Friday September 29, 2006

By Phil Smith                                                          Click On Any Photo For Full Size Version

Thirty five years ago in 1971, the season ender at Islip was rained out and not rescheduled. Stafford ran their season ender on Sunday with Gene Bergin taking the win over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Dave Lape and Bugsy Stevens. Thompson ran an open competition event the same day with Bob Santos taking the win over Dick Caso, Tony Russo and Hank Stevens. The Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up their season with Bob Potter taking the win over Ronnie Wyckoff.

Thirty years ago in 1976, the Modifieds were silent as race teams made ready for the upcoming Race of Champions at Trenton.

Twenty five years ago in 1981, Stafford ran the Fall Final for the Modifieds and NASCAR North (Busch North Series) The modified 100 lapper carried a purse of $6,300 and drew 59 cars. Richie Evans was the Modified winner as he beat out Corky Cookman, George Kent, Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari. Jean Paul Cabana was the Late Model winner. It was also on this weekend that the New England Drivers and Owners Club (NEDOC) conducted tire tests which would hopefully lead to a more affordable-longer lasting tire for the Modifieds. Brands tested were Hoosier, M&H, McCreary and Goodyear.

Twenty years ago in 1986, the modified tour headed for Oxford Plains in Maine. Forty eight Modifieds and 10,000 fans were on hand as Jim Spencer took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Corky Cookman, Mike Mclaughlin and Brian Ross. Track owner Bob Bahre announced that in 1987, an 18 race NASCAR North-Late Model Series would replace the former Late Model Series that had been headed by Tom Curley. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Tim Richmond took the pole but it was Darrell Waltrip taking the win. Geoff Bodine finished second.

Fifteen years ago in 1991, Don Fowler was the Saturday night winner at Waterford. Bob Potter finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. The Fall Final at Stafford ended up being a race that many would talk about for many months. Tom Baldwin, who qualified second and was running in the front all day was caught sleeping on a late race restart and got spun out. Baldwin was given his spot back as NASCAR stated the leader must start the race. Baldwin bulled his way to the front and eventual win. Jamie Tomaino ended up second with Reggie Ruggiero, third. The SK 35 lapper was red checkered after 30 laps when leader Ted Christopher blew his engine and collected Richie Gallup. Bob Potter was awarded the win. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Harry Gant was eight laps short of making it five in a row when he lost his brakes and had to give way to Dale Earnhardt who went on to record the win. Gant held on to finish second.

Ten years ago in 1996, it was Tom Baldwin again in victory lane at Stafford. As was his previous Fall Final victory, this one wasn't too popular with the fans as he was greeted by the Bronx Cheer in victory lane. With two laps to go in the 300 lap contest, the outspoken Long Island driver spun Reggie Ruggiero out, causing a caution. Going over the 300 lap mark, Baldwin slammed into Tim Connolly, knocking him out of the way, and went on to take the win. Connelly finished second and was followed by Ruggiero and Steve Park. All on the lead lap. Rounding out the top five was Mike Ewanitsko, one lap down. Jim Broderick was the SK Modified winner, giving him two for two on the weekend as he won on Saturday night over Steve Chowanski and Bob Potter. In Winston Cup action it was the final event to be run at North Wilkesboro. Ted Musgrave was the pole sitter but it was Jeff Gordon taking the win with Dale Earnhardt finishing second. Dirt driver Billy Pauch scored his 500th career win at the Bridgeport, N.J. Speedway. On a sad note, former driver and car builder Banjo Mathews passed away as did former New York driver Dick Nephew.

Five years ago in 2001, John Brouwer Jr. won the final Saturday night modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Mark LaJunesse finished second. Dennis Gada finished third and sewed up his third modified driving title in a row. It was the fifth championship title for car owner Harry Wyant. Wynatt’s other track titles at Waterford came with Jim Broderick driving. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Stafford for the Fall Final. Mike Ewanitsko was the Busch Pole sitter but the day belonged to Ted Christopher who all but dominated the event. Starting from the outside pole, Christopher jumped out to the lead at the start and held the point until pitting for tires and fuel on lap 90. Jerry Marquis inherited the lead at that point and held it thru lap 104 when Christopher blasted his way into the lead. From then on it was a no contest event. During the late stages, Marquis faded to third with Rick Fuller moving into the runner-up spot but Fuller had all he could hold on to because of blistering tires. Fuller hung on for second and was followed by Marquis, Ed Flemke Jr. and Mike Ewanitsko. Kerry Malone was the SK-Modified winner over Lloyd Agor and Jeff Baral. In Winston Cup action at Kansas City, Jeff Gordon took the win in an event that saw many crashes caused by flat tires. Jeff Green won the Grandnational event.

Last year, 2005, Kerry Malone finally got the monkey off his back as he took the win in the Sunoco Modified division at the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night. Bert Marvin put the pressure on during the closing moments of the 30 lap feature but Malone never wavered. Keith Rocco turned in another strong run as he finished third ahead of Jimmy Blewett and Jeff Malave. Marc Palmisano took the Late Model feature and Mike O’Sullivan took top honors in the Pro Stocks. Larry Barnett won his sixth of the year in the Limited Sportsman and Chad Gaudiosi was the Thompson Modified winner. Randy Jurcik took the Mini StocksAlthough the nights were getting cooler the action at the Waterford Speedbowl continued to be hot and heavy. Ron Yuhas jr. had more than his share of the bump and grind at the shoreline oval. In spite of it all he had remained in the point race and moved into the lead by a scant four points over Rob Summers as he won the feature for the SK Modifieds. Ron Silk finished second with Dennis Gada, third. Rob Summers who previously led the points finished fourth with Tommy Fox rounding out the top five. Other Saturday night winners at Waterford were Allen Coates took his eighth win in the Late Models, Dan Darnstaedt in the Sportsman, Ken Cassidy in the Mini-Stocks and Curtis D’Addario in the X-Cars. Speaking of the X-Cars, the Speedbowl ran a mechanics race on Wednesday night that was won by former Modified Champion Dickie Doo Ceravolo.

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:

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

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