Sixty years ago in 1953, Fred
Luchesi took the top spot in the final Saturday night Sportsman
event that was run at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Tom
VanEpps was the non-Ford winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1958,
rain washed out all racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Fifty years ago in 1963, the
Speedbowl was again awash.
Forty five years ago in 1968,
Fred DeSarro won the season ender at the Norwood Arena. Leo Cleary,
driving for Joe Brady sewed up the track championship. Little did
anyone know there would only be one more year of open wheeled
modified competition at the famed Massachusetts oval. Daring Dick
Caso dazzled the troops at the New London Waterford Speedbowl where
he won the 36 lap Modified feature. Matt Tinker was the Daredevil
winner. At Thompson, on Sunday, Don MacTavish took the feature win.
The Thompson win ended up being his last, as he would lose his life
in Daytona during the Permatex 300.
Forty years ago, in 1973, the
annual Race of Champions was run at Trenton on the mile and a half
kidney shaped speedway. Richie Evans took the win and was followed
by Eddie Flemke and Roger Treichler. It was also on this day that a
then unknown driver by the name of Brian Ross got a big break. Dick
Armstrong had brought two Modifieds to Trenton. Ray Hendrick drove
one of them and Fred DeSarro convinced Armstrong to put Ross in the
seat. Ross put on quite a show and was running in the top ten when
he was called in for a driver change as Hendrick had lost an engine.
Armstrong should have left well enough alone because shortly after,
Hendrick blew up the engine in the other car too. Ross, none the
less, got to show his stuff and went on to become one of the top
drivers in the modified division. Waterford ran on Saturday night
with Dick Dunn taking the Modified win. Big Mike Daignault was the
Late Model Grand American winner. Dunn wrapped up his second of four
in a row Modified Championships that he earned driving for Al
Thirty-five years ago this week, in 1978,
New England had one of its darkest racing days as popular Fred
DeSarro went over the third turn bank at Thompson and suffered what
would end up being fatal injuries. DeSarro was warming up the Len
Boehler No.3 when, for no reason, went out of the track. Kenny
Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens were first on the scene and assisted
rescue crews. DeSarro was taken to the Rhode Island Hospital where
he laid in a coma for a month before passing away. The races at
Thompson went on and Bouchard, who had torn the roof off of DeSarros'
car earlier in the day, took the win with a heavy heart. Ray Miller
finished second and was followed by George Summers. At Monadnock on
the same afternoon, Geoff Bodine took a 100-lap win over Reggie
Ruggiero, Punky Caron, Bob Karvonen and Allen Whipple.
Thirty years ago in 1983, the Oswego Speedway ran their season
ending 35 lap-modified event. Reggie Ruggiero took the win over
George Kent, Richie Evans and Doug Hewitt. At Waterford, Bob Potter
won the season finale. Glynn Shafer finished second with Don Bunnell,
third. Brian McCarthy was the late model winner. Alan Johnson won
the DIRT Syracuse 200.In Winston Cup action at Charlotte; Tim
Richmond took the Busch Pole with Benny Parsons on the outside.
Richard Petty took the win. A post race inspection revealed that
Petty's engine was illegal and his tires were also illegal. Petty
was not stripped of the win but was fined $35,000.
Twenty-Five years ago in 1988,
Ricky Fuller, driving the Bob Sterns U2 scored his first Modified
Tour Series win as he won the modified portion of the annual World
Series at Thompson. Fuller took the lead from Tom Bolles on a lap 26
restart and paced the field for the remainder of the 50-lap contest.
Bolles finished second and was followed by Brian Ross, Mike
Mclaughlin, Jeff Fuller and Doug Hevron. Bob Potter was the winner
of the companion SK modified event.
Twenty years ago in 1993, Jeff
Fuller was the Thompson World Series winner. Fuller took the lead
from Jan Leaty on lap 45 and held it until pitting on lap 62 for
tires and fuel. Fuller was first out of the pits and led the rest of
the125 lap distance. Mike Stefanik started dead last in the 32-car
field and finished second. Satch Worley finished third and was
followed by Leaty, Jamie Tomaino, Ricky Fuller and Tony Ferrente.
