Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Eighty years ago in 1941, the Thompson Speedway suffered its first fatality as Tony Willman was thrown out of his midget after crashing and was hit by Howard Bumpus. This was one of the last events to be run before the start of World War II.
Seventy five years ago in 1946 Bill Randall made it four in a row in Midget action at Seekonk, closing out the season at the Massachusetts oval.
Seventy years ago in 1951 the inaugural Race of Champions was run at the one mile circular dirt surfaced Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Pete Zanardi wrote the following: New Englanders Hully Bunn and Dick Eagan, teammates in cars prepared by Bob Duffy, were enjoying a successful 1951 season.
A $4,250 purse lured them to the National Sportsman Stock Car Championship at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway on Oct. 14, 1951.
Promoted by Al Gerber and Irv Fried, it was the first of what became the Race of Champions, for many years the premier modified/sportsman race in the country. It was the culmination of Langhorne’s 25th season.
“We had wins all over the place,” recalls Bunn, “We won at Stafford Springs (Conn.), Morristown (N.J.), Bainbridge (Ohio). Dick definitely had more wins than I did.”
When they arrived at Langhorne, however, Eagan’s car wouldn’t fire. “Duffy had made some changes in the motor, but never started it up before we left,” recalls Bunn. (Bob Duffy was a racer in his own right as he raced at Kingston RI, Stafford and at Fonda while holding down a full time job as the Parts Manager at the John Ahr Ford Co. in Westerly, RI). When the field took the green flag for the scheduled 100 laps, Eagan was a spectator.
Bunn grabbed the lead from New Jersey daredevil Wally Campbell, the polesitter, five laps in. Bill Tanner led the first three before giving way to Campbell. Bunn got Campbell out of four and set in for the long haul.
Duffy wanted to overhaul the engine in the familiar No. X entry because it was “using oil,” but Bunn resisted. “Those old flathead Fords ran the best when they were smoking,” says Bunn. “We had a five-gallon pail filled with oil hanging in the car with a hose going into the fill pipe. We would turn it on and off during the race.”
Langhorne was the 43rd race of the season and the pan on the car had never been dropped.
Bunn and Campbell battled for some 50 laps before overheating problems got Campbell. As lap 63 began, Frankie Schneider was second, but better than two laps behind Bunn.
In turn four Frank Holtzhauer’s car caught fire. Crashing into the pit wall, Holtzhauer’s clothes were aflame when he exited the racer. Pit crews saved Holtzhauer. The fire, however, reached Jack Bellinato’s car resulting in the second yellow flag of the day.
Bunn turned the car over to Eagan. “I felt I owed him that” for the single-file restart. A broken axle on lap 80 ended Schneider’s day. Campbell had climbed back to third, but was four laps down. Suddenly, out of four, an upside-down Don Black skidded into the path of Campbell. Campbell’s car caught fire and the resulting smoke along with the setting sun “obscured” the track. Campbell escaped just ahead of eight cars piling into his disabled racer.
When Black arrived at the hospital, doctors were still treating Holtzhauer’s burns. Six other drivers and a mechanic were also injured. At that point, NASCAR officials ended the carnage with Bunn and Eagan the winners.
Ken Marriott, Don Bailey, Pee Wee Jones and Bob Myers were second through fifth.
Rain washed out a scheduled program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Sixty five years ago in 1956 Donald “Dutch” Hoag won the 6th Annual 100 mile Race of Champions on the dirt at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Hoag, from Bath, NY, beat out Don Stumph from New Jersey. Rounding out the top five were George Horvath, Bob Cameron and Lee Bliss. The event was sanctioned by NASCAR. Rain washed out a scheduled program at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Rocco was the Sunday winner at Old Bridge.
Sixty years ago in 1961, Langhorne attracted the best there was at the time for the 11th Annual 100 Mile National Open Race of Champions. Taking the win was Bob Malzahn. Bob Abel was second with Dick Tobias, third. The event carried a $12,000 purse and paid $3000 to win.
Arnie Harris was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the Bomber feature winner. Red Hill made it two in a row at Norwood. Rene Charland finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.
Fifty five years ago in 1966, Will Cagle won the 100 mile National Open, (Race of Champions) at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Ray Tilley finished second with Bill Wimble, third. Jerry Dostie and Frank Myronchuk rounded out the top five. Bill Slater, who won the 1965 version, finished 15th. Norwood Arena saw Fats Caruso take the win.
Fifty years ago in 1971, it was all quiet as teams were getting ready to head south for the season ender at Martinsville or the rescheduled Race of Champions at Langhorne. The current national modified standings showed Jerry Cook in the lead followed by Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller, Fred DeSarro, Dave Lape, Dick Fowler, Billy Harman, Lou Lazzaro, Denis Giroux and Ray Sitterly. Racing scheduled at Seekonk was rained out.
Forty five years ago in 1976,Geoff Bodine went two for two as he put the Dick Armstrong modified in victory lane at Monadnock on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday. At Monadnock, Kenny Bouchard finished second with John Rosati, SJ Evonsion and Punky Caron rounding out the top five. Ronnie Bouchard in the M&H No7 finished second at Thompson. Rounding out the top five were Bugsy Stevens, Ray Miller and Eddie Flemke.
Forty years ago in 1981,Thompson ran the World Series. Jamie Moore was the Supermodified winner and Richie Evans took the modified portion. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by John Rosati, Corky Cookman and Ronnie Bouchard.
Thirty five years ago in 1986, Doug Hevron scored his first modified win in a 35 lap season ending event at Oswego. Jan Leaty finished second with Mike Mclaughlin and Billy Colton following. Brian Ross finished fourth and wrapped up the modified championship at the Lake Ontario oval. At Syracuse, Barefoot Bob McCready took home $66,000 after taking the win in the Eckered 200.
Thirty years ago in 1991, Waterford ran their final event of the year. Ted Christopher took the checker over Jerry Pearl, Ronnie Rocco and Bert Marvin. Mike Holdredge was the Super Stock winner and Tommy Fox scored his tenth win of the season in the Late Models. At Syracuse, Brett Hearn made it two in a row as he took the lead in the Eckered 200 with 12 laps to go when Danny Johnson lost a wheel. The biggest prize in DIRT Modified Racing was worth $107,260. Ricky Craven won the Chevy Dealers 250 at Loudon.
Twenty five years ago in 1996, Jan Leaty passed George Kent on lap 156 of the 200 lap Race of Champions at Oswego and went on to take the win over Siege Fidenza, Kent, Tim Arre, Ted Christopher and Tim Mangus. Doug Hoffman won the 25th anniversary DIRT 300 at Syracuse and Butch Leitzinger took the lead from Andy Santarre with seven to go in the season ending Busch North Series event at Lime Rock. Dale Quarterly finished second when Santarre flipped with two laps to go.
Twenty years ago in 2001, the NASCAR Featherlite Modifieds traveled to the Martinsville Speedway for a 200 lap event. Mike Ewanitsko was virtually unbeatable as he led the first 56 laps and the final 77 laps as he recorded an impressive win over Rick Fuller, Jerry Marquis, John Blewett III and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik was the point leader and suffered a set back as he lost five laps as a result of having to pit under green with a loose wheel. Stefanik ended up 21st and would go into the final event, a week later, only 20 points ahead of Marquis and Blewett. The event was run on Saturday as a preliminary to the tracks Winston Cup event. Prior to the event NASCAR announced that a three year contract with Hoosier Tires for the Modifieds had been signed. The annual Race of Champions was run at the Oswego Speedway. George Kent took the win over Chuck Hossfeld, Lee Sherwood, Jan Leaty and Dave Pecko. Martinsville fell victim to rain on Sunday which meant they would run on the next clear day which ended up being Monday. Ricky Craven scored his first and only win on NASCAR’s elite circuit after doing the bump and grind with Dale Jarrett for 1-1/2 laps. The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their season with their Fall Finale which was won by Ron Yuhas Jr over Dennis Gada, Eric Berndt, Ed Reed JR and John Brouwer. It was also on this weekend that Randy LaJoie took the Busch Grandnational win at Memphis after Jeff Green and Jay Sauter bumped each other out of the way with 1-1/2 laps to go.
Fifteen years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway for the annual World Series. Tony Hirschman set fast time in qualifying. It was the fourth Bud Pole Award of the season for Hirschman, the defending series champion, and also locked up the season long 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Bud Pole Award Championship. Hirschman toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.697 seconds for an average speed of 120.340 mph. Ron Yuhas of Groton, Conn. was second fastest with a speed of 120.077 mph. Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn. qualified third with a speed of 120.045 mph. Defending race winner Jerry Marquis was fourth fastest and Waterford winner Donny Lia rounded out the Top-5.
The Top-8 qualifiers drew for starting position. Jimmy Blewett and Marquis made up the front row. Christopher started third while Hirschman lined up fourth. Yuhas drew fifth flanked by Lia. There were 42 cars on hand for time trials.
Sunday was a perfect fall day for racing.. The only thing negative was the way that campers hogged space in the parking lot. There is no order for them to park as they park every which way. The speedway needs to regulate the camper parking in the future.
In what ended up being a surprise finish Reggie Ruggiero took the checkered flag in the Whelen Modified Tour Series Xtramart 150. Ted Christopher had taken the lead from Jimmy Blewett as they exited turn four on the 122nd lap. One lap later Billy Pauch Jr hit the wall in turn two, bringing out the caution. When the field went back to green on lap146 Christopher led the charge with John Blewett III in hot pursuit. On lap 147 as Christopher entered turn three Blewett attempted to pass on the low side. Christopher moved down to block. Blewett knew he was about to be pinched into the infield grass and turned into Christopher, sending him hard into the wall. With both cars destroyed Reggie Ruggiero, who was running third, inherited the lead for a green – white – checkered finish on lap 158. Jimmy Blewett ended up in second spot as he had nothing for Ruggerio at the finish. Jerry Marquis finished third with Donny Lia and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five.
Jimmy Blewett led the charge at the drop of the green. Jerry Marquis took the lead by the time the field got to turn two. The first caution flew on lap 20 for Billy Pauch Jr who spun on the front chute. Marquis continued to lead until lap 25 when Tony Hirschman took the lead. The second caution flew on lap 35 when Danny Sammons and Kenny Barry got together in turn three. The green flew on lap 40 but one lap later the caution was out again for a seven car tangle on the front chute. Marquis retook the lead when the field went back to green on lap 46. Hirschman faded to fourth as Reggie Ruggerio and Ted Christopher slipped by. Two laps later the caution flew again, this time for a 14 car tangle in turn one that brought out the red. The field went back to green on lap 53 with Marquis leading Ruggerio, Christopher and Jimmy Blewett. By the time the field entered turn one Christopher had shot into the lead. Lap 55 saw the caution waving again, this time as Bob Grigas drilled Eric Beers into the turn four wall. Back under green at lap 60, Christopher still led Marquis as John Blewett III moved into third. Blewett moved past Marquis on lap 78. Christopher continued to lead as Blewett’s tires began to wear. By lap 94 Blewett had slipped to fourth when he spun by himself as he exited turn two. Blewett along with Christopher, Marquis and a host of others pitted for fresh rubber on lap 96. Richard Savory assumed the lead over Donny Lia as the field took the green on lap 100. A three wide move by Grigas on the backstretch triggered a wreck that collected among others, Mike Stefanik and Tony Hirschman, which ended their bid for a possible win. Savory led until Jimmy Blewett on lap 122, as previously mentioned, passed him. It was the 44th career victory for Ruggiero, who drives the Atlantic Sprinkler Chevrolet, and his first since 2004 when he won at Wall Township , N.J. Ruggiero’s last win at Thompson occurred in 1998.
“Nobody seemed to want to win this race tonight, “ said Ruggiero. “I was just glad we were in a position to get it at the end.”
Christopher was credited with 19th position after the lap 148 accident, effectively ending his hopes for his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Mike Stefanik of Coventry , R.I. finished fifth in the race and now leads Christopher by 148 points. Stefanik needs to earn at least a last place finish in the final race of the year at Stafford Springs , Conn. on Oct. 28 to secure his seventh career title.
In other Sunday action at Thompson, Todd Ceravolo scored a convincing win over Jimmy Blewett, Jeff Malave, Zach Sylvester and Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco SK type Modifieds. David Berghman beat out Fred Astle Jr for the 50 lap Pro Stock win. A scarey moment occurred on lap 29 when Scott Rotherford went up and over another competitor and slid on his roof into the turn one wall and catching fire. Ben Dodge Jr, special assistant to track owner Don Hoenig, ran to the accident and pulled Rotherford to safety as fire engulfed the entire car. Ben Seitz won the NEMA Midget 25 lapper and Nokie Fornoro won the 50 lap ISMA Supermodified event after early leader Chris Perley dropped out. Sixty five year old Bentley Warren finished second.
Norwich, Conn. Native Bob Potter was selected to the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Potter, who has 140 feature wins to his credit, is a five time Modified Track Champion at the Waterford Speedbowl and a five time Modified Track Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He was also the 1988 Duel Track (Thompson – Stafford) Champion. A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95. Potter joined an elite group that includes Richie Evans, Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Gene Bergin and Wild Bill Slater to name a few. Also to be inducted along with Potter were Supermodified great Bentley Warren, Busch East competitor Dave Dion, Canadian Jean Paul Cabana, John Rosati, car owner and former owner of the Westboro, Mass. Speedway John Falconi Sr, car builder/crew chief Bob Johnson and former Northeastern Midget Association president John McCarthy. The 10th anniversary inductees represented over a thousand victories and three-dozen championships.
Ten years ago in 2011, in NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, the regular season finally was wrapped up with championships settled in all racing divisions. Earning championships for the 2011 season were Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modifieds, Larry Gelinas Super Late Models and Tommy O’Sullivan in the Late Models. Chris “Moose” Douton was crowned the Limited Sportsman champ for 2011; Cam McDermott reigned in the TIS Modifieds; and Danny Field, Deep River, CT, earned top-honors in the Mini Stock division.
For Rocco, it was a matter of survival as Ryan Preece was breathing down his neck going into the final event. If Preece were to win, Rocco needed to finish 12th or better to become champ. Rocco started fifth in the 30 lap feature. Preece started seventh. Rocco took the lead in turn four on lap two from Rick Fuller. By lap seven, Preece had the lead and Rocco was fading fast, almost to the point where he almost got the black flag for not running at a competitive speed. In the end, Rocco finished 12th, four laps down. Preece did his best but in the end he fell short by six points in his quest for the title. Preece had taken the lead from Rocco on lap seven and was headed for the win until Woody Pitkat got him in traffic in the fourth turn of the final lap. Pitkat took the win, his fourth in the car since taking the seat vacated by Ted Christopher. Preece beat out Danny Cates for the runner-up spot. Todd Ceravolo, in a team car to Preece, finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was Ricky Shawn.
Other winners were Derek Ramstrom (Super Late Models), Marc Palmisano (Late Models), Larry Barnett (Limited Sportsman) and Travis Jurcik, (Mini Stocks) scoring feature victories.
A bit of excitement developed during the running of the Limited Sportsman feature. On the opening laps Joe Coates and Jason Chicolas tangled on the backstretch going into turn three. Coats lost his temper and commenced to proceed to continually ram the Chicolas machine. Both competitors were parked for the night. Coats parked his car on the infield pit road and as Chicolas drove by on his way to the pit area Coats threw his helmet at him. Speedway officials attempted to calm the situation but Coats would have nothing of that as he gave the officials the single finger salute, then from atop pit wall, proceeded to drop his pants and Moon the officials and the crowd. The Speedway management and NASCAR Suspended Coats indefinitely.
At the Waterford Speedbowl the two day Fall Finale wrapped up the 2011 racing season. Over 200 cars brought some serious revenue to the shoreline oval on Saturday. Keith Rocco added another victory to his yearly total as he took the fin in the 50 lap SK Modified portion of the Finale. Rocco, who now has 27 victories to his credit took the lead on lap 10 after starting in the 12th position. Rocco also won the Late Model 50 lapper at the shoreline oval. Rocco passed Bruce Thomas Jr. with six laps remaining and led the rest of the way to win the 50-lap Late Model feature. In the Modified event, Tyler Chadwick was second and Rob Janovic Jr, third. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece and Nicole Morgillo.
A bit of controversy erupted before the start of racing at the Speedbowl on Sunday. Race Director Scott Tapley threw out Todd Ceravolo after he was allegedly threatened with physical violence. To back up a bit, Ceravolo missed the pit party and was told he would have to start in the rear instead of starting 15th. When told this, Ceravolo tried to explain that he had been home sick with the flu and had just got out of bed before noon. Tapley’s response to Ceravolo’s explanation was, “Too Bad”. With this sarcasam, Ceravolo became rightfully irate, especially when a double standard existed. Bubby Brouwer also missed the pit party but he was allowed to start on the pole of the event in which he competed and also the track treated Ceravolo unfairly when they black flagged him for not having a transponder in a practice session but looked the other way when one of their top regular runners ran all day without a transponder. Ceravolo stated that Tapley never had a drivers meeting on Saturday and never announced that there would be a penalty if one missed the pit party. It just seems that every time a non-regular shows up to race at Waterford, officials go out of their way to make their lives miserable.
Other Sunday winners at the Speedbowl were Al Stone in the Street Stocks and Glenn Colvin in the Mini Stocks. Paul French won the 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature and Dave Garbo Jr. won the day’s 25-lap Legends Cars feature.
Race winners on Saturday included Shawn Thibeault who recorded his first career Speedbowl victory in the Outlaw Stock feature, John Kelly who scored his first career win in the Northeast
Mini Stock Tour race and Andy Lindemann who nailed the win in the New England Truck Series feature. Rounding out the winners were Emily Packard in the Allison Legacy North Racing Series, Frank Alessio in the Super X-Cars, Brad Voglesong in X-Car action and Cory Dimatteo in the Bandoleros race.
In Modified Racing Series action at the D. Anthony Venditti Classic at the Seekonk Speedway Mike Holdridge started 22nd in a 29 car field, took the lead on lap 65, and went on to win the Valenti Modified Racing Series, 100-lap, “DAV Fall Classic” race. The win was the second of the season for the second-generation driver. Holdridge also becomes the eighth different driver to win the eighth annual event.
Pole-sitter Russ Hersey, led the field to green and the first six-laps until passed by veteran Kenny
Barry. Barry quickly became the class of the field leading laps 7 through 64 holding off the challenges of Les Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, and Holdridge. When Holdridge took the top spot, Barry chased the winner to the finish, Jon McKennedyfinished third, Jimmy Kuhn, fourth, and Dwight Jarvis, fifth. Sixth through tenth were: Max Zachem, Hinckley, Chris Pasteryak, Timmy Jordan and Joe Doucette
In Super Dirt action at the Syracuse NY Fairgrounds, Canadian Stewart Friesen made it back-to-back wins in the SEF 200 on Sunday and in the process denied Billy Decker’s bid to become the first driver to sweep the modified races at Super DIRT Week. Decker had won five out of five events heading into Sunday’s feature but had to settle for second after giving Friesen all he could handle late in the 200-mile race.
The victory was worth $50,000, but not in the end. After a long post-race inspection, Friesen’s team was fined $25,000 for having an illegal fuel system. He retained the victory. Ted Christopher had attempted to qualify for the event but fell short after being involved in a qualifying heat crash.
In Sprint Cup action at Kansas City Jimmie Johnson led 197 laps in one of the most dominant performances the track has ever seen. The victory was the 55th for Johnson, moving him into a tie with Rusty Wallace for the eighth on the career list, and the 199th for team owner Rick Hendrick. Brad Keselowski dominated the Nationwide Series race at Kansas City as he led all but 27 laps on his way to victory.
The Concord (NH) Monitor reported that The New Hampshire Motor Speedway was vowing to appeal a jury verdict that ordered it to pay almost $1 million to the sports radio network that used to broadcast its major NASCAR events. At the heart of the lawsuit, whose trial lasted five days in Merrimack County NH Superior Court last week, is who had the right to broadcast NASCAR events at the Loudon-based speedway.
The report, which was printed in the Monitor on Oct 4 stated that in Sept. 2000, the speedway, under the management of then-President Gary Bahre, entered into a perpetual contract agreement that gave Motor Racing Network Inc., a Florida-based company, exclusive rights to broadcast all NASCAR events, including time trials, practice runs and races.
In exchange, the track received 25 percent of all the gross advertising revenue Motor Racing Network received from the broadcasts and rebroadcasts of NASCAR events at the speedway. The parties were each required to give three years notice to terminate the contract.
But in January 2008, shortly after former owner Bob Bahre agreed to sell the track, his son Gary Bahre sent a letter to Motor Racing Network saying his company wished to end the contract immediately, calling the three-year termination notice “unconscionable.”
After Motor Racing Network refused, New Hampshire Motor Speedway sued, claiming the contract was void and unenforceable because it was “illusory, lacks mutuality of obligation, and is not supported by consideration,” according to the suit. Motor Racing Network, which paid about $750,000 to the speedway over the eight year relationship, countersued, saying the breach of contract would cause, among other things, damage to the network’s reputation.
Over the three years of legal maneuvering, a judge found the agreement to be unenforceable. However, the court allowed Motor Radio Network to take their case to a jury and argue that the speedway had broken underlying promises made to them – promises which the network reasonably believed would be honored and therefore made business decisions around, said David Cole, one of several attorneys representing the network.
The Monitor stated that on Friday, Oct 7, 12 jurors agreed and awarded the network $993,724 – the amount of money the network said it would have made had it been allowed to broadcast seven races over three more years. While the speedway does not have to pay attorney fees, it does have to pay for costs such as depositions. Once those are added in, the judgment is likely to exceed $1 million. Once Motor Racing Network was out, Performance Radio Network, which is owned by the speedway’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports, began broadcasting the track’s NASCAR events. It was a move Cole said showed the speedway broke the contract purely for financial gain, not because Motor Racing Network had done its job poorly.
Motor Racing Network, which claims to be the largest independent sports radio network in the country with almost 650 stations, is owned by International Speedway Corp., a Florida-based company that owns a dozen racetracks around the country.
Molly A.K. Connors was the reporter of record that covered the proceedings for the Monitor.
Five years ago in 2016, The Stafford Motor Speedway finally got to swing open their gates for their season ending Fall Final which featured the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. A somewhat lean field of 24 cars were on hand for the event. No surprise to anyone Doug Coby set fast time with an 18.607 second lap around the half mile oval earning his ninth Coors Light Pole of 2016. Justin Bonsignore qualified second with a time of 18.651. Bonsignore entered the NWMT 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final just 13 points behind Coby. Third fastest was Ron Silk with Donny Lia fourth and Jimmy Blewett rounding out top five fastest qualifiers.
After many years of trying, Melissa Fifield finally broke into the top 25 in qualifying. The way things are going with the division she will be in the top 20 by next year. By 4:00pm on Saturday it was all over as rain began to fall.
Stafford kicked off its final race event of the 2015 season with feature events for its SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions, as well as feature events for the TQ Midgets and Mr. Rooter Truck Series as part of the Saturday NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend festivities. Taking feature wins were Tony Membrino, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Paul Arute in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Johnny Walker in the DARE Stock feature, Joey Bailey in the TQ Midget feature, and Bert Ouellette in the Mr. Rooter Truck Series feature. Membrino and Walker’s feature wins both saw them clinch the track championships and Duane Provost was also crowned a track champion in the Limited Late Model division with a third place finish.
The Fall Final weekend had to be one of the longest on record as NASCAR, track management, competitors and fans endured adverse weather and got the event in the books. Despite a delay of a week, and nearly seven more hours during a rain-drenched Sunday, Doug Coby reigned supreme with a victory in the NAPA Fall Final 150. Coby rolled to his 10th career victory at the historic half-mile track now trailing only Ted Christopher’s 12 victories and extended his lead in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship standings to 20 points with one race to go. It was Coby’s fourth win in the last five tour races at Stafford. It also marked his fifth overall in 2016, and 22nd of his career.
Justin Bonsignore entered the race trailing Coby by 13 tallies. The pair started the rain-delayed race 1-2 and traded the lead early, but Bonsignore experienced a broken ignition wire and lost a lap on pit road. He was able to earn the subsequent free pass, and made it back to fourth to salvage a good finish considering the circumstances, but lost seven points on Coby in the process.
Following Coby across the finish line was Timmy Solomito and Jimmy Blewett. Bonsingore, Chase Dowling, Rowan Pennink, Max Zachem, Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat and Shawn Solomito rounded out the top 10.
The event took the green at 9:53pm. There were nine caution periods for 28 laps. The first caution flew on lap 23 for Wade Cole who spun on the front stretch. The second caution flew on lap 29 for Melissa Fifield who was totally out of her element, spinning in turn three. The third caution flew on lap 36 for Donnie Lia and Gary MacDonald who spun in turn 1. At the same time, Fifield spun in turn 3. Justin Bonsignore who was hoping to make up some ground on Coby stalled in turn four with no power, for the . As a gesture of good sportsmanship and good will Jeff Goodale pushed Bonsignore around the track to the entrance of the pit area. Bonsignore lost a lap while his crew made repairs. Bobby Santos brought out the fifth caution when he spunin turn two. Under the rules, Bonsignore was given his lap back in a free pass. Matt Swanson and Ken Heagy spun in turn one on lap55 to bring out the sixth caution. Heagy and Donnie Lia spun on lap 62 for the seventh caution on lap 62. This caution led to a red on lap 63 for the half way break. The eighth caution was displayed when Jimmy Blewett spun in turn three. The ninth and final yellow was displayed when Ron Silk spun in turn three after being tapped by Bonsignore.
Sixteen of the original 25 starters finished on the lead lap. Bobby Santos completed only 121 laps and finished 18th when he parked it after a severe handling problem. Eric Goodale finished 19th, parking it after 100 laps with a failed fuel pump. After many years of trying Melissa Fifield finally finished in the top 20. Fifield, who was 20 laps down, parked it on lap 100 with an engine problem. Kyle Ellwood lost an engine on lap 79 and ended up 21st. Ken Heagy retired with chassis damage resulting from an accident as did Donny Lia who suffered severe damage to his front suspension. Lia ended up 23rd. Twenty fourth was Gary McDonald who wrecked and last in 25th was Dave Salzarulo. With temps in the high 40’s, the checkered flag was waved at 11:15PM.
Going into Thompson for the championship Coby led Bonsignore by 20 points. Forty three points out of the lead was Timmy Solomito. Max Zachem who has done nothing short of being fabulous is 100 points out of the lead and 52 points out of the third finishing position. Rounding out the top five is Ron Silk, six points behind Zachem and 105 points out of the lead.
Also taking down feature wins late Sunday were Todd Owen in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Wray in the Late Model feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend cars feature.
Owen led Christopher, Jr. to the flag for his second win of the 2016 season. Rocco finished third with Reen and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5.
In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified tour action, Ryan Preece made an impressive pass by George Brunnhoelzl III and went on to win the Bad Boy Off Road Southern Slam 150 last Thursday night on the quarter-mile track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for his third win on the southern tour.
Brunnhoelzl held on to finish second in the race and also pass Seuss for second in the final standings. James Civali finished third in the race with Danny Bohn and Bobby Measmer Jr. completing the top five. Burt Myers was sixth followed by Andy Seuss, Kyle Bonsignore, Jason Myers, and Trey Hutchens III
While Preece celebrated the win, Burt Myers enjoyed winning his second NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship. Myers, also scored his first tour title in 2010 at CMS, won three times on the 2016 schedule and held the lead throughout the season. The Walnut Cove, N.C. driver entered the season finale just needing to take the green flag to celebrate and deny Andy Seuss a third straight crown.
Bonsignore also secured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award competing in every race on the schedule.
In Super Dirt action at the Oswego Speedway in upstate New York for the third straight year, Stewart Friesen won the big-block modified race on the 5/8 mile asphalt covered with dirt speedway at Super DIRT Week. Friesen hung on for the victory over Brett Hearn. It was the fifth time in the last seven years Friesen has won the big-block feature race. Friesen used a slide job between Turns 1 and 2 with seven laps to go get by Tim McCreadie. A caution flag came out a lap later after McCreadie spun out.
When the green flag came back out on lap 195, Hearn went three-wide to get into second place but couldn’t quite catch Friesen.
There were 18 caution flags and several accidents on the temporary clay track at Oswego Speedway. The event moved from its longtime home at the state fairgrounds to Oswego.
Matt Sheppard led the first 153 laps before McCreadie took the lead on lap 154 when Sheppard was slowed behind lapped traffic. McCreadie held the lead until lap 193.
This race was originally scheduled for 300 laps but was shortened to 200 after Saturday’s rainout.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Bank of America 500 was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but rain and winds from Hurricane Matthew forced NASCAR to postpone the race until Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson made a statement on Sunday afternoon, dominating the previously delayed Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to propel himself into the third round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Matt Kenseth finished second despite starting the race from the rear of the field because of unapproved adjustments prior to the start of the race. He also overcame a penalty on pit road during the competition caution on lap 25 that forced him to restart the race at the tail of the field.
In what ended up being a double header on Sunday, Joey Logano stormed by Kyle Larson during a restart with 12 laps left and pulled away to his second NASCAR XFINITY Series victory of the season on Sunday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Fort Mill, SC., October 4, 2016 — The international technology company that makes Continental Tires announced the acquisition of Lakeville, IN-based Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., a manufacturer of specialty tires for racing applications.
Hoosier was founded in 1957 by Bob Newton and has a legacy of technical product knowledge, quality manufacturing, outstanding service and consistent performance. Hoosier supplies tires for most racing applications throughout the world, with an emphasis on high performance and quality. The company currently employs nearly 500 people.
Joyce Newton, Hoosier’s president and CEO said, “Continental and Hoosier share a similar vision for continued growth and sales excellence. Hoosier has fantastic brand recognition, a high-performing team, established customer relationships and a great lineup of products. This acquisition will provide a stronger and more sustainable organization for Hoosier moving ahead.”
Daytona International Speedway experienced moderate damage from Hurricane Matthew with impacts to lights, speakers, signage, fences, gates, awnings and palm trees. Pictures of a past weather event at Daytona International Speedway had been circulating on social media during the storm. Those pictures were from a weather event in 2009. There was no flood damage to the facility from Hurricane Matthew.
Daytona International Speedway is once again serving as a staging site for Florida Power & Light crews.
Last year, 2020, On a cold and chilly Friday night as temps dipped to the high 40s by feature time the Stafford Speedway hosted Weekly Racing action for the final Friday night with all 5 of its divisions in feature action. Taking down feature wins on the night were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Ryan Fearn in the Late Model feature, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the Street Stock feature. With NAPA Championship Night serving as the final night to earn track championship points in 2020, Adam Gray clinched his third career Late Model crown at Stafford, Brian Sullivan clinched the SK Light championship, Andrew Durand scored his second career Limited Late Model title at Stafford, and Zack Robinson went back to back by securing the Street Stock championship. Keith Rocco had already clinched his fourth career Stafford SK Modified® title.
Rocco took the lead on the restart on lap 34 with Todd Owen taking second. Ron Williams was third in line with Michael Christopher, Jr. and Tyler Leary side by side for fourth place. Tony Membrino, Matt Vassar, and Tyler Hines got into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution back out with 36 laps complete.Rocco took the lead on the restart with Owen and Williams side by side for second. Owen quickly cleared Williams for second with Christopher and Leary side by side for fourth. Rocco led Owen to the checkered flag to pick up his sixth win of the 2020 season. Williams finished third with Christopher and Leary rounding out the top-5.
The battle for the Street Stock Championship was a heart breaker for Megan Fuller. Fuller is the daughter of former NASCAR Modified Champion Rick Fuller. Fuller was running second on the white flag lap with championship in hand when she was spun out of contention by Brandon Michael, allowing Zack Robinson to take the title. Michael was placed last in the final order for his action.
The 58th annual Sunoco World Series was held at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway this past weekend. Although it looked like the speedway might remain dark for the season, a new agreement with the American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Star Series leasing the track in the summer allowed the Sunoco Modifieds, Twisted Tea SK Light Modifieds, Sam Adams Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks to return and chase a lucrative payout to close the oval season. Joining them were the ISMA Supers and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series.
Twenty seven NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the ninth and final event of 2020. Doug Coby continues to move closer to the all-time pole record for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The 40-year-old from Milford, Connecticut, earned the Mayhew Tools Pole Award in Saturday’s qualifying for Sunday’s Sunoco World Series 150. Patrick Emerling qualified second at 19.257 (116.841), followed by NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship points leader Justin Bonsignore at 19.311 (116.514). Ronnie Williams and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.
The Long Island Gang made their presence known as they won the 150 lap season ending event and the overall series championship. They also crashed and one of them finished last. Craig Lutz swiped the lead from Jon McKennedy with seven laps remaining and hung on to win the 150-lap event. Justin Bonsignore finished fourth and secured his second series championship. For the 32-year-old Bonsignore, the title was the capstone on a 2020 season where he finished no worse than fifth at any event.
Lutz’s teammate Eric Goodale finished last, 27th after hitting the wall in turn three when he misjudged where Doug Coby was and hopped over his wheel. Dave Sapienza and Timmy Solomito crashed out of the event. Ken Heagy finished 16th, on the lead lap.
Six-time champion Doug Coby, who was the only driver who could catch Bonsignore entering the Sunoco World Series, started on the pole and led the first 30 laps. Jon McKennedy, in the Tom Baldwin 7ny then surged ahead of him entering turn three and paced the field unto the fourth caution flag at lap 73 for Dave Sapienza’s spin.
Nearly all the lead lap cars chose to pit for right side tires at that point with Calvin Carroll assuming the lead by staying out. Following another yellow on the restart for a Ronnie Wiliams spin, Ron Silk sliced to the lead for a circuit before Bonsignore then blasted to the lead on lap 88.
The championship was then decided on a lap-97 restart. Silk jumped the restart while Lutz tried to move around Bonsignore for second entering turn three. The duo wiggled, Kyle Bonsignore checked up, and the accordion effect ended with Coby in the turn-four wall after hitting the tail end of McKennedy’s car, which put an end to his day. Since the lap wasn’t completed, Bonsignore went back to the lead by rule, and Silk was assessed a pass-through penalty for jumping the start.
Lutz successfully overtook Bonsignore on the next green flag and paced the field until caution number nine. It was McKennedy who got the jump on the lap-138 restart for his second stint at the front. Sapienza pounded the turn-one wall a lap later for the 10th and final yellow. Lutz took advantage of his second chance, putting a crossover move on McKennedy out of turn two and wrestling the lead back with six laps to go.
McKennedy had time to take another shot, and with three laps to go, he backed off entering turn three to set up a potential slingshot off turn four. But Silk, who had steadily driven back to third after serving his penalty, got into the back of McKennedy. The contact threw McKennedy off just enough for Lutz to get away for the victory. McKennedy hung on for second with Silk and Justin Bonsignore following. Rounding out the top five was Kyle Bonsignore.. Sam Remeau took sixth while Woody Pitkat came back from a mid-race flat tire to finish seventh. Calvin Carroll, Patrick Emerling, and Tyler Rypkema completed the top-10.
In other Sunday action at Thompson, Keith Rocco made it two on the weekend. Rocco, who also won at Stafford on Friday night, passed early leader Troy Talman on lap five and ran without pressure the rest of the way in winning the 30-lap SK Modified feature. Ronnie Williams finished second and Bryan Narducci was third. Troy Talman and Eric Berndt rounded out the top five.Sixth thru tenth were Max Zachem, Jeff Malave, Andrew Moeller, Woody Pitkat and Joey Allegro Jr.
The wins at Stafford and Thompson took Rocco to a career overall total of 291 wins which include 152 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 65 at Thompson and 74 at Stafford Speedway.
Also scoring Sunday wins at Thompson was Jon McKennedy in the ISMA Super Modifieds. Ronnie Williams, in his maiden run in the division, finished second. Ryan Waterman went without pressure in the 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature. Randy Cabral held off the last lap challenge of PJ Stergois to win the 25-lap NEMA Lites feature. DJ Shaw topped the field in the 75-lap Pro All Stars Series feature. Eddie MacDonald was second and Ray Christian III was third.
Jon McKennedy started the afternoon with a win by getting the best of Rowley, MA’s Chris Perley in the closing laps of the ISMA Supermodified event. McKennedy started third in the 50-lap feature and got to the rear bumper of polesitter Perley following the race’s only yellow at lap 4.Perley, McKennedy, and Ronnie Williams then ran away from the field. McKennedy got alongside Perly Multiple times on the frontstretch, and the duo even banged wheels entering turn one just past halfway with both hanging on for dear life.
Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model point leader D.J. Shaw strengthened his bid for a fourth championship by winning the World Series 75. Shaw, who had finished second five times this year without a victory, started outside pole and got the jump when Brandon Barker had trouble at the initial green flag.
Just about every racing division that competes in New England raced during the weekend. The Modified Racing Series that was formerly included was dropped and a 75 lap Tour type Open was put in it’s place. On Saturday, Mike Christopher Jr who started fourth, went past Chase Dowling for the lead on lap 66 and never looked back as he took his first win in a Tour type Modified. Chase Dowling finished second with Keith Rocco, third. Joey Cipriano and Andy Shaw rounded out the top five. Matt Swanson inherited the fifth spot after Andy Shaw was disqualified for an illegal carburetor. Dave Ethridge, Trevor Bleau, Eric Goodale, Brett Meservey, and Max Zachem rounded out the top-10. When the sixth and final yellow came out on lap 53 for a multi-car tangle in turn four, Christopher was up to third. He disposed of Keith Rocco on the restart when Rocco had trouble getting back to speed, then set his sights on Dowling. With the pair approaching slower traffic and lap 65 going on the scoreboard, Christopher made his move, diving inside Dowling for the lead entering turn one. The earlier strategy then truly paid dividends as Christopher pulled away from an increasingly loose Dowling to pocket the $5,000 payday.
Woody Pitkat went pole to pole to score a 50 lap win in the Late Models. Tom Carey finished second with Jake Johnson, third.
Other Saturday winners were: NEMA MIDGETS, John Zych Jr, NORTH EAST MINI STOCK TOUR, Desmond Skillings, PRO 4 MODIFIEDS, Doug Meservey Jr. EXIT REALTY PRO TRUCK CHALLENGE
Ryan Vanasse and 350 SUPERMODIFIED OPEN, Bobby Timmons III.
Despite the Covid restrictions the World Series hit a home run in attendance. Coming thru the back gate as competitors were 323 race cars not including STARS. Based on a conservative estimate of five individuals per car paying $75 each, Over $121,000. came thru the back gate.
The New London Waterford Speedbowl was in darkness on Saturday as the track shut down so as to allow competitors to participate or take in the action at Thompson.
The Riverhead Raceway ran twin fifties for the Modifieds on Saturday night. Ever since their INEX Legend Race Car days Dylan Slepian and Kyle Soper have been close friends at or away from Riverhead Raceway and for a short time owned a driveway seal coating business together, Saturday night they did something together once again as they both won Twin 50 NASCAR Modified features with Slepian capturing the opener over Soper, while Kyle took home the win in the nightcap.
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!