Sixty years ago in 1951 Dave
Humphrey won the first ever Modified Championship at the New
London-Waterford Speedbowl in style as he won the final racing
program of the year, a 25 lap Modified event. Humphrey, who also
took the title at the Seekonk Speedway narrowly edged out Moe Gherzi
for the title.
Fifty five years ago in 1956
Wild Bill Slater won the 50 lap season ending Modified event at the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford
Fifty years ago saw rain wash out the racing at the Waterford
Forty five years ago in 1966 at
the World Series at Thompson, season ending twin 50's were won by
Sal Dee and Bugsy Stevens. Ed Flemke Sr was the overall winner.
Forty years ago in 1971, NESMRA
promoted the World Series event at Thompson which saw Supers and
Modifieds running together. The Supers of the day were very
unreliable which gave the full bodied cars a chance. The 50 lap main
event was won by Eddie West in a Super, who had a two lap lead on
the field. Don McLaren, also in a Super was second. Finishing third
was Eddie Flemke who drove the Mystic Missile. Howard Brown, in a
Super was fourth. Rounding out the top six were Bob Potter in the
Billy Simonds Excavator Special and Leo Cleary in the Armando Riccio
Thirty five years ago in 1976,
Geoff Bodine and Ray Hendrick, driving team cars owned by Richard
Armstrong finished one-two in the season ending Cardinal 250 at
Martinsville. Pole sitter Harry Gant in the William Mason No.45 led
the event until retiring with a blown engine. John Bryant also led
the event until losing two tires. Paul Radford finished third with
Richie Evans, fourth. The 250 lap Sportsman (Busch Grandnational)
event was snowed out.
Thirty years ago in 1981,Geoff
Bodine dominated the season ending Cardinal 250 at Martinsville as
he led all but 15 laps to record his ninth win of the season. Bodine
drove a modified owned by Phil Taylor. Bugsy Stevens in Bodine's old
ride, the Armstrong No.1, finished second. It was a war of attrition
as only 15 of the original 40 starters were running at the finish. A
challenge from Richie Evans never materialized as he dropped out
after only five laps with a broken master cylinder. Maynard Troyer
finished third and was followed by Kenny Bouchard, Ray Miller and
Twenty five years ago in 1986,
Charlie Jarzombek capped a successful season as he won the season
ending Modified 200 at Martinsville. Reggie Ruggiero finished second
and was followed by George Kent, Jeff Fuller, Jim Spencer and Carl
Twenty years ago in 1991, the
Featherlite Modified Tour was at Martinsville for a 200 lapper. Mike
Stefanik took the lead from Jan Leaty on lap 128 and held off Leaty
to take the win. Jeff Fuller finished third and was followed by
Reggie Ruggiero, Wayne Anderson, Steve Park, Jamie Tomaino and Satch
Worley. Harry Gant won the Busch Grandnational 200 lapper over Chuck
Bown and Dale Jarrett.
Fifteen years ago in 1996, after
a one week postponement because of rain, Thompson ran the season
ending World Series. Steve Park, who had the pole position, cleaned
house as he took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 105 of the 125
lap event. Stefanik had nothing for Park and had to settle for
second in the final run down. Jerry Marquis finished third and was
followed by Ed Flemke Jr, Tom Bolles, Bert Marvin, Tim Arre and Mike
Ewanitsko. Tony Hirschman, in the Len Boehler No.3, finished 10th
and sewed up the series championship. Because of numerous wrecks,
the SK 30 lapper was shortened to 20 laps with Bob Potter getting
the win over Jim Broderick, Scott Spaulding, Ricky Young and Don
Ten years ago in 2001, the only
action was at Phoenix where Casey Atwood was the Winston Cup Busch
Pole sitter. Jeff Burton took the win. The Busch Grandnationals were
also at Phoenix. Jim Spencer was the pole sitter and was the class
of the field until his transmission blew. Waiting in the wings was
Greg Biffle who went on to take the win.
Five years ago in 2006 the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Fall Final at Stafford was originally
scheduled for Saturday but because of impending rain, the event was
rescheduled for Sunday against the Waterford Speedbowl Double Down
event. As predicted, high winds close to 50mph and heavy rain, close
to two inches in spots, blanketed the entire New England – Long
Island area on Saturday. Race teams and fans coming from Long Island
were forced to drive around through New York City when the ferry
terminal on Orient Point, Long Island became submerged after 6-10
foot waves from Gardners Bay crashed ashore. The Waterford Speedbowl
fell victim to a flooded parking lot and track after it rained for
over seven hours on Saturday. The Double Down Showdown was postponed
to Saturday, November 4.
