Friday September 1, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Forty years ago in 1966 the Albany Saratoga ran a 200 lap event with Bill Wimble outlasting Eddie Flemke for the win. Bill Slater finished third with Robbie Kotary, fourth. Fonda was still closed for a Fair and at Utica-Rome, their annual 400 was washed out.

Thirty five years ago in 1971, Labor Day weekend meant big money, extra distance races. The action started at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on Friday night with a 250 lapper for the Modifieds. Max Berrier, one of the hot dogs from North Carolina, made one of his infrequent trips north pay off as he stole the show from the regulars. Fifty five Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 30 starting spots. Guy Chartrand, in the Hemi-Cuda of Ed Cloce, was the pole sitter with Leo Cleary in the Mystic Missile on the outside. Berrier started seventh and wore the competition down to record the win. Eddie Flemke, in the Art Barry No.09, finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Andy Romano, Denis Giroux, Richie Evans, Hop Harrington and Fred DeSarro. Stafford ran a 30 lap, double point event on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, now on home turf, took the win over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Bob Santos. The action shifted to Utica-Rome on Sunday night where Richie Evans won the New Yorker 400 over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro. Modified history was made on Monday at Stafford when Gene Bergin in the Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied 2x broke the track qualifying record and became the first Modified to turn the half mile in the 20.00 second bracket. Due to the efforts of Stafford owner Jack Arute, the Pinto body was made legal for Modified competition and would be the beginning of the end of pre-war coupes used as bodies for Modifieds. Bergin cruised to a convincing win over Fred DeSarro, Max Berrier, Bugs Stevens and Eddie Flemke. Fulton Raceway also ran on Saturday and Monday. Bob Sweeny won the Saturday 30 lapper over Neil Trusedale and Sonny Seamon. Monday’s Labor Day 100 saw Geoff Bodine take the win over Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro and Merv Treichler.

Thirty years ago in 1976, Ed Yerrington, the new promoter at Stafford, was looking for a way to boost attendance at the Stafford Speedway. He scheduled a mid week open competition event and named it Modified Madness. To make this event different, Yerrington allowed all females, accompanied by a male, free admission. The result was one of the biggest crowds ever seen for a mid-week event as the attendance was in excess of 10,000, at the Stafford oval. Richie Evans borrowed a wing off the Super of Nolan Swift and took home the win. Maynard Troyer finished second with Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens rounding out the top four. Riverhead ran a 200 lapper on Friday night with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Fred Harbach, Wayne Anderson and Jerry Cook. At Monadnock, Mike Weeden took the feature but it was Punky Caron who won the track championship. Saturday night saw the running of the annual Oswego Modified 200.Maynard Troyer took the big win over southern invader Paul Radford. Roger Treichler finished third. At Islip, Wayne Anderson was the big winner with Jerry Cook, second. Pete Fiandaca won at Riverside and it was Dave Dias at Seekonk. Geoff Bodine made it two in a row at Thompson on Sunday night as once again, Fred DeSarro had to settle for second. John Rosati, Ray Miller and Jerry Pearl rounded out the top five. Stafford ran their annual 200 on Monday. Bodine carried his winning ways over from Thompson to make it two for two. Jim Spencer finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans and Satch Worley.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Stafford ran the Labor Day weekend 200 on Friday night. Close to 7500 saw Richie Evans take the win over Reggie Ruggiero, Ray Miller, Corky Cookman and Bugsy Stevens. Waterford ran a 100 lapper which saw Bob Potter start on the outside pole and lead all the way to take the win over Jerry Pearl, Moose Hewitt and Dave Webber. Geoff Bodine came north to drive the Taylor No.99 to a convincing win in the Oswego 200. Satch Worley finished second with Ray Miller, third. At Thompson on Sunday night, Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Joe Howard and Corky Cookman. Other weekend winners were Punky Caron at Monadnock, Bugsy Stevens at Seekonk, George Wagner at Islip, Stan Greger at Riverside and Jeff Fuller at Westboro. Doug Hevron won the Oswego Supermodified Classic.

