Friday October 30, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, Thompson ran a 500 lap Modified event. Bugsy Stevens all but sewed up his third consecutive NASCAR National Modified Championship as he took the win. A virtually unknown Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Dave Lape, Fred DeSarro, Bob Santos and Lou Lazzaro. In the Southland, Ray Hendrick won both ends of a twin bill for modifieds and late model sportsman at the Beltsville Speedway in Maryland.

Thirty five years ago in 1974, it was off to Martinsville for the annual twin 250's for the Modifieds and Late Models. As he had done all year, Ronnie Bouchard dominated the Modified 250 and capped off a very successful season. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Merv Treichler and Bugsy Stevens. Jerry Cook finished fifth and sewed up the 1974 Nascar modified championship by scant 77 points over Evans. In the final point run down, Geoff Bodine finished third and was followed by Stevens, Charlie Jarzombek and Bouchard. Ray Hendrick won the late model 250 with Reds Cagle, second

Thirty years ago in 1979, Jerry Cook scored his seventh win of the season as he held off Richie Evans to win the annual Fall 250 at Martinsville. Evans hammered on Cook for the final six laps but to no avail and had to settle for second spot. Ronnie Bouchard, in an Evans team car, finished third with Maynard Troyer and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five. Morgan Shepherd won the Late Model 250 over Joe Thurman.

Twenty five years ago in 1984, Tony Siscone scored an emotional victory at Martinsville as he won the Fall 250 over Ron Bouchard, Jamie Tomaino and Bob Polverari. Siscone, who had been badly burned in an accident with Ray Everham, dedicated his win to the late Eddie Flemke. Siscone took the lead after Richie Evans lost an engine on lap 228.The final standings for 1984 showed Evans the champion with Jim Spencer, George Kent, Corky Cookman and Brian Ross rounding out the top five.

Twenty years ago in 1989, Jeff Fuller was the 200 lap modified winner at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Doug Hevron and George Kent following. L.D.Ottinger won the late model portion.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Tony Siscone won the rained out Race of Champions at Flemington and announced his retirement from racing in victory lane. Ed Flemke Jr. finished second. Kenny Bernstein went 314 mph at Pomona, California. In Winston Cup action at Phoenix, Terry LaBonte took the win.

Ten years ago in 1999, Jeff Green was the Busch Grandnational winner at Memphis. The Venditti family announced that the Seekonk Speedway would operate under a NASCAR sanction for the 2000 season. Also on this weekend it was announced that five members of the over the wall crew, The Rainbow Warriors of the Jeff Gordon crew, had been hired away by Robert Yates.

Five years ago in 2004, The NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series held their awards banquet in Nashville, Tenn. Drivers and crews from all over the country converged on the music city for what had to be the richest season ending payoff in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series history. Representing the New England region was Champion Richard Wolf who was the titleholder from the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire. Greg Pursley, who raced at the Irwindale Speedway in California, was crowned the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Champion. Pursley, won 13 races on his way to the title. Among those taking part in the awards ceremony was Todd Ceravolo who finished fourth in the New England Region. Ceravolo, who is also the 2004 Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Track Champion said he was impressed by the gala affair that saw over $1.6 million paid out to short track racers from coast to coast.

The Stafford Motor Speedway has announced that they had named former Late Model Champion Chuck Zantarski of West Haven as the Assistant Race Director under Race Director Frank Sgambato JR. Zantarski would have a driverís view of the racing which should lead to better policing of the racing in general. A former racer can understand what racers do and why they do it.

The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the Atlanta International Raceway in Georgia. In what has to be the greatest rebound in auto racing history Jimmie Johnson scored an emotional win over Mark Martin in the Nextel Cup event. For Johnson it was his third in a row. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson entered the race with a heavy heart as the organization he races for suffered a multi tragedy just a week prior when Hendrick family members and employees perished in a plane crash near Martinsville Virginia. Carl Edwards finished third. It was a rough day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished a distant 33rd after a late race bout with the wall. Earnhardt was attempting to pass Edwards and mis calculated when he went to get back in line. Matt Kenseth won the Aarons 312 Busch Grand National event.

Nextel Cup star Jimmy Spencer found himself in hot water recently when Cornelius, North Carolina police arrested him. Spencer was charged with interfering with police who were trying to serve a warrant on his son, Jonathan, who was accused of pouring paint on two cars on October 6. Spencer was also charged with disorderly conduct. Evidently Morgan-McClure Motorsports didnít appreciate the fact that their driver had been arrested as they released him and hired Mike Wallace to drive their car at Atlanta last weekend. Wallace did not qualify for the Atlanta event.

Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series closed out another successful season. Car counts were down a bit but overall the competition was great. When the final checker dropped at Thompson, Ted Christopher led the championship standings by 127 points over Matt Hirschman. Hirschman, who lost his ride in the Bennett mount, was one of the first to congratulate the new champion. Todd Szegedy finished the year in third spot with Chuck Hossfeld and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top five. Rounding out the top ten in the final standings are Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Rowan Pennick, Jimmy Blewett and Ryan Preece. Next on the agenda is the annual Banquet of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Casino in December.

At the Waterford Speedbowl competitors were still wondering if and or when they would be paid for the Fall Finale. Word had it that track operator Jerry Robinson would not renew his lease of the shoreline oval, which meant that the purse would never be paid. NASCAR, which competitors at Waterford were forced to join needed to go after the non-paying promoter and take legal action if necessary in order to protect their paying members. In the end, NASCAR did nothing!

In True Value Modified Series action at the Twin State Speedway Matt Hirschman, who had won 12 times in three of four Modified racing series won the Ricky Miller Memorial 100. Hirschman started 16th. Lisbon Connecticutís Chris Pasteryak came from last starting spot to finish seventh and sewed up the series championship. In the 100 lapper, Dwight Jarvis finished second and was followed by Kirk Alexander, Jon McKennedy and Bob Goodenough.
In All Star Modified action at Epping, NH on Saturday night a paltry field of only 15 Modifieds were on hand. According to reports Ronnie Silk led about 2/3 of the 100 lapper before being passed by Mike Stefanik for the lead and eventual win. Silk hung on for second with Matt Hirschman, third. Kyle Ebersol and Rowan Pennick rounded out the top five. Among those who didnít finish was Ted Christopher who ended up 11th.

In Nationwide Series action, Carl Edwards held off David Reutimann to win the Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 on Saturday at the Memphis Motorsports Park, keeping alive his hopes for a second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series title. Edwards, who missed qualifying because of practice for Sunday's Sprint Cup Race in Atlanta, started 34th in his No. 60 Ford but made an early stop for fresh tires and gained ground quickly. He took the lead from Mike Bliss on lap 69, and never trailed after that. Reutimann kept his Toyota on Edwards' rear bumper for the final two laps, but couldn't overtake him for the lead.

In Sprint Cup action at Atlanta Motor Speedway Carl Edwards passed Denny Hamlin on a late restart, then held on to win Sunday to keep his championship hopes alive. But his seventh win of the season barely dented Jimmie Johnson's points lead. Johnson had a rough start to the race, earning a rare pit-road penalty that dropped him a lap off the pace, but stormed back to finish second with an impressive final sprint through the field.

This week are several vintage racing photos from Lancaster Speedway, courtesy of the John Bisci's Turn 5 Photo & Video, &
Click on Photo for Full Size

Jim Howard

Dave Hafner

Lloyd Holt

Chuck Boos

Frankie Smith

Thort Haag

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is:

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

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