Stafford’s Fall Final took the green shortly after 4:00p.m. on
Sunday. Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT jumped from his pole starting
position and went non-stop for 150 laps to take the win. Despite the
fact that there were no lead changes there was action a plenty going
on. Mike Stefanik became the Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion
when he took the green as he had a decisive point lead going into
the event over Ted Christopher. Stefanik finished sixth.
Christopher, who crashed while running second on lap 51, lost second
spot in the final standings by one point to Eddie Flemke Jr. who
finished ninth. Christopher was credited with 25th finishing spot.
Christopher’s car broke a left rear brake rotor, which caused his
car to turn sharply into the wall. Preston City Connecticut’s
favorite son, Kenny Barry finished a strong second after coming from
a 19th starting spot. Zach Sylvester, from Lebanon, CT, finished
third with defending series champion Tony Hirschman, fourth.
Rounding out the top five was John Blewett III. Stefanik finished
sixth with Donny Lia, Ronnie Silk, Flemke and Jerry Marquis rounding
out the top ten.
Eight caution periods for 42 laps kept the average speed down to
64.518mph. In addition to the Christopher crash on lap 51 there were
others who went out on the hook of a wrecker including Reggie
Ruggerio who wrecked with Chuck Hossfeld on lap 29, Jimmy Blewett
who was part of a six car wreck on lap 7 and Rob Summers who wrecked
on lap 21.
In other racing action at Stafford, three track championships were
decided on the track, as Frank Ruocco won the SK Modified
championship, Woody Pitkat won the Late Model championship, and
Shelly Perry won a 4-way battle to take the SK Light championship.
Feature winners included Willie Hardie winning the 50-lap SK
Modified feature, Ryan Posocco winning the Late Model feature, and
Matt Gallo won the 20-lap SK Light feature.In the 50-lap SK Modified
feature event, Willie Hardie won the battle, but Frank Ruocco ended
up winning the war. Hardie did all that he could do to overtake
Ruocco for the championship by winning the race, but Ruocco ran just
aggressively enough to stay in a championship clinching position
throughout the 50-lapper. The race started with Jeff Malave leading
the early laps, but Woody Pitkat overtook Malave on lap-6. Pitkat
held the race lead until he dropped off the pace and pulled behind
the wall on lap-45, which gave the lead of the race to Hardie, who
had worked his way up to second. Ruocco and Hardie started the race
side by side in the 5th row, and while Hardie set sail for the front
of the pack, Ruocco was never more than several positions behind
Hardie, keeping himself in championship contention. Hardie took the
checkered flag ahead of Malave, Zach Sylvester, Brad Hietala, and
Eric Berndt. Ruocco finished seventh to win the championship by 6
points over Hardie.
On a sad note Midget Great Johnny Coy passed away on Saturday Oct
28th. Johnny raced everything from jalopies to Modifieds, but it was
the midgets where he excelled. In 1958 NASCAR had a midget division.
Out of 25 races Johnny won 14 of them and the NASCAR Midget Crown.
Tony Stewart was the Nextel Cup winner at Atlanta and Kevin Harvick
was the Busch Series winner at Memphis.
Last year, 2010, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour officially crowned its 2010 Champion Bobby
Santos III following the season ending World Series 150 at the
Thompson Speedway. In 14 events Santos, in the Bob Garbarino Mystic
Missile, recorded 11 top tens which included four victories. Santos
amassed 2180 points and in the end beat out Mike Stefanik by 27
points. Although winless, Stefanik recorded 12 top tens. Ted
Christopher, with four wins, finished third. Christopher's
consistency rate was a little off as he recorded nine top tens. Ron
Silk and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth
were Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers and Chuck
Hossfeld. Fifty nine different drivers entered into competition.
Eighteen drivers ran the entire series.
Bob Garbarino was the Championship car owner for 2010. Eric
Sanderson was the runnerup with Eddie Whelan, third. Eddie Partridge
and Mike Sermiglio rounded out the top five. As a result of yet
another championship season, Garbarino joined the late Len Boehler
as the only car owners to collect three Whelen Modified Tour titles.
He also became the sixth team owner to earn back-to-back crowns, but
just the second to do it with two different drivers. Boehler’s
three-year run started with Wayne Anderson in 1994 and continued
with Tony Hirschman in 1995-96. During the old format that was used
to determine the NASCAR National Modified Champion prior to 1985
Boehler won three Modified Championships, 1967-1968-1969, with Bugsy
Stevens as his driver.