Lloyd Agor took the checker in the SK modified 30 lapper but was
disqualified due to illegal heads. Tom Tagg got the win with Richie
Gallup, second. Brett Hearne won the Syracuse 200 and in Winston Cup
action at Charlotte, Ernie Irvan cleaned house.
Fifteen years ago, in 1998, the
Thompson World Series and the D.Anthony Venditti Memorial at Seekonk
were rained out. Despite rain, the DIRT organization got their
Syracuse 300 in the record books. Billy Decker took the $50,000 win.
Ten years ago in 2003, the
NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series Fall Final was supposed to
go off on Saturday afternoon but rain interrupted the event at the
completion of the preliminary late model event, which forced NASCAR
and the Speedway management to use Sunday as a rain date. This
created a confliction with the Waterford Fall Finale but because of
the coming weeks schedule, NASCAR had little choice. The PASS event
scheduled for Thompson on Saturday was also rained out and
re-scheduled for Sunday. Three tracks within 50 miles of each other
held races on Sunday. All three had poor crowds. It wasn’t meant to
be that way but the New England weather has a nasty habit of letting
it rain at the wrong time. Plus the fact the tracks were competing
against the Winston Cup on TV, NFL Football and the baseball
playoffs. Jerry Marquis won the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Fall
Final 150 at Stafford. Marquis, who started deep in the field,
passed Tony Hirshman when he went high following a restart on lap
134. Hirschman had attempted to go the distance non-stop without a
change of tires. Marquis pitted and had fresher tires. Hirschman
held on to finish second and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Chris
Kopec, Nevin George and John Blewett III. Mike Johnson was the Busch
North Series winner. Jerry McCarthy finished second with Andy
Santerre, third. Ed Flemke Jr., Ricky Fuller, Ted Christopher and
Mike Stefanik rounded out the top ten in the Modified 150. Todd
Szegedy, despite having motor problems and finishing 17th, continued
to lead the point standings by 36 points over Chuck Hossfeld. John
Blewett III sat in third, ten points behind Hossfeld. The Stafford
Speedway was able to get in their Late Model portion of the Fall
Final before the rains came on Saturday. Tom Butler won his first
feature in four years as he beat out Woody Pitkat for the win. Ryan
Posocco started 12th and finished fourth. Ted Christopher, who ran
in all three events, took his sixth win of the year when he won the
SK-Modified event. Todd Szegedy finished second. Second generation
driver Kerry Malone finished seventh and wrapped up the 2003 SK
Modified Championship. At the Waterford Speedbowl on Sunday Dennis
Gada took the lead from Jeff Pearl following a restart and went on
to record the win and the track championship, his fifth in a row. It
all came down to a restart with two laps to go when Ron Yuhas and
Gada made contact. Gada almost went into the fence but somehow held
on. Ted Christopher, who arrived from Stafford just as the cars were
called to post, finished third. It was Gada’s 42nd win in 120 starts
over the last six years. Other Sunday winners at Waterford were
Chris Burton in the Mini Stocks, Chuck Rogers in the Sportsman, Bob
Santos III in the NEMA Midgets and Mark StHillaire in the Late
Models. The Elmira New York Savings and Loan started foreclosure
action that could lead to the auction of the Chemung Speedrome as
property owner and speedway promoter Bob Stapleton was two years
behind in his payments. In Winston Cup action at Kansas City Ryan
Newman scored his eighth win.
Last year, 2012, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the
annual Fall Final. Rain dampened all activities at the track on
Friday as competitors set up shop for the weekend. Twenty six
Modifieds signed in to compete on Saturday. Ron Silk and Bryan Chew
had a NASCAR "spec" motor in their cars. Jimmy Blewett won the Coors
Light Pole Award on Saturday.
Among the announcements made to competitors was that in 2013 all the
Mod tour seats are going to have to be SFI approved which will
ultimately weed some cars out. Just what the car owners need, spend
Bobby Santos waited until the end to make his move and then powered
past Woody Pitkat to win the CARQUEST Fall Final Sunday at Stafford
Motor Speedway. Santos also beat the rain which came shortly after
the checker flew. Santos, who started on the outside pole saved the
best for last as he took the lead from Pitkat with four laps to go
in the 150 lap contest. Pitkat led a race-high 128 laps at his
hometown track. The Stafford driver had a cushion of over a second
late in the race before Santos cleared lapped traffic and tracked
him down. Santos wound up winning by .644 seconds. Pitkat's car
suffered power steering problems which made it difficult to steer.
Jimmy Blewett finished third. Blewett pitted early for tires but the
strategy backfired when the race ran 93 laps under green. Neither
Santos nor Pitkat pitted.
Ron Silk and Ryan Preece finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mike Stefanik was sixth, followed by Donny Lia, Bryon Chew, Doug
Coby and Matt Hirschman. also on the lead lap at the finish was
Justin Bonsignore, Ron Yuhas, Jr, Eric Beers, Richie Pallai,, Jr.,
Rowan Pennink, Jamie Tomaino and Eric Goodale. One lap down and
rounding out the top 20 were Ed Flemke, Jr., Tommy Barrett, Jr., and
Among those who had problems and failed to finish was Keith Rocco
who finished dead last in 26th spot as a result of engine trouble on
Blewett took the lead at the drop of the green but his time on the
point was short as Ronnie Silk took over the top spot shortly before
completing three laps. Silk led thru lap 16 before giving way to
Pitkat. Pitkat was clearly the class of the field in his Hillbilly
Racing entry as he led thru lap 144 when he couldn't hold on any
longer with a car that steered like a truck.
In other action at Stafford Eric Berndt took the checkered flag in
the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, while Ted Christopher clinched his
8th career SK Modified® track championship. Mark St. Hilaire came up
as the winner of the 30-lap Late Model feature with a dramatic last
lap pass and Woody Pitkat clinched the championship even though he
was caught up in a first lap crash that saw him finish 20th.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Kyle Spencer led the field to
the green, but he spun in turn 2 and the cars of Curt Brainard, Mike
King, and Raymond Grassetti were also involved to bring the caution
out before a lap could be completed. Glen Reen took the lead on the
restart with Brian Sullivan and Tom Bolles side by side for second.
Keith Rocco was in fourth, just in front of a side-by-side battle
between Dan Avery and Danny Cates. Rocco made a move to the inside
of Bolles to take over third place on lap-4 while Reen continued to
hold the lead ahead of Sullivan. Rocco continued his charge to the
front as he moved under Sullivan on lap-5 to take over second. Dylan
Kopec hit the turn 3 wall to bring the yellow out with 5 laps
Reen and Rocco were side by side for a lap and a half on the restart
before Reen got clear into the lead. Michael Gervais, Jr. spun in
turns 3+4 to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete. Rocco
charged by Reen on the restart to take over the race lead, but Dan
Avery, Todd Owen, and Tommy Membrino, Jr. piled into one another
against the frontstretch wall to bring the caution back out and put
Reen back in front for the restart. Reen took the lead with Rocco
settling into second behind him. Sullivan and Cates washed up the
track in turn 2 on lap-8, which allowed Ryan Preece to charge his
way by both cars and move into third place. Just as Preece made his
move, Rowan Pennink spun to bring the caution back out and negate
the pass. Reen took the lead on the restart with Cates pulling
alongside Rocco in a fight for second place. Eric Berndt was fourth,
with Preece and Sullivan side by side for fifth place. Cates took
the lead from Reen in turn 4 on lap-12 and Rocco moved into second,
dropping Reen from the lead back to third. Reen continued to slide
backwards as Berndt and then Preece worked their way by, dropping
Reen back to fifth place on lap-15. The caution came out with 17
laps complete as Rocco made contact with Cates on the backstretch
while making a move to the inside of Cates that shot Cates into the
wall and brought the caution out. Rocco was sent to the rear of the
field for the contact with Cates, putting Berndt and Preece on the
front row for the restart. Berndt and Preece were side by side for
two laps before Preece fell into line behind Berndt, with Reen, Matt
Galko, Sullivan, and Joey Cipriano lined up behind them. Spencer
made contact with Tom Bolles on lap-22, but both cars were able to
continue and Spencer was given a drive through penalty for the
contact with Bolles.
Preece was beginning to search for a groove that would give him a
run to make a pass on Berndt for the lead, but Berndt was able to
maintain the lead. Reen was third behind Preece, with several car
lengths back to Galko, Sullivan, Ted Christopher, and Sean Foster
with 25 laps complete. Christopher pulled alongside Sullivan on
lap-30 and he made the pass for fifth place. Foster followed in
Christopher’s tire tracks as he was also able to get by Sullivan
while Berndt continued to lead Preece and Reen.
Preece was shown the black flag on lap-31 for leaking fluid out of
his car, which moved Reen into second behind Berndt. Galko was
third, with Christopher and Foster behind him. Tom Bolles spun
coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete
and set up a four lap sprint to the finish.
On the restart, Pennink spun on the frontstretch and Heather
DesRochers went through the infield grass to bring the yellow back
out. Reen was nose to nose with Berndt for a lap on the restart
before he fell into line behind Berndt. Galko was third, but the
caution came out again with 39 laps complete as Sean Foster spun
while running in fourth place, setting up a green white checkered
Berndt took the lead on the restart ahead of Reen and Galko, but
Christopher spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out. Berndt
and Reen were side by side with Berndt getting the lead by a car
length at the white flag. Berndt led the field back to the checkered
flag as Ruocco got around Reen for second on the final lap. Sullivan
finished fourth, with Rocco finishing in the fifth position.
Christopher recovered from his spin to finish 13th, which was enough
to give him his 8th career SK Modified® track championship at
Reen was disqualified from this third place finishing position for
violating the track’s rules concerning cylinder heads. A release
from the track cited rule 20E-5.6 of the 2012 NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series SK Modified rulebook stating: “Cylinder Heads
(All other head modifications ARE NOT ALLOWED including but not
limited to: porting, polishing or ANY grinding in ports or
combustion chambers, chemical milling, glass beading or removal of
any flashing or casting marks.).” The violation was discovered in a
post-race inspection after Sunday’s event.
In an unrelated matter, Jimmy Milo, longtime senior manager in
charge of safety at Stafford Speedway, confirmed that he resigned
his position at the track. Milo said he is planning on relocating.
In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl track management
was forced to cancel its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing
program that was scheduled. A lingering light rain and drizzle
persisted over the speedway for several hours, preventing track
drying efforts from successfully occurring.
In NASCAR Nationwide Series action at Dover De. Joey Logano led 184
of the 200 laps and raced to his series-leading seventh victory of
the season. He won for the 16th time in 105 career Nationwide starts
and moved into a tie for 16th on the series' career victory list.
Brad Keselowski held off a late push from runner-up Jeff Gordon on
Sunday to win the Sprint Cup race at the Deleware track.
The racing community lost a true legend on Wednesday, Sept 26, when
Bob Newton, the founder of Hoosier Racing Tire, died at the age of
84. Hoosier Racing Tire is the largest racing tire manufacturer in
the world. Newton’s vision to create a company specifically to build
racing tires was a radical one, but the company has become
synonymous with auto racing.
Two days later on Friday, Sept 28, legendary motorsports journalist
Chris Economacki died. Known as “The Dean of Motorsports
Journalism”, Economacki was 91 years old. Economacki, a Brookyln,
N.Y. native began selling copies of National Speed Sport News at age
13 and later became the editor of the publication. Economacki's
“Editor’s Notebook” was must read material within motorsports.
Noted and highly respected auto racing writer and columnist Gary
London had been involved with Economacki for 49 years and had this
to say. "The loss of Chris Economaki hurts both personally and
professionally, I don’t think I have to say too much regarding the
influence National Speed Sport News had on auto racing". He added,
"For many years our sport was ignored by daily newspapers, It had no
voice. Chris came along and NSSN was a big factor to elevating our
sport to a more significant status, He was a tireless worker from
the days as a teenager when he was selling National Auto Racing
News, the precursor to NSSN, to becoming the editor and publisher".
This week are several vintage racing
photos from the collection of the late Danny Pardi, courtesy
of SpeedwayLineReport.com & RacingThroughTime.com.
Click on Photo for Full Size
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes
at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: