Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1951 Wednesday night racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl rained out. On Saturday night at the shoreline oval Moe Gherzi made it two in a row in Modified competition. Dick Dombrowski was the claiming car winner. Al Pierce was the winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1956 Charlie Webster was the Wednesday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beauregard was the Saturday night winner. The non-Ford division was on strike. Ed “Dutch” Schaefer was the winner of the Midget main at Seekonk. Pete Frazee was the winner at Old Bridge in New Jersey.
Sixty years ago in 1961, twin 25 lap features were run on the dirt at Stafford Springs. Recording victories were Ted Stack and Ernie Gahan. Bill Slater was declared the winner at Norwood after Rene Charland was penalized for rough riding and placed last after a last lap incident. Charland with Slater on the outside, came off the fourth turn, side by side on the final lap. Charland attempted to move Slater up but the Connecticut driver held fast as the two made contact, sliding under the checkered flag. Gene Bergin ended up second with Leo Cleary, third. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Dick Beauregard went two for two as he won on both Wednesday and Saturday. Ed Moody went two for two as he won on both nights in the Bombers. Triple features were run at Seekonk with Dave Humphrey, Reino Tullonen and Bill Silvia recording the wins. At the Islip Speedway on Long Island, races were held again on Saturday and Tuesday. Taking the Saturday night was Japanese driver George Tet with Jim Hendrickson victorious on Tuesday.
Fifty five years ago in 1966, Andre Manny and Don MacTavish were co-winners at Catamount on Thursdat. Kenny Shoemaker took the Friday night win at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Hamilton, third. Frank Mahalia and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. The Fonda Speedway was closed for the town’s annual fair. Fred “Fuzzy” Baer scored the biggest win of his career as he won a 75 lap Championship Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. In other action at the shoreline oval, Glynn Shafer was winner in the Bombers and Lou Caso in the Daredevils. George Summers was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Bobby Santos took the win at Norwood. Bill Wimble was the Sunday night winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Charland was second with Flemke, third. Bernie Miller and Lou Lazzaro rounded out the top five.
Fifty years ago in 1971, Bugsy Stevens made a rare appearance at the Waterford Speedbowl and walked off with the top money as he won a 75 lap open competition event. Stevens in the Sonny Koszela Woodchopper started off the weekend with a win on Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY. Dave Lape finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Denis Giroux and Bernie Miller. Howie Brown was the NESMRA Supermodified winner at Thompson. Islip ran a 200 lap Championship event on Saturday night. Thirty cars started the 200 lap grind on the 1/5 mile oval and when the checker fell it was invader Fred DeSarro taking the win over Islip kingpin Jim Hendrickson. Charlie Jarzombek finished third with Bugsy Stevens and Al DeAngelo rounding out the top five. Moose Hewitt, driving the Freddy’s TV No.23 took the win at Stafford on Saturday night over Hop Harrington, Bobby Santos and Winston Barrows. Jiggs Beetham held off Bob Potter to take the win at Waterford. Angie Cerese finished third. Dave Lape, at that time in the top five in national points, took the win at Fonda on Saturday night. Jack Johnson finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. George Summers recorded his seventh win of the year at Seekonk. Trenton ran a big modified event on Sunday. Geoff Bodine with his outlaw Plymouth Valiant bodied modified took the win. Ronnie Bouchard, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 got to show his stuff as he finished a strong second. Richie Evans finished third and was followed by Mike Loescher, Jerry Cook, Jim Shampine, Chuck Boos, Cliff Tyler and Ray Miller. It rained at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night but not at Fulton where Bob Hudson took the win over Ronnie Wallace.
Forty five years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star league finished up their season at Thompson on Wednesday night. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Fred DeSarro and Kenny Bouchard. John Blewett JR took the top spot at New Egypt on Thursday night. Fred Harbach finished second with Tom McCann, third. Fred DeSarro wrapped up the track championship at Stafford in convincing style as he took the Saturday night win over Ray Miller and Geoff Bodine. Reggie Ruggiero won at Riverside Park..Bob Polverari finished second and wrapped up the track championship. At Westboro, Joe Howard took the win and Bob Santos wrapped up the track championship. Joe Tiezzi won a 50 lapper at Waterford. Don Dionne won a 50 lapper at Seekonk.
Forty years ago in 1981, Westboro ran an 81 lapper on Wednesday night with the Bouchard brothers, Ronnie and Kenny, finishing one-two. Friday night at Stafford saw the Modifieds go non-stop with Greg Sacks taking the win over Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Richie Evans. Ronnie Bouchard went “up country” to Monadnock on Friday where he out dueled Punky Caron for the win. Moose Hewitt was the big winner at Waterford on Saturday night as in addition to the feature win, wrapped up the track championship. At Seekonk, Leo Cleary took the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Mike Murphy. It was not a good night for George Summers who left the track in a lot of pain after hitting the wall during the main event. Islip ran a 200 lapper with Richie Evans taking the win over John Blewett Jr and Bill Park. Bill Griffin won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Shangri-La over Jerry Cook and George Kent and at Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero beat out Stan Gregger and Ray Miller. Ruggiero finished out the weekend in fine style as he took the Sunday night win at Thompson over Joe Howard and Mike Stefanik. At Danbury, Fred Drumm made it two in a row in the Sportsman division while Denis Pierce annexed the Modified win. Geoff Bodine had himself a good weekend in the southland as he won extra distance Busch Grandnational events at South Boston and Langley Field.
Thirty five years ago in 1986, Friday night at Stafford saw Mike McLaughlin take the top spot over Bugsy Stevens and Mike Stefanik. At Spencer, it was Jan Leaty taking the top spot. Bob Potter got a little closer to a championship for the Ceravolo family at Waterford as he took the top spot at Waterford on Saturday night. Rick Donnelly finished second with Bob Gada Jr, third. John Rosati was the winner of the Riverside 200 with Mike Stefanik and Bob Polverari in tow. Leo Cleary closed in on the track championship at Seekonk as he recorded his seventh win of the season at the cement palace. At Wall it was Tony Siscone over Jim Hendrickson. Thompson ran a 100 lapper on Sunday. Jim Spencer passed pole sitter Mike McLaughlin on the last lap to take the win. McLaughlin finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. In Winston Cup action at Bristol on Saturday night, Geoff Bodine was the Busch Pole sitter and Darrell Waltrip took the win.
Thirty years ago in 1991, Thompson announced on Friday that weekend events were cancelled because of wind damage from Hurricane Bob. Stafford escaped damage and ran on Friday night with Bo Gunning taking the win over Bob Potter and Steve Chowanski. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau in the Rich Sylvestri No.8 took the Modified win over Chris Jones and Bert Marvin. CJ Freye was the late model winner. Jerry Marquis in the Bobby Judkins 2x wrapped up his sixth track championship at Riverside Park with a win over Reggie Ruggiero and Dan Avery. Chris Young was the winner at Riverhead. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Loudon. Doug Hevron, driving Ole Blu for Len Boehler, took the lead from Jeff Fuller on the last lap and went on to take the win. Fuller finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Tom Baldwin, Reggie Ruggiero and Tim Connolly. One of the top finishers had to get out on bail after taking a poke at a State Cop the night before!
Twenty five years ago in 1996, Steve Park had one of the most important days of his racing life as he won pole positions at Watkins Glen for both the Featherlite Modified Tour and the Craftsman Truck Series. It was a few days later that Park got the infamous call from the man, himself; Dale Earnhardt Sr. Eric Berndt was the Waterford winner on Saturday night as he beat out Jeff Pearl, David Gada and Jerry Pearl. The Busch North Series visited Riverside Park. Bob Dragon took the win over Dave Dion and Mike Stefanik. Dave Berube was the Modified winner. Riverhead ran a 90 lap memorial event in honor of past champion Fred Harbach. Tim Contarino took the win over Chuck Steuer. Butch Miceka, a long time supporter of Modified racing on Long Island and Contarino’s uncle, passed away at the track after suffering a heart attack. In Featherlite Modified Tour action at Watkins Glen, Ted Christopher was well on his way to a win when a wheel broke causing him to spin and crash. The event was telecast live and fans got to see Christopher take a tumble off the fence after he had lost his balance. Mike Stefanik took the lead when Christopher dropped out on lap 35 of the 42 lap event. Jerry Marquis finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman and Reggie Ruggerio. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Rusty Wallace took the win. Jeff Fuller won his first Busch Grandnational event, beating out Glenn Jarrett.
Twenty years ago in 2001, Ted Christopher just beat the rain as he won his 10th feature of the year at Thompson on Thursday night. Kerry Malone finished second with Bert Marvin, Josh Steeves and Bill Anderson rounding out the top five. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik drew the pole and led the first 65 laps before pitting. Stefanik was hooked up and sliced his way to the front to re-take the lead from Tom Baldwin on lap 96. From there on, he never looked back as he clicked off the laps to take the win over Mike Ewanitsko, Jerry Marquis, Charlie Pasteryak, David Berghman and Baldwin. Jeff Malave was the SK-Modified winner. At Waterford, Eric Berndt recorded his fifth win at the shoreline oval. Jay Miller finished second with Ed Dachenhausen, John Brouwer and Harry Rheaume rounding out the top five. Riverhead Raceway, on Long Island, celebrated its 50th anniversary and 25th year under the Cromarty Family. Bill France and Jerry Cook represented NASCAR. John Fortin started 17th and fought his way to the front to take the win. J.R.Bertuccio finished second with Lenny Fischer, third. Matt Kobyluck qualified fourth in a Busch North Series event at Nazareth, went the distance without pitting and recorded his first win. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Tony Stewart took the win over Kevin Harvick. In the preliminary Busch Grandnational event, Harvick came from two laps down to take the win. Harvick moved his team mate Jeff Green out of the lead with eleven laps to go.
Fifteen years ago in 2006, The Whelen Modified Tour Series had the week off as they prepared for their trip to Martinsville.
Current point leader Mike Stefanik led the point standings. In ten starts, Stefanik had recorded nine top tens including one win. Sitting in second spot was series money leader Ted Christopher. With three wins in ten starts Christopher trailed Stefanik by 71 points. Defending series champion Tony Hirschman was 113 points behind the leader. In ten starts Hirschman had seven top tens including one win. Rounding out the top five were Ed Flemke JR and James Civali.
Woody Pitkat scored his third win of the year at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he took the top spot in the Sunoco Modified feature. Pitkat held off Todd Ceravolo, Tom Cravenho and Jeff Malave. Numerous wrecks and spins slowed the progress of the event. In the end only 10 of the original 27 starters were still running. Pitkats win put him in a tie for the track championship and NASCAR Regional standings with Malave. Paul Charette rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco was clearly the fastest in the early going. Although he ended up ninth the second-generation driver pretty much had his night turn sour after he lost it on a restart and was ping-ponged by much of the field. Jimmy Blewett, the previous weeks winner, was also collected in the Rocco crash.
Norm Wrenn who has had more than his share of bad luck won the Pro Stock feature. Corey Hutchings rebounded from a bad week to score the Late Model triumph. Danny Cates scored his third win of the season in the Limited Sportsman division, Tim Sullivan of scored his second in the TIS Modifieds, and Ron Rixham claimed win number one on the season in the Mini Stocks.
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway came very close to declaring another rainout on Friday as close to two inches of rain dumped on central Connecticut around noon. The Arute family remained patient and the skies cleared for another night of racing. Willie Hardie took his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Ryan Posocco took his second feature win of the season in the Late Model feature, and Andrew Durand was a winner for the third time this season in the Limited Late Model feature. There were two first time winners as Matt Gallo took the SK Light feature and Barry Fluckiger was the DARE Stock feature winner.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Willie Hardie picked up his first feature win of the 2006 season with a strong drive. Hardie took the lead from polesitter Lloyd Agor on a lap-3 restart, and he then had to hold off multiple strong challenges from Frank Ruocco on several restarts to take the win. Ruocco finished second, with Agor, Todd Owen, and Chris Jones rounding out the top-5. In the chase for the SK Modified championship, Ruocco took over the points lead from Jeff Malave, who blew a transmission on the opening lap. Malave finished dead last in the 24 car starting field.
Chris Pasteryak redeemed himself of a previous miscue at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night as he won the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Pasteryak, a second-generation driver, was in contention to win at the shoreline oval the previous week when he missed a shift on a restart. He more than made up for it on Saturday night. Pasteryak held off Rob Summers over the final 16 laps to take the victory. In doing so, he moved himself into second in the point race. Summers worked him over but to no avail as he tried high and low before settling for second. Point leader Dennis Gada finished second with Jeffrey Paul and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five.
Mark Bakaj set a track record with his sixth straight Legends victory. Bakaj rode the Legends feature win into the record book, equaling the six straight Saturday night victories of Ed Bunnell, the latter doing it in 1966 in the Bomber division. Other winners were Tim Jordan in the regularly scheduled Late Model 30 lapper; Glenn Colvin in the continuation of the Aug. 19th Late Model feature; Joe Bertholet in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Dave Sylvia in the Mini Stock 20 lapper.
Ten years ago in 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took a week off before heading south to the Bristol Motor Speedway. Kevin Rice reported in trade publication Area Auto Racing News that 2008 series champion Ted Christopher and car owner Ed Whelan had split following a dismal finish at Loudon. Evidently there had been a lot of friction between Christopher and crew chief Brad Lafountaine. It all boiled over after Christopher dropped at the recent Loudon event with rear end problems in the car. The bickering and hard feelings got so bad that Whelan just pulled the plug and parked the car. He split with his Sunoco Modified car owner at the Thompson Speedway earlier this year citing car and motor preparation were not up to his standards. Woody Pitkat took over the ride and became an instant winner. Christopher did not secure another ride at Thompson
Based on what crew chief Brad Lafountain stated at Thompson it was just “Teddy being Teddy” “The broken u-joint was a result of Christopher running over something on the track” stated the noted crew chief. “There is a crease in the bell housing and in the transmission case as a result of something he ran over on the track” he added.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Mike Stefanik triumphed over the competition and Thompson International Speedway beat the weather for an action-packed night of racing action. With weather and Ryan Preece bearing down, Stefanik of Coventry, RI, was flawless to score the victory in the Tour-Type Modified Special. Stefanik had to hold off another Thompson winner to visit victory lane. Preece jumped out of his winning Sunoco Modified to run second to Stefanik in the event. The Sunoco Modified victory earlier in the evening was Preece’s third at Thompson in 2011.
In other racing action, Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, handily took the win in the Super Late Models. Chris Douton of Waterford, CT, extended his point lead with a Limited Sportsman victory. Glenn Boss of Danielson, CT, continued his hot-streak in the TIS Modifieds with a division-leading five victories. Another point leader, Danny Field, also tacked on points with his victory in the Mini Stocks.
The ten cars on hand for the Sunoco Modified feature provided quite a bit of excitement. Joe Allegro started on the pole and jumped out to lead at the drop of the green. Shortly after Allegro completed the first lap Danny Cates shot by in turn two. Allegro faded as Woody Pitkat moved in on Cates’ bumper on lap two. Keith Rocco, who was waiting in the wings, took the lead on lap 5 with Cates and Pitkat in tow. By lap 20 Ryan Preece moved into contention as he raced side by side with Rocco. On lap 22 Preece dive bombed into turn one, brushed Rocco who spun. Said Preece, “I didn’t mean to hit him, the car lost foreward bite and got away from me”. Evidently Rocco was also having mechanical problems as he pitted and then retired after taking a couple of laps. Preece went on to take the win over Cates, Pitkat and Allegro.
The open competition Tour Type event drew 20 cars. Mike Stefanik took the lead after a spirited battle with Ryan Preece. Stefanik took the lead on a restart on lap 20 of the 40 lap contest. Preece ended up second with Kenny Barry, third. Tom Bolles and Steven Reed rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway headlined its second division and Woody Pitkat was the big winner of the night, capturing the Late Model 100 checkered flag for his third win of the 2011 season. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature racing action, Keith Rocco scored his 8th win of the 2011 season in the SK Modified® feature, Kyle Spencer picked up his first career win in a spectacular finish in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr. picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood scored his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Rocco and Ryan Preece played a game of cat and mouse until the final lap of the 40 lapper. Coming off the fourth corner on the final lap Rocco got the edge as he beat Preece to the finish line for his23rd win in 46 starts at Connecticut tracks in 2011. Preece finished second, with Eric Berndt right behind him in third. Dave Gervais finished fourth with Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.
At the Waterford Speedbowl, Glenn Pressel III scored his second career victory in the SK Modifieds®, Rich Staskowski picked up his second win of the year in the Bob Valenti
Auto Mall Late Models and Josh Galvin won for the third time in the Street Stocks. A popular win went to rookie Garrett Denton as the teenager won his first career feature event in the Mini Stocks. Rounding out the winners were Paul French who won his third SK Light Modified race of the year and Paul Kusheba who took the victory in the night’s Legends Cars feature.
Pressel started on the outside pole and led the entire 35 lap distance. Rob Janovic and Jeff Pearl finished second and third, while Keith Rocco rallied back to fourth position after an early race spin. Doug Coby beat out Tyler Chadwick in the final laps for fifth.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Seekonk Speedway for a 100 lapper on Saturday night. The event, which drew 19 cars was won by Les Hinkley who took the lead from Dwight Jarvis on lap 79. Jarvis finished second and was followed by Chris Pasteryak, Joey Jarvis and Norm Wrenn. Sixth through tenth were Mike Holdridge, Jimmy Kuhn, Jr., Joe Doucette, Jack Bateman and Rowan Pennink.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, John Fortin returned to victory lane for the second time this year, with a Modified win and closed the gap on points leader Justin Bonsignore.
The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC wrapped up it’s season with the Carolina Farm Credit 150. Jonathan Brown won the battle as Burt Myers played it smart and won the Modified Track Championship, his second straight and fifth overall, after finishing 12th.
Kyle Busch won his 23rd race on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit, pulling even with brother Kurt in career victories. Marcos Ambrose a victory and finally paid up. Marcos Ambrose took the lead on a restart with nine laps to go and held off crowd favorite Alex Tagliani to take the checkered flag in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 in Canada.
Special Happy Birthday wishes went out to Mrs. Irene Venditti who had turned 92. Considered by many as the First Lady of Auto Racing, Mrs Venditti and her late husband, D.Anthony Venditti had operated the Seekonk Speedway since 1946.
NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Billy Harman stated that former driver Dick Caso was still in very serious condition as a result of being run over while riding a moped. Harman stated that he was in an induced coma as a result to relieve brain swelling from a scull fracture. In addition to head injuries the former driver suffered a broken foot and broken ribs.
On a sad note, Jim Costello, former race starter and partner of Walt Faulkner passed away at the age of 91. He was co-founder, secretary and treasurer of the New England Sports Association as well as Atlantic Auto Racing. Costello and Faulkner along with Bill Welch and John Falconi Sr promoted the Thompson Speedway in the early 1960’s as well as the Westboro Speedway. Costello was also a Rhode Island State Senator. While in the State Senate Jim also served on the Finance Committee, the Corporations Committee and the Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. While finding time for all those public activities, he was also owner and president of Warwick Ford on Post Road in Warwick, RI where he was president for 20 years from 1958 to 1978.
Five years ago in 2016, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the high banks at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee Combined with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the event drew 37 cars. Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT in the 15-40 Construction Chevrolet set fast time this afternoon earning his 11th career NWMT Coors Light Pole award, his first here at Bristol Motor Speedway. The time of 14.425 seconds around the high banked, half mile oval becomes the new NWMT track record, besting the time set by Woody Pitkat on August 19, 2015 of 14.654 seconds.
The event started under shaky weather conditions and was eventually red flagged after 55 laps because of rain and TV time for the Camping World Trucks. Up until that point the event had been a battle between Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore. During the rain delay and the truck event it was announced that the event would be shortened to 100 laps.
Based on the final results one would have to consider Eric Goodale a “Night Owl”. The race resumed at about 11:20pm with 60 laps completed when the field went green. Goodale passed Todd Szegedy for the lead on lap 71 and led until he momentarily lost it to Szegedy on lap 83. A race ending Green-White-Checker at ten minutes to midnight saw Goodale outgun Szegedy to sprint home with the victory. Szegedy hung on to finish second with Donny Lia, third. Patrick Emerling and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos, Ron Silk, Kyle Ebersole and Jeff Goodale.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with Xtra Mart Convenience Stores Xtra D feature events for the SK Lights and DARE Stocks were run as part of Call Before You Dig 811 Night. Taking down Xtra D wins were Joey Ferrigno in the SK Light feature and Dan Dembek in the DARE Stock feature while Eric Berndt won the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn won the Late Model feature, Paul Arute won the Limited Late Model feature, and Noah Korner won the Legend Cars feature.
In the SK Modified 40 lapper, with 10 laps to go, Mike Christopher, Jr. was tracking down Eric Berndt for the lead while Ron Williams, Dan Avery, and Todd Owen were in the top-5. The caution came out with 35 laps complete for spins in turn 3 by Cam McDermott and Bob Charland to set up a 5-lap dash to the finish.
Berndt took the lead with Williams pulling alongside Christopher, Jr. for second. Williams took second with avery now challenging Christopher, Jr. for third with 3 laps to go. Berndt led Williams to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2016 season with Avery, Christopher, Jr., and Owen rounding out the top-5. Thirteen of the original 22 starters were running at the finish. A huge wreck following a restart on lap 8 eliminated many of the top runners.
The New London-Waterford Speedbowl presented another exciting night of auto racing. Keith Rocco continued to build on his legend as he won two of the three events he entered. Rocco got his sixth SK Modified NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature win of the season in the second 35-lap feature of the night for the division and got his third consecutive Late Model victory and sixth overall in 2016 at the shoreline oval. Rocco’s wins bring his track win total to 132 wins. The wins also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 230 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 42 at Stafford Speedway.
Tyler Chadwick got his third victory of the season in the first 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature which was left over from an early season rain-out. Chadwick went pole to pole. Joe Gada finished second with Todd Owen, Somers, third. Rounding out the top five was Dennis Perry and Rocco. Rocco won the second SK Modified feature of the night after taking the lead shortly before the half-way mark. Tom Abele Jr ended up second with Matt Galko, third. Tyler Chadwick and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five.
In other racing at the speedbowl, Cory DiMatteo won the SK Light Modified feature, Chris Meyer scored victory in the Limited Sportsman feature and Charles Canfield won the Mini Stock feature.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island they could have run swamp buggies as the entire track was flooded by a surprise mid-afternoon storm.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series stopped at the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday and raced in front of a full house of fans. Veteran New Hampshire racer Todd Patnode, of Swanzey, rolled to his first series win of the year, and his second Swanzey Oil sponsored ‘Victor Johnson Memorial 100’ victory in three years. Patnode chased early race leader Russ Hersey, also of Swanzey, before taking the lead on lap-71. Hersey jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag and set a torrid pace until the first of 9-caution flags on lap-67 would change the race dramatically for half of the 24-car starting field.
Drivers caught up in race accidents but able to return to competition, worked their way to respectable finishes. Richard Savary, of Canton, MA, finished runner-up. Ironically, Donnie Lashua, of Canaan, NH, and Chris Pasteryak, of Jewett City, CT, came together, pitted, rejoined the field, and raced to a solid third,
In action at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in North Carolina, Burt Myers only had to finish in the top 18 to clinch his seventh Modified title. He finished fourth in the season ending 150 lapper. Brandon Ward was the race winner with Jason Myers, second. Tim Brown finished third.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Kevin Harvick had to wait a day, but made the wait worth it as he cruised to victory in Sunday’s rain delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Austin Dillon came out of nowhere to win at Bristol in Friday night’s Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
Last year, 2020, The Stafford Speedway continued their Weekly Racing action on Friday with Open Modified cars in the house for the Lincoln Tech Open Mod 80 as an added attraction. Todd Owen took down his first win of 2020 in the SK Modified® feature, Darrell Keane was a first time 2020 winner in the Late Model feature, Alexander Pearl came from a 13th starting spot and scored his second 2020 win in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn was a first time 2020 winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Jason Lafayette won for the second time this season in the Street Stock feature. Ronnie Williams took the lead from Jon McKennedy with 6 laps to go and went on to win the Lincoln Tech Open Mod 80, his second career open modified win at Stafford.
Owen, who started 14th in the 40lap SK Modified event took the lead on the restart following a lap 15 caution with Tony Membrino slotting into second. Mikey Flynn was third with Andrew Molleur right on his back bumper in fourth and Keith Rocco was fifth. Molleur went by Flynn to take third place on lap-17 and Rocco would get by Flynn to move into fourth on lap-21 as Owen continued to hold the race lead with Membrino in second. The caution came back out with 22 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Vassar. Michael Christopher, Jr. was sent to the rear of the field for making contact with Vassar.
Owen again took command of the race back under green with Molleur taking second. Membrino was third followed by Rocco and Chase Dowling. Marcello Rufrano did a half-spin and came to a stop on the backstretch to bring the caution back out with 25 laps complete.
With 3 laps to go, Owen and Molleur were the top-2 cars followed by Membrino, Rocco, Williams, and Dowling. Rocco finally was able to make a pass stick on Membrino to move into third on lap-38. Owen led Molleur to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2020 season. Rocco finished third with Williams nipping Membrino at the line to finish fourth.
In the Lincoln Tech Open Mod 80 Jon McKennedy took the lead back under green following a restart on lap 66 with Rocco glued to his back bumper. Ron Williams got around Keith Rocco to take second on lap-68 and he took the lead from McKennedy on lap-69 but McKennedy came right back with a crossover move and he maintained the lead. Rocco was third in line with Ryan Preece fourth and Matt Galko in fifth.
McKennedy threw a block on Williams on lap-75 but Williams somehow found a way to squeeze to the inside of McKennedy in turn 3 to take the lead. There would be no crossover move from McKennedy this time as he settled into second. Rocco was still third with Preece and Galko making up the top-5. Williams led McKennedy to the checkered flag to win the Lincoln Tech Open 80. Rocco finished third with Preece and Galko rounding out the top-5.
The entire Friday night program was live streamed from Stafford. “Stafford Speedway TV has been a great success so far,” explained Paul Arute of Stafford Speedway. “The payout pool for the race teams has already surpassed $10,000 through the first 8 events. Our team has been continuing to improve the broadcast each week through the addition of a scoring ticket, lap counter, and even some original content to keep the viewer entertained during caution periods. We hope everyone is enjoying the service and continues to tune in.”
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ventured to the Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania for round 4 of the 2020 season. Twenty-five cars showed for the event. Justin Bonsignore was the pole sitter. Bonsignore led from the start in what looked to be a yawner. At the half way mark he was out for a Sunday drive on Saturday night. Dave Sapienza who was second fastest was seven seconds back with Craig Lutz, who started fifth, was running third. A caution on lap 88 for debris closed up the lead but Bonsignore retained the top spot after a pit stop. Jon McKennedy restarted in third with Lutz and Doug Coby in hot pursuit.
A hard crash by Andrew Krause who hit the wall a ton on lap 104 set the stage for a shake-up in the running order. Following a restart on lap 111 Craig Lutz vaulted into the lead when Bonsignore appeared to spin his tires. As Bonsignore faded Sapienza moved into the runner-up spot. Lutz and Sapienza slugged it out for the top spot, making contact on a few occasions. Sapienza brushed the wall a couple of times but it didn’t slow him down. Anthony Nocella slipped by Doug Coby for the third spot on lap 135.
At the finish it was Lutz taking the top spot with Sapienza, second and Nocella, third. Coby and Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth wereMcKennedy, Matt Swanson, Tyler Rypkema, Kyle Ebersole and Chris Pasteryak.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl two drivers were able to end their seven-year itch during competition Saturday at the Speedbowl and were able to scratch the surface of victory lane. Third generation driver Joe Gada dominated the 35-lap SK Modified feature and posted his first win since 2013. The same script was true in the 25-lap SK Lite feature, Nicole Thibeault controlled the race to grab her second career victory and her first since 2013.
Other winners were Doug Curry in the Ministocks, Shawn Monahan in the Sportsman, Jason Palmer in the Late Models, Giovanni Ruggiero in the Legends and Colby Lambert in the Open Street Stocks.
Gada started third in the SK feature, but quickly moved into the lead when the two drivers in the front row, Paul Buzel and Rob Janovic Jr. drifted up high, opening up the entire inside of the track for Gada to stomp to the front. Janovic quickly moved into second place and was perched on the back bumper of Gada, but as the race went on, Gada expanded his lead. Kyle James moved into third, but couldn’t generate a serious challenge to Janovic in second place. Corey DiMatteo picked up the most positions, starting eighth and finishing fourth.
Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway the emotions flowed as second generation driver Chris Young held off a hard pressing 58-time career winner Tom Rogers Jr. of to earn his first career victory. As he took his victory lap Chris admitted the tears welled up thinking about his late father Chris a 33-time winner at the demanding quarter mile oval but also realized it was the work ethic instilled into him by his parents that brought him to this point including building his own engine in the winning machine. The night would belong to first time winners with four of the seven victors enjoying their first career victory.
It appeared that the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS), officials have made things right at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Speedway as they released the purse structure for all local divisions which will be part of the Thompson 150 on Wednesday, September 2. The locals will race for nearly $24,000 in combined posted awards on a card that also includes the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds will have a 30-lap, $1,500-to-win feature Second place receives $900 with a $600 prize for the third-place finisher. Every racer who takes the green flag will collect a minimum of $200 with more than $8,500 in total awards for a 24-car starting field.
Previously under the management of the Hoenig family local division races had less of a sub-par racing purse which was an insult to competitors.
It looked like weekly racing and some special events at the Seekonk Speedway would not happen plus professional football and Major League Baseball in Massachusetts Boston sports will continue on without fans at least the end of September. State officials informed teams and the management of the Seekonk Speedway last week, ensuring a quiet start to the New England Patriots season at Gillette Stadium and dashing hopes that Red Sox fans could cheer from inside Fenway Park this year. The Seekonk Speedway does not have pay-per-view in place and simply can not afford to hold races without fans in the grandstands.
Pro Football and Major League Baseball are heavily funded by Television sponsors. That means the Patriots will be greeted by empty seats at their scheduled home opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13 and a Sept. 27 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Red Sox season ends on Sept. 27.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had already nixed fans sitting in stadiums until the state reaches the fourth and final phase of its reopening from coronavirus shutdowns, a phase he has said won’t start until a vaccine or widespread treatment is available.
At an eerily empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Takuma Sato snatched a second Indianapolis 500 victory in an odd and unsatisfying finish to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”Sato held off Scott Dixon and won under caution after teammate Spencer Pigot crashed with five laps remaining in Sunday’s race, run in front of empty grandstands for the first time in 104 runnings because of the pandemic.
The weekend saw the Launch of the book, The Modified Years at the Stafford Motor Speedway, 1967 -1986 By the Grace of God and 600 Horsepower by yours truly, Phil Smith.
In what was a labor of love for close to ten years I have documented what many consider the Golden Years of Modified Racing at Stafford. Year by Year, race by race. Each chapter is devoted to each year. Topping out at 240 pages, the book documents what ABC Sports often said, “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat. A multitude of personalities including drivers, owners, officials and management are a vital part of the book. Most important is the fact that Jack and Chuck Arute stepped up when the track was in dire straights and faced extinction. Jack Arute was the co-owner of the Garutti-Arute No.14 Modifieds that was one of the top modifieds at the time. Arute was also responsible for the upgrade of the general appearance of the Modifieds. The book can be purchased for $17.95 thru Amazon.com