Competitors were told at Thompson that Sunoco would be the exclusive
fuel for the Whelen Modified Tour Series in 2011.
Justin Bonsignore earned 2010 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in
the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Bonsignore, who hails from
Holtsville on New York’s Long Island, registered four top 10s and
was the Sunoco Rookie of the Race in eight of the season’s 14
events. His rookie campaign was highlighted by a runner-up finish in
the Made In America Whelen 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and
laps led at his home track, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, in the
Riverhead 200. He finished 13th in the season standings.
Bonsignore's Toter and Trailer were broken into, as well as his 24
foot kart trailer. They completely cleaned out everything! Most
importantly 2 complete race karts, in M3 Designs, along with all
karting tools. In the race trailer they stole everything from 12
radios, to all pit equipment including jacks, guns, suits and
helmets as well as geometry gauges, hardware, and spare parts off
the crash carts.
The Modified Racing Series closed out their 2010 season at the Lee
USA Speedway. There were 30 cars on hand. Qualifying heat race
winners were Kirk Alexander, Max Zachem and Steve Masse. Among the
missing were Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher. All tolled, there
are 315 race cars at Lee USA Speedway. The cars are from 11
different divisions ran in 40 heat races, making for a long day.
Jacob Dore was the winner of the consolation.
Race day started out nice but the weather went downhill fast as the
forecast for the Lee area called for rain and possible snow. During
hot laps for the Modifieds pole sitter Kirk Alexander was black
flagged, forcing him to pit. Officials deemed that he had a problem
and placed him in the scratch position for the start. Max Zachem and
Steve Masse made up the front row for the start. After completing
two laps running side by side Masse took the lead on lap 6. By lap
18 Andy Seuss had come alive as he moved into the second spot as
Zachem faded to third. The first caution flew on lap 68 when Jimmy
Kuhn spun on the backstretch. During the caution period rain began
to fall. At around a quarter to three the race was red flagged.
Support divisions were run in order to keep the track relatively
dry. Shortly after 6:00pm the 100 lapper was restarted. Masse led
the remaining laps and recorded the win. In the closing laps Ken
Barry came on like gangbusters and finished second. Seuss faded to
fifth as he was passed also by Zachem and Louie Mechalides. Jon
McKennedy is the series Champion.
Don Hoenig stated in an article in the Norwich (CT) Bulletin that
the Thompson Speedway's race night would still be Thursday with
Sunday a possible rain day for certain shows. Upwards of four tour
type non-sanctioned shows and a few SK Light type events would also
be planned. It was also in the wind that the Modified Racing Series
would make three stops at the northeastern Connecticut oval in 2011.
Hoenig also planned on bringing the Whelen Modified Tour back for
three events. He was still unhappy over the fact that NASCAR told
him he would have to move his traditionally scheduled August
Thursday date because of fact that the Whelen Tour would be running
with the Indy Cars at Loudon the following weekend.
A hot rumor in the wind was the possibility of Ben Dodge vacating
his position as Special Assistant to Don Hoenig. Dodge and Russ Dowd
had become a formable team in the organization and operation of the
Thompson Speedway. Thanks to their efforts, Thursday Night Thunder
at the Thompson Speedway provided great competition and an
efficiently run program.
Lou Modestino reported that the Seekonk Speedway may be planning to
host multiple Modified events every other week in 2011. He
speculated that Dodge, who has close connections to the Modifieds,
would be the logical choice to put it all together for the Venditti
family, proprietors of the Route 6 oval. Dodge refused to tell
confidants where he might be going, other than saying he was leaving
Thompson. Needless to say, this didn't happen.
Len Sammons, editor and publisher of trade publication Area Auto
Racing News announced that indoor Three Quarter Midget racing would
be returning to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI in 2011.
Denny Hamlin passed Kevin Harvick for the lead with 29 laps to go
Sunday and earned his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup win at the
smallest circuit in the series, Martinsville. Keselowski captured
the NASCAR Nationwide 5-Hour Energy 250 on Saturday, using a
well-timed pit stop to roll past Reed Sorenson with two laps
remaining at Gateway International Raceway. The Nationwide stop
likely was the final race at Gateway. Dover Motorsports, owner of
the track, put the property up for sale and had not requested any
racing dates for 2011. Mike Bliss finished second, followed by
pole-sitter Justin Allgaier, who led 70 laps in the 200-lap event.
Jason Leffler finished fourth followed by Edwards in fifth. Sorenson
placed sixth. NASCAR rookie Danica Patrick finished 22nd, one
position behind her career-best effort the previous weekend in
This week are several vintage racing
photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing
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: