RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Fourth Week Of August
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946, rain washed out the racing at Seekonk.
Seventy years ago in 1951 Moe Gherzi made it three in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 25 lap Modified feature on Wednesday night. Dick Dixon was the Claiming Car winner. Red Bolduc was the Saturday night Modified winner. Dave Humphrey was the Modified winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1956, Wild Bill Slater in the Baldy Simonds No.11 scored the Wednesday night Modified win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Don Collins was the Saturday night winner at the shoreline oval. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. Able Alves was the Novice winner at Seekonk. Bob McCarthy scored double wins at Old Bridge
Sixty years ago in 1961 Ernie Gahan was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. At Norwood, Red Foote beat out Rene Charland to win the Minuteman 400. Ernie Gahan finished third with Eddie Flemke, fourth. Ted Stack was the Modified winner at Waterford. Eddie Hoyle was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Pete Frazee was the Sunday night winner at Old Bridge. South Boston ran the NASCAR Grand Nationals (Cup cars) and it was Junior Johnson taking the 200 lapper.
Fifty five years ago in 1966 Jerry Cook was the winner at Catamount on Thursday. The Albany Saratoga Speedway 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. Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Bob Potter won a 30 lapper at Waterford. Glynn Shafer made it two in a row in the Bombers. Dave Humphrey was the Class A winner at Seekonk.
On Labor Day Waterford ran a 45 lap Modified Special event that was won by Bill Scrivener. Also on Labor Day, Norwood ran the Bardhal 400 which were in reality twin 200s. Sharing the winners circle after they recorded wins were Johnny Thompson and Bugs Stevens. At the South Boston Speedway Runt Harris won a 50 lap Modified event
Fifty 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. Jon Astle was the Class A winner at Seekonk. At Waterford Bob Potter won a 50 lap Modified event on Saturday and Daring Dick Caso won a 75 lapper on Labor Day. 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 speedway 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.
Forty five 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 George Summers 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.
Forty 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. Randy LaJoie returned to victory lane in the Sportsman division at Danbury. Gino Spada was the Modifoed winner. 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 Gregger at Riverside and Jeff Fuller at Westboro. Doug Hevron won the Oswego Supermodified Classic.
Thirty five years ago in 1986, the Labor Day weekend started on Wednesday when the NASCAR Modified Tour visited the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island 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.
Thirty years ago in 1991, Bob Potter won the SK modified feature 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 at the shoreline oval 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.
Twenty five 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.
Twenty 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.
Fifteen years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed into the eye of Hurricane Ernesto as the competitors traveled to the Martinsville Speedway on Thursday and Friday. For the most part much of the storm headed north by late Friday allowing qualifying to take place. There were 49 Modifieds on hand and when all was said and done Mike Stefanik took the Busch Pole as he toured the .525 mile speedway in 18.833 seconds which was to the tune of 100.547 MPH. Todd Szegedy was second fastest with a speed of 99.974 MPH. Rounding out the top five were Donnie Lia, Jerry Marquis and Eric Beers. Twenty cars qualified with the balance of the field to be determined by a 50-lap consolation event. The top eight redrew for starting positions with Eddie Flemke Jr. drawing the pole position with Tony Hirschman drawing the second spot. Stefanik drew the fourth starting spot.
The 50-lap consolation event was slated to start at 7:00p.m. but a heavy shower drenched the track shortly after 6:00p.m. The consi didn’t get the green until almost 9:00p.m. Kevin Goodale took the eventual win over Ron Silk.
The main event, originally scheduled for 300 laps got the green flag at around 10:15p.m. Mike Stefanik had the dominant car but in the end, at 200 laps when the race was called, Jimmy Blewett had the Eddie Partridge No.12 in the top spot. Blewett and Partridge, who dedicated their win to the late Charlie Jarzombek, led only 20 laps. With 19 laps to go on lap 182 Blewett was following Stefanik into turn two. Stefanik drifted up slightly, which opened up a hole on the low side. Blewett went for the spot and in doing so nudged Stefanik. Ted Christopher, who ended up in second spot was also part of the controversy as he nudged Zach Sylvester out of the way. Stefanik and Sylvester finished 14th and 15th respectively. James Civali, Todd Szegedy and Doug Coby who drives the Curt Chase No.77 based in Mansfield, rounded out the top five. Coby and his crew were extremely happy as they recovered from qualifying problems, which forced them to take a provisional starting spot in the rear of the field. Just missing the top five but turning in a fine run was rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. who finished sixth. Matt Hirschman and Kevin Goodale finished seventh and eighth while southerners Tim Brown and Gene Pack rounded out the top ten. It was close to 1:00am when the checkered flag was displayed. Fifteen of the original 43 starters were running at the end. Early leader Jerry Marquis lost a lap in the late going and ended up 16th.
Corey Hutchings had a good shot at becoming the 2006 Late Model Champion at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night until he came unglued on the 13th lap of his 25 lap feature. Hutchings, who has four victories to his credit, was battling with RJ Marcotte for fourth spot when contact was made on the backstretch, which resulted in Hutchings spinning around. Hutchings felt the contact and resulting spin was intentional. Chief Steward Richard Brooks also felt it was intentional and ordered Marcotte to restart in the rear. Marcotte refused to comply forcing Brooks to rule that even if he continued to race he would no longer be scored. Hutchings evidently didn’t get the word that the track had reacted to the situation and chose to retaliate on his own. After a pit stop Hutchings reentered the track and went after Marcotte, finally cutting him off in turn four. Hutchings then exited his car and went to Marcotte and started punching him. When all was said and done both Hutchings and Marcotte found themselves thrown out of the event and parked in the infield. Hutching is facing possibly a multi race suspension. Repeat winners were the other stories at Thompson International Speedway on Thursday night. Tommy Cravenho of Raynham, MA took down his second win of the season in the Sunoco Modifieds. Fred Astle of N. Westport, MA scored his second Pro Stock win at the Connecticut oval while TIS Modified racer Leo Oliviera also of Raynham posted his second. Dave Trudeau of Mansfield, CT. proved that the third time is a charm with his Late Model victory. New faces in victory lane included Mike Romano of Pascoag, RI, who earned a career first in the Mini Stocks and Keith DeSanctis of Monson, MA, who claimed his first triumph of the season in the Limited Sportsman nightcapper.
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway beat the onslaught of the remains of Hurricane Ernesto as their September Series of Friday night racing went off as planned. Eric Berndt drove to his third SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season, Scott Foster, Jr. won his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, Brit Andersen won his fourth SK Light Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Kevin Gambacorta scored his second Ltd. Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, and Jim Brice was a first time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
Impending rain from what was Hurricane Ernesto prevailed at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The entire program was postponed until Saturday, October 7. Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island and at Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey was also rained out.
Kasey Kahne scored a double at the California Speedway as he won both the Busch Series event and the Nextel Cup event.
Ten years ago in 2011 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN for the UNOH Perfect Storm 150. Thirty four cars, including 13 from the southern series, were on hand for the combination Northern-Southern Whelen Modified Tour Series event.
Driving the same car that was declared illegal at New Hampshire, Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman once again won one of the Whelen Modified Tour Series’ highest paying events. The car number was changed and it was listed under a different car owner plus the crew chief was changed but once the race started Newman again drove away with the win. Newman led the first 86 laps as he jumped out from his fourth place starting spot with ease. After pitting four a complete set of tires Newman restarted seventh. Wasting little time the defending race winner put Todd Szegedy and James Civali away as he reclaimed the top spot on lap 128 and was out for a Sunday drive after that to claim the win. Newman exited the car and dedicated his win to a suspended owner/crew chief which was a slap in the face to NASCAR and the whole Tour. Szegedy and Civali faded in the closing laps as Justin Bonsignore raced his way into the runner-up spot. Szegedy finished third with Civali, fourth. Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five. Eric Beers was sixth, followed by Ron Silk, Frank Fleming, Andy Seuss and Eric Goodale. Fleming was the top finishing NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver and will be credited with a win on the tour. It is his first career victory.
Eight of the original 34 starters finished on the lead lap. First to retire were Ron Yuhas and Andy Petree who were involved in a wreck on lap 8. Southern competitor Daniel Hemric suffered rear end failure on lap 9 and second fastest qualifier Erick Rudolph lost an engine on lap 14. Corey LaJoie appeared to have a left front tire blow out on lap 42 when he hit the wall. Also collected in the accident was George Brunnhoelzl III and Bryon Chew. Gary McDonald was sidelined on lap 53 with a defective driveshaft and pole sitter Bobby Santos suffered a major setback when his engine soured on lap 76. Doug Coby also had engine trouble as he parked it on lap 95. Mike Stefanik had a real strong run going before he was collected by Tim Brown who was unable to avoid the slow car of Wade Cole. Rowan Pennink, Jamie Tomaino and LW Miller were also eliminated in a wreck. Ed Flemke only completed 136 laps because of a vibration.
Silk, by virtue of his 7th place finish, stretched his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points lead to 41 over Rowan Pennink, who finished 21st overall. Todd Szegedy is third, 16 points behind Pennink.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour gets back on track with the inaugural event at Delaware (Ont.) Speedway on Sept. 4.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour had a short break as they headed to the Caraway Speedway on Friday, Aug. 26.
Andy Seuss repeated his win of a year ago with a victory in the Caraway 150 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race on Friday night. The 24-year-old driver from Hampstead, N.H., battled L.W. Miller early and then pulled away from George Brunnhoelzl III in the late stages to score his ninth career series win – his fifth at Caraway in 23 starts. Seuss, who entered the event fifth in the championship standings, had a nearly perfect day at the .455-mile track, topping the practice speeds early and then winning his fifth career Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying.
Although he led from the drop of the green, Seuss had to battle back after L.W. Miller took the lead from him on Lap 14. Seuss muscled his way by and held command from there in his No. 11 Phoenix Pre-Owned/Triad Auto Sales Dodge. Brunnhoelzl, who started eighth on the grid, worked his way to the front in pursuit of the lead – but in the closing laps Seuss pulled away. They were followed to the finish by Jason Myers, with Frank Fleming taking fourth and John Smith in fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Miller, Daniel Hemric, Renee Dupuis, Austin Pack and Burt Myers. A slim field of 13 cars were on hand for the event.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the weatherman prevailed. The August 25th race was cancelled due to the forecast of thunder storms and heavy rains. The decision, made by track owner Don Hoenig, came early in the day so that competitors and fans alike would not head for the speedway only to find themselves heading home upon their arrival.
The Stafford Motor Speedway got in their show ahead of Hurricane Irene. Ryan Preece picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Jim Mavlouganes picked up his first Late Model feature victory in 6 years in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Bob Charland picked up his first career victory in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Cory Casagrande picked up his second win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Josh Wood picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In the late going of the SK Modified feature Ted Christopher got by Dave Gervais for fifth and Keith Rocco moved by Todd Owen for fourth place on lap-36 while Preece continued to lead Woody Pitkat by several car lengths. Preece led the field to the checkered flag for his fourth win of the 2011 season, but behind Preece, Rocco made a move to the inside of Eric Berndt in turn 3 they touched wheels with both cars going hard into the turn 3 wall. Pitkat finished second behind Preece with Christopher, Owen, and Gervais rounding out the top-5. Rocco ended up 18th. Following the event Rocco was given a one week suspension for overaggressive driving into 54 of Berndt during the feature and conduct detrimental to the sport of Auto Racing. Among those missing from the SK Modified field was Frank Ruocco who is serving a two race sentence for over aggressive driving and Un-sportsman like conduct during the August 19 feature.
At the Waterford Speedbowl racing was cancelled due to the pending arrival of rain associated with Hurricane Irene.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island racing was cancelled due to the Hurricane.
Kyle Busch edged teammate Joey Logano at the Bristol Motor Speedway finish line Friday night to become the all-time winningest driver in Nationwide Series. The win was the 50th of Busch’s career in NASCAR’s second-tier series and broke a tie the 26-year-old had with Mark Martin.
In Sprint Cup racing at Bristol, Brad Keselowski picked up his third win of the season – second since breaking his ankle in an Aug. 3 crash.
On a sad note, Raymond “Hully” Bunn of Bristol, CT died at age 91 on August 25 at Bristol Hospital after an illness. His biggest win may have been the first 100 Mile Langhorne National Open for Modified Sportsman Stock Cars (now known as the Race of Champions) at Langhorne, PA on October 14, 1951 with relief from his friend and colleague Dick Eagan. Bunn won more than a hundred Stock Car races in a career that lasted from 1949 to 1965 and was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.
Five years ago in 2016, Day one of the four day run of racing in southern New England began on Wednesday night at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Pepsi Back To School Night featured twin 25-lap features for the Sunoco Modified division as well as Thompson’s three other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions as the championship season begins to draw to a close.
Ryan Preece, second in points in the Sunoco Modifieds, swept the duel races and took a small chunk out of Rocco’s sizable lead with two events remaining on the schedule at the Big T. Preece worked his way to the front methodically in the first race, taking the lead ten laps in and never looking back, but took a much more aggressive approach in the second race of the night battling Rocco for the lead in the late stages and eventually using a crossover move to take the top spot with only five laps to go, completing an impressive sweep over his rival, Rocco, who finished runner-up in both events.
Ronnie Williams finished third in the first Mod 25 and was followed by Woody Pitkat, Steven Kopcik and Rowan Pennink. In the second Mod 25, Pennink finished third with Pitkat and Williams rounding out the top five.
Other Thompson winners on Wednesday night were Wayne Burroughs in the Mini Stocks, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Brian Tagg in the Late Models.
The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park closes out its summer season on September 7th with it’s last Wednesday program of the year. The Way Back Wednesday race lineup will feature the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks along with appearances by the NEAR and STAR series and the Vintage Outlaws.
Racing action for day 2 shifted to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for the 100 lap-$10,000 to win Tri-Track Series. The pit area was jammed with 44 Modifieds. In only his third race of the year, Steve Masse walked off with the top prize after out sprinting Richard Savory following a restart on lap 88. Savary managed to hang on to finish second with Woody Pitkat, third. Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Tommy Barrett, Eric Goodale, Dennis Perry and Rowan Pennink. Speedbowl Top Gun Keith Rocco had hoped to compete but never made it beyond practice as his car suffered motor trouble.
The Tri-Track 100 served as a tribute to the late Ronnie Bouchard. Many of the cars that he drove were on display.
Day 3 saw action at Stafford on Friday where garnering feature wins on the night were Rowan Pennink in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr., in the SK Light feature, Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Mike Hopkins in the DARE Stock feature, and Teddy Hodgdon in the Legend Cars feature.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Ted Christopher drove his heart out but couldn’t get close enough to Pennink as Pennink took down his fifth win of the 2016 season. Mike Christopher, Jr. finished third with Matt Galko and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5.
The action shifted back to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for Day 4. Diego Monahan went from the scrap heap to the top of the heap in one week. Monahan’s car was trashed a week previous but he was able to borrow a car from his brother in order to compete.Monahan passed early leader Bo Gunning and held off Rob Janovic to score the win.
Dennis Perry finished third and moved into the point lead when point leader Keith Rocco was involved in a mid-race wreck and finished 16th. Perry now leads Rocco by two points and Joey Gada by 5.Matt Galko and Todd Owen rounded out the top five.
Other winners Saturday included Jacob Perry in the Mini Stocks, Ed Gertsch Jr. in the Limited Sportsman, Tony Membrino Jr. in the Magnus Racing Products SK Lights, Peter Martin in the Super X Cars, Kyle Gero in the X Cars and Norm Wrenn III in the Pro 4 Modifieds.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island this past weekend. The event drew 30 cars. Had it not been for the Long Island drivers, 17 of them, it would have been a very short field. Shawn Solomito led a top five dominance of Long Island drivers in time trials at the east end quarter mile. Timmy Solomito who along with his team, Flamingo Racing, had been contemplating dropping off the tour because of the gross screwing they got by NASCAR at Bristol was second fastest. Tom Rogers was third with Eric Goodale and Donny Lia rounding out the top five. Bottom feeder Melisa Fifield was once again the slowest.
Justin Bonsignore led a top four Long Island sweep at the finish held off the charge of brothers Timmy and Shawn Solomito to score the victory. Bonsignore, who started seventh, took the lead from Timmy Solomito on lap 83. Prior to that the Solomitos dominated the front. Timmy led laps one and two plus 16 thru 83. Shawn Solomito led laps three thru fifteen. Tom Rogers and Chase Dowling rounded out the top five. Jimmy Blewett, Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Craig Lutz, Max Zachem, Frank Vigliarolo Jr. and Eric Goodale rounded out the top 10.
Melissa Fifield lasted four laps before dropping out.
In addition to the win, Bonsignore cut Doug Coby’s championship points lead to 13 with five races remaining. Timmy Solomito remains 35 points back of Coby, who finished 15th.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series went to Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine last weekend. Anthony Nocella started tenth and methodically worked his way through the field, taking command on lap 63 and then held off late race charges by Jon McKennedy, David Schneider, and Todd Patnode to claim his third series victory of the year.
After coming so close so many times before, Kyle Larson finally sealed the deal on Sunday afternoon by scoring his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory during the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Int’l Speedway. Chase Elliott finished second. After 297 NASCAR national touring series starts, Michael McDowell finally tasted victory in Saturday’s Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville at Road America. McDowell led 24 of the 48 laps of the four-mile road course and held off a furious charge from his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Brendan Gaughan during a green-white-checkered finish for his first win in 94 NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Ryan Preece turned in the best run of his rookie season in the Xfinity Series in Saturday’s Road America 180 at the winding, 14-turn Road America course. Preece finished a strong 11th,
Last year, 2020, The Stafford Speedway continued it’s Friday night series. It was a night of threes as Keith Rocco held off a hard charging Chase Dowling to pick up his third SK Modified® win of the 2020 season, Adam Gray scored his third Late Model feature win of 2020, and rookie Derek Debbis scored his third SK Light feature win of the 2020 season. Andrew Durand took down his fourth Limited Late Model win of 2020 while Chris Meyer was a first time Stafford winner in the Street Stock feature.
With 10 laps to go, Chase Dowling was hounding Rocco for the lead with Stephen Kopcik, Mike Gervais, and Ronnie Williams making up the top-5. Dowling made a run to the inside of Rocco on lap-31 and the two cars touched and got sideways coming out of turn 4 on lap-32 but they stayed straight and continued fighting for the lead. Dowling stayed glued to Rocco’s back bumper over the final 5 laps but he couldn’t get close enough to make a move as Rocco scored his third win of the 2020 season. Kopcik finished third with Williams and Gervais rounding out the top-5.
Rocco’s victory brought his overall total of 285 wins which also include 151 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 63 at Thompson and 71 at Stafford Speedway.
Claremont Motorsports Park in New Hampshire played host to one of the most lucrative Tour-type Modified races of the year on Friday, August 28. The Claremont, New Hampshire oval joined forces with The Racing Guys, The Long Island Mod Maniac and Maurice Enterprises to host a $10,000-to-win open competition race named the “Racers Honoring Racers 100.” The event was promoted by Tri-Track Open Modified Series founders Jim Schaefer and Dick Williams, was originally scheduled to be held at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT). However, due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, race officials decided to move the event to Claremont and pay tribute to Modified racers who have competed at the track.
The story of the night was the brilliant comeback from a devastating wreck in a heat race by Matt Hirschman. After contact with Brad Babb on the first lap of the night’s third heat race launched Hirschman’s Modified into the Turn 2 wall, destroying the right-front suspension, his pit crew crew thrashed to ready the car for the last chance consolation race. Nearly missing the top-six cut, Hirschman took advantage of a chaotic restart to make the field for the 100-lap main.
Starting deep in the field Hirschman used a non-aggressive approach the first two-thirds of the event, saving his tires. When early leader Ron Silk and many who followed him pitted for tires Hirschman elected to stay out which put him near the front. On the restart he passed leaders Les Hinkley and Matt Kimball and never looked back. Both hung on for second and third. Rounding out the top five was polesitter Eric Goodale and Andy Jankowiak. Silk ended up eighth.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ventured to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. The event, originally scheduled for Saturday night was run on Sunday because of impending rain as a result of Hurricane Laura.
The storm passed and all systems were Go for Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were on hand. Jon McKennedy was the pole sitter as he toured the high-banked quarter mile speedway in 12.781 seconds or 70.417mph. Justin Bonsignore was second fastest with Ron Silk, third. Matt Hirschman and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five.
After being shut out of Victory Lane on two occasions, Justin Bonsignore found himself right back on familiar ground as he executed a late pass on Ron Silk to capture the Advanced Gas Distributors Inc. 200 Wade Cole Memorial Sunday on afternoon at the track they call MadDog It was Bonsignore’s third win in five races on the season and his sixth in the last 10 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events dating back to last Aug. 31.
Jon McKennedy won the Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying and led the first 61 laps before Silk, who was fastest in practice and qualified third, got past him. Bonsignore tracked him down and the two swapped the top spot before Bonsignore took it for good with 25 laps remaining.
Anthony Nocella came from a 23rd starting position and finished fourth while Ronnie Williams finished fifth after coming from a twenty first starting spot. Williams was actually the beneficiary of a confrontation between Matt Hirschman and Chris Pasteryak with four laps to go. Hirschman, who started fourth, faded to the bottom of the top ten in the early going before the half way mark. Pasteryak who had been running in the top ten got turned around after being hit by Hirschman. After losing ten laps making repairs Pasteryak rejoined the field hoping to make some laps and salvage some points. With four laps to go rode Pasteryak high and in doing so lost his top five finish as he ended up sixth. Woody Pitkat, Sam Rameau, McKennedy and Craig Lutz completed the top 10.
Seven cautions slowed the field. The first caution flew on lap 26 when Melissa Fifield spun in turn four. She reentered the race only to be black flagger on lap 50 for going too slow. She was six laps down at the time. The second caution flew on lap 68 when Rob Summers spun in turn four. Summers collected Dave Sapienza in the process. Sapienza restarted and ended up 11th at the finish while Summers was involved in two other cautions and ended up 22nd. The third caution flew on lap 122 when Patrick Emerling spun after making contact with Jeff Gallup. Emerling recovered to finish 17th while Gallup ended up 21st. The fourth caution was for an accident involving Calvin Carroll and Summers. Carroll ended up 14th. The fifth caution was for the second Summers spin on lap 141. The sixth caution was for Gallup when he spun on the backstretch on lap 151. The sixth and final caution was for the wreck by Pasteryak after Contact with Hirschman that collected Eric Goodale and Kyle Bonsignore. Goodale finished 18th and Kyle Bonsignore finished 19th.
Overall, it was a highly competitive event with plenty of good close quarter racing.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the COVID-19 Executive Order 202.32 until Sept 19. This being said, the Oswego (NY) Speedway has cancelled their Labor Day Classic for Supermodifieds and their scheduled NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event. Super Dirt Week which is held at Oswego in early October is up in the air at this time.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl officials pulled the plug late Friday because of a bad forecast for Saturday.
Out on the east end of Long Island the Riverhead Raceway suffered a rain-out.
A few years ago NASCAR had the bright idea to eliminate the Southern Modified Tour and combine them with their northern counterparts. It sounded good but NASCAR failed to sign up enough tracks in the south to participate and needless to say despite the fact that Burt Myers made a few trips north to compete the idea that southern modified teams would travel north to race fell flat on its face. The only track that ran modifieds on a regular basis was Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bowman Gray hasn’t run this year because of the virus and next year is doubtful because of planned construction at the stadium. SMART (Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams) has been reborn and held their first event last Saturday night at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. Brian Loftin took the win over Burt Myers, Jason Myers and Gary Putnam.
Get well wishes to Steve Bird who underwent heart surgery late last week. Birdie is one of the most noted crew chiefs in New England auto racing. Among those he guided and maintained cars were for Rob Moroso, Pete Fiandaca, Dick Trayner and Ron Bouchard.
On a sad note, NEAR HOF driver Ron Wyckoff passed away last Thursday, Aug 27. Ron suffered from Alzheimer’s/dementia for a few years. Florida born, Ron came to Connecticut in the early 1960s and started racing in Plainville Stadium’s Novice division. Moving to Modifieds, he was a winner at Plainville and Riverside Park – three straight Riverside 500s, 1974 through ’76 – and a steady competitor at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.
Ron was very popular in the grandstands and in the pits. He was very good on equipment, evidenced by the list of top cars he drove – Czarnecki 20, Berndt 54, Simons 9 – Ron’s expertise in long-distance races was legendary-including the 1978 – 250 lap Riverside Park Triple Crown Series finale. He retired in 1983.
Ron was a fixture at the Plainville Stadium Reunions the last 10 years or so. He will be dearly missed by all his friends, fans, and admirers.
August 14, 1971 Gene Bergin was the spoiler as he had the car to beat at Stafford on Saturday night. Scoring his first NASCAR modified win with Bobby Judkins’ new Pinto and his first Stafford win since 1968, Bergin had a few tense moments before taking the 50 lap Senators Cup win. During his qualifing heat Bergin found himself between the wall and Roland LaPierre Sr. when LaPierre lost his steering. Bergin kept himself out of the fence along with LaPierre.In the 50-lap feature Bergin took the lead from Moose Hewitt on the 16th lap on his way to take the win Fred DeSarro had to settle for second with Hop Harrington, Bugsy Stevens and Freddie Schulz rounding out the top five. Rene Charland finished sixth and was followed by Leo Cleary, Ray Miller and Ernie Gahan. In addition to his winning purse Bergin was presented with a Moto Jet Snowmobile.
Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!