Thursday 9-29-05

By Phil Smith

Thirty-five years ago in 1970, the modifieds were at the monster mile, Dover Downs for twin 100s for Late Model Modifieds and the All Star League modifieds. Ray Hendrick in the Tant/Mitchell Camaro cleaned house as he won both events. Bugsy Stevens in the Len Boehler 3 recorded two seconds. Charlie Jarzombek walked away from a mean wreck during the All Star event. Driving his offset coupe, the popular Long Island driver got launched into the turn two fence and almost went out of the high-banked speedway. Also running that day was Thompson where Bob Santos took the 30-lap win over Hop Harrington, Ed Yerrington and Moose Hewitt.

Thirty years ago in 1975, the Thompson 300 and the Martinsville 150 ran on this weekend. With the exception of Jerry Cook, Bob Park and George Kent who went to Martinsville, just about everyone else was at Thompson. Satch Worley beat out Cook for the win at Martinsville. Thompson was open competition and it was Geoff Bodine taking the win over Bob Santos, Moose Hewitt and Donny Ayer.

Twenty-five years ago in 1980, Richie Evans won the 100-lap final at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Bob Polverari finished second with Ray Miller, third. Evans made it two for two as he won the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday. Brett Bodine finished second with John Rosati, third.

Twenty years ago in 1985, Charlie Jarzombek wrapped up the 1985 Stafford Speedway title as he won the Fall Final 100. George Brunnhoelzl Jr. finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and George Kent. Jerry Pearl wrapped up the SK modified championship. Riverside Park closed out their season on Saturday night with Jeff Fuller taking the win. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Harry Gant took the win with Geoff Bodine, second.

Fifteen years ago in 1990, Ray Hendrick, known as Mr. Modified passed away from cancer at the age of 61. Hendrick won just about every major event on the East Coast. It was also on this weekend that young Rob Moroso died from injuries received in an accident while on his way home from North Wilkesboro. The Fall Final ran 125 laps and it was Mike Stefanik taking the win over Jeff Fuller, Satch Worley and Jamie Tomaino. Bo Gunning won the SK modified portion.

Ten years ago in 1995, Eric Berndt, 16, led from pole to pole at Waterford and became the youngest ever to win a modified race at the shoreline oval. Reggie Ruggiero won his fifth of the year at Riverside on Saturday night and at the Fall Final at Stafford on Sunday, Mike Stefanik won the 150 lap main event. Stefanik passed Steve Park with five to go on his way to the checkered flag. Jamie Tomaino finished third with Ed Flemke Jr., fourth. Ted Christopher won the SK 50 lapper. Bob Potter finished seventh and became the track's first 5 time modified champion. In a non-racing matter, OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder charges. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Mark Martin took the win over Rusty Wallace. Ernie Irvan returned after suffering severe injuries. Irvan finished sixth.

Five years ago in 2000, John Brouwer Jr. got his first ever-modified win as he put the Whittle No.49 in victory lane at Waterford. Dennis Gada finished second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Stafford hosted the Fall Final 300, which carried a purse of $94,211 and drew 51 modifieds. Jerry Marquis took the lead from Mike Ewanitsko on lap 245 and led the final 55 laps for the win. John Blewett III finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher and Rick Fuller. Eric Berndt won the 50 lap SK Modified event and Chris Wenzel won the Mod Tour non-qualifiers event. On and off rain all weekend kept the Stafford crowd down. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Tony Stewart took the win. Matt Kenseth was the Busch Grandnational winner.

Last year, 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 seasonís end may 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 driverís 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 surfaces 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.

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.
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