Twenty years ago in 1986, the Labor Day weekend started on Wednesday when the Mod Tour visited Riverhead for a 200 lapper. Tiger Tom Baldwin took the win over Jim Spencer, Bill Park and Brian Ross. On Friday night, George Brunnhoelzl Jr was dialed in as he took the top spot at Stafford. Kenny Bouchard finished second. Waterford ran a 75 lapper on Saturday night with Rick Donnelly taking the win over Harry Rice and Mark LaJunesse. George Kent used a bit of cunning to win the Oswego Modified 200.Kent used an early pit stop to his advantage as he was able to pass most of the competition while they pitted later. For his efforts, he pocketed $17,535. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Mike McLaughlin and Jan Leaty. Jerry Marquis won at Riverside while Steve Park and John Blewett Jr won twin features at Riverhead. Stafford closed out the weekend with their annual 200 on Labor Day. Proving his Friday night win was no fluke, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. took the win over Brian Ross, Kenny Bouchard and John Rosati. Bentley Warren won the Oswego Supermodified Classic and in Winston Cup action at Darlington, Tim Richmond took both the pole and the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Bob Potter took the SK modified championship at Stafford and wrapped up the track championship. Steve Chowanski had been a contender but found himself sitting on the sidelines after he was thrown out of the event after wrecking Bo Gunning. Waterford ran a 200 lapper on Saturday night with Ted Christopher taking the win in the Ronnie Berndt No.54.Don Fowler finished second with Jim Broderick, third. Bob Potter's luck continued to be bad as he wrecked the Ceravolo family modified for the seventh time. Jeff Fuller took the $20,000 to win Oswego Modified 200 after his brother Rick, in the Fiore 44 lost an engine while leading with two laps to go. George Kent finished second and was followed by Steve Park and Richie Gallup. Dick McCabe won the wreck marred Busch North Series event at Riverside Park. McCabes average speed for 150 laps was 31mph. Harry Gant was the Winston Cup winner at Darlington and on a sad note, Winston Cup starter Harold Kinder passed away.

Ten years ago in 1996, Bob Potter took the Friday night SK Modified win at Stafford after Ted Christopher and Jim Broderick wrecked each other on the last lap. Christopher still wrapped up the SK title despite being suspended from running the Fall Final. Broderick was fined for rough riding. The Featherlite Modifieds were also at Stafford for a 150 lap event. Mike Stefanik took the win over Charlie Pasteryak, Ed Flemke Jr and Bob Gegetskas. Scott Spaulding scored his third win of the year at Waterford on Saturday night. Mike Gada finished second with Jim Broderick, third. Riverside ran a 100 lapper with Reggie Ruggiero taking his seventh win of the season and Tom McCann got his sixth at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Terry LaBonte took the win and in Craftsman Truck racing at Nashville it was former modified competitor Dave Reszendes taking the win. Doug Didero won the Supermodified classic at Oswego and Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series winner at Lee.

Five years ago in 2001, Thompson ran its final Thursday night event of the summer, which saw Ted Christopher make it four in a row. Christopher started 12th in the 30-car field and took the lead on lap 9 of the 30 lap feature. Bert Marvin, Kerry Malone, Scott Quinn and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. Christopher carried his winning ways over to Stafford where he won twin 40’s on Friday night. The Waterford Speedbowl hosted the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour on Saturday night. Ed Flemke Jr. got shuffled from third to eighth on the start but drove a heads up race to take the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 123 and went on to take the win. Christopher finished second with Mike Stefanik holding on for third. Tom Cravenho and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. There were ten yellows for 49 laps. Ed Reed Jr. scored his first ever SK Modified win in convincing fashion as he beat out Ron Yuhas and Dennis Gada. Gary Swanander won out over Chris Young at Riverhead. Thompson closed out the weekend with twin 20’s for the SK Modifieds. Ted Christopher made it six in a row as he won both of them. Kerry Malone finished second in both and Bert Marvin finished third, again in both events. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Ward Burton, with Tom Baldwin as his crew chief, won the event over Jeff Gordon. Steve Park suffered severe head injuries the day before when his car made a sharp left hand turn after his steering wheel came off. Larry Foyt, who had nowhere to go, broadsided Park. Jeff Burton won the Darlington Busch Grandnational event.

