Modifieds were at North
Wilkesboro where Max Berrier took the win over Ray Hendrick, Perk
Brown, Jimmie Hensley, Billy Hensley and Jerry Cook. Fred DeSarro
finished a distant 28th after an early race crash that saw him break
a steering box.
Thirty five years ago in 1974, Riverhead ran their season
finale with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Geoff Bodine and
Keilor. Thompson ran open competition big and small block events.
Ronnie Bouchard won both events, driving the Manchester Sand and
Gravel No.10 in the small block event and the Bob Johnson No.17 in
the big block event. In the small block event, Tony Russo finished
second and was followed by Fats Caruso and Mike Weeden. In the big
block event, Bugsy Stevens finished second with Weeden, third.
Thirty years ago in 1979, the Fall Final at Stafford was run
on a chilly Friday night after being rained out on its original
date. Richie Evans took the win and was followed by Jerry Cook,
Bugsy Stevens and Geoff Bodine. On Sunday, Evans and Cook finished
one-two at Kingsport; Tenn. Westboro closed out their season on
Sunday with Roland LaPierre Jr. taking the win with Joe Howard and
Gomer Taylor, third.
Twenty five years ago in 1984, the only action in the
northeast was at Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Tony Siscone took the
final Saturday night modified event over Lenny Boyd. At Rockingham,
N.C., Geoff Bodine had quite a weekend as he was the Busch
Grandnational winner and Winston Cup pole sitter. Bill Elliott won
the Winston Cup event.
Twenty years ago in 1989, all was quiet with the exception of
the reconstruction of the grandstand that fell at Thompson.
Fifteen years ago in 1994, the Race of Champions was on tap
at Flemington but heavy rain wreaked havoc with both the competition
and the crowd. The only event run was the triple A-SK type event.
Conditions were wet to say the least as 14 cautions slowed the
event. Steve Park was the eventual winner and was followed by Ted
Christopher, Kevin Collins, Ken Wooley and Richie Gallup. The actual
Race of Champions was rained out and rescheduled for Oct.30. Lee
Speedway got their Octoberfest in on Sunday and it was David
Berghman picking up his first win. At Rockingham, Dale Earnhardt won
the Winston Cup event and sewed up his seventh title, which tied
Richard Petty’s record. Mark Martin was the Grandnational winner.
Ten years ago in 1999, Lee Raceway ran their Octoberfest with
Rob Summers taking the Modified win over Charlie Pasteryak. In
Winston Cup action at Rockingham, Jeff and Ward Burton finished
one-two. Mark Martin was the Grandnational winner. It was also the
week that the Seekonk Speedway was awarded a NASCAR sanction for
their weekly racing series in 2000.
Five years ago in 2004, NASCAR released The NASCAR
Featherlite Modified final point standings for 2004. Tony Hirschman,
of North Hampton, Pa. was now officially the series champion.
Hirschman, who had four wins in 19 starts beat Eddie Flemke JR. by
104 points. Flemke, of Southington, Ct. had two wins in 19 starts.
Jerry Marquis, of Broadbrook, Ct finished third, 281 points behind
the champion. Marquis also had two wins in 19 starts. Ted
Christopher of Plainville, Ct. finished fourth despite being the top
money winner with three wins in 19 starts. Christopher earned
$55,615 but his lack of consistency kept him 403 points behind the
leader at season’s end. Rounding out the top five was Rick Fuller of
Auburn, Mass. Fuller, 443 points behind the leader went winless in
19 starts. Sixth through tenth in the final standings were Jamie
Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, Donnie Lia, Kenny Barry and Zach Sylvester.
Barry, of Griswold, Ct. was crowned Rookie of the Year.
The Featherlite Modified Tour Series continued to be one of the
strongest NASCAR Touring divisions. During 2004 87 different drivers
attempted to qualify for events. Twelve drivers competed in all
events. Car counts were high as consistently 40 to 50 cars were at
each event. NASCAR Modified Tour Series director Ed Cox said that
talks were in progress for races at Martinsville, Va., Jennerstown,
Pa and at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It was also stated that
the mods would not be going to the Lake Erie Speedway in Pa. in
It looked like the Busch North Series would not be returning to the
Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts for the 2005 season. NASCAR had
doubled the purse requirements for the division for their short
track events. Seekonk, which would be celebrating their 60th
anniversary season, would host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Series on July 30. The had also booked the NEMA Boston Louie Midget
event for August 27 and the True Value Northern New England
Modifieds for two visits, May 28 and August 20. Busch North Series
Director Lee Roy said that sanctioning agreements being made up for
2005 would address the rainout problems incurred during 2004. An
event at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine was rained out as well as
a scheduled event at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey.
When the Thompson Speedway broke the news that they were planning to
start up a new division of racecars similar to the Florida/IMSA
Modifieds the rumor mill shifted into high gear with stories about
the demise of the Pro Stock division. The speedway management put
all that to rest as they announced that the Pro Stocks at Thompson
were there to stay. In the beginning the Pro Stocks were a slam-bang
rolling demolition derby. In the last couple of years the division
has evolved into a first class racing program with good competition
with the minimum amount of wrecks and spins.
Speaking of rumors, rumor had it that the management of the New
England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire had expressed interest in
buying the near-by-Star Speedway, a ¼ mile oval. If the deal didn’t
fly the dragway owners were thinking of building their own oval.
The NASCAR Busch Series was in Nashville Tenn. on Saturday. Martin
Truex Jr., a graduate of the weekly ranks at the Wall Township
Speedway and the Busch North Series, beat out Gregg Biffle in a
green-white-checker finish for his sixth victory of the year. Todd
Szegedy, who drove the No.50 Featherlite Modified, finished 15th. In
Nextel Cup action at Martinsville, Va. Jimmie Johnson out ran Jamie
McMurray for the win. Ryan Newman survived a late race confrontation
with teammate Rusty Wallace to finish third. On a sad note, it was
announced that a plane carrying members of the Hendrick Racing
organization had crashed in the Bull Mountain area of Stuart, Va.
Said to be on board were Ricky Hendrick, son of Rick Hendrick, John
Hendrick, brother of Rick Hendrick and engine builder Randy Dorton.
Virginia State Police dispatched a helicopter to the area and no
survivors were observed.
On an additional sad note, Dick Watson, a NEAR Hall of Fame inductee
lost a long battle with cancer and passed away. It was also learned
that Ricky Miller, the last Riverside Park Track champion had passed
Boundless Motorsports Racing Inc announced that they had officially
changed their company name to DIRT Motorsports Inc. The company owns
various dirt track racing series including the DIRT Modified Series,
the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, and the World of Outlaws Late
Model Series. Among the numerous television broadcasts that the
company produces is the popular “Rush Hour on Dirt” which features
the ground pounding Big Block Modifieds.
Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series wound
its way to the Thompson Speedway as the division finished out their
2008 season at the annul World Series. Forty-one Modifieds were on
hand for time trials, which were held on Saturday. Taking the pole
was Eric Beers who also broke the track record with a fast time of
18.429. Second fastest was young sensation Ryan Preece in the mighty
No. 3 of the Boehler family. Third was championship contender Matt
Hirschman with Jimmy Blewett and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top
five. In the re-draw for the feature start Blewett drew the pole
with Mike Stefanik drawing the outside pole. Preece drew third,
Hossfeld, fourth and Ted Christopher, fifth. Beers drew sixth. Among
those in the field was Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified Champion
Keith Rocco who placed the Joe Brady No.00 solidly in the field in
14th spot. Among those who didn’t qualify were Reggie Ruggiero and
Billy Pauch Jr. Among those who had problems and had to rely on
provisional starting spots were Todd Szegedy, Ed Flemke Jr, Danny
Sammonds and Jamie Tomaino.
Ted Christopher went into Sunday’s World Series with a different
mindset than normal. Known as a hard charger, go for broke driver he
was forced to take a conservative route. With Matt Hirschman
breathing down his neck in the point standings the Plainville CT
driver didn’t want a wreck ruining his chances. For the first half
of the 150 lapper Hirschman and Christopher ran ninth and tenth.
Both appeared to be waiting for the other to have problems. By the
100-lap mark the championship contenders were running fifth and
sixth. On lap 120, while running third, Hirschman began to slow. Two
laps later he was behind the pit wall with engine problems. Once
Christopher got the word from Crew Chief Brad Lafountain Christopher
put the hammer down and went after the victory. Christopher passed
Ron Silk for the lead on lap 134 and was never headed after that.
Chuck Hossfeld ended up in second spot and was followed by Silk,
Doug Coby and Eric Rudolph. There were 11 cautions for 49 laps and
six lead changes among 5 drivers. Hirschman, who re-entered the
event 21 laps down on lap 143 ended up in 25th spot. In addition to
Hirschman the other hard luck story belonged to Ryan Preece. Preece
was running fourth on lap 80 when his right front tire went flat.
Preece pitted under green and lost a lap. The determined youngster
made a determined bid as he ended up 14th, on the lead lap.
Shortly after the checkered flag dropped Matt Hirschman
congratulated the new champ. What he didn’t know was that one of his
car owners, Ed Bennett, was waiting in the pits to tell him he was
fired from his car. Hirschman had split his driving time between
Bennett’s mount and that of Wayne Darling. Hirschman, who had won at
Chemung and had finished second at Stafford in Bennett’s car, was
driving Darling’s car at Thompson.
Thompson World Series feature activity kicked off on Saturday
evening with eight (8) events. Corey Hutchings scored the victory in
the Outlaw Late Models; Howard Payne came out of retirement to win
in the All Star Race Trucks. Scott Michalski was up to his old
tricks winning in the Mini Stocks. Scott Foster bested his brother
to take top honors in the Outlaw Strictly Stock. Norm Wrenn, topped
the Pro-Four Modifieds and Chris “Moose” Douton won in the Limited
During pre-race activities on Sunday NASCAR continued their 60 years
of racing recognition with 1955 Champion Bill Widenhouse from NC,
1970 Champion Fred DeSarro and 1967 thru 1969 Champion Carl 'Bugsy'
Keith Rocco put a cap on what was considered a break-out season as
he won the the NASCAR 30-lap Whelen All-American Series SK (SUNOCO)
Modified feature. Rocco, a second generation racer, won the season
ending SK Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl and finished
second in Stafford’s season ender to wrap up the SK Modified
championship there. Rocco was the 2007 champion at Thompson. Bert
Marvin served up a spirited battle to finish second. Josh Sylvester
finished third with Eric Goodale and Brian McCarthy rounding out the
top five. Kerry Malone, who had previously wrapped up the track
title, finished 19th in the high attrition event.
In other World Series events run on Sunday Chris Perley continued to
be the dominant force in the International Supermodified Association
taking down a strong victory at the World Series. Randy Cabral
worked his magic taking his third straight Northeastern Midget
Association feature victory. Derek Ramstrom turned in a dominating
performance in the Pro Stocks; and Rick Gentes was victorious in the
Late Models to conclude the race season at Thompson.
Congratulations to two-time NASCAR Featherlite Modified champion car
owner Art Barry of Preston who was part of the New England Auto
Racing Hall of Fame Class of 2009. Among his many accomplishments
were back-to-back NASCAR Whelen National Modified championships
(2001-02 with driver Mike Stefanik) top the resume of Barry, 73. In
56 years of competition, Barry, who started racing at the Waterford
Speedbowl, has won on 26 tracks from Maine to the Carolinas. His
major wins included two Thompson 300 wins, two Stafford Springs
Motor Speedway Spring Sizzler wins, two wins at Martinsville, VA and
two at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the National Open at
Lancaster. Barry’s SPAFCO race chassis brand is one of the top of
chassis in Modified racing. In addition to Stefanik his many drivers
included Jerry Dostie, Bobby Santos, Leo Cleary, Bob Potter, Jeff
Fuller plus his son, Kenny. In the beginning Barry was a typical
back yard racer as he fabricated his own chassis and built his own
motors. In 1970 Barry’s racing career and working career almost came
to an end when he suffered two crushed legs while directing a
backing fire truck at the Preston City Fire house. Sheer
determination and a lot of help from his friends helped Barry resume
a normal life and a return to racing.
Barry joined fellow Nutmegger John Fitch, a one-time International
road racer and founder of Lime Rock Park. The list also included
drivers Bobby Dragon and Paul Richardson, promoters Bob Bahre, Jim
McConnell and Tom Curley and car owner/ builder Rollie Lindblad.
Jimmie Johnson led 339 laps as he dominated the NASCAR Sprint Cup
event at Martinsville Speedway, and the two-time defending Sprint
Cup champion padded his lead in his bid for a record-tying third
straight championship with four races remaining. Only Cale
Yarborough, from 1976-78, has won three straight championships in
stock car racing's premier series, and Johnson is looking more and
more as if he'll be the second. Johnson's sixth victory of the year
extended his points lead from 69 to 149, and while his closest
challengers vowed that the Chase race isn't over, the plaudits keep
coming, too. Dale Earnhardt Jr was second, followed by Carl Edwards
and Jeff Gordon, giving Hendrick three of the top four spots. Denny
Hamlin was fifth and Casey Mears, the fourth Hendrick driver, was
This week are several vintage racing
photos of Hall of Famer Dick Watson who passed away 5 years ago this
week, 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: