By Phil Smith

Thirty-five years ago in 1970 the long Labor Day weekend began at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. on Friday night. Double features were on tap, which would settle the track title. Fred DeSarro recorded a fourth and a fifth as he sewed up the modified track championship. Jean-Guy Chartrand in the Ed Cloce Hemi-Cuda won the first one and was followed by Jerry Cook and Dave Lape. Ronnie Newman won the nightcap and was followed by Brian Ross and Andy Romano. Stafford ran their annual 200 on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, driving the Garbarino Mystic Missile dominated the event until a restart with four laps to go. Fred DeSarro was running second. Cleary had a bitter break-up with car owner Sonny Koszela, whom DeSarro was driving for. During pit stops, Koszella made an obscene gesture toward Cleary and when the green dropped, Cleary hit the gas and the rear end spur gears broke leaving Cleary coasting and DeSarro going by for the win. Cleary was incensed to the point where he felt Koszella had hexed him and had fire in his eyes when he exited the car. DeSarro's win sewed up the 1970 NASCAR Modified Championship. Billy Harman ended up second and was followed by Bob Santos, Bernie Miller and Cleary. In twin 25-lap action at Thompson on Sunday night, Cleary redeemed himself as he recorded a win and a second. In the first feature, Ralph"Hop"Harrington finished second followed by Bob Melnick. George "Moose" Hewitt won the nightcap. At the annual Utica-Rome 400,Steady Eddie Flemke drove the Richie Evans back up car to a convincing win over Robbie Kotary and Dick Fowler. Flemke was forced to pit his car in the parking lot as Evans was under suspension from NASCAR and was not allowed in the pit area. Last but not least, Bugsy Stevens recorded his highest Winston Cup finish as he finished sixth in the Darlington Southern 500.

Thirty years ago in 1975,Shangri-La ran twin events on Saturday night with Richie Evans and Maynard Troyer taking the wins. At Islip, Cliff Tyler won out over Fred Harbach. On Sunday the mods ran at Pocono in the afternoon and some made it to Fulton on Sunday night. Geoff Bodine in the Armstrong No.1 won the Pocono event over Paul Radford and Ray Hendrick. At Fulton, Richie Evans, who had a no finish at Pocono, took the win over Sonny Seamon and Jerry Cook. Cook had also been at Pocono and had finished 27th. Labor Day was reserved for the 200 at Stafford, which was won by Maynard Troyer. Evans finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens, Cook, Fred DeSarro and Roger Treichler.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980, New Egypt ran a 200 lapper on Wednesday. Geoff Bodine set a new track record as he toured the 1/4-mile oval in 12.204 seconds. John Blewett took the lead at the green and led all 200 laps. Bodine ran second until lap 160 when he tangled with a lapped car. Richie Evans ended up in second spot with Tony Siscone, third. Stafford ran their Labor Day classic on Friday night. With 55 modifieds on hand for the 150-lap event which drew 7725 fans. Flyin Brian Ross was on a tear as he won the event. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by Jerry Pearl, Jerry Cook, Charlie Jarzombek and Maynard Troyer. The annual Oswego 200 was on tap on Saturday night. That event drew 71 modifieds. Greg Sacks in the Cal Smalles No.41 took the lead on lap 134 and won the event by 3/4 of a lap over Richie Evans. Chuck Ciprich finished third. Jeff Fuller was a double winner at Westboro and Ron Wycoff won a 150 lapper at Riverside. At Thompson on Sunday night, Richie Evans took the win over Jerry Cook and Jeff Fuller. Cars coming in from Monadnock which had rained out were not allowed to run. Other weekend winners were George Kent at Spencer, Don Howe at Islip, Bob Potter at Waterford, Doug French at Wall and Bob Riley at Danbury. Terry Labonte won the Southern 500 at Darlington over Harry Gant.

Twenty years ago in 1985,Riverhead held their second Mod tour event on Wednesday. Richie Evans took the win over Wayne Anderson and Jeff Fuller. Stafford and Spencer fell victim to rain on Friday, as did Waterford on Saturday. Sixty modifieds were on hand for the annual Oswego Modified 200, which saw Mike McLaughlin take the win over Jim Spencer, Randy Hedger and Tom Baldwin. Richie Evans was an early contender until losing an engine. Ted Rigott to the win at Riverside Park and Bob Park was the regular Saturday night winner at Riverhead. Stafford ran a 100 lap Mod Tour event on Labor Day, which was won by Brian Ross over Evans, Bugsy Stevens and Satch Worley. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Bill Elliott took the win and the $1 million bonus that Winston had posted.

Fifteen years ago in 1990, Stafford ran their season ending Friday night program with Bob Potter taking the win over Ted Christopher and Ronnie Rocco. Mike Christopher finished 18th and sewed up the 1990 championship. Waterford rained out on Saturday. At the Oswego 200,George Kent in the Art Barry 21 pitted early and walked off with the win, which was worth $18,000.Tom Baldwin, finished second with Jeff Fuller, third. The action shifted to Loudon on Sunday where Mike McLaughlin beat out Mike Stefanik for the win.

Ten years ago in 1995,John Anderson won the final Friday night program at Stafford. Tony Sylverter finished second with Curt Brainard, third. Waterford ran a 40 lapper on Saturday, which saw Jerry Pearl beat out David Gada. Tom Fox was the late model winner. Ed Brunnhoelzl won a Race of Champions qualifier over Bob Park at Riverhead and it was Dan Avery at Riverside. It was also on this weekend that Jeff Pearl broke his collar bone after being involved in a carting accident at Woodstock, CT. Jeff Gordon was the Winston Cup winner at Darlington and in the Grandnationals at Darlington, Mark Martin took the win.

1999 Willie Hardie got his third win of the year in Staffordís final Friday night event. Todd Szegedy finished second. The Featherlite Modified Tour made its last stop ever at the soon to close Riverside Park. The event drew 49 modifieds and veteran Bob Polverari was the pole sitter. Polverari led the first 61 laps before being passed by Reggie Ruggiero. Ruggiero led from lap 62 until lap 126 when Ricky Miller took the point. Miller was not to be denied as he led the rest of the event. Mike Ewanitsko finished second with Ted Riggott, third. Dennis Gada got his eighth win at Waterford for the year and at Riverhead, Eddie Brunnhoelzl took the win. Todd Ceravolo wrapped up the 1999 Thompson track championship with a win on Sunday night. Curt Brainard finished second with Chris Kopec, third. Jeff Burton won the rained shortened Southern 500 at Darlington and in the process collected the $1 million No-Bull Bonus. Mark Martin was the Busch Grandnational winner.

Five years ago in 2000 Ted Christopher scored his 50th career win at Stafford on Friday night. Eric Berndt finished second with Kerry Malone, third. The Featherlite Modified Tour was scheduled for Waterford on Saturday night but because of rain was held over to Sunday. Jerry Marquis took the win and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero and Rob Summers. Mark LaJunesse was the SK modified winner over Ed Reed Jr, Bob Potter and Tucker Reynolds. Bob Labonte took the win in the rain at Darlington and Greg Furlong took the Oswego Supermodified Classic.

Last year, 2004 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Tongues were wagging in a positive way over the announcement that Whelen Engineering will take over as title sponsor of the series in 2005. Thirty-four modifieds were on hand for the event that carried a $70,000 purse. Tony Hirschman took the Busch Pole. The draw for starting spots saw Hirschman draw the outside pole along side Eddie Flemke Jr. who drew the pole. Flemke took the lead at the start and held the position for 42 laps when Doug Coby was able to get by Coby lasted five laps on the point until Flemke took it back. The lead seesawed back and forth until lap 76 when Coby became the victim of a slipping clutch, ending his night. Flemke led until lap 96 when he began backing up, giving the lead to Todd Szegedy. Szegedy led the remaining distance to complete the 150-lap distance. Jerry Marquis, who started 12th, moved into the second spot on lap 96 but couldnít catch Szegedy sleeping. Marquis settled for second. Mike Stefanik ran virtually without fanfare and ended up third while Flemke slipped to fourth at the finish. Tony Hirschman, in a determined run after having to pit with a flat tire, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Chuck Hossfeld, Kevin Konopka, Kenny Barry, Jamie Tomaino and Greg Shivers. Seven cautions for 42 laps slowed the event The most severe came as the field completed the first lap when a multi-car tangle occurred on the front stretch which resulted in Ted Christopher receiving severe rear end damage. Christopher drove to the pit area but never returned.

In Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Todd Ceravolo put himself back on top of the Sunoco Modified standings with a convincing win over Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone. It was his fifth win in which may be his final season. Ceravolo, an electrical contractor, had indicated that he would retire from racing at seasonís end and would like nothing better than to go out as a champion. Ceravolo also stands a good chance of a high finish in the first tier of the NASCAR Dodge Regional standings. A single file re-start with three laps to go told the story. Bert Marvin was looking to record the win until Ceravolo powered by on the backstretch and thatís all she wrote. Following Ceravolo and Marvin at the finish were Kerry Malone, Eric Berndt, Jeff Malave and Richard Savory. Ted Christopher, who was the odds on favorite to become the NASCAR regional champion finished eighth after recovering from a lap six spin. David Berghman rebounded from a two-race slump as he recorded his seventh Pro Stock win of the season. Other Thursday night Thunder winners were Ryan Posocco in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Jason Paquette in the Mini-Stocks. On a sad note, Bo Gunning took a mean fall from atop the Eddie Partridge hauler and had to be transported to a nearby hospital. Evidently Gunning was assisting his crew in the removal of his car from the hauler when his cell phone rang which diverted his attention. The car rolled out of the truck on to the elevator ramp, striking Gunning. Gunning was taken to the hospital and released. Car owner Eddie Partridge made the decision to call it a night and did not enter his car into competition. Partridge, who was at Waterford on Saturday night stated that Gunning was sore but had no broken bones. Double features were on tap at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher wrapped up his fifth track championship but it wasnít pretty and he wasnít happy. Steve Chowanski won the opening 30 lap SK Modified event with Jeff Malave hot on his tail. Todd Owen finished third. Christopher finished a conservative 10th. Christopher needed to finish 20th in the second event. Jeff Malave ended up taking the win in the second event after Christopher was put to the tail of the field for rough riding and ended up finishing tenth, again. Chris Jones, who has a short temper at times started on the pole of the second event and was able to hold onto the front spot until the five to go signal was given. All of a sudden Jonesí car drifted up and Christopher, running in second made a move to take the lead. Once Jones realized what was happening he turned left to block, making contact with Christopher and ended up spinning into the infield. Taking somewhat of a fit, Jones spun his car in the dirt. Race director Frank Sgambato Jr. gave the word that Jones was done for the night. The next thing you know, he puts Christopher to the rear for rough riding. Christopher, not a saint by any means, was the victim of a bad call. Jones came into him, period! Christopher vented his frustration with the Stafford management on Saturday night at Waterford. "I hope they enjoy themselves at the banquet this year, I know I wonít be there", he said. In Late Model action Ryan Posocco made it three in a row.

The tech man at the Waterford Speedbowl got tough on Saturday night. Doug Coby, who apparently had won the SK Modified main event found himself disqualified after the tech man discovered illegal chassis height. Rob Janovic, who finished second, was declared the winner. Tom Fox ended up second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Allen Coates, who was unhappy to hear he had to pay income tax on the vehicle he won in the Funkmaster event, took his fourth Late Model victory of the year. Richard Brooks made it two in a row in Mini Stock action and Jim Procaccini won the Sportsman feature. Twin 25ís at Wall Township were won by Kevin Flockart and Shannon Mongeau.

The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the California Speedway in Fontana . For the first time since 1950 the Nextel Cup and Busch Racing series was not at the Darlington Speedway in South Carolina as NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation has seen fit to break tradition. Gregg Biffle won the Busch Series event after putting the fender to Casey Mears late in the race. Elliott Sadler was the Nextel Cup winner.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
For Phil's and other weekly features found in the Speedway Scene
Click Below for information on Subscribing To:

Web Design Copyright © 2005 & - All Rights Reserved
Opinions expressed in The Looking Back Column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of and the contents are the sole responsibility of the author.
For permission to reproduce any part of Looking Back contact Phil Smith @
 Looking Back is Copyright © 2005 Phil Smith