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Friday September 11, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, the rained out 150 lap Labor Day classic at Stafford was run on Friday night. Nathan "Smokey” Boutwell in the Garuti-Arute No.14 took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Eddie Flemke, Ted Stack, Ollie Silva and Bill Slater. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Marcel Corriveau took the win over Guy Chartrand, Ron Narducci and Lou Lazzaro. At Norwood arena on Saturday, Johnny Thompson in his Cobra powered No.122 outhandled the field and took the win. Bob Melnick finished second with Freddie Schulz, third. Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl it was Daring Dick Caso taking the Modified win. Jack Barton was the Daredevil winner. At Airborne Park it was Marcel Goddard over Dick Fowler and Dick Nephew and at Islip and Thompson it rained.

Thirty five years ago in 1974, racing at Riverhead on Wednesday and at Freeport on Friday rained out. Islip ran a 200 lapper on Saturday which saw invader Richie Evans come in and clean house. Jim Hendrickson finished second with Ted Wesnoski, third. Shangri-La ran double features; George Kent won the first one and was followed by Sonney Seamon and Don Diffendorf. The nightcap saw Maynard Troyer take the victory over Ed Pieniezak and Seamon. At Waterford Mark LaJunesse was the Modified winner with Mike Daignault taking the top spot in the Grand American Late Models. Moving to Fulton on Sunday, Geoff Bodine took the win over Troyer, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. Thompson and Monadnock also ran on Sunday. Bugsy Stevens won at Monadnock over Kenny Bouchard and Gene Bergin. At Thompson it was Daring Dick Caso scoring an impressive win over Ronnie Bouchard and Fats Caruso. Caso was a true back yard racer and did the most with the least and was extremely popular during the 70's.

Thirty years ago in 1979, Star Speedway ran a special dual feature modified event on Friday night. Home track favorites Larry Record and Dave Thomas took the wins. Charlie Jarzombek finished second to Record and was followed by Mike Murphy, Ronnie Bouchard, John Falconi Jr., and Leo Cleary. Bouchard finished second to Thomas and was followed by Jarzombek, Murphy and Cleary. Saturday night at Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard took a hard fought win over Bugsy Stevens and George Summers. At Waterford, Rick Donnelly made it five in a row at the shoreline oval. Moose Hewitt finished second with Dick Ceravolo, third. The Modifieds were active in the southland. At Caraway in North Carolina on Saturday, Jerry Cook took the win and was followed by Billy Hensley, Satch Worley, Chip Lane and Don Miller. Cook traveled all night to get to Islip which ran a 300 lapper on Sunday which ended up being a Richie Evans benefit. Cook managed to finish second with John Blewett Jr., third. Also on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard beat out John Rosati and George Summers at Thompson. Other weekend winners included Brian Ross at Monadnock, Billy Hensley at North Wilkesboro, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster, George Kent at Shangri-La and Roland Lapierre Jr. at Westboro. In other news of the weekend, upstate New York driver Dave Nichols announced his retirement.

Twenty five years ago in 1984, Waterford ran their Matco 100 on Saturday night. Dick Ceravolo took the win but was disqualified when a larger than legal engine was found in a post race teardown. Dale Holdredge was declared the winner with Bob Gada, finishing second. At Shangri-La, Richie Evans took the win over Corky Cookman. The end of an era in Long Island racing became reality as the historic Islip Speedway ran its final event and closed for good. Taking the final checker was Bob Park. Fred Harbach finished second. The big event of the weekend was the annual Thompson 300.A total of 60 modifieds were on hand. Jim Spencer took the win over Richie Evans and Kenny Bouchard. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter and the winner. Other weekend winners were Bugsy Stevens at Seekonk and Gail Barber at Lancaster.

Twenty years ago in 1989, Stafford ran their last Friday night of the year and it was Brad Thrall taking the SK Modified feature. Bob Georgiades finished second. Mikey Christopher finished fifth and sewed up the 1989 Track Championship. At Waterford on Saturday, Rick Donnelly took the win over Mike Gada and Mark Lajunesse. Riverside ran twin features with Ray Miller and Jerry Marquis sharing the glory. The Thompson 300 was the big event of the weekend. Mike Stefanik took the big win and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero and Mike McLaughlin.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Waterford almost didn't get to run as the Connecticut DMV pulled their race permit because of the badly damaged fence. Repairs were made and Moose Hewitt took down the Saturday night win. Jim Broderick finished second with Mike Gada, third. Riverside Park saw Steve Park take the top spot and at Sunday’s Thompsom 300, Jeff Fuller took the lead with 25 laps to go and went on to take the win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Satch Worley, third. C.J.Freye won the Late Model 100. In Winston Cup action at Richmond; Terry Labonte took the win after Rusty Wallace had an engine go sour. Kenny Wallace won the Grand National event.

Ten years ago, in 1999, Friday night racing at Stafford rained out. At Waterford, Dennis Gada recorded his ninth win of the season and all but iced the track championship. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Don Fowler, third. Chief Steward Bill Roberts got tough with Mike Gada. Fresh off a suspension for rough riding, Gada didn't learn his lesson as he was first put to the rear, then parked for the night and ultimately suspended for two more weeks as he continued to hit everything but the lottery at the shoreline oval. Riverhead ran their final of the year with Ken Heagy taking the win and Frank Vigliorolo Jr. taking the track championship. Soon to close, Riverside Park ran their last ever-regular Saturday night program. Dave Berube took the historic win over Ted Riggott and Brad Hietella. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Thompson for a 200 lapper. Tony Hirschman survived 13 cautions for 65 laps to take the win. Hirschman took the lead from Tom Cravenho on lap159. Reggie Ruggerio finished second and was followed by Chris Kopec, Carl Pasteryak, Jamie Tomaino and Tony Ferrente Jr. Bert Marvin was the 30 lap SK modified winner over Scott Quinn, Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Tony Stewart scored his first ever Cup win over Bob Labonte. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Grandnational winner.

Five years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway. With an all-new format in place qualifying heats were run. Winners of the four 20-lap sprints were Tom Bolles, Eddie Flemke Jr., Jerry Marquis and Todd Szegedy. The Thompson 300 was split into three-100 lap segments. Tom Bolles won the first over Flemke, Marquis, Ricky Fuller and Ted Christopher. Flemke won the second segment over Marquis, Todd Szegedy, Fuller and Mike Stefanik. Tony Hirschman won the nightcap over Bolles, Christopher, Stefanik and Marquis. Flemke, who was currently in a tight point battle with Tony Hirschman, was declared the overall winner and received the points normally awarded the win. Second overall was Jerry Marquis. Third through fifth overall were Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. Because of his poor finishes in the first two segments Hirschman was placed in 11th spot. In Dodge Weekly Racing Thunder at Thompson on Saturday, Bo Gunning won the first of two 25-lap Sunoco SK-type Modified events. Bert Marvin finished second with Ted Christopher, third. Todd Ceravolo, who was in contention for track championship honors finished fourth with Jeff Malave, fifth. Other Saturday winners were Corey Hutchings in the Late Models and Steve Michalowski in the Mini-Stocks. Sunday’s action saw Ted Christopher take the Sunoco Modified win over Todd Ceravolo, Eric Berndt, Kerry Malone and Adam Norton. Corey Hutchings made it two for two on the weekend as he beat out Marc Palmissano for the Sunday Late Model win. Jeff Zuidema took the Pro Stock win and Glen Boss was the Limited Sportsman winner.

The Friday night NASCAR Dodge Racing Series at Stafford ran its last weekly event of 2004. It was more like “Friday Night at the Fights” as hand to hand combat highlighted the SK Modified feature. Jeff Baral held off Frank Ruocco and Ted Christopher for the win but the real story was the on track antics of Chris Jones. Prior to the running of the SK Modified feature Jones bragged that Ted Christopher was not going to finish the feature. Christopher, who had already sewed up the 2004 SK Modified track championship at the half-mile oval, was hoping to pad his NASCAR Regional lead. Not one to just get out there and ride, Christopher made his charge to the front. Just before the half way mark Christopher made a clean outside pass by Jones. One lap later Jones dove inside Christopher and spun him out. Jones was subsequently black flagged for his actions. Jones was asked to remove himself from the racing surface but refused. Instead he drove up to Christopher’s car, got out and commenced throwing punches at Christopher. Jones was eventually subdued by police and was escorted out of the track. As he was being led away he continually made obscene gestures to the crowd and officials. In other Friday night action, Jim Peterson took the Late Model feature and David Zienka won the DARE Stock feature.

Shawn Monahan was literally out-foxed at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Tom Fox, who had only recorded one win at the shoreline oval this year, made numerous attempts to overtake Monahan who was obviously blocking. Fox pulled a sneaky on lap 20 as he faked to the outside, then dove to the inside to take the lead and the eventual win. Jeff Pearl finished second as Monahan faded to fifth in the closing laps. Kurt Lenihan finished third. Dennis Gada’s luck continued to be bad as he fell by the wayside, while running third, with electrical problems. Gada ended up 15th and lost the point lead to Ed Reed Jr. In other action at the Bowl, Eddie Field won the Mini-Stock feature, Allen Coates made it two in a row in Late Model action, Dwayne Dorr was the Sportsman winner and Jeff Paul won the 50-lap Legands Nationals Qualifier.

The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the Richmond International Raceway. Robbie Gordon was the Busch Series winner and Jeremy Mayfield was the Nextel Cup winner after Kurt Busch ran out of gas while leading with eight laps to go.

On a sad note, Lou Cady, Webmaster and founder of Modified Series Scene.com passed away. Cady provided news and chat pertaining to the Featherlite Modifieds.

Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway to partake in what was called Modified Mania. Thirty-two Modifieds were on hand for qualifying which ended up getting rained out. Based on point standings the field was set.

Preseason favorite Todd Szegedy broke through for his first win of the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in the Sunoco Modified Mania 150. Szegedy, who started sixth, ran inside the top five for most of the afternoon, took his first lead of the race on Lap 132 and held off numerous charges by Ronnie Silk in the last 22 laps for his 13th career victory, and third at Thompson. Szegedy and Silk went non-stop without a tire change. Ted Christopher led the first 125 laps before pitting for tires under caution. Silk, who entered the event on a two-race winning streak at Thompson, led seven laps in the race but could not get past Szegedy despite three restarts in the closing circuits. Doug Coby, who is one of the drivers that replaced James Civali, came home third in the race, his second such finish in as many starts this year. Long-time series veterans Reggie Ruggiero and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five, for their best finishes of the year.

Fuller was honored prior to the race as part of NASCAR’s Celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions. Sunday’s finish was the 145th top five of his career.

Bobby Santos, Billy Pauch Jr., Matt Hirschman, Rowan Pennink and Eric Beers rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race.
Despite a 14th place finish, Christopher retained a 63-point lead over Chuck Hossfeld with 11 races in the books.

There were 8 caution periods for 34 laps. Among those sidelined due to accidents or mechanical failures were Mike Stefanik, lap142, accident, Gary McDonald, Renee Dupuis, Glen Reen, lap134, accident, Jimmy Blewett, lap 131, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, lap 109, accident, Richard Savary, Ed Flemke, Jr., Eric Berndt, lap 23, accident and Jamie Tomaino, lap 23 suspension failure.

In other Modified Mania action at Thompson, Matt Hirschman won the 75-lap main event for the Race of Champions. Todd Owen was declared the winner in a wild 75-lapper for the True Value Modified Racing Series (TVMRS). In weekly series action, Jimmy Blewett was the winner in the Sunoco Modifieds and R.J. Marcotte in the TIS Modifieds. Norm Wrenn was the winner in the visiting Pro-Four Modifieds.

Jimmy Blewett made it two in a row in the Sunoco Modified division. A single-file restart set up a five-lap dash to the checkers. With things unchanged in the running order for the top five, a battle for the sixth spot was brewing between Sylvester and Rocco. Sylvester came out on the top-side of the competition before the yellow flew again. With three laps to go, the third position was being hotly contested between Cravenho and Pitkat. After aggressive driving by both, Cravenho ended up in the outside wall. On the green-white-checker restart Blewett cruised to the victory over Marvin and Pitkat. Malone raced across the line in fourth followed by Josh Sylvester. After the event, Pitkat was penalized for his involvement in the incident with Cravenho. Malone was officially scored in third followed by Sylvester. Rocco rebounded from early race problems to complete the top five. Pitkat was placed last on the lead lap, which placed him in 15th spot in the final rundown.

Kerry Malone emerged as the new point leader in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malone led Todd Ceravolo, 478 to 466. Danny Cates slipped to third with 458. Jimmy Blewett was fourth wit 448 and Tom Cravenho was fifth with 422. Matt Hirschman proved to be the class of a star-studded Race of Champions Modified Tour. Hirschman went unchallenged to the checkers to score his fourth RoC win of the season. Blewett came home second ahead of Ryan Preece. Ted Christopher and Bill Pauch, Jr., rounded out the top-five.

Todd Owen scored his first True Value Modified Racing Series win in a controversial run to the checkers. Owen crossed the line in second but was awarded the victory on an official call. Coming down to take the checkered flag, contact between Christopher and Pinkham found Christopher spinning. Pinkham crossed the line first but he was called for over aggressive driving. The win was awarded to Owen. Holdridge and Malave joined Owen on the podium. Rowan Pennick and Jimmy Kuhn rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway kicked off its final month of NASCAR Racing for the 2008 season with a Whelen All-American Series feature event that saw Keith Rocco win the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco win the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews win the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Joey Ferrigno win the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Duane Provost win the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Rocco survived a several late caution periods to post his second feature win of the 2008 season and retake the SK Modified points lead from Ted Christopher with 2 races remaining. The lead changed hands several times in the early laps as Wade Mattesen led lap one and Corey Hutchings led the next two laps before Woody Pitkat moved to the lead on lap-4. Pitkat slowly began to pull away from the field, building nearly a full straightaway lead before a caution with 18 laps complete erased that margin. Pitkat held the lead until a restart on lap-32 when Frank Ruocco moved to the front. Rocco moved past Frank Ruocco on lap-33 to take the race lead. Several more caution periods followed, but Rocco was able to hold off Donny Travaglin and Doug Coby to take the win. Todd Owen finished fourth and Wade Mattesen rounded out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, it looked like property owner Terry Eames and track operator Jerry Robinson had kissed and made-up, legally, that is. The Hartford Courant reported on Tuesday, Sept 2 that Robinson made the bulk of the payments that he owed to the track ownership group, and also settled an outstanding property tax bill for the facility, during a court appearance New London. The ownership group filed suit against Robinson on Aug. 15 because of failure to pay about $45,000 in property taxes and also failure to meet scheduled rent payments.

Competition at the shoreline oval began with their Wacky Wednesday program. Ryan Morgan won the 30-lap Legends feature, while it was Billy Gerstch Jr. claiming the X-Modified 50-lap Summer Sizzler as presented by Prestige Properties. The program marked the final installment of the season for the popular mid-week series. Other feature winners were Greg Moran Sr. (Super-X Car), Curt D`Addario Sr. (X-Car), and Scott Foster (Outlaw Stocks).

Teenage Legends sensation Morgan passed early leader Glen Billings for the lead on lap-twenty, going on to snare his second in a row and his fourth feature victory of the season. Behind him a battle waged between 2008 Wednesday Legends champion Jason Palmer and Shaun Buffington. At the finish, Palmer narrowly edged-out Buffington to finish ahead of Max Zachem and Glen Billings.

Saturday night’s racing fell victim to tropical storm Hannah.

Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Kurt Busch finished 15th, was wrecked twice and David Ragan had numerous on-track miscues to eliminate himself from Chase contention in a race delayed a day because of Tropical Storm Hanna.

In the Nationwide Series race that followed, Carl Edwards passed Clint Bowyer with 28 laps to go then pulled away through three restarts to win for the fourth time this season. Scott Wimmer finished second in the Emerson 250, Bowyer third. Edwards climbed into second in the points race.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos from the Danny Pardi Collection, courtesy of the SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size


Billy Greco


Danny Galullo, Jr.


Chick Stockwell


John Rosati


George Alkas


Ray Miller

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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