Last year, 2005, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night for the Big Y World Class Markets 150. Tony Hirschman led the 30 cars on hand as he took the Bud Pole award. Hirschman drew seventh for the initial start and was a possible threat until he found himself collected in a lap 65 multi-car tangle. For Bob Garbarino it was a homecoming as his driver Jerry Marquis took the eventual win after passing Doug Coby on lap 83. Garbarino, a forty plus year veteran Modified Car Owner began his career at what was then called the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In victory lane Garbarino honored one of his former drivers, Dick Watson, who passed away last year.

Outside pole sitter Matt Hirschman led the first ten laps before being overtaken by John Blewett III. Blewett, driving for Joe Brady, led from lap 11 to lap 20 when he was black-flagged for leaking fuel. Marquis took the point when Blewett parked it and led until lap 66. Doug Coby, who drives for Manfield owner Curt Chase was looking to take his first win but had to give way to Marquis who was a tick better on the long runs. Marquis re-took the lead on lap 84 and never looked back. Coby finished second with Donnie Lia, third. Eddie Flemke finished fourth with Tyler Haydt recording his first top five with a fifth.

Second generation driver Richard Savory pulled off a surprise victory in Sunoco SK type Modified competition at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Because of mechanical problems Savory missed his qualifying heat and was forced to start in the rear of the 23 car starting field. Kerry Malone appeared to be an early favorite until he lost a transmission. Jimmie Blewett was also an early contender until losing an engine. As early leaders slipped out of contention Savory took his time and on lap 41 took the lead and went on to record the win. Jeff Malave finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Tom Cravenho and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. Other Thursday night winners were Jeff Connors in the Pro Stocks, Corey Hutchings in the Late Models, Glen Boss in the Limited Sportsman, Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds and Ron Rixham in the Mini Stocks.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Frank Ruocco appeared to have victory in sight when his transmission malfunctioned with four laps to go and put him out of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Todd Owen was waiting in the wings and fought off Woody Pitkat to take the win. Mike Holdredge, who led the first 15 laps of the feature, finished third. Eddie Partridge and his Long Island Gang installed a new motor for Jimmy Blewett and he brought the T/S Haulers mount home in fourth spot. Willie Hardie rounded out the top five. Mike Quintiliano won the slam-bang Late Model feature after making a dramatic four-wide pass. Andrew Durand won the Late Model Limited feature and George Nocera Jr. won the DARE Stock feature. Among the missing were Doug Coby and Don Lia who were suspended for one week and John Sandberg who has been suspended indefinitely by Frankie Sgambato, the Speedway’s Race Director. Coby was suspended for intentionally bringing out the caution which ultimately was meant to help Ted Christopher from going a lap down. Lia got a week off after he slugged Sandberg who had planted him in the fence. Sandberg received an indefinite suspension after he was removed from competition on August 19. Sandberg was found guilty of rough riding, not heeding the black flag, not heeding Race Control, unsportsmanlike conduct and not heeding security staff directives to leave the property.

Rob Summers won the SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Summers did the bump and grind with Tommy Fox with three laps remaining. Fox ended up with the short end of the stick as he found himself in the first turn wall. Jeff Pearl, with a lot of help from his dad Jerry, finished third. Pearl had taken a hard shot into the wall one week previously which did extensive damage to his Fox Hill No.71. Jerry cut the car’s snout off at the firewall and replaced it with all new components. Ronnie Silk finished third. Chris Pasteryak and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Other Saturday night winners at Waterford were Dan Darnstedt in the Sportsman, Joe Perry taking his first Late Model feature and Joe Godbout taking the Mini Stock feature.

Strange Bedfellows! The France family's International Speedway Corp. and Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports announced they were teaming to buy Action Performance, which sells racing souvenirs, for a reported $13 a share, according to sources close to the negotiations. Action Performance and the Jack Roush-owned Team Caliber are the top two souvenir companies in the NASCAR world, and Daytona executives have been interested in acquiring souvenir rights to all NASCAR stars in order to package them as part of a stock-car racing "mall" at each of the Nextel Cup tour's top tracks.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